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Meanwhile, Silverquill and his companions make the journey to Alda-chur...

Silverquill, being after all a 'Wandering Sage' does not need much time to get ready for the trip. Pausing only to raid the Exile's supply of tasty niblets, he is soon ready to leave. Skullcleaver has cleaned his axe of plant sap and stands ready to join him.

Vizz is happy to go on an adventure, and is always motivated by profit. He leaps on the opportunity to accompany Silverquill, relieved that someone else suggested it rather than him; he was feeling responsible. He invites Oshana to come with him, but knows that Volle would rather stay at home. It seems the whole world can hear about how he led his people to victory over the Aramite horde!

Many times has Vizz had to repeat reassurances to Skullcleaver about Sal's Ridge. The night spent up among the Gods was disturbing to the bullman, apparently unsettled by the trouble he has caused, but it may have been the beauty of the views which inspired Vizz and Oshana, allowing little sleep for the others. Travel is swift, though, and soon they have reached Ironspike, the first stop on the way to Alda-Chur where Silverquill has promised to unearth the mystery of these featherlegs.

The tremendous spire is much more impressive than it had been from the Ridge. This fragment of Korang the Slayer's spear rises high above Jaskor's Vale and is used by many a merchant to guide his cattle on the way to market. Up close, it reminds the travellers that this is the seat of the tribal King, Conla Brightshield, for his spearmen have taken a hold of the lowland clans of the Tovtaros. It is with some trepidation, therefore, that Vizz leads the sage into the old Youfish settlement. Though he does not show it, the godtalker is unsure how their tribe will receive them, if they will still recognize them as of the Danlarni and of the Tovtaros.

Silverquill has often been here, passing through on his travels. He waddles after Vizz into the settlement, quacking contentedly to himself. Spotting a few acquaintances, he is soon gossiping away and telling tall stories. Silverquill is quick to put in a few words about the poor leadership of the Ochre Fallow clan. He has not forgotten his promise to Chief Umathkar.

He quickly learns that the Ochre Fallow are not well looked upon here and his companions are unsurprised to hear the duck's opinion, adding the story to their stock. Seen as a bunch of trouble-makers, the Exiles' neighbours have been causing trouble with the occupiers and the Priderni are expecting at least one Fire Season raid from them. Silverquill feels a shiver when he overhears someone speaking highly of the Man of the Sun at Alda-Chur, but cannot identify the man who spoke and is unsure whether or not to pursue this matter further.


Meanwhile, Skullcleaver heads for the nearest inn, intending to imbibe about fifteen pints of Ironspike's finest and succeeds, delaying the journey. Entislar gives in to temptation and joins Skullcleaver, it's been a looong time since the last tavern brawl.

Entislar is secretly relieved to be away from his aunt's* watchful eye, but is most relieved to have got away from young Sabriel. She was indeed a comely maiden, and he had been trying to convince himself that, scarred and lifeless as she now is, she remains comely. But his feelings of guilt at having accepted her offer, nag away at him, and it is only by leaving the stead, taking to the road, that he has begun to ponder his situation. He has not worked anything out, though. With Skullcleaver and Angtyr in the tavern, he unwisely lets himself go.

Soon, Entislar has embroiled himself in a confused, drunken discussion about leadership with his companions. Holding his relationship with Angtyr up as an example, he begins to elicit more than he perhaps wanted from Skullcleaver. The Uroxi begins to reveal doubts about serving a sage as a task for a warrior. Above all, he shows discontent at being taken away from Vurth, whom he has begun to regard as his shieldbrother, when his fellow Uroxi was set the task of hunting out Chaos.

In a moment of inspiration, Entislar moves the conversation on to tavern brawls. By the time the two Yelmalion farmers, sat at their table, have had enough of the loud bragging and enquire whether the Danlarni are all Uroxi rapists, or just pretend to be, the three are up for it and the impossiblity of answering the question with words is irrelevant...


Vizz, prone to debauchery and adventure, tries to remain responsible and sober, but fails. The exceptional slurred boast-a-thon that Vizz manages to deliver with a vernacular gusto and somewhat ambulatory adherence to the truth maintains a ribald semblance to some, at least, of the facts, as Vizz saw them.

He ends the night proving by means of his his rampant rhetoric that he can not only walk on water, but also stagger on alcohol.

Skullcleaver seems an apt name for the ache in his head the next day. Malign sobriety results in more discreet sentences and a gloomy scowl.


