Monday, November 11, 2013

The Affluent and the Mendicant


Without another word, Ren turned and began walking away. “Let's go.”
Everyone followed. They marched until dusk, the undergrowth slowing them considerably. They searched for a safe place to camp, but found nothing. They decided to keep a double watch that night, because they felt exposed.
An hour before dawn, Rata and Ren were watching. Rata was telling a convoluted story that Ren was having trouble following. The story was so dull that it was challenging Ren's Mul endurance. Out of the forest emerged an erdlu. Before Ren could speak, it grabbed Rata's backpack and tried to run. Rata got dragged off the log he was sitting on and he screamed in surprise. Everyone woke from the scream.
Ren quickly used psionics to put the erdlu to sleep. Aziza, Cyrus, and Yaotl laughed at Rata's misfortune. Once the shock of the incident wore off, Rata had to laugh as well.
Ren checked the erdlu for marks, or a harness of some kind. He found none, so he tied a rope around the creatures neck. Once it awoke, it panicked and tried to run, but Ren held it tight. Yaotl quickly walked over to the beast and calmed it down.
“This can be useful for the village.” Ren suggested.
Yaotl simply replied, “Indeed.”
Yaotl checked the sex of the erdlu and discovered it was male.
The group packed up camp and began the arduous march through the Crescent Forest. A few hours into their march, they ran into a group of four foot long scorpions.
I hate it when dinner fights back.

The scorpions and Yaotl were surprised. Ren attempted to activate accelerate, but failed. Rata blessed the group, Aziza used the psionic ability flesh armor, Cyrus shot at the scorpions with his longbow, and Alroy ran and hid behind Cyrus.
The man who swore to serve Ren rushed in front of him, as the scorpions rushed up to attack. Ren was struck, but the scorpion's poison did not effect him. Ren's guardian was struck a few times and fell. He died and the group had never even learned his name.

