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[[ChronPavis Pavis]]

[[ChronP61 The Sword Bridge]]

==== Waking up ====
//Waterday, Illusion week, Fire season - morning//

One by one, they wake up, in the temple where they'd slept. No daylight reaches this far down, but there are candles, and the watch changes at dawn.

They might dismiss their memories as mere dreams, but it's well-known that dreams here only happen by Humakt's will - avoiding nightmares had been one reason so many slept here tonight.

Abul's body still lies where it was, unchanged.

It is the first thing Yenda sees. It reproaches her, mocking her for her lack of ability to change the fate of his soul. She turns to Graylor and sadly asks, "Did you have a dream about Abul last night? I did, and we failed to change his fate, his soul was still taken into the afterlife."

"I did have the same dream and I am not sure that it was a failure. I hope Jamal may shed some light on some of the precise meanings that elude me."

A moment later he sees Jamal reappearing in the temple after a frugal breakfast in a gloomy mood, Jamal goes to Graylor and his ten. He asks him in his own usual direct way, "Friend Graylor, I had an awful dream this night near Abul's dead body. He was judged as any dead but a demon of the Lie was trying to get him too. If finally Abul was judged a good hazar, it left me with the disturbing impression that when my time comes, my own trial will be challenging too..."

Jamal seems really embarrassed by the notion. "You have more knowledge than me about the Great Sword and also about demons... may have this dream any meaning... here in the temple of the Severer?"

"Yenda and I were discussing that very thing Jamal." Graylor allows himself a small smile. "As you know, in here only dreams allowed by Humakt can be experienced so definitely the dream has meaning."

Graylor sees others waking and listening in on the conversation. "I take it that many of you had a dream about Abul being tried in the Courts of Silence." Several nod, surprise evident on their faces.

"I believe that Humakt gave us leave to witness Abul's trial. Only thus could we all have shared the same dream. It was good that Abul was judged to have been a good hazar and that he was kept away from the darkness demons that have been stalking him. I think that there are insights from that dream that will help those who seek to find his soul."

Irnar speaks up. "How can that be? He was sent through one of the thousand doors and we can't know which one as they will have changed by the time we get there."

"True but who sent him through the door?"

"A skeletal figure, but how does that help?" Irnar sounds exasperated.

"I think I know." Yenda flushes with excitement. "One of the Carmanian psychopomps is St Abbassar of the Dry Bones. With a name like that surely they must have a skeletal appearance. I can't imagine that there are many practitioners of that cult near here." She looks at Jamal and they grin at each other.

"Lady Jakkanna," they chorus together.

"I will go and elicit her support in our venture." Jamal says.

While Jamal is discussing with Graylor and his ten about the morning to come, he sees Seeker-of-Righteous-Death, the Iron Man shaman who decided to attach his steps to his owns. The Praxian seems in be in an unusual hurry, visibly looking for him. Jamal, already feeling sad and tired, is puzzled by this new attitude and beckons him to come and speak without delay.

"As Seeker has told, Seeker has spent the night in the spirit plane, looking for your son... No evil spirits came to take his body because he was in the Temple of the Iron Man, but it was hard to find his spirit because he had been young and strong in his life and his spirit was eager to find his way... Seeker finally found him: a black kite flying high above the desert, looking for a river to follow like all black kites who like to travel from winter to summer and to summer from winter, from South to North and from North to South..."

Unstopped, the shaman recalls the memories of his night long trance and tells: "Seeker knew where the river was and takes shortcut to catch him up. When the black kite finally came, he lost no time and followed the river down to the Mystery Sea of all Endings. As Seeker was supposing, his stopped to the Island of Judgment. There was a great gathering, lots of birds, mainly flocks of ravens and crows, but also older black kites, some sparrow hawks and lesser birds in quantity. Too much for a single lone young black kite in fact. The judge was weird too, an unusual shape for Daka Fal. It was a creature that Seeker never saw before: a kind of hybrid between a day lion and a night owl, quite majestic but also grim and silent. No bird danced or sang as they should have done, they just croaked, chirped and tweeted quietly for a while until the moment when a dark gray marten came trying to rob the young black kite. The birds banded then together and threaten in pack the marten who retreated in fury."