Silverquill guesses that the Man of the Sun might be Harvar Ironfist - a man known for his cruelty and love of duck a la orange.

Late in the evening he goes in search of Skullcleaver and his friends and finds them nearly passed out from drink, Vizz slurring incoherently about ferrets and sideburns. The small duck sighs and orders a room from the innkeeper, telling the man not to serve the drunkards any more and to wake them early in the morning by throwing cold water on them.

Sitting down to a nice breakfast in the morning, the durulz sage is refreshed and ready to travel again. He greets his companions with a wide grin as they stagger in to the main room and starts to quack a good morning song:

"La la la la la la la.....

Good mowning sunshine, Glowantha says hello
You twinkle above us, we twinkle below
Good mowning sunshine you lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our eawly mowning singing song

Gliddy glub gloopy nibby nabby noopy
La la la lo lo
Sabba sibby sabba nooby abba nabba
Le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba naba
Eawly mowning singing song..."

Vizz is in no mood for cheeriness:

"Foul fowl! Cease your squawking!
Go for a waddle where the Giants go walking!"

"I must recover some strength and prepare cunning twaddle to persuade folks of the sundry benifits of Dulu nuts and other such fruits of the wild and ancient lands that we have claimed as ours."


Happy to be back in the magnificent library, Silverquill has been burning with curiosity these past days, as he travelled beneath a burning sun to Alda Chur. The trip could not have passed too quickly for the sage and he was torn between revising repeatedly his planned search strategy and making haste. The moments when Skullcleaver was able to overcome his repeated hangovers and bear the duck were most productive, and soon the notebook was filling up with notes of which shelf to look at first, annotated with the next text to look for depending on what he found.

After a couple of hours in the library though, Silverquill finds himself more than frustrated, for his careful planning has yielded no new information. Deciding that he should at least get something done before he makes his way to join Skullcleaver and Vizz in the tavern, he looks up one of the texts which first led him to join the Danlarni.

Losing himself in the documentation of the recolonization of Dragon Pass, he re-reads the passage dealing with a wandering band of Balazarings who followed Taros Ridgeleaper from Tarsh. Finding many links with his recent hosts and their ancestors, he jots a few portions down in his notebook, along with a few questions to ask Vizz.

Admiring the unusual personal style of the author, he scans the list of the groups which came to the Far Place, in case he finds mention of the Ochre Fallow, who remained. The phrase which leaps off the page and all but smacks him above the beak, though, is, "noted for wearing elaborate constructions devised from feathers on their trews".

Scanning the scrawl upwards to find the start of this passage, he feverishly reads as follows...

"It is with confidence that I can dismiss all explanations for the disappearance of the Laska heretofore offered. The most derisory is that they simply upped sticks and moved. Although their passage may not have been noted by other clans, given it was Dark Season and Valind's hold was deep, there has been no documented record of the Laska since, which strikes a note of discord as they were noted for wearing elaborate constructions devised from feathers on their trews. This habit they would not have discarded, given its ritual significance to them. I feel the explanation needs a more critical analysis of the facts. Starkest of all of these is that this was the one year when the depredations of the Zorak Zorani from the north were nil, even though evidence of their activities was uncovered from the snow all over. My supposition is that the Featherlegs, who had long been labelled by the Uz as Chaoslovers due to their unusual interpretation of Lodrili mythology, finally succumbed to a powerful, concerted operation by the Zorak Zorani."

Silverquill almost lets out a human squeal of frustration when the text goes on to document the different breeds of cattle and their relative abundance among the various clans.

Quacking with frustration, Silverquill reads the rest of the text just to make sure he hasn't missed anything. At least now he has a name... the Laska. He wonders if the Uz to the north would have any mention of what happened to the Featherlegs? Zorani are not know for keeping good records, but one can never tell.

Rubbing his tired eyes, he debates with himself whether he should continue his research or call it a day. But his curiosity is too strong. He lights a few more candles and once again heroically plunges into the untidy heap of scrolls and books...

After another while scrambling through scrolls, he pauses, looks about incredulously and slaps his forehead, awakening the dozing librarian. Leaping the heap under the old man's criticizing glare eye, he waddles over to the front of the library, to the "Easy Reading, Even for Ducks" section. Noting the tomes placed in an ideal position for one of his stature, he pulls out Duckiri Cocktail's classic text, reading with fond pleasure the title, "Bigfolk Myths for Beginners: Pwinciples and Pwactice". Recalling his days as a duckling, he reads aloud from the section on Zorak Zoran.

