Resplendant Wood 19 – The Road
I awoke this morning earlier than is my custom to don my form before our new companions arose. I heard Chijiwa and Choaxi talking quietly outside but didn’t bother listening in. I was in bad spirits for last night I slept poorly. I already resent Broken Walls a little for choosing to travel with these people however good their mead might be. I suppose they might provide some form of cover story for us later but here in the middle of nowhere there is no easy explaination for suddenly appearing as another person. It looks like I will be “Pewter Spoon” longer than I intended.
Broken Walls and Aster awoke shortly after me and after awhile we noticed that we couldn’t hear Chijiwa anymore. Going outside to speak with Chaoxi we learned that he has decided to go off to sort through what he’s learned about himself in these last few days. If that means he’s going to go inform some Dragon-Bloods of our location I will make him deeply regret the day he met me. I will, however, give him the benifit of the doubt for now.
Broken Walls told us he’d meet us down the road for he wanted to pray at the temple for awhile. Perhaps he meant he was going to track down Chijiwa and talk to him himself. Or, equally likely, he decided there wasn’t enough landmarks and decided to make one. I imagine that to him a deficit of adequetly built structures is some kind of insult.
I rode in the cart keeping our new guests company. To them I am a displaced farm labourer who’s brother’s family inherited the farm and kicked me out. It’s a dull but servicable alias.
Around noon we started crossing neglected and poorly drained farmland. Now there are mosquitoes to add to my dwindling comfort. Aster saw a cow and raced off into the field to tend to the thin staggering creature. Broken Walls followed while I sought entertainment from Knot who told me about hallucinations one has when eating unidentified mushrooms or alternately a story of what happens when one encounters dancing frogs and you eat the mushroom of their worship. Seventh Dawn noticed Broken Walls disappear suddenly into the ground and went out to investigate. The three of them eventually returned and we went on to the farmstead.
Aster and Broken Walls talked with a couple of apathetic farmers and negotiated a price for the cow which Aster could not suffer to leave behind. She recoiled when the farmer told her that dear old Bessie was up for slaughter and began an impassioned defence for the animal. I sincerely hope she doesn’t insist we all become vegetarians. Broken Walls at least managed to divert her focus onto fixing the larger problem at hand.
These farms are not flourishing. I admit that’s a problem given they might eventually be required to supply Broken Wall’s city. I suggested to Aster that this might have something to do with Keroski’s neglected shrine and she took up the cause with a will. Broken Walls found that the villagers have been worshiping some God named Mauk of the cudgel. I agree that doesn’t sound much like a Harvest God. We convinced the farmers to pray to Keroski in addition to Mauk and Broken Walls made two ox carts to pay for the cow which we seem to be taking with us. Seventh Dawn already suspects that Aster and Broken Walls are more than they at first appear to be and I have resigned myself to the eccentricities of my companions.
Resplendent Wood 20 – The Shore of the Dreaming Sea
As we came closer to the Bay we came across a fishing boat under attack by Fish creatures. Seventh Dawn and Broken Walls charged immediately off on the horse that had pulled our wagon to their rescue but not before Broken Walls donned his strange appear-from-nowhere armour.
Accustomed as I am to living inconspicously I am beginning to wonder if the reason most Solars are caught at all by the wyld hunt is because they lack any natural instinct for subterfuge. I digress.
Choaxi followed in her wagon containing Aster and her cow. I remained behind with Knot and String. I know when I am not needed. The sailors, Gi and Zeo were appropriately grateful ( and suspicious of the glowing mark on Broken Wall’s forehead) but they remained behind to camp while they waited for the surviving fishmen to flee the area. I tried my best to soothe Knot and String who were beginning to suspect that my companions were Anathema. I managed to halfway convince them they were Gods or God Blooded or some such and pointed out that a people who stop to help a sick cow are not terribly likely to be attempting to bring about the end of creation.
Resplendant Wood 21 – Champoor
We parted from the fishermen under instructions to meet them when we get to the city for they will be willing to supply us with accomedations for a few nights. Broken Walls supplied them with nets and crab traps under the pretense of getting some of their next catch. Gi seemed surprised as, from what I gathered, he never actually concluded a bargain for the equipment and had simply had an idle conversation with Broken Walls the night before about things they wished they had. Perhaps I should point out to Broken Walls that trade is generally arranged beforehand and that goods are generally not pressed on people before they have agreed to a price they might be unable or unwilling to pay. Gi and Zeo though are probably imagining their bones snapping if they refuse him outright. I almost feel sorry for them.
We travelled through more thoughly depressing farmland dotted with shrines of Mauk until we reached the city. All cities have slums and the bigger the city the larger the slum. I’ve spent enough time in them to know what to expect and watching Broken Walls I am beginning to suspect he has too. The dockside “Fish District” is a little more upscale than the slums but not by much. We reached the guildhouse where we were to ask for proper directions to the house of Gi.
