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My final entry for the day! Yes, I've been rather behind on getting these things spell/grammar checked and posted, I know! This session once again features the main group, and offers some major revelations/complications about Roget, the artifact the he stole from the church of Zanxia, and just exactly what the main group has gotten themselves into!

Elisandra - Taros; Tajna - Eukara; Wimji - Rachel; Everyone else - Me.

<Salov> That's ok Jen. I'm sure whatever it is you're making will be good.

* Tajna emerges from her sleeping area and walks over. "Yeah, I am grateful you are even cooking this morning!"

<Jennifer> We had some eggs and some salted bacon. I figured they needed to be used up anyhow.

<Aleric> Smells great. Thanks.

<John> Sounds great? That's kind of weak for you Aleric.

* Wimji stumbles in groggily. "Eggs and bacon sound great."

<Tajna> Hey, isn't it the effort that counts?

* Aleric shrugs Well, I'm trying to be nice. And it's too early for me to come up with anything clever. I'm not awake yet.

* Elisandra is just sitting on the edge of a wagon.

<Aleric> I need to do my morning rituals.

* Aleric goes off to pray.

* Tajna walks up to see if the food is ready yet. "It really does smell good. Do we have any more citrus?"

* Elisandra stands up and stretches.

<Salov> Tons of oranges and maybe some other stuff. Get whatever you want. We'll replace it tomorrow if it's out.

<Salov> Lunch will be a quickie again today.

<Wimji> Excellent! I'm glad I managed to wake it time for breakfast today.

* Tajna smiles at Salov. "Wonderful! Thanks." She starts digging around and pulls two nicely sized oranges from the supplies.

<Salov> We might have to travel beyond sunset tonight. Aleric has agreed to help us out with some light spells so we can travel into the night a bit if we have to.

<Salov> So this is our only real meal today. Lunch will be just a quickie today again.

<Salov> I'm going to go water the horses, I'll be back.

* Salov goes off to water the horses.

<=Scene=> The next few minutes pass quickly and somewhat quietly. After 3 solid days of heavy wagon travel and short nights, most of the group seems somewhat groggy this morning. Eventually, Aleric finishes his prayers, and Salov returns with the horses.

<Jennifer> Well, it's done. There isn't as much as the last two mornings, but we're in a hurry to be gone today, so it will have to do. Everyone help themselves.

* Tajna gets her food and looks around for a moment before moving to a spot to sit.

<=Scene=> The soldiers all get a small amount of food and start eating.

* Elisandra grabs some food and sits down to eat.

* Wimji grabs some food and starts munching.

* Salov sits down near Elisandra.

<Salov> You know Elisandra, when we get to the town tomorrow, I'd like to see if you can find out if anyone there has seen Roget recently, and anything else about his recent doings if that's ok with you.

<Elisandra> "Okay."

<Salov> He's a priest, so I doubt he's moving too secretly, but one never knows.

<Salov> And, being a priest of the god of mischief, I wouldn't be surprised if the left a trail of false information. I'm told finding things out like this is a specialty of yours. We're counting on you.

* Salov gets up and goes over to discuss things with Ecthelion.

<Samuel> Man, I couldn't sleep last night at all.

<John> Why not Sam?

<Samuel> I can't wait to try that Three Dragon Ante thing!

* Elisandra yawns.

* Tajna listens as she eats while wondering what this town will bring.

<John> Oh jeez Sam...

* John shakes his head.

<Wimji> Tsk tsk, I'm not sure you can handle it to be honest.

* Jennifer finishes eating quickly. After she finishes, she walks over to where Elisandra sits.

* Elisandra glances at Jennifer.

<Jennifer> We haven't really talked much. I don't want you to think I'm being unfriendly or anything.

<Elisandra> "Nah, 's okay." Her tone is relaxed.

* Tajna finishes eating, throws the orange peels into the bushes and goes to her stuff to check the inventory.

<Jennifer> Just thought I'd talk to you for a moment before we left if you don't mind.

<Jennifer> So how'd you wind up on this mission? I got Tajna's story yesterday.

<Elisandra> "Got into a fight with some lecherous asshole noble. Won. He pulled some strings and got me arrested. Then... well, you can guess the rest."

<Jennifer> Wow, that sucks.

<Elisandra> "Didn't even give him any serious wounds."

<Jennifer> The nobles of this empire get worse every passing year.

<Elisandra> "Got that right."

<Jennifer> As recently as 50 years ago, when I was just a girl, this realm had good rulers. It's hard to believe it's gotten so bad in just one human generation.

<Elisandra> "Not so hard to believe if you've been living it. Hell. Look at the roads, even."

