Mourn. Weep. By All Means Rage. But Do Not Hate.

Barcelona and Cambrlis. The brothers-in-hate of the Charlottesville murder struck.

Irrespective of race, gender, religion, age or social grouping. Striking down folk just out to enjoy and bustle, struck down. For what? A ceremony  from the altar of Hate, preached out of the same book which has been used for centuries by the deluded and the inadequate of every nation, every group, every culture. The toxicity we must all guard against, because it lurks, in the shadows, ready to embrace you, and me. The filthy brew will feed on our anger at the slaughter of innocents, it will whisper lies.

Oh they will try and justify themselves. They will take religious works and seek out of context selective passages. They will take a nations law and documentation and twist the meanings. They will ignore the truth of History and go scampering off to seek out some wretched collection of spoutings from some fool and in their desperation insist this is out it is. But what they cannot run from, is the fact they are taking lives, or condone the taking of lives. They are murderers  by deed or by consent.

I can take you down the nightmare passages and show you the twisted logic and the reasonings for the perversions which lead to these events. For these are not the acts of random lunatics. These have roots, deep into the soil of Humanity. But they are not justifications. Anyone who takes up violence against another solely because of race, creed, religion, social grouping or gender is wrong and a betrayer.

As always we sit on an edge where violence is ever present, where the urge to vent our anger upon an apparent representative of our target is all too tempting. Where in our secret, murky little corners we tip a wink to those who use the self-same methods against those we hate, and thus do we give way to the whisperings.

Mourn then for the victims in Spain, in Syria, in South Sudan, in Venezuela, in Yemen, in Israel & Palestine, in Mynamar, in The Philippines, The Congo, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine to name but a few. Reach out to the vulnerable folk in our own communities who are victimised by craven cowardly groups. Rage against the victims of twisted beliefs in their own communities

Never give up to the fact that the vast majority of the population of this world are your brothers and sisters and that each and every child growing and learning is your responsibility.

Judge your fellow man or woman by their capacity for Compassion, Respect and Tolerance.

And if the anger is still uncontainable, then break up your household rubbish to fit into a bin, or smash up rocks to make a rockery, or chop up wood into something ornamental.  But not hate.

Light of Writing 1

Advice the Nazis shouldn’t need at this point

A clever, sardonic and very insightful response to a disgraceful crew

WHAT THE HELL

Generally, identifying yourself as a “Nazi” or “white supremacist,” or even “white nationalist,” will tag you with a social stigma that’s very hard to shake. More often than not, regular people don’t wish to hang with Nazis.

You may find yourself, after being spotted at the Charlottesville disaster and publicly shamed on Twitter, without friends and family. This is something to keep in mind before dressing yourself in the outfit of white shirts and Dockers (“Nazi Casual”) that seems to be all the rage now among the alt-right crowd. Coupled with the tell-tale haircuts – either shaved heads or the Hitler combover – these duds will out you every time and you’ll have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving but to other Nazis’ shindigs. I don’t know about you, but I never met a Nazi who was a truly good cook.

Thanks to our first-amendment rights, expressing your frustration with the…

View original post 342 more words

The Bright Red Line

True America speaks.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

This weekend a line was crossed, a bright red line painted in the blood of over 400 thousand Americans who died to end the scourge of Nazism forever. Chanting “Blut und Broden”, or its easy translation, children with far more energy than sense attempted to define Americanism by what has been demonstrated and defined to be its exact opposite.

Like their apparent heroes, they are losers. But they having chosen the losing side of history for predictably bad reasons beyond a simple moral failure. Their inability to learn from history is a feature of a nation incapable of learning from history and thus in need to constantly redefine itself.

As much power as there is in constant redefinition, there is also a need for constant vigilance. History is calling us today. Millions of ghosts are watching us waiting for us to make the right decision.

View original post 589 more words

A Leap In The Dark (Sort Of) ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’

Honestly folks, I truly would not absolutely, certainly, definitely try this anywhere other than on WP. Yes, I know I am saying that before you know what the subject matter is, but it simply as to be said the WP writing community is an open, and freewheeling sort of place where a writer feels things can be tried out without fear of ridicule or ill-informed censure.

(You know the sort of thing, like someone going onto a ‘discussion forum’ to modestly and politely state their religious, political beliefs, or social beliefs and getting responses with as much indignation and abuse as if the person had suggested a national holiday to be set aside for the drowning of small cute pets)

Anyway; as you may know (or may not know- after all a reader of blogs can’t be everywhere at once) one of the features of my posts over the months has focused on my fantasy book project Current Working Title: ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’. There were a couple of approaches, a while ago I posted up extracts, and more recently have found intermittently a consecutive series of posts of the entire work up to about one-half way through. There have been favourable comments, very constructive advice and an encouraging number of ‘likes’.

Now, here is the thing.

How is it shaping up folks?

On this post I am attaching links to all of the ‘Parts’ which include the chapters of about half-way through. If you have not read any or missed some, they are all here. So you have an opportunity, if you so wish to gauge this ‘work in progress’. This I stress, is not an urgent plea for folk to drop what they are doing and pile in with comments. The post could continue to collect comments for months because folk might take months to read the whole.

Basically, these are the questions I am looking for answers.

Firstly: Is the story holding together?

Secondly: Do you care what happens next? (This question has to be asked. You must have been reading something where you reached the stage of saying ‘I don’t care. I just don’t care what happens next!). Don’t be afraid to answer that one, you’re not drowning cute pets, you might be saving a potential commercial readership from suffering that fate.

Thirdly: What needs improving? There must be ‘things’.

And there we go. The cool thing is you don’t even have to take part, you don’t have to say a word if you don’t want to, because that in itself is as informative as anything.

So, no immediate response necessary (like there’s about 70,000 words floating about there.)

So, no response necessary.

It’s all valuable folks.

And that’s a genuine statement.

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 1

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 2

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 3

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 4

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 5

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 6

Of Patchwork Warriors Part 7

Patchwork Warriors Part 8

Patchwork Warriors Part 9

Lots of action and the three central character, Karlyn, Medician Beritt and Trelli are brought together

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

 

Migran had garnered a crumb of comfort when something slammed him into a wall forcing his head upwards and he saw the scuttling backwards clouds.

‘Temporal distort,’ he’d said to himself, with a satisfactorily composed tone, which swiftly evaporated with the thought that he might have been responsible for it.

Migran had made this journey innumerable days of his life. But never in a night made hideous by the scream and crash ordinance, cries of people, rumble of falling buildings, all mingled and made worse by panic and fear. Twice, riotous and armed men had caused him to duck into unfamiliar pathways, three times he had stumbled over litter, which his currently livid imagination turned into fresh assailants.

He was sure it was this way, he was…

Then….

Colliding with a tall, lean man, sword in one hand, and in the other something which flickered a bluish light at a rapid pace.

The lad’s initial urge to scream was stifled by his attention upon the device. Well that was Jordisk and no mistake!

Mietitore’s initial urge run the fellow through and get him out of the way was restrained by the rather evaluating look the man was giving the device, which had quite replaced his original one of abject terror. All was quite silent about the group, as the pace of the movement of the sapphire between gems began to increase, then break out of the central four until it was hurtling back and forth along all ten in an irregular pattern and pace. Whereas Mietitore and his men stared at the thing in annoyed puzzlement, the new arrival’s evaluation turned to one of disbelief. With a sharp oath, and a surprising speed of daring he snatched it from Mietitore and threw the device into the air.

‘Get down! Gonna explode!!’

Since it was he who had been holding it, the mercenary did not see how this could be a trick and took the advice, there followed a very bright light and a sharp crack; the group looked up to see small shards of debris falling in a rather pretty shower of twinkling bright reds and blues.

 

The sudden burst of light and the loud crack shattered the window, Trelli thought herself mighty lucky that the shards of glass had flown past and above; she should have been badly cut. The thought did not hang about very long. Her confused mind was making the connection between the colours from her hands and those in the sky. Something was coming for her, no doubt about it!

Trelli was alternating prayers for guidance with those begging for forgiveness; the rapid recitation of the litanies was having the pleasantly surprising effect of bringing some focus to her swirling mind. The town was under some sort of attack, that was terrible, it also meant there was chaos, but if there was chaos then no one was going to notice someone clutching a blanket over their head scuttling away; she could get out of Prendaelyn and head for orphanage at the Libratery of the Gentle Hope. They would understand. She’d always been a good girl. They would help. Firstly, picking up some bread and light wine as sustenance for the journey, she pulled the thickest blanket about herself in the form of a hooded cloak, grasped the door handle, said one fervent prayer committing her soul unto the Good Lord God, and stepped out.

On the threshold, she said one brief prayer for Migran; it seemed a bit mean not to, and it would be as well to be generous of spirit in such a circumstance as this.

 

Kalyn rushed at the door, but then noticed reflected against the growing fires, the window. With a whoop of glee, she picked up a nearby crate and threw it, clapping her hands as the glass smashed. There was no time to stop and think long plans, the calling was so strong, it was pulling. So, with only the briefest of pauses to kick away the more dangerous edges of glass she hauled in through the window, with a brief cry of ‘Cmon Flaxi!’, which Beritt answered with a coarse affirmation she was following.

‘If I got to sew up a tear in her skinny backside after this,’ being said to herself as she more gingerly negotiated the window frame.

And then a scampering through store rooms, Beritt sourly wishing she could point out to that elidian squirrel she was not only carrying a full medician bag, but this dam’ uncomfortable oculartragen (lightweight..ha!)  AND crossbow, bolt holster and a sword, while Karlyn The Mad had nothing but some sword and a mere back-pack of ‘stuff’.

 

Although the shrieks of the explosions, the crashes, rumbles and thuds were filling up most of her world Trelli could hear something below, in fact whatever it was it was growing closer and more understandable. It was a voice, actually it was two voices, calling back and forth to each other over a little distance.

There were people in the warehouse!

And being stuck stiff half way down a flight of stairs was all the wrong place to be. There again going back up these creaky stairs in any way was going to be heard. But if she just crouched down, low in this dark blanket in this dark place, she might, just might seem to be a shadow or just a corner or something. Heart hammering, she slowly squatted, hands tucked into her armpits and for no good reason, eyes squeezed shut.

 

Beritt finally caught up with Karlyn because the girl had stopped advancing and was looking up and moving in circles, one hand holding a cutlass, the other stuffed into the pocket of her trousers.

‘They’re close,’ she was muttering to herself.

‘Well y’all get in cover,’ hissed Beritt as she lurked behind a woolsack ‘Don’t stand in the open. You’ll either be a target or scare them into something stupid,’.

This caused Karlyn to snigger.

‘Oh Flaxi you do so look like a little urchin, all wide-eyed, hiding and peaking from behind that stuff!’

