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Old 10-02-2021, 02:24 AM   #34
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Trondheim, Norway
Default Session 66 (2021-09-29)

21st of Ratanu, year 412 (continued)

I spent the evening kneeling in the corner in communion with You. My friends sat around the table talking, and I heard the door open and close several times as they went to and fro. When the room had been silent for a while, I opened my eyes and turned around. Only Yana remained; her reassuring smile told me nobody had done anything foolish. Yana said she had arranged a bedroom for us upstairs, with thick walls and a door that you’d have to put your ear to in order to hear anything through it. We grabbed our packs and went to check it out. Yana asked if we should order food and drink, but I said I only wanted to sleep.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.

22nd of Ratanu, year 412

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

I woke when Yana began to stir. She squirmed against my back and her hands made it clear what she wanted. Her caresses were nice, but I felt too exhausted to respond even after a good night’s sleep, so after a while she got up and picked up her sewing.

I alternated between dozing and watching Yana work. After a couple of hours, Wolfram knocked on our door. He said our Nulius contact had arrived and wanted everyone to gather downstairs in fifteen minutes. Yana glanced over her shoulder at me, and I nodded and began the arduous process of dragging myself out of bed. Downstairs, servants had placed bowls of fruit in our private dining room, and Yana threw herself at the food. I picked up an apple and fiddled with it; actually biting into it seemed too much work.

After a few minutes, someone knocked on the door and Wolfram told them to enter. The man who had been with the “guard” at the Golden Arrow came inside. His eyes swept over the room. I could tell he was evaluating each of us, but he hid it well, so I don’t think anyone else noticed.

The spy said that Nulius wanted to give us a free pass into his organization. He promised whatever we desired of equipment and information if we would but do one mission for them. There was a village east of here called Ossei where something supernatural had happened on the night between the eighteenth and the nineteenth. If the rumors he had heard was right, Larma or someone religious were involved, and Nulius had thought we’d throw ourselves into the investigation. Wolfram agreed eagerly, and Grogg muttered about us doing something that night. I asked the spy if we could have a few minutes to discuss between ourselves if we would take on this task.

Xipil made sure the spy didn’t listen at the door after he left. Since nobody else had recognized the name of the village, I informed them that Ossei was the village on the main road where I had tracked down and killed the fleeing Tivito cultist after our battle at the demon-bear-haunted farm. I said I could give the spy a convincing explanation of what happened in Ossei and how I knew what had occurred. Yana whispered to me that if anyone were going to lie, it should be me. She didn’t think any of our friends could deceive a professional liar, and I nodded agreement. I spent the rest of the time until the spy came back convincing Wolfram and Xipil that I should do all the talking. If they tried being clever with technical or half-truths, they would reveal more than they intended.

I explained to the spy when he returned that I had been in Ossei at the time in question, and that the others had been nearby. From my observations and what I reasoned out afterwards, two people were killed that night, a guard lieutenant and an outside visitor to the village whom I was reasonably sure was a member of Tivito. However, I noticed nothing supernatural myself, nor did I hear any believable rumors of such, although it would be hard to say what Tivito was up to, and I’ve heard all kinds of things about them, both believable and not.

The spy was surprised to get this information already, and praised Nulius’s uncanny ability to know exactly who to ask. He said what I had told him might be enough, and in an attempt to seem helpful and cooperative, I said we had debated whether we should return to Ossei and see if we could find out what caused rumors of the supernatural, but since he seemed satisfied with the information we had already given, we’d rather not since we had things to take care of in Byblos and leaving wasn’t as straightforward now as in normal times.

The spy left to report and Grogg went to fetch Hylda and all the stuff from our former inn. Wolfram missed his gear, but didn’t want to brave the streets now that people were returning outside after the curfew. Everyone else had another helping from the fruit bowls, but I still only fiddled with my apple.