<Jennifer> Yeah, I hear they get better on the other side of the city.

<=Scene=> While this is going on, the soldiers finish their breakfast, and begin cleaning up.

<Elisandra> "Hopefully."

<Jennifer> Probably not much better though. I hear the king cares even less about "The Angle" than he does about the Arlington and Gainesville districts.

<Elisandra> "Quite a delightful king we have." Sarcasm, obviously.

<Jennifer> And yet, it's worse in most other realms in the continent they say. Hard to believe isn't it?

<Elisandra> "Yeah."

<Jennifer> If it wasn't for the church of Zanxia, I'd leave and go to the southwest, but, as long as the Arlington district remains reasonably nice, I'll stay.

<Elisandra> "Well, I wasn't in any hurry to move from that city, but I kind of didn't have a choice. Wasn't the greatest place, but it was kinda home, and I was getting along in it."

<Jennifer> It's really disturbing to hear that a noble from Arlington acted that way though. I hope it's not the beginning of it getting worse there.

<Elisandra> "Not a surprise to me, really."

<=Scene=> The men have cleaned up the cooking stuff, and are now packing it and the tents up in the wagons.

<Salov> Hey Jen, we're about ready to go.

<Jennifer> Ah, I have to go. It was nice getting to know you a little better. Hopefully we can talk a little more when we get to the city.

<Elisandra> "Yeah. Sounds good."

* Aleric wanders over.

<Aleric> Tell me she didn't say anything about me giving her a hard time about her cooking.

<Elisandra> "Nah, we just talked about how the nobility are making this place go to hell."

<Aleric> Ah. Maybe I should talk to her about that, because on that point I completely agree.

<=Scene=> Everything is packed up and ready to go.

<Salov> Alright folks, we're ready to go. Lets hit the road.

* Tajna climbs aboard.

<Aleric> Guess that’s our cue.

<Elisandra> "Yep."

* Aleric climbs into his wagon, and offers Elisandra a hand up.

<Samuel> Need a hand again professor?

<Wimji> Yes, please. Thank you.

* Elisandra nimbly hops onto the wagon beside him.

* Samuel Helps the professor up into the wagon again.

* Salov hollers out to everyone "Everyone loaded and ready?"

<Aleric> Yep.

<=Scene=> All the soldiers say they are.

<Tajna> Yes.

<Elisandra> "Yeah."

<=Scene=> The wagons roll out.

* Wimji curls up and falls asleep.

<=Scene=> In the first wagon, Samuel nods off almost immediately.

<Salov> You don't mind if I try to take a nap do you Lady Tajna?

<Tajna> Oh no, that's fine

* Salov falls asleep too, leaving Tajna to her thoughts.

<=Scene=> In wagon #2, it should come as no surprise that Ecthelion falls asleep for the morning ride, like usual.

<Aleric> You know, considering we'll likely have a long ride into the darkness tonight, and a busy day tomorrow, I'm going to try to get some sleep. TRY being the operative word on this crappy excuse for a road. You probably should too.

<Elisandra> "Yeah. I guess."

* Elisandra lays down.

* Aleric rolls over and tries to fall asleep.

* Tajna settles. -There is no way I am going to be able to sleep today with the roads as they are.- She looks at her wagon mates and sighs.

<=Scene=> The wagons roll on into the afternoon.

<=Scene=> Eventually, John calls back to Salov.

<John> Hey boss, I think this is the spot on the map you pointed out. It looks like a good spot over there by the river. There is already someone over there though. Do we stop or go on?

<Salov> Hmm? Is it a big group?

<John> Nah just 4 or 5 wagons. They don't appear heavily armed.

<Salov> Let’s just stop here then.

<John> Sure thing.

<=Scene=> The wagons approach the other group and roll to a stop a non threatening distance away.

<=Scene=> The other group eyes your wagons as they approach, but they don't take any kind of threatening action.

<Salov> Ok everyone. We've stopped for lunch. There is another group here, but they appear to be either merchants or maybe a settler group. Just be nice and everything should be ok.

<John> That includes you Aleric.

<Aleric> I'm offended, John.

<John> No, you’re not.

<Aleric> I'm always nice to normal strangers at least.

<=Scene=> The soldiers all get out of the wagons.

* Tajna leaves the wagon and looks over at the other group. She takes her own mental notes as she waits for how the stop will go.

* Elisandra gets out of the wagon as well.

<=Scene=> The group appears to be a settler group, just as Salov described. There are about twenty five or so in the group. Now that you're down out of the wagons, you see a few children as well as men and women.

<=Scene=> Three of the men begin to approach your group.

