The midmorning sun glares at us from over the mountains. I glare back, blinking tiredness from my eyes and considering, not for the first time, that almost any other means of travel would be preferable to riding giant owls all through the night. Only Namia seems able to sleep without fear of falling. With any luck, we'll get some real rest tonight, and in actual beds!
There's no gate or wall along the western side of Joseph's Gap, just the huge, ornate bridge spanning the river. The bridge is supposedly made of real wrought-iron, fired and worked without any magical aid. That's not why anyone cares about it, though, just the sort of thing I end up knowing, being around Nim so long. I don't know where he hears this stuff. It's not like we sit around taverns all night picking up gossip.
We step onto the bridge behind a pair of haggard-looking peasants, maneuvering around them as they stop to throw a half-laden coinpurse into the water below, touch their hearts, and continue into the city. I feel myself frown slightly. It turns into a full-on grimace when I see a pair of priests, dressed in spotless white robes, catch sight of us. I realize I've left my pilgrim's cloak open to the day's warmth, and Saving Grace's flawless mithral surface must be dazzling in the sun. My left hand instinctively drifts to my hip, ensuring Honor Bound stays out of sight. A mithral breastplate is only a sign of rank, as long as no one looks too closely. An elaborately-decorated adamantine longsword in a glassteel sheath, however, could lead to questions.
The priests arrive, actually a monk and a cleric, by the way one takes a position just behind the other. We come to a stop as they do and the monk gives a slow nod to Filbert, who has his blindfold on being stoic behind me. The cleric clears his throat and addresses me, shifting slightly to get the glare out of his eyes. I can practically feel Charlize behind me fighting the urge to intervene. I'm the only one looking respectable at the moment and we donít want to give any reason to remember us.
"Very fine morning t'you, m'Lord! Have you come t'Joseph's Gap on pilgrimage, then?" He speaks with a high, nasal tone, and bobs his head around like an owl, trying to find refuge from the sun's glittering reflection. I keep my body moving, just enough to cause him grief. I hear Nim cough back a snicker behind me.
"Yes, yes," I answer, trying to sound bored and imperious. "It seems that exceptionally many others have had the same idea, not that I blame them, after what happened in Renaldwatch. Still, all the peasantry on the road makes for a far less relaxing journey than I usually prefer. I'll be glad to find an inn they can't afford to stay at!" I laugh; it feels forced, but the cleric and monk chuckle along, so they either didn't notice or don't care. "Now if you will excuse me."
I take half a step forward before I'm interrupted. "These your servants, then, m'Lord?" he asks, looking behind me. "Might I 'ave your family name, for the registry?" The monk produces a parchment scroll and a pen, which he dips into a long, thin inkwell at his belt. "And 'ave you decided on a Sacrifice, m'Lord? Or d'you prefer t'make a donation t'the Church, and we make a Sacrifice in your name?"
"I will make my own Sacrifice, thank you very much, but not until I've gotten cleaned up and had some decent food." I step forward again, brushing the cleric lightly but firmly aside as he tries block my path again. "I am certain that you will still be here when we return. Good day." The others take the cue and follow close behind as I step off the bridge and into Joseph's Gap.
When the crowd has thinned around us, Charlize mutters so only we can hear, "I believe Claaus just handled a social situation, on his own, without resorting to violence or getting us run out of town. Truly, this is the City of Miracles."
I feel like it's inappropriate to have a half-dragon quoting 300
Those Damned Ninjas
I LOLed pretty hard seeing these guys come back. And by LOLed, I mean "huehuehuehue morde es #1"
God damnit I didn't even mean to make the LOL pun.
White Crow Returns
More vengeance! Really well-executed (in-game and in-snippet)!
Can I just say that I love
Herodrith? I'd probably be more annoyed by him at the table, but you write him well enough that he's lovably hatable instead of just the regular type.
: these were all fantastic; make more now.