Pavis back

The arrival

Godsday, Movement week, Fire season

The camp is on edge the next morning: scouts are out, and reports coming back rather more crisply than normal and with a certain nervous efficiency even when there's nothing to report. Blackbeak's group are, for once, not dicing or drinking.

A little before noon, three perimeter levels of scouts, plus the Truewind, report that a group of cavalry is heading your way from the Yelorna temple: they seem to be going for being too numerous and well-armed to be worth attacking, rather than being sneaky. At a first glance, they look like a mixed group of Yelornans, Vingans and male Orlanthi: nothing to arouse any suspicion.

"What is she doing? This is supposed to be a quiet meeting, why bring out all the troops?" Graylor mutters as he calls over Irnar. "Keep a lookout for other groups, this may be a diversion to distract us as she comes in from a different direction."

Irnar nods, and speeds off to the far side of the camp, gathering a few other scouts as he goes and sending them too, to other parts of the perimeter. The precaution seems to have been a good one: while the regular scouts and guards are already in place, and on high alert, far too many have been distracted.

The group stops the specified bowshot (150 yards) from the camp: and "bowshot" is an apt description, as many of the riders have arrows nocked, though they seem more concerned about threats from the Rubble beyond than from the Legion.

Three of them, closest to the camp, dismount, one man and two red-haired women. If there's any doubt about which is which, it's easily sorted out by the way the man and one of the women instantly move to defensive positions on either side of the third.

Many of the Legion have met Kallyr before, at Whitewall or before, and to them she's instantly recognisable, though currently wearing, like most of the group, a storm-cloud grey dust cloak rather than her almost trade-mark Rigsdali blue. Now she's on foot, her helmet comes off and is slung on her saddle, making identification absolutely certain. Her sword-belt follows, as do the daggers strapped to each leg. She spreads her arms and turns round slowly to make it quite clear to the watchers - no weapons. Armour, yes, that much is clear at this distance, though it's too far to see details. The surrounding cavalry move away slightly, though still shielding her and her two guards from the Rubble and any random dangers that might lurk there.

Abul just checks that his clothes are clean and well adjusted. In a subconscious movement, he makes sure that his medallion is this in place on his breast and then checks naturally for Yenda's safety. He has oiled his Carmanian blade this morning and his shield is his favorite one. With a serious face but curious eyes, he waits for the barbarian greetings and for Illig Stargazer's answer. Idovanus must prevail and overcome today...

Dori, in her role as their ten-thane, has inspected all her troops once, and nods approvingly at this extra precaution. But she is also the (acting, provisional) Raven, and for some of them, their teacher. "Are any of you trying to hear what's being said over there?" she asks quietly.

"No. I thought that using the Truewind would be dangerous with all the Orlanthi out there," Yenda replies to Dori.

"Fair enough: you're new to the Wind, and you're quite right, there's at least one Destor initiate there who's reasonably good with it. If we can't beat Orlanthi at cooperation, though, there's something wrong. Join your magic with mine, please, and let's see what we can hear."

Yenda joins her magic with Dori's. After an initial period of disorientation as she fits into Dori's expression of the Truewind, Yenda is able to appreciate the power and subtlety of Dori's control over the magic. Inwardly she sighs as she realises how much further she has to go to begin to master the Truewind. But then a happy thought occurs to Yenda, she will have plenty of time with Dori learning how to be a spy and how to control her new found powers.

A cold wind starts to blow towards them, and words and sounds drift in on it. Two female voices, plus the background of a lot of horses.

"You sure that's obvious enough?" There's a slightly sarcastic tone to the question, but not to the answer.

"Should be. They'll have detection magic up anyway, and I'm not going to waste time trying to get past it, even if there was any point in being armed, which there isn't. You two remember that, please: you do not start fights, under any circumstances whatsoever, because useless suicide is not going to help anyone, and that's what it would be."

"If they try to hurt you, they do it over my dead body." The stubborn note there suggests that this argument may have occurred a few times before.

"Don't say that with Humakti listening, they'll probably assume you mean it literally."

"They'd be right. I took an oath to keep you safe, and I intend to keep it."

