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Old 09-24-2009, 06:40 AM   #40
Ehlmaris
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Clint sits down near the head of the table, Thor across from him. The room is mostly empty; only the two emissaries and the High Master of the temple remain. "That's it? Just establishing relations?"

Clint nods. "Darislav is looking to assist more primitive tribes nearby in settling down, building cities, founding civilizations."

The man snorts. "That's all well and good, but it's expensive. We can't afford to help with that. We're simple people, Clint, you know that."

"You won't have to pay anything," Thor states. "The former Arkosian lands are establishing trade routes overseas. That will pay for everything."

"Then why," he asks, leaning forward, "are we being brought into this?"

Clint breathes deeply. "Well... the problem with primitive civilizations is that they're inherently distrustful of outsiders." He clenches his hand into a loose fist on the table. "After seeing the abilities of the Order of the Singing Blade, the Empire is convinced that your lands could be a great military ally. Also, someone's got to police the roads between here and the west - we can't do it all ourselves."

The Master sits back in his chair, thinking for a moment. "You make a valid case. And it's not like our trainees are doing anything practical with their training." He glances between Thor and Clint. "Give me some time to meet with the other masters. We will call for you once a decision has been made." He rises, followed by Clint and then Thor. "We will have a guest room prepared for the two of you. Good day." The man leaves.

"Well, that wasn't so bad." Thor leads Clint out of the meeting room and back into the grand hallway, where a guard asks them to wait for the room to be prepared.

"I didn't think it would be." He looks around. "The Order is secretive, but they have their pride." His eyes come to rest on Thor. "One compliment to their training is all it took."

Thor chuckles. "Might want to check your own pride, friend. You complimented yourself - after all, you're the only example of their training the west has seen!"

Clint smiles, hanging his head. "Yeah, well, even the Order would agree - I'm a pretty good example."

Thor shakes his head. It's like he didn't even hear me calling his ego out... "Well, no matter. Think it will take long for them to deliberate?"

Clint shakes his head. "They'll decide in under an hour. Probably be morning before we hear anything, though."

"Why's that?"

"Because... it's getting late."

Thor looks up, then around. "How can you tell? There's no sun in here."

Clint smiles. "Live without the sun for long enough and you learn to get by without it."

At this point a servant comes up to them. "Sirs, if you would follow me, I will show you to your room."

They turn to the young man. "Lead on, then," Clint commands. The pair follow him to a plain room: two beds, a table and two chairs. A bit of meat and bread is on the table, next to a pitcher of water and two glasses.

"Far cry from the Empire's accommodations," Thor says after the servant leaves them.

Clint sits down and cuts himself half of the meat. "Indeed. Gonna eat?"

Thor nods and sits down, joining him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The old man rushes straight to the inn, past the front desk and bar to the guest rooms. He immediately bursts through the door to Clint's room, surprising Kate. She stares at the man, her expression a mixture of shock and fear. The man stops for a second, his eyes widened in surprise at the woman before him. "You... he brought you?"

Kate stumbles for words, but none escape her lips.

He walks to a chair near her, easing himself down with his staff. "It is no matter." His eyes lock onto hers. "I need to know where your husband is, Kate."

"Wha... Who are you?"

"I am a friend. A friend of Arkanis, of the Riders, of the Empire, of Ehlmaris and his ancestors." He leans in. "I must find Clint. I have urgent news for him."

Kate looks around frantically, her lip trembling.

The man leans back slowly, taking a deep breath. He sets his staff to the side. "Kate, I know many things, but I need your help on this. Please."

She bites her lip for a moment, then speaks. "He... went to the hills. There's a temple there, I... I think."

The old man smiles, reaching for his staff. "Thank you. From the bottom of my heart," he says as he pushes himself up, "thank you." He turns to the door and begins to head out, then stops. "Oh, and Kate..." He turns his head, looking at her over his shoulder. "Stay behind. This Order will protect you. You must not return west with the Riders. I shall return for you when the time comes."

He rushes out the door with a speed and urgency incredibly out of place for such an aged man. Kate remains behind, stunned.
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