‘I am not peaking nor hiding!’ came the reply heavy in dignity ‘I am merely taking cover and surveying the terrain,’

Karlyn merely rolled her eyes and waggled her sword in Beritt’s direction

‘You’re all crumbled up and creeping, ‘cas you’re afraid if you stand up you’ll wet your underthings!’  This brought a venomous hissed response

‘Oh yeah! Let’s do discuss bladder failures! This is such an ideal time!! High Holy! If y’all do get a well-deserved crossbow bolt twixt your shoulders, you’re First-Hell bound! And I feel sorry for the whole crew when you get there!’ ‘Cas ya’ll bring a whole new style of stupidity!!’

This outburst prompted a rather stiff-backed confident stance from Karlyn. She raised the cutlass as if an admonishing finger, her expression insufferably superior, her voice ridiculously parlour room prim

‘We are not at home at Little Lady Snippy,’

Before Beritt could educate Karlyn into her own county’s style of insults, threats and further observations on the elidian’s state of mental health, the medician noticed amongst that performance there was a swift tightening on the expression and a glance upwards. Fribbit if the girl wasn’t acting as some sort of lure! With a grudging respect Beritt gave a brief nod; then joined in the performance.

‘Aww Little Hell on you! All this blatherin’ has indeed agitated my innards. I gonna go fer a squirtz! You play hunt the mousies an’ don’t go blamin’ me if y’all get tramsfixated to a wall with a piece of metal!!’ and jerking her head to the left slipped out of sight; her intention to circle in from the flank towards the stairs as indicated by Karlyn. It had been some time since she’d been on formal field training, she hoped she was getting it correct,

Karlyn thought Flaxi should stop pretending she was proper imperial and stick more with her homeland voice; she sounded sweet when she spoke like way.

Meanwhile back to the hunt.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

 

Trelli could not but help overhear the discourse. To begin with she was obviously being tracked by two women, which was a surprise, though of what sort she was not too sure. Also, they did not appear to be acting the way she had expected ruthless trackers to behave. She was trying her very best to think of the next move. Stuck and hunched was not the most productive. But maybe, just maybe if she stayed ever so still. It was that odd one standing up and waving the sword she had to watch out for.

‘Hello!’

Everything that was Trelli jolted, then seemed to spin; but finally, for her own survival and self-respect then clenched. This episode couldn’t have lasted that long, because when she peered down between her legs and the stairs, a face, topped with a brimmed hat and framed in blonde hair was regarding her, moonlight and unsettling flickering of nearby flames highlighting a light friendly smile, one of those easy-going hengestatian accents.

‘Hello,’ Trelli always felt good manners cost nothing, even when being hunted down ‘Might I ask your business here please? This is the warehouse of my employer,’

They both flinched as another projectile screamed overheard; Trelli felt it was a comfort, Beritt winced, she was a soldier fer frib’s sake!. She ordered herself to be more composed

‘Truth be known. I think it’s you I may be more concerned about. Y’see I’m in the Imperial LifeGuard. Medician Arketre Beritt,’ she doffed her hat ‘I am engaged in seeking out someone who may be distressed by matters outside of their control. You being all hunched up in a blanket seem to fit that description,’

She hoped that little speech was sufficient unto the cause.

To her relief, the figure sunk back with a sigh.

‘Then you’ve not come to torture and burn me?’ Trellis did feel a bit of goose for blurting out that, but all in all she was not inclined to rational thought. The soldier, let out a soft laugh, shaking her head.

‘Good Lord God’s Mercy no!’ she shook the bag at her side ‘Medician, y’see. I heal things. I care for folk,’

‘And if that doesn’t work. You got me to contend with girly,’

Beritt snarled under her breath, just when she was starting to get somewhere there came Karlyn crawling up the stairs like a bad-tempered tomcat.

‘Karlyn I-’

‘I’m with the Custodians see. We got you cornered. Give up now. You’re nicked girly!’

Trelli looked quickly to Beritt. Although the soldier’s scowl was not directed at her; that was small comfort as the nasty with the cold elidian accent crept closer, something in a bag dangling from a string in one hand, a fearsome sword in another.

‘Rein in Karlyn willya!! The girl’s scared out her socks!!’

‘They look secure to me Flaxi!!’

‘Please excuse my associate! When her mother was carrying her, the poor lady was bitten by a rabid squirrel!!’

Humour did not help, Trelli began to back up the stairs, Karlyn advanced.

‘I got her Flaxi. Now you just sit tight. This is my work. I can smell the whichery so strong!! And you! Lurky pants! Stop dithering! Raise your hands and slither down here all controlled,’ Karlyn waved the bag ‘One sly move and you get a mouthful of this, and it,’ she slavered with relish ‘Burns!!’

Trelli didn’t see how she had any options left, the little ‘hengy’ was being nice but down there, while the nasty ‘’lidian was here and getting closer! She had to do something to stop the advance of a mad-head.

Karlyn was not really surprised that the Whychie suddenly pulled off the gloves and waved her hands about, with all sorts of red and blue colours appearing. She was a bit perplexed that the display was soft and rather nice-looking, like one of the festival displays. They should be all thunder and lightning stuff. Must be a trick.

‘Now you just stop there!!’ Trelli tried to imagine the nasty girl was a sort of Migran ‘I got powers!! And you just be careful, or you’ll get them!!’

‘I wouldn’t do that!’ Beritt called up ‘My associate is not inclined to be reasonable! Whatcha name!!’ Beritt hoped that might calm the girl down; there was a bombardment going on; Karlyn was doing her mad-dog act, and here was a girl waving rainbows. ‘And y’all hold still there Karlyn!!’ Using an old barracks term for desperation, Beritt was rollin’ dice!

‘T-Trelli!’ came back the stammering cry ‘An’ you get back ‘lidian! You’ve no business crawling in here frightening people who are bothered enough as it is! Why don’t you leave you friend to help me!’

The colours began to rapidly shift between red and blue, Karlyn was certain she could see sparks dancing between the fingers; this was surely building up to some sort of Whychie attack, and poor little Flaxi would get fried or frazzled if she didn’t act now.

And thus leapt.

At Karlyn’s yell of aggression and Trelli’s responsive of a scream of alarm, Beritt’s reaction was to once more resort to swearing, while without much thought, just notions, pushed a sack of something outwards.

Not that she had been certain the stairs were going to collapse, it just seemed that as Karlyn impacted on Trelli (of the rainbows), the result was going to be a structural failure of some sort. As all shades of red and blue illuminated the descent of two bodies mingling with pieces of wood, her immediate sense of satisfaction was replaced by a feeling that the pair seemed to be falling a bit slower than they should.

But impacting as heavily as expected, in a cloud of whiteness.

‘Oh. Flour,’ Beritt said pleased with her accompanying calmness.

Even if The Fifth Hell was settling upon the town.

Then from the general direction of the girl Trelli there came a near blinding display of the reds and blues.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

 

Mietitore and his men crouched down in the alley with Migran, regarding him with if not quite respect at least attention.

Migran meanwhile was venting his fear in an explosion of anger which made him feel more masculine in such company.

‘Where the Fourth Hell did you get that damn thing from? That’s the worse locator ever. Overloaded! Tell me you didn’t build it yourself for ferrkit!!’

‘No,’ Mietitore’s men remained silent, that slow and careful way meant he was extemporising and this could be quite the work of art ‘We were sent here on a mission at short notice,’ he shrugged ‘We are just soldiers of the Oaken Throne. We have no knowledge of these devices. Save what we are told,’

He was also resolving to find out from Silc who was responsible for the device, and explain to them, with the aid of a knife to the throat the need to be more precise.

‘It’s blasted well careless, sending men out with those! Err… soldiers of the Oaken Throne??’

‘Yes,’ Mietitore placed his hands heavily upon Migran’s shoulder, you needed to display a certain amount of approachability when entrapping an innocent. ‘Our mission here was to seek out someone displaying a certain amount of independent talent in matter of…I prefer to call it by its old name The Ethereal, although in my own land it’s known as La Rovina,’

‘How pretty,’ Mietitore placed himself between Migran and the men, they were pulling collective faces at the mention of their homeland term for ‘Bane’ ‘It’s not easy working alone. Trying to progress. I meant no harm. Am I in trouble?’

‘Oh no, no. The Oaken Thorne takes a very sophisticated approach. Officially The Jordisk are seen as a group are troublemakers, but,’ he shrugged ‘There are high ranking folk who appreciate those with skill and no malice to the Grand Oaken Throne; naturally we don’t mention it to the Custodians,’ Migran sniggered at the conspiratorial tone.

‘But who are destroying my town?’

‘Ah, they would be mercenaries in the pay of dangerous folk from across the Centrus. There is war-’

‘I knew it! I heard it on my device! They know about Trelli too! We must help her!!’

Mietitore promptly focussed on two words ‘device’ and ‘her’.

 

Custodian Meradat and the rest of the LifeGuard had set off in the wake of the Karlyn and Beritt, pausing to meet up with Norvan and Merryk who having caused some unsettling of groups of pirates had withdrawn. The combined force forged on despatching two groups of reavers, but the resultant delay had them loosing track of the Beritt and Karlyn.

Until the sudden illumination of unusual reds and blues left everyone in no doubt of the direction to take.

 

Mietitore was being the process of smoothing Migran’s nerves with false sympathy and some genuine gratitude, when all attention of this particular huddle was drawn to a brilliance of red and blue issuing forth somewhere nearby.

‘Oh that has to be poor Trelli!’

‘Trelli? Dear Master Migran, who is this Trelli?’

‘She has been introduced to some empathy with The Ethereal! But until now it has been a very minor thing this is… this means she is in dreadful distress! We must go and help!!’

He was a bit surprised by the sudden collective recoil of these previously stalwart men; it was not so much fear he was witnessing as very grave trepidation. There must be something about The Ethereal that highly trained men were warned about.

‘No. No, Master Migran no!’ Mietitore clutched Migran by the shoulder so hard the man winced ‘She is beyond our help,’ Migran made to object or at least ask a question but Mietitore shook him ‘Beyond it I tell you!’ he snapped, then drew in breath again ‘Listen to me! We must get to your house and get your device! I assure you this is vital! Vital!! Show us the way!!’

Migran suffering yet another shock accepted the command, for he could not find any time to think; he supposed the man must know something more than he did and thus obeyed.

Being shoved to the fore, he did not see the men making various signs or clutch at small charms.

 

Beritt was spitting angry; up to her back teeth and more some! She’d  had this all sorted, and then Squirrel-Head had charge in and could have nearly got them all killed. This girl Trelli could have gone off ‘bang’ for all Beritt knew! Going through a whole litany of swear words, she grabbed a stunned Karlyn by the collar of her shirt, and hauled the elidian girl into a sitting position, teeth bared and face to face.

‘Happy-sliding on a stick!! I’ve seen more common sense in a line of arse-holes during worms inspection! You nearly crocked us all into a midden!! I told you we had to take it easy!! What the scraith is the matter with you!’ she shook Karlyn, who bemused by the whole display shut up ‘Now go and do something fribbin’ useful and stand by a door and…. ohhh…. scraithin’ well kill raiders!!’!

Karlyn stood up, brushing flour off of her clothes with pantomime fastidiousness.

