Ashnabis session 4

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The group are summoned to the fort to answer questions about the death of Ilben Zhuldofi. Sizhif informs Jimba, Katenzhi, and Llillilli about the capture of some Hasmalan diplomats by the Cormorant fleet. Junan and Veznara are questioned further about the temple by Lieutenant Tiz Chomakosh. Daifan learns about the upcoming arrival of a ship of corpseborn criminals, destined for work on Galdai Ebesnata's plantation.


Session date: Feb. 10, 2019
Fair Cycle date: Fikho, I.E. 765


<AshnabisNarrator> It's rare that there's a break in the rains this late in the month of Fikho, but you've somehow ended up at the beautiful Fort Kaskind on one of the only days this season that are merely overcast.
<AshnabisNarrator> Yesterday you received an instruction from Ismend, the military attache at the land office, that you are to present yourself at the office of the territorial magistrate, Oskor Vostizi, so that you may be interviewed regarding the death of Ilben Zhuldofi, whose remains you recovered several weeks ago at his farm.
<AshnabisNarrator> The interview is scheduled for this morning. You're told that this is just a routine visit and to simply be consistent with whatever you put in your report, and that it should not take longer than an hour or so to complete the interview.
<AshnabisNarrator> Fort Kaskind itself is a new structure, risen from the earth within the past decade or so along the southwest shore of the North Kaskos river on a spit of land where it meets the sea, just up from the harbour. Like the town of Kaskind surrounding it, it is seemingly engaged in an eternal struggle against the swamp and the sea, which are constantly threatening to reclaim their own.
* Daifan was only tecnically there for that part so didn't have much to say about it but will do as they are told
<AshnabisNarrator> The fort is the formal seat of the territorial government of General Ghurtai. The central decision-making hub of the territory, it serves at least a nominal defensive purpose against raids from the coast, and, in theory, against any unruly inhabitants by land, whether native or colonist.
* Daifan has their umbrella because they don't trust the weather here >.>
<AshnabisNarrator> The main stone fort is attached to a walled stone courtyard containing several key buildings and offices. A larger area surrounded by wooden palisades contains officials' homes, minor offices, and other structures associated more loosely with the fort. The main roadway to and from the fort leads out to the Colony Road, the central thoroughfare of the town and indeed, the whole territory.
<AshnabisNarrator> fqjSDvO.jpg
* Daifan wonders if they will get to see Pinkberry at work ^-^
<Veznara> (Nice!)
<AshnabisNarrator> The magistrate's office is a two-story building inside the stone walls. Its first floor is stone, with walls angled slightly outward, and a second story of wood atop it, with a low, broad-rimmed roof of brown clay tile. Outside the building's main columned entrance a saglikom sits atop the lintel, its red copper not quite yet fully worn to green.

The magistrate and investigator question the PCs about the the death of Ilben Zhuldofi

<AshnabisNarrator> After a brief check-in with the guard in front of the building you are ushered into a broad room on the upper floor where a set of five plain cypress chairs, and a woven straw mat, have been placed for you to sit.
* Daifan sits on the mat :p
<AshnabisNarrator> Directly across from you sits the chief magistrate of the territory, Oskor Vostizi. Seated to his right is a woman you don't know but who seems to have some sort of official capacity here. Seated along the side of the room is an envoy who you think you've seen around, but whom none of you know.
<AshnabisNarrator> Various other officials and servants scurry in and out of the room, providing materials for the hearing.
* Llillilli sits on the mat. SHe is topless as usual with her loins girded :v
* Veznara bows.
<Veznara> Good morning, magistrate.
<Llillilli> (oh wait I missed that there were also chairs lmao)
* Oskor is a very tall, imposing figure of a man with a neatly-trimmed beard, his black hair tied back in a single braid and topped with a red skullcap. He is perhaps around thirty, with a faded, practical red riding jacket belted about his thick waist.
<Llillilli> (I'll take the chair next to D :v)
* Jimba makes suitable polite gestures.
* Junan will find a seat
* Veznara will either wait for Oskor to gesture or say something, or sit down in a chair if everybody else seems to have...
* Katenzhi will stand at the back, looking a bit bored.
* Jimba frowns at where Daifan is sitting and elects to stand unless directed otherwise.
* Kikhash is shorter than Oskor but wider, fat but with what seems like a considerable layer of muscle underneath. He is in his mid-thirties, with short dark brown hair and a mustache, and wears a pair of cream-coloured trousers with a striking dark red tunic trimmed with silver ornaments. A black and white envoy's cap sits atop his head.
* Mura is a woman in her late twenties, with her hair wrapped in a dark yellow headscarf and a freckled, rather homely face. She wears a pair of slate grey trousers under a blue robe slit up both sides.
<AshnabisNarrator> Daifan, to your surprise you see Kemai talking to the envoy deferentially. He looks over in your direction briefly in a fleeting moment and nods. He then receives some instructions from the envoy and proceeds quickly out of the room, taking a sheaf of papers with him.
<Daifan> :3
<AshnabisNarrator> A single scribe, a young lad sitting at a small table behind Oskor, is the only one of the miscellaneous folks remaining in the room after a moment. You can see that there is a guard outside the door, who closes the doors behind her, leaving you inside.
* Daifan winks at him if no one is looking
<Daifan> (Kemai, not the scribe)
* Oskor waits until everyone is settled and the room is cleared and the door closed.
<Oskor> Thank you for coming. I appreciate your time and I have conveyed to Commissioner Utus and to Attache Ismend our gratitude for their willingness to part with you for this inquiry.
<Oskor> I would like to introduce you to Mura of the Gaflikhori, who is General Ghurtai's appointed advisor for investigative matters, who has been conducting most of our work on this matter.
* Mura nods in greeting
* Oskor nods in the direction of the woman seated next to him.
* Veznara nods back
* Jimba nods.
<Oskor> Also, Kikhash of the Urdondu, who is the head of diplomatic affairs for the colony, has requested the General's permission to attend this inquiry and I have granted it.
