Due to the Savage Gamers starting college and other distractions, the regular club didn’t meet. Instead, Raven went off exploring Kularni.
Kularni is a large building constructed of sandstone. A typical caravanserai; there is one entrance leading to an inner yard. Rooms and chambers are built into the surrounding walls. The gate entrance wall has niches for market traders facing outwards; these are free to occupy but under do not come under the cities protection. The inner yard is usually crowded with stalls and vendors and people.
Raven was surprised to meet with Abn Qua the moneylender, as she didn’t owe him anything. Instead, he asked for advice and information. He recently lent a large sum of money to Captain Rokas and is concerned that he will be unable to repay. Normally he would set his boys on him, but offending the Captain of the Guard is something else. He offers a map and a bag of silver to find out what Rokas wanted the money for. Raven didn’t take the money, but offered to keep an eye open.
The following day she wished she had taken the money up front. A proclamation was posted at the town gates and the governor’s house, accompanied by the sounding of a trumpet.
“Due to damage caused to the town,
all non-residents must pay a
Repair Tax of 5 Moons per day
until further notice, effective immediately”
Raven was there when Geoff the Mighty had a little too much to drink and smashed up the taverna. Now everyone has to pay for the fool’s actions. She visited the Temple of the True Faith to see if anyone was hiring guards; there were no positions vacant; although native bearers were readily available.
Back in the marketplace she was screamed at by a stallholder for stealing a piece of fruit, a patently absurd accusation. The reason became clear when Max Ernst stepped forward. A protagonist and professional bastard; he had set the whole thing up as an excuse to start a fight.
Max taunted Raven – “She is only a woman – see she can barely lift a sword”. The taunt failed; Raven pulled her sword and struck a sweeping blow at Max. Max drew his sword and, with a bored expression, struck a leisurely blow in Raven’s direction. He lost his complacent smile when Raven dodged the blow and riposted, her sword striking Max on the upper arm. Although the blade did not penetrate the armour, Max glanced towards it, distracted. He re-focussed on Raven, coming at him with her blade held high. “Don’t make me get serious, girlie. You fight well, but you’re not the best.” Raven attacked and missed, there was a flurry of swords from Max and Raven felt the tip of the blade enter her side. She fell to her knees, Max moved to stand over her. “I enjoyed that. We’ll meet again”, he said; then struck deep into her body. As she lapsed into unconsciousness, she heard the crowd roar. It was like being back in the arena.
She awoke in a darkened room that smelt strongly of incense. She winced as a sharp stab of pain went through her ribs.
“I was unable to heal that wound; my skills as a healer are limited”. The speaker was a stooped man wearing a blue robe and a blue turban. Raven recognised him as Khasis the Scribe. “I watched you fight; I have need of your services in that regard.”
“I am in your debt”, replied Raven. “What would you have me do?”
Khasis did not answer immediately; instead he looked through the door into the outer shop then pulled the inner door shut.
“I have seen and read omens in the sky”, he said in a low voice. “These omens bode ill for me over the next three nights of the full moon. I shall stay in here, surrounded by protective charms and runes. The inner and outer door will be locked; I wish for you to stand guard outside the outer door. Rouse me on the morning of the fourth day. A bag of seventy silver will be waiting for you.”
Raven spent the next day in the markets; a young thief tried to lift her purse but she caught him in the act; however he wriggled free and ran off. At dusk she went to Khasis’ house; as expected the outer door was locked. She settled down to her vigil. As the moon rose over the eastern roof, a brawl broke out in a taverna and spilled out into the square. Somehow Raven got involved and enthusiastically began throwing punches. The brawl eventually broke up; Raven checked the door but it was still locked.
The second night passed uneventfully, although the night air was considerably colder, presaging the onset of Storm Season (Embarking). She made a note to wear something warmer the following night. As dawn broke she checked the door, it was still locked. She pressed her ear to it, but no sound came from within.
She spent the day catching up on sleep and keeping an ear open for gossip. Her earliest memories are being in the dungeons beneath the Iron Tower in Ekul. She does not know where she comes from, or who her parents are.
“By Hordan’s tits”, she thought. “Someone must know the answer as to who I am. Maybe the answer lies in Ekul?”
Restless and unable to rest, she bought a wool jerkin and hooded cloak; then took up station outside Khasis’ door. She tried the door, it was still locked. She yawned.
“If the door is locked, how am I supposed to rouse him tomorrow? Oh well, I can always knock loudly”.
She yawned again; then settled down against the wall next to the door.
She awoke with a kick to the ribs. It was dawn and she had fallen asleep! A man stood over her, screaming at her to wake up. She rolled out of the way as he kicked at her again.
“You! He trusted you! And now he is dead. A fine guard you are. I will have the Governor’s Law heaped upon you. You will be stoned; then a diseased camel will drag your broken body into the desert for the jackals to feast upon!”
The door to Khasis’ house opened and two other men came out. Both looked visibly pale. Raven recognised one of them, it was Aurelianus, the Syranthian scholar who Raven travelled with to get here (Narrator: Episode 2: The Road to Kularni).
The man screamed at her again.
“You were supposed to be guarding him; yet he is dead, having died a most terrible death. What say you to that?”
TO BE CONTINUED