"An advantage to those of ouw wace, when dealing with Uz, is theiw fondess for human flesh. The cleawest example of this is the Hill of Gold. When Zowak Zowan was thinking up a gift for Inowa, he went a little bit overwboawd and fed her a whole twibe of the fellows. Nowadays, when the mad Uz weenact this myth in Dawk Season, they will lay out paths mawked with fwozen skulls to guide them. They will then hunt for sevewal nights in a wow, looking for human victims to take to a hilltop and buwy in the ice as a gift to Inowa. Usually, they can't wesist and will take the juiciest bits to eat themselves. They pwefer to take humans of Fire- or Wind-wowshipping cults as mark of, as they see it, Zowak Zowan's victowy over Yelmalio and Owlanth. The subsequent disappeawance of the victims when the snows melt is taken as a sign that Inowa has accepted the gift."

Thinking on the words that Gyffun heard on the winds in the Sacred Time when recalling his participation in the Dark Destroyer's heroquest, Silverquill prays to Lhankor Mhy that he took them down fully. With relief, he examines his notes, taking pride in his methodical nature as things start to fall into place:

Oh most noble, most shining idea of perfection,
Take back thy form, recover thy bronze hue,
Mantle thyself in gold.
Gather thy flaxen sinews tight and strut once more, Oh proud regal cockerel,
Cry thy madrigal challenge.
Glisten once more and ascend most fulsome,
Engorge and reclaim the Earth, for she is thy drudge,
Be no more the Mortal's bauble, sear the binding hand.
Oh most caustic, most infernal, most beloved of Gods
Thy Tribe awaits, legion, redolent and reborn.

Envious Dark God's sacrifice, We!
Burnished and brazen, forged of rock,
Tempered by frozen tomb, oh barren Womb of ice and acid.
An Age aflame, ardour undiminished,
The Ideal, we beckon to thee oh Lord.

We sing thee thy Nature,
We call thee to arms, we tell thee to gather thy spears.
Thee and thine we muster.
We bleed the sky and crack the ground,
We glory in thy form and sing thy doom,
We stop the Wind, that all might hear thy purity, thy virtue,
Thy chorus, thy clarion

The duck recalls that these words had brought to him a vision of this Man of the Sun, surrounded by the Featherlegs, large versions of little Lodi...


Silverquill is elated with his latest discovery. It sheds more light on the puzzle of the Featherlegs. Sitting down on the floor in the middle of the busy library, he scratches his head feathers and frowns in thought. He reaches for a cigar but thinks better of it. Was there not a discourse on Inora and Zorak Zoran somewhere? In some renowned book?

Ah, yes, the Books of Drastic Resolutions! The forbidden lore gathered in those three volumes was quite impressive. Silverquill had skimmed most of the texts, concentrating on the Chaos and Darkness volumes. He lets out an excited squawk, ignoring the glare of the librarian and jumps to his feet. Disappearing into the bewildering corridors of the library, he soon finds the shelf which holds the three tomes. Eagerly picking up the heavy weight of the second volume, he carries it back to the reading desk, grabs a snack and starts to read...


Silverquill sits down at the table and spreads several scrolls and notes all over the table, spilling wine and beer on the floor.

"My fwiends, this is what I've discovewed so far. A lot of it is myth and legend but what I tell you might give you some insight into our pwoblems:"

The Laska were once a human tribe. They were noted for wearing elaborate constructions devised from feathers on their trews. Long been labelled by the Uz as Chaos lovers due to their unusual interpretation of Lodrili mythology, they might finally have succumbed to a powerful, concerted operation by the Zorak Zorani in another age. Their leader was (is?) the Man of the Sun, a handsome man in a cloak and a staff, bronzed and with a white beard.

The Zorak Zorani originally killed or hunted down the Laska as part of an Inora heroquest.

Uz re-enact this myth in Dark Season, they will lay out paths marked with frozen skulls to guide them. They will then hunt for several nights in a row, looking for human victims to take to a hilltop and bury in the ice as a gift to Norag (their name for Inora). They prefer to take humans of Fire- or Wind-worshipping cults as mark of Zorak Zoran's victory over Yelmalio and Orlanth.

