Waking up after camping a mornings travel from the Haraxan capital of Anakhbitana, Jalabu felt an unease, but not one he could place. His discomfort set everyone else to looking about, but they saw nothing, none save Utana, who saw a face he recognised. Splendidly clad, amongst a smart retinue of travellers was
In tonight’s “Beyond the Brazen Gates” adventure, the noble and splendid Utana was shown up by the even more splendid and noble Sonya of Rogah-tinosh, known as the Crimson for her preference for clothes in that sumptuous and expensive colour. (Utana got a bad fail on a detect roll, it seemed to me this social damage was more fitting than actual damage. I borrowed Robert E. Howard’s aboriginal Red Sonya of Rogatino from his story about the Siege of Vienna, Shadow of the Vulture).
Like many of the Haraxan nobles, including Utana, are wearing clothes with trousers, rather than the traditional long robes, the better for riding. The glint of gold and silver embroidery can be seen in the morning sun.
Sonya was fostered with the same family as was Utana, however Utana was always in her shadow. She was a better rider, archer, poet, leader and administrator. She was had more skill with the blade and the sport of Zhovgan, was better looking and even a finer dancer.
Sonya caught IUtana looking at her, she did not sneer but the disdain was obvious, her entourage of fine warriors, poets and scholars contrasted with the more travel stained agents accompanying Utana.
The groups moved to the city, using the gate reserved for nobles, military and officials using their status as Agents to short-circuit the checks by the guards, and they were directed to report to the Secretary of Agents within 24 hours.
The proceed through the first part of the city, where most of the poor and workers live, and Utana caught an urchin trying to cut Smersh’s purse. Rather than scold the child or turn them into the authorities, after a cursory interrogation the group did what the group does, adopt the urchin presumably to lead them further astray.
Utana is wealthy compared to most of the rest of the group, Jalabu’s family is also well set up, and there are always rumours about the riches accrued by Farshad’s family, but Utana is a small part of an extended family wealthy enough and prominent enough to have a residence in the capital.
The way to that residence goes from the first part of the city, through the First Paradise, a public garden with shade, fountains, artificial streams and meeting places from which music can be heard.
In the family home the group were fed and had a chance to be cleaned up by the family servants, though none were pampered as much as Utana. From the house they climbed the shallow stairs to the citadel that houses the palace complex, build on a plateau that backs onto mountains. These steps were shallow for a reason Utana appreciated, to stop robed nobles tripping on the hems of their garments,
The palace complex is built around the Second Paradise, with Administration and the First Temple to the West, the Barracks and Second Temple to the East and the Palace proper. Heading West, they asked functionaries until directed to the offices of the Secretary of Agents. after waiting a while, Under-Secretary Bahramian and some scribes took messages carried by Utana and noted the details of the group.
Asked about the deed carried by Smersh, one of the scribes looked at it, gave Smersh a receipt or three, and hurried off. In fairly short order, the scribe returned with the likely location of the relevant records, in a storage room that makes use of a disused temple to long forgotten gods built into the mountain. The group were escorted into the back of the temple, and left by the scribe.
The language and script of the records may have been of the time of Smersh, but the only writing he has learned is a more modern form, Luckily Arpaesis the scholar appeared, as if by magic, to correlate the older documents with newer ones.
However, after the scribe left, there was a cold feeling, and from both corridors leading to the storeroom came varied creatures, to the south a reanimated corpse, lively like a wolf, backed up by floating semi-corporeal spectres, from the west a shambling shape seemingly comprised of noxious rags, backed up by some large, hideous rodent shape, as big as a human.
I made a mistake in this, No way in helll should I have let the group have full armour in the city, but it slipped past me and I will just have to be more on the ball.
Quick, barked orders from Juan José got the group in good order In the ensuing combat, Jalabu mostly held the south, the enemies facing him seemed less fearsome in some way, as if his passenger, the spirit Oblat, protected him somehow. Smersh flitted from the south to the East. Utana felt the mortality of the shambling rags, whose touch exuded poison, enough contact and Utana would suffer horrendous effects.
Juan José did what he could with silvered arrows, particularly shooting at the rodent creature, which clambered up to the ceiling in order to try to get past the shambling rags,
Fetnah made use of her chant, “Hammer of the Soul”, blasting the spirit out of the animated, ghoulish corpse, another damaged the rodent spirit, but a third found the spirit too strong, and she took great harm.
The shambling rags provoked fear in all, so they lobbed lamps at it, eventually between silver arrows and flaming lamp oil, the body was destroyed. The spectres were handled by Jalabu, aided by Oblat, and Juan José, and, just as the battle was over, Arpaesis declared from his corner “I have it, I know where the estate is! It is now calleD Ahitkaufa!”
He points to a map drawn on vellum and makes a mark
And there we left it.