‘Hmmph! I will just do that. But don’t blame me, if Little Missy Sparkle Fingers fries your delicates,’

And determined to have the last of the exchange, snatched out and pulled the brim of Beritt’s hat over her eyes, then making much of a casual stride exited, calling out.

‘Watchin’ you Whychie! Don’t you try and kerfluffeg Flaxi there! I’ve recently killed spikie-demonz y’know!!’

Hat back in place Beritt massaged her brows and took comfort from the fact that soon she would meet up with the rest of the file and the custodian, and she would no longer have to make un-medician decisions. Meanwhile. She crouched down next to a very shocked and bothered Trelli, who was engaged on trying to find her gloves.

‘I’m sorry about her, Trelli is it?’ nod. ‘Now, please may I help you with flour dust and any bumps or bruises; cut or scratches. My mad associate did mention a nick?’

‘That’s ‘lidian for being arrested,’ Trelli explained ‘We get them through here. Always talking loud, and although you recognise the words, the meanings are a bit obscure,’ she managed a very faint smile. ‘But what’s going to happen to me?’

‘I’m going insist to clean off the flour dust first,’ Beritt produced a clean linen square and from a long bottle poured out something Trelli could smell as part soap and part wound cleaner; the soldier’s touch was effective but gentle. ‘Can you move arms, hands, legs, feet, toes?’ she asked. Nod. Both women winced again at the sound of flying ordinance, the resulting roar and the dull vibration. ‘Now like I was saying, we’ve been looking for someone, and I’ve found them… you. There will be some more LifeGuard very soon, and we will look after you. You are valuable Trelli,’

‘I’d rather not be. I didn’t start anything. My Master’s son was fooling around with forbidden things, I found out and told him to stop, but he kept on and look what happened to me!!’ she waggled her hands ‘I’d be better off he’d done what sons of households usually do to serving girls!!’

‘Don’t sound too disappointed,’ Beritt tried to jest, it might help, herself too ‘Folk will get the wrong idea,’

‘Can’t be worse than this,’ Trelli countered. ‘And what’s happening to my town?’

Beritt hated it when folk demanded of her an answer to something she had no idea about.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY

 

Karlyn slouched against an alley wall, wiping her nose on her sleeve, when there was no real need to do so. The sight of the town collapsing and burning under frequent detonations was only mildly distracting, she was more inclined to muse upon Flaxi’s fearsome outburst of temper. Didn’t those pale blue eyes threaten to spit out lighten bolts? All so sweetly gentle, or proper, then…..Warrrooomp!! Karlyn pondered on whether that was down to military training or was she naturally ferocious and the soldierly thing had made her more disciplined?

Then Karlyn twitched. Something was coming this way. But she wasn’t too sure.

She peered around the corner, no sign of the rest of the LifeGuard or Meradat. Had they lost each other in the chase? Maybe they were fighting raiders? Satisfied her nose was quite dry she chewed idly on a carrot purloined from the warehouse’s multiplicity of stores. There were folk running this way and that, and in the confusion of flames, drifting smoke and general chaos she couldn’t make out which side they were on. What was the attack about anyhows? She wondered if this was something the town had coming to it and it just so happened when they’d turn up. Thoughts drifting, she glanced back over her shoulder, all seemed cosy and peaceful, no doubt Flaxi was playing at big sister for the little Whychie, who was the one everyone should be shouting at.

A steel pointed touched her neck.

‘’Ullo then. Wot we got here?’

Blaggatinian style of accent; one just midways between Lucher and Elinid. Usual trash not loyal to neither city; she sniffed.

‘’Bout blimpin’ time!’ she snapped at the three men; the youngest, at the back of course promptly exchanging his grin for a slack jawed surprise. ‘Been sat ‘ere abouts freezing off me arse-part. Skritiz, they says, get in that wobbling tawn. Sniff out the treasury an’ wait for the boys! An’ what scraithin’well happens! Some sproggle starts shooting big ‘uns at me! Just what the scraithin’ slidin’ on a stick is goin’ on! An’ wot fribbin’ ship y’ from anyhows!!’

One lumpen shaven head rumbled the word ‘treasury’ in a loving way. The youngster overwhelmed by the rapid flood of complaint piped up ‘Weasel of the Sea’ . The other lumpen, also shaven headed, but with a beard squinted suspiciously at her.

‘No one told us anything ‘bout a treasury. Nor a guide.’ Karlyn pulled a dismissive face.

Thrust out her left arm, the concealed blade slipping into the hand and thence into the man’s throat, ignoring blood spraying over her she ducked into him with her shoulder shoving his quivering body into his companion in shaven skullness, knocking both to the ground. The youngster made to lunge at her, she lashed out with her sword, satisfied with the drag of steel through cloth and skin and his scream. Thus, believing he was currently not a threat, with a yelp of glee, she leapt upon the other, struggling from beneath his dead comrade, she, driving a blade through his skull.

Karlyn rose, aware there was blood and gore in her hair, across her face, on her hands. She smiled making the whole impression ghastly to the lad currently gripping a cut cross his shoulder. She wiped the blade on a dead man’s shirt tucked in sword into her belt and with hands behind her back, she sauntered over to the injured and wide-eyed lad.

‘You’re gonna meet a friend of mine. She’s ever so friendly, and you’re going to tell her everything you know. Or I get to play with you, some more,’ and she made scissor snipping motions with the fingers of her right hand.

 

Face cleaned, hair efficiently brushed and having had a chance to tell her side of the story to the soldier, Trelli felt a slight measure more comfortable and truth be known a little excited, although she wished the latter would go away as it was bound to mess about with her judgement and in this circumstance, she was sure such feelings were dangerous.

Confirmed as a bloodstained Karlyn swaggered in dragging a terrified and wounded fellow.

‘Look what I caught when fishin’’ she chortled ‘I gutted two, they were all too greasy and bulbous to make much conversation, but this one,’ she tweaked his ear ‘Will tell us a goodsome tale….. Wontcha?’

On seeing the dark hunched figure with glowing hands the young raider’s jaw worked, but no sounds came out; he managed to point at her hands though. Before Beritt could make a statement of what she considered common sense and calming effect, Karlyn had grabbed him by his shirt collar her mouth, mostly her teeth to his ear.

‘Yesss little fish. We captured her too,’ she waved her badge of office in his face ‘But if you don’t talk long and proper, we might feed you to Princess Black Cat here. ‘Cas she does love the taste of a man’s-’

Beritt was wincing before Karlyn came out with the next words.

However, there was an interruption.

Up shot Trelli, glowing hands to hips.

‘That’s enough from you! You gutter-scraping ‘lidian-you!! Cat indeed! My skin may not be as milky smooth as yours, but I am not any hang-around tavern Cat!! Don’t you dare sully my maidenly status!!’

Karlyn felt her rousing both women to reveal they had shouty snarly sides, was a task goodly done. It was nice to know you had folk about you with fire. Knew where you stood. None of the sneaky, tweaky, slithery sorts, who’d steal the cold sausage out of your back-pack when you weren’t looking.  She shoved the captive at Flaxi because Karlyn knew the little sweetie was just itching to make his wound all better.

‘Oh, forgive me,’ she oozed at Trelli ‘Where I come from a Cat is a smooth, swift, worker what gets what it wants anyway anywhere. Aren’t you up to that?’

Trelli’s eyes narrowed. Fear and anger can walk close together and breed rage.       As Beritt was all too aware…

‘Ladies,’ Beritt admonishments came parlour polite tones ‘We are in a very difficult situation…. Oh hold still you pest, it’s only a wincy scratch!…. Can you please bear in mind, this town in under attack, we need to…. Shush! it’s a mere cleansing salve, s’posed to sting!……be very calm, find out where my LifeGuard colleagues and Custodian Meradat…..Yep! You heard me right laddy. You’re in a Fourth Hell of trouble….So dear ladies, can you please shut the scraith up! Calm down and go out and look for our colleagues!!’

‘Oooh Lookat the big brave raider fill up his trousers!!  C’mon little Whychie-woo! Let’s do as Oldest Sister tight-pants says an’ go and stand in a doorway hoping the big strong men turn up and rescue us!  We can hold-hands while we tell each other our girly-wishes!’

Naturally, since Trelli could not keep up with, much less make sense of Karlyn’s perspectives, she found herself dragged along, hoping whoever these men might be they might be authorities.

 

The Helmsman sudden stern call for all at their posts to prepare for evasion and possible extraction to the World Physical came as a shock, to do so would expose the Manse to many vigilant and hostile eyes. Just what would cause The Helmsman to take this risk?

There had been a sharp tear of Red and Blue not in the turbulent clouds above, but dashing just above the surface of the sea. Almost possessed of its panic and thus uncertain in which direction to go it sped back and forth with growing rapidity until it suddenly flared into a sapphire burst.

And was gone

‘All concentrate upon the central fifth at the furthest quarter. Observe from your direction for another forthcoming turbulence!’

The Helmsman raised one warning finger, and his hands moved rapidly across his own display, he withdrew the Manse to the very shoreline which comprised marked the borderlines into The World Physical. His attention fixed upon the location where the sapphire eruption had taken place. The Helmsman bade his crew to keep strict observation and hold their composure such an event would not pass without ramifications.

 

CHAPTER THIRTY=ONE

 

The captain of The Weasel of The Sea had had experience of bombarding towns and ones which bombarded back so as he swept in to for his return run he had the craft further out set on a zig-zag tack, which made his craft an even more difficult target. It was no problem really, they were just firing into the town, and no particular part. What caused him concern was a sudden swell which struck the side of his ship causing it to list to starboard, and thus sent the salvo up high arcing down.

Crashing down somewhere in the docks area.

The first thing he did was scan for two other ships in the sliver of pale on the horizon signalling the dawn and was much relieved to see them suffering with the same sea. At least no one could blame him if any of the crews were injured by the fall of shot.

‘Damn funny waters,’ he said to the boson.

‘Very damn funny waters Captain,’

 

Karlyn had looked sideways at Trelli; Trelli had looked sideways at Karlyn. As if walking into a brick wall in a thick elidian fog Karlyn had been suddenly stuck for any words to goad Trelli with. No doubt the sproggle-head was simmering, but Karlyn hadn’t been able to figure out which way the Whychie would jump, and when all was said and done, it didn’t do to upset the prize; she’d only get moaned at by everyone, and in the current she didn’t feel inclined for that. She should be praised for capturing a raider, and finding out the name of one of the raiding ships.

Surrendering to feeling sorry for herself, she sighed in relief, for there moving in a feral way Karlyn could admire came the LifeGuard and of course striding with them as if nothing dare stop him was The Custodian Meradat.  They could turn up and boss Flaxi about and thus smother her inappropriate compassionate tendencies.

‘Oi! Flaxi!!’ she yelled ‘Reinforcements!!’

 

‘I can make out your loopy- err- tildelte- Custodian,’ Norvan said ‘Looks like she has someone with her,’

‘Can you see Beritt?’ Erzns demanded; he was irritated, his eyes were not as sharp as they used to be and what with all this scraithin smoke and dust.

