Friday, October 01, 2004


Day Nine

Memree and I did some more clothes-shopping this morning. I did suggest that Del would both give us a discount and put the bill against sales of our loot, but her response was that she didn't live by the sword, so it wasn't necessary for her to distract opponents by dressing in skin-tight, skin-thick leos with leather accessories all the time. I had the perfect response to that - I sulked, or at least I tried to sulk, the dear brat wouldn't let me stay annoyed for long, and I was soon giving my opinion on various cuts and colours of shorts, jackets, thick winter jumpers, trousers, and boots. I got her to opt for white leather boots and gloves, but generally she listened carefully to my opinions, and chose what she'd already decided upon. I'd have bargained harder at the stalls, but I am fairly sure that Memree's smile and friendly interest got her better prices than I would have managed.

We met Ashil for lunch, at quite the most expensive tavern Redwall can boast. He'd been out of town for the last couple of days, so this was actually the first time Memree and Ashil had met. I've known him for years, fought alongside him, and I'd say that he is my closest male friend; he was the fourth gambler on the night that Loji had wagered her very freedom on a hand of cards, and lost to Delinda, becoming her closely-restrained personal slave. He has been trying to move away from adventuring as such, to become a middle-man, someone who people with a problem can go to, after which he'll find someone else to do the actual work. Like me, for instance. I knew that he had been working on arranging something; while I was pretty sure, even after our shopping spree, that Mem' and I had enough cash to keep us happy in Redwall until after the spring thaw, half a year away, I was definitely interested in knowing what he was up to.

Ashil was waiting outside when we arrived, along with Delinda, and found his handshake for Memree over-ruled by an affectionate and lengthy hug, as if he was her very favourite uncle - so of course he immediately became her honorary favourite uncle! Between us we gave him the whole story of the castle tower, much of which I'm sure he'd made it his business to know already. While the job for Lady Restormel hadn't been officially arranged by him, he had pointed me in the right direction. Maybe I owed him a favour for that, though the amount of peril involved kept it at "maybe"!

During our talk, we'd eaten thick slices of beef, roast potatoes, and some greenery I wasn't too familiar with, washed down with local red wine, and it wasn't until we were all pleasantly full that I was able to ask him about the possible job he had been working on.

"Well nothing's settled yet, because it's pretty big - but the point of the spear is liable to be you, Charol. In fact, I don't see how this whole operation can work without you."

"I feel almost rich", I commented, contentedly. "But why does it have to be me?"

"Well you know how the Churmuk feel about men - they make great corpses, or tolerable slaves if you work them hard enough." He grimaced. "But a female warrior, provided she proved herself their equal, would be an honoured guest."

"Ah, the Churmuk, the female tribe of desert warriors", Delinda put in. "They trade their male babies as future slave-soldiers, and very well regarded and expensive they are, too."

"Let me guess, Ashil - it's about Kreston, that pompous, spoilt creep."

Ashil grinned. "The heir to the Sommersley estates, yes - a large ransom has been offered, but the Churmuk seem to prefer to keep him shovelling ox-shite. Which seems a good deal to me, I'd pay them to keep hold of him... but that large ransom budget is now available to us."

"Me versus the whole tribe? No wonder you wined and dined us first!"

Ashil patted the side of his nose with one finger, confidentially. "Ah, but I'm working on a plan! And it would only be one encampment's worth of Churmuk, probably no more than thirty actual armoured warriors. You steal a couple of horses, head straight back towards us - and I'll have Redwall's entire cavalry coming in to escort you."

"Make that three horses we steal", Memree put in. "I'm coming too!"

I stared at her, and tried to get my brain to swerve round onto this new track. "But - it's dangerous, my dear friend. They'd know in an instant you weren't a fighter."

"So I'd pose as your companion, your slavegirl even - they have female slaves too, I suppose?"

"They do, yes." I tried not to sound convinced, but I did enjoy Memree's company, and she did look so darn cute in slavegirl outfits. In the Churmuk camp, in a collar, she'd be able to move around much more easily than their honoured guest. "But, while adventures sound good afterwards, or even before, they can be perilous and painful in the bit in-between, you know?"

"And you think I'd rather stay here in town, not knowing what was happening?" Memree was suddenly very serious, almost sounding angry. "You're an adventurer, that's what you do, it's your life, and that means it's my life too!"

"You could stay with me", Delinda put in with a sly smile. "As a slavegirl, that would keep your mind of Charol's dangers, I promise you - or as a friend. Though still with a little bit of chains and gags and stuff, I do have to keep in practice you know..."

Ashil grinned. "Same old Delinda!" He drank the last of his wine. "But I think Memree would be happiest with Charol, I think she would be useful to Charol and the mission, from what you've told me about your encounter with that she-demon Memree is as brave and resourceful as any warrior, and how much more do I have to say before I get another hug...?"

So Memree hugged him again, and I hugged the pair of them, and to cheer Delinda up we promised that Memree and I would drop by tomorrow morning so that Del could fit Memree out in a really outrageous slavegirl outfit, to make her look like the kind of companion a mighty warrior might enjoy taking on her travels with her. "Well", Memree said, "As long as the main outfit matches my new white boots and gloves..."

And, my faithful reader, that's really all I have to report, as walks and talks and shopping and other routine things do get a bit samey after a while. Ashil still has some more arranging to do, so we can all afford to have a quiet, lazy time of it until he sets us off on the trail. Oh well, tomorrow's visit to Del's shop should be fun, you can be sure that I'll give you as much sexy detail as my stock of words allows!

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