1628, Fire Season, Stasis Week (ish)
A guide who was very definitely *not* Koraki
Fazzur & Mirava
Varanis, Berra, and Xenofos turned back to meet Irillo en route from Dunstop. The scribe announced that he had unfinished business in Dunstop, but as Varanis was not going to return to that city willingly, Berra suggested they wait in Duelfield. Xenofos could return, find Irillo, and take care of his business.
The two women explored a little and came across a shrine to Yanafil Tarnils and a blackened square of earth marked out by posts. This turned out to be the place where Yanafil Tarnils stole death or some such thing. Seeing it was enough for Berra and she suggested they go find an inn or tavern to wait. As they turned back to the settlement, a priest came bustling over to ask if she was there to challenge him. He looked rather offput when she said no and offered to buy him a drink instead. But, he accepted. She unsuccessfully tried to drink him under the table and he used the time to proselytise. Berra asked a lot of questions about his god and the military status of the Empire.
Xenofos made good time back to Dunstop and encountered Irillo only just coming out of the gates. Xenofos returned to the library to acquire a copy of the Fazzur biography in New Pelorian and then stopped by to visit cousin Mirava, the queen. He greeted his cousin and told that he assumed her husband knew what he had to tell. He asked if the man called Onjur-Eel worked for her husband. She told he had done so, but did not do so anymore for his loyalty was to the Empire. Then he told he had heard rumour that the Mask of the Emperor had been slain. Mirava smiled and said that the Mask was just resting. Xenofos bowed and told he should be on his way. Mirava sent her greetings to Varanis, telling Xenofos to remind Varanis that there is always another way and told Xenofos that should things go awry, there would be a place for him in Dunstop, for the local cult of scribes was friendly to him. He bid her farewell, wished her easy and lucky pregnancy and rode away.
He caught up to Irillo before the caravan reached Duelfield and so everyone was reunited outside the settlement. Irillo rounded up the party members to talk. Varanis tried to report, but both Berra and Xenofos interrupted or corrected her enough times that she lost her temper and told Berra to just get on with it. In the ensuing discussion, everyone except Varanis seemed to think that the HeroQuest was lunacy. Suuraki was for killing off or freeing the slaves/bat food. It was finally decided that the best option was to report back to Boldhome. Koraki offered to pop back to Alda Chur using magic and send a messenger thence to Kallyr, while the rest took a slower way. When this was agreed, he vanished.
The party discussed turning back right away, but Irillo argued that it would blow his cover and open him up to accusations of spying by the Lunars.1Which was what he was doing, after all. He wanted them to continue to Stopover and then turn back. While they agreed that this was the best plan, Berra did not want Varanis to continue deeper into Lunar territory, as she argued that Varanis would be a target as soon as Onjur realised they weren’t falling in with his plan She suggested that Varanis leave, before they reached Stopover, and travel cross-country. Varanis tried to argue, but Valseena spoke up, telling the Vingan that she was putting the others at risk and shaming her into falling in with Berra’s plan. Sort of.
Xenofos wanted to come with his cousin, though she tried to argue against it. As discussions and plans kept going, she went about the business of swapping her gear from Manasa to Irillo’s mule2As agreed – not a mule-thief! and then she rode out, not saying goodbye or waiting for Xenofos. Much to her frustration, mule-riding was no easier than horse-riding, and Xenofos caught up with her swiftly. (The conversation that occurred is recorded in Off the road again.)
The rest of the party continued with the caravan. Valseena noticed that there was a large amount of cattle and racks for drying meat. More than required, which raised concerns about plans to feed an army.
The party headed back towards Sartar. Along the way, Valseena and Maalira spotted some Grazelanders. Suuraki went to speak with them. It turned out to be Serala’s brother, Endars. There was an exchange of what news they could give – the Feathered Horse Queen was expecting Kallyr’s child, and she had sent Endars to what he was calling the Grazelands, with orders that might have included checking Varanis was well, and might have been spying in force. He had a thousand horses under his command. There was an injured horse that Valseena healed. They asked Endars to keep an eye open for Varanis and Xenofos. That night, Berra took Maalira over to talk to the Grazelanders. Maalira could tell Berra was nervous, and not about the warriors, and politely kept the Humakti company. They got into Alda Chur to find that Koraki had returned, but then had hared off to Boldhome. Varanis had not yet arrived, so they determined to set off for Boldhome themselves.
Meanwhile… what was happening with Xenofos and Varanis?
Meanwhile, still in Tarsh, Varanis and Xenofos made their way along the Nevala Ridge. The trails they followed were manageable, if not as swift as going by road. Still, they made good time. They crossed the road between Stopover and Furthest without attracting any undue attention, and then followed the edge of the Orvensdang Ridge towards Big Orven Hill. As they drew near the Maran Gor Temple, Varanis declared she needed to take a brief break. She stumbled upon a priestess and the two Esrolians found themselves invited to visit the temple. They chose to go and thus the day ended with them in monastic-style cells deep within the temple. They were free to move about, but had not yet tried leaving.
“Just trolling Draznk.” – Salid