Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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A Solitary Crow - Golgotha 6


Why not earth? Because the Magi caught it in time. The Shuganal, just before he made his own escape – tried to throw magic on to the Magi's own spell. A soldiers' pay move, if every the was one. Specifically, he tried to bend it just a little bit downwards – so when the magi reformed, it would be in the earth, and not in water or air. But this was not going to work, partially because he knew of what could be called a prism. It was described in a forbidden text book – perhaps not written on Kethira. In it, the rainbow was described as passing visible light. He could even remember the shelf that this book was upon, though with a title different from its underlying subject. Long before the first bugles were sounded from the barracks within the city and the cantonments surrounding it, most of the brethren of the docs was awake. They did not need to rise from the straw mattresses, or cast off the thin pallet beds of their high dense tournaments, because few of them save the children had ever lain down. Instead they had huddled in the alleyways, on afraid of sleep, warming themselves on the fires of braziers, because even hearts were too much recognition. Then the old night wore at last away, and a new day of anxiety and dread had begun. It was in these hours that the Magi had vanished.

Then he completely disappeared from the underground, and appeared inside the water. Pushing aside the water was easy enough to do – if one was ready for it. He also adjusted himself to a flatter, indeed prone, position. And then once inside the water he could swim – for while not a cork, exactly, he was close enough. He remembered that book on a different shelf, because he was not sure whether it was fiction or not. Even before the nighttime buglers sounded 2 o'clock, and then fell silent the most subjects of of replacements had been drawn from this same district. So it was, for Golgotha, quiet as quiet could be. For a city of such a small size, of the southern wing was alive – though it was unlit.
Of course it was night, and clouds were coming in but not so much as to obscure the brightest of stars.While he preferred raising his arms in a kind of backstroke, this was not good for silence, so instead he used the breaststroke, not lifting his arms or hands above the water. There was only one light along the cobbled streets, and he was in a dank pool which was at the center of the town. It was called the Golgotha pool, and stretched north to south. On the north end were Shemed channel from North, and Caldis from the west – both blocked by bridges. Then on the southern end were Eshone to the southeast, and Ukedela to the south west – both of them unblocked. Of course the water was polluted, with both garbage and feces – both human and animal. There was no reason in the eyes of what passed for law to do otherwise.

The mouth was tightly closed, and he ignored the rank air that tried to plummet down his throat. Instead, he looked at the northwest and of the pool, which was entirely different from the others. Normally, the alleyways and streets had no windows or openings except for a single door. And they were close together. However, the housings along Arlun Way were entirely different. First of all they had windows on the first floor. And they were spread out with grass, it distinct luxury. Windows were here and there, but grass except for tiny patches was unheard of. That the houses were detached was only common along the Northwest part of the city, and that these had fences gave a clue that each house was jealously guarded. One had to be invited in.

Each stroke brought him closer to his goal, but he worried that the Morgathi might be calling the nightwatchman out in force. They had, after all, been willing to engage in a miracle – so they might want to raise the alarm. But no movement caught his attention, other than to watchmen will were engaged in conversation at the southern end. One was sitting down his feet just above the waters, and he was talking upwards to a man who was standing. Both of them were talking at once, as if they did not care what the other was saying. Each one of them had a lantern, but that was the only light save for one second story window which had a pair of candles. It was calm and serene.

Straying a bit towards the West of the pool, he actually had a plan. But first he needed to know whether there was open warfare between the Morgathi who wished for a renew Balshanic Jihad, and those who would prefer to wait. There is no other kind – when is the only question. Of course, Golgotha is filled with the variety of temples who wish to wage war against the entire outside. But with only a bit over 6000 in the town, and only a few outside, this is not going to happen. Or at least the Magi did not think it would happen without powerful magic to lever the entire populace into it. 


But rather than reason by his own thoughts, he knew a powerful mage who practiced the earth style, and extremely well. So he continued to go down the western half out of the pool and in two the more streaming channel. When about halfway down this he waited for guardsmen and other more hidden folk to leave, and then pulled himself up. He was of course, soaked, and the flavor was entirely rank – but he could do little about that. Thus he cast him self up – taking a moment to his hat. Then he said himself to the gate, which was only a view feet from the water. Then he pulled the handle, and with a loud rap – because if he were captured by the Queens guard, or Morgathi watchmen, or any other sort of official – he would be in a great deal of trouble. One could almost hear a pleading sound.
At first it was quiet, but then the gate opened – though magic was not involved – and he said foot on the pebbled walkway. On the inside he felt a great deal of relief – but new that someone may well have been watching, too take notes. After all, in Golgotha, the best justice was administered in private – and often ended up with an object worse than death. Either the Pamesmi Games, or amended form without will – an Amorvin.

