It's a party

This party shows no sign of ending. Each of you has opportunities to interact with any of the people here, though some of them have guards of one kind or another who must be passed first.

Aside from the people I've described, there are others here of just about any type you can imagine.

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What a great pic

Hard to imagine a better pic for Aillus the Fox.

He Ain't Got Nobody

But those babes, who are rejoicing at his demise, sure do! Each of them is somebody. Aillus the Fox has a butt-chin.

I want to write up the latest game, while it's still fresh in my memory. However, I don't have the complete procession.

The Seven Beasts, AKA Septarchs of the New Victorious Moon

Here's a summary of them based on your observations and gossip you gain at the mixer.

  • 1. Red Breast Bir-Bir-Sek, Wing Commander of the the Rinliddi Moon Falcon Aerial Legion. A prestigious follower of Undrendum sworn to kill Vanganthi.
  • 2. Aillius the Fox, a fat, dour Carmanian lord who funds a network of humorless wizards, hires Sentherans to fill his court, and buys foreign slaves who worship Uleria. Rumored to be undead.
  • 3. Sek-Aar Styxwater, an Alkothi fanatic and raiser of 77 private vexilliae. His dog Buddy is more demon than pet. His fortune is in slaves and cattle.
  • 4. Mistress Silesh, Queen of All Collars of the Black Leopards of the Dying Moon. A Darjinni noble who knows the spirits of the dark. Rich off looted magical artifacts and barbarian spirits bound as slaves.
  • 5. Varadeth Skyhigh, highest priest of Doburdun and ruthless persecutor of Orlanthi, stripping every barbarian temple he finds for artifacts holy to the Air. His brother is an avatar of Doburdun. Enriched by the sacrifices made to his god after the Orlanth's outlawry.
  • 6. Yinna Reacher, whose ambition is to become an avatar of Yara Aranis and eat every horse in Pent. She whispers to spiders and they listen. (She is not present, or else she is omnipresent, here in this, her temple.)
  • 7. Temgaius the Persuader. Head of the Golden Mule League of Furthest, ruthless Lokarnos mobsters intent on taking over Issaries markets and trade routes.

    Each of these seven have half a dozen or more lesser functionaries in their retinues, ranging from sharp eyed bodyguards in full armor for Sek-Aar, to beautiful but conservatively dressed Sentheran women for Allius, to rough Tarshite traders accompanying Temgaius. All round the room temple guards of Yara Aranis watch the crowd.

    Other interesting sentients at the party:

    A tall thin woman(?) with a hollowed ruby quartz crystal covering her entire head like a helmet without oculars or grill. It bathes the whole room with a red light. Apparently that light actually comes from the woman's entire head. She's dressed from head to toe in scarlet with rings of solidified fire over her red silk gloves. She moves with inhuman grace through the party, rarely speaking to anyone.

    Not everyone here is from the Empire. Kings of two Sartarite tribes who have converted to the Lunar Way are here: Kangharl of the Colymar Tribe the most notable, as the Colymar are the first and most prestigious tribe in Sartar. Also Supcallus the Centurion, King of the all Lunar Enstalos tribe that has supplanted the destroyed and enslaved Dundealos. He's a Tarshite originally. Several Grandmothers of the Red Earth Alliance in the Holy Country are here too, which is impressive considering the dangers associated with traveling south, since there's open warfare going on there between the Empire and Broyan's rebels in Heortland.

    There are a few red mourning doves making their home in the arches of the ceiling and along a ledge at the periphery of the central room. Two doves on the ledge do not leave the ledge because they are completely featherless and cannot fly.

    Ket-Eel finds Will not long after you arrive. "I'm surprised how much I like Duke Raus. He's too serious for my tastes, but I suppose he feels a lot of responsibility. He's a better choice than Gim-Gim, who I'm told petitioned the Provincial Overseer for the position."

    (more attendees described as I get to it.)

  • Thanks!

    Submitted by gamer on Fri, 07/14/2017 - 13:20.

    This is exactly what I need to get started.
    I will have a little time tonight and on Sunday to write up the beginning of our most recent adventure.
    The second Monday in August is on 8/14.

    Submitted by gamer on Mon, 07/17/2017 - 23:55.