"I know... I just wish you took as much notice of the one to do what I tell you. Offir, I take it we do have Humakti listening?"

The man's voice, now: "We have someone listening, I couldn't tell you who. Want it stopped?"

"No need. We - " and for a few seconds, the Truewind carries only silence.

"If you say so." Whatever was said in that silence, it wasn't convincing. "You're sure this is going to work? You're going to walk in there and persuade them to be friends again? They don't look all that receptive."

Considering the ranks of grim Humakti watching them, this may be an understatement.

"With the little present I've got for them, yes, I - " and again, whatever comes next is not carried by the Truewind.

Kallyr takes a small bundle from her horse, and all three start to walk towards the centre of the camp, where Illig awaits them.

Abul makes a step closer to Yenda and mutters to only her ears: "Do you think that they might bring back a lost regalia? Like the third, we lost at Whitewall?"

"Could be, it would have to be something of at least that value to the Legion. Though I suspect that there would be some that would be disappointed not to go and battle to retrieve it themselves. Each wound would be considered an act of atonement for having lost it in the first place."

Yenda frowns and asks Dori: "What about the blanks? I bet there was something we were supposed to hear in them. It is perhaps good that they don't know the limitations of the Truewind."

Dori raises an eyebrow. "Had you considered the possibiilty that they're listening to us?"

Yenda's blush, tells Dori that she hadn't thought of the possibility and the realisation that she may have given away secrets of the cult deepens the glow about her face.

"Now tell me how I worked out that they're not - and no, it isn't magic."

Yenda is too embarrassed to do anything other than stare at her boots. Fortunately Egil answers Dori giving Yenda some moments to regain control.

Egil pauses for a moment before answering, he doesn't want to look too stupid in front of his new boss. "Because the wind is coming from them to us and not the other way round?"

Dori almost laughs. "I like it, Simple, straightforward, and it works. That wasn't my reasoning, in fact, but it's just as good, maybe better."

"You know what those silences mean, don't you? The Truewind only carries truth. Whatever she was saying then was a lie - and from the sound of the responses, Insterid at least knew it. She's a lot less confident than she's trying to make out. I couldn't work out the first gap, though."

"Could it be a trick there?" Abul wonders suspiciously. He then tries to fill the gaps in a way that would totally change the meaning of the intercepted conversation... "Not so obvious," he thinks then, "let's wait for the development of this..."

Egil grimaces sourly. "There probably is a trick or some kind of deception going on, they know we are listening to them and will probably have planned for the eventuality. The honourless woman will not be beyond lying to achieve her aims I'm sure. I think, though, that they are using themselves as a decoy as they gave hint of it before they were aware of us listening to them. Raven, with your permission, I would like to scout around the rest of the perimeter. I will call a howling doomwind if I find we are being infiltrated elsewhere."

Dori nods. "Looks like Graylor's had the same idea, I saw him send Irnar off. Go ahead, check our scouts are doing their jobs. We may want you back when things get interesting, though - that new trick of yours is about to be useful."

Yenda's mind suddenly takes an unusual turn. "There are alternative ways of listening into conversations which don't involve the wind. Back at the temple there were men who could tell what someone was saying from reading the shapes of their lips. I wonder if General Vur has any in his men. I really ought to learn this technique, it would be very useful to fill in the blanks from the truewind. If I tell Dori later it might mitigate my blunder," she thinks to herself before answering Dori.

"I didn't get either of the gaps." Yenda admits.

"I'm not all that sure of the second one myself, but I think we can work it out from context. She'd been asked if she was sure this was going to work, she started with "yes", and whatever followed was a lie. She was trying to reassure them, without believing it herself."

"And why I believe they weren't listening to us - Offir effectively said so. He didn't know who it was listening to them, and if he'd heard what we were saying a little earlier, he wouldn't have been in any doubt. At least, that logic makes sense to me."

Abul with a very low voice, tries to reassure Yenda: "Don't worry, Yenda, every magic has its limitations, spelling this isn't betraying a secret... it's just showing the obvious. "

He keeps for himself the rest of his thinking: "Not exactly as spelling out loud this specific limitation like Dorinda just made..." His right eye blinks to Yenda and he concentrates his glance back to Kallyr. With Egil hunting them, potential invaders should have much concerns...