The Exiles found a frozen skull made of ice - with tusks. More were found, all in a path from the north to the south. The night before one of the Uz holy days, the skulls took to burning red. Troll heroquesters from Uzdeep came by, lead by a female. They were off to eat ‘the Small Fires’. Back they came a few days later, and carrying a big wooden death rune, with one of the Warriors of the Sun pinned to it. His guts were all open and those were all grains.

Oshana mentioned her sister, Yamanja, "taken by the Featherlegs". She is twice wed, once to the Man of the Sun, once to the Lord of the Skulls (ZZ). She lives in an icy fastness, with the fires of the world below. She is crazed with grief but bears a God by her own choice. This is what the beautiful man with the silken voice told her; "You will be my Vengeance, and my Queen. You will be my Youth and my lost years. You will gorge on my enemies and you will bear me a God."

"Envious Dark God's sacrifice, We! Burnished and brazen, forged of rock, Tempered by frozen tomb, oh barren Womb of ice and acid." A reference to the Featherlegs being buried in ice by Zoran Zoran?

The Warriors of the Sun have been plaguing exile steads. They came from Uzdark and Shadowdeep. They are immune to fire and normal weapons and eat grain.

Lodi is an infant Warrior of the Sun, also immune to fire and eating only grain.

"So, we need to discuss this fuwther with you, Oshana, and possibly the Zowak Zowani of Uzdeep. It all seems to tie in to the Inowa Hewoquest somehow..."

Silverquill leans back in his chair after expounding his theories, lights up a brand new Caladran cee-gar and looks at Oshana.

"Can you offer any further details about your sister, m'lady? You were very cwyptic the last time, but at lot is at stake here. Anything else you can add would be of help."

Oshana looks at the cigar. "Your conclusions seem not far off the mark, duck. Where she resides is a fiery volcano, covered with snow and heather, where darkness and light fight their battles. That is the rest of what I know."

It takes little of Silverquill’s investigative powers to learn that the Man of the Sun is a much-talked about figure in Alda-Chur. The fellow appeared just over a year ago and soon gained the ear of Harvar Ironfist. When the bizarre Featherlegs joined him soon after, it was plain from their mere bearing that this man held great power. Rumours abound of strife and theological disagreements with the temple of Yelmalio Enduring, but the Man of the Sun has remained predominantly behind the scenes, occasionally joining his patron, Ironfist, at ceremonies. Where he has been most visible is at four or so theological sermons he has delivered at the temple.


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the first among many is a many-splendoured thing, but that the First amongst those exiled Danlarnii was a singularly bedraggled Vizz, known as Lightning and Vollesbrother.

His mission, which he has chosen to accept in a manner befitting his heroic ancestors, is to get wealth and place, if possible with grace. If not, then by any means to get wealth and place. His means, which he had chosen as one amongst many, was the sale of dulu nuts and stroopleberries - fare from the wildlands that would be an opulent treat for a stout grain farmer from the Sharl Plains.

Many and varied are the boasts that Vizz employs to increase the promise of the crop that he wishes to make advance sales on.

He makes credible agreements: "Why, but, of course, that is the nut's secondary purpose,"

He deals with contentious assertions: "They may be, certainly, yet, on the other hand--"

He dismisses ambiguous evasions: "That is possible, but, none the less--!"

With a fraternal tone, he deflects rawboned obdurancy: "I do not deny it: still, one must grant--"

Some querulous allegations are handled with honest drudgery and dour discretion: "You may be right: yet, even so--"

Others, with dynamic verbosity and vigorous advice: "Now, certainly I cannot contradict you: but, at the same time--!"

Potential buyers are assaulted with spectacular verbiage: "Do not stand there with your mouth open, like a scared fish, when I ask you a civil question!"

Their inharmonious retorts dealt with with jaunty munificence: "I lack grounds to dispute your aphorism."

He blathers with a deceitful vivacity: "Now assuredly, I do not think very highly of your wisdom, but by your generosity I am astounded."

And so Vizz spends a happy morning back in the blather and blarney of a popular market. Obtaining a few cattle by way of a three-way trade involving some insect herders and some dulunuts hopefully forming as he speaks, Vizz remains disappointed at his inability to make his annual promise to Alfons of bounteous stroopleberries. He seeks instead the latter's partner, Big Lig who, belying his name, gazes sorrowfully up at Vizz from roundabout the Danlarni's codpiece.