‘Not-’

There came a chorus of shrieking indicating another flight of ordinance, this time the piercing sound did not fly overhead, but began to grow far louder.

Meradat stopped, looked upwards.

‘Lord God!’ he intoned.

 

Karlyn watched the line of men stop, apart from The Custodian, they made to scatter.

 

In a place of firstly thunderous tearing of the senses at the impact of the projectiles upon the building opposite and then the swept by surge of a force let loose.

Karlyn began to turn as if faced by a sudden squall of rain, time was ridiculously slow, as sharp small debris came tearing at them, towards her. The last image she was aware of was the Whychie girl, hands up before her face and in one emphatic scream calling ‘NO!’. All swiftly obscured by The Second Hell’s worth of confusion, added to by the Third Hell of pain, and the Karlyn was lifted off her feet and thrust back down into the warehouse

 

Beritt had just warned the raider not to move unless she said so, when the air was ripped apart by the arrival of ordinance; its hysterical cry, the crashing and roar of the destinations. The power of the impact struck her next as if she had been punched in a tavern brawl; clouds of dust and small debris flooded in, somewhere glass was shattering while bits of the flesh and bones of the warehouse were shredded loose. She made to grab at the raider, but in the storm of destruction and confusion he shook loose and scrambled out of one wrecked window leaving Beritt to spit dust, and curses.

But with no time for any more remorse or anger, Trelli was slumped against the door frame though Beritt could not see Karlyn. She squinted, swore again, poured contents from her water bottle over her face, blinked furiously, blew her nose loudly into a rag, poured some more water into eyes and blinked once more. Now she could see a dust covered prone form, head towards her, mouth open, eyes closed. No movement. The odd thought that it was Not flour this time, then the curious irritation that all her work in cleaning up Trelli was now undone.

‘Oh scraith and shit!!’

Feeling very much that the Fourth Hell had settled on her shoulders, she nonetheless ordered herself to medician duties. She would have to work out just what had happened and what that all meant later on. Scrambling up all of her equipment she scuttled towards the door, now illuminated by dark flame of a nearby explosion. Trelli looked towards her, eyes streaming tears, breath coming in short gasps, managing to point at Karlyn.

‘I’m all dusty again! But I’m not hurting,’ she gasped ‘See to Miss Boney-Bottom,’ the maidservant managed to get to her knees ‘I’m going to go somewhere to be sick,’

‘Take this,’ Beritt passed her a solid long bottle ‘It’s peppermint cordial. When your done up-heaving rinse out your mouth and spit. Do it three times, then take one small swallow. Make you feel better. Going to need you Trelli,’

Trelli snatched the bottle and clambered off over ruins, gasping, praying, retching, sobbing. Her hands throbbing. She was going to keep on asking this until someone gave her a proper answer…Good Lord God! Just what was going on?

Trying to stem her desperation that she’d not lost someone to this night of ruination Beritt forced herself into a deliberate and thorough examination of Karlyn for any breaks or wounds. At least the elidian’s breathing was regular. This was a medician’s night and no mistake. Cleaning and patching. Another time right in the war’s workface too, not at the back where women medicians were usually kept by conservative types who felt women shouldn’t be exposed to the horrors of battle. Well try and deal with a raving threshing soldier after the shock has worn off and the pain is running wild and you may be having to saw off a limb too!

‘Ohh, I died an’ gone to the Good Lord Gawd’s abode an’ he sent me my own angel,’

Karlyn was awake and smiling up at Beritt. Beritt was going to be checking her senses, smiling didn’t count. Lots of men wandered battlefields smiling, before they fell down dead, or started to scream.

‘How many fingers am I holding up Karlyn?’

‘Seventy-five..an’ an ‘arf,’

‘Oh ferr crying out loud!!’

‘Aww you’re fun to tease Flaxi. Your little face goes all so stern and your nose crinkles,’

‘How many scraithin’ fingers!!’

‘How many do you normally use?’

‘Second Hell!! You’re obviously no more crocked than you normally are, Now, sit up and let me clean that head scratch. Midden! You were lucky! Look at all this fribbin’ rubble, and only a head scratch!!’

‘No candles this time?’

‘We got enough damn light from a burning town!’

The two young women looked across to the hillocks of stone, flames spouting out, smokes seeping upwards, beyond more fires raged and buildings toppled.

‘Lawdgawdelpus poor sproggles. Is it always like this Flaxi?’

Back at Parledach then.

‘It’s war Karlyn. What else is there to expect. Now where’s our men gone?’

Karlyn looked with a sympathetic sadness at Beritt then pointed to burning ruins.

‘Whole shattering midden fell right on them Flaxi,’

‘She’s right,’ Trelli added, hoarse but determined to sound upright and sensible as she came crawling back over damage.

Beritt stared, she didn’t quite know what else to do. If there was not so much flame, she’d get over there and pull rocks, stones and timbers away until she found, at least a body. But currently she did not want to see anyone cooked, half-baked, and worse still hanging onto life when there was no point to. She could not be a hero; she could be soldier though. She would obey orders, as expected to. Yes, that was the way to do it. She wiped dust, someone else’ blood and her own dampness from her face.

‘That’s settled that then,’ Hold it together. Look, the girl Trelli was doing it, so would she. Be solid. Be composed. ‘We’re getting you, Trelli, out of here. We’re taking you to where my commanders will decide,’ What? Don’t think. Get on with it ‘How best to help you,’

‘I think my poor squished custodian, might have had other views,’

Beritt bit upon her lip, resolving to be in authority and not raging, screaming, angry.

‘I daresays Karlyn. But look at it this way. I’m the only one hereabouts with a definite string of orders to follow. I’ll try and get that stupid collection of metals glass and gems to work one more time. Then we’ll find us a wagon, see if our horses are in good form, appropriate goods and gear for imperial purposes,’ she paused, wiped her face, and looked about at a town in torment and vanished into the wreckage. There was a pause.

‘About scraithin’ time you, useless construct!! ‘Bout as dependable as a fribbin’ overcooked soggy carrot in a Libratery at lights out!’

Karlyn nudged Trelli

‘I thinks she’d got it sort of working again. An’ an’t she’s a fierce little den-mother?’ another nudge ‘An’ A-ppro-pri-ate means we can steal what we like, ‘cause it’s not stealing if we’re doing for the good of the Oaky,’

She then clapped her hand to her face.

‘Pooooroogah! Wot a pong! Someone’s cracked open a sewer!!’

‘I can only smell peppermints,’ Trelli’d resolved to stick to basic facts. She had concluded, quite correctly, it was the best way to avoid going mad.

 

As Karlyn announced her opinion on what she could smell; The Helmsmen and his crew gasped. A bloated, detritus encrusted shape with writhing long and hooked tentacles had broken the surface at the sapphire point. The Helmsman was about to order an immediate beaching into The World Physical and worry about the consequences later on, but the creature did not notice them, it’s limbs had reached into the places above the surface and seeming to have had them half sawn off began to haul itself out of the waters, thick glistening unhealthy greens and browns revealing a long sneering mouth of many fangs. Slowly, the whole thing began to disappear after the limbs.

‘It’s crawling into the World Physical,’ The Helmsman warned ‘The Zerstorung is coming,’

Gallery

The Power of Influence

Lyrical and eloquent antidote to the negative and the spite we see too much of

Pearls Before Swine

I was browsing my archives and thought it was interesting that I came upon this post I wrote on the same day it was published two years ago, August 10, 2015.  I don’t believe in coincidences so I am re-posting this for whoever needs to read it. It is, after all, Throwback Thursday.


What if I told you that inventions were built on your smile? If I told you, that babies were made from your good morning? That because of you someone glided their way home today. Kissed sunshine into the arms of a loved one or sat down to give birth to their first poem. Trembling and afraid, they are virgin to this moment. Nothing to warn them of the Sanchez in their blood or the Maya on their skin but here they are because you loved them. What if I told you that inside the creases of your…

View original post 79 more words

Patchwork Warriors Part 8

And here we go into the start of the first episode of sustained action

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

 

Dekyria knew there could be dislocations and interludes of silence, the light oculartragen were not precise and reliable devices. Though this particular absence was not one he could be sanguine about. Bleymore’s opinions had given weight to his own feelings on the recent events and he was in something of a struggle to keep his anxiety supressed. He’d deployed every one of his men to either try to make contact with or observe as best they could Erzns’ progress.

‘What are the current assessments Captain?’ Major Gellgrachen put Dekyria at some ease; he was far better at this waiting interlude, calm, seemingly patient and seated, no pacing and above all no demanding.

‘Difficult.  We think we have a signature which might be coming from this elidian girl travelling with the custodian. Its nature is not very stable though, flares, then dies and flares again. The surrounding activity is impeding contact with the file Major,’

‘With Erzns and a custodian in combination, I think we can afford ourselves a small measure calm in this matter Captain. Keep your men alert, but do not drive them. We need to remember our primary missions involve stealth and observation. I daresay the appearance of these creatures is alarming, but we best serve the situation by being alert and keeping Drygnest appraised,’

Dekyria was in no doubt; a very firm order to hold steady.

 

Jerreli Silc did not like skulking about shores at night time. He always reckoned there were better things to do with the night, sleeping being the one for starters. Night time always seemed to bring an urge in his older and more experienced crew to tell lurid tales about mistakes in night time navigation and subsequent wrecks, always ‘around these parts’, which was wherever they went.

‘Skiff on its way Capn’’ a said lean fellow who despite missing half of one arm and an eye moved about the craft with enviable ease.

The approaching craft moved through the dark waters with a predator’s speed, its oarsmen obviously well versed in their craft and at home in the waters. In short time, they had drawn alongside and a rope ladder dropped down.

Five figures made quick and silent progress onto his deck, once the fifth was on board, the skiff was on its way. Jerreli resented the fact that no one on the craft acknowledged him; he had expected his uncle to have told them to give him some respect.

The first man who had boarded first was no taller than Jerreli but nonetheless gave the impression of a handspan’s advantage in height. His light olive skin highlighting the steady calculating gaze from hooded bright eyes. Although his squarely handsome features suggested politeness Jerreli did not feel at all comfortable.

‘Captain Silc. My name in Sinola Mietitore,’ he said with only faintest hint of the rich accent of Tuscatalia ‘Thank you for being so prompt. Your uncle was quite insistent about this commission being carried out,’

‘Yes,’ Jerreli said straightening his back and hoping to look every inch of a reaver ‘We sail to Prendaelyn, set you ashore before dawn, raid the town and undercover of the confusion you’ll bring back whatever you have to bring back,’ he said the last bit hopeful of some information on the matter.

