Gyrfalcon Dawn

Session 31 (7/3/15)
First real gig

Even Septimus is eager to set out early the next day and put some distance between himself and the spooky fishing village. Mully is disappointed when Ginny has not caught up to them by mid-day, and later in the afternoon confesses his concern about her to Septimus. It is agreed to send Mully and James back to the hill from which they had sent Ginny off to fly home the previous day, and to catch back up with the group when she finally appears.

The group continues on to the next town, where children playing along the road recognize a potential circus troupe and bombard them with questions as they ride into the central square. It’s a thriving town of a couple thousand inhabitants [whose name I have forgotten so let’s call it Gelvad.] As soon as they arrive, however, they are accosted by an official who is friendly but informs them of strict regulations regarding street performers. They are pointed towards a large green space near the center of town and assigned a place to camp with stabling facilities available nearby. They later meet the mayor who negotiates an appropriate fee (considerably less than his original larcenous offer thanks to Septimus’ negotiating skills) and slots them in for a performance on the following morning in the same general picnic area near the campground.

Septimus hits the town pub and is soon serenading the locals and promoting the coming performance, quite warming to the roll of itinerant troupe master. Only one group of travelers at a table in the corner appear uninterested in his approach: four serious-looking men hunched over their ales and a rather more receptive youth who watches the room and does not seem as deeply engaged with the conversation at his table. At some point the rest of our companions come into the tavern as well and speak among themselves, letting Septimus do his thing and bask in the attention.

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Session 30 (6/19/15)
A lesson on accepting invitations into strange basements.

Later that night, three people approach the encampment and introduce themselves as a brother and sister, Hank and [Henrietta?], and their friend [Vincent?]. They ask for help with something going on in the church, and the group agrees to go along. James remains outside to watch the horses while the other are led into an old stone church, and asked to follow the trio into a dark cellar. With only token hesitation, the group goes down into a room with a large table, where an unpleasant smell is emerging from two grates in the floor.

The girl attempts to ease the situation, but the large, well-armed friend is barely controlling his anger. The conversation deteriorates until the girl calls out a summons to others that can be heard in another room, and the scene explodes in violence. Septimus pull his rapier and holds off the three youths while the rest of the group deals with four enormous, cleaver-weilding chefs who burst out of a side door moments later.

Septimus dispatches both the swordsman and the girl, and holds her brother at bay. The chefs barely get a lick in before they, too, are lying on the stone floor in pools of their own blood. After the battle, a grizzly picture comes to light in the back room. Several animal and human carcasses in various states of dismemberment and decay litter the floor around a table laden with foodstuffs, and a bubbling cauldron proves to be the source of the evil odor coming up from the grates.

The story emerges that this girl had set up a trap for solitary travelers along the main road, and was serving their remains to the townsfolk who had become leery of eating the local fish. Hank is delivered to the mayor, and confesses to his reluctant involvement in the plot. The mayor expresses his gratitude to the group, and one of the poor townsfolk later comes and offers them a gem for finding out what had happened to his family members, which they refuse.

We never do find out why the fish were being poisoned, but this plot point will have to wait for development at another time. Many thanks to Joe for guest hosting!

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Session 29 (6/12/15)
A village in distress

Leaving the first town, Zug, the troupe has an uneventful day on the road until late in the afternoon when they detect a knot of local people up ahead. Through his contact with the eagle, Yachak tells them it looks like a funeral procession. Our group stands aside respectfully as they approach, but one woman screeches when she sees the zebra and begins to wail about demons and evil abroad in the world, pointing accusingly at the strangers.

The head of the procession apologies for the disturbance, and introduces himself as the mayor of a town a few miles ahead on a seaside inlet. They have fallen on hard times of late, but he offers the group his hospitality if they would be willing to wait in town until the funeral is over. They find a campground and meet their host when he is free.

They hear a story of a town in serious trouble. People are dying from a mysterious plague and many are going hungry. Yachak offers to examine a few of the sick and determines that they are suffering from poisoning. He is able to help somewhat with one of his herbal concoctions, and gives most of his supply to the mayor to help other sufferers.

[There was also a town meeting where more information about the local fishing practices were revealed, but this has become apocryphal based on later revisions.]

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Session 28 (5/1/15)
Auditions

On their first full day on the road, the group discusses their plans as they move forward. Trink is full of doubts about how they will be received by different towns and wants to exercise great caution in case people are hostile to the itinerant carnival. The others assure her that at least while they are in friendly territory along the shores of the Zeeva Zee, they should not encounter any problems, although Septimus warns that they might have to pay some graft here and there to be allowed to display their skills. After that, they will just have to take it as it comes.

They then take some time to audition their talents for Septimus, who has taken the role of troupe manager seriously to heart. He has some trouble getting Kibu to accept the idea that he can’t throw knives near Weed until he has demonstrated impeccable consistency of aim. But most of them acquit themselves well, and Septimus is satisfied that their disguise will be plausible.

After a day’s travel they reach a reasonably large town with a fine inn, and Septimus immediately looks to get a game of chance going with Kibu. They eventually get some of the locals involved, but they keep the action light, and Septimus’s winning disposition keeps anyone from getting too put out about losing. Kibu finds an opportunity to lift a purse and earns enough for a soft bed and some sticky buns (probably a bad combination for the cleaning lady).

