Hunt for the Nuer Assassin

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Shackled by the wrists, Fell is escorted to the emergency sitting of the Governing Council of Claviscero. Titus is already there and Arrius arrives with Somme Palishar. Fauwren chairs the meeting and questions Arrius, Fell and Titus as to their activites and observations at his attempted assassination. Fell gives evidence, describing the minotaur who collapsed a grand stand with his axe. All heads at the meeting turn to the mercenary leader, Muir Durilix. Duirilix responds gruffly that the minotaur, Tetoaro, is no longer under his command and was discharged from the Dragoons some weeks ago. Fauwren asks Titus to seek out and capture the warlock that tried to assasinate him. Somme interjects, raising his concern that a Recursor being involved in the nuer uprising will only make matters worse. Somme, wary of Fauwren's land holdings in the area, demands that Arrius accompany Titus. Fauwren turns to phantasm of roots and creepers that Fell conjured which partly destroyed the town square. Fell struggles to convince the Council that his powers to call on nature are a function of prayer and not toch'thonicism and the decision is made that the matter will be dropped if he can capture the nuer leader.

Titus turns to Arrius for more information. Arrius decides to look to his own network and seeks out Somme at the carder's guild. Somme tells of the Seermaul clan and that one of the young Seermaul women matching Arrius's description--- striking red hair and the whitest of white skin---is a talented nuer. Somme is sure the conspirators headed south but whether they headed to Bante or Chilatore, he cannot say. Arrius, frustrated, asks one final question, which village grows grapes. Somme answers, Chilatore.

The companions march straight for Chilatore. By mid-morning of the following day, they descend down into the rich grape growing region of Chilatore on the banks of the Chomb. The view from one side of the valley reveals the river which must be crossed twice as it splits in two. At the first bridge they encounter three children playing on a sandy reach of the river and the children note a vineyard where the previous occupant left the homestead in a wagon but did not wake up. The children said new tenants moved in right away. Titus suspects the original owners may be dead.

When they reach town they enter the Corn and Cork Inn. There's an anxious energy among the patrons. Plowmen and pickers huddle at the small tables and are keen to not engage with the new arrivals.

A Vardis Lancer arrives soon after the mutton stew and ale is served. Titus offers the soldier an ale and begins to question him. The lancer is evasive. He's unsure of his direct superior's name and unconvincing about his reason for being stationed in Chilatore. The soldier states that his role is to maintain the stable and steeds that are used by heralds carrying messages across the kingdom. Nervous by the cross-examination the soldier makes an all to quick exit from the Inn and Arrius tails him as he leaves. The soldier crosses the street and then starts running down a side alley. Arrius runs after him with Fell and Titus not far behind. The soldier runs toward the Chomb, crosses the first bridge, and along the track to the second bridge. Arrius moves to the side of the track, taking cover among the copse of large trees either side of the track.

Arrius signals to Fell and Titus that longbowmen lay in hiding just up ahead. It is too late. An arrow slams into Fell sending him into the air and throwing him onto his back. Enraged, Fell draws on the river and raises a thick fog between Titus, himself and the concealed longbowmen. Arrius moves between the trees unseen and throws a dagger at one of the longbowmen and kills him. Titus runs through the fog to close the distance between him and the attackers. He engages the archers. A melee ensues. The soldier runs toward the bridge and reaches for his bugle to sound an alarm. However, a dagger, hurled by Arrius, punctures the lancer's neck, killing him instantly.

As Arrius moves to support Titus and Fell in the battle against the remaining longbowmen but he hears the sound of hooved foot falls behind him. He turns to see a mounted rider supported by two halberdmen on foot running close behind. With little time to react the mounted warrior, protected by a shield, and armed with a warhammer, smashes Arrius back across the path. The halberdmen reach the melee with Titus and Fell and the reaching polearms take their toll.

Arrius tries to unseat the rider with ball bearings on the track but fails. The immense strength of the hulking seven foot tall rider crushes the rogue with a near fatal hammer strike. The warrior's skin has a greyish palour. Fell communes with the warrior's warhorse and the rider is thrown from his steed. Meanwhile, Arrius disengages and grabs a longbow and quiver taking cover among the trees.

The warrior turns toward Titus. A halberdmen seizes his opportunity and knocks Fell out cold. Arrius fires an arrow into a wounded longbowmen killing him. Titus fights on and the warrior demands that the Recursor yield or die. Titus surrenders and the halberdmen take his weapons and restrain him at the wrists. Fell is attended to and also restrained. Arrius watches this unfold from the cover of the trees.