‘That’s the same information I was given,’ the man said affably ‘It’s good when everyone knows what’s to be done,’ he smothered a slight yawn ‘If you don’t mind my men and I would like to be shown somewhere where we can catch up on our sleep. We’ve had quite a busy time getting to this western coast on time,’

Jerreli peered over the man’s shoulder at the four other arrivals, each one busy familiarising themselves with their surroundings, appraising the small gathering of the crew, while in turn giving nothing away in their faces, letting the knives, swords and crossbows they carried doing all the talking. Most folk grew nervous at being the object of attention from a pirate crew, this gathering stood calmly, waiting on their leader.

Jerreli had them taken to one of the dry and healthier parts of his ship. This pirate captain legend building was hard work, and short on encouragement.

 

Migran chewed at his lip. The screen was giving rise to all manner of shapes and colours he had not encountered. At some stage a few days back, not so very far away there had been some rather pointedly violent event. The mystery being such readings should have indicated a very large explosion, but no news of any detonations had arrived, natural or otherwise. Without any mentor, he felt very alone and worse, considering Trelli’s circumstance, responsible. There was no doubt the situation called for a calm and reasoned evaluation followed by a carefully constructed response. His current state of agitation was not conducive to this. Indications even suggested matters were moving out of his influence and he was being swept along. Being a lone explorer was no longer exciting; it was downright wretched.

 

‘Oily’ Klee sucked in breath between his teeth and shook his head, which as far as Silc was concerned was the usual thing these good mechanicals did every time you asked them to do something for you.

In this case the mechanical was regarding the set of six hand-sized metallic-black oblong boxes connected by wires; three each attached to an end of a thumb-thick foot length dusty grey bar, through dull red crystals.

‘Y’see Mister Silc, these haven’t been connected in two parallel rows of three, and thus led into a Pacifier. You connect these straight into a Corresponder of this size and you’re bound to get a reflexive overload; that’s why two of them wires are burnt out now. Where did you get this from anyway?’

Silc had initially called in Oily Klee just to check the thing was working, tonight. Of course asking one of the old type of mechanical meant they would give the thing a good going over.

‘Rhoney ‘ere,’ Silc announced with a tone suggesting retribution for the very worried looking young man ‘Bought it from a highly rated supplier over in Swhizer,’

‘Well, they’re alright I suppose for the short-range stuff. Y’see they’re all about smuggling information through and on the Jordisk network over a few towns’ distances. Sends a swift pulse which is difficult to catch, s’ ok for that purpose but not good for long range. Just as well I ran a test, if you’d tried this full power, the whole thing would have gone up like a firework display,’ he shook his head and sucked in more air ‘Very messy for the operator,’ he looked at Silc meaningfully ‘And anyone who happened to be close by,’.

‘I got to have it working tonight,’

‘I suppose I can patch it up. Won’t be very secure though. Don’t know why you didn’t come to me in the first place, since I was the one that brought all this trouble to your attention’

‘No disrespect Oily, but the last time I gave you a secret project, the news went twice ‘round the city in a decan!’

‘Yeh, but that was only to do with hand-held gem powered torches. And you should have thanked me for that one, you turned it into a nice little earner,’

‘I blimping well had to, on account of the secret getting out! Had to cover the losses. Now get this sorted out for me,’ he glared at Rhoney ‘Otherwise someone’s old mum is going to be visiting a funeral-master!!’

 

Mietitore looked at the oval disc and examined each of its ten small jewels for any sign of activity. He was not one to place much faith in the devices or activities of the, call it Stommigheid, Ethereal, or Astatheia. Careless folk proliferating constructs of metals, wires, glasses and types of gems arranged in haphazard ways. Above all no one in overall charge, because the Custodians were pretending it had been supressed beyond a few stubborn souls, while even they used a few selective devices. Small wonder it was not dependable.

 

‘I suppose that’ll do,’ Klee stepped back, wiped his hands on a rag, then his nose on the back of his sleeve. ‘Might burn out if you go on too long. But for sorting out a botch-up, it’ll do,’

Silc judged that because Rhoney was staring in goggle-eyed admiration, that the traditional old mechanical’s description as any piece of exceptional work as mere ‘sorting out’ was once more in play. Meanwhile Klee was all for labouring a point.

‘Still should have come to us. It’s our livelihoods too,’

Silc however was all for being strict; because when you added this information to what that loon Belacheli had been babbling about and the stuff Karutorm had been hinting at then you were getting into very particular territory where the rewards could be grand, but if you tripped, you got badly slapped about. When he replied, it was with his gentle air of menace.

‘Let’s just say ‘Oily’, it’s about more than Livelihoods and local business interests,’

Klee wisely didn’t do any more labouring.

‘Far enough. I’ll hang around though, just in case. Got to go to The Necessary first,’

And left.

 

In the gloom of the quarters, Mietitore watched the sudden faint glow of a pale yellow gem, he leant forward, ear to the device.

‘….itore….hear me?’

Why was he not surprised all was not clear?

‘I hear you,’

A long pause.

‘….  shore…’llow the saf-ire… ronger it glows….’loser…get,’

In a very sardonic tone he repeated this to his men, none looked impressed; his longest serving associate, long hair covering a scar down the left side of the square face asked pointedly why couldn’t they have been told that earlier.

‘I yes understand….I said ‘Yes I understand!’

‘….when you….done…..at once!’

‘Yes, I understand!!’

And snapped the cover on the device, dropping it into the leatherskin sack; apparently, these devices did not take well to a salt water atmosphere. When he addressed his men, it was in very bitter tones

‘I was told to await the details of something called a triangulation, which could only be supplied at the time of the landing,’ he waved the small sack; dismissively ‘And thus tonight we know it is the saf-ire colouration we follow!!’

His second, Marillo, scratched his head and spoke slowly, folk now no longer above the ground had mistaken that simmering anger for simply slow wits.

‘So then, we go ashore, to a town we’re not familiar with, to look for someone or something we don’t know anything about and bring it or them back, hoping a pretty light guides us through it all,’

‘Yes friend, we are called upon to do the impossible, for the ungrateful,’

‘But we get paid Captain,’ the youngest of the group but the best shot any of the rest had seen in a collected career of about a hundred years.

‘Indeed Marallel, but as you will learn, it is never comparable to the worth of the task!!’

 

Silc glowered at Rhoney, then took a long draw up a mug of beer. He then addressed his woes to the group of his most trusted.

‘Now that was blimpin’ embarrassing that was! I felt a right clown. Could barely hear a word he said and no doubt likewise! Just gotta hope the fellow lives up to his reputation and gets ashore in the right place. Then hope my twonk of a nephew keep calm and pretend to be a merchant fleet awaiting to come into port the next morning, all right and proper,’

Grutch of the hard unforgiving features considered the machines.

‘And you still don’t know whether he’ll be bringing person or machine out! What happens if it’s a scraithin’ big thing they can’t lift or that won’t fit into a ship?’

Silc snorted.

‘Use your noggin’ Grutch! All those Jordisk stuff’s little things aren’t they? Got to be otherwise they couldn’t be secretive, could they?’

‘This load of boxes don’t look little,’

‘But you can blimpin’ well pick it up an’ carry it! Can’t you!!’

Oily Klee returned to the room from ‘attending to his necessities’.

‘You still talking to whoever you’re supposed to? Shouldn’t stay much longer could over-heat’

‘Naah! We’re done,’

‘Then, you’d better disconnect then,’ the old man said, waving a spanner at the farthest right box ‘It’s still casting out all your words,’ he sniffed, used his sleeve again, and took some amusement from the sight of feared crime leaders getting their knickers twisted, then added ‘Not there would be much chance of anyone catching a snatch of anything between this and a specified piece of work. Not up that part of the world anyhows; not a usual place of h-interest by the authorities. Now if you were up further up north where The Grim keep their stuff,’ he shrugged ‘They’d be knocking down your door right now,’

Silc ‘s face fell. That was the one party he did not want getting involved; not The LifeGuard. In stand-up fights they were bad enough, but when it came to murky work they came in all sorts of shapes and sizes and differin’ ways of doing things.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

 

Meradat was about as satisfied thus far as he could be, bearing in mind the unknown factors as to who exactly he was in pursuit of, the likelihood of others being on the same trail for blasphemous or foolish reasons and what catastrophes either might bring by design or more likely by accident.

 

For the LifeGuard file some of the expected tension afore a battle had been soothed away through enjoying a day long discourse between Tildelte Nahtinee and Medician Beritt. Nahtinee had started sneezing, the medician had insisted upon examining her nose and there was between them some ribald sparing as to what else might sneeze; this appeared to refer to a previous examination by Beritt. The medician was of the opinion Nahtinee had inhaled too much pollen from sitting up trees, which was countered by Nahtinee claiming Beritt was smelling of dying daffodils which was very sad, but no doubt that ‘wuz’ ‘wot’ ‘wuz’ making Nahtinee sneeze. The medician had spiritedly denied any such aromas and assertions of poor hygiene. This was but the first round; at every bout of sneezing the medician would suggest some medical solution, to which the tildelte would have a caustic response, that in turn would bring a comment about her lack of medical knowledge. The troopers began to make small wagers and judge who had won each round. Sergeant Erzns was quite sanguine about it. He assured Meradat this was a style of bonding.

 

As a plan in terms of simplicity and execution all had over gone very well. Thanks to a detailed LifeGuard map, they had identified a hostelry of central location and of enough capacity to afford cover. They had entered Prendaelyn in pairs as was common of itinerant males. Meradat ensuring Karlyn stayed under his supervision. Once in the town, he had ensconced himself in a corner of the Grand Welcome tavern’s main bar room and having ordered and then sampled the fayre decided the tavern’s name was, as he had suspected, quite inaccurate, though he had tasted worse. Karlyn now free of sneezing and in the company of trooper Trex indulged in the roles of appreciative audience to some naturally shameless dancing girls. The pair actually being there as guards in the improbable event of Meradat being in peril. Then each of the other troopers entered either glaring as if looking for someone who would regret being found, shrugging and deciding to look for a better place, or weaving in and weaving out seemingly already having drunk enough. Assured everyone was in the town and at hand Trex and Karlyn threw coins at the girls who with practised caught and located them; where being a matter of bawdy conjecture. Nahtinee was much of trying to flirt with one, then blowing kisses as the two appeared to weave out. After a hundred with the air of someone who had not sampled worse fayre Meradat exited.

Norvan ambling along the walkway rolled his eyes in one direction, then went the opposite way. Meradat went down the indicated alley.

There in a shed which appeared to be an adjunct to The Grand Welcome, the group, save Norvan, was centred around Medician Beritt and the oculartragen The medician with much composure was ignoring Karlyn leaning over her shoulder and asking inane questions.

‘I’ve found where the fuss is coming from,’ she said, with an edge of hope in her voice ‘Near the dockside,’

Karlyn sneezed.

Over Beritt’s right ear.

‘I know there is a deficiency of trees hereabouts. But can you not go climb a roof and sneeze there?’

‘I can’t help it!’ Karlyn sniffed the air ‘There are smells like strong peppers!’

‘Well I’ll just amble into the kitchens of this tavern and cite your complaints. I’m sure they’d be understanding of your over-sensitive nose,’

‘Not those sorts of peppers,’

Beritt turned her full attention of Karlyn.

