Gyrfalcon Dawn

Session 12e Recap (10/17/2014)
Plannings and partings

After Weed twists his ankle, Yachak helps him back to the horses and takes a look at the damage. Weed is trying to be stoic, and tells him the pain is not too bad. Yachak asks how he can help. “I don’t know, do you have any cweam you could put on it?” Yachak fixes him up with a poultice and a walkingstick, and Weed feels a little better. They figure Kibu and Nhymeri will be gone a while if they are hunting tweasah, so they might as well head back to the Chateau on Yachak’s horse.

On the way, Yachak asks Weed what he meant by being able to control people, and explains a little about his own experience going into trances and getting advice from the voice he hears in his head when he attains a properly receptive state. He also points out his eagle off in the distance and explains about the far seeing. Weed finds this interesting and hesitantly shows Yachak one of the syrettes he carries, telling him how the compound makes people fall asleep, and adding that it was Nimmo who showed it to him. Yachak is thinks that might come in handy.

Weed also addresses the misapprehension about living underground, saying that he really works in his parents’ shop, and only goes down there occasionally to “wead.” “Oh, no,” he says, “I didn’t live undegwound. That’s funny…I found a place undegwound, I know the awea. It’s just comfutable to be down theah wheah I can…not be bothuhed by anyone…That would be something, wouldn’t it? I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live undegwound. It gets pwetty smelly and gwoss down theah,…and sometimes theah ah wapscallions…”

Yachak has also noticed that Weed works with his hands and makes things, and Weed hints at the clockwork devices and chemicals he makes. Yachak shares some of these interests, coming, of course, from quite a different cultural angle, and they agree that they might be able to compare notes and share techniques and lore. Weed seems to perk up at the idea that someone might want to learn from him, and Yachak’s overtures have made a favorable impression.

As they mount the final switchback, they notice a few freshly dug gravesites off to the left, and some of the servants are just walking back to the Chateau, accompanied by Marina, Mully, and Chike, who have been helping bury the thugs and clean up the battle scene.

Chike is in the process of telling Marina something he’s been putting together in his mind, prompted by what he could catch of the discussion about the necklace. Thinking back on Edibal’s methods, he now believes the man has been sidelining as a smuggler. He’s long noticed that there are secretive, rough-looking clients that deal with the merchant in his private chamber, and the gaudy jewelry he has worn has changed each year. From that, he suspects this necklace was more to him than a prized bauble, perhaps an item that was entrusted to him for safe-keeping by someone powerful enough to make him fear for his life if he should lose it.

What’s more, having seen the nature of the gems that were hidden in the necklace under paint, Chike suspects that these are the real commodity being delivered, disguised as worthless glass. Edibal probably doesn’t know this and won’t think to check that the proper gems are still in the necklace, but the same cannot be assumed for the intended recipient. Marina hopes they will be long gone before the discovery is made. From all of these dangerous complications, Chike is thinking he’d like to stay ‘dead’ and quietly escape Timble-tain to rejoin his family.

Marina notices Weed limping and using his walking stick when he jumps down from Yachak’s horse, and asks what happened to Nhymeri and Kibu. The lad explains, “Well, tweasah, they’ah looking fo tweasah, they wan off. I twied to climb this giant pile of wubble, but I just couldn’t, and I fell down and hut my ankle, and…well, I guess when I go out of town and I have adventuahs, that’s just something that’s going to happen, isn’t it?” They continue filling each other in on what’s happened and when Weed hears that Edibal’s life might be in danger, he says, “Well, that’d suhve him wight, the fat tudd!”

Weed follows Marina’s train of thought that they should all be long gone when Edibal, or whoever, finds out the gems have been switched, and Chike adds that it would probably be dangerous for anyone even to be seen returning the necklace, because suspicion would immediately fall on that person as having switched the gems. Weed agrees and speculates on ways they could return the jewelry anonymously, such as leaving it for the police to find. Chike thinks it’s a better idea, when Weed suggests it, to plant the necklace secretly among the merchant’s possessions so that it will appear as if it had never actually been stolen. He knows of a weapons chest in Edibal’s wagon that might be a good place to hide it.

The wheels in Weed’s head are now turning over how the necklace might be replaced undetected while at the same time calling to Edibal’s attention where it is. He feels it’s time to return to Timble-tain to hook back up with Septimus and Trink to discuss this plan. Marina agrees but raises the question of whether James is in adequate shape to be left to recuperate in the care of the servants, and Yackak tells them he has consulted with his oracle through a trance and feels confident that there are no hidden complications standing in the way of James’ swift recovery from his wounds.

Weed asks Mully to select one of the thugs’ horses for him, and suggests to Marina that he tie his mount to hers on the way to town. They let James know they’re leaving, and mount up. When they reach the Zeeva road running along the seacoast, Chike announces that he is parting and riding north rather than going back to town with them. He thanks them for trusting him and giving him his freedom, and wishes them best of luck.

On the road, Yachak and Marina try to probe Weed for more information about what he does down in the place where he goes underground, but Weed downplays its significance to him and says that there’s much more of interest in the wide world that they have traveled through than in his dank, smelly old sewers. As they near the city, Yachak checks in with his eagle, but finds no sign of Septimus, Vastavika, or Trink roaming anywhere in the streets, nor any sign of public disturbances or unusual police activity. They reach the now familiar town square and begin crossing it diagonally towards Vasta’s house when they hear a voice behind them calling their names. It’s Trink, who is emerging from the Dog and Pony Inn.

Session 12d Recap (10/5/2014)
The Trial

Vasta wakes Septimus a little while after the rest of the group leaves the apartment and rides out of Timble-tain in pursuit of the thugs. She explains about Yachak’s distance viewing and Weed’s apparent involvement, but feels that she needs Septimus to accompany her in the day’s activities. Septimus agrees that the group seems trustworthy and his best course is indeed to stay with her.

They get ready and discuss the meeting at hand with Ambrish, the lawyer who represented Vasta in the property dispute a couple of years earlier. Septimus tells her about his nocturnal researches in the Records building and expresses certainty that her claim to Karadevelia is unassailable, also that she has many friends who will stand by her. She appreciates this, but mentions that a lot of those friends have died off in recent years, and wonders how many still remember her. She has not been very social in the past six months.

Shortly after the noon hour, they set off to Ambrish’s office, about five blocks to the north. They walk into the outer lobby and are greeted loudly by the startled clerk, who attempts to stall them with empty pleasantries, repeating Vasta’s name several times in ever shriller tones. They are not fooled by his claim that Ambrish isn’t in at the moment, and tag-team around the flustered young man like the consummate smooth operators that they have both long been. Against his protests, they stride into Ambrish’s inner office and catch the lawyer with coat half on, trying to unlock an inner door through which he was clearly hoping to escape.

Vasta greets Ambrish cheerfully, pretending to assume he is on his way in rather than out, and takes a seat in front of his desk, while Septimus airily sweeps to the sideboard to pour a round of drinks. Putting his best face on it, Ambrish removes his coat and sits back down behind his desk, inquiring after their well-being with what good grace he is able to salvage. Vasta informs him that she wishes to change her will to make Septimus the primary heir (thus eliminating the need for the estate to be inventoried due to the absence of the beneficiary), and asks if there is any impediment to his handling this transaction on her behalf.

Ambrish says it should be a simple business as long as she can prove competency, which he has no reason to doubt she can. She asks if he knows of any challenges to her claim, and describes her unpleasant encounter a few days earlier with the agent who came to her house, claiming to represent some wealthy woman who bought the Grinborian estate. Ambrish becomes very uneasy when this is mentioned, and allows that he knows of this man, named Pinborton, though he is reluctant to say anything about him.

Septimus turns his charm offensive into high gear, steamrollering the man with the force of his personality, and convincing him that he and Vasta have the upper hand in any potential legal challenge that may be put forth. Ambrish can either throw his support behind Vasta or come out on the losing side of any dispute that might involve her. The impressionable lawyer is swept up in the rhetoric and admits that he himself received a visit from this Pinborton not long before the man went to the Chateau to harass Vastavika. Pinborton tried to pressure Ambrish for information about Vasta and her consort, Nimmo, but Ambrish insists that he revealed nothing which was not already a matter of public record.

Ambrish says that when Pinborton couldn’t get any privileged information, he became abusive and began accusing Nimmo of being an evil person, having dark, dastardly plans for Timble-tain, and being a dangerous person to associate with, though he offered no proof or concrete examples of his assertions. At this point it occurs to Septimus that a subterfuge of his own might be useful to get Ambrish on his side, and he makes a snap decision to run with the idea of Nimmo being untrustworthy, even a con artist. He says to Ambrish, “We have come to have some suspicions of his character as well, because we feel like he’s not been as supportive a friend as we thought, and we just don’t trust him anymore. We’re here to do our utmost to put as much distance between him and us and to sever any ties, legally.”

Septimus can tell that Vasta is startled at this approach, and he squeezes her hand behind the desk to reassure her, but she has no trouble masking her surprise from the lawyer. She is an old hand at keeping a poker face and rolling with the punches. Ambrish, on the other hand, is unable to avoid telegraphing his relief at the way the conversation is developing, and opens up even more about his impressions of Pinborton. He says most of these accusations appear to have originated with Pinborton’s client, the Countess Matreya. She is thought to have bought the Grinborian estate under shady circumstances, and wants now to re-annex the Chateau Karradevelia to her holdings. Ambrish also adds his personal condolences that Lady Vastavika has had the misfortune to have had dealings with such an unsavory character as this Nimmo appears to be.

Septimus uses the opening to reinforce his story: “Yes, this has been a trying time for the Lady, to have somebody who’s been in her confidence for so long prove false. When these things happen, it’s never very easy to deal with, but fortunately she has other friends, and is a patron of the community, so we’re going to do our utmost to sail these rocky waters, and to cut off this scoundrel.”

Picking up on the thread, Vasta muses whether Nimmo’s betrayals have anything to do with why she has been summoned to a competency hearing, and Septimus theatrically strokes his chin: “Hmm, what an interesting thought!” Ambrish takes the bait with enthusiasm, speculating that Nimmo may in fact be involved with the spate of social and legal turmoil that has plaguing the town of late. At any rate, he is now eager to draw up the documents and can have them ready to sign by the time Vasta is finished with her hearing. Septimus asks if a brief statement of intent can be drafted now that might help them at the hearing, and Ambrish complies, calling in his clerk to take dictation, then sending him out to write it up.

While waiting, he rambles on to fill the silence, wondering if the hubbub over Karradevelia has any connection to the strange goings on with that mysterious Inspector who’s creating such havoc in the business and legal communities. Ambrish explains that the Inspector is using his position to crack down on many of the informal practices and arrangements of convenience which, while perhaps tending to skirt the rules of fair trade just a tad, nevertheless usually serve to grease the wheels of commerce and accrue to the mutual advantage of all parties. The interloper is using technicalities to pry into every corner of local industry, putting well-established clients on the defensive, making them less willing to enter into contracts, and drying up the business of honest legal agents such as himself. If things continue to go on this way, the good barrister thinks he may be forced to get his hands dirty in the criminal defense end of the profession, because in this climate of uncertainty and desperation, those practitioners are the wolves making a real killing.

Vasta and Septimus commiserate with him over these developments, and encourage him to go into even greater detail about the calamities he has witnessed. He throws professional discretion to the wind, opining that Inspector Crimner’s methods actually amount to a form of extortion, securing compliance with his investigations through the threat of audit and prosecution, and turning long-standing business associates against each other by forcing them to supply evidence against each other in order to save themselves. There must be some ulterior motive for such draconian measures, and it’s anyone’s guess what sinister plots may be afoot to undermine the serenity of their beloved city.

Septimus inquires as to the origin and bona fides of this jumped-up Inspector, and Ambrish harrumphs. He says that nobody seems to know where he came from or how he maneuvered himself into such a position of authority, but he seems to have appealed to certain factions in the Plenum of Burghers, providing them with some kind of opportunity to make a power grab by sowing chaos throughout the community. But it’s an open question whether internal politics are the only force at play in this situation, and rumors have in fact circulated to the effect that some unseen outside influence may be seeking to weaken the society by undermining the strength of its traditional liberties.

In his fulminations, Ambrish is easily induced to name particular Burghers who seem to be aligning themselves with the Inspector, and these mostly include representatives of the finance and government service industries, while the sectors under siege tend to be the smaller trade and artisanal guilds, including the entertainment companies with which Septimus himself is principally involved. The greatest concentration of effort seems to be against the “vice” trades, including gambling, taverns, and the red light district. In fact, Ambrish recalls that one of Septimus’ close personal acquaintances, Sir Romerto, who runs the high-end casino in town, has been subject to some of the worst harassments and shakedowns, and might have quite a bit more to say about Crimner and his shady police methods than anyone else he could talk to.

As the document is completed and the time is growing short for Vasta and Septimus to be pushing on to the hearing, the conversation comes back around to the competency challenge, and the possible motive behind it. Now feeling much warmer towards Vasta and trying to be as helpful as he can, Ambrish goes back over the history of the Grinborian estate and its current owner, providing a bit more detail than has been made clear so far in the story. He says that the legal action a couple of years earlier that challenged Vasta’s right to own the property the Baron gave her arose from a dispute by several of his cousins, who were arguing among themselves over how much of his estate they were entitled to. After Vasta’s claim was confirmed, the cousins continued to squabble until the case was sent to the Grand Arbitor for final disposition.

At this point, the expected procedure would have been for the GA to divide the estate into parcels, some of which would have gone to the disputants, and a sizeable remainder of which would have been confiscated and auctioned off to the other members of the elite class by the GA himself to cover the government’s expenses and fees. But something wholly unprecedented occurred. A wealthy foreign lady, going by the name of Countess Matreya, came forward with an offer to buy the undivided estate for such a generous sum, that the Council of Governors agreed to and mandated the sale, forcing the cousins to come away with no property, merely a share of the proceeds. In doing this, the Council summarily cut through a vast amount of red tape, waiving a host of exclusionary rules and conditions designed to bar entry into their social stratum by anyone not native to Timble-tain. In fact, this Countess, by all reports, seems to have been welcomed straight into full peerage without the gradual process of initiation and probation that a nouveau-riche Timble-tainian industrialist would traditionally have been expected to endure.