The basic problem Irnar and Egil have isn't detecting any hypothetical invaders, it's persuading any of the guards and scouts (and themselves) to even attempt to do that, rather than staring at Kallyr. Those of the Legion who knew her in Whitewall (or at other times and places) will remember that she always dominates the attention of any crowd. (Egil and Abul both come into this category - up to Gavain how much Graylor and Irnar saw of her in 1613). High King Broyan could upstage her, but even then, possibly only because she let him.

Today, she actually looks more like Broyan - the grey cloak swirls about her in the breeze, rather like his always did. There are other changes too - usually everyone around her felt more confident in their own abilities, right up to the extreme case where she persuaded you all that beating the Bat would be no problem at all for you, because you were that good. Today - today you're acutely aware that she is no longer on your side, She's dangerous - extremely dangerous - and taking your eyes off her for even a fraction of a second feels like a very bad idea indeed.

"Come on you lot, you're supposed to be looking outwards."

Irnar tries to bring the perimeter guards back to some sort of order. He realises that She had arrived and tries to resist turning round. He knows that once he has caught sight of her that would be all he could do. Irnar's memory flicks back to the only other time he has seen Kallyr. She was walking through the rebel troops, the whole army stopped to stare at her passing. The only one who didn't was the Whispering Swords cook, who was too busy for that nonsense. Smiling at the happy memory, it is rapidly replaced by the less happy day when the Whispering Swords were killed. Left under the command of an inexperienced, youthful lieutenant they joined in a battle that was never theirs. The painful memory acts as a spur to not let Kallyr interfere with the Legion in the same way. He extends his claws and clenches his fists, hoping that the pain of the claws digging into his palms is sufficient to resist Kallyr's lure.

Egil drops down low before heading away from Dori and Kallyr's party. He slips through the Herewardi lines and out into the open spaces of Pavis. Keeping low and staying hidden he carries out an almost full circuit of the camp, only when he sights the Orlanthi again does he cut back in to the camp, and go to find Dori to make his report.
Egil trots back into the camp and goes as quickly as he can to find Dori. When he finds her he bows his head to hide his shame. "I searched as much of the perimeter as I was able to but there was no sign of anything unexpected. That doesn't mean there wasn't anything to see, I was just not concentrating properly, it seems I am too concerned with the doings of the traitor to carry out my duties correctly. I apologise for this and stand ready to accept whatever punishment you deem fit. Shall I give my sword back to the boy?"

"Don't worry sbout it," Dori says absently. "You did your best, and you're not the only one to find her difficult to deal with."

"I wonder if it would be easier for us if it was dark and we could only see by the light of our swords. Would she still use her charm if she didn't know we were watching?" Egil says to no-one in particular.

"I think Illig was considering something like that," Dori says quietly. "I'm not sure what got decided, though. There's non-Humakti on our side, too, remember. He'd originally said something about the timing being "under the full light of Yelm", and just doing things underground is enough of a move away from that."

Irnar jogs back to camp. "Do you want the good news or the bad news or the good news?" He asks with a grin.

Graylor much distracted by the entrance of Kallyr responds rather shortly. "Just give us your blasted report."

"Well the good news is that there is nothing out there other than that bunch of cavalry." He continues, taking no notice of Graylor's sour mood. "The bad news is that most of the perimeter is not taking a blind bit of notice of what is going on outside our camp. The final good news is that a few well placed pats with my paws. Did I say paws? I meant claws. Has persuaded them that they should keep their mind on the job!"

Graylor manages a half smile at Irnar's delivery. He realises that his friend is trying to lighten the tense situation.

"Thanks old friend. It is kind of hard to avoid her entrances, but that always makes me suspicious of what is going on in the background, out of the eye line of Kallyr. Keep your eyes peeled for anything happening that doesn't involve her."

Meanwhile, Abul and Yenda have been watching the approach.

Abul doesn't even think to try to resist the awe. Perhaps he compares Illig's greatness to Kallyr's charisma and wonders how a mortal could express so much power. If he was worth something, he too would gather so much aura and lead people to the liberation of the Truth and liberate Carmania from the Lie.