    Was Duke Rouse riding a sable? If not, what is his mount?
    Who is/are the Costadi?
    Is Red Breast Bir-Bir-Sek followed by 60 more Rinliddi flying men?
    Do they prefer stooping? Or swooping on their prey?
    These are the final details that I need to put in the account, so far.

    Duke Raus rides a

    Duke Raus rides a sable.

    Kostaddi is a province of the Lunar Empire that includes the Hungry Plateau, where Sable Riders settled centuries ago. A Khan rules it.

    Sixty retainers of Bir-Bir-Sek, but not all are bird-men. 10% are winged. You have no idea about their flying habits, but hawks you're familiar with do both. Falcons stoop only.

    Thanks Again

    I plugged this info into the story assuming that you mentioned the Kostaddi because the sable riders accompanying Duke Raus are from that province.
    Did you mention that they left the nomad sable tribe in order to settle around the Hungry Plateau centuries ago? Please correct blatant spelling errors.

    So Bir-Bir-Sek and 6 others are flying while 54 are not winged. You mentioned "stoop upon their prey" during the game, but I never heard of that expression so I looked it up.

    “Journey to the Party” as played on 7/10/2017:

    Duke Raus of Rhone is mounted on a sable rather than riding inside a palanquin. There are three companies of Kostaddi sable lancers, who are related to the Praxian nomads. A Lunar begins to “speechify” in New Pelorian as the caravan starts to roll out of town. Ket-Eel rolls her eyeballs at this speechmaker, so that Will can see her reaction, as the caravan leaves him (talking to himself) and the New City behind. The expedition passes soldiers, standing at attention, posted along the way. Will keeps an approximate head count of these forces for future reference. It is an exercise in optimistic thinking, for Will isn’t certain that he or any of his companions might return from this required venture into the belly of the beast.

    Ijadela tries to convince Speth of benefits associated with the Lunar way, so Speth regales Ijadela with tales of beheadings and disemboweling. Ijadela cries and explains that the Lunar way is to grieve for the dead. Broosta is wide-eyed and worried, not knowing what to expect. Cyrilius is calculating and shrewed with all others, but not with Will. He is open with Will, due to Will’s forgiveness of Cyrilius’ part in the Lunar’s attempt to assassinate Senech after Zikra’s Green Age wedding.

    At Moonbroth, Will realizes the Lunar mounts are less tired than the Pavis mounts and that the harp strings are back in the Pavis Temple where they are safer. Dinner is served from the chuck wagon and it is very nice. Vannen was right about the food being good. Speth and Vannen put on brave faces by telling stories of adventure and trying to top each other’s tales. Eventually, Speth gives Vannen a broach of Peaceful Dreaming to be his new “Plan A” in case she’s in a berserk rage and tries to kill him. Speth also has three other gifts from the Pavic Ernalden Priestesses: A Cowbell of Silence (made without a clapper) plus an Aromatic Candle of Sudden Insight and Jumping Beans of the Ram God. The Candle and the Beans can only be used once, but the Broach and the Cowbell can be reused. Before leaving Pavis, Oshun requested support from his Joraz Kyrem Temple and the Priest gave him a powerful fetish called The Plains of Light (11W2), which enable a zebra to run across a beam of light as though running across a field.

    Will sees that Duke Raus is holding court outside his tent, so he walks over and is admitted until the Duke’s guards spot Senech tagging along. Will is asked if he would be responsible for the Trickster, but answers that his sister is responsible for Senech and his behavior. Will explains to Senech that Duke Raus is the Lunar Governor General and Senech runs off to plot his revenge for betting bagged and beaten plus run out of New Pavis by the previous Lunar Governor General, Sor-Eel (the short). Then Will greets Duke Raus saying, “I am honored to ride with you.” To which the Duke replies, “Then you are braver than I.” Will tries to figure out what the Duke could possibly mean by that remark, but fails to comprehend its significance. Will continues by stating, “I respect that you are here with the people and not perched separate from us, on a dais.” To which the Duke replies, “I am not Sor-Eel.” So, Will confesses, “I never met the man.” Duke Raus responds with, “His loss.” Will thinks it may be a compliment. Perhaps the Duke previously complimented Will for being braver than the Duke himself for riding with him, but it still doesn’t make much sense to Will who accepts this as a compliment saying, “You’re too kind.”

