Session Three: A Death in the Market

Session Date: August 11, 2007

The Celebration of the Feast
16 Nolus 720 TR (Evening/Night)

The spontaneous feast that Jaroud has organized for his neighbors was a great success. Approximately thirty people attended (besides him, the other missionaries, and the farmers who helped him and Mykel bring the slain stag back to the city). In speaking with Jaroud's neighbors, the missionaries learned that most were extremely poor, dwelling in crowded tenements, barely able to keep up with their rents through day labor. Few, they learn, were actually born in Coranan; many had been farmers from villages elsewhere in Tharda who had lost their lands from debt. There were also a few beggars and urchins who showed up.

Towards the end of the feast, Brother Olrau gave a short speech to the attendees, thanking them for welcoming their missionary group. He told the crowd that Ilvir's blessing was upon them all, but did not otherwise preach to the crowd or sermonize. Olrau's fellow missionaries, who were used to hearing him speak to groups of already confirmed Ilvirans, were surprised by how little he actually said about Ilvir or his teachings.

Following Olrau's speech, Jaroud and Bowdyn were told of the miraculous sign of the Umbathri. They and some of the other missionaries debated whether or not they should let Jaroud's neighbors know that Ilvir had given them a sign where their temple would be built. There is tentative agreement among that they should not do so. As Judyn put it: “It is better that they should come to learn of— and recognize— the sign on their own, rather than because we've told them about it.” Maban, however, forgot (or simply ignored?) this agreement and immediately told several feasters all about the Umbathri and what it meant. Moreover, she even triied to get a group of folks to leave the feast immediately to go an see it, but she fails to do so. As one of the feasters pointed out, “It's night... what would we see anyhow?”

During the feast, Kalrun also told Jaroud what he has learned of "Tiny"; the two men agreed to visit the Glaive & Sickle the next day to see if they could find him.

Mykel, the young fellow who had been dragooned by Jaroud into participating in the hunt, continued to eat and drink until late in the night. Eventually, he passed out in the alley. Jaroud carried the lad into his house.

When the feast finally wound down, Bowdyn went home. Olrau, Judyn, Maban, Kara, and Kalrun returned to the Scroll & Quill Inn, although they had to bribe some guards to open some of the city's internal gates.

Morning Discussions and Plans— and a Bath
17 Nolus 720 TR (Morning)

The following morn, the missionaries staying at the Scroll and Quill (Olrau, Kalrun, Judy, Maban, and Kara) arranged for a bath to be drawn after breakfast. While servants and slaves carried hot water upstairs, Judyn showed the others the severed hand and note that she received the prior day. They speculated on who might have sent it: some suspicion is voiced that it might be Agrikans or Morgathians.

However, in looking at the wax seal on the note, with its stylized depiction of the snake— and upon reflecting on the reference to “The Ringed Serpent”(i.e. “The Ringed Serpent Needs No Temple in Coranan”), another idea came to Maban and Kara. Both recall having learned, at some point— that there were some Ilvirans who rejected the artistic convention of representing Ilvir as an oroboros— i.e. as a circled serpent devouring his own tail. Instead, this group always depicted Ilvir as a 'straightened' or 'elongated' serpent that did not circle back on itself.

Further discussion brought forth an from Kara a memory from her studies at the Yellow Hand temple in Tashal, that this sect's rejection of conventional Ilviran iconography had something to do with do with sexuality— the circle, being a feminine symbol, and the the elongated serpent a masculine one. This, in turn, brought Judyn and Olbrau to recall that the urchin who had delivered the package to the inn, had stated that he was told to bring it to 'the Ilviran priestess'. This led to still further speculation that the sender of the 'gift' might in fact be a secretive cult of Ilvirans in the city who hold to such beliefs/customs— and who did not want any newcomers to found a temple— especially if there will be female clergy.

The five missionaries prayed to Ilvir for a sign on how they might find whoever sent the hand, whether they be Ilvirans or not. Maban also conducted some diviniations of her own, rolling the various bones in her collection.

When the bath was finally ready, Kara washed first (with the assistance of a slave woman from the inn). While she did, the older missionaries spoke of other plans. Kalrun expressed his intent to meet with Jaroud and to seek out the man called 'Tiny' at the Glaive & Sickle. As he believed trouble might result, he did not want to take Kara with him. Olrau agreed to watch over her for the day. Kalrun also donned his chain mail, but wore it under his bulky tunic, thinking it might be useful if trouble occured.

