“Wow,” said Faileuba. “A scroll! With words on it!”
Gwydd stared at her. “Wait. Are you telling me in that dry sarcastic way you have at times that you can’t read?”
“I’m the daughter of a small town butcher, Palepole,” said Faileuba. “The local Sheriff was the one person for miles who owned books, and I remain half-convinced he couldn’t really read them. So, no, Gwydd, I can’t read.” She quirked an eyebrow at him. “Did you think we had you reading things out for us because we like the melodious sound of your voice? Here’s a hint--your voice ain’t melodious!”
Meliadus nodded. “Oh, yeah. Like a bull moose, drowning to death.”
“And you can’t read either?” asked the Goblin, turning to Meliadus.
“Oh, I can read,” he answered “The Dark Tongue. Not the common tongue the Milesians brought over during the Empire.” Meliadus gave a determined nod. “And the old Dark Tongue. Not any of the new-fangled variants that sprung up after the conquest.”
“But that’s a dead language, Holdfast,” said Gwydd.
“Well, why do you think the Disciples are so fond of it?” he answered. “First up, they’re some of the only people who can read it now, especially once you throw in the fact that they use code when they do write anything down. Second, since no one else uses it anymore, you keep your followers from picking up any distressing ideas. So, they can be happy, productive killing machines.”
“And that works?” asked the Goblin.
“Well, if you haven’t noticed, there isn’t exactly a dearth of ex-Cruel Disciples walking around, is there?” noted Meliadus.
Faileuba coughed. “I kinda thought that was because they killed them if they could,” she said.
“Oh, they do,” said Meliadus. “But they also try to keep them from coming about in the first place. With some success. And that makes wiping them out when they pop up much easier.”
“How is it you’re still here?” asked Faileuba.
“Long story,” said Meliadus. “I’ll tell you some day.”
“No, you won’t,” she sighed. Faileuba turned to Gwydd. “So… what’s the job?”
“The Marshal of Tremisona is hiring soldiers and men-at-arms,” he stated. “And, seeing as we did her a favor…”
“Wait, we did her a favor?” said Faileuba.
“Yes!” snapped Gwydd. “She’s that young girl! At the wedding! With the evil fiancé! Remember?”
“Vaguely,” noted Meliadus.
“Well, anyway, she should like us, especially as she will have no idea of our latest run of jobs,” said Gwydd.
Meliadus and Faileuba thought it over. “That does sound likely,” said Meliadus.
“Yes, and an employer who does not know about our latest run of jobs would be a good thing,” said Faileuba. She thought of the last few jobs and shuddered. “A very good thing.”
“Okay,” said Meliadus. “Sounds like a plan. Now--how do we get to Tremisona?”
Gwydd fidgeted nervously. “That I… haven’t quite figured out.”
“Bit of a flaw in your plan, I’d say,” noted Faileuba.
“Should we recommence the shunning?” asked Meliadus eagerly.
“No,” said Faileuba. “Like I said that was annoying me more than it was him.”
“But is that really a reason to give up such an ancient and worthy custom?” asked Meliadus.
Faileuba stared at him. “You really want to shun someone, don’t you?”
“It’s a big hollow empty hole in me,” said Meliadus.
“You do know that most of the words mean the same thing, right?” asked Faileuba.
“I’m vaguely aware of it,” he answered.