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The Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 15 - Across the Udena

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

General Summary

Agapia sits in a barrel on some sort of waterborne vessel. She is becoming used to being in barrels. She was brought here, probably on a cart of some sort, over rough city streets, and loaded on this boat. Occasionally, she hears the conversation between rough-sounding men, who are making plans about when to unload her barrel, and swearing. When Agapia tries to converse with them, they kick the barrel, and tell her to be quiet. The girl drifts in and out of sleep, and summons magic to ensure that the barrel is the cleanest it can be. She also dries herself from the pickle juice at the bottom of the barrel.   After waking up, Agapia is still in the barrel. It is becoming stuffy and uncomfortable. She has probably been in here for days. Finally, someone picks the barrel up, moves it, and opens the top. Daylight pierces her eyes, and with difficulty, Agapia struggles out. She is on a sandy embankment of a very wide river. The men that unloaded her look familiar - they're probably regulars at Kesha's tavern - friends of Berke. They tell her to walk downstream toward the village, and push off in their sailboat.   Making her way through the mud, Agapia finally comes to a series of docks, and sees a small village rising up above her. She proceeds up the embankment, and is soon beset by a local dog, who threatens her, but does not attack. His barking provokes other dongs, and soon, the settlement is ringing out with their growling and yapping. Dodging her harriers, Agapia finds herself across from a small brick and mortar temple flanked by a short minaret. Suddenly, Lokan and Alden emerge from the house across the street. Lokan is happy to see that Berke followed up on the deal he made with him, and delivered Agapia, unharmed. He leads her into the house, where she finds Zinovii, apparently occupying a section of it. While Yushko feeds the girl, ravenous after her ordeal, Zinovii tells them that Yuri is out fixing the village fence, in hopes of getting in good with the locals, such that they fashion a raft for them, and let them leave unmolested when the time comes. He also tells them that Anatoly has been hunting and watching the village gate to make sure no one runs off to inform the vizier of their presence. However, he was to return at dusk, but now the sun has set, and he is still not back.   After Agapia has filled her belly, she heads out with Lokan to look for the rooster-man. Though it is very dark, with almost no moon, the ground, rained upon for days, reveals several sets of horse tracks. The pair follow them, and, on top of a bluff where Lokan and his companions camped out several weeks ago, they find them converging, and then, heading off, together, into the woods. The perceptive Lokan also finds a small trail of blood where the tracks converge. Fearing the worst, they begin to follow the horses. To make sure he does not lose the trail, Lokan transforms into a wolf-man, and shows Agapia his curved tail, though she is predictably non-plussed about having a shapechanger as a companion. She finds a blueberry bush, and studiously picks them to put into her jar.   In due course, they come upon an encampment of nearly two dozen riders. Peeking at them through the trees, the pair learn that they are mostly Kochmaki from the camp just outside the city. They also seem to have Anatoly, who is bloodied, and tied to a post in the middle of the camp. Lokan contemplates attacking the camp, or attempting to break the prisoner free, but the odds are heavily against them. Choosing the less dangerous path, he and Agapia return to Shatkal, and report what has happened to Zinovii.   The boyar won't hear of any plans of making a stand or sneaking out. He insists that they have to assume the raiders are coming for them, and so, they must cross the river as quickly as possible. Their raft is not ready, so he tells Lokan to convince Erken, the headman, that they can keep their horses in exchange for a rowboat (though he has no desire to part with the remaining horses, he says that the Kochmaki might think they belong to Erken, and will not take them, which means that the party can collect them when they return).   Though Erken and his family have already gone to sleep, Lokan's offer seems too good to refuse (or perhaps, he is too frightened to refuse). The group finds a rowboat on the docks, and, largely due to Yuri's efforts, rows across the enormous river and onto the opposite bank. It is impossible to see any lights on the opposite side, and there seems to be no pressing danger, so the party makes a camp halfway up the embankment, and settles down to sleep. Some sort of creature spies on Agapia and Yushko during the night, but the girl is unable to find out what sort of creature it is, and the night passes uneventfully.   