Friday, August 12, 2016

Stimulus bazooka won’t be enough to save the economy

It’s the Colleges, Stupid

The Real Scandal of Hillary’s E-Mails

The Decline of Unions and the Rise of Trump

That’s Not the Way the Ball Bounces, Table Tennis Players Say

A Boy and His Internet

A beer older than the Bible

Fed Officials Challenge Decades of Accepted Wisdom on Inflation

The Rich are crushing Obama's Ecomomy

The Hole in Obama’s Legacy - The New Yorker

Like many people, I am not going to be paid well ever again.

Pauline Hanson secures six-year Senate term in Australia

Had enough capital execution yet?

Mystery bones from ancient Greece may be a teenager sacrificed to Zeus


Silicon Valley CEO to be sentenced after allegedly kicking girlfriend 117 times

Daily Beast yields to brain dead countries

Daily Beast Removes Article on Gay Olympians in Rio - The New York Times

Marijuana and sleeping with who you like are two of the issues.

DEA Stays Brain Dead

You’re Being Blasted by a Trillion Suns

Progressive .... The the Word Has Lost All Meaning

Harry Potter Lives On

Open Source Won.

The Solitary Crow - Golgotha - 1

In a city, the second largest one on Hârn – which would be something less than a town, but more than a village in ours – there was off a street a tiny alley, which no one but the occasional delivery man had looked down in many years. In this tiny out of the way household there were three stories, which had been built only 100 years ago. The roof was thatched, and the walls were made of plaster, to keep out the cold in winter, and the heat in summer. The windows were small, and much taller than they were wide – For they were 5 feet from top to bottom, but only two feet from side to side. The pillars were of oak – and all four square, with no crossbeams at all. While others buildings had been painted, this was not the case for it – there were other things that were more important to the owner. So, white plaster and dark sienna crossbeams made it even plainer than usual. At the base was a door, with top and bottom in two pieces. This was not fashionable in this realm of the city, but down at the docks one could see a few that this might be copied from. After all, why invent when one could just as easily copy from others, especially when those others had a skill far beyond yourself.

Where as the Mage of Tashal was irascible, old, not so neatly dressed, and kept poor habits in his laboratory – the almost opposite was true of this Magi. He was not well known to the nobility, he was impeccably dressed, and while he was not quite young – if one gave him a quick glance, you might be forgiven to guess his age. He was more than average height, and dressed in robes which gave away his profession. His hair was black with a few white stabs, which made it look distinguished. The other thing which distinguished him was despite his broad shoulders, he had somewhat of a paunch – though not to much, because you can see that he exercised. This in itself should tell an astute observer something – he did not just run experiments, but went out from time to time – into the woods and beyond. His broad face was keenly interested in everything, and he often raised his eye – the right one – when he saw something that seemed to him peculiar. His dark blue robes had insignias in gold and silver – but they were finally done and had a mystical significance that few would guess at.

So this neatly dressed man in a neatly ordered laboratory, with stacks of papyrus and vellum which contained neatly etched notes, in a variety of scripts was concentrating on a vial which had a dark yellow liquid, and what looked like a green immature salamander - which from time to time was wiggling. At this point the doorbell rang, and for a moment he was disturbed by its sound. Since, as noted, he did not get very many visitors – at least none who had an appointment – he scowled lightly, and wondered who it was. This was definitely out his routine, and he did have one. So slowly putting down the vial – and corking it shut – he methodically turned around and with a heavy step went to the door. Unlike his counterpart in Tashal, he had no reason to have a housekeeper.

But when he reached the portal, and opened it, he saw no one there. This made him uneasy, and he could think of a number of ways where his site might be occluded. Yet he rapidly closed the door, and hoped that it was just the wind – for a moment, and then inside his dining room he was immediately confronted with the person who had been out there all along – and had just been waiting for him to open the door. He mentally noted that from now on he would do as others did and open the door only a slit – because now he was being followed. It was a foolish way of finding such things out – and later on he would cogitate about the matter. But the damage was done, and would have to be appraised.

And acrid scent load from the man, and he looked as if he were unused to daylight, and spent more of his time in crawling outline – sneaking between the contours of the buildings. He was slightly less than average height, and slightly less than average width – but that was not what drew the eye. First, is here was that salt and pepper shade that comes with the mature years – when a man had traded youth for some amount of skill. The eyes were almost like, though shadings of hazel still were present. He was thin both in his face and in his demeanor, and more a tunic and trousers – and a huge cloak. On his belt was an extremely sharp pair of knives, one on the left one on the right. With all this put together there was only one person who it could be: and of course the Magi knew exactly who it was.