Concentrating on Kallyr as he is, it's almost possible to forget that anyone else is there. Her escort, the surronding grim Humakti who are his comrades, all seem to exist only as a backdrop to her as she walks towards..... that isn't backdrop. Towards Illig.

The contrast between them is almost palpable. Kallyr is colour, and life, and movement. Her red hair is braided up in a style that's vaguely reminiscent of a crown, and a blue star gem gleams in her forehead. She's looking around her as she walks, confident, interested, nodding to those she recognises and serenely overlooking the lack of response. That storm-cloud grey cloak is less colourful, fluttering in the breeze, but the only dark things about her are the iron armour, and the iron torc at her throat. The path she's walking, though.... yes, it's the obvious entrance, and lined with troops, getting more densely spaced as she draws nearer, but that's almost incidental. It's a straight line towards Illig: a line that may not be visible, but nonetheless sings with tension. Illig is at the centre of the camp, as still as the great statue below, and resembling it to an uncomfortable degree. Black armour, black hair - for he, too, wears no helm - and that great black Sword at rest in front of him. Around him, all else fades not just into the backdrop of any observer's attention, but into lifeless grey.

Yenda is watching Kallyr closely. Part of her is in awe that this is, in person, the subject of many fireside tales that she heard as a youth. But also here is someone that the Jalmari consider dangerous and probably consorting with chaos in some form, otherwise why circulate her name on the watch list. Instinctively she looks for Graylor and flicks him the Jalmari signs for "check out the target". He nods and together they enter the meditative trance that helps focus their magic. Then gently send out the Jalmari magics that will let them know if the target is of chaos or is illuminated.

The magic reaches out, and probes. Kallyr looks towards Graylor and Yenda and smiles, the laughter lines around her eyes deepening a little - clearly she's aware that some magic is being used, if not exactly what. And what it detects is... nothing. No trace of chaos. None of the shadow that would show from the dark side of illumination. None of the almost abstraction, the separation of self from surroundings, becoming an outsider to the universe, that a true Illuminate would show. This is the opposite, a mind totally enmeshed in the universe at every possible level, and revelling in it.

Graylor and Yenda look at each other strangely for a while before Yenda breaks the silence.

"I've never experienced a mind like that before. She's so... connected. Her mind almost seems divine! I wonder if Illig's mind is the same?"

"I don't know. I have never dared look at Illig in that way. Perhaps he might consent to such an examination at some time."

Graylor pauses, thinking hard.

"I think we will have to consult with Caspian and Yodi to see if they have any ideas. But, after this meeting."

Yenda nods, and goes bck to observing Kallyr as closely as she can on the mndane plane, hoping that her Jalmari-trained powers of detaied observation will impress Dori.

A tall woman - no, Yenda realises, as she looks more closely, about medium height, the initial appearance had been deceptive. Medium build, too, but she was somehow managing to look bigger than she really was. Red hair, as expected. Yenda was starting to realise that different Vingans had different shades of red to their hair, depending on the natural colour under the dye, but this was just.... red. As red as if that was her natural colour. The braids... well, yes, a sensible way to put hair under a helmet, but an odd style. Blue gem actually set into her forehead, not on a band or anything like that. She thought she'd heard that it glowed, but it wasn't doing so now. Complexion of a Sartarite, but she doesn't seem to be affected by the stifling heat.

Torc - looks like iron. Iron scale armour on torso and upper legs. Greaves. Boots. None of this is decorated, or flamboyant in its own right, just very high quality indeed, like the difference between a Humakti working sword and a dress sword, only applied to everything about her. Grey cloak, same style as the others are wearing. That'll be enough of a disguise to get her across the Rubble without being recognised, we use it often enough ourselves.

No weapons, now, but she still registers as dangerous. In part that's the walk, with the unconscious grace of a dancer - a sword-dancer. It's also the alertness, the eye and head movements that show she's seeing and hearing everything there is to know about the path she's walking, and maybe a little more as well. She's carrying something - a cloth bundle? Not all that big. Gloves, and probably just soft leather from the flexibility.