‘As much as it distresses me I really will have to look up that nose of yours again,’

Meradat interposed looking severely at Beritt and questioningly at Karlyn.

‘Your adherence to your duty is noted medician, but there is not the time. We will trust to The Lord God. Let us be about his requirements,’ and strode forward, Karlyn having stuck her tongue out at Beritt followed in his wake asking when she could start burning things.

Beritt frowned, shut down the device and began to pack it away, Erzns crouched next to her.

‘Any contact with Outpost Dorigen medician?’

‘Nothing sergeant.  There’s all these colours dancing about the place. All I can tell you is that this is a comforting as sitting near a wasp’s nest,’

‘I’ll take that as a reasonable assessment of the situation medician. I know you were two lunations at the Siege of Parledach, but ever been fighting in streets before?’

‘Only family fist fights with the town kids and latterly tavern brawls,’ she managed a sly grin, this earned her an approval in the form of a twist of his mouth.

‘If one happens, and it probably will, let the file do the work, you guard this oculator-thing.  Stay low, look to the shadows for comfort, and when I order move, move fast. And don’t try and use your bow unless you’re in a face off, too many soldiers loading one in streets have found they make a good target,’

She would have liked to have asked more about the last words, but he was out and leading. As standing orders dictated either as a medician or an ‘owl’ she took her place behind him.

 

Migran nearly fell out of his chair, the two voices coming across right out of his oculator. The conversation was broken up but there was enough to convince him they did not sound the friendly sorts and the ominous word such as ‘raid’. He paled somewhat and felt his stomach lurch. There was no doubt about the discourse. Just off of the coast there came severe trouble in the form of raiders coming ashore and looking for something. Since the whole conversation was being conducted through mechanical, then the probability would be that the something would be him.

Or Trelli!!

Panic assailed him and with it a debris of thoughts and fear shook lose by the shock. Who could he tell? Who would believe him? And anyway, what would be the reaction to him telling them about his illicit activities? He could envisage time being wasted while the agents of destruction moved in. Prendaelyn was hardly a fortress town, as far as he knew there was only one very old ordinance piece, and the town guard’s extent of capability was sorting out unruly market crowds, or engaging in struggles with drunks, and this being a market day would ensure their capacity was stretched.

What could he do?

Trelli! He had to get Trelli! Sitting alone and forlorn in that dockside warehouse, she would be an ideal target, and….and….

…. While he was running there, he would…he would…. think of something else.

 

Trelli curled up even tighter in the blanket; the three large cushions and one pillow propped in the corner were a poor substitute for a bed, and not much in the way of warmth either, this year’s spring being of a particularly reluctant sort. Perversely as far as she was concerned the only improvement in the weather would be if it were to rain very heavily and keep people in doors instead of letting them be cheerfully, stupidly and loudly drunk outside thus keeping her awake. And if there was someone more stupid than a drunk it was Migran who had got her into this mess. No, maybe, truth be known she was even more stupid because she had known it was all not right and blasphemous and should have told someone.

From where she gripped the blanket faint glows of red and blue emanated.

This was not her world. This was a place where the wicked and the silly dwelt. At this a jolt of conscience stopped another bout of sobbing. She’d played her part in tax evading. It might have been only a little part, but even so. Maybe this was a punishment? Maybe it was the pathway to a hell, probably the First, where she would be constantly unable to do even the simplest thing, like pick up a spoon to eat soup, because that’s what The Stupid deserved.

Stupid! Stupid!

She hoped if she cried enough, she would tire herself out and fall asleep.

 

Mietitore stopped at the rock outcrop, viewed the watchtower central to a man high stretch of wall which drifted out on one side to a higher tower and wall and on the seaward side to some craggy rocks. At once his military sensibilities were affronted at such a ridiculous arrangement. The building itself no more than thrice the height of a man marked the end of the town’s defences. He supposed, wryly, that the authorities were assuming the sea would stop any interlopers beyond this point. Maybe they felt main threat from hereabouts would be from men who were afraid of getting their feet wet, or sand in their shoes when the tide was out. He turned to his men, all versed in the art of scaling small locations, and also in permanently removing the risk of guards raising an alarm. While they did what they had to do, he pulled his cloak over his head and under cover considered the device and the sapphire light, which winked faintly on the central gem. He supposed he would have to make do with that! Still judging by the horizon, the dawn was another eight thousand off, which should be time enough to locate what or whoever the cause was and get them way

He hoped this particular group of pirates knew what they were doing, too many of the crew seemed nervy. Was it necessary to have all guns manned and ready to fire? And why three ships? That would surely raise suspicions if there happened to be an efficient harbour watch, which there again he doubted. There was a lack certainties here. You need a few certainties to work with particularly when whychery was involved. They could call it what they liked; Ethereal or Stommigheid. In Tuscatalia it was La Rovina; the Bane.

 

Migran in mid scamper paused in a street, the direction and length of which afford a clear view of a wide patch of sea. Congratulating himself on the foresight of bringing his lensan, he extended the tube and peered through the series of three glass discs, each expanding the view. He could make out three ships! He supposed one ship may wait the night at sea to ensure a safer passage into port in daylight, but this fleet of three and the word ‘raid’… surely it was too much of a coincidence! He must raise an alarm!

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

 

Beritt kept her head down, and hunched while weaving slightly. She hoped no other passing group of drunks would want to know what she was carrying. There was no doubt the file about her could see off any group of at least three times their number, but she would be stuck in an affray trying to keep the blasted machine intact. Everyone else was having no trouble keeping pace; the Custodian had gone striding ahead with Norvan in tow as delegated, titular escort. Karlyn was skipping like something demented and still sneezing!. No one was worrying about the medician and the extra load, the whole weight seemed very symbolic.

‘Hey Beritt. You’re starting to look like a proper trooper,’

Trex got the traditional vulgar response of a flipped top of her thumb to the tip of her nose, but accompanied by a grin.

Proper trooper; yeh for the present that would suit fine.

 

Mietitore ran up the steps of the watch tower, two of his men were rolling the corpses of three unfortunates to one side, allowing him access to the door to the walkway. From this vantage point the town looked very much like any other. The burning of lights indicating ale, wine and coin were yet to run out. Grasping the device firmly he swept it before him in an arc, watching for the sapphire, as the light flickered across five gems, before settling upon one; thee central one of the five to the left. Keeping his arm steady, he crouched down and peered along the line. The location suggested the docks, possibly a warehouse area.

One of those who had despatched the watchmen raised the issue of someone coming to check on the watchtower. Mietitore looked to the town and his dismissive sneer was enough of an answer.

 

Curator Jerble had nearly dozed off. Whereas this was the docks temple and in theory the one which should be witness to and arbiter of much associated violence and petty villainy; truth be known no one had that much faith to bother them much. Translator Pettla had made it quite well known that he felt The Good Lord God knew all and whatever happened was His Way and all that mortals should do was pray and give Him thanks; providing this was done at the times specified on the notice board. This was most convenient for the translator and for those of the public who thought they ought to sometimes attend Temple.

So Jerble was quite surprised by the furious hammering upon the temple door and the demands for access by an obviously out of breath person. Taking hold of his cudgel, for one could never be sure, he carefully drew back the door a hand span.

A frantic face appeared.

‘Let me in! Let me in! It’s vital!!’

‘What does an honest soul want at deep night?’

‘It’s vital I tell you!!’

The irony of this time being on the other side of a persistent request for access was quite lost on Migran. With sudden fear fuelled strength he shoulder-shoved the opening door and forced the curator back, who understandably stumbling over a chair end up lying on his back. This unfortunate circumstance was of little concern to Migran who was frantically looking about for a bell rope.

‘The alarm! Ring the alarm! Pirates are coming!!’

Jerble being a man of modest composure and reasonable wits pointed out if this was the case then the watchtower men would have begun to sound their own alarms. Migran didn’t take any notice, calling out that there was no time to lose. In his haste and frantic concern for Trelli that by the time Jerble was fully to his feet Migran was scampering to a summoning bell rope, leaping upon it as if he were a man nearly lost at sea, and thence began to swing and pull demonstrating no skill whatsoever. Jerble’s own attempts to haul him off, only serving to increase the sway and tempo of the bell

In spite of his best efforts to craft a reasonably quiet life Translator Pettla was quite suddenly woken from his sleep, as was the visiting wife of a currently away on business merchant. He also moved quite quickly, in his case speed fed by a mix of anger at being disturbed and concern at possible scandal. Temple bells being rung at deep night attracted attention and he had assured the lady there would be no attention. Finding his curator at one swinging and wrestling with some hysteric in a battle for possession of a bell rope added confusion into the mix.

‘Curator Jerble! What is this!’

‘A madman, your enlightenedness! He is babbling!!’

‘There is no time to explain! Ring the bells! Alarm! Pirates!!’

Added Migran.

To the confusion.

 

Trelli sat up in a dither. Her tear heavy ploy had sort of worked. She’d not been aware she had been asleep until the temple bell woke her up. Shaking off the dream-fuddled idea that it was because the local ecclesiastics were coming for her, and pulling about a blanket for protection, she stumbled towards the nearest window. There were still a few lost revellers about, this time pausing into their inebriations to consider why some fool of a translator was ringing his bells this time of night; candles at windows suggested the few local residents were also awakening to the sound. One drunk swayed in her direction, peered and then pointed; at once she dropped out of sight, wrapping her hands into her armpits and whimpering…stupid-stupid- get your gloves, too light! Holding her breath, as if it would help, she waited for some cries of alarm in her direction, but as the clamour seemed to revolve around the bells, she hoped the drunk was either being ignored or had decided he needed to have less of the strong wines.

No sooner than she felt assured, than she noticed the gloom in the room was being softening into shades of red and blue. After a shriek of alarm, she scrambled into the blanket, wrapping her hands deeper and deeper into its folds. The light was getting stronger! What the Little Hell was she supposed to do now? Walk about for the rest of her days in a blanket? Except when she took it off to strangle Migran! Short on logic she crawled over to the window which looked out to the sea; heart hammering, mind swimming. Ships?

 

At the sound of the bell Mietitore’s group dropped to the sandy approach to the main harbour.

‘I don’t see no watchtower signal lights,’ someone said.

‘And this no place under the pious thrall of those girls out the librarteries either. This can be no call to devout prayers. Someone has set off an alarm!’ Mietitore held up the device; the sapphire light was still pointing to the warehouses ‘Much fun from now on!’

His men were versed in that savage turn in his voice, from now on woe upon anyone who even stumbled in his way.

 

‘In The Name of the Lord God!’

Norvan reckoned that when this custodian said those words, they were more of an announcement rather than an oath ‘Those are temple bells! This is obviously not a devout place given to quarterly calls to prayer!’ he nudged Norvan, who in consequence stumbled ‘To the temple trooper. There are events within events this night!!’