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Session 27 Recap (4/4/15)
Escape!

The party at Vasta’s is under full swing when there is a knock on the door. Pinborton is standing there with two young socialites, Irmenia and Draina, who are fans of Septimus. Word seems to have gotten around town that the magician is leaving town for a few days. Pinborton bears a gift of expensive champagne and a document, drawn up just that day, confirming Vastavika’s uncontested title to Karadevelia. It is a peace offering from Matreya, who has just had it signed by the whole Council of Governors, and wishes to reset her relationship with Vasta on a new footing of friendship. While not fully trusting Matreya, Vasta is willing to accept the offer in order to keep close tabs on the Countess and report anything noteworthy back to the group via Ginny.

Septimus is quite willing to entertain the young elites, but he has some temporary competition from Kibu, who the girls instantly recognize as the notorious outlaw hero from the posters and from the wild rumors that have been flying through the city in the wake of the overthrow of Inspector Crimner. They attempt to engage the scruffy lad, but Weed is unavailable as a translator and Septimus does not appear to be encouraging the interaction. Kibu manages to use Momo as a distraction to swipe a souvenir broach from one of their jewel encrusted gowns, but his heart seems hardly in it, and he soon disengages.

The wealthy girls are quite disappointed, because they had purposely come laden with some of the gaudier selections from their many jewelry boxes (most of it last year’s fashion), hoping it would prove enough of an enticement to the dashing young bandit that they could parlay it into a dalliance with him later that night in one of the upper bedchambers. This would have given them priceless bragging rights among their friends, for a legitimate story of having been ravished and stripped of all they possessed by the great Keeboo would have secured their preeminent popularity for the entire season. Instead, with but a momentary sigh of regret, they resign themselves to the attentions of the boringly familiar but always amusing Septimus.

Meanwhile, Pinborton has sought out Marina, per his employer’s instructions, and entrusts to her a hand-printed letter from Matreya in Geronimo’s language, which is addressed to the entire group. Weed is recruited to read the lengthy missive to Marina, Trink, Yachak and Vastavika, and we will assume that he is willing to read it at least one more time when the party is fully assembled and underway.

Matreya’s message:

Dear “friends”,

I hope the time may yet come when I can use that word to describe you without irony. I have spoken with my son this morning, and he has indicated his resolve to remain on your side of our dispute. This has given me much to think about, for I place great store by his judgment of character.

I wish we had had more time to discuss Geronimo Kittikov during your visit, because you each have unique insights into the man which I and my superiors would find very valuable. But I fully recognize and concur with the urgency of your mission to find him, and therefore do not wish to detain you further.

My son is quite put out that I will not tell him more of my origins or the nature of the authority to which I answer. Let me assure you that the necessity for secrecy is equally painful to me, and if my instructions or the logic of my position were to change, I would feel most relieved to be able to share with you what information I have. But I will tell you this: The principles that require my silence were developed to protect the people who live in this land. That protection was hard won, and it does not exist in every part of the world. In the places where such knowledge is not restricted, there has been much greater suffering than the people in this region have known, and I offer the example of the upheavals far north of the Zeeva Zee, from which some of you have fled, as a mere hint of the dangers to which I allude.

The time may come when you win your way to the knowledge you seek, and I do not advise you against its pursuit. But for me to fill you in on the larger picture would amount to going rogue against my chain of command and forfeiting what little power of influence I may yet retain in these matters. I am not aware that you need to know more than you already do to achieve your aim. And it lends my resolve to maintain this secrecy a disquieting kind of support when I reflect that your mentor, for reasons of his own, apparently followed a similar policy. I do not pretend complete confidence in my stand on this issue, but there is no question that information without understanding can be a two-edged sword. It is critical that you not be distracted from the task at hand.

The world you call home is a very old place. It has endured the ravages of war and plague for countless generations. It has also known periods of unimaginable prosperity and progress. Contrary to what some of you have experienced in recent years, you have actually lived in a time of relative peace; but that pattern may be about to change quite profoundly. There are dangers out there which even I do not fully comprehend. And I still believe that a greater threat than man has yet faced may soon be brought upon us, whether wittingly or not, by your beloved “Nimmo.” That is why it has become less important to me which one of us finds him first, than that he simply be found.

By your association with this man, you have been drawn into a sequence of events that began long before you existed. I am now probably saying too much, but his reappearance a few years ago was a shock that rocked the powers that be to the core. How he has eluded our detection since then is a mystery to us, and an ominous one. But the revelation that he has been spending at least part of his time cultivating the development of such a talented group of young people has introduced a perspective for which I, personally, was not prepared, one which persuades me to exercise more caution under the present circumstances than my superiors are likely to endorse. To put it more plainly, I may be in big trouble for letting you go.

But by virtue of my own impressions from our brief acquaintance, as well as the important evidence of my son’s clear trust in his companions, I am at least convinced you are all earnest in the desire to do the right thing. That is why I hope for the safety of each one of you as genuinely as I wish it for Yachak. Were I not in such a difficult situation, and gambling so much on this decision, I would be sore tempted to suspend my own disbelief and throw my lot in with yours in the hope of finding him before my people do, just to see what he has to say for himself. But my involvement in your search would bring upon you the attention of forces with which you could not possibly hope to contend.

