Pavis back

Return of a messenger

Fireday, Movement week, Fire season

Early Fireday morning, Yenda, Abul and Sarger are back at the Lankhor Mhy temple: and, rather to their surprise, are accosted as they approach. A young woman in a brown-ish grey mantle has clearly been waiting for them. "Yenda - and this must be Abul? Could we have a few minutes chat, somewhere a little more private? There's a message to pass on." She's looking at Sarger, who clearly isn't Humakti and whom she doesn't know.
“Weren’t you supposed to have left town.” Yenda asks sweetly. “But yes we can spare a few minutes. Sarger if you don’t mind we’ll join you as soon as this is sorted.”

If Sarger is surprised at the turn of events he hides it well and with a muttered “Don’t be too long, Rendor doesn’t like being kept waiting.” Sarger retreats to the cool interior of the Lhankor Mhy temple. Once he is gone Yenda asks Abul: “Abul have you met Ailrene?”

Abul looks at the long legged woman, trying to keep his face as impassive as stone, while his juvenile mind fights the continual turmoil of female temptation during the daylight hours.
"I think I saw her at at White Wall under Raven's command," his unusual bass voice states with a Carmanian accent, making Ailrene realise with surprise that the young Abul isn't a small boy anymore. "I heard she was counted by the Legion on Kallyr's side now... the Liar's side, Father told me."

“At our last meeting Ailrene and her friend were asked to leave town by Dori. I guess that this must be important if you are braving being back here. How about the Bristle Inn? We should be able to find a private spot there if you like.”

"That's fine. This won't take long, the ale'll be more of a delay. It's important, all right - we left town to deliver a message, remember? This is the answer."

As a natural conclusion, Abul visibly positions himself ready to defend Yenda from any possible trickery he could imagine.

Ailrene takes in the protectiveness with a slightly raised eyebrow, then sighs.
"I was trying not to use the names of your boss or mine in public. Let's move on - you choose the place, the route, who sits where, whatever makes you happy, aslong as I get to pass on a message. Don't worry, I'm not taking on Humakti at all, never mind when all I've got's a dagger."

Instinctively Yenda tests Ailrene’s words against the truth using her Jalmari abilities. She refuses the temptation of the Truewind knowing Ailrene’s ability with the winds in general. Finding everything truthful as she suspected she would, Yenda gently lays a restraining arm on Abul’s arm whilst giving him a grateful smile.

“It’s alright Abul. If we were under threat Ailrene wouldn’t have been the one meeting us... and we’d be dead by now. This message needs to go from boss to boss with minimal fuss and no fatal misunderstandings. So let’s help that if we can.”

Yenda leads the trio by the direct route to the inn and they take the first available private table.
“What is your message? We’ll deliver it as soon as we have finished here.”

Her voice stays quiet: not obviously furtive, but unlikely to be heard beyond their group.
"She wants to set up a meeting with him, to apologise and offer restitution. She suggests two days from now to give enough time to arrange everything, but place, time, and any other conditions are entirely up to him. I'm to arrange for the answer to be returned by whatever means you like."

Yenda pauses a moment for thought. "OK, we'll pass that on this morning. I suppose meeting this time tomorrow would not give your side enough preparation time. So let's meet at Jareen's on Blue Street at sunset and you'll have your response."

"How much preparation time we need depends on what conditions you set, but that sounds fine to me. I'll stay in Jareen's from when we part here till you turn up, no need to specify sunset."

Quite abruptly Abul asks Ailrene directly. "Will be Lunars also invited or involved somehow?" This impolite and rude question asked, he looks closely if Ailrene gets embarrassed and checks the truth of her behaviour.

She looks horrified. "Ye gods, I hope not! If that's part of the conditions, we might have to refuse it after all, unless you could guarantee they were going to behave. We're rather assuming we can trust - your boss - not to come up with anything dishonourable, and - well, he hardly needs to get them to do his killing for him, does he?"

Abul replies in a stern mutter.
"Usually the Legion doesn't invite Lunars into its affairs, but sometimes it may happens that others do it without its permission... Here I know who should assume trust and who shouldn't."

