A Troubled Economy

The Sands of Money

1372DR, Eleasias 10th
3508MC/2622SY/1446KC/1790WA/1586TR/1347CR/340NR

Desert_people.jpg

The Shining Lands comprised of Durpar, Estagund, and Var the Golden have recently been assailed by economic turmoil. Rumors abound that a vast brigand army, military excursion by Veldorn into the Shining Lands, naval skirmishes with the Dambrathan navy, and even more horrifying possibilities have begun to interrupt trade from Assur in Durpar, through Estagund. Whatever the reason, which as of to date is only speculation, the economic impacts are real.

Within the last ten-day, stragglers, claiming to have barely survived attacks by brigands, and strange beasts of the hills and high-desert, have crawled back to the relative safety of Assur. Trade has halted between Assur and Lastarr, the first and a major trade city-state along the Great Trader’s Way. No messages, passed to the public, have come from naval forays and scouting to determine from the ocean what may be transpiring in that realm. One thing is for certain though: the life blood of the most free, economically independent, and strongest economic empire in the world has had a massive strike at its foundation!

Speculation runs rampant at the thought of the impact rippling through the region, but the truest of reasons rings louder than any other: survival. The comforts of living in such a wealthy, thriving land as the Shining Lands is that practically anything is at your fingertips. Thus, little is ever planned for in consideration of a ceasing of access to luxuries, let alone necessities. The immediate impact has been an increase in prices, somewhat sharply when it comes to weapons, dry foods, and magical tools for around the home, to keep them cool and comfortable. Like the smell of a rotting corpse in the Golden Desert, the smell of fear has become palpable, if for now, contained by social custom to maintain appearances.

Another unusual occurrence has been a recent assumption of focus for efforts to discover and eventually, combat, whatever is leading to the economic woes of the region. The Church of Lucha has recently erected dozens of criers posts through the city of Assur, and posted on them are offers of employment, and significant compensation. The offer of lucrative employment opportunities, especially during such worrisome times, has attained a booming response from the public. Like bread lines seen in major cities with hostiles run by Ilmater, countless people have lined up to seek employment. So many in fact, that small tent cities have been erected just outside the walls of Assur to house the many people who ran out of money to stay in city due to rising prices, and those very people stand in the blistering heat, in line at the Temple of Lucha, to gain audience and hopefully, great fortune.

In the meanwhile, trade has effectively come to a halt. While certainly the sea lanes would seem plausible as a means of transportation, the shock of something causing so much economic standstill in these lands of all lands, has made all but the most…….foolish perhaps……seek to avoid any travel for fear that way may be plaguing the lands, may plague the oceans and seas. Travel out of the area by land or sea, when it pertains to an escort or vessel, has risen in price by orders of magnitude.

Regardless of the rumors, innuendo, and fear that have been on the rise, something much more ominous is readily apparent:

The conditions economically and socially, are being strained. While the government appears to be taking action, no one is certain whether it will be successful or not.

To that end, with limited resources available, transportation being prohibitively expensive, and reports indicating that travel on one’s own is incredibly dangerous, if not impossible, two things seems abundantly clear:

Time is ticking and options are running out for what could be massive social unrest in the not so distant future.

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The Holy Orphan of the Ormpe Trashpickers

From the travelogue Shaar and Beyond by Loducius the Laughing, in the chapter entitled “The Holy Orphan of the Ormpe Trash Pickers.”

“My principal reason for visiting the mining town of Ormpe was to catch a glimpse of the famed Curna emeralds. These gems – harvested from the nearby mountains by the wealthy dwarves of the Gemstone chaka and cut in Ormpe by the town’s sizable population of gnomish gemcutters – were found nowhere else and I was eager to see them. However , it was not the gems, regardless of how exquisite I indeed found them to be, that most occupies my memory of that town; rather, it was the sprawling squalor of ramshackle homes that festered outside the city walls, and within that dilapidated slum, the singular child I met during my sojourn.

“Here, in what had come to be called The Quarter of No Hope, I experienced poverty unlike any I had witnessed in this most prosperous nation. Here, I was greeted by a sullen, taciturn people, far different than the warm and curious folk I had met elsewhere in this tolerant and hospitable land. This was a community broken by poverty. That I should find such desperation in a town whose singular wealth had catapulted the leader of the Gemstone chaka into the nation’s High Council posed a mystery I was particularly motivated to solve. My initial inquiries, however, yielded few results. Few among the downtrodden residents proved willing to communicate with an outsider such as I.

“Nonetheless, I was able to assemble at least a general explanation of the poverty I encountered here: The economic boom that had been precipitated by the Curna emeralds has attracted laborers from across the Shining Lands and beyond. Few of these arrivals, however, found profitable work. It was rumored that the mining jobs that these migrants, largely of human stock, had come to claim were instead granted only to dwarves. Gem cutting also was granted largely to the town’s gnomish minority. Consequently, the humans who had sold their worldly wealth to migrate here found few opportunities for gainful employment, and so ended up among the town’s most desperate.

