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Old 01-26-2020, 05:23 AM   #11
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 12 (2020-01-19)

24th of Varatga, year 412 (continued)

The soldiers escorting us had gone off duty, and sat in the common room, relaxing. One of them openly leered at me; he had been more circumspect earlier. I didn’t care for it, and asked Baldrian if he knew a chapel in this village. We talked in codes, so his answer was ambiguous, but I got the impression that I might want to visit the other side of the village.

I borrowed the room key from Lunari and went upstairs to change. I removed the belt with my knives and rolled them up in the cloak. I went back downstairs and stuffed the cloak into my backpack. Baldrian said he’d keep an eye on my gear and bring it up to his room if he retired before I returned. He wouldn’t lock the door, so I could get my stuff back without waking him.

Soup had arrived, so I hurriedly emptied a bowl and stuffed some bread into my pouch, so I could eat it outside. I didn’t want to remain here any longer than I was necessary. Lunari decided to accompany me, for my protection, but he wanted to talk privately first, and brought Xipil, Grogg and me back up to our room.

Lunari asked if we were on board with “buying” Baldrian’s weapons shipment when we reached Badahan. Then we could “sell” it back to him, so he could bring in to a more profitable market. I wasn’t keen on the idea of provoking the law unnecessarily. We agreed to delay a decision until we could assess the risks more thoroughly.

Xipil and Grogg tagged along when Lunari and I left the inn. Outside, we passed two men in Amrosh uniforms, tying up their horses. I noticed the quality of the horses, although the men looked rather ordinary. They seemed absorbed in conversation, and paid us no heed as we passed.

After a short walk through the village, I spotted a hidden Ashtar sign on a general store. I told the others I wanted to enter alone, so they remained outside. I identified myself as an Ashtarite to the shopkeeper and asked if there would be a Meet tonight. He returned the gesture and apologized. I asked if he minded me going downstairs to pray for a while. Of course not. That’s what the chapel is for. He showed me the hatch in the floor and I descended.

The shopkeeper closed the shop and came downstairs. I didn’t care if Lunari and the others got tired of waiting for me, so I had undressed for a complete wash. The shopkeeper tried not to stare as he hurried through the ritual cleansing of his feet and hands. He was obviously the chapel’s caretaker, for he did some tidying up before sitting down to pray. I reveled in the presence of the holy snakes and prayed, too. Another man entered while we were making small talk. He prayed out loud, unlike the shopkeeper and me, who had been mostly silent. For some reason, spoken prayers always make me think the supplicant is a newcomer to the faith, even though I know that for most, it’s a matter of personal preference, and it has nothing to do with experience or the lack thereof.

He left when he finished praying, and the shopkeeper and I left as well. Lunari and Grogg had found something better to do, but Xipil must have waited, for he caught up with me when I set off back towards the inn. He must have concluded that I had done something related to my faith, for he started talking about how there are great snakes in the jungle of his homeland. I was fascinated to learn more about these snakes, and he told me some of his people considered them holy. They seemed like sensible people, even if they’d never heard of You.

At the inn, Lunari was teaching Grogg rude gestures in the common room. Baldrian hadn’t retired for the night, yet, so my backpack was still there. I picked it up and got the room key from Lunari again, and I noticed the Amrosh people were glaring at us. Maybe they thought Lunari and Grogg were making the gestures at them. I asked my companions if there was anything they wanted of me before I retired. Grogg asked for beer, but the others wished me a good night.

I locked the door so Lunari wouldn’t walk in on me while I brushed my teeth. Once I was satisfied with my dental care, I packed everything inside my sack and knelt down on the floor to pray. I didn’t want to go to sleep before I had made certain arrangements with Lunari.

He knocked on the door a little while later, and I opened it for him. Lunari entered and started to undress. I hurriedly grabbed a blanket from the bed and lay down on the other side of the room, but Lunari insisted that I should get the bed. I thanked him and moved over to the bed, turning my back so he could finish undressing. I put a hand on the floor and said my evening prayer:

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


25th of Varatga, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

This morning, Lunari asked me about the way of life of an Ashtarite. I told him we don’t have many rules, except for being a little secretive. Then Grogg was hammering on the door, and Lunari got up and dressed. I waited for him to leave before following suit.

Over breakfast, Xipil mentioned that my friends had been looking for him last night, before traveling westwards. I had no idea why they would do that, and told Xipil as much. Lunari tried to flirt, but I ignored him, so he went to talk to our escort.

I slipped away and crossed the village. The shop above the chapel was open, so I entered and asked what interest the shopkeeper had of Xipil. He was just as clueless as me. We exchanged pleasantries for a while, and I returned to the inn.

After a couple of hours along the road, we arrived at the site where Lunari and Grogg had beaten the orcs. Lunari told me all about it, and pointed out a stone by the roadside, with the inscription that Gromgar had fallen there. Gromgar was the previous owner of Grogg’s impressive maul. Both Lunari and Grogg wanted to move the inscription to where the orc had actually been killed, near a small copse a short distance away, but they settled for carving an arrow into the stone, pointing the way.

There was some traffic on the road, but most travelers were going in the same direction as us, converging on Badahan for the upcoming sun festival. Our escort led the way to a smaller village, off the main road, and gave us similar instructions as yesterday: Leave the wagon over there and be there at dawn tomorrow.

The tiny inn had only two rooms for let, and the soldiers took one of them, leaving us to decide how to assign the four bunks in the other room. At dinner, we overheard the soldiers talking about the slave uprising. They suspected that it had been coordinated, for there had been revolts on several locations on the same day. It seemed like the slaves had tried to negotiate after taking control over the work sites.

When one of the soldiers talked trash about orcs and trolls, Grogg snapped and kicked the chair out from under him. One of the others drew his sword half-way, and Grogg apologized while stepping on the dwarf, for being a big, stupid and clumsy troll. The four soldiers walked outside and yelled at each other. The dwarf wanted revenge, but the others eventually calmed him down.

Grogg seized one of the abandoned beer mugs, but the innkeeper told him off, and Lunari asked him to come and sit down again. The leader of the escort, another dwarf, poked his head inside and summoned Baldrian. I touched the floor and prayed, asking You for permission to slay the soldiers. It would be easy to slip poison into their beer mugs while they were outside. As I expected, You remained silent, allowing me to exercise my own judgment of the situation. The innkeeper came over and asked us to leave. Baldrian had to bribe the escort with a gold coin and berated Grogg and Lunari.

The innkeeper arranged for us to stay with an elderly woman. She was hard of hearing and squinted when she looked at us. Her small cottage had three beds, and just enough room for Grogg on the floor. She started preparing food for us, and I crossed the room to help her. Grogg took out his sewing kit and made her a potholder.

Lunari showed me a small bottle with an orange-yellow liquid that had a sour smell. He asked if I recognized it, but I didn’t. He explained that it made you happy. Him and his recreational drugs! Definitely not my idea of a good time. I desire nothing but to bask in Your glory. If he wants to ingratiate himself with me, he should discard such mundane pleasures and join Your faith.

I excused myself and turned to the old woman. She seemed tired, so I suggested we all go to bed. That confused her. I asked if it was all right with her that we stayed the night, and she beamed at me that of course, it was all right. Baldrian claimed one of the beds, and thought that I should have the last one. Xipil had already gone outside to sleep or whatever he does outside at night, and Grogg followed him to stand guard, in case a vindictive dwarf showed up. Lunari and Kork bedded down on the floor.

Pretending shyness, I faced the wall while brushing my teeth. I didn’t want to display my fangs. I closed my eyes and said my evening prayer:

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 01-26-2020, 05:36 AM   #12
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 12 (2020-01-19)

26th of Varatga, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

We woke early in the morning, and let the old woman sleep. Baldrian asked me if I thought she’d mind if we used her kitchen to make breakfast. I didn’t think so, considering how welcoming she had been yesterday. I thought she must be lonely, her children long gone to make their own homes. Baldrian left a few coppers on the kitchen table, and I put a silver piece on the bed I’d borrowed. Kork and I did the dishes, and I said a prayer over the old woman. She was still sleeping when we left.

