The line into Nibenay was long. The music continued to play and everyone swayed to the tune. After an hour, the group finally reached the gates. They were nervous, Aziza is an escaped slave from Nibenay. The gate guard asked them their business and had them pay two bits per leg to get inside the gates.
The sights of Nibenay overwhelmed Ren, who had never been to a city before, and he stared blankly at the carvings and colorful clothing of the city. Seeing an attractive topless Templar caused him to blush. Yaotl pushed Ren along, not wanting to attract attention.
|The krama is the checkered head covering.|
Cyrus saw all the krama wearing Nibnese and noticed the strange looks he, and his companions, were receiving. A merchant called out to them that the look like outsiders, because of their clothing. Cyrus, Ren, and Aziza bought some new clothes, including kramas of their own. Yaotl simply bartered for a new pair of boots and new clothes for Basheera. Cyrus insisted on buying expensive clothes, snake skin boots, a embroidered linen shirt, and high quality breeches. He noticed that Nibnese attitudes, toward him, changed for the better.
Ren saw a blind man, begging for food, so he used his psionic ability regeneration to heal his eyes. It took an hour and Yaotl grew impatient, wanting to find the men, who had been enslaved, and get out as soon as possible. Cyrus was approached by a man, wearing similar clothes, and was asked about “his” Mul. He offered to wager Ren against his own Mul, but Cyrus refused, explaining that Ren was free. The man repeated his offer to Ren, who was forced to decline, when he realized the fight is to the death.
As Ren was healing the next needy person, when a child rushed up to Cyrus and begged for money, food, or water. Cyrus was slightly annoyed by the child’s insistent begging, but handed over a water skin with half a gallon of water. Ren then encountered a man with one hand, named Chigaru. Ren healed him and Chigaru stated that he has a debt to Ren.
The party fought through the crowds, but eventually found the slave market. It didn’t take them long to find the Shom slave warehouse. A portly man greeted them. They explained that they were looking for specific men, who have been enslaved. He escorted the group, under guard, to the back of the warehouse and showed them his new stock. Gahiji, was among the slaves.
|In Nibenay, all the building are carved.|
The Shom agent wanted 25 ceramic for him. That would take a lot of the groups money and they feared it would leave them with too little to purchase the two others. The Shom agent thought the group looked able bodied enough and offered them a job, for all three of the slaves, if he can locate the other two. The group said they can discuss it if he is able to locate the other two. The Shom agent told them to come back in the morning. They group quickly negotiated for Gahiji's release, for 20 ceramic, and departed.
The group wandered into the first inn they found, the sign simply had a picture of a bed. The inn was noisy, rowdy, and smelled awful. The group decided it was perfect. After purchasing some watered down rice ale, for 2 bits a piece, they purchased a room for the night, the last room available. Prostitutes attempted to entice the group, but they declined.
The room was small, only able to fit four people, laying down. Yaotl and Ren stayed up, while Gahiji, Fenuku, Basheera, Aziza, and Cyrus went to sleep. Yaotl and Ren sat at the bar and a prostitute propositioned them again. Yaotl pays her to “have a tumble” with Ren. Ren was powerless when confronted with her “charms” and went into a room with her. During the tumble, Ren called out Aziza's name. Aziza, being a notoriously light sleeper, woke up, when she heard her name.
She exited the room and saw Yaotl sitting at the bar.
“Where's Ren?” She asked.
“He is laying with a woman.” Yaotl bluntly answered.
Aziza nodded, “Okay.” She then went back to bed.
Ren and the prostitute exited the room. She thanked Yaotl and went back to work. Ren was a little shocked, having never been with a woman before. He sat and talked with Yaotl about the power woman have over men. Ren is convinced it's the Way, but Yaotl insists it simply is. Yaotl then told Ren that Aziza was asking about him, while he was with that woman. Ren grew visibly irritated at the news and left the inn. Yaotl followed from a distance.
Ren located another man, this one missing his nose, and used his psionics to heal him. They shared bread and water, before Ren continued on. A group of men approached Ren, although they had clubs in their hands, they were very nice and offered to buy Ren a drink.
They went to an ale house and started buying Ren drinks, asking him about himself and revealing very little about themselves. After his fourth ale, Yaotl decided it was enough. He approached Ren and told him it was time to go. The men and Ren argued that everything was fine. They offered to buy Yaotl an ale, but he declined. After a brief argument, Ren left with Yaotl.
While they walked back to the inn, Ren complained that everyone treated him like a child. Yaotl tried to explain that cities were dangerous and they were just looking out for him. Ren disagreed, stating that everyone in the city seemed nice enough and he should be treated like an adult.
When they got back to the inn, Yaotl insisted Ren lay down, waking Aziza and Gahiji. Ren initially refused, but finally laid down. When Yaotl was relaxing, Ren used his psionic ability of cause sleep to knock Yaotl out. As he was sneaking out of the room, he saw Gahiji and Aziza sitting together at the bar. Gahiji put his hand on top of hers. Ren grew immensely jealous and contemplated starting a fight, but relented when Aziza pulled her hand away.