Judyn proposed that the rest of the group take a look at the cobbler shop that will be their future temple (once they buy it, that is), and suggested that they go visit it, under the pretence of buying Maban a new pair of boots. (Maban protested briefly that there was nothing wrong with her current boots, but after Judyn indicated that she'd pay, Maban grudgingly agreed.)

Kara eventually finished her bath, and she was followed by Judyn, then Maban, then Olrau. (Kalrun declined to bathe.) The group then leaft for Kotros Square and the cobbler's shop.

A Death in Kotros Square
17 Nolus 720 TR (Late Morning)

The five missionaries (Olrau, Judyn, Kalrun, Kara, and Maban) arrived to a bustling— even frenzied— marketplace. Farmers were selling vegetables, chickens, ducks, rabbits, sausages, and a host of other foodstuffs. Merchants from the city were displaying their wares in tents and stalls. Mercantylers from Kaldor, Rethem, Kanday were hawking their goods as well. Fine pottery, cloth, leather goods, dyes, songbirds, and beautiful brass were all available. There was also a platform at the south end of the market where slaves were being bought and sold.

As the group made its way through the throng, they saw that in the eastern part of the square, a many people had gathered around the shop of Hondash of Amsyn, staring up at the roof. The Umbathri was still there, but what reallly drew the crowd's attention was that a ladder had been set up against the front of the building and a young man, dressed in tradesmen's clothes, was climbing up it, holding a long wooden club. Another man, older and bearded, wearing a heavy leather apron, stood at the bottom and cried at the Umbathri, “Get away from here, you miserable demon!” and then at the climber, “And hit him hard, Smash his ugly face to bits!”

Maban shouted for the fellow on the ladder to stop, but he did not hear her. The group slowly edged its way through the crowd, closer to Hondash's shop. When the climbing man reached the top of the ladder, he steadied himself with one hand on the building, and delivered a sharp blow to the motionless Umbathri with his club. The Umbathri gave a shrill stacatto shriek and then jumped a yard to the right, just out of reach of the man's club. He then began cackling insanely.

The older tradesman from below (whom the missionaries gathered to be Hondash) cried out for the fellow to climb up on the roof and strike the monster again. The young man clambered up on to the roof top and carefully sidled over to the Umbathri, who sat watching, apparently unconcerned. The man struck at the Umbathri again with the club, but the Umbathri vanished mid-swing, only to appears right behind the journeyman. The Umbathri delivered a swift kick to the journeyman's ankle. On the building's sloping rooftop, it was sufficient to unbalance the fellow, who had already been off-balance due to being mid-swing. He stumbled and fell down, and then rolled off the side of the building, plummeting towards the cobblestones below.

The missionaries, who had been gradually moving towards the shop, sprang forward to catch the falling man, but they could not close the distance in time. The journneyman landed on the ground, his neck broken. There were screams and cries at his death. Hondash and some of the others from the shop, cried “Tymas!” and rushed to the boy. “Someone tell his parents,” shouted Hondash, “and get a Peonian priest” Two lads from the shop— presumably apprentices— grabbed the young man's body and carried itinside. The crowd stuck around for a few minutes, but eventually dissipated as people returned to their daily comerce.

Brother Olrau then to go to the family and apprentices in the shop to give them comfort. Judyn told him that this would be an extremely bad idea, as it would connect the death of the young man (whom they gathered to have been a journeyman) to them. The two had a polite exchange of words, in which Olrau explained that the family must come to learn that Ilvir wishes their shop and house to become a temple, and that the journeyman's death was a sign that the time had come for them to stop dwelling there and to sell it. He also expressed a concern that further tragedy would befall the family if they did not leave the house as soon as possible. Judyn agreed in principle, but counseled that it would be best if such news came from others— and not them personally. She added that, in any case, just minutes after the death of a household member was not the time to broach the subject. Olrau reluctantly agreed not to visit the family now, and he and Judyn agreed to discuss the issue again at a later time.

During this debate between Judyn and Olrau, Maban ignored her companions and instead ran over to the ladder, which still remained against the side of the building. She began climbing it. She was noticed by several in the market who told her to stop (“Don't be a fool! He's already killed one man today!”) She ignored them.

While at the top, she spoke to the Umbathri, who was sitting motionless again, as if it were a sculpture like those on the bonding house. She told it, in Ivashi, “Please try to drive away the inhabitants of this house.” The Umbathri, if it heard her, did not respond. Maban got the distinct impression that he would not do what she asked. She descended, muttering to herself, “There's no reasoning to an Umbathri."

