Week 17, Tracking Navrish
We start this session on an educational note. Cantrel urges that someone in the party learn how to detect when people are acting under the influence of a magical charm, since this may be necessary to discover the princess. He himself goes to the local magic guild and asks to learn the language translation spells that are the local equivalent of our long-lost psionic translators. The mage at the admissions desk asks him what spells he already knows. Cantrel plays stupid and first claims to be able to levitate (true) and fly (true) and conjure a magic shield (true), then claims he only flies when he rides his winged horse (false). The mage at the desk patiently explains that this last is not really magic, but decides that Cantrel is well tracked into Air Magic, which includes the translation spells.
Cantrel must then decide whether to join the guild, in which case he gives them 10% of money earned through magic and pays one eagle per level per spell, or to not join, in which case he pays a flat ten eagles per level per spell. He decides to join. So does Tom who shows up later to learn the Detect Charm spell.
Meanwhile, Chris sends our pet urchin, Hakim, out to find Navrish the Agile, the man who stole the girl, the hippogrif, and the diamond. Late in the afternoon, Hakim takes Chris to meet one Shamid, down in the slums. Shamid was Navrish's old smuggling partner. He claims that Navrish once cheated him, but he is still willing to contact Navrish for a fee. The fee includes the cost of some new clothes and a bath. Shamid also mentions that Navrish is partial to diamonds, so the way to contact him is through the diamond merchants or, of course, the smugglers.
Chris gives Shamid a down payment for clothes and bath, then heads off to the magic guild, there to take lessons (at member's rates) in Detect Magic. He winds up in class with Cantrel who, partly because of the care he takes to play the Stupid Barbarian, will take three weeks to learn a first-level spell.
Next morning, Shamid shows up at the hostel, much spruced up, with three names for us to contact: Badgis, Cyrus, and Aban, three merchants (and we've already met Cyrus). We have an appointment to meet Badgis at the classy bath-house in the south end of town. Therefore Chris, Beygar, and Tom head for the bath-house with Shamid.
Badgis proves to be a diamond merchant. He tells us that he has had no contact with Navrish for some time, but he will ask around. What did we want him for, anyway? Chris says we want to hire Navrish to steal back a diamond. As we are leaving, we overhear Badgis hail another gentleman and start talking about arranging a marriage. Hiding behind a corner, Chris listens further and hears Badgis claim he has "become responsible for the daughter of his dear cousin." Yet another candidate for the missing princess.
Shamid was unable to get introductions to Aban or Cyrus, so we pay him off and go back to the hostel to plot. We'll try to get Badgis to introduce us to his purported kinswoman. To this end, we ask Hakim about the local courting customs when he shows up the next morning. Hakim tells us that its customary to give a gift to the middleman, i.e. Badgis. (We also learn that Shamid hasn't been seen since we left him yesterday.)
Tom suggests that we use our technical edge and present Badgis with a gadget this world hasn't invented. A loupe, for instance, since he's a jeweler. We verify that the local jewelers don't have loupes and look around for lenses. The glass merchant has some, but they aren't very good. Daewen remembers that she, too, used to be an engineer, and suggests we buy cheap lenses then grind them to a better quality by fobbing up a polishing drum, throwing in the lenses, and having Chris use his Dicing skill to ensure they come out polished the right way. Tom cobbles up the drum, Chris puts the whammy on it, and Daewen comes up with another improvement -- run the drum by a windmill instead of having us take turns cranking it. At the end of a very busy and highly technical morning, we have a working loupe.
That afternoon, Chris approaches Badgis and presents him with the loupe, claiming it to be used by jewelers in the north. He then asks for and gets an invitation to dine with the young lady next day.
The next day, we find a crowd in the street before the hostel. Mingling and asking questions, we find the prince is coming to town. We watch the prince and his retinue ride by, including an old man in red robes, carried on a litter. This, we are told, is the prince's father-in-law, the high priest of the fire temple. (Since the prince favors the air gods, this must make for a certain amount of domestic tension.)
Eventually, we get to the bath-house, and, after even more wasted time, find Badgis. The merchant asks Chris about his background. Chris present himself as a lovelorn baron and Badgis believes him enough to confirm the dinner invitation. (As a matter of fact, Chris tells us, he IS a baron back in the Middle Earth mock-up on the ringworld in some other continuum.) However, the young lady show no signs of being anything other than Badgis' young kinswoman. She does not rise to Chris's mention of the princess's pet cat. Not wanting a bride, Chris then bends his talents to being deadly dull the rest of the evening. ("Tell us about your barony." "You get a lovely view of the swamps...")
That day was the last day of the local week. It was also three days since Shamid had been seen by anyone. Next day, Daewen collects some gossip and the women's bath: Badgis' wife is worn out with entertaining various suitors for this young girl; the merchant Dahak has bought a pretty new slave, thus putting his wife's nose out of joint; the merchant Eudoxus has just taken charge of his nephew's widow. One begins to feel Maratesh is the West Chyoxus Home for Wayward Girls.
Pfusand decides she's tired of being just about the only person in the party without a shred of magic, so she too joins the magic guild, to start learning from the ground up. (The guild mages are bemused at teaching a Mo Pi magic. It is without precedent.) We now have five party members who are members of the College of Three: Wu, Chris, Cantrel, Tom, and Pfusand.
We approach Dahak's wife to buy off this troublesome slave girl, but the wife daren't sell without Dahak's consent.
On the second day of the second week (which is about our third week in town), we approach Cyrus with our cover-story about wanting to contact Navrish to steal back a diamond for us. Cyrus is a little taken aback, since this rakes up a disreputable part of his past, but says he will pass the word if he gets a chance.
On the third day of the week, as Beygar, Tom, and Alag are leaving a tea shop, they are accosted by six large thugs who warn them not to intrude on "honorable and retired gem merchants" by whom we understand them to mean Navrish.
Tom and Alag both sneak after the departing thugs. Tom is spotted and collects a throwing knife in his shoulder, but Alag remains unobserved and follows them all the way back to a large house in the merchants' quarter. Alag wisely decides not to try sneaking into the house and returns to the hostel, where Wu is healing Tom. We have probably located Navrish. We can now wonder if he still has the diamond, the princess, or the hippogrif.
On the fourth day, Lorelei goes to the slave market and purchases an intelligent woman named Fatima. We promise her freedom in return for the gathering of information about the topics that interest us. The ladies then take her to the baths with them, to help with the intelligence gathering. Fatima collects some fairly positive stories about Navrish and learn that Aban, Eudoxus and Cyrus have been buying a lot of women's clothing. She also learns that a merchant named Feruse is telling a story with the moral that one shouldn't trust anyone. There were marvels involved in the story but Fatima couldn't determine what. Feruse is a silk merchant.
Chris seeks out Feruse and, with very little prompting, gets the story. A year ago, six adventurers, the sons of friends of his, asked Feruse for money to buy camels, so they could take a roc's egg (ostrich egg, we suspect) to sell for a mysterious patron. They would reimburse Feruse from the profits of the sale. Well, they never came back. We remember the tale of the mercenary captain of six travelers who left at least one camel at a caravansary to fly off on hippogrifs in the middle of the night. We also wonder if hippogrifs hatch out of eggs. All very tantalizing.
We leave our heroes on the sixth day of the week. The next day ("Sunday," we may as well call it) is a holiday. The prince will lead a procession to the fire temple to give thanks for his victories. All the businesses will be closed.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.