Back/up Pavis overall

Back at the temple

The heroes return to the Temple "shuitably refreshshed" (as Hrolf puts it) after finding lodgings, reconnecting with Siggyr, and, of course, a few drinks. The central courtyard is quiet: Dori and Seledd can be seen at the far end, and everywhere Legionnaires are making preparations for Illig's arrival.

Suddenly a cloud of cigar smoke bursts from one of the side buidings and envelops the heroes: Blackbeak returns with one of the Pavis
Durulz, a stogie-chewing roughneck with razor stubble on his beak. "Fwhah fwah fwah fwah fwah! [duck laughter] Hey boss, wait `til you hear how our Pavis buddies pulled one over on Goldilocks! [Seledd] She was so dumb, she didn't even check out the intelligence herself!"

Hrolf raises his eyebrows, the beginnings of a smile taking shape on his face.

"See, Seledd was looking for a place to stay with her troops, so Gutter told her about the old Humakti temple in the Rubble and set her up with some guides. There's a group here from the Pavis Humakti who are mercenaries – Hengist's men mostly. Well, they didn't like old Goldilocks getting high and mighty on them so they sort of forgot to tell her just how many trolls are usually in the area."

"'S a major base," Blackbeak's companion snickers through his cigar.

"So they get good and deep into the Rubble – right up next to the temple – when the lead begins to fly and Seledd starts to yell out orders about formations and such. Only Hengist and his boys see, they're mercenaries, and Seledd hadn't paid them." Blackbeak pauses
for drama, slitting his eyes and hunching his little shoulders in anticipation. "So … they … didn't … have to … fight! They only agreed to work as guides! They just ran right back to the temple! Fhwah fwah fwah fwah fwah!"

Hrolf's expression changes from mead-jolly contentment to alarm and disgust as Blackbeak recounts his tale. "This is how you repay
Hereward's teachings of loyalty and truth? Do you think Seledd's blood - the Legion's blood - is something to be spilled for a practical joke? How little you have learned, Blackbeak. You disappoint me."

As the fierce Thunder Duck wilts under his gaze, Hrolf turns to the Pavis Humakti. "And as for you," he says flicking the cigar out of
the duck's mouth, "you will recount the whole sad affair. Now. And if you lie, know that I am Truthspeaker, Swordtongue; many are those whose lies I have vanquished."

"And then we will decide what to do with you …," he continues, cocking his eyebrow at Jamal and Siggyr.

There is an almost inaudibly deep growl from Runner, and a spit of disgust from Vastyr. "It is a sad day when Humakti knowingly lead
Humakti to an ambush. When I was here before, there was no sign of this treachery. It would appear that the redmen are not the only ones that have forgotten whose House this is..."

Vastyr pauses for a few seconds, staring somewhere far away, and running his fingers over his scars. "I must admit that, from what I've heard of her, Seledd is more than likely to handle this herself... but I would not mind to take issue with these treacherous ambushers. I will remember this Hengist..."

Siggyr listens to the Durulz tales, and the anger and dismay they cause amongst the Seventh. He is pleased to note that, despite the rivalry and hostility they may feel towards the Second, not one fails to recognise that loyalty to the legion means the Second comes before outsiders - well, perhaps one...

"Personally," he says in a relaxed voice, "I wouldn't be finding the story very amusing if I were amongst Hengist's friends. Right now they must be messing their breeches that a warrior who can fight her way out of a major troll ambush is now upset with them."

He turns to Blackbeak's companion. "What is your name?"

"Bluetail Uzdo-slayer." He retrieves his cigar. "And who're you?"

"Well, Bluetail, I am Siggyr One-Eye, I bear the standard of this Cohort, and i have some news for you. The rest of our bloodsworn company is amassing here, and Seledd isn't even the worst of our sisters. Normally we'd be oath-bound to immediately find a morsel like Hengist and make him eat various parts of his own anatomy, but we have bigger fish to fry. Moonfish, I have heard, is a tasty dish that is popular in Pavis as well as Dragon Pass. If Hengist were a wise man, then he would find me, kiss my sword, swear faith to Lord Illig, and be prepared to apologise to Lady Seledd. If were to do that, then he might be offered the opportunity to sample some of the tasty Moonfish, instead of being served up as a side dish." By the end of this little speech, Siggyr's voice is hard, flat and cold, and even those who know him feel small shivers between their shoulder blades. The durulz Bluetail backs away fearfully from the Ten Thane, who suddenly seems to loom above him.

Without removing his gaze from Bluetail, Siggyr goes on to say, "and it would appear that whilst Legionnaire Blackbeak has an undoubted talent for tale-telling, he has a poor memory when it comes to Temple doctrine. Hrolf, no doubt you will rectify this lapse with an appropriate period of intense instruction. I should think twenty to thirty years might do the trick, but given that we are all pressed for time, I would like to be able to show Lord Illig demonstrable progress by the time he arrives this evening." The glare of Siggyr's eye flickers momentarily to Blackbeak. "You have my permission to use ultimate sanction* if necessary."

With fear overwhelming his resentment, a jumble of phrases tumble out of Bluetail's beak, "We didn't lie ... it was only a joke ... we told her she should go back ... she wouldn't listen ... it was Hengist's idea ...we meant to get her back before trouble started..." Then the phrases begin to repeat.

*i.e., the death penalty. This might be a joke.

Onward Showdown time
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