“With this knowledge, at least, the mystery of the unexpected poverty I encountered in this town was solved, but another mystery, far more intriguing, arose during my search, especially during my inquiries among the younger residents of the Quarter. Time and again, they, in their own broken dialect of the common tongue, referred me to a certain Sahil, an individual to whom they attributed various wonders and no small amount of wisdom.

“It seemed that the rapid growth in wealth among the city’s more privileged residents had given rise to a sprawling dumping grounds outside the city walls, near the Quarter of No Hope, in which the region’s newly rich had dumped many of their old, worn possessions in deference to their newly acquired luxuries. And here, children, many of them orphans either in fact or in practice, picked among the discarded possessions of the newly prosperous, hoping to find something that still retained enough value to trade for food.

“Among these child trash pickers, this Sahil individual had attained the status of something like a holy man. Or so I assumed him a man, until I fully parsed the Durpari phrase by which they referred to him: Roughly translated, he was child saint, or more literally, holy older brother not yet reached adulthood.

“In the end, I did not find this Sahil. Sahil, rather, found me.

“It was on my third day of inquiry regarding this holy child that a single songbird alighted upon my path. Many such birds I had witnessed flitting among the refuse of the Quarter, but this particular specimen possessed feathers of purest white and glowed with a vibrant health to rival his ragged kin. And when this unusual creature furthermore spoke a single word in the common tongue, I could not refuse.

“‘Follow,’ it trilled, before it took wing. I followed. How could I not?

“The bird, I later learned, was named Pak-Pak, a common name for such avian pets among the Durpari. But this particular Pak-Pak I followed with an inspired zeal, as he flew through narrow alleyways, one after another, until he returned to find his home in a tiny birdhouse of thin, patinated copper. This tiny birdhouse was lashed to a frayed rope belt, and that belt was tied about the waist of a boy who had seemingly not yet reached his fourteenth year.

“His eyes, however, seemed decades older. He sat upon a half-broken chair of carved rosewood, an object that might have fetched a few coin in mint condition, but now, compared to the ascendant wealth of whatever dwarven emerald miner once owned the thing, was rendered nearly worthless by comparison.

“This child on a broken throne, this was Sahil, I knew it.

“His robes were tattered, dirty, and beneath them, I noticed something like armor, made of scraps of leather sewn together by tiny hands, and reinforced with cheap copper coins affixed with needle and cords of sinew. More curious, however, was the mace that he wielded like a scepter. This iron thing, almost certainly stolen from some abandoned temple and wrenched from the grip of a forgotten idol, was forged to encompass on each of its four sides the visage of what I assumed was some Durpari deity or hero or another. To certain buyers of antiquities, I’m sure, this scepter would still retain some value, despite having been rusted almost beyond recognition.

“But this was not my query. I simply wanted to know: Who was this child saint of the Ormpe trash pickers? For a ten-day, I sat at his feet asking questions, and found at least some answers to my queries. But mostly I found a child ignorant of his own power and influence. I witnessed children bringing to Sahil stale loaves of the local flatbread, having already begun to become spotted with mold. And Sahil, with a gesture and a brief prayer, erased the spoilage with the ease of an innkeeper wiping a tavern’s drink-spotted counter. I saw children approaching with empty pitchers, and again, I saw Sahil touch the pitchers’ rims with a whispered prayer and the things fill to the brim with clean, potable water.

“Now, I had seen such minor miracles performed by numerous priests from here to Waterdeep, and I had no doubt that clerics dwelt here too in these lands for whom such feats were a trivial effort. This child was no proper priest, it was certain. Even the raiment and accoutrements of this child, his tattered robes and makeshift armor and rusty mace, seemed a mockery compared to the merest acolyte in even the most modest temple. And yet, among the urchins of Ormpe, this Sahil was regarded as a saint.

“It became apparent over the weeks I spent among them why this was the case: Priests indeed came to visit the Quarter over those weeks and many other goodly individuals besides. The Hin of the local Baker chaka came to distribute their unsaleable day-old goods among the hungry, and even a few properly trained priests passed through long enough to assuage their consciences.

“But few dwelt here for any meaningful duration, and the poor of the trash heaps treated all of them with skepticism and distrust. Sahil, however, was one of their own, an orphan of Ormpe. His miracles, however meager, were homegrown, without the pretense of pity or self-indulgent sacrifice, and so the others in the Quarter held them in high esteem.

“Sahil himself seemed reluctant to answer any personal questions. Instead, he spoke mostly in cryptic sayings and rambling parables, as if trying to imitate the wisdom of properly educated priests. But over several weeks, I did manage to tease out a few pertinent facts about his history.

“His family, like most residents of the quarter, had moved here in search of work, but they had succumbed to the slum’s despair. His father had turned to the cheap but strong drink plentiful in such neighborhoods as these. His mother had turned to despondency. The father disappeared, in the end, and Sahil’s mother disappeared within herself.

“From what I had been able to prise from Sahil, his mother still dwelt here in Ormpe, but he was unwilling to speak of her. When I inquired further about his family, he seemed to grow annoyed, until he at last gestured to the children who had assembled before him. ‘These little birds,’ he said, ‘These are my mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.’

“I did not press him further on the matter.

