The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

13Mar/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0037

Rukiya looked over the pile of bones in the corner of the workshop, “Wherever did you get this odd collection?”

That Ravaleian in the laboratory with her answered, “We dug them up from a graveyard.”

“A graveyard?” the tiny Feergrus girl asked, “What is that?”

“It is where we bury our dead.”

“Bury?” Rukiya asked, “Do you not have enough necromancers you need to store them?”

“Store them?” The Ravaleian scientist asked, “Necromancers? No, we don't use the bodies of the dead like Feergrus.”

“That seems a waste of resources,” Rukiya said.

The scientist nodded, “Agreed, though not all would agree. That is part of why you are here.”

“So what exactly did you need someone with necromancy and enchantment for?” Rukiya asked.

“You know some of Ravalei and its magics. Our main defense is in our mighty golems. I myself am one of the gearwork masters who crafts such juggernauts. The problem is that they take significant time and resources to craft. From what I know of your undead, they are equally as mindless as our golems but can be created quickly and in great numbers. However, they are far more frail. The project I wish to work on is to see if we can find a way to mix our magics. Can we create something as powerful as a golem that is also easy and fast to craft?”

“Interesting,” Rukiya replied, “It is something to work on.”

The gearwork master nodded, “With the war now upon us, we need this more than ever.”

“Then let us get to work on finding a solution,” Rukiya replied with a grin.

***

Guard detail had been quite boring. Trying to keep a bored Vodyanoi from going completely crazy had been consuming much of Enzi's time. The Feergrus man was glad that Captain Koto had kept his word. The group had not been bothered by the local authorities. Even the locals had not bothered them. He was aware that rumor of them had begun to spread. He expected the good luck to end far too soon. A plump Ravaleian man approached, almost as if on cue.

“Ah good day,” the rotund man said in Rava, “You must be the infamous Enzi.”

“You know my name?” Enzi asked.

“I have known of you for quite a long time. Your exploits reached my ears. Mostly because I am interested in the unique and different in the world.”

“I am not sure I like the direction this conversation is going,” Enzi said, sensing something about the Ravaleian that seemed less than pleasant.

“You should not think that way,” the portly man replied, “I know you have a great many problems. I know quite a lot about you and your mercenaries. The dwarf and the lycanthrope are interesting but not that rare. Not like the others. The last vodyanoi, the last gorgon, and the last minotaur. It will not be long before people put the puzzle pieces together and realize that Aldebaran is the same minotaur that cut a swath of terror through the country many years before. I have a proposal to help keep them safe.”

“Oh?” Enzi asked, “Why would you help us?”

“For my own benefit, of course,” the Ravaleian said with a smirk, “As I see it, you simply have no other choice if you want them to live.”

“Ah, now we get to the threat,” Enzi said, “I knew something seemed off. I am not sure how you expect to pull this off by yourself.

“Oh, I'm not alone. I'm giving you a choice of your friends remaining alive or dead. I would rather they are alive. They will bring in far more customers that way.”

“Customers?”

“Of course, they will make excellent exhibits in my circus. I would hate to have to only have them stuffed for view. But one way or another, they will be mine. Remember, it is your choice.”

“I am thinking alive and out of your hands,” Enzi replied, “I am certain I can make that happen.”

“You can try, but the cost in innocent lives will be great,” the Ravaleian said, “I'll give you some time to think about it. But don't wait too long. My patience is limited.”

Enzi fumed. The fat Ravaleian man was far too confident. To the former general that meant that the man had all the allies he needed to survive an encounter. Enzi could tell this opponent had a sharp mind. He knew too much about the Irregulars. He likely knew their weaknesses as well. While Enzi was currently at a disadvantage, he was no slacker when it came to planning and manipulation. He knew what he needed to do.

Enzi sighed, “And when I make a decision? Just who are you? How do I contact you?”

“I am Zindaro Plam, of the Plam Circus,” the obese Ravaleian said as he waddled away, “I will contact you, do not worry. Although my circus is at the far edge of town if you wish to visit. Your friends won't be the first I have kept safe from those who wish harm upon those who are different. It would be far too easy for the local populace to get all riled up, don't you think?”

As Zindaro strode away, Enzi sighed. This was just one more problem to deal with. He began to make his plan. He hoped he could call in a favor or two as well.

***

Captain Aurari Koto was rather surprised to find a short and heavily armored man arrive to speak to him. Ritter was one of the least likely to draw attention to himself in the city. Enzi had just had to wager that someone would be able to translate as the Halz did not speak Rava. The confusion soon started as Aurari spoke only Rava. Luckily, the large number of travelers in the Rava Coast Trading Company meant that an interpreter soon was found.