<Kikhash> Good morning.
<Veznara> Good morning.
* Daifan nods defferentially to these people
<Oskor> We have read the report submitted from the land registry earlier this month regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Ilben Zhuldofi. We thank you for your heroic efforts in retrieving his body and enabling this inquiry to proceed.
* Junan nods to the introductions
<Oskor> And now, let us begin.
* Oskor begins to intone
<Oskor> This inquiry shall be conducted under Imperial scrutiny, with the eyes of the ancestors upon us. May our voices speak nothing but truth and our hearts be filled with the courage to do so.
* Jimba is a little uncomfortable with how official this all is.
<AshnabisNarrator> (You may make a Will save DC 22 if you do not want to be governed by Imperial scrutiny with the eyes of the ancestors upon you)
<Veznara> (Is there a standard ritual response to this? If so, I'll give it at the appropriate times...)
* Katenzhi will give the save a miss. She has nothing to hide... about this.
<Jimba> (Literally could not make it if I wanted)
<Junan> (ill try just cause...)
<Llillilli> (I can if I roll a 20 lol)
<Junan> !roll 1d20+1
* Daifan rolls for Junan: [ 1d20+1 ] getting [ 8 ] which, after the modifier [ 1 ] totals [ 9 ].
<Llillilli> !roll 1d20+5
* Daifan rolls for Llillilli: [ 1d20+5 ] getting [ 15 ] which, after the modifier [ 5 ] totals [ 20 ].
<Junan> (nope)
<Llillilli> (that's for D)
<Daifan> (close but alas)
<Jimba> (Oh, yeah, I guess there's that)
<Llillilli> !roll 1d20+2
* Daifan rolls for Llillilli: [ 1d20+2 ] getting [ 9 ] which, after the modifier [ 2 ] totals [ 11 ].
<Llillilli> (NARP)
<Jimba> (So close! :p)
* Daifan will just be quiet then unless directed o speak directly
<AshnabisNarrator> (OK, for the duration of this scene you are unable to tell a deliberate falsehood. You may still be evasive or say nothing at all.)
<Veznara> (Is Oskor using fos?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (no, this is the power of the reckoners, passed down through the generations from the days of Empire)
* Daifan will just try and disappear into the floor and try not to show their discomfort once things turn all official)
<AshnabisNarrator> (Veznara, you would be familiar with this, probably Junan and Daifan too. The others of you have probably never dealt with a high-level reckoner in this kind of context)
<Oskor> Let us begin. The inquiry recognizes the authority of Mura of the line of the Gaflikhori to act as questioner.
<Mura> Thank you.
<Mura> We are interested in knowing more about your discussions with Jenam Kergoze, the dead man's neighbour.
<Mura> According to your report you landed at his farm before you visited Zhuldofi's farm, is that correct?
<Veznara> Yes, we did.
<Mura> Why did you do so?
<Veznara> We wished to find out if he had any pertinent information before proceeding to Zhuldofi's farm itself.
<Veznara> To ask what Zhuldolfi was like, and find out if there had been any unusual problems in the area.
<Mura> And what did he report to you?
<Jimba> His farm was closer, so we thought it worthwhile to speak to him first.
<Veznara> He said that Zhuldofi generally kept to himslef, and that the last time he had seen him was about a month previously.
<Katenzhi> Four months, I think. He'd gone up there a month before.
<Katenzhi> But he wasn't there.
<Jimba> Yeah.
<Junan> Is that all you want to know is what he said?
<Jimba> That he'd visited the farm a month previous, but hadn't found his neighbor home.
<Veznara> Yes, I beg your pardon - he said that four months previously he had gone over there to borrow a wheelbarrow, but been refused.
<Mura> Did he say anything about the relations between the two neighbours?
<Veznara> He claimed not to know the man very well - to have met him only three or four times in total, I believe.
<Veznara> He said that Zhudolfi never seemed very glad to see him.
<Katenzhi> Didn't sound like Zhuldofi was the neighborly type.
<Veznara> No.
* Kikhash seems vaguely bored, and yawns.
* Katenzhi sympathizes.
<Mura> Did he seem credible to you at that time?
<Jimba> At that time, we didn't have any reason not to believe him.
<Veznara> There seemed no reason to doubt Jenam Kergoze's words. He appeared to me to be friendly and at ease.
<Veznara> In view of subsequent discoveries, of course, I am no longer so certain.
<Oskor> Hold up. Do you now have some reason not to believe him.
* Oskor raises an authoritative hand.
* Mura gives Oskor a bit of an annoyed look at the interruption of her line of questioning, but doesn't say anything
<Veznara> (Sorry, checking the logs...)
<Jimba> Well, we found a body, and he didn't put himself in that pond.
<Katenzhi> Well... the guys dead, right? I'd say his neighobor's as good a suspect as anyone.
* Jimba nods towards Katenzhi.
<Junan> his body was brought back. Couldnt the Voice just ask him?
<Oskor> Yes, we did so.
<Oskor> We asked Voice Tegus to supervise a questioning of the body of Ilben Zhuldofi. He reports that the victim described his killer as "A young man with a beard."
<Veznara> (Does that fit Kergoze's description?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (it does)
<Veznara> (But if he knew the man's name, wouldn't he just have said it?)
<AshnabisAssistant> (are you going to ask that out loud? ;)
<Veznara> (I'll check my own knowledge first... :P )
<Llillilli> That's a lot of people.
* Katenzhi shrugs.
<Katenzhi> Less than half of them.
<AshnabisAssistant> (answers from the dead can often be cryptic or confusing. but if he knew the man's name, yes, it is entirely possible he could have just said "It was Jenam Kergoze.")
<Llillilli> You think women can't have beards?
<Veznara> Hmmm. Jenam Kergoze does have a beard - or did, when we saw him.
<Veznara> But if Zhuldofi knew his name, might he not have said it explicitly to the Voice who questioned him?