Instead, my intuition suggests to me that I can better serve the greater good, whichever side of our disagreement that ends up justifying, by staying put for the time being and continuing to work on the project which brought me to Timble-tain in the first place. There are some things going on in this town that I still need to get to the bottom of, and I will do what I can to keep the gaze of those who monitor my progress turned in this direction. But know that this holding status will not last forever. You must pursue your quest quickly and discreetly, and follow your best instincts and conscience as you near your goal.

From what I am piecing together of the local news from the past few days, you all seem to have a knack for disrupting the ordinary current of events, although whether for positive or negative effect is apparently difficult to predict. I cannot help wondering if the assemblage of so formidable a force has not somehow been a deliberate component of Geronimo’s patient scheming all these years.

But whether that comes close to the truth or is simply a paranoid whimsy on my part, his ultimate motives remain disturbingly elusive to us. I can scarcely guess whether unleashing you upon the world at this juncture will serve to expose, and thus either neutralize or redeem, him, or merely play into his nefarious hands. That I choose to do so is more an act of faith than calculation, faith which may amount to nothing more than a mother’s blindness. Poised on the fulcrum of this dilemma, I find it quite plausible to imagine that in the final analysis, it may well come down to the quality of your own insight and character to determine whether your actions lead to the salvation or the destruction of us all.

So, you know, no pressure. By all means, have a fun trip.

From the bottom of my sorely conflicted heart, I remain
Field Agent Deneb Ka’iulani van Epps
Aka : Lady Connetta
Aka : Matreya, Countess in Exile from the (fictional) Kingdom of Vadalia
Aka : Mom

As the party is making its final travel preparations late the next morning, Jarley Buttles shows up at the gate with news of the latest events in town, He reports that just that morning, the foreign soldiers were led to the graves of the ruffians, where the corpses were exhumed and the necklace promptly recovered. The officers went away completely satisfied that their mission had been accomplished, and planned to return directly to their own country.

But that’s not all. On the previous day, the Council of Governors had gathered for their monthly session. While this is normally a strictly sealed affair, it was announced that the Countess Matreya had been invited to this meeting to give a personal report on the recent upheavals in the city. She had apparently been quite persuasive, for in an unprecedented gesture of cooperation, they agreed on the spot to attend an immediate ad-hoc joint session with the Plenum of Burghers.

At this late afternoon proceeding, many issues were brought up, and the impending trial for the rebel burghers was formally arranged. But another issue emerged and gained increasing traction as the day wore into evening. As had been done many times in the past, it was again proposed that the office of Mayor of Timble-tain be established, especially in light of Crimner’s direct subversion of the executive authority of the police, as well as the even more recently demonstrated need for a single public figure to present the face of Timble-tainian sovereignty to visiting dignitaries. To everyone’s shock, the Governors unanimously reversed their traditional opposition to this proposal, and an election date was agreed upon.

Jarley then proudly announces that his own name seems to be high on the list of likely candidates for the new position. He tells Septimus and the others that if he is elected, he’ll need a few good people in his administration, and he hopes that upon their return, they will all consider accepting posts of one sort or another. As they reach the end of the road where they expect to part ways with him, two of his riders meet them and report that there is a rally forming about a half mile north at a public picnic area between the road and the beach. Everyone follows along to hear Jarley speechify and Septimus is also invited to get a few words in.

Someone puts two and two together and wonders if the zebra is the same one that disappeared from the carnival a few days earlier, but Jarley steps in and smoothes the situation over, informing the crowd that he is personally arranging generous restitution to the original owner, and that it is in fact a small compensation to the famous Keeboo for the services he has rendered to the city. People seem to be satisfied with this explanation.

At long, long last, our brave company finally sets hoof to gravel and begins it epic journey. It takes a couple of weeks to wend their way up the picturesque coastal highway, stopping at the villages and towns to perfect their routines and try them out on the locals. Septimus develops a standard schedule of acts, with each member of the troupe assigned a specific performing or supporting role at each stage. The reactions from the townfolk are mixed, but steadily improve. Gradually they work out some of the details of costuming, prop storage, crowd handling, and quick change-ups when the locals don’t seem to be responding well to a particular act. Their musicianship also improves with daily practice, and they often invite the audience to teach them some of the local ditties, which serves to get the people more involved, helps to bulk up the group’s repertoire, and turns out to be quite a crowd-pleaser.

Finally, they reach the peninsula which is the jumping off point for the ferries that ply the archipelago. Before getting that far, however, they investigate another route that had been partially sketched in on Geronimo’s map, one which might have led around the Zeeva Zee and avoided having to use boats to get to the extreme northern shore. Locals discourage them from trying this route, however, claiming that it disappears into dangerous, unknown swamplands and that no travelers ever emerge from that direction.

