Zomaris:Khanate Rising/Chapter 05
Chapter #5: It Was A Small Bear
<mainstreet> Mercy, Fir: You find yourselves walking around the streets of Kandar, in need of transportation to Valgate. (Or, you could attempt to make the trip on foot along one of the banks of the Valren.) You know that there are boats that go between towns and cities with some regularity, and hitching a ride is a possibility. You also know that River Giant transport is available.
<Fir> "Didn't someone have a sign or something about how to get places?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Yeah, what's this River Giant thing?" Mercy goes looking for said sign again.
<mainstreet> Mercy: You find the sign, still being worn by the massive green River Giant. “Transport available to Metros, Elkor, Valgate. Enquire with sign holder.”
- Fir taps the giant politely on the toe.
<mainstreet> The Giant looks down at you. "Yeah?"
<Fir> "One trip to Valgate please."
<mainstreet> "Yeah, I can manage that. Valgate is upstream so that'll be... 100 gold. Each," the Giant grunts.
<Nergui> "Oi, you lot!" a voice calls out from behind.
- Nergui stands tall, taller than all around her. She is clad in steel head-to-toe, with too much stuff strapped to her back, including an enormous cleaver decorated with skulls. She takes her helmet off, revealing strong features beneath. Bright grey eyes blaze imperiously from beneath her hard, scaly brow. Those pale silvery scales contrasting with her tanned skin, with more framing her chin. Her nose is tall, prominent, and
- Nergui almost seems to trail steam as she moves. Her long, platinum blonde hair is tied up into a surprisingly compact bun.
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy stares. "You...look...AWESOME."
<Nergui> Accompanying her is a strange, short woman wearing a white and red mask. She wears flowing, colorful robes, and cools herself with an equally colorful fan. Her dark hair is fashioned into a sort of fan shape atop her head, with a smaller bun behind. Her fingernails are painted red, and her sandals reveal similarly painted toenails.
<Nergui> "Heh. Thanks!" Nergui says
<Nergui> "Anyway, you lot look like you know what you're doing. Or close to it. What are you up to?"
<Fir> "We're going to Vandabar."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy (who seems genuinely enthralled by the newcomer's badass weapon) shakes her head as if snapping out of a trance. "Uh. We, ah...yeah, that."
<mainstreet> "Uh, you mean Valgate?" the giant asks. "I don't know nothin' about no Vandabar."
<Nergui> "What a coincidence! Kiyomi and I were thinking of going there."
<Fir> "Sure, that place. 100 gold is a lot, isn't it? Or is it?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Wait, which is it?"
<mainstreet> "Upstream is expensive. Hard currents to overcome. But you'll be fully protected."
<Capn_Mercy> "How exactly do we get there?"
<Fir> "Do you slingshot us there?"
<mainstreet> "I have a raft. You get on it. I pull it through the current."
<Nergui> "Shoot," Nergui says and hands a gold piece over to Kiyomi. "Guess I lost that bet. I was so sure!"
<Nergui> Kiyomi wordlessly accepts the coin
<mainstreet> "If you want to go, we can leave immediately."
<Nergui> "Anyway, did I introduce myself? My name is Nergui. I've already mentioned Kiyomi's name. You all want to head out with me?"
<Capn_Mercy> "I dunno. The last person we had in the party didn't seem to like killing things. Do *you* like killing things?"
- Fir digs around in her bag, laboriously finding and counting gold coins, re-starting the count a couple times when she loses her place.
<Capn_Mercy> "Fir, this guy's awful pricey. Maybe we should find another way?"
- Fir looks around. "Oh, is there another giant around for travel?"
<mainstreet> "I guarantee safety. Any other way, there are dangers on the path," the giant warns.
<Nergui> "Uhh...I sort of like killing?" She mutters, "Too much, maybe."
<Capn_Mercy> "What sort of dangers?"
<mainstreet> "Crocs on the river. Sphinxes, dragons, snakes, other hazards in the desert."
<Capn_Mercy> "Meh. We only just earned this money, I don't wanna spend it already."
<Fir> "Some snakes are very nice."
<Capn_Mercy> "Wait here, we might be back." Mercy goes to see about other travel options.