Xipil asked me about raising snakes, how to feed them and take care of them and so on, and we discussed it on the way through town. We met Lunari and Grogg by the wagon at the inn, where the dwarf who had insulted Grogg had been replaced by a militia man from the village. The escort didn’t mention yesterday’s events.

We stopped for lunch on a hilltop, and could see Badahan and the great river in the distance. Actually, we could see the river bed, as the river itself had almost dried up. I overheard Lunari and Baldrian talking about contacting people in the city who could “buy” the cargo, but I didn’t hear if they came to a decision. It wasn’t really my business.

We had to wait in line to enter Badahan, but got in after a while. After bringing us to an inn loyal to Durban, the noble house who had been so kind as to provide us with an escort, the soldiers ordered Baldrian and the wagon to remain while they went to “check something out”. We waited with him. Eventually, they returned and gave Baldrian a merchant’s pass.

Baldrian brought us to an inn he knew in the harbor district. Kork declared that he would remain with the wagon, now that the soldiers weren’t keeping an eye on it for us anymore. I asked Baldrian if he was familiar with this area, and he gave me directions to a chapel further on towards the river. Baldrian paid for rooms until after the sun festival, which is in three days. With the throng of people coming into town from the surrounds, rooms weren’t guaranteed unless we paid now.

I ran quickly up to the room and removed my cloak and knives. I left my pack with Baldrian and strolled down to the chapel. It was a nice one, both spacious and decorated with snake motifs. I washed in the hallway outside the main room, and entered to find a man praying and an older dwarven woman who just sat there thinking. I introduced myself and asked the dwarf if there was anything that worried her. She confided that she knew and cared for people on both sides of the slave uprising, and was torn with uncertainty because of it.

I prayed for her, asking You to grant her wisdom. Then we heard someone washing, and I asked if there was going to be a Meet tonight. The dwarf said that she had come here to think precisely because she knew that there wouldn’t be many people here tonight. To my surprise, it was Xipil who appeared at the entrance, hesitating to come inside. He had clearly recognized some of the snakes as dangerous, but I bade him enter, if he was willing to open his heart to You. He glanced at my waist, where I keep my knives when we travel, uncertain if I spoke literally.

The dwarf spoke the ritual words beginning a Meet, and we initiated Xipil. He lay flat on the floor, and allowed a holy creature to slither over him. Then we all congratulated Xipil, and welcomed him to Your coils. The joy of it all brought inspiration to the dwarf woman, and she left. I offered prayers of thanks, that you allowed Xipil to come to You. I was bursting with elation and told stories about You for several hours.

When we returned to the inn, I woke Baldrian so he could congratulate Xipil, too. Then I lay down on the other bed in the room.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


27th of Varatga, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Lunari was sore and stiff at breakfast. Thinking that my medical services may be useful, I asked him what he’d been up to last night. Grogg answered by calling him dancing king and less flattering titles and got a kick on the leg for it. I took Lunari’s silence as a sign that he didn’t want me to meddle in his affairs.

Baldrian left it to Grogg, Lunari, Xipil and me to decide whether we wanted to remain in Badahan for the festival or not. It turned out the papers he had received allowed him to bring the weapons further, to a more profitable market, he just had to lose the wagon before going home.

We compared the sun festival customs in Arland and the Prince’s Cities, and it turned out they were mostly similar. That was no surprise, as we are neighboring countries with much trade between us.

Lunari wanted to check out the travel conditions, but Xipil looked to me to suggest activities for the day. I proposed to look for another chapel. We agreed to meet again for dinner, and parted ways. Rummaging through my head, I recalled that I visited a chapel here in Badahan a couple of years ago, while I was on a bounty hunt.

We found it after a short search, and I explained to Xipil the importance of the ritual cleansing before entering a chapel, and how to do it properly. A series of paintings on the wall above the wash stand had been enough for him to reason it out, yesterday. You absolutely have to wash your feet and your hands, I told him, but if you have the time, you should wash the rest of your body, too. Xipil raised an interesting conundrum when he pointed out that his tail isn’t mentioned in the order of body parts to wash. I explained that he should wash the tail after washing his legs, but before proceeding with the torso. A small voice inside my head, Your voice, I presume, told me that he had to wash the tip of the tail if it had touched the ground since his last cleansing. Putting words into practice, I undressed and washed, and Xipil copied me.

Xipil impressed me with his calm attitude, sitting among the snakes. An inexplicable urge made me ask him to show me his tongue. It had forked since I noticed it last. It isn’t usual for initiates to have their tongues fork that soon, but I considered it to be a sign of Your approval, a blessing. I opened my mouth to show Xipil that my tongue was forked too. He didn’t comment on my slightly elongated upper canines, and I didn’t draw attention to them. By contracting certain muscles in my jaws, I can thrust them forward. I consider my fangs to be my primary weapons, sharp enough to penetrate leather. Connected to my poison glands, they can take down a strong enemy in seconds.

At dinner, Lunari asked if we had visited one of Your temples, and I said yes. He isn’t to know the difference between a chapel and a temple. Grogg expressed worry that Xipil has joined a death cult. I made a joke about it, but then I turned serious and told him that we don’t meddle with necromancy, raising the dead and suchlike, if that was what he was worried about.

Lunari had judged traveling conditions to be favorable, so we left after the meal. Progress was slow through the mass of people inside the city, but once we crossed the river, we were able to speed up. We encountered a party of festival-goers wearing lion masks that impressed Grogg mightily.

Baldrian raised a concern about the next checkpoint. Before we reached Badahan, our escort had allowed us to pass them without delay, but the merchant was worried about Lunari’s drugs. He and Lunari took some precautions, but once we got to the checkpoint, the soldiers just waved us through. For a fee, of course.

We left the main road in the evening, going the short distance to a small village. The only inn was full, but the innkeeper allowed us to park our wagon there and sleep near it. Lunari noticed a bakery next door, and ventured inside. An angry woman chased him out shortly and accused him of hitting on her daughter. I shook my head in resignation and turned to the innkeeper, asking if it was permissible for me to erect my tent to get some privacy. He took me through to a small vegetable garden behind the inn, and said I could pitch my tent there. I got permission for Xipil to stay the night there, as well.

Passing through the common room after a chat with Baldrian, I spotted Lunari with two women about my age, or perhaps a little younger. He was buying drinks for them, and it was clear to me what he was up to. The girls were rather pretty, and would probably have been married already, if they hadn’t been servants. Their simple clothes and unsophisticated manner gave that away. Nevertheless, I found them intriguing, and walked over to admonish Lunari to be kind to them.

I crawled inside my tent, but noticed that something was happening outside when I tried to sleep. Outside, Xipil was meditating, his eyes glowing blue with collected starlight. It didn’t seem to pass, so I prodded him. His eyes stopped glowing, and he turned to me and told me he’d had a disturbing vision of dark clouds blowing in from the east.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 01-26-2020, 05:57 AM   #13
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 12 (2020-01-19)

28th of Varatga, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Grogg was bellowing for Lunari, waking the entire village. I rushed out, but nothing was wrong. Lunari sauntered downstairs, having spent the night in the common dormitory. After breakfast, I went up there to check up on the girls he’d been with last night. One of them was still sleeping, or had gone back to sleep after Grogg’s disturbance, but the other one was just getting up. I talked to her, and she complained about a hangover. I gave her water and tried to make her comfortable. She told me that Lunari had been so nice to them, and she seemed sincere, which made me happy. For some reason I felt protective towards them.