Once he got to the iron barred wooden door, he waited. He knew that it would only be a few moments until the earth mage came to the door. Since he was a nominal Agrikan, he was not usually bothered. But “usually bothered” was still quite often. Finally a heavy middle aged figure came to the door, and motioned him inside. It was apparent that the putrid air from his close had reached the head of the heavy figure, and the Magi new that the first thing was to draw himself a bath, so as he walked he slung his drenched close onto the not so willing arms of the slave, for so it was. If you knew the signs, you to recognize them, but if you did not – such as the tattoo on his neck – it would not be apparent.

Traipsping his way through the bathroom closet, and deposited himself in the bath bowl, and directed with his hands where to fill it up to. It would of course be very hot, but it had been a long time since he had a truly hot bath. Bucket by bucket, the bad was filled – and the Magi grabbed a loose bar of soap and plunked it into the water. Since this was a noble house, he knew that he would be allowed to relish – no, wallow - as long as he wanted to. While the sun was not up, it would be closer to dawn then most members would have taken. Underneath it all, the Magi was epicurean in his pursuits. He did not have time for deciding the most unhappy he could be while still be said to be not miserable in his life. Such pursuits were beneath him, when there was glorious warmth in a bath, and their would be things to eat if the host was amply supplied. And he made it his business to keep such friends, when he was in the city. It only made good sense, especially because he had something that most people in power wanted – magic, and it appeared, magic in all of the spectrum. Where as most men could do magic from one discipline, it seemed as if he could do them all. This really was not the case, he just knew how to summon various elementals, and they were the ones responsible. 

This had a number of effects – not the least of them was that most magi tried to reach out and cast their magic against his.

Who needed tortured redemption, when their was a pleasure, pleasure, pleasure for ever more? It just took a step to the left.

On a chair – that great luxury of the noble class – a small chair. The lower classes had only chairs around their dining table, and perhaps one for the eldest member of the family, who could do nothing else, but otherwise was a monk, a monk, a monk in habits. (Or inhabits.) Giddy with delight with the warmth of new clothes, which had been provided by his host. He did not want to think of what he owed this, he would find out soon enough. In all probability there was a spell or to that he would be asked for, and probably it would be secret in nature. For magic in Rethem was more secret then the rest of Hârn, which was saying something indeed.

But that was trivial compared to what he had gotten out of, which was execution by the Naveh. Of course he would have to be careful about what he would put in to words, both covert and overt. However he was interrupted in these musings by the loud steps, which could only be from a higher order – that is, noble – member of the house. He was betting that the master of the house was not there, but instead the younger brother, who was at least on good terms with the Magi. Drawing in a breath, he waited to see who was there, because the master would be bad – called Klyrdes - and the younger brother would be good.

Who was it? Because there was little difference between the two brothers, and he did not know enough about the sounds that they moved with to be certain, which was actually a feat, that they could mimic each other's sounds.

Transcend across the table would not be sufficient, it was the younger brother who made these sounds. He was in a red uniform with black tinges, as was usual for him. He reached for a stool and sat down looking at the mage, and laughed, laughed himself silly. Then he took control of himself, and said:

“I was wondering when you would come to me. You should have known that any alliance with either of the Lords of Death would gone badly. And do not worry about us being overheard, there are none of there followers, at least at the moment.”

The belly full of laughter was meant to ease him, but deep on the Magi's inside, he did not believe it. He would have to tread carefully, even though he was being given permission to speak at least a little about the cult of death.

“There was little chance.” though he moved his hands, the real thing that the Magi was looking for was a chalice or goblet, though in this company a glass would not be too much to ask for. Within a few minutes in fact, the tall serf would provide with a goblet of warm cider. “Or at least I did not think so, but obviously you did.”

“In Golgotha? Of course you would have to come to me, I am the most honest person that you know in this … place. Which, we both admit, is not saying anything.”

“How does honesty figure into it.” Not a question, but a statement.

“It has everything to do with it. You are a person of agreements. Even broken agreements.”

“So?” A question.