Instead they island hop to Summer Isle, the sprawling resort town that plays host to the majority of the Timble-tainian elite during the hottest part of the year. There they get a glimpse of the beehive of activity that goes on behind the scenes all spring before the guest barges arrive from the south. Masons are busy repairing sections of cobbled streets and retaining walls, landscapers are laying out new garden mazes up the slopes of the mountains behind the resorts, and everywhere there are stevedores and carters unloading heaps of supplies bound for the inns and mansions that line the coast. There are also drama troupes and choraliers rehearsing their new repertoires out in the plazas, and scattered street performers practicing their routines for each other’s amusement and professional critique. In the evening, everyone swills cheap ale and raucously carouses with the wait staff on the restaurant patios that will soon be the exclusive preserve of their social betters.

Most people are puzzled when our travelers inquire about the north side of the island, but someone is eventually able to direct them to the narrow road that runs around the western end of the mountains and out into the pastoral hills that slope gently northward to the sea. This is the actual breadbasket of the resort town, but many of the crops which will eventually supply the summer tables on the other side are only just being planted. Along the coast are nothing but tiny fishing hamlets, and all passersby shrug at the party’s inquiries and simply point them further north.

Eventually they reach the closest thing to a town that this side of the island has to offer. It has a wharf populated mostly with small skiffs, paddle trawlers and net rafts, and a couple of ramshackle taverns. No one has heard of any sort of ferry service to the northern coast, and all seem dully amused at the notion that anyone would want to go there. But someone sitting at the bar suggests that if anyone knows how to ply that stretch of the sea, it would be one of the, er, fisher folk that tie up in the coves further along the coast, and a couple of the others nod their heads, but only after snickering at the suggestion.

Undeterred, our band forges on, finding mostly barren, grassy beaches and the occasional subsistence farm family. Finally, they catch a glimpse of a loose jumble of sheds perched on a rocky promontory up ahead, and approach it warily. A lone man emerges and walks in their direction, intercepting them on the beach a couple hundred feet from the settlement. They ask about passage north, and he squints out across the waves as he considers what to tell them. There’s nothing like that available around here, he says, but there’s one fellow, old Smitty, who might know something. He’s out at sea with some of the boys at the moment, but come nightfall, they should be putting in. Whether or no he’ll be willing to talk to them, though, is another question. He offers to let them come in for some grub and drink, but they elect to make camp here on the beach. He says he’ll send Smitty out to meet them when the time comes. They thank him, and tell him they’re fine for the time being.

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Session 26 Recap (3/6/15)
In Progress...

Vastavika manages to corner Kibu and Weed on her balcony and tries to pry out the story of their adventures since she had seen them last. She asks Kibu about his capture, and wants to see the interrogation scars, which the boy brushes off as nothing special. Kibu is willing enough to relate how he later dashed across the shoulders of the crowd, launched himself at the retreating Crimner, then scaled the police HQ façade to break through the chief’s windows, watched for an opening, and dropped down on the roof of the carriage he was trying to escape in. By threatening to slit his victim’s throat, he manhandled him through the crowd and into the arms of the Syndicate, thereby actually earning the legendary status which the street mob had already bestowed upon him, which until then had been fueled only by fabricated rumors.

Weed was more difficult to draw out, but in a self-deprecating stammer, he told of melting the bars of Kibu’s cell, helping to release the rest of the prisoners, and escaping into the crowd. From there they were discovered by Syndicate men and shuttled into the meeting place in the Theater. They found Jarley in full command mode and he assigned Weed to help with the bank break-in while he took Kibu with him to work on crowd control, which resulted in the unexpected capture of Crimner. Meanwhile Weed joined a handful of professional thieves breaking into the basement of the bank through a locked sewer gate and an air shaft hatch, both of which Weed alone was able to crack. They knocked out the guard and left him in a pool of liquor next to an empty bottle. Then they found the vault keys in the bank office and began to open the private vaults of the Burghers in league with Crimner, a list of whom had been compiled by the youths whose families had been persecuted by the faux Inspector.

It was here that the thieves got a little carried away, and rather exceeded their instructions to look only for documents that would incriminate the conspirators. They followed up on a suggestion that someone had made to rearrange some of the valuables in the various vaults in hopes of fomenting accusations and strife among them, and if a few choice pieces of jewelry and whatnot accidently found their way in the pockets of the burglars in the confusion, who would be the wiser? Crimner’s vault was empty save for two well-wrapped pieces of odd-looking equipment, and on the way out of the sewers, Weed contrived to win possession of these items as his share of the loot by means of a contest of strength which he won with the help of a small pointy object hidden in his palm.

[Editor’s note: not all of the above details came from Weed, but Vasta was able to fill in the picture in later weeks through Jarley Buttles, who was to become a regular and enthusiastic attendant at her well-lubricated soirees.]

During their conversation, Kibu asks Vasta if there is anything she wants him to tell Gary when he finds him. Vasta tells him she will think about this and tell him before they leave. The next morning, Yachak enters his usual morning trance out on the beach, and returns to find Vasta interested in talking to him. They set off together to visit the apothecaries in the market where she can act as translator, and learn a little more about Nhymeri’s secret remedy. After asking Yachak a few questions about his intentions regarding his mother, she feels satisfied with the plan for him to interview her alone. They return to the townhouse to find the others nearly packed and ready to go up to the Chateau.