    When the Duke names seven generations of forebears, Will realizes that he is an ancestor worshipper, who bears no imperial cult runes. Will does his best to remember those names, should they survive the Lunar temple ceremony. The Duke offers Will a cup of wine which Will accepts and they toast to peace between their families. Will hasn’t had real wine this good before and tells the court that it is the best he ever tasted, saluting the Governor General with the empty vessel. The Duke is both pleased and nostalgic saying, “Would that we had wine from my province.”

    At dawn the caravan leaves Moonbroth and Ket-Eel asks Will, “What do you think of him?” Will answers her easily, “I am impressed. He is of the people and like you, wants peace. His wine is really good too.” For the rest of the morning, Ket teaches Will more about Sedenya who played Ravakaz (chess) with the Yelmali Emperor, who won during the day and lost to the Red Goddess at night. They were friends. When he died, her son became the Red Emperor of the Dara Happans. That left most of Dara Happa in place except for those who converted to the Lunar way. This new way gave rise to a form of women’s liberation from old patriarchal control. Ket-Eel goes on to explain, “My sisters in Dara Happa are the veil burners, who free oppressed women by extra judicial means. Under her light, Sedenya shows how they may be free. All are Us as we do the Dance of Heaven, which is Oneness with the Skyworld. For example, Tarsh was a rough and unrefined place, but now it is a jewel in the Lunar Empire, thanks to Hon-Eel. Tarsh was a barbarian kingdom that fell to the Empire 100 years ago. Now it is a place where people read and write.”

    The caravan crosses the Long Dry, well guarded by Lunar forces and enters into Dundealos territory. This was the homeland of Anaz. Now Lunar settlers of the Enstalos tribe and some converted Sartarites have moved in. Retired centurions among the Estalos tribe keep the area safe and well defended. The block is a huge looming presence over everyone’s left shoulder while Sable patrols come and go. Hawks and Falcons fly above this completely Lunar controlled area. Lunar signs plus altars and crucified rebels mark this territory as theirs.

    Moving NW up the vale, past the Mountain of Poets, the travelers see yellow hills to the right and StormWalk Mountains to the left. The riders cross the Dundealos Ford and pass picket after picket of Lunar soldiers plus more sable riders, camp after camp and checkpoint after checkpoint. Twice firefights break out somewhere up ahead where stones, light flashes, lightning and thunder break up the steady march toward Dragon Pass. The action is too far ahead to make out, but the outcomes are obviously Lunar victories. That is ominous for the travelers from Pavis, who are exponentially outnumbered by over-powering forces. To defeat these troops in their domain would be even harder than defeating the Thanatari ScorpionMen in the Tunnelled Hills of Than Ulbar.

    On this road to the campground are many Tarshites, provincial people who are not of the “old money” from the heartland, without imperial bodyguards. One could call them hayseed traditionals, but bi-lingual, speaking their native tongues plus New Pelorian. Tarsh is in the Empire’s southern border with Sartar. Ijadela mentions that the process of conquering this territory began in 1580 when Tarkelor was King of Sartar, but then Lunar assassins killed him. That was another ominous moment that seemed to stress the hopelessness of the Pavisites situation. In silence, they crest the top of a rise to see their destination - a tower and its compound. Long lines of travelers slowly pass the gate where a bronze and silver sculptured face of Yara Aranis looks out from the gates. It even has iron teeth and her top pair of hands hold up a picture of the moon. There was easily a division of Lunar military might between Moonbroth and this tower.

    A large tent can be seen outside the gate plus more crucified rebels and slaves. Duke Raus says, “You have separate quarters.” A greeter says, “We have certain expectations of our guests. Bonds of friendship prescribe the boundaries of people’s behavior. It is critical that you maintain a properly respectful attitude. We recognize and value your presence. That is why you are our invited guests.” She pulls back a black cloth, revealing a red cloth with silver beads at the end. These Peace Bindings are placed on the heroes’ weapons with Speth going first plus Will and Oshun following next. Speth’s axe has a leather sheath/bag. Will and Ohun’s spear points are covered in smaller bags. More peace bindings are brought until all the heroes’ weapons are “safely” bound in them.