Countess Matreya employs Pinborton as her agent, and it is not clear to Ambrish how much of the man’s abrasiveness is a product of his own personality versus the precise manner in which she has instructed him to conduct her affairs. She is said to be personable and well-liked by those of her class who have made her acquaintance at the few soirees, performances, and functions she has attended, but she is extremely secretive, and spends most of her time on the estate. She is not known to have hosted a social event of her own. Ambrish does not know why she is so keen to acquire Karradevelia, or what dealings she may have had in the past with Nimmo that have set her against him.

Septimus is interested in this information, and allows as how he’s sure his and Vastavika’s paths will cross with that of the Countess sometime in the season, as he is often called upon to perform at the kind of events that she seems to favor. They thank Ambrish for his confidences, and take their leave. On the way to the hearing, they discuss the new tactic they are taking towards Nimmo in order to solidify their story and iron out the details. They decide it would be wise to plant the seed that it was Nimmo or one of his accomplices who was responsible for the fire at Karradevelia as the best way to deflect suspicion that Vasta is starting to “lose it.”

Septimus discusses the fact that, while he has always tried to steer clear of the seedy underbelly of Timble-tain society, his gambling obsession has occasionally broken free of his control, and forced him into uncomfortably close dealings with some of the less reputable operators in the business of loan-sharking and debt-collection. Although he has never been drawn into actual cooperation with or participation in the criminal underworld, such as it exists in the city, he has a general knowledge of the landscape, the principal actors, and the methods they have for getting things done. If he needs to use it as a smoke screen, he thinks he could quite plausibly invent details designed to implicate Nimmo as having connections to some of these characters, and perhaps even include Edibal in these insinuations if that would help throw the authorities off the scent of his friends. For the moment, however, he does not think it wise to lead with these accusations, and his main concern is to paint the picture of Vasta as an innocent victim of con men and potential thieves.

Vasta approves of this approach, but she does express some concern that such a tale might invite even greater scrutiny of the Chateau and its inhabitants at a time when they are trying to keep a low profile and organize a plan to rescue Nimmo. Septimus agrees that this should only be used as a trump card if things are not going their way, and points out that as far as he can tell, the rubble from the fire has been swept clean of anything of Nimmo’s they might wish to keep away from prying eyes.

Vasta speculates about how her more intimate friends who knew Nimmo would react to the news of his treachery, and worries that it might be a hard sell for some. But she also reflects that nearly all of them are members of the upper circle, and she points out something that has been hinted at about Crimner, namely that his machinations seem to stop short of anything that might involve the elites themselves. They have not been subjected to his investigations, at least as far as Ambrish said he has been able to detect, and the Inspector seems to be trying to escape the notice of the Council of Governors. She wonders if an appeal to their authority might be even more effective as a last ditch tactic, notwithstanding the impropriety with which such an egregious breach of protocol would at first be branded.

The hearing is held in the Government building, not the more plebian courthouse, and when they arrive, they are first ushered into a fairly elegant drawing room, where the wealthier class of litigants can relax and cool their heels in comfort while they await their turn before the magistrates. They are called into the hearing chamber precisely at three o’clock, and Vasta is seated at a table in the center of the room, while Septimus is initially directed towards the visitor benches at the rear. He objects to this, however, and asks if the Lady is not entitled to the presence of a supportive friend and confidante at her side. The four magistrates seated on the platform at the front of the room do reluctantly allow this, but admonish him that he is to remain silent during the interview, and may not coach or prompt the Lady.

Vastavika turns on her own brand of charm, recognizing each of the magistrates as social acquaintances, and smilingly greets them all by name and asks after their families. The gentlemen are visibly disarmed by this attention, and momentarily forget the gravity of their offices as they return the pleasantries. Septimus recognizes one of the magistrates as the self-same Bukumar who officiated at the carnival tournament and was relieved at the magician’s assistance in smoothing over the awkward incident. The meeting is called to order and they commence with routine questions about Vastavika’s identity, address, and familial status, strictly, they assure her, as a formality for the record.

Before the proceedings go any further, however, a door behind the platform crashes open, and none other than Inspector Crimner strides in. He leans in behind the magistrates speaking in a low but forceful voice, and they seem distraught but cowed by what he has to say. As some of their voices rise in futile protest, it becomes clear to Septimus that the Inspector is insisting on his right to be included on the panel at this proceeding. His read on their body language is that they are outraged at this intrusion on their prerogative but feel trapped, and they appear to capitulate under protest as an extra chair is called up to the platform.

The others in the room witness this display in shocked silence, but there are no grumblings from the stenographers, bailiffs, or the handful of onlookers. Septimus can only catch the unhappy eye of Bukumar, who shrugs in mute helplessness at the outrage. He leans in to Vasta and tells her this is the Inspector Crimner they’ve been warned about, and she nods, having already surmised as much. He tries to reassure her, but there is nothing much else he can say. Crimner primly takes the seat provided for him and the head magistrate falteringly resumes where he left off. Before he can fully frame the next question, however, Crimner interrupts again.

“Excuse me, but who is this person?” Addressing Septimus directly, he continues, “I recognize you! Why are you sitting there next to the pri–, er, subject?”

Septimus rises and sweeps him a bow, telling him how pleasant it is to see him again, and that he is only there as a supportive friend and confidante, granted leave to sit at her side by the graciousness of the assembled counsellors. “And,” he adds looking significantly at those very counsellors, “it looks like it was a good thing I did, because the numbers are stacking even further against us.”

“This is absurd,” cries Crimner. “The subject is not allowed to be coached in her responses! That would defeat the whole purpose of this examination.” As Septimus begins to protest, he adds, “Sir, you are ordered to step back with the other spectators.”

Septimus rises and says, “Sir, I don’t recognize your authority in this matter. We have already been given permission by all of the duly appointed magistrates. Their assent is already established. Are you saying that your power overrides all of theirs combined?”

“This has nothing to do with power,” snaps the Inspector. “You are in contempt of this court!” Turning to the bailiff, he commands “Have this man removed from this court now! In fact, this is supposed to be a private hearing. Remove ALL the spectators this instant!”

Septimus looks around in disbelief as the guards begin ushering people to the door. Vasta appears stricken, but she shrugs at him mutely. The other magistrates are visibly disgruntled and shift uncomfortably in their chairs, some dabbing their brows with handkerchiefs, but they remain stonily silent, keeping their eyes on the papers in front of them. Septimus quickly assesses his chances at getting Vasta out of there, but there are constables and guards throughout the building, not just in this chamber, and it seems unlikely that he could fight his way through all of them and escape without damaging their position further.

Feeling cornered, he turns theatrically to Vasta and says, “My dear, it’s not the first time that you’ve had to face down a bully. That’s all this man is, he’s a puffed up penguin of a…joke…” He glances at Crimner but the man does not rise to the bait, waiting imperiously for his order to be carried out. “You have nothing to fear. You have friends who will stand beside you.” She nods as he sweeps his cape around, daring the guards with a glare to lay a hand on him, and strides out of the chamber.

Two of the guards follow him out and post themselves at the door. They look apologetic as Septimus questions them about the propriety of what has just occurred, and tell him there’s nothing they can do except follow orders. He tells them there’s an ill wind of change sweeping through Timble-tain when a virtual stranger can come in and dictate protocol to their own Burghers and office-holders, and warms to the subject when he sees that they are not entirely hostile to his rants. He gathers the other bystanders into his audience and does what he can to sow discontent in their hearts, but other than a few nods of agreement, nobody joins into the spirit of rebellion, or matches the fire of his rhetoric with proposals for action.

He wanders the public areas of the Hall of Governors and expresses his frustration to anyone who will listen, but the time passes slowly, and he keeps within earshot of the waiting room so as to be on hand when the hearing concludes. Nearly an hour passes, and after having just stepped out of the room momentarily for the twentieth time, he returns to discover that the guards are no longer at the door. He rushes into the hearing chamber and finds one of these guards still there, but no one else except a maintenance worker straightening the chairs and sweeping up. The men can tell him nothing of what transpired at the hearing or its outcome, except that it ended some while ago, and the Lady was led out the door at the back of the room with the rest of the officials.

This is wildly contrary to any legal procedure Septimus has ever heard of, and even in the event of a failure to prove competence, under no circumstances should it have resulted in her arrest. He looks around in growing consternation, and the guard turns away to his duties, leaving Septimus to prowl the room. He finds the door behind the platform locked, but the guard seems to be studiously directing his attention elsewhere. The magician easily jimmies the lock and slips through the door. He is now in a corridor lined with several doors, some of which emit the sound of voices conducting normal business or conversation, but no shouting or drama. He sticks his head into one of the quiet ones, and finds an empty office where he is able to purloin a robe from a coatrack and a clipboard with some papers attached.

He continues down the twists and turns of the corridor until he reaches an ornate passageway that leads into the private sections of the Governors’ council chambers. There is a guard posted here, and Septimus asks him if a group of magistrates has passed by, acting flustered and waving the papers urgently. The guard is eager to help, and has indeed seen the party going down a side passage that leads to a building exit only a few minutes earlier. Thanking him, Septimus rushes to the exit and down the steps into a small courtyard where there is a carriage loop, but the place is deserted. Out at the street he finds a constable who tells him that the group was bundled hastily into two carriages and left. He is able to point out the side street where the carriages disappeared, heading in a southeasterly direction.

Septimus follows on foot, but the trail quickly grows cold. He is in the upper class residential part of the city, and there are many mansions and walled properties, any one of which might have swallowed two carriages without leaving a trace. He doesn’t give up, and canvasses any passersby for information, but after twenty minutes or so, is forced to admit they have eluded him. He is fairly familiar with this part of town, and recognizes the residences of a number of Burghers and financiers, but he counts few of these among his personal acquaintances. His social set is centered more around the theater district and gambling establishments, and his patrons tend to be from the elite class whose estates are dotted about the countryside well beyond the city.

He can think of no one in this area to whom he might turn for assistance, so he turns back to a place he is intimately familiar with, the Grand Theater. He is well known here, and meets no resistance as he heads backstage to the warren of costume and makeup rooms under the central auditorium. He constructs a disguise and slips back out to the street a few minutes later, setting off in the direction of Vasta’s apartment with plans formulating in his head for taking on the man who has now become his arch enemy.

Session 12c Recap (10/17/2014)
Cat and Mouse

Trink takes off after the fleeing hoodlum, doing her best to hold the saddle while tucking away the half of her rope dart that she’s still holding in her hand. Stupid, she thinks. Disarm, THEN entangle. What was I thinking? In the haste of the moment, she doesn’t yet notice Azzy, who has just been tugging at the severed end of the silk weapon as Yachak delivers the final, temple-shattering blow to the thug whose legs it is wrapped around. Conveniently, the heavy stone falls out of the pocket at the end of the sash just as the man falls, and the cat-dog hybrid is able to yank it free and still has it clutched in his teeth as he tears off after his mistress.

“James is hurt!” she yells at Nhymeri, before the other girl overtakes her. “I’ll follow this one.” Nhymeri accepts the logic of this and turns back. The scrawny fellow has a decent start on her and is riding hell-bent with no regard for the safety of himself or his mount. But Trink noticed the shirt he had torn off and wrapped around his arm as he rode through the fray a few moments earlier, and she can see spatters of blood in the dirt as she rounds the corner into the first switchback. James had dealt him a serious slash as he rode through the gates, and the ruffian’s stamina in the saddle has to be limited. Trink is confident that she’ll catch up sooner or later.

She catches glimpse of his dust cloud as she gallops down the access trail from the Chateau, and it looks like she’s more or less keeping pace for the time being. There’s no evidence that he knows he’s being followed. Sure enough, a little way beyond the point where the private path joins the larger mountain road towards the Zeeva, she spots him in the distance slowing to a walk, and she’s able to duck behind cover before giving her position away. He’s more than a hundred meters ahead, but through her somewhat smoky goggles, she can just make out his movements as he pulls the bloodied cloth from his arm and clumsily reties it.

It’s here that she pauses and considers her options. With only half a weapon, she still might be able to take him on, but she no longer has the reach of the full rope dart and would have to battle him in close quarters, where his short sword would be far more dangerous to contend with. On the other hand, if she lets him go, he might lead her to his superiors, though of course that means allowing them to find out the details of the battle that has just occurred. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing, she wonders? Whoever it is that sent these thugs already knows where they are, she supposes. What her friends need most right now is information. She decides to stay back until the wounded rider sets off again.

With the skills she’s picked up over the past couple of years at staying out of sight both above and below ground, she doesn’t find it difficult to shadow him undetected. His route takes them out to the well-traveled seaside road and straight south towards Timble-tain. It’s been a long day, and the thick mica lenses are starting to weigh heavily on the bridge of her nose, making it harder to keep track of her quarry as the route grows more populated. But she discovers that if she squints hard and keeps her eyes shaded, she can occasionally lift the goggles and get a sharper picture of the scene ahead, if only for the few seconds it takes to make sure he is still there. It astonishes her to think how far she has come since the days, not so long ago, when the mere thought of travelling forth under the terrifying rays of the naked sun would have left her completely immobilized.

She finds it necessary to risk moving in closer as he nears the outskirts of town. He might turn down any street, and she has to be ready to duck in the same direction. But with her hood up, she hopes it will be harder for him to recognize her bug-eye lenses if he should happen to look back, and the possibility of losing him seems the more pressing concern. He appears to be barely holding his saddle as he enters the main square and crosses diagonally to the southeast road. He leads her past Vasta’s door and stops at the hitching bar alongside the police station. With only one good arm, it takes him a minute to figure out how to jump down with without causing unendurable pain and get the horse tied to the bar. Then he walks forward to the main entrance of the station, holding the arm and looking as if he might collapse at any moment.

She quickly dismounts and ties her own horse to a nearby tree, then runs forward as swiftly as possible without attracting too much attention. He turns the corner and disappears before she can catch up and watch him enter, but she checks in all directions when she reaches the far end of the building, and there isn’t anywhere else he could have gone. She continues around the block checking for other possible ways in, but all doors are either locked or guarded, and she arrives back at the main entrance without having glimpsed him in any of the windows.

She looks around for a place to keep an eye on the building, and notes that the front door to the station is in a diagonal cut-out that directly faces the center of the intersection. This intersection is actually a roundabout with a small island in the center, and the island contains a copse of trees and bushes surrounding a gazebo. Crossing over to the island, she easily finds a hidden spot where she can observe the comings and goings in the station while peering through gaps in the undergrowth. There is even enough shade to allow her to push the goggles up on her forehead, and she hunkers down to watch.