In the morning, Lokan, Yuri and Agapia decide to scout out the locale, and to see if they can find any sign of Yaqub. Alden remains behind at camp with Zinovii and Yushko, who are both rather defenseless at this point. Lokan quickly determines that Yaqub's home is likely upstream, if the distances he was given by Mamoun were correct. His confidence in the woods has improved markedly since their long trek to Udyn. Soon, the scouting party picks up a scent of burnt wood mixed with a damp smell - a lot of wood was burnt nearby, and then rained on, but how long ago, they cannot tell. Following the smell, they find a small village on top of a hill. The village looks partly burnt down, but it seems like the fire happened a while ago. Agapia sneaks in through the gate, while Lokan and Yuri circle around the settlement to see if they can find any trace of the inhabitants. Agapia does find an axe stuck inside a tree stump - it looks like it was left there recently, as it is not too rusty. She ducks into the first house she sees, and finds scraps of meat, and some antelope horns, but otherwise, the house looks abandoned. In the meantime, Lokan discovers large tracks outside - very large bare feet, heading out into the woods. He meets up with Yuri, and goes inside the village to find Agapia.   As the place looks abandoned, Lokan tells the others to sneak out before whatever made those tracks returns. After hearing some hooting noises outside, he slinks toward the gate, and as he is about to go out, he bumps into a hairy, humanoid creature, standing over seven feet tall. Another, similar creature accompanies it. The creature looks surprised, but before Lokan can duck, it levels a precise blow with its big, spiky cudgel, right at his head. Visions of another giant smashing his head outside another gate quickly flash through his mind, and Lokan falls to the ground, senseless.   Agapia and Yuri rush out of the house after they hear Lokan crumble. The girl reaches him just in time, and holds her hands to his head. Lokan regains consciousness, but his head is splitting, and he is having trouble focusing. Meanwhile, Yuri ferociously brandishes his spear at them, and they retreat away from the body. After they indicate, in broken Kochmak, that there is a young one inside, Agapia tells them that they haven't hurt anyone. The first creature makes a hooting noise, and a hairy being about Agapia's size comes bounding out of the house, and into its mother's arms.   As it seems no permanent harm has been done to anyone, Agapia - the only one who can converse with them, enters into a parlay. She asks them about where Yaqub might be, and they respond that they will only say anything if they receive a gift - namely - the 'magic' beartrap Lokan carries on his back. After a series of counteroffers, he teaches them how to use it, and turns it over. In exchange, the creatures, who refer to themselves as "Chwee", say that Yaqub lives under the next hill. The old villagers were all driven off or killed after Yaqub destroyed this village, where only "Chwee" now live. When Yuri presses them to find out how big Yaqub is, the Chwee conversing with them raises its head toward the sky - that big.   The creatures are reticent to reveal any more, so the party must offer up another gift - a large garrote fashioned from wood, rope and wire - big enough for the Chwee to hold with their large, hairy hards. In exchange for that, they answer questions about what Yaqub keeps in his abode. First, he seems to have a lot of children - it is not clear whether they are his children, or children he is keeping, but in any event, whatever the Chwee are talking about, some of them are snakes. Second, it is hot near where they are. Third, Yaqub has much treasure, and a lot of magic (whatever that means - the bear trap is magic, too). Still, that sells Lokan on the necessity of going into Yaqub's lair, no matter how big he might be. Yaqub also has many servants inside. And some of these servants arrived relatively recently - could these be the young women taken from Vladykino? Some of the servants seem to be hairy and snouty, though.

Rewards Granted

  • Jarful of blueberries
  • Antelope horns
  • Information about Yaqub and his lair

Missions/Quests Completed

  • Discovering that Anatoly has been captured
  • Avoiding being captured by the Kochmaki
  • Crossing the river
  • Learning information about Yaqub from the Chwee
Report Date
04 Jan 2019
Primary Location
Secondary Location

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