They drop by the clearing in the woods to collect Nhymeri while Yachak sets off on his mission to the Countess. Kibu is already there getting to know Spot and learning to ride him. She mentions that she has been studying the notebook from the cave, but still can’t make much sense of them. But she has made a new drawing of the map they found, and presents that to Marina, who is able to recognize her home settlement and the origin city of the Warlord attacks.

A long conversation ensues over whether it is possible to take Spot. Kibu has covered him with mud and believes this disguise will conceal him. Weed is sympathetic but the others stand firm, and it begins to look as if Kibu may not get his way on this one. Vasta proposes to continue up to Karadevelia rather than try to resolve the issue on the spot (no pun intended). They pass the graves of the thugs and note where Marina and Trink had snuck up the previous night and planted the necklace that Kibu stole and the group altered. When they arrive at the Chateau, they are greeted by Mully and the other servants who had returned a day or two earlier to open and clean the place up.

Vasta invites them all to a farewell dinner that evening, and has been ordering new provisions to be delivered, which filter in throughout the day. They discuss the map further, and Marina points out the place she is from and where Nimmo disappeared. Yachak arrives and reports on his meeting with his mother. He has asked her repeatedly why she won’t tell them about her mission and superiors, and she reiterates that she is under orders not to do so. She claims to be a free agent, and not under immediate threat if she disobeys, but believes they are all in danger if they do not find and arrest Geronimo.

Yachak tries to pry into her past, but she will say only that she came from a highly regimented society and was desperate to get away. She paid a great personal price for her freedom, and part of that price was to be on call to serve her people if the need ever arose. She will not say more than she’s already said about her intentions towards Geronimo, but stands firm on her belief that he is a criminal fugitive who must be caught and questioned about his actions. He asks her why she was chosen for this mission, and the response is simply that she was in the right place at the right time, and had been obligated to answer the call in exchange for her release into the wider world.

Yachak explains that while his mother did put emotional pressure on him to choose between his loyalty to her and to his friends, his shaman intuition did not detect a sense of malice or deceit from her. He is concerned, however, that she might try to follow the group and use them to lead her to her quarry, and he is conflicted about whether his presence will somehow present a danger to them. The party assures him that he should come, and points out that he is more likely to be a protection than a danger if they should have any further dealings with Matreya. And he does have his eagle warning system to detect any pursuit, after all.

Vasta wants to know if Matreya still has designs on Karradevelia, and as far as Yachak knows, she has backed off on that intention, perhaps because any evidence of Geronimo’s presence has likely been scrubbed by now anyway. Vasta comes to the conclusion that her own best contribution might be to let Matreya get close to her so that she can keep tabs on her activities. Trink asks if there is some way for Vasta to report back to the group during their travels, and it turns out there actually is somebody at the table who has a proposal to offer on that point.

Mully has been listening intently to the conversation and trying to screw up his courage to address the group, and at this juncture, he can no longer contain himself. He describes how he and Nimmo have trained the gyrfalcon, Ginny, to home in on Karradevelia, and also to go back out and search for Mully when he is miles away. He thinks that if he came along with them and brought Ginny, she is smart enough to keep track of their progress and find them again each time she is sent back from the Chateau, so that without slowing them down much, she could carry messages back and forth. He asks Vasta’s permission to leave her service and she assures him he is free to chart his own course.

Septimus thinks this is a fine idea, and also doubts Matreya’s ability to follow them once they set off. Yachak then raises the question of how they will present themselves as they travel, and Septimus nixes Kibu’s impression that they should be simply marching forth as soldiers. The shaman suggests that they pose as a troupe of entertainers, and Kibu seizes upon the traveling circus disguise as a way he can keep Spot. Ever a performer at heart, Septimus quickly warms to the idea and immediately begins to build the plan around his own obvious role as manager and central attraction. Kibu can help with the prestidigitation and knife throwing, the thought of which automatically makes Weed very nervous. But Septimus jollies Weed along by proposing that he could create pyrotechnic displays and other effects, and also that Trink could perform her scarf twirling and Nhymeri might let them take her body paints.

The group gets more and more excited at the possibilities and Kibu actually gets the confused Weed to stand up against a wall with an apple on his head until the moment when a knife zings up and splits it in two (the apple, not the head). Surviving this ordeal once is enough for Weed, and he insists on finding some other way to contribute. Meanwhile, the party members discuss some of their other talents. Most of them play some sort of instrument, and there are many possibilities for their animal companions to participate as well. The lively chatter proceeds into the evening as the sun begins to set over the valley spread before them, and an overjoyed Mully races out to the barn to discuss his crazy good fortune with Ginny.

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Session 25 Recap (2/6/15)
Riders of the Loo-Vongai

Three riders are coming over the river on the ferry barge, and are met by the local constables. The commander does not speak Timble-tainian, but has an interpreter who proclaims, “My superior officer, Marcion Yavo, commander of the 2nd spear of the Loo-Vongai wishes to confer with the Chief of the arms of this city. It is a matter of importance.” He also adds that they do not intend any threat to the city. The constables begin to lead the newcomers towards the police station, but they pause when the interpreter notices the shuttered up emporium of Edibal Spekso, and inquires as to the merchant’s whereabouts.

