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The Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 16 - The Way Is Shut

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

General Summary

Augusta de Urbino, an ordained Priestess and Blackfriar from the distant Land of the Friaziny, has come to Udyn to learn about the local people, and to explore possibilities for establishing an Ecumenical bishopric, allegiant to the Hierophant in the city of Sinfina. She visits the grave and fountain of St. Pachomius of Udyn in the Nart Quarter, and becomes interested in learning why the Kochmaki executed the martyr, as well as to see the nomads, recently converted to the Bahite faith, firsthand. Through her contacts at court, she arranges an official visit to the Emgen Clan encampment just outside the city.   After arriving there, she is introduced to Sholpan Bey and other clan notables. She is unnerved to learn that the nomads are quire abusive to Noriki slaves, particularly a slavegirl named Miori, who is in the service of Zhuldyz, the bey's daughter. Captives from a recently concluded raid also seem to have gone in for similar treatment. This puts the execution of Pachomius into some perspective, and Augusta challenges Nygmet, the clan elder (or 'whitebeard'), on its poor treatment of Gaalites. Nygmet regards them as a slave people, beneath contempt, but Sholpan Bey opines that there is no difference between religions, and that all gods are really Tengri, the Skylord. Augusta is particularly unnerved by the fact that Sholpan Bey believes god to reside in her bowl of kumis - fermented mare's milk, as she was given to understand that Bahites do not drink. Yet, she tries to conform to the laws of hospitality by drinking along with her hosts. Zhuldyz' warning to leave some kumis in her bowl to avoid having it refilled fall on deaf ears, and soon, Augusta becomes inebriated, and passes out.   Early the next morning, Augusta awakens to the sounds of horsemen bringing in a new prisoner - Anatoly. Though her head is still buzzing from the night before, she learns that he was in the service of a Norik prince who is looking for those responsible for the latest raid. Anatoly's master - a boyar serving that same prince - was strictly instructed not to cross the river, and not to provoke the patron - Yaqub - who sponsored the raid, and bought up many of the captives taken on it. Yet his master disobeyed, and crossed the river nevertheless, but Anatoly was captured, and brought here, apparently to await execution. Soon, vizier Ilyas ibn Umar comes riding into camp with his bodyguards, and questions Anatoly about the whereabouts of his companions. The Norik refuses to answer, and the vizier apparently instructs the nomads to execute him, and leaves. When Aibek - the champion wrestler who Augusta met the previous evening, steps out, and begins sharpening his sword, Miori attempts to approach the prisoner, and is roughly pushed down by two spear-wielding guards. Augusta attempts to intervene, but in the meantime, Anatoly transforms into a rooster-man, rips the stake to which he is chained out of the ground, and uses it to knock out Aibek. Augusta uses a prayer to restrain one of the other guards, and heals Miori, who slinks away. Suddenly, Zhuldyz emerges out of her nearby yurt to put an end to the chaos. She chastises the guards, and orders the rooster into her tent. Strangely, he complies.   Augusta follows the rooster inside, and is allowed by Zhudyz to hear his confession, and to give him Last Rites, as because of his disobeying the vizier cannot be avoided. Anatoly reveals some minor transgressions, but tells her his life story, including episodes about his kidnapping by raiders as a child, his acquisition of superhuman strength by drinking from a magical stream, his purchase by Zinovii Surikov - an envoy of the Grand Prince, and his participation in the latter's plot to cross the river in order to hunt down Yaqub - a fire-breathing serpent. As he knows that he is to die, he asks Augusta to forgive his sins, but also to deliver a message to his companions, somewhere on the west side of the river, to tell them that he was loyal to the last, and gave his life to their cause. Zhuldyz then returns to usher Augusta out - her gentle nature has not prepared her to witness what must now happen to the prisoner.   The friar leaves the encampment, determined to fulfill the charge given to her by the Norik hero. She collects her things, bids farewell to her hosts, and heads to the docks to see if she can find a way to cross the river. She soon learns that the docks are being watched by the vizier's soldiers, who seem to be paying particular to her. Her first attempt yields no results - the ferryman clearly fears taking her on as a passenger. Augusta finds a secluded spot, changes into normal clothes, and tries again. This time, a fisherman is willing to take her for a hefty sum - nearly all the dirhems she has to her name. But a sense of duty to find Anatoly's companions compels her to act.   