The trip continued, and was just about as boring as the previous days, though now it had the addition of the family tagging along with us. I don’t know if it made it more amusing or irritating. We passed a few caravans coming the other way, and they told us it had been fairly quiet.
I wonder why that might be.
It took us about a week to make it to Goasta Cliffs, and we smelled the sea long before we saw it. The town was fairly impressive, carved directly into the cliff faces of a canyon by the shore. The town has grown so much it’s impossible to tell what part of the canyon was the work of nature and what had been enlarged by intent.
As we reached the town, there was a caravan leaving for the flame of Mavros and the Bone Road; perhaps our wayward tagalongs will join them.
Better for them if they do, but they’ll probably want to stick with us.
Ceor decided to try catching a seagull. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Several merchants, most sketchy. Like the guy selling knockoff Relics of Mavros, naturally shameless forgeries. Miaako managed to catch the seagull Ceor had been chasing, and started posing with it, then gave it to a very confused Ceor. This turned into a game of catch, in which the seagull sensibly decided he wanted nothing more to do with this nonsense and flew off.
Miaako and I managed to find a reasonably priced inn – comparatively – that served dinner and breakfast. Ceor decided to pay for the rooms for the family. I don’t care what the others do, but I’m getting my own room. They even had a stable for the mounts.
It was busy but not crowded. The bard was terrible. The food was decent. Reeshka ate her mug. The night passed fairly uneventfully, which was nice. Breakfast was more of the same, though fresher, and resulted in Ceor shoving an entire loaf of bread of his face.
Miaako heard some interesting things, like that the priests of Mavros are establishing their own army in some of the cities. Which is not entirely impossible, being priests of Mavros, but still weird. Not comforting, with all the strange rumors and things happening up there.
Ceor, naturally, decided to drag everyone to the temple of Mavros to try to get more information. It felt… unsettling, but not oppressive. There’s apparently not an official massing of armies, but there are rumors. Something about a prophecy of a Champion of Mavros born about 30 years ago during a great storm in Friula… he practically bolted.
And with that, we headed for Savoyne. The trip was unremarkable.
At some point, Ceor bought an entire stall’s worth of pastries and then distributed them at random. Why am I not surprised. And an annoying man tried to sell Miaako a falcon for some ridiculous price. The merchant was swearing the falcon was in love with Miaako. I could have chased the man off, but it was far too entertaining. I swear he was so uncomfortable he was squirming.
Miaako did manage to convince the guy that while he couldn’t take the bird now, he might be back, and the merchant said he couldn’t promise the falcon would be there…. I’m not sure which one was more full of shit.
That taken care of, we found a reasonably priced tavern, and Ceor tried to pay in pastries… with remarkable success. I heard some things in town of interest. They’re beefing up their ranks of soldiers, both because the behavior of the Flame of Mavros is making them edgy, and the sudden activity of bandits, though they haven’t actually manage to pin the bandits down. I did a little research, and nothing suggests the Flame has ever behaved strangely. Fantastic.
I did find an old book that mentioned a war between the gods; there was a suggestion that it was stopped by the oldest and greatest of the gods, but only after a few of them fell. I also found out that the hills in and around Brimstone, the last stop on the Bone Road, have been periodically used as hideouts by bandits. Useful knowledge.
Miaako managed to get rid of the muskets we picked up at some point. Ceor had a strange dream about someone who offered to “open the way”. Reeshka seemed to know more about it than I do, but all she could say was that it was familiar.
In my researches, I came across whispers that certain people who look like they might have demon blood sometimes get assaulted in the temple district in the middle of the night. I’d heard that each of the Seven Cities had a cell of the Order of the Pure recruiting. At least I know which district to avoid after dark.
Miaako heard that there were an unusual number of pilgrims heading for the Flame of Mavros, and Ceor came across one of the smaller temples of Mavros with an unusual number of acolytes that were training with unusual relish. He seemed slightly unnerved by it.
Reeshka expressed interest in arena matches, because apparently we haven’t been killing enough things. Everyone else seemed interested, though Ceor seemed significantly less so once it was pointed out the arena would probably be in the temple of Mavros. He’s being stranger than usual.
The arena wasn’t hard to find; they’d apparently managed to recently procure some… interesting… creature from the Wastes. The acolytes weren’t entirely sure what to do with us; I think we unnerved them. The funny part was that Reeshka was the one that was pressing the issue and Ceor wanted to be anywhere else. Though apparently, there’s a prize for people as daft as us, if we win. 200 gold pieces, the blessings of Mavros, and the option to become acolytes of Mavros
The arena was enormous, of course, and full of spectators. Not sure if they were cheering for us of for the monstrosities that were there… two large scaly things. Hodags, I think they’re called. …Slightly more challenge than I really want.
Fortunately, they burn just like everything else. Ceor also managed to take a chunk out of one, only to get slapped upside the head. And then they added two more.
Reeshka’s totally to blame for this.
We were able to put one down without too much trouble, and Ceor nearly cut another in two. Then Reeshka motivated him and he finished it off.
By that point, the third had managed to cross the arena and climb out of the second, lower circle, to run right into a particularly hot version of scorching ray. It was rather effective. Miaako then wounded it in a rather vicious way. It was impressive, but by the gods he paid for. I even felt sorry for him, taking that thorough a beating. This, in turn, resulted in us heaping us more hurt upon it. Ceor, meanwhile, managed to eliminate the fourth one, more or less by himself.
I do think the crowd was impressed. I’ve never seen so much paper, coins, flowers, and women’s undergarments thrown in my life. There were even people screaming my name. It was… interesting.
Miaako managed to grab about 60 copper, I ended up with about 20 in my shoes, Reeshka got about 15. Ceor was too busy cleaning his sword to notice. Then, when the priest came down to talk to us, we each got a purse of 200 gold. Then we were led away to take a bath. I think I appreciated that more… Though the priest was looking at Ceor a little strangely.
We got cleaned up and politely declined the offer to join the priesthood. Of course, it’s never simple.
As we were heading back to the tavern, Reeshka pointed out that we were being followed. Ceor’s hopes to the contrary, they were not autograph hunters. Just looking at them gave me a chill. They followed us to the edge of the temple district, and lurked. Watching us.
Don’t tell me that paranoia isn’t a perfectly healthy response.
The whole incident unsettled me enough that I decided to share a room with Miaako, and we padlocked the door. Which was probably for the best, because when we woke up, there was something recognizable as the symbol of the Order of the Pure painted in blood on the door of my original room.
I think it’s time to go now.
We were able to get out of town without incident. It doesn’t entirely make me happy, to run like that, but I’d rather avoid tangling with them now. The next two weeks were refreshingly boring, and we made it to the town of Brimstone. At least half of the population seemed to be tiefling, and I was able to find a nice inn and get us a discount.
Brimstone might be the last bastion of civilization before the unholy mess that is the Goblin Wastes, but I find it a damn sight more welcoming than Savoyne.