“Zindaro Plam?” Aurari asked, “Hmm, that is quite an enemy to have. He has a surprising amount of pull with the authorities. He even has ties with our company, as we have hauled a great many rare and exotic animals for his circus. He has allies in many places. Yet someone with that much money and power also gathers enemies. While the Rava Coast Trading Company will not allow me to aid you directly, I think I can offer you some alternative aid.”

Ritter nodded, “We knew from his confidence that this would not be easy. Any attack he brings will be trouble for many innocents and we would rather not bring trouble to your people.”

“He would not end his chase now, and you have people to protect. Leaving them would be as bad as staying. I understand it had to be a tough decision.”

Ritter chuckled upon hearing the translation, “Enzi made it immediately. He would find a way to save everyone if he could. There was no way he would leave Rukiya unprotected. Hopefully your information will aid us in this endeavor.”

Aurari nodded, “If anyone can stop this, it will be the guild. Strictly speaking they are not legal, but the authorities do nothing to stop them and they serve a greater purpose. I will have a representative contact Enzi as soon as possible.”

***

The master of assassins smiled. Information had come to him that Zindaro Plam would be distracting the guards for Rukiya Bora. It was an opportunity his assassins could not miss. It was then that the greatest gift he could be given arrived. A representative from the Rava Coast Trading Company had arrived. After a quick discussion with the man, the master of assassins felt as if nothing could ruin his day. He was to send someone to meet with Enzi and discuss what they could do for him in the upcoming battle with Zindaro Plam.

With one stroke, the assassins could set the terms of their engagement. They would have intimate details of the guards beyond any that a spy could give. They could also get paid for being given what they wanted. It might require a few more deaths, but Zindaro was a prime target. If he could be given a little paranoia, the master of assassins thought that some very lucrative deals could be crafted in the future. It would require careful planning, but the master had not become the leader of the assassin's guild without a deft hand at such things.

Having the chance to manipulate things to go his way made things both much easier and more complex. He had a lot to work on and a short time to put it together. Luckily an old pro was in town. His talent for acting would be perfect for this job. He would be the distraction that kept Enzi busy and dealt with the fat nuisance Zindaro Plam. The master of assassins would call on the man known as the Blood Cat.

***

Enzi found Jasper Tims a rather unassuming gentleman. He was perhaps seventy five years old, nearly twenty years older than Enzi. Jasper was a Ravaleian man just shy of six feet tall. For his age he was surprisingly well built. Enzi was less comfortable with who he was representing. He knew of the Assassin's Guild in Ravalei, but had never thought of it as an ally. The Ravaleians were independent, proclaiming themselves a true democracy. Since that meant that every vote counted, that usually meant that no one agreed on anything and nothing got done. Real action was taken by the various organizations in the land.

If you wanted something done, you went to someone like the Rava Coast Trading Company. You went to the Rinn Institute. You went to the Assassin's Guild. Depending on what you needed, groups had formed to take care of business. Enzi was not sure how it had not all devolved into anarchy. Enzi supposed that the Ravaleian Assassin's Guild did have a code of honor. They did what they were paid to do. You could count on them to follow through, no matter what. Once they accepted a job and payment, they would finish it.

“I will go and investigate the circus directly,” Jasper said in fluent Infernus, “I will see if I can determine when they will come and if I can delay it. Word will come back with any important information. Do not worry, we will keep you as safe as we can.”

Jasper walked away smiling. Enzi had no idea that Jasper was known as the Blood Cat. He had been one of the best assassins in Ravalei for a long time. He was getting old, but that did not matter. He could get close to any target and eliminate them with subtlety. Someone like Zindaro Plam would be easy for him to manipulate. Such an ego had to be stroked in just the right way. Jasper had a lot of experience in dealing with people. He had mostly retired to be an actor in the theater that acted as a front for his guild. On stage he had honed his skills, wearing various disguises and becoming what seemed like entirely different people.

The bright lights and vividly colored tents of the Plam Circus were expected. Jasper had been to this circus before the last time it had stopped near Calal. There were several people walking about taking in the attractions. Jasper seamlessly melded with the crowd, examining everything he could and quickly identifying Zindaro's location. His stealth allowed him to spy on all that was going on with practiced ease.

“So what do we have left to take care of before we deal with Enzi and acquire our new exhibits?” Zindaro asked one of his henchmen.

“Gathering up the men will be easy enough, boss. We have the rumor sheets ready for delivery. Once people read them, this whole city will explode.”

Unlike most of the continent, Ravalei had an excellent system of education. Nearly everyone could read. Spreading pamphlets would be the obvious choice to confuse outsiders who would not realize the significance. A mob would quickly form to deal with the inhuman monsters. It would be simple for Jasper to destroy the sheets of paper and delay the plans. It was a start. The professional assassin looked forward to throwing a few more monkey wrenches into the gearworks of Zindaro's plans. This was shaping up to be a fun assignment.

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