Cyrus continued shooting at the scorpions, Aziza, Yaotl, and Rata rushed forward to engage the beasts. The group concentrated on the scorpions one at a time. One of the scorpions struck the side of Ren's knee and knocked him to the ground. Another scorpion grabbed Ren's head and began squeezing it with it's huge pincer.
Ren wrestled free, as the party slashed and clubbed the scorpion. Ren was dizzy, but didn't back down. Soon, the beasts were dead.
Ren sat down and Rata rushed to his side to heal him. Cyrus investigated the scorpions corpses and determined that they might have a lair nearby. Ren took the opportunity to loot his fallen bodyguard. His hide breastplate passed to Cyrus and Cyrus gave his leather breastplate to Alroy.
“These creatures drag prey back to their lair to eat them.” Cyrus began, “It's possible there might be someone alive there. We should find it.”
Rata tracked the creatures to their lair, but the opening was too small for anyone in the party to squeeze through. The lair was a hole in the ground, with a large rock on top. With a bit of effort, Ren was able to move the rock and expose their lair. Then, Ren crawled inside and found a considerable amount of bones, of both sentient and non-sentient creatures.
Most of the bodies still had their belongs. Not being one to let things go to waste, Ren began gathering anything of value. After scrounging the dead, Ren had gathered 1,000 bits and 2,000 ceramic. He wrapped the coins into his cloak and hauled it out of the lair. The group divided the money out to those who could carry the extra weight.
They continued marching toward Nibenay. Complaints about the difficulty of their journey decreased dramatically after the treasure was discovered. The march seemed somehow easier, even though they were more encumbered.
The group marched until dusk, then began searching for a place to rest. Cyrus found a tree that had fallen against another and formed a natural canopy. The group began building a fire and rolling out bedrolls. Yaotl tried to cook dinner, but burned it. Everyone one ended up eating rations instead. Everyone set out to find water, which was surprisingly easy in the forest. Then, they went to sleep, with Ren keeping watch.
In the morning, they packed up and marched on. Alroy complained about his feet getting cut up, because he had no shoes, and Rata healed him. They avoided the logging camps and emerged through the forest just after high sun. They could see the sprawling metropolis of Nibenay below.
Home to approximately 24,000 Athasians.
Discussing the matter quickly, it was decided to remove Alroy's slave tattoo. Yaotl painfully burned it off, then Ren healed his wrist with psionics. Those who had kramas put them on.
They made their way down the pass and toward the dancing gates. Thankfully, the line was short and in about twenty minutes, they arrived at the gate. The guards harassed them about run away slaves, but Ren paid them a bribe and the guards let them through.
The group rushed to the inn, where they had housed their wards. Entering, they found Fenuku behind the bar serving drinks. Aziza walks to the opposite side of the bar and has a quiet conversation with the actual barkeep.
Fenuku smiled when the group entered. Yaotl and Ren walked up to the bar.
“How's everything going?” Ren asked.
“Good, good.” Fenuku answered, still smiling, “I'm just doing some work, got to have some money.”
Ren smiled back, “Good, so everything is fine.”
Fenuku looked around, obviously confused, “Yes, everything is fine.”
Ren visibly relaxed just as Yaotl asked, “How is Basheera?”
Fenuku laughed, “Good, she's good. She's been asking about you. In fact, she won't shut up about you. She's out with Gahiji right now.”
Ren explained that they would return shortly and the group made their way to the emporium of House Shom. They easily found the Shom slaver they had dealt with prior and after social and psionic interrogation, convinced him that they had not killed Nuru, but that he was a traitor, luring men to their doom. More importantly, they convinced him that the mine was a tomb. He offered to buy Alroy, but the party declined. Aziza was visibly upset.
The flag of Marchant House Shom.
Keeping to the bargain, the Shom merchant released the two remaining slaves from the unnamed village, Jabrek and Tubaloth. The two slaves were malnourished and dehydrated. They stumbled after Aziza and Rata and were led back to the inn. She paid to house, water, and feed them. Then, she and Rata headed to the Elven market to look for illegal material components.
Yaotl, Ren, Alroy, and Cyrus went to the freeman's market and shop for armor. They meet a jovial armorer named Rasui, who surprises Ren by telling him that he has four wives. He bargains with Yaotl and sells him a obsidian banded mail breastplate, sleeves, and an agafari shield. When the group mentioned Alroy's need for footwear and that Yaotl wanted to get Basheera a gift, Rasui explained that he a had a couple of brothers in law who could supply them and he sent his son to get the goods they wanted.
Ren left, while Yaotl and Cyrus were talking with Rasui, and found a tailor. He purchased a silk gown, embroidered with agafari trees, sized for Aziza. He then went to a jewelers shop, where he purchased a copper necklace, inlaid with an expensive gem. He had them wrap them up for him.
Yaotl asked Rasui if he knew anyone who could appraise gems and Rasui suggested one of his fathers in law. The party thanked Rasui and gave him a 10 ceramic tip.
Yaotl went to get the gems appraised and was surprised to find a flawless fire opal in the mix. He decided to keep it, as it was an honor to the Lords of Flame.
The Lords of Flame are pleased.