Grogg, Lunari and Xipil were talking about the wind, perhaps spurred on by Xipil’s visions, and Grogg told us about how his god once battled a dragon god named Palo. We brought the discussion along when we traveled. Grogg had to explain what a dragon is. If the visions come true, dark clouds on tomorrow’s sun festival would be a bad omen. Xipil was worried, and explained that some visions cause those who see them to lose their minds, but I assured him that You would help him remain rooted.

I noticed that Grogg was watching my mouth, so I kept it closed most of the day. Xipil cleared up my misunderstanding of a few days ago, saying that it was the Amrosh people that had been looking for him that night. I assumed that they wanted to enslave him.

We found a large farm off the main road, and Baldrian sent me ahead to ask if we could spend the night there. I made arrangements for us to stay in the wagon shed, although we had to reorganize it to make room for our wagon and horses. The huge troll was very handy in that regard.

Xipil asked if I could watch him while he meditated, in case something like last night happened again. Of course, I agreed, and I asked him when I should start to worry. We decided I should wake him after an hour or two, if he didn’t come around on his own. We ate, and went outside to look at the stars. Xipil closed his eyes, and I prayed.

Lunari came over after an hour and asked if I smoked. I told him I didn’t, because it would discolor my teeth. He then asked to know my profession, and I claimed to be an herbalist and said that I had been looking for people who needed my services while we traveled. Just then, Grogg appeared and asked what kind of services I provided. I don’t know why I responded as I did; maybe I wanted to see the look on Lunari’s face? I professed that my services were oral, although I worded my short reply rather obscenely. I don’t think they took me seriously.

Xipil woke up from his meditation, and I went to bed. Grogg remained outside, worried about the storm that might be coming.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


1st of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I woke to the sound of Grogg and Lunari talking. I said my morning devotion and packed down my tent. Grogg was convinced that there’d come a storm, and soon.

Out in the yard, the farmers were erecting a sun, made of flowers, on a pole. Lunari joined them in song, celebrating the sun festival, while the rest of us watched. The farmwife had made scones and fried eggs, and shared freely with us strangers. I don’t like to honor another god but You, although I allowed myself to partake in the breakfast meal. Mitra, the sun god, has enough followers already.

The farm folk set about their work with inhuman vigor, and Baldrian was impatient to get on the way. My sleep was cut short, so when we had said goodbye to the farmers, I asked Baldrian if I could borrow his shoulder again. “Of course, my dear,” he replied, to Lunari’s benefit.

I woke some time later, when Grogg started to get agitated. Along the eastern horizon, I could barely detect a thin, black stripe. A farm lay about a quarter of an hour to the north, and I suggested we head that way, to seek shelter from the bad weather. Kork urged the horses on, and when we arrived, the whole eastern sky was black. Lunari jumped off the wagon and banged on the door of one of the houses. The farmer who opened had seen the sky and ushered us inside. We brought our backpacks and someone got the horses stabled, but the wind hit before we could do anything about the cargo.

Grogg seized a roof beam and held on. Still keeping up the ruse of being a weak, little girl, I pretended to be afraid. I kneeled on the floor and prayed fervently for protection. The roof sounded like it would rip off at any time, but I knew I was safe in Your coils. Lunari asked me if my god could belay death, and I answered that of course You could.

Lightning struck one of the neighboring houses, and the farmer screamed that we needed to hide in the cellar. Grogg held fast to the roof, howling curses at Palo, and Xipil stayed for moral support, but the rest of us took cover below. The wind shook the building, and we heard things fall off their shelves and break on the kitchen floor.

The storm disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. Lunari, Kork, Baldrian and the farmer climbed up the ladder to check on the damages, but I remained in the cellar with the farmwife. I called after them to send for me if someone was injured, as I had some skill with treating wounds. The farmer returned shortly. The lightning had started a fire, and we couldn’t sit idly in the cellar; I had to search for wounded myself.

I put my backpack and the severed head on the wagon. It was still on the west side of the house where we had left it. I found a woman in one of the other houses over whom a cupboard had toppled. I treated her leg as best I could, I even went back to the wagon to fetch my medicine kit. Then Kork appeared to inform me that Grogg had collapsed. I rolled up the kit and followed Kork to the troll.

He lay in the middle of the yard, and I examined him. I found no wounds and told Kork that he was just exhausted from the ordeal of battling the wind for possession of the roof. Just then, the dark sky opened up above us. I fetched my tent and erected it above Grogg and me to protect us from the rain. There was barely room for the two of us, and his legs lay in the open, but it was better than nothing. Lunari came over and wanted to pull Grogg into the stable. I asked who he thought would venture into the torrent to help him, but he stated that he could do it on his own. He cast a spell making Grogg slippery, took hold of a leg and pulled him away. I was amazed.

I tore down the tent and hurried after them. I put down my medicine kit and tent in the stable and ran to get my backpack from the wagon. I was completely drenched, despite my cloak, when I returned to the stable. I hang up the cloak to dry, not bothering to hide my knives from my companions or from the two farmhands who had taken shelter with us.

I put up my tent again to get some privacy and took off my soaked dress, tossing it outside, asking Baldrian to hang it up. Folded up inside the pack, my skimpy red dress was mostly dry, so I put it on. Baldrian returned and gave me a blanket. There weren’t enough of them to go around, so he asked if I minded sharing. I said that he or Xipil could share it with me, if necessary. I stuck my head outside the tent and wrung out my hair before going back inside and wrapping myself inside the blanket.

Baldrian came back a little later, with an armful of hay to put on the ground to soak up moisture. I repeated my offer to share the blanket, and Xipil arrived shortly afterwards, shedding his cloak after entering the tent, so the farmhands shouldn’t see his lizard body. He told me that the Azura priests had predicted a cataclysm, and that the priest back home had done the same before Xipil left. He asked if You also knew in advance what would happen today, and I said that if You did, You hadn’t told me about it.

Lunari had saved his violin from the rain, and played a melancholy tune. I prayed. After an hour, the rain stopped, and talk commenced of leaving. It seemed like the farmhands wanted to come with us, but when Baldrian mentioned that they’d have to pay for their own expenses, they backed out. Xipil put on his wet cloak again, and I wrapped the blanket tightly around me before leaving the tent. Baldrian lent me some dry clothes, so I’d have something to wear, and I returned briefly to the tent to change. When I came back out, Lunari pointed to my bottom and stated that “those are good quality”. I harrumphed loudly in protest, and he claimed to be speaking of my throwing knives, which are indeed fine.

The road was quiet. Nobody else seemed to dare leaving shelter just yet. We worried about conditions in Sulla; we might not want to enter the city if things are too bad. Baldrian was concerned about the destruction inflicted on the Prince’s Cities, as the storm had come from there. Lunari launched into a drinking song to change the dour subject, and Kork handed around a bottle of liquor.

Eventually, we found a place by the road to park the wagon for the night. Baldrian sighed over the weather. The ground was soggy, but we stretched out Lunari’s tent under the wagon so people could lie upon it. I reorganized some of the crates and made a roof over the wagon bed with my tent. Grogg grumbled when I disturbed his rest, and the inside of my cave reeked of troll, but I’d rather sleep next to Grogg than huddled together with Lunari and Kork under the wagon.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:01 AM   #14
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 12 (2020-01-19)

2nd of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Lunari woke me up to take watch. With the dense cloud cover, it was quite dark. By Your gift, I could see just fine anyway. When it was time to wake someone else, I felt a desire to remain awake a little longer. In fact, I remained on watch until morning, letting the others sleep.

Baldrian made soup for breakfast again. My clothes were still moist, so I didn’t change into them. I left my knives in the pack, for we would arrive at Sulla soon, and I didn’t want them to be seen. Small, blue patches broke through the dark clouds, a good sign.