- Fir puts all the coins back in the bag and resumes following Mercy.
- Nergui and Kiyomi tag along. "You sure you know what you're doing?" Nergui asks
<Capn_Mercy> "When did I ever say that?"
<mainstreet> Mercy: You head to the western edge of Kandar and see a dock. One of the boats has a large sign on the side: "Flynn's Freight, Fauna, and Flora Transport. Going to: VALGATE."
<Capn_Mercy> "Convenient." She looks for Flynn.
<mainstreet> Mercy: You spot a blue zoma sunning herself on the deck of the vessel. The various shiny objects on her body indicate she's someone of at least moderate importance. It's a safe bet that she's either Flynn or knows who is.
<Capn_Mercy> "Excuse me. How much is passage to Valgate?"
<mainstreet> The zoma looks up, and gets up slowly. She looks at you and frowns. "It depends. How much are you offering, what's the total transport weight, and what can you do along the way?"
<Fir> "I can grow berries," Fir says, growing one and offering it to the blue lady.
<Nergui> "Kiyomi here is a professional entertainer, and I can hurt things."
<Capn_Mercy> "As little as reasonably possible, whatever all of us weigh, and kill things really good."
<mainstreet> The zoma takes the berry. "Hmm. Alright, no freight? Let's see... I'll do it for... the lady's performance tonight," the nods at Kiyomi, "The two of you killing any snakes that get out of the hold," she nods at Nergui and Mercy, "not that I'm expecting that you understand, but I am transporting quite a few, I keep this berry here, and I'm paid 200 gold."
<Capn_Mercy> "How big are the snakes?"
<mainstreet> "Well, some are. Some are smaller than that."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy turns to the others. "What's the verdict? The easy way, or the slightly-less-easy way?"
<Fir> "This lady wants 200 gold. The giant only wanted 100 gold," Fir points out.
- Nergui blinks
<Capn_Mercy> "He wanted 100 gold *each*."
<Capn_Mercy> "Basically, we can pay an extra 50 gold each to not have to do anyting on the trip. Or we could walk for free. Hell, I'm up for that, I do it all the time."
<Fir> "I like walking, too!"
<Nergui> "Could be risky."
<Fir> "Life is risky," Fir says.
<Nergui> "Also, walking is slow, especially when you're covered in steel and skulls."
<Fir> "Are we in a hurry?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Kinda sorta?"
<Capn_Mercy> "I mean, if the guy's missing, then we probably ought to find him ASAP. I guess."
<Fir> "Oh. Then I guess we should take the boat instead of walking."
<Capn_Mercy> "So then the question becomes, is 50 gold and snakes and working better than 100 gold?"
<Nergui> "You've got to pinch coppers these days. I'd say go for the boat."
<Fir> "I've met some very nice snakes. And if they're not nice snakes, you don't seem to mind killing things much, so that seems better."
<Capn_Mercy> "Okay, fine." She turns back to Flynn. "We'll take you up on your offer."
<mainstreet> "Okay. We'll leave..." Flynn checks the sun. She blanches. "Now, actually, if you're ready."
<Nergui> "Yup. I've got all my stuff. Let's go, minions!"
<Nergui> "Friends. I meant friends."
<mainstreet> Flynn snickers a bit and takes the wheel. "We're leaving, let's go!" A pair of sailors walk up from the hold area. They start working the anchor.
- Fir goes onboard.
- Nergui and Kiyomi get on board as they sort out their portion of the payment
<mainstreet> You all get on the boat, and the boat starts to move upriver.
- Fir tries to trail a foot in the water, but can't reach.
<mainstreet> ---FAST FORWARD---
<mainstreet> You arrive at the eastern docks of Valgate. Unlike the major city of Kandar, there doesn't seem to be any guards checking things here in Valgate. At least, not here on the Eastern side.
<mainstreet> Valgate is a small town straddling the Valren River. They have a large garrison force on the western edge of town, commanded by Priests of Maat. The garrison is in charge of checking all river traffic coming from the west, as that implies coming from Deladar, and the Empire is very concerned about immigration matters. No one is checking people coming in from the east, however, as you are. It’s a small town. While houses can b
<mainstreet> e found along the river some distance, the core of the town itself has only a handful of houses and other buildings: the garrison buildings, the Farm Collection Hall, the Valgate Inn, the Valgate General Store, a small Temple of Maat, the Baron’s Manor, the town’s Araki Arena, the Meterrian Post Office, and the Waterworks Facility.