Abul feels himself totally fascinated by the awesome presence of the barbarian queen. Although he has been warned since his childhood that the Lie may be seductive, he can't help wondering about the real place of the Enemy: in the charisma of a supposed foe or in in the confrontation of two old allies leaving a easier place for the progression of the Red Moon worshipers? If only Harmony could be invoked... he regrets.

With clear admiration, he also wonders on the exploits that a Hero would achieve if he was adding the raw lethal power of Illig to the stunning charm of Kallyr: surely the godlike Lunar emperor would shiver on his throne...

If Illig said that Kallyr had tricked the Legion into an unwilling ambush, Abul believed him without question. Does it means that the Sartarite queen was so ignorant of the Legion's ways to take such risk, that the situation was so critical that she had to take it or that she is simply stupid or evil?

In an unusual move from the cautious young man, and without thinking of any consequences, he decides not to side with Confrontation but rather with Revelation. He sends his own weak Truewind directly to Kallyr, not as an hostile probing force seeking to extract the Truth from her, but more as a refreshing breeze encouraging her to spell the Truth loud and clear. Abul feels compelled to understand the motives of the Heroine. "Let's help her to explain herself with sincerity" he indulges himself. By the way, he doesn't have the idea that he could be remarked on, by either side, as a potential ally of the hated warrioress within the Legion's ranks. Between two overwhelming and crushing presences, Abul just feels insignificant and uninteresting.

Kallyr does not appear to notice the assistance: certainly she does not burst into an outpouring of Truth.
Dorinda, however, turns towards him. "Whatever...? oh, I see. Clever, and might well be useful later on. There's something odd going on, though, something about the winds around her, maybe it's just all of us acting separately, but I don't think so."

She falls silent as Kallyr and her escort reach the entrance in what now amounts to a wall around the camp, and which is, on this occasion, guarded by the Second Cohort. No challenge has been made, nor is one made now - after all, to ask "who goes there?" would be somewhat redundant. Kallyr pauses, surveying the grim silence that faces her. "May we enter?" she asks politely.

Seledd, commanding the gate guard, looks back at Illig for a moment before answering, with the icy courtesy that tends to make any of the Legion find somewhere else to be as fast as possible. "Since you have the Warlord's invitation, you may."

"Thank you."

The guards step aside, leaving a gap wide enough for one, and she walks confidently through. As the escort follow, however, Seledd intervenes. "Separate them."
Insterid, her arms suddenly held by a guard on either side, is very obviously about to erupt into violent objection. "You can't...!"

Kallyr spins round, suddenly much less polite than when addressing her supposed enemies. "They can, and they just did. You do exactly what they tell you." She turns back to Seledd as her body-guard subsides, the calm control returning. "Hostages, I take it?"

Seledd nods, with perhaps a hint of reluctant respect. "Of course. And, of course, that works both ways."

"Naturally." She doesn't seem particularly surprised by the idea: in fact, her smile back at Insterid and Offir is almost amused. "Am I allowed to say "I told you so"?"

"Well we seem to be predictable so far. I wonder how well she knows us?" Graylor comments to Dori.

"She's been hiring us on a regular basis for the last ten years at least," Dori replies quietly. "She thinks she knows many of us very well indeed. Some, however - like you - are new to her, and that's one of our advantages."

Abul stays quiet but observes the reactions among the legionnaires. Is it fear that guides the minds around him? Cautiousness and and mistrust he would understand but so much hate and prevention should have a very deep reason and this could be only fear... fear that Kallyr has a new trick for them, fear to submit to her, fear not to have the cleverness to see the trick, fear to not have the strength to resist it... "Interesting!" he thinks. "It is exactly like Jamal and Daine have taught him : Fear destroys the mind and a mindless enemy is nearly vanquished."

Curiously Abul doesn't find fear among his feelings even if fear was well known to him. He trusts blindly Illig to treat with Kallyr in a definitive ways and he suspects that the Queen can't be has bad as everyone around him suspects. Why was he feeling different than the other legionnaires? "Interesting," he wonders again.