“The next day, I departed. In the marketplace, I had encountered a Calishite merchant bound to Pyratar. My purse had grown light through my travels, so when he offered me passage on his dhow for a modest fee, I could hardly refuse. Had I time and coin enough, I would have investigated more thoroughly the mystery of the Holy Orphan of Ormpe, but the exigencies of travel forbade it.

“I worried that Sahil might be offended by my sudden departure, but, as our dhow departed the dock in Ormpe, a certain thrush alighted upon the taffrail. ‘Come again,’ he chirped, ‘Come again.’ I laughed heartily at this cheerful bird. If the gods will it, I shall indeed return one day to Ormpe.”

~

An excerpt from the later correspondence of Loducius the Laughing, in a letter responding to a reader of his travelogue Shaar and Beyond

“… In response to your latter query, I did indeed return to Ormpe, some three years after I penned my initial account. I did not, however, find any trace of the Holy Orphan Sahil.

“It seems that, after my departure, tensions had arisen between the young denizens of the Quarter of No Hope and the merchants of Ormpe. These tensions began at first with a series of minor incidents: a mango snatched from a street vendor’s stand, a hole cut in the bottom of a purse in a crowded market, events that seemed relatively insignificant to me and common enough, especially in a town of such disparate wealth. But as I observed often in my travels in the Shining Lands, the famed tolerance of this region did not extend to sins of trade and commerce. For such crimes, there was little forgiveness.

“As the merchants of the town grew impatient with these offenses, minor thefts quickly gave way first to scuffles and soon to more violent altercations, and the ruling Gemstone chaka was eager to put an end to such disruptions in the marketplace. Moreover, the dwarves were eager to find some cause for the urchins’ newfound audacity. To this end, they could find no better scapegoat than the child preacher Sahil, who held such sway among the town’s younger poor.

“In a torch-lit assembly in the dead of night, the town’s Nawab, that is, its chief merchant and de facto ruler, prevailed upon his appointed judges to condemn Sahil for conspiring to interfere unlawfully in the free trade of goods. They agreed, and since Sahil possessed precious little in material wealth, they determined also that seizure of his property would affect him little. Instead, he would be taken into custody and deprived of his freedom.

“Fortunately for Sahil, his young disciples, his ‘little birds’, had already caught wind of the Nawab’s efforts, and when the town guards came to seize Sahil early that next day, they found him already gone.

“It seems that several bands of mercenaries had passed through Ormpe in recent days, responding to a call out of Assur for individuals willing to help them quell some troubles they had experienced there of late. Sahil’s disciples, having already heard rumors of the trouble that was to come for Sahil there in Ormpe, prevailed upon him to offer his services as healer to one such band and thus secure safe travel out of the reach of the local Nawab.

“Sahil was reluctant to leave, I was told, wishing rather to face arrest than to abandon those whom he called family. But when he could no longer bear the tears of his followers, who had no desire to see him bound in chains, he conceded to their pleas and departed without further objection.

“With this, I heard no more of the Holy Orphan of Ormpe. I can only hope that whatever god or gods he worshipped – and I confess I never wholly understood the nature of his faith – guided him to a new calling and a good end. Perhaps his later adventures will someday too be recorded, but as of my last visit, I could find neither rumor nor trace.

“I apologize that I cannot provide a more satisfying response to your query.”

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Journey to a New City

These past few days have been rather exciting! We stepped off the ship from Lath and entered Assur. The docks were filled with merchant and cargo ships. More than I’ve ever seen! Setibyr and I went to the market and shopped for a few essential items for the new climate before we found a place to stay for the night.. Lodgings and dinner was far more expensive than I anticipated, but I heard that the situation in Assur was driving costs upwards. Our room was at a place called The Kraken’s Afterbirth. It certainly wasn’t a name you’d hear in Lath! Setibyr did much better than I expected in the new city. I suspect part of that is from the anonymity. No one gave us a second glance or came too close. Part of that was probably from the heat. Part if it was probably from the variety of folk that were milling around the city. For once, we did not stick out.

The next day, we went to the temple of Lucha. Even though we arrived early, the lines were long. I was prepared to wait, but some priests from the temple came out and started separating us all into groups based on our skill sets. So many of the others had real combat experience, and I was a little embarrassed to admit that our fighting was mainly in settle a few brawls in the tavern. Oh well, I’m sure there’s still plenty of time to get that kind of experience. I’ll probably be sick of fighting long before I’ll be free of battles. I can hold my own in a fight, but I don’t take as much pleasure in it as Setibyr does.

Once we were inside the temple, I was greatly impressed by the symbols and the power I could feel from the very stones of the building itself. I’ve prayed to Lucha for so long, but this is the first time I’ve been in her temple. The priest who brought us inside offered us a job seeking information and offered to advance us part of our pay. We were paired with some other foreign fellows. Before we left the temple, I took the chance to pray to the Goddess. I asked her for healing for Setibyr and guidance on our trip. I am not sure that it will be what Setibyr needs to heal, but I prayed that the taste of battle would quench his thirst for revenge. I did not pray as long as I had wanted, but I trusted that we would be back and I could spend more time with the Goddess. We had some money left from when we left the tavern, but we supplemented it and bought a little more hot weather gear before meeting back up with our new work companions.