I tried to get some sleep on Baldrian’s shoulder while we traveled, and woke when some farmers in a cart, coming the other way, informed us that the gates of Sulla were closed. I could see the city was not far off, perhaps an hour or two. We continued on, in spite of what the farmers had said.

We parked the wagon some distance from the city, and Lunari, Grogg, Baldrian and I went ahead on foot to check out the situation. There were quite a few people sitting and waiting outside the gate. Baldrian knocked on the gate, and a small window opened just long enough for a surly guard to tell him that we couldn’t enter.

Grogg was tall enough to see over the palisade, and I asked him to lift me up so I could have a look as well. The Mitra temple used to have a golden sun on its tallest spire, but that seemed to have fallen down in the storm. This was indeed a bad omen, and no wonder they had closed the city. They’d have to open soon, or else the populace would starve, I told my companions.

Baldrian asked if I knew of a noble mansion somewhere in the vicinity, where he could hopefully sell his weapons. I didn’t know the exact location of the Vasulla hall, but I asked the locals, and got directions.

When we returned to the wagon, Xipil said he wanted to sneak inside the city when it got dark, but I was fairly certain I had learned all there was to know about the situation.

After skirting Sulla, we found a village on the north side and checked into the inn. We were about the only customers, and the innkeeper came to talk while we ate. He was clearly a Vasulla patriot, and told us about the feud between Vasulla and Furkan. He brought up a duel that had occurred between the two houses, and how Furkan had cheated, and I commented that this was old news, having taken place months ago.

Lunari showed me an exotic bird’s beak, and asked if I wanted him to fashion it into a knife for me. I thanked him for the consideration, but declined the offer, as I didn’t think I’d have much use for it. I have enough knives already.

My dress was dry now, but it was travel-stained and grimy, so I gave it to the inn’s staff to have it cleaned. Then I retired to my room, took a bath, brushed my teeth and went to bed.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-15-2020, 03:58 AM   #15
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 13 (2020-02-09)

2nd of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412 (continued)

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Even though I was up most of last night, I couldn’t sleep. After tossing and turning for a while, I got up and went down to the bar. Everyone else was there, as well as two strangers. Xipil asked me if I could ask the innkeeper about stone circles nearby. I told him what I knew already, that there are some just south of Sulla; the innkeeper didn’t know much more, and thought it was strange of me to ask. I explained I was the local guide for these foreigners, who apparently were curious what it was all about, Arland being called the Land of the Stone Circles. Lunari mentioned the power of the stars and said it would be good to find an intact stone circle. Good luck with that!

We talked a little about the way forward. Baldrian and Kork would return to the Prince’s Cities when they’d sold their cargo, but the rest of us would go on, to Guling in the west.

The innkeeper gave the impression of knowing something about occurrences in Sulla, something more than just the golden sun falling down from the temple spire in the storm, so I asked to speak with him privately. He brought me into the kitchen, and I got his story. Religious fanatics, or evil forces, had killed some Mitra clerics during the storm. I haven’t heard anything about a conflict between You and Mitra, but I operate on a need-to-know basis, so I wouldn’t necessarily hear anything as long as I wasn’t expected to assist. I still found it more likely that another cult had seized the opportunity during the chaos of the storm. I needed to think, and went to bed again.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I woke up when someone hammered on the door and Xipil, Grogg and Lunari barged in. Grogg held an unconscious raven, and handed it to me so I could apply my medicinal skills to it. I noticed a silver needle piercing it, and pulled it out, but then Grogg went crazy and put it back in. I glanced at Xipil, who told me the needle had healing powers. Grogg had put it there to heal the raven when it crashed through their window. Xipil also informed me that this wasn’t actually a raven, but in fact some kind of elf who had used star magic that backfired. I found that hard to believe. Lunari said the ravens had helped them before, and they felt they owed them something.

I wasn’t that interested in helping a raven, untrustworthy creatures that they are, and when the others kept on talking, I snapped at them for interrupting my sleep and said something derogatory about the bird. Grogg grabbed the blanket off my bed, and I asked Lunari to tell him to give it back. Grogg wanted me to apologize to the raven. That wasn’t about to happen, instead I told them all to go. I took the blanket from Xipil’s bed and went back to sleep.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


3rd of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Xipil woke me again in the morning and let me know the raven had died. Even with the story about it being an elf – really! – I couldn’t care less, so I asked if we were leaving soon. Probably not yet, he replied, so I rolled over and tried to get some more sleep.

Xipil returned a while later. My dress had been washed and dried, so I put it on instead of the flimsy red thing that Lunari couldn’t keep his eyes off last night. My knives and cloak followed, and then I was ready to go.

I asked Grogg how the raven was doing, feigning interest and compassion. He said it was fine, but didn’t let me see it. I noticed there was more traffic on the road than yesterday, before dozing off on Baldrian’s shoulder.

I startled awake when we took off from the main road. Lunari said that Grogg needed some time alone. He brought his maul along with the raven and a shovel. I presumed that he needed to grieve for the raven, and Lunari confirmed that Grogg was upset that it had died. In the distance, we heard Grogg howl. When he returned, I put on a sad face and came to meet him. My bluff worked, and he gave me a bear hug. Lunari played funereal music on his violin when we moved on.

We came to the village where Baldrian was going to sell his cargo of crossbows and shortswords. Xipil and I left in search of a chapel, not that I had much hope of finding one here, deep in Vasulla land. I was overjoyed when we discovered Your sign. The tiny chapel was empty but for three snakes when we washed and entered.

Xipil and I sat down and talked. He revealed that he could never return to his homeland, because he didn’t have permission to leave in the first place. His country is ruled by priests, but they’re not Your priests, so I said that if it was me, I wouldn’t care about what they said. He was welcome in Your coils.

An elderly lady entered. She explained that this chapel doesn’t see much activity, but she regarded our arrival as a good sign. She would contact the other Ashtarite she knew in these parts, and there would be a Meet, either tonight or tomorrow night, depending on when her acquaintance was available. I told her we’d return to the chapel tonight, but couldn’t promise we’d be here tomorrow.

Xipil and I returned to the inn to get something to eat. I told him we should look for a snake, to offer to the chapel, and that we should get Baldrian to accompany us to the Meet. Baldrian had finished the sale, and he and Kork had started celebrating. I talked to the merchant under four eyes, and urged him to come to the chapel tonight. Maybe he should take it easy with the drink.

After dinner, Xipil and I went to see if we could find a snake. It’s not really snake terrain around here, but I hoped we might find one hiding among the shrubs that grow along the low stone walls that separate the fields. Grogg sat under a fruit tree, and rose to follow us. I didn’t mind, as long as he stayed back. He’s quite noisy, so I didn’t want him to startle and scare off any snakes we might find.

An hour or two later, Xipil spotted snake tracks, and we eventually discovered two grass snakes. We enticed them to approach, and Xipil settled one of them in a pocket on his large cloak. I pulled out my neckline and slipped the other down between my breasts; my belt would prevent it from falling through.

We returned to the village to fetch Baldrian. Kork complained that he wouldn’t have anyone to drink with, but some coins from Baldrian shut him up. We washed and presented the snakes to the empty chapel. It was time to begin the Meet, and as the caretaker and her friend weren’t there, I assumed they couldn’t come until tomorrow, but as I recited the opening words, we heard someone enter and start washing, so I paused to let them come inside before I continued.

The old man who entered with the caretaker had a long beard. He seemed to outrank me, so I found it only natural that he should take over leading the Meet. He said that this was an important time for Ashtarites, and I spoke up to tell what the innkeeper had claimed had happened in Sulla. Xipil whispered to me if it was all right if he spoke as well, and I said that of course it was. He told us that Azura had foreseen a cataclysm.

After the formal part of the Meet, the old man confided to me that it probably was someone else who killed those Mitra clerics. He also wanted to know the destination of our travels, and I said we were headed for Guling, although we might visit other places first.

