The Spike
The Middle Realm
The God's Plane
The Bard's Corner
Richard Fenner
Gian Gero
Martin Laurie
Wesley Quadros
Herald's Cry
Cross Roads

Alkothi Tales
Deville's Tales
Krarn's Tale
Onslaught's Tales
Sheng Seleris' Tales

A Night Out

Silver mail gleamed and sparkled from the bright lights glinting off Sor-eels immaculate red-cloaked bodyguard. Radak had placed thirty of these men all round the large hall, both for security and to show the natives the glory and might of Lunar power. Every man was an elite soldier of Tarnils, each a veteran and each trained by a Centurion renowned for his spit and polish.

Deville wasn't impressed, who would be after seeing the glories of the Emperor's Palace in Glamour? Still it was a reasonable show for the provincials and as such, was way better than anything the locals could have thrown together, except during the city's hayday under the early Arrowsmith Dynasty.

Everyone who was anyone in the provincial government, the garrison, the Armistice Commission and Sun Town was here. Many local dignitaries and highly placed merchants were here also, as was Duke Raus of Weis Domain. He'd arrived in town with his guard the previous day and Deville was looking forward to meeting him. He was also rather surprised at Raus' daughter; Jezra. She had a certain wild beauty, the kind that Deville always found attractive. He resolved to speak to them later.

Onslaught, Trask and Hrothmir were dressed in their best and all looked uncomfortable. They were men of action, not small-talk and Trask considered such occasions to be more stressful than fighting Broo. Rannur Fazzurson was more at ease, having spent much time in Furthest attending similar functions.

Onslaught scanned the room for signs of threat to his employer. He had no weapons but his hands and feet but that didn't bother him much, this bunch of softies looked easy. Some of them looked so unfit, they couldn't be training more than eight hours a day! Amateurs, thought Onslaught.

Hrothmir went to look for some food while he watched to make sure no-one was insulting Morthander.

Deville made his way over to the Governors group, with Onslaught, Rannur and Trask in tow.

Sor-eel was standing with Bor-eel, Radak, Jotoron Longsword, Jorjar the Quick, the Pavic Chief Constable and a few senior officers from the various regiments in town. He seemed to be having a friendly discussion with two gilted-iron warriors of golden plumage and military demeanour.

"Ah Deville, your timing is as impeccable as ever. Meet Belvani, Light Sun and Servant from Sun County and his protegee, Light Servant Varloz Gilthelm. They are here to discuss the new Grantlands river trade agreement we're drafting. Belvani is Count Solanthos' representative in these matters."

Deville bowed courteously, as did Belvani but both men felt immediately the empathic understanding of their mutual illumination and there was a friendly light in Belvani's eyes, mirrored in Deville's. They kept this feeling to themselves for now. "So nice to meet you Servant of the Light." Said Deville in flawless Firespeech.

"And you sir, Warrior of the Moon." Said Belvani in the same tongue, obviously surprised at Devilles knowledge but also pleased. "This is my protegee, Varloz, he has been studying much with me." He placed a slight emphasis on the "much" which Deville didn't miss. Varloz was illuminated too.

Deville looked to the smiling young man, no more than seventeen but tall and powerfully built. Deville smiled back but he felt an instinctual dislike of the young fellow that he couldn't explain to himself. Something about that avid smile?

Varloz spoke, his gravely young voice heavily Sun Dome accented. "I have heard much about you sir, it is a pleasure to meet you." He held out his hand, Deville shook it and was surprised at the strength of that youthful grip.

Belvani spoke up. "I hear you're training a personal guard of fifty men. How is it progressing?"

"It goes well, this is my trainer, Aldarch Roven-Drax Ap-Onslaught but we just call him Onslaught." Deville indicated Onslaught who grinned casually, displaying his daunting metal teeth. "Perhaps you two would like to talk shop?"

Onslaught grinned happily at this idea. "Yeah, suits me." He firmly grabbed Belvani's arm and moved him away. Deville heard him saying as he left. "You see, you golden boys don't train hard enough, you need a minimum of twelve hours a day for reasonible troops, more like sixteen for Elites. Course they all seem to pass out after a week of that but there must be some real men somewhere out there!" They soon passed out of hearing range. Varloz trailed after them. Belvani didn't look particularly thrilled for some reason.

Deville stood next to Sor-eel and his brother. Rannur stood with him and Trask wandered off to find some beer, a taste for which he'd never lost in all his years with the Empire.

"So Deville, things are quieting down at last for you? No more fighting in the streets or are there enough dead criminals for you now?" Said Sor-eel, semi-jokingly.

"There are never enough dead criminals for me Governor." He drawled, countering the Governors sarcasm with the truth. "However, I'm shifting my emphasis to matters relating to Hazia in the main. That, I perceive, is the biggest threat to the Empire."