“Do I have the honor of speaking Garana to the Shuganal, who speaks for the Temple of Naveh?” The Shuganal was the primate of all of Hârn, which was located in this city – which meant that it was the place where orders were given to the minions of Naveh. The Garana was a high priest – either of a temple, or in this case – serving the Shuganal directly. While this was a backwater, this person was high up in the chain of it.

“It was decided that you would know everything and everyone of the Temple. The primate decided to send me during the day and I would speak to you. You do realize that I am just the vessel who delivers a message from the sect of all the lands beneath.” it was a kind of ritual, one that the Magi knew well, and reveled in participating in. There was no bow or other reverence from the man, and his eyes did not blink, but stared into the very face of the mage. This did not bother his more weighty opponent at all. In fact he knew that it was the first step towards ritual – and the counter is that he, the Magi, should actually bow back. So with each muscle conforming, the Magi knelt down from his waist almost touching his hand before flowing upwards. As he straightened himself out, he realized that a back headed complement had been given – most people would not even recognize a high deacon of Naveh – or know what to do. The Magi streamed himself, and returned the gaze, measure for measure.

Then a miracle happened – the deacon blinked. Such was the strong will of the Magi, whether this was good or not would have two remain to be seen.

“It is our intention to hire you for a service that you can render, and almost no one else could.” the deacon enumerated his lesson, after he had caught himself in time. But both of them knew that the Magi had held firm; while the deacon had not. This made the Magi's answer easier than before – because he knew that he was the master, and only such treachery would enable the deacon somewhat an equal footing. The Magi then began to search for treachery, because entering the door was only the least that the deacon could do. Underneath his robe, his thighs tightened and even the deacon could see his eyes narrow to a split. All of this was to catch any form, any hint that the deacon was going to do something. The Magi knew he had an advantage – but so did the deacon – and were searching for the underhanded means to balance this force out.

“It seems strange to me that you would go outside your temple – in fact, there is nothing that you would want. Pray, what do you want from me?” Yes, he was grinding it in that the deacon was here to ask for something - and not meant to pay for it as well. The eyes flicked over the deacon, but nothing had yet been out of place. But he was wary.

“We have a prisoner – and she seems to be immune to our wishes.”

“You mean she does not respond to your torturing.” The tone of voice was flat – he had called a spade - a spade. He could not help but reach in to his robe, and shuffle a deck – which he used for divining. He wished he could place the cards out and do a reading, but this was not possible. The thumb glided down the edge of the top card – and he tried to guess which one it was. But without gestures and incantations, this was slightly beyond his gifts. A mental note of this was made, so that he could do so in future. He remembered a tome which had the correct spell for it, and even which shelf it should be on.

“We would like your aid – for which you shall be well compensated.” Which meant simply that the cost of the aid was far less than the bounty which was placed. That meant that even killing was not the sole object – there was something much more than just killing involved. That would be interesting, and without thinking of it, is right eyebrow stood out.

“You do realize that your skill as inquisitors is legendary.” Meaning, he would charge more for what they wanted to know. He mentally totaled up how much he had spent in the last two months, and set that as a base of what to ask for. He thought to make it three, but then decided not to be greedy – or rather greedier than is necessary. The Naveh had been a thorn in his side years, and it was on this particular moment where he decided to return the pinprick.

“Realize that this will be most difficult.”

“That means that payment will be by the day – plus expenses.”

“We would prefer that it be by piece of information.” This meant that they needed something specific in mind. It also meant that once this was obtained – they might not have need for him. And as said, Naveh might have decided to cashier his presence, after they had that vital clue. He could only ponder for an instant, before responding. Which would it be? Time or piece? Did he have enough leverage? He decided that since he had made the deacon blink, that he did.

“I am afraid that follow up will be important, and just because it seems correct – does not mean it is. So I must ask for payment by the day. It is only for your gaming the information, mind you. We would not want to be deceived.” then he let the deacon worry about things as they were. And of course, the Magi drank in the face, body, and demeanor of his opponent. Because it was obvious that the deacon once an opponent.

But if he had hoped for a long drawn out consideration, this was dashed, because immediately be deacon countered: “We have our ways of verifying the information, once it is obtained. Their is just a point that we cannot break through. It is this that, over many objections, the Shuganal decided to reach out to you.” The deacon was particular about the many objections, and was not amused by argument.

However, the Magi was emboldening by this. Had the deacon been calm, and taken that cynosure of time to respond, he knew that the price was still in question. Conversely, the rapid response – and the showing of just a hint of temper, meant that the price was close at hand, and he had one the day.
“I do not think we are going to come to some understanding.” Then he drew his hands out to cast and incantation, just to be sure that the deacon knew that he was adamant. His left hand had gathered up a tangle of components that would be for the spell – and would let it fly as a fire dart if need be. But he rather doubted that it would come to this. After all, the deacon was, though in a backwater, very high in is chosen vocation. Nonetheless – it was his avocation which tripped him.