* Tajna looks at the approaching men warily, but doesn't move. She may be on alert, but she didn't want to make anyone upset.

<Salov> Jen, go ahead and get lunch ready. Ecthelion, Wimji, come with me. Anyone else who wants to listen can come too, but stay behind us and whatever you do, don't make any aggressive moves.

* Salov begins walking towards the men.

* Ecthelion follows his capitan.

* Wimji walks towards them as well.

* Aleric follows behind the main group, so as to be within hearing distance.

* Elisandra follows behind Aleric.

* Tajna follows slowly

<Man#1> We don't want any trouble, but we can and will defend ourselves if necessary.

<Salov> It won't be necessary. We've no hostile intentions. We're just stopping to have lunch and water our horses.

<Salov> My name is Capitan Salov. I’m a knight in the service of the High Lady of the Church of Zanxia. We're on our way to Gainesville.

<Man#2> So you're not headed down to investigate the rebellion then?

<Salov> Rebellion? What rebellion?

<Man#1> The rebellion in The Angle of course. The damn fools have gone and declared independence

<Ecthelion.> Independence? What the hell are you talking about. Who's declaring independence from who?

<Man#3> You bloody well know what we mean. Don’t listen to them Adric. They're spies, or assassins sent by the council, trying to trick us. We should kill them before they murder us!

<Adric/Man#1> Quiet Koschei, don’t be stupid. Look at them and think. The rebellion just started a few days ago. They have the coat of arms of Zanxia on their shields, and her base is in the Arlington province. On top of that, they are mostly half-elves by the look of them. Do you know of many places other than Arlington where you are likely to see this many half-elves in a company this size? On top of that, Arlington is more than 300 miles from The Angle. If they really are from Arlington province, as they appear to be, they may not have heard yet. I think they are telling the truth.

<Salov> We honestly do NOT know what you're talking about. Could one of you please explain?

<Adric> Very well. I’ll start from the beginning.

<Adric> As we said, we're traveling up from The Angle.

<Adric> I don’t know if you’re aware, but several weeks back, the lizard men, who have peen peaceful for many years, mysteriously began raiding our settlements, especially Southtown.

<Ecthelion> What the hell? The lizard men have started raiding?

<Adric> Yes. We, of course, tried to negotiate with them, but they either wouldn’t listen or speak with us for the most part. When they did, they denied any such raids were taking place, so we petitioned the crown for help.

<Man#2> Understand, we‘ve been unable to protect ourselves properly for a variety of reasons. Our province is all small towns and we have very little in the way of weapons. Also, because of our location, on the edge of the realm, surrounded by supposedly friendly neighbors, we have only very small royal garrisons… which, of course, had to be arrested and shown to the boarder when the rebel government too over, making things even worse.

<Ecthelion> So how the hell do they think they’re going to be able to protect themselves now? If they can’t protect themselves from the lizard men, do they really think they can protect themselves from the Mithronian army if civil war breaks out?

<Wimji> You know, there's been a long history of civil wars in Arland. It all starts back with...

<Salov> Not now professor!

<Wimji> But Salov!

<Salov> I want to hear all about it... LATER, ok?

<Wimji> Awwww... alright.

* Wimji pouts.

* Salov smiles at the men and says "Sorry, please continue."

* Tajna says quietly, "If there is a rebellion going on here, what does that mean for the rest of us?"

<Man#2> Surely you've seen the fliers they sent out, offering outrageous prices for mercenary help?

<Man#2> I actually thought you were going there to help them when I got a good look at you.

<Salov> I've seen no fliers, have you Ecthelion?

* Ecthelion shakes his head.

* Man#2 reaches into his pack and pulls one out and hands it to Ecthelion.

* Ecthelion looks at the flier and whistles. "Holy freaking cow. LOOK at this boss."

* Ecthelion hands it to Salov.

* Salov looks at it impassively.

<Salov> That’s about six times the going rate for help. How the heck can they afford this?

<Adric> I’ll try to explain that and the entire situation to you. As was said earlier, after the raids started, and the lizard men refused to negotiate with us, we petitioned the crown for help. We received some vague promises of increased garrisons several times, and were even told twice that troops were on the way… but the troops never arrived.

<Adric> We’ve been holding council meetings about what to do about the situation for weeks now of course. At the last meeting, a few days ago, our idiot provincial governor and the mayors of our three major settlements decided they had no more patience for the king.

<Man#2> To be fair, many of the more impetuous citizens felt the same way.

<Adric> Anyway, they lost both their patience as well as their mind. Since the king would not send us aid, they said, the time had come for us to take matters into our own hands.

