Post by Aileen on Mar 11, 2021 12:25:45 GMT -5
We spend one uneventful night at ground zero of the caravan attacks. There is a big burnt out hole filled with glass made from something very, very hot. Unfortunately because we are hiding out in the mansion nothing ever comes out. So we spend another day there drinking and eating and hanging out, until nightfall comes. This time we make a fire out of the remains of a wagon and sit around it waiting.
I’m cuddled up with Miklos under a blanket, enjoying the fire in the cool desert night. We start getting a little handsy just in time for Arun to try to sit next to us.
“There’s plenty of room elsewhere, Black Eyed Priest!” Miklos glares at him.
“You don’t want to sit with me?”
“No, I’m cuddling with my wife!”
Boundaries, Arun, boundaries! Luckily he goes to the other side and stares into the flames. And then suddenly from behind, a monstrous beetle erupts from the sand. It opens its maw and magma streams out of it at us. I’m completely fine, ducking under the stream. Poor Eliza is on fire.
I move in and hit the thing, but not all my strikes get through. It’s carapace is extremely hard, and when my kukri gets through it releases magma from its wounds. These things are truly devastating, especially to the defenseless travelers they prey on! I’m a bit overconfident when I dodge it’s bite the first time, as it gets me good with another strike. The mandible pierces through my right elbow, coming out the other side. The pain is immense, and my arm goes momentarily weak. My holy kukri drops from my hand and into the sand, and the creature grabs me around the middle and pulls me in while I’m distracted with the pain.
Miklos comes to my rescue, but I can’t escape! I get my kukri back, and try hitting over and over but just can’t get through. Arun casts healing on me which stops the worst of the bleeding, but I’m on fire and my skin is crisping up before my eyes. At last Miklos explodes it, and I’m absolutely covered in magma and beetle parts.
Then another beetle comes out a bit further away- just our luck! This fight goes a little better, but it tears into me. I don’t know why I taste so good to every creature we encounter. Maybe is the lotion I use every morning? It smells like honey and flowers... perhaps I should not use it, but Miklos loves how I smell! At last we explode this one, and then wait to see if more arrive. When no more come, we pack up and teleport back to Katapesh.
We arrive an hour and a half after sunset, and are able to meet with the Farmers’ Guild. Eliza hands over the beetle parts we collected and tells them of what we killed in the desert. They are pleased that the danger has been taken care of and present us with 3000 gold. A hefty sum, but not as important as their agreement they follow it with- they will also vote against the Scarlet Triad!
We are told Satla is looking for us and head back to her, being intercepted by a messenger on the way. It’s a letter for Arun from the Imperial Union of Breeders, where he worked for a few days. They want to support us but will not vote against the Scarlet Triad unless we do something for them. That something being fetching a rare camel, a Duneshadow, and bring it back to use in their breeding program.
“So... we go ask camel to come with us to have sex with lady camels? Why wouldn’t he want to?”
“Nadja, it’s not that easy!” Arun shakes his head.
“I had stallion when I was little, and he would trample us to get to lady horses. We can bring lady camels into the desert to lure him in!”
“That’s both the worst and best idea you’ve ever had, Nadj.” Eliza laughs
As we walk to see Satla the Soukmaster, another messenger boy appears and hands Miklos an envelope. We open it and it is an invitation to meet with someone named Wahar at the Red Daba for an extraordinary opportunity. We have so many things to do, but what harm can a quick drink and a chat be?
At last we reach Satla, and she has company. A man named Mekram and his little daughter Ansa. He is an ingot merchant and known for getting rare sky metals. Unfortunately his luck changed for the worst recently when a man and woman began a harassment plot against him, framing him for embezzlement and getting his shop taken away. He believes it is retaliation for him not being willing to take a lesser price for a rare metal. He needs our help to clear his name and stop the harassment campaign.
We take a break so Arun can fix us all up. My elbow is a mess, but with his stitching skills he gets it back in working order. I need to be fighting fit for the next arena match in a couple days! The poor man is exhausted and his sweet daughter has been crying and came to Satla herself for help. Eliza makes the mansion and lets them in to rest.
“Here you go, sweet dear,” I hand the little girl my chalk. “Is not much, but you can draw on the walls if you like!”
“Thank you,” she says shyly.
I pull her into a hug and pull myself reluctantly away as we go to head to Mikram’s shop. I look at Miklos and give him the pleading look.
“You can’t keep that one,” he says. “Soon, Nadja. Once all this is over, I’ll give you all the children you could ever want.”
I don’t think he knows what he is agreeing to. Of course we will have some of our own, but I intend to adopt every orphan of this war, every lonely person with no family, no matter how old. We are Varisian, after all, we are meant to live as a tribe.
