Frays in the Weave

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"I'm afraid we've lost contact with Cardinal Garnhalt."

The messenger was young. Not surprising considering that he was the lordling who had arrived here a couple of months earlier.

So, Garnhalt had overstretched himself. Cardinal Zaarbach let out a long sigh. He guessed he should feel sadness but he didn't. The northern coast of the Narrow Sea wasn't part of the Midlands. Had never been, even if Chach had controlled most of it just a little over a hundred years ago.

They spoke De Vhatic there. They were godless. He was confident that God would mete out justice for their godless ways in due time. There was no holy duty to convert someone with a sword. Belief came from the soul, not at sword point. That was, of course, not a thought he would ever voice. Not if he cared for his own health.

"Young Friedhafen, what about those imbued with the voice of God?" What about the mindwalkers we hired for money and gave divine certificates so hastily the ink never had time to dry?

"I don't know, your grace."

Zaarbach pondered possibilities. We had over a dozen mages sent with you. Probably more I never learned of. You can't possibly have mislaid the all. "Any reports from Mintosa?" Or did you leave them behind?

"Mintosa is safe. Messengers arrived by ship less than an eightday ago."

Zaarbach raised an eyebrow.

"I... I was ordered to make haste."

The next followed, and a frown.

"Jump tower, your grace. To do God's duty."

Have we fallen so far? But there was no reason to chew up the messenger. He most probably had been ordered just as he said. The boy was too young to lie confidently, at least not to as lofty a person as a cardinal. Zaarbach almost felt sorry for the messenger, almost.

"Would you tell me on whose orders you came by that route?"

Young Friedhafen flinched as if struck. "Father Garic, your grace. He even led me to the holy mage who brought me here."

Either a certified magician had arrived very timely in Friedhafen or the holy chair had recently made a habit of supplying priests with carte blanche certificates to be handed out as they saw fit. Zaarbach suspected the latter. Now the war takes a life of its own. We went to war to do God's duty, and now God's duty has become to make war.

"I see. I would like to have a word with this holy man." He deliberately made his voice as mild as possible, but the raw fear he saw in the boy's face told him all he needed. "I assure you I have no more questions for you, and neither have my redcoats." Zaarbach used the derogative for members of the holy order of truth. He secretly agreed with it as well. It attracted sadists and madmen, and the holy chair made entry all too easy for anyone wanting to inflict pain on another human being.

Relief competed with worry. Zaarbach could see that. Young Friedhafen was afraid of what would come later. Well, a little fear didn't hurt. For now he would attempt a meeting with the mage, but he already knew that meeting would never take place. Jump mages were notoriously difficult to catch. It was after all their profession to be able to come and go as they chose.

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