“There are only two groups of people for you to do business with, both of them have a slightly broken record of keeping agreements. You will eventually need someone who will actually do what he says. And we know neither the Queen, the Kings child, or the supposed governor, will do any of these things. And the sort of agreement you need would not interest the Lia-Kavair – much less any of the other guilds of Golgotha.”

“That would be – logical. I applaud you for your reasoning skills.”

“Then there gets to be the point of whether I would simply turn you over to one of the other factions.”
“That is a possibility. Because there are things that you do not want them to know, and I know several of them.”

“If they believe you.”

“They do not need to have any credibility with me to investigate, and eradicate the sources. Perhaps I would be – exterminated. But that would not help you, and you know this. It is a line that you would not even entertain. You know the is nothing I have worked trading for your life. And your not some Deacon who could fool himself that way. In chess, it would be called a blunder.”

“So that means it is up to you and I to come to an agreement, since you knew I was coming. And as an aside, how did you know?”

“On the Golgotha pool, on the northern side, along the eastern side. Right up next to the pool in fact, there is a warehouse, dank even by Golgotha standards.”

“I swam past it, yes.”

“Towards goal of surprises! Anyway, it guards the north wall of the channel, and it is called the Zarainsen Warehouse. I had someone set up to take watch for you, and when he said you were drowning in the channel, I had someone investigate. He did not find anyone, so I assumed you had gotten out some how. I did not think you would be swimming of course, that was a bit of a surprise, to me any rate.”

“Something I picked up when I was small.”

“Indeed. If you want to know something about the crowded area in the southern part of the city, that is the place you should set yourself up. I do, and it is very profitable.”

“And how much does that information, or piece of advice cost?”

“Think of it as a sample. We are in my town, and you may think of yourself as invulnerable, but that is not the case. Even your threats simply require some difficulty to get out of. That is not free advice, that has a warning.”

“Then it is my turn to play, and that will be worth every bit that you have given, and then some.”
The host did not reply, but waited for the Magi to continue.

“First let me begin for why they asked. The Naveh past me to acquire a slice of information from an individual who was there enforced guest.” They both knew what that meant: prisoner. And the amiable grins from both meant that they imagined the sorts of torture that would be involved. “She was an elf. But not the kind from Eveal. She was first all, much taller, but just as then. She also had features which were white, whiter even then Sindarn.”

“Go on, we can dispense with various refinements. Even though it seems you have not talked to anyone who relishes your fondness for detail.”

“What was asked to do, was find out how she entered and earthmaster obelisk – though that seemed to me a trivial piece of information, that even the Naveh could handle.”

“You assumed that the real information would present itself.”

“And was sure of that.”

“What did you do?”

“Once in Golgotha, and within the lair underground, she gave me pieces of advice without much assistance. It was obvious that she desired to tell someone other than her captors. She began the story of how they defeated the holders of an Earth master obelisk in Ekall-Anuz. And when they went to the other side, they find themselves not on Hârn, or any other part of Kethira, but on the world of the dead.”


“The very same. But there is more, they found themselves in the middle of a gathering, of the chief lords of Larani. And the Lords were not amused, for one thing they cannot travel through the obelisks for some reason.”

“You will have to figure that one out, I know nothing about the powers of Gods or demigods.”

“Do not be as clever as that, even just knowing that they cannot travel has humans and others do is not generally known.”

“Granted. Is that all?”

“Only this, for the moment. The Naveh wanted me to take this advice, which they suspected, at least, and attempt to use it for my own purposes. That way the trouble would be on myself, rather than on them.”

At that moment, the rising sun pierced the window. Even then the Magi was shocked, and tell he remembered that these houses had first story windows, unlike most in Golgotha. He then said in a very tired tone of voice: “It is time for me to rest, and we can complete my explanation when the Nolomar is higher up.” It is all over now you see. Yesterday was the Hoover until tomorrow and tomorrow again 10,000 years ago. For every boy 14 years old not once but whenever he wants it, there is an instant when it is still not yet 2 o'clock on that hot afternoon - and it is all in the balance - it has not happened yet it has not even begun yet it only has begin yet there is talk time for it not to begin against that position in these circumstances, which made men look grave. They all not that we have not come too far have, too much at stake, and that moment does not need even a 14-year-old boy think this time maybe this time.

 And then the magi lay sound asleep, an intruder in the dust, dreaming, wishing, that he was 14 years old, and had not picked his fate yet.

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