<Jimba> Yeah, but he said "young man" Llillilli.
<Mura> He might have.
* Mura agrees with Veznara.
<Veznara> To be clear about my previous comment, Magistrate, I meant only that Jenam Kergoze was the only other person we had seen in the area.
<Veznara> That did make me reconsider my previous evaluation. But I had no other cause.
<Mura> Did Kergoze do or say anything else while you were there that raised any suspicions?
* Veznara considers the question for a moment
* Junan will play back the conversation in his mind, to see if he remembers anything since I wasnt really looking at the time
<Veznara> No, I can't think of anything.
<Junan> (can I try a retroactive sense motive roll?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (no, but you can make me a retroactive Perception roll to search your memory of the scene)
<Junan> !roll 1d20+4
* Daifan rolls for Junan: [ 1d20+4 ] getting [ 4 ] which, after the modifier [ 4 ] totals [ 8 ].
<AshnabisNarrator> Junan, something has been bugging you at the back of your mind for a while.
<Veznara> He did say that he'd come to town a month before.
<Junan> (ill destiny reroll, just cause)
<AshnabisNarrator> (OK)
<Junan> !roll 1d20+4
* Daifan rolls for Junan: [ 1d20+4 ] getting [ 20 ] which, after the modifier [ 4 ] totals [ 24 ].
<AshnabisNarrator> Well first of all, you *totally* think that Jenam was hitting on you, in retrospect.
<AshnabisNarrator> You don't recall seeing a wheelbarrow at his farm, but you also didn't search that area carefully. You know that you did search Ilben's place, and there was no wheelbarrow there.
<AshnabisNarrator> What that means, of course, is open to interpretation.
<Junan> If you suspect Jenam Kergoze, why not just question him?
<Mura> Jenam Kergoze was taken into custody by the Sentinels two days ago. He denies any involvement with the murder.
<Jimba> Well, that's not surprising, right?
<Oskor> His testimony was given under Imperial scrutiny. It is not impossible to lie in such a circumstance, but very, very difficult.
<Veznara> (Did we notice anything about the pitchfork? I did take notes about how it was jabbed into the body... did we establish whether it was his own, or someone else's? Is a pitchfork missing from Jenam's farm?)
<Mura> It is possible for people to resist the power of the Reckoner - on occasion ;)
* Mura says with a slight smirk.
<Oskor> Kergoze does not impress us as the sort of individual who would do so easily.
<AshnabisNarrator> (You don't know how many pitchforks he's meant to have had originally. Also you were there first, before Ilben's place - you didn't count pitchforks while there)
<AshnabisNarrator> (you do not have the technical knowhow to distinguish one farmer's pitchfork from another's)
<Mura> Let's move on with the questions - if you have more to ask, there may be a chance to do so later, correct, Magistrate?
<Oskor> Yes, if there's time.
<Mura> What did you find when you arrived at Zhuldofi's landholdings?
<Llillilli> A corpse in a pond
<Veznara> ...we were attacked by creatures soon after landing.
* Veznara shudders
<Veznara> We managed to deal with that threat, and proceeded further onto the farm.
<Veznara> It did not look as though it had been maintained in recent months, but I didn't notice any signs of disruption.
<Veznara> It looked to me as though Zhuldofi had simply left, though I am perhaps not the best detective when it comes to such matters.
<Veznara> And then we came to the pond.
<Veznara> It was there that I noticed a mist, which I realized at once was the sign of a haunt.
<Katenzhi> Yeah, turns out he hadn't gone that far.
<Veznara> Through the grace of the Ancestors, I was able to lay it to rest for a short while... long enough for us to investigate and discover Zhuldofi's body.
<Mura> And in your opinion, what do you think happened to him?
<Veznara> It had been held under the surface by a pitchfork. I took note of the wound, as mentioned in my report.
* Daifan just looks more withdrawn at the mention of the bogwiggles, and stays quiet
<Veznara> (He had been jabbed in the back? Not fallen on the front? :P )
<AshnabisAssistant> (right)
<Veznara> He had been jabbed in the back - clearly not an accident.
* Mura glances at the others to see if any of you have different opinions or more to add
<Veznara> I'm afraid I don't know where the pitchfork came from - whether it was his, or whether his assailant brought it with him or her and left it behind.
<Veznara> We did check the farm, and I believe we didn't find any other pitchfork. Though there were other tools like a machete, a hoe, buckets, and so on.
<Mura> Very well.
<Mura> If you have any other questions or thoughts, please let us know now.
* Veznara looks around at the others
* Jimba shrugs.
* Llillilli shrugs in unison with Jimba
<Jimba> We're not exactly investigators.
<Jimba> We recovered the body, figured he could be questioned, and assumed we were done, other than maybe needing to do something like this, just to be safe.
<Mura> Your service is appreciated. We will continue working to discover the truth of this matter.
<Jimba> Sorry we can't be more help.
<Oskor> You have been of considerable assistance, on the contrary.
<Oskor> Kergoze seems like the most likely suspect, despite his denial.
<Junan> Just a thought... may mean something or not...
<Oskor> Nothing you have told us today contradicts that.
* Mura glances over at Junan
<Oskor> Yes?
<Junan> Kergoze said he went to borrow a wheelbarrow from Iben.... but there was no wheelbarrow at Iben's place
* Mura glances over at Oskor
<Junan> of course I didnt see one at Kergoze's place either
* Junan shrugs
<Veznara> We didn't search Kergoze's farm, though.
<Veznara> We simply went up and talked to him.
<Daifan> ...
<Daifan> if he had taken it, why mention it to us at all.
* Daifan says quietly
* Oskor considers.
<Veznara> Nervousness, perhaps?
* Mura gives a little nod to Daifan
<Oskor> Would any person care to reiterate the mentioned objection, for the record?
* Daifan restrains a little huff at that
<Junan> Jenem said the following...
<Jimba> "If he had taken it, why mention it to us at all?"
