Pavis back

Presents

Freezeday, Illusion week, Fire season - morning

This morning even Vindana is in Dori's "quarters" rather than the office, as they try to convert what had been extremely modest accomodation for a ten-thane into something more suited to the dignity of a hundred-thane.

Offir looks at the attempts with wry amusement. "Can't help with that, since we're not allowed to give her anything directly," he remarks. "This lot, though, should help you protect her and her belongings once you're on the road."

The parcels he's carrying turn out, as he says, to be entirely protective. Big, heavy shields for Oddus and Kristen, suitable for covering two people rather than one. A scroll-case for Vindana, waterproofed to the point where it could cope with Sartarite weather rather than that of Prax. And for Elendala, scale armour rather than the shabby mail shirt she sports at the moment. "If that doesn't fit, or needs any other work doing on it, you're to talk to the smith at the Yelorna temple," Offir tells her. "He's got the full forge, and everything else you'd need. Any other work, even enchantments if you want them." He's fingering the bronze scales as he speaks.

Yenda still can't quite believe what is happening. Yesterday morning Kallyr was an object of hatred and derision and now today she is giving Dori expensive gifts. Why Dori and why the elaborate ruse. If she wanted to gift Dori then going via the warleader would not have caused any real problems... Unless there was something to hid which the warleader would immediately spot. Perhaps she should look more carefully. While she surreptitiously examines the pieces she dredged her memory for any facts she has read in her days as Jalmari archivist that might help her identify any potential threat from the gifts or givers. She falls back on her Hu training in detecting any enemies in the quarters and sends out a final thought to Ashar to see if there really is any attack brewing.

Abul, meanwhile, is less suspicious, but can assess the gifts from the point of view of a well-travelled mercenary who knows what's useful, what isn't, where things come from, and how supply, demand, and import distance affect value. His judgement is that everything here is of high quality, but is also plain, unadorned, almost as if intended to look ordinary. Functionality has been given overall priority. The designs, however, are from Sartar rather than Prax, and are more suited to the colder, wetter, climate there.

Yenda pushes her magic at each item in turn, looking for any enmity, and calling on the Legion's wyter to help her detect any preparation for an attack that the gifts might hold. The shields, the scroll-case - nothing. But as she moves to the armour, there's something wrong, her magic isn't flowing as it should, and even Ashar seems to be having more difficulty than usual. It's similar to something she'd experienced quite recently, what was it? Back when they were interrogating Kallyr, testing her veracity with all the magic they could bring to bear, despite her iron armour... that's it. There's nothing wrong with this armour, nothing at all - but it isn't the ordinary bronze scale it looks like. It's unenchanted iron, identical in feel to the set Kallyr was wearing.

In fact... now she looks carefully, that armour's going to be too big for Elendala. Exactly the right size for Kallyr, though. She has no idea how iron can be made to look like bronze, but there doesn't seem to be magic involved. It's just, like the other items, extremely high-quality kit that deliberately looks like something much more normal.

Seeing the way Offir is holding and touching the armour Yenda has her suspicions, though not unpleasant ones like before.

"The armour used to be Kallyr's didn't it." The statement was aimed at Offir, who looks at Yenda sharply.

"How did you know?" he asks gruffly.

"The way you are holding it gives you away. But tell me, how ever did you manage to make the iron look like bronze?"

Suddenly her eyes go wide. Without giving Offir a chance to answer she interrupts him.

"Of course the smith with the Yelornans is a black smith, he can enchant iron to suppress the magic dissruption. Elendala, he is giving you the choice. Wear raw iron like Kallyr and have protection against magical attacks, but lose your own chance of magic use or get it enchanted and be able to use magic normally. Sorry, I guess you knew that anyway. I'm wittering on, so I'll shut up now."

Elendala is staring at the armour in bewilderment. "My main use to Dori is for my magic, so that's easy. But why? I know she likes Dori a lot, but this is silly."

Yenda looks at Elendala in surprise. "Dori's not the reason you have this gift, Dori is the excuse. Kallyr wants you to stay alive. You severed from the Enjossi clan, not the White Quartz. You are clan, her only clan, and she doesn't want to be clanless again."

Seeing the cold look from yesterday coming back to Elendala's eyes Yenda follows up.

"Don't even think of refusing that gift. You would dishonour not only yourself but Dori and the Legion too. Kallyr's no fool, she wont expect you to fall at her feet worshiping her for this. She might hope that you will not hate her so much though."

"Getting it enchanted makes it even less obvious that there's anything special about it," Offir points out. "Makes you less of a target. I'd have had it done anyway, but she said it had to be your choice." He's looking at Elendala with no friendship at all. "You remember one thing, girl. She wants you kept alive. If the wrong people catch on to that, and to why, that makes you a potential hostage, and a potential threat. If that moves from potential to actual, you get removed, and I apologise to her afterwards."

Unfortunately for Offir, they are no longer alone.

"There would be some objections to that plan," Dori remarks as she enters. "Your point about the potential hostage possibilities is noted, and will be taken care of, but not by those means."

She looks round the group. "You all understand that? Elendala's birth clan is never to be mentioned, any possible reason why it might be of interest is never to be mentioned, there is never to be any indication that there is anything special about her. Even saying that ma be saying too much, we're not protected here."

Offir grunts. "Low risk. Anyone listening around the camp will be concentrating on Her, not us."

Dori nods. "Deliberate decoy?"

"Not my idea."

"No. Right, you get back to her, I need Abul and Yenda - I want you two protected by the cohort wyter before you leave the camp."

She looks round the partially-transformed quarters. "Nice work here, by the way, but don't get too carried away."

But Abul has reservations...

Onward to mid-morning

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