‘And the plan goes down the splooshes and thuds hole,’ was Norvan’s response ‘Same as it ever was,’ then sprinted after Meradat, who he reckoned seemed possessed on some homing instinct to temples as they were at the traditional tent shaped structure in short time. Meradat swerved to an alley adjoining experience had taught him hasty exits were never out the front entrance. He kicked in the backyard gate and without much loss of pace seemed ready to do the same to the back door; this was not necessary as anticipated it suddenly drew open, revealing a hastily dressed woman. She promptly squealed, and tried far too late to close the said door; a lost cause and so as had Jerble earlier, she fell backwards as firstly Meradat strode in, subjecting her to a fierce condemnatory scowl, followed by Norvan who grinning knowingly winked and tipped his hat.

‘Y’ll look back on this one day and laugh about it,’ he added and set off after Meradat.

Who drove through the temple domestic space scattering light furniture, pushing or flinging doors open until he reached the space where the translator would perform the Solemnity, an area which currently was anything but. The very dishevelled translator and his distraught curator hanging grimly onto the bell rope intent to stop the ringing, while a figure was seen scrambling out of a window.

‘Translator!’ his pronouncement echoing as he drew forth his custodian’s insignia ‘I am about the Lord God’s business here, which I had intended to conduct by stealth! What is the reason for this ringing of bells?’ he advanced, fists clenched ‘Would it be in relation to my task. Are you raising an alarm to warn those foes of the Lord God!!’

Whereas the translator could only work his mouth, the curator, used to making excuses for his nominal superior managed to interpose himself between the two representatives of the Good Lord God.

‘Honoured Custodian! We were trying to stop the work of that wild young man, who at your arrival has just fled! He was raving about dangers and woes!!’

‘He is Migran, the younger son of a merchant of some repute, Master Hendrechan !’ the translator added, anxious to move the blame.

Norvan had gone to the window, peering out, crossbow first.

‘Something scuttling in the shadows to what looks like warehouses!’

The translator perceived some safety debris of circumstance and intended to lurk within.

‘Ah! The Hendrechans’ have warehouses there! He must have some sort of hidden and proscribed device which has gone awry!!’

Even through the curator usual did the menial work in this area the translator was also adept at making up his own excuses and deflections.

Meradat frowned, ordered trooper Norvan to pursue, he would follow; before doing so he turned full face upon the translator.

‘When I have concluded my business, amongst other matters I will be back to discuss the issue of a woman trying to flee your abode,’

The translator was about to babble something; Meradat was not listening; from the direction of the rest of LifeGuard file a sudden bright green light flared.

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

 

Jerreli Silc did not know this place and in consequence had no idea if they had any sort of seaward defences. Some of the trading cities along the Centrus Sea had sufficient ordinance and their own warships to see off a small fleet and still not disturb a market day. Along the coasts to the north, both scothian and imperial warships plied a grim watch for slovosskian and foggean isle raiders. So, this place could have anything lurking and he might not know until a first salvo started. He had taken the recent precaution of sending two boat loads of crew from each ship to land firstly put any end to any ordinance lurking.

And secondly to greet the tuscatalians, and relieve them of whatever they had found. They might be good at their trade but he suspected his thirty men could put paid to them.

For whatever it might be would have good value, and maybe his uncle might not know how to get the best out of it. He had his own contacts….

His musings stopped, far across the water came the sound of a bell, ringing frantically.

‘Hear that!’ he demanded to all about him.

Several said they did, a couple asked what it meant and were sharply told it was an alarm.

Someone on watch swore they’d seen a greenish light.

‘Ferrrkit!!! We’ve been spotted! ‘

 

Karlyn gave vented to such a series of sneezes that she quite lost her breath, the last one nearly caused her to topple over.

 

The Helmsman ordered his men to their station and make ready, the swell of the ominous waters as they rose and fell in unsteady tempos would soon resolve into some surge of a large and more important angry response to external pressures. What pressures though? He had no time to consider that now, all must be made ready for the surge.

 

Merthyl was gathering a group of men he paid enough and always let make free with entertainment upon any survivors, when he felt a sudden flush of excitement far beyond anything he could normally fabricate. This was promising!!

 

Men of Jerreli’s fleet began to look fearfully to the ocean, beneath them the crafts swayed to port then to starboard, leaning at worrying slants; those below came up claiming they could hear thunder from the depths.

 

Karlyn flew backwards, convinced that some wobblers had leapt out of some shadows caught her with a swift sly punch. Beritt dropped at feeling a sudden surge of heat from her back-sack, she tore it off and finding it was pulsing soft green swore at the device; therein slipped into a doorway to check what the scraith was going on. When she had the thing in her hands the green flared into a blinding flash and the whole device shot from her hands punching her in the stomach and convincing her the fribbin’ thing was possessed.

Meradat stood firm against the wall, forcing his senses to stay alert and make as much rational observation as he could. The bell which had been silenced by the two men had started again of its own accord too fast, then too slow for ordinary work; the pitch was wrong. Above him clouds scuttled in the opposite direction, very swiftly.

 

Large bubbles broke the surface of the sea; heralds to an eruption of a column of water and debris rising upwards beyond the height of the sails of the ships, whereupon its blossomed into ugly flowering of mix of sea, sea bed and living and dead things, showering out in all directions.

‘Trap!’ cried Jerreli anxiety giving anxiety its own bloom to all manner of fiendish devices a coastal town might have.

 

Upon a squat tower set upon the portside area, sat the two pieces of ordinance of the port of Prendaelyn. This existed much to the local business communities chagrin by a compulsory purchase imposed upon them by the princes of Decoryx. Crewed by men who were thus exempted from civic tax and had some rudimentary training honed slightly by the knowledge if they got anything wrong the weapons could explode about them. Other than that, it was a reasonable way to while away some time free of family. The watch of eight had, for once been interested in the sea because of the three ships idling waiting the dawn to dock. There was discussion over where they had come from and what cargo they were bringing. There was some suspicious speculation over the three long boats and the barrels them seemed to be carrying, and whether someone ought to suggest the town foot watch come and ask questions.

Then came the bell. And the crews had decided to lock the doors load and their ordinance a slow and careful business, so let the town watch come running to find out why bells were ringing and row boats coming ashore.

Then came the violent fountain between ships and port.

While every man of the tower watch felt as if they had been struck suddenly by a sudden strong sea wind, and found they were where they were sure they had not been just a five before.

‘Pirates!’ one cried.

‘Pirates be dam’d!’ the captain of the tower watch yelled back ‘That was unnatural stuff!! Those are Sanded Land folk!!’ and unable to suppress the irrational thrill of battle, which was not normally in his nature he gave the order to commence to fire upon the ships.

At which the landing party dropped all pretence of bringing goods ashore; some did as ordered and charged towards the watch tower, others confused by the sudden change in circumstances rushed off for cover and in search of booty.

Jerreli had the signal given to fire into the centre of the town. He’d read in accounts of great pirate lords who always directed so much ordinance into the centre of a town that it caused the people to surrender. He had neglected to consider that was part of a campaign directed at the more independent city states and their physical centres of power.

 

Meradat observed the two LifeGuard scouts scrabbling, swearing complaining they’d lost sight of the fellow and what the scraith was that ‘thing’ about? Whatever it was he knew there was the expected grim logic to the event. He gathered the confused party about him, this included dragging Karlyn to her feet. He addressed Erzns.

‘You may have been warned about them sergeant but have you ever experienced a temporal event?’

‘We were warned,’ came the gruff reply, his attention more directed to his file ‘C’mon pull yourselves together, this is no worse than an ordinance bombardment,’

‘Explains all that smell of pepper and the sneezing,’ Karlyn said ‘I never had that before, not even on the road. That big whoosh of sea must be part of it,’

‘This machine went all furious,’ Beritt scowled at the device at her feet ‘Nearly scorched my back off, then shot into my stomach       ! ‘

‘I volunteer to kiss it better,’ Trex said, dodging subsequent the right swing.

Karlyn wanted to be ahead, there were sharp hammering smells to the fore; someone was doing something very seriously. She had the urge to run full speed, howling, ready with a fist full of combustibles to put an end to the source.

‘Hear that!’

          Norvan was the first to raise the alarm, but by the time he had finished everyone had picked up their gear and were looking skywards. Myrrek grumbled to Beritt.

‘Sarge’ had to scraithin mention ‘ordinance, didn’t he? Like an invocation of a curse,’

The first had been the double boom close at hand and shrillness fading off into the night. Then came the far-off many voiced retorts. The troopers whispering as each counting off the time for direction and impact

‘Keep moving forward’ Erzns ordered ‘Shift closer, there’ll be raiders! We need to get under their comfort!’

‘Comfort,’ Beritt found that a peculiar concept; the gap betwixt an ordinance discharge and where it would land.  She ducked and winced as the overhead screaming battered her senses, only to be introduced to far worse when the denotations roared and then shook the ground beneath her. She now felt she might know what the folk in Parledach had gone through. Looking back over her shoulder there was smoke, and flames flying upwards, buildings swayed, or were already gone, screams followed. Instinctively she clutched at her mediphsic. ‘Fifth Hell,’ this was her observation and not oath. She was much glad of Erzns yelled order to keep up. Orders were good, you just obeyed them, no need to think. You had no need of choice to make, all the pain and suffering behind you was no longer your concern.

That was of no particular salve to her anguish at the screams of the first victims of a town under ordinance fire.

 

Myrrek meanwhile was keeping up his litany of woe.

‘Knew it. Knew it. Plan was going too smoothly. Now the midden-storm starts. What a scraithing!’

Meradat had drawn his axe, Beritt wished she didn’t feel he looked rather satisfied.

‘There are no such things as coincidences in these matters! There are others here for whoever the culprit is!!’ Norvan being the first to respond

‘Makes sense your Diligence. Me and Myrekk will go ahead and scout the perimeter?’

Erzns nodded.

The troopers loped off, Myrekk voicing an opinion that just because Norvan had been hanging about with a custodian he didn’t have the right to make damn fool orders.

Meradat crouched, mulling through the possible approaches of the true opposition and its likely composition when Karlyn was suddenly at his side with the wide-eyed excitement of a young hound on its first hunt.

‘I can tell! I can tell!’

Meradat was obliged to reach out with one hand to her collar to restrain her further progress

‘Your tildelte seems to have a trace upon the problem Your Diligence,’ Erzns was all tight- lipped diplomacy. ‘I would suggest we had better stay here tight and see what happens, the lads will be back when the numbers get too heavy,’

‘A solid strategy on an ordinary battlefield sergeant, but where the Stommigheid is involved caution may not be an option,’ Meradat concluded distracted by Karlyn’s wriggling

‘Look I’m not a blimpin’ hound! Now let go of me collar!! There’s someone there!’ Karlyn jabbed a finger towards a specific building ‘An’ you just said yerself your custodianship we can’t wait! We gotta go and get them! Now!!’

‘They may be someone who is very alone and frightened,’

Having said that Beritt at once shrunk into her coat, hoping no one had heard her; she wasn’t feeling heroic. She was a medician, she cleaned upwards. But Erzns being Erzns had heard her

He absently massaged a two-day stubble before addressing Meradat.