<Junan> "I've really only met him about three or four times - I've been here for about a year, but like I said, he isn't very welcoming. When I first arrived, I introduced myself, and then after that, I stopped in a few times to borrow something or ask his advice, as he's been farming here much longer than I have, but he never seemed too glad to see me. The last time I saw him was about four months
<Junan> ago, when I asked to borrow his wheelbarrow and he said no. "
* Jimba says with a raised eyebrow.
* Veznara nods
<Veznara> Yes, that sounds like his exact words!
<Jimba> Pretty sure they are.
<Mura> Thank you.
<Daifan> so... perhaps someone else had taken it.
<Daifan> :x
<Mura> We will inquire whether a wheelbarrow was found at Kergoze's farm, and have the Sentinels search for it if possible.
<Jimba> "So...perhaps someone else had taken it."
* Jimba says with a sigh, eyeing the people overseeing the meeting.
<Mura> Can you think of anyone else who might have taken it?
* Mura asks in response to that
<Jimba> This is ridiculous.
* Daifan shakes their head
<Jimba> You sure?
<Katenzhi> Weren't many people out that way.
* Jimba looks at Daifan.
* Katenzhi also looks annoyed at the proceedings.
<Oskor> While I am concerned that Kergoze's denial seems to be heartfelt, the circumstances don't point to anyone else.
* Daifan shrugs
<Junan> what about Zefa of the Teltai?
<Jimba> Though, I mean, being fair, did he really have any motive?
<Jimba> Yeah, I was going to say.
<Jimba> There was someone who wanted the land.
* Kikhash scowls at Junan.
<Junan> I mean she did start the whole thing
<Jimba> And we know she passes through the area regularly.
<Kikhash> I do not think that is an appropriate line of questioning. If making a claim is grounds for an accusation of murder, no one will go through your land registry.
<Jimba> Right?
* Jimba looks to Junan to confirm.
* Kikhash interjects from the sidelines.
<Veznara> Zefa is not a young man with a beard.
* Oskor looks annoyed at the interjection.
<Jimba> Could have had him murdered.
<Katenzhi> Oh there's plenty of ways around that.
<Jimba> She ships things through, if I remember. Presumably she doesn't do it by herself.
* Veznara looks scandalized at the suggestions
<Veznara> These are all pure conjecture!
* Katenzhi shrugs.
<Katenzhi> Sure.
<Jimba> Yeah, that's sort of how you figure things out.
<Katenzhi> It's just a thought.
<Veznara> It seems to me that the course of action the Magistrate has suggested is the most sensible one. If there is indeed a wheelbarrow on Kergoze's land, that is most suggestive.
<Mura> The investigation is not yet concluded. We will pursue all avenues that have been raised in this session.
<Jimba> Yeah, but maybe talk to Zefa and her crew.
* Mura says, trying to calm things down a bit
<Jimba> Okay, good.
<Jimba> Best to cover all possibilities than condemn an innocent man, no?
<Veznara> Is anything known of Zhuldofi himself? He strikes me as the sort of man who had few friends, and may have offended others.
<Jimba> He had it coming, Veznara?
* Jimba smirks.
* Llillilli snickers.
* Veznara stares at Jimba
<Veznara> No.
<Oskor> We have looked into his past. Unfortunately anything that happened before he came to the territory is beyond our immediate reach and purview.
<Junan> Are there any other questions you would like to ask?
<Mura> Our investigations suggest you are correct, Hand Veznara, at least as far as we are able to determine - he had few friends and kept mainly to himself.
<Mura> I have no further questions at this time. We appreciate your attention in this matter.
<Jimba> Anything we can be commanded to do to help.
* Kikhash yawns, relaxing.
* Jimba nods graciously.
* Katenzhi nudges Jimba and rolls her eyes.
<Oskor> Your testimony here given is recorded and noted for this inquiry. We thank you for your time and devoted service once again.
* Veznara nods, and stands
* Junan will stand
<Veznara> Of course, Magistrate. If there is anything further we can do, we are at your service.
* Daifan will also stand
* Katenzhi will head for the door.
* Jimba will stand, give a slight bow, and turn to go.

The group discuss what happened and make plans to go for a drink

<Katenzhi> Alright. I need food then. And a drink. Anyone up for it?
<Llillilli> I like food
<Jimba> I could definitely use a drink.
<Junan> both sound good to me
* Daifan will also give a little bow before leaving
<Llillilli> Daifan?
<Daifan> pardon?
<Jimba> Do you want to come get something to eat with us?
<Llillilli> DO you want to... oh.
<Llillilli> :/
<Daifan> it is alright.
<Daifan> Thank you, though.
* Jimba shrugs.
<Jimba> All right.
<Llillilli> See you soon then.
<Daifan> I have someone here I wanted to speak with, if I can find him :3
<Junan> its nice to see that they're investigating that fella's death, but this seemed to be a lot of effort for very little useful
<Llillilli> They're just going to blame the neighbour so that woman can have what she wants
<Jimba> We'll be at [place] later if you want to catch up.
<Jimba> Yeah, I think you're right.
<Jimba> (to Llillilli)
* Katenzhi shrugs.
<Daifan> I don't know.... It seems that someon eople want that, but other are being more thorough
<Llillilli> Whether he did it or not.
<Katenzhi> He is the most likely suspect, honestly.
<Veznara> Zhuldofi told the Voice that it was a young man!
<Jimba> Yeah, but it doesn't really add up.
* Daifan nods to Jimba
<Llillilli> There is certainly a shortage of young men to be found here, it's true.
<Jimba> Yeah, but there are ways around that.
<Veznara> If Zefa hired someone to murder the man, who did she get to do it, then?
<Jimba> Heh
<Katenzhi> This is the definition of "Not our job."
<Daifan> There is information missing
* Daifan looks at Veznara
<Daifan> "Someone who wanted a wheelbarrow?"
<Veznara> I have no idea.
