She knew very well the traditions of the pole, but he wasn’t there, nutritional soil wasn’t scarce, and his skull wouldn’t remain where she’d have put it. “Fallhus.” Eric of Reedheim had shown up two days after Eric’s nautic funeral. Immediately the Naga had spread the word all throughout the regions around the sweetwater sea, after the remains of the imperial Ambassador and his attaché had been found. “A stranger and an Albin woman were spotted at Fallhus.” he had barely stepped off his boat, recognizing Fathala from their encounter at Reedheim he immediately reported what he knew. “We have sent out pigeons, and got message back.” Fallhus. He is fast. Fallhus is difficult to reach. Winding up the side of a rocky mountain a narrow track barely broad enough for one man alone cut through the porous rock. She had heard stories of the village, but never actually seen it. On any other town she might have chosen to fly to, but Fallhus was on a single mountain, and known for rigorous defences against Naga flying in, no matter the time of year. The people of Fallhus obviously did not want to mate with Naga, although their neighbors were non lethal in their amorous pursuits.She hoped to be granted access to the town if she came by land. Besides, if Leif came down her way, she surely wouldn’t miss him.But the path was deserted, all through the night, no other traveler, not one camp at the three campsites set up along the path. There was fourth one ahead, she’d reach it around noon, before the final ascend to Fallhus. Fallhus. Weird name. Sounds like Phallus. Of course she knew it was named for the waterfall that ran through the town, open canals channeld the water that came down the mountain through the homes and streets, to the edge of the rock, where it continued to tumble down. Who had founded it and why at such exotic a location was unbeknownst to her, and the Naga as well the people in Reedheim and ither villages and towns around the sea. Perhaps the locals know. But I want to know what they know of Leif.And Whlana. Fathala’s jaws tightened. It had been a day until she was found missing. At first they considered her a casualty as well, until reports trickled in that she was seen with Leif in the masshall, drinking wine and talking. Somehow his words have corrupted her. The fourth and final campsite was abandoned like the others. Or the voice that corrupts him has corrupted her too. She still thought of Leif as partially innocent. Perhaps it was Eric’s thoughts and memory left in her.Scratching at her scales the rocks on the ground were unforgiving if scaled wrongly, yet they were treacherously unstable if too much weight was put on the wrong ones. Numerous graves flanked the path. How the people of Fallhus maintained commerce was baffling to her. I reckon it’s mining. Distinctly a thought from Eric. A gentle smile appeared on Fathala’s lips. It was almost as if she could still talk to him. “Who goes there?” the Norser who stood guard at the gatehouse was clad in armor. A small crossbow was hanging from his belt, a shortsword on the other side. In his hand a lance. “Hear me!” she stopped. “I am Fathala Sash’nohan, of the sweetwater Naga from Naga’na. I seek no quarrel with you or your people, but a man from afar! He is a murderer and that of his own kin. He is accompanied by an Albin woman, Whlana!” the guard stared at her in disbelief. All of the men in Fallhus knew what a Naga looked like. Since the preparations against the Sphinxes’ return began, they also had learned that the Naga from the sweetwater sea were not deadly. But in none of the reports, telltales and rumours had he heard of a Naga in clothes. From time to time they felt wrong on her, but since she had spent more and more time linked mentally with Eric she had adopted a liking for them. Since she was not about to take a swim she saw no reason to take them off. “We had a pigeon telling of you. You are to let in.” he shook his head in disbelief. A dressed Naga. The dangerous erotic aura around them seemed destroyed at the thought and sight of that.Alleys paved with glazed blue tiles opened up behind the gate. To the right a thigh high wall of grey stone protected against the depth, to the left the rock of the mountain continued on fora short while, before opening into an alley. A tunnel really, but paved. Upon peeking inside Fathala saw further openings, oil lanterns spending calm orange light from the walls. Farther on the alleys going off to her left became open, the buildings for shops, and homes, were carved from.the rock, decorated with glazed tiles, depicting trees, vines and fields of green. Out of every house came a ditch bringing out water. As far as she could see, every home had a fresh water supply, and due to the nature of water a continuous drainage for the household mess. A peaceful silence, bordering on being eerie, filled the alleys. Only muffled came noises of a living town to the ear. Life in Fallhus was taking place inside the mountain. Every five meters a small tower raised up on the seaside of the town, at least two armed guards in them. The supply of bolts for their crossbows was immense as Fathala managedto spy through a partly open door at one point. “Are you the one looking for the stranger?” a guard stopped in front of Fathala. “I am.” “Follow me then.”The guard led her down an alley that was bit wider than the path she had come up on, past a store with bakery, the supplies in the shelves inside almost gone, but the smells told of fresh good in the making. Another across the alley and ten meters deeper into the alley had salted meat and fish on sale. “The two tried to book a room in the inn. The woman kept mumbling about a light that had to outshine the sun, and that our town was ideal.” the guard pointed at the inn in question. A three storey building, facing the last open it of the alley before it became a tunnel, lower than two storeys. It displayed wall decor of wine, hops and barley. No doubt advertising he alcoholic beverages served inside. “Because of her mutterings the guards became aware of them and as they investigated he led her away and they left town two days ago.”

“Do you know if he had a bag, or sack, with him, about this size?” she showed the size of the bane, at least the size she remembered of it. “As I was the one charged with the investigation I can confirm that he has. Sadly the pigeon didn’t tell that he was a kin murderer. We would’ve incarcerated him then.” You would’ve failed. He is a trained knight of the.order and he has the bane. “I will find him.” he vowed. The guard led her inside the Inn. Tables stood in the crevices of running water, the stools to.the tables on dry ground. From the back wall came the stench of feces and urin, diluted by massive amounts of water, from.the left hand wall fumes of freshly cooked meals, wine and brew drifted into the room.Oil lamps hung from the walls filling the common room with warm orange light. “Keep!” the guard yelled to a homely woman behind the stone window to the kitchens. “Guard!” she yelled back, sporting a huge amused smile. “She’s my aunt, made my investigations easier.” he boasted.

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