1628, Fire Season, Death Week
A guide who was very definitely not Koraki
Some different city guards who Berra plied with alcohol
Jonstown to Alda-Chur and beyond
The group left Jonstown and made for Blue Tree, stopping on the King’s Road to send Irillo the rest of the way. Shortly after they left, Maalira arrived in the city where she received word that they’d gone to Blue Tree. Concerned that they’d broken their exile, she made haste to catch up, only to find them happily lounging on the road, waiting for Irillo’s return. The group explained to her what was going on, and she said she had probably maligned them.
When Irillo came back, it was in the company of several white horses and one Golden Eye. They learned that there were some experiments going on involving breeding Blue Tree ponies with some of the herd of the Thane of Apple Lane, a thing that led to much swearing and grumbling from Berra, over trying to make hill ponies into mounts. Valseena took charge of the animals, covering her distaste well enough to manage the job.
The group set off and crossed Dangerford. On the road up to Herongreen, Berra noted that Varanis was being a noble, and needed to not be, and it was hard for everyone else not to look to her. Varanis suggested being Irillo’s bodyguard instead, with some words that might perhaps have been aimed at Berra’s relationship to her. Perhaps. She stepped into the bodyguard role pretty easily.
The party then turned in the direction of Alda-Chur, stopping to let Irillo trade as needed. En route, Suuraki and some of the others noticed that they were being paralleled by some Green Llama riders. After checking with Varanis and Irillo, Suuraki went out to parlay with them. They were there to keep the peace and take care of any a-tax necessary. Suuraki conveyed this to Irillo, who ended up paying a hefty bribe/tax after a drawn out negotiation.
They had only gone a short distance further when Alda-Chur came into sight. Irillo grumbled about taxation and timing, but explained that this was part of business. Passing through the gate they’d broken though a few seasons before, the party was briefly detained by the local guards. One of them asked if Suuraki had any messages to pass along (presumably from Argrath), but as he did not, they were waved through. It was around this point that a mysterious figure wearing a hood, cloak, and a single black glove on his left hand appeared, offering to act as a guide for them (it was definitely not Koraki, king of Alda-Chur).
Berra pointed out that there was a guide, and Irillo got a Lunar out for him. Berra said that he’d do it for a clack, which made the guide tell her not to push her luck. Nevertheless they went with the guide into the King’s palace grounds. There, the guards had to pretend not to know the man who was very obviously the King. Berra bought a couple of amphoras of wine for them, which they could not accept while they were on duty, but she asked them to look after the drinks anyhow, in case she could come back for them later.
They were welcomed into the palace and the throne room. Koraki was ensconced on his throne, lounging in what could not have been a comfortable position, but was contrived to look relaxed nonetheless. There was a bit of roundabout discussion, leading to Koraki clearing out the throne room on a pointless errand. Koraki tried to get Maalira to send him on a quest, but she politely demurred.
Koraki managed to avoid being told about what exactly was going on, and Valseena pointed out to Varanis that he was trying to, so he could say truthfully he didn’t know. Koraki said he should not offer them guest rights, as there were Lunar spies within the town, but he could confiscate two of their horses as a tax. They told him they would go to a decent inn.
They settled at an inn for the night, with Irillo taking a private room and Varanis setting up as his guard. Within moments of him entering the room, he came back out with a letter for her. She summoned Xenofos who revealed that the letter was from Onjur, exhorting them to hurry up. There was some impolite swearing and then she asked him to quietly let the others know. He spoke to Suuraki and Valseena. Suuraki had opinions on where Onjur was in town, and how many people might know about their quest. Xenofos then sought out Maalira and Berra, warning Berra not to shout, which made her irritable – but not loud. Berra said it was good news for Varanis, because it demonstrated that Onjur could have picked up Varanis if he really wanted to, if he had that information. It was bad news for everyone else, because it seemed to be that Onjur was serious.
When the party gathered in the common room, a few of them noticed a man at a table, looking very like the guide they’d met on first arriving in the city. Varanis asked Suuraki to go check him out. Suuraki and non-Koraki had a conversation in Praxian about Onjur and sweeping the city and such-like. Suuraki also gleaned news about the roads and interactions in the region. As the conversation was wrapping up, not-Koraki offered Suuraki a leaf to chew. In the short time between chewing a piece of the leaf and returning to the others, Suuraki ended up talking like an Orlanthi trying to impress; fast, but not coherent. He offered more of the leaf to the others. Berra stashed some away for later, while Varanis decided that chewing it now might help her catch up with the Praxian. (It didn’t really help.) Berra and Maalira went over to join not-Koraki for a time, while Valseena distracted Suuraki from rampaging around the city in a manner he enjoyed.
Berra got not-Koraki to repeat most of what he was saying, after telling him that Suuraki was now incoherent. Then she asked him to be a guard, and mentioned he had not been invited along to help, eyeballing Maalira. Berra explained (badly) about how Maalira could invite Koraki along, if he wanted to go, and Koraki asked once more if she had any quest she wished for him, and this time she said she would like him to come along and help. He went to go make arrangements at the palace, involving putting his sword somewhere and preparing a room, probably for teleportation.
