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Egil visits Yaren and the LM temple

Freezeday, Illusion week, Fire season - mid morning

Egil then heads off at a brisk pace to Yaren's shop. Once inside he finds himself facing a young lad, barely through his initiation by the look of him. "Can you fetch your master for me? I need to have a chat with him. If he needs to know who it is just tell him I'm one of Mistress Dori's men."

Ulf looks a little unsure of quite what to do. He sees any number of ne'er do wells and roughnecks in and around the shop but often not as calm looking but at the same time scary as Egil. "Look lad, do you recognise these runes I wear?" Ulf nods in reply. "Then you know that the worst thing Yaren will do is fire you but it's not the worst I'd do by a long shot."

At this Yaren steps through the curtain at the rear of the shop. "So Dori's still running round with you bunch of borderline psychopaths and killers then? What is it that you want, aside from scaring the living daylights out of witless shop assistants?"

Egil gives a tight grin at the description of the Legion. "Two things. Firstly Dori has need of her horses soon and I'm here to check up on them and ensure they are ready for a ride out. Secondly," he pauses to point at a newly painted Silence rune on his gauntlet, "I'm sure you know what this is. I seem to recall you're a big noise on the subject. Can we discuss some theology?"

"Theology, eh?" Yaren looks at him thoughtfully. "That sounds like something to discuss over a bottle of wine - and not that gut-rot they serve in the taverns, either, quite apart from all the eavesdroppers. Come on through."

He leads the way back through the curtain, along a short passage, and into a comfortable little room looking out over an inner courtyard. The walls are covered with mementos from around the Lozenge - Egil recognises a few, but most register even to the well-travelled mercenary as "weird foreign stuff". Yaren selects a bottle from an array, and fills two glasses while motioning his guest to a seat.

"So, what did you want to discuss?"

Egil sits and eyes the wine glass with some suspicion, "We'll go and see the horses soon enough I suppose so let's get down to the other part. You're the closest thing I have to an expert on the subject, and being a follower of Hu's other you might have another perspective on things. I am new-ish to Hu of the Nine Silences and want to discover more about him, especially in Sartar. I am heading there soon and, for me, it will be something of a pilgrimage. I want to visit any shrines or temples there, so would be looking for some guidance in the area."

He pauses and picks up the glass of wine. After a tentative sniff, he takes a sip. It doesn't make him want to retch so he follows it with a large gulp causing Yaren to tut and shake his head.

Ignoring his host's disapproval Egil continues, "In fact, you could come with me and give me the guidance first-hand then you'd have a great deal of first-hand knowledge of your other."

"Sartar - that's not somewhere I trade through much any more, since the Lunar taxes are even higher there than they are here. I've been there, I can guide you to Boldhome, and I can find out about the shrines for you, there's plenty of traders go through, and plenty worship there. Sartar himself was a hero of Issaries, after all, though I expect anything done in his name has been closed by now."

He sips his wine, thinking. "If you want to hire me as a guide, that's fine, I'm available at the usual rates, and if you're not familiar with the way things are done these days, you'll need a guide. The Lunar hand is heavy these days. Your people aren't exactly known for their tact when it comes to Lunars, though, are they? Efridel told me a few stories, and peaceful cooperation didn't come into them all that often. Are you sure it's Sartar you want a guide to, not somewhere, shall we say, a little deeper and darker? I can do both, for the right price."

"Deeper and darker may be the ultimate destination of my pilgrimage. I have some old friends I need to find and have a talk to, but that will come later. First I want to discover all I can of Hu of the Nine Silences, we can negotiate the price of your guidance."

After another sip of wine Egil continues, "As for tact and peaceful cooperation, no-one has mentioned that it is required of us. We act with honour towards them and then, as best we can we kill them. If it upsets other red-coated clowns we can hardly be blamed for it, they should pick their fights more carefully."

"Now, I think on it, perhaps I should speak to Dorinda. I think she might want you as a guide for the cohort rather than have you employed by me personally. I'm a rubbish boss anyway, I like to behead employees who upset me." He does manage to grin while he says this. "Actually while I'm here I wonder if you could take a look at my sword. It's called Barzaad's Tooth and seems to have one or more magical powers, would you happen to have heard rumour of such a thing?" He slides the gleaming blade from its scabbard and he lays it on the table.

Yaren doesn't touch it, but does take a careful look. "Nice blade, but I don't see anything about it to tell me more. The Knowledge temple is what you want, and one of the followers of Dilfar Deepsighted. Come to think of it, I might know just the man, and he owes me a favour or two. "

He drains his wine. "If you like, I could take you there now, checking on those horses on the way. There'll be a charge of course, but I can probably negotiate it down for you, and then you put in a word for me with Dorinda. I can sort out the supplies she'll be needing, as well."

"Sounds good to me. Let's go and see the horses then. I'll do my best to put in a good word with Dorinda but I think it fair to let you know beforehand that I'm not necessarily top of the list of people whose opinion she values." he gives a half-hearted shrug "Come let's find this man of Dilfar's."

Egil stands and pushes his sword back through his belt and waits for Yaren to lead the way.