    In looking out from camp to the temple compound that is still under construction, it seems that even the scruffiest parts of it are magnificent. Though the construction of the compound is still underway, the structures and their materials are of high quality. Music is playing constantly and holy people are dancing. Magic increases slowly, but inexorably through this place. To the left is the Yelm Temple made of red bricks. Some other buildings have red granite. The top lintel has a gold edge. Only the tower in the middle and its cleanly swept central grounds are complete. Other activities like prayers and rituals take place as though it is their holy day. Temples in the compound are for stellar deities.

    Horns sound and an impressive procession of finely attired Lunars begin to pass by. The assembled guests are an audience for this review of the mightiest and the most powerful forces of the empire in this new territory. Suddenly the wind picks up and the heroes see Gortor’s chariot without Gortor. Iron chains hobble his orange and blue steeds. The driver is an important priest of Doburdun who makes the heroes Battle of Iceland tattoos itch because he commanded his lightning fighters there. Ket comes up to Will and names the priest; “He is Varadeth Skyhigh, the highest priest of Doburdun and a ruthless persecutor of Orlanthi, who strips every barbarian temple he finds for artifacts holy to the Air. His brother is an avatar of Doburdun (Thunder Storm) and rides on that water-jet of a cloud behind him. They are both enriched by all the sacrifices they made to their god after Orlanth was outlawed.” Ket-Eel doesn't know about the heroes fighting against the Doburduni at the battle of Iceland and Will doesn't tell her.

    “Next is the Alkothi fanatic, Sek-Aar Styxwater. In a money saving effort, the empire is using the 77 private armies that he finances. His dog, Buddy, is more demon than pet. His fortune is in slaves and cattle.” Will just can’t resist asking, “How does he afford to finance his private armies?” to which Ket answers, “The first funds the second and so forth...”Ket sheds a tear and states, “These seven beasts are the worst of the empire!” Will is saddened to envision the horrors of war that those private armies perpetrated against the innocent civilians of Sartar and other places, so he wipes Ket’s tear with his finger and sheds a tear of his own for Ket to see. He lets it drip onto his finger and knows that their tears are now one.

    Gilded wagons of Lokarnos, the wagon God are led by white horses. As they process past, cheers erupt. 100 mules with 70 different brands are tethered together and follow the wagons. Ket identifies the big boss as “Temgaius the Persuader, head of the Golden Mule League of Furthest. They are ruthless Lokarnos worshipping mobsters, intent on taking over Issaries markets and trade routes. He runs operations in Tarsh by force plus intimidation and though fear.”

    Beautiful blond dancers, scantily clad in expensive scarves and veils, playing instruments, swirl past, praising Uleria and other love goddesses. A dour, fat, pale old man with hanging jowls is carried by in a palanquin. Ket says, “Aillius the Fox, worst of them all, is a Carmanian lord who funds a network of humorless wizards. He hires Sentherans to fill his court and he buys foreign slaves who worship Uleria. Buying priestesses and keeping them as mistresses, he is rumored to be undead.”

    Speth chimes in with a profoundly sarcastic comment, “It is nice that our Lunar hosts have requested our cooperation so nicely, or else…” This makes Will gulp.

    Black fur clad men follow Aillus the Fox. They skirmish down the street. A few of them have animal masks that appear to be leopard-like. Ket informs Will, “Mistress Silesh, Queen of All Collars of the Black Leopards of the Dying Moon is a Darjinni noble who knows the spirits of the dark. She is rich from looted magical artifacts and has barbarian spirits bound as slaves. She would loot the Pavis Temple and sell the artifacts in Glamour in order to fund the looting of more temples.” Ket-Eel doesn't know about the heroes fighting against the Black Leopards of the dying moon at the battle of Iceland and Will doesn't tell her.

