So... this is my first Eddings fic... drop a review if you've got anything to say...

Disclaimer: If I owned it, it wouldn't be on fanfiction

Spoilers: The Mallorean

Setting: I'm not sure exactly when in the Mallorean this is set... but it's sometime before Zakath joins them...

Chapter 1

King Belgarion of Riva did not particularly care for Angarak bars; he found them distasteful. They weren't loud and boisterous like the ones he was used to, and the beer was horrible. Belgarath had quickly found the best one in town, but he and Beldin were out reconnoitering.

It was on their orders that Garion and the others found themselves in the shadowy Angarak bar nursing dirty cups of bitter tasting beer. Polgara and Durnik sat across from him, both casting disapproving glances around the place while Eriond and Toth sat next to them awkwardly, Toth trying his best to appear as small as possible. On his left sat Ce'Nedra, with a look that clearly said she did not appreciate having to sit in a dirty Angarak bar. On his other side was Silk, who watched two haggling Nadraks with a hungry expression, and Velvet, who glowered at Silk. Sadi sat a little ways apart from them, feeding Zith, occasionally earning uneasy looks from Silk.

The dark interior was lit only by dim, greasy smelling tallow candles and smoldering ashes in the fire place that left a smoky haze over the half-drunk Angaraks. This murky atmosphere was accentuated, yet broken somewhat when a Nadrak woman strutted out and began dancing in front of the fireplace. She wore only a sheer black veil and a thin rope tied around her waist that held a pouch in which the appreciative guests placed their tips. Although she moved sensuously to the beat supplied by two Murgo men, her eyes were hawk like and five knives were clearly visible through her revealing garment.

Her hips swayed in slow circles, and her hand traveled suggestively up the side of her thigh, between her breasts to rest on the black collar at her throat. Her other hand had raised above her head, the dim light of the embers caressing her supple arms, and her fingers moved in delicate swirls and flicks, never the same but always inviting. She slowly moved her right hand from her collar to join her left in the air and turned, lifting a leg slightly and letting the veil fall away. Garion followed her movements, mind traveling to thoughts that made him blush.

He felt a sharp nudge at his side and looked down at Ce'Nedra guiltily. "Sorry, dear," He whispered.

She glared at him, and he sighed, noticing that Polgara had left with Eriond and Durnik and Toth were staring carefully into their mugs. Velvet was looking meaningfully at Ce'Nedra, and jerked her head towards the door, but Ce'Nedra shook her head, glancing at Garion as if he was a little boy who needed supervision. Sadi didn't even seem to notice the dancer, for he was busy trying to coax Zith back into her bottle. Silk however, was following the woman's movements carefully with an odd expression on his face.

Garion followed the little man's gaze, ignoring Ce'Nedra's protest. The woman had been moving about the tables, and the Angaraks hooted and called, and as she grew near, they leaned in and deposited gold in the sack at her waist, many of them drooling shamelessly and drunk. She paused at one table, her hands constantly moving. The man she stopped at whispered something and reached into his pocket, dropping several heavy gold coins into her purse and reaching out to touch her bare thigh. Her hand was at a knife in less than a second, and he jerked his fingers away as she glared at him.

She continued her path around the tables, and for a moment, her eyes locked on someone behind Garion. Garion turned to look, and saw Silk watching her with an unreadable expression as she approached. Feeling Ce'Nedra's piercing gaze on him, he looked away as the Nadrak woman paused in front of Silk.

The Angarak woman said something in a low voice, still moving her hips in slow circles, taunting Garion's friend. Garion glanced back to see Silk looking at the Nadrak with an emotion that Garion couldn't place. "I see," Silk said, not bothering to lower his voice.

The Murgo woman glared at him and muttered something else.

Silk considered her for a moment. "Oh, no. I don't think so," Silk replied.

Her expression grew hard and she twirled away from him without waiting for him to tip. Garion looked at Silk questioningly, but the man shook his head slightly, not returning his gaze.

That familiar feeling of foreboding tugging at his mind, Garion turned back to watch the dancer. She had paused in front of the first man again, and was receiving another handful of golden coins. When the man drew away, she smiled and ended her dance with the challenging strut of the Angarak woman, turning to leave. As she left, however, she glanced over her shoulder at Garion's table again.