Baldrian had brought some wheat buns, and we shared them on the way back to the inn. Xipil climbed up on the roof to look at the stars, and I went to bed.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:10 AM   #16
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 13 (2020-02-09)

4th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Baldrian, Xipil and I met at breakfast and discussed the road ahead. Baldrian and Kork were going to return to the Prince’s Cities, but might accompany the rest of us while we backtracked to Sulla, before heading downriver towards Sam and Guling. Grogg appeared after a while, and shortly afterwards, a maid with messy hair came down, and Baldrian claimed that she had spent the night with Lunari. Lunari himself emerged a little later, and then Kork, who suffered from a terrible hangover. Baldrian studied him and declared that they would remain here for a while longer, and leave after lunch.

Xipil and Lunari talked cryptically about an enemy in Safan and Xipil wanted Lunari to warn Baldrian. This enemy seemed to be an earlier employer that had double-crossed them. Lunari appeared to be a member of an organization called the Claws of the Seagull. I can’t say how the enemy relates to that organization, and whether he targeted Lunari in particular or if any of his acquaintances were in danger.

When we said goodbye to Baldrian and Kork, Baldrian gave me Your sign, very properly. It seemed to me that my example has rubbed off on the formerly not-so-devout Ashtarite. I hugged him and wished him well on his travels. He replied to all of us that we should take care of each other, but his eyes were fixed on mine. The barmaid had donned an apron and brushed her hair, and she came with a parting gift for Lunari, a small bag of buns for the road. Then we were off.

We sat down to rest after walking for a while, and Grogg handed the magic ring to Xipil and asked him to view him through it. Xipil exclaimed that Grogg looked odd, and Lunari took a look as well, explaining that Grogg had become magical. Lunari decided to pass around a bottle of strong ale, and I took a sip to be polite.

In the evening, we were back in the village where we had been just two nights before. We checked into the same inn, and Lunari told the innkeeper we were going to look at stone circles. I shared a room with Xipil, as I’ve done these last few nights.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


5th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I was having breakfast with Xipil when Grogg and Lunari came in the front door of the inn, carrying all their luggage. I asked what they’d been up to, and Lunari clamped his mouth shut, but Grogg chuckled. I assumed that Lunari had had a female encounter of some sort.

When we were back on the road, Xipil asked again what had happened, and Lunari confessed that Grogg had received a key from a raven, and when they tried it on the door to their room, they couldn’t get it unlocked again. Ravens are indeed untrustworthy creatures.

A strange flash of light hit us from the south just after the sun had climbed over the horizon. It looked like a light on the sky, but Xipil insisted it wasn’t a star. What can it have been?

We sat down by the roadside to have lunch, and while we were packing up, a strange entourage came thundering from the north. It looked like Vasulla nobles and Mitra priests on horseback, and we assumed they came from the Vasulla castle, maybe to investigate the light? One of them called a halt just as they were passing us, and Lunari mumbled that they had come because of the illegal arms sale we’d been involved in. The priest who had ordered the stop looked at me, and I nodded politely. He dismounted and came over, standing uncomfortably close to me. I could have sunk my fangs into him while he studied me. I crossed my arms and studied him back, defiantly.

The priest introduced himself as Kamal, and while I’m not familiar with the ranks and titles of Mitra’s clergy, I understood he was in the upper echelon, and probably the top dog in the castle temple. I gave him my name. He said that his party was on an important errand, and were going to Sulla. He also claimed to have heard about me from the Mhalak, who had told him I needed to find the prophet in the south. “The Mhalak has said it, and so it must be,” he finished. I asked who the Mhalak was, and he said it was a messenger from Mitra. Then they left, the thunder of their hooves quickly fading. I told Xipil I needed to seek advice about this in a chapel in Sulla.

The city was still closed to travelers, but soldiers had set up a kind of marketplace outside so that goods change hands and get funneled through. We followed the road along the palisade to the west, thinking that it might be easier to gain entrance at the harbor. Unfortunately, the harbor was closed in a similar fashion. Workers were building new docks outside the city, so it looked like the lockdown was going to continue for some time.

After gaining assurances from Lunari that he wouldn’t snoop in my belongings, Xipil and I left him and Grogg. I didn’t believe him, of course, but I carry nothing that he’ll recognize as suspicious. He knows about the severed head and my knives already. I left everything but my pouch behind.

When it was completely dark, Xipil and I climbed over the palisade. City guards were patrolling the streets, but otherwise, everyone was inside. Curfew, probably. The guards inside were different from those outside the wall, and I assumed reinforcements for the outer security had been hired from Badahan. Relations between the Furkan and Vasulla noble houses were strained at the moment, so I didn’t think it likely that the local authorities had requested help from Talan.

I know the location of a few chapels here in Sulla, and headed for one on the other side of town, where I figured the chances were highest to encounter someone of rank and knowledge. We had to weave our way through the city, dodging patrols, so it was around midnight that we finally arrived. We washed and entered after Xipil had had a look at the stars. There were two men there, one asleep and one awake. The latter man greeted us with Your sign when we approached, and we returned the gesture.

He was a Toxiner, like me, and on a holy mission. I said I was on my way home from a holy mission myself. He asked about Xipil, and I explained that he was new to the faith. Because of the curfew, it was unlikely I could get the help I needed tonight, so I wondered if the Toxiner could bring a message to our friends outside the city, so they didn’t worry when Xipil and I stayed for another day. Regrettably, he wasn’t leaving town, as his mission was here in Sulla. Hopefully, Lunari and Grogg will stay put for a while before doing anything reckless.

As Your Meets usually take place after sunset, there wasn’t much chance for a large gathering in the foreseeable future. Still, we had a small ceremony, and I told the Toxiner I needed to get in touch with someone of rank who could advise me on my current conundrum. He said he would go out tomorrow and see if he could find someone.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:20 AM   #17
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 13 (2020-02-09)

6th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

The four of us talked a little after waking up. We learned that the priests had mounted the golden sun again, and that it was that which had flashed last morning. In fact, it flashes at both sunrise and sunset, and the curfew is in effect between the flashes. Once the streets outside were getting busy, our companion from last night left. The other man wasn’t very talkative, so I spent some time playing with the snakes.

After a couple of hours, the Toxiner returned with a Night Stalker, a woman maybe about Rhuk’s age. I started telling her about the Mitra priest I met yesterday, but she interrupted me and said we should pray first, so that You would be in our minds even when we discussed other gods. We even left the main chamber to do a quick wash.

I told the Night Stalker about Kamal, the high priest, and what the Mhalak had told him. The woman said that everyone should pick up a snake, and then we’d pray again. I found one that called out to me. Xipil wasn’t sure that he was included, as he was just a Spawn, but I told him to find a snake and do what I did. As the woman chanted a poetic prayer, the remaining snakes started climbing all over her. Her chant died off fifteen minutes or so later, and the snakes receded. I let her have some time for herself to process the experience; it wouldn’t do to pester her.

She beckoned me to approach after a couple of minutes. She told me that there is indeed a prophet in the south, not an Ashtarite. He carries something ancient, and he should be somewhere in the far south of Arland. Stones surround him, and if I go to meet him, I mustn’t go alone. I asked if I should find fellow Ashtarites to accompany me, but we agreed that my current companions would suffice, although I should seek further advice when I reached Sam.

I talked some more with the Toxiner, and came to the conclusion that he’s a Biter, too, just like me. Then somebody came in with food and beer, and changed the wash water. The priestess and the Toxiner left soon after. Xipil and I waited for cover of darkness before exiting the city.

Grogg and Lunari were still awake when we arrived, a couple of hours later. Lunari showed me through the magic ring that Grogg had a ghost raven on his shoulder, which I saw as a bad omen. We’ll run into trouble soon.

My backpack didn’t show signs of tampering, but I still accused Lunari of messing with it. He protested his innocence, but I didn’t believe him. Not that it mattered. I don’t think he discovered my secrets.