<Nergui> "So, what all were you planning on doing here? You mentioned a missing person?"
<Fir> "Was it the Baron who was missing?"
<Capn_Mercy> "Yeah, we should start with his place."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy attempts to lead the others to the Manor, but is soon distracted by what looks like an arena. "Ooh. What's all this, then?"
<Nergui> "Yes, it's tempting, but we must focus."
<mainstreet> Everyone: You know that this Arena is for Araki, a popular sport in the Meterrian Empire. Every town has at least a small arena, the bigger cities have the larger ones. It's played with teams of 4, and is a challenging contest of skill. There is a professional circuit nationwide as well as each town having a few amateur teams that play each other locally.
<mainstreet> Nergui, Fir: You also know that Araki's arena is hexagonal, involves a wooden sphere, and has defined roles including the ability to use some forms of spells at specific times. You also know that there's a lot of money that flows around based on this, including quite a bit of dubious legality.
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy shakes off the distraction and resumes the trek to the Manor.
- Nergui and Kiyomi tag along
<mainstreet> The Baron's Manor isn't as big as the Count's Manor in Kandar, but it's still a site indicative of the super-wealthy. There is a guard standing outside the door, wearing the symbol of House Valgate on his armor.
- Fir walks up to the guard. "Hello, we're here to find your missing boss, so please let us in."
- Nergui resists the urge to facepalm. "What...this one says is essentially true. We are here about the baron, and I would appreciate it if you could share any information about that."
<mainstreet> The guard frowns. "There's no point in that. The Acting Baroness is not seeing visitors. If you want to search for the Baron, feel free to do so, of course. But there's not really anything to tell, at least, not from the House's end. The Temple is officially conducting the investigation."
<Fir> "Isn't she supposed to know things, like when she last saw him, and helpful stuff like that?"
<mainstreet> "...No. She won't know anything she hasn't already told the Temple."
<Nergui> "Perhaps we should go there, then."
<Capn_Mercy> "Who is the Acting Baroness? His wife?"
<mainstreet> The guard sighs. "His wife died a long time ago. His daughter, technically, is acting as Baroness right now. For obvious reasons, House Valgate does not wish to expose her to too much. In practice, the Temple is running much of the town. If this is sustained for much longer, House Metros will likely supply a Regent."
<Fir> "How old is she?"
<mainstreet> The guard mumbles something under his breath. "Erm. Six."
<Fir> "Well, to the Temple then." Fir starts looking around for the temple.
<Nergui> "Six." Nergui sighs.
<Capn_Mercy> "What? I killed a bear when I was five."
<Capn_Mercy> "...it was a small bear."
<mainstreet> Fir: As per what appears to be typical design, the Temple is a short walk away from the Manor. You can see it from here. It's a Temple of Maat, as Valgate still looks to Kandar for support, in general.
- Fir heads towards the temple.
- Nergui and Kiyomi tag along
<mainstreet> The Temple of Maat looks exactly the same as Kandar's. You walk inside and head into the room labeled "INVESTIGATIONS". An Inquisitor is sitting at a desk filled with paper scattered all over the place. Behind her you can see a corkboard filled with various papers and strings connecting those papers. She looks really harried. She looks at you when you enter. "Yes, what is it?" She snaps.
<Nergui> Nergui's eye twitches, but she manages to speak calmly. "We've heard the temple is officially conducting the investigation into the missing baron. We are here to help any way we can."
<mainstreet> "Why do you think you can help, hmm? Our best minds are on this thing and we've got nothing. The last thing we need is amatuers poking their head in."
<Capn_Mercy> "If you've got nothing, then clearly you can't get it done on your own."
<mainstreet> "Twice nothing is still nothing, and amateurs never do anything but make a bad situation worse."
<Capn_Mercy> "Which is why you should let us professionals handle it." She grins.