    A booming noise like giant sheets flapping focuses the spectators’ attention onto a giant man-hawk flying down the avenue behind Silesh, resplendent in red plumage, with claws of silver and gold. 60 retainers, 6 of which are also winged birdmen, follow him. Ket says, “That is Red Breast Bir-Bir-Sek, wing commander of the Rinliddi Moon Falcon Aerial Legion and a prestigious follower of Undrendum, sworn to kill Vanganthi. They prefer stooping on their prey.” Ket-Eel doesn't know about the heroes fighting against the Rinliddi at the battle of Iceland and Will doesn't tell her.

    Ket-Eel goes on to explain, “Yinna Reacher will not process with the rest. Her ambition is to become and avatar of Yara Aranis and eat every horse in Pent. She whispers to spiders and they listen. While she isn’t present, she may be omnipresent here, in this, her temple. She is the seventh.” Then Ket leans in to tell Will something that she doesn’t want to Senech to overhear. Unfortunately, Will and Speth fail to compel and distract Senech with suggestions that Ijadela has the hots for the little trickster and his giant purified penis as Ket whispers, “Do not call them the seven beasts to their faces!” This seems meant to safeguard the heroes, including Senech, from an inadvertent faux pas. Duke Raus insists, “Let’s pay our respects to them at the mixer!” He obviously wants to meet and greet these beasts that should not be called beasts to their faces.

    The tiles of the dancing grounds are deep blue with gold and silver flecks fused into each tile. A closer view from the box seats reveals daises and altars among various contraptions. One is entirely made of ivory. Ijadela explains that, “The central area is for the ritual and there will be more altars. All the stellar gods and goddesses will be respresented.” Speth hangs out with non-Lunars, who are in a very small minority. Mostly they are crème de la crème servants, like house slaves who speak New Pelorian. It’s an A-List Party with even the best servants in attendance.

    Then Will sees Gortor chained to a side wall and learns from Varadeth, in a very self-impressive speech that Gortor is to be sacrificed after the ceremony. Gortor’s chains are raw iron and iron boots prevent him from using his mobility rune to escape. Will looks at him with eyes wide open to express his shock and dismay at this situation. Gortor looks up to meet Will’s surprised stare and with great effort he mouths the words, “This is the Party.” Will realizes that is a reference to what Gortor said as he left Pavis. When he was saying goodbye he stated, “See you at The Party!”

    Ejadela is having the time of her life. She informs the Pavisites that the ceremony starts in two days and will take an entire night. Will wonders how he will rescue Gortor and escape with his Pavis priests plus boon companions. At least he has two whole days to figure that out. He breathes a heavy-hearted sigh of relief and readies himself for the work ahead. Even though these odds seem insurmountable, so did climbing the frozen hill to see Kolat of the Ill Winds plus fighting in the Battle of Iceland and summoning the Celestial Dragon on the Celestial River plus facing Ch’sa Glut in the Tunnelled Hills of Than Ul Bar. Will thinks, “In the beast’s belly again.”

    Little does he know, that is exactly what Speth and Oshun are also thinking.

    thanks Jon!!!!

    Senech can really...er...everyone can really use this to their benefit!

    Ha ha!

    It really is going to be a party; complete with wine, women and song plus a desperate attempt to free Gortor.

    A successful distraction by an amusing trickster might help...then again...

    And Again

    “The Party” as played on 8/14 & 8/28 at Mike Dawson’s house:

    With Speth's permission, Senech immediately gets arrested for calling Varadeth Skyhigh “Mr. Beast #4” and for urinating in the corner of the temple party room. Senech tried to excuse himself by calling the Doburduni High Priest “Mr. Beast #3, but it was too late. Varadeth and the six other beasts just don’t like being called that to their faces. Speth secures a verbal agreement from the Yara Aranis Temple official that Senech will be returned in one piece and with no permanent damage. Senech is strung up on a pole next to Gortor. Varadeth even pierces Senech’s ankle with a pin and twists it around for a while. Gortor tells Senech, “I’ve had better days, but the future is bright.” To which Senech snaps, “Shut up!” Gortor follows up in this conversation by asking Senech “What are you doing Fireday night?” Even Speth gets in on the action by jiggling the “safety” pin in Senech’s ankle.

    Then tables are moved over from Gortor’s area to Senech’s area because it’s more of an entertaining show than watching a beaten barbarian groan. Senech makes love to the pole on which he’s chained while people look on in amazement as his giant purified penis gives the restraining pole a stiff workout.