Looking at Jamal's and Graylor's expressions of agreement, the shaman stops his story and comments, "I see that this seems nothing new to you... but maybe the end will be more surprising... after the confontation, the half-owl half-lion made a great deep hooting and the black kite confidently took back his flight over the ocean in front of him. Seeker can't go far in the Sea of all Endings, only Daka Fal shamans can, that why it remains the Great Mystery for me, but with patience and good magic, an Iron Man shaman can wait and determine if it is righteous-death or not... The direction was good at first and he was about to vanish in the Mystery when Seeker saw him suddenly distracted and falling down to be trapped by surprise into a cage, never achieving his last travel."

Seeker pauses. "It is disturbing. Righteous-Death isn't supposed to happen this way. Daka Fal eventually presents clearly a punishment in case of wrongness, but never traps dead by surprise... Only hunting shamans submitting ghosts may act this way..."

//About Owl-Lion, Carmanian griffin nice symbol for Karmanos //

"You are right." Graylor replies, his face darkening. "This is not right nor good. But perhaps it will be worse for Abul's enemies. They have violated the ways of Death and as such should be punished. Furthermore as we are guardians of Death we are required to be the medium through which punishment should be meted out and the correct protocols reestablished."

His face is grim as he turns to Irnar. "It looks like you will have the company of at least some of the legion on your quest to find Abul's soul. Though we will only be involved in the attempt to release Abul from his wrongful imprisonment and nothing that would disturb his normal passage to Hereward's domain."

At his turn, Jamal turns to Graylor, action is clearly his defense against sorrow. "I feel a kind of still unclear pattern around Abul's death as if the eternal battle between Truth and Lie had been somehow attached to Abul's fate. My friend Graylor, may I ask you a service? Could you investigate this with anyone who could help you, Lady Jakkanna of course but also Seeker, Yaren Blackstaff or anyone with insights about the psychopomp ways? As planned, I will take Abul's body to the Idovanian chapel this morning and request an audience with Duke Raus, he has been very supportive to Abul and might be a good support again. Try to get a word from Kallyr Starbrow. The Kheldon Queen may also consider that Abul deserves some specific help...."

"I know that Kallyr has promised aid to Irnar, though not in what form. But, as to your idea to transport Abul to Raus' chapel, I am not sure that that is wise. I would agree if you were planning to accept Abul's fate, but, as you are not, there may be rites performed on his body that would prevent the white ladies from doing their part. It would be better to transport him directly to their temple in anticipation of his restoration." Graylor responds gently.

Glancing then closely at Irnar, Jamal adds, "Your project seemed desperate at first but the more I think about it, the more I get the impression that it will be more than giving a second chance to my adoptive son... If not, why these dreams and shamanistic visions? Work on this project, will you? You will receive more than a father's gratitude."

"I will. I will talk to the healers as soon as I can get to Pavis and will arrange Abul's transportation once I am happy he will be received. 'Till then he will be safe and free from corruption where he is lying now." Irnar bows to Jamal and leaves the temple to consult with Benlan.

Turning to Graylor and Yenda, Jamal admits: "I think you're right... in fact, I'm still not clear on my wishes for Abul. As a father, of course, I selfishly want him back, however as a Ten Thane I wonder if it's a fair choice to mobilize our resources for one single junior legionnaire when so much of our weapon brothers have passed away without more attention than simple military funerals... but then I have all these questions about our last night dream and Seeker-of-Righteous-Death's report..."

He seems to ponder his words conscientiously and after a moment, he adds, "Would you accept me with you when you discuss the situation with Lady Jakkanna? I need to know more of the meaning of all this. I will be better prepared for an audience with Duke Raus after that..." and as Graylor agrees. Jamal concludes, "Fine, then I have to give some directions to my ten. My men will escort the corpse to the Chalanna Arroy Temple and by the way I will also organize our trip to New Pavis and inform Dorinda about it. When you're ready, meet me at the pen, I will be there preparing our ride."

