Session Two: Signs and Wonders

Session Date: July 28, 2007

Recovering from the Games
15 Nolus 720 TR (Aftrnoon)

After retrieving his dogs from the Agrikans at the arena, Jaroud took them back to his home and tended to their numerous scratches. Though they looked bad at first, he felt confident that they will heal fully.

Bowdyn took Hillay home from the Games. The rest of the missionaries returned to the Scroll & Quill to sup and to reflect upon the days events.

Back at Bowdyn's shop, Hillay remained flustered for some time, but after Bowdyn escorte her up to the solar for rest, her hysteria turned into desire. The two made up passionately from their earlier fight. Not long, thereafter, they found themselves in another argument, and Bowdyn left to join his fellows.

Evening Discussions & Perambulations
15 Nolus 720 TR (Late Afternoon - Evening)

While the others (including Bowdyn, once he arrived) dined and discussed the day's events in the Scroll & Quill, Maban became bored and circulated among the crowd, offering to tell fortunes to the inn's other patrons. One patron, a man named Jerran of Mohr took up her offer and inquired about his future in politics. She cast her bones and told him a darkly ambiguous fortune. After the casting, he related to her his desire to become the Senate's Haruspex and expressed a desire to learn more of 'true fortune-telling' that is free from political manipulation. Maban laughed aloud when he told her of some of the practices used by senatorial haruspices.

Meanwhile, discussion among the other missionaries focused on finding a location for the temple. Olrau insisted that the temple must be built within the walls of the city itself— and not outside, but was otherwise unsure what would be an appropriate location. After some discussion, he suggested that it might be appropriate to found the temple on the site of a former Ilviran temple in the city. There was some speculation on whether there ever had previously been an Ilviran temple in Coranan— and if so, where it might have stood.

Olrau persuaded the others to to take a dusk stroll around the city to look at existing temples to see if there were any signs that they might formerly have been Ilviran temples— of if Ilviran temples had ever stood there. Inwardly, he also nurtured the hope that a sign from Ilvir would reveal where they should found their new temple.

The missionaries first visit one the K'norran temples in the city's northeast, but are not permitted entrance, though they are politely told that at another time, they may certainly visit. Heading south through the market distict, they found no signs of an older Ilviran temple there— nor receive any signs from Ilvir, although they did again notice the curious Umbathris sculpted on the bonding house.

After making their way into the so-called “Agrikan District” in the south of the city, Olrau suggested a visit to Jaroud's new house so that he could bless it— and to see if any signs come to him there. As they headed down the alley, they noticed lanky fellow trying to open the door to Jaroud's house. The fellow trie to flee, but the only way out is through the missionaries. As he struggled to dodge past, they caught him and wrestled him down. At first, the man (who revealed his name as him as Mykel) claimed that he just wanted to 'see the dogs' because he just 'likes dogs', but the missionaries were not persuaded. After some threats and intimidation (mostly involving being thrown to the dogs, he admitted that he was there on the bidding of aman named 'Tiny' who told him to go check out the house, its new inhabitant, and the dogs there. Jaroud let Mykel go, and, at the same time, ordered him to show up the next morning at dawn, promising to 'show the dogs to him then'. Myke ran off and Jaroud was not sure whether he'd ever see him again.

After blessing Jaroud's house and dogs, Olrau led the group up through western part of the city towards Bowdyn's new house, having decided that it too should be blessed. They noticed that the neighborhoods they passed through en route seemed quite poor and unsafe. They also noticed that, when walking past the Morgathian temple, other pedestrians stayed as far as possible from it, hugging the other side of the street. At Olrau's counsel, they followed suit— except for Maban who ran up to the side of the windowless structure, kneeled down in the street, and began conducting divinations with her bones. The others quickly pulled her away and the group continued on. Just seconds later, a group of masked Morgathian priests passed by en route to the temple. Olrau was visibly unnerved by their presence. After they passed, he revealed to the others that one of the those who passed by “had no soul”.