    Will knows where Senech will be for a while, so he wanders through this room, keeping track of the other Pavisites. He overhears Oshun and Broosta converse about motives and intentions. Broosta observes that Men love money and power, but that there are a few known oddities in the room whose goals are mysterious. She goes on to reveal, “This is the use of Lunar power for Imperial ends. Ket-Eel shows another face of the Moon. The whole point of this Lunar invasion of Sartar is their new temple. From 1594 – 1625, the Lunar plan is to build this temple. There is even more emphasis here than at any other previous place. A Lunar tax collector provoked the Dundeolos to rise up and revolt. Their punishment was to become enslaved and to be worked to death building this “reaching temple.”

    Oshun asks Broosta about Duke Rouse of Rhone, the new Lunar Governor of Pavis County.

    Broosta explains, “Ket-Eel's friends made sure of his governorship while the deplorables in this room backed Gim-Gim the spy master. Their military holds sway here, but the religion is at odds with the military.” Broosta then asks Oshun if he “Ever heard of the White Moon?” Oshun shakes his head, so Broosta finishes her glass of wine, accepts another from a servant’s tray and continues. “As I understand it, it’s a peace movement. For example, after the siege of Boldhome, a particular captive served as a brick maker in Tarsh for years before being bought with other laborers and brick makers by those who lectured the previous slave owners, gave the slaves identity papers, freed them and told them to go home. Anti-slavers!” As Broosta works her way through another glass of wine, Oshun does his best to reassure her that despite overwhelming odds against their Lunar occupied city and county; he will do everything in his power to protect her.

    Will makes his way around the rest of the reception room in order to set eyes on Cyrilius Harmonious plus Duke Raus of Rhone and his Humakti body guard. He notices that Senech is still engaged in his exhibitionist show and that the audience is enraptured by his antics. Before long, the Pavisites have had enough of endless Lunar bragging and swagger, so they retire to their tents. The Duke plus Pavis priests go to sleep on cots while the heroes sleep on straw mats over the mud even while the party keeps going. As usual, Will’s dreams are disturbed by draconic visions, which have manifested ever since the heroes traveled the Celestial River to call forth the Celestial Dragon for Kallyr Starbrow. Oshun's sleep is also disturbed.

    The next morning, rainstorm clouds can be seen ringing the temple compound about seven miles away even though the sky above is clear. Those storm clouds could be seen very clearly as Will gathers seven perfect handheld stones from the stone yard where their tents are set up. He also collects another bag full of various sized stones that were discarded by the stonecutters who seem to have the day off from their labors. They sit around the stone yard like other slaves in other areas of the compound are doing on their only day off. Will wonders, what would he do if he were enslaved, but could have a day off to sit and rest from building a victorious enemy’s temple? “Look for a way to escape” is Will’s only answer to that question. Will continues to think about a way to free Gortor, so that, as they escape, he can cast Otherworldly Stoning magic upon these stones and hurl them at the seven beasts who caused so much cruel suffering to so many innocent people in the world and to his brother Senech.

    During these early morning activities and thoughts, Senech cracks his restraining pole with his own, declaring, “I’m gonna break you, bitch!” Then Senech goes to work on Gortor’s restraining pole. He “hit it and quit it” using his “I Push/You Pull” ability. Soon Gortor is also free and hooves it away faster than any person wearing raw iron boots plus a 30 pound piece of restraining pole could possibly move. Senech’s illusion, that makes them appear to be buxom Lunar priestesses, allows them to walk relatively unnoticed by hapless slaves recovering from their labors on their only day off. Once they reach the stone yard and the cover of a sleeping tent, Speth uses her iron shield of Jakreigerand to smash Gortor’s boots off without hurting him while Will stands by with a bronze chisel, ready to assist if needed. After Speth easily breaks both iron boots without breaking Gortor’s feet, Will realizes another reason why all signs point to Clay Day for this upcoming Lunar ceremony. Because Orlanth isn’t in the sky, but in the Earth preparing to emerge from his storm gate the next morning on Winds Day, the Lunar priests hope to complete the consecration of their moon temple in their Clay Day ceremony and sacrifice followers of Orlanth the next day before Orlanth can do anything about it on Winds Day of Fire Season 1625 ST.

