Augusta de Urbino
Augusta is a middle-aged woman. She is an ordained Friazin priestess, and a member of the mendicant order of Blackfriars. Augusta's interest in exploring other lands resulted in her being sent to the Land of Nor, to seek out converts to the Ecumencal Faith, and also to help establish an infrastructure of bishoprics that are loyal to the Hierophant of the Faith. She arrived by ship at Bascha on the Peninsula of Cedars, where she visited the gravesite of Arsenii the Companion. From there, she traveled up the Khavzai to Dubno, the old Norik capital, where she sojourned with the Brothers of the Pit, and visited the graves of Saint Bogumil and Ilya Muravlenin. Here, she became especially fascinated with the Land of Nor' and its people, and had her faith tested by the fact that there were virtuous men and women among them, despite the fact that they were excommunicates from the point of view of her faith. From there, she joined up with an escort of Kochmak riders, who escorted her to Ak-Karam, the Khan's capital. Here, she received permission to travel up the Udena to the city of Udyn, where her superiors had instructed her to set up a bishopric of the Ecumenical Faith. She also came here to learn the language of the Chud - a curious, reclusive people rumored to live in the Svora Mountains to the east, as well as to visit the grave of Saint Pachomius - a convert from the Bahite religion who was martyred by the Kochmaki, and whose grave is now marked by a natural fountain that supposedly flows with holy water. After arriving in Udyn, she received a writ from the local vizier, allowing her to move about the city freely. She completed her study of Rakhman, and the Chud tongue, visited the Fountain of St. Pachomius of Udyn regularly, and began to work on getting an audience with Sholpan Bey - the head of a nomadic clan that was encamped just outside the city walls, because she wanted to learn about why Pachomius was executed. One day in the middle of summer, Augusta traveled to the encampment. Here, she met Shopan Bey, his daughter Zhuldyz, the clan elder Nygmet, Aibek - the champion wrestler, and various other notables. A feast was thrown in her honor, and, feeling that she had to impress her hosts by imbibing the local beverage - kumis (strange, Augusta noted, as Bahites are not supposed to drink), made of fermented mare's milk, Augusta quickly became inebriated, and passed out. She was awakened early the following morning by the sound of hoofbeats. A raiding party of nomads apparently returned with a captive - a warrior named Anatoly. The latter was in the service of an envoy who himself served the Grand Prince of Kliakva. He was considered a high-value prisoner, because when a Norik slave named Miori tried to approach him, she was beaten back. Augusta, who was on the scene, cured her. Later, she learned that Anatoly had been captured because he and his patron were trying to cross the river in order to find a local lord named Yaqub. Yaqub, it seemed is a fire-breathing zilant - a serpent. He was also the sponsor of a recent raid carried out by these very nomads. He took the young women captured in the raid, and had them brought across the river, to his abode. The overlord of Anatoly's master, fearful that he was going to be blamed for this, ordered the master - ZInovii, to proceed to Udyn, to learn what had happened. After his entourage was joined by some people from the raided village, they learned about Yaqub, and decided to go after him, to free the captives, and clear their Prince's name. However, they were explicitly told by the vizier not to do this, and when they disobeyed, and stole out of Udyn to a nearby village, the vizier sent some of the clan's riders to hunt them down. They captured Anatoly, but the rest managed to escape across the river. Soon, the vizier himself came riding in with his soldiers. He questioned Anatoly about the whereabouts of his companions, and when he refused to answer, ordered the nomads to execute him. After he left, the wrestler, Aibek, came out to sharpen his saber. Augusta intervened, and used her power of prayer to get him and the two riders watching the prisoner to stop. Anatoly summoned some unheard-of power, changed into a rooster-man, tore the pole to which he was chained out of the ground, and used it to knock Aibek out. At this, Zhudyz came out of her yurt, and ordered him inside, saying she will finish the job herself. Augusta followed them in, and was able to convince Zhuldyz to give Anatoly a confession, as well as Last Rites. He did not have many sins to his name, but he did tell Augusta his life story, and asked her, at the end, to find his companions, and tell them that he died loyal to their cause. Zhuldyz then asked her to leave, as she did not want her to witness what now had to be done. Augusta returned to Udyn, and after tying up her affairs, sought passage across the river. The docks were being watched by the vizier's men, and Augusta knew that by leaving the city, she was breaking the law. Still, she was driven to do right by Anatoly, and after removing her habits, paid most of her remaining money to a fisherman to ferry her across the river. There, she found a small village, and began to search it for Anatoly's companions, or any signs of the Prince. The people were few and fearful, however, and a local old man begged her to leave. Deciding that Anatoly's companions must be upstream, she cautiously followed the river northeastward. Soon, she espied a group of soldiers dressed in the vizier's uniforms, proceeding along the river. She managed to stay out of their way, and followed them along the high ground. Toward evening, she came across a curious, hairy man with a scythe. He turned out to be Alden. As he looked more than human, and started threatening her, Augusta became frightened. Soon, he was joined by a man named Zinovii, who, as it turned out, was the Prince's envoy. As she began questioning him, and telling him that she bore a message from Anatoly, he became suspicious that she was the vizier's spy (he also disliked the fact that she was a foreign