Judyn, Maban, and Kara then went shopping in the market. Olrau returned to the inn, indicating that he would seek guidance from Ilvir by by praying and meditating in his room.

Shopping, A Sign, and a Tapestry
17 Nolus 720 TR (Late Morning - Early Afternoon)

Thre three female missionaries (Judyn, Maban, and Kara) perused the bustling market. Judyn picked up some fine cloth as a gift for Vurnt the litigant, to help ensure his zealous assistance. She also decided that, as part of her effort to make Maban more 'presentable', she would buy the semi-madwoman a new dress.

Maban was unenthusiastic about the idea and at first scorned all of the garments and fabrics that could be found. However, after a long search, they found themselves in the shop of Urbain of Thyndall in the south of the Market District. Urbain, a Master Dyer of the Clothiers' Guild had an-already made dress that a prior client refused to take because an accident had resulted in an uneven coloring pattern. Maban declared the dress to be beautiful— and Judyn bought it for her. She also bought Kara a yellow ribbon for her hair.

On leaving Urbain's shop, Maban noticed movement along the cobblestones on the side of the building. She looked closer and saw a small banded serpent, slithering along. She proclaimed to Judyn and Kara that this was the sign that Ilvir had sent them, and that they must follow it to find those who sent the hand to Judyn. The serpent wriggled its way west in front of the nearby shop and home of of Punat of Khonary, one of the city's master masons. There was a small hole underneath the stoop leading into the shop; the serpent slithered into it. This building, Maban insisted, must be where they can find the hand-senders!

They entered past two guards into a vestibule leading into a larger business office. A slave carrying a sheaf of parchment ran out, told them to wait, and then dashed off again. He returned a few minutes later, without the papers, but with a slightly harried look. He introduced himself as Stevis, the secretary to Master Punat and asks how he might be of assistance. (He explained that Master Punat was currently unavailable as well.)

Judyn introduced herself and told the slave that she and her companions sought Master Punat's assistance with a large construction project in the city— a temple to Ilvir. Stevis seemed suprised by this, but he recovered his composure quickly and explained that the Khonary family had a long tradition of building magnificient architecture in the city and that they could not do better than by selecting Master Punat to head the project. Judyn clarified her initial point, stating that she wanted Master Punat to assist on the project, as another mason would be in charge of it. (She declined to relate to Stevis, however, who that Mason would be, despite his attempts to fish out the name of the individual. She did, however, give the slave a substantial tip to make sure that Punat got the message.)

On their way out, Kara noticed a small tapestry hanging against the vestibule wall. The tapestry depicted a series of lines in a geometrical knotted pattern in Jarinese interlaced style. Upon looking closer, they realized that the lines were actually serpents with heads and tails on either end. She quietly mentioned this to the others who, upon closer inspection, noticed that, unlike in many Jarinese tapestries, none of the serpents actually circled around and had their tails in their mouth. Though no-one said anything aloud, all of the missionaries thought about the elongated serpent on the seal of the message that had been sent to them— and Maban's and Kara's thoughts on it.

Stevis, having noticed their sudden interest in the tapestry, commented that it was a very old hanging that had been in the Khonary family “since the days of the Empire”, but that Master Punat recently paid for it to be restored and re-dyed with more vibrant colors, including some very expensive imported dyes. When asked why he did so, rather than just recommisioning a new tapstry, Stevis paused thoughtfully and explained that his master places a great value on family heirlooms.

The group then left, wondering what connections there might be between this tapestry, the waxen seal with the elongated serpent, Punat of Khonary, and a possible secretive Ilviran cult.

A Fistfight at the Glave & Sickle
17 Nolus 720 TR (Late Morning & Afternon)

While Maban, Judyn, and Kara were shopping, Kalrun made his way to the Glaive and Sickle tavern,n the heart of the city's so-called Agrikan district, about halfway between the Pamesani Arena and Jaroud's home.

The inn was an impressive structure, with a stable attached. Rather than a sign, two old rusted weapons hung from a pole near the door. Strong smells of roast meat, spices, and bitter smoke came out, along with much raucous talk and laughter coming from patrons taking their lunch.

Upon walking in, the voices quickly fell silent as numerous eyes fell on him with a mixture of contempt, suspicion, and vague hositility. A number of soldierly fellows— some legionnaires and mercenaries— others members of The Demon Pameshlu and Cohorts of Gashang fighting orders— glared at him. A few other toughs also cast a curious look, as did a couple of Agrikan priests and priestesses. The inn inself was decorated in a heavily martial style: shields, swords, axes, masons, banners, and the like decorated the walls. Many had clearly Agrikan heraldic devices. There was also a red-and-white shield depicting a Laranian stylized sword on it that had been marked with obscene (and misspelled) graffiti.