Vizz is startled to learn from the barrel-chested fellow that Alfons, a long-recognised merchant of these parts, has been taken up by Ironfist and walled, all for some injudicious comments to some Sharl farmers. Big Lig is pleased to see Vizz, though he requests that his friend be seated so the view may be more propitious to trade, for he had thought the Danlarni giant dead, such were the bad tidings from those parts last year. But he is pleased to inform Master Lightning that his quietude has been a boon, for the local procurador for Geo's has been practically foaming at the mouth, such is his desparation to find some stoopleberries. Though he has been loath to say it, it is clear that Geo's are worried they may be unable to produce their famous Sharley Wine[1] this year.

In an afternoon in which Big Lig accompanies Vizz to Geo's and to see some sour-faced farmers, Master Lightning procures a promisory note of a wagonload of sacks of Sharl barley. Being of the size he is, Big Lig tells Vizz he's been having trouble looking after Alfons' jenny and asks that Vizz perform this service. The jenny, amazingly for a mule, is even more barrel-chested than Big Lig, being known for her fertility. She'll serve to take the oak casks for the stroopleberries. As a final gesture, Big Lig fills one of the small barrels with some large squarish yellow grains of a sort Vizz has not seen before. He calls it Sunseed, saying it's all the rage nowadays in Alda-Chur, for you can intercrop it with the barley when the flag leaf is up, and get a second crop of this maize in the year. You can pound it for flour just like barley or wheat, but you wouldn't want to try making beer.

Vizz regrets he cannot service a jenny, despite his enormous reputation (!?), but agrees to tend it, not as a duty to his friend, but as a pleasure and as an honour. A song comes into his head:

"I like Molly, Molly the Jenny..."

But he thinks the lyrics need some work, so he merely hums it whilst dancing a joyous jig with Big Lig until a niggardly gust from the Place of Bronze reminds him that Alfons is "walled" and any ribald semblance is soon blown from his countenance, to be replaced with malign sobriety and a gloomy deportation.

"Come, Big Lig, I should like to introduce you to a duck-billed and sagacious friend of mine.."

Vizz leaves with a tear in his eye for Alfons, for even if those who are walled are freed, they emerge broken and crazed. He is also aware that his trades will not be enough to feed the entire band - the curse of which Wilma spoke remains to be lifted. When Silverquill eventually finds Vizz, he eyes these exotic grains with greed, for they seem to him as if a gift of the gods. Mindful of his liver[2], though, the duck desists from raiding the cask.


Vizz seeks out Silverquill, who has been quacking to himself over ancient texts, interviewing the lovely Oshana, inquiring into all things.

"Wise Silverquill, is it my weird to love a duck as a brother and as a friend? I have magic to appease your duck-fury, and know that the customs of our people are to make deals with duck folks, so I am heartily obliged to you for all this eye-work and brain toil that you are doing, that may save our skins. There is a famed saying of Lightning Varanor about the pleasures of the table: 'The first wine bowl quenches thirst, the second begets jollity, the third stirs up desire, the fourth sends mad.' But the bowls of the Lord of Wisdom have the opposite effect. The more you drink and the stronger the draught, the better is it for the good of your soul. The first bowl, given you by the elementary teacher, rescues you from ignorance; the second, proffered by the teacher of literature, sets you up with learning; the third, brought by the rhetorician, arms you with eloquence. These three draughts are enough for most men. But you have drunk other cups: the imaginative draught of poetry, the clear one of geometry; the sweet one of music, the austere one of dialectic, and the nector of universal philosophy, of which one can never have enough. So, Silverquill, what's the answer? That's what I keep asking meself. What's it all about? Know what I mean?"

"Do you think, O wise and fine feathered friend, that there is some plot afoot to summon a volcano-god in the Indigo Mountains into fiery eruption? Methinks this song of the shining idea of perfection is an exhultation to an imprisoned sky god to return to the sky - to recover thy bronze hue, mantle theyself in gold. The lines ascend most fulsome, engorge and reclaim the earth indicate to me some sort of upward movement, swelling of the earth, then eruption. Knowing but little of the hellish cosmology, I know that the god of Hate has enslaved a fire spirit. Perhaps the Uz of the Indigo Mountains have captured a fire-demon - be no more a mortal's bauble, sear the binding hand being an instruction to this demon to escape it's bonds and burn the dark captors. Gather thy spears, a weapon of a sky god, Lodril's sky spear that burst forth after slaying some slimy thing. "Bleed the sky and crack the ground" are instructions for destruction if ever I heard such."

