1628, Fire Season, Stasis Week, Waterday (ish)
Xenofos took time after the meeting with Mirava to go to the library, where he was somewhat disturbed by the fact the female scribes had chins, and not beards. Some of them did not even have moustaches. He looked for reports on the previous logistics of the Bat, but these were deemed too secret to read, even in Fazzur’s Dunstop. He did have access to the hagiographic autobiography of Fazzur (in the third person). The writing indicated that Fazzur was positioning himself as a rising man, as the Emperor was in wane. He paid for a copy to take with him.
After Yelm rose, Berra went to find Irillo, explaining that it was time to get on the road. Irillo had alternate plans, revolving around joining caravans with an old flame to travel more easily through Lunar territory.1There was an extended conversation about how Berra should try to avoid telling Serzeen about Irillo and this other trader. The Humakti pointed out that Varanis needed to get out of town urgently and between them they decided that a scouting mission should take care of things.
Berra collected Varanis and Xenofos and the three of them sat down with Irillo to discuss the plan. The two caravans would be travelling northeast from Dunstop towards Stopover. The scouts would check out the route, crossing the river Teslir and trying to get as far as Belensfield. They’d return to meet the caravans near the river crossing. Berra pointed out to the other two that they should not mention the Lunar merchant to Serzeen.
Berra left her bison with Irillo and borrowed the trader’s mule for the journey. The roads were clear and well-maintained, if not the equivalent of Sartar’s royal roads. The ferry crossing was uneventful, with an option on paying for it to be quiet. Xenofos used it to practice his New Pelorian a little. As they travelled, they became aware of horse messengers posted at small places selling roadside refreshments. Varanis also noticed that on the skyline there were other messengers, on the Furthest side. She could make out they were wearing different neckerchiefs. With the aid of Xenofos’ Farsee spell, he and Berra also looked. The messengers on the road were in yellow kerchiefs, and the others, presumably Pharandros’ followers, were in red. Little else distinguished them.
Along the road, Berra was able to point out maize, and Xenofos knew that it was fertilised with blood, although he could not remember which animal.
In Belensfield they took stock of the various options and went for a relatively cheap place that sold the local food. Shortly after making themselves comfortable, they were joined at their table by none other than Onjur. He made a few politely snide remarks; Berra made some impolitely snide remarks.
The conversation that ensued was interesting. Xenofos attempted to compel Onjur to speak the truth and Onjur mostly told as much of the truth as he wanted to. Naturally, he did not lie. He said that he expected the bat to be guided to Tarsh this year or next, and that the army was required for following up. His opinion was that the Emperor was badly guided, and better advisors would be helpful, with the implication that he or his allies would be among them.
He had suggestions for how they should proceed to deal with the Bat. His options included removing the Bat’s food sources (which Varanis was interested in, as the Bat might turn on its own people then), killing the Bat (which none of them thought likely to succeed), and performing a variation on the Lightbringers Quest. It emerged that his main reason for preferring the Hero Quest was that they could bring back the recently murdered Mask of the Emperor, a leader he preferred to the current one. Onjur admitted that the death of the party was possible and this would be either a bonus or a silver lining, depending on what happened with the Bat. But, he also acknowledged that they had a reasonable chance of survival, as compared with trying to kill the thing. One potential benefit to performing the Hero Quest is that it could provide an opportunity to negotiate with the resurrected mask of the Red Emperor – a version of the Great Compromise.
After a little verbal sniping from both sides, including Berra literally making him pay, Onjur left, and Varanis checked how Xenofos was. He was fine to ride after the food and drink, so the scouts set off to ride back to the Teslir river. A few minutes out of Belenfield, Berra said that they had done what they had been asked to by Kallyr, and they did not have to do what Onjur said. Varanis wanted to talk to everyone about it.2But the critical on Air and special on Loyalty Kallyr made her really want to send Koraki with a message and do the quest. She could do as promised AND save Sartar from the Bat!