Directly above the entrance to the police station, there are two large windows which seem to belong to executive offices. One of them contains a darkly clad figure which paces back and forth before the window and occasionally peers down at the street. After a few minutes, he turns to face someone who has just come into the room. She recognizes the rag around the man’s arm as he staggers into a chair. The owner of the offices continues to pace and raises his arms in angry gestures as he interrogates the visitor. She can almost hear him shouting and thinks she sees the man in the chair cringe once or twice as he tells his story.

Finally the pacing man exits the office and the thug slumps down in the chair, holding his wounded arm. It only takes a minute or two for the other man to appear in the lobby and come through the front doors, flanked by a constable and another man who is dressed in street clothes. She can now see the officer clearly enough to confirm what she has suspected, that this is the same Inspector who appeared at Vasta’s chateau on the day of the fire. Her Timble-tainian is still too limited to catch more than a word or two of the instructions he is giving to the plain-garbed man, but the fellow soon nods curtly and heads off up the street towards the town square. Just then a police wagon pulls up and the Inspector climbs in, followed by the constable. The driver yells “Hyah, and the horses jump forward, heading around the circle and up the road leading north at top speed.

Trink isn’t sure what to do next. She wants to stop back at the townhouse to see if Septimus is there, but it occurs to her that this is just around the time when Vasta’s hearing was supposed to take place, and she’s reluctant to leave in case something else worth observing should happen. Up in the office there is now another man in the office who’s bent over the wounded thug in the chair. He’s apparently attending to the arm, and she waits for a while until both men stand up and leave the room. A few minutes later, her quarry appears at the front door with his arm in a proper sling and a small package tucked under his free elbow. He rounds the circle and heads east past the Courthouse, so she sets off again in shadowy pursuit.

He leads her deep into the residential part of the city, zigzagging through a warren of narrow lanes and the occasional broader avenue. The houses grow more upscale as the route winds north, and they soon pass some that are positively palatial, tucked behind tall fences topped with sharpened stakes. Some are even walled off from the street, and it is at the opening of one of these that her man finally stops and is admitted by a guard onto the premises. She walks past and peers through the closed carriage gate just in time to see him standing at the front door and being let in by a butler. Over the gate are letters in wrought iron that read DUCARTE. She looks around as casually as she can to see if there is a hidden spot where she can climb over the wall, but ends up back near the gate, watching from behind a tree. Before long her man comes back through the gate without the package and turns up the street in the direction from which they came.

She decides the package isn’t going anywhere for now, and she wonders where the guy might lead her next. He heads due south to the poorer section of town, and disappears into an alleyway next to a tenement building near the river. She slips in after him unobserved by anyone on the street and enters a dark doorway into the squalid structure. There are hallways on three levels, each lined with three or four apartment doors, any one of which might have swallowed her quarry. There are crying babies and other family noises within most, and she risks a quick peek into some of the quieter ones. Finally on the third floor, there is a door behind which she can hear the sound of a lone figure moving about.

Carefully, she tests the doorknob, and it turns with barely a squeak. The door only opens by a quarter inch, however, before being stopped by a hook. Peering through the sliver, she can see the shadow of someone walking about the room. She hears him moving objects and once opening a drawer. Then the footsteps come directly towards the door, and she melts back into the darkness behind some bins near the end of the hallway. The man she has followed for so long emerges, locks the door behind him, and heads back down the stairway, never noticing her in the shadows. Next to her knee, an even darker and more silent shadow gazes up at her, waiting patiently to see where she will go next.

She decides she has seen enough for the time being, and now that evening will soon be coming on, feels the need to report back to Vasta and Septimus. She easily finds her way along the river back to the market, and from there to the street where her horse is still tied up, which she now leads into the stable and secures for the night. As she nears the apartment, however, she catches sight of something that makes her stop and reflexively dart into hiding behind one of the stoops a few doors away. There, standing casually against a railing directly across the street from Vasta’s door, is the plain-clothes man dispatched by the Inspector several hours earlier. He has not seen Trink yet, but is clearly keeping an eye out in both directions, and glancing now and then up at the balcony where they had all breakfasted that morning.

Trink steals back the way she came and circles the block behind the townhouse. On her way around, she notices a couple of places where she could easily climb to the roof of the continuous structure, from which she could descend onto Vasta’s balcony, but it is still too light to expect to do this undetected by the man across the street. Instead, she decides to use the Dog and Pony Inn as a lookout point, and gets a booth close to the front window. From there, she watches the square for anyone she recognizes, especially any of her friends coming down from the Chateau who might be walking into a trap.

Session 12b Recap (10/11-12/2014)
A nocturnal encounter

James and Yachak are working on the necklace, remounting some small round stones Yachak has provided from his collection in place of the painted-over beads that Nimmo seems to have been collecting. Nhymeri joins them after chasing Kibu away from pestering Yarraman with the syrette Weed has given him. She experiments with her pigments until she matches the blue color, and the finished piece is taken to the kitchen to bake over a fire until dry.

Kibu meanwhile has been out talking with Mully, who takes Ginny the gyrfalcon out for an exercise run and tells Kibu the story of the key she brought back to Yachak. Kibu proposes a trip to explore the cliff face that Yachak saw, and he, Nhymeri, Yachak, and Weed set off in the mid afternoon sunshine. They find the abandoned road that leads towards the mountain, but within a mile, they find it to be blocked by a massive landslide that only Kibu and Nhymeri are nimble enough to climb across. After slipping and almost twisting an ankle, Weed decides to wait it out, and Yachak stays with him. Eventually, they decide to return to the Chateau. [Possible rp opportunity.]

Beyond the landslide, Kibu and Nhymeri find that the road continues, but not really recognizable as a road, simply an overgrown ledge that winds its way up the canyon. By now they can spot the cliff they are looking for, and after crossing a swift-moving stream, they reach the base. Nhymeri is only able to follow Kibu up to the bottom of the shear rock-face of the cliff. After that, only his crazy climbing abilities are up to the task of ascending the roughly 200 feet of vertical rock.

He reaches the small cave and finds an inner room barricaded by a loose door that has been jammed into the opening. Inside, there are several crates and an iron strongbox about 18 inches long. The crates contain a variety of items, including a loose collection of papers, a couple of notebooks, and a lot of different, oddly-shaped metal objects which mean nothing to Kibu. But it is the strongbox that fits the key provided by Ginny. Within that, Kibu finds sorting trays containing dozens more of the latticed beads that they have been collecting.

Kibu decides to empty the gems into his satchel, destroying any order they might have had in the sorting trays, and stuffs the papers into the strong box, knowing that, without rope, he can’t lower the box down gently. He drops the box out of the cave, and it manages not to shatter when it hits the rocks below. He then climbs down, retrieves the box, and catches up to Nhymeri, who has headed back to Yarraman on her own. It is growing dark, so they decide to camp there for the night.

Sitting around their fire, they hear rustling back along the road, and a figure emerges from the darkness. It is an older woman in a cloak and hood, stepping carefully but steadily towards them. She is tall but somewhat hunched, and leans heavily on the staff she carries, though she does not appear decrepit, and her hair is a rich brown color. In the firelight, she has quite a striking look, with a long neck and slanted, almond-shaped eyes, though she does not resemble the Asian features Kibu is familiar with from his homeland.

She at first says something to them in Timble-tainian, but when Nhymeri directly challenges her in Gary-speak, the woman replies in the same language that she comes in peace. They ask her how she knows this language, and she replies that she has travelled far and wide, and it is one of the tongues she has heard spoken far to the north. She begs their leave to sit for a while and converse, and Nhymeri lowers her bow.

The woman introduces herself as Suranara, and praises Nhymeri as having the look of a Wise Woman and a Truth-Teller. She guesses that Nhymeri’s bag is filled with herbs and remedies, and names some examples, a few of which Nhymeri recognizes from having compared notes with Yachak. She also flatters Kibu for his obvious prowess and nimbleness, and suggests that his totem may be The Monkey. Intrigued, they ask her for more details of her own history, and she says she has been a wanderer and seeker for many years. Then she proposes to tell them the following story about monkeys, a creation myth that she has collected in her travels.

When the gods created the world, they were pleased with their work, and made the plants and animals to enjoy it with them. They ruled their kingdom for many eons in peace and comfort.

But the monkeys were not satisfied with their place in the world, and entreated the gods: “If you make us bigger like you, oh gods, we could serve you better.”

The gods thought this over and agreed that it would be good to have larger servants to carry their goods and build great shrines to them. So they made the monkey tall like the trees. And the monkeys did build many great structures, and carried even the gods themselves to and fro on their broad backs.

But the monkeys still were not satisfied, and told their creators, “If you gave us hands like yours, we could make you clever presents to entertain and delight you, and your lives would be much happier.”

The gods debated this point, for it had not occurred to them that their present lives were not already perfect. But upon the monkeys’ continued suggestions, they relented and gave them hands. The monkeys reveled in their new dexterity and fashioned many statues and devices to delight the gods, and played music and wove tapestries and found a thousand other ways to serve their makers with the new hands they had been given.

But the monkeys were also cruel and lorded it over the other animals and stole their homes and made them slaves to their own purposes. The gods were too busy enjoying the fruits of the monkeys’ clever hands to notice how badly the world they had created was itself being served.

Even as the monkeys were becoming rulers of the world, they still were not satisfied, for there was yet the sky which they could not reach, and the stars which they felt had always taunted the gods with their cold, distant sparkle. So they told the gods, “If you give us wings, we will conquer the air and fly up to the sun and stars, and make them sorry that they taunted you and did not give you proper obeisance.”

The gods were taken aback at this, for they had not realized the stars were taunting them until the monkeys told them about it. But once they looked at it this way, it did seem as if the stars were impolitely aloof, and that it would be good to force them to properly honor all that the gods and their wise and clever monkeys had accomplished in the world.

So they gave the monkeys wings like the birds, and watched them fly in every direction to conquer the mountains and the moon and the sun itself. Only the stars proved too haughty, and continued to hold themselves out of reach, as if laughing at them from their high perches in the heavens.

And the monkeys in their new-found power and arrogance, said to themselves, “Why do we still serve those gods, when we are now as powerful as they are? We should begin serving ourselves, and live like they do. Because, really what have they ever done for us?”

So the monkeys stopped serving the gods, and the gods suddenly became alarmed at how dreary their lives had become overnight. For the first time in ages they looked around and realized how badly the monkeys had behaved in the world, and how the animals suffered and the plants were scraped from the land and the air itself was choking from the abuse.

So the gods in their desperation entreated the stars, and said “Why do you stay so aloof and taunt us in your silence? The monkeys now ignore us and defile the world we made for them. Why do you not help us in our time of need?”

And the stars answered the gods and said, “Because, foolish cousins, you never asked.”

And the gods looked at each other and said, “Oh.”

And the stars sent down troops of angels to help the gods with their monkey problem. Now, the angels were not as powerful as the monkeys, but they were cleverer by far. They pretended to befriend the monkeys and admired their works, and, as emissaries of the stars, they gave the monkeys the praise and recognition they always so craved. The monkeys grew to trust the angels and even accepted their invitation to interbreed with them.

The angels were only half the size of the monkeys, but they were much more beautiful, and the monkeys were dazzled and flattered by their come-ons. They mated with gusto and preened themselves upon their successful conquest of all creation, even over these angels from the stars. In fact, the monkeys became obsessed with the angels, and would mate only with them. They left the sky and came back to the ground, began bickering among themselves over whose angel was the prettiest, and stopped building and making things.

The gods saw their chance. While the monkeys were preoccupied, the gods reasserted their control over the world. They sent a great flood to wash away the great works of the monkeys, and urged the plants and animals to overrun and smother what was left.

Too late, the monkeys realized their mistake. The angels had deceived them. Their offspring were not a blend of the best of both races as they had been led to expect, but puny things, with short lives, little fur, squashed faces, and tiny minds, barely recognizable as the descendants of the first grand monkeys who had entreated the gods. By the time they understood this, all the great, tree-sized monkeys were past the age where they could reproduce. In their frustration, they raged against the gods and angels, and against their own stunted and hapless issue, and they tore down whatever they could find that was left of the great works they had once made. Finally, in misery and despair, the last of them died out, and left the world in the hands of their destroyers.

The gods, chastened by the disaster that had befallen them through their own folly, resolved never again to speak to their creation, or listen to any of their entreaties, no matter how desperate or deserving.

Only a few of the stunted monkey/angel offspring survived, and began to reproduce more of their kind, barely aware of the greatness of their ancestors.

The angels, satisfied with their handiwork, returned to the stars – except, it is said, for just a few of them, who had become too attached to the beauty of the world and stayed to watch over it. They continued to roam the world, or flew above it, keeping out of sight and observing the progress of the ugly, short-lived creatures who now scratched a living in the soil.

Nowadays, the angels are hardly ever seen, and remain aloof and alone, spending most of their time on mountaintops and in the clouds, torn between two realms but belonging to neither. But it is said that once in a great while, one or another of the angels becomes enamored of one of the monkey spawn, who now call themselves humans. The lonely angel sometimes decides to reveal itself to the object of its desire, and may even offer to mate.

When that happens, some believe that the lucky descendants of this union enjoy special benefits, such as great physical beauty or magical powers, which flower briefly, and then gradually dwindle from generation to generation, until the blessing has dissipated. That is why exceptional individuals are thought of as angel-get, and those who believe they have unusual abilities are given due deference by most of the cultures who still keep alive the ancient myths.

Both admired and feared, these mighty samurai, wise witches, and patient healers are destined to roam the world, neither utterly shunned, nor completely accepted. They are given due courtesy by the superstitious, and even those who think they know better tend to send them on their way with a meal and a snicker behind their backs, not fully daring to risk the displeasure of forces unknown. The wanderers, if they are wise, keep their own counsel, offer help and advice where it is requested, and tell the story of the ancestors to any child who will listen.

After finishing the story, Suranara asks Kibu if he would accept a gift from her, a pendant with a small wooden statue of a monkey. She also has a vial with a rare white powder that she offers Nhymeri, explaining that it has a powerful ability to loosen the mind, and, if infused into tea in very small doses, is capable of forcing people to tell the truth to any questions that are asked of them over the space of about an hour.

She then asks permission to sleep by their fire for the night, and they all bed down. Kibu does not sleep at first, and after what he judges to be a suitable amount of time, he creeps over to Suranara, hoping to look through her things. She happens to be resting her head on her own medicine bag, but after some consideration, he decides to try to slip it out from under her anyway. Just as he gets close, however, Suranara stirs without opening her eyes and turns over, now clutching the bag even more tightly. Kibu gives up and goes back to bed.

