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

The Wastelands - Part 5

Sor-eel sat stone-faced while Gimgim ranted and raved. The cadaverous man had never been so animate and Sor-eel was rather stunned at his behaviour, as were Bor-eel and Radak standing on either side of the Governor.

"...forty-six of my men, months of preperation and high expenditure for nothing! All because of that madman and his private army!" Gimgim yelled, emphasising his words with cutting hand gestures. When he finished bellowing he glared around the room balefully and fixed his venemous glare upon the Governor who had endured it all without saying a single word. "So what are you going to do about it Sor-eel?" Gimgim demanded.

"Why nothing of course." Said Sor-eel firmly.

Gimgims brows gathered together like stormclouds before the thunderbolt. "Explain!" He hissed, in control now but far more deadly for it.

"Deville was acting within his remit from the Overseer, which is still in force. He has pointed out several times that these men were assassins and killers, he's even prepared to stand in court to testify that several of the men that he killed and the leader who escaped had taken part in the first attempt on his life." Sor-eel looked questioningly at Gimgim "Do you really want it known in court that an organisation you created sanctioned an assassination attempt on a member of the Overseers Elite Arm?"

"Pah! Mere bureaucracy! I will not be bound by the petty laws of little men when the interests of the Empire are at stake!" Snarled GimGim.

The Governor brought his brows together theatrically. "Really? Well it appears you an your friend Deville have more in common than I thought! Why those very words have been uttered by him on several occasions. I had no idea you were so close in view and understanding.....but wasn't it you who complained a mere Season ago that Deville was a disruptive presence for _not_ paying attention to the laws and bureacracies of the Empire? Perhaps I misheard?" Sor-eel turned a dazzling smile upon the red-faced Gimgim.

The grim visage became grimmer and a bony finger was raised to point with a stabbing gesture at the Governor, as if impaling his soul. "Mock me now, if you will, Governor but remember this moment well for in time you shall slip or lose favour while _I_ will endure! When that day comes, remember this; I give no man my friendship but my emnity, once earned, is more certain than the rise of Yelm and more wounding than the claw of Gbaji!" With that rejoinder he wheeled and stalked out.

Even walking with anger he moves like a vulture gliding in to feed on a fresh carcass, thought the Governor. "What a nice man." He muttered.

"A man of malice and poison but all the more deadly for it." Said Bor-eel quietly. "Was it wise to anger him so my brother?"

"Wise? No, perhaps not, but between him and Deville I seem to spend my life being alternatively threatened or abused. Is it any wonder I seize a momentary chance to mock when I see it? I just hope the pair of them kill each other off and leave me out of it."

Radak shifted uncomfortably. He realised suddenly that his hand was rigidly clenched around the hilt of his sword. He removed it and worked the fingers slowly while he spoke. "Deville leaves tommorrow. First to Sun County, then south but eventually out into the Wastes and distant Than Ulbar. I don't envy him that. He may be a smug little bastard but he has balls, I'll say that for him."

Sor-eel shifted in his chair to glance at his bodyguard and old friend. "I thought you hated the man?"

Radak looked slightly troubled, an odd expression to see upon his chiseled, honest face. "No, he's not what I would call a warrior but he obeys his vow to the Empire in his own way, come Hellfire or Damnation, and thats enough for me."

"Radak, I envy you your simple view of the world. When I was a Scimitar I felt the same. Everything was black and white, clear and concise. Now? Now its all dark and grey. Oh to be young again!" The Governor sat remembering his early days when the troubles of the Empire could be banished with the might of his sword arm and the fire of patriotism in his soul. "You know, I think that's Devilles problem." He pondered.

"What is, my Lord?" Asked Radak.

"Deville has never grown up. He still believes in right and wrong, good and evil, justice and crime. He's an idealist in an Empire of cynicism and he is doomed to fail." Said Sor-eel sadly. "Now I see it, now I know why I hated him so much when first we met. He is everything I once was, everything I should have been...when I was young, when it was _all_ so young."

No-one said anything more but for a few moments the three men shared the same expression. It was the look of someone who had seen a glimpse of the future and didn't like what they saw.

Lissus sighed heavily as he packed the last of Devilles extensive wardrobe into the mountain of chests and containers arrayed around the room. All of it was going into storage and his master would be travelling with a meagre nine changes of robe! Lissus himself was dreading the trip. How was one meant to cook a decent five course meal while travelling in a desert? It just wasn't decent, it just wasn't....well...civilised!

He carried on patiently folding the clothing but was fully aware of the missions scribe; Omander Eaglemane, sneaking up on him. The scrawny young scoundrel had a passion for practical jokes and his first mistake of the day was attempting one on Lissus. What the cunning young man didn't know was that Lissus was linked to a sight sense projection in the corner of the room and could see everything behind him as if looking in a mirror.

Timing it perfectly, mere moments before the scribe could loudly smash the two pans he was carrying together to scare his prey, Lissus wheeled round with considerable speed, a large sack of boots swinging with him. They connected sharply with Omanders groinal area and the young man displayed some amazing facial palpitations as his eyes bulged, his face paled then reddened and a strange low moan, familiar to all men who have been hit hard in the crotch, issued from his tightened lips. He hit the floor hard, adopting a 'U' shape.

"Oh dear, what a terrible accident!" Said Lissus, voice dripping contriteness. "And you were bringing me my pans to pack too!" He shook his head sadly. "How the Gods laugh at us eh? An act of kindness rewarded by pain. Tsk tsk." Omander merely groaned. Lissus smiled then felt the air around him chill slightly. He looked up.

"Hit in the balls eh?" Said Onslaught from the doorway. He was wearing his hauberk and trews with his sword, casual wear for him. The metal grin he displayed was fearsome but to one who knew him well, also spoke of humour.