‘The medician has a recent recorded affinity with folk taken with Astatheia Your Diligence. If there is someone in there who is volatile, she might well be the best one in there,’

This time, irrespective of how she felt Beritt kept her mouth tightly shut. Karlyn was more for expressing loud vocal empathy with Erzns.

‘Yeh! Flaxi’s just the one to be nice an’ kind an ease ‘em out!! Let’s not be arse-squeaking about the place!! Let me and her get in there and find out what’s what!!’

Meradat had been carefully sifting sense and judgement out of the situation. Action was required and in this instance and based on previous evidence, it was reasonable to consider the two young women liable to be useful.

‘Very well,’ and he made swift right handed gestures across the tops of their heads ‘Be about the Lord God’s bidding,’

‘C’mon! C’mon!!’ yapped Karlyn and once released sprinted across the road to the warehouses, Beritt barely keeping up; despairing when the girl did not stop at the first wall to gauge direction, but kept the frantic pace down a small alley. Although Beritt knew the light was from fires of destruction, she was grateful in that the illumination kept the elidian pest in view. This faint comfort was dashed when out of the corner of her left eye she saw a small group of loudly gleeful armed men rushing past. So now she was not only running towards some Stommigheid wielding unknown but also the teeth of this raid.

 

The sound of the pirate’s bombardment had pulled Trelli out of her island of misery and to the window. This new circumstance freezing all thoughts and even instinctive panic. As the first detonation took place, all her mind could come up with was that there would be no Sale Day tomorrow.

 

Mietitore’s progress along the dock had been steady until he and his men had been confused by the sudden twists and turns in the alleys. Usually such things were not a problem, but in this case they’d all become quite mixed up. And about the same time and ordinance had begun between ship and shore, with him and his in the middle. Although not a new experience it was not one you got used.

On top of this came a new problem; being the sapphire light was dancing back and forth from one gem to another of the inner four. Bereft of dependable direction he swore with all the passion and vehemence of a true son of Tuscatalia and invoked curses upon the Jordisk who had made this device; this cleared his head. At least he only had four possible directions to go, and all of them forwards.

It was a start.

 

Trelli didn’t really want to look down at her hands, the sight either dispirited, angered or frightened her.

But the colours were now pulsing and there was a flash similar to one from those fancy sapphire rings ladies wore

Oh, Good Lord God, help this thy poor wayward daughter!

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 6 – An Era of Everyone Getting Involved With Everyone Else (more than usual)

1325 to 1380 The Age of Interference?

Some histories will look at this period from the standpoint of Edward (the III) , what Edward (the III) did and what people thought about what Edward (always the III) had done. Actually, this requires viewing from a wider perspective as there was a lot of interference going on, enacted by a number of people on each other, which in these days we would call International Politics as if we had invented it.

For convenience sake, we shall start with Edward who started out as ‘of Windsor’ on account of being born there 13th Nov. 1312

Edward Comes of Age

With his father (ex-Edward II) deposed in 1327 and possibly killed but more likely to be allowed to flee, Edward (still of Windsor) realised his situation was delicate because his mother Isabella was in a delicate relationship with The Roger Mortimer. Even though he (now  Edward III) had been crowned in 1327,‘They’ were running the country and if her personal heath became delicate and she and Mortimer had a little delicatessen then, his position (Edward ie) would be so delicate as to be possibly fatal. This concern was not helped by Mortimer acting like Edward was his surly teenage son. Surly and teenage he might be, stupid he was not so in 1330 with the aid of the We-Hate-Mortimer group of Nobles he gently deposed his mother and not so gently disposed of Mortimer. Being chivalrous he imprisoned his mother in comfortable surroundings and used to visit her and later with grandchildren, so despite the efforts of Victorians she did not go mad, though was probably distraught about Mortimer (for a while)

Scotland- Successions, Pretenders, English folk and Davids Who Won’t Go Away

Robert (The I, The Bruce, The Famous etc) did not have a chance of being involved in all the fuss and drama as he was dying of an ‘unclean sickness’. Since everyone in those days was pretty grubby and generally dying through not washing their hands, why contemporaries should make such an issue of Robert in particular seems a bit unfair. Suffice it to say he expired in 1329.

He was succeeded by Daibhidh a Briuis (or as the English insisted David the II). As he was only aged 5 at the time and those charged with his regency died (probably of English or Pretenders) these were parlous times and he was often obliged to go into exile as well as be captured by the English.

David (for sake of clarity)’s main problem was the Balliol family who had been friends with the English or Anglo-Norman kings from the times of King Stephen and had even had a Matilda of their own (See Vol I). For this reason Balliols (or Belliols) had started to believe they could pretend to be Kings of Scotland, and the latest, Edward thought that kings of Scotland and England with the same name would be heavily advantageous to the Isles as no foes could be sure who was who or where so, in 1332 he said he was king(of Scotland, that is). Many Scots nobles didn’t see it that way kept deposing him no matter how many times the English kept undeposing him. With David (or Daibhidh) back in 1341 he (Edward, the Balliol) was obliged to flee to Galloway and raise a rebellion and in 1346 returned after David (the II or a Bruis) had made an English noble called Neville very cross, had been invaded for it and captured. Although Edward (the Pretender) thought he might profit no one really took him seriously and in 1356 he gave up and retired to a post office in Doncaster.

David would spend spent many years in England and Edward (the III) would insist the Scots paid to have him (ie David The Bruce-ish) back He would return to Scotland as we shall see.

The Hundred Years War

The French were led by Philip VI who was fortunate and had managed to seize the bits of France which English kings said were theirs and send pirates to raid the English coast This annoyed Edward The III so much that he said he could be a better King of France and intended to prove it by invading the afoementioned France. He firstly became friends with Louis VI which was a shrewd move. Louis was a very successful fellow having become King of the Germans in 1314, the Italians in 1327 and finally in Emperor of any Romans he could find in 1328, he rewarded Edward (III) by announcing he (Edward that is) could be a vicar in any parts of Germany he chose. Encouraged by this Edward formed an alliance with The Portuguese and was thus able to sluice the French off of the seas in 1340.

With all these advantages and control of the seas in plaice Edward invaded France in 1346 where his Gothically inclined son The Black Prince defeated the French at Crecy and Poitiers. This was also because Phillip VI had ceased and his son John (or Jean) was captured (or capture) with his own sons Phillip (or Philipe) and Louis (or Louis). All were held for ransom (or rancom), but in raising the gold (or d’or) the French nobility found difficulties (or tres excuses feeble). John gained the moral high ground when his son Louis cheated and escaped in1363 which was not allowed in Chivalry. In response John said he would now be a prisoner in England. He arrived in 1364 .Everyone greeted him with great celebration and feasting, and so three months later being of such good repute he died.       

Other Nations Kings And Ransoms

It was a perfectly respectable thing to do to capture other people’s nobles and kings and demand large amounts of gold and silver for their return, but not so funny if the said peoples weren’t keen on having them back. This was a problem for the English Government during this era.

The Scots had managed to wrangle a deal to make easy instalment payments and so David (The II don’t forget) returned to Scotland in 1363. Once safe in Scotland and with England tangled up with the French he suggested later that instead of paying gold etc, a son of Edward III could be king after him; he then cannily dragged out the negations until dying 1371 of infidelity. In the meantime, he had knocked nobles etc into line, gathered so much extra money (by not paying England) that Scotland was now so solid it was basically independent and great friends with France.

Edward (III) had not noticed this because he was trying to get the French to pay for their king; they having more capital and land than the Scots. This confused the French as they thought he had said he was going to be King anyway, so why would they want John (or Jean) back anyhow? Edward confused matters even more in 1360 by saying he didn’t have to be king (of France) just so long as he kept the lands he rightful taken (or stolen). And then Jean (or John) died (see above) which ruined everything.

So by 1371 Edward was quite disillusioned with whole ransoming of Captured Kings

The Black Death

This appeared to appear from Asia and was caused by fleas on rats, although no doubt washing the hands would have helped stop the spread. Medical Science at the time was not much advanced although various cures were experimented with such as poking holes in people, wrapping them in hot wet blankets, cold wet blankets or pushing pigeons into various infected areas; unsurprisingly the death toll was high. Because Edward I & II had driven out the Jewish community the local population had no one to foist the blame onto, except the Church, who countered by saying it was all down to Devine Judgement, which was a daft thing to claim seeing as how a large number priests, bishops etc died too. Eventually there were so few rats the plague went away, for a while. One of the results being that many peasants had died, leaving the nobles with a reduced workforce thus the surviving peasants could just go and work for whom these pleased at what wages they, the peasants thought reasonable. Although various parliaments tried to do something to keep the peasants in their place things were not the same anymore and so set the scene for the rise of Socialism, Non-Conformities, Rat Catchers and experiments with washing hands.

 The Continued Rise of Parliament.

Edward’s principal problem with the body was that so many people were getting into Parliament that it had enough representatives to have a House of Commons and a House Of Lords who when they weren’t arguing with each other would both tell the king (ie respectfully suggest and advise) he couldn’t have any money. They became so full of themselves they assembled in 1376 on April 28th and didn’t go away until the 10th July, during which time they made so many speeches they insisted they were The Good Parliament. Edward was therefore obliged to dismiss his current group of advisors and have men appointed by Parliament (The Good) even if one who was a son of Roger Mortimer, just to remind Edward the III what had happened to Edward the II. They also insisted he have two bishops and to really confuse him they were both named William.  Luckily for Edward his very thin and serious son John of Gaunt invented, in 1377 a Bad Parliament which said everything the Good Parliament had done was possibly illegal, heretical, or treasonous and empowered Gaunt to throw people in jail if he felt like.

This was of great comfort to his father Edward (III of course) who at the time was suffering from a large abyss resulting in his death 23rd June 1377.

The Legacy of the Era of Edward III  

Because Edward had been good at fighting the Scots and The French his nobles admired and trusted him, thus for some years both were on the same side. As there were so many parliaments the common people thought they were being listened to. Also by codifying the Laws of Treason and felonies, people now had the right to know what they were being arrested or thrown into a dungeon for.  Fighting the French was also popular with the people; in particular as due to French foreign policy there were more popes than usual (ie One). Edward circumvented this difficulty by only choosing to listen to the one which had not be chosen by The French. In conclusion, it must also be mentioned that Edward was secure enough to make the wearing women’s garters by men of noble birth an act of Chivalry. Thus, he died beloved.

The Isles

In general England felt strong and independent, Scotland felt wealthy and independent, Ireland wasn’t listening to anyone outside of Ireland and thus sort of Independent; Wales however was stuck with the king’s eldest son being its prince so was continuing to invest in a Cultural Identity.

 

In the next Chapter, we shall look at the Circumstance of The Church during this era and the confusion arising when the Assertions that The King was God’s Appointed Regent and the Church being God’s Appointed Servants got all mixed up by kings and bishops.

 

A True History of The Isles Vol II Chapter 4 Edward II, And What Others Did About Him