    By mid-morning the heroes direct their focus toward freeing Gortor’s chariot from Varadeth Skyhigh, the high Priest of Doburdun. Inquiries about where his Doburdun Temple might be found, reveal that it is merely a camp with an altar, outside the Lunar Temple compound walls. Since Doburdun (Thunder Stick) isn’t a celestial god, his place is outside the ceremonial complex area that is reserved for the temples of celestial Lunar dieties. On the first attempt to reconnoiter outside the compound, guards turn the heroes away from exiting through the main gate saying, “By whose authority do you leave?” Turned away by guards, who mock them for being barbarians, the heroes search for Ket-Eel in hopes of discovering who might grant them access to the area beyond the temple compound. She is vague about who can grant authority to pass through that outer gate, but Will and Oshun have the idea that if they want to inspect their stabled zebras, they could get permission from Duke Raus of Rhone.

    After a short wait at the Duke’s tent, Will and Oshun are given an audience and after explaining how close Pavic Zebra Riders are to their mounts by naming their animals plus previous beasts, the Duke gives them a sealed decree plus a herald to facilitate their exit through the main gate door. The same guards who had rudely shouted, “Bar, bar, bar, bar, bar” for barbarian, silently, yet obediently, open the inner door of the main gate to let the heroes exit the compound. On the way out, they are given red stone chips with painted symbols in New Pelorean to show the guards in order to get back in.

    First the heroes check on their mounts in the stable. While not being abused, they can see improper care and a lack of grooming by the stable hands. When they bring this to the stable boss’ attention, he threatens to whip the slaves for their incompetence, but Oshun commands him to thank those workers instead, perhaps hoping that the stable hands will try harder to care for the zebras of those who interceded on their behalf and appreciate a second chance to do better than before. Oshun’s “light the way to Gortor’s chariot and steeds” shows a path straight to the Doburduni campsite.

    Scouting the Doburdun campground with Will’s “awareness” plus Oshun’s “watch carefully” does not immediately reveal where Varadeth Skyhigh keeps Gortor’s chariot and steeds. Actively looking for spirits at the camp perimeter causes one of seven eyes to open and look back at Will. Actively looking with soul vision causes another ward over Will’s shoulder to look around also. Each stick ward that is stuck in the ground along the camp’s perimeter has a magical “twig” extending outward. The two main posts at the entranceway have well developed tendrils extending into the realm of air and storm. Rather than attract the attention of those Lunar defenses, Will turns his attention to listening for the sound of Gortor’s steeds. Not surprisingly, there is heard a distinct conversation between two guards about how to be careful when handling “those damn horses” because other guards were bitten. Now their idea is to put gin in their hay to make them less aggressive and hopefully docile. Following the sound of their voices leads the heroes to conclude that Gortor’s horses are in a particular side of the camp, but there is still no indication of where Gortor’s Cacodaemon Skull Chariot is parked.

    Horns playing fanfares announce the arrival of a Yanafal Tarnils Cult procession, coming to party at the Doburduni camp. Will, Oshun and Gortor mingle with this procession of senior military officers of the central command who are connected to the high command dealing with the disposition of battalions, and so the heroes are able to enter camp while overhearing things like, “The Eggi are so important; the highest Imperial level.” and “Do you see that glowing guy? He is under consideration for a promotion.” It may or may not be Kestreveth of Melsorkorth – Third Cavalry, but that is who starts a conversation with Oshun. He begins, “You are a Kahn.” Oshun nods in agreement, so he continues, “Why should the Empire use Zebra?” Oshun answers his question with many questions that reveal the pros and cons of Zebra such as, “Do you want your beasts to be hardy? Do you want your beasts to be spirited? Do you want your beasts to take a long time to breed?” Will bites his own tongue in order to not say anything at all. Eventually, Kestreveth gets the answers he was looking for (like the possibility of red and black striped zebra) and asks Oshun “Where do you bivouac?” Oshun informs him that he has a sleeping tent in a stone yard. Kestreveth respectfully gives Oshun a red and black family token and invites him to bivouac with Yanafal Tarnils plus an opportunity to visit him someday and stay at his manor in the Empire. The visitors don party hats, which used to be Orlanthi and Sartarite battle helms that have been vandalized with Lunar symbols.