"Actually I agree with you on that one. I'll try and help you out but please remember, Hazia has its roots in a lot of peoples money pouches. When their silver is hurt, they get mad."

"I understand, but it must be done, for the good of the Empire."

"Hummph, how many times have I heard that phrase used by some idiot who really just wants to skim a pretty Imperial or two off the top?"

"Many, I'm sure. But Governor, I really mean for the good of the Empire, by the light and with all my soul."

Sor-eel nodded at Devilles vehement tone. He really does mean it, he thought. Watch out Hazia smugglers, Poor Buggers.

Marrek Sirron was fresh from Tarsh, arriving with Rugbagians latest caravan, he'd been chief guard for the trip. He'd done a good job and had been invited to this big function by the well connected merchant as a reward. He was a bit lost with all these political and religious folk about so he decided to find a man after his own heart. He spotted Onslaught talking to Belvani and recognised him immediately. He'd seen the big Humakti hold a demonstration of unarmed combat technique in Jonstown last year.

Marrek decided to go and have a chat. As he approached he heard Onslaught talking in a matter of fact tone about a fight he'd had recently. The Sun Domer he was with looked very bored, almost asleep.

"So the twelfth Broo swings in low, poor technique though, I dodged that while reverse kicking him into the mace wielding Ogre as my backhand strike severed the thirteenth Broo's spine. There were only twenty-six of hem left so I thought I'd go slow on the rest to drag it out........"

Marrek stood patiently by as Onslaughts endless description rolled on. Finally, growing bored himself, he coughed politely. Onslaught looked up.

"Yeah? What do you want?"

"Sir." Said Marrek. "I saw a demonstration you did of unarmed combat, could you perhaps show me correct punching technique?"

Onslaught brightened immediately. "Yeah sure! Lets see your stance then. You know what they say? 'Bad stance, no chance'!" Marrek obliged by adopting his pugilistic stance. "Hmm, not bad but you need to keep your feet further apart to ensure balance. Try punching me, I want to see your follow-through." Ordered Onslaught.

"You want me to punch you?" Said Marrek, puzzled.

"Yeah, in the face, your best shot."

Marrek looked askance but saw from that intent look that he meant it. He shrugged and planted his feet and brought his fist straight through in what had to be the best punch of his life.

It hit Onslaught square in the cheek.

There was a faint cracking noise under the dull thunk of the impact. Onslaughts cheekbone had broken. Belvani's eyes widened in shock.

Onslaughts head didn't even move an inch, nor did any pain show on his face. He nodded. "Yeah, not bad but you weren't following through to get true power into the blow." He said, as if discussing the weather.

Marrek frowned. "What do you mean? I can't see anyone hitting any harder than that! Show me." He said and squared himself up for a return blow.

Onslaught tracked lightly round and unleashed a lightning punch straight into Marreks sternum. His whole bodyweight and massive strength went into that blow, guided by his all superb technique and balance.

Marreks sternum shattered, his ribs caved in, puncturing his lungs and destroying his heart instantly. A gout of blood shot out of his mouth like projectile vomit, splattering all over Onslaughts face. Marrek slipped bonelessly to the floor, his eyes rolling up in his surprised face.

Onslaught turned back to a stunned Belvani. "That's the correct way to punch, follow through you see. Actually that reminds me of the time I was fighting in Esrolia against the Ditali....."

Deville left Onslaught talking to Radak about military tactics. It had taken him a considerable amount of his night to sort out the mess Onslaught had made with his casual killing of a guest of the city's most powerful merchant. After promising to pay for a resurrection, Rugbagian was somewhat mollified but Onslaught seemed oblivious to Devilles anger. "He should have blocked." was all the big man said. Deville decided to finally have some entertainment and wandered over to Duke Raus and his entourage.

The Duke was standing silently amongst the small clump of people around him. He Held a wine glass loosely, a maudlin look on his austere face. His eyes wearily watched Deville approach.

Deville bowed and then held out his hand. "Duke Raus, it is a pleasure to meet you." Raus shook Devilles hand firmly but with no spirit. "Are you enjoying the Governors little affair sir?" Deville probed.

Raus looked slightly startled, then rueful. "I confess sir priest, you have found me in a most melancholy mood. The trip was arduous, through a fierce sandstorm and my oh-so- demanding daughter never ceased her tireless complaints!" His voice was slightly slurred, Deville realised immediately that the Duke was well into his wine. From all he'd heard of him, that was an unusual occurrence.

"May I ask what is troubling you sir?" Deville was interested and even slightly sympathetic to the Duke. He'd known the family that had brought the Raus family down intimately. They were one of the reasons why Deville had left the Heartland's. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Duke Raus seemed to visibly collect himself. He said sternly. "Today is the third anniversary of my dear wife's death in this hellish land. Now I have only a daughter to carry on the glories of the Raus line." A fire lit in his pain ridden eyes. "You ask hard questions sir priest, but what is your interest in my suffering?"