Abul wonders about a way to communicate secretly with Yenda, but any grimace being too obvious, he stays quiet, turns to her and says simply: "We are awaited at the Temple."

"We'll see you later Ailrene. I'm told that Jareen serves an acceptable sherbet." Yenda comments affably as they take their leave.

Once outside and clear of the inn she asks Abul. "What is it? You looked like you wanted to say something?"

"Just that I didn't saw any sign of lie in her during the discussion. I was quite provocative because I wanted to know if she was aware about something else. It seems not to me."

"Actually I was waiting for you to sign me." A frown crosses her brow. "Haven't you been taught Swordspeech yet?"

"Swordspeech? Is it a kind of secret language for the Servants of Death? I'm not one of these. I'm a follower of Herw'Ard the prophet of Carmanos... Do you think I would be allowed to learn it now that I'm about to become a full legionnaire?"

"Well that's soon fixed. We can start on the way back. It's a simple language and all Humakt initiates know it. So bear that in mind when you use it."

As they enter the temple Yenda comments "I hope the pronunciation gets easier. Yesterday, trying to get my mouth round those ugly sounds, made me feel like I was trying to bring back my breakfast!"

Abul laughs, feeling good and happy at Yenda's side. "Demonic language for sure!" he then admits quite seriously.

After an hard day of study at the Lankhor Mhy temple, Yenda and Abul are finally out with great relief. Sarger joins them.

"Can you imagine what a dark sense can be?" Abul asks him. "A sense giving to these demons the ability to read a pile of stone in the darkness as well as we can read books in the daylight?"

He makes a denial movement with his head. "This must be a joke... this bearded priest is probably now dying laughing about such silliness he has tries so seriously to teach us."

Sarger objects: "Rendor will more surely die than laugh... No, I really think that trolls have special senses, hearing isn't useful to read things in the dark..." and he adds joking "Not speaking about adjusting a sling stone in the middle of your sorry face, dude..."

Abul answers nothing, but frowns slightly. Noticing a coming dispute, both friends turn then toward Yenda in a hope that she would decide between them, a new habit they had unconsciously caught recently as Yenda tried to balance between the stiff seriousness of the Carmanian and the derisive cheerfulness of the Sartarite.

"Wellll..." Yenda says slowly. "There is more evidence than that fusty, old bookworm's say-so. Our temple has some scrolls relating to troll senses, but it is all very difficult as the Uz can't describe it to non-Uz. It's a bit like trying to describe colour to a blind man, there are no common points of reference from which to form an understanding. Dori is likely to be the one who would know best. She has a better understanding of Uz and their ways. She even has Uz friends. I think one of them gave her Timmy."

Abul ponders Yenda's sayings and adds calmly: "This give me an idea... perhaps we can ask Sextus, my own trollkin slave, for the moment he has only been successful at eating my old boots. I will not go to Duke Raus' mansion this evening, I need more time to integrate Daine's lessons... Let's go back to the Legion, we also have Ailrene's message to deliver."

"Don't be surprised if you don't understand what Sextus is trying to say." She pauses trying to remember the contents of the scroll she had read. "My recollection is that they are very aware of textures, even in complete darkness. I guess that is why all their markings are cut out or applied on. Even their tattooing causes ridges in the skin unlike ours in which the skin is coloured."

The trio walk through Pavis, this time avoiding Gimpy's and instead using the Peoples Gate as decreed by Dori in an effort to prevent a repeat of the ambush from a few days before. The route through the Rubble is also different and they have to concentrate more to find all the landmarks. Yend happily starts Abul on the basics of swordspeech and in no time is directing his movements silently.

Despite the lessons, they are taking some care. This is the first time they have been allowed out completely on their own. The last time they went out the "grown-ups" were attacked, so the teaching is only a secondary thing. Yenda is aware that swordspeech is a cult only ability so is doing it quietly and not giving anything away to Sarger, despite his attempts to listen in. Many hand signs are common for hunters and warriors, and she concentrates on them.

