The Looming Darkness
Darkness seemed to hang over the room like a shroud of night. A lone figure sat on the hard wooden bench in the center of the stone square room. The thick wood had been worn over the years, and was the only stick of furniture in the unadorned, bare chamber. The figure wore a dark grey cloak over his clothes. Only his boots peeked out from beneath the folds, barely visible in the dim light. The cowl was down, allowing his head some freedom from the folds of the hood that hung over his back and shoulders.
Impatient, but knowing it would be foolhardy to do anything but wait, Jarran Sek sat, waiting. A member of the Black Circle, Jarran had his appointment at the same hour of each day of the sennight with his master, whom he served. Extending his left hand, Jarran scratched the palm carefully, where an insignia was marked. A dark circle, broken vertically into two halves symbols of the left and right together in a circle as one, marked Jarran. The intaglio was small, unobtrusive, and not easily seen even without gloves. But it was his mark of belonging in the Black Circle.
Jarran, a renegade thief, alchemist, assassin, poisoner, and wanted criminal in the city above, wondered if his master upon whom he waited for an audience, enjoyed making him wait. It was a game the nobility and wealthy fops enjoyed playing on the city’s social inferiors, and one reason among many he despised the elite. But the elite controlled the Council, which ruled the large port city of Artaura, and the Council made the law, and sat in judgment for those laws. Jarran had become caught in a web of intrigue and deceit forged by scheming nobles, and then had been the scapegoat when the plan had failed and been exposed. It had only been by the twist of fortune Jarran had escaped the punishment handed down by the magistrate--death. The Black Circle had rescued him, given him aid when others would turn away, and protected him from the executioner.
Just ahead two motionless, ever vigilant guards that stared ahead impassively guarded a pair of double doors. The two were reanimated corpses, zombies, of former mercenary warriors revived for there never ending duty and service. Garbed in leather armor, each zombie held a large spear in one hand, flanking the double doors. Any entry before the appointed time lead to the zombies clanking the metal spears together to form a cross, blocking entrance to the chamber beyond. Somehow, the undead servitors knew when someone was expected for an audience.
Jarran glanced at both zombies, marveling at the preservation of the empty husks that were the warrior’s bodies in life, now rotting flesh in death. The sinewy muscle bulged in the arms, legs, and chest, the grey skin unblemished with no rot or decay. Beneath the helms, colorless white eyes stared out, staring into oblivion from beyond death.
The undead servitors were perfect guardians, never tiring, never wanting to sleep, Jarran admired inwardly. It took a mastery of the dark arts of necromancy and alchemy to create such minions.
Off in the distance above, the chiming of bells for the quarter of the day brought Jarran back to the moment, and his business. Standing, he absently brushed his grey cloak, and walked towards the double doors. Neither zombie guardian blocked his way, nor as he reached the doors, they swung inward into an even darker chamber beyond. Jarran knew this room well, having had other audiences when his master deigned and obliged him with the favor. Like the outer chamber, the room was of square stone.
Jarran walked slowly, his footfalls echoing in the room. Two braziers burned sand that gave a thin wispy smoke that seemed to evaporate into the air, but provided a faint light. The air held the rich aroma of incense, a nearly cloying scent of cloves. Jarran found the odor overpowering, but detested the smell of the sewers and tunnels beneath the city.
Moving forward, Jarran stopped after some distance before a shadowy shape. The dark shape was a large stone chair, and upon it sat a figure. With a slight groan as his stiff muscles protested, Jarran fell to his knees, and bowed.
“Rise,” a deep but neutral voice commanded. Jarran always felt uncomfortable in the presence of his master, for the renegade did not know the gender of his master. The flat, deep, uninflected tone in the voice was a continuing reminder of the enigma.
Jarran stood, and looked at the stone chair, more like a throne than a seat. In the dim light of the chamber, a figure sat on the throne, hands on the arms of the chair possessively. The figure wore a dark satin robe, the hood falling low over the head so that the face was obscured beneath. Gloved hands peeked out from the sleeves, and the legs were hidden beneath the robe that reached the floor. Only the tips of black polished shoes or boots seemed visible from the robe.
“My master,” Jarran started to say in obsequious tones. “I came at the appointed time, this hour.”
“Are we prepared, ready for this night?” the dark figure asked after a few moments of deafening silence.
