Sunday, May 17, 2015

Westmist Session #97 - We're Not in Westmist Anymore, Toto

Stepping through the gate, Kern and Erijay found themselves under tall trees  in the centre of a ring of seven standing stones.  They were actually standing near the edge of a forest, high on a hill overlooking a city. Beyond the city lay the ocean, presumably a western ocean as the sun was sinking low in the sky, headed towards sunset.  The setting sun cast a striking glow on the city below, built as it was of red and yellow stone. The buildings were mostly square and blocky, but many were topped by golden and silver domes. Surrounded by a high wall, the city looked quite large, with a dozen different banners flying from it's towers. A large river flowed past it and entered the sea to the south. The hill on which Erijay and Kern stood was one of a forested range that followed the coast leading north from the city. Below them on the lower slopes, fields of grains and rice scattered with small villages filled the several miles between the and the city.   A road followed the river into the city, and another could be seen leading up the coast, following the line of hills.
Deciding they needed more information, the duo slipped through the field below to get closer to the city. Finding a good spot, Kern examined the main city gate through his spyglass. There was steady traffic of carts and wagons leaving, farmers returning home after selling their wares the city.  A smaller stream of travelers were entering the city. Nearly everyone had oriental features, including the farmers, guards, and other travelers. Kern was a little troubled to see that the human guards were supplemented by a squad of hobgoblins, looking just like those they encountered in Mor. Not a comforting sign.

Rather then try getting into the city immediately, the two proceeded back into the forest to clean up (summoning gods and destroying towns being dirty work) and rest for the night. After an uneventful sleep, Erijay cast invisibility and Kern slipped the cowl of the cloak of elvenkind  over his head, then proceeded towards the city at first light. Reaching the gate, they watched the guards let the carts of the farmers through with nothing more than a cursory glance and quick collection of a gate tax. The human guards did all of the talking, the hobgoblins hanging back uninterested for the most part. After watching for some time to get a feel for the process, Kern and Erijay slipped invisibility in between a pair of carts and proceeded into the city. At the same time, Erijay cast ESP to see if the hobgoblins were a threat, but got nothing but typical soldierly grumblings from them. The two now found themselves on  wide boulevard. Few building could be seen, as the interior of the city was subdivided by additional walls. At some gates stood more guards, while others were apparently wide open. The carts continued on until they reached a large market square, stopping there to set up stalls for the day. The boulevard continued on, headed towards the ocean it seemed. Figuring there must be a port, the two continued on, and were rewarded by another city gate which indeed lead to the docks. A dozen ships lay alongside, and the crews were just beginning to stir for the day. Oddly, they saw no taverns or inns, just warehouses. The ships were mostly from southern ports, and Pashnadi, Zevestian and Maharhtran faces and dress predominated. There were a pair of large ships that looked to be from closer to home, somewhere in the bounds of the old Imperium, so Kern and Erijay headed in that direction. They also watched for activity at the gate, and now noticed that as the crews and captains approached, they were met by individual locals, officials of some sort based on their manner and dress. Only then did they proceed into the city.
Curious, Kern looked about for a recognizable face, and found a young sailor coiling ropes next to one of the ships from the lands of the old Imperium. Signaling the elf to stay invisible (for reasons), he walked behind a stack of barrels to slip off the cowl of his cloak, and then emerged to engage to sailor in conversation. Telling the lad he'd just arrived on a Pashnadi vessel, Kern proceeded to ask him from where his ship had sailed and what he could tell about the city they found themselves in. The young sailor (Yurgen) said the ship was the Flying Light out of Talsker, a city Kern recognized as lying on the opposite shore of the Inner Sea from the Kingdom of Kellowai. Yurgen described a long voyage down the Inner Sea and past the Islands of Great Smoke, around the tip of the Comohori Jungle, and then north to their current location, the city of Kunth. As for Kunth, he explained the people were more than a little xenophobic and didn't let foreigners wander the city unless in the company of a 'minder' provided by the ruling council. Something to do with messing with the perfect harmonics of the path of indivisible light or some such foolishness. If not for the riches in rare wood, amber, 'special' mushrooms and 'red steel', it wouldn't exactly be a happy port of call. Oh, and then there are the slug men. Officially rulers of the city and surrounding lands of Kunth, the slug men were 9' tall, partially bipedal slugs. Though all humans in Kunth served the slug men, the creatures themselves were reclusive scholars uninterested in day to day life of their lands. The city was in fact ruled in their name by a council of 11 human nobles, while the slug men stayed in the myriad archives and libraries, continually expanding their knowledge  Oh and by the way, a foreigner who spoke to o a slug man could expect to be executed in a most gruesome and unpleasant fashion. They could only be approached through their human intermediates. In fact, the only place foreigners were free to do as they wish were here at the outer docks, or within the Foreign District of the city.
Thanking the young sailor, Kern went and filled Erijay in with what he had learned.  They decided to head back into the city invisibly and check out the Foreign District. Following Yurgen's directions, they found it back near the first city gate they entered, well guarded by human and hobgoblin soldiers. Once again they slipped in, and explored. The mix of faces was similar to that seen on the docks, with lots of southerners and a scattering of demihumans and folks from the old Imperium and other lands. They found a tavern and Kern sidled in, first becoming visible. The old Zevestian behind the bar confirmed much of what Yurgen had told them. If they wanted to wander the city, they needed a minder appointed to accompanied them. There was, surprisingly, no cost associated with this service. In fact, the exchange of money for services (as opposed to purchasing goods) was frowned on in Kunth. Instead a service had to be repaid by some service in return, the exact service to be determined after the transaction had been agreed upon, Oh, and occasionally flashy gifts of jewelry or artwork might be expected. Keep your eyes and ears open for clues. The barkeep also told them that Kunth was probably the most scholarly city on the world thanks to the slug men;  if a fact or information could not be tracked down by the slimy scholars, it probably didn't exist.And in response to Kern's question about temples, the old man chuckled and told him the people of Kunth did not believe the gods exist. They instead followed a thousand different philosophical paths that to a foreigners ears sounded strange indeed.

That got Kern and Erijay thinking about everything they needed to learn. Like how to stop two inadvertently summoned aspects of a snake god from rampaging across the lands. And other minor things too. So the pair decided to head back to the docks, then become visible and requested a minder from the guards. This required a little pantomime as Common didn't appear to be very common in Kunth. In a short time, there appeared a gentleman dressed in fishscale and fur robes, who introduced himself as Sonan Chotar, or "Perfect Spreading of Merit" in the Common tongue. Erijay informed him they wished to consult with a scholar on the matter of some wyvern eggs, figuring an innocuous simple inquiry would be the best way to start. After thinking for a few moments, "Perfect Spreading of Merit" bowed and bade them follow him into the city. Leading the through several districts and gates, he brought them to a large domed building, where he said one of the great slug man scholars of reptilian and draconic knowledge could be found. Once inside, their minder relayed their request to one of the human archivists, who went off to consult his master. The archivist returned shortly, and then asked that party what service they might off in return for the knowledge they sought. Erijay offered a book on poison flowers she'd been carrying since recovering it from Stonehell. The archivist considered this for a moment, and with a bow accepted it as acceptable service. He proceeded to inform Erijay that when removed from their mothers care, all draconic eggs went dormant. And could stay that way for thousands of years, until once more given in care to a draconic mother for hatching.  Well, thought Erijay, at least they weren't going to hatch in here backpack ...

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