The Rubble at noon in Fire Season is, as always, hot, dry, and dusty. No-one else had been trying to leave by the gate when they did, and the guard there had been humming some tune about "mad dogs and Sartarites". Sarger tries to take the lead at first, claiming local knowledge of the route, but quickly surrenders to Abul's innate ability to find his way "home", and brings up the rear, where he gets a better view of Yenda. There's no shade, and the few whispers of a breeze raise the dust rather than providing relief from the heat.

Abul can hear movement in the remains of a building ahead - well, it was probably a buliding once, it's just a heap of rubble now. Whatever's making the noise is under a pile that's only a few feet high, so can't be all that big.

Yenda has noticed nothing, and Sarger has managed to avoid falling over his own feet or any unexpected bits of rubble.

Abul is crushed by the heat, heretic thoughts about the caress of cool shadows tempting him.
"This newcomer... Dissolution Khan... seems to have a trick to avoid sunburns... he mutters both to stay discreet and to spare his saliva. I wonder which dark sins he has committed to put him safe out of the Sacred Sun's wrath?"

Looking to an old and nearly shaved villa in front of them, where the comforting charm of his childhood leads the group to bring them home, he stops suddenly. Behind him he hears Sarger surprised by the stop, stumbling in the dry rocks.

"Keep your eyes wide open, Sarger and forget about local traditions, it isn't nap-time! Perhaps it's nothing more than a disturbed sunbathing snake or lizard, but I have heard a movement near. Let us make a bend and avoid this place..."

Sarger grumbles something about hypnotic shapes and movements in the heat but gives a glance to the ruin while Abul tries to remember the hand movements for "danger" and "question" that Yenda showed him at the beginning of their trip. Concentration in the Sun in front of potential danger is never the most successful effort and soon, he forgets about this and puts his hands on his carmanian blade and shield.

Yenda is curious about Abul's sudden halt, several scenarios play through her mind each worse than the last. However, her fear gives her the resolve to send a prayer to Ashar, asking him to show them if they are in danger of attack. Instantly a new awareness floods through Yenda's senses. It doesn't enhance anything, rather it integrates and interprets the information. Rapidly it concentrates on the noises in the ruin and a feeling of impending attack washes through Yenda's brain. As she concentrates on the analysis continues and resolves the noises into several sources. Without really thinking about it she sends throws out her Jalmari magic testing the rubble for chaotic creatures. Nothing registers as chaotic, but still that doesn't mean that the situation isn't dangerous.

"Guys, draw your weapons and spread out. There are definitely things in there and they are planning to attack." As she speaks Yenda is drawing her own sword and calling on Hu to bless her blade.

"Let's back away slowly and see if whatever-they-are decide we are worth fighting or not."

The noises die down, and nothing else happens. Whatever's under there has apparently also decided that it's too hot to fight.

Without any menacing manifestation of the enemy, the group decides to avoid the ruined villa and continues cautiously its trip back to the camp. Abul is leading guided by his magic toward his "home", while Yenda follows covering his steps and Sarger insures the rearguard.

Arrived safely at destination, Sarger goes to the exercise field. Yenda and Abul look for Dori.
"Tell her", requests Abul to Yenda, "you speak better than me."

“Dori, we met a former pupil of yours in Pavis. She returned as messenger, her boss wants to meet with our boss to apologise and offer restitution. All details to be our choice.” Yenda is pleased with the succinct delivery of her report but can’t resist adding. “It all sounds a little desperate to me.”

Dori has been looking more and more pleased as Yenda speaks, and grins wth delight at that last comment. "It does, doesn't it? I think we may have made an impression."

At the end of their report, Abul asks Dori: "Do you think that the Warleader will try to kill Kallyr? This will perhaps put the balance back at its right place but will also help the Lunars a lot... Sometime the Lie hides in virtues if I may say..."

