Waterday, Harvester 19, 552 CY (50 AN)
Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie walk towards Dawnslight, discussing plans along the way. Eventually conceding they know very little about the situation they are about to enter, they decide to go into the village without a plan in the hopes of performing reconnaissance and developing a plan from there.
In roughly a quarter of an hour, they approach the settlement. The village is predominantly mud-and-wood huts and some attached farmland, surrounded by a low wall. Three buildings dominate the village — a large wooden building that appears to be an inn, a large timber hall that is likely the town hall, and a small but sturdy stone temple.
As the group approaches, they see someone by the side of the road, gathering saffron crocus bulbs in a basket. Khuna recognizes the human as one of the stable hands from the Weogora estates, but as she is wearing her mask and does not wish to give herself away, she says nothing.
They approach the gate, and explaining to the guards that they are travelers, are allowed entry without difficulty. Khuna does notice, however, that a House Weogora guard stands with the village’s watch, however. After some consideration, the group decides to go to the local inn for further information.
The travelers immediately notice a fair amount of activity around the inn; the place is replete with village guards, intermixed with a few Weogora house guards. The inn, the Sinter of Attention, is filled with a few miners drinking at the bar. In addition to one or two members of the waitstaff, the inn seems replete with a mix of village guardsmen and a handful of Weogora house guards. The other segment of the inn’s population appears to be servants — servants whom Khuna recognizes as former slaves and servants under Lord Weogora. At the far end of the room, near the stairs, she recognizes one slave in particular — her mother, Sati. As Sati sees the adventurers, there seems to be some manner of recognition at seeing the masked Khuna, but she says nothing.
Croitus detaches from the group and starts a card game with some of the miners using his mountebank’s deck. The rest of the group addresses the matron behind the bar, asking for food and drink. She charges a gold and they take a table. Khuna takes the moment to point out her mother, and request that no one attacks her if things get messy. While sitting, drinking, and eating, they eavesdrop on the conversations, trying to get a sense of the dynamics of the village. It appears that the miners are somewhat annoyed at the prospect of these out-of-towners, and there is a little tension, but otherwise the village is relatively quiet at the moment.
The silence is interrupted as a couple of guards descend the stairs, flanking a well-dressed man. Wearing white makeup and a fabulous wig, he looks prepared for riding. Despite his foppish exterior, however, he portrays an aura of confidence and slow-burning rage; a warrior’s spirit hidden behind brocade cloth and pancake makeup. Khuna immediately recognizes the visage of Lord Weogora as he scans the room, noting the newcomers. Southie, seeing a fellow warrior, makes eager eye contact with him; Lord Weogora nods silently in greeting, and continues on his way.
The room, having gone silent at the lord’s approach, is about to resume conversation when Southie asks, “Who the fuck was that?” The miners at the bar chuckle, while one of the servants timidly informs him that it was Lord Weogora. As he rambles on the subject for a bit, Khuna takes the opportunity to wander around the inn. Operating on the pretense of inquiring about the Weogoras among the servants, she wanders over to her mother. Sati indicates she is pleased to see her daughter is alive and well, although it probably would have been better had she not come here; Khuna inquires about Lady Weogora. She is here, currently upstairs in the rooms. Khuna asks if Sati wishes to leave this place — she would be glad to do so — and then asks for Sati to deliver a message to Margot, asking if she similarly wants to leave. Sati indicates she will do so.
Khuna then moves around the common room, inquiring with another servant or two before speaking to the miners. As previously ascertained, they are somewhat annoyed at the prospect of having these out-of-town nobles infringing on their business. They don’t quite know why they’re here, though; something to do with some deal among noble houses out west. Possibly some legal trouble related to the slave revolt in Scandshar? The miners aren’t completely certain.
As the travelers continue to hang around the inn, they inquire about rooms for the evening. The matron explains that all rooms are currently occupied, but she can give them access to the town hall for use as a common room; she’ll charge a gold piece for a night. They agree.
Eventually, Sati goes upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Southie, wanting to investigate further, also goes upstairs, but finds himself tailed by a guard. Noting several guards in the hall upstairs, and having been told several times to keep quiet, he explains himself by indicating he wanted to check on his favorite room, claiming to have been here several months previous. As he returns downstairs, he continues this charade by loudly and graphically describing a sexual conquest to the guardsman. Sati pushes past him.
