The camp of the forces of the province of Eshtaband is split, like the governance of the nation, the larger part is the army, furiously bustling, reinfoced patrols are coming back leading lines of captured bandits, equipment is being repair and messengers bustle about the military leadership.
In the civilian leadership area of the camp, the group is sitting in the tent of Harvan, being fed, watered and briefed. The new companions, Smersh and Fetnah have been given an advance on their earnings as newly minted agents of the magistrate Niralha.
For his first priority, Farshad took the wooden crow Fetnah had carved and into which he had stuffed the crow spirit that had formerly resided in a man Farshad found. Feeling out with his senses he surprised himself by making contact with the creature, which at least was bright enough to talk, and a short conversation was held.
Fetnah aided Arpaesis in determining the purpose of his jade tablet, which turned out to be a puzzle box containing a ring that, for a sacrifice of life force, aids the wearer in spying out hidden things. After the exertions helping Arpaesis, Fetnah made sacrifices or food and drink to placate her ally Ilbakia, and returned to the group. Once they are all settled, Harvan lays out the latest task he has for the group.
“I had intended to send you to the ‘Isle of Limitless Pleasures’ for some well deserved rest after uncovering the plot here as well as, so you tell me, stopping the end of the world, again. However, a delicate situation has come up. It requires tact, state diplomacy and finesse, but yet I am assigning you.
“I can tell from your aghast reaction that this puzzles you, however the situation also needs cunning, adaptability and the ability to deal with sudden violence and, more importantly, it is sort of your fault.
“There are several diplomatic missions arriving in two months to the city of Eshtaband. They are here to discuss the final disposition of the city of Bardij, so recently persuaded to our nation by your efforts, to the dismay of its ruler Idym and some concern to our shared neighbour Ishtir.
The diplomats and their entourage will be housed in the Palace of Nash-wa, a once glorious complex that juts into the Sea of Verkana just outside Eshtaband itself.
“With such distinguished guests, we need the palace brought back to functioning, we need it guarded against thieves, interlopers assassins, we need entertainments, we need the diplomats happy as they negotiate.
“That will deviousness and for that you are well suited. I do not expect you to do the actual getting on your knees, scrubbing the floors, walking the walls, serving the food, for this, you are management. In Eshtaband, find the ones you need.
“The conference will need banquets with dancers and musicians, there should be a waterborne party, hunting trips, the actual conference, and the incessant demands of noble diplomats.
“As to diplomats, for ourselves Bahareh, elder sister of our Shara Khrush of our Rule of Haraxa and a wise councillor.
“For the Rule of Ishtir, they have sent Mirnusz, magistrate of B?bilim, said to be a confident of the Saraniya, and a famous hunter. We have heard that he seeks to hunt a unicorn, the Ekasasi, in the mountains whilst he is here.
“For the theocrats of Idym, Ba-nereru. We do not think they have real hopes of regaining Idym, but they will be looking for allies.
“The Meremites, suspected by the Idymites of fomenting revolution in their nation, have sent Rumekebu, we do not know anything of them.
“The last diplomat that we know anything of is Arramah, a warlord of the Kurim people of Kutin beyond Merem. Much beyond that I cannot tell you, save that we assume that she, like most of her people, are distrustful of those of us of the nations of the fallen nation of Haxamanis, Haraxa, Ishtir and Sardes.
“Other diplomats are due from Sardes, Iramanshan, Qâde, Damat, Bedewah and Saba but they, *should* be minor players in this.”
The group *were* aghast at the task laid upon them, but more importantly, were trying to figure out their finances, between money never really having been in issue in the game and the transfer from DragonQuest, there was a bit of flipping back and forward on the manuscript, but spending in the army camp ensued.
Utana, being tired of not looking magnificent enough since sacrificing his golden armour to save the world, decides to see what the armourers in the camp could do for him. It cost him 80% of the fortune he had with him, but he is having made a set of scale armour and a full face helmet, so shaped as to replicate his own features, from his strong nose to his carefully curled hair and beard. It will not be as decorated as it would be if the armourers had more time, but he is paying for speed, not tiny details.
He also assisted Fetnah who was looking for some light armour, and trying to persuade the leather worker to supply some at a low cost, given her role, but the leather worker seemed disinclined to help her until Utana wandered over and he, seeing Utana’s magnificence, reconsidered Fetnah’s request and hoew they might benefit each other. If Utana would commend the leather worker to the armourer, then the leather worker felt sure that from offcuts he felt sure ge could accomodate Fetnah at no charge.
José also found some extra armour, some light leg armour and a face revealing helm, not as vain, or as rich, as Utana he has to make do with showing off his own face.
Jalabu, also desirous of new armour, wondered about the value of the blue-white with green flecks gem all were given, but his handling revealed it to be a Tear of Luck, a useful talisman that can change the outcome of an act but not, Jalabu felt, of sufficient value as to be worth good armour.
The journey to Eshtaband would take three weeks, and Smersh and Fetnah suffered as Harvan had assigned tutors to help them learn the more modern version of the Idarit language, much to Fetnah’s scorn.
Reestablished in the magistrate’s palace in Eshtaband, the group ponders their options. Utana knows that to even put on a hunt for the Ekasasi Unicorn is a sign of respect and honour, but to actually find one would be tremendous
The Ekasasi is a massive beast, looking like a thick and massive horse with thick hairy skin, it is nimble and alert and its horn is like a swordblade.
- should they try and find and capture one and release it for the hunt
- Could they pass off a Rhino as an Ekasasi? The problem with that even the closest Rhinos are only found a few hundred miles to the East.
- Could they disguise Farshad’s horse as an Ekasasi? It is already used to being disguised as a camel
- Or, lunatic idea, they could organise a proper hunt
As far as food goes, Eshtaband is known as the home of the Haraxan cooking competition “Bronze Chef”, and the winner (Shiribu of Eshtaband) and runner-up (Birmin of Gham) in the last competion, are resident there. The latter is renowned for his hot beverage made from smoked fish, Birmin of Gham’s “kipper tea”
Other divisions of roles were discussed
- Utana for organising the hunt
- Smersh to use a practiced eye to check for ways that ne’er do wells could enter the palace
- Fetnah and Arpaesis can check the abandoned palace for supernatural influences
- Farshad can find entertainers
- José could vet guards and look to the security with a soldier’s eye
- Jalabu could check the food for poisons, aided by his pearl