Totem: The Rat
Initiated: February 2004

The tent of boyar Yuri Nadiyev, somewhere near Chernivtsi...

"My lord, I must say again how honored I am to be your bearer-of-cups this night. I am pleased that my letter of introduction from boyar Tadiyes was of such a complimentary nature. And I also must say, although it is regrettable that you must camp in the field, it is certainly admirable that you are accompanying your men as they put down this peasant revolt. You are an example to them, certainly, and your presence here will drive them on to new heights of valor against these foolish dirt-farmers.

Refill your cup? Gladly.

Begging your indulgence, my lord, but what was it again that spurred these lackwits to bar their gates to you and your men? Ah, you prod my memory rightly so, those doltish knuckle-draggers challenged your right as boyar to exact necessary seizures of their goods, foodstuffs, and property to maintain your estate. I agree, it is your land which they occupy, and they almost certainly have hidden stores of food and goods which they unjustly keep hidden from you. Tomorrow's display of military prowess will certainly impress upon them the need for servility without demonstrances. Certainly a pity that your son, Radif, does not share your views. I'm sure he will come around in time.

Another drink? I live to serve.

If I may delight my boyar with a bit of gossip, have you heard of the band of westerners camping near Starozhynets? They call themselves the Clan of the Wolf of Night, or something to that effect. An outlandish and absurd gathering of people, I am told, and apparently not even a real "clan", but instead merely travelers who have found brotherhood in some common cause, details are sketchy. Sounds like a suspiciously French idea, does it not?

My boyar does not respond, so I shall take this as a sign that he wishes me to continue speaking.

Yes, I love to gossip my lord, shall I delight you with more? I have heard that your peasants do not in fact have hidden supplies, and that many will not survive the coming winter unless you help them. Your eyes widen and you make a choking sound in your throat...is that because this news is a surprise to you or because the herbalist in Kolomyya was truthful when he described the efficacy of his poisons? A little of both, I think.

Since you are in such a receptive condition right now, I shall continue speaking. Try to stay alive for a while more.

Radif agrees with me that he will be a better boyar than you. Only a fool kills the people that support him, and you, Yuri, are a fool. Radif may not be so much a fool, although he is ambitious enough for two men. But that's hardly a surprise anymore, is it? When you are found dead he will assume control of your army and march back to Chernivtsi, thus averting this little conflict. The peasants will become much more tractable at that point. It took some effort on my part to talk them into barring their gates to your men in the first place, and I'm sure they will be willing to reopen them to your...I mean Radif's...men tomorrow.

You open your mouth to speak? Do you worry for my well-being? Do not be so troubled, I will leave these lands before your body is cold. Radif's gratitude toward me will only last as long as it takes him to realize killing you was never his idea to begin with. I think I shall seek out this Clan of Night-Wolf and suddenly find this brotherhood they espouse. Perhaps they will need a cup-bearer. Maybe I should have you write me a letter of introduction, as did poor Tadiyes.

Yes, I think I'll get started on that right away..."