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Old 02-03-2007, 05:48 PM   #94
Child of the 7th Age
Spirit of the Lonely Star
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Khandr tossed his second wife a distracted glance and nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders, refusing to rise to the bait and be pulled into Embla’s discontent when more pressing matters remained. Yet her attitude was unsettling. Could the woman be trusted to do the task he had chosen for her? Khandr wished he had sought out Embla earlier in the day and privately spoken with her about the assignment. It was an important task and one that needed doing if they had any hope of penetrating the veil of secrecy that hung over the doings of Ulfang and his sons. As much as he loved and esteemed Briga, Khandr was certain that his first wife and long time companion lacked the natural duplicity and instinct for intrigue that would be necessary for this particular job. And perhaps for once, Embla would realize he was paying her a compliment by suggesting she take on one of the most enigmatic figures at court.

A heavy grey fog, sickly sweet and cold, swelled up and pressed against Khandr’s senses. He fought to push back his unsettled feelings, determined to go forward despite the obstacles. If he could not gain accurate information by open and honest means, then he must acquire it in other ways. All his instincts screamed out that some plot was being hatched, which could be detrimental to the interests of the Borrim and the king to whom he pledged loyalty. Khandr only hoped that the price for this information would not run too high.

Pushing back his gloom for the sake of his guests, Khandr gestured that Bergr should join them and directed the others to gather around the table. The dishes were quickly brought out and set before them. The women had prepared an elaborate feast. For the next hour, the Borrim focused their attention on the meal, sampling an array of soups, meats, breads, root vegetables, and heady cheeses provided by their host. When everyone had finished the first two courses, the house servants cleared away the dishes and brought out a custard tart seasoned with saffron and cloves. Instead of the usual ale, Khandr had managed to obtain a flask of fine red wine that had been brought up from the south; he had Briga approach each guest and offer them a cup.

As the meal came to an end and the guests settled back comfortably in their chairs, Khandr could no longer delay the inevitable. It was time to address the real reason he had asked the Borrim to come to his house this evening. He began by describing how difficult it was to get information from court. The old and easy friendship between the different branches of the Easterlings had completely vanished. “Everything has changed,” he lamented. “Ulfang and his sons have no interest in our marriage proposal. And I can get nothing out of them. I have no sense of what is going on. But my instincts tell me that great changes will soon take place. I fear these will not be good for us or for our king. We can not just pack our bags and go home, as much as I would like to do that. We have a duty to stay here and try to untangle this puzzle. And that is why I have asked you to come here tonight.”

“You are my eyes and ears,” he explained. “I can not be everywhere at once. And there are times when being an official envoy places me at a disadvantage. Many prefer to confide in someone who bears no official title. That is why I need your help. I will be asking each of you to secure information about a particular individual whose name I will give you. Go to that person, speak with them or their servants to try and find out what is really going on. Speak little, and saw nothing as to why you were sent. Once you have learned whatever you can, come back and share the information with me. This is the only way we will get anywhere. It is a pity that one Easterling has to spy on another, but in these hard days I see no other way to come by the truth.”

“As to your assignments…. Khandr glanced down at his list and read off the paired names in a cold, crisp voice: “Fastarr, Ulwarth; Bergr, Ulfast; Hunta, Uldor; Embla, the lady Jord; and Briga, Lord Ulfast’s wife. I myself will pay a personal visit to Ulfang. Is that alright then? Any questions or concerns?” His eyes swept nervously around the circle.

Last edited by Child of the 7th Age; 02-10-2007 at 09:53 AM.
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