Both Xipil and Lunari were eager to check out the stone circles south of the river, so I agreed to cross over with them tomorrow to take a look. The prophet can wait. I brushed my teeth meticulously before going to bed.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.


7th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I asked Lunari to fix breakfast while I went to find someone with a boat. Plenty of guys at the docks were eager to give me a ride, but the interest faded when I said brought three companions. I still managed to arrange for a crossing in one hour.

Once we got up from the river bank, the land was as flat and boring as a boy’s chest. Xipil stood on Grogg’s shoulders, but didn’t see any stone circles nearby. I figured we needed to proceed towards the south-east, and found a path between two fields, going in approximately that direction.

We weren’t supposed to be there, on private land, so when we saw a group of people working in the fields, I hailed them, and two of them came over. I explained that I was guiding some rather particular foreigners, who had gotten the idea of checking out the stone circles around here for some reason. I gave them my last two silver pieces, and one of them offered to show us the way.

He took us to a stony piece of land where nothing grew, about fifty yards across. Our guide let us go and have a look around while he waited outside. The area was just as boring as I suspected, but then Xipil bade me look through the magic ring. I looked around with amazement. Twelve priests were present, apparently doing whatever tasks they remembered from when this was a temple.

I noticed that our guide didn’t come onto the stones, and when I asked why, he claimed he didn’t want to step onto unnatural ground. That corresponded with the superstitions of bad luck that the lower classes have about the stone circles. However, considering what I’d just seen through the magic ring, I thought maybe there was something to it, after all.

We got the guide to take us to the other two stone circles in the area. The one we just left was the largest one, and the smallest had no strange sightings through the magic ring. There were twelve more priests at the last circle.

The guide was insistent that we had to leave before sunset, so I asked him to take us to the village I knew lay on the south shore of the river. He looked at me expectantly when we reached the village. I gave him a peck on the cheek as I was out of silver. He seemed satisfied with that. Once he left, I told Lunari he owed me three silver pieces. I had paid one when we stayed with the old, senile woman a while back, and Lunari had agreed to cover my expenses.

We entered the inn and ordered dinner and rented rooms. Lunari and Xipil were eager to check out the stone circles in starlight, and I suggested that Grogg and I stayed behind to cover for them. Grogg can’t sneak, anyway. I promised Lunari I wouldn’t go through his stuff.

There were three men in the common room. Merchants, I gathered. I asked if they wanted to buy me a few drinks. One of them was very eager, but the others held him back. He had clearly caused some trouble for the other two earlier, in a similar situation. I think they mistook me for a prostitute. The eager one gave me two copper pieces in the end, and I walked over to where Grogg sat at the bar and ordered beer.

Grogg gave me a shot of something and I downed it in one go. As I worked my way through the beer, I pretended to get gradually more intoxicated. Of course, Your blessing has made me resistant to the effect of alcohol. After a couple of hours, I started dancing, and the bartender showed some talent with a flute. The horny merchant looked longingly at me, but I ignored him. His companions made him stay put in his seat, anyway. When Grogg asked if I wanted company, I responded slurrily, “Oh, yes! I’m going to wake up Lunari and get him to ram me against the wall. It’s going to be fabulous!”

I staggered upstairs and locked myself into my room. I brushed my teeth and prepared for bed. Then I finished the night’s performance by making loud sex noises for a short while. I made sure to shout Lunari’s name in between moans and groans.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:39 AM   #18
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 13 (2020-02-09)

8th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Someone knocked on my door in the morning, and I got up and opened to find Xipil outside. He had drawings of fangs, a spiral and a flower in the face, and I asked if he’d had fun with Lunari while I rummaged for a mirror. I completely forgot to ask why he didn’t use the window to enter. He went to sleep, and I went to have breakfast.

The merchants were there already, and one of them scowled at me. I smiled inwardly; I had been loud enough last night to make them believe Lunari was there. Outwardly, I feigned a hangover and ignored the merchant. He pointedly ignored me as well. Grogg came to have breakfast, and I kept up the charade, unconvinced of his ability to keep a straight face if I clued him in on my act.

I asked the innkeeper if it would be difficult to hire someone to take us back over the river. Not at all; with Sulla closed, business here was slow, and many would be eager to earn a few coins. I glanced at Grogg, who had taken up needlework, and was embroidering ravens onto a piece of cloth. His steady hand surprised me, for he is usually rather clumsy.

I went to wake up Xipil and Lunari. A hunch told me we might want to get out of the area, in case they’d been observed last night and someone came to investigate. I left the inn to find transport while Xipil and Lunari got dressed.

We had walked a distance to the east, yesterday, so the rowers had to take us downriver again before crossing. Lunari ran his mouth off, telling tall tales and engaging the rowers in conversation. At one point I had to hint to him that he shouldn’t talk about the Farmers’ Republic.

We paid the rowers when we arrived at the makeshift harbor village outside Sulla. We found a ship going downriver tomorrow morning; it would make a short stop in Byblos before continuing towards Sam. The whole journey would take four days. Two groups of merchants and a trio of Amrosh cavalry had also bought passage.

Lunari and I haggled a little with the captain, as I thought he suggested an unreasonably high price at first. Grogg helping with loading the cargo would lower the price even further.

When we got a moment alone, Xipil and Lunari told Grogg and me what had happened at the stone circle last night. Xipil had meditated, and Lunari had thought that the spectral priests had noticed it somehow and became worried. Xipil alarmingly remembered nothing from his meditation. He was completely out of touch with reality, and failed to wake up even when Lunari painted on his face.

Lunari went to the marketplace to buy fabric for Grogg, the price of his labor. I stayed near and on the ship all day. We already had a cabin under deck where we could store our baggage and where we’d spend the nights aboard.

In the evening, Xipil pointed at some stars and told me that was the Snake constellation. I didn’t think it looked anything like a snake. What’s happening on the sky doesn’t interest me. Grogg asked if I could see a raven on his shoulder when I looked through the ring. I did. Apparently, the raven had disappeared inside him for a while. He held some food up for the imaginary raven to eat. I shook my head and went to bed.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.

Lunari asked if my tongue was split like Xipil’s. I pretended to be asleep.


9th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Someone from the crew knocked on the cabin door in the morning, impatient for Grogg’s help. The troll left the cabin and the rest of us went back to sleep.

When the ship cast off some time later, the Amrosh soldiers stood in the stern, looking back at Sulla. Lunari and I walked over to them to chat. Lunari told the story about how he and Grogg beat Gromgar, again. Something was disturbing one of the soldiers, a man named Batto, and he paid little attention to the story. I didn’t like the way he stared at me, and eventually, he dragged his companions away to their cabin.

I hurried down to our cabin which lies next door to theirs, and listened to the wall, indicating to Xipil, who was there to conceal his lizardness, that he should do the same. My hunch paid off, for Batto told the others, Hadi and Moshen, that I was a wanted killer, who had committed murder both on Amrosh land and in the capital. Xipil looked at me questioningly, but I only shrugged my shoulders and focused on the conversation behind the wall. Batto told his friends that he was a former member of an intelligence agency called the Moon Shadows, and as he still held some sway there, he took command of this situation. For now, they would pretend that nothing was wrong. I heard their door open and close, and then it was silent on the other side of the wall.

It is true that I’ve sent souls to You from those places, but I don’t consider myself a murderer any more than an executioner is. Xipil and I discussed possible escape routes. He wasn’t very keen on the idea of being interrogated, so if I run, he’ll come with me. We agreed that we needed to bring Lunari and Grogg up to speed on the situation, so we went up on deck where the crew had prepared soup.