"He won't 'try to', he'll either do it, or not. I have no idea which. As she knows... asking for this meeting implies a lot of guts or a lot of over-confidence, and I have no idea which of those either, but my bets are on both. Still, any further discussion needs to be with the Warleader, and in much more privacy than this. We'll go there now - and, yes, why not? We'll pick up Egil on the way, and he can make himself useful making sure we're not overheard. I take it you weren't followed, or listened to, on the way back?"

"Well... we were three very careful persons in the Rubble, Sarger is a professional guard, Yenda is Graylor's student and I'm yours... Sarger didn't take part in the discussion with Ailrene and we didn't speak about this at the Lankhor Mhy Temple. Now we are inexperienced in the ways of magic and a lot of things are possible outside our knowledge..." Abul ponders.

Yenda analyses the trip back. “There was little wind, though there was enough to raise dust at various points. I am honestly not sure if they were magical in origin. Though I was teaching Abul the start of Swordspeech so most of our journey was in silence. Apart from Sarger’s heavy breathing from behind me!” She offers Dori an exasperated look before continuing. “We were taking the usual precautions so I am reasonably certain that we weren’t physically followed.”

"All right... they already know where we are, so being followed hardly matters anyway, and if you didn't say anything to be overheard, that deals with that possibility. Let's go, and you can give the full details to the intended recipient."

She leads the way to Illig's quarters, detouring past the practice ground on the way. "Egil, with us, please."
She doesn't even slow down much, just lets him catch up as he can. A whisper on a cold wind has gone ahead of her, and she enters without knocking.
"Sir, with your permission? Egil, set up your new Separation: we don't want anyone hearing this."

Egil clears his mind in the way Yodi taught him (and how he has practised for most of the morning). Then he creates the boundary between the sound and the silence. He calls out to Dori and when she doesn't respond he waves his arm and beckons her to enter.

"Now, Yenda and Abul, please pass on that message, as accurately and in as much detail as you can."

With a gentle hand gesture, Abul encourages Yenda to speak up again.

Yenda takes a moment to compose herself and to enter the meditative state that allows her to have maximum recall. “We were about to enter the Lhankor Mhy temple when Ailrene intercepted us. She was obviously waiting for us and greeted us by name. Abul remembered meeting Ailrene at Whitewall and pointed out that her association with Kallyr put her on the wrong side of the legion. I commented on her having been asked to leave town by you Dori. She responded that she was asked to deliver a message and she was back with the answer. I decided that this was important enough to be off the streets so we went to the Bristle Inn. Ailrene seemed anxious to have the message delivered quickly, but acceded to our demands.”

“The message is: ‘She wants a meeting with him, to apologise and offer restitution. She suggests two days from now to have enough time to arrange everything. Place, time and any other conditions are up to him.’ Ailrene then added that she is supposed to arrange for the answer to be returned, again all the arrangements to be as we want. I suggested that I would meet her in Jareen’s on Blue Street at sunset. Her response was that she would go there immediately and would wait for me, so no need to specify a time.”

Yenda looks to the leaders anxiously. “I hope I did right there?”

“Abul asked if the Lunars would be there. Ailrene looked shocked and said that if that was one of the conditions then they may have to cancel the meeting. Then she added. We’re assuming that we can trust your boss not to come up with anything dishonourable. He hardly needs anyone to do his killing for him does he? Then we left to go to our darktongue lesson. Did I miss anything Abul?”

Abul gives an admiring glance at Yenda while she repeats perfectly every one of Ailrene's words. "You can't be more complete, Yenda!" he says when she asks him.

Yenda smiles gratefully at Abul, thankful for his support.

After a second thought, he adds:
"My overall impression was also that Ailrene was sincere. Sarger wasn't with us when Ailrene delivered her message but he was with us when we met her. Yenda and I didn't talk about the event before making our report to Dori. We spent all the time at the Lankhor Mhy temple learning the demonic language of the Trolls and were quite careful when we went back to the camp, just because we wanted to avoid any trouble in the Rubble. However I can't certify that we weren't under magical scrutiny."

After these words, he keeps quiet and impassive, a sign of stress and an struggle for self-control for anyone who knows him.