When they wake up in the morning, Suranara is gone, but there is no sign of any of their own belongings missing, including what was retrieved from the cave. After putting out the fire, they horse up and head back towards Vasta’s Chateau.

Session 12a (10/6/14)
Interlude: Weed, Kibu, Nhymeri (no punching)

After the last session, the rest of the crew is making plans to head back to Timble-tain; Weed, not being very interested in what is going on with the various plans-making, has wandered back outside by “his bush” and is absent-mindedly going through his waist-pack…

Kibu (GM): ::Kibu emerges from the house after some time has passed, his belly full he seems satisfied for now. He had watched Weed retreat from the group earlier and decided that perhaps it was time to see what this sandy haired boy was about. Quickly he retrieves an arm full of Gary’s things from Vasta’s bed and heads out the door he last saw weed pass through::::he stands atop the small stairs leading past the flowering bushes, his eyes scan the garden entrance for sign of Weed::

Weed: ::Weed notices Kibu looking around, and throws a small pebble at Kibu’s feet.:: “Looking to punch me again? I’m wight heuh.”

Kibu (GM): ::Kibu furrows his brow, just looking at him brings back a desire to punch him in the face. perhaps even out some of those bruises. But is that what Gary would want? He pads down towards the boy and plops down next to him, his arm full of goodies resting on his lap now:: “Nah.. I ain’t gonna hit you.. less you want me to again?” he looks over.

Weed: :looks annoyed: of couahs not, why would I want to be hit again?

Kibu (GM): “You suck with people don’t you?” he says as he starts pulling off shirts and other clothes, placing them in weeds lap.

Weed: “Awe these… his? Nimmo’s? His things? Why do you have this?!” :incredulous look::weed picks up a shirt, examining it and turning it around to see all angles: “I wemembuh this shuht. This is his.”

Kibu (GM): ::kibu holds a white collared shirt to his nose and inhales deeply:: “This one still smells like him” ::he passes it over to weed:: “I got these from his room….”

Weed: “I wouldn’t know what he smelled like…. but, just in case…” :pulls it to his nose and sniffs lightly:
:Weed pauses in a moment of recognization: "You’ve been to his woom?!”:his head whips to Kibu, eyes open wide:

Kibu: ::kibu nods:: He and Mrs. Vasta.. they have a room here.. This is his house.. continues on lifting up a satchel bag:: “remember this bag?”

Weed: :Weed attempts to recall, obvious strain on his features…: “I don’t. I don’t know that bag. Maybe it was one of his bags that he had… what about it?”

Kibu: “he had it when I met him.. long time ago..” ::he places the bag to his nose and takes a moment to really let its smell register again:: “What did Gary tell you about me.. when he met you? He must’a told you about the fun stuff we did..” ::he laughs to himself expecting weed to recall the same stuff and laugh along::

Weed: :weed continues to look confused: “He… that is, he…” :realization sets in…: “He told me about weally gwate things that you guys did togethuh, but maybe you could tell me how you met him in the fuhst place?”

Kibu: ::Kibu starts to put on one of the shirts, his hands not quite making it to the end of the sleeves:: “I was a long time ago.. don’t remember it much” ::but he did, he thought of it all the time:: “Krackaw” ::kibu laughs:: “Gary come into town when I was really little, and we had never seen nobody with white hair like his be so nice to any of us not pure. So I was sittin’ in the center of town, no one wanted near him.. so I thought I’d see what he was.. ya know? and I woulda but that bird of his saw me.. then so did Gary. I still got the ‘Krackaws’ though” ::he starts to tug the sleeves up over his hands::“what about you?” ::he says plopping another article of clothing onto weeds lap::

Weed: :Weed waves away Kibu’s request for more information with a wave of his left hand, and picks up the beige sweater just placed on his lap. Weed lifts it up and twirls it lightly by the sleeve:“So, you have known him since you wuh weally little, huh? He… uh… told me about advenchus you two went on, but, uh, maybe you could tell me more about yuh fwiendship? Did he teach you things too?”

Kibu: ::Kibu nods quickly his eyes drift to weeds pouch as he continues to fiddle absentmindedly with his sleeve:: “He taught me lots, taught me Gary magic..I taught him lots too though.. I was his Favorite because of that! He even saved my life when I got this” ::his left hand quickly motions to his scars, his focus still on the pouch:: “You got Gary stuff in there?” ::he nods his head in the pouches direction::

Weed: “Magic? What magic?” :takes his pouch and sets it on the ground away from Kibu: “He didn’t teach me magic. He showed me how to luhn things myself. He gave me the oppuhtunity to luhn. No magic, though.” :weed gazes at Kibu’s scars: He saved you? With his magic?"

Kibu: “No..not with his magic” ::Kibu keeps his attention on the pouch as he leans over to keep it in view. ‘What treasures it must hold’:: “when I saved him from bein’ killed.. the first time.. he then saved me from bein killed by the pure one that killed Tanic.. I stabbed her good but she clawed me, right on the face.. musta been poisoned cuz I just remember waking up and Gary’s watching over me.. had me patched up.” ::Kibu decides to crawl over Weed and reaches out to snag the pouch::

Weed: :pushes the pouch further away as Kibu reaches out to snag it, and gently leans into Kibu to keep him from reaching further:“that must have been scawy. You aww so stwong that this… Tanic? (tanic… tanic…) must be weally something. Aftuh you woke up and saw Nim… Gawy, did he teach you magic then? What kind of magic?”

Kibu: ::Kibu sits back a bit perturbed:: “Gary magic..” ::‘like duh!’ Kibu looks around the immediate area as if searching for something then focuses on Weed:: “you got any money?”

Weed: “Why would I have any money? And why do you need any money?” :Weed looks Kibu over: “You don’t… seem… to need to buy new clothes…? And you just ate. Maybe you could just punch someone and take theyuh money”

Kibu: ::Kibus holds his blood stained hand out to Weed:: “Jus give me your money…you gotta have somethin.. anything?”

Weed: :Weed smiles and smacks Kibu’s hand away playfully: “I have books. Do you know books? You pwobably don’t cayuh about books. Can you even weed?”

Kibu: "I hit weeds’ ::he snorts:: “You can’t do anything with books anyway..” ::he leans over and looks at the pouch again, bet you got money in there huh?"

Weed: “Yes, I’ve noticed that you hit Weeds.” :Weed slowly runs his right hand across the bruises on his face; he looks down at the ground: “I’ve been hit a lot, but it nevuh mattuh’d because maybe I did something to desuhv it, but I saved you and nevuh huht you…” :weed picks up his pouch and upends it in front of the two of them, out falls a few syrettes, various small tools, small metal pieces left over from other crafts, three small egg-shaped spheres, and two blood-stained small purses: “There. That’s what I have. You can’t eat any of it. Those puhses aww fwum those men you killed. You can have them, if you must. I know you didn’t see it in the dahk, but those,” :pointing at the syrettes: aww what gawy helped me luhn how to make. sighs heavily…:(the syrettes are capped, and require a twist to remove a small cap to expose the needle)

Kibu: ::Kibus reaches down and retrieves one of the syrettes:: “perfect” ::he scoots around to face Weed:: “now I’ll show you magic!”

Weed: :Weed repositions himself to fully face Kibu, folding his legs underneath himself: “Oh, well, you’ll need to make it active, Kibu” :mimes a twisting and uncapping motion: “But, you know what those do, if you wemembuh…”

Kibu: ::Kibu seems to not really pay attention as he adjusts his legs underneath himself as well. Finally satisfied that hes set he palms the syrette showing it to weed as well as his other, empty hand:: “you see where it is?”

Weed: :weed stays silent and points to the hand the syrette was in:

Kibu: ::Kibu nods and smiles then places his faces uncomfortably close to weeds, his eyes locked with him. he starts to maneuver and flail his arms about between them. After a few seconds he presents both hands to Weed again, fists clenched:: “this is Gary magic.. now where is your little thing?”

Weed: Check(Per) 6 vs 13
Kibu (GM): Check(Sleight of Hand) 9 vs 16
Weed: Check(Per) 7 vs 13
Kibu (GM): Check(Sleight of Hand) 12 vs 16

Weed: :Weed catches Kibu’s eye contact, smirking, and glances down to Keebs’ waistband, showing him that he was able to follow the trick, then back up to Keebs’ eyes: “Vewy nice. It’s not in yuh hands any moah. I’m impwessed! You can keep that if you want. Gawy taught me how to make moah. I like that… magic. Do you miss him too? Is that why you awen’t punching me wite now?”

Kibu: ::Kibus brow furrows in anger. ‘how did he see that?’ Kibu slowly opens both of his hands a little disappointed. He pokes a finger at one of the bruises on weeds face, in an attempt to get him back, with pain::

Weed: :Weed winces back from Kibu’s poke, but recovers: “You think that I don’t know how to deal with pain?” :He looks down at himself, then at kibu: "I’ve been hit befowah. I’ve been hit many times. I don’t cayuh. It huhts but what huhts moah is that I may nevuh see Nimmo again and that… :his eyes well up with tears:

Kibu: ::Well that made him feel bad. Kibu looks at the ground. He isn’t about to say he’s sorry.. he’s never sorry, but now the kid was crying. He takes the Syrette from his waste band and grabs Weed’s hand resting it inside.:: “You really love Gary, dont you?”

Weed: :Weed nods, still silent::He sniffles and closes Kibu’s hand back up, around the syrette: “You can keep that.”

Kibu: ::Kibu smiles a little and nods back as he places it in his pants again. He then picks up Weed’s pouch and starts putting his belongings back inside. Once satisfied he’d gotten it all he hands it back to Weed:: “and.. I’ll try not to beat you up again..”

Weed: :Weed nods, still crying a little bit, sniffling: “why don’t I believe that?” :he lets a little laugh sneak through, and grabs the offered pouch:“Go back inside and talk to your fwends about what you need to do now, I’m shuh they need to, I don’t know, plan for you to punch some othuh baddies”: Weed cheers up a little as he puts the pouch onto the ground next to him, and picks up one of the Gary shirts that are still on his lap: “We’ll find him, wite?”

Kibu: ::Kibus gets to his feet and looks down at weed:: “Wite. but first I have business to finish with Edibal.” ::he removes the syrette again and rolls it about between his fingers:: “You keep using these.. Transvilizers? on anyone who gets in our way and we’ll find him in no time.” :: a quick grin slides across Kibus face and he leans down slapping the syrette into Weed’s upper arm (cap still on). He starts to laugh as he waits for Weed to fall over::

Weed: :Slowly turns his head and glances down on kibu’s hand, (which I imagine is still on weed’s shoulder, with the syrette underneath it), and slowly back up to meet Kibu’s gaze: “It, uh, doesn’t quite wuhk that way.” :gently removes Kibu’s hand from his shoulder: “maybe one day I’ll show you how it wuhks. But, maybe just leave it to me, unless yuh in a lot of danguh, ok? That’s why you can hold on to this one. Just,” :Weed mimes unscrewing the cap off of the top of it: go like this and then poke. Not to me. Evuh. Doesn’t wuhk on me. Nim… Gawy made shuh that it doesn’t wuhk on me. Gawy magic, wite? grins, gathers up the lapful of clothes, and holds them out for Kibu to take:

Kibu: ::Kibu pulls the syrette back up and studies it before being presented with Gary’s clothes which he takes:: “Do they work on animals too?” ::He still has it presented out before him so he can continue to study it beyond the clothes::

Weed: “Maybe. Animals are bigguh than you aww. Maybe a big animal would need two oh thwee. If you need to use it on an animal… maybe you should wun away instead!” :Weed laughs imagining it, wiping the remainder of the tears off of his face:

Kibu: “Lets find out!” ::Kibu darts towards the door:: “Come on Weed!”

Weed: :Weed shrugs and follows a few steps behind:

Kibu: ::Kibu darts in the garden door and quickly throws the pile of clothes in the chair he was using earlier and almost as quickly as he entered he dashes off towards the large front door, Weed’s syrette held out ahead of him:: “Come’ on.. this is gonna be great!”

Weed: :follows behind, shyly but mildly interested:

Kibu: ::Kibu leaps out the door his eyes searching until he spots his target “that horse” munching some grass peacefully under a tree: “Over there!”

Nhymeri D.: ::Looks up from conversation as the whirlwind Kibu races past, a frown at the noted expression on his face. What, what is Kibu up to now. Follows after Weed.::

Kibu: ::Kibu grins at Yarra as he further palms the syrette:: “Here Yarra.. good boy..” ::he talks calmly at Weed without looking back::: “You just unscrew it?”

Weed: :Weed nods upon meeting Kibu’s gaze:

Nhymeri D.: ::calls out to Kibu:: What are you doing!? ::To Weed:: What is he doing?

Weed: “Yeah…” :weed nods, glancing at Meri. “I uh, gave him one of my twanks.”

Nhymeri D.: ::blank look:: “What is a twank?”

Kibu: ::Kibus freezes and spins around:: “Nothin! we’re not doin anything!”

Weed: “The thing that put him to sleep… one poke and he was asleep for a few minutes…” :weed grins, slowly realizing what is going on:

Kibu: I was showin Weed, Yarra! glares at weed::

Weed: :Weed sits on the ground nearby, ready to watch sparks fly:

Nhymeri D.: Why would you give Kibu one of those? ::still confused:: Hey you get away from Yarraman with that.”

Weed: :shrugs innocently.

Kibu: ::Kibu starts to unscrew it behind his back:: “he didn’t give me anything.. hes lying.. he wanted to see Yarra.”

Weed: :Weed freezes at the shoulders up part of the shrug: “Uh, yeah, I did…”

Kibu: ::shit eating grin towards Meri::

Nhymeri D.: ::Nickers to her horse to call him over. Intending to keep Yarraman away from Kibu::

Kibu: “We were just gonna pet him, see?” ::and he starts to make a move towards Yarra again cupped hand extended::

Nhymeri D.: ::shifts a glance to Weed to check Kibu’s story:: S’that true? ::the horse trots happily over to Meri and nudges her affectionatly on the shoulder.::

Weed: :Continues shrugging while trying to suppress a smile:

Kibu: ::Kibu moves closer, hand still outstretched::

Nhymeri D.: ::back to Kibu.:: Where is the twank thingy, Kibu?

Weed: :speaks up: “I said twank! not twank!”

Kibu: “I dont have one!” ::Kibu starts to dash towards Yarra::

Nhymeri D.: ::gives a few blinks, that’s what she had said….:: Hey! Kibu, you do so! You’ve already been told on. You’re not trying to pet Yarraman! You’re trying to hurt him!”