Soon, she disembarks at the docks of a small village on the other bank. The village appears quite small, certainly in comparison with the metropolis on the other bank. Augusta seeks the center of the settlement and locates a small brick-and-mortar mosque. The building, like most of the rest of the village, is dilapidated, and has a hole in the roof. Augusta attempts to enter, but finds herself being yelled at by an elderly man across in the street. He speaks Kochmak and broken Rakhman, and nervously tells her she should not be here, and escorts her to the far end of the village. There are few others in the streets, and after a cursory look , Augusta decides that the people she seeks are probably not here, so she departs.   Proceeding upstream along a wooded crest for several hours, she soon sees a force of armed riders belong, close to the water's edge. The men are dressed like those in the vizier's escort, so Augusta stays out of sight. She does not understand what they say, but she does see them pack up after a break, and proceed upstream, in the same direction she is traveling. Following close behind, she soon runs into a cloaked and hooded man with a scythe who turns out to be Alden. The wolfman is suspicious of the foreigner and usually threatening, and Augusta is soon crossing herself. Alden escorts her back to camp, where Zinovii and Yushko are waiting. When Augusta explains who she is, and relates her message from Anatoly, Zinovii proves even more suspicious than Alden, thinking that she is a spy for the vizier, and a foreign heretic to boot. Augusta says the she has come here at great personal risk, as she has disobeyed the vizier, and left the city, but he is not to be swayed.   As Alden is preparing to apply enhanced interrogation technique to the newcomer, the scouting party consisting of Agapia, Lokan and Yuri returns. Lokan is obviously injured after his encounter with the Chwee, and Augusta heals him, over Zinovii's objections. Augusta then relates the story of Anatoly's gaining superhuman strength by drinking from an enchanted stream, and Zinovii decides that this fact is not likely to be something known by the vizier's spies. Though he still does not like Augusta's foreign habits and ideas (like Purgatory), he decides to leave the decision about whether she should join the party to a vote. Lokan, who is feeling a bit better (though still having trouble seeing straight) is in favor, and Agapia says the newcomer reminds her of Kivi, the Godbearer. Yuri agrees that the group needs a healer, and the matter is decided.   The group decides to rest for the night, and to resume searching for Yaqub's lair the following day. The night passes uneventfully, and in the morning, the group sets out to scout out the hill the Chwee indicated as Yaqub's lair. The hill juts in a spot where the river bends, and is entirely covered with trees, revealing no obvious markers to the approaching party. Yuri climbs a high tree, and soon espies several mounted riders hiding under the eaves of trees in the gully between this hill, and the neighboring one, where the Chwee village stands. These riders appear to be similar to those Augusta saw the previous day. The group fears these soldiers have already informed Yaqub of their presence, and decide to send Alden and Lokan ahead to spy out the situation, and a possible entrance. Lokan transforms in front of all his companions for the first time, and Alden follows suit. Augusta is frightened once again, and hides behind Yuri's tree. Zinovii and Yushko have already taken cover somewhere out of sight.   Lokan and Alden stealth down into the gully, but Alden's white fur is a dead giveaway, and after shouting out a warning, two of the riders charge. Lokan manages to slip behind trees, and swats his attacker with his whip, taking him down off his horse. Alden decides to use this opportunity to snack on the horse bearing down on him, but it proves hardier than he thought. Two more riders charge toward them, and as Lokan is hidden, the make straight for Alden, running the wolfman through. Lokan lets out a chilling howl, which causes two of the horses to flee back toward the gully. The remaining rider, left alone, chooses to retreat.   In the meantime, most of the rest of the group answer the call by advancing toward the site of the confrontation. Lokan thinks he can do little to help his wounded friend, and pursues the fleeing rider instead. Agapia arrives just before the wolfman expires, and manages to pull him back from the brink of death, while Augusta manages to get him back on his feet. As no more riders seem to be approaching, the companions focus on looting the fallen man - he has armor, weapons, and a small bag of coins inside his boot. After, the newly conscious Alden insists that the best thing to do is to eat the man. Lokan opines that tactically, this might not be a bad idea, as the soldiers only know about the presence of wolf shapechangers, not humans, and this will confirm them in their belief. The rest of the party is horrified at the prospect, however, while Yuri stalks off in the direction of the river, eager to find an opening.

Rewards Granted

  • spear
  • dagger
  • small shield
  • lamellar armor
  • self bow
  • quiver of arrows
  • leather boots
  • cloak
  • money pouch with a few coins

Missions/Quests Completed

  • Agapia finds the main group
  • One soldier is killed
  • Alden's life is saved
Report Date
18 Jan 2019
Primary Location
Secondary Location

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