Yaren starts leading towards Riverside, then stops. "I've got a better idea. Hanafel's a good source of information on magical items in general, but for this, someone who knows Pavis history as well would be even better, since this sword has a name. Let's see if Anglaf Ink-fist is in."

He changes direction, heading for the main Knowledge temple. When Abul has come here and Egil has accompanied him, he's always gone to the right wing, as they do now, but instead of leading the way to one of the training rooms on the ground floor, or upstairs to the sages' quarters, Yaren goes down a set of stairs that Egil hadn't realised were there - he hadn't realised the Knowledge Temple had a basement. The roof is lower than is comfortable for either him or his guide, but it's quite well-lit. Yaren stops at a heavy door at the bottom of the stairs, and knocks. "Master Anglaf? I've a young man here who needs a sword identifying. Are you in?"

The door swings open, apparently of its own accord, until Egil looks down and sees the occupant. Less than four feet tall, but probably that wide - the massive fist looks as if it would be more comfortable holding an axe than a quill. "And where else would I be, boy? Come on in."

The room seems positively sparse. 4 lamps illuminate the room although the source of light is uncertain as there appears to be no flame. Aside from a large desk made of some dark wood with a single scrollon it and a matching chair nothing else adorns the room. The walls, floor and ceiling are tiled in white marble, although the tiling is so cunning that the joints between tiles cannot be seen or guessed giving the effect that the whole room is carved from one piece of stone. The room is spotlessly clean and polished. Upon approaching the desk, a cubed recess can be seen in the wall. It measures about 50 x 50 x 50cm. On the wall just below the opening is a shelf the same width, on the shelf are 100 or so black stone cubes with some runes painted on in white. The cubes are arranged into 5 rows.

Egil gazes round the room in wonder. Initially he is struck by how clean and white the place is but then confusion follows. There is a scroll on the desk but where are the others? All the other scholar's cells he's been in have been dark and dusty with books and scrolls piled high. He quickly masters himself though, to be confused in battle is a lethal thing.

"Master Anglaf, I am Egil of the 10th Cohort. I have a question concerning my sword, may I draw it?" He thinks it best to ask the Mostali before baring his blade. When Anglaf nods his assent he unsheathes the sword. "I believe this blade is called Barzaad's Tooth and it has some magical ability. I know it can cut through stone if wielded correctly but I wonder if it can do other things too."

"A stone-cutter, which you bring here." The dwarf's voice is flat, almost mechanical.

Yaren looks horrified. "I didn't know! He never said!"

"That, I can believe. You are not that stupid." The dwarf's hands move under the desk, and there is a grinding noise followed by a loud CLANG from behind Egil.

"Boy, if you wish to leave here knowing more of that sword and its maker, you will first swear an oath. Swear never to use it to harm this city, and never to use it against any Mostali, and I will tell you more."

Egil smiles ruefully but is not unduly perturbed by the grille. "May I first apologise? I beg your pardon, for bringing such a weapon to you. I didn't realise it was anathema to Mostali, perhaps I should have and even if I knew it was the case I didn't know I'd be meeting a Mostali today. Yaren didn't disclose that bit of information to me. I didn't tell Yaren what I knew of the sword's abilities because he didn't ask and the organisation I'm part of tends not to run around offering free information about anything. If people ask they might not get an answer from us. As to the oath, would it suit if it is done with the power of Hu?" The dwarf nods his assent.

"Very well, I swear by Hu that I shall never make use of Barzaad's Tooth to harm New Pavis and that I shall never use it against any Mostali." The air around him shimmers slightly as the magically empowered oath settles on him. "Satisfied? Shall we begin then?"

The dwarf nods. "From what I know of Humakti, that sword isn't likely to leave your hands for any reason short of death, so that's effectively neutralised it, and that is of great value. As you can probably guess, harming the city and damaging Mostali is precisely what it was intended for when it was created. The thing's a menace to the World Machine, as was its owner."

"Barzaad - I suppose that was quite a long time ago, by the standards of humans. They have a history of him, I transcribed it when I first came here."

He walks around his desk and approaches the black cubes on the shelf. His fingers dart quickly over the stones pushing some of them in a sequence Egil can't follow. When he finishes a hidden panel slides across and the recess is closed. "Now we wait." Moments later the panel slides back and the recess contains a small pile of papers in a very clear, regular handwriting. "There, you can take that if you wish."

Egil retrieves the papers, "Have you got one of you friends scribbling away behind that wall? This writing is very fresh. Mind you, old or new it's not much help to me. As far as I can tell someone has taken a quill and scratched ink all over the page. Any chance you can tell me what these words mean?" He shows not the least concern for his lack of
literacy. Writing is, after all, for officers and leaders and he is just a plain soldier.

"For a small fee, certainly," the dwarf says with a grim smile. "I'm a senior sage, not an apprentice for hire."

"No need, no need," Yaren intervenes hurriedly. "I'm sure I can find someone to do that for us. A quick summary, perhaps?"

"Fair enough." Anglaf sifts through the papers quickly. "Yes, as I thought, it was back in workcycle - well, that hardly matters, and would be meaningless to you anyway."