No one has an answer to that, but Jarley Buttles shows up about then and takes over the function of town tour guide. He tells them the Chief of Police is on his way to greet them formally, but has been detained. In the meantime, he asks, would they accept the hospitality of one of the finer local restaurants which just happens to be located nearby right on the market square? They are willing to be so entertained at one of the outdoor tables, and Jarley recruits Septimus to help keep them occupied while the rest of the group pull up chairs close by. Yachek does not detect anything duplicitous about the visitors as they make small talk about the dusty 3-day journey they have just completed.

The Chief Constable, Sigil Barlain, shows up in a carriage, heavily under the influence of alcohol, but manages to introduce himself and welcome the visitors to the city. The interpreter stands and unfurls a scroll from which he begins to read:

”From His Excellency, Zovarr the Shrewd, Satrap of Loo-Vongai and Protector of the Western Sector of the Emerald Road,

”To the Chief Inspector of the Trading Center and Depot known Timble-Tain:

”Let it never be said that we are not constant and diligent in upholding our pledge to protect the Emerald Road and preserve the trade which flows through our respective lands and brings life to our peoples. I have heard your summons and have dispatched this Spear of the Guardians of Loo-Vongai to assist in the defeat and capture of the Outlaw, Renegade Band, or Criminal Enterprise with which you have recently become entangled, an enemy and rogue element which as yet is unknown in our own lands, but which you have identified by the name or title of KEE-BOO. We offer our forces to assist your efforts to rid the land of this threat to the prosperity of our respective populations. If you will be so good as to apprise us of the current status of this menace…we will help formulate and execute a plan of action to ensure its absolute elimination.”

The interpreter is somewhat distracted towards the end of this recitation by shouts of “Free Kibu” from the milling onlookers, but no disruption ensues. Kibu pokes Weed for an explanation of why his name came up, and Weed merely tells him that the new people don’t appear to like him very much. Septimus tries to smooth over the confusion and find out who summoned these forces. He takes over the diplomacy role and thanks them for replying to the summons. He tries to allay the sense of urgency, and with Jarley’s help, arranges to have them meet with a contingent of Burghers later in the day. Kibu becomes wary of the attention and tries to make himself inconspicuous.

Marina pulls Septimus aside and suggests that Crimner may have summoned these forces in response to Spekso’s stolen necklace, and wonders if its return would help the situation, reminding him that she still has it on her person. They recall the earlier plans they had of planting the necklace back in Spekso’s wagons, and note the fact that his place of business is standing conveniently abandoned only a few paces away. But no decision about it is made at this time.

As the delegation is led away, the group returns to the subject of provisioning. Marina takes the lead in deciding what to get, and the party pools its resources after a fashion, acknowledging that they will have to rely on the good graces of Vasta to fill out the shopping list. As afternoon turns into evening, Kibu discovers the delirious pleasures of squid on a stick and a mysterious foreign substance called Mint Oreos.

As night descends, everyone returns to Vasta’s townhouse to find the lady herself in good spirits and eager to hear about everything that has gone on in her absence. She is astonished at the audacity of the plot to rouse the people against Crimner, and delighted at the swirling fragments that emerge of the story of Kibu’s rise to fame. Septimus tells her about Countess Matreya’s offer of material support in exchange for access to the Chateau, but Vasta is skeptical. Septimus suggests that Matreya may be willing to be generous to Vasta because she doesn’t see her as a threat, but Vasta is much more focused on the threat that Matreya poses to Nimmo and his secrets. She is very defensive about Karadevelia and still wants to keep it out of the Countess’s hands, and in response to this, Septimus proposes that Nhymeri might be willing to stay with her to lend protection and medical support.

A long discussion ensues about what to do about Matreya. Does the Countess plan to follow the group and use them as a means of finding her quarry? Septimus doesn’t think this is very plausible. Trink is worried about leaving before finding out more about the woman and her plans, but no one can think of any way for them to do this without a protracted delay in their departure, and they agree that the one who really has all the answers is Nimmo himself. Yachak offers to stay behind and talk to his mother some more, and while the group immediately vetoes the notion of his being separated for even a day or two, Marina thinks there might be time before they leave for him to at least have a short meeting with her the next day, to find out what he can. Everyone agrees this is a good idea, so they plan to send a messenger to Matreya requesting a meeting with her son.

Jarley shows up at Vasta’s to fill them in on the meeting with the Burghers, who were appreciative of the way the encounter with the soldiers was handled, and have endorsed the diplomatic approach initiated at the meeting in the market restaurant. Buttles is delighted with the way these events are playing into the advancement of his career, and Vasta finds it very droll to be speaking with the up-jumped leader of the Bloody Knobbers almost as a social equal.

Jarley does ask again about how the whole business with Kibu got started, because the visiting soldiers, while pleased with the cordial reception and gifts, still want to know what’s been done about this outlaw contingent supposedly threatening the trade route, which they were sent to deal with. As they explore the bounty of Vasta’s liquor cabinet, Septimus tells him as much of the real story as he knows, which leads back to the fate of the former leaders of the Syndicate up on the mountain at Karadevelia. This is the same puzzle Jarley had been trying to figure out when he first interrogated the group in the back room of the pub in the poorer quarter of town. Only now, having seen Kibu in action, can Jarley begin to wrap his head around the fact that it really was just the one hellion kid up there, backed up after the fact by this unassuming group of recent friends, who defeated the strong arm of the Syndicate, his former superiors. But Jarley still needs to cook up a story that the soldiers (not to mention the rest of Timble-tain) might actually stand a chance of believing, and Septimus suggests that they take a few of the out-of-towners up to the mountain burial yard, produce the bodies of Droat and his gang, and tell them that that is what became of the notorious Kee-boo gang, which is now no more than a bad memory.