Leaving the Humakti subterranean temple, Jamal climbs up to the outside and he immediately looks for the Hundred-Thane. Having found Dorinda, after her morning prayers, starting to check the new defensive enchantments of the camp, he greets her politely but without his usual smile..
"Good day to you Waleesha, may the Praxian sun enlighten your steps and bring joy to your heart, I'm currently more in a Woriani downpour mood but fate does not always agree with our wishes..."

"It doesn't, does it?" she agrees. "Fate seems to be playing some very odd games with us at the moment. What can I do for you, Jamal? I take it this is about Abul?"

"Abul, yes definitely, but not only... it is also about me and the Legion..."

"I had a dream last night, a dream that other legionnaires shared. A dream that I take as a warning... for the sake of both Abul's soul and my mine. Did you have any dream last night, Dorinda? A dream about Abul's trial as the Court of Silence, perhaps?"

She glances at him sharply. "It wasn't a dream, you know that. Dreams only come to Humakt's Hall with his permission, and that was no dream. Sleep, the little death... that was us in His halls more literally than usual. So, Abul was judged, and found to be a true Hazar. I can't say I'm surprised, he deserved it. That demon was unpleasant, though. That level of hatred felt almost personal, towards Abul and, oddly enough, Hereward. I wasn't picking up any memories from my "self" over there about why, so I'm baffled. Still, Abul's safe now, on his way to wherever Hazars go. Where is that, anyway?"

"I suppose that like any initiate, Abul's soul should normally be with his god, Herw'Ard, assisting him in the mission to sustain those who fight and denounce authority abuses..." Jamal explains. "At least that why Herw'Ard is prayed for in Carmania and why I pray him too, to guide me against all lunar abuses. No wonder that this demon from the black list hates them so much: Herw'Ard protects the deceived victims while this Baltezer visibly encourages ambitious and immoral people to subordinate then cheat them..."

Dori nods in agreement. "Her'Ward most definitely accepted Abul as one of his own - I should know. Not one of his aspects I knew much about before. I'll have to learn."

He frowns. "When I woke up I was wondering on the reasons of this nocturnal vision... Was this a lesson from the Lord of Death? a kind of warning?" He pauses again, visibly reassessing his thoughts. "I was there with my doubts and mourning, when I learnt that others had made the same kind dream... so the message wasn't just for me, Abul's father, but for the whole Legion..? And at this moment, Seeker-of-Righteous-Death came to me in hurry and made me his report about his vigil on the spiritual plane... a new disturbing variation of our common dream..."

"And his report goes a little be further... He claims that Abuls's soul was abducted after his trial and trapped in a cage. In spite of all the allegories that shamans put in their magic neither him or I can explain how this could be possible... but if I add this to the dream in the temple... My feeling is that the whole thing takes an alarming direction..."

At this, Dori looks alarmed indeed. "Trapped? After he left the court of judgement? Once he had crossed the bridge, presumably. That won't do at all. You wouldn't have known, but people being trapped in false Hells on their way to a true Death is something we were discussing at the highest levels only yesterday. If someone's trying that, on a junior member of the Legion, then quite apart from rescuing him, we want to know more before it's tried on anyone else. Jamal, this isn't just your business as his father, and mine as his commander, now, it's Legion business, and high priority, too. I need to talk to Illig, but in the meantime, is there anything else I can do to help?"

Jamal looks at Dorinda with a reinforced conviction.
"Graylor reacted exactly like you. You may talk to him before we go to the city, visiting Lady Jakkanna and Duke Raus. I will gather there all the supports I can find to solve what it seems more and more to have been a great injustice to Abul."
And after a thought, he adds: "And maybe you can advise me on the best way to request a leave to my hierarchy.Time is a factor to consider here and some minds are easier to open than others..."

"It may be best if I handle that for you: Siggyr owes me a favour at the moment. I can request you're seconded to me for a few days: enough time to handle Abul's affairs, which is perfectly reasonable anyway, and as our Master of Horse, to check the mounts we'll be using for the very long journey to come. Egil's taken a look, but he doesn't have your level of expertise, and that gives you an extra reason to visit the New City. I'll go and talk to both our Warlords now, and you consider it sorted. Go and do whatever needs doing."

