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Acquisition

Can be found randomly in loot containers, and is randomly sold by general goods and books vendors.

Contents

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And when he saw that the entrance to the temple had been sealed by a seamless plane of ebony, Cyrus wondered if he had come for nothing. Then all thoughts of honor went away and he wondered instead if the Carrick had anything aboard that might cut godsblood, because he would be stinking rich.

Then the right half of the ebony plane turned to gold, and both halves moved like fluid in the air, a vision of trapped rain raining along a hectic compass; and Vivec formed from this mercurial swirling and floated there, finally smiling. He had not changed in his arraignment, Cyrus noted. And he notices that I have. Great. Hush.

Vivec spoke. "So the ansus I sent didn't ward you off, little cut? I willed them to, for I have mentioned my liking of thieves, and thus I sought to help you, raga doon, Cyrus the Restless."

"Tung den uta-no-mongo, Ansu-Gurleht."

Vivec cocked his head, which lit aflame at the wondering. "Well, something stuck, at least. And I give help whether you wish it or not. What I will not give is my toy of the westernmost west, the Opal of the Nogru, whose chieftains I lady-made in long ages before your kind came to the Tamri-el."

"We'll see about that," Cyrus said.

"Tenacity," Vivec said, drawing his sword swiftly, "I adore that, too. I am the circumvention of the Black Hands of excess, and now have the rule of it, and it was not bought without tenacity. May I name you as wife after this is over?"

And with that the Ansu-Gurleht angled his sword down in the position he had done at the beach, point down, blade edge forward, 60 degrees rise-wise from the ground. He floated lotus fashion and stopped smiling. His eyes were watching the future, Cyrus knew, so think of a way around all of this, damn it.

Cyrus drew his saber, holding it left-handed in the Tempest Attrition.

Vivec was impressed and said so. "That stance allows you a riposte," he said. Then he smiled again. "If you're quick enough."

Cyrus moved to Havoc Canal and Vivec nodded. "Better. Your build favors that. But what if I've enchanted my skin to harden at each instance?"

Zero-sum Interrupt.

"Can you even do that, silly raga?"

"Test me."

"No," Vivec said, "For I would prefer to imagine that you could. It would mean that I would bleed prior to the cut itself, bypassing all healing; moreso, and this is what pleases me utmost... it would mean that I have indeed helped you."

Cyrus had his moment then, where he had maneuvered the duel from the start: pride. Pride was the Ansu-Gurleht's weakness. "Milord," Cyrus said, "Forgive me my little grace, but I deny your help again. Indeed, I turn my back to it, and betray it, and malign it. That should be familiar to you."

Vivec paused. "It is," he said.

"As should this," Cyrus said, moving to the Pankratosword.

Vivec paused longer. And then he laughed loud. "You would not!"

"I say again, test me."

"You would destroy the home of your ancestors even more? And in the fashion that they had done, which is now forbidden in your hands?"

Cyrus didn't move from his stance.

"All for an Opal which you could never thereafter spend?"

"You would be finished," Cyrus said. "And I would be rid of the one who shamed me. So why wouldn't I? You shouldn't have sent your saints to me, Ansu-Gurleht. I am not much like them at all."

"Cut the atomos and you die, too."

"What, the Barons of Move Like This didn't teach you a countermove to this?" Cyrus said. "Oh, wait, they wouldn't have. The Pankratosword is stricken from the record."

Vivec laughed again. He was delighted. He said, "The things they said about you were true, Redguard, whether you wish to believe it or not."

Vivec bowed his head.

"I make way," he said. "I drop my sword."

And the demon-king did, though it hovered a few inches from the ground.

Vivec continued. "And thus we come to stalemate, for I am unarmed and you cannot--"

"No," Cyrus said, moving his sword to Vivec's throat, "You overestimate my Redguard honor, boy. Different rules apply to gods and demons and mad shapers. And you, Ansu-Gurleht, you're all three."

"I should kiss you," Vivec smiled.

"The jewel'd do better," Cyrus said, "Thank you very much. Summon it, send it to my ship, and we're done."

"This is what you ransom for your shame," Vivec said, chiding, the Opal of Nogru floating out from within the temple. It flew off south and east. "You're easily bought."

Cyrus turned to go, but Vivec stopped him, saying,"And I had so wanted to see the Pankratosword, and so believed you ired enough to bring its ruin on us both. What stopped you, Surahoon?"

"Old advice," Cyrus said. And he pointed his saber to Vivec's face and its two colors. "And you're wearing it, sure enough."

At the apex of the temple's upper reaches, Cyrus turned back, calling to Vivec. "Ink and gold, milord," he said. "And the general mystery of dangerous men, you see. Well met, Tribune, and farewell."

He left the Ansu-Gurleht forever.

And that's how the story goes, with a duel that was not a duel, and with a story that wasn't true. Cyrus, you see, never knew how to actually use the Pankratosword, only how to hold it at threat. After all, its use was forbidden and thus held in no stone at all after the fall of Old Yokuda.

When he returned to his ship, the Carrickers cheered and asked loudly over one another the same questions: how the fight went with the Ansu-Gurleht, and how their captain had become the victor. Cyrus smiled then, and wouldn't answer, moving them to hustle and trim, for they were casting off.

It was Fornower who got the truth of it, handing Cyrus half a bit of licorice. "For your mighty deeds, now plus one: some bitten-on licorice of the Bay" he said. "But, c'mon, Cap, and tell just me, then. How'd you beat him?"

"Yeah, well," Cyrus said. He chewed and swallowed. "I cheated."

~~~

THE END

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