"You must teach your pets better manners, Lobsang," said the steely voice
again, and then, "I am no-one and we hare at the 'Gate of hell'"
There was the sound of clothes being torn as
Lobsang and the sinister one walked out of the… well what appeared to be a
cellar, Twado thought.
The room was very bare, and the only notable feature was a small fire in
the corner, upon which Svana was busy placing the torn remnants of his
"Crispy hellsflesh, woman!" Twado shouted, throwing a rag he had found by
the bath at her short white hair. "My clothes…"
Without a glance, but with a sly smile, she drew her blade and spliced the
rag in twain. It fell on to the fire.
Minutes passed as the helpless Twado lay in the healing elixir, regaining
the strength to look up. The white-haired blademaster continued to burn the
clothings; when finished, she began, what appeared to be, some sort of
blade ritual. The sound of the blade cutting through the air was soothing,
"Why did your master not tell me his name?" Twadostick eventually asked.
"And where are we? I do not believe for a moment that I am at the gates of
"You have obviously not been in these parts before," she replied, "everyone
knows the 'Gate of Hell' drinking pit. And perhaps your ears are injured
too," she added kindly, "because he told you his name: N'one."
"Crispy hellsgack, has the world gone mad!? What kind of name is that!?"
Exhausted, he fell back: dead to the world.
The crop this year was very poor, less than 20% of last year's yield had
been collected so far, and the walnut season was nearly of an end.
Our man absently broached a nut with his teeth and supped on it's contents.
I'll have to leave this business, he thought; not only am I failing to grow
a decent crop, but the world market for walnuts seems to be drying. And
what with the outlandish walnut mill across the valley…
He woke to the sounds of blade on blade. Glancing up in alarm, he saw the floorboards above him
vibrating. Dust drifted down, lit by the shaft of light from the lantern on
the table beside his bath.
Twado groaned, "Godspawn! Not Minstrels. Anything but that!"
Inserting his two smallest fingers in to his ears, he settled back in to
the pungent liquid and closed his eyes. Only to open them again as
something wet splashed in to his open mouth.
"Strange," he thought, "tastes metallic, tangy… almost warm?"
He drew back as something splattered in to the liquid in his bath - it
seemed red. In horror, his gaze was drawn upwards to a dark stain on the
"Gaaah!" he exclaimed, as the thick viscous blood began to drip
Choking and retching, Twado leaped out of his bath in time to vomit in to
the fireplace; wiping his mouth, he looked about him with wild eyes. Blood
was now beginning to pour from the ceiling in coagulated strands, and the
burning sick was giving off a black oily smoke.
Twado had had just about as much as he could take. With a cry he leapt
back, and eyes glazing over, reaching for a broom propped up against a
wall; snatching it up he faced a clothes chest and a small water jug.
"Back you devils, back!" He screamed, leaping in for the attack. He swung
his broom with such force that when it missed the water jug by a clear
foot, it rebounded off the wall and whipped back in to his madly grinning
face. He reeled back, clutching his streaming nose.
"Hit me from behind, eh? You dastards," with an insane cackle, he reached
to open the door and launched himself, stark naked yet still carrying the
broom, up the stone steps.
The top of the stairs opened out in to a large circular room. The room was
littered with tables and chairs occupied with a multitude of races. The
tables were arranged around a large but shallow pit lined with spikes.
Everyone's attention was riveted on the combatants, circling in the
Svana had just cut the mace hand of an Orskan warrior and was forcing him
on to the spikes. Obviously she was being attacked as well - Twado was on
the verge of leaping to her rescue when a voice thundered behind him.
"What foul deviancy is this?"
Twado whirled round to stand face-to-face with a priest of the order of
saint Borc, he was staring with increasing horror at the naked Twado… then
at the broom… then back again.
"Gaah," said he said, brightly.
"I thought he would crack," smiled Luna to
herself from the balcony. "It is always the way. Men are weak, N'one should
never have rescued him after Abraxus"
She could feel his twitching nerves and 'Minerva' addled brain. She could
feel the pull of the 'Minerva' even now, after so long. She now wished she
hadn't put so much into his bath, but there was nothing she could do
As she walked down from the balcony, people shied away from her hidden
"Weak, pathetic worms," she thought, "and as for you…"
She strode over to the ever growing group around Twado and that idiot
priest. She made a note to reprimand her sister for leaving