Closing a deal, part three

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Arthur woke with a sense of satisfaction. The previous night proved he still had every bit of his capacity well in hand. Today he'd speak with Karia. He hadn't been invited to join the council or the Taleweaver's inn and would want to know how Arthur's performance had gone.

Damn that cunning man!

Yet Arthur realized Karia had what was needed to become part of Belgera's ruling body one day or another.

Arthur dressed quickly and even had time to get some breakfast before he heard the expected knock on his door. He rose and let Karia in.

"Good morning, Lord Wallman," Karia said.

Arthur smiled back. Thank God the man knew De Vhatic. It would have been a short conversation otherwise, at least until they managed to find Gring.

"And a good morning to you, Lord Graig."

"I believe we can dispense with formality now. You know why I'm here."

"I do, and I'll try to tell you everything that..."

The harsh screech of a detonation hit their ears just as the shock wave punched them backwards.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Arthur stammered.

They stared at each other, but no one answered the question.

Arthur ran for the window. He didn't want to believe it. Kharg's reach must be longer than he'd thought possible. The Khraga must be mad to launch an attack in the middle of a city populated by people who took pride in fighting Khraga in the wilderness. Here, with all the fortifications such an attack must be suicidal.

"Damn! That Khraga has got some guts," Arthur admitted loudly.

"Khraga? No Khraga would dare to attack Belgera. They'd die before they reached the walls, and as for jumping into the city itself the attempt would kill anyone not born human. Magecrafters of old made sure of that."

It had to be Kharg, or could the city have become besieged by the plainsmen? Suddenly uncertain Arthur searched Karia's eyes for support.

Karia shrugged in response. "You know, it could be some accident. You've seen too much fighting lately. Besides I don't know any kind of weapon making a sound like that, but I've seen the results of a careless magecrafter."

Two muted detonations followed by yet another close by answered the question for Arthur, and the unexpected chain of smaller explosions gave him an impossible solution to who the attacker was.

"Damn, that's people from home."

"Keen?"

"No, my home. That's the sound of modern weaponry, or rather the sound of missiles impacting. We have to find the others."

"What are you talking about?" Karia yelled over the sound of gunfire, but he followed Arthur all the same, and together they sprinted down the stairs, Arthur leading the way.

Bloody hell! Arthur thought. They must be really angry with my stunt to put on a show like this. Damn! I'd never believe the police to go this far when they found out where I went.

He shook his head as he ran. He should have known better. They'd been trigger-happy when they first found Otherworld. Why shouldn't they be now? Still, this was insane, even by military standards.

Arthur swore as he ran. He swore at himself. How could he have doubted the military would refrain from an opportunity to behave like the idiots they were. They were, after all, equipped with weapons to substitute their ineptitude at social skills.

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