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Meeting the Natives - Part 1

By the time Deville made it back to the Silk'n Plume from Lunar Headquarters, his possessions had been unpacked by his servant. Trask had assumed his usual position, guarding the door. Deville stopped before him.

"What's security like Trask?" He asked.

"Hump, not good. Only nine Humakti guards on duty plus a dozen other staff. The wardings and magical defences look minimal but I thought you'd want to check that for yourself. We'll need to get some guards on duty sharpish, do you want me to start checking round?"

"Your as cautious as ever my friend. I don't expect any trouble yet but perhaps we could have a tour around town later. You might as well come in and rest. I'll start on the wards tomorrow." Deville went into his rooms where his servant, Lissus, was arranging things in a more pleasing fashion. As ever his fussiness was both amusing and grating to Deville.

"Oh, my Lord! Your back already, I'm so sorry about the mess, I haven't had time to redecorate. This place simply will not do, its cheap and crass, I'll stay up tonight to put a nice bow on the curtains, perhaps some plants, but they'll have to match the colour scheme....." He would have gone on on this vein for some time but Deville Befuddled him to shut him up. Lissus would spent a short while wondering where he was and wandering around but a least he'd be _quiet_.

Hrothmir was snoring loudly on the divan, holding his huge axe like a baby. His recumbent form was so weighty that the antique divan creaked alarmingly every time he moved or even snored heavily.

"I'm tired Trask, the heat is taking it out of me, you look worn-out too. Lets join Hrothmir and get some sleep." Deville yawned, something he only did in the presence of these men or on his own, it wouldn't do to give the wrong impression in public.

Trask nodded. "Right you are, I'm more tired than Yelms light and we'll have a busy day tomorrow."

With that the two men went to their rooms, leaving Hrothmir to snore and Lissus to regain his senses.

After a good breakfast, Deville took his leave of the Silk'n Plume with Hrothmir in tow. Trask was elsewhere, checking out mercenary contracts around town for potential guards, _without_ official Lunar connections.

Hrothmir was wearing his full armour and Deville had his fine chain Iron hauberk and sleeves on beneath his robes. His usual sorceries were up to provide covert protection from light attack. As ever, Enlightened, his sword, hung by his side almost humming with restrained power.

"I think this place needs a prolonged Moonburn to remove the smell. Do these people ever wash?" Devilles nose twisted in distaste at the malodorous Pavisites who came within nasal distance.

As they reached the public areas, the market stalls were being set up for the day but there were few people about. Deville moved to view the closed Orlanth Temple. A small group of Watchmen led by a Silver Shield stood on guard duty, Deville made his way towards them. They caught sight of his approach and the Silver Shield straightened immediately, his four men followed suite.

"Good morning file-leader!" said Deville cheerfully. "These are your men?" He indicated the poorly equipped watchmen whose military bearing was definitely lacking. The Silver Shield looked slightly sick at the prospect of being talked to by the new Priest in town. The one they were already calling "the Devil" in barracks.

"Er, yessir, Pavisites, just recruited Sir." He straightened even more to attention, almost resonating with stiffness.

"At ease soldier, at ease. That's better." Deville beamed his biggest smile, his eyes gleamed with good humour and cheer. "You've just been promoted I see, your rank markings are new. Congratulations!"

"Er, thank you my Lord, sir, I just took the Watch position two days ago to aid promotion sir, its provisional for now." He shut up quickly as he realised he was beginning to babble and that beaming smile lost some of its beam.

"Well that's marvellous. Marvellous. Now tell me, do you or any of your men take Hazia?" The smile was instantly replaced by a face of stone.

The File leaders mouth opened and closed a few times. "Sorry sir?" he finally got out.

Deville didn't move or speak but suddenly Hrothmir was standing next to the Silver shield, axe held ready.

Deville spoke softly. "You _will_ answer soldier, as will you all. Know this also; Tarnils looks upon your words as I summon his blessings of Truth to us. Now answer the question, or pay the price."

The soldier was transfixed by the blue-eyed stare, his men shuffled nervously, desire to be elsewhere at that particular moment etched all over their faces.

"I don't sir, no. I did try it once but its not for me sir." The soldier said quietly.

Deville smiled again. "Good, words truly spoken are worth a world of lies, now how about you?" Deville transferred his gaze to a watchman, a rather brutal looking man with a lantern jaw that looked unshaved. The mans rather vacant eyes widened with fear. He started to back away.

The File leader looked horrified. "Stand still and answer the Lords Question!" He roared.

Hrothmir moved round slowly, so slowly that he seemed to slow everything else down around him in a drag effect. The axe moved round with him. The frightened watchman backed away even quicker. His three comrades started to follow his lead.

"Hrothmir, be still." Said Deville urgently. He looked at the men moving back before him. "These men take Hazia File-Leader, I can almost smell it on them. Put them on report and consider yourself lucky that you are a truthful man."