Alone now, Kallyr walks the last few yards towards Illig - and stops short as that great sword rises from the rest position to point directly at her, the tip not quite touching her nose. "That is far enough." The remote coldness of that voice makes Seledd sound like a petulant child in comparison.

"That's not very friendly." Kallyr gently deflects the Sword sideways with one gloved finger, just far enough that a thrust would miss her.

"Did you really expect friendship, after your actions in the past?" The Sword dips an inch, circles her finger, and resumes its position directly in line with her eyes.

"I suppose not." She looks round, apparently ignoring the threat of imminent Death. "You said you had somewhere a little less.. exposed... for further discussions?"

"Yes." His eyes never leave her for a moment. "General, if you are satisfied that our guest will come to no harm, would you lead the way?"

"She's clean." Vur sounds almost surprised.

Illig nods. "Follow him."

Kallyr turns to do so, the Sword tracking round and dipping a little, the point now between her shoulderblades. Vur leads the way to the storage tent that still hides the steps down to the temple, and she follows, her relaxed, unhesitating stride perhaps a reflection of her utter confidence, or perhaps something to do with the swordtip that never quite touches her.

Watching the scene play out in front of him Egil can't help himself but be thoroughly impressed by Kallyr's calmness. In his mind is the very recent and raw memory of the blade being pointed at him with deadly intent. It was a pant-wetting experience to say the least and the utter terror of it almost unmanned him. It's something he would only wish on his worst enemies. Someone like Kallyr for instance.

While Kallyr is entering the temple, Abul addresses both Yenda and Dori. "Could and should we follow? I must admit that I'm eager to see the confrontation between Death and Wind... but..."

Dori is quite clear on that. "We will. No question about it. I'd like both of you to stay close to me: there's something odd going on here, and as many sharp eyes and ears pooling ideas as possible might find it."

The young Carmanian hesitates for a moment. "By the way, excuse me if I have a novice question, but does anyone other than me fear that a clash between two such powerful heroes who empower so easily their god and are meeting on a sacred ground could lead all the assembly into an involuntary launch of an heroquest? I'm not very well informed on this but I have heard that barbarians have plenty of myths about clashes between Orlanatus the unruly Storm and his brother Humakt..?"

He takes a deep breath and explains his inner thoughts. "Could it be that the trick is there? I have heard that at the end of the myths, Humakt always submitted to his brother... If Illig is dragged on the
Heroplane, not considering difficult or even dangerous side effects for the rest of an assembly exclusively made of people of our side, could he be forced to submit to the Wind? I mean by mythic forces? Of course excuse me if I'm spelling stupid ideas... I'm speaking of things that I don't know and never studied... it is just worrying fears."

Dori stops in her tracks. "That's.... yes. It's got to be something like that, got to be. Orlanth, of course, not Vinga, I'm so used to thinking of her as either Vinga or Rigsdal. But Humakt doesn't always submit, in fact in at least one myth he kills Orlanth... dammit, I wish I knew Orlanthi myths better! I've tried, but they weren't the ones I grew up with. Yenda, it's going to have to be down to you. See if you can spot a myth that fits, you've got a better chance than either of us. And, I think, we don't mention this idea to anyone else... you're safer if you stick to your own role, and I can't imagine Illig doing anything but being as much like Humakt as any mortal can be, especially considering... well, never mind that."

She grins suddenly. "I was going to check something anyway, but now I'm just confirming your theory. Let's go and talk to Seledd."

Abul takes Dori's confirmation badly but his face gets even sterner and determination appears in his eyes when he realizes that his fears being confirmed, his duty is revealed to him.

"But in some myths he refuses to submit, severs his links with the Storm and stay independent. In Carmania, the Hum'Akt obeys only to Idovanus not to the criminal Orlanatus, the Light Murderer and Darkness Herald... Illig deserves our specific support, even if it's weak one compared to his own power."

After these words, there is no more hesitation in Abul and he follows Dori as if he was his only bodyguard. He doesn't say to Dori his thoughts about being Carmanian, a non-barbarian non-Humakti member of the Legion, not fully included within the present group, a great difference on the Heroplane that might lead to either to be protected or... destroyed.