priestess). Soon, they were joined by Yuri, Lokan and Agapia - also companions of Anatoly. They had been out searching for Yaqub's lair, and ran into some trouble with local wildmen, as a result of which Lokan was heavily injured. Augusta healed him, and then, after recounting a story about how Anatoly got his superhuman strength from drinking out of a stream, Zinovii decided that she was probably telling the truth about who she was. She said that she wanted to join the group to complete Anatoly's mission, now that she had disobeyed the vizier, and become an outlaw. By popular acclimation, they decided to let her join them. The following day, the group headed out to seek out Yaqub's lair. When they saw the vizier's men hiding in the trees up ahead, Augusta hid herself as two of her companions transformed into wolfmen, and tried to sneak past the soldiers. An altercation broke out, which led to one soldier being killed, and Alden almost succumbing to wounds from a spear, before Agapia and Augusta pulled him back from the brink of death. The group then tried to formulate a plan for how to sneak around the soldiers, as her new companions argued about what to do with the body of the dead man. The group then decided that the party should pull back, to draw the soldiers out, so as to find an opening to sneak in. The plan worked, as six riders tried to overwhelm the party, but they were driven back by Alden's howling, and one soldier was then taken captive. Under questioning, he revealed that they were preventing the party from getting in, but did not know or want to get in themselves, and were actually planning to leave before dark, when the serpent was due to return. After watching the soldiers sailing back toward the city on a raft, the group advanced to Yaqub's hill, and soon discovered a cave, hidden by an illusion that made the entryway look like the hillside. However, they were themselves discovered by slitherings - fat, fiery snakes that crawled out of the cave and gave chase. These were cut down, and then, the party entered the cave, they found more slitherings, but Augusta used the power of the Lord to hold them in place, and her companions slew them. Then, the others discovered a burnt spot covering an Rakhman inscription, which Augusta read. It contained a riddle about speaking a jinn name to enter, and after Augusta explained that jinn were creatures of fire that spoke a fire language, Yuri suggested holding a torch to the verse, and the stone moved to reveal a spiral staircase in the back of the cave. The party descended to find a long regular passageway that ended in a door. But when Alden moved to inspect the door, he set off a pendular scythe trap, and an alarm system. Augusta then ran past the scythe into the main part of the lair, where she and the rest of the party were confronted by Yaqub's dogheaded guardians. Augusta assisted the fighters in subduing the guardians, calling down the Lord's radiant light on their heads. She also helped save Agapia's life by staunching and binding a wound she received from the dogheads' commander. Subsequently, she helped the group explore the lair, and found several curious artifices, including a moving statue, and a mill. After the discovery of a library, Augusta spend much of the time free from resting and tending to injuries familiarizing herself with the technical literature found therein. Unfortunately, after her companions were followed into the library by a cook from the lower part of the complex, the latter fireballed the group, which resulted in the destruction of the books. Augusta later accompanied the rest of the party to the lower part of the complex, where captives from Vladykino, along with more of Yaqub's children, were discovered. She was instrumental in questioning Yaqub's son Nuri under the Lord's oath when he was taken captive, which allowed the party to learn about his family members and his serpent-wife. Augusta then participated in the battle against Nuri and a bannik in the bath, which nearly resulted in her death. She then participated in the confrontation against Yaqub in the fountain room, where her invocation of God's wrath was key in vanquishing the monster. Following the night on which the beast was slain, Augusta helped the party solve the riddle of the artifice that blocked the way to Yaqub's treasure chamber. She figured out that the artifice was a musical organ, and, after transcribing Yaqub's favorite song as played by his wives using musical notation, she was able to open a secret portal. The subsequent defeat of and parlay with the bannik in the bathhouse revealed that the treasure had to be thrown into the pool to lift the enchantment from the captives. After this was done, Augusta worked with her friends to trap the men inside the organ room so as to incapacitate them with poison gas. The vizier then made a deal which involved allowing the party and the prisoners to return to Ladeisk in his ships. After a two-week journey upstream, Augusta and the rest were received by Prince Trofim Andreevich. Augusta found him to be a ruler receptive to offers of alliance with the Hierophant, and willing to listen to her entreaties to convert to the Ecumenical Faith. But she pushed too hard, and the prince broke off the talks. To win his favor, she paid much of the money he had awarded her for freeing the prisoners to have the book on defensive artifices restored, and then proceeded to translate it into the Norik tongue to present it to the prince. Before she was able to do this, her companions took her along on a trip to the nearby village of Sitnitsa, where a hen had reputedly laid a golden egg. The situation did not interest Augusta, and challenged her notions of piety, but Cherniava, an old woman in that village told her and her friends that accessing the real treasure involved cracking the egg somehow. To Augusta, this sounded like demonic temptation and an invitation to engage in pagan magic, so she encouraged her companions to take their leave of her. She is currently in the village of Sitnitsa. She appears in Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23.