The night’s rest for the group was interrupted by pounding on doors by large, heavily armoured, though not heavily armed men, summoning them from sleep to come with them.
Juan José and Farshad, though bemused, dressed themselves and went under escort. Utana and Smersh were less inclined. Utana standing on his dignity, and need to be properly attired and decorated. The rough and tumble Utana the group knew of their exploits in the wilderness, not apparent in this diplomatic occasion. Smersh was more suspicious. Both slammed the doors in the guards’ faces, though in Smersh’s case it was to seek a swift exit out the window,
Before making his exit, Smersh did interrogate the guard, and his reinforcing friend, about whose orders they were following, to be told it was Variskar, a lieutenant of the guard forces set up under Juan José’s supervision, which surprised him (and caused the players out of character to get very suspicious).
Smersh saw, out of the window, was Farshad and Juan José under escort, but not obvious arrest. He slipped out of the window and rushed over to join him, with panting guards stomping after him . They find themselves in the waiting room of the main audience chamber until Utana deigned to join them.
At that point, the doors to the main chamber opened and Variskar’s voice shout out “The Lord Utana of Uxarra arrives . Be aware.”
All were upstanding as Utana walked in, his companions were more cautious, peering round the door, looking for traps, but within the room, the dais were set up with with Niralha and her husband on thrones of honour, with a stewards lesser throne on a step below .
Niralha and her husband rose, bowed in respect to Utana and she declared that, for this session, she would be relinquishing her role in favour of Utana, as the Steward of the Palace.
“There is a plea before this audience. It is not fitting that I hear this request, instead I stand aside for the Lord Utana of Uxarra, who has been Steward of this Palace, and who knows this place better than I”
She indicated the Steward’s throne, but Utana preferred to stand, possibly expecting a spike to issue upwards in some cruel trick. The others settled down, particularly Fetnah, Jalabu, Dhran and Arpaesis who settled down at the back, saying ‘pretend we are not here’.
Utana got used to his surrounds when Variskar shouted again, “The Prince Tesifón of Ishtir” and Tesifón, now the most important member of the Ishtiri party, and some of his household also accompanied him.
Tesifón was brief “My cousin Mirnusz has been dead for almost a day. By the usage of the Three, he should not be lying in his bed, he should be set in a fit place and prayers said to guide his soul. Please can he be taken to such a place.”
There was discussion, should it be the Temple, though that was a Temple to the Cold Ones, and in use, Juan José reminded Utana that there was an empty tomb fit for a royal personage, though the interred inhabitants of those tombs were still mobile, though dead.
Utana, also being a worshipper of the Three reminded those of the usages of his faith
Having agreed to expose the ody to the creatures of the air, the decision next was where. Eventually it was agreed to build a frame at the ruined tower to the East, where Farshad first encountered the Keteaorum, Workers from the crafting area soon built the frame on the existing towers, and the body placed there was mourners sang songs of praise for Mirnusz, expressed sorrow at his passing and said prayers for the journey along the Road.
Of course, Utana, Juan José , Farshad, Smersh and the rest of the group were aware that the weapon, thanks to Fetnah’s reading, condemned the soul of Mirnusz, Unless there was a miracle, the spirit of Mirnusz is lost. Tesifón also is aware of this, but all he can do is follow the proper procedure and hope.
The audience was over.
(There were various options that the group could have done with the body and the route to the hereafter. I had some ideas about what the consequences might be for a couple of them, and would have worked with whatever the group came up with.)
That all being done, the murder was still unsolved.
The group put their heads together.Where to go next? Eventually one thought occurred. It had been late, They had a strong suspicion that the assassin was one of Rumekebu’s ambassadorial party, Simut, a replacement who had joined the ambassador after on
It was late on, though, they had never actually looked for corroboration of that. Also, why would the Meremite ambassador do this? What would be the benefit?
Utana, took his time having himself properly attired as befits his view of hills proper place, whilst the others investigated. Farshad questioned entertainers, Juan José the guards, and Smersh the household of the Meremite household.
It became apparent through the questioning that the ambassador’s story, that the ambassador had lied. Simut had not joined them out of the blue when one of his party fell ill, the ambassador had told one of his group to stay behind, and Simut joined them then.
Farshad looking through Simut’s quarters, watched by one of the staff, called Masham, found another Kutinese weapon under the bed of Simut, and rope that matched some of that used in the roof crossing. Smersh spoke to Ibbut, a pastry chef, getting the story of the substitution, and baklava, Juan José got his confirmation from some of the guards.
By now, Utana was fully dressed, awake and ready, and he decided to see the Kutinese ambassador, the Warlord Arramah, and inquire of her what she knew. When the opening audience was held, her hatred for Mirnusz, her hatred for him was not disguised, and by now, they had learned that Mirnusz, in his earlier years, had led a punitive expedition into Kutin.
Arramah was very forthright, and denied nothing. Her father and younger brother had died, fighting Mirnusz (In fact, in the thick of it against his household guard), and has sworn to kill him, but, she had sworn also, to the Attsarif of Kutin, not to pursue her revenge from the day she left her home on Kutin until the day she returned. She swore not to aid, not to commission, not to act or in any way further her revenge. Utana was convinced by her honesty.
She asked Utana why she was a suspect particularly, but the Steward of the Palace demurred, and said he would need to seek permission before he could divulge that. She was not pleased, but accepted that.
Farshad had been talking to entertainers, trying to see if any at the functions had noticed anything, but sticking with it, he became aware of other entertainers, who worked in smaller groups, poets, masseurs and masseuses, singers and other forms of more personal relaxation.(I never said anything about sex workers, but the group had dirty minds).
One of them had spotted the Meremite ambassador, Rumekebu, giving someone a bunk to the roof from his balcony, the night of the murder. The witness was brought to the quarters of the group, and ensconced in secure accommodation. The group spoke to Harvan, and told what they knew. At his insistence, Ibbut the pastry chef was also brought to the building, but what would be the next steps?
And there we left it