"Yes, a terrible accident."

"Aaargh! Accident! Most precisely targetted accident I ever saw!" Groaned Omander from the floor.

Onslaught sidled over and picked the young man up with one hand, holding him so high his feet left the floor. "Ha! A real warrior would pay no attention to a groinal hit. I have developed a technique to massage your balls up behind the bone, reducing the possiblity of distracting pain while in battle. I'll show you how to do it now. 'Course, if they're swollen it'll be really painful but that which does not kill us makes us stronger eh?"

Lissus winced at the look of terror in Omanders eyes as the big warrior frog-marched him out of the room to his own. He was still wincing at the sounds of excruciating pain coming from Onslaughts room when Deville came in.

"Whats all the noise?" He asked, frowning.

"Er, Sword Onsalught is 'instructing' young Omander sir."

"Instructing? Sounds like he's eviscerating him to me!"

"A startlingly close observation sir."

Deville shook his head. "Well I've just had another salutory meeting with the Governor. If I didn't know better I'd say he feels sorry for me! I'm not sure I can handle all these people being nice to me. Has Croise arrived yet?"

"He's in your study sir, has been for some time. I told him that you bound a Tax Demon into the room and if he steals anything his soul will be torn apart."

"A good ploy but with Croise I fear telling him that Sheng Seleris was guarding my posessions would not deter him. He is a very determined and redoubtable fellow...for a thief." A devillish look crossed his fine features. "Hmm, lets see how redoubtable he is eh?"

Once the servant had left with the food tray, Croise fingered the silver inkwell delicately. He moved it slightly. Then looked around sharply. His detect magic spell would be useless in this room, warded as it had to be, but his sense of the unusual should warn him. It had saved his life in the past.

Nothing happened to him.

He picked up the inkwell and held it in his hand.

Nothing happened to him.

He very quietly and slowly put it into his pocket.

"What the Hell are you doing Croise!?!" Roared Deville in his ear as Annila's cloak fell from him. Croise's backside jerked several inches from the seat his chair and hung, terrified in Umaths element for what seemed an eternity till the power of Ernalda pulled him back.

"Na-na-Nothing!" He stammered as Deville leaned right over him, the fury of a tsunami lighting his features.

"So why did you just put one of my most treasured personal possessions in your pocket?" Bellowed Deville,enjoying himself thoroughly.

Croise was too scared to notice Devilles humour. "Oh great lord, it fell and attracted dirt and your humble servant was but cleaning it inside his cloth pocket for your pleasure!" He rattled out. The look of servile honesty was amazing.

Deville couldn't help himself. He began to laugh, then roar with mirth. Croise looked on, amazed, while the hilarity continued. When he had some hold of himself Deville sat down in his chair and wiped his eyes. "Croise, you should be an actor! They would love you in Glamour, the lovable rogue!"

"So I can keep the inkwell?" Said Croise hopefully.

Deville's eyes widened in amazement and he broke into even louder laughter for some time while Croise sat their perplexed. "Oh, you are priceless!" Groaned Deville as he clenched his fist into his pained stomach. Too much mirth can be bad for you. "No you can't keep it, and put back the candlesticks and the tinderbox as well."

Croise did so without looking even remotely remorseful or sheepish. Now he knew he wasn't going to die a horrible death he even managed to appear nonchalant. "Well what yer want with us then?"

Deville became serious of expression though not without effort. "As you know, I'm leaving tomorrow and I may be gone some time. However, regardless of what anyone else thinks, I _will_ be back. I want you to keep your ear to the wind and collect information on all the activities you think I might be interested in." Deville reached into his robe and pulled out a weighty pouch and tossed it to Croise. "There is a hundred Wheels, that should tide you over for now."

Croise grinned, teeth crooked and gaping. "Ah, I always said abot you that you was a real gent an' no mistake!" He adopted a slightly troubled look. Deville wasn't surprised. "Who will I have as me contact and protector like, while you're out of town?"

Deville reached into his robe again and pulled out a sealed note. "Take this note to Garrath Sharpsword, he's forming a group of ex-brotherhood men to take the fight to the Blackfang and his henchmen. I did him a favour recently and we have developed a certain rapport. Give him this and he will help you until I return. He may even have some interesting work opportunities for you..."

Croise grabbed the note and nodded gratefully. "Thank you good sir and luck be with you in the fires of the Wastes!" He stood and reached the doorway, bowing obseqiously as he retreated. Deville favoured him with a benign smile but as he reached the doorway it disappeared.

"Oh Croise.....?"

Croise stopped halfway out of the door. "Yessir?"

"You were going to put that statuette back weren't you?"

Croise looked perplexed until Devilles eyes narrowed. "Oh! That statuette! Why yes sir, I was just moving it to a more favourable position by the window your Lordship where it'll catch Yelm better, tis high quality gold after all......"

The endless stream of excuses rolled onto deaf ears as Deville placed his head in his hands and let, for a brief time, the cares of the Empire and the world fade into the distance.

Onslaught shook his head sadly while Lissus tried to revive Omander who lay prostrate on the floor, like a sack of moldy potatoes. "What happened?" Asked Lissus pointedly.

"I dunno!" Protested Onslaught. "I was just showing him how to put his balls behind his bone for protection...."

"Yes, I remember. Ant then?" Asked Lissus as the young man groaned into semi-consciousness.

"Well we had trouble at first, they wouldn't go up but I solved that problem by giving him a good hard punch in the crotch. They seemed to go up fine after that but he just blacked out! Weird! Is he ill or something?"

Lissus stood, an angry look on his face. "You know your problem Onslaught?" From the warriors bemused expression, obviously he did not. "You need to get out more!"

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May 31, 2000

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