Egil following behind chips in "I will come too, you may want a silence around you while you discuss this. A question though, in this place is the Warlord Humakt or Hereward? If we can force him to be Hereward then her plan may not work. I am unaware of any Hereward and Orlanth myths." Then he adds "or maybe the Warlord should start a heroquest as Hereward where he guards Ernalda's honour or something."

"I don't know of any, either," Dori says quietly, "but then I wouldn't expect to. Hereward, great as he is, was a hero who became a god. Orlanth and Humakt are Great Gods. You're not likely to find myths where Hereward meets Orlanth as an equal, though you might find one where Hereward met one of Orlanth's sons, or one of his heroes, in fact his meetings with Arkat can be seen that way. Or there might be one where Hereward was one of Orlanth's heroes, he wields the Wind, after all. Today, though, the Warlord is Humakt, for all sorts of reasons, and we can probably help him best by thinking of him as Humakt."

Dori nods. "Never, ever, underestimate Illig. Thinking of him as Humakt is easy, it's remembering he's human that's hard."

"If it is going to be a meeting on the heroplane with Humakt and Orlanth. Orlanth will be likely supported by his loyal thanes, whom she might have already selected and be waiting for her. Humakt is considered a loner and will be outnumbered. Could we prepare to become wolf and raven his loyal companions?" Yenda asks.

"If you think you can get into those roles reliably, with no preparation and no props, it might be worth a try - people who've doe it before will have a better chance of doing it again. If no,t though, just" one of Humakt's warriors" will help."

By now they have reached Seledd, and the time for this particular private conversation is past.
"Ma'am? MIght I have a word?" Dori motions to Egil to make that word private.
"Was she using any Rigsdali magic? I didn't see anything obvious, but was there any detection magic, or anything like that?"
Seledd stares at her for a moment before deigning to answer. "Nothing. She would hardly have dared under the circumstances."
"I suppose not," Dori agrees. "It seems odd, though. Usually she uses it - well, the way you use the Sight. It's so much a part of you, it's as natural as breathing. I'm surprised she had the self-control to avoid it. She was using wind magic, though."
Seledd shrugs. "She's Vingan."
"She's Vinga Dar, and she's barely got any wind magic."
"Then she can't have been using it. Enough of this." Seledd pushes them out of the way, heading for the steps down.

Yenda looks aghast at Seledd's short sightedness. Turning to Dori she asks. "You know when Illig showed us all the link between Santhis and Oilamley. Can we do anything like that to show the link between the wind magic and the person that is using it? If we could see it then we could sever the link."

"We may be able to see that once we're down in the temple, if things slide to the Other Side enough, true. Whether we could understand them, though... I suspect Abul's right, the wind magic around her is because at the moment, she's partly Orlanth. She probably can't even control it herself, remember she asked Offir about the Truth on the Wind?

Dori pauses, thinking. "I've never been in a situation quite like this before, but I do know one reason we decided to have this meeting in the temple is because the magic of other gods can't be used there, unless Humakt wills it. If she's still got the Wind around her once we're down there, then it's because Humakt wills it, and I think at that point we ask ourselves why rather than trying to stop it."

"Which will be difficult to explain and to make understand to most of the present Legionnaires..." comments a stern Abul half-muttering. "See Seledd's eyes burning with the flame of a fiery revenge. The Lie is on us, confusing our minds. We have to clear it and to open it."

Egil stops for a moment then runs to catch up "What if she needs the Warlord so she can do something else? Maybe she's going to try the Lightbringers' quest and needs Humakt to send Orlanth to the western gate so she can start it. If we're lucky she might fail and not complete it."

"If we were lucky? It all depends of what would be the objective behind such a Quest... For example, are you sure, Egil, that you will exchange the final defeat of Kallyr against any victory of her opponents? Let's say the one of the Red Emperor? or even a worse chaotic thing? Don't let Hate blind us, she is obviously taking risks, she must have reasons to act this way."

"If she wants Illig to kill her, she's certainly going the right way about it," Dori says bitterly. "Does all the rest fit, though? The talk of apology, and restitution. It all seems too complicated - and what if betraying us in the first place was also part of the setup for this? I can't imagine why, or where it would fit, but that was so out of character in the first place...."
She sighs. "Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part, because I want her to be innocent, and a friend again. That can blind us, just as much as hatred."