The next morning, they left Alda-Chur with an additional caravan guard with spectacular moustaches that did not match his hair and a white horse. The guards at the gate pretended not to notice. On the road, Varanis suggested they needed pseudonyms. Neither Berra nor Xenofos could do that, though Xenofos did agree to go by his Praxian name. Varanis took up her childhood name of Ranie, and Irillo noted that she was only Varanis in Esrolia anyhow.1He attempted to tell a story about Ranie as a wild child with hair like a red dandelion puff, but thankfully the conversation moved on. He would stay as Irillo. Maalira became Lira, but the other Praxians chose to keep their own names. The discussion came to a halt when Koraki killed a scorpion-man somewhat noisily. There was some frantic assessment of the situation, an adjustment of guard positions, and after Suuraki could find no tracks, the party got moving again.
Shortly after that, they reached the canyon that led down to Dwarf Mine, which was part of Irillo’s route. They took it despite the delay – it was what he would do. Those who did not already know the layout of the land got to see the well cut, straight lead-up to the mine. Varanis thought she saw someone guarding, until Berra giggled a lot and reminded the group of the cannon cult and the round metal shape made more sense.
Varanis was riding point, so she was the one who got to knock on the door.2It is just possible that Berra set that up, so she could be amused by Varanis’ amazement. The massive doors slid open and a dwarf greeted them and invited them inside to speak with T’Dwarf. When they got to the throne room, the guide seated himself on the throne and became T’Dwarf.3On reflection, he and Koraki have something in common. There was a fair bit of talking and some trading. Somehow, Irillo lost terribly at the bargaining, yet still came out well compensated for his goods. Suuraki and T’Dwarf had a conversation about the Goddess of Teeth and Salt, when the king’s attention was caught by the crocodilian armour and tooth pendant. T’Dwarf offered Suuraki a gift in exchange for the knowledge and the Praxian asked for armour and (after quick consultation with the others) information about the Crimson Bat. Valseena quietly muttered about what terrible spies we made.
T’Dwarf offered them hospitality for a few nights while he ‘made measurements’ and they were all given private rooms and access to hot and cold running water, much to Varanis’ delight.
“”By liquorice!”” – Berra
“Berra is looking exceedingly confused.” – Berra
“We don’t breed those. I mean, you basically can’t.” – Berra
“And that’d freeze to death.” – Berra
“Irillo mentions Thane of Apple Lane. Varanis glazes over.” – Varanis
“Let’s just leave Berra to her conversation about horses. Alone. And not poke her.” – Maalira
“Because you’re trying to ride horses that don’t usually get broken to the saddle! That would be your problem! That and being able to put your feet down!” – Berra
“You wouldn’t need a chariot. Just oil the bottoms of your boots!” – Berra
“That is why I ride something taller… and one can ride to someplaces where chariots are awkward…” – Xenofos
“Now Varanis can take out years of frustration about being bodyguarded on her cousin!” – Varanis
“Varanis to Berra and anyone else who might benefit: “If I starting acting like a noband not like a bodyguard, step on my toes or some other such thing.”” – Varanis
“Uhuh.” – Berra
“There’s a word. I’m struggling with it. It’s not a Praxian word.” – Praxian
“Tax?” – Suuraki
“Yes. We are to a-ttax you.” – Praxian
“I shall inform them that they are under at-tax!” – Suuraki
“She really doesn’t … get the idea about… subtle.” – Berra
“I assume this is some kind of bizarre Sartarite Heroquest, because there is no other explanation for it.” – Suuraki
“You’ve brought your very own fruit-knife of Humakt…” – Koraki
flame blade – Berra
“And then you are thrown out, minus two horses.” – GM
“Success!” – Suuraki
“Guards can’t read.” – Varanis
“Well, some guards can’t read.” – Xenofos
“You took your sweet time. I wasn’t kidding. This is urgent. O.” – Onjur’s letter
“Berra’s relaxed and easy, not armoured.” – Berra
“I’ve got a very Khan-do attitude.” – not Koraki, the guide
“He is a shaman.” – Suuraki about Koraki
“Reasonable assumption.” – Xenofos
“That’s Berra, and that’s she who must not be named.” – not Koraki
“He’s pointing at us, isn’t he? He’s pointing at us.” – Berra, quietly
“I sent a Praxian to get intel from an Orlanthi king. It’s going amazingly well. I am surprised.” – Varanis
“Argrath’s people are skirmishing around the top of snakepipe hollow, with the Lunars, the new Tarshite King, the old Tarshite King… My people – sorry, the King’s people… are skirmishing with the Lunars, and occasionally the new Tarshite King….” – not Koraki. Possibly also not accurate.
“And the grazelanders are raiding everyone.” – not Koraki
“Which is why the Grazelanders are not raiding Sartar. As mentioned, enough to make you wish you were part of Sartar.” – not Koraki
“The dwarf. Stay on his good side. He’s well worth looking up to – I mean, metaphorically.” – not Koraki
“You’re helping a king escape his throne?!” – Varanis
“YES.” – Berra
“YES I AM.” – Berra
“Good to know that you’d save me in a similiar situation.” – Varanis
“I had contemplated asking Koraki for advice on travelling incognito…” – Varanis
“Hey, let’s – ” Varanis
sigh – Varanis
“Hey, boss-man…” – Varanis
“Crit on Architecture.” – Xenofos
“Is that a fumble on Scan?” – GM
“No, it’s a pass on Scan, and a critical on Architecture. I rolled them separately.” – Xenofos
“Dwarf always likes seeing him.” – Dwarf
“Why?” – Berra
“Well, Trader reckons he has a chance.” – Dwarf
- 1He attempted to tell a story about Ranie as a wild child with hair like a red dandelion puff, but thankfully the conversation moved on.
- 2It is just possible that Berra set that up, so she could be amused by Varanis’ amazement.
- 3On reflection, he and Koraki have something in common.