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Morthander Deville with the Elevens - Part 1

As Morthander Deville inspected his nails, a frown momentarily creased his fine features. The nails were scuffed, slightly pitted and far too short for fashion. In Glamour, the Emperors' latest fad for long, sharp finger-nails had caused many accidents among the Imperial Courtiers. Long accustomed to picking their noses with considerable fervor, they had, in several cases, torn large chunks of flesh from their nasal appendages. Deville had no such problems - - he had servants to pick his nose for him, well at least he had back in Mrins Cross. Now, out in "Sunny Sartar" as the settlement drive posters in Glamour proclaimed, Deville was down to a skeleton staff of eight.

The memory of the posters raised a sneering smile to Deville's lips. "Sunny Sartar" indeed! All that he'd seen since arriving in this flea-ridden country was rain, rain, smelly locals and more rain. It was no surmise to Deville that the Sartarites were such an obnoxious breed of bad tempered barbarians - who wouldn't be after generations of this place?

He looked up as Tribune Ignifer Arin-Torza strode out of the main rooms of the Generals Headquarters into the reception area where Deville waited. The iron-clad Tarnils guards closed the door behind him with mechanical precision. The heavily built Tribune clanked towards him in his formal armour, it glittered and shone like a freshly minted Imperial, displaying the lack of battle damage proudly, for all to see.

Ignifer Arin-Torza was an Alkothi from the House Arin-Torza, the Emperors current favorite among the Alkothi Noble Houses. Deville knew the Tribune was a follower of Shargash though he acknowledged the rightful place of the Goddess as sister of Shargash and the Red Emperor as the Light of Yelm - hence he was somewhat respectable - unlike the vast majority of Alkothi who were as bad in their own way as the Sartarites.

"Deville! General Fazzur will see you now!" He bellowed impatiently in a bass roar. Deville stood slowly, with a benign smile on his face then rammed his knee up under Ignifer's kilt into his crotch with all the force his trained legs could manage.

Ignifers eyes bulged in pain and shock but somehow he remained standing and even swung a meaty fist at Deville's head. Deville swayed to one side letting the blow pull Ignifers arm past him, exposing it for the grab, twist and break hold Deville used on him with trained ease. Ignifer howled in pain as his arm was wrenched around sharply but Deville was shocked to feel the sinewy strength in that heavy arm and amazingly it resisted his attempts at breaking it.

Instead, he was lifted bodily into the air and hurled ten feet accross the room. He relaxed as he fell, hit the ground and rolled to his feet, hands poised to unleash lighting fast punches and strikes.

Ignifer stalked towards him, his face reddened and furious, his hands outstretched in a wrestling hold, ready to tear him limb from limb. Deville acknowledged wryly to himself that perhaps he'd made a mistake and Ignifer was a good deal tougher than his polished armour would indicate. Shrugging his sang froid, Deville leapt to the attack. Ignifer roared and did likewise.

"Halt!" Cried a parade-ground bellow before the two could battle in the centre of the room. General Fazzur stood like an icon of ire in the doorway, his guards on either side of him. When both would-be combatants came to a halt, the general shook his head in disbelief. "What the hells are you doing? A priest of the Goddess and a Tribune of the Empire brawling in the middle of my antechamber? The whole city will know about your outrageous behavior by sunset!" Snarled the General.

Ignifer bowed stiffly. "My apologies General but the priest hit me, I merely responded."

The general snapped his head around to Deville. "Is this true?"

"Yes, but he was rude to me, I merely attempted to teach him a lesson and not judge the Broo by its Horns. Unfortunately he taught the teacher his own trade - much to my chagrin." Deville smiled winningly.

Fazzur knew that smile well and was not fooled. He looked back to Ignifer. "Were you rude to the priest?"

Ignifer looked a little sullen but knew that the Tarnils guards saw the whole thing and would not lie to cover his mistakes for him. He nodded sharply in affirmation.

