Back/up Pavis overall Siggyr's thread Seledd's thread

Moving towards the Second's Hundredthane, Siggyr salutes and waits a respectful distance until acknowledged.

Seledd is studying a chalk map Vern is adding details to on one of the walls as Siggyr approaches. "Yes, that appears to be everything we saw. My thanks. If you could make up a fair copy in time for Lord Illig's arrival, I would appreciate it. And the next expedition will be sure to check the angle of those roof-beams for you, now we know of their importance."

She steps back, leaving him to his work, turns to the new arrival. "Siggyr."

"Lady, I have just spoken with Lord Aurel and he asked me to pass a message on to you, the substance of which is to the effect that the presence of yourself and your Cohort a quarter of an hour before tonight's Dusk Muster, on the left side of the sanctum, would be greatly appreciated. I believe that, with the assembled Legion to support him, Lord Aurel intends to recommend the Star Watch rites to Lord Derenx. Having heard of the rites Derenx usually proceeds with, Ma'am, I hope it is not impertinent to remark that, personally, I strongly hope you will be there?"

"So Aurel finally got off the fence, did he? 'With the assembled Legion to support him' - would you perhaps have been making some assumptions there, Siggyr?" But for once there's no malice in her tone. "I find it hard to imagine Lord Illig abasing himself to Yelm or anyone else, true. And combining that with our assessment of the skills and courage of his scouts and guides - dear me, Derenx is not going to have a good evening. If we can just persuade him to try to prove his vaunted duelling skills on Yorsar, that would make it perfect."

That smile is a definite reminder that the senior Hundred-Thane's title is the Wolf. Out-numbered, bloodied and battered, but not only is she unbowed, she's quite clearly planning on total annihilation of the enemy. And going by past experience of similar occasions - yes, the Legion may dislike her, but as a rule they're very, very glad she's on their side.

Siggyr grins at that. "You're right, Lady - I am assuming that the rest of the Legion would fall in for Dusk Muster this evening. Even if Lord Illig is delayed, the Seventh will attend. If the Second were present also, then I'm sure Lord Aurel would have the support he needs. The thought of Lord Derenx having a bad evening is one that appears to be of some pleasure to several other folks besides yourself, Ma'am."

And then the cool calculation is back - the reason why her plans tend to work. "And now that you have a had a chance to receive the reports of your second file - just how many Legionaries and other Humkati are you bringing to this 'assembled Legion', Siggyr? Sober ones, that is?"

"At the moment the majority of the cohort are searching for suitable billets, Ma'am," Siggyr replies mildly. "As there are a fair number attached to the Seventh these days, I imagine they will have to visit several inns and taverns before all are comfortably settled, but they will be present and correct for Dusk Muster.

"The Seventh's Second file has attracted a number of auxilla over the last season, but they aren't relevant to this evening's proceedings. So far as Humakti and Temple members go, the number is twenty one, Ma'am, including Aelfwyrd's apprentices. And I understand Landros here has a couple of followers also, which would make twenty four, if you are interested?" he asks, addressing the warrior directly for the first time.

Landros has been listening without comment, trying to get a better idea of the different factions and personal agendas in the Legion. A legion he was very likely to become a member of very soon.

"Sir, we'll be there." He turns to Seledd, "Perhaps as Door Keeper, unless you Ma'am would take that role? As I have not joined up yet, such a role may fit us best."

"It will of course be up to Lord Derenx, as Warlord of this temple, to decide who should take what part," she says gravely, and with a completely straight face: then, dropping the formality: "assuming of course that he can remember anything of the ceremony beyond 'you three stand guard, I'm off to a party'. We may have to prompt him a little."

The faint hint of a smile creases the corner's of the Rigsdali's lips. "I see. And if he should oppose the practice of the Star Watch, what then? Will someone challenge him on that?"

"We can be sure that he will oppose it to some extent, of course. Lord Aurel appears to believe that if sufficient numbers support our side of the argument, Derenx will back down. He may be right - he must know Derenx far better than we can. His position as Warlord here is to some extent dependent on the amount of support he has, so he cannot entirely ignore it.

"But if he decided instead to force the issue, the matter would of course come to a duel. And since that is apparently how he acquired and kept the position of Warlord in the first place, I think we can assume a certain degree of competence on his part. Aurel could not face him himself, and presumably he has no champion who could, or he would already have done so."