“The women in the library have only got moustaches! You can see their chins!” – GM
“A zero-to-five is always a success. … A ninety-three, on the other hand…” – Xenofos
“So there I was, being awesome…” – Fazzur’s autobiography according to Berra
“The great general…” – Fazzur’s autobiography
“Definitely sounds like it was written by my brother-in-law.” – Varanis
“What could possibly go wrong with your cousin being the Queen of Lunar Tarsh?” – GM
“Well, Hubris is a thing where the goddess Nemesis turns up in person…” – Berra
“What’s that place? Bellend?” – Berrra
“Belensfield.” – Varanis
“I’m not good at Foreign languages!” – Berra
“Nobody has killed anyone.” – GM
sighs – Berra
“I am as pale as the people here. This is weird.” – Berra
“Berra looks weirdly amaized.” Berra
ticks farm and pun – Berra
“I’m not a taxonomist of biology…” – Xenofos
“What’s biology and what… tanono… taxini… the other thing?” – Berra
“Tax collecting.” – Varanis
“Putting things into categories.” – Xenofos
“So you can tax them? Right.” – Berra
“Did she fumble?” – Berra
“Or special?” – Berra
“Either is good.” – Berra
“You’ve got here, then.” – Onjur
“You look better when you’re running away from a mad axe-woman.” – Berra
“I expect the bat to be guided to Tarsh and then into Sartar this year or next.” – Onjur
“Surely it’s imperial will?” – Xenofos
“No, it’s the Cult of the Bat. And the emperor is badly advised at times. Evil advisors, I would even say. And sometimes his friends need to save him from them.” – Onjur
“Are you saying you’re a friend of the Emperor?” – Berra
“Where do you see this alliance taking us?” – Ranie
“Well, I think if the Bat fails, these advisors may fall, and new advisors may take their place.” – Onjur
“Because you have a motive to have the bat not come to Sartar, and because I have found you incredibly irritating in your ability to mess up my plans.” – Onjur
“Berra is just grinning from the minute he starts talking.” – Berra
“Being – if you’ll pardon the expression – barbarians – I imagine you’ve imagined disrupting by wholesale gaolbreak or possible massacre the slaves on which the bat feeds…” – Onjur
“What happens if the bat is freed?” – Ranie
boggle-eyes – Berra
“I do not care for Chaos.” – Onjur
twitch – Berra
“That is the first way.” – Onjur
“What is the second way?” – Xenofos the Mighty
“There is a Heroquest to release a dead god from the Underworld. I believe you call it the Lightbringers’ quest, and I believe the version of this may well disrupt matters.” – Onjur
“A god was slain. They rested in the underworld. Gods came together to set it right. They descended into the underworld, overcoming many trials, which vary with each different telling, and at their success, the god rose again into the sky.” – Onjur
“Just to be really clear, that god it not the red moon…” – Ranie
“In our version it is.” – Onjur
“You have not told us why returning the god from the underworld will disrupt the bat.” – Ranie
“Because, the current Mask is a new one. The old one died. Palace gossip said he fell down stairs onto his dagger five times.” – Onjur
“Is the god we’re supposed to being back the old mask?” – Xenofos
“Yes.” – Onjur
“And he can’t come back without the Great Compromise?” – Xenofos
“That’s what this is about, isn’t it?” – Onjur
“That was a question, not an answer.” – Berra
“Yes, it was, wasn’t it?” – Onjur
“There is always the possibility that someone has…” – Onjur
“Been more Lunar than you?” – Berra
“Subverted one of my people.” – Onjur
“Remember, when you advance a square of spearmen, you would like them to survive, but if you achieve your objective, you can lose them if necessary.” – Onjur
“Mate. I’m a Humakti. I’ve known that for a very long time.” – Berra
“Good.” – Onjur
“I think Varanis has some Yinkin in her.” – Varanis
expression – GM
“No, she did it on purpose.” – Berra
expression!!! – Varanis
“Alright, you win.” – Berra
“I’m also amused that I described the Bat as being, essentially, on a holding pattern” – GM
“It totally wasn’t that I got the timing and distance wrong… it was DEFINITELY that the bat was circling” – GM
- 1There was an extended conversation about how Berra should try to avoid telling Serzeen about Irillo and this other trader.
- 2But the critical on Air and special on Loyalty Kallyr made her really want to send Koraki with a message and do the quest. She could do as promised AND save Sartar from the Bat!