Gi had made it seem that the Harbour master would be more than willing to point us in the right direction. He seems less accomedating than implied but was willing to meet with us and Broken Walls set up an appointment in two days time to discuss some business regarding making a combination Bath House, clinic and trade.
I confess I have no idea at this point what Broken Walls intends to do with a half concluded contract for Mead and a quarter boat load of fish. Or for that matter why we still own a cow. He’s mentioned setting up a trading company. Does he actually intend to keep trading in this minutia? How long does he intend the process of taking the city to take? Decades? I know he’s – we’re – virtually immortal but our time is worth more.
It was at this point when I was beginning to wonder what in Creation we are doing here the Harbour master mentioned that Guumari disease was prevalent in the area. My interest returned with a vengence and the witchlight of an idea took hold. Guumari when we saw him last was wielding a tetsubo which is more or less an iron studded cudgel. It is possible he and Mauk of the cudgel are simply similarly armed by coincidence. I don’t trust coincidences.
The Harbour master also mentioned that property ownership here seems to simply be a matter of who is most willing to employ the force required to keep it. I suppose that’s a good thing for us in the short term.
We went off to find Gi Kahii’s house and were pleasantly surprised to find it a large, multi-family co-op. We were invited to change our clothes which were drenched with rain for some of the family’s spares. I changed instead the clothes I was wearing. I will remain Pewter Spoon for the time being but his story has been too dull. At least I can make good on Broken Wall’s comments about “finding a merchant” to deal with the Mead brothers. String took notice of my change and we agreed to discuss matters after supper.
Supper was well off. These seem to be good people which means I don’t have much business being here. We learned a bit about the local state of affairs and asked a bit about Mauk and so on and so forth.
After supper I confessed to String that I wasn’t all I at first had claimed to be. I Introduced myself as envoy of the Togen family of Great Forks. It’s far enough off that it’s unlikely anyone knows them by anything but reputation. I told him that I had been saved from bandits by Aster and Broken Walls on the road but that I had been robbed of the better part of my belongings. Thus established he let me try a thimbleful of the special reserve mead they brought with them.
It is no ordinary alchohol. It promises to make them a fortune if they can find the right buyer. At the moment I can only offer them falsehoods of supposed connection to merchant houses as I doubt all of my companions combined have the money they need. I have some plans though that could kill three birds with one stone.
I have learned of a trading syndicate called “Rathouse” that serves as the only competing business with the Guild. Given what I’ve heard they keep their business afloat by sinking their competion and extorting others. I hope their physical location has promise because if I’m going to wipe them off the face of the map and take them for everything they are worth I’d like a it to be on a part of the map that I actually want.
Resplendant Wood 22 – Champoor
Communal living doesn’t suit me. I slept in a linen closet last night to avoid discovery and the possible late night amourous advances of String. I wish I could maintain my form when I sleep but no matter how I try it never works.
I want my own room.
Aster and Chaoxi went to the temple to provide some healing and gather information regarding the gods while Broken Walls and I went to check on the location of RatHouse.
I have been curious about Broken Wall’s past given his oddities so I asked him a bit about what he did before he took his Second Breath. I was surprised to learn he was born , as in essense all people born in Fortitude are, a prisoner and had run with one of the gangs when he was young. His descriptions of what the inside of the prison of his youth and the one the Dragon Bloods placed him sound like places I hope never to visit. I wonder if being born a prisoner made his ordeal more bearable than if he had been born free as I was.
I told him a little of my true history. It’s a story I’ve never told anyone before. There’s never been any need too. To tell it is to live it over again and to be seen as I never wish to be. For five years I have had no need for company. I do not get lonely. I do not need or want pity. I am not beholden to anyone.
There is… some appeal… in being understood. There is not so much difference between being a prisoner and being a slave.
After dealing with some incompetent pickpockets and an interlude with a vaguely unpleasant dealer of mealy apples we found Rathouse. The location is large enough for Aster and Broken Wall’s ambitions but the location isn’t great for a business being rather close to the sewer. The close proximity to said sewer could be useful for getting through the wall into the city proper which is conditionally handy (though I’ve always prefered to avoid such means) . We weren’t outside the house three minutes when a watcher from the shadows had his weapons trained on us and we were being greeted by a functionary from inside.
Broken Walls made a sound much like “Maaaw” which at first I thought was him trying to convey some sort of pre-arranged signal he forgot to discuss with me beforehand. When I understood he was pretending to be some sort of mute, simpleton bodyguard I was more stunned than anything. That he should hamstring himself so entirely in these dealings was surprising. He has so more potential than that. I went with it and introduced myself as a broker wanting to arrange to speak with someone regarding local opportunites. They said that we should bring some of our mead back for them to try and not to loiter in the area.
Afterwards Broken Walls conceeded that he had blanked when we were approached so abruptly. That he’s willing to let me take the fore on dealing with this says that he’s willing to trust me to deal with this properly.