31 January 2006

Chapter Three

They moved slowly along the road. The two Goon brothers strolled alongside Selfless as if they were his bodyguards. If Dandy noticed, he did not seem to mind. Amiable and Noreach walked with Dandy, who seemed to know their destination even as he fumbled around Amiable's questions. Adolescent stumbled along behind them, staring blankly at his own feet. Cleans trailed along behind, and from time to time the Goon brothers looked back to make sure he hadn't deserted their cause.
They walked some distance down Cross Street, until the corner of Cross and Bisecting. Dandy only took three steps into the intersection before stopping and pointing out a large building ahead and to the left. The building was four stories tall, with large colonnades thicker than a dwarf is tall rising it's full height. The bricks of it's walls were each painted a different color, none of which were harmless to the human eye. Each window appeared to have been smashed out and glued back together on a wooden backing, and the colonnades were covered with intricately carved figures of animals in suggestive attire.
“It was either this or Flood Control Dam Number Three,” said Dandy, shaking his head so that his hair would better catch the stuffiness that passed for a breeze. They stood silently in the intersection, trying to not notice the building or the many wagons whose path they were blocking.
“Let's go in now, shall we?” asked Selfless, barely above the din of the screaming teamsters. He led the group across the street and past black doors so pale they bordered on obscene. They entered a small hallway, where everything was beige except for the blue sign welcoming them to Chapter Three of the Sedai Conspiracy.
“I thought they were all dead.” said Noreach, waving his axe awkwardly at the sign.
“They are.” said Selfless. “We're just using the hall.”
“Pardon me, did I miss something?” asked Dandy, smiling congenially at Noreach as he tilted slightly to his right.
“The Sedai were evil. Nothing was safe from their meddling.” said Noreach, vociferously. “Nothing.”
“The Sedai wanted to make the world a better place.” said Selfless calmly. “But others suspected them of doing evil and they began to believe it themselves. Before long, everything they did became a plot to purge the Sedai of plotters, and they were enveloped in so much secrecy that they couldn't even trust each other. The last Sedai died years ago, positive to the end that everyone else was evil.”
“They told the Dwarves Union to require bathing!” shouted Noreach, who was losing control of his temper.
“That was very evil of them.” said Cleans, swaying as if drunk.
“Why is it evil if the dwarves don't stink all the time?” asked Dandy. “I use up seven types of perfumed soap myself, depending on the occasion, of course.”
“It's an important part of being a dwarf!” snarled Noreach. He took a step towards Dandy only to stop when Amiable reached out to put a hand on his shoulder. He threw Amiable a relieved glance before turning his ire back towards Dandy. “To be a registered Dwarf one must be no taller than five foot nine, one must have a beard one foot or more in length, one must have a high tolerance for alcohol and low tolerance for damn fool Elves, and most importantly, one must smell like a Dwarf. They don't hand out Dwarving permits to just any malodorous drunken midget that stumbles in!”
The Goon brothers finally noticed his tone and stepped between Noreach and Dandy. Dandy was pleasantly surprised that his bodyguards remembered for whom they worked and beamed at the pair of them.
“The Sedai weren't evil.” said Selfless. “Just a waste of time. Making up secrets just to hide them, denying everything so that nobody could take anything they said seriously, giving out advice they know won't be followed, and hiding from anyone who actually wanted their advice. Not evil, just a waste of time.”
“If they were so paranoid, how come they made the building so ... obvious?” asked Adolescent.
“They didn't,” said Selfless, smiling bemusedly at the question. “Even in death they try to be enigmatic. Chapter Three is actually in Another City. This building was mostly storerooms for Chapter Nine and a Chapter Four meeting hall, which is where we're going. The 'art' you saw was part of a city beautification program. It was either repaint this building or pave Dirt Road, which the city could never bring itself to do. The others are waiting for us inside the conference room.” Selfless pointed at one of the beige doors and waited until Idiot had opened it and passed through before lowering his arm.

Goe, only 45976 words to go!

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