"Barzaad was one of the nomads who tried to attack the city in its hey-day, when Flintnail was the main power here. He was in competition with Jaldon "Toothmaker", and claimed that his "tooth" was better than that of his rival for getting through the walls. While it was certainly effective, he died during one of his many attacks. Various people claim to have used his "tooth" over the years - some of them may even have been right. He's said to have followed "Iron Man", a spirit who seems to be vaguely similar to your Humakt."

He passes the papers back. "There's more detail there, but that's the gist."

"Thank you for your help Anglaf, can you raise your grille so we can leave? What is your fee?" Egil asks.
"For the little information I have provided so far, against the knowledge that that sword is in safe hands, I make no charge."

"If, however, you wish me to use Dilfar's secrets to probe the sword for other abilities it may have, that will be another matter, and the charges may go up if it proves to be excessively hostile. This is, after all, a sword designed to kill my race."

"We'll see Anglaf, you call your magic and let me know the cost. Don't try and swindle me though, I might not know the value of this but I follow Hu and I certainly know the truth." He leans against a wall of the cell that seems to be sturdy and waits for the magic to take place.

"Do you now? Not this particular piece of Truth, though, or you'd not be asking me. Put the thing on the desk, and keep back."

The dwarf takes four small cubes of stone with intricate markings from a desk drawer, and places them around the sword. He says somethign aloud in his own language, and the lighting changes in some way - it was white, now the colour is not one Egil has seen before. "Greenish-yellow purple" would be the best approximation. The cubes glow in turn, and a shimmering rectangular wall appears between them and around the sword.

Anglaf places his hands against this wall, almost as if it had been solid, and speaks to it. Tendrils of light move in, from the cubes and towards the sword - then are pushed back, and the sword starts to hum.

"Hmm. All right, so we try the other angle."

He takes chalk, and draws on the desk - the runes of Lhankor Mhy, with the Truth one dominating Stasis. "Let's see if it likes this better."
A small effigy of a bearded man is placed next to them, and immediately links to the glowing wall.

This time the whole area inside the cubes glows gently, bathing the sword in light.

Anglaf's eyes unfocus, as if he's watching, or perhaps listening to, something a very long way away. He speaks again, but almost to himself, and in Praxian - or something very much like Praxian. Yaren, listening, draws in his breath sharply, then almost laughs.

Anglaf opens his eyes and grins back at Yaren. "Yes, quite. I can see why Jaldon disliked it, but also why it wasn't as effective a weapon as might have been preferred."

He turns to Egil. "No further danger to me, and no extra charge, though it might have been a different matter if I'd been a wall. You've got two extra powers in there. Translating the names as best I can, the first is "Devour Wall", and the second is "Gleaming Whiteness". If there's any young lady you want to impress with the whiteness of your teeth, I'd say you're on to a winner."

"Many thanks Anglaf. I will look into how best to use this magic. I can already think of how to devour a wall and which ones I want to devour. As to impressing any ladies, there is only one I want to impress at the moment and that by being good at my job. Any others can go to Humakt's Halls for all the interest they are to me." Egil states matter of factly. "I think my seeking here is done Yaren. Shall we go and speak to the Hundred about your employment?"

"Again, my thanks Master Anglaf, we won't take up further of your time. I can see you're an extremely busy person." Egil sweeps a bow at the dwarf before he turns and leaves with Yaren trailing behind.

"Before I can head back to our camp I have to wait for a few other members of the Legion, we'll all head back together for safety's sake. Also it occurred to me a moment ago that it's probably best for you to wait in the New City and for me to bring Dorinda or her designated officer to meet you. Not wishing to be rude, but they're a bit sensitive about things right now and having people they don't really know in the middle of it could upset them. I don't think I've got any leeway left where upsetting the warlord is concerned so I reckon I'll stay on the safe side and keep you here for now." Egil grimaces his distaste for his assumed fate as he talks about Illig.

Yaren nods in agreement. "I had no particular desire to traipse across the Rubble at noon in Fire Season in any case, and upsetting sensitive Humakti is usually a bad idea. You know where to find me. I'll show you those horses now, and then you can find your friends."

The horses - those of the much smaller party that had boarded the Cradle so long ago - are in good condition in so far as Egil's inexpert eye can tell. As they inspect the feet of the final one, Yaren says softly: "You needn't answer this, in fact I'd be surprised if you did. But you mentioned walls, and gleaming whiteness, as if both had meaning for you. There's another place you might be going, beyond Sartar, and if you are, I'd be interested in going with you. I've heard rumour that there are routes below that place that go deeper than one might think, and exploring new routes is a duty for the Guide."

"As you've already said, I'm not at any kind of liberty to discuss our destination other than in the most general terms. That being, we're going to Sartar and could use a guide. Dorinda may well give you more information but it's more than my place in Hu's Halls is worth to let you know, plus I'm only a foot soldier, it's not my job to know these things, it's my job to go and kill who I'm told. We could certainly do with a guide who wants to learn new routes, although one of the routes might well not be entirely to your taste." Egil's face betrays no emotion while he speaks.

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