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Settling In - Part 5

There was a bovine grin of pleasure as Bob placed another plate full of his famous Double-Bison Burgers with cheese and crispy strips of Sable in front of an avid Hrothmir. He grabbed for them greedily, stuffing one whole into his cavernous mouth, eyes wide with gluttony.

"Get some more burgers! We's got a hungry fella here!" Bawled Bob. His servers rushed to oblige.

"Its a pleasure to see a man enjoy his food sir, right enough. We need more men like you in these parts sir, yes indeed. Well, I'll leave you to your lovely burgers sir. Enjoy." Wheedled Bob but Hrothmir ignored him as usual and continued stuffing food down his face.

Bob wandered away. The big man said little, just growled his order and started eating. Still he pays with good Lunar hard cash so he's okay with me, thought Bob. Just to keep up appearances, Bob belted one of his serving boys on the top of his head, causing a howl of outrage. He smiled his total contentment. Why be a warrior searching for Godhood when you can be God in your own Burger place? He thought.

A shadow loomed over Hrothmir. He looked up to see Trask standing over him. He ignored him and carried on eating.

Trask made a face. "Hrothmir, Deville wants you."

The big man kept on eating.

"He wants you now!" Trask roared. It had no effect on the amoeba-like mind of Hrothmir. He kept eating. Trask changed his tack and sat down opposite him. He watched him eat the food.

Trask didn't like Hrothmir at all and though Hrothmir barely spoke or even made obvious body language, he felt that the Axeman didn't like him either. Still he fought like a whole army on his own and appeared totally loyal to Deville so he respected him. Besides, they'd saved each others lives in combat several times so that had to count for something right?

Hrothmir finished eating, picked up his axe and tromped out. Trask muttered irritated curses as he followed him out.


Deville checked his spell once more. It was still working. As he walked down the street, nobody noticed him, people almost walked into him yet they didn't see him. They looked away or were engaged in conversation but did everything except notice the richly dressed figure in their midst. The blessing of Annila warded him well and he'd cloaked that power with his own, making detection unlikely.

Yullick Croise stood waiting for Deville in the doorway as specified in his instructions. Deville moved next to him and mindspoke to the thief, his informant.

"Croise!" The weasily man nearly jumped high enough to reach Dayzatar. He looked around, startled. "Move inside and shut the door after a few moments." Ordered Deville.

Nervously, glancing round like a fool, the thief did so. Deville was standing behind him, visible, by the time he shut the door. When he turned he paled. "Lord Deville sir!" He snivelled. "You are mighty in magic's Lord to creep up on poor Yullick so." He begun to wring his hands in an obsequious fashion.

Deville gave him a hard look. "Cut the act Croise. I'm not a guild enforcer your trying to hide your takings from. Information." He demanded.

Croise narrowed his eyes momentarily and straightened his stance. "All right, if that's the way you want it." He actually had the gall to sound hurt at Devilles tone. "Here's the news. Your hitting the wrong people Deville and they are starting to get pissed."

Deville frowned. "I've been killing criminals, I don't care if they are "pissed". They should cease their criminality and live normal lives, then they'd never see me again." He couldn't see how this information was at all useful or relevant.

Croise shook his head in irritation. "Look Deville, do I tell you the ups and downs of magic? No I don't. Why? "Cos I know bugger all about it. You don't know bugger all about criminals and this place. I'm trying to educate you so shutup and listen!"

Deville was mildly surprised, Yullick was never usually this forceful. He smiled at the red-faced thief who was plainly bracing himself against some deadly retribution for his temerity. "Alright Croise, spit it out. What's the problem?"

Yullick looked dubious for a second then remembered that this one would kill him rather that lie to him so he relaxed, just a bit. "You're hitting everyone hard for sure but you're missing the real target. You're about as subtle as using the Bat to kill Trollkin."

"If I'm so useless at this, why are there thirty-six new crucifixes outside the walls, all bearing criminals?"

"Aaargh! _I'm_ a bloody criminal, it ain't so cut and dry. Look, you never was hungry, never feared for your life over the possession of a half-eaten fish. You don't know what it is to be poor. Me, I've been a thief all my life, an proud of it I am but I ain't no killer and that's where you ain't seeing the difference!"

Deville folded his arms, leaned against the table and fixed Yullick with a look that said "go on".

Encouraged, Yullick spoke on. "When you came here things had been real flakey for a while. The Black Fang Brotherhood used to be one big family that ran the town from thieving to pimping. Then you Lunars came but no big deal we thinks cos Empires come and go, thieves and thievin' is always there. Well we were wrong cos the Black Fang himself gets beaten by an outsider. Now the foreigner is in charge and he's got his own ways. Me and a lot of the old guard think they stink."

"Stink? Explain." Ordered Deville.

