In which our protagonists arrive in the Kurt Hills to find more questions than answers.
Day 27 – Through the Gorge
After 27 days afloat, and 24 days since the Monsoon rains started, the The Flying Sea Serpent and its crew leaves the confluence of the rivers and passes into the high plain beyond. They have one injured prisoner and several patched-up crew members.
Ahead there is flooded land as far as the eye can see, and in the distance the green outcrops of Kurt Hills, and beyond them snow-capped mountains reach to the sky.
The crew tries interrogating their prisoner. He has calluses on fingertips, and knuckles. In response to Changi’s questions, the best that can be said is that he is a poor starving bandit trying to make a dishonest living.
Master Cho observes the prisoner can reasonably be accused of river piracy, and so should be turned over to the Imperial authorities in Zhaikel, the first major town.
The rain continues on day 28.
The Flying Sea Serpent arrives at the village of Pijék, where Invocation Creek joins the Arjastha river and where wooden pilings form the waterfront. Chesan, Nebussa and Tanic go onto the docks and meet the headwoman. She and her colleagues are all wearing lightweight tunics and thigh-high boots.The tunics are made from Firya – a local fabric. The boots are from the next village inland – ideal protection from bites, bruises and worse when the waters rise. She confirms that the monsoon and flooding has caused a lot of damage in the area and there is very little of the normal freight traffic on the river. Zhaikél is the main local center, and is the next town upriver.
The river town of Zhaikél
Heading upstream, the next town on the right bank is Zhaikél.
Mu’on, Chesan, Mnela and Nebussa head ashore with the prisoner. At Zhaikél, dock workers are busy repairing the flood damage to the pontoons. Master Cho notes that the Harbourmaster is busy and suggests going instead to the Mayor at the Palace of the Realm.
Outside the Place of the Realm administrators are briefly questioning visitors, giving them coloured tokens and sending them to wait, shaded from the sun, under an awning in front of the building. Jakalla and piracy gets the party a token with instructions to enter the building. A well-equipped guard takes charge of the prisoner and takes him away.
They are shown in. The Mayor sits on a dias. The wall opposite him is covered in hundreds of coloured cards. In front of the Mayor, two administrators seated at a low desk make notes on cards, which they then add to the wall. At intervals a runner enters, delivers cards to one of the desks, removes some cards from the wall, and exits. None of the party have ever seen anything like this before.
The Mayor questions the party about the journey from Jakalla, the extent of flooding and damage they have seen, and details of the ambushes. Cards are added to the walls. He sends a runner who returns with the Guard Captain.
The flooding has completely disrupted all road and river transport in the province. The Mayor is organising recovery work. As The Flying Sea Serpent is heading upriver, the Mayor asks the crew to stop by his office before they depart Zhaikél, as he will have messages for them to carry.
Mu’on and Nebussa make enquiries about possible passengers. Mostly persons of substance, unable to complete overland journeys due to the flooding.
|I||Nobleman||The Palace of Scrolls||3514.RF|
|II||Priestess||The Sealed Villa||3514.RH|
|III||Administrator||The Villa off Ishoi the Blessed||3514.NH|
|IV||Priest of Hrü’ü||Palace of the Flayed||3614.CI|
|VII||Priestess of Avanthe, guard and 3 girls||Tower of Remonstration||3613.JX|
Day 29 – Continuing Upriver
One passenger is very well dressed and spoken. He carries a box of translucent white jade and a fine satchel containing money. The Little Ray of Darkness notices that around his neck, he wears a rod of white steatite, a hand in length, with 11 glyphs.
The Flying Sea Serpent passes the village of Daneshka, they choose to bypass it due to the smell.
The first stop is at the Villa of Íshoi the Blessed, which is across the river from an area of rocky and broken ground, perhaps one the ruins of a great city? The Villa has its own landing station on the river, then a path that climbs the hill up to the Villa. Mu’on, Tanic, Juyami and Nebussa accompany the administrator to the Villa. They notice some roped-off paths marked “not-safe”, and recent repairs to the walls. The Villa is busy and the Administrator thanks them for their service.
While they are away, a servant walks down the path to the boat. The Count sent him and he has a message of great urgency that must be taken downriver at once. He hands over a document pouch. There is a discussion among the remaining crew, but they are not impressed by the urgency of the situation. They do not cast off immediately to take the message downriver, and when their colleagues return they don’t change plans putting the document pouch on the pile with other deliveries.
The well dressed man has finely manicured hands. He has a leather valise with at least 200 gold Kaitars (a small fortune). The Little Ray of Darkness pays careful attention to the white stone rod hanging around his neck. She recognises one of the 11 glyphs from the disc.
On being asked about his destination he says the Palace of Scrolls is a place for private business.
Later in the cabin, the Little Ray of Darkness casts Sagacity to remember the glyphs. She is able to remember and write down 10 of the 11. The experience is mind-altering, and leaves her drained.
The Flying Sea Serpent moors up at Zirethal overnight.