Xipil went back to the cabin after eating, but I sat down with Lunari and explained to him about the Farmers’ Republic, a relatively safe subject, while keeping an eye on the Amrosh people. Moshen looked at us over his shoulder, and I smiled and waved. The separatist Farmers’ Republic is a topic best discussed in private, I explained to Lunari. The people living in the region of Arland to the south and west of Sam would very much like to have their own sovereign state. Talking in support of the Republic in the rest of Arland can get you arrested for sedition, while talking disparagingly of it while there can just as easily spell doom. In Sam, where I’m from, you need to be extra careful, for you never know who is listening.

I wanted to get Lunari down to the cabin, with Xipil keeping watch, before I broached the more urgent subject. Lunari asked if I’d share a drink with him tonight, and just as I acquiesced, one of the merchant parties drifted over. I felt we couldn’t leave them, so I waved Grogg over and asked if he could fetch Xipil.

I played moklatar with Lunari until Xipil arrived. I excused myself for a moment and told the lizard man that I wanted him to keep watch while I talked to Lunari and Grogg. As long as the Amrosh people were on deck, we should be able to talk safely.

The merchants were rather insistent that I should play more, and were clearly betting on the game. They kept badgering us to play, and in the end, I had to be rather blatant when I invited Lunari down to our cabin, but that took Grogg out of the picture. Lunari would have to fill him in later.

I revealed to the elf that I’m a bounty hunter, and that all my kills have been sanctioned, so I don’t consider myself a murderer. I admitted to have taken a life ten years or so ago, without orders, but claimed self-defense. I could hear the wheels turning in Lunari’s head when he calculated how young I must have been at the time. I left out that some of my kills were direct orders from You, that they weren’t recognized as legal by the gentiles. He wouldn’t understand. I told him I needed to pray, and he left me alone.

After a while, You gave me guidance. Batto, my accuser, may die if I choose to make it so. You showed indifference to the fate of the other man, Moshen, but Hadi must live to return to Amrosh. She had given me no indication that she was one of Your followers, so I struggled to see why. In her mid-twenties, she is rather cute, but that shouldn’t matter to a goddess. However, far be it from me to question Your wisdom.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:01 PM   #19
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 14 (2020-02-16)

24th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412 (continued)

I handed over my disguise kit, medicine kit and the sculpture head to Lunari for safekeeping, in case I needed to disappear over board. I opened the medicine kit and showed him my vial of brownish belladonna extract. He didn’t recognize the name, so I told him it was dangerous, and that he should get rid of it rather than be caught with it. Then I showed him the vial containing my own poison. I emphasized that this green-yellow liquid was even more lethal than the belladonna, and that if I vanished, he had to promise to empty the vial. I put an empty vial in my pouch, so I’d have a place to store the next batch.

Lunari has given me the impression of being a willing experimenter of unknown substances, but I had to warn him that in this case, curiosity would definitely kill the cat. They say that cats have nine lives, and I conceded that if he should somehow survive the belladonna, he might have one life left. The holy venom is strong!

If we are separated, Lunari should take Grogg to the Lazy Hound inn in Sam. Xipil too, unless he left with me, which was likely, because he said he didn’t want to be left behind to answer questions. He was concerned that the exoticness of being a lizard-man could land him in trouble.

Foreseeing the need to keep a watch tonight, Xipil tried to get some rest, while Lunari and I went back up on deck. Lunari asked the captain about the possibility of going on shore tonight, and learned that it would cost him dearly, for the captain planned to sail through the night.

I relaxed, leaning on the shed where the crew served the soup. Because of Your warning that Hadi shouldn’t be harmed, I wanted to have a word with her, out of earshot of the other Amrosh soldiers, who at the moment were talking with her near the middle of the ship. Catching her on the way to or from the “lavatory” on the bow should give me that opportunity.

I had told Xipil and Lunari that Hadi wasn’t to be harmed, and Lunari tried flirting with her, but she seemed to reject him, so he walked around on deck for a while before going downstairs. To my surprise, Hadi followed him down. I thought I’d give them a quarter of an hour before following, but just as I was about to leave my post, Hadi reemerged. She walked over to Batto and Moshen and sat down with them, but didn’t engage in the conversation, instead staring off into the distance.

I waited and waited. Grogg was still playing moklatar with the merchants. The Amrosh soldiers finished their dragged-out meal and moved further away from me, towards the stern. Just then, Grogg got up and approached me, and said, without looking directly at me, “Kraa, kraa! Can you help me win a game?” I asked if he was talking to me, but he just hushed me. I could hear wings flap around him, but saw no bird. A feeling of dread settled in my stomach as he returned to the moklatar board. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but it was obvious he lost. His clumsy hands even overturned the board a couple of times during the game. I can’t fathom why he thinks of that spirit raven as a blessing. Can’t he see it for the curse that it is?

Lunari came up on deck again and helped himself to the last, cold soup while requesting my presence in our cabin. He stopped to talk with Grogg before following me, but Xipil had overheard the conversation between Lunari and Hadi while pretending to sleep, and told me that she wanted Lunari to pay the captain to stop in Daram. I told Xipil that it’s an outpost on the Amrosh border. Lunari confirmed the tale when he came down. I didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, if we could use the landing for our own purpose in some way, and told him I needed to think on it.

I returned to my post, and Lunari followed me there after a few minutes. Lunari told me he had paid the captain to dock at Daram, but I didn’t have time to berate him before Hadi passed us, glancing at Lunari as she went by. She stopped behind the shed and I made as if to walk away, but in fact positioned myself inside the shed so I could hear what she had to say to Lunari. The elf joined her and told her that he’d arranged to borrow the captain’s cabin so the two of them could have some privacy tonight. She reluctantly agreed to meet him there, and I felt anger rising inside me.

When Lunari left, I rounded the shed and initiated a conversation about how difficult it is to be a beautiful woman alone in male company. With a broken voice, Hadi told me how chauvinistic men are. She gave numerous examples of how Batto and Moshen didn’t treat her with respect, but said nothing about being physically abused or molested. Had she done so, I’d have gone back and murdered the both of them, witnesses be damned! She never mentioned Lunari, so I expect he’s been respectful enough.

Hadi suddenly clammed up with a horrified expression in her face when she realized she was opening her heart to a murderer. A hunch caused me to flash her Your greeting, and she grabbed my shoulders and said “they” would take me in Daram. She didn’t dare to say any more, and left.

I watched the moklatar players for a while before going below. Xipil informed me that he had heard sobbing from the Amrosh cabin. Filled with compassion, I knocked on Hadi’s door, knowing that she was alone. She didn’t answer until I identified myself, and she didn’t want to open the door, even then. I asked if there was anything I could do for her, and she begged me to talk to Lunari and let him know she wouldn’t visit him tonight.

I went back up on deck, and when Lunari finished his game, I waved him over so we could talk without anyone overhearing us unseen. “You’re not likely to have female company tonight,” I began. Something Hadi had told me clicked into place, and I continued by telling him I thought that Batto had already paid the captain to stop at Daram. Lunari suggested shaping wood to make a hidden compartment for me to hide inside, so they wouldn’t find me when they searched the ship.

I went down to the cabin and told Xipil about Lunari’s plan, but he was unconvinced that Lunari could hide me well enough to fool them. Batto seemed like a guy who could tear the ship apart, looking for me. Instead, we agreed to leave as soon as it got dark, hopefully hours before reaching Daram. Lunari could make a temporary hole in the wall, so the two of us could slip out and into the river without making loud splashes.

Lunari came inside and we told him our decision. He declared that I needed to take my suspicious stuff back, for he didn’t want to have it found in his possession. Xipil and I emptied two waterskins and filled them with air, and tied them to my overstuffed backpack.

I borrowed pen and paper from Xipil, and wrote a note: “Batto: Meet me in the garden outside Atan under the full moon at end of the month. Come alone if you dare!” I didn’t sign it, but I didn’t think he’d have much difficulty figuring out who had written it. I have no intention of going deep inside Amrosh territory to meet him, alone or otherwise, and he might easily see through the ruse. However, as he couldn’t be entirely certain I was lying, he’d probably send someone, just to check, someone who therefore wouldn’t be following my true path.

