Writeup 25th March 2022 – The Greatest Heist episode 5

The morning breaks, with heads clearing from the celebrations of the night before, and some time to go before the feast with the Servant of the Land that they are invited to that night.

So, one thing is certain. “We need a plan. For once in our careers, we need to consider what
– our situation is
– our task is
– our actions should be
And see if that produces our Result, after that we can Reflect”

Gathered around a bright, white-painted wall, the group cast illusions against it demonstrating what they knew, and Dhran wrote notes on the wall in charcoal as the ideas flowed forth, not much use, as Dhran is illiterate.

With a sigh, Dhran, knowing that it would fall to him, starts contemplating gathering flammable materials, ready to set a series of major filters across the city but this reverie is interrupted by the group coming up with actual plans. Considering what might discredit the Temple leadership, a piece of history comes to mind, a temple of the Cold Ones was once laid low by the clergy becoming laid down by fits, talking nonsense, having fevered dreams, seemingly in waking hours too, and the clergy had to be replaced. There was no signs of possession, so the temple was cleaned out. Putting their heads together, Jose and Jalabu conclude that this might have been a sort of poisoning that can result from mouldy grains, wheat and rye, though rye is only grown in colder, mountainous areas. The lesser temples they do not consider at this time, it is the leadership they wish to undercut. Other preliminary thoughts involve trying to create a fraudulent prophecy that serves their ends, or just going ahead with Anaraxha’s idea of infiltrating troops into the city and then seizing its strong points. Arpaesis suggested using magic to bend someone to their will, but that idea was not developed.

The groups split into three. Jalabu and Arpaesis go to the Ishtiri market looking for materials that could be used to do to the main temple here, what happened to the temple that was cleared. Jalabu disguises himself as a different merchant. Unfortunately, as he is the only Dilamuni merchant in the city, his disguise as a totally different Dilamiuni merchant may have limited utility.

Jose wants to find materials for the same effect within the city and, at the same time, he and Utana are surveying the city for approaches to the city where bodies of troops could be dispersed and filter through more naturally, and the weaker points in the city for immediate seizure and how to take over the rest. Jose purchases some mushrooms that he knows can have intoxicating properties, Utana uses his insights to plan routes and, with his knowledge of the area of the last two days he thinks he has some routes mapped in his head. (In a retcon, whilst Jose was mushroom shopping, Utana found some vantage points on the walls, which are not that actively guarded, to have a better look at the mountains areas to the north between the Ishtiri and Haraxan gates,

Farshad and Dhran scout out the main temple and works. There is much coming and going, which would allow any random person who wander around much without being questioned. They find places where Farshad might be secreted should they wish to have him try to pose as a god speaking through one of the idols, and other places that look more flammable than others. Farshad dissuades Dhran from his earlier idea of trying to foment a worker’s revolt, as the aim is to achieve as peaceful a takeover as possible. Besides from information gained earlier, this might be hard to do, the workers and artisans are getting steady employment for this work, at the moment this is perceived as aa good thing, so it would be hard to shift attitudes. However, as they see people keeping records and materials shifting back and forward, they wonder who is getting paid for this and how it is recorded. They scout about and see a small yard where tablets of records are put out to dry before filing or sending on.

With this information they wonder about falsifying the records so that it looks as if more goods are being paid for than are arriving, so that, if investigated, it looks like the clergy are skimming off money. With this in mind, Farshad sneaks into the yard to filch a tablet. They feel that, rather than just amending a tablet in situ, they need to create a plausible one that indicates fraud.

Arpaesis and Jalabu, at the Ishtir market, find a merchant that has some spoiled grain that he was preparing to dump and leave behind. They can get the grain for free, but they have to buy baskets to transport it. Jalabu seems Harshan, allegedly the one who hired thugs to beat them up, back selling goods, but does nothing further at that time. They scuttle back to their camp and borrow the materials to help them make griddle cakes. This wheat is too old to make Samanu and besides, they do not have time. The rest of their morning and early afternoon is spent getting the grains, grinding them, making the cakes and cooking them.

Utana acquires some refined writing lay and stylii and they all meet back at camp. As Dhran helps Jalabu make the cakes, Utania, Arpaesis and Farshad puzzle out the accountancy tablet, written not in the modern Alphabetic script, but the scholar’s cuneiform (as that is symbolic and tends to transcend spoken language) and make what they feel is a useful set of orders that are higher than those in the original, indicating that more was paid for than was received.

Jose powers the mushrooms and, with some incense he has bought, mixes it through to evenly distribute the powder.

Utana and Jose also make message to send back to Haraxa, detailing the plan, the possible routes to Bardij and where should be seized. The message is not sent. It would possibly be better carried by one of the group, perhaps Utana with a swift horse and checking secret paths through the hills. That might cut the time to the border post, even to the nearest garrison town.

They have a short time to act before the feast they are invited to and they decide act first, and tell Anaraxha later.

With this in mind, they head to the main temple. With Dhran goes outside the temple and starts The Goat Song, with the actions, pretending to be drunk, but with he dodgy wheat he’s been handling, maybe he is a little intoxicated,. His voice, whilst not good, is still better than any performance of Farshad’s noted to date, and he hopes it provides a distraction. Farshad tries to sneak to the yard, but is caught. He manages to convince the clergy who finds him that he was looking for help because of the performance outside. The problem is, that The Goat Song, whilst abhorrent, is not actually blasphemous, unless you sing THAT verse, but with his charm Farshad convinces the clergy to go and investigate, allowing Farshad place the damning tablet.

Jose presents a member of the clergy with the incense, as an offering to the gods. It is received with thanks, and the clergy Blesses Jose (in a Prayer sense) and Jalabu and Arpaesis distribute griddle cakes at the various idols at the various alcoves around the main hall.

At that point, they scarper to the feast, making it in time. They are at a table with Anaraxha and Aslahira, his wife and chief advisor. Jalabu can see Harshan at another table with Sangun Adinaba, the more fearsome opponent of the Temple leadership here. Other personalities they recognise are here.

The group tell Anaraxha that it might be worth sending scribes and soldiers to go ver the recent accounts of the temple for materials paid for versus received, and to be prepared for strange goings on when they get there. But will they? Will the priests eat the cakes? As magic mushrooms have no demonstrable effect when smoked, because heat destroys the active ingredient, will THESE mushrooms have an effect?

We have left it there, and will resolve all next week

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