Upon arriving at Bowdyn's house, they find that Hillay had just finished her own dinner (a watery stew made by Nur) that the aging slave was cleaning up. There were some harsh glances between Bowdyn and Hillay, as Olrau offered a prayer and blessed the building. Judyn went upstairs with Hillay. The two held a private discussion, in which Judyn expressed sympathy for Hillay's situation, but encouraged her to try and see opportunities that Coranan would present to her.

Eventually, Olrau, Kalrun, Kara, Judyn, and Maban took their leave and returned to the Scroll and Quill. After leaving, Hillay confonted Bowdyn and insisted that they need to throw a big feast so that they can meet other people of their station in the city; she also demanded that he buy more slaves to see to the household. Pleasantly surprised by her requests, which suggested a desire to stay in the city, he responded that both were excellent ideas, but that first he needed to establish a few more basic connections with the local Mason's Guild. They then get into another argument. [Note: For various real-world reasons, this argument was not played out until Session 4. See the “Flashback” section at the beginning of Session 4 for a summary of the argument an its results].

Maban's Vision
16 Nolus 720 TR (Night/Early Morning)

During the night, Maban was gifted by a prophetic dream:

She found herself standing in a dark enclosure— some sort of cell or pen— stinking of animals, urine, and feces. An open door led her into a long torchlit corridor; daylight was visible at its end.

She followed the corridor to the light and found herself on the field of the Pamesani Arena in bright daylight. The Arena was empty (even the stands) except for her and a single figure standing in the middle of the arena. She approached the figure and saw that it was Brother Olrau. He was standing looking up at the sky and appeared not to notice her.

She then looked to the stands and saw that they were not wholly empty— there were four Ivashu sitting in them: an Aklash (apparently the one who had been killed that very day), Ro'agg (the Ivashu who stalks her), Fulsha (the Nolah who had raised her), and an Umbathri, who was cackling madly.

The Aklash spoke to her in Ivashi: “You failed me and now I am dead!” She then felt a touch on her shoulder and turned around to discover that Ro'agg was now standing behind her. He then spoke: “Pay no heed to him. He's in Araka-Kalai now. You'll see him soon!” The Umbathri began cackling even more loudly. Fulsha continued to stare at her with an inexplicable expression.

She looked to Olrau who turned his face from the sky to look at her. But instead of his normal face, he had become an Umbathri. He spoke, his words interpersed by cackles: “The time of rebirthing is at hand. Now blood must flow!”

Maban turned and ran, as fast as she could towards an exit. She quickly found one, and exited into the city streets, only to see Ro'agg there (he had assumed the form of Brother Olrau, but she knew it was really Ro'agg) waiting for her. Ro'agg/Olrau pointed towards the sky.

Maban looked up and realized that she was no longer on the ground looking up at the sky, but in the sky looking down on the city of Coranan from above. And lo!, the city was abuzz with activity with men running to and fro, weapons drawn, and slaying each other. Other men poured over the walls from wooden towers. And fires rages everywhere in the city, including the red-domed palace.

Maban awoke from her dream in a cold sweat and with a shout, “Coranan is going to be destroyed! It's going to burn!" Her cry wakened Judyn and Kara, with whom she was sharing a room. She told the two of her dream, and they agreed to wake Olrau so that he could hear it as well.

Much discussion of the meaning of this dream ensued. Olrau tried to console Maban by suggesting that the dream should not be taken literally as a sign of the impending destruction of the city by war and fire. He suggested that it may have contained hidden signs that were its true meaning— perhaps signs on where the temple should be built. Olrau cast a Tarot reading to attempt to clarify the dream's meaning, but the last card turned over was “The Tower”, which depicted a city tower being struck by lighting, bursting into flame, and falling down. With some reluctance, Olrau conceded that the dream's rather grim surface meaning may be its true one.