"You get all my recognition, Waleesha. Moving to the pens was my next move anyway." Jamal salutes formally and leaves.

Irnar comes running past just as Jamal is leaving Dori.

"Benlan says that the White Ladies are obliged to take us in. So we will leave with you, when you go to Pavis. He is gathering his things to prepare Abul for the journey. Benlan also requests that you use a covered wagon to minimise the exposure of Abul to Yelm's light."

"Oh, I spoke to Kallyr too, though she was barely awake. She will send word to someone in Pavis to help us. She has given me a sign and counter sign to recognise them when they make contact." He rushes back to the temple to find Graylor.

Unusually Graylor is nose in a book and even more unusually he is studying it closely with Vindana and she isn't offering any snide comments. They are looking intently at each other with shocked expressions. Irnar studies the scene for several moments before deciding to make his presence known. But, as he is opening his mouth, Vindana splutters and exclaims.

"But that would make you like the Torvaldi, users of wizardry!"

"I thought they were alchemists." Graylor responds perplexed.

"Alchemy is a form of wizardry, and they also know a few other wizardly tricks. All from carefully guarded scrolls in the main libraries. Scholars spend years trying to deciphering new spells from them. I think there are over one hundred known scrolls and only a handful have been found to have more than one spell in them. Here we have found two with many spells. Have you any idea what a big library would pay to have these?"

"Have you any idea how badly the Jalmari would take it if I tried to sell our cult secrets? I'm not even sure if they would pardon me for letting you read them at all."

"True, but you would hardly be able to read them without my help." Vindana sniffs haughtily. "Nor do you have any clue about wizardry whereas I was required to have an in depth knowledge of it before I could finish my apprenticeship. For example did you know that a grimoire is just a physical representation of a node in the magic plane, and to create one you need to have a portal of power that links to the node. In fact there are probably two permanent portals here in this temple."

Irnar can't help himself but make an involuntary intake of breath. Both Vindana and Graylor spin round to face him.

"That goes no further than this room Irnar." Graylor commands quietly.

Irnar manages to look offended, a look he has cultivated over the years. "I have never let any of your Jalmari secrets pass my lips." He says with quiet, wounded dignity.

"I know." Graylor sighs. "It's just that this is so new and I don't know what to make of it yet."

"By the way what did you want?"

"Oh yes. Abul is going to be moved to the healers as soon as possible. Jamal will be going with him. I presume you would like to go too?" Irnar reports.

"Yes. Jamal asked me to accompany him to Pavis so that he can tell Duke Raus about Abul."

Graylor replies before turning to Vindana.

"We will have to continue this when I return. In the meantime, if you can find the rituals behind these portals of power we can perhaps discover where the portals are and how to use them."

Yaren blinked his eyes open then yawned and stretched, that was possibly the weirdest dream he could ever remember. Maybe he should have slept in the temple with the others, he'd heard a rumour that the Lord of Death didn't let dreams pass into his halls. Climbing out from under his blanket he wanders around until he finds the others having their discussion. He listens for a while before he interrupts, "If you're thinking of heading to that bridge you'll need a guide. I know the way, I've been there before. Of course such guidance has a price, maybe we should start negotiating."

"Alright, what were you hoping to get paid?" asks Graylor.

Yaren pauses for a moment, thinking, before he answers, "I think for now I'll just take the promise of employment to be a guide to an as yet unnamed destination to the west. Sound reasonable? If you want to pay goods or money it could come quite expensive."

"It seems a strange way of bargaining. But, if the journey means so much to you I am sure that we can accommodate your promise," Graylor responds, offering his hand to seal the deal.

"I have reason to get to Dragon Pass. A small army escorting me for free seems adequate recompense." The merchant grins widely before accepting the proffered hand.