"Do you consider the Featherlegs to be servants of this fire demon, some sort of fiery demon rooster?"

"But, this is wild speculation on my part, incredulous prattle on subjects I know but little, despite my great learning, and meticulous intellect, in most things. I am wondering how my dear Oshana and her sister are part of this tale. I have been in search of elusive spondulicks for I am tossed on the waves of speculation and cannot plot another course without the help of a steadfast pilot. I toil not, neither do I spin. I am essential - as ants to a picnic, as the rubble runner to a ruin. In short, I am lacking a plan and a stratagem to solve the present crises of our band of exiles and need your wisdom."

Silverquill is mightily pleased that someone takes an interest in his findings and not half flattered by Vizz's kind words. Puffing up his chest and strutting about the table, he presents his findings to the friendly human.

"You are of couwse cowwect, fwiend Vizz," he acknowledges generously. "The more Knowledge one accumulates, the wiser one becomes. I have dwunk deeply from the Well of Wisdom but have far fwom slaked my thiwst. This latest puzzle is indeed most intwiguing - so many stweams of infowmation coming together to form a wiver of facts."

"I suspect that you are cowwect in your assumption about a volcano in the Indigo Mountains. Your interpwetewtion of the vewse seems pewspicacious and sagacious. I do indeed suwmise that our next stop will be with the gwim and gwuesome Uz of the wugged mountains. They seem to hold some mowe of the knowledge that we seek. Fuwthermore, to attend the sewmon of the Man of the Sun should be on our agenda."

Always thirsty for every sip of novelty, Vizz agrees.

"The sun is laying the landscape to waste with flails of heat," he observes. "So what better time to listen to the lurid lies of an idiot who worships such a pitiless god. Lets us see if he preaches of harmony and trust abounding, of mystic crystal revelations, and of the minds true liberation. I think we should agree to be discreet on certain aspects of our background. Do we know, for example, if the Man of the Sun knows that we are protecting a Featherlegged little Lodi? Does he know that my beloved Oshana has a sister possessed of some ice goddess? Or that we met with that snake worshipping Pelorian and set him free? These things might need thinking on, for we should never plan to fail by failing to plan."

Silverquill nods in agreement. "It would indeed be pwudent to wemain anonymous as we attend this sewmon. I had not intended that we confwont this Man of the Sun yet, simply to listen to his wantings and wawings and theweby deduce what his intentions are. If the situation awises that we need to talk to him, we should pwobably have all affected pewsons with us, including Gyffun and Oshana."


On the day of the sermon, Vizz cannot resist sharing a few more last-minute observations with Silverquill.

"So, my dear duck, it seems the day of worship we are to witness by surreptitious means might be called, by coincidence, the Day of Witness, but that is held on Clayday, Harmony Week, of this Fiery Season. The celebration in honour of Dendara and the Sun. In Peloria it celebrates the "Inheritance of the the Three Sons" - one recieved a huge family, care of the inner world and great strength. Another recieved a difficult job, a disloyal family and a strength which waxes and wanes. The third recieved his desire - emptiness. Normally, in those lands, there is then a assessment of the crosp, of the herds and the health of the people. In the evening, the Suns's Promise is re-enacted, and healing ceremonies are performed."

"Another possible day might be the Summer Solstice (Harmony Week, Fireday), Or Victorious Sun Day, when the Elmali conduct divinations, inspect fortifications, and burn huge bonfires all day."

"Then again , the Yelmalions of Prax consider the Fireday of Truth Week to be the High Holy Day, and, incidentally, many are celibate at this time. It may be this day."

"Some consider Mahome, the Sacred Hearth Fire, to be one of the "lowfires", kin of Veskarthen the Volcano God. On Spindle Day - Clayday, Fertility Week, the oldest married woman lights a sacred fire and then women spend the day taming unruly beings that come into the house while the men prepare a feast. I wonder if the Man of the Sun will conduct any rites on any of these possible days?"

For once Silverquill is not dressed in his usual flamboyant style. He is wearing a bleached tunic in the Alda-Chur style and he is not wearing his false beard. Appearing much as any other durulz trader, he discreetly pushes to near the front of the crowd where he has a decent view. He scans the scene with his Soul Vision and otherwise waits for things to develop, occasionally munching of a few snacks bought from one of the many street vendors.