“Yes master,” Jarran said. “The preparations are complete, and this night we shall strike. The city will not expect such a raid.”
“Surprise is the greatest element in this venture,” the figure intoned. “But so is guile.”
“Yes, my master,” Jarran said in agreement.
The figure sat quietly, and then leaned forward after a few moments, considering.
“What of the Thieves Guild?” asked the dark robed figure.
“They will be implicated, and have been recruited in our task.”
The figure sat back, satisfied with Jarran’s report, but giving no indication of pleasure or annoyance. Let his servant remain guessing.
“Excellent,” the figure said, “it is good.”
“Yes, my master,” Jarran said deferentially.
“Tonight the Black Circle shall move forward. Much more depends on this...do not fail me Jarran.”
“I will not fail you master,” Jarran said with a hint of fear. “This evening the ’Circle shall succeed.”
“Then...you will have my congratulations,” the figure said, and then raised an arm, and gestured in dismissal.
Jarran bowed, and turned, walking quickly from the chamber. Knowing that the Black Circle, and the master of the order with whom he just spoke did not reward failure. If Jarran failed, the fate would be worse than death, and execution would seem a luxury in comparison to his master’s wrath.
“I must not fail,” Jarran said, as he left the outer waiting chamber, preparing to return to the city above. “I shall not,” the renegade repeated in assurance and command.
“He’s late,” said Taura, a slender woman, glancing around the taproom of the tavern. She sipped her mug of spiced wine in pensive thought. “Late again, as usual.”
Her biting sarcasm seemed to pierce the cacophony of the patrons, all drinking, dining, and some singing in the taproom of the Whipped Horse Inn. A popular establishment in the large city of Artaura, many citizens from lesser nobility to deck hands of the visiting ships from foreign lands gathered to drink and dine.
Taura glanced at the flame of the candle that sat in an iron holder on the marred wood table. Inset along the edge of the candle were metal disks, one for each hour of the Watch. Even above the din of the patrons’ boisterous revelry, the time was known. The kind of metal in the Watch candles often indicated the social class of the establishment; a highborn tavern or inn often had silver and sometimes gold disks. The brass disks indicated a solid, though not upper class inn. Each inn had to provide such candles, and make sure the disks that fell were synchronized with the Watch bells.
The Watch candle had nearly burned low to the next disk, made of brass. Several fallen disks were placed around the rim of the candleholder, ready to be replaced in the next Watch candle. No one dared to steal the brass disks, such a petty theft could get one public flogged or hanged.
“Rojat had some test or rite of some kind,” Kelf a tall, pale half-elven bard remarked, swirling the mug. “But not a scrivener’s exam, something more secret.” Kelf leaned his frame against the edge of the table, his height made human chairs uncomfortable to sit in, and awkward for his height.
“Oh, for the ’Guild,” Taura said, indicating the Thieves Guild indirectly. As a student of healing and medicine at the university, Taura found boredom a greater task than her studies. There she had met Kelf studying in the bardic college, although Artaura was a welcoming city for various races, humanoid, demi-human, and the dominant human populace. Taura was now studying the works of alchemy and potions, hoping to become a master of both.
“Did Sardos say if he’d join us?” Kelf asked. “Working with musty books and dusty tomes should make him want a drink or two.”
Taura smiled as she searched her mind for any indications given by her friend she might have overlooked or dismissed earlier. Unfortunately, she could find none.
Sardos was another friend she had met in the city library, where few could tread. A master scholar, Sardos had been studying penmanship for scrivener’s duties as a scribe when he had met Rojat and Taura. Kelf had joined the circle of friends through Taura.
But after he had accompanied an expedition to recover some ancient scrolls and tomes, Sardos had become much more busy although the scholar would not explain. The three friends suspected Sardos had been promoted, or assigned more duties. Scholarly life and study was dull and regimented, a common if onerous bond among the four friends.
Rojat was a city scribe, completing reports, copying orders in the scriptorium in the keep where the city government officiated. But Rojat’s human blood boiled with ambition, and the scribe had been trying to join the Thieves’ Guild, in search of adventure, money, and power like any rogue.
In the vast metropolis of Artaura, the Thieves’ Guild controlled the underworld and all nefarious activities both within and without the city gates. But the Thieves’ Guild had a monopoly, and any potential outlaws or renegades would find the Guild’s punishment for unsanctioned activity harsher than the city watch. The lowest beggar and ordinary pickpocket had to be sanctioned, or have a member thief in good standing witness for them in judgment by the Guild.