Our comrades had made the acquaintance of a Hinn, and we were offered a job for the night to guard a warehouse. The building had a form of magical cooling, so we spent the night in relative comfort and made a little money at the same time. The next day we formally accepted our assignment and set to completely outfit ourselves for our desert trip. A very helpful man looked over our gear and gave us pointers to help us survive. After a few more purchases and significantly lighter coin purses, we decided to leave at dusk. Travelling by the heat of day would be suicide.

Our travel went pretty smoothly the first day. The worse we really encountered was boots full of sand. The next night of travel, however, would be far more trying. I spotted a storm blowing up on the horizon. Sure enough, shortly before dawn the downpour came. What would have been a heavy rain in Lath was a dangerous torrent in a desert. There were no trees and no vegetation to slow the water and we were nearly washed away. I managed to dig my long sword in the ground and hold myself steady, but in the end we lost some rather important supplies. I am glad no one was gravely injured, but it was quite disheartening to have our trip start off with such a loss. Setibyr handled the sudden rainfall wonderfully and did not even slip! I fell in the water and got a good dousing. I suppose it was one way to get the sand out of my clothes!

Once the rain stopped and we fixed what supplies we had left, we continued on as the temperature was much more conducive to travel. We came upon some overturned wagons and approached slowly. They might have some of the information we went sent out to retrieve! What luck would it be if we had what we were looking for only two days into our trip! Before we could get too close, we were attacked by three particularly gruesome hobgoblins and a bugbear. Setibyr approached them right away, showing a confidence I rarely saw from him. He went directly after the bugbear, and I followed. We made short work of him and suffered not even a scratch! I am proud that he was so confident, but his willingness to go directly into battle worries me slightly. I hope that he won’t let his desire to fight cloud his judgement.

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So long, Assur! Hello adventure...
Into the desert to discover...?

Journal of Tuck Arbuckle

So my time as assistant Harbor Master has come to an end. Fernid Empator was useful, and together we lined our pockets (mine more than his). Unrest came to the city from some outside source. I am curious as to what it is, and have no good leads. For my part, I see that I can profit from it. I was able to squeeze a little extra gold here and there, but now the Church of Luce has offered 1000 crints to those who go on information gathering missions.

Fortunately, my wealth is very portable. I was able to sign up with a group of what seem to be the heroic or desperate-type…well most of them anyway. I know these missions must be quite dangerous. He who dares greatly, stands to make great gain! I have no ties to this world, and if I do not come back from this mission, no one will mourn me.

I have become fond of a young fellow called Sahil. He is not yet into his adult maturity, yet he has a striking humility coupled with very valuable powers. More than that though, he seems to have a child-like innocence and a good heart. He gives freely of himself. I must protect him on this dangerous adventure.

There are several more in my company. Most notably two aasimar. They are quite beautiful and both are armored and armed like champions. They don’t talk much, but they are eager for battle.

There are a pair of men from a land called WA. I’ve heard of this land. One of them, Danjo, chafes at the mention of his family, and I think he must be banished from his own land, or he fled from the law. Either way, his emotions lie just below the surface of his thoughts. Danjo has a servant named Sheeno. He is a quiet man, who rarely speaks. I will try to befriend him, so I can learn more of his past and what path he presently seeks. It is odd that he should set aside his own ambitions to follow Danjo. For now, both these men are mysteries to me.

On Elesias the 9th, we went to an outfitter’s station and we hired a fellow to tell us what equipment to take. He seemed very knowledgeable of the desert and we followed his guidance, purchasing sand tubes, long tent spikes, extra steel bands for our barrels, whale fat and dried dates. We went back into Assur and I treated my new companions to fine wine and fine food. It seemed like a good way to cement our partnership and build some bonds of trust among us. My life may be in these very folks’ hands soon.

We left on the 10th, taking two camels and I purchased a mule. We plodded along in the dark, thanking Adama for respite from the harsh sun, and for two days all was well.

On the twelfth, a fierce rainstorm occurred in the mountains. Enalda, one of the aasimar, predicted it the day before. Soon the torrential rains became a flood, and our beasts were toppled by the onrushing water. My trusty mule lost it’s footing and I was waist deep in the mud momentarily until he scrambled to his feet and I got back on. I was ever so thankful for the beast!

Some supplies were destroyed by the flooding. When my mule went down some of my make-up was destroyed. The barrels holding our supplies all broke, but Sahil repaired them all. I must reward him. As he does not value wealth, I’m not yet what he would value. Sahil also replaced the water!! Such a boon, that one is!!

On Elesias 13th, we came upon some toppled wagons and were ambushed by three hobgoblins and a bugbear. I put one hobgoblin to sleep. My other allies slew a hobgoblin and the bugbear and the remaining hobgoblin fled. I was forced to give chase and I killed it. We have survived two threats, to our lives already! What could possibly go wrong from here?

I’m anxious to get to the town we are heading to. I can’t wait to “pick up a few things.” Hahahaha!

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Test Test Test
Testing this Log Post

testing this log post description area.