The bell rang for the evening meal – soup again, as promised – and I went up to fetch food for Xipil. All the Amrosh soldiers were on deck, so I slipped inside their cabin. I quickly identified which pack was Hadi’s, and put the note in one of the others. I went back up to keep an eye on the soldiers afterwards.

When the sky started darkening, the soldiers went below decks, and I told Lunari it was time. We went down to the cabin, and I took off my dress while Lunari waved his hands over the wall, the wood opening silently under his spell. I rolled up the dress tightly, hoping that would prevent it from soaking up too much water, all the while standing behind Lunari.

Xipil slid through the hole easily, and I approached it, holding my backpack close in front of me, robbing Lunari of as much view as possible. I imagined he was drooling over my backside while I passed the pack to Xipil and followed the lizard-man into the water.

It was a long and exhausting swim to the west bank. We took a breath while I retrieved my dress, cloak and shoes from the backpack. They were all wet, of course, but it was better than going around naked. Xipil noticed that I have better eyesight than he does in the dark. I refrained from telling him it was a gift from You. He’s too new to the faith to learn such secrets.

We walked for an hour and reached a village. Two militiamen kept watch on the docks, but they were easy to evade; we just had to keep out of the light of their lantern. We searched the village for a chapel, but without luck. Instead, we stole a small rowboat. One of the guards gave me a fright when he erupted with laughter, but we got away unseen.

Xipil knew how to steer our magnificent vessel, and gave me instructions. We alternated rowing and resting. While I rowed, he had a line and a hook with which he tried to catch some food. He had caught two small fishes when we saw lights ahead. This had to be the border to the King’s land. We braved the turbulence in the middle of the river so we wouldn’t be seen. It was exciting for a while, but we passed the lights safely and Xipil rowed closer to the shore before suggesting I get some sleep.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
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Old 02-20-2020, 12:12 PM   #20
coronatiger
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 14 (2020-02-16)

10th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

Dawn was upon us when Xipil woke me up, and I hadn’t slept very long. Should we go ashore and hide, continuing downriver when it got dark again? I pondered for a while, and came to the conclusion that while it was less likely that we’d be seen at night, in this region it’s regarded as very suspicious to be active after dark. We agreed that it was safer to travel by day. I went back to sleep, instructing Xipil to wake me before he got too tired to steer.

Just after he woke me again, we heard Lunari’s voice hailing us from behind. Should we acknowledge him? What if there were Amrosh soldiers on the ship still? We had passed Daram, so it was unlikely. I asked Xipil if he wanted to borrow a knife or two, just in case, but he said he had his own. I waved back at Lunari, and we were soon back on board.

The Amrosh cabin was empty, and Lunari told us we shouldn’t mention our nightly excursion to Grogg, who was still sleeping. The voices woke him up, though, and he showed us that he had sewn a star. It actually didn’t look too bad, and we all complimented him on the artwork.

Lunari and Grogg had had their own adventures last night. Batto had drugged Grogg with crow’s toes, and the troll had been high as a kite when the soldiers, reinforced from Daram, had searched the ship. Batto had been furious that I had vanished from under his nose, and had kept the ship at the dock under guard until morning. Lunari also mentioned that Moshen had asked him why I had sympathized with Hadi, who apparently had vanished as well, and now the elf wanted me to explain myself. I told Lunari that Hadi didn’t have an easy life, being a pretty girl alone among men.

Grogg brought up that I’d had sex with Lunari, only that Lunari was away with Xipil looking at stone circles at the time. He couldn’t see how I’d managed that. I apologized for confusing him, but explained that the ruse was intended to persuade the others at the inn that none of us had snuck onto private land in the middle of the night. He had to agree that nobody doubted that Lunari had been there. Lunari complained that I only had made sex noises for about fifteen minutes; he could keep it going for at least fifteen hours, he bragged. “I’m sorry,” I lied, “I’d had so much to drink I fell asleep.”

The soup bell sounded, and I climbed up to get food for everyone. The captain was there, and I engaged him in conversation. He complained about the Amrosh soldiers, they’d seemed hell-bent on harassing his crew and his passengers. He had recognized their authority, but it had nearly come to blows. I started flirting with him, giving the impression that I needed a protector, someone like him. I excused myself, saying I should take the soup below to my companions. When I got down there, I removed my knife belt and hidden cloth armor, expecting there to be at least some fondling later.

I continued flirting with the captain, and he allowed me to overhear him telling one of the merchant parties that we wouldn’t be docking at Byblos after all, because of the delay at Daram, and since everyone onboard were going to Sam… That was one concern I could put behind me.

I stayed with the captain the rest of the day, keeping him company while he did his marine duties. We talked for a long while, and then he suggested we share a bottle of wine in his cabin. I feared where this might be leading, but I needed to keep him wrapped tightly around my little finger, so I could stand a little discomfort. I’ve faked orgasms before. However, it didn’t come to that, for I fell asleep snuggled up to him while we were passing the bottle back and forth.

He had wrapped me in a blanket on the bench and lay in the hammock when I woke. He said good morning and offered to get food for us. Confused, I sat up, but I said yes, please. The small window told me it was darkening outside. I touched the floor and said my evening prayer, not knowing if I was going to be private again before I went to sleep.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will.

The captain brought back a bowl of soup for each of us and some bread, and retrieved another bottle of wine from his locked cabinet. He told me what the Amrosh soldiers had accused me of, and I feigned horror. Of course, he didn’t believe them! Anyone could see I wasn’t capable of such fell deeds.


11th of Mitra’s Second Month, year 412

O Ashtar, Mother of Snakes, Keeper of Death’s Door, hear my confession!

I woke on the bench with the captain’s arm over me. I stirred to confirm that my sartorial integrity was unviolated, and my movements awakened him. We made some small talk and visited the soup station. Lunari came over while the captain poured for me, and mentioned that he needed me to teach Grogg about the nasty side effects that overuse of crow’s toes might have.

Grogg had been productive with his needlework yesterday, and I could see a small banner he had embroidered with a raven-and-moklatar-piece motif when I went down to bring Xipil some food. The troll was still asleep, so Xipil and I ate in silence. I didn’t have the chance to brush my teeth last night, so I did so now. Xipil and I prayed quietly together, and then I went back upstairs.

Lunari was playing the violin, and the captain was singing, so I danced for them. Afterwards, I seized the captain’s arm and followed him around while he gave instructions to the crew. Occasionally, I stepped in to give him a hand when it looked like I could be useful, and he often signaled that the task was done by putting an arm around my waist. It was actually kind of nice, for his hands didn’t wander. The crew would remark suggestively from time to time, but we both ignored them.

I quickly brought Xipil lunch when the bell sounded again, then hurried back so I could keep an eye on the captain. I had him right where I wanted, and it wouldn’t do to let him drift. I started spinning a story about living in Istan, but he seemed more familiar up there than I was, so I changed the tale to having visited recently instead.

We retreated to his cabin eventually, and had fun drinking wine, singing and telling stories until he yawned and said he had to go to bed. I acknowledged that I was tired as well. He invited me to join him in his hammock, his disarming gestures making it clear that he expected nothing, so I lay down next to him, my head on his shoulder.

O Ashtar! I surrender my life to Your coils. Take me while I sleep, or grant me another day in Your service, as You will. Forgive me for not touching the ground.
__________________
You don't need to spend 100 CP on Status 5 [25] and Multimillionaire [75] to feel like a princess, when Delusion [-10] will do.

Character sheet: Google Drive link (See this thread for details.)

Campaign logs: Chaotic Pioneering / Confessions of a Forked Tongue
coronatiger is offline   Reply With Quote
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