Ren attempted to leave the inn, but was not sneaking very well and Aziza easily saw him. He insisted on going out and Aziza said she would accompany him. Gahiji was happy to go back to sleep. After two hours of helping unfortunate people, Aziza felt exhausted and Ren carried her back to the inn. Aziza and Ren rearranged the room, sitting the notoriously deep sleeping Cyrus up, as well as forcing Gahiji and Fenuku to sleep the same way. Aziza sat up herself and went to sleep. Ren sat outside the door and meditated.
Everyone woke up and got ready for the day; Ren photosynthesized, Cyrus, Kaza, and Yaotl prayed for spells. They went back to the Shom slave warehouse. The portly Shom agent was there and had the other two slaves. He outlined the job.
The Shom agent had discovered a possible mine that was abandoned, but may hold some valuable ore. He simply wanted the group to escort a man into the mine to verify the information and learn if the mine is worth devoting time and money into reopening. He would house the two slaves and not mistreat them, or sell them, for a week. He would also return the 20 ceramic for the third slave.
Yaotl said that the group needed to discuss the situation before agreeing to any job, but the Shom agent told them that those two slaves were due to be auctioned off that afternoon, so they should discuss it quickly. Yaotl doesn't trust the Shom agent, but he assures Yaotl that the merchant code forbids him from breaking a contract. They had few options, so the group agreed. The Shom agent spit in his palm, as did Cyrus, and the shook on it.
The group went to the market and equipped themselves. They housed Fenuku, Gahiji, and Basheera at an inn. Aziza seemed to know the staff, but answered to an alias. Cyrus paid for the room and Aziza gave them a few ceramics to cover additional costs.
While the group was leaving the inn, the prince of Nibenay appeared, escorted by Half-Giants. Everyone scrambled to get out of his way, pressing themselves together next to the buildings. The half-man, half-cilops, strode proudly down the street. The group tried not to stare, but the prince was shocking to behold. After he passed, the group continued on.
|Pictured: Full Cilops|
The group met the Shom client, whom they would be escorting to the mine, near the Nibenay's west gate. They did not ask his name, nor did he offer it. They left the city with no trouble and marched toward their destination.
When they encountered the Crescent Forest, the group all stared, wide-eyed at the abundance of trees. Only Aziza had seen it before, but this was the only time she had seen it as a free woman. They recovered and walked past the Nibenay lumber camps, only being harassed by a low level Templar once.
Yaotl and Ren walked together and spoke quietly about how to woo a woman. Yaotl, being from Draj, gave Ren ideas based on his culture. His ideas included killing a creature, the more fierce the better, and presenting it to her. This, according to Yaotl, would show that Ren was a provider and a protector. They should then drink the hearts blood of the creature together.
When the group was out of sight, Yaotl started a small, controlled fire, burning some undergrowth to help the trees. He stated he wanted to burn the whole forest, but Athas was not ready for it. Night fell while the group was in the forest and they set up camp among the giant roots of the agafari trees.
Yaotl and Ren set off to hunt. They found a large bird and Yaotl killed it with a snare. He stated that it is not enough and set off to hunt again. A voice called out that he had hunted enough. Yaotl and Ren searched for the voice, but were unable to locate it.
Meanwhile, back at camp, a Half-Elf man emerged from the underbrush. He introduced himself and lectured them about respecting the forest and the creatures in it. Cyrus assured the visitor that they would only use what they needed and had no reason to harm the forest. Seemingly satisfied, the Half-Elf departed back into the underbrush.
Yaotl prepared the birds and told Ren how to cook them. He told him to share the birds with her. When they returned to camp, Ren began cooking the birds and Yaotl told everyone that Ren killed them and there was only enough for two. This wasn't true, the birds were quite large, big enough for eight. When the birds were done cooking, Yaotl nodded to Ren when they were done, Ren took them and offered them to Aziza, stating he got them for her.
Aziza was confused, she could not eat two large birds, and shared with the rest of the group, including the Shom client. When she sat back down and offered Ren some, he stated that the birds were not fierce enough to impress her and set back off, into the forest. Still confused, Aziza chased after him. Ren had a decent head start and was having an easier time circumventing the roots and undergrowth. Aziza used her psionic ability of animal affinity and took on the movement of a giant scorpion. She easily caught up with Ren.
“Ren, what are you doing?” She asked.
“The birds were not good enough.” Ren answered, “I need to kill something fierce.”
“What?” Aziza asked, bewildered, “Why do you need to kill something fierce.”
“To show I can protect you.”
“You think I need protecting?” Aziza asks, angrily.
“Yaotl said it would impress you.” Ren further explained, avoiding her question.
“Why are you trying to impress me?”
“Yaotl said that if I impressed you, we could..” He blushed and turned his head away.
“Oh Ren, I thought you were over this. When you laid with that woman, I thought you saw that I am not what you really want.”
“But those women aren't like you, they're not strong like you.” Ren explained.
“Ren, you are a wonderful man.” She explained, “You're like a brother to me.”