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Sahil's First Miracle: Part I

The town of Ormpe in the month of Kythorn, 1368

Even the water in Ormpe came at a cost, the stuff worth drinking at least. During the rainy season, there were plentiful streams and rivulets that would descend from the Curna Mountains, but these waters carried with them sand and dust and the detritus of mining spoils washed by rain.

If you were poor but wise, you knew, at least, to drink from the streams south of Ormpe, nearer the mountains, before the transient runoff flowed past the town. These waters were cloudy and gritty with sand, but they quenched the thirst with no ill effect.

Some poor, less wise than the others, drank of the waters north of the city, nearer the sea, where the runoff had combined with the effluent of householders and shantytown dwellers alike. These waters were cloudy with substances worse than mere sand. Newcomers often made this mistake. Their retching the next day was almost a rite of passage.

Of course, the rich, wise and foolish alike, merely bought their water from the water chaka, who maintained enough wells and cisterns year round to quench the thirst of all who could pay. The Durpari, however, are not a people without compassion.

Ashvath the Carter carried wagons of water to market each day in Ormpe on behalf of the water chaka. Often, he would return from market with a single unsold barrel of water. He explained, as any good Durpari would, that it made little financial sense for him, as an independent contractor, to carry a single barrel back to the cistern. Better instead, he explained, that he reimburse the water chaka for the loss of a single barrelful from his own purse and spend the last hours of daylight fulfilling other more profitable deliveries.

Instead, at his own expense, he would set the barrel down amid the begging children of the Quarter of No Hope, pick up the empty on a later passing. He did not bring them water every day, mind you; he did not care to attract too much attention and cause a riot. But he visited often enough that the children all knew the name of Ashvath the Carter.

“Lies! Lies!” Pak-Pak trilled quietly in Sahil’s ear, perched upon the boy’s shoulder. Sahil and his newfound feathered companion watched together as children gathered around with cracked vessels and broken potsherds, jostling for position to scoop what clean water they could from the open barrel.

Sahil laughed, “He lies with his words to preserve his honor as a tradesman. The water, however, speaks the truth he cannot say aloud.”

“True! True!” the songbird sang.

Later that day, Sahil performed his first miracle.

~

The city of Assur in the month of Eleasias, four years later

Outside the temple of Lucha, Sahil observed with no small wonder the lines of those who had assembled here in search of work. Years ago, similar rumors had gone out from the town of Ormpe, rumors of profitable labor. A much younger Sahil had watched in silence as crowds lined up in hope of finding employment. Many were turned away, his own father among them. “Perhaps I should grow a beard,” he joked briefly before his face turned somber. “Godsdamn dwarves.”

There were dwarves here too waiting in Assur, as well as halflings and gnomes and humans of every description. Durpari mostly, but Halruuans too in their billowy garments, grandstanding with their arcane tricks; Shaaran savages, talking among themselves and clutching bone knives; even the occasional Shou or Chultan, each with their own exotic dress and unusual armaments. An elephantine Loxo shifted uncomfortably while waiting in line, and Sahil quickly stepped away quickly to avoid being trod underfoot.

“Water! Water!” Sahil shouted, “Free for those who thirst.”

Most of the Durpari looked at this boy, just now on the cusp of adulthood, with a skeptical frown. But a few, perhaps not aware of this land’s customs tentatively extended a jug or waterskin. Sahil touched the rim of each, closed his eyes and said a brief unintelligible word in supplication. The vessels filled to the brim with clean, fresh water.

Those who received the water, almost without exception, nodded in acknowledgement, perhaps uttered a word of thanks in Durpari if they knew the tongue. To Sahil’s astonishment, however, few looked impressed.

“You!”

Sahil turned to face the one who had addressed him. By his dress, he was an acolyte of Lucha, as near as Sahil could guess, or else some minor administrator associated with the temple.

“Are you here for work?”

“I am here to obey the will of the Adama.”

This acolyte or administrator or whatever his title merely crinkled his brow. “No one knows the will of the Adama. I just need to know if you have any skills.”

“I can heal the sick, provide water for the thirsty, encouragement for the…”

“A healer, then. Fine, fine, thank you. Join the line there, and you will be seen in a moment.”

Sahil joined the line, somewhat silenced by the irreverent treatment he had received by one whom he had assumed to be a person of faith. Not long after, a familiar white bird alighted upon his shoulder.

“It wills! It wills!”

Sahil sighed. “Fine, then, we shall see what the Adama holds for us. You will join me on this venture, I assume?”

“I will! I will!” the bird tweeted, as the two were ushered into a temple chamber to meet their new companions.

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The man from Iiso part 1
Assur durpar and the temple of lucha.

In Assur’s hot sand
A Tumult growing daily
Today work begins
_

A month I’ve spent in the city of Assur with my second Shino for company. This place is in many ways more remarkable than I’d considered in my readings and research. However It is not without negative points. The people and their customs are well fed and boisterous. Each wearing a swirl of colorful fabrics that would be unknown to only the greatest festival days of WA. Their seems to exist an atmosphere of organized chaos in the economics of this place. Their always seems to be just the right amount of supply for the demand which is deeply almost mystical in It’s fascinating nature to me. I regret somewhat being unable to employ a Durpari as an economic retainer during my time spent in Iiso. Though I can smell something growing in the people of this town. My understanding of the native language and my own assumed ignorance of the average Durpari has allowed me to hear whispers of discontent and fear from those traveling along the trade way. The fact that the frequency of these whispers has grown like a gathering kamikaze with each passing day has me perturbed as prices are bound to start going up.

