Pavis back

The evening - changes, and strange alliances

That evening, Egil is eating at Seledd's "table" as instructed (some fallen stone pillars in use as benches around their firepit), trying to answer assorted questions about what the Seventh have been doing recently. It feels almost as if some of them are trying to probe him for secrets: but fortunately the requirement to not talk with his mouth full gives him time to think about his answers, and Dori's instructions to "be honest" mean that he doesn't have to think too hard.

Yelm sinks into the gates of Dusk, and everyone pauses for that moment of change, when the magical protections around their camp show in the last ray of sunlight (and other, older, forgotten magics in the ruins outside flicker into momentary wakefulness).

It's also the time when the officers of the Legion make any announcements about changes in procedure, and it seems that tonight will be one of those nights: when normality returns, Illig is standing in the centre of the camp, and Yodi is with him. The normal return to conversation is checked.

"There are two changes tonight," he says: quietly, but his voice is audible throughout the camp.
"We have a guest with us. Dissolution Khan is a follower of Valind as the North Wind, and now a student of Hereward. You may speak freely to him of any cult matters you choose to share."

Khan rises from the bench where he has been indulging in a horn of well water, the rising firepit and setting sun throwing rosy glints off his armour.

"I thank you, Illig Stargazer, and you all, adherents of Hereward, for your hospitality. I hope it proves that one of you holds that which I seek."

He pauses for a second, realising something more might be required.

"I know something of the sword, less of the father of winters, but his path is paved with truth. I will share what I know of either, gladly."

Khan sits, rather stiffly, as Illig continues.

"There is also a change in the ranks of the Seventh, who I gather have been recruiting yet more auxilia." He motions to Yodi, who steps forward. "Dorinda's Ten will be split to allow for the increase in numbers. Graylor will command the new Ten." That ends the silence: the Seventh burst into cheers: and Egil, sitting with the Second, is rather surprised when they do the same.

Half an hour later, Egil is still at the Second's campfire, and being plied with their rather excellent ale as they listen to anything he can tell them about the new ten-thane. Seledd however is silent, and seems to be listening to (or for?) something else.

After a while, Dori approaches the group, Oddus following her, and she too seems to be distracted, and listening to things elsewhere. As is normal when she's acting like this, there's a cold wind blowing around her. Seledd looks up. "So, are your oh-so-reliable allies likely to act at the agreed time?"

"Think so," Dori says absently. She stumbles slightly, and Oddus steadies her and guides her to a hastily-vacated seat. "Sorry, this is rather long distance to listen at. They're due there in another few minutes, but it isn't exactly precision timing."

Everyone else is looking completely baffled at this rather cryptic exchange, but neither of the two principals offer any explanation. Seledd snorts with what might be disgust, and resumes her own listening. Someone in the Second offers Dori an ale, but she declines. A few minutes later her head goes up, looking to the north-east. "I think.... yes, that's them."

Seledd puts up her hand for silence, then nods. "Yes. Drums."

Without the background noise, and having been told what to listen for, more people can hear them now, if they strain their ears. Drums - troll drums, in the darkness. Everyone's heard it before, at one time or other, and would prefer not to hear it again. Somewhere out there, a troll warband is about to attack: but it's a long way away, and the Legion is not their target tonight.

"And now we see how they respond," Dori says softly.

"Who?" Whichever member of the Second is asking is unrecognisable in the shadows away from the fire, and is probably relying on that fact.

"Yelorna temple," Dori answers: then at Seledd's incredulous look, adds "As of a minute ago, it's no longer a secret."

Egil observes but says nothing: the last time he interfered with stuff he didn't understand he'd had The Sword pointed at him with some nasty threats being issued. Best to stay quiet and warmly drunk.

"I'll bite." Graylor says. "What are you talking about? Why would you arrange an attack on our friends?"

Before Dori or Seledd could answer he continues. "No wait, let me try and work it out. There is a presence in Pavis that is not welcome. We tried to remove some of them earlier. Now is the time to remove the main power base. Let me guess, the purity of the Yelornan temple will be higher after tonight. Am I way off the mark?"

Seledd stares at him coldly, but Dori answers. "You're pretty close, but... no, I'll say no more for a moment." Her fingers flick in a quick message in Swordspeech: "enemy listens on wind".

The drums have been joined by yells: if they were closer, the whistle of arrows would probably be audible. It's far too far to see anything, of course: and then, suddenly, it isn't. The rest of the Rubble is in darkness, but the Yelorna temple is flooded with light: illuminated almost as brightly as if it were daylight. Even at this distance, it can't be missed. The drums stop.

Dori, her face one huge grin, turns to Seledd. "Ma'am? Is that what I think it is?"

Seledd is also not bothering to hide a very wolfish grin of delight. "It is indeed. Morgeneth could not come close to that: and proving her limitations to her may have been half the point of doing it. Ah, the price of ego."

Dori nods thoughtfully. "Is it technically star magic, or daylight? I can ask the trolls later of course, but it would be interesting to know."

Seledd purse her lips. "That is a theological question of some debate: it depends on the precise source of the power of Rigsdal being used, and that depends on the operator. In this case... yes, if your allies" - she says the word with some distaste - "can report reliably on that, it would be of some interest."

Dori nods. "I'll ask them. But for now - I think we agree that we have a success. Target located. "Hook, line, and sinker" as our Riverside friends might say."

"Or as they say elsewhere, rope supplied, noose knotted, head inserted. Now we have only to pull it tight."

"But for that, I think we had better consult the Warlord?"

Seledd nods reluctantly. "Any major commitment has to be his decision."

Dori turns back to Graylor. "Yes, you were very close. I was only after confirmation of a suspected location, and I got it: the trolls were intended to withdraw as soon as they met any serious opposition. If you want to obtain some highly secret information, you work out who in the organisation is most likely to be careless, or to regard it as unimportant, and you give them a reason to reveal it. Guess who in that group is least likely to take their leader's safety seriously?"

"Or to regard her own ego as more important," Seledd adds. "It worked."

"From their reputation and the information we have. The leader herself is most likely to consider her own safety as unimportant. Especially if her close friends are in danger."

Dori nods.

A moment later he adds sadly. "Not so good for those outside that inner circle though. You'll let Irnar and myself know if there is any help we can provide." Graylor's voice has steel in it and his eyes bore into Dori for a moment full of dark promises and revenge.

Seledd looks at him, almost as if she hadn't seen him before. "You too? You will have plenty of company."

Dori simply nods again. "Whatever the Warlord decides to do, I'm sure you'll be useful."

She hesitates a little, glancing at Seledd, then adds: "Beware revenge, though. It takes a great deal of self-discipline to stop it turning to dishonour."

Onwards to morning
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