Write up 5th October 2023 – The deed of Smersh – Part 3

I had a few ideas for scenes that the characters might encounter given the options I thought they would go for, given the situation, but the players managed to shave their characters avoid every, single one. There was only one I managed to help-shoehorn back in. Half. 

Stunned and shocked by violence in the library stacks, at least Arpaesis was able to achieve their goal, they know where they need to go. Utana, mildly affected by the poison of the shambling rag spirit, was suffering from a headache, but at least the toxin had not built up enough to seriously affect him.

They leave the former temple hewn out of the rock, out into the spaces before the buildings proper,  they found themselves intercepted by Imperial Immortals and various court functionaries. It must be the sight of the elite troops of Shara Khrush II in front of them that distracted Utana from realising members of his own household were in the group.

Utana’s servant led the group into a room in the Temple of the Three, where clothing and basins were set aside, explaining that coming to the palace complex fully armed and armoured for war, without express summons, could be adjudged treason

Weapons and armour were gathered up, and the household washed and clad the group, minus the urchin who was loaded with ichor stained robes,explaining that they had been summoned to the Royal presence. Smersh tried, but failed, to secrete a handy weapon someplace best left unimagined, though Farshad succeeded.

Whilst Fetnah worried about the correct court etiquette, Smersh again waxed paranoid aboiut why anyone would want to see him, and where was the exit….

Escorted through the Second Paradise, they were brought to an ante-chamber. Once again, the ambassador Claudius , seeing Utana, treats him like a flunky, in this case made even worse by being witnessed by his Rival, Sonya of Rogah-tinosh. As this was going on, Hortensia, the other ambassador took advantage of the distraction to have a quiet word with Juan José after his audience.

The doors opened and the group was ushered in, ahead of Sonya’s party, earning Utana a begrudged nod of respect from Sonya. It had been a topic of concern as to how much grovelling would be required, but they noticed that the throne was shielded by the screen. Shara Khrush II could listen but, officially he was not there, so no obeisance was required.

Instead they saw, again, the Secretary of Agents, Bahramian, conducted the audience. The deeds in the north of the nation were outlined, and the group quizzed about whether or not they saw any connection, as so many strange occurrences seemed to draw themselves to them.

The group pondered this, but could think of no evidence that there was a unified and concerted effort against the Haraxan Kingdom, though it seemed strange that so many spirits manifested to attack them

Smersh and Fetnah were discussed, and the circumstances of how they came through time, and Bahramian mentioned that he had heard the name of Farshad somewhere, and not in a good way, but Farshad passed that off as he was sure it was a misunderstanding.

The last part of the audience was a presentation to all of decorated akinashes, a long dagger or short sword, depending on your point of view, granted like a medal to soldiers. Of course Utana’s was the finest decorated, but all were serviceable and the most gorgeous damascus blades.

The audience concluded, they were shown out, and Sonya’s party entered the room. Claudius the ambassador again came up to Utana, to apologise, again allowing Hortensia to approach Juan José with an offer, in effect to act as an informant and talent-scout for the Faliscan cities, opportunities for trade, news of disruption and opportunity. Juan José agreed, and Hortensia made another offer, to introduce him to Umati,one of the lecturers in battlefield medicine at the military hospital attached to the barracks.

This was one of the bits where I expected Joan José to take advantage of that more directly, but the group headed back to Utana’s family town-house. Joan José did go back, but, with some prodding, with Utana, as the only one of the arty with the clout to get an itinerant mercenary straight to a senior official of the army. Fetnah tagged along.

In the hospital Utana took advantage of the presence of Umati, a tall, human of indeterminate gender, and asked them for treatment for his headache. Umati prescribed a vial of a strange fluid and a demon scaring talisman efficacious against any spirit that would try to invade an ailing skull.

Juan Jose asked for information on a bone knife he had picked up long ago, and found it was designed to pick certain plants at the height of their efficacy, and Umati gave Juan José a tablet that should help him use it, and Fetnah pointers on making her own.in the fullness of time. With him having the support of Utana and Juan José, Umati invited Juan José back to study any time.

The group, aware of the deadline hanging over Jalabu’s head, limited their exploitation of the circumstances of being in a major city, so there were few areas of re supply, Fetnah and Juan José refreshed their material medica, silver arrows were replenished, Farshad bough more upmarket robes and splendid, matching hats for himself and his horse.

Smersh wanted to upgrade his armour but, with the minimal time  to hand, settled for a loan of some pieces from Juan Jose, adjusted to fit.

There was a bit of discussion atropine here about the weapons everyone had, and their efficacy against spirits given the frequency of their appearances.

A short resupply finished, the group rode off, deciding to not go bu sea, the quickest route, but overland, taking a shortcut away from the main overland route as speed was of the essence.

Utana reverted to hardened ranger of the desert and mountains, saving Fetnah and Smersh from chasing after mirages and, as afternoon gave way to evening, they had two choices at a fork in the trail, north-east to a raised area where a wall could be seen, or south east towards a small oasis.

Farshad decided to use his bond with the spirit Aribu, placed into a construct in the shape of a crow. Launching it into the air, Aribu flew over the walled area, finding it a farm of sorts, with plants fed by wells around a domed dwelling set into the ground. Beside the stairs down were two charred human adults.

This appears to have happened three or four weeks ago, after burying the bodies, they searched the dwelling, finding it looted, but still Farshad found an amulet of a Shevam domestic spirit on the wrecked bed, and Fetnah found a smoke blacked pouch with three smooth,  coloured riverstones, one painted red, one green and one white. Despite much puzzling from Smersh, Fetnah and Juan José to try and determine some great meaning to these stones, the most that any could earn through Fetnah’s  magic was that these stones had meaning to three children who once lived here.

Of these children there is no sign.

The group set watches, and there we left it

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