A little later, Marina follows up on this idea, suggesting to Weed that they plant the necklace on Droat when they dig him up.

Distressed at the idea of having to deal with a corpse, Weed philosophizes: “This is pwobably the sort of thing we’ll have to do a lot, isn’t it?”

“We will have many unforeseen adventures along the way,” Marina says, presumably trying to reassure him.

“Alwight.”

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Session 24 Recap (1/30/15)
Tavern discussions, including Yachak's story

The group returns to the police station, where the crowds have now largely dispersed. The place had been ransacked soon after the capture of the Inspector, and there is now no sign of a single constable or city official. They find Crimner’s office and search it for information, but this is apparently not where he kept his personal files, or any incriminating evidence. There is, however, a wooden military statue on the desk which Septimus smashes open, only to find a jumble of small mechanical gears and parts in a compartment at its base, which they turn over to Weed. After they unsuccessfully attempt to discuss what to do next, they end up sacking out for what’s left of the night on the couches and floor of the office while Septimus and James go out carousing.

On his way out, Septimus encounters one constable who is surveying the damage in the police station. The cop is impressed at what he sees, which is a group of citizens (including, notably, some of Jarley’s men) sweeping up, boarding over some of the broken windows, and putting things to right in the downstairs offices. Septimus glad hands the cop and praises him for returning bravely to the scene. The cop explains that he was sent by the higher ups to see what was left of the carnage, half expecting the building to be no longer there. Septimus is happy to take the credit for this peaceful turn of events, and expresses enthusiasm to see the constabulary return to duty and carry on with the task of protecting the city without the influence of Crimner.

The group is awakened in the morning by the returning policemen and eventually repairs to the Dog and Pony Tavern, dragging Septimus and James along who had only rejoined them a couple of hours earlier. Yachak comes up with a very effective herbal remedy for hangovers while Trink lists some of her concerns: What is Vasta’s situation now, and how do they arrange things so she will be alright? Septimus suggests that Nhymeri could stay and care for her, although Kibu is not receptive to this idea. But this triggers the suggestion of sending a messenger to Vasta, letting her know it’s safe to return to the city, which they do.

Then Trink huddles with Marina and Septimus about Countess Matreya. She wants to find out more about the Countess, what her past is, what her intentions are, and why she believes Gary is evil. Marina suggests they talk to Yachak and see what he can (or will) say about her. Yachak is receptive to speaking about her, and says that he understands their concerns about her and shares some of them. He briefly explains that she traveled from the Western lands under the name of Deneb to the steppes where she met his father, a practicing shaman. They fell in love and began to raise a son, and she learned her husband’s language and ways as they led a nomadic life among the far-flung villages and settlements. She told her son many fairy tales and parables in the private language they alone shared, but she never mentioned knowing someone of Gary’s description, and she never explained her childhood or any details about her early life to either her husband or her son.

Yachak does, however, tell them about his own first experience with the person who turned out to be Nimmo (Geronimo). As a boy, he was undergoing his initiation, a vision quest to find his spirit guide, heavily under the influence of the trance-inducing mushrooms used by his father. He discovered an abandoned eagle’s nest high in a tree with two eggs in it, one of which hatched in front of him. He returned to the ground and fell asleep under the tree, but had a vivid dream. In the dream, a white haired man appeared in a nearby field and walked to the tree. Discovering the sleeping boy, he sat next to him for a long while. Finally he set something next to the boy and left the way he had come. When Yachak awoke, there was a small statue of an eagle sitting next to him.

Septimus feels this is further evidence of Nimmo’s benevolence, and wants to know how she went from being his mother to someone wealthy enough to buy her way into Timble-tainian upper society. Yachak has no idea, but he can tell them about her disappearance. Now that he thinks about it, he does recall that his mother had been troubled when she had heard about the vision of the white-haired man, but she had said nothing at the time. When the young eagle had shown up a year later and formed a link with Yachek’s mind, confirming itself as his totem and signaling his inheritance of shamanic powers, his mother had raised no objection. From that time, however, she never seemed quite her former carefree self. Earlier, she had loved to walk with Yachek under the night sky, teaching him the names of the constellations, planets, and stars, but now she seemed haunted by the sight and unwilling to open up about it.

One morning, about two years before the present, Yachak and his father had awakened to find a note. Yachak recites it from memory. “My dears: I am required to leave you for a time. How long I cannot say, but when I am free to return, I will find you. Do what good in the land you can. There are always people in need. I am so very proud of you both, and I love you more than anything else in all the worlds. Deneb.”

The group thinks that the final word “worlds” is an odd turn of phrase, but Yachak is not aware of any particular significance to it. She had always had a sort of mystical bent, very distinctive from her husband’s, and her son had long been used to such utterances. Her fantastical stories had told of many worlds different from the real one, and he assumed she meant it as a general phrase for whatever exists.