Kibu: ::Kibu stops short as she starts yelling, lowering his hand.:: “I wasn’t gonna hurt him.. just wanted to see somethin..” ::he shrugs::

Weed: :stands up, stretching: Well, maybe you should just hold onto that, Kibu — it pwobably wouldn’t have wuhked anyway. He’s too big over to Meri, then to the horse: “He wouldn’t have liked it anyway, wite?”

Nhymeri D.: :Shakes her head in a very emphatic no. Giving Kibu a suspicious look: “You give that twank back to Weed.”

Kibu: ::Kibu slowly screws the top back on::

Weed: :starts to walk back towards the manor house, still talking loud enough to be heard by both of them: “Nah. He can hold on to it. He knows it won’t wohk on me oah the hoase. He might need it if those big knives get stuck in a bone oah something!”

Nhymeri D.: ::Calls back:: He ain’t never needed one of them before! Don’t need none now… ::scowls again to Kibu:: I know you don’t like Yarraman, but he ain’t no play thing for you to mess with. You wouldn’t like Momo getting poked by one of those things would you!

Weed: :shouting, not having heard the last thing Meri had said: “Just don’t poke youself with that, Kibu!” :walks out of earshot back towards the front of the manor house

Kibu: He woulda been fine.. but yeah.. you’re right…Long morning…You gonna sleep soon? walks up beside Meri::

Nhymeri D.: “Eh? Nope, I slept good last night. Why? You’re looking a little beat. You get hurt or something?”

Kibu: “Just tired is all.. walked here all last night.. then those thugs showed up.. I was gonna lay down in Garys bed for a bit.. you seen it?”

Nhymeri D.: "Nope. You been snooping again? Didn’t think we was gonna do that in this place. Did you find something interesting?”

Kibu: ::he nods showing her the white shirt he’s still wearing:: “Gary stuff. He’d want us to, and besides I put most of it back!”

Nhymeri D.: “Gary never went through my things, are you sure he would be ok with you going through his things? He always was putting things into his bag and closing it when I caught him doing things he didn’t want me to see. How do you know he wants to you look through his things?”

Kibu: ::looking like a scolded puppy, he lifts the sleeve and smells it:: I just thought.. since we can’t see Gary.. or be around him.. that we could be round his things..I’ll go put them back. starts off towards the house, a little more depressed than usual::

Nhymeri D.: ::shrugs and follows after::” Too late now, putting it back won’t change being taken out. Where was his room any rate?”

Kibu: “This way” ::he leads her inside and collects the pile of clothes and belongings from where he dumped them and then continues towards Vasta’s room, once Meri is nearby::

Nhymeri D.: ::follows along::

Kibu: ::he winds them around the hallway and into her room, the makeup table is still a mess as are the drawers with stuff hanging from them and the scattered items strewn about around the closet. There are still a few items of clothing a top the bed and that is where Kibu drops the remainder he had in his arms before climbing up on top of them himself and plops down his limbs going every which way, his face buried into one of the fine pillows::

Nhymeri D.: ::Looks about noting the table and the smell, and the nest he has made. Curious, she moves over to the table, memory flickers of other less pretty table and less pretty items that were similar.:: “Kibu, I don’t think this is only Gary’s room.”

Kibu: ::He lifts his head:: “Its where Gary and Mrs. Gary sleep.. I found his stuff here too.” ::his head plops back down into the pillow:: “Most of its Mrs. Gary’s stuff”

Nhymeri D.: “Kibu! You went through Vasta’s things too? Quick, quick you have to clean it up. She might get angry and kick us out people don’t like their things being touched. Not their special things in their special place.”

Kibu: “alright… I..will..just gonna sleep.. then..” ::he lets out a bit of a relaxed sigh::

Nhymeri D.: :rolls her eyes and takes a step back not wanting to touch anything further. Turn and exit stage left.::

Session 11 Wecap (10/4-5/14)
The Confessions of Weed

The sounds of Trink’s pursuit die in the distance as the adrenalin of battle subsides, and the company takes stock of the mayhem. Kibu gives James a kick, but the swordsman remains inert, and the seriousness of his wounds becomes apparent. He whistles to Nhymeri, and she and Yachak pool their talents to bring James around and tend to his concussion and the axe wound in his chest. Marina checks the perimeter for any other foes or lurking danger, while Mully struggles to gather up the horses and calm the skittish warhorse, Mountain

Just as this is getting under way, a shriek is heard from the house and the massive figure of the cook comes hurtling towards the group at a startling rate, waving a large meat cleaver in her hand. This is the same cook who had been seething in anger at Kibu over the theft of the servants’ food, and as she spots the lad standing near the huddling healers, she veers towards him and closes the distance before he has a chance to react. With a tearful cry, she grabs him into a bear hug against her huge, pillowy bosom and whirls him around in a Fantasia-worthy pirouette. Relieved more than embarrassed, Kibu endures this with as good grace as he can muster. He can’t understand her words, but her gestures eloquently convey her invitation to come into the house for a big lunch. As interested as Kibu is in this proposition, he indicates that he’ll be in a bit later after affairs in the courtyard have been ironed out.

Weed has been keeping a low profile and trying to stay out of Kibu’s sight while, under the pretense of searching for his thrown knife, he casually loots a few of the fallen enemies. His cover is blown, however, when Kibu asks why his friends are here, and the guileless Nhymeri tells him it’s because that blond kid over there warned them the Chateau was under attack. Weed tries to put the best face on it, but Kibu’s suspicions are aroused. For the moment, Nhymeri steers him away from that line of inquiry by asking what Kibu himself is doing up here, which none of them expected. Kibu grins and says “Wait till you see what I have.”

Weed chimes in, seizing on the point that they are surprised to find Kibu here, but he says too much, and Kibu narrows his eyes. “You tried to trick me,” he says, as he produces the key which he had stolen from Weed the night before. He gloats over having found it in Weed’s bag, prompting Weed to mutter, “Gonna have to look out for this one.” In indignation, Weed rants that if Kibu had only done as he was told, none of this would have happened, to which Kibu replies that if he hadn’t been up here, “these people would have killed everyone in that house.”

“You don’t know that,” counters Weed. “You don’t know that they would have done that. They were coming up here to look for yo—I…they were coming up…”

“What?” say both Nhymeri and Kibu. Weed stammers for an out and starts walking towards the gate, picking up on his theme that they all need to leave town as soon as possible, but Kibu cuts him off. Marina points out that it was Weed, after all, who told Edibal that Kibu was up here, although the fact that Weed thought he was lying to Edibal when he said that is not yet made clear to Kibu. Anyway, Marina continues, they can’t go anywhere while there are thugs attacking Vastavika, and wasn’t this whole threat precipitated by Kibu stealing something from Edibal in the first place?

Now Kibu is thrown somewhat on the defensive, but Weed can’t keep his mouth shut. “You, Kibu, you made a mistake. Edibal is not a man to be twifled with. These thugs are just the tip of the icebug. Do you know what that means, ‘tip of the icebug?’”

At that point Mully pipes up that his boss, Thornton, would like to know what’s going on and who all these people are (or were, as the case may be). Marina presses the point, trying to be discrete, that Kibu’s action has now put Vasta in danger. “Whatever,” mutters Kibu, and then a thought occurs to him, and he starts marching towards the back of the house. “Come back heah soon!” hollers Weed. “Don’t wun away again!” Having received no direct response to his question, Mully explains what’s happening as best he can to Thornton, and then mentions to Nhymeri that there is another ruffian back there who doesn’t seem to be dead.

James is doing better now, bandaged, sitting up, and, while somewhat groggy under his meds, fully aware of what is going on. Noting this, Yachak feels free to slip into a momentary trance to check in with his eagle. He can see Trink far down the mountain path, well behind but keeping pace with the rider ahead of her, whose horse is showing signs of fatigue. It will not be long before they are both too distant to distinguish from the other travelers on the coast road approaching Timble-tain. There are no other threats approaching the Chateau that he can see, so he keeps his counsel and continues to monitor James.

Marina offers to stay with him if Nhymeri wants to join Kibu. Meanwhile, Weed doggedly forges ahead with his reverse-charm offensive, taunting James for having fallen in battle. “Hey, I thought you said you could handle these things on your own.” “Marina, could you do me a favor?” says James wearily. “Does it involve hitting Weed?” she asks. “Yes, yes it does.”

Kibu has been trying to revive Chike, but to no avail. When Nhymeri sees him, she remembers him as the scout in Edibal’s caravan who stood by Kibu when he defended her from the harassment of the other guards. Considering this, she thinks it’s strange that Chike would have joined the marauders, to which Kibu agrees. When Chike finally comes around, he looks daggers at Kibu, but his expression softens when he sees Nhymeri. Mully is summoned to translate, and Chike is questioned about why the attack occurred. He says they were informed that Kibu was up here, and wants to know why Kibu stole the necklace.

Kibu claims it was because Edibal himself joined or condoned the harassment of Nhymeri. Chike says they have no idea what a firestorm it started, and adds that giving it back is not likely to quell it – Spekso wants blood. None of the caravan guards are getting paid until Kibu is captured, and ordinary trade activities at Spekso’s camp are all but suspended. He says the merchant is angrier than he has ever seen him, and since that day has been unable to sleep or do anything except rave at the sneakthief, railing at him as if his very life depends upon the artifact. (Privately, Weed wonders why Chike is not also mentioning the terrible insults Kibu is supposed to have directed at Spekso. Apparently, his embellishments of the story had not really been necessary to set the man off.)

“Why? It’s just a piece of metal junk,” counters Kibu, and Thorton breaks in, asking to see this thing that was stolen, if he still has it. Kibu sighs and goes into the house to get it. As he uncrumples the necklace from the rag it was held in, he notices flecks of paint coming loose from some of the “gems,” and the quality of the workmanship appears to be extremely questionable. Chipping more of the paint off one of the beads, Kibu recognizes that this is another example of that special kind of gem he had seen in Vastavika’s tiara (some more of which were also recovered from the fire), with intricate facets and lattices embedded throughout its interior. Before he can tear the necklace apart, Chike stops him, alarmed.

Chike stands up and looks around the corner of the house, concerned about whether the rest of his band of thugs is nearby, and is stunned by what he sees. There, laid out around the courtyard, are several of their bodies, none of which appear to be moving. He walks towards the scene, taking in the extent of the mayhem. “Who did this?” he asks, unable to locate the army he assumes it would have taken to wipe out the brutes he knows them to have been.

“We all did,” says Kibu brightly, and Marina casually concurs. Chike starts to tell them that these were the fiercest and meanest guys that Spekso and that Crimner guy could find, but Weed interrupts him in Timble-tainian and tries to get Chike to say that there are plenty more like this coming to get them. Chike recognizes Weed for the first time as the kid who visited Spekso the night before and informed the merchant that this is where Kibu and his cronies could be found. Weed implores him not to tell that to the group, but Weed means nothing to Chike, and he scornfully dismisses Weed’s threat to kill him if he talks.

Marina can tell something fishy is going on between them, and anyway, Mully, whose loyalties have not yet extended to encompass Weed, has already heard the exchange. Mully is put in an awkward position, but there’s never really a question that he should report what has just been said, backed up by the approval of Thornton. As he does so, Weed, defeated, returns the object he had surreptitiously palmed from his pack and walks towards the gate. Marina catches up to him and questions his involvement and motivations. Weed tries to claim that the details of his relationship to Spekso are not important, but of course Marina begs to differ. Weed then asserts that he is completely uninvolved, nothing he has done has affected the course of events, and it’s all Kibu’s fault.

“Why do you care so much about helping us out of this then?” asks Marina.

“Because I need to find out what happened to Nemo. That’s it. You ah a means to an end.” There is shocked silence at this, and Weed, realizing he has gone too far, turns red and looks at the ground. “I’m sowy, that was not vewy nice. I just…you people ah vewy…diswuptive. And you’ve, you’ve upset Timble-tain. And I just wanted…I don’t even know what I wanted, I want to know about Nemo, and you’ah heah, and…Aaacht! I don’t know. Just finish up heah, and let’s leave.” At this point, he’s choking back tears, and tries to brush Marina’s sympathetic hand from his shoulder.

Marina explains that while they all want to find Nimmo, they can’t leave while Vastavika is in danger. This mention of Vasta reminds Weed of something and he perks up. He says something to Chike, but Chike is talking to Mully and ignores him. Through Mully, Chike tells them that he’s always been loyal to Spekso, who trusted him for protection through thick and thin, but lately, from what he’s seen, he’s begun to question the wisdom of that loyalty. Spekso has turned into a different man, and Chike is ready to wash his hands of the whole thing. It makes no sense to risk his life over a piece of junk jewelry.

Marina enquires how long Spekso has owned that piece of jewelry. Chike thinks back, and believes he hasn’t had it for more than a year, although he’s always doted and preened over one bauble or another. The first he really became aware of it was in Almatia, the land at the Eastern end of Spekso’s route, which is about three month’s journey northeast of Kaddabullah, the desert city where Kibu and the redhead joined them. Spekso was proud of the thing, showed it off to all his friends, treated it like it was some great treasure, but looking at it now, he has no idea why. All he knows is that as soon as it was gone, Spekso exploded, and was like an animal, threatening everyone, paying no one, and doing nothing but fretting and fuming. Chike would almost say that Spekso acts more afraid than angry, as if his very life depends on getting the necklace back.

As if that’s not enough, Chike continues, then that other guy, Inspector Crimner got into it, and the whole episode became a federal issue. He got wind of the story two mornings after the item was stolen, long after Spekso had kept showing up at the police station to badger them for help. The lofty Inspector finally condescended to attend to the annoying merchant personally, and for the first time heard the account from the horse’s mouth. When Spekso got around to mentioning that the thief knew one of his customers named Nimmo, Crimner suddenly became intensely, even obsessively, interested. He went into a frenzy of interrogations and sent his men all over the place in search of the kid in the posters which Spekso (with Weed’s assistance) had printed up and plastered around town.

They had no luck finding him all that afternoon, although there reports of some kid fooling around on the high wire in the carnival, and bystanders who were questioned remembered seeing a redhead running around. [Apparently, they never thought to look in a certain hay wagon.] The search came up empty until the evening, when the kid was spotted and chased into the sewer. Spekso’s men, including Chike himself, followed him down there, but he disappeared in the darkness and gave them the slip. They were eventually overtaken by the cops, nearly the entire force of which was marshalled by Crimner as soon as he found out what was going on. A few of them were arrested, but after Crimner questioned them closely, he had them released.