Otherwise, one could find a knife in the back when they least expected it. The Thieves’ Guild policed this stance out of self-interest, for a gang of unsanctioned, uncontrolled criminals could lead to a crackdown by the city government. Avarice and greed would destroy the underworld if it was not disciplined and regulated, and that was the first rule of the Thieves’ Guild. Membership in order to practice one’s trade in the underworld was the second.
Rojat had let his aspirations slip, something that could have cost him dearly beyond being denied membership in the Guild. But the four friends had a solid bond that included keeping secrets, and so the secret was safe.
Kelf had explained the requirement of membership in Rojat’s absence, having heard several stories in his bardic studies although a true member of the Thieves Guild would never divulge rites of initiation. To reveal secrets of the Thieves’ Guild would get a thief’s tongue cut out, cooked, and forced to eat it--or so the rumors went.
One favorite tale was that an unsanctioned thief had killed an old woman in her shop in the midst of robbery. The old woman was a prominent citizen; a retired governess to a highly placed nobleman, and the unsanctioned thief had killed an innocent not involved in any racket or other scheme within the purview of the Guild.
The family received the head and hands of the rogue thief, along with the items stolen, plus some extra steel coins. The thief had drawn unwanted attention to the Guild, and had violated a precept of the Guild of not killing or harming innocents. Thus the Thieves’ Guild had taken retribution and restored the reputation of the organization in the process.
Taura held her hand above the flame, knowing to gutter the candle would invite a rebuke and loss of a silver penny to replace the candle. Once the flame was extinguished, the candle would be out of time synchronization with the Watch bells. An inaccurate candle was a violation of the inn’s responsibilities. The aspiring healer caught sight of a familiar face among the sea of patrons.
“At last,” Taura said as Kelf sipped on his mug of tea, “Rojat is here.”
“About time,” Kelf said, sipping his mug. “I almost lost my wager.”
Taura laughed at Kelf’s blatant concern, for the half-elf had bet his friend a few steel coins upon the time of Rojat’s tardiness.
Rojat moved through the sea of patrons, serving wenches, and others milling about the taproom. The aspiring thief moved with some grace but found his expected path changing, and bumped into several patrons who glared or spoke a curse at him.
Kelf tapped the table with his mug, and Taura rolled her eyes, putting the three steel coins on the table, pushing them toward the elf.
“Scutage for lateness?” Rojat asked glibly as he sat at the table, his tunic slightly disheveled.
Kelf quickly pocketed his coins, his hands moving quickly and delicately. The half-elf put his mug in the place where the coins were.
“I think not,” Kelf said after. “Not likely at all.”
Rojat laughed, and straightened his faded blue tunic. From beneath the table, he put several coins on the table, mostly faded tarnished steel, but some copper, silver, gold, and white gold.
“Where did you get that much coin?” Taura asked Rojat.
A serving wench put a flagon of pale lager on the table, knowing Rojat’s favorite drink.
The scribe smiled, and handed the barmaid a faded steel coin, which she accepted with a broad, favorable smile and slight nod.
“Just now,” Rojat said, sliding the money across the table and into his hand. The aspiring thief then put the money is his leather purse tucked beneath the black leather belt he wore.
Kelf coughed on into his mug of cooling tea.
“You light fingered the coin?” the half-elf asked, startled at the prospect.
“Something along those lines,” Rojat said matter-of-factly.
“I understand,” Taura said. “You can move with grace, but were bumping and jostling into the patrons.”
Rojat gave a crooked smile, confirming without saying Taura’s statement.
“Sardos is not here?” Rojat asked, changing the subject of the conversation.
“No,” Kelf said looking furtively beyond into the throng of patrons. “I wonder if he will come.”
“His duties to the city seem to take much time, leaving little for us three,” Taura said somberly.
“With status comes duty,” Rojat said evenly. “Or for a scribe, more duty than status.”
The friends chuckled at Rojat’s antic remark, laughing at the grain of truth in it.
“With light fingers comes arrest and detention in the city dungeon,” Kelf said to Rojat.
The thief smiled, knowing that with so many patrons milling about in near inebriation that the loss of their purses and coin pouches would not be noticed.
“Worry not my friend,” Rojat said handing some silver pieces to Kelf to allay his fear. “I have to keep in practice, something holding a quill does not provide.”