Marina asks Trink when she encountered the Countess, which is less than a year ago. She points out that, based on the note she left Yachek, she was not acting on her own authority when she did whatever it was that has made Trink hate her. Trink concedes the point, but still doesn’t like or trust the woman. Septimus agrees with the deduction, and points out that Crimner also seems to be acting as an agent for unknown powers, but that they cannot let these suspicions delay the group’s departure. They should probably do what they can to persuade the town to build up its defenses, and then leave it to carry on as best it can.

James raises an interesting question. As the only one among them who had not had any previous dealings with Nimmo, how do they know they can trust him? Each of the members speaks up for their friend and declares his or her loyalty. Only Marina is willing to observe that because they know so little about him, they can only go on the evidence of his actions while they knew him. All agree, however, that the need to find him is not only to rescue their friend, but to get answers from him.

The conversation turns to the question of where they are going when they leave. Marina believes that the town she came from is on the way to Asterhelm, where they were last aware of Nimmo’s location. But the exact distance is not known. In Timble-tain, the northern lands are considered savage and no trade is conducted in that direction. Provisioning is discussed, and Septimus assures everyone that they will take everything they need, probably with the help of at least one pack horse. With Vasta’s help, money should not be an obstacle.

Jarley shows up with news that the town government is slowly putting itself back together, and expressing appreciation for how he and his men conducted themselves during the crisis. Crimner remains under lock and key and has been turned over to the jail warden until further instructions are received by the Burghers, who are scheduled to meet in session later in the afternoon. Septimus informs Jarley of the suspicious comments from Crimner and other sources hinting at a possible invasion of the city from outside sources, and it wouldn’t hurt to get the Plenum to build up its defenses.

As they leave the Tavern, a horseman comes through crying about riders coming from the south. They ask Yachek for an report on what he’s seen that day through the eagle, and he mentions that he caught glimpses of his mother visiting some of the other estates. Now he goes into his trance again, and confirms that there is indeed a force of about 60 horsemen coming up the south road and assembling along the far riverbank. Since they were on their way to the market anyway, they soon arrive at the docks to see what’s going on for themselves.

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Session 23 Recap (1/23/15)
Exhortation, interrogation, frustration

Kibu and Weed provide a sketchy account of what had happened to them. In the process of rescuing Kibu, Weed had somehow managed to set the whole jail free, and Jarley’s men had brought them back to the theater, and Kibu had somehow captured Crimner, and Weed had helped the Syndicate break into the Bank vaults, and they had all met back in this room for a big meal. The two of them don’t seem very interested in providing details, although the full story may eventually come out if anyone is ever curious enough to ask.

One thing becomes clear, that Crimner is not dead, and they need to talk to Buttles, which Septimus proceeds to do. As he approaches the gazebo through the crowd, the Syndicate leader recognizes him and beckons him up on the stage. Septimus basks in the attention as he regales the town folk with florid accounts of Jarley’s leadership and the Inspector’s perfidy, and adds a grace note for leniency towards the constables, who were only following orders. Grateful for the relief pitching, Buttles again takes over, mentioning that Crimner is under guard at the jailhouse.

They go to the jail and Septimus takes over the interrogation, convincing the others to remain out of sight but within earshot. The Inspector is surly and contemptuous, but claims to have been acting in the town’s best interest, using the conspiracy to wrest power into the hands of those who would govern more responsibly. He hints at vague threats to the safety of the city from forces arrayed beyond its borders, who are just waiting for the opportunity to attack. But he refuses to tell them who he works for and what his exact mission was. He echoes Matreya’s warnings about Nimmo, but is similarly dodgy about what the exact nature of the man’s past crimes may have been. Recognizing the futility of any attempt at talking his way out of his predicament, he falls into silence.

The group returns to the police station, where the crowds have now largely dispersed. The place had been ransacked soon after the capture of the Inspector, and there is now no sign of a single constable or city official. They find Crimner’s office and search it for information, but this is apparently not where he kept his personal files, or any incriminating evidence. There is, however, a wooden military statue on the desk which Septimus smashes open, only to find a jumble of small mechanical gears and parts in a compartment at its base, which they turn over to Weed. They end up sacking out for what’s left of the night on the couches and floor of the office.

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Session 22 Recap (1/17/15)
Kibu's got some splainin' to do...

Before long a messenger arrives at the camp, one of the riders which had previously shown up there and been turned away by James and Nhymeri. He is unable to communicate with the group at first, but turns out to speak one of the languages Marina learned from the people under her protection back home. He tells her that their friends have been found and are at the theater in town. He has a paper to give them, one of the wanted posters all sticky with jam and squirrel fur. On the back is a series of drawings depicting Kibu’s rescue by Weed, concluding with a graphic image of Crimner lying dead of multiple stab wounds.

Not sure whether that last part of the drawing is historic or aspirational, they hurry back into town and enter the theater through a side door. They are led to one of the practice rooms where a meeting is breaking up. Some of the conspirators are standing around some documents on one of the tables, which they tell Septimus are from the bank vaults. Apparently there was some kind of raid by Jarley Buttles’ cohorts, accompanied by Weed. Asleep in a corner of the room they find Weed and Kibu asleep.

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