    Their friendly conversation ends when Varadeth Skyhigh rides into the midst of the assembled partiers in Gortor’s chariot pulled by Gortor’s blue and orange steeds, Anger and Trouble (not to be confused with Mastakos’ steeds, Crisis and Rage). Gortor stares fixedly at his horses while the high priest gives rides to Yanafal Tarnils officers. Oshun gives thanks to various Lunar officers in order to ingratiate himself while Will tirelessly pours wine into every half full or empty goblet in order to “overserve” these Lunar commanders. It is also Will’s opportunity to take the measure of every Lunar officer he “overserves” and to keep an eye out for spies. He observes a half dozen non-commissioned officers who are heavily scarred and missing at least one finger. They do not drink, but watch all the proceedings carefully. They are the fanatical Danfive Xaron worshippers and either good at what they do or they wash out and get killed. When he is close enough to the chariot, Will notices the raw iron chains are held together by a large rivet that is held in place by a smaller, possibly weaker rivet.

    The heroes finally see where Anger and Trouble are stabled. They see where the chariot is rolled out in front of Varadeth’s cabin-like tent. They see that there is no way to successfully retrieve Gortor’s team at this time. The party ends, so they retire to the stone yard tent and sleep a little bit. In his own way, each hero has a fitful night’s sleep. Gortor is troubled by his good sense not to tip his hand and attempt to rescue his horses and reclaim his chariot – Oshun is troubled by strange dreams of red and black striped Zebra – Will is troubled by the face of the Celestial Dragon, which was the last thing he saw before losing consciousness in the sky realm with Kallyr and her Iron Ring.

    In the morning, the heroes confer among themselves about what they have seen and heard. They figure Varadeth Skyhigh is to witness the ceremony after he processes in to the stadium seating area. He will be in the first row while the Pavisites will be in the back row/nosebleed section. It is decided that the time to act will be when the chariot is parked. Under cover of darkness they will overcome the guards and take the chariot. Will offers to do his best to break the wall during their escape so that the chariot can cross over and notices Gortor wink, suggesting that Will’s plan is based on a poor foundation. Gortor knows something that the heroes don’t, but they are too distressed to press him on that distinction as he says, “You don’t want to be here!”

    Oshun reveals this plan to Broosta who asks, “Are you planning an act of war against the Empire? It is wise to go with Gortor because crucifixion is unpleasant. However, don’t be seen being an enemy of the Empire. Leave no witnesses! Where is the Champion?” Oshun tells her that, “He prays to Pavis.” Then Broosta performs a ceremony with writing on parchment that is burned in a brazier. “The future, I may not know.” She says in a resigned tone of voice, “I will rely on the Champion.”

    Speth enters the Yara Aranis Temple to speak with Senech’s guards about claiming her trickster. They tell her that Senech has insulted Yara Aranis, so he is to be sacrificed after the consecration ceremony. She calls them oath-breakers and proceeds to find the temple official with whom she bargained to have Senech returned in one piece and with no permanent damage.

    Moonlight Serenading

    Here's the playlist for the Party sessions.

    Visible from the party

    Looking out through the portico of the Temple of Yara Aranis, you see this figure walking the roof of the temple of Sedenya, which the Yara Aranis temple acts as a gateway to.

    Moonlight Becomes Her

    Johnny Burke's lyrics to Jimmy Van Heusen's "Moonlight Becomes You" come to mind:

    You're all dressed up to go dreaming, now don't tell me I'm wrong
    And what a night to go dreaming, mind if I tag along

    Moonlight becomes you - it goes with your hair
    You certainly know the right thing to wear
    Moonlight becomes you - I'm thrilled at the sight
    And I could get so romantic tonight

    You're all dressed up to go dreaming, now don't you tell me I'm wrong
    What a night to go dreaming, mind if I tag along
    And if I say: "I love you" - I want you to know
    It's not just because there's moonlight - although
    Moonlight becomes you so

    Not to be confused with "Stella By Starlight"

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