"Wha—" Garion started, looking at Silk questioningly along with all his other companions.

Silk shook his head subtly again and put down his tankard, which he'd just taken a swig from. "Shall we go?" He inquired in a loud, drunk sounding voice.

Garion stared at his friend, almost forgetting to respond. He knew Silk was faking being drunk, but the purpose of his caution escaped him. Silk did not lead them to the staircase, however, which led to their rooms, but left by the front door. "Silk?" Sadi tried, handing Zith to Velvet finally when the little snake refused to return to its bottle.

"That man was certainly tipping a lot," Durnik observed as Silk led them away from the bar at a brisk pace.

"It was no tip," Silk replied, not ceasing his stride. "That was a bribe."

Ce'Nedra stopped in her tracks. "A bribe? You mean he was paying her to sleep with him? How horrid."

"There are a lot of horrid people, then." Silk said in reply. "But no, it wasn't that kind of bribe."

He turned into an alleyway and stopped. "This is fine," He said, looking around. "Garion, can you contact your grandfather? We've got a bit of a situation." He looked mad, Garion decided, though he had no idea why.

Garion nodded silently, realizing it was probably better he do what he was told. Grandfather! I need you.

Why does everybody shout when they talk like this? Belgarath's irritated voice came back. I'm sure I don't talk that loud.

Just come back, Garion said. Silk's pretty agitated.

Agitated? The man is capable of agitation? Wow. I never would have known. Belgarath said. We'll be there in a second, don't go anywhere.

"What kind of situation?" Velvet was asking.

Silk looked at her, surprised. "You mean you didn't see it? I admit it wasn't that obvious to me at first but…"

"No, sorry to disappoint you, Kheldar, but unlike you, I don't enjoy watching Angarak ladies dance." She replied acidly. "Out with it, I want to know what happened."

Silk winced and looked back at Garion. "Did you find him?"

Garion nodded. "Do you want me to get Aunt Pol also?"

Silk considered it for a moment. "No," He replied finally. "I just realized that one of them might be a sorcerer or sorceress, and it's probably not wise to alert them to our position."

"Kheldar!" Velvet demanded. "Care to share with us?"

"Okay, okay, okay." Silk said, annoyed. "I'm still surprised you didn't get it."

"Enough!"

"Alright! Well, you know how she was waving her hands around?" Silk asked. "Well, she was speaking the secret language."

Velvet looked at him, astonished. "The Drasnian one?"

"The very same," Silk replied. "Anyways, it gets better. She's a bear-cultist."

"She's a what?" Exclaimed Garion, Durnik and Velvet.

"H-how do you know?" Garion spluttered.

"Well, I don't." Silk admitted. "But she does have that tattoo."

Garion stared at his friend. "I thought they tattooed them on the foot. I didn't see anything."

"It wasn't in a place that you respectable people would look." Silk replied smoothly.

"Then she's not a real cultist!" Durnik said.

"Maybe not, but it does prove she's involved somehow in something bad." Silk answered.

"Where was it?" Velvet asked, narrowing her eyes. "Where was her tattoo?"

Silk looked her straight in the face. "On her inner thigh."

Velvet stared at him with an unreadable expression. "Never mind," she said after a moment. "What was she saying, I didn't notice, and who was she saying it to? You?"

"No, not me," Silk said. "The man who kept giving her tips? He was Drasnian."

This pronunciation was met with stares. "How does that happen?" Durnik inquired.

"Well it explains how she knew the secret language. I didn't get a good view of the guy's face, but I'm pretty sure I've seen him somewhere. Maybe he went to the academy with me…" Silk trailed off.

Velvet looked at him sharply. "You knew him?"

Silk shrugged. "I don't know," he answered. "I'd like to find out who he is though. He's going to be in big trouble if Javelin catches up with him."

"Just like you?"

Silk smirked at her. "I'm not a traitor to Drasnia."

At that moment, a blue hawk landed in their midst, blurring into the hunchbacked form of Beldin. "What do you want?" He asked rudely, scowling at Silk.

Silk was about to respond but was interrupted as a falcon landed clumsily on a barrel and changed into Belgarath, who wore a similar expression. "What is it?"

Silk quickly explained the Angarak's dance and her drasnian tipper. "I only caught on that they were speaking about halfway through their conversation, but I did glean enough to sketch a rough idea of their plot."

