Cythera Chronicles: Ambush (5)

  • I step out into the sunlight again with a shiver. I feel cold and tired, my skin tingles as if it has been touched by unknown beasts.
    "Augh. How do you stand traveling like that?" I ask Grator.
    "Now you know why the price is so high."
    "Yes, talking about paying. Would you mind waiting for just a little while so I can take care of business first?"
    He agrees, but not readily.

    Looking around me I can see the sprawling buildings of the temple. A boy approaches. "Welcome visitors. Please come with me."

    He takes us to a small building where an man sits by an table. "Ah, welcome. Welcome, travelers. And what would be your errand to our beautiful temple?"
    This is going to be easy, I think. "Well, we're looking for a bunch of bandits responsible for killing me and then robbing me for an substantial amount of obloi. We would very much appreciate your help."
    He eyes me suspiciously. "Killing you?! I see. Hmm. Okay, stranger things have happened."
    He motions to someone behind my back. Grator jumps. "Hey, what are you doing? What?! my powers are gone!"
    "Just a temporary solution. We do not want any trouble at the temple. We enjoy peace and quiet. Please be our guests, and when you leave, all you magical abilites will return. You, young man, you should really take some time to bathe in our healing waters."

    We left the house and walked into the sunshine. Grator mumbled and cursed under his breath. "Gone. Just gone. Never experienced that before. Strange."
    The boy awaits us. "The baths are over there. You look like you need it."

    Since I do feel filthy, even compared to Grator, I follow his advice. Grator follows me. "I'm not letting you out of my sight until I've been paid."

    At the pool there's a long queue. People of all sizes and shapes are there. Some lay on stretchers and are carried by friends and family.

    We wait patiently. Getting closer to the pools I notice that there's an almost empty pool beside the one we're lining up for. I ask the attendant, "Why can't we get into that one?"
    "There's some rich guy who has rented the pool for the rest of the week. He came here today and put up a lot of obloi. So he has the pool entirely for himself. That's why we're having these terrible lines now."

    Late in the afteroon Grator and I step into the sligthly green waters. By that time I feel like an sick dog. I've even leaned on Grator's shoulder to keep myself upright for the past hour. Ferazel's spell has worn off.

    Even Grator seems to be worried, perhaps he's afraid that he won't get paid.
    The water feels smooth against my skin, like oil. A tingle creeps up my legs, it's as if ants are crawling on me.

    Invigoration fills me, albeit more slowly than with Ferazel's spell. Floating around in the waters, I let my mind wander. A thought hits me.

    In the next instant I'm splashing throught the crowd to get to the edge of the pool. Climbing up I run to the other pool. "You! You there!" I shout to the lonely man in the other pool.

    Guards along the edge straighten up in anticipation of violence, but I stop at the edge. It's him alright - the weasel.

    Regonition crosses his face. Then he relaxes again. "Chio. I'm so happy to see you. I thougth those bandits had killed you."
    "You hoped that they had killed me, you mean. You were in on it, weren't you - setting up the ambush?"
    He waved the question to the side. "What matters now is that you're alive and well. Come, be my guest."
    I ignore his invitation. "The money. I need to get the money to Cademia to pay of my boss's debt."

    He tries to look worried. Climbing up from the pool, a servant comes and wraps him in exclusive robes.

    A small table by the poolside held crystal glasses and a caraffe of wine. He sips from a glass and looks me over. "Well, the money. You know the bandits took it and ran away. I couldn't stop them."

    "Liar. You were in on it, you robbed me. Now I want the money back." My threathening voice and angry motions make the guards close in on me.

    "Why, what's this?" The old man from the registration tent steps out behind us. "What's all this squabble about?"

    Before the weasel can answer I explain that this was the man that had me killed and robbed. "I want him brought to justice. And the oboloi back."
    "Well, well. Those are harsh words about one of the temple's most genorous donors," says the old man.
    "That's just it. Don't you want to know for sure where the money you got came from?"
    The weasel evidently trusts that his ill-earned money will protect him. He beams at the old man, and shrugs at me - as if to say that I was ridiculous in my proposition.

    The man strokes his beard in thoughtfullness. The boy who had greeted us yanks at his frock and whispers something in his ear.

    "Ah, yes. Well, there's an way to settle this. The pit."

    Behind me I hear the surprised gasp of Grator. "The pit! It does exist then. Amazing. You have to make me your fighter," he says as he shakes my shoulder and sends out odors of decay that brings tears to my eyes.

    I agree, just to get away from him. The old man announces that in the morning we will assemble to settle the claim.

    (to be continued)

    (This message has been edited by moderator (edited 08-13-2001).)

  • This is good work. Keep it up! Remember not to switch between past and present tense, though. I can be a real pain to proofread if you do.

    Slayer's guide to Cythera:

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