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Deville's Tales
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Meeting the Natives - Part 2

After leaving the Temple, Deville and Hrothmir went to Imperial Head Quarters by a circuitous route. Their lack of familiarity with the cramped and ill-planned layout of the "city" made things difficult for a while until Hrothmir grabbed a local after a short chase. Once the man stopped screaming with fear, Deville managed to get reasonable directions out of him.

The Headquarters was as busy as ever and compared to many other buildings in New Pavis, it was relatively pleasing to Deville's well travelled senses. The Marble Phalanx guards saluted him smartly as he went past, he nodded in return and moved quickly towards the main entrance clerk who was scribbling furiously on a large stack of parchments upon his desk.

"Direct me to the Spoken Word section please." Rapped out Deville.

The Clerk looked up, his eyes narrowing on seeing Deville. "I'm sorry sir, but we have no section of that name. Perhaps you mean Military Intelligence? They are in the main barracks, not here"

"No Spoken Word section? Oh yes, I forgot, they don't actually exist do they? Unless they want something out of you that is. Let me put it another way, tell me where it is now or I will have you posted to Corflu." He said airily.

The Clerk actually smiled. "I'm sorry sir, there is no such section of that name and I am heading for Corflu next week anyway sir, so I still cannot help you."

Devilles eyebrows came together in the beginnings of a frown. "So this is the way its going to be, eh? Wherever I go in this province I'm going to have some irritating little Moonson Bureaucrat quoting regulations at me. And why? Because I executed a disgrace to the Empire and you're all outraged!"

Deville abruptly leaned forward and grabbed the Clerk by the collar. His grip was very powerful and he levered the man towards him with ease. "I will not have obstructions to my plans. I will not." He snarled. "Your petty rules cannot protect you now. Understand this, and tell your fellows; I have the authority to break you, each and every one of you and on Yanafal's Sword I shall, if you get in my way."

The clerk looked for a few moments into those maddened blue eyes and knew in his heart that this man would try and stick to his word if they stood in his way. He's insane, power mad! The Mouth will have to know of this, he thought. This man is a danger!

He gulped and gasped out "Very well, I object to this breach of protocol but in the face of your unwarranted aggression I must submit."

Deville abruptly let go and let shine a sunny smile. "Well, there we are then! No more need be said, show me the way!"

The clerk rose shakily to his feet and took Deville through several side corridors to a doorway leading into what were presumably the basements. The doorway had two guards on it. They had no unit designation and they looked very alert and capable. Deville recognized them instantly as Spoken Word Elites, a sub-group of the Emperors Spoken Word with responsibility for protecting their facilities and providing a striking force for minor military operations requiring stealth as well as brawn.

"You can go now." Said Deville to the Clerk. The man left in a hurry.

Deville turned back to the guards who were watching Hrothmir closely. "Tell whoever's in command here that Morthander Deville wishes to see them." One of the guards saluted and then went down the stairs. The other remained at his post.

Deville waited patiently for a few minutes. Hrothmir started to get bored and amused himself by scraping his axe against the wall, creating a nice noise, until Morthander told him to stop it.

Finally the guard returned and waved them downstairs. Deville thought the basements were very gloomy but typically Spoken Word. He was sure he heard screams from somewhere in the dark corridors. Probably one of the many "guests" often entertained at such charming establishments.

Finally they were brought into a large roomy office where a gaunt looking, almost cadaverous man sat dictating notes to a small weasel-like underling. The underling stood up and left as Deville moved into the room.

"Come in Deville, take a seat if you will, your pet too."

Hrothmir growled but a touch from Deville quieted him. Deville sat gracefully. Hrothmir stood behind him, watching for danger to Morthander.

"I can't say I'm particularly glad to see you Deville, in fact I'd rather have Palashee Longaxe sitting there than you, at least he'd make my extirpation quick!" The gaunt mans voice was surprisingly rich and deep and without any obvious accent. His brown eyes hid his real thoughts and his face was a mask.

"Indeed Gimgim? Or whatever your calling yourself this week. I must say that finding you here is no surprise, a dung hill like Pavis draws its share of flies." Deville smiled avidly but his eyes showed his distaste for the man sitting opposite him.

"One might say the same about you....I see you still have your big ape with you. I hope he doesn't go berserk again. It took me two seasons to rebuild my organizations in Wilms Church after that idiot killed four of my best operatives in a bar fight." Gimgim scowled at Hrothmir.