Illig also remains quiet and impassive while the story is told, though since it's well-known that he is a god-like being without flaw, one can assume that his reasons are different. Dori shows only the absorbed attention of the Raven listening to and analysing every detail.

"Ailrene, not Randella?" she remarks as the story comes to an end. "Interesting. Trivial, though, compared with the message. Two days time.... that's Godsday. They certainly seem to be treating this as important: surely our little troll attack can't have worried them that much?"

"A interesting use of logic in their reaction to young Abul's probes, too," Illig notes. "They trust that I will not do anything dishonourable, but regard my killing her as a possibility. Perhaps she has finally realised the enormity of her actions, and that for betraying the Legion, death is the obvious answer. Restitution, though... it will be interesting to see what she imagines could possibly be adequate."

Abul, and Egil, might remember Illig's last mention of restitution in their hearing: killing a god is not the sort of event one can forget. "For the greatest of your crimes, no restitution is possible, and no forgiveness is possible. ... you betrayed the Legion.... ... It is time for you to die."

Egil for the most part has been ignoring the discussion but mention of the betrayal at Whitewall inflames him and his face briefly contorts as he involuntarily produces a Visage of Fear but it fades quickly with the talk of death .

Dori must also have bitter memories of Whitewall, but none of Fedarkor. "You're going to go ahead with the meeting, then?"

"Oh, yes. What is more, since this is a matter that concerns the whole Legion, the whole Legion should be present: feelings will run high, one way or another. The details and conditions, though, will require an officers' meeting. If one of you would step outside this impressively efficient Silence for one moment, and send runners to summon both Hundred Thanes, and Uljar, please?"

Egil looks across to Illig and bows his head, "Thank you my Lord. Would it be possible to allow this to drop until the officers have returned? It takes a lot of effort for me at the moment and I would not like to lose control of it at the wrong moment."

Illig nods. "Do that."

Yenda suddenly realises that Illig is meaning either her or Abul and decides to volunteer. She races out of Illig's tent and to the senior members of the Legion delivering the summons to each. In a relatively short time all the top brass have been gathered for the meeting.

Egil re-casts his Silence of Separation, and Yodi watches in approval. "Much practice you have done."

When requested Yenda recites her description of the morning's events with almost no changes to the words she used in the first recitation. She waits patiently for the inevitable questions that this astonishing news would create.

Uljar has moved slightly towards and in front of Illig at the first mention of a meeting with Kallyr. "She's dangerous - too dangerous. Any conditions should make sure that she can't threaten anyone here, either by weapons or by magic. If we had slave bracelets, I'd use them."

"It'll be a trick or a lie. There's no point in even listening to her. We know where she is - just kill her." Seledd's voice is flat and cold.

Yodi's beady eyes regard them both with amusement. "So afraid of her are we, that we will not even listen for truth in her words? Precautions, yes, but listen, and learn, we can. Always, one can learn. If wish to kill her you do, lady, do so after she speaks, not before."

"We will not act dishonourably." Illig's voice, too, has gone cold. "Nor will we act out of hatred, or fear, or revenge. Justice, yes - and justice for that betrayal has only one result. To listen to her apology and suggested restitution, however, is also part of justice. Does anyone here seriously believe she will be able to lie to us and that we would not be able to tell that she was lying?"

"Yes. Yes, actually I do." Dori is a little hesitant about speaking up in front of the much more senior officers, not to mention contradicting the Warleader, but only a little. "She can be quite good at misleading people - what she says will technically be true, but we'll have to watch the wording. It may even be something she believes herself to be true, for the moment - she can convince just about anyone of anything, and that includes convincing herself. I've got a few ideas for dealing with that, things that she won't be expecting and won't guard against, but they're not perfect."

Illig considers that. "Fair point. We still have to listen to her defence before condemnation, though. What are these other ideas?"

Dori hesitates even more this time. "If you don't mind, sir... I'd rather not say, even here. If none of you know, none of you can give things away: and natural honesty can be a weakness for us, as well as a strength."

