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The Wastelands - Part 1

Deville watched while Trask hammered in the final nail. He completed the ritual with the Binding Words of Death and the Crucifiction procedure was complete. Both the men on the crosses squirmed in their torment, one whimpered with the pain while the other steadfastly clamped his jaw shut against the hot agony shooting through his body.

"Finished." Said Trask. The Danfive Xaron Ritual of Crucifiction always left him feeling drained. It was hard work but neither men would be resurrectable, being tied in their deaths so permanently to Death itself that even a God couldn't break the link. Added to that, for Lunars, such a death would guarantee a trip to Danfive Xarons Hell where eternal torments would be bestowed lavishly upon them.

Deville stood beneath the iron-jawed fellow. He glared at him till eye contact was made "So now you suffer for your crimes." He snarled. "The Lunar army has no place for would-be rapists. You disgust me." He turned away, moving down the ridge with Trask to join with the Red Devils and the School of Masks who waited patiently below.

At their head Onslaught was mounted on a colossal white charger he'd brought with him from Heortland. He claimed to have "taken" it off a Rokari knight in the recent Heortland civil war. According to his tales, the Humakt had fought on both sides in that conflict until his "pagan" ideas made it prudent to leave the area after Richards victory. The horse was covered in iron barding that was so baroque that it looked like a black dragon with no wings. Onslaught sat upon it wearing his full harness of war.

Rannur and Hrothmir were with him, also girded for war. Rannur spoke up as Deville mounted Krallus, his Sable Familiar. "The Duke should be pleased with the execution and the Ritual sir."

Deville nodded brusquely. "As pleased as any man can be who's daughter was nearly raped by his own countrymen." Deville was no stranger to atrocity and war, he'd sanctioned a fair few slaughters himself. In his mind though, they had been the enemy, a foe to be crushed. He'd never wage war like that on his own innocent people. Criminals and madmen yes, but innocents? No.

Rannur watched Deville for a moment, waiting for a signal to carry on the march back to Pavis but Deville had drawn inward. He looked pensive, even depressed which was not Deville's way at all. Rannur gave the signal and the men began to move out.


Duke Raus waited impatiently in Deville's reception room. Lissus, Deville's fastidious servant, constantly presented him with food or drink but the Duke was in no mood for eating. "Where is you master damnit? He was due back at mid-day!" He growled.

Lissus cocked his head as if listening. "He's just come through the Old Gate your Grace."

Duke Raus narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "How do you know that? Your windows don't have a view of the gate!"

"I know that your Grace but I know my masters whereabouts fairly well when he is within a few keymiles of me. Its an empathy we share." He smiled politely then bussled off to the main rooms to prepare a bath and fresh robes for his master.

The Duke grumped into silence again. While he sat, he thought about his daughter and her wild ways but his annoyance was tempered by his fears for her and his own culpability in the matter. He had chastised himself most heavily for letting her out of his sight during the Governors ball. Worse than that was the fact that his maudlin mood had taken him to drink at a time when she needed his attention most. His incapacity and inattention had almost allowed her to be raped and if it hadn't been for Deville....who knows what else?

Lissus walked past the Duke to open the doors to the reception room just as Deville and his men came round the corner. Lissus bowed. "You're bath is ready sir but Duke Raus is here to see you."

"Thank you Lissus. You Grace." Deville bowed politely to the Duke.

"Ah! Deville!" The Duke barked. "I trust the crucifictions went well?"

Deville smiled grimly. "They did, though I wish it could be worse for them, if I had leave to do so I'd have sent them into the same pit as Sheng Seleris for their crimes."

The Duke nodded. The two men shared a strange moment of empathy then, each knowing that the others mind on this issue was identical. "I must speak to you in private Deville."

"Very well your Grace, come to my study." Deville turned to the others. "Rannur take the Devils and the Masks back to barracks. Onslaught, I want you to step up the training, they were damn sloppy today. If we're going to war they have to be a lot sharper than that! Trask, take the plans to the Governors office but say nothing, just hand them over. Hrothmir, stay here."

Onslaught and Rannur left immediately, Onslaught was grinning. He'd thought all along that a mere ten hours training a day wasn't enough for real warriors. Time to make them lazy bastards work! He thought.

Trask picked up a sealed document pouch from the study and left promptly while Hrothmir stood guard.

In the study Deville poured himself some wine and sensing the Dukes mood, he asked Lissus to bring them some tea as well. When they were both seated Deville spoke up softly; "How is Jezra your Grace?"

Raus looked troubled. "Shes recovering well enough under the ministrations of the Deezola Priestesses but she took a bad fright. Hopefully she'll be a bit more cautious in future. Again I thank you."

Deville waved away the thanks. "What gentleman would do other?"

"Ha! Plenty Deville, plenty. Some might say the officers who were about to committ such a foul deed were "gentlemen" too. No sir, you are a man of honour and a credit to the Empire and your teachers. They must be very proud of you." Deville squirmed uncomfortably at that, knowing his teachers had thought him a firebrand, but the Duke didn't notice. "Because of that I am offering you the enduring friendship of the Raus line, such as it is these days but our word is true and our friendship solid." Raus held out his hand.

Deville took it warmly. "I accept your gracious offer and add my own, that I will stand beside the Raus family when I am called. Upon my honour I will do this." Deville smiled a true smile which was rare for him, used as he was to using such facial expressions as a mask of his true feelings.

Raus kept eye contact for a long while then nodded sharply. "I also wish to give you a gift in return for the gift of my daughters safety." Deville began to protest but the Duke cut him off. "You must take it or insult me and then you'd be an oath breaker as well as a blaggard!" He said semi-seriously.