The duck sage asked Skullcleaver to try and remain in the background as he might be recognizable. The berserker was not happy but with a tankard of ale in one hand and a leg of pork in the other he waits in a shadowed alleyway.

Silverquill squints in the midday sun and calls on the powers of Lhankhor Mhy to See What is Hidden. The Bearded One must be smiling down at his initiate as the duck is rewarded with a vision of heat haze and flickering flames rising from the ranks of the Featherlegs. Mentally flicking thru his index of 'Monsters and Things That Go Crunch in the Night', Silverquill comes to the conclusion that the Warriors of the Sun are some sort of Fire Daimons!

Fascinated, Silverquill studies the details of the Warriors equipment and apparel. He is scribbling some notes when the unmistakable smell of Skullcleaver hits his delicate bill. He looks all around him and sees the barbarian gesturing to him a short distance away. Silverquill quickly scuttles over to his bodyguard and looks up at him.

"I thought I told you to wemain in hiding", Silverquill snaps.

"I know, boss, but I've news for ya. First of all, I smell the foul stench of Chaos from these bastards. Er... (counts on his fingers) ...secondly, I met some of the boys from the Gap here. They sense Predark as well but nobody here believes them!"

Skullcleaver points to a corner of the square where several Ginunga Bulls are huddled together, trying desperately to be inconspicuous. However, they are bristling with weapons and spiky bits and stick out from the crowd like a sore thumb.

"The boys are planning to do a bit of hacking and slashing - they reckon if they go in, do the job and then leave before anyone notices them, it will be awright."

Skullcleaver's brow furrows as the unusual process of thinking hurts his brain. "I don't think they've quite thought this thru, boss. I know you're supposed ta use taktiks n'stuff. I know those fiery bastards. Hard as nails. Not easy to cleave."

Silverquill looks over at the Bulls again and then at the Featherlegs. He has no doubt that the carnage would be spectacular, but the berserkers would without a doubt lose the battle. Outnumbered and fighting against near invincible foes, it would be a foregone conclusion.

He looks around to see if he can spot Vizz and Entislar.

"Skullcleaver, can you twy to keep your fwiends calm for now. I need to think about this."

Skullcleaver nods, relief evident in his face and quickly returns to the huddled Bulls.


Entislar was skulking (and sulking) at the rear of the croud contemplating this mob of humourless sun worshiping deluded fools when he spotted Silverquill conferring with Skullcleaver. Noticing that Silverquill seemed to be worried about something Entislar heads towards Silverquill to find out what the problem is.

Silverquill looks up as Entislar approaches. "Ah, good you came. Did you see Vizz and Oshana awound? Listen 'till I tell you... Skullcleaver thinks there's Chaos awound. It is pwobably those Wawwiors of the Sun but he couldn't be sure. Also, his fwiends fwom Ginunga Gap have shown up".

The durulz indicates the huddled group in the corner of the market.

"They sense Pwedawk too. They are not suwprised by this, attwibuting it to the Featherlegs, but they have so far been unable to convince anyone that these Featherlegs are Spawn of Chaos - they seem to be pweparing a foolish attack, involving the slaughter of the Featherlegs. But as I see it, they haven't half the subtlety or half the numbers they would wequire for this - they will suwely fail if they pwoceed. What do you think, Master Entislar?"

"I think we've got problems!" Entislar responds unhelpfully, he looks round to see where everyone is then back at Silverquill.

"Offhand I can't see how we can stop those enthusiasts from Ginunga's Gap from starting a riot and getting themselves killed, unless . . . Skullcleaver do you think we can convince your friends to go after the source of this infestation and leaving the . . . the . . . the things up there for later?"

Silverquill nods in agreement. "I think Skullcleaver can pewsuade them to hold back for a little while. He has fought the Wawwiors before and so he knows how tough they are. Let me talk to them as well."

Silverquill quickly waddles over to the assembled group of berserkers. They are scowling and one of them is slowly gnawing on the edge of his shield, blood dripping into his filthy beard. Skullcleaver is arguing with the leader, a tough-looking, barrel-chested giant of a man.

"Listen to me!" Silverquill squawks loudly. "I am Silverquill. You all know me fwom the Gap and you have heard the stowies. They are all twue. Skullcleaver here is my employee and he can confirm my bwavery. I am telling you now, if you assault these wawwiors, you will be defeated! This is not the time or place for an attack. I know there is Chaos here, but we do not yet know where exactly. What you should do is to spwead out and make sure you know exactly where the Chaos is. Then together we can defeat it. Do not attack anyone! Is that clear?"