Yodi snorts down his beak. "Practiced much you have, too."

Illig nods, accepting the senior Raven's approval. "Do these... ideas... depend on using non-Humakti magic? I will not use slave bracelets on anyone who has not yet been condemned to slavery, but holding the meeting in a Humakti temple will block any magic she might use. Turn-about is fair play, one might say." From the slight tightening at the edges of his mouth, one might almost think that his declaration not to act out of revenge was slipping a little.

Dori shakes her head. "No problem there, though I will need non-Humakti present."

At first with a light throat scraping, Abul makes a small step forward and speaks up.
"If I may say a word here, I would say that more than ever our Herw'Ard's magic should be useful here. Jamal, my father taught me that in Carmania, bold Herw'Ardi interfere secretly in meetings to detect and denounce the Lie in the words of our Leaders. Officials hate them for that disruptive power, but Herw'Ardi are somehow protected by the decrees of the White Church of Idovanus. I regret that I'm too young and too novice to be a good Herw'Ardi but it makes me think that if not all the members of the Legion are Humakti, at least some of them are good Herw'Ardi. They could also be allowed to listen and to ponder Truth... if I may say so, Officers..."

On this, he steps back and remains silent.

Yenda listens quietly to the discussion, rather surprised and relieved not to be grilled on her recollection of the mornings events. With the relief come a jolt of brain activity triggerd by adrenalin and Dori’s words. “good at misleading people” ... “convincing herself” ... an image forms showing Graylor handing her a parchment with Kallyr’s name on it ... the Jalmari watch list. Impressed with Abul’s boldness she decides to speak up too.

“It would seem..” She tries to say though a suddenly dry mouth and tight throat. She swallows several times to allow herself to speak and tries again. “It might be worth having a Jalmari or two in the meeting. Our philosophy is concerned with the uncovering of the masks imposed by those who want the truth to be hidden, even when one of those masks is illumination. To back up Abul, I know that at least Graylor learned, from his initiation to Hereward, magic to recognise self deception. I am sure that there are others that also have this magic that are more skilled, one of them should be present.”

Yenda stops speaking briefly, but there is a question burning in her eyes. “I know that it is not my place to question, but is it normal for such meetings to be so full of magic? Would that not make Kallyr suspicious of us and our motivations?”

Illig nods. "Abul, you are correct - that is one of the reasons I feel the entire Legion should be present. The other is that this affects all the Legion, and all should have the right to be heard in the judgement. Some Jalmari, including Graylor, will therefore be present as part of the Legion, but it may be worth including other outsiders, perhaps? Vur, for instance? But how far do we go? The more people present, the less secret the whole thing becomes, and all of us have reasons to prefer that this does not reach too many ears."

"Yenda... there is always a place to question, for that is one way to learn Truth. Yes, the use of a great deal of magic is unusual, and implies a lack of trust on our part - but is that really any surprise? Your report of the young messenger's words implies that they fully expect death as a possible outcome. Perhaps that should be looked at more closely, though - was the mention of killing part of the original message, simply the opinion of the messenger, or her repetition of opinions expressed by others?"

Yenda carefully considers Illig's words.
"Killing was only mentioned after Abul asked about Lunar involvement. But to immediately make the link between Lunars and killing does give an insight into their minds. They are aware of the legionnaires killed by the Lunars and arranging a similar fate for them might be seen as poetic justice. The fact that she mentioned you in particular suggests that they are aware of your martial prowess and probably that of Ashar. So they either plan nothing or have something that they feel will counter the pair of you. Perhaps someone else should carry Ashar to the meeting as a precaution."

"That's an interesting interpretation," Dori says slowly. "Not one I'd have thought of myself, but certainly worth bearing in mind. If they have something capable of countering the Warlord and his Sword, though, I'd be surprised if Ailrene would know about it. I'd assumed the association in their minds between Lunars present and someone wanting to kill Kallyr would be because that's what Lunars usually want to do to her. The mention of the Warlord wold then be simple acknowledgement that if he wants her dead, bringing in Lunars to kill her would be totally unneccessary. Assumptions are dangerous things, though."