Kelf took the coins putting them into his gold pouch about his neck. The elf dared any thief try to take his specie from under his nose.
“I see you have the mark,” Taura said in a low voice, gesturing with her mug to Rojat’s hand, resting on the table, palm up.
Kelf, curiosity rising, held his friend’s hand, and examined the palm.
“I did not realize you were a palmist Kelf,” Rojat said dryly, his voice laced with sarcasm.
“Possibly,” Kelf said evasively, the half-elf hoping to keep his interest masked. “But you do have a cut from a knife.”
“Cut myself sharpening some quills for my master,” Rojat said, shrugging and sipping his flagon.
Kelf did not release his friend’s hand, and Rojat sat patiently, waiting for the half-elf’s further insight.
“Unlikely,” Kelf said after a few moments, intently staring at the line across the palm. “It’s a deliberate cut across the palm, so you’d have to grab a blade’s edge.”
“Quite,” Rojat said, finding some irritation at Kelf’s perception. “I grabbed a knife the wrong way.”
“This cut is thin but somewhat deep...healed quickly,” Kelf surmised, ignoring Rojat’s evasion. “A cut of someone initiated as a potential rogue, or thief.”
“Not quite...” Rojat began to say, but Kelf interrupted.
“The cut was with a thin blade, like a stiletto.”
Rojat smiled, and pulled his hand away.
“Very observant,” Rojat said after a few moments. “I did not think a lowly scribe would know so much about daggers, knives, and blades.”
“A bard knows the details, and my father was a sword smith,” Kelf explained.
“Really Kelf?” Taura asked, intrigued with the half-elf’s revelation; her friend rarely gave details of his life or background.
“Possibly,” Kelf said sipping his mug. “But perhaps my father was a sell sword.”
“The usual equivocation of a bard,” Taura said idly. “Just maybe your mother was the sword smith.”
Kelf merely smiled, and raised his mug in a private toast at his friend’s insight.
Taura downed the remainder of her wine, and signaled to a serving wench for another mug. Within a few moments the empty mug was replaced with a full one. The healer marveled at the nimbleness of the serving wench as she moved among the tables and patrons so gracefully.
“But Rojat is an initiate rogue, not an apprentice thief...yet,” Kelf said. “Ink, quill, and penmanship that dull Rojat?”
Rojat smiled. Directness from Kelf was an unusual tactic in conversational banter and repartee.
“Dare I was Kelf,” Rojat said. “What of it?”
Taura was about to interject, but the confrontational tone changed.
“It would be a wealth of allegories, stories, and perhaps a treatise,” Kelf remarked idly. “A veritable wellspring of tales.”
“No doubt you scheming pointed-ear bard,” Taura commented.
Rojat laughed, nearly choking on his lager, and soon Kelf did the same. Taura smiled and shook her head.
“Speaking of quills and ink,” Rojat said, “have any of you had dispatches of reports from the Watch?”
“I’m a healer and alchemist, not a scrivener,” Taura said to avoid any comment.
“I have scribed some of the seeker’s reports,” Kelf said. “I had to translate from base tongue into high elf, and duplicate some other notices.”
The friends often talked shop, but with the majority of them being scribes it was the daily work as scrivener.
Seekers were the investigators of the city Watch, seeking the truth of anything deemed of interest by the Watch command, criminal or a potential threat to the city-state.
The reports and dispatches of seekers was more interesting than the other papers of the city government bureaucracy--writs, notices, orders, and announcements.
“Notifying the Elven Quarter?” Taura asked. In a large city of Artaura, the various races tended to cluster in communities, some of which did not speak the common, base tongue the denizens of the cities spoke and wrote.
“Not precisely,” Kelf said. “The seeker’s report was a dispatch to the forest and meadow elves beyond the city frontier.”
“Interesting somewhat,” Taura said. “Not that the High Council or nobility would be interested in anything beyond the Highborn Quarter.”
“It might,” Kelf said. “The seekers have been investigating grave desecrations in the Grave Quarter, and those in the old burial grounds beyond the city.”
“Very strange,” Rojat agreed. “But who would dig up and rob graves?”
“Not robbed,” Kelf explained. “Desecrated...the corpse was stolen, and an empty grave found.”
“Stealing corpses?” Taura asked.
“That seems the crime the seekers were investigating,” Kelf said. “Who though steals a dead body for its own sake?”