"Well if they were your best, I pity the Spoken Word. I defeated the rebels in Wilms Church by killing their leadership. Often your covert ways are not terribly effective."

"And your methods are? Ha! You leave a trail of bodies wherever you go Deville, your a menace and your presence here spells disaster for our cause. You're dangerous Deville. Lucky for you the Overseer thinks Yelm shines from your backside, so here you are again, getting in my way."

"Pretty speech Gimgim but as ever your innate lack of charm and intellect shine through the thin veneer you think is wit and sophistication. I have few illusions about you and one of these days I'll catch you out with your Krarshti friends and I'll take great pleasure in asking Hrothmir to remove your head."

"Let me do it now Morthander!" Boomed Hrothmir.

"Not yet Hrothmir, not yet, but one day I'm sure. We'll even let you chop of his hands and feet first, how about that?" Deville said brightly.

Hrothmir laughed and Gimgims ice-cold facade cracked for a moment as he squirmed almost imperceptibly in his chair.

"Yes, well enough of this posturing Deville. They day you catch me at something I wish to be hidden is the day I take my own Scorpion-venom tablets!" Gimgims face abruptly changed to anger as his patience snapped "What in the seven hells do you want anyway Deville?" He snarled, tired of the inevitable banter.

"Information, and you collect it. That's what you do isn't it, that's what you get paid for at such an exhorbitant rate? I want the files on the main Orlanthi religious leaders in the city, also any information on other rebellious factions plus details of the Nomads and their chiefs and shamans if you have it."

Gimgim whistled. "You don't ask for much do you?"

"I don't want it all immediately, send it to my apartments when you retrieve it. For now tell me about a certain Krogar Wolfhelm and Garrath Sharpsword."

"I see you're as efficient as ever at finding people to get into trouble with. Those two are the most dangerous of the Orlanthi Frees. Very cunning and powerful men. We believe their organization is keeping the Pavis Orlanth High Priest out of our slave bracelets. Sharpsword in particular is a hard man to read. We don't know where he came from but he has a lot of friends, even within the Armistice Commission."

"Hmm, so they will avoid confrontation you think?"

"They have up to now and they've even been taunted by Radak who can be impossibly irritating at times." Gimgim remembered well the chaos after the last lot of perfunctory crucifixions.

"Ah yes, the Iron Centurion, a charming man. I'm sure we'll be great friends. Well if the leaders are too cautious to bait, then perhaps other options are possible." Deville smiled in anticipation. Gimgim had seen smiles like that only on Rubble Runners.

"Be careful Deville, don't start anything."

"Oh, fret not, I mean to test them and their magical resources but widespread destruction just isn't my thing! Well enough reminiscing over how much we despise each other. I have work to do." He stood and offered his hand.

Gimgim warily took it and as he did Deville tightened his grip like a vise. Gimgim responded and the two men stood there for a few moments while they matched strength to strength. Gimgim broke into a sweat and his teeth were bared but he held his own. Deville never stopped smiling though some almost imperceptible creases appeared around his eyes from the strain.

Deville abruptly leaned forward, still maintaining the grip. "Remember, I'm here now and I'm watching you. I can break you, just give me the excuse. The Empire needs you like we need Sheng on the loose." he growled.

Gimgims eyes tightened with fury. "I'll see you go down Deville, mark my words, you _will_ go down." They stared eye to eye, both showing their hatred openly.

Suddenly they broke their grip convulsively. Deville was cheerful again. "See you later, and don't forget my files!"

Once clear of the Spoken word, Deville shook his hand out. Gods, the man had a grip like a clam! He thought. Hrothmir watched this for a moment then spoke.

"I don't like the thin man Morthander. He always in our way. I should axe him good for what he says to you!"

"Easy, my friend, I will have a measure of vengeance against that traitorous bastard. Pavis is the place to do it. The crime and filth of humanity is so close to the surface here, it'll bring our friend and his "allies" up with it. If I can stir the pot enough, it'll all float to the top, one way or another."

They stood for a moment, looking at the dirt in the street and the beggars prevalent every where in the filthy city but surprisingly numerous even this close to the headquarters and barracks. The Deville snapped out of his daydream.

"You must be hungry Hrothmir? Yes? Well let's eat. I've heard of a great place to have a repast....its called Gimpy's Tavern."

Hrothmir shrugged, not really caring on the where's and how's but always content to follow Morthander to anyplace, even one with a name like Gimpy's.

<< Part 1 | The Deville page | Part 3 >>


May 31, 2000

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