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“Time,” he gasped hoarsely.

The stationmaster shook his head.  “The message,” he asked, “what was the message?”

The rider scowled.  He knew his rights and privileges.  The liaison officers of the Salmonil were exempt from taxes and military service and afforded all the privileges of the lower generals.  “Time,” he demanded.

“One hundred twenty-two,” replied the clerk more eager to trade information than the stubborn stationmaster.

Scabus nodded with a dripping grin.  “Station record.”

The stationmaster grew red with rage, tiring of their privileged insubordination.  “What is the message?”

Scabus smiled; satisfied he had caused such ire.  Quietly and slowly he pronounced, “Victory.  Samar has surrendered.”

The station cheered.  Old warriors embraced each other.  Children rehearsed scenes of combat.  Even the stationmaster forgot his anger and put his arm around Scabus, welcoming him into the lodge.  The station broke out in an old victory song and followed them in for a celebration, all except for the heavyset clerk and Lassa.  She watched Ransis disappear over the horizon towards the mountains.  The fading jingle of bells followed after him.  The heavyset clerk sat back down at his post.  He saw the fly.  He swatted at it with his fan, looked at the bottom of the fan and smiled.


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Last updated: October 21, 2000.