Southie, still determined to somehow gain access to Lord Weogora’s room while he is away, goes outside around the back of the inn. Several guards are posted here. Southie decides to feign drunkenness and collapse in a pile of garbage, hoping to “sleep” there until there is a less active guard presence. However, the guards heft him up and drag him to the local constable’s station so he can sleep off his ale. A guard detaches from the group to go fetch the village priest. Not wanting to enter prison under any circumstances, Southie tries to convince them he’s better before finally just shoving coins at them and assuring them he’ll keep to himself. A guardsman approaches with a robed dwarven priest who blesses Southie, and then the group lets him go.
After a bit more waiting, Sati approaches the bar and orders a drink for Lady Weogora. As she does so, she presses a note into Khuna’s hand. She returns to her position near the stairs. Khuna excuses herself to one of the privies; Nobody offers to follow. Khuna enters one of the privies while Nobody waits outside. Southie returns, and seeing Nobody waiting outside a privy, asks if all is well and if he need to assist. She explains that two people waiting outside a privy is more suspicious than one, so she convinces him to return to the inn.
Khuna reads the letter — it is definitely Lady Margot’s handwriting, and starts with a lot of mushy, gushing phrases that Khuna is not inclined to repeat to anyone. It also indicates that Margot is willing to leave, and will find them tonight. Satisfied, Khuna burns the letter and then exits the privy.
The rest of the afternoon is taken with milling around the inn. Eventually, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie all move to the town hall, while Croitus continues his card game with some of the locals. While waiting for night to approach, Khuna and Resh both nap.
Khuna dreams — she floats in a vast starfield dominated by a great, floating woman emanating a soft, blue light. She reminds Khuna that Lady Weogora will not forgive her if she should kill Lord Weogora — despite what he did to Khuna, love is complicated. She notes that if necessary, it could be done without Lady Weogora’s knowledge, although a lie is hardly a strong basis for a relationship. She finally notes that Khuna must hurry, as “they” are coming. She awakens before getting any further information.
Eventually, Croitus returns — having intentionally lost a little money but having gained some rapport with the local workers — and the group waits. Nobody keeps watch outside.
Around midnight, two figures appear out of the gloom, both carrying bags. One is recognizable as Khuna’s mother, Sati, while the other is apparently a servant, swathed in a sari with only her eyes visible. Once Nobody inquires if these are the people they are seeking, and Sati replies affirmatively. She brings them inside the town hall.
Khuna recognizes Lady Weogora’s eyes and movements despite her attempts to hide herself. They gather their things and leave immediately. They make it through the gate without incident — the village guards evidently see little suspicious about the comings-and-goings of the foreign folk — and start down the road.
About a mile down the road, a lone figure in light armor leans against the tree. As they walk past, he asks if they are the ones waiting for a ship. Khuna, suspicious because of the vague warning in her dream, does not answer, but Nobody affirms this. He says he needs to signal it. He pulls out his bow, nocks an arrow, and fires it into the air. It whistles as it travels.
There is a moment of silence before something barrels out of the brush towards the signal man. A large, mobile tree — evidently enraged at the sound or otherwise perturbed at their presence — slams into the man, sending him sprawling across the path. He collapses and lays still.
Khuna makes certain Lady Weogora and Sati are well out of the way before engaging. Nobody and Southie launch at the beast with their weapons, while Resh peppers it with arrows. Croitus pulls his newly-enchanted spear. Nobody fights defensively while Southie throws himself at the creature, hacking off limbs with each swing. Annoyed by Resh’s arrows, the creature hits him with a heavy limb, knocking him off the path and into the brush. Khuna makes her way over to him to treat him. Croitus launches at the beast with his spear, but its barbed tip bounces off his heavy bark. It slams him with a heavy limb, sending him sprawling off the path. He is about to open one of his canopic jars when Southie finally slices the thing in two. It collapses and lays still.
Khuna goes over to Croitus to bandage his wounds when she spots the flicker of torchlight along the path, coming from the direction of the village of Dawnslight.