* Llillilli snorts.
* Jimba chuckles.
<Daifan> unless it is at the bottom of the pond where we found him
<Katenzhi> I want a wheelbarrow. It would help with cleaning up after Jimba's pets.
<Veznara> Surely we would have found it at the time.
<Jimba> Well, maybe they'll search for it now.
<Daifan> well. Where you found him
<Jimba> We *have* a wheelbarrow, Kat. It's how I clean up after Washteppo.
<Junan> Its done now. We did our part. I'm sure we'll here how it turns out.
<Jimba> You really think we're done?
<Jimba> I feel like they're going to have more questions or something.
<Jimba> Just a feeling.
<Veznara> What more do we have to tell them?
<Junan> there is nothing more we can add.
<Llillilli> They'll only investigate as much as they have to before they give the land to that rich woman.
<Veznara> There is a haunt! They will get to the bottom of it one way or another, if they possibly can.
<Katenzhi> We don't know that, Llillilli.
* Llillilli shrugs
<Veznara> No indeed. Why are you so determined that she is a villain?
<Jimba> Oh, it seems like they're going to investigate more, but I do think she's going to get the land.
<Llillilli> I didn't say that she did it.
<Llillilli> I just think they don't care who did.
<Katenzhi> I mean they have to go with the most likely case. It's unlikely that the killer left a signed note.
<Daifan> they don't... they can just say they don't know
* Katenzhi shrugs.
<Katenzhi> When's the last time anyone official ever said that?
<Junan> The reckoner questioned Jenam and he said he didn't so it... so they can't just kill him on suspicions.
<Jimba> Well, I mean, it's *possible* to beat a Reckoner. Just difficult.
<Veznara> If they were to find undeniable physical evidence...
<Veznara> But it does all seem very circumstancial.
<Junan> lets drink and enjoy the break in the rain
<Junan> and be done with this
<Jimba> Here here!
<Katenzhi> Yeah, Right now the only crime I care about is the fact that I don't have a drink.
<Jimba> Criminal.
<Jimba> A damn shame.

Sizhif talks to Jimba, Katenzhi, and Llillilli about the kidnapping of some diplomats by pirates

<AshnabisNarrator> Jimba, Katenzhi, and Llillilli, you are headed back towards the gate to the stone walls of the fort and from there to head out to get a well-deserved drink.
<AshnabisNarrator> As you walk, you see the territory's master of sail, Sizhif Suster, walking swiftly in your direction. She raises her hand as if to get your attention.
* Sizhif is a portly middle-aged woman with grey hair pulled back in a sensible bun. She has a green and black checked dashi around her waist and a cloak around her shoulders to keep off the rain.
<Katenzhi> Sizhif!
* Katenzhi waves
* Sizhif trudges over quickly.
* Jimba smiles and waves as well.
<Sizhif> Whew, I'm glad I caught you! I mean, I could have found you at the boat I suppose, but I heard you were here today and thought to myself, where better?
<Jimba> Glad to be caught. Did you need something?
<Sizhif> Well, better than out here in the rain would be in my quarters. If you'd care to join me.
<Katenzhi> Sure thing. You have booze, right?
<Sizhif> I have beer and wine.
<Katenzhi> Lead on!
* Jimba will follow along amicably.
* Llillilli sighs.
<Jimba> How's things?
<Jimba> Busy as always?
* Sizhif leads you out of the stone walls into the area of the fort with wooden palisades, and toward her small, relatively modest home.
<Sizhif> Busier than usual, I'm afraid.
<Katenzhi> That a bad thing?
<Sizhif> Well ... sometimes it is, yeah.
* Llillilli follows where Jimba goes...
<Jimba> Hard to keep track of everything? Folks might be flouting regulations and such?
* Sizhif 's house is simply decorated in nautical themes.
* Sizhif fixes you whatever you'd like to drink.
<Sizhif> Worse than that, unfortunately.
<Sizhif> That's what I want to talk to you folks about. Not sure who to talk to about all this, but ... thought you might be able to give me some guidance, at least, if not help directly.
* Katenzhi has wine if it's being offered.
<Katenzhi> What's up?
<Jimba> We'll do what we can.
* Llillilli will just have water, thanks.
<Llillilli> (or tea, or juice or somethin)
<Sizhif> Well. Okay, I probably shouldn't be telling you this. I'm under orders to keep it quiet. But I've known you since you were small, and your family.
<Sizhif> What I'm about to tell you, it can't be found to have come from me, ok?
<Llillilli> *sssssip*
<Jimba> Didn't hear a thing.
<Katenzhi> Yeah, of course. Sounds pretty serious...
<Sizhif> I serve at the pleasure of the General, and she would not be pleased to know I'm telling you this. I wouldn't be telling you, except that you might have some insight.
<Sizhif> There's been a problem at sea and, well, it is going to get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid.
<Jimba> How do you mean?
<Llillilli> . o O (oh, boat stuff)
<Sizhif> A couple of weeks ago, a ship carrying a Hasmalan noblewoman, Tertu Vunughi, and her daughter Sezlo, was meant to arrive at port. Vunughi is the lineage of the Governor of Hasmala back home, I guess that's some kind of ruler the Hand picks to manage the whole country. Anyway, these are some kind of his relations, cousins or something.
<Sizhif> Except they didn't show. And now we got a ransom demand from the Cormorant Fleet, Yeggun Shotser's people.
<Sizhif> You know him, right, or know of him?
<Katenzhi> (Do we?)
<Llillilli> (I assume I have no idea who any of these people are xD)
<Jimba> Yeah, I know of him.
<AshnabisNarrator> (Llillilli, definitely not, you don't care about this. Katenzhi, you've heard the name and could make K:local if you have it to know more. Jimba, you definitely do know)
<Jimba> Met him once, but that's it.
<Sizhif> Well I wouldn't recommend meeting him twice, if you know what I mean. Nasty fellow.
<Jimba> So I've heard.