Egil speaks to Dori in a low voice, "She is a traitor and a coward. In know most of this is politics beyond my wit but she should be fairly tried and submitted to the Legion's Justice. I am happy enough to carry out the sentence." It seems unlikely that all of the leaders of the Legion are unaware of his thoughts given their proximity within the sphere of silence.

Seledd at least has certainly heard him, and nods approvingly. "No need to over-complicate the issue, young Egil's simplistic summary covers the situation. The only difficulty will be in deciding who gets to carry out the sentence."

Illig, too, nods. "On to the details, though: we agree that working inside a temple would be best, but the temple in the New City is far too open to extremists of all sorts to be suitable, and our own is supposed to be a secret. Dorinda? To what extent is that still the case?"

"Sorry to butt in here my lord but it's not very secret at all anymore. Rat found his way in through a secret entrance easily enough when he came to steal my sword. And Hu alone knows how many other people he's told, but I would think it safest to assume that all the people who got a copy of the sword at least know this place exists, and probably how to get into it too," Egil says matter-of-factly.

Dori nods in agreement. "The way in the Rat used would probably only be useful to, or found by, a Desemborth devotee with Krasht allies, but the existance and approximate location of the temple must be known to at least some of the Orlanthi by now - the Rat will have told Krogar, at least, and quite possibly Randella. They'll know there's an entrance in our camp somewhere, if not exactly where."

Seledd stays coldly practical. "It hardly matters if she learns more detail than that - it isn't as if she'll be leaving the place alive."

Dori raises an eyebrow slightly at this assumption, but doesn't question the senior Hundred-thane. "Her guards might, though."

"Guards? Why would we allow her to bring guards? She's here as a supplicant, not as a queen."

"It's only polite," Dori says mildly. "Just like calling them guards, rather than hostages, is only polite."

"I see no reason for politeness to a traitor," Seledd states flatly. "Hostages, though... yes, that does make sense. No more concessions, though. She's to be unarmed, naturally."

There is no argument with that assumption from anyone, and Seledd continues. "Just to be sure, we might as well require her to be naked, as well. Anything that makes it clear she's a beggar with no status and no respect."

Illig is totally impassive, but Uljar looks shocked, and Yodi is apparently trying to suppress laughter. Dori is certainly trying to hide some expression, but it's hard to tell what. "I'm not sure.... is that the effect it would have? The Orlanthi don't seem to have a proper sense of shame, a lot of the Legion are male, and young, and she's supposed to be a good-looking woman, though I'm not the one to judge that. Egil here, or Abul, might be better placed to say what the result might be? I think we'd have to gag Blackbeak, at least."

Egil nods grimly in agreement with Seledd. He goes slightly pink at having to describe a woman's attractiveness in front of other women. "Errr...her face is pretty enough and she is certainly... umm... kissable. I... errr... couldn't really say about her ... umm... other womanly... wobbly bits. They were... err.. concealed by lots of armour. If her... umm... breastplate is anything to go by... errr... then she would be nice to look at without it." As he speaks the pinkness deepens to the colour of the moon.

It's in this sort of situation that Abul thanks Destiny for having made him a Carmanian and not a lascivious barbarian, at had least he received a decent education and learnt a proper and suitable sense of correct conduct, or at least he sincerely thinks... because rather than discarding the embarrassing and disturbing vision of a nude barbarian warrioress-queen, he just prefers to keep it for later and for his own personal and private profit. Abul simply says in a quite stiff way: "This would be very inconvenient: Karmanos stated that human beings could go naked freely only when night has come. The lost of Prestige would be high for those requesting such animal behaviour from someone who is already in debt... if I may advise..."

Uljar snorts derisively "Pah don't listen to these boys. She is beautiful like Uleria. She's got good child bearing hips and tits you could happily fall asleep in. If she appears before us naked then all the men of the Legion will be standing to attention for sure."

