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Gloranthan Folk Tales
...tried as I
could until the wick dipped into the tallow and almost sputtered out,
but I could not get the figures to add up: quite simply, we were receiving
less than half the number of settlers we were supposed to. Everyone
might have sniggered behind their backs when my uncle, Sor Eel, made
me "Commissioner of the Census" two years ago, but now I
have found a genuine mystery!
ample proof, I went to uncle with my concerns about the missing settlers.
To my chagrin, he said he too was aware of the anomaly, but reminded
me that while most of the settlers who had arrived were retired soldiers,
receiving their just reward after a lifetime of service to the Empire,
those that hadn't were outcastes, criminal elements, refugees, riff-raff,
and White Moonie dissidents - in a word, TROUBLE.
he said that the Grantlands were hardly fertile enough to support
the sort of numbers the Empire was supposedly sending us and besides
(he chuckled), he was drawing the full resource allowance and spending
the difference as he saw fit. While he gave me a complicated explanation
of why doing this would be considered perfectly legal ("standard
accounting practice"), he nevertheless told me to forget my concerns
about the missing settlers and suspended my census-taking duties,
instead sending me off on a goodwill visit to Adari.
agent Count Julan and his Coders arrived in Pavis this week. It was
pretty obvious from the outset that Julan and uncle are not going
to get along: particularly as it seems that part of Julan's brief
is to root out corrupt practices and officials on the take, operations
that will surely interfere in the smooth running of the province.
all the way Glamour to convey uncle's protests about Count Julan,
imagine my surprise a few days after my return then, when uncle summoned
me and there was Julan sitting in conference him, holding in his lap
the Staff of Justice (an old Eel-ariash family heirloom)! Uncle told
me that he had asked Julan to look into the issue of the missing settlers
- when I began to say I thought he didn't think it was important,
he peremptorily shushed me and said it was a "grave and perplexing
issue", one that had hints of corruption at high levels back
in the Empire, and one that, regretfully, might take Julan and his
band far away from here.
I returned to
my room to retrieve my files, only to find a shadowy figure in the
doorway, trying the handle. I reached out and grabbed him - under
the heavy robe his wrist wore a heavy manacle, like that of a prisoner
- only to find it was Gim-Gim, uncle's spymaster. He hissed at me
to be careful because "there were thieves about," and slunk
off in his customary way. Ironically, Gim-Gim was right: my room had
already been ransacked, and most of my papers were missing...
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The contents of this page are copyright by Michael O'Brien, 2001;
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