The journey north say the group passed from military patrol to military patrol until they returned to Eshtaband, capital of the province of which Niralha is the magistrate and Harvan her chief of agents. During that time Utana and Farshad train in dodging and brawling, wearing Dhran’s helmet backwards as they practice their dodging whilst waving a stick going “schzoonm schzoom“. When settled back in their accommodation, the group rest, undisturbed for a couple of nights, getting rested, cleaned and possibly drunk.
One morning, Arpaesis tells them of Harvan escorting him to his chambers to find out why he had sought Harvan out. Upon learning that Arpaesis was here to further his mystical studies, Harvan showed Arpaesis a text written by his mistress that he owned then took him up to his roof to view a comet. This comet is the one that presaged the Rising of the Dark, returned around the sun.
Where then it heralded the encroachment of Akharazura, “the nothingness”, the adversary of The Three, now it displays a different sigil, one unknown to Harvan, but identified by Arpaesis as an obscure emblem of Lotnyas, the adversary god of The Cold Ones.
Depicted most often as a five headed dragon, one head in the stars, one swallowing the Sun, one drinking the seas, one devouring the Moon and the other rending the earth, or less frequently as a warrior standing in a maelstrom, their spear raised defiantly against the other gods.
The goal of Lotynas is to undo the works of others, to bring back the original chaos stuff of the universe, back to when they were a great power to rival Ahera-Ba, but this time as the ruler of all.
There are temples to Lotynas, secret temples, guarded by priests and devoted warriors. Some orders of worshippers exist in hidden fortresses, hiring out murderers, thieves, poisoners and mercenaries to ambitious lords who find themselves now under threat of blackmail, and brought under the control of the Masters of the Orders.
Lotynas is also claimed as the parent of monsters and dark things to trouble the earth, no one knows who the other parents are, if there are any, perhaps it is Lotynas itself.
Harvan explains that with the information from Arpaesis, he searched and found a box, onewith a brass plate that was hitherto unmarked. Now it has a silvered image of a flame, the sigil of Lotnyas, a couple of diagrams and some text.
This was attached to a box, blank, containing tablets of utter tedium, notations on the accounts of one Mashiravata, ruler of a nation that once occupied this space 13 centuries ago. Now look at it, words in a language I do not understand, but the symbols are in a form of Habbarisrri, they are symbols that convey meaning, rather than expressing sounds.
The Silver flame marks the place, under the flame and under the mound is the treasure . Knock upon the stone to find it.
Underneath that is etched a circle of posts or standing stones, and to the right is depicted a stylised mound of earth topped by a flame.
Underneath that depiction is
“Seek the mines of Bukrish, cross the wastes, find the stones, head north-east to the mound, let the comet guide you, for only when the comet burns will it be found”
Under those words is the same sigil as can be seen on the comet.
Harvan apologises for not giving you more time to rest in the city, but he needs you to seek out the mound and treasure that the comet is supposed to mark. He gives you a public mission, in case you need to use a cover.
This public mission is to inspect the less well used border roads and settlements, and report back on where they can be improved for military access, protection and trade.
• Utana to gauge the roads and routes
• Farshad the prospects for trade
• Jose the military engineering for villages and towns, and the availability of medicinal plants
• Dhran the state of farming and the well-being of the peasantry
• Jalabu as the prospects of cultivation of exotic plant products suitable for medicine and trade
• Arpaesis to record the surveys, to be the group scribe.
He mentions also that there is some concern about the area not being as well maintained as it should be, if you see anything you should make a note of that too. The real motive is the search for the treasure. If they can at least make it appear as if they are doing the survey too, that would be good.
The terrain you will be heading to is rough, so he recommends not taking horses, and taking riding mules. A pack mule with basic survey tools, some boards with clay, papyrus and birch books with ink, some filter pots for examining water.
Between Utana’s geographical knowledge, Farshad’s merchant contacts, Arpaesis’s arcane information and José’s medical knowledge, they piece together a little information.
Bukrish is the old name for a village in the hills to the north-east, bordering the lands claimed by the Sakah. Once it was a thriving copper mine, and silver was found there too, but the mines becoming played out, meant that the village had reduced over the years. Now the only metl it exports, and that in small quantities, is iron extracted from the bogs nearby.
It is about six days travel from the city to Bukrish, leaving the main road and climbing into the hills by the old trade road.
The comet has a mention in old medical texts, associated with a horrible disease called something like “The Green death“
The first day takes the group beyond the more travelled road, over the less used road away from the main route, and then off that. Utana finds a military road concealed by brush and starting to become overgrown but otherwise in good repair. That road will save time from the overall journey.
Night is close as they find themselves close to a ruined village. Much that they can see, with the aid of a spell from Arpaesis, beautifully executed, that lets them see in the dark, is fallen down, the closest building in some repair turns out to be a wolf den, so that they bypass. They head for the only stone building in the village, a store house by the looks of it. The door and latch are jammed, but they get it open and set up for the night in what appears to be a combination storehouse, meeting hall and shrine to the Three.
Farshad sets alarms, the door is blocked, and a watch is set. During the night, on the second watch, something occurs ….
and there we left it, a short session tonight.