Storm Season (Embarking), in the Verdant Belt
Returning from the Eye of Cissirrus bearing several green gems, a bagful of money and two boxes of Khav; they decided to try and cure N’Dula of his Khav addiction. N’Dula agreed and over the course of the next few days he resisted the temptation to take a fix. Alas, the attempt failed, on the evening of the fourth day he lapsed into unconsciousness and was carried on Deneris. Drogo was still mourning the loss of his buffalo lance to the Lava Demon.
As they approached the town, they saw a cloud of dust heading towards them. It was Sergeant Vilir and twelve of the town guards on horseback. Galadiir and Geoff hid in the undergrowth. Vilir reined in his horse.
“Travellers. We seek a dangerous fugitive, one Raven Gallowglass. Have you seen her?”
“No,” replied Drogo. “We have not.” Spark shook her head in agreement. “What has she done?”
“She is wanted for the foul murder of Khasis the scribe, brutally done to death on the night of the last full moon.”
“We shall keep an eye open.”
The soldiers spurred their horses off down the trail leading to Caldeia. Above them, on the horizon, large clouds were building, presaging the heavy rains of Storm Season. The air was heavy as they rode in through the town gates.
The market was in full swing; Galadiir headed off to find a merchant to sell the jewels to. He was offered 80 Moons per gem, after some haggling he secured a price of 600 Moons for the lot. They sought out Gallmus and paid over enough money for him to buy his plot of land.
The gossip in the market was about the death of Khasis, with a lot of speculation about how it happened. Apparently, he had been found dead in his locked inner sanctum, a look of sheer terror on his face and both eyes sucked from his head. The group decided to check it, Galadiir was very curious about whether a demon was involved. At the house, they were met by Aurelianus, the Syranthian scholar they had met on the way (Narrator: Episode 2 – The Road to Kularni.) He asked them to find out what happened to his friend Khasis.
Investigating the house (basically two rooms, an outer “office” where Khasis did business with his patrons, and an inner area containing a bed and bookshelf. The bed was surrounded by a drawn pentacle and burnt-out candles. Geoff began looking through the books; one fell open at a marked page: –
‘Beware the moon-beast; it is not to be seen’
Interested, Galadiir looked further through the book, recognising it as written in a Tricarnian script, he found another marked passage:-
‘…and Helgrane, Lord of the Seventh Tower of Akoit, spake thus to his patron (demon) xxxxxxxxxxx and asked why he might not see as mortal men do. Thus he learnt the summoning of the moon-beast such that suitable eyes might be harvested.’
There was a commotion outside; Sergeant Vilir and his soldiers had returned. Geoff approached the sergeant as he dismounted and handed over the full box of Khav.
“Our debt is settled.”
Thunder rumbled in the distance as they made their way to the western sleeping hall, carrying the unconscious N’Dula. There was someone waiting for them in the shadows.
“Raven,” breathed Geoff.
“How did you get back into the town? Galadiir asked.
“I never left it,” replied Raven. “When it was obvious that I was going to get arrested, I ran through the market, always doubling back. Three guards nearly got me, but I escaped up onto the western roof walkway and climbed back down into the market, then made my way here. I can’t trust anyone else. Look, you must believe me. I did not kill Khasis. The door was locked on all three nights. The last night I remember settling down on guard; the next thing I was being kicked awake at dawn.”
“Who was there?” asked Galadiir.
“Aurelianus; I recognised him from travelling with him. The other man was a priest; I think he is the priest of the True Faith here in Kularni. The third man, the one who kicked me, I don’t know.”
Thunder rumbled and from outside came the sound of rain, increasing to a heavy downpour.
The following day dawned humid and sticky, as the sun heated the wet ground. N’Dula was still unconscious, Spark and Raven stayed to look over him. Galadiir went out into the market to see what else he could find out; Geoff and Drogo went to see Venarius, priest of the True Faith.
“Khasis came to see me some days ago. He was very superstitious and had read omens in the stars that said he was heading for a great darkness. It was somehow connected with scroll he had translated for a client; how he would not or could not say. I offered him the blessing of The Faith.”
“Thank you”, said Drogo.
“A small donation never goes amiss”, smiled the priest.
Out in the market, Galadiir came across Blind Pew, a beggar sitting against a wall. As he approached, Pew turned his white, blind eyes towards him.
“A fine day for business, master”, he whispered. “Tell me, how is N’Dula? Haven’t seen him for some time.”
Galadiir realised immediately who Blind Pew was.
“Tell N’Dula I’ve got some fine Caldeian dust for him, when he’s ready.”
“What do you know about what happened to Khasis?” Galadiir asked, squatting down by the beggar.
“Business is bad today”, was the reply.
Galadiir held out 30 Moons. With unerring accuracy, Blind Pew scooped them up and put them into a pouch.
“A Kyrosian tale tells of a wealthy merchant who went blind at an early age from the Red Fever. One day, he rode south into the Red Desert with several retainers and servants. He returned with a miracle cure, his eyes and sight were restored. His servants did not return. Every year he makes a return journey.”
Back in the centre of the market, the group were met by Aurelianus; he wanted to know what they had found out. Basically being told nothing, he walked away. As he did so, Pulin, servant to Orrando the merchant, approached them.
“Greetings. Orrando has a caravan to Caldeia which he needs guards for. 10 days at 25 Moons per day as usual. The caravan leaves tomorrow.”
“Caldeia has a large library of the arcane and occult”, said Galadiir. “I might be able to find out more.” He turned to Pulin. “Tell your master that we accept his offer of employment.”
To Be Continued
GM: I used my solo system to generate the whole Raven episodes. The chase was run as per the rules, with Raven being chased by the guards on foot.
N’Dula going cold turkey was run using a Dramatic Task, with the time increment in days. As it turned out, he drew a load of Clubs and so really didn’t stand a chance. He is still addicted to Khav.