"I guess that would be a comforting feeling," Graylor grins back. "I will assign you as an Auxilla. Egil to talk to the quartermaster and get you formally registered, and hopefully paid. At least until you decide to leave us in Dragon Pass. For now go with Egil and he will sort you out. But be ready to return to Pavis at any time. I don't know when we will need your services as I don't know how long it will take the White Ladies to prepare for the ritual."

The Quartermaster, Egil Nine-wounds, is a busy man at present, arranging for half the Legion to be supplied for a journey, while the rest remain here and Vur's group move in.

Egil makes his way through the camp with Yaren in tow. "He's a grumpy old sod, but not too dense, so let him moan away and when he's finished we'll get you on the payroll."

Yaren merely nods his assent while gazing round at the sights a small army camp offers to the uninitiated. Eventually the quartermaster is located, directing the loading of provisions on a small wagon. Egil raises a hand in greeting, "Q! My ten-thane sent me to see you."

Egil Nine-wounds looks round at Egil, hawks, then spits out a large amount of phlegm. "Ach! What in the name of Humakt's Hells do you want? You prance around like an idiot making us, who bear the name Egil proudly, embarrassed." Egil thinks of his silence of the mind training and it helps as he lets the abuse wash over him.

"Q, this is Yaren. He's an Issaries guide and is to be taken on as an Auxilla, Graylor's orders," Egil replies in a calm but firm voice.

"And just where does, mister high and mighty ten-thane think I'm going to find food for another mouth? Shall I pluck it out of my arse like some kind of magic?" the grizzled storeman snarls.

Yaren steps across Egil and answers first "Well, I have a little experience in buying and selling goods, including food and drink. If you need my help I'm sure I could sort out some reasonably priced meat with only a minimum of maggots in it. You know, for the time of year, I mean."

"Ah! yer a funny one ain't ya! A right proper comedian. Well, I'll tell you what mister funny man. Count yourself as on the books, but I want you back here this time tomorrow. You an' me is going on a little trip to the market."

Jamal is also here, arranging for the loan of a small cart on condition that it's used to transport various goods back from the Pavis markets.

They have all just about concluded their business when there's a sudden eruption from the command tent. Kallyr is, to put it mildly, no longer "barely awake", but rather, concluding a rapid conversation while heading for the horses at speed.

"... so if the Lunars are trying //that//, sorting out how, who, why and how to stop it isn't just personal, it's important, and I need to be back at base to get things moving, right now." She's mounted now, and looking out along the road. "Offir, you did send the winds to tell them to get going? How long can it take to move cavalry less than a mile?"

"I did, yes, all of a minute ago." He's mounted, now, as are the others of her group, and has a hand on her reins. "No, you are not tearing off without the escort, I don't care how important this is. That's the Rubble, and there's Lunars around here who know exactly where you are and had all night to do something about it."

Illig, Siggyr, and Dori have followed her out, and are exchanging rather amused glances. Siggyr closes his eye for a moment, concentrating, then nods. "No enemies as far as the crossroads. A few Lunar scouts came looking, but they left."

Offir appears somewhat mollified, but only somewhat. "You're still not going past the crossroads until the escort's there."

"They just left the temple. They should reach the crossroads at the same time you do." Illig has shown no sign of unusual concentration, but his voice is quite definite, and both Siggyr and Kallyr look surprised. "You can see that far?"

"I can now." He smiles at her. "That was good work."

"It was a good team."

He nods. "Is there any point in asking you to be careful?"

"About as much as usual." She laughs. "Any point in asking you to do the same?"

"I always calculate my risks." His laughter isn't open, but it's there.

"And then do it anyway, I know. I'll see you in Whitewall, then."

He nods. "You will."

Then Offir's released her, and the horses are trotting out through the gate, breaking into a gallop as they head towards the crossroads.

"No need to ask if you have heard the news of last night?" Graylor asks with a grin. "She seems to have taken this all rather personally. Anyone would think that it was her in the trap and not Abul."

A raised eyebrow from Illig causes Graylor to stop speaking and think. He remembers the meeting from the day before, discussing Kallyr's plans to keep Orlanth alive through a Lightbringers quest. "Oh!" the soft exclamation escapes his lips. Though he recovers quickly. "I am glad that I found the three of you. I need a quick briefing about Abul and another revelation from last night."