Then later that night, Weed showed up at Spekso’s and told the story about having spotted and eavesdropped on the nefarious Kibu, who had suddenly transformed into a dangerous bandit at the head of a heavily-armed band of cronies and outlaws. Weed claimed to have heard them plotting to ride up north to their hideout in the mountains. Inexplicably, Weed was even able to describe the exact landmark on the mountain ridge where this hideout was located, and, warming to the tale, had added that Kibu was laughing at Spekso and taunting him at his loss. He urged the merchant to send all of his men up there at once, and then left.

Spekso was in no mood to examine Weed’s story too critically, but he wasn’t about to assume all the risk of such a pursuit if he didn’t have to. If this Inspector was so interested in the case, he mused aloud, let’s see what he’s willing to do about it. Spekso personally went to Crimner’s apartment house in the pre-dawn hours and had him roused out of his bed to hear the new information. As Spekso had hoped, Crimner personally took charge of assembling the posse and had a much tougher breed of thug at his disposal than Chike would have thought, especially considering that Crimner at this point had decided not to involve the police in the pursuit. Chike suggested to Spekso that he should try to get at least one of his own men to join the group, and the Inspector had reluctantly allowed Chike himself to accompany them.

Chike adds that when they rode out at dawn that morning, they had no clue that they were heading up to a manor house. When they finally got on the right road and realized they were approaching the Chateau, the leader, a hulk named Armhof, decided to scout ahead and see what kind of reception awaited them. He chose Chike to join him as the least threatening member of the gang, and Chike thinks Armhof was actually intimidated by the idea of entering the gates of what he assumed was one of the great estates of the Elites. When he encountered nothing but unarmed servants, however, Armhof found his courage and tried to break down the front door, while sending Chike around to the back. And for Chike, as the saying goes, that was the piper’s last peep.

As he’s been telling his story, Chike has been walking around looking at the bodies, and he now points out that somebody is missing. Marina tells him that one guy got away, and one of her friends has left in pursuit. Chike nods, and says he thinks that one was one of the Inspector’s personal men, because he didn’t look like as much of a scrapper as the rest of them. In fact, he struck Chike as kind of a sneak, or maybe an informer, because the muscle guys were disgusted by his presence, although they never tried to lay a hand on him. From their talk, Chike surmises that this was a special squad of enforcers that Crimner used to strong-arm locals who stood up to him. They were about as mean and ruthless a crew as Chike, in all his days of defending the caravan from robbers, has ever encountered.

And that leads him to look around again in disbelief, and ask, “Who are you people?”

Marina brushes that aside and asks him if he thinks Crimner was trying to get the necklace before Edibal did. Chike says maybe so, because he can’t see why else Crimner would get so involved in a simple case of theft. She decides to take matters in hand and calls the assembled members of her group to council. She proposes that they get the necklace back to Vastavika as soon as possible, to get her input about what to do, but when it’s pointed out that her Competency hearing will start before they can get there, she agrees with Kibu that they’re probably safer up here at the Chateau for the time being.

The cook announces that lunch is available, and James has already made his way inside to find somewhere comfortable to rest. Weed, however, refuses, and plants himself under the bush at the front corner of the house. Marina is about to go in when she realizes that Kibu and Nhymeri have drifted down to the barn and brought something out. Mully says it’s Lady Vasta’s zebra, and urges her to go have a look. “Lady Vasta’s?” she says, but shrugs and tags along.

Kibu and Nhymeri are involved in a discussion about how difficult it will be to train “Spot” to accept a rider. Kibu dismisses this advice and hops on anyway, only to be promptly bucked off. He still thinks it will only take a day or two. Nhymeri points out that the markings on the zebra are called stripes, not spots, but Marina defends the name Spot. Kibu clearly recalls that Vasta, too, has already expressed her amused approval of the name [though she was unaware at the time that she was actually sanctioning its acquisition, at least in Kibu’s mind]. So Spot’s name becomes official, and after everyone admires him for a while, he is led back into the barn and they all repair to lunch.

On the way in, Kibu notices Chike standing about uncertainly, and he invites him to come in with them. The servants eye Chike suspiciously, recognizing him as one of the attackers, but since Kibu seems to have accepted him, they press their lips together and set him a place. Chike himself is embarrassed to be shown such hospitality, and again tells them all how astonished he is at the outcome of the battle. He reiterates the part of his story about the head ruffian, Armhof, being so reluctant and intimidated to assault a rich house, and now supposes that the man should probably have heeded his instincts and kept clear. If that kid Weed hadn’t insisted that their quarry was up here…

This time Kibu picks up on that crucial detail which he had apparently missed before. No longer able to think about food, he gets up abruptly and heads out the door. As he leaves, Marina notices him draw a large, wickedly curved dagger from his belt. Uh oh, she thinks, and follows him out, finding him searching the trees and bushes toward the entrance. “Kibu, what’s up?” she calls.

“I’m lookin’ for that little rat.

“Is there something I can help with?”

“Yeah. Find that little weaselly bastard for me…that little blonde one.”

“Weed? Isn’t he back at the house?…You think he took off?”

“Why would he stay with us?”

“Because he wants to help save Gary.” Kibu hesitates. “Do you find that hard to believe? We were all strangers days ago, but…”

“He’s not gonna make it that far.” At Marina’s confusion, he clarifies, “He’s not gonna make it to see Gary.”

“You think he might hurt Gary?” He thinks about this, and shrugs. She continues, “You thought that Trink was going to hurt Gary, and she’s definitely on our side. Why do you think that Weed would?”

“He locks me up, he sticks me with somethin’, and then he tries to beat me up – but he couldn’t. And now he’s sending the bad guys after me?”

“My understanding is that he was trying to send them away from you….”

“Yeah, he did a really good job!”

“He didn’t know – none of us knew that you were going to be up here. We thought you were coming back to the townhouse. We didn’t know where you were…which is why we were out all night looking for you. But…I can understand that you’d be upset with him, but I think there’s more that he could tell us that could be useful, both in Vasta’s situation and in helping with Gary.”

Kibu listens to all this and sighs. “You really think he’s worth keeping around?”

“I think he’s worth keeping around. We can find out if he’s worth trusting as we go. Maybe you could take over officially looking after him. Although James was doing a pretty good job of that earlier.”

“Well, I don’t trust him.” Kibu puts the dagger away and shrugs. “Whatever.”

At this, Weed sighs heavily, which causes him to lose his balance and fall out of the bush in which he has been hiding in only a few feet away from them. Kibu spins around and dashes at him, and Weed trips over himself trying to get back into the bush.

“Don’t kill him!” calls Marina, as Kibu snarls “Get out here!”

“No!” wails Weed. “Didn’t you just say that you’ah ok with me now?” Kibu starts thrashing at the bushes as Weed tries to crawl all the way in, but then his foot gets tangled and he falls out the other side onto his stomach. Kibu is on him instantly and starts punching him in the back of the head.

“Gawy!” shouts Weed. “It’s Gawy, for Gawy…Gawy!”

Marina intervenes and starts pulling Kibu off of Weed, and Kibu switches to kicking him until he’s out of reach. When he’s finally separated, Kibu calms down and dusts himself off.

Weed sputters incoherently. “…just…kicking and punching…wheah…I don’t even know…you’ah such a savage!…you…

“Weed,” Marina interrupts. “If you really want to help yourself, I think you’re going to have to come in and do some explaining to all of us together…instead of skulking out here – what were you doing out here?”

“I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t doing anything and he attacked me! You saw…”

“He was probably sending them after us again!” yells Kibu.

“Well you…” tries Marina. “I can’t tell exactly what you’re doing but you’re not participating in the group, and if you really are on our side and want to save Nimmo, you’re going to have to start participating or it’s not going to be easy for us to trust you.”

“Well I’m participating right now in getting hit by this…puhson.” He scooches back as Kibu tries to break from Marina’s grip and come at him again. “You have formed yoah own opinions as to why we ah all heah, why do I need to come in and talk? I’ve told you evwything that has happened. I’ve told you evwything. You know why you ah heah, you know why I’m heah, you know why they’ah heah, and you’ah just going to form yoah own opinions, and they’ah gonna let him attack me again, so I don’t even know why you’ah asking me.”

“Well, I could let him attack you…” starts Marina, who is getting exasperated. (“No!” cries Weed.) But Kibu is finally starting to feel the fatigue that’s been building in him since the battle, and he slumps down. Marina senses Weed is not telling them the whole story, but she’s at a loss as to what to say next. “Weed,” she says wearily. “Have you eaten anything recently?”

Weed jumps up and point at Kibu. “If I walk inside, he is going to attack me again. He foah some weason has it out foh me.” Kibu jumps up and is ready to get all fisty again, proving Weed wight – I mean right.

Marina restrains Kibu again and says, “Well, he certainly isn’t not attacking you out here, so I don’t think coming inside is going to hurt matters much. And, you can at least get something to eat.” [while you’re getting punched, she presumably means.]

“Yes, well, I don’t eat…gwoss things, so, we’ll see, and I am sawt of hungwy.” Weed finally allows himself be led into the Chateau while eyeballing Kibu and keeping his hands close to his belt pouch. He seats himself as far from Kibu as he can, and picks at what is offered. The others at the table say little, and one gets the impression they’ve been listening to the whole thing out the open window. Marina tries to start the conversation up again. “Weed, do you have any questions for us?”

“Yes, why did you come up heah? How…Why are you up heah? You wewn’t supposed to be up heah!”

Kibu says, “I walked up here. Of course I’m supposed to be up here. Did you think I was going to let you keep me in a bag?”

“You would have been safe in a bag. And yoah fwiend…” (he points at James with a stagy flourish) “…wouldn’t have gotten his head bashed in if you had stayed in a sack. So it is Kibu’s fault that yoah head is bashed in…puhson!”

Kibu lunges across the table at him, but Nhymeri pulls him back.

“Finger pointing aside,” says Marina, “why didn’t you come back to the townhouse, Kibu?”

“Because it wasn’t safe in town. I didn’t want to bring anybody to you guys. Besides I had to get Spot, so I figured it was safe up here. I didn’t know HE was going to send them after me. And if I had stayed in that bag, you would have sent them there anyway.”

“You don’t know that – I saved you fwom them. Do you not wemembuh that? Kibu? I saved you, they would have found you, and they would have cut off yoah ahms and legs, aw they would have taken you to Edibal who would have made you his slave aw something…”

“Yeah, you saved me by capturing me in your little…lock thing, and poking me with that…with your little…things.”

“So ah you saying that I didn’t save you?”

Momentarily confused, Kibu hesitates. “Maybe.”

“Seems like he saved himself, to be honest,” puts in James.

“I seem to wemembuh that you wuh being chased by some wuff customuhs.”

“Yeah, well they’re not so rough, are they?” Kibu flicks a hand towards the yard.

Weed turns red and looks down. “But I was…see…in the sewahs, you…” and he trails off.

Mully pulls on Weed’s sleeve and says, “What was that you were pokin’ him with?”

“It doesn’t mattuh wight now…It’s not impawtent.”

“But I’m curious,” persists Mully. “What do you call it?”

“I don’t call it anything!” snaps Weed. “Why don’t you ask him? I told him.” He turns to Kibu, trying to change the subject. “So you came up heah, you left the safety that I gave you, I gave you safety, I locked that doah, no one could have gotten in. If he wouldn’t have taken that key, none of us would be in dangeh. We could be out, we could be…”

“No it wasn’t,” cuts in Nhymeri.

“Yes it was!”

“No, it wasn’t.”

Weed swallows heavily. “It was…locked…”

Kibu digs the key out of his pocket and slaps it down on the table. “Kind of hard to lock a door without your key.”

“You, you did all this. Alwight. I understand…that mistakes…wuh made…”

“Mostly by you,” mentions James.

“…and maybe, people made decisions that wuhn’t vewy…intelligent…”

“Again you.”

Tears appear at the sides of Weed’s eyes. “If Nemo is in dangeh, we could alweady be theah wight now, if you had stayed still. But heah we ah, out heah, and you need to save some othah puhson, and we ah still in dangeh, and all we need to do is just go back to town, and, we need to get to Nemo because he is dangeh, like you yoahself said, so what…do we need to do now?” His voice cracks as he finally winds down.

“Yes,” puts in Marina. “I believe I also mentioned that he’s being guarded by an army, so what is your plan for getting around that army?”

“You’ah asking me?” cries Weed indignantly.

“If you wanna rush off and get yourself killed, go for it,” suggests James.

Weed gestures around the table. “That’s why I’m talking to you people. Because you’ah stwong, and you’ah big, and you’ah dangewous, and you…stuck knives into people lout theah that I would have twouble cwossing on the same side of the stweet with them. And that is why I need yoah help. And you may need my help too, I don’t know. But maybe, if you can find it in the good gwaces of whatevah diety you savages—” He cuts himself off. “…Whatevah diety you people hold stwength with, maybe you can help me and I can help you, and we could…figuah something out!”

Quietly, Nhymeri asks him, “How do you know Nemo?”

“I know him. He…”

“Mm mm. That’s not what I asked. I said ‘how do you know him?’”

Rapidly twiddling his thumbs together, Weed squirms. “All I know is I haven’t seen him in ovah a yeah, and that is vewy stwange. Because I would see him often in town, and he has not shown up in a yeah, and he’s in dangeh now.”

“So you know him from looking at him,” follows Nhymeri.

“Wight. Yes.”

“He does not know you, does he?”

“No, he does. He does! He’s my fwiend. He’s my fwiend, and he has helped me, a lot.” Kibu scoffs at this, and Weed raises his eyebrows. “What? Is he not allowed to be my fwiend too?”

Nhymeri sweeps this aside. “He can be your friend, but you still haven’t explained how.”

“He taught me things. He gave me an oppuhtunity to leahn about the wohld outside of Timble-tain, outside of this pwison that I’ve been in, this town that’s been my univuss foh seventeen yeahs. He gave me an oppuhtunity to see what it was like outside. He gave me books, and he gave me things, and he gave me a chance to become gweatah, than this…[Timble-tainian expletive] town! [He was] the window to the outside wohld, and I was hoping that one day he would show me what was outside of Timble-tain. And without him, theah was no life any moah, and I had no oppuhtunities. And that’s why I need him back. I need to know that he is ok, and…” He starts crying and can’t talk anymore.

In the silence that follows, Kibu is starting to look moved, in spite of himself.

Marina says “We seem to all have had a similar experience with him…”

“Not me,” interjects James.

“…and I wonder why he singled all of us out (sorry, James).”

