Arrival in Pavis - Part 1
Gaius Perthan peered wearily outwards from beneath the parasol protecting him from the burning light of Yelm. The line of bored barbarians and smelly Praxians was short at the Old Gate today and he let them stew for a bit while he sipped some iced lemon juice, hand delivered from the Silk'n Plume.
The Guards from the Watch kept spears crossed, barring entrance, their Sergeant was a scarred heartlander on secondment from the Marble Phalanx called Jerxeus Valden. He stood by Gaius, hand on the hilt of his scimitar, like an icon of Imperial authority. His solid presence was a reassurance to Gaius in this wasteland full of madmen and rebels.
If only I'd stayed away from the Overseer's wife, he thought. Not as if I did anything anyway, coveting is no crime, yet now I'm in Pavis and next season I'll be in Corflu! Gaius sank deeper into his misery, the thought of the large pouch of Hazia he'd just bought made him wish the day was over and the bliss of a drug induced isolation from the unfairness of the universe could immerse him once more.
So lost in his own misery was he that he failed to notice Jerxeus urgently clearing his throat. He was lost in thought until a presence impinged upon his awareness. He looked up sharply to find an unusual trio moving swiftly towards him, like an arrowhead, they moved unhindered through the crowd.
The man in front was of no great height, yet his physique indicated great strength beneath the voluminous robes. His face was expertly made-up, subtly enhancing his noble features, his hair black, immaculately groomed. On his right hand was a silver gauntlet that to Gaius's eyes glowed with a faint Crimson light, it was etched all over with mighty runes and strange glyphs. On his left was a heavy iron fencing glove, as worn by the Glamour Fencing School. Currently the iron bound hand was hooked casually over the bejeweled hilt of an iron broadsword. A large red crystal pulsed lightly as the pommel stone.
Most notable of all to Gaius was the runes and sigils on display on the mans robes, indicating his status as a full Priest of the Red Moon and of several other deities too. The Chaos Rune with Wings badge on his right shoulder being the most frightening of all, indicating service with the Goddesses Steed, the Crimson Bat.
Behind him to his left was a vast man, seven feet in height and huge across the shoulders. He was encased from head to foot in black iron Carmanian full plate, etched with designs showing the many Lunar demons and on his cuirass was a molded piece showing the Goddess astride the Bat. He weilded an enormous double-headed poleaxe in a manner that insured the bystanders got out of his way.
Next to the giant strode a man of odd appearance, dressed like a Sartarite but bearing the runes of Danfive Xaron, he looked grim indeed. His heavy hands rested on the hilt of a bastard sword of Orlanthi make and a scimitar straight from the Imperial Armouries. His grey eyes did not rest on the lead man but scanned the area around, lighting on possible threats with knowing intensity.
Gaius pulled himself together as the Red Goddess Priest stopped right in front of him both men behind stopped also with military precision.
Wide blue eyes locked with his. "Your name?" asked the newcomer. His New Pelorian heavily accented with the tones of Glamour. His tone was polite but firm.
"Gaius Perthan my Lord Priest." stammered Gaius, cursing inwardly his servile tone.
"By your accent, Mrins Cross?" Gaius nodded. "Lovely city, most pleasing to the eye. You must have studied with Master Renthus of the Provincial Auditing office?"
"Well yes, how did you know? Do you know him?"
"Indeed I do, I often attended his open lectures on the more intricate methods of tax fraud and bureaucratic corruption, he's a favoured writer of mine. With such an academic background a man of your calibre and education is wasted out here would you not agree?" The man smiled warmly.
Gaius was momentarily surprised but relaxed a little, here was a man who recognized ability when he saw it and was not afraid to say so! His tone lost its uncertainty and adopted the arrogant intonation his few drinking comrades would have recognized as the beginnings of a tirade.
