Chapter 4 - Mischief

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Chapter 4, Mischief

My Chosen, they are faithful to me in all things.

I have tried them, proven their obedience.

They have achieved the pinnacle of life.

To them I grant all my power.

- 10th Verse from the Feast of Sorrows

The sun warmed Iltar's face as his wagon emerged from the forest, contrasting the cool spring breeze blowing from the eastern shores of the island. He sat beside Hegdil, who was driving the wagon. Filly, the black horse, trotted, his horseshoes clanking against the stone highway. Chatter from behind reached Iltar's ears; the acolytes were teasing each other, as young boys do. Iltar, however, was contemplating the ride through the forest.

The dream he had was fresh in his mind. Though the forest, the various dirt roads, and the highway were fine, the destruction he witnessed still haunted him.

Why would I dream of such things? he thought. And that man who looked like him. He there was something eerie about him. Iltar shook the thoughts away, turning his attention back to the road.

His wagon moved with the traffic flowing to Soroth. There were riders on horseback and horse-drawn carriages. A merchant caravan was up ahead. It probably came from the western side of the island. There were plenty of farmers there that sold their produce here in city. Though there were other cities in the west, it was more profitable to sell goods in Soroth.

After a short while, Iltar's wagon neared the city gates. It was a modest city, as far as cities could be concerned. Iltar had seen much grander cities in other parts of the world. But Soroth was home, it held a special place in his heart. He didn't remember much of Tor, the city of his nativity. He recalled the hustle and bustle of its citizens. Soroth was much quieter. Soroth was a major port, but the docking district was mostly on the southern side of the city. There were a few piers and wharfs along the northeastern edge, but not many.

The location of the docks caused a divide in the city. The northern half of Soroth consisted of neighborhoods and shops. It was the more attractive part of Soroth. The wealthy lived there. The farther south you went, it became less affluent. The southwest side was the worst.

Soroth, the city, enveloped most of the southeastern corner of the island. It had a population of nearly two hundred and fifty thousand. It was the largest city in the nation, which consisted of sixteen other islands. Those other islands were smaller. Only three were about half the size of the one where Soroth was located. Those islands were called Sarn, Silgarn and Sereth. Each had one large city and several smaller towns scattered along their coasts. Pagus was from Sarn. A royal.

That boy, Iltar thought. What was he up to? Iltar had to find out. He had been mingling with the other older acolytes recently, the apprentices of several council members for Iltar's Order.

Iltar's wagon slowed. He braced himself as the wagon calm to a halt.

The merchant caravan up ahead had arrived at the northern gate. Guards in brown plate-mail were inspecting the various wagons. After the guards finished their search they waved the caravan through.

Each of the other riders or carriages stopped briefly, but the traffic behind them continued without coming to a complete stop.

"Purpose in the city?" a guard hollered, studying Hegdil and Iltar. "Oh–Master Iltar! A pleasure to see you," the guard bowed, then raised his faceguard. He looked familiar. Iltar couldn't remember his name.

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