Morning Activities of Jaroud & Bowdyn
16 Nolus 720 TR (Morning)

To Jaroud's mild surprise, the young man Mykel does indeed show up at his shop the next morning. Jaroud recalls having seen a large wood (which he later learns is known to locals as the Kamile Wood) just a few hours walk from the city. Recalling that Tharda has no Forest Laws like Kaldor, Jaroud informed Mykel that they would go hunting.

Mykel, looking unnerved, explained to Jaroud he knows nothing about hunting; Jaroud responded, “Now you'll learn.” They left the city as the gates open, along with Jaroud's two hunting hounds, heading off towards the Kamile Wood. En route, they discuseds various matters, including their faiths (Jaroud told the younger man about Ilvir; Mykel explained that he is Halean, but notes that Halea has not shown him much favor as of yet. “Still,” Mykel added, Her priestesses look fun to roll around with.” Jaroud quipped back, “How often do you even get close to a Halean priestess?” which silenced the fellow .)

Meanwhile, Bowdyn had also left his new home early. Asking around the marketplace, he overheard a rumor that a young scion of a patrician family was selling furniture from his town house in Coranan to cover some gambling debts. Bowdyn asked formore information, and through clever and fast questioning and mid gift-giving (i.e. bribing) he ascertained the location of the house and its owner. After some hard bargaining, her persuaded the young patrician to sell him the various furnishings (a nice large bed, nice tables and benches, some tapestries and candlesticks, etc.) appropriate for a wealthy mercantile family with asperations for an extremely reasonable price. He even got the fellow to agree to pay for the cost of having them delivered. He then went off to cultivate relationships with the local Masons in the city. [Again: For various real-world reasons, Bowdyn's meetings with other masons did not take place until Session 4. See the “Flashback” sections in the Session 4 writeup for a summary of Bowdyn's efforts].

A Disturbing Package
16 Nolus 720 TR (Morning)

Following their earlier discussions, Judyn, Kalrun, Maban, and Kara broke the night's fast at the Scroll & Quill. While they ate, an urchin entered the inn, holding a small canvas sack. He spoke briefly with Master Goris, the innkeeper, who pointed the lad in the direction of the group. They boy approached the missionaries, somewhat timidly held out the bag, and said that he was asked to give this to “the Ilviran priestess”.

Before anyone else could respond, Judyn spat out, “That would be me,” and took the bag from the boy with one hand, and grabbed him by the ear with the other, twisting it and dragging him closer to her. She asked him what was inside and who gave it to him. The lad, obviously in pain, insisted that he didn't look inside— he was specifically told he'd be very unhappy if he did— by the man who gave it to him. That man, he elaborated, was a middle aged man with graying black hair who was dressed as a slave, but “who didn't talk like no slave”. Judyn, having decided that the boy probably new nothing more, gave the boy a few coins and let him go.

Inside the sack was a finely made, lacquered wooden box. The workmanship on it was beautiful, with fine carvings all around and a beautiful staining and lacquering job to boot. She opened the box's fine latc and inside saw a human hand. She slammed it quickly an then, quickly opened it again after looking to see if anyone else was watching her. The hand appeared to be scratched and marked, as if attacked by animals. It also was holding a full page of parchment. She removed the parchment and closed the box.

There were words (in Hârnic) on the parchment: “The Ringed Serpent Needs No Temple in Coranan!" The parchment was not signed, but there is— curiously— a red wax seal on it. The seal showed noname or heraldic device, but instead depicted a long squiggly line, which appeared to be a stylized serpent. In hushed tones, she told her companions of the box's contents and suggested that they discuss later who might have sent it.

Activities of Judyn & Kalrun
16 Nolus 720 TR (Morning/Afternoon)

Despite the receipt of the disturbing package, Judyn refused to be deterred in her day's plans. Desiring to find a small house for herself in the city, in addition to her family's house in Kuseme, she sought out the Master Litigant Vurnt of Masane, who was willing to meet with her, despite the holiday. En route to his house, she carried the box in her hand, seeking to be noticed and hoping to notice if anyone seemed to be paying extra attention to her. However, she did not notice anyone paying her— or the box— especially close attention

Kalrun decided he would try to find out more informatino about 'Tiny', the man who Mykel said had set him to the task of spying out on Jaroud and the dogs. Kalrun began his search by trying to find Arbun, the Red Guard sergeant he met the day before. Thinking that the day could lead to trouble if he does find 'Tiny', made arrangements for Olrau and Maban to watch over the girl for the day.