Kalrun made his way to an empty space on a bench near a half-full table. No-one came to join him, and eventually those around him returned to their own conversations, although he was aware of ongoing unfriendly glances from a few individuals whom he surmised to be 'regulars' offended by a newcomer intruding into their sanctum. He also heard the phrase “fresh meat” used by one soldier to another while looking at him.

A serving boy— presumably a slave— came by and brought Kalrun a mug of ale, unbidden. The lad, after depositing the wooden mug on the table, took a pinch of some sort of dark-looking herbs from a pouch on his belt and tossed them in the mug and dashed off. Kalrun sniffed the ale suspiciously and found that it had a charred herbal aroma. He scooped out most of the herbs with his figners and drank, finding that they had given it a pungent and horribly bitter taste. A while later, the lad returned to ask about food, but Kalrun declined, having decided to try and pass himself off as an old solider who was down on his luck and out of money.

While Kalrun nursed his ale, an ugly fellow bumped into him sharply and spilled— or to be more precise— poured a tankard of ale all over Kalrun's head. “Oh, I'm sorry,” the man said sneeing, his voice dripping with insincerity, “I didn't see ya there.”

“I think you did!” responded Kalrun, standing quickly.

“And what if I did?" the now empty-mugged thug taunted.

Kalrun replied by punching the fellow square on jaw and knocking him back a few steps. It appeared as if a full-scale fight was about to break out when the innkeeper— and a few other patrons— shouted out for them to stop. “If you wanna' fight, take i' downstairs!” they cried.

The innkeeper, Orinin of Ashalon, rushed over with a set of keys in hand and explained to the puzzled Kalrun that if any patrons had problems with each other, they had to go downstairs into “the Pit” until those problems were solved. The man who Kalrun had punched, whom the innkeeper addressed as Gort, said that he was fine with that— and as a gesture that he would fight fairly in the pit, took out a knife and planted it in one of the tables. Kalrun gave Orinin his sword to hold. To Kalrun's surprise, neither Gort nor Orinin seemed to notice that he was wearing armor underneath his tunic. He thought briefly about removing it but decided against it. He then followed Gort and the innkeeper down the stairs and into the Pit.

The Pit, Kalrun saw, was a small square room, maybe 10' x 10', with a single door leading out. Above, there was no ceiling, but rather a wooden grating that looked out onto the main floor of the tavern. Many of the other patrons were standing on or around that grating looking down to see the action. A few bets were being placed, although Kalrun could not tell whether he or Gort was being favored.

Kalrun and Gort quickly closed with each other and began throwing punches furiously, but surprisingly few connected. The crowd began vocally disapproved of the lack of serious harm being done. Gort did land a powerful blow in Kalrun's gut, but winced in pain when his fist encountered the armor underneath the tunic. “Ye cheatin' bastard, ya got a metal shirt!” he cried. The two continued to trade light glancing blows to little effect but Kalrun hit morefrequently and harder. Gort, changing his tactics, delivered a kick to Kalrun's leg while pushing him with his hands and knocked the old veteran on the ground. The crowd, getting excited, began pouring ale down through the grate onto both men, making the pit even stickier and less pleasant.

Kalrun pulled himself up to his knees while avoiding another blow from Gort but rather than standing fully, he instead delivered a strong, punch right hook to Gort's lower back, which caused the man to double over in pain and fall the ground next to him. Kalrun was about to throw himself on Gort's fallen form and deliver even more brutal punches and kicks, when the man wheezed out painfully, “All right, all right... you win!”

Despite a few cries from the crowd of “Finish him!”, Kalrun stood up slowly, extended his hand to Gort and helped the man get back up on his feet. He then told his defeated opponent that he expected him to buy him lunch. Gort grudingly assented and they returned upstairs, where Gort received much ribbing (“How did you not see his armor?”) and where he had to borrow money from some friends to pay for Kalrun's lunch of hearty beef stew.

Although the fight earned Karlun a bowl of stew, it did not seem to win him any respect with the other inn patrons, as non-one came over and joined him— or even seemed to show immediate interest towards him. So, he continued to nibble at his stew, to nurse his ale, and to keep his eyes and ears open for word of the mysterious “Tiny”.