“The rules do not apply.”
“Well they kind of do, Morath, because we are in Vivo’s domain and if we killed Pras, a leading Councillor, he or the Council might have us arrested and hung.”
“I can assure you: no-one would ever know it was me.”
“We cannot walk down the path of evil just to get ahead in an expedition,” Edric said firmly. “I for one do not live by such a code. I’ve only just regained Mitra’s blessing, a blessing, I may point out, which has pulled more than one of you back from Death’s boney grip.”
Bardic sighed regretfully. “You must admit: he is the soft underbelly.”
Alleto and Vorel turned back to the practical: checking over the stores. Hieratgate was a good supply depot for the basics of campaigning, and equipping for a treasure-hunt was much the same. Prices were steep, even now that the captains had left to join Vilerus in his fresh campaign into Cimmeria.
Celo chattered animatedly about fresh arrows, and making more as needed, then left to find a leather kit that could be used to hold fletching supplies. Morath wandered over to the mountain of gear.
“Fodder, meat, uh-huh, wine, more wine… waitaminute! What is this… 20 gallons of wine? What are we – drunken sots? …don’t answer that!”
“We lack hand-axes,” Bardic mused. “And, I have not replaced my battle-axe. I think I’ll head over to the Guild-hall.”
Edric checked the position of the sun. “It’s time: I must go out too, to see if our order has been accepted.”
Morath brightened up at the prospect of something to do. “I’ll head over with you – just in case. I can pick up a bow and quivers later.”
Edric scraped a few traces of mud off his feet and entered Mitra’s shrine. Badderly was saying a last blessing over a corpse. Finishing, he flipped the winding-sheet expertly over the dead man’s face, nodded to Yarra, and stood as the sexton and his grave-digger dragged the corpse out. Badderly nodded in its direction.
“One more soul that won’t be riding out.”
“Mitra shrive him,” Edric responded automatically.
“By my reckoning, you six left only five of the twelve that faced you in fair shape, and four more on the mend.”
“What were we supposed to do – let them slaughter us?” Edric responded crossly, the memory of his wounds still fresh.
“Just saying, is all. Cala slew but one.”
“It would have been two had I not granted Mitra’s healing to the Aesir: and two in six is a higher proportion than three in 12!”
“Well, well,” Badderly said placatingly, “this’ll cheer you up: I’ve a note here from a mutual acquaintance, with the bill of fare so to speak.”
Edric avidly read over the list of potions Clampus confirmed. His eyebrows shot up at the price. Now the lads would need to decide if they could afford it all.
Making his way back from the Guild-hall, Bardic checked as Gyorn, mounted on a sturdy horse, hailed him and sidled his mount over.
“Gyorn! I thought your lord was already on the road?”
“I was still mending, Bardic. Then I had an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
“You found employment?”
“Aye. I ride for Cala Atenoel now. Her rich backer Pras is offering 100 up front and 100 on completion, and Cala is offering a twentieth share of any treasure. So as some part of what I owe you, this is a fair warning. There are eight of us, apart from the guide. We will do our part or die trying, by Ymir!”