After several hours of searching, Kalrun found Arbun (along with two other Red Guardsmen) in the Whart District. As he greeted his new friend, a man just 20 yards down the street had his coinpouch ripped off of him by a fleet-footed cutpurse. Arbun and his fellow guards took no action— not even after the man, a villager from elsewhere in Coranan province— ran up to them to ask for help. (Arbun explained to the man, with Kalrun nearly by, that “guarding the city, not catching thieves is our job”. Arbun did, however, tell the man that if he can find out who the cutpurse was, he could go to a legar and make a claim against the theif in court. The man goes a way disgrunted and, at least temporarily, pennyless. Kalrun was astonished to see that neither Arbun nor his fellow guards did anything about this brazen crime.

The affair of the cutpurse over, Arbun greeted Kalrun and told his two companions to continue on without him. Arbun suggested that they get a drink at a nearby tavern. Once installed and provided with ale, Kalrun asked the Red Guard sergeant about 'Tiny', noting that he might be a small-time crime figure in the Agrikan District. Arbun changed the subject suddenly in a way that suggested that he knew something, but wasn't willing to talk about it.

The two soliders quickly fell into an argument in which Kalrun, his temper lost, accused Arbun of being a poor soldier who doesn't do his job. Arbun was angered by this sharp comment, but Kalrun's insult apparently struck the right nerve as Arbun started relating what he knows about Tiny, namely: That he was tall, fat man and a major player in the Lia-Kavair— not just a small time figure. Arbun suggested that Tiny may even be the Lia-Kavair 'boss' of the southern part of the city and noted that he often frequents the Glaive and Sickle Tavern as well as a brothel on a particularly seedy alley not far from Jaroud's house. After relaying this information, Arbun instructed Kalrun that, under no circustances should he let Tiny know that he had heard anything from him, as “The Red Guard and the Lia-Kavair have an understanding. They don't interfere with the us defending the city or the Senate, and we don't interfere with them making their livelihood.”

The First Miracle: The Revelation of the Site
16 Nolus 720 TR (Morning/Afternoon)

Olrau, somewhat frustrated that Ilvir has not yet given a sign as to where he temple should be built, decided that they should again walk through the city and keep their eyes open, for an omen. He asked Maban to lead the way, since Ilvir had graced her with a vision— albeit a disturbing one— the night before.

Maban, as was her wont, pulled out her bag of bones and rolled them on the table. She decided upon the path they should follow based on the results. She, Olrau, and Kara then began a long ambling trek through the city on a gloomy and overcast day.

After hours of meandering, they found themselves once again in Kotros Square, where they had been given a favorable omen upon their entry into the city, when a beam of sunlight fell upon the sculpted Umbathri on the bonding house. Maban looked up at the Umbathri sculpture, and once again, a ray of light suddenly pierce through the gloom— just as it had upon their entrance into the city. But… instead of striking the stone sculpture on the bonding house,the lone sunbeam fell upon the roof of a cobbler's shop on the eastern side of the square. The three misionnaires were stunned to see that an Umbathri— a real one, not a sculpture— was perched atop that building, with sunlight falling squarely on it.

Almost as soon as they glimpsed the Umbathri, it vanished— and appeared just a few yards away, on the northern side of the cobbler's shop. It vanished again, appearing on the southern side. It then jumped off the side of the building, but avnished mid-air. It then appeared on the ground, just a few feet away from the three missionaries. The Umbathri then began cackling loudly and gesticulating indecipherably; it then ran a circle around them three times. He then suddenly vanished again, only to re-appear on top of the tailor's shop, in the middle of the sunbeam. He no longer cackled or moved but stood frozen in position, as if asleep... or waiting.