With that in mind my second and I made our way to the temple of Lucha via the recommendation of many including a Hin dock administrator who I will expound upon later. I’d intended to sit and observe the atmosphere of the line and the way that persons were being chosen by members of the temple. In the vein Shino played his flute and I plucked my Samisen on the temple steps while an unwashed urchin offered water to any who thirsted despite looking like he had no water nor any way to hold any. Eventually a few came and inexplicably had their water skins filled by this young man. Shino seemed more focused on the meaning of this than I for he can see the threads of magic where my eyes see only the miraculous nature of It. Our second song was nearing Its crescendo when a remarkably mundane looking temple functionary appeared from the temple and asked us if we were pan handling. It was ridiculous to me for only the briefest of moments but Shino quickly responded and explained our purpose to the man. By his delegation we were both separated and for the first time in so long I was without my second. I was led to a room with a few others some of which have proven quite interesting to me.

I stood in a temple waiting room cooled by the ubiquitous magical air conditioning prevalent to the area. Among me were two twins with the blood of Celestials and sparkling blue eyes. The male well armed with a certain well fed quiet predatory nature that reminded me of my superiors in Shidekima like massive bears good natured but capable of unbridled savagery. The woman had the air of an ascetic about her a devotee of some kind. It was then I saw the symbol on her person and how It matched the symbol of the temple of Lucha. I then that the young man the unwashed water giver had followed us in and was grouped with us. After a few minutes an exceptionally pale man with hair the color of fallen leaves came in. I immediately expressed to him the need for my second and how we would not be separated. He began interviewing us with the aid of magic and I inwardly growled at having to divulge certain aspects of myself that I’d hoped to leave dead in WA. Surprisingly no one seemed too bothered by anything I had said and I felt such a sense of relief even more so to be reunited with my second. After we were all given the third degree by this pale ascetic It was explained how we were to travel south down the trade way and gather information that relates to the current economic troubles in Durpar. After being recommended accommodations at the docks for a pittance and being given marked coins and giving our names and a small stipend to spend on supplies we left. I made a point to offer a prayer to the god of this temple out of politeness.

Little did I know that in a few days time I’d have learned many hard lessons taught by this desert and I’d have been given much to consider in regards to my new business associates.

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From Assur into the hot sand

Both Danjo and I had arrived in the city of Assur for almost a month when the economic troubles began. It seems that trade routes have been pinched off and the city is grinding to a halt. This does not bode well for us, as we have come here seeking a way to regain wealth and power, if the city is starting to dry up then what we seek will surely not be here. Only a few days later both Danjo and I decided to move to the great temple that was offering work to almost anyone with any skill set. We were going to perform our musical talents to entertain those waiting when we were asked if we were going to get in line ourselves. We eventually did and were directed into a small room.
Actually that’s not exactly true, I told the man asking us questions about my skill sets and he informed me that I should wait in a different line than Danjo, reluctantly I did so, only to be pulled from line to go meet back up with him. It was rather silly in hindsight, a mistake I will not make a second time.
In this smaller room, there was 5 other people than myself; Danjo, the man hiring us, and 3 others. It seemed that we were to inspect a trade route and make sure it was still open (obviously not) or figure out why it was not. Any information towards figuring this out was desired, but if we were to go above the simple portion of the task and dig deeper, we would be rewarded even further.
We then spoke about meeting up, all 5 of us on the docks so we could be roused easily for when this task was ready to become official.
It happened the next day, and the assistant harbor master, Tuck Arbuckle, seemed eager to join us in our little venture. Seems the coin guaranteed was enough to have him turn a new leaf. So now the 6 of us entered into this arrangement to inspect the trade route. Danjo, Tuck the Halfling, Setibyr and Enalda both Aasimar, and Sahil a human.
We first set to get outfitted for the adventure we were about to undertake. It was expensive and quickly used up all my resources available, I had to borrow money from Setibyr, they offered to lend me some, and to be repaid once the task at hand was complete.
Finally we were ready, fresh supplies, two camels, and a mule, and the willingness to succeed no matter how onerous it was. The first day or so, it was hot, but between magic of myself and Sahil, we were able to keep the 6 of us from succumbing to the extreme heat, and this Sahil could also produce water from his magical abilities; a very useful gift in this wasteland.
A couple of days into this journey there was a flash flood, and it damn near washed us all away with it. Almost all of us were knocked on our asses! One by one, we each dug a weapon in the ground to gain sure footing in this and just let the water pass us by; then, to rebuild our broken supplies and what not. Another day into our travel we noticed the first sign of trouble with the route. Trade wagons broken along the route. We slowly approached the wagons to inspect them.
We were only around 50ft from them when 3 hobgoblins jumped out along with a bugbear, and attacked us. Two arrows bounced from my armor, but Danjo was not so lucky. We quickly dispatched these rather savage beasts, Setibyr is a mighty warrior and Enalda is very stout, these two will no doubt be good companions in a battle. Sahil used some form of magic, I didn’t get to see what, but he somehow weakened the bugbear, impressive to say the least. One hobgoblin decided to run away from us and Tuck gave chase to him. For such a small man, he ran with such haste, I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with him. I believe my companions are worth traveling with, I only hope they can feel the same about both Danjo and me, though we have yet to show our prowess in battle. Soon I fear we will prove ourselves. Danjo will no doubt show his abilities to wield his sword with the swiftness only one such samurai could, and I will consume our adversaries with the flame.