“So why didn’t you just leave?” James asks Weed. “The defenses aren’t that strong.”

“Do you see,” warbles Weed, “what I look like? I’m not big. I’m not stwong. I’m smaht, but smaht doesn’t get you anywheah in the outside wohld. People pwey on smaht people. I don’t have any…”

“You’re not so smart,” says Kibu.

“You…I’ve bested you twice.”

“I’ve seen that lab of yours,” says James. “You could have made something to protect yourself.”

“Do you know wheah I got that lab?” counters Weed. “Do you know who gave me that lab? Do you know who that building belongs to? Do you know that?”

“We really don’t know much about Timble-tain,” says Nhymeri.

“That was Nemo’s building. He gave me evewything in theah. He allowed me to leahn, he allowed me to build, he taught me things, he gave me oppuhtunities that I was nevah given by my family. My family did not ca’ah about me. All they ca’ahed about was making money fwom the twadahs that wuh constantly wunning thwough this town.”

“Yeah, well, join the club, why don’t you?” says James.

“What club?”

“The no parents club,” says Kibu.

“No, I have pawents, you misundahstand, you…puhson. They own a shop in Timble-tain. They just nevah paid attention, they wuh happy with me being mediocuh. Nemo was not happy with that, Nemo saw in me potential, and he allowed me to become biggah than anyone in Timble-tain. But that does not get you out of Timble-tain because these small people ah eaten alive. And that’s why I need you, because you people ah big, and you’ah stwong, and you can get out of heah, and I can get to Nemo with yoah help.”

“Alright, suppose we do let you go with us to find Gary,” puts in Kibu. “How can you help us?”

Weed reaches into his pack and pulls out a handful of surrettes and tosses them on the table. “These. Do you see these? Do you wemembuh these, Kibu? That’s wight, we wuh in the dahk. You pwobably didn’t…we wuh in the dahk. But if you wuh to touch the end of one of these, I’m suah you would wecognize what it felt like. Because I wemembuh, twice, you wuh in the gwasp of one of these. You see these, these ah the tip of the icebug. That means that theah is moah wheah this came fwom. I know how to make things that can take contwol of people. I can make them see what I want them to see, I can stop them fwom seeing what I don’t want them to see. Do you know how the cawidges move in town, with those wheels that spin awound one anothah? I can hawness that enuhgy. I can cweate things that ah like that.”

This has piqued Kibu’s interest, but Marina shifts uncomfortably. James states, “If you try and control one of us, I’ll kill you.”

“It’s not contwol. I can change puhceptions. I can get wid of yoah eyesight. I can make you fall down against yoah contwol.”

“Wait,” says Nhymeri, again in quiet, measured tones. “Do you see how many people there are here? If you use any of those things against any of us, you won’t live till morning.”

Marina jumps in to smooth the air. “I don’t think he’s threatening any of us, he’s just not…”

“I know,” replies Nhymeri, “and on that point, if you can help us get to Nemo, we should accept your being here.”

Weed turns red and looks down in his lap. “What do we do now?”

Kibu pulls out the necklace with a look at Nhymeri, and places it on the table. “Alright. We need to at least get this to Miss Gary. She’ll know what we’re doing with this next. ‘Cause there’s something really weird about this. And you know where this Edibal is?”

Weed confirms he does, but he’s reluctant to engage with the merchant again. But Marina introduces a new idea. “Weed, you say you can ‘make’ things? I’m looking at this necklace and wondering how hard it would be to counterfeit.” James asks to see it, and judges the workmanship shoddy and easily copied. In fact, most of the gems are glass, and except for the painted, latticed beads, it looks like little better than costume jewelry. Weed is skeptical, and is sure Edibal would know the difference if it were copied. He wants to know why they can’t just give him back this one if it’s so worthless.

Nhymeri points out that not all the gems are glass, and Kibu chimes in – “They’re more than that. There’s something in these gems. I don’t know what it is, but Gary keep collecting these. So until I get a chance to talk to Miss Gary, I don’t know. We can’t just give it back. And I don’t think he’s going to have much use for it anyway.”

James says they don’t need to copy the whole thing, just replace the ones they want to keep and repaint it. Weed thinks he can come up with a chemical that could reproduce the color of the paint. Marina wants to know how long this would take, and James thinks only an hour or two. She hopes that returning it will calm Edibal down for a while, even if he doesn’t forgive Kibu for the theft. Weed is finally calm enough to begin picking at the food on offer, and James asks for his bag of tools to be delivered.

Chike pipes up at this point. He’s quietly listened to as much of the dialog as Mully could translate to him, and he points out that Edibal is not the only factor to consider. Inspector Crimner is also involved, and his resources are much greater, while his motives are murkier. Chike isn’t sure whether a plausible story could be concocted that would let him ride back to Edibal with the necklace, but he figures he has to go back one way or another, and is willing to be of whatever use to the group that will not get him killed. He no longer feels any loyalty to his former employer, and will extricate himself from the episode as safely as he can.

[From here the action will move to Septimus, then Trink, and then perhaps to the various afternoon activities of the remainder of the group. But first, there is an interlude out near a certain bush.]

Session 10 Recap: (9/27-8/2014)
The Battle of Karadevelia

As our heroes charge up the hill towards the gates of Karadevelia, there is no thought of negotiation. The intruders are assumed to be hostile, and the mayhem gets under way in short order. James swipes at a solid-looking thug as he thunders between the pillars, but only connects on his second swing at a scrawny fellow just inside the compound. The ne’er-do-well squeals like the stuck pig he is, and retreats in terror under the trees. With subtle leanings and foot pressures, Nhymeri steers Yarraman to run down a third as she enters the compound with arrows ablazing.

Kibu is running forward from the far end of the roof, but is seen before he has a chance to launch himself at the nearest foe. Losing the element of surprise ends up serving him well, however, as it causes one of the thugs to pause and look up in confusion just long enough to keep him within range of Kibu’s aerial assault. Before the rider has a chance to prepare a defense, he is distracted by Nhymeri, who seems to have taken a personal objection to his manhood. While he looks down in disbelief at the arrow sticking out of his groin, Kibu lands in the saddle in front of him and, with two drawn knives, promptly relieves him of any further discomfort.

James rides forward to face two of the more formidable opponents. One is a nasty looking brute in a red gerkin who, upon seeing the party approach, had quickly sheathed his short sword and unlimbered a huge, two-handed war axe. The other foe is slightly less nasty-looking due to the festive yellow brocading on his epaulets, but makes up for it with the spiky black mace he’s swinging around his head. Many blows are traded, including a few good kicks by James’ warhorse, Mountain, but alas our knight doesn’t quite get into his rhythm before taking a solid whack to the helm from that mace, and a few seconds later, he falls from the horse, unconscious.

Trink and Yachak, meanwhile, have engaged the one thug still standing at the gate, aided by their loyal companions, Sy and Azi, who continually attack the stout swordsman from opposite sides. Their valiant efforts manage to at least distract and annoy him, though they are unsuccessful in their attempts to knock him down. Trink unfurls a long silk sash with a weight in one end and begins twirling it around her head. She gets in a good thwack while the man is reacting to the dogs. Then she swings low and entangles his legs, hoping in the next moment to yank him off his feet. But the plan goes awry when he gets in a free swipe and cuts the sash between them, illustrating the wisdom of disarming first and entangling second. All is not lost, however, for Yachak steps in and brings his quarterstaff crashing down on the man’s head for several devastating blows, and the opponent finally slumps to the ground. In the meantime, Marina has engaged Red while Nhymeri’s rapid fire arrows find purchase in the chests of at least three more enemies.

Just as the tide of the battle has turned overwhelmingly in our heroes’ favor, though, the cowardly bloke who lost himself in the trees bursts out through the gates and rides hell-bent down the road. Nhymeri takes off in pursuit, but…[This is new:] …Trink stops her and says, “I’ll follow him. James needs your help!” Then she wheels and charges off after the escaping thug.

Session 9 Recap: (9/20-1/2014)
Widing to the Wescue?

This short session involved mostly discussion and preparation for a battle that has not quite begun.

From Yachak’s aerial surveillance reports, the group at Vasta’s gradually become aware that the posse of thugs which Weed had recommended Spekso send north on a fool’s errand is actually headed straight towards Vastavika’s home, the Chateau Karadevelia. Nhymeri points out that this is a likely location for Kibu to have gone to hide, so Weed has managed to accomplish the opposite of what he intended, which was to draw them away from Kibu.

The group sets off for the Chateau, except for Septimus who Vasta allows to sleep in so he can help her later in the day. Weed first has to stop by his lab to get a few items, and James goes along to keep an eye on him, amiably enduring repeated warnings not to touch anything. They make good time and get to within eyeshot of the thugs just as they are summoned up to the compound by their leader, who happens to have only seconds to live.

Kibu began the day by exploring Vasta’s bedroom for memories and scents of Gary. He falls asleep in a pile of clothing and items on her bed, but is awakened by a woman’s short scream and the sound of angry voices outside. He sees two thugs arguing with Thornton, the Groundskeeper, with a serving girl standing behind him. One intruder, the leader, is a large, well-muscled Timble-tainian, while the other is Chike, one of the scouts from Spekso’s caravan who had befriended Kibu and helped him stick up for Nhymeri.

Though Kibu can’t understand the conversation, he sees the serving girl inadvertently betray his presence in the house. So he heads for an upstairs window with access to the roof. When the leader finds the front door too sturdy to knock down, he sends Chike around to the back, while he steps to the side and whistles over the wall, a signal for the rest of the posse to come up. Moments later, Kibu lands on him from the roof, driving two daggers through his vitals, and manages to drag the body into the bushes before Thornton turns around.

Kibu returns to the roof and runs to the back, where Chike is trying to bust into the kitchen. Kibu lands on Chike and pommels him into unconsciousness, just as the thunder of hooves reach the gate. As Thornton rounds the corner and sees what’s going on, Kibu leaves off trying to drag Chike out of sight and disappears himself.

Session 8 Recap: (9/13-4/2014)
Looking for Kibu

When Nhymeri and Trink watch Momo disappear into the darkness, they first call softly for Kibu, then circle the sewer block looking for another passage into the church basement. Failing this, they choose to return to street level, but find no other way to do this than to return to the river outlet. A strange young man accosts them as they climb out, and introduces himself as Weed. Weed entreats the “Wed-head” and “Twink” to go with him into the tunnel to rescue Kibu, and they somewhat skeptically follow him back the way they had just come.

When they reach the locked grate where they had last seen Momo, Weed discovers that he has lost his key. “We have a bit of a pwoblem,” Weed tells the women, but Meri is getting impatient and threatens Weed with bodily harm. Trink urges her to remain calm, just as Weed starts calling to Kibu through the grate. Getting no response, they return to the river and circle through the market to a side entrance of the church. Finding candles, they hurry to the basement, enter the interrogation room, and conduct another brief search for the key, during which Weed further endears himself by asking the ladies if they know what metal is.

Coming up empty again, Weed proceeds to the gate into Kibu’s chamber. He expects this gate to be open, since he had only pretended to lock it when he left Kibu in there, therefore not actually requiring the key which he now knows he has lost. But for reasons of his own, he chooses not to disclose this fact to the women. Instead, he claims that a different key opens this gate, one which he has not lost. He pretends to find this second key in his bag and tries to pretend to open the lock with the imaginary key, but discovers that this door actually is now locked.

Nhymeri and Trink are remarkably forbearant as Weed is caught in his little fib, and he asks for the candle so he can hold it up next to the grate to see inside the room. The sack is there which he had told Kibu to get inside of, and there appears to be a human –shaped bulge in it. But there is also a pitchfork stuck into the bag and something red smeared on the bag and the floor. Weed crumples down against the wall and tries to explain himself. The girls are still keeping incredibly cool, and attempt to coax Momo to come to them from the dark room.

Nhymeri examines the hinges of the door while Weed franticly tries to think where he can get tools. Trink knows the blacksmith shop is right across the street, and goes up to get a crowbar. She finds James still there, and he follows her to the church carrying a large hammer. Meanwhile, Nhymeri offers Weed something from her medicine bag to calm his nerves, but he recoils at the unpleasant taste and will not chew it. Trink arrives with James, who batters the lock until it breaks.

Trink enters the room and disturbs a rat which flees from the sack. She finds that the sack contains nothing but gravel and bunched up burlap arrayed to look as if there was a body inside. Nhymeri identifies the red smears as paint from her own kit, realizing that Kibu has pilfered it from her at some point in the past.

No one knows where Kibu is, so they start back to Vasta’s apartment. On the way, Weed confesses to having told Edibal Spekso that he saw Kibu earlier in the day and overheard him making plans with his cronies to head northward to a hideout up in the mountains. Weed is sure that when they don’t find Kibu up there, they will come back and go after Weed himself, as well as Kibu and his entire party. Exactly how many of Kibu’s friends would actually be implicated is not entirely clear, but Weed is convinced that they are all in so much danger that their only recourse is to locate Kibu immediately and clear out of town. Kibu is not at Vasta’s, nor is Septimus.

The scene changes to Septimus, just as the group is splitting up in the Square. Trink and Nhymeri have just gone down to the river, while Marina and Yachak do a little more searching before heading back to their rooms at the apartment. Septimus walks the few blocks to the Police Station, successfully fighting off the urge to find a party somewhere. He offers a libation and pleasantries to the bored young officer at the front desk and enquires as to the events of the evening.

The policeman can’t give much useful information about the ongoing search for Kibu, but as he rambles on, he talks about the Inspector who’s come into town recently and has started to shake things up at the station, cracking down on lax protocol, and taking steps to root out what he judges to be corruption at various levels of government. Septimus determines that this individual is the same Feltus Crimner who showed up at Vasta’s Chateau two days earlier in response to the fire. This Inspector has ingratiated himself with the Chief of Police and often accompanies him on important business. He has taken over an office on the second floor of the station, and has been requisitioned the assistance of two constables in the pursuit of his investigations.

The rank-and-file constables don’t have much information on this Crimner, but the story seems to be that he showed up mid-winter from a neighboring territory with secret information about some kind of plot against the city of Timble-tain, which he presented to members of the Plenum of Burghers. They agreed to install him in Police Headquarters to investigate the conspiracy, and ever since then he has had free rein to stick his nose into the city’s affairs wherever he sees fit, save only for those activities that relate directly to the Council of Governors, whose lofty authority no one is in a position to challenge. The Police Chief himself is none too pleased about this interference, but puts as tactful a face on the situation as he can, and has ordered full cooperation from the Department.