Silverquill frowns at the band of berserkers and taps his foot impatiently. Skullcleaver is nodding in agreement behind him.

It seems an eternity that the the barrel-chested giant spends glaring at Silverquill before he speaks, "And how many years are you a warrior, pray tell? How many goatkin have you slain, how many Krarshtid teeth ring your neck?". Silverquill is slightly taken aback - although he has met this Karli before, he had grown accustomed to Skullcleaver's limited faculties, and finds he has attributed these to others in a perhaps naive way.

"I am not one to belittle the Durulz, young sage," continues the Storm Bull, "I have heard the same stories as you: Dacquiri Cocktail's band[3] trouncing the Silver Spears, Eider Gudjohnsen's left wing[4] assaulting the the Fur Gussets, laying their crosses down in contempt." Although the warrior is smiling in a friendly fashion at Silverquill, the youngster cannot help but feel that he is being taught a lesson. "But I would not tell the Number Ten Squadron[5], standing alone by the Offal Side, hidden to women and the Man of Lines, but one, the so-called Keeper before them, how they should face Delecti's hordes, swarming upon them, clad in glowing vests, seeking the First Touch Ball of Practice."

"Yet you pretend to tell us how to fight the Predark, young duck?". Silverquill can see that Karli is agitated and, wisely, holds his silence. "You think we stand dimly here, clad in our arms and armour, hoping that none may see us?". Bending now to whisper to Silverquill, he queries, "we may be blunt, but are we so dim, are we so apparent?" Silverquill, feeling a chill down to his lightly cast bones, can smell the beer on Karli's breath, and the goat flesh held between his teeth.

Standing suddenly erect, Karli forces Silverquill to do likewise. "I have a blade in my hand," he says, waving his arm to encompass his seven companions. "And a neck, which, believe me," he says, snuffling in a way reminiscent of Vurth, who learnt the sniffing trick from this man. "I have tracked down", he says, pointing at the steps across the square, beyond the false statue of Doburdun to where the Featherlegs stand.

Silverquill notes Skullcleaver looking more and more dejected at Karli's words, but then Entislar approaches and takes up the stand behind the small duck.

"I am glad to hear your words, Storm Bull's Man," he says. "I took you all for lackwits with no idea of tactics or planning. I mewely wanted to pwevent your needless slaughter at the hands of the Wawwiors of the Sun. Skullcleaver has fought bwavely against one but even his stwength and mighty axe was not enough to distwact the wawwior from his evil task."

Silverquill looks up at Karli. "Will you tell me your plan, then? I am eager to hear the intwicacies of your attack. How will you deal with Hawvar's men? What is the best time to stwike? How will you get away once your tawget is dead? Will you emulate Uwox's clever wuse when he faced Daga?"

Horror of horrors! Karli is merely looking over Silverquill's head, tsk-ing at the big smith blocking his view. He remains silent for an age, watching the Lodrili farmers setting light to their big bonfires. For a bit, he seems to be annoyed at the duck pestering him and in the background, it appears that Skullcleaver has been cracking a couple of jokes at his master's expense.

When Silverquill simply stares earnestly up at Karli, not moving his gaze from the warrior's chin, he is, eventually, rewarded with the very slightest lifting of the corner of the mouth! Karli is trying not to smile.

Silverquill tries to read the berserker's expression - he still finds it hard to read a face without a bill attached. But this one looks like he is amused!

"Hey! Hey, down here!" Silverquill jumps up and down, trying to get Karli's attention again. "I'm glad you find the whole thing amusing! I'm twying to westwain your wowdy webels fwom wisky wampaging and all you can do is smile! If you want to wisk wed wuin, then go wight ahead, be my guest - but if you want some good advice, then listen to me. Wemember Owlanth's wowds; 'No pewson can wisk the world alone'".

The small duck sage fishes out a cigar, lights up and glares at the assembled berserkers.


[1] Sharley Wine is stroopleberry-flavoured beer, much favoured by the fairer sex and by ducks, who are not very good drinkers but like to appear sociable.

[2] Sorry, that's a very bad attempt at pate-de-foie-gras humour.

[3] Ducks.

[4] Ducks And

[5] More Ducks.