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The first taste is always free

13 Eleasis 1372
1827 days have passed

Enalda and I stepped off the ship on the 10th and we were immediately overwhelmed by the oppressive heat. We knew we couldn’t don our armor in this weather, and our first stop off the boat was to purchase clothing for this climate.

What a busy city Assur is. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different races of creature reside here without notice. People only glanced at us as we walked through the city, no stares, no murmurs, just sweet anonymity. I took a deep breath of the humid air as I felt a small weight off my chest.

We spent the day wandering the city, the plan being to familiarize ourselves with the city prior to heading to the temple the following day. Once we had our supplies, we went to the cheapest inn we could find, a salty establishment called “The Kraken’s Afterbirth.” We got what we paid for, a simple room, a watered-down beer, and some stale bread. The clientele all seemed to be pretty grizzled sailors. They minded their business, though, and no one seemed to care about us. While eating, I overheard some talk about how the inns were filling up and people were having trouble finding a place to sleep. The Temple jobs were attracting many people, it seemed.

On the 11th, we rose early and made our way to the already-long lines of the temple. It was already getting hot, even though the sun had yet to rise. We made our way to the end of the line and waited several bells. Some musicians had made their way to the temple, playing for coin, while merchants made their way up and down the lines selling umbrellas and water.

Our wait ended when a temple priest approached us and asked what we did. I didn’t quite understand what he meant by what we did. I eat, I breathe, I shit, why do you care? I pointed to my weapons and he clarified that he wanted to know what we were skilled at. I understood that a bit better and Enalda told him we were tavern security. Yeah, that’s probably the best way to put it. We were told to join a group and ushered into the temple.

Inside the temple, we sat with roughly 10 people when another priest entered to conduct an interview. He casted some sort of spell to require us to tell the truth. That was fine, there was no chance he was going to ask anything that I didn’t want to divulge. He began by asking several questions about if any had committed various crimes. The applicants filtered out until there were five of us. Enalda, myself, two men from the East, and a rather young man. The men were Danjo and Shino. As we were asked about our experience, Danjo divulged that he once led companies of men into battle and had slain many. It was really fascinating that one as calm as he had truly experienced so much. It made me slightly embarrassed to say that I had no actual combat experience. Shino was his companion, and we learned through the questioning, he seemed good at magical arts. The two of them seemed reluctant to speak of why they left their homeland. The young one was Sahil, a local with restorative abilities and the gift to create water, a vital ability in this environment.

Upon explaining our usefulness, we were given our task: travel the Southern trade road and investigate the reason for why the trade has stopped. We were given 100 crints to supply and were promised another 900 if we returned with information with a bonus available if we were to return with a lot of information. Made sense. We set out once again for more supplies and met with our new companions down by the docks, where a Hinn named Tuck, the assistant harbormaster. He offered us work and a place to stay for the night, guarding the warehouses. The inns were full and people were sleeping in the hot boats, so this seemed like a much better option.

On the 12th, we waited for the temple messenger by the dock. Upon his arrival, we showed him the coin we were given to show that we were not imposters and he led us to the temple. Tuck tagged along with Shino and Danjo. On our arrival, Tuck requested to join our group. The elegant lycan priest advised he would have to give up his harbormaster profession, which he did. We were made to sign a contract for the work and given a mark that meant we could not take on additional work until out job was done. Enalda spent a bell praying to her deity before we left, and I waited outside for her.

We set out a third time for more supplies, this time under the paid advice of a local Ranger. He seemed extremely knowledgeable about the environs and gave us a long shopping list which we immediately set out and stocked up. Tuck purchased two camels and a mule to carry the supplies.

We finally left the city that night, as the temperature began to finally drop. On our way out, we passed a massive grouping of tents outside the city. A city of tents, filled with people looking for work. It was truly fascinating to see so many people with nowhere to go.

We traveled the first day without any trouble. The heat was worse than previous days, but Shino and Sahil were able to keep us magically comfortable. What luck to be paired with these two.

The 13th brought us a couple of trials. Enalda was able to survey the skies and knew a storm would be upon us within the day, and we were at the worst possible location for a flash flood. We hustled as fast as we could for better ground when the rain set on us in an instant. A flash flood wave came crashing across the sands and knocked almost everyone down. I was able to stay on my feet, but only barely. Enalda lost her footing briefly, then stuck her weapon into the ground to balance herself and seeing that, I did the same. Around a half bell later, the rushing water was gone just like it had come. Looking around, we hadn’t lost anyone, but we did lose an entire barrel of whale fat. Danjo lost some tea, and Tuck lost some clothing, but otherwise we escaped the flood mostly unscathed.