<Katenzhi> (Iiiiii... do no. I should really fix that.)
<Katenzhi> What do they want?
<Jimba> Okay, so, they pay the ransom, they get the relations back.
<Sizhif> You know, some of these folk what call themselves pirates are just sailors who like to brag. But the Cormorant Fleet has been pretty aggressive lately.
<Jimba> Standard pirate crap.
* Jimba nods.
<Sizhif> Well, not so simple.
<Sizhif> They are demanding five thousand gold horns and the release of one of their ships and all the crew, what we captured last fall, in exchange for the release of the prisoners.
* Katenzhi gives a long whistle.
<Sizhif> If it was just the money, maybe we could do it. Although that's a *lot* of money. But the ship and the pirates, that's uncalled for.
<Jimba> Yikes, yeah.
<Jimba> That'
<Sizhif> We aren't going to release prisoners scheduled for execution.
<Sizhif> Honestly some of them might already be executed.
<Jimba> (I take it piracy is a capital crime?)
* Jimba sighs heavily.
<Jimba> That's not going to go over well.
<AshnabisNarrator> (it's not quite as formal as that, but yes, you can be executed for piracy.)
<Sizhif> General Ghurtai's real upset as you can imagine. I guess this Tertu was meant to replace the current Hasmalan governor. And with relations not always being so hot with the Hasmalan Hand priestesses over at Zhumne, she's worried we're going to have a thousand bubun at our doorstep, on top of the pirates.
<Jimba> Ugh.
<Katenzhi> I mean that's pretty rough.. but I'm not sure how we can help.
<Jimba> But why tell...yeah.
<Jimba> I'd love to help if we could, but I don't see what we can do.
* Llillilli is pretty lost so just continues sipping the tea >.>
<Sizhif> Reason I'm talking to you, and I guess Jimba, if I had to guess I'd imagine it would be you who would know most, is that I know you got friends who are pirates, maybe Cormorant, maybe Black Stork, I don't know.
<Sizhif> I'm hoping to find a way to get through to these folks, negotiate, something. Cause I can't have a war out on the bay.
<Jimba> I was worried you'd say something like that.
<Jimba> I might know some people.
<Jimba> I can see what I can find out.
* Sizhif nods.
<Jimba> Maybe they can be talked down a little.
<Jimba> I've got a few ideas.
<Llillilli> Don't get *yourself* in trouble, Jimba.
<Sizhif> I'm not releasing that ship and crew unless I have to. We pay the ransom, fine, Hasmala reimburses us. But the pirates, we might as well be telling the natives they got the right to waylay whoever they want.
<Jimba> Do you know how many might have been executed already?
<Sizhif> I don't know for sure. The General is going to take a count and figure that out. At least one, she thinks.
<Jimba> I'm sure there's a compromise in there somewhere.
<Sizhif> The Cormorant folks, they're savages, sure, but they know what they're doing, as far as we can tell, no one's hurt, ship's fine. They know how to take hostages. But what if the next group just wants revenge?
<Sizhif> General Ghurtai is worried that this sort of thing will interrupt the movement of people and goods by sea.
<Katenzhi> yeah, bad news for everyone
<Katenzhi> Especially us traders
<Jimba> Yeah.
<Jimba> I think there're ways for the General to come out of this with the threat of force intact.
<Katenzhi> I'm less useful on the pirate side of things, but Jimba, if you need me to go with you and do the tough girl act, I can do that.
* Jimba chuckles.
<Jimba> I might at that.
<Jimba> The Cormorant...they're nothing to fuck with. Gotta look tough.
* Llillilli frowns.
<Sizhif> How are relations with the Cormorant and the Black Stork these days, do you know?
<Jimba> (Do I know?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (Traditionally they've been rivals. You'd have to talk to Liraula, really, to know more specifically about what they are at this moment. Hasn't been on your list of things to chat with her about)
<Jimba> I can ask around.
<Jimba> They're competing concerns, but it hasn't been too bad, so far as I know.
* Sizhif nods.
<Sizhif> I'm not asking you to solve the problem for me. Just - if there's a path forward, any information you'd have would be appreciated.
<Jimba> I'll see what I can do, certainly.
<Sizhif> Thanks. I owe you, Jimba.
<Jimba> It's on the house.
<Sizhif> And you too, Katenzhi and Pa ...lililili.
<Katenzhi> No worries. We'll do what we can.
<Llillilli> My name is Llillilli.
* Llillilli scowls.
<Jimba> Thanks for the drinks. I'm sure you're busy, so we'll get out of your hair.
* Jimba tries to make an exit so the slip doesn't cause too much trouble.
<Sizhif> You're welcome. Stay safe.
<Jimba> We do our best.
<Katenzhi> You too

Junan and Veznara are questioned about the temple in the swamp by Lieutenant Tiz Chomakosh

<AshnabisNarrator> Veznara and Junan, as the most literate of your group, you are heading back to the office to complete some paperwork regarding your interview.
<AshnabisNarrator> As you are heading towards the gates, an unfamiliar woman comes up to you.
<Junan> (damn paperwork... I'm sure it part of my employment, but sigh)
* Tiz is a remarkably tall woman in her mid-thirties, with a dark complexion and long wavy black hair worn coiled in braids around her head. She wears a Sentinel's red coat and black sash, with a pattern of beads that denotes her status as a lieutenant (for those who recognize such things).
<Tiz> Excuse me, you are Hand Veznara, yes? And you must be Junan?
<Veznara> Yes. May we help you?
<Junan> Yes thats us, and you are?
<Tiz> Yes, I hope so.
<Tiz> My name is Lieutenant Tiz Chomakosh. I work as a military advisor for General Ghurtai on matters relating to fortifications and security.
<AshnabisNarrator> (You would probably both recognize the name.)
<Tiz> Do you have a few minutes to speak to me? It concerns the report you just submitted on your trip to the abandoned Voice temple.
* Veznara looks at Junan
<Veznara> Certainly.