"Don't worry Raven", says Abul with a serious tone. "Your possible friendship will not compensate the hate around us. Just let hear her talking, we are also in a Temple of Truth. It is difficult to spell a lie in front of imminent Death."

"You are probably right, better the she-devil we know than the Wakboth we don't but if that's not what she wants I wonder what it might be. Maybe she wishes to resheathe him and the legion," Egil says. He is surprising himself with the number of ideas he is having, wondering if Yodi's Silence of the Mind is having other effects on him.

"That's - yes, another very interesting idea." She thinks about it for a moment, clearly knowing more than she's saying.

"Enough speculation. Let's go and find out."

Onward to the trial

and meanwhile.....

As he makes his way to the temple Graylor signals to Irnar to keep his eyes on the hostages. An order Irnar is only too happy to follow as he has just spotted that Insterid is young and good looking! He ambles over nonchalantly.

"Hi youngster. Your mistress is pretty impressive, though I recon that she's made a mistake. I bet she thought that you'd be safer here in amongst all these dead men, than you would have been with all them Orlanthi. Fortunately for me there is still at least one man who can appreciate a good looking woman!"

Unlike any other Vingan he's ever met, Insterid totally ignores the banter. "My mistake, not hers, not that my safety matters anyway." She looks him up and down in quick appraisal: but that of a warrior, not of a woman admiring a man. "The Yinkini, eh? It figures."

Her gaze goes back to where Seledd is discussing something with Dori, behind a wall of silence. Irnar's face a picture of hurt and irritation that this woman completely ignores him.

"What she said about hostages, and it going both ways - did she mean it? She can't have, surely, you don't throw away a prize like that for something trivial?"

Mauvin sitting cross-legged in front of Insterid grins "Oh I reckon it only needs to be trivial for what she's done to 'em. If I tell someone you farted, they'd say your summoning the wind and kill her in a snip."

Irnar's face is filled with mirth though those that know him well would recognise the calculating look in his eyes. "I would discard many prizes for a night alone with you. What makes this one so special?"

The response is almost automatic: "I bet you say that to all the girls - in fact, I know you say that sort of thing to all the girls."
She glances across at Offir, the sort of glance that's obviously intended to be Significant.
"As for the prize - well, I'd definitely suggest you don't kill her until you at least know what you'd be losing, because believe me, you're going to like it."

Offir has been still and silent up till now. "This is him?"
"Must be - there can't be that many Yinkini with them, and he fits the description."
"She didn't mention him being twice her age."
"Well, she wouldn't..." then with sudden realisation and urgency: "Offir, no! Not now! You can come back and find him later, but not now!"

Irnar's eyes twinkle with mirth. "As I live and breathe Rana's father." He sketches a florid bow to Offir. "It’s an honour to meet you sir. An honour it was to have met your daughter too, though she didn’t talk about her illustrious parent, but then again she was supposed to be hiding from the legion and we had just caught her! Did you know that she was using chaotic magic to hide? A present from one of her many friends in the underworld I gather.”

Irnar pauses so see the effect his words are having on Offir.

Other than a slight compression of the lips at the mention of chaos, his expression of general disapproval remains unchanged.

“Don’t worry we destroyed the tainted item and then we got down to business... Hunting thieves and chaos. I think we made a good team, but unfortunately Dorinda revealed that she was your daughter and a spy for Kallyr. So sadly we had to part ways before we got to know one another properly.”

Irnar reflects sadly for a moment then brightens up as an idea occurs to him. “Though if your mistress has her way, we will all soon be friends again!” He finishes with an impudent grin.

Insterid nods. "And she usually does get her way, so unless someone does something stupid, you can go back to being professional colleagues again. Professional, Offir. No more than that. Got it?"

Red hair, the same Blackrock clan markings as Rana, and only a few years older if you were counting, but they couldn't be much less alike. Rana had been quiet, a watcher rather than an actor for the most part, but Insterid quite obviously expects to be in charge in any situation, and has all the confidence and authority of someone ten years older.
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