"Very well, consider yourself on report. Deville, behave like that once more and I'll sent you back to the Overseer, he won't be happy at your early and unprofitable return. I've just seen the expense account you've racked up since you arrived - we had to get a Deezola priestess in to revive the accountant! "

"One must maintain ones standards General and I _am_ a priest of the Goddess and must look the part." Pointed out Deville airily as the General led him into his rooms with Ignifier hobbling along behind. Though Shargash had helped him stay up during the scuffle, the aching pain in his scrotum has returned with alarming force and his eyes watered. He struggled on nonetheless, face set in the manner of the hero which he knew himself to be.

Inside the room waited another warrior, even bigger than Ignifer and looking far more battered. He stood rigidly with helm under arm and a look of angry displeasure on his face. In a lot of ways he looked very similar to Ignifer though he sported an unfashionably heavy beard. Not only was he was taller than most men, but he was immense of arm and shoulder, raw strength was apparent in his stance and he looked to have the endurance of a rock outcrop. A heavy mace hung at his side and the ritual burns of Shargash scarred his cheeks showing total devotion to his savage god. Deville knew instantly that this was a man to be wary of.

Fazzur sat behind his desk and peered at the three men from behind the stacks of books, papers and scrolls that littered it. "Deville, I'd like you to meet Vrantharus Urashmallek, commander of the 3rd, 6th and 11th Elevens who've been on station at Wolf Stand for the last two seasons." He indicated the big warrior standing next to Deville. The big man was staring at Ignifer with open hatred. His glare was returned with venom.

"Good-day, good sir, you have been at a difficult post." Said Deville politely.

Vrantharus looked down at Deville with some distaste but nodded a grudging greeting back. "Yes, we've been fighting the damn wolf-men and their creatures. They are tough but my Elevens don't care about that and Shargash has been with us so we have plenty of hides and slaves to send home to Alkoth as trophies."

"Oh, well done!" Simpered Deville; he put on his most charming smile and most winsome tone. "I understand that the Elevens are some kind of penal unit, like Danfive Xaron, is that so?" Deville had hoped to show interest to win over the warrior.

Instead he receive a scowl - the big man was good at that. "Danfive Xaron?!? That bunch of useless, deranged idiots? NO! We are Shargashi, of Alkoth, the finest warriors in the world and have many millennia of war behind us to prove it! What do those of Danfive Xaron have? They have the Emperors' favour, some pretty uniforms and a lordly attitude! Speak to me not of their like!"

Deville maintained his smile with effort, he wanted to punch the fellow but he knew the General would not be amused. "I apologize for offending you sensibilities good sir." He said in a tone that said he didn't really but Vrantharus didn't notice.

General Fazzur slapped the table to get their attention. "I didn't call you two in to argue - you have a joint mission. Deville will be in overall command but Vratharus will have decision making control over tactical and logistical procedures."

"We are to work together? How charming." Smiled Deville with mock joy..

"What is the mission that requires both a powdered priest and three companies of Elevens?" Asked Vrantharus grumpily.

The General stood and picked up a map pointer and prodded it into the big map of Sartar that hung on his wall. The map showed tribal and clan areas in considerable detail as well as all the major settlements. He pointed at a region on the borders of Sartar near the Dragons Eye. It was on the borders of the Malani and the Colymar, the strongest tribes in the region at the time of the conquest and ever troublesome during the occupation.

After pondering the map for a moment the general spoke. "Here is our trouble. A clan of the Colymar and a Clan of the Malani have disobeyed our edicts and opened up an old feud for land that began nearly three hundred years ago. The Colymar clan are called the Varmandi, the Malani clan is the Orlevings. I want you and your men to restore peace to the area and stop a tribal war. If you can't stop the war, you are to offer your assistance to any faction that supports the Empire and defeat the other. That's is why Deville is to be there, he has a finer grasp of politics than you do Vrantharus."

"Bah! Politics! I lust for the days of Shargash's Dominion when such fripperies are left for dust and the world rocks and shakes to the crash of war!" Snarled the big man.

Deville raised an eyebrow in subtle mockery and made knowing eye contact with Fazzur. "Yes General, I can see why you are sending me along now......"

The Deville page | Part 2 >>


May 29, 2000

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