Deville stared up into the taller mans eyes directly. Any fire there was easily matched by his own. "I ask your Grace this because I'm not used to seeing a good servants of the Empire hiding from the perils of life in the oblivion of drink." He said tartly.

Duke Raus froze at Devilles tone for a moment, anger struggling across his face. Finally though, he controlled himself. He even chuckled. "Impertinent though you are young man, you are right." He threw his glass away. The expensive crystal shattered in the halls fireplace. "I shall cease my self-pity immediately!"

Deville smiled. "Good, tell me instead about your lands and settlements, I have heard so many good things already."

They chatted amiably for a few minutes. The Duke had heard, and fully approved, of Deville's stand on crime. He was a particularly vehement opponent of the Hazia trade and was disgusted that many of the new Grantlands settlers were being lured by the easy monetary reward of the drug. He stamped it out wherever he could though his resources were limited.

After finding much common ground, the Duke stopped talking and peered around the room. He couldn't see his daughter anywhere. Deville noticed his look.

"Whats wrong your Grace?" He asked.

"Jezra, I cannot see her. Damn the girl, I told her not to leave the ball!"

"Would you like me to look for her sir?"

The Duke knew his own inebriated state and nodded. "Yes, I would appreciate your help as my mind is not clear yet."

"I will look outside, if you wait here, in case she returns."

"Very well, your aid is very appreciated sir." Said the Duke solemnly.

Deville moved off quickly, he motioned Onslaught and Trask to follow. Radak looked relieved to see Onslaught go. The Humakti was a little too grim, even for the Iron Centurion!

Outside, Deville asked the guards if they'd see a young lady of Jezra's description pass. The Tarnils guards confirmed they had, but in the company of a couple of officers, recently arrived back from a tour in Corflu. They also indicated that Lady Jezra seemed a 'bit drunk' and the men a "bit amorous'.

Deville had a sinking feeling at that point, knowing typical Yanafali understatement as well as he did.

With that information in mind, he moved immediately into the alleyways beside the Headquarters. Onslaught and Trask followed silently behind. It wasn't long before they heard sounds of a commotion in the darkness ahead.

Deville immediately summoned a lightwall and sent it ahead of them. It revealed an ugly scene.

A squirming figure lay partly naked on the ground. Clearly female, she was struggling weakly, possibly semi-consciously, under the weight of two panting soldiers. Silver Shields from their uniform. They looked startled when the lightwall illuminated them in the midst of pawing at her. From the state of their own undress, Deville had interrupted them not a moment to soon. Both men leapt to their feet drawing their swords.

"Who in the hells are you?" A big, rough looking fellow roared, anger and a little fear twisting his face into an evil mask.

"I am retribution." Said Deville and his smile was not pretty to see. He began to move forward.

One of the would-be rapists, veteran of war that he was, unhesitatingly drew and threw his boot dagger in one smooth action, straight at Devilles head. It was a perfect shot.

It didn't get to its target. Onslaught's gnarled hand swatted it negligently out of the air. "Oh dear, I think that constitutes resistance wouldn't you say Trask?" Said Deville. That rapacious smile grew bigger by a degree.

"Oh definitely, no doubt about it." Said Trask with suppressed fury.

The two soldiers panicked then, turning to run as the three menacing figures strode towards them, violence and death closing with every step. Deville casually hit them both with a slow spell, easily overcoming their puny wills. They were going nowhere fast now.

"Look after her." Deville ordered Trask. The Orlanthi bent down to pick up the unconscious woman and reorder her clothes as best he could.

Onslaught closed, unarmed, with one of the men, the knife thrower. Driven by fear to action, he swung his sword hard and skilfully at Onslaughts head. Almost absentmindedly, Onslaught caught the mans wrist in mid-move, with a turn of his hand he snapped it so hard the bone burst through the skin amid a spray of blood. His other hand adroitly collected the falling sword. Holding the weapon horizontally with both hands the big Humakti brought his head down in a rapid arch. There was a dull thunk then Onslaught handed the u-shaped broadsword back to the screaming man. "You really should spend less time worrying about women and more time training. "He said conversationally, moments before his foot lashed up, shattering the whimpering soldiers jaw and putting him out cold. The Humakti shook his head in disappointment over such poor opposition.

Deville stood in front of the other soldier hitting him with single disrupts, one at a time. The man had healed himself several times but now he'd run out of power. The savage amusement on Devilles face as he blasted piece after piece off the scumbag was frightening to behold. Finally the peltast, a bloody pulp by now, lapsed into unconsciousness. "Pick them up, they'll live to be crucified. Take her back to her father." He snapped.

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May 31, 2000

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