Chapter 8: Pantor

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The powerful Pantor paced jerkily across the top of the heavily fortified wall that guarded the south entrance to Ven Devisol.  Every two steps or so he threw an anxious look through the screening vines and trees that nearly hid the wall, to the southwest, where his comrades were holding off the Primiad advance.  Barely.

“By the Maker,” he growled hoarsely in the sinuous Pantor language, smashing a mailed fist into his open palm.  “I should be there with them!  Helping them defend the city against the tree climbers.”

“Sir, I think we have greater things to occupy our attention,” the Pantor commander’s aide, a slender but muscular Pumor said with a salute, fist to breast.

“Eh?  Why’s that, captain?  Do the Primiad seek to flank our perimeter to assault the city directly?”

“No, sir."  He pointed downward.  "We have visitors at the gates.”

“Visitors??” the commander said with an incredulous hiss.  “But how is that possible?  Our borders have been sealed ever since the Primiad invaded over ten days ago!”

The Pumor captain shook his head, just as confused.

“That I cannot tell you, Colonel.  The strangest part of it is that two of the visitors are clearly human!”

“Do you think this was a good idea?” Longspear whispered hoarsely as she stood beside van Joss, both with their hoods down.  Kelly, for his part, made no move to cover himself.  Nor did Princess Kata.  Salina, however, almost cowered behind the big elf, casting fearful glances at the surging battle, which seemed to be only a couple of kilometres away, instead of the nearly fifteen that it actually was.  She was afraid that if the Pantor discovered she was Primiad, that they may take matters into their own hands.

“We needed to get their attention with something more urgent than the Primiad advance, captain,” Van Joss smoothly replied, gazing up at the massive gates in front of them, great portals of seasoned wood, strapped with great ribbons of iron, the whole covered in a thick layer of vines.

“And considering the level of hate the Pantor have for us Humans, I felt that this was the only way to quickly obtain our goal.”

“I see.”  She pursed her lips in uncertainty, casting her own gaze up at the gathering faces, both Pantor black and Pumor tan that were clustering in the squat towers that flanked the gates on either side.

“I just hope they don’t decide to cut us down now to get us out of the way!”

Van Joss smiled faintly.

“Have faith, Longspear.”  The captain snorted at the dry urging as she glanced back over at her slender companion.

“Faith?  That’s a funny word coming out of your mouth, van Joss, master spy of Gideon.  I thought you relied on your skills and cunning, nothing more.”

“That I do, Longspear,” van Joss quickly answered.  “But you don’t have my skills and cunning to rely on, only your own.  So I suggest faith, to make up the lack!”  At Longspear’s heated glare, the faint smile grew slightly.

“Besides, the one thing that drives the cats more than hate is curiosity.  They will want to know why we are here, before they cut us to ribbons.  So we will at least get a word in edgewise.  And hopefully that will be enough.”

Then both fell silent as one of the dark faces perched on top of the left hand tower began to shout down at them in the Pantor dialect.

“Ho, Humans.  I am Colonel Hest.  Why have you sullied the lands of the Protectorate with your cursed selves?  Tell me quickly so that I may cleanse your sin against our land with your blood and get it over with!”

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