“I can reason one idea,” Taura said. “Anatomists, rationalist healers wanting to dissect a body to see how the various organs are organized.”
“Healers do healing from the inside of a body?” Rojat asked blithely.
“Yes Rojat,” Taura explained. “Rationalist, those of reason see knowing how a body works helps the healing. They go by the anatomy of a body, so anatomists...some classmates are very strong opinion of this idea.”
“I would wager the Watch seekers have sought and questioned those anatomists,” Kelf surmised. “So the dispatch to inform...no warn the outlying elf community beyond the city.”
“Actually, I think that was fruitless,” Rojat commented. “From the reports and records I copied to the various Watch commanders, only human graves were robbed...desecrated.”
“I did not see that report,” Kelf remarked in a self-important tone.
“Doubtless you did not see it,” Taura added. “You were translating dispatches, so the details of a seeker’s findings were not given to you for copying.”
Kelf opened his mouth to speak, but then closed it, confronted by Taura’s irrefutable logic.
“I wonder why though,” Rojat said distantly.
“Seekers gather facts, and seek truth,” Kelf said. “They do not surmise.”
“Of course,” Taura said. “That’s for the Watch commander, captain, or watch master to do.”
Rojat shook his head, and Kelf looked down into his mug of lager, now much neglected from the discourse.
“I did have a seeker ask my teacher, a master healer about any sickness or infirmity.”
“That would explain the reports about some who have disappeared from the city without a trace,” Rojat said.
“The Watch seekers seeing if anyone got the Crimson Scourge, or the Azure Plague and being burned or dumped out at sea on a funerary barge.”
Taura winced at the casual mention of the two worst poxes that infected both human, demi-human, and humanoids in the Artaura.
The Crimson Scourge “The Scourge” was a wasting pestilence, causing the afflicted to burn a crimson red, spreading until the victim died as if cooked on a spit, a crimson hue. The Azure Plague “The Plague” was a slow pox, choking the victim as they coughed water, and looked an azure blue from drowning. Either sickness led to secretive disposal of the corpse, no family wanting a long quarantine and confinement upon their house.
“Disappearing people, and vanishing human corpses,” Taura said, linking the two conversationally.
“Did the seeker ask if any demi-human or humanoids vanished?” Kelf asked.
Taura suddenly sneezed, and sneezed again, nearly blowing her nose into the mug of wine.
“Seekers rarely ask questions that show their interest,” Rojat chided Kelf
“No,” Taura thought a moment rubbing her nose with her sleeve, “but the seeker visited the hospice for humans.”
“I have not seen any reports on vanishings,” Kelf said.
“Nor I either,” Rojat added.
“Nor what?” a fourth voice asked firmly above the cacophony of the patrons, serving wenches, shouts, and songs.
All three friends looked at their friend Sardos, having slipped toward their table through the heaving sea of people.
Kelf looked at Taura, who blushed and returned his coins.
“Never bet double or nothing Taura,” Kelf remarked.
Sardos sat, grabbing an unused chair from a table, and signaled to a serving wench for his favorite drink.
“We were talking about disappearing bodies and people,” Rojat quickly summarized.
Taura sneezed again in agreement.
“Must be the dust from the musty tomes and parchment,” Taura said, deflecting the gaze of her friends. “Or perhaps the smell of the ink, or the quills.”
Taura sneezed again.
“Have some fire wine,” Sardos said. “Burns the blood, and the itch in your nose making you sneeze.”
Taura sneezed once again. The healer and alchemist knew the benefit of fire wine, a potent burning wine, and asked the serving wench for a flagon.
Sardos took his mug of honey mead, his well-known favorite among the wenches and bar keeps.
The master scribe sipped his mead, nodding involuntarily in approval at the odor and taste.
“You should not be discussing the missives you copy or pen,” Sardos started.
“Here we go,” Kelf said, adding “again” with a tone of pique.
Sardos took the hint and stopped his well-rehearsed rebuke. The friends tired of Sardos’s superior attitude, which seemed to follow his increased duties as a scribe.
“Late work transcribing a noble’s property deed?” Taura asked with a wan smile.
“Not at all,” Sardos said but not elaborating further.
Taura smiled, realizing Sardos would not succumb to hypocrisy and violate his own dictum about discussing works penned.