"There will be differences in reaction between Hoods and Bare Blades, but on the whole, the effect is unlikely to be to our advantage," Illig agrees. "Moving on, then - Dorinda, you specifed two guards. Why that number?"

"I was going to add another condition: not the healer, and certainly not the trickster. That means we'll get her Sword and Shield, or possibly some more junior VIngans - competent warriors, irrelevant in any debate, and useful as hostages against her. Two rather than one, in case we have to kill one to prove we're not bluffing. If she brings more with her across the Rubble, they're to stay a bow-shot back from the camp."

Illig nods again. "No more conditions than that required, unless anyone has anything to add?"

Yenda shakes her head to try and clear it. "Is it just because I am a new Legionnary, but it seems that everyone here has predetermined that she is guilty and no reparations could be made. The stories I have heard all say the same thing about Kallyr. She is at her most dangerous when it seems she is most vulnerable. She has offered to walk into the dragons den unarmed and she wouldn't do that unless she was sure she had at least one way out. Is there no wergilt possible? What if she offered troops or even Legion Regalia? Or something else that she can provide for us that would be worth her life."

Probably not remarked by anyone, Abul approves silently, praising mentally Yenda's wisdom. While he has no particular sympathy for Kallyr who was said to be the cause of several unfair casualties among the legionnaires, she was still someone fighting the Lunars.. and for sure the Lunars are much higher in Abul's hostility scale...

Egil sucks his breathe through his teeth, "You were not there, you do not know. I would trust soldiers supplied by her as much as I could trust her, only when they are in plain view and even then I would await treachery. Maybe we need a friendly Helamakti to stop her escaping on a sylph."

"Her wind magic isn't up to much," Dori says thoughtfully, "but her guards might manage that, yes. Good point."

"Yenda, the whole point is that she is guilty, there's no question about it. She quite deliberately used the Legion as part of an ambush, and because she knew we'd never agree to it, took steps to be sure we didn't know what was happening. She betrayed the Legion, she made our people break geases, and I for one don't see how reparation could be possible."

"Weregild is for deaths, Yenda, and only deaths of those who have resheathed," Illig says gently. "Your desire for justice does you credit, but how can a loss of honour ever be repaid? We will listen to what she has to say, certainly - she may well imagine that she has some way of making reparation. My expectation, though, is that she will be wrong."

"What I'm hoping is that we'll find out why she did it," Dori says almost wistfully. "It was so out of character, there's got to be more to it than a simple desire to beat up some Lunars, surely?"

"There was nothing out of character about it," Seledd snaps. " She always was treacherous and deceitful - that you fell for her smooth talking proves nothing about her, but plenty about you."

"Oh, I don't doubt she could deceive me without too much trouble," Dori agrees, almost humbly. "But to deceive the Warlord? For years? I doubt that, very much indeed."

For some reason, Seledd does not reply to that.

"I said the entire Legion should be present - let me qualify that. Any full Legionnary may attend if they wish, though those who joined us since we left Whitewall may be less interested than those directly affected. Any Auxilia who were at Whitewall may also join us. Auxilia who have joined us since, however, will be taking over perimeter guard while this meeting is taking place. Work through the chain of command to find out how many that gives us on guard duty, and if it is not enough, adjustments can be made.

"The time... noon, under the full light of Yelm, again unless anyone has strong feelings against this?"

Abul couldn't help makinga small sign of approval with his head to Illig's words, surely such affairs should be treated in the full light of Idovanus, as it was too clear for him that the Lie was trying to push former allies against each other. He wondered if Jamal would be back for the event, recently he missed his father's wise advice.

Again, there are no objections, and Illig nods. "Very well, then. You two youngsters, take the message back - and since you can deliver it well before sunset, do so, and be back here before dark. Dorinda, arrange an escort for them this time, please. No discussion on the way there, or on the way back. I want no word of who, where, or when to go beyond ourselves, and passing the information on to the rest of the Legion is to be done where you cannot be overheard. I want an estimate of the available guards by dawn of Godsday at the latest. After a quick glance round to make sure he has been understood: "Dismissed. Lady Seledd, remain, please."
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