Noises being heard outside, the group prepare, Farshad and Utana by the door, José behind some tables, bow ready, a push at the door turns to a shove, then a brute force, in arrive four soldiers, Utana and José evaluate them. They are cheaply armed and armoured, spears and wicker shields, no helmets or body armour, their robes were uniform, once, but are faded and ripped, and there are no signs of the symbols of respected soldiers, no daggers awarded for bravery or good service, no medallions of grants of land or gifts from a grateful commander. They are astonished and suspicious, but Utana’s authorative manner gets them to open up.
They are soldiers of the Rasghad Bidijhan, on patrol and in the habit of using this building as a rest point on their long patrol. She, like other Rasghadi, are low level parts of the civil administration, under an Istanhar, responsible for maintaining order, assisting tax collectors, ensuring roads are maintained, gathering surpluses with the aid of the Temples against time of need, ensuring that the levy is in a fit state. Instead a neighbouring Rasghan decided to get rid of the bandit problem by promoting the most powerful bandit chief to an officer of the local standing forces of the army. The Bandit, Dahyuka, was successful in quelling other bandit gangs, and has managed to get himself power in the rest of the Istanharate, the regular soldiers have had problems getting paid, the levy is not getting the training or the weapons to drill. The village they are standing in, whose name was once Rughlen, was razed to the ground by these bandits, for not paying “taxes”.
The soldiers tell the group that they can identify officers amongst the bandits by a token they wear, a brooch of a griffin, a mix of Haraxan and Sakah styles.
The group asked about if the soldiers knew of any new illnesses in the area. They were told of a cousin of a cousin had wasted away, vomiting green bile, in a village called Iduabjan, to the north-east, along the same general route that the comet quest seems to be leading you. The soldiers and group shared food and drink, in the morning their patrol is off on the next leg of their patrol.
The group carry on, coming to the next village, the entrance blocked by 5 bandits, led by one wearing the griffin token. The bandits try to extort money from the group, but are surprised by a sudden charge from Utana, an almost acrobatic leap from Farshad and rapid bow fire from Josê soon bring down two, including the leader, Himmun, struck almost dead, others flee, but they are also brought down and questioned. The corpses are taken away from the village by the villagers, who hide the blood and take some, but not all of the looted foodstuffs to hide against a rainy day.
Using untoward treatment against the prisoners, the group learns that the next in the chain of command is Sarahad, who is expected in the village of Iduabjan soon.
Farshad took the token from Himmun’s corpse, found it cheap, a bronze recast of a recast of a recast of an original, but now they have one.
And there we left it.