* Junan smiles
<Junan> I can't see why not
<Veznara> Do you have an office we can go to?
<Tiz> Yes, absolutely. Come with me.
* Veznara follows the lieutenant!
<Veznara> (I take it she would be authorized to ask about this?)
* Junan follows as well, checking the lieutenant out
<AshnabisNarrator> (Yes, absolutely. She's like, one of the General's close advisors, though exactly what the chain of command is, you couldn't say.)
<AshnabisNarrator> (She's a military officer of relatively high rank.)
<Veznara> (And religiously? )
<Veznara> (Well, we'll see. :P )
<AshnabisNarrator> (She doesn't have any particular religious rank or anything like that. The Corps is separate from the military leadership. So she's not your boss, but neither does she report to Dezmali.)
<AshnabisNarrator> She takes you to her well-apportioned office, a clean, tidy room in the central keep.
<AshnabisNarrator> (You can both make a Perception roll)
<Junan> !roll 1d20+4
* Daifan rolls for Junan: [ 1d20+4 ] getting [ 14 ] which, after the modifier [ 4 ] totals [ 18 ].
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 8 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 15 ].
* Junan takes it all in
<AshnabisNarrator> Junan, you notice, as the lieutenant moves around the room to sit behind a desk, that there are heavy bruises around her neck and collarbone. She shifts and sits and a moment later, it's all concealed by her jacket.
* Tiz sits.
<Tiz> Thank you for your time. I will try not to take too much of it.
* Veznara also sits, assuming there are chairs to sit in.
<AshnabisNarrator> (No straw mats for you!)
<Veznara> (No indeed!)
<Veznara> (But we might have to stand. :s )
<Tiz> So, as I mentioned, our interest is in the temple that you investigated earlier this month.
<Veznara> Yes?
<Tiz> I'm interested to know more about its condition.
* Junan will take a seat
<Tiz> Whether it could be repaired or restored.
<Tiz> It's got some water in one end of it, yes?
<Veznara> That's correct, yes. It appeared to be partly sunken into the swamp - or partly flooded?
* Tiz nods.
<Tiz> Other than that, what was its condition?
* Veznara thinks
<Veznara> Well, its roof was rotted away. I think it must have been wood, once, but it was gone.
<Veznara> The same was true for the gateway.
<Veznara> (Didn't we put this in our reports)
<Veznara> (?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (Yes, you did.)
<Tiz> As for the masonry, though, was it largely intact?
<Veznara> The walls toward the sound end, where there was more water, seemed to be crumbling.
* Tiz nods
<Tiz> Yes, I saw that in the report.
<Veznara> Have the Voice indicated an interest in reclaiming it formally, then?
<Tiz> No such request has been received yet, no. But it is a matter of some interest.
<Veznara> The southern part did also appear to have a sunken area. One that was originally built sunken relative to the rest of the floor, I mean.
<Veznara> Or so it appeared.
* Tiz makes a note.
<Veznara> Junan? Do you have anything to add?
<Tiz> We also wanted to follow up regarding your information that there had been some inhabitation there, from the locals, some sort of use of the temple?
<Junan> Not really on the state of the temple... its not like I'm a maison or carpenter
<Veznara> Yes, so it appeared. The place is still sanctified.
<Veznara> We did see some evidence of recent activity there... remains of a fire.
* Tiz nods.
<Tiz> But whether it was being used as a temple, or merely as a convenient campsite, you have no opinion?
<Veznara> (The ashes were in the hearth, correct? Would that indicate religious use?)
<AshnabisNarrator> (it could, but it really could just have been a cooking fire or campfire. I mean, it's a hearth, an obvious place to put fire.)
<Veznara> I can only speculate. The recent ashes were in the hearth, which does not appear conclusive to me one way or another.
<Veznara> But as I say, the place was still sanctified.
<Veznara> If it had been abandoned completely, that should not have been the case.
<Junan> there is something off about the place
<Tiz> Unless it was abandoned in haste, or its original inhabitants killed, right?
<Tiz> One has to de-hallow a place, I'm not sure if that is the word, as I understand it.
<Veznara> Yes. But even if the place had been abandoned in a hurry, I do not think they would have left it that way.
<Veznara> The ancestors... would not be abandoned.
<Veznara> (Right? :P )
<AshnabisNarrator> (right, except in deeply dire circumstances, like everyone is killed all at once, or something like that)
<Veznara> It is most unusual.
<Tiz> And then, as you say, there is something off about the place. You had ... visions? experiences? while there?
<Veznara> I did not. Others did...
<Veznara> They found themselves driven from the place, by visions of fire, I believe.
* Junan nods
<Veznara> It should be in the report.
<Junan> thats correct
<Tiz> Yes, it is, and I wanted to clarify.
<Tiz> You found no haunts - the temple is still hallowed. So, you figure, this is the work of people, perhaps just trying to keep you away?
<Veznara> It did appear to be some sort of magical defense.
<Veznara> I do not know whether that is a common practice of the Voice. Have you consulted them?
* Tiz nods.
<Veznara> May I ask what they said about it?
<Tiz> They report that this is quite unusual. They do not normally protect the ancestors in that way, and in any case, such magics are not the sort of thing that would last for decades or centuries. It would need to be constantly protected.
<Tiz> For instance, by a stoneguard, and not an ancestral one.
<Junan> a sneaky one with a supply of fos and a pension for the dramatic?
<Tiz> Perhaps so. That's what I'm wondering.
<Veznara> And this is of particular concern to you?
<Tiz> Someone stealing a walking stick and then returning it to you with a sort of warning, that seems like the work of a man and not a spirit.
<Veznara> Yes. But there is a spiritual dimension to all this as well, I think.
<Tiz> Well, it is a temple, so in that respect, I agree.
<Tiz> The question is, whether it might be restored as an active temple, to serve the growing needs of our communities, as the territory expands.
<Veznara> But the Voice has not requested your aid in restoring it - not yet, at least?