"Instead of us givin' the odd trouble-maker a good hiding from time to time, to keep everybody in line like, now people just disappear. Worse, we started on the Hazia trade and now its the only way to get ahead in the Brotherhood. Honest thieving ain't good enough for these folks. Killing ain't nothing to 'em either. I don't like it and theres a lot of the old boys who won't have anything to do with the new Black Fangs' schemes."

"Who is this man you call the Black Fang?"

"Don't know, only seen him once, always wears a mask but I hear he's pally with some of you Lunars so why don't you ask them?"

Deville frowned. "I hadn't heard anything about this in my brief. Strange. This is useful information Yullick, thanks."

"Ho! That ain't all Deville. Get this; my mate Relker was getting well pissed the other night with a guy called Jorrol, one of the new Black Fangs golden boys. Jorrol is drunk and bragging big about this and that but then Relker mentions that hit the Krarshti tried on you in the Plume," Yullick spat ritually on mention of their name. "Well Relker tells me that old Jorrol goes pale and whispers about not mentioning the Krarshti cos he'd seen them an' thought Wakboth would come for him for sure!"

"Seen them? How is he alive, the Krarshti killed everyone in the Plume that they met?"

"Ah, old Relker says that too, but Jorrol lets slip that he had helped a guy he thought was a human scout the place out two days before, including the servants passages. The guy he helped look round, on orders of the Black Fang himself, was one of those Cacodemon accursed ogres you wasted!"

Deville felt surprised more at himself for never linking Krarsht with Black Fang. Still it hadn't been in his brief and that led him to think hard on the accusations he'd fired off wildly against Gimgim. The connection was there, Deville merely had to find the evidence. Unfortunately, even Deville couldn't just execute the Spoken Words top man in Pavis. He had to have proof. "Yullick, you've done well. Find out more on these links if you can and I want as much information on the Hazia trade as you can dig up." He tossed Yullick a bag of Wheels. "There will be more if you keep this up."

Yullick weighed the coin pouch idly in his had then smiled, satisfied. "You're a gent an no mistake sir!"

Deville fixed him with a wry smile and disappeared back into Annila's embrace. He slipped out, back onto the street.


Hrothmir and Onslaught were glaring at each other when Deville arrived back in the Plume. Trask was sitting in the corner cleaning his dagger with a cloth.

Deville looked from one big man to another. "What's the matter with you two? Do you dislike each other for one reason?"

Onslaught grinned metal at Deville. "He smells bad. Wrong. Don't know why but he does. Keep him away from me Deville. I ain't keen on Berserks at the best of times but especially ones that don't smell right."

Deville raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "Please gentlemen, forget the bravado were are here for a reason." All three men paid attention now. "As you know, the Red Devils are training hard and Onslaught is doing a superb job with them. However, as my main occupation is priest and magician rather than a combat commander, I feel it would be wrong of me to assume command of the Red Devils on a day to day basis. To be honest, I haven't the time."

"Who do you want to command them then? Onslaught? Me?" Asked Trask.

"No Trask, I trust you implicitly and Onslaughts word absolutely but you are both Sartarites by birth or allegiance and the Red Devils must be commanded by a Lunar."

"Who then?"

Deville moved to the door and grabbed hold of the latch. "Allow me to introduce the new commander of the Red Devils!" He opened the door with a flourish, revealing an Iron armoured young man of dark, bold features, standing at parade rest. "Centurion Rannur Fazzurson!" Announced Deville.

Rannur bowed smartly to the three men. Hrothmir stood immobile, the turned to find some food. Onslaught bared his teeth in a way that could be friendly, or maybe not. Trask nodded solemnly.

"Come in Rannur, have some wine." Deville poured while he talked. Rannur took the glass and stayed politely silent. "Rannur just arrived today with the caravan from Slave Wall. He has been assigned to me by his father for training and frontier service. Rannur has been a Centurion for a year but needs some varied experience. All he's had to date are phalanx operations with the Furthest Heavy Foot plus some Peltast work under Jomes Wulf with the Native Furthest Skirmishers."

Onslaught looked dubious. "No disrespect but I'm training the Red Devils to be Elites, hard men who need a hard master. This fellow is no doubt brave enough but service with Lunar discipline won't hold much water with the men I've been training. They need to respect their commander as a man and a warrior."

Rannur spoke up, his voice was deep and circumspect in tone. "Sir, you are a great warrior and trainer of men from all I've heard of you. I will need advice from a man of your abilities when I take charge of the Devils. Please consider me your student and advise me at will."

Onslaught looked straight into his eyes and saw immediately the honest truth there. There was no pretension in this young man. "Very well, but I'll be hard on you, I hope you can take it."

"I shall endeavour to try sir." Observed Rannur.

Deville smiled. "Good, we're like one big happy family!" The looks he got from the other men made him laugh out loud. They all joined in, except for Hrothmir who was too busy eating a chicken leg to pay attention.

"Tonight, we attend the Governors Ball, we shall make quite a splash, I'm sure!" Laughed Deville.

<< Part 4 | The Deville page | A Night Out >>


May 31, 2000

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