Deville smiled, bowing his acceptance and watched as Raus pulled a parcel from his tunic. The Duke opened it up to display a long wand carved from a wonderous red stone. It was engraved along its length with runes and glyphs of the Red Moon. It glowed softly and Deville needed no help in identifying it. "The Wand of the Seven Phases of the Moon!" The Duke nodded. "I knew you possessed it but had no thought to see it."

"Its yours." Said the Duke and he handed it to Deville.

Deville took it with numb fingers. "How can I ever repay such a gift?"

The Duke raised an eyebrow. "I was going to ask you the same question!" He barked a laugh and rose to leave. "Make use of it Deville, I can think of no-one else I'd see owning it. Use it for the good of the Empire, such as it is. I'm heading back to Weis Fort now. Fare well and I will see you soon I don't doubt."

Deville rose also and shook the Dukes hand once more. "Fare well and fear not, this gift will help me punish the enemies of the Empire with even greater vigour!"

As Deville showed the Duke out, he saw that a Wyvern Rider waiting for him outside his rooms, barred from entry by a silent Hrothmir. Once the Duke had left Deville motioned the man in.

"A message from the Overseers office sir." He said as he stood rigidly to attention, helm under one arm and the rolled parchment held out before him. He was a typical Wyvern Rider, tall, handsome and crisply military.

"You must be tired after your journey. Lissus will fetch you some food and drink. Please be seated." Deville motioned him to a divan.

The Rider relaxed slightly as he sat and looked grateful as Lissus moved in to fuss over him. Deville checked the seals integrity and opened it. He read for a few moments before his normally controlled expression became one of incredulity. After finishing the document he leapt to his feet, ignoring the messenger in his haste to leave. He buckled on his sword belt and headed for the door just as Trask walked in.

"Trask, Hrothmir, with me. Now!" He stormed out of his rooms leaving Lissus to shrug uncertainly at the confused Wyvern rider. "Is he always like that?" The young Rider asked.

"Only on a good day sir." said Lissus.


Ilthus Narces sat primly in his chair. He poured over the considerable number papers in front of him with a practiced eye. Ilthus was the Governors private secretary and his duties were heavy and onerous but as a senior Moonson bureacrat, he was vastly experienced in such matters. He actually enjoyed the smell of the paper and the power his pen stroke gave him. He always had. Always would.

Suddenly the sound of military footsteps spoiled the silence of the clerks room. The dozen men behind their desks, arrayed in front of Ilthus's prime position near the door to the Governors office looked up from their work to see a unwelcome trio round the corner of the corridor.

Ilthus signed. Here was that maniac Deville and his trollish henchmen, he thought. Whats he want now, the Governor is in a meeting? Ilthus stood up as Deville approached the Governors door at a relentless marching pace. He positioned himself in front of the door, between the two guards and held out his hand.

He began to speak as they approached. "I'm sorry sir, the Governor is engaged at the moment, perhaps you'd like to take a seat and wait, I'm sure he won't be more than an hour or ....." Before he could finish, his eyes widened in horror as he finally noticed the murderous expression on Devilles face. Then they widened even further as the iron bound fist that Deville hurled at him smashed his lips into his shattering teeth and his mouth filled with blood. He mercifully lost consciousness as his head bounced heavily off the oak door.

The guards reacted to the lighning attack with a start, they were good men, real good, their spears were moving to fighting position before the Bureacrats limp form hit the marble floor.

With a gesture, Deville befuddled them both and pushed through the door into the Governors office.

Deville headed straight for the Governor who was in the process of leaping off the volumptous woman he'd been bouncing around on happily a few moments before to grab his robes. Sor-eels half-brother; Bor-eel was similarily leaping to his feet spluttering his indignation at this intrusion. The two women he'd been with were shrieking their fear at the sight of the bleeding Ilthus in the doorway.

Deville ignored them all and sat down on the edge of a desk, waiting for them to get themselves decent. Trask averted his eyes from the naked women, his old Danfive Xaron training still exerted an iron control over his mind. Hrothmir wandered over to the food tray and began rummaging.

The women left hurredly, clutching their clothes to their naked bodies. Finally Sor-eel spoke, red faced and angry. "What is the meaning of this outrage Deville? I will not stand for it, I will not!" He bellowed.

"Calm down and shut up." Hissed Deville. "I'm not in the mood for your whining."

The Governors mouth did fish impressions as he turned scarlet with rage. Before he could explode Deville tossed him the message he'd recieved earlier. The Governor caught it with surprisingly quick hands and began grudgingly to read. After a few moments his anger faded a little. "You just get this?" Deville nodded. "Humph! Looks like you've lost a bit of favour with the Overseer, or at least with his Moonsons. 'A peace envoy to Than Ulbar and a detailed scouting of the Wastes to the borders of Kralorela and Pent ', how congenial for you!" Sor-eel almost smiled at the sour look on Devilles face but wisely held it in check. "I shall offer you any help that I can on your mission Deville."

Deville scowled. "I'm sure you shall Governor, no doubt your Moonsons will be incredibly efficient for a change when it comes to getting me out of Pavis. They can all get back to their Hazia once I've gone eh?"

"You seem bitter." Said Bor-eel.

"Bitter! First I get sent to Prax to get me out of the way in the most isolated and useless part of the Empire and now even thats not good enough for them. Now they send me out of the Empire to a nest of foul chaos to "talk" to the fiends of entropy! We can all imagine what a wonderful conversation _that_ will be." Deville grabbed the message of Sor-eel and turned to leave. He paused for a moment in the doorway to cast a fearsome glare at the assembled Moonsons helping Ilthus to his feet. "I want you to remember something, the lot of you."

"Whats that Deville." Asked Sor-eel.

"I'll be back." He snarled.

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May 31, 2000

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