Olrau, Maban, and Kara all looked at each other and silently shared the recognition that Ilvir had given them an unmistakable sign: the temple must be built on the site of the cobbler's shop. They were so enthusiastic at this relevation that they scarcely noticed that a few other passers-by were also staring and pointing at the Umbathri— and also at them. They hastened off to find Bowdyn, Judyn, and Jaroud to tell them the great news.

Jaroud's Hunt, and the Miracle of the Stag and the Wolf
16 Nolus 720 TR (Morning & Afternoon)

Meanwhile, Jaroud and Mykel made their way past various villages to get to Kamile Wood. A few peasants in a nearby village warned them that the wood is said to be haunted. Jaroud scoffed at the suggestion.

Once in the wood, Jaroud sought out signs of a stag or hind— or some other big game with his hounds leading the way. Mykel, clearly out of his element, tried his best not to get in the way or show fear at the dark, gloomy, treeishness of the forest.

Initially, neither Jaroud nor his hounds found any signs of deer or other large game. Jaroud even became skeptical of being able to find any in the wood — for with no forest law, it seemed likely that venison would be all hunted out.

This was not the case, however. Just seconds after he began to despair of finding anything worth hunting, the two men and hounds came into a natural clearing— or 'fairy circle'— in the wood. In this clearing, there stood a white stag of great size— at least a tall man's height, not including his mighty rack of antlers. Jaroud restrained his hounds with a soft word of command and nocked an arrow in his bow.

Just as Jaroud's arrow was readied, the stag began to run. He had been disturbed— not bey Jaroud or his hounds, but by a great black wolf which had lept out of the other side of the clearing, heading straight towards him. Jaroud, realizing that he'd have only one chance to take down the beast, let his arrow fly. Meanwhile, the wolf's charge proved so fast that it seemed as if the hart might be felled by it, rather than Jaroud's arrow. However, the arrow struck first, by a mere heartbeat, striking the great white stag in the breast and piercing deep into its heart. It stumbled and fell.

The great wolf, who had also been within a leap of the quarry, turned and snarled at Jaroud, bristling his fur and bearing his savage teeth. Jaroud thought of nocking another arrow to take down the wolf, but instead decided to approach it calmly, speaking soothing words. Miracuously, the wolf did not charge, but backed off by several feet to let Jaroud approach the fallen stag. Jaroud pulled out his knife and cut off a piece of the hart's flesh and tossed it to the wolf, who devoured it hungrily. He also cut off two small pieces for his hounds.

Jaround and Mykel carefully dragged the carcass of the great stag back to the nearest village. The wolf followed close behind. Several villagers came out to see the white stag; most were awestruck— both at the size and color of the beast, although one or two appeared unnerved by it. Two farmers tried to drive off the wolf with sticks and stones, but Jaroud stopped them, claiming that the wolf was now his, a miraculous gift from Ilvir, as was the hart. Jaroud persuaded two of the villagers to accompany him back to the city with a haycart (into which they place the fallen beast) in exchange for a share of the meat. Jaroud told the group that

Jaroud, Mykel, the hounds, the wolf, and the farmers made their way back to the gates of Coranan by the late evening.

The Great Feast of Welcome and Thanksgiving
16 Nolus 720 TR (Evening)

Upon entering the city, Jaroud went to the houses of his neighbors, the majority of whom he'd not even met yet, and told them of the great stag he brought back. With the aid of several of the butchers whose shops were in the alley (who were also promised pieces of meat), he he organized an impromptu feast in the alley, to which all those dwelling on the street were invited. Makeshift spits were set up in the middle of the lane to roast the haunches and the body of the stag. Benches and tables were brought out of several houses, and one neighbor even contributed a barrel of ale. The farmers who assisted Jaroud were also invited to stay and join.

While the venison was being roasted, Jaroud arranged with some urchins (again, in exchange for a portion of the meat) to carry news of the feast to his fellow missionaries, so that they could join in.

[Further details of the feast and its aftermath take in Session 3].