<Adric> It’s true that the king hasn’t sent us any aid, despite our continued pleas for help, and something did have to be done, but this course of action is madness.

<Adric> I tried to urge restraint on the council members. Increase taxes temporarily and hire mercenaries for protection until the king could be persuaded to provide us a proper garrison, I said, but the damn fools said it was too late for that. That it was time for us to declare our own way, and declare independence from a corrupt king.

<Adric> Taxes were already too high, they said. The king and crown did nothing for us but siphon off our hard earned taxes, they said. He would get no more taxes from us, they said. Instead, they would declare independence and use all the tax money due to the king, as well as all the gold mined from the recently discovered vein near Southtown to hire their own army.

<Man#2> There's also a rumor that one of the leaders has some kind of magic artifact that helps defend cities from attack.

* Tajna -Well, there we go-

<Man#2> As you’ve probably surmised by now, our group consists of former council members or prominent citizens from Tilverton who either disagreed with our province’s suicidal decision, or just decided it was best to leave because of the current situation… or in a few cases, were told we had to leave or be arrested for treason against the new government… I lost my business… everything I’ve spent my life working on…

<Adric> Anyway, we're headed for the Arlington province, in hopes that we can live there in peace.

<Koschei> Screw peace. My family are loyal Mithronians. We and wanted no part of this rebellion and the Civil War that's probably coming. Hell, if the King decides to declare war to retake the province, I’ll volunteer to help!

<=Scene=> A period of awkward silence follows this outburst before Adric continues.

<Adric> Whatever, Koschei. Most of us don’t care enough about the royal family to bother. I know for my part, I am done with politics.

<Man#2> Anyway, I think we safely assume they mean us no harm and get on with our lunch, agreed Adric?

<Adric> Yeah, I think we can Jim.

<Adric> Anything else you folks want to ask?

<Salov> Not really. Does anyone else have any?

* Salov looks back at the group listening. "Any of you have anything you want to ask?

<Aleric> I don't

<Tajna> No, let the men go back to their group and eat in peace. They have had enough to deal with.

<Salov> Thank you for your time. Sorry we disturbed you. May Zanxia speed and guard you on your way to Arlington.

* Adric nods and say "Lets go."

<=Scene=> The men turn and return to their group.

<Salov> Well, this really changes things.

<Ecthelion> And not in a good way either.

<Tajna> Perhaps we should be expecting change. Considering how some of us started this journey to begin with.

<Ecthelion> You realize things just got a LOT more difficult, right?

<Salov> If what he said is accurate, and making a very obvious inference, yes. Exponentially harder.

<Tajna> So wait... this man we are looking for, with the artifact. HE is leading this rebellion?

<Salov> That’s how it sounds. I’m a little surprised. It doesn’t sound like the Roget I’ve heard about. If it’s true, and I expect it is, this is very, VERY not good.

<Aleric> He did say "one of" The guy may not be the primary leader, but, odds of getting anyone there to want to help us get this guy and get our property back are... close to zero.

<Tajna> Then our strategy has now changed.

<Salov> Our property?

<Aleric> OK then, YOUR property.

<Tajna> I don't see how we can go in there, brandishing the seals of Zanxia.

<Salov> We cant. We couldn’t have done that anyway, Zanxia has NO authority in The Angle and never has, but we definitely can not do that now.

<Salov> Roget, however, is a priest, who's church DOES have a presence there.

<Salov> This makes information gathering tomorrow MUCH more important than I realized.

<Salov> We'll be counting on you and Elisandra to help us gather info tomorrow, Tajna. Gainesville is still a long way out from the rebellion, so I don’t know how much info we will be able to gather. We might be much more able to get info in Oreaon when we get there, but we need to try to gather as much info as we can.

<Salov> For now, John has watered the horses, and Jen has lunch laid out. I think we better go eat quickly and be on our way.

* Tajna turns back to the wagons and grabs some food to eat and sits on the back of the wagon nearest her things. She didn't want to offend Jen, but she needed to be able to sort this all out.

<Aleric> Well, this will be more fun than I ever imagined. The Lady has really gone and got me in deep this time.

<John> Complaining again I see Aleric.

<Ecthelion> He might have a point this time John... we better be getting hazard pay at the end of this mission.

<Aleric> Nah, I’m not really complaining. You see, IF, and that’s a BIG IF, we're actually able to walk into a civil war zone and extract this artifact from Roget, I figure after THAT... The Lady’s going to owe ME a favor this time.

* Aleric smiles an impossibly toothy smile, and laughs.

<=Scene=> End Chapter Twenty Two.


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