Deville' s face became savage for an instant, displaying his disgust of Hazia for all to see, then it was gone behind the mask as if it had never been. His voice when he spoke was flat, without inflection but his tone was grim. "If you wish to keep your promotion, find out who supplies them in the Watch and arrest them. Tell your compatriots that I will inspect them at my leisure and any users after this date will be flogged, any suppliers in his Majesties Imperial Forces will be crucified. I will not tolerate this corruption. Is that clear?" He almost spat the last words so tight-lipped was his fury.

The soldier gulped. "Yes my lord, yes." He saluted again, as did his relieved looking men, being on report for drug use was better than being dead!

Deville nodded and turned away. His face stayed straight for a few paces till out of earshot then he chuckled quietly for a few moments. "Well _that_ should put the Berserker in the Ballet with them. They'll be scared to death for weeks! Pity it won't stop them using Hazia forever but until I find out who the suppliers are it should hurt their trade a little, yes?""

Hrothmir shrugged his massive armoured shoulders, he'd have just axed them but he wasn't Morthander so who was he to argue?

Deville headed straight for the Seven Mothers Temple, he stopped at the doors when the two guards saluted but firmly blocked his path.

"Name and purpose?" One demanded.

"Morthander Deville, honourary Scimitar and Priest of the Red Moon with my companion Hrothmir. I commend you efficiency, your names are?" Deville spoke in Sword Speech to their surprise.

"My name is Rowger and this is Ternn, Lord. At your service." Rowger also spoke in Sword Speech.

"Perhaps gentlemen, you'd do me the honour of sparring with me later? I am in need of practice?"

The two men exchanged looks. How honourary was his title? They were too Tarnils to refuse such a challenge. "We'd love to cross blades with you sir."

"Excellent! As soon as you are off duty send word to the Silk'n Plume and I will join you immediately. Now if we may pass?" They moved aside. "Goodday gentlemen."

"Goodday sir."

Hrothmir followed in, scowling at the Yanafali, he hated their high-handed attitudes and ways. Bunch of squeamish weaklings he thought.

The Temple was not very big but its gaudy opulence was typically Seven Mothers, designed to impress the locals rather than to please the connoisseurs eye. Deville always felt vaguely depressed on entering these vulgar frontier edifices, they showed only the basic truths of the Lunar Way and none of the inner meanings and enlightenments. Still, that was his task and he would bear it as always, without complaint.

His arrival had been noticed and a richly clad but hideously out of fashion young initiate scurried towards him. Deville could see from his Runes and mantle that he was a Red Goddess initiate as well as an Irripi Ontor scribe. His Red Goddess status was probably new.

Gods, did I ever look that fresh-faced and stupid? Thought Deville. He shuddered. Its too horrible to contemplate! He put the train of thought out of his mind and assumed a welcoming smile and a very fashionable stance. The one that Trask said made him look like he was constipated. Barbarians!

"My Lord, I greet you and bid you welcome to the house of the Glorious Seven Mothers and in the name of the ever Illuminating Light of our Radiant Moon." His voice was thin and reedy and he bowed with all the grace of a Rhino relieving itself. It was all dreadfully predictable and provincial.

"Why thank you, its so very pleasant to be here." A beatific smile lit up Devilles face, the young man smiled back clearly believing every insincere word Deville uttered. "And I must comment on your apparel, clearly you have an excellent tailor, one versant in Imperial Court fashion." The poor young chap, ignorant of the sarcasm, flushed with pleasure and bowed even more ungraciously.

"Thank you sir, I shall pass your comments on to him, I'm sure he'd love to design you a whole wardrobe."

"Oh I'm sure he would! Perhaps another time eh? Now, I don't need to trouble any of the priests, I just want some information."

"But sir, the hierarchy look forward to meeting you, they will be available within an hour, they are in the Pavis Temple, negotiating the planned marriage. Could you but wait a while...."

"Ah, you'll have to give them my most heartfelt apologies as I am engaged in Imperial business. I'm sure their work is important so I won't disturb them. All I want to know is where I can find some real Orlanthi Rune Masters."

"You wish to find an Orlanthi Lord? We have an illuminated one who keeps many of them in line, I can arrange a meeting if you wish?"

"No no, but thank you for the offer, I wish to meet real, anti-Lunar Orlanthi and their Rune Masters. Who shall I look out for?"

"Well Lord, you can try Gimpys tavern, Krogar Wolfhelm and Garrath Sharpsword are known to frequent the place but these are dangerous men in a iniquitous place, they might attack you!"

"Good. Excellent. Perfect. Thank you so much for your time. Light be with you." Deville, clapped him friendily on the shoulder, turned and started to leave, the junior priest was left behind with a confused look on his face that even his pancake make-up couldn't hide.

Before he reached the door, Deville turned back for a moment. His smile was immense. "Whatever you do, don't change your tailor, he's successfully captured the quintessential you."

The young priest frowned, a nagging doubt in his mind told him he'd missed something but he dismissed it as he moved on to his next duties. What a nice man. He thought.

<< Arrival in Pavis Part 2 | The Deville page | Part 2 >>


May 29, 2000

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