"Does it have anything to do with us?" Beldin asked, scratching at his beard.

"It sounded like it." Silk answered. "They were both bear cultists, as far as I could tell. I'm not sure if the drasnian was, but he seemed like it. He referred to 'Aloria' a couple of times. Anyways, the two of them seemed to be involved in some scheme or another, along with a couple grolims, if I read their conversation correctly."

"We don't doubt you, Silk, go on," said Belgarath impatiently.

"It seemed to me like they were being used by Zandramas because their goal was to delay us." Silk continued. "Unfortunately, both of them saw us in there, so now they know where we are so we might expect trouble from them."

"What kind of trouble?"

"They didn't say."

"What was he bribing her for?" Sadi asked.

Silk frowned. "It sounded like he wanted her to keep quiet about something. She kept threatening to tell someone something. She called it his 'little secret'."

"Who was she threatening to tell?" Beldin asked.

"I'm not quite sure. I had a strong suspicion it might be Zandramas, but they kept calling him 'the master', and Zandramas is female…" He trailed off.

"They might not be working for Zandramas, you know." Belgarath pointed out. "In fact, it makes more sense that it isn't Zandramas. I don't think she'd give an order for us to be delayed because we're going to a place she can't go and she needs the same information we do."

Silk nodded. "I thought of that too, but they mentioned her by name, and it was clear they were working for her. I just want to know who 'the master' is."

Ce'Nedra ducked out from under Garion's arm suddenly. "Do they know where my baby is?" She asked, a desperate note in her voice.

Silk looked down at her. "I don't know," he said. "Ce'Nedra, there's not much you can do about it right now. Geran would be wherever Zandramas is, and we already know we can't catch up with her."

Ce'Nedra looked on the verge of tears, and she turned back to Garion, who put his arms around her comfortingly. "What was she saying to you?" Garion asked Silk, who looked slightly guilty that he had been so forward with Ce'Nedra.

Silk shrugged. "Nothing that important," he said vaguely. "She just noticed I was following their conversation and came to have a word with me about it."

"Have a word?" Garion raised his eyebrows. "She was threatening you?"

"I suppose you could call it that. I'm not much threatened though."

Garion looked at his friend closely. Silk was a good liar, but Garion had come to know when his companions were lying. He let it slide, though, knowing that Silk knew when it was necessary to tell the truth.

"Is it possible that the drasnian is one of Javelin's agents?" Velvet asked.

Silk shook his head. "I don't think so. This is a small town, and it definitely didn't sound like the guy was doing anything remotely good."

"Its not supposed to sound that way," Velvet pointed out.

"No," Silk said. "But would Javelin trust a bear-cultist?"

Belgarath stepped in before Velvet could reply. "Right now, I'm not much concerned what Javelin is up to, but I would like to know who 'the master' is and what this drasnian fellow is doing involved with Angaraks and grolims."

"I'll snoop around a bit," Silk volunteered.

Belgarath nodded. "Okay, you do that, but don't get into any trouble."

"Would I do that?"

Belgarath scowled at him. "Where's Pol?" He asked as if he just realized she was missing.

"She and Eriond left when the lady started dancing." Garion replied.

"Ah. Well, we'll have to catch up with her then. Silk, is there anything else we ought to know?" Belgarath turned to the spy.

Silk shrugged. "That's about it. I just thought I'd warn you that there might be some grolims after us."

"There's always grolims after us."

"Yes, that's true. Tiresome little buggers, aren't they?" Silk added lightly. "I would suggest finding a different lodging place for tonight though. There's no point in making it easier for them to track us down, and they know where we are now."

Belgarath nodded. "That's a good idea. I'll have Beldin come find you when we've moved."

Beldin glared at his brother. "I don't run errands for you."

Silk grinned. "That won't be necessary. I can find you when I'm done."

Belgarath gave Silk a long look. "You make me nervous."

"I try," Silk replied. "If you don't need me anymore, I think I'll go catch up with our Angarak wonder lady."

Belgarath nodded, and Silk waved goodbye before slipping into another alley noiselessly.

Thanks for reading! I'll update soon! Oh, and readers, don't get used to the legnth of this chappie... most of mine are about.. half this size... :) Reviews are definitely welcome!