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy produces the Letter of Officialness(tm) and brandishes it.
<mainstreet> The Inquisitor raises an eyebrow and takes a look at the letter. She sighs. "Alright. Here's what we got. He's been gone for about three weeks now. He supposedly went out to one of the farms to engage in some basic disciplinary action on a farmer that was evading tribute. That happened, we've confirmed it. But he never made it back. A search party the next morning found his honor guard all dead, apparently of electric attack. No
<mainstreet> sign of the baron, dead or alive. We don't believe he's dead, because why take the body? But we've not recieved any ransom, nor any other credible indication of his presence."
<Capn_Mercy> "Electric attack?"
<Nergui> "Electric attack? Interesting."
<Fir> "Who doesn't like him?"
<Nergui> "It's also quite possible he was kidnapped by someone who likes him...too much."
<Fir> "Ya. Who doesn't like him, and who likes him too much?"
<mainstreet> "I couldn't really say. He certainly doesn't have any enemies known within Valgate. There's always the possibility that this was a mission from Deladar designed to destabilize us, but you would not be expecting elemental attacks in that case. There might be things in the desert we don't know about."
<Nergui> "Hold up. You said no credible indication of his presence. What about things you would consider non-credible?"
<mainstreet> The Inquisitor gives a put upon sigh. "Hill giant attacks have increased dramatically over the past month. A lot of them have started to, in addition to terrorizing homes out on the banks, have started to insist that they are, in fact, the Baron. It's ridiculous. The baron is a human."
<Fir> "Are you sure there were multiple hill giants making that claim, and not just one hill giant on repeated occasions?"
<mainstreet> "A couple of times we've managed to kill the attacking giant. It hasn't stopped."
<Nergui> "Truly bizarre. We shall investigate this."
<Fir> "Well, it would be easier to turn the Baron into one hill giant than to turn him into a whole flock of giants. But yes, we should look into it."
<Nergui> "If nothing else, we are capable of helping to clear out the hill giants."
<mainstreet> "Hill giants are something of a menace around here, and we're willing to pay 300 gold for the head of any hill giant you can bring down."
<Capn_Mercy> "Uh, how big are hill giant heads?"
<Nergui> "Not big enough to survive what I can do to them."
<mainstreet> She sniffs. "A pair of capable women such as yourselves should have no problem carrying them. Especially after killing them."
<Nergui> "Yes. I assume you would not be pleased if we brought a still-living giant head here."
<mainstreet> "Very much not."
<Capn_Mercy> "Where are they coming from?"
<Fir> "Do you have a map of the giants' headquarters?"
<mainstreet> The Inquisitor rolls her eyes. "They're downstream from the town. Beyond that, we don't know. If we did we would've put out a massive call for a large party to take them out entirely."
<Nergui> "Well, I suppose we'll be heading that way, then."
<Capn_Mercy> "Yes, clearly the least sensical answer is the correct one."
<Capn_Mercy> "At least in my experience."
<Fir> "I always tell new seedlings that if you can't find something where it's supposed to be, you have to look in places it's not supposed to be. But they're always like, 'I don't want to look there, it's not supposed to be there.'"
<Nergui> "Indeed. In my experience, life is cruel and nonsensical."
<Capn_Mercy> "Do we need anything from town before we go?"
<Fir> "Not me."
<Nergui> "I have just about all what Kiyomi and I need."
<Capn_Mercy> "Then I suppose it's time to get to it."
<Capn_Mercy> Mercy leads the way out and towards 'downstream', wherever that is.
- Fir follows.
- Nergui and Kiyomi tag along
<mainstreet> You head back out east and start walking along the farm banks. You walk along, careful to avoid actually stepping on any valuable crops, or ruining any floodplain channels.
- Fir says hi to all the plants as they pass.
<Nergui> "Most plants can't talk."
<mainstreet> Fir: Hey, there's a hill giant right now! It looks like it's about to smash open the back door to that farm with his club!
<Fir> "Hey, stop that, that's not nice!" Fir yells at the giant.
<Nergui> Though obscured by her helmet, a wicked grin splits open on Nergui's face. "Oh, part of me is looking forward to this."
<mainstreet> ---END SESSION---