If the Magi were more oblivious to the ways of the world, he might have pity on the deacon – but he knew that his place had been earned. This remember was Tharda – a Republic, though not in the way which we would think of a Republic. Still and all, their was one thing which unified that Republic and the ones we think of – it there was anyone with a position of power, while it might have been gained with money and position of the family – it was still earned in the intoxicating fire. So even politically inspired figures meant that they were extremely fine in their way of doing politics. For example the church of Halea, with its finally dripping with sex, was indeed political. However, not really was not political in this over sense – but in more covert style – the rush of passion was not from delight, but from a very different style – remember their God was the God of assassins and thieves. Instead they focused on expiration rather than satisfaction. And it was on this point that the Magi reminded himself, his opponent had a deep welter of tricks, traps, and subterfuge. Thus, he would be wary of his opponent – and kept his eye firmly planted on him. He would not again lose track of a man who would seemingly disappear as the deacon could.

“Perhaps you would like to speak to the Shuganal, himself?” That was to say, give up any advantage you have one over me, and begin again, only with his superior. This would not do. He realized he had to calm to some agreement with the deacon, because the alternative was to negotiate with the primate of the region. Thence but a word came a plan, one that would leave both the in better position. The deacon with his superiors – and the Magi with forces which were not human, but which had the same desires – control. Of course, nothing would be said of these matters to the deacon – he did not need to know – but some reference would have to be given. He did not have long to cogitate on this aspect, but there is a point in any negotiation where planning stops and improvising begins. At least as far as the Magi was concerned.

“If you wish to disturb your primate, that is up to you – but I have a suggestion, because of course I speak for no one but myself.” Then the Magi watched, to see if he had a catch – from long ago when he was small and fished with delight, the coinage was still fresh in his mind. He did not have to wait very long.

“If this could be done with out troubling the Shuganal, that would be better – of course.” a thin reed of the malevolence of the deacon just briefly shown on his face.

“You would definitely like a fixed payment, where as I need assurance that when the job is done, I am well compensated for the time, do I have this correct?”

“Yes, it would be better for the God of shadows to know exactly what is going to be required. Because after all, we are in a relationship with a third party. That third party would have to be informed if there were contingencies.”

“Then perhaps a deal could be struck. First a base wage, which would be entirely fair to all of our interested parties – and if the work required goes beyond a specified point in time, then a per diem would be imposed. That way you know exactly what you are getting – and if you need to assure your third party, there is a definite point. If we come anywhere close to this point, you can enter in to negotiations that there may be a sticking point – which will be negotiated. That way, it is not of my concern, and if I have two stop – then so be it. My time up to that point will have been rewarded. And if my compensation comes in the form of a favor, which would never have too be exercised – who is to know the difference.”

“So long as the favor does not involve assassination, then we might come to some form of agreement.”

“If assassination is my goal, it would be much better if it were done by me – so that provision is acceptable. But let us say, breaking and entering would be more of what I was thinking of.” Now he new what he would profit – and that he would not be cashiered. In addition to this, the form of the favor was quite a bonus.

Again, a nod of agreement.

It was really a simple negotiation, but nothing can be left to chance – certainly not with the cult of Naveh. Everything would have to be check and recheck, before signing. As both people were literate, this was actually to happen. The rest of the negotiations, including method of transport were simple – except that the place was Golotha. The port between the river Tharda, and the great Hoanic sea, down the river from Coranan – because the Republic was landlocked, and the route to see was controlled by the kingdom of Rethem, which if the Republic was loose with whatever people wished to do and worship, the kingdom was the deepest black in its perversions – Morgath, Naveh, and Agrik dominated peoples allegiance, with only Halea, Ilvir, Save-K'Nor and Sarajin tolerated.

There was a nod of agreement from the other side – clearly he did not want to bother his superior, only threaten. On that point an agreement was struck – between the Magi and the deacon. The terms of it would be related to the Shuganal. If any new the details, that would remain between the two which had struck it.

Above the walls and towers, above the stadium dull beige in color, but painted red - which held the Pamesani Games of Agrik - above the roads, villas, and side streets of Coranan; little would have been made of this in any of the more important rooms that the public would know about. But in the darkened streets, and in such quiet rooms – where the name Naveh was spoken directly – orders were given to men and women who came out with the night. So, if a man marched with agreeable distain through the crowds that formed on the docks – and paid his ticket with aplomb – only those nooks and crannies would think anything of it.

  The Magi pretended not to notice to men who were boarding at the same time, it would have been impolite.

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