Cyrus and Ren sneaked off, as Yaotl walked back through Nibenay's crowded streets to the inn. Cyrus and Ren waited for the Shom slaver to leave the emporium. When he did, he was surrounded by four Mul guards, who escorted him to a large villa in the merchant sector of the city.
Meanwhile, Yaotl had found Basheera at the inn and was listening to her ramble about what went on while he was gone. She loved the doll he had purchased for her and began asking him questions about his journey. Yaotl answered the questions, leaving out the gruesome details.
Everyone returned to the inn and had a delicious meal. They teased Yaotl, saying they were glad nothing was burned. Ren said he thought the meal was too extravagant, but ate it all the same.
They purchased two extra rooms and retired for the night. Ren, Cyrus, and Yaotl all took one room and gave Aziza her own. Aziza was immediately suspicious and stayed awake. Ren and Cyrus waited until they thought everyone was asleep and sneaked out of their room. Aziza opened her door and confronted Ren.
“What are you doing?” Aziza demanded.
“Nothing.” Ren lied.
“I knew you were up to something when you didn't try to finagle yourself into my room.”
Aziza was smart, so Ren tried a half-truth, “I'm just going to get you a gift.”
Aziza sighed, “Just don't do anything stupid.” Then, she turned to Cyrus, “Don't let him do anything stupid.”
Cyrus nodded, “Of course.”
“Would it help to be invisible?” Aziza asked.
Ren smiled, “Yes, it would.”
Ren ran back inside his room and got the package he had purchased earlier. He gave it to Aziza and told her it was a gift and he would be back shortly. Aziza turned them invisible and picked up the package Ren had given her. Before she could open it, Cyrus and Ren rushed outside, into the night.
Many of the markets were still open, so the streets were far from empty. Ren handed Cyrus a small piece of rope, so they could stay close together. They moved toward their destination with relative ease. After an hour, they reached their destination, the villa of the Shom slaver.
A party was being held and guards were stationed along the wall. Cyrus teleported himself and Ren onto one of the villa's balconies. The noise from the party obscured the noise from the teleport and Cyrus and Ren quickly moved inside. The wasteful opulence shocked Ren, as well as the obvious nudity of many of the patrons.
They moved through the party slowly, making sure not to bump into anyone, or anything. The villa was large and crowded. They searched for a couple hours, not finding their target, until, while walking through a hallway, Cyrus thought he heard the Shom slavers voice.
He was certain it came from one of two rooms. He whispered to Ren that he heard his voice. Cyrus opened a door and saw an old man being entertained by a significantly younger woman. The old man yelled about peeping toms before ordering the girl to close the door, which she did, eyes downcast.
Cyrus got a better idea and phased his head through the other door. He saw the Shom slaver being entertained by a younger man. He alerted Ren to the targets location and Ren quietly opened the door.
Being preoccupied, the Shom slaver did not notice Ren opening the door and sneaking inside. Cyrus followed, trying to be quiet, but slammed the door shut by mistake. The Shom slaver took notice, as did his entertainer.
Shom slaver and entertainer.
Ren became visible, as he tried to psionically induce sleep, but the Shom slaver resisted. Just as the Shom slaver opened his mouth to yell, Cyrus grabbed Ren and the slaver and teleported back to the inn.
They appeared in the inns common room, the only place Cyrus had memorized well enough to teleport to. There was the barkeep, as well as three patrons. They all took noticed and stared at the group that just appeared. The barkeep looked flustered as he brought out an old cloak and covered the terrified naked man.
“Best get him out of the open.” The barkeep suggested and Ren handed him a handful of ceramic pieces.
Ren hustled the Shom slaver upstairs, Cyrus walking slowly behind, as the barkeep handed out bribes to the patrons. Ren shoved him into his room, waking Yaotl, who demanded to know what was going on. Ren quickly explained, just as Aziza came rushing in.
“What's going on?” Aziza demanded.
Ren smiled, “Your gift.”
Aziza looked down at the Shom slaver and got a mixed expression. On one hand, she was angry with Ren for taking such a stupid risk, but on the other, a slaver had been delivered right into her hands.
“I won't murder him.” Aziza began and the Shom slaver visibly relaxed, “I'll need some dirty, old clothes for him, and a tattooer.”
Cyrus and Ren looked at each other, confused. Yaotl knew instantly what Aziza was doing, and nodded his approval. The Shom slaver lowered his head and began to weep.
“Cyrus, can you teleport him to another city?” Aziza asked.
Cyrus understood and answered enthusiastically, “Yes, I can take him to Balic. Not right now through, all the teleporting tonight has me exhausted.”
“In the morning then.” Aziza nodded. “Ren, please incapacitate him.”
Ren pummeled the Shom slaver unconscious and Yaotl tied him up.
“You should have seen the waste, the opulence, it was disgusting.” Ren remarked.
Aziza looked at him, “Opulent, like this?” She pulled her new necklace out from under her tunic.
Ren blushed, but noticed Aziza was not wearing her new dress. “Did you try the dress on?”
“Not yet.” She answered, “I thought you'd be out until dawn.”
They retreated to her room, letting Yaotl and Cyrus get some sleep. Aziza picked up the dress.
“It is beautiful.” She remarked.
Ren smiled, “Put it on.”
Aziza changed her clothes, putting on the dress. Aziza had never worn anything so feminine, or so expensive. She felt guilty because she enjoyed it. She knew the money could be used for a better cause.
“You look nice.” Ren stumbled around the words.
Aziza kissed him.

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