First Half of Chapter Nine……
One of the challenges in this book is to make some of my villains believable and interesting. The chapter itself is part of the build-up to the first ‘set-piece’ of action. Here we meet two villains planning………………..
The Helmsman had always been wary. Danger, death and worse could come in on any direction and for many reasons. Swiftness of action in evaluation was paramount, followed by distribution of information to the correct players. Then he had to judge how long to take and in which manner he passed the revelations onto less responsible but equally dangerous people. No doubt he was condemning some folk to terror and painful deaths, he told himself this was not his concern. Life was full of folk who were victims or playing pieces, he was intent on keeping in the latter category.
Silc shivered and pulled the fur coat tighter around himself. It may be Spring all across the Oakhostian Empire but here in Velshctaria supposedly a comfortable and mild weathered princedom it must be out of fashion. The feeling being reinforced as he spied chunks of ice slipping by underneath the gangplank between ship and quayside.
The riverside town was a one of solid buildings. The colourful and ornate wooden doors, window frames and eves were probably quite cheerful when it was not pouring with freezing rain. He supposed though trade kept the locals happy, on account on people moving about heads down while being slowly busy about moving stuff this way and that, not that anyone bothered to acknowledge him
“Gawd elp. This is going to be cheerful visit,” he said to Grutsch; glad he’d bought him along, at least this one of his gang had a face to fit in here.
“Business guv’ nor,” the man replied, Silc grunted, what he did not need was one of his men telling him what was what. Further discussion was halted by the appearance of a black coach, pulled by two black horses; both coachman and his guard were armoured and looking straight ahead, the door swung open; an earnest young man in a subdued sort of courtly outfit stuck his head out.
“Master Silc?” he asked in the local rolling ‘r’ heavy accent “Please gain access sir. And we will transport you,”
“Where?” Silc quite naturally asked. The young man seemed rather puzzled, Silc wondered if his mum had ever warned him about talking to strangers.
“To the palace of my lord.. There awaits,” he coughed, far too theatrically for Silc’s notions of discretion “A mutual acquaintance,”
Reappraising his opinion of the rain being a blimpin’ nuisance and misery, to a useful cover and distraction, Silc was quick inside, while Grutsch persuaded the coachman and guard to give him ‘a hand’ with the luggage, a task he was quite adept at.
Silc entered a sparse room, there sat Karutorm. A man in black standing hands folded looking out at the rain, he didn’t bother to turn to acknowledge Silc, not that bothered the elidian, he being one who dealt in the real world.
“Trust you found things to occupy your time Grand Duke,” he said, pulling up a seat opposite.
“The central western location of Venstrachiane affords opportunities,” Karutorm produced the hand sized dark metallic grey oblong with the blue, red and dark green gems “This proved most useful Master Silc. No need for betraying voices. I perceived the red gem signal and awaited your arrival. It has limitation when the time and places are more variable but nonetheless,”
“I have folk who are expert in the need for concealment,” Silc then jerked a thumb towards the man fixed upon the rain. Karutorm realising Silc was not going to proceed without explanation now grudgingly explained.
“We are fortunate that Prince Mieresport was willing to offer accommodation,”
At this the man turned. Young, long faced, pale and Silc decided here was either a right misery or someone who was pretending he was wise and cynical beyond his years.
“I have only recently come to the throne of Venstrachiane,” his voice flat “There is much to be done. My father had become insane, and the council of the Dukes asked me if I would rule in his stead. It was necessary,”
Silc reckoned there was something of a longer story than that, he would have to arrange for some of his own folk to find out for him. Meanwhile the fellow was continuing
“I hope Master Silc you did not find the rain discomforting. This weather is far more desired than the usual sunshine; that leads to frivolity and general lack of attention to efforts. There is no time, these parlous days for distractions and idle follies,”
With that he turned back to presumably delight in the wet cold weather.
“We shall leave you Prince Mieresport to your deliberations,” Karutorm stood and walked to the door “Master Silc?”
“Recent convert to your way of doing things Grand Duke?” Silc asked, quite causally when outside and walking up some winding stairs to some other place.
“Quite,” Silc was not surprised; of course Karutorm was not one to take offense at a general remark upon the nature of selecting austere sorts. “I have spent the past day ensuring he is in accord with some of the lesser details. It won’t do to bring him in closer yet. Not while Merthyl, Belacheli and Uraxch remain at loose. Has the Helmsman informed them yet?”
“He will, in time, in ways best suited to each’s temperament,”
“Good. They may even yet prove to be useful idiots,”
The two men nodded in agreement as Karutorm pushed open a door; the room was smaller, and satisfyingly dusty. Silc liked taking in forgotten, dusty places, any signs of traps or interloping would show up; he glanced up at the ceiling and then the walls; no signs of recent spyholes.
“So what are the details Master Silc?”
“Our Helmsman noted some sudden bright white lights in the sky over that moody ocean we half ride on. Apparently bright white lights are not supposed to be anywhere in that realm, too nice looking, or so he says. Seemed to be three of them, revolving about each other. Told me it was a central point holding them in place and he looked for it. Found it as well,”
“He seems to place an uncommon amount of trust and association with you Master Silc,”
“That’s because he has confidence in the worth of the people I use in Elinid,” Silc, explained “As you know it was their efforts located the Obsidian Council,”
Silc left out the bit about The Helmsman sending the co-ordinates to Silc’s people. Karutorm had never been truly happy with Silc’s general explanation, but as Silc was as stable as he was, he was prepared to let the matter rest for the present. Silc meanwhile moved the subject on the more pressing.
“Well, the lad worked hard at a location and he manged to find one. I know it sounds incredible, but it is so. Seems something is revolving around a prosperous middling port of Prendaelyn in southern Decoryx,”
Karutorm mused on the information, Silc was speaking in rather plain terms and looked unusually excited. This was useful.
“That would place the location in any almost straight north easterly line to Teras. It would be most useful to raise this issue in to my prince,”
“What did you have in mind?” Silc’s curiosity was piqued.
“If this location houses a threat. It should be the attention of destructive forces, and an endeavour to hunt down the source of the threat under the cover of that destruction. This will allow me to raise the issue of the extremities of the Oakhostian in danger to external threats, which the Throne secure in its centre will not address. Teras to the North East; Decoryx to the South West. You see?”
Silc massaged his chin. It was bold, but they were playing to high stakes anyhow.
“How might you be reckoning on doing that?”
The Grand Duke was not one given to smiling, this time though Silc thought he could make out a faint crease around the corners of the mouth.
“I thought, as this place is closer to your location, you Master Silc might be able to arrange matters,”
“You do like being direct don’t you Grand Duke?”
Silc was never one care to being placed in a position of someone else’s influence, particularly if they were nobility, in this case though he would let the man assume control.
For the present.
“It could done. Quickly too. By the time you get back to your homelands, get whoever you use to keep an eye over long distances,” Silc afforded him a quick wink, just to assert his own independence “To keep a watch out,”
What Silc did not mention to the Grand Duke was that there were folk in Elinid and more friendly parts of the Blaggatinia who looked to him, to do something about the sharp moves being made by some of the trading cartels in Decoryx. This would certainly be ‘something’
Along the lines of a raid by pirates out of the Sanded Lands coastal islands. That and a snatch team. A very, very good snatch team; right out of old Tuscatalia of course.