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Richard Fenner
Gian Gero
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Deville's Tales
Krarn's Tale
Onslaught's Tales
Sheng Seleris' Tales

The Wastelands - Part 3

Excerpts from the private journal of Omander Eaglemane, initiate of Lhankor Mhy.

Deville waited patiently as the men fell into line. I stood with him and the other '"officers" of his group though I knew that rank with these men was due to respect, not position. As they didn't respect me, I had no real rank which suited me just fine.

Deville spoke. His voice was, as usual, smooth, potent and full of his driving spirit. "In two days time we begin our journey, a journey which will tax even the mightiest among us to our limits. We will do this together, bear the pain and the rewards as one. United in suffering, joined by blood, a brotherhood of blood to smite our foes!" The men roared approval with bloodthirsty howls. They scared me these men, for it was no rhetoric that drove them but the fires of their own souls responding to the blazing passion of the man before them.

When they quieted, he continued in a cooler voice. "Many of you have served with me before, in distant lands and hard adventures. Some of you are new to me but none of you are new to war, death and suffering. Tonight, you will help me exact a long delayed vengence but know this as you strike down my foes; I am bound to you as surely as you are bound to me....." At that moment, he paused dramatically, looking around slowly as if staring into each mans eyes, their souls. Then he exploded again with passion and roared with the controlled fury of a born demagogue; "....Bound to me, for my enemies are yours, yours are mine and any foe of my men will feel the touch of Enlighenment!" His gleaming sword seemed to leap into his hand as he held it aloft. A forest of weapons immediately matched his as the exultation of future battle gripped them in its vice-like grip.

He sounded ready to wage war on the world and his men were with him. If he told them he was going to storm the Red Moon I think they would have followed, such was his power over them.

Alas being the scribe I was not forewarned of Devilles plans and just prayed fervently that he intended to do nothing violent, at least, not when I was around. Such a hope turned out to be foolish for Deville was a man who believed in violence. Indeed I have seen few Orlanthi who followed their saying that "Violence is always and option" with such verve and commitment!

I rode sullenly with the column out into the wastes. They rode their Sables with ease, I with somewhat more difficulty. All of the Red Devils and the School of Masks rode Sables though many had been members of differing tribes, even horse riders at one point or another. I had no proof but I suspected that some of these men had been Gargrarthi and outlaws in their time but Deville didn't care as long as they served him well. Half of the group had been recruited by Deville in past adventures from the penal legions of dread Danfive Xaron and bore their scars and ritual tatoos with pride. With such a ferocious band is it any wonder I feared for my life at times?

However, I would be remiss if I tried to claim that they had no discipline for they did, if of a rough and ready sort. I who had watched the flawless drill of the Sun Dome Templars competing with the crimson clad wonders from the Marble Phalanx in feats of manouver that amazed was frequently surprised at the sheer speed that this "rabble" reacted with. They trained as a group and watched each others backs at all times. They were true comrades, even the ones that pretended to hate each other.

Fights were common among them but well orchestrated. If they didn't fight well that pitiless taskmaster; Onslaught, would observe their slackness and insist on a bout with the loser. He kept them on their toes at all times and would tolerate no hint of complaining or moaning.

As an officer Rannur Fazzurson was slightly aloof but highly effective. He projected an aura of calm that spoke of an imperturbability that would show no distress amid the tumult of battle. Though an aristocrat, Rannur was respected by the men who followed his orders with dash and high motivation.

Deville kept a distance from the running of the group and the men were quiet and respectful around him. Even though they pretended otherwise, their eyes followed him wherever he went, as if drawn irresistably to his person.

Deville's henchmen, Trask and Hrothmir served as extensions of his person, boon companions who acted on his word. Trask was ever grim and solitary. He functioned as Devilles right hand. Hrothmir seemed to have little function. He barely grunted in answer to questions and orders alike and seemed to spend most of his time eating huge quantities of food. I attempted to make a joke to Trask that if he were Devilles right hand then Hrothmir must be his stomach! I recieved only stony silence for my witticisms.

After making these observations of their character I found myself puzzled that we camped well before nightfall, there were several hours of riding time left and we we barely out of sight of the city. Alas I lurked inactive amid the swirl of activity only for a few minutes. Onslaught soon approached me and handed me a shovel.

"Whats this for?" I asked stupidly.

A metal grin was my reply.

"Digging right?" I sighed. "Alright, what do you want me to dig?"

Onslaught pointed downwind. "Latrines." If I didn't know any better I'd say this man of grim sword weilding death was laughing at me.

"Bastard!" I grabbed the shovel and stormed off before he could regale me with an even toothier grin.

I dug latrines under the direction of a couple of old soldiers named Nerl Fleetaxe, a Pavisite and long time mercenary and Garron Flamefast, a Humakti Swordbrother and protegee of Onslaughts. Flamefast was a Greatsword master and was renowned for his speed in battle. In Gimpys they say he flickers and moves like a leaping flame, hence his name. Personally I thought he was an obnoxious piece of bowel movement but there you are.

They cheerfully insulted me and my efforts while seating their overmuscular backsides on the ground leaving me to do all the hard work! At this rate my fashionable pot belly would rapidly shrink and I would no longer fit in well among my peers.

After working till the sun began to set and everyone else had had a doze, a bite to eat and a nice sit down, I finally sank to the ground and began to tear off some bread and ladle myself the last of the stew. I hadn't even finished my first mouthful when Onslaught bawled out; "Break camp! Break camp and mount up now!"

I looked around in dismay as the men moved to pack away their gear and to mount up. In a few moments the whole band was shaking itself into order. I too reluctantly mounted though my muscles complained as did my Sable, an unpleasantly smelly beast that had such an evil look to it I made sure I never placed my rear within range of those curved horns.

Disgruntled at the sudden change in our affairs I rode to Trask as he inspected the campsite for any left equipment. "Trask! Where do we ride now its nearly dusk?" I asked angrily.

He looked up briefly. "Back to Pavis."

"We've just come from there. I though Deville wanted to fight his enemies or something?" I asked, puzzled.

"He is, but they're in the Rubble. We want to get to the Troll Break at night to enter the Rubble under cover of darkness, using the Full Moon to give us reasonable visibility."

"Why do we want to enter the Rubble at night? Why didn't we just ride there in the first place instead of coming all the way out here?"

"Its called 'taking your foe by surprise' and is an old tactic. If you don't believe me read a bloody book on it, thats all you sage fellows are good for anyway." He snarled.

I pondered those words of wisdom as we rode back to the Rubble. From the air of excitement hanging over the men I knew we were in for and interesting night.

<< Part 2 | The Deville page | Part 4 >>

May 31, 2000

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