In which Erthax exercises his creativity.
From some authors, I would say that Vepal and Sanchez are obviously being herded in a particular direction. From these authors, I tend to be more cautious of expecting obvious and tidy conclusions.
Speaking of which, it appears that I overestimated Erthax’s melant’i, or perhaps I should say his qualities as a mirror: I had hoped that the stuff about a troop reflecting their commander meant we would be seeing a better side of him come out under Vepal’s influence. The fundamental problem, of course, is that Erthax doesn’t recognise Vepal as his commander, so it’s not Vepal who he’s reflecting. (Which on the bright side means that Vepal doesn’t need to feel so guilty about how Erthax behaves.)
I don’t think Erthax is being as clever as he thinks. Vepal had solid reasons for not bothering the High Command with Perdition Enterprises’ request, independent of his own status; he judged that they would look poorly on the request itself regardless of who they heard it from. So their response to Erthax’s message is unlikely to be one that finds Erthax favour with Perdition Enterprises. Although, at that, Erthax may have had a stroke of unearned good fortune: Agent ter’Menth contracted to pay him when a reply was received from High Command, but neglected to stipulate that it had to be a favourable reply.
It’s beginning to look like Ochin is going to need his melant’i play experience less for dealing with the Liadens than for keeping up with Erthax. (Though it would be ironic if Ochin was the one who spotted the loophole I just mentioned and Erthax didn’t. And I would be entirely on Ochin’s side if, having spotted the loophole, he decided not to mention it to Erthax.)
Oh, here’s a fun possibility that only just occurred to me: We still haven’t heard what Vepal’s friend Firge is up to these days. Imagine what might happen if she’s currently in a position to intercept Erthax’s message. (Or am I being too tidy again?)