After an hour or so, the spy returned. He claimed to have good news, but first wanted to know what Wolfram and Grogg had been doing on the night in question. I told him they were sleeping, but he wanted to hear it from them. He offered to send us another batch of the house’s beer and let us finish our meal before coming back. I hurriedly tasted the beer when a server brought it, but perceived nothing off about the taste, so I allowed the server to enter the room and do his job.

We were still debating when the spy knocked again, and Xipil asked for another fifteen minutes. The spy sent more beer. Xipil insisted on telling everything to the spy. Wolfram thought the truth was too valuable to give up at this point. I tried convincing them that admitting what we had done would be foolish.

When the spy returned, I joined him in the hallway outside the door. I told him we had kept our part of the original agreement, and that he ought to deliver what he had promised. What Grogg and Wolfram – or anyone else for that matter – did under their blankets at night was none of his business. The spy asked why we were talking about this in the hallway; he sensed that I didn’t want the others to speak on the matter. Xipil opened the door and we went inside, and I repeated what I had just said and hoped the others would play along with my plan and let me do the lying.

Unlike what he had promised earlier, the spy was unwilling to give us anything. I asked if he could arrange a meeting between us and Nulius. He said he could try, but it would be difficult. I knew Xipil had seen Nulius at least twice here in Byblos, and whispered to him to ask if he could get me in with him. Xipil asked how long I could hold my breath, and while Xipil thought it might be possible to take me along his underwater path, I wasn’t so sure. Grogg distracted the spy by pulling up his trouser leg and showing his battle scars. “I got this from a flaming knife!” he said and pointed.

Apparently, it was Nulius’s organization who paid for our stay here at the Lame Mule, and Xipil asked the spy how long we could remain. We could stay however long we wished, the spy said before taking his leave.

Xipil asked if we should visit the Tsovin and Vagan temple to see if a letter had arrived for Biskutello, but I claimed to have a headache. Yana asked if I wanted her to stay to take care of me, but I told her to do as she pleased. She preferred to remain, she said, and we smiled lovingly at each other.

Xipil cast a spell to make himself look like Biskutello and had Yana look him over. She thought he looked like a disguised me. Wolfram didn’t want Xipil to lie to the priests at the post office, and would rather have him say he was a representative of Biskutello. Xipil retorted that Wolfram should do that himself, but Wolfram passed the task to Grogg, who agreed to go with Xipil and Hylda.

I declared I was going upstairs to lie down, and Yana put her arm around my waist to support me. Xipil followed us with his eyes as we left. I wasn’t sure if he believed I was unwell. In our room, I confessed to Yana that I didn’t really have a headache, but I just felt so tired it would be too much of a bother to go out. Concerned about my lack of an appetite, Yana chopped up some fruit and enticed me to eat it.

On his return to the Lame Mule, Xipil came up and knocked on our door. Yana opened. Xipil said he had received a message in Arani, which Yana asked to see. I pretended to be asleep and watched the exchange through nearly closed eyelids. Yana looked over her shoulder at me, but I gave no signal to indicate that she shouldn’t tell the truth, so she admitted to Xipil that we had sent this note at a time when we believed someone was spying on us.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, watching Yana sew. She was still working on those flowers. Although she was extremely skilled and made each flower unique, I was starting to grow bored with that project. Watching Yana, though, was not something I would ever lose interest in doing. When it was time for dinner, Yana forced me to sit up and eat with her.

O Ashtar! We surrender our lives to Your coils. Take us while we sleep, or grant us another day in Your service, as You will.

The clopping of hooves outside woke me. I estimated around five riders, give or take a couple, and they made quite a ruckus. I shook Yana awake. “Get dressed and wake the others!” I ordered while trying to put on my cloth armor. Yana gave me a hand with it and then we both put on our dresses. I wrapped my knife belt around my waist while Yana went for the door, but someone hammered on it just as she reached for the handle. I rushed over and opened, one hand on a hilt behind my back. Outside stood the spy from before. He wanted us to come with him.
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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