We make it to Mikram’s shop, the Silver Ewe, and begin searching. There is horrible graffiti all over the walls accusing him of terrible things. Miklos and I water his plants as the others check the smelter. There is no evidence of dangerous ores being smelted here. Not much is found, so Arun and Eliza go to talk to neighbors while Bill, Miklos and I head to the Auctioneers Guild.
We talk to a fancy, dignified man named Maz Lataro. He apologizes and tells us there is nothing remaining of the auction from Mikram’s belongings. I discretely snap my fingers, and my lies flow freely.
“I am the buyer of most of them,” I say. “However my people did not get me the notes of sale- I would very much like to review them.”
“I cannot do that, I’m sorry.”
“Actually, it is against code 43 of the Katapesh Trade Convention to deny a buyer to view the bills of sale. Page 72 paragraph eighteen, if you wish to review.” I’m impressed at the words coming out of my mouth.
“Ah, yes. No need. I will get them.”
To my utter amazement he brings us the notes! They all have been sold by two names, Walyer and Anam.
“Everything went for a very low amount,” I say. “I would have been open to paying more, I am surprised my bids were accepted.”
“Indeed, very low. It is strange they were in such a hurry to be rid of them.”
We head out after getting the information, Maz refusing my money and an offer of a drink. He is quite the businessman, it seems. Instead of going to meet up with Eliza and Arun on their boring interviewing of neighbors, we head to the Red Daba to see if our contact is there.
We walk in and are immediately waved over to sit by a dwarf.
“Ah, my friends- sit!”
Chairs are pulled out for us, and we sit down. A steaming mug is placed in front of me, and I smell it. Spiced Varisian coffee! With sweetened cream! My favorite! I look up in amazement, but he just smiles. Bill’s drink is something that would probably melt the skin off my bones, and Miklos has fine wine.
“How did you know?!” I gasp.
“I know a lot about you, Nadja Kozlov,” he says. “And you, Bill, and you Miklos Kozlov.”
He tells us we are going about our dealings with the Scarlet Triad and turning votes against them all wrong. He represents a Consortium, which is not the Aspis Comsortium I find out. It’s got to be The Unseen Hand, then! They get their way with blackmail and terrorism, not the kind of people we want to consort with. I drop my fork, wanting to distract the dwarf from me casting message, but he notices and snaps his fingers. A servant comes and takes the fork, placing a brand new one on the table. Miklos finishes his drink, and before he even sets the empty glass down, another is put in its place.
We are given a job to do- go get a package from “the Seer” and bring it to the Marble Sphinx. This dwarf can get us anything we want, and there’s something I’ve been dying to try.
“Can you get Pesh?”
“Why would you want that, it’s nasty stuff.”
“I’ve had a lot of coffee and need to sleep tonight.” I bulls*** him.
“Right. I will see what I can do. Get the package to the Sphinx and we will have our deal. Good evening.”
We leave and rendezvous with Eliza and Arun. It’s a bit late, but what better time to go to the Night Stalls. It’s a morally corrupt place, of course they’re open late! We go to the tower of the Seer, and he greets us. He’s wearing red robes and in a stereotypical wizard tower, nothing surprises me anymore.
He welcomes us in, but when asked for the package becomes grim.
“The deal is off.”
When questioned he tells us the contents threaten his livelihood and his business. Arun tries to smooth over his concerns, Eliza uses some magic jargon with him, and I start lying out my ass. Eventually he caves. He presents us with a small wooden box with a heavy lock.
“I expect my payment to arrive by the usual channels.” He says as we leave.
We head to the Marble Sphinx. It’s nearly midnight and it’s very, very quiet here. We drop the package off, and most of us leave. I double back and climb up to the top of a building, and Miklos joins me. We lay on the roof and watch the Sphinx. Of course we get distracted and have a little romp on the roof before getting back to watching the Sphinx. Nothing ever comes, and when Bill comes to get us at four in the morning it is still there. We go back to the mansion and sleep.
We sleep until noon the next day, and have brunch as we discuss our findings. It is determined there is always two people involved in all of the situations. A female dwarf and a male human. They’ve been hanging out at a local gambling den, the Golden Scarab. So, we head down to the docks and enter the somewhat seedy establishment. Sure enough, there’s a female dwarf and a human man sitting at a table discussing card game strategies.
We swarm in on them, me standing behind the dwarf as Eliza threatens them. I quickly pickpocket the manacles off the dwarf lady, and sure enough they are Scarlet Triad manacles. Suddenly angered at Eliza, they both rise and draw weapons. And I’m just standing here with manacles. Perhaps I should have stolen one of her weapons?
⚔️ Nadja Kozlov