<Tiz> The temple of the Voice in Kaskind, and the temple in Timiil, have not asked for such assistance.
<Tiz> There are some, I'm sure, who would simply like to unhallow the place and forget it ever existed
<Junan> I don't see what all the fuss is about? If someone wants to guard an abandoned temple in the middle of the swamp, why not just let him be?
<Junan> If and when its decided to be used... deal with them at that point.
<Tiz> If others want to use this place, this holy place of great antiquity, it is for the General to decide who might use it.
<Tiz> That is your job, yes, to provide guidance so that the General might make wise decisions regarding the apportionment of lands?
<Veznara> But the General of course wishes to know what it is all about, I'm sure.
<Tiz> Yes.
<Veznara> There may well be local... sensitivities... that must be taken into consideration.
<Tiz> Of course. But it is also clear that the priests at the temple of the Voice in Timiil knew nothing about this place.
<Tiz> There is the matter of this ... Sashnir group. But they do not appear to have a valid claim.
<Veznara> Has Voice Erku been able to shed any light on the matter?
<Tiz> I have not spoken to him personally, yet. But he does not work for the General. You do.
<Tiz> If this is just a matter of a handful of locals using a half-remembered place from time to time, perhaps not even knowing it is hallowed, that is certainly within our rights to reapportion the land, for instance, either to unhallow it and reuse it, or to keep it hallowed and apportion it to some new Voice temple that may emerge.
<Veznara> Does the General wish for us to return and investigate further?
<Tiz> No, not at this time. If she does, of course the request will come to you through Commissioner Utus.
<AshnabisNarrator> (You can both make a Sense Motive, if you like)
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 15 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 22 ].
<Junan> !roll 1d20+4
* Daifan rolls for Junan: [ 1d20+4 ] getting [ 11 ] which, after the modifier [ 4 ] totals [ 15 ].
<AshnabisNarrator> There's definitely something she's not telling you here. It doesn't make complete sense. You're not even sure why she, of anyone, would be meeting with you.
<Veznara> Well, I am sure we will be pleased to do so if she so chooses. For now, though, I cannot think of anything to add to our reports.
<Junan> I hope we helped clarify things Lieutenant
<Veznara> Yes. Is there anything else we can do for you?
<Tiz> Not at the moment. I do want to let you know that this temple has attracted some attention from us here at the Fort. If there are any further formal reports filed, we will certainly be laying eyes on them. Me, for sure, perhaps even the General.
<Veznara> If the General asks us to investigate further, I am sure we will be pleased to do so.
<Junan> I'll make sure to keep the handwriting neat then
<Tiz> Thank you for your time.
<Veznara> Of course, lieutenant.
* Veznara gets up
<Veznara> Should we expect a request to investigate more, do you think?
<Tiz> At this time, no.
<Veznara> (Sense Motive again?)
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 13 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 20 ].
* Junan will stand
<AshnabisNarrator> (Just the same kind of weird vibe about the whole thing.)
<AshnabisNarrator> (Nothing more specific)
* Junan will head out of the office
<Veznara> Very well. In that case, I believe Junan and I need to get back to other business. If we can be of further help, do let us know!

Junan and Veznara talk further amongst themselves

* Veznara also leaves, and catches up to Junan
<Junan> well that was strange
<Veznara> Yes...
* Veznara waits until they are far enough away before speaking again
<Veznara> Yes, that was... odd. Why was she questioning us about things we'd already stated clearly in our reports?
<Junan> maybe she cant read?
<Junan> this whole day has been strange to me
<Veznara> But she clearly already knew what the reports said.
* Veznara sighs.
<Veznara> That temple...
<Veznara> What is Lieutenant Tiz Chomakosh' background? Do you know?
<Junan> I've heard the name before, but thats about it
<Veznara> Yes, she's a prominent member of the General's staff. I find myself wondering if she's local, though.
<Veznara> I've been getting more and more of a feeling that there are a few locals who know all about this temple, but don't want us to find out.
<Veznara> Have you learned anything more about it since we went there?
<Junan> I honestly haven't even asked about it, and I really don't have much interest in ever going back there.
<Veznara> Ah. It's different for me, of course - even though I am of the Hand rather than the Voice, it is important to me to understand what is going on there.
<Veznara> Do you think Lieutenant Chomakosh was simply trying to find out if we knew more than we'd put in our reports?
<Veznara> Not to add to the official record, I mean, but because she wanted to be sure we *didn't
* know somehting?
<Junan> maybe? but we have little motive to hide anything
<Veznara> No, but it may mean that she *does*. :/
<Veznara> I'm afraid I have so little local knowledge.
<Junan> Isn't that like playing cards with half your hand facing your opponent? Just by questioning us, she's giving us more reasone to be curious?
<Veznara> Well, she does have an official position. Which gives her a pretext for speaking to us about it.
<Veznara> We were here for further questioning about another report to begin with, after all.
<Veznara> This interview just felt profoundly different, though.
<Junan> even the first one was strange if you ask me.
<Veznara> Or maybe she did realize it would make us curious, but it was important enough that she wanted to interview us anyway...
<Veznara> Yes, there do seem to be things going on in the murder investigation as well.
<Junan> I'm a trained Envoy. I can repeat back every word from our conversation with Jenam. They know that.
<Veznara> Who were the other people in the interview? I don't fully understand what their interest was.
<Junan> probably protecting their own interests
<Veznara> But what are those interests?
<Junan> Is this what its like in Taizi, politics in everything?
* Veznara smiles ruefully
<Veznara> I don't think it's just Taizi.
<Veznara> What is it like in Daligash?
<Junan> In Daligash, its easy to figure out what everyone is trying to accomplish... make more money
<Veznara> Really? Nothing else?
<Junan> it's not that simple, of course, but status is no guarantee of power, but money brings both.
<Junan> hence it colours everything
<Veznara> Well. Here there are evidently other issues at stake. Religious practice, local autonomy