Having eked all the information that seems to be available from the constables on duty, Septimus returns to Vasta and brings her up to date. She explains that she came to town because of a summons which came by messenger to the Chateau at mid-day, requiring her presence at a competency hearing on the following afternoon. She asks Septimus to accompany her in the morning on a visit to a barrister in town with whom she has had dealings in the past, and from whom she hopes to get more information about the circumstances surrounding this unwelcome intrusion into her affairs.

Septimus readily agrees, but then asks Vasta a rather delicate question: does she remember what she said on the cliff about Nimmo’s relation with “real magic,” and what did she mean by that? Vasta is quiet for a space while she thinks how to answer. She says that the sudden arrival of all these far flung friends of his points out one example. How did he manage to keep tabs with them all? She never saw him travel by any other means than horse or foot, yet his appearances would sometimes be sudden and unexpected, and he would have breezy answers to her casual questions that did not always fully satisfy her curiosity.

[OOC: as I indicated in the session, I will add here a bit more detail to Vasta’s recollections than I was prepared to provide off the top of my head.]

She says: “Nimmo and I have always been honest with each other, but we’ve also given each other the space to keep our secrets. My secrets have only been personal ones, things about my past or my other liaisons that I would rather not have him know, and he’s never pried, or tried to wheedle things out of me the way people do. You know how he is – he hasn’t a jealous bone in his body, and that’s such a rare thing in my circle, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It made me determined to extend the same curtesy to him, and respect his privacy without question. But in the last year or two, I’ve wondered if I was a fool not to press him harder. His secrets are bigger than ours, Sept. I think there are things in the world he feels we are safer not to know about. And now that I find out he may still be alive, I’m more conflicted than ever over what he would want me to tell you, even if it could help save his life.

“I think he has enemies out there, and I think Timble-tain has been a refuge to him, a place where he could leave the cares of the world behind him, and relax around people he could trust. He was charmed at how insular we all are, how little we know about the lands beyond our borders, but it also bothered him. The self-absorption and incuriosity of the elites is a danger to the whole society, he said, and he worried we were setting ourselves up for a rude awakening. But I think what he feared most was that it was his being here that would somehow upset the way things are, bring the world crashing in, and turn our lives upside down. That’s why he kept such a low profile, why he has so many secrets. He was fiercely protective of what we have here, and I don’t think he would ever consent to putting his own wellbeing before that of the people he cares about.

“On the other hand, you all seem determined to leave here and help him anyway, so it would make sense for me to arm you with as much information as I have about the dangers out there. Unfortunately, all I can offer are hints and impressions, things he’s said in unguarded moments that might mean nothing or everything. He’s seen…so much. There are forces in the world, Septimus, that would come to find us if they knew how peaceful and comfortable we are. There are lands where the people are in great want, and they would devour us like locusts. I’m glad you have that James with you, but if you go, you can’t just depend on one man. You’ll all need to find ways to protect yourselves. Yet that begs another question, doesn’t it? I’ve never seen Nimmo hold a weapon in his hands, and he claims not to know how to fight. If he’s traveled so far, how has he survived?

“He’s never told me how old he is. He waves the question away as if it’s irrelevant. But I think he must be older than I am. You must have seen it – he’s healthy but he’s…weathered. Like an old boot. I don’t know how that can be, but I’ve noticed how dark he gets whenever the subject of the madness comes up. It angers him, as if it’s a personal insult. He speaks as if he doesn’t think he’ll ever die. He’s always made me feel young. This past year, without him, I’ve felt life crushing in on me, withering me away. I thought if I could just hold on until spring, he would come back, and make it all alright.

“Then, a few days before you came, a purchasing agent for one of the new land owners came to the Chateau. He started by making an offer on behalf of his client to buy the property on the spot. He said it was a reasonable market offer, but I almost laughed in his face. What would be a reasonable price for giving up my home? But then he got aggressive, and claimed it wasn’t rightfully mine to dispose. I told him – well, you know the story, how Grinbo’s “cousins” tried to contest the deed two years ago when he died, and lost. So then this charlatan laughs at me and says he represents the person who bought the Grinborian estate, and she can reclaim the Chateau anytime she wants. She’ll just challenge it before the Governors and bribe the Arbitor to confiscate it for sale to the highest bidder, which will be her. I told him she’d never get away with it, because I have friends of my own who would defend the challenge, but that’s when he hit me with the real blow.

“He said there was proof that I had been harboring a fugitive and criminal in my house for years – an enemy of the state, he called him – and any proceeding I engaged in would result in my arrest. He said there was an investigation in progress, and the authorities were getting closer to tracing this traitor to me. If they found the connection, everything I had would be forfeit to the city. He told me I don’t know who my real friends are, and that his client would protect me from harm if I just turned everything over to her. He never called Nimmo by name, but he seemed to know a lot about him, for he said that if this criminal’s “things” ever fell into the wrong hands, there would be nothing this strange woman could do to save me. Here, she had just threatened to force me out of my house, and now she was claiming to be on my side!

“Well, of course I had Rookmyre throw him out, but not before he said he would be back in a few days to give me time to reconsider. I was devastated, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t sleep, and I started having hysterical attacks. I felt sure I was slipping into the madness, and in that state, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I had to make a decision while I still could – about Nimmo’s stuff. That was the crux of it. If I was going mad, then the will would be executed, and Nimmo is my heir as you know. In his absence, you’re next in line to inherit, but you weren’t here yet, and I wouldn’t be able to keep them from inventorying the estate. Besides, I didn’t want to get you involved if there was some question of Nimmo being wanted as a criminal. There were no options I could see, save one.

“Nim always told me that things didn’t matter to him. He collected all this stuff because he was trying to put together puzzles, he said, and there were people who didn’t want those puzzles to be put together. He told me when he first started bringing things into the barn that if I didn’t want them there, I could just get rid of them. The real puzzles about the past were being put together in his head. These artifacts were just reminders. Of course, that was in the early years, when he seemed so casual about things. Later, he was more haunted and withdrawn, but he still insisted that all he cared about was my well-being, and if his living here ever threatened that in anyway, I should remove any trace that he was ever here. I thought he was being melodramatic and laughed it off, but now it sounds like he was prophetic. There just wasn’t any other conclusion I could draw than that this what he would want me to do if I ever came to such an impasse.

“Two days ago I woke up feeling like I was losing my grip, and I knew it had to be then or never. I didn’t want to find out what was going to happen after I set that fire. It was like a final admission that he was never coming back, and I wanted it to me my last act of loyalty to him. After I got the fire going I went up to the lookout to watch, and maybe to make sure I couldn’t change my mind and call for help before the point of no return. That’s when I saw riders coming up the road, and I thought at first that I had done it just in time, that they were coming for me and I had denied them the satisfaction of dragging me away in chains. Only it wasn’t them, it was you, and if I’d just waited a few hours longer… But I suppose I really was around the bend by that time, and I’m not sure if knowing you were coming would have stopped me. I had already made the sober decision to end my life, because I wasn’t going to let them take me and force me to give them any information that could lead them to Nim. The only thing left to do was go through with it.

“And you know the rest. I woke up, and there were guests to entertain, and I felt normal again. Life had gone on. But it’s no joke that there may be trouble. Yesterday when we were all talking and having a fine time, it occurred to me that I had never questioned what that agent said about the authorities looking for Nimmo. He might just have told me that to get me to sell. When the summons came today, though, it was clear that something was afoot, and I’d better get down here to see what’s going on. Knowing that he may still be alive gives me the fortitude to stand and face these accusations if need be, and if I have to flee with the rest of you, I’m ready. But make no mistake, Septimus, if I see no other recourse for protecting him than going through with what I planned to do up on that cliff, no one is going to stop me again.”

[End of new material. Recap resumes.]

Trink, Nhymeri, and James arrive at Vasta’s with Weed in tow, only to find Septimus gone and the others asleep. James makes a quick stop across the street to retrieve his gear. Nhymeri heads out to the park to find Yarraman and catch some winks on his back. Trink goes to the park to find Septimus. Weed begins to work himself into a frenzy at the inaction, and James feels he needs to give the guy another slap. This does not have the desired effect of calming Weed down, and he gets even louder until he wakes up Marina, who descends the stairs blearily to see what’s going on.

Marina tries to talk to him sensibly, and lets drop that they do actually have a rough idea where Nimmo is. Weed babbles out his story once again, and Marina manages to coax a little more useful information out of the distraught young man. She patiently probes the situation with Edibal, and they once again discuss the pointlessness of looking for Kibu. But gradually, she gets Weed to disclose that he has worked for Nimmo for a number of years, and has always hoped to go traveling with him. When Nimmo disappeared for a whole year, Weed began to fear that he might never get the chance to leave his home, feeling unable to accomplish it by himself. So when Edibal told him he had just been robbed by a friend of Nimmo’s, Weed decided to find this Kibu before Edibal’s men did, and persuade him to leave town, presumably taking Weed with him.

Scene change to Trink, who quickly locates Septimus among the late night carousers at the carnival dance floor. She pries him away and briefly explains the appearance of Weed and his story. She pesters Septimus to come up with a plan, and hauls him back to Vasta’s. They find Marina and Weed dozing with James playing the blues on his harmonica. Septimus recognizes Weed as a shopkeeper’s son that he has done business with before. As he listens to Trink explain the story about Edibal, with whom he is also acquainted, he doesn’t seem too impressed as to their imminent danger in Vasta’s apartment. Besides, he has something else he would still like to accomplish before dawn, and laments the fact that Kibu is still not available to help him.

Finally, Septimus enlists Trink’s assistance instead, and they head down the street to the Hall of Records, while the others turn in for what’s left of the night. He just needs Trink to act as a lookout while he breaks in. There is only one guard patrolling a several block area, so it’s a simple thing to avoid him while gaining access to the building. The lock proves no great challenge, and Septimus is soon looking up Vasta’s records. He finds a copy of the document that seems to transfer ownership of the Chateau Karadevelia from Baron Grinborian to Lady Vastavika, though the obscure legal wording may leave just a shadow of a doubt as to the permanence of the transaction.

Septimus recalls what he knows about Grinborian as he looks for the Baron’s own records. He was a little older than Vasta, and they had known each other in their youth. They were in love, but he was not allowed to marry her, having long been betrothed to the rather disagreeable eldest daughter of the House of Catterweff, whom he soon came to heartily loathe. Instead, as was allowed in the upper circles, Vasta became his mistress, and it was through that relationship that he deeded to her the Chateau to live in. Septimus is able to find copies of the documents relating to this transaction, though some of the paperwork seems to be missing. Still, there are references to the legal challenge to Grinborian’s will which Vasta had spoken of, and which was defeated. It seems clear that the Baron intended her to own the estate in perpetuity, and did so at an early enough time in his life that his competency could not be questioned. Septimus and Trink return to the apartment and retire.

The scene shifts to Yachak, who arises before dawn and slips out of the townhouse, heading towards the sea for his meditation. The sleepy carnival guard gives him no trouble, and he does happen to notice that the zebra he had made friends with on the previous day is not in its pen. He lays his mat out on the sand while Sy has a run. Facing the rising sun, he goes through his rituals and enters the trance. Amidst a cacophony of sounds and images stimulated by his memories of the carnival, only one clear message filters through his oracle, namely that it is important to watch the skies today. In response to this suggestion as he emerges from the trance, he turns that special corner in his mind that joins him with his totem, the majestic golden eagle soaring high over the city.

His first thought is to look for Kibu, but none of the figures he sees on the streets match the black-haired boy with the red scarf. He does, however, note a group of “wuffians” riding North from the city. They have no uniforms or official markings, but appear well-armed. There are eight of them riding on six horses, and the leader looks particularly big and menacing. This does not alarm him yet, not having heard Weed’s tales of impending doom. As he returns through the carnival, he passes a knot of agitated people near the zebra cage, and upon arriving at Vasta’s, he observes the strange young man still sleeping on her parlor divan. He is among the first to be served breakfast, and serenely waits for the rest of the household to rouse itself.

Next, we turn to Mully, who has returned to the Chateau after saying goodnight to Nhymeri, needing to be up at dawn for stable chores. With less than his usual amount of sleep, he’s particularly groggy the next morning when he awakes to discover a zebra tied to a post in the barn. He feeds it with the other horses and secures it in a stall before heading in to breakfast. The serving girl is in a bad mood and slams a bowl of porridge in front of him. She tells him that the one with the face scar has returned in the night and ransacked the kitchen, eating all the eggs and bacon that were allotted for the staff’s morning meal.

Mully gulps down the gruel and goes out to report to his boss, the Groundskeeper, who is out gardening in front of his cottage. When he learns about the zebra, the man is outraged at the idea that a public theft might have occurred under the auspices of the Lady, and marches into the house with Mully to confront Kibu. They find him sprawled out in the room he had shared with Nhymeri, and shake him awake. Annoyed, Kibu confirms he brought the zebra here in the night, but he surprises them by claiming that the Lady knows about it and has sanctioned the move. They can only assume that she bought it, so they reserve further judgment and go on about their business.

Nhymeri wakes up and comes back to the townhouse, and slowly, the other guests come to breakfast. Most of them are somewhat sleep-deprived and will be at a fatigue-induced disadvantage for the day. Vastavika introduces herself to Weed when she gets up, but he is somewhat rude to her in his fixation on whether Kibu has shown up. She gleans what she can from him about the story of Edibal, and sends a servant to see if Kibu is being held at the police station. Weed also meets Yachak, who has been monitoring his eagle, and who reports that the riders he saw earlier have come much closer to the Chateau.

And at that juncture, we break for the next episode.

Session 7A Recap: (9/8-9/2014)
The Intawigation

Kibu slowly becomes aware that he is bound to a chair by the ankles and wrists. He tries to conceal the fact that he is awake, but his captor notices and sets his book down loudly on the table between them. The two take each other’s measure, and the contest of wills begins….

Tune in to the drama of two great forces of nature colliding and struggling for dominance! Thrill to the suspense as the tables are turned, then turned again! Try to follow the sinuous twists of logic and passion that send this epic battle of wits careening towards its gripping climax! Peek behind the scenes as the intricate mechanisms governing each heart-pounding second of action are painstakingly debated, then thrown to the whims of fate! (Or you can just fast-forward through those parts, you wimps!) Flinch as you may, laugh when you can, and snark if you must, just DON’T MISS this stunning tale of betrayal and redemption!!

Now playing at a screen near you (as in very close to your face.)

Click to play Side A:

Click to play Side B:


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