Her lips twist in disgust. " A fine state for a temple to be in, with near-outright conflict between Warleader and High Priest. One might have
hoped that anyone in such a position would have seen that the good of the Temple and of the cult must override any such personal animosity, but apparently not."

"Indeed, Ma'am," observes Siggyr dryly, "such discipline is the cornerstone of many temples." He moves on swiftly: "with the Seventh backing him, supported by the Second and his own warriors, Aurel now has sufficient muster to force the issue even if Lord Illig does not arrive before Star Watch. However, Lord Illig would bring us Yorsar. If they fail to arrive we shall have to rely on another. Aelfwyrd the Kargani has a reputation as a duellist, or there is yourself, Ma'am, of course. I expect Lord Illig will arrive before Dusk, but we should be prepared. Do you have any preference in the matter?"

"My preference would be that it not come to that at all, but Derenx may well decide that the possible gain is worth the risk. He has a reputation for being very skilled in the duel, and he at least believes the reputation. I have not yet seen him fight myself, nor spoken to anyone whose judgement I would trust on the subject, but it seems likely that there is some truth in it.

"Young Aelfwyrd, unless he has changed considerably since I last saw him, could out-do Derenx only in ego. And even that would be a close contest. He might well learn a useful lesson from the result, but I do not feel his education would be worth the cost to the Legion's reputation.

"Unfortunately strategy and tactics both have the same answer this time: if this comes to a duel, we need to win it. The fact that we are going to be doing Humakt's will, and he is not, will help, but we still need to maximise our chances of success. And unless some of your people have improved considerably, that means I take his challenge."

"If I might speak, ma'am?" They'd almost forgotten Dorinda was there, but Seledd nods curtly. "I can probably find out just how good Derenx really is, and what weaknesses he has, if that would be of any assistance. There are people here who know him, and who we fought alongside on the Cradle. Their judgement may not be very good, but we can make allowances for that."

"Their judgement is probably terrible - but yes. Do it."

"There was one other thing, ma'am." Dori's more hesitant now. "I would guess that he has never seen you fight - he's got no idea how good you are? And has no way of finding out. Something Lord Aurel said suggested that we've been handed a weapon there - we might be able to persuade him not to challenge at all. It seems his Lunar friends in the Marble Phalanx have acquired an almost superstitious fear of some woman they haven't yet identified, who challenged their champion and killed him - their judgement seems to be very badly amiss. But if we use that..."

"If you imagine I'm going to hide behind lies about deeds I've not done, your own judgement is fatally bad."

Dori doesn't quite take a step backwards. Not quite. "Oh, no, ma'am! I'd never suggest that. No, I was going to tell Derenx the truth, no more. We tell him, and anyone else who'll listen, that I was the one who killed that champion. And we tell them the rest of the truth - that I'm not even close to being the best in the Legion, that many others are far better fighters than I am, with you being the best of the lot. And we let them draw their own conclusions. I think you might get your original preference then, ma'am. From what I've heard of Derenx, I don't think he'd take the risk of being publically humiliated by a woman, if he thought you had a good chance of winning."

Siggyr laughs when he hears this, it's so sneaky he wishes it was his idea, and he smiles at Dorinda approvingly. "That's a great idea, but there is a problem with it. There's no way to follow your plan without letting Derenx, and hence the Marble Phalanx and the rest of the Lunar authorities, know who we are, and what you have been up to during the last season. They'll find out in the end anyway, of course, but the timing of that is something Lord Illig would like to pick and choose himself, if he can."

Seledd, nods, reluctantly. "Agreed. We still have a plan. We must assemble here in time for the Star Watch, and hope Lord Illig - and Yarsor - arrive on time. Otherwise I will accept Derenx's challenge, if it comes to that. I'm sure we all have things to do in the meantime." And with that Seledd stalks off, her warriors collecting in her wake.

Landros, Dorinda and Siggyr are left staring after her.

"Well, I for one would like a decent meal and a drink," reflects Siggyr. "But she's right - there are things to do. Shall the three of us find some food - possibly with the others, and set about our tasks. I shall first send a messenger to meet with Lord Illig on the road, urging haste."

"Gimpy's, then," Dori suggests. "I believe that was where the rest were headed. And one of the things I didn't see necessary to mention was that the first person I'll consult about Derenx's ability will be Karrath." She considers that, enjoying the idea. "Come to think of it, I might try to give him some idea of how good Seledd is compared to what he saw us doing on the Cradle. That might forestall a few problems, too, assuming we have uses for him alive."

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