THE INN OF THE SEVEN BLESSINGS
BY- MATTHEW HUGHES
PART 2 (TWO)
eventually , an undeclared truch established itself, the terms of which were that local barons would not lead their levies into the valley so long as the Vandaayo left their townsand village unmolested. The part-men could snatch their festive meat only from the road that passed through the forest on the west of the valley, and the trail that led over the mountains to the northeast. The locals knew the times of the year when the vandaayo were on the nrowl and avoided the thoroughfares in those seasons.wanderers and drifters of the likes of raffalon the thief fulferin the god’s man were welcome to take their chances.
The photo of the anthropophagi faded from raffalon’s heart as him legs marched him to the spot where the prey had been taken.Without pause, he mature away from the forest road and plunged through whatever bushes, almost immediately finding himself on a game trail. He saw stag scat but also the splay-footed tracks of the Vandaayo, momentarily recognizable by the webbing and the pointed impression made in the soft earth by the downcurved talon on the great toe.
The tracks led section of Vandaayoland. Raffalon further saw droplets of gore on a shrub beside the trail. No sooner had she registered these details than he was striding along in worship.
Within the confines of his scalp , he said, “Wait! We must discovery a quiet place and discuss this business!”
His pace did not slacken, but the voice in his mind said, What is there to discuss?
“Whether from will succeed if you fail to reach my cooperation!” The man had the sense that the deity was thinking about it. Fairly said. It would drain my energy less. Let us find a spot out of view.
The trail led them through a calm glade bisected by a meandering stream. The thief saw a thick-strand willow, and said, “Here willpower do.” He ducked under the wilow withes and sat on one of the gnarled roots, peered through the verdant screen until he was sure he was the clearing’s only occupant. Then he addressed the mediocre piece of carved timber in his hand and repeated his original question: “”What are you?”
Less than I was, low than I shall be.
Raffalon cackle. In his feeling, entities that spoke in such a high-toned system tended to have an acute discretion for themselves that was inversely matched by a lack of worry for the comfort of those who mentioned for them-indeed, even for their continued existance.
On the various hand, his captor’s resolve to rescue the unfortunate Fulferin betokened some capacity for discretion of others needs. Perhaps terms could be negotiated. He shove the proposition to the piece of wood.
I see no requirement for terms, said the voice, its tone maddeningly quiet. Fulferin is in requirement of rescue. You are within engagements. One is a high obligatory, the other mere vacancy.
“Who says I am within engagements?”
I have entry, said the voice, to the vaults of your remembrance, not to mention the contents of your nature. It took on a remote tone. Which scarely constellation mentioning. Fulferin stands in a better class.
“fulferin,” said the thief , “hangs in a vandaavo net, and soon will be simmering in a pot – not a category aspired to by men of stature.”
His legs straightened and he found himself stepping outside of the willow. “Wait!” he said. “You’ve already lost one beast of burend to the vandaayo. If you lose me, do you think you can seize one of the man eaters to-”
Fulferin, said the voice , is no beast of tell. He is a devotee, a disciple. He knows the rite that will recover my name.
“And yet he is on his way to done with the vandaayo. Which tells me that at minimum one of you was in too great a hurry.”
His legs stopped variable. You have a point ,said the voice speak on.
“Is fulferin necessary?” said the thief. “If it is only conduction you require…”
Fulferin is essential. Only he is versed in the ceremony.
“So I tartar rescue him from the vandaayo?”
I have uttered that it is an imperative.
“Why? For what do I hazard my life?”
For matters behind your ken. Isuse glorious and surpassing. “You’re some kind of worn-out even able to keep him out of the stewpot.”
Fulferin must not stew.
“What can you do to prevent it ?”
send you love.
“But I am unwilling.”
A problem I must work around.
“Which brings us back to the question of terms.’’
Raffalon feel from the silence in his head that the entity was repute the matter. Then he heard, talk on, but hurry.
He uttered, “ You want your devotee exempted. I shortage to live.”
Fair enough. I will effort to keep you alive.
The thief’s legs initiated moving again. “Wait!” he uttered.
Mere anointing is not sufficient!
You de not value your own existence?
“I already had it before I met you. If I am to risk it on your behalf that is surely worth some compensation.”
Again he had the sense that other was weighing the matter. Then he heard , what had you in mind?
“Wealth great wealth is always welcome.”
I have no command over gross physicality, said the voice, only over certain attributes of individuals as they relate to the flow of phenomenality.
“You mean you can’t deliver heaps of precious goods?”
Not even small quantities.
The thief thought, then said, “What ‘attributes of individuals’ can you alter? Strength of ten men, ability to fly, impermeability to pointed weapons? All of those would be obligate.”
Alas, none are within my ambit.
Raffalon convinced it might be better to arrive at the interrogatory from the issue side. “What exactly can you offer?”
My powers, uttered the deity, are in the reign of probabilities.
“ You mean you make the implausible likely?”
Say rather the I can adjust the odds, as they affect a selected person.
Raffalon exposed. “So you could fix it so that I could win the Zagothian communal lottery?”
I will be conscientious, said the voice. In my present condition, I could at the best reduce the odds from millions-to-one against to thousands-to-one.
“But still against?”
“So, essentially, you’re a god of luck but only in small thing?”
At current, my potency is attenuate. Fulferin is going to assist me in restoring my powers.
“ If he endure,” uttered the thief. Then a thinking occurred. “You weren’t very lucky for for him.”
He had not invite my help. He acted from I suppose I must call it enthusiasm. Besides, I must safeguard my strength. The box assists, by acting as an insulator.
Raffalon thought briefly, then said, “I will summarize. You wish me to danger my life, in bounds in which a bad outcome would be particularly grisly and hurtful. In return, you will make sure that along the Way I do not stub my finger or lose my comb.”
In a close-run contest, I cantip the balance in your favor.
“Me versus a half dozen famishing vandaayo does not meet my definition of close-run.”
These are, said the deity, the only terms I can offer.
“ You monitoring my body . Can you not at minimum alter it?” Raffalon touched his promunent nose. “Perhaps make few part smaller?” He clutched another interstices within your cerebrum. They produce a field that I can enhance.
“And only,” uttered the thief, remembering, “when my flesh touches your fetish.”
No. Once I alter them they stay altered for all time.
“I soppose it’s something,” the thief uttered. “Still, it is not the best agreement I have ever made.”
It is the greatest I can offer. On the other hand I do not requirement to offer it. I can compel you, as long as your flesh touches my porrtal.
“The wooden eidolon.”
Raffalon brushed by the willow withes and srepped into the transportation, crossed to the stern. He adage exorbitant spots of slaughter, presumably Fulferin’s. “If your aficionado abide and completes the ritual you spoke of your powers will enhancement?”
Oh, yes. Manyfold.
“What, then of the Zagothain lottery?”
You would win something.
“Every time I purchased a ticket?”
The man runged onto the trail. “And this small fate would apply to my other endeavors?” he could chew of past occasions when a slight wag from a god of destiny would have been obligate, including one unruly flight that had led only to a overlong clop on the contemplarium’s treadmill.
You would have to salvation Fulferin so that he can fulfill the requirements of the conduct.
“Then that,” uttered Raffalon, “must be our treaty.” He pointed his still-prominent nose in the direction of Vandaayoland and pursued the trail. After a few steps, he uttered, “Perhaps you would be more comfortable traveling your plush-lined box?