of the Last God
(Book II of the Oerth Cycle)
(C) 2000 BY
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Captain D'Viall bowed his head as he stood in the shade of R'Narr's pavilion. "Mrowrrr... Your pardon, General, but it cannot be done in less than a week with the tools we have. The axle has snapped near the hub. Our wagons were simply not meant to travel this far without maintenance."
R'Narr snarled. "Fsst! Another damnable delay!"
"Miao... It is fortunate none of the Little Ones were injured, my lord," L'Sala commented. "Mrrr... We are, by my mentation, about a days ride from the foothills. A new axle could be obtained by felling a small tree there, then carrying it back here. If we give our tools to the Little Ones, they may be able to do the work faster. With luck, we could be underway again in only three days."
R'Narr considered it for a moment, his elbow resting on the small table in his pavilion as he stroked his furry chin. Finally, he nodded. "Mrrr... Captain D'Viall, make it so. And bring the Little One, Smith, to me, that L'Sala might translate my commands to it."
Captain D'Viall bowed. "Mrowl... It shall be so, General."
A few minutes later, Smith was standing in the pavilion, Captain D'Viall's watchful eye upon him. Smith crossed his arms and squeaked something briefly.
"Miao... The Little One asks why you have brought him here, my lord. He seems quite impudent, today. Perhaps the discomfort of being in the tilted wagon begins to wear on him," L'Sala translated.
R'Narr chuckled. The Little One had a true fire in his belly, now. 'Yes, I'll have to watch myself if he ever gets his paws on a weapon,' he thought to himself, and smiled at Smith. Smith, having grown used to the smiles of carnivores, didn't flinch. "Mrrr... Tell him of our situation and our plan, L'Sala. Ask him how long it would take to complete the work using our tools."
L'Sala chittered and squeaked at the Little One for awhile, listened to his reply, then nodded. "Miao... My lord, he says that he would need to see our tools."
R'Narr nodded. "Mrr... Bring them, Captain D'Viall."
A few minutes later, Captain D'Viall dropped a box of tools beside Smith. Smith knelt, examining the adze, draw-knife and other tools it contained. Finally, he stood, squeaked for several moment, and was silent.
"Miao... My lord, the Little One says that our tools are barely sufficient to the task, and of such poor quality that he himself most assuredly made better when he was eight."
R'Narr kept his expression smooth. "Mrr... Tell him that I already knew that, and I asked how long it would take him to do the work. I am not here to be insulted by him, and if he declines to answer me appropriately again, I will simply string him up by his heels for an hour or two in the sun to reconsider his words."
L'Sala translated, and Smith blanched, then bowed. He squeaked something while bowing, then slowly straightened up.
"Miao... He says that he apologizes for his rudeness, my lord, and that he can probably finish the work himself in six hours if you will find and fell an elm of two palm's width and no less than thrice his height - his palms, my lord, about one of ours."
R'Narr nodded. "Mrowrrr... Good. Tell him we'll have that in about two days. Meanwhile, we'll prop up the wagon with what little supplies of wood we have to make his wait more comfortable. With luck, we'll cross the mountains in the next fortnight. We should be to my castle a month after that, and we'll put them to work."
"Miao... The Little One asks what it is he and his people shall be working on, my lord."
R'Narr chuckled. "Mrowrrr... Everything! I want guns as good as the mus have - better, in fact. I want something as good as their airships - or better. Perhaps that thing you mentioned the other day, L'Sala - the Ornithopter. Yes, one of them. In fact, more than one - I want dozens! And new armor, better than what we have!" R'Narr replied with a grin, then chuckled again. "Mrrr... Yes, tell him I want everything, L'Sala. I want it all."
Smith nodded, then bowed and squeaked something.
"Miao... The Little One says that given time, you shall have all that, and more. But it will take time. No great project was ever completed in a day."
"Mrr... Tell him I know, but I do not have unlimited time. There are other considerations he knows not of, and if I fail, he and his people will fall into the paws of ones who will not treat him nearly as kindly as I have," R'Narr said, and chuckled again as L'Sala translated. When she had finished, he nodded to Captain D'Viall. "Mrowrrr... Take him back to the wagon, Captain. Once it's propped up again, send off six riders to harvest the wood we need."
"Mrowl... It shall be as you command, General."
R'Narr sat there chuckling after that, his mind full of all the wondrous inventions that would soon be at his beck and call. In a year, perhaps two, he would be Shazad of all the Cat-Clans, his name assured a great place in history for all time to come.
L'Sala simply gazed at him
quietly, her expression distant and impassive.
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