Rojat half-expected a “nice try” from Sardos, but his friend remained silent.
“It seems Sardos since your expedition you’ve had more duty as a scrivener,” Kelf said at last, breaking the maddening silence.
“And less duty to your friends,” Rojat added, Taura smiling broadly in agreement.
“It is for the best,” Sardos said coolly. “If by ‘friends’ you mean those you trade barbs and jibes mixed with too much food and drink.”
“The best kind of duty,” Kelf commented, signaling to a serving wench for another mug of tea.
“I see your bardcraft is not faltering,” Sardos replied. “But bards tell stories not indulge in ribald commentary.”
Kelf sipped his fresh mug of hot tea, not stepping into Sardos’s very blatant trap.
“I successfully translated some tomes and volumes that were found in the ruins of a house,” Sardos explained. “In doing so, I’ve become a much valued translator and scribe as the nobles and wealthy houses would not use another scrivener.”
“There goes my hopes and aspirations,” Rojat said sipping his lager noisily from the flagon. “Hence my pursuit of opportunities...elsewhere.”
Taura coughed, and Kelf spat out his tea.
Rojat glanced at his friends in wonderment.
“So long as those opportunities Rojat do not include my patrons,” Sardos said tartly.
“One never knows, can one?” Rojat asked in response.
“The wealthy nobility would tax and steal every steel coin from the common citizen of Artaura if others did not keep them in check with the same,” Taura said flatly. “Trim the fat before it becomes fatter.”
“Humans seem to want and pursue profit, coin, and things,” Kelf said. “Perhaps because a human has but a short flash in the river of time than an elves or dwarves.”
“Money is power, except for a noble,” Rojat said dourly. “Nobility has a birthright, accident of birth--not ability, talent, or cunning.”
“Hence patronage of those that have money and power,” Sardos said, gesturing with his mug of mead. “Light fingers do not hold a quill very well.”
Rojat decided not to voice a rejoinder to Sardos’s pedantic proverb.
“It is easy to see things in night and day when you have the luxury, otherwise things are a cloudy sky,” Taura replied much to Rojat’s surprise.
Kelf yawned, and stifled an unexpected belch.
“You seem more a rationalist each day Taura,” Rojat said, changing the direction of the conversation.
“Rationalists seem to have some elven blood without being a half-elf,” Kelf said before Taura could respond. “More thought than mindless passion directed at traditions, the past, or to enhance one’s stockpile of things.”
“As a healer I prefer to be more rational,” Taura said. “But rationalist thinking is like anything of pure emotion and passion extreme. Over analyzing and logical thinking than actually knowing or feeling.”
“Rationalists will be passionate emotionless extremes,” Kelf warned.
“We...humans do not have an elf’s detachment,” Sardos interjected. “Humans seem to be hot or cold, dry or wet--creatures of extremes.”
“I am half-elf Sardos,” Kelf corrected his friend, hoping to reign in his superior ego. “My elven side is detached and logical, and the human passionate.”
“Fire and snow,” Rojat said summarizing.
“So now you think it is our blood, not our minds...” Taura started to say.
In the distance a horn sounded, causing the patrons to stop as if a moment in time suddenly froze in the present. The loud horn sounded again, followed by some distant screams. The horn sounded again, a long piercing wail that kept the entire inn in dead silence. After several moments, people started to talk and mingle, but more hushed and subdued.
“The alarm horn,” Rojat said carefully. “Something has happened.”
“Should we return to our rooms?” Taura asked having never heard the city horns that sounded an alarm.
“No need Taura,” Kelf explained. “Until the alarm is over we must remain here--alarm curfew.”
The Watch bell sounded, and a disk fell from the Watch candle, clanking on the table.
Rojat moved the disk to a small pile, and moved the disks around in idle thought.
Outside a shrill whistle sounded and reverberated loudly, although the patrons did not stop as before, only noting the noise beyond in the street.
“Ideal timing for an alarm,” Sardos commented sardonically.
“Let us hope we will not have to wait for the next bell...or disk from the Watch candle.”
Taura sighed loudly in frustration, now wanting to leave the inn.
“I think I need some wine,” Kelf said casually, signaling a serving wench.
“And something to eat,” Rojat added knowing they would be waiting intently for the notice the alarm was over.
“Tomorrow many reports and dispatches will be copied,” Sardos said to the table, thinking aloud. “An alarm means more work for a scrivener.”