Illig looks carefully at Graylor and indicates that they should return to his command tent. Once settled Graylor begins speaking.

"Firstly, I would like to know if there are any orders relating to the revelations of last night. Until this morning I wasn't going to have anything to do with Irnar's scheme but, now that Humakt's sacred path has been violated I felt that I should become involved and find out what happened and if possible deal with the problem. Then I realised that I and the team may not be the ones you would like to deal with the issue."

"Who have you selected?" Illig asks.

"Well the team is made up of those who were originally going to help Abul before. That is: Irnar, Benlan for healing, Yarren and Seeker of Righteous Death as guides. And since this morning Yenda, Jamal and myself. I was also thinking of asking Egil too, his eyes are sharp and he has an instinct for survival that will be useful. Jamal is going to see Duke Raus and he may add to the party. The Lady Jakkanna might be useful; I think she may have been involved as Abul's psychopomp."

"How did you come to that conclusion?" Siggyr asks.

"The figure, that showed Abul which door to choose, looked skeletal to me and Lady Jakkanna is a follower of Saint Abbassar of the Dry Bones. I couldn't think of any other who could fill the role. At least it is worth examining," replies Graylor. Siggyr nods thoughtfully.

After a moments thought Illig responds. "That seems sufficient to me. I don't see any reason to change that group, do you?" He looks at Siggyr and Dori who both shake their heads. "Then it is settled."

"What is the other thing you wanted Graylor?"

"A new unrelated revelation." Graylor's face lights up with excitement. "One of the reasons that Caspian Vur has been looking for this temple is that we have records of anti-demon magic in the cult and it was believed that the secrets were lost in Pavis. Well, they have now been found. Last night Yenda and I found two tomes of Jamlari magic. The Book of Light and The Book of Shadows. The second deals with demons and how to combat them. Something that, I hope, will prove useful for our forthcoming trip. Unfortunately it does throw up an unusual problem." He pauses for a moment before continuing hurriedly.

"The source of Jalmar's secondary powers is not mysticism as the whole present day cult believes." He pauses again, this time to swallow hard. "There is no easy way to say this given current prejudices! So I will just say it. The extra source of magic for Jalmar is wizardry."

The reactions of the others are interesting and varied. Illig remains impassive looking thoughtfully at Graylor. Dori initially looks shocked but in moments she too is thinking hard about the implications of Graylor's words. Siggyr is out of his chair speaking empty words of anger about allowing "foul sorcerers" into the legion. "Could have been worse." Graylor thinks. "At least nobody is actually reaching for weapons."

Illig lets Siggyr rant for only a short time before cutting him off with a raised hand. "Enough Siggyr. There has always been wizardry in Orlanthi society despite prejudices against the practice. Lhankor Mhy uses it to practice alchemy and I am sure that the White Ladies will never spurn any healing magic whatever the source. But I feel that Graylor hasn't finished. I don't think he came here just to activate old bigotries."

"That is true sir. I had hoped that when we found the tomes that we could copy them and use the trip to Whitewall to be able to study them and learn the mystical secrets. Unfortunately, now that they are found to be wizardry grimoires I can't just copy them as they will lose all their power. They need special rituals to create and empower, which could take many weeks to work out. I believe that given a couple of weeks I could find the power portals for these grimoires and learn at least one useful spell to help us at Whitewall."

"So you are asking to stay behind while the rest of the legion departs." Illig looks at Dori with a hint of amusement. "Actually that might fit well with a plan that Dorinda has been persuading me to adopt. She wants a group to be left behind for a few days to monitor any attempts to follow the Legion westwards. Let's make it your ten that stays behind. You can study the grimoires and Santhis can attend his initiation. I expect you on the road on the Godsday following. That gives you a week and a half to learn what you can."

"Thank you Lord Illig." Graylor acknowledges the warlord's decision gratefully.

[[ChronP63 A sad entry to the New City]]

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