"Indeed yes, I am wasted. Brought to this miserable hole by the machinations of the lazy and envious. My current poor position can only be blamed upon the ill advised acts of others. Perhaps you would be interested in hearing my story over a drink sir? And your name is?" Gaius inquired, feeling that offering friendship to a newcomer of such obvious rank would be a boost to his own position.
The man smiled again, if anything the expanse of teeth threatened to eclipse his face. That smile reminded Sergeant Jerxeus of his old Centurion, the one they'd called The Shark.
"My name is Morthander Deville, Priest of the Red Moon holding Tribunal rank in the Heartland Corps, the Magical Colleges and the Provincial Army. As for a drink....I don't drink with dangers to the Empire." His smiled disappeared like Yelm being covered by a cloud, a big black ominous one.
"I'm sorry, what do you mean?" Gaius felt confused, Sergeant Jerxeus winced, just like the Shark he thought.
"What I mean Gaius Perthan, aged 33, born in Holay, initiated into the Moonson cult twelve years ago and found guilty of corruption, fraud and acceptance of bribes, is that you are a lowly piece of scum who so very richly deserves to be in jail or on a cross, never mind being posted to Pavis." Deville's voice grew steely as he leaned in, eyes boring into Gaius who paled visibly beneath that wilting stare. "You got off lightly, I'd have crucified you. Only the fact that you promised to spread tales about the Overseers wife and her lovers kept you out of the hands of justice. Only a true coward would stoop so low."
Gaius spluttered. "You call me a coward, how dare you sir!" He leapt to his feet, his chair made a sharp sound as it hit the stone. He found himself staring into that smile again and a avid look in those eyes. Nobody in the gatehouse area made a sound.
"You wish to take offence at my insult sir?" Asked Deville lightly. His armoured fingers rapped like a drumbeat of death on the hilt of his sword.
Suddenly Gaius remembered talk of a duelist they called "the Devil" who worked directly for the Provincial Overseer, rooting out corruption and rebellion wherever he found it. Could this be him? This Deville wore the glove of a fencing master, it was a chilling certainty that Gaius would die should he be so foolish as to challenge. If he took no offence though, he was safe.
"Er no, no I take no offence." Stammered Gaius.
"Shame." said Deville. "I'd have enjoyed killing you blade to blade but as you won't oblige, we'll just have to execute you here."
Gaius thought he'd heard wrong, then Deville's two henchmen moved with terrible deliberation around the table to grab his arms.
Sergeant Jerxeus started to draw his sword and moved forward. Deville caught his eye and shook his head slowly. His lips moved and Jerxeus stopped in his tracks at what the mindspeech voice told him: "I am empowered by the Provincial Governor and the Emperor himself. Desist from any antagonistic course of action, believe me, it will be your last." The certainty in that voice left no room for doubt.
Gaius struggled against the manacle like hands of the two warriors to no avail. While no weakling these men were in a different league to him and they mastered him in seconds. He was pushed onto the table by the two-sworded man, the giant raised his axe high above his head and swiveled his armoured head to look at Deville.
"For crimes against the Empire, for corruption and bringing ill repute to the Lunar Way and therefore to the Goddess herself, I, according to the authority invested in me, pronounce you a traitor. The punishment is to be execution with no hope of resurrection. Sentence to be carried out immediately. May your soul endure Ikadzs torment for eternity." Devilles powerful, pulpit-trained voice carried across the gate area to all the stunned watchers.
Gaius' whimpers and pleas weren't heard. With a nod, Deville sent that fearsome axe downward. Gaius' head flew from his shoulders like a cork from a bottle and such was the power of the blow that the table split in two. Deville adroitly avoided the jet of blood, pumped out by a dying heart. Some of the white faced watchmen were not so lucky. One of the unfortunates began to retch while feebly clutching his stomach.
Deville smilled coldly and looked to his two companions. "Well Trask, Hrothmir...welcome to Pavis!"
Trask Two-Swords grunted and from his barrel helm Hrothmir let lose a booming laugh that verged on madness. They followed their master as he strode through the Old Gate.
The Deville page | Part 2 >>