The two Stylites stood on the plain, the wind fluttering their cloaks. There was a peal of thunder, and it began to rain.
"The hour comes--and Nitre does not," muttered Sepulchre, raising his hand to ward off the downpour.
"Perhaps he has been delayed," said Gravedust, glancing around nervously.
"Or perhaps it is one of his famous jests," stated Sepulchre. "Leaving two of his fellows standing in the rain and the cold."
"Not that such things are worries to a Knight of the Tower," declared Gravedust forcefully.
"Cold makes a body stiff and hard to move," said Sepulchre. "Rain creates damp, which means more must be done to prevent and slow decay." He turned to regard Gravedust. "So, yes, they are worries. Lesser worries than for those who need breath--but still worries."
Gravedust looked away. "You do not know this was meant as some sort of joke. There were problems I hear, at Montalban. That might be what keeps him delay. Perhaps."
"Perhaps," stated Nitre, standing behind the pair with his arms crossed. "Or perhaps he appeared on time, but hidden from his vision, to better hear what was said in the belief that he was not here." The Stylite bowed his head. "Sepulchre. Gravedust. It has been... oh, some time, has it not?"
"Thirty-five years," said Sepulchre flatly. "After the incident at Hali, and the Grandmaster... put you on leave."
"You want to say 'sent me into exile'," said Nitre. He gave an exaggerated shrug. "It would not offend me if you did." Nitre gave a rattling chuckle. "Poor, poor Grandmaster Radiance. He dislikes me so--but he needs me. And so here I stand." He turned. "It is similar to Prince Amfortas, or so I hear."
"In a way," agreed Sepulchre, stepping behind the senior Stylite. "But you are infinitely more useful than the Prince, despite your pecularities."
"Why thank you, Sepulchre," said Nitre, with a titter. "Grudging praise from someone who holds me in such low regard as you do is true praise indeed."
Gravedust rushed after them. "I... I do hope you understand, Nitre, that Sepulchre's comments meant..."
"A great deal," said Nitre. "I suspect they are part of the reason why Radiance has bid me to watch you two. Just as I suspect he has bid you to watch me." Sepulchre and Gravedust froze at this, and stared at him. "Do not worry. It was, I suspect, an effort to get me scurrying for his favor again. Which shows that the great and enlightened leader of our order knows less of its members than he imagines. Or this member, at least." He gestured for the pair to follow. "Come. We have much to talk of."