A few bells later, as the sun was rising, we came upon some wagons that looked ransacked. Suspecting foul play, Enalda and I donned our chain shirts and approached slowly when our companions were fired upon with arrows. Three hobgoblins and a bugbear were hiding behind the wagons. Seeing my first opportunity to test myself, I ran for the biggest threat: The bugbear. Enalda followed me as Danjo fired an arrow back, slaying one immediately. The bugbear made to strike first with a mace, but I dodged out of the way and countered with a blow from my hammer. The hammer struck true to the beast’s chest, clearly breaking ribs. Enalda followed up with her blade as Tuck put a hobgoblin to sleep. The last remaining hobgoblin ran as fast as he could. Tuck, seeing this escapee, ran faster than I’ve ever seen someone run. I knew I couldn’t keep up, so I tied up the sleeping hobgoblin in the meantime. Perhaps we had already stumbled across what we were searching for? I can’t imagine this little band of miscreants was the entire reason, but maybe we could learn more from them.

It felt good to finally have physical release. Hoar gave me strength, and with it, I was able to turn this attack back on these bandits. Attack and be attacked.

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Arrival in Laster
Burned Caravans, raped bodies

We collected fat from the dead horses in this caravan. There was very little other wealth. We killed the bugbear prisoner, and obtained a very compliant hobgoblin prisoner, with whom we were unable to speak.

We continued on our way to Laster, trying to stay alive and find information to take back to Assur. Those 900 crints will come in handy. I disguised myself as a goblin and used my magic so I could understand anything the hobgoblin might say. He didn’t say anything useful, so I released him to see what way he would go. As I suspected he headed right for the Curna mountains. We tracked him down but he was dead from the heat by the time we caught him. We decided to take his head so a priest could talk to it in Laster.

About two days later we came across a slaughtered caravan. The wagons and many of the bodies were burned. They men of the caravan, there were no women, had clearly been raped. Nothing of value remained. Danjo wanted to bury the dead. I sat nearby while he did what he felt he had to do.

Later we saw a caravan burning brightly and 20 riders on horseback racing away. For a moment I was afraid that Danjo or Setibyr would race after them! Luckily they followed my lead in hiding and letting them pass. The wagons were blazing brightly when we got there. I suggested we try to douse the flame from a burning box to see what was being transported. Putting water on the crate was disastrous! It exploded and burned hotter. There was a thick, black liquid substance on the crate and other items. It would be helpful if we could learn what this liquid is, and where it comes from. Clues! This is the sort of information that will get us paid in Assur. Of course, if the city falls, it’s not worth the risk to go back there for the crints.

We made it to Laster. Some riders and a wizard met us outside the city. The wizard was as proud as a cock on a fence post. No doubt what we were allowed to see was in illusion. They searched every last container, so it’s lucky I had nothing to hide. I asked the wizard’s name and he refused to tell me. The laws seem strict in Laster. This is a city of thousands, so for now I will simply think on how I can get rich here. The easy pickings usually give the smallest of rewards.

The frightened masses in the city started to swarm us when they heard we made it from Assur. I did my best to placate them with morsels of information, finally I had to bewitch a few so we could simply get past their dirty grasping hands. We took the hobgoblin head to a temple of Lucha. We told them we were working for the Temple of Lucha in Assur and they couldn’t care less. They wanted to know what we know and Danjo told them everything and got nothing in return. They would not cast the speaking dead spell on the head. We went to two more temples. Finally at the Temple of Waukeen, where we were treated properly, as they work hard to separate one from his gold, we started to bargain for the casting of the spell. They want 675 gold to cast the spell today! My companions are a destitute lot and I am not spending my gold this. That is more than I stand to get paid for this entire job! I’ve dickered with the priest, trying to convince him that the knowledge is as valuable to them as it is to us. So far, he has come a bit in my direction, but he still yields.

We left the church and under the suggestion of the priest there, we obtained lodging at the Eye. This is a place worthy of mention! We saw lizardmen, goblins, drow, bugbears, and a beholder, who seems to be the owner of the Eye. The Eye is a spherical structure with a stage in the center where all many of strange creatures perform. It is illegal to kill goblins and other vile races in this city, which is why the drow are allowed to walk free. So back to the drow. My first instinct was to kill, but of course, I know nothing of his capabilities beyond the fact that I don’t wish to face the legal consequences. He said he’s been here for 22 years and he works in the Eye. I wonder if he is exiled from his family, or working as a spy for them. Those drow have schemes inside of schemes, and I saw them turn on each other in a blink of an eye. I hope no one recognizes me as an escaped slave. I will bribe or kill any who try to capture me, damn the laws!

Someone in this city is connected to those robbers and burners in the desert. It only stands to reason. Also, someone in the city must have seen that caravan that was just burned. Surely it would have either originated in Laster, bought or sold goods in Laster, or at least stopped for provisions there. Lastly, I don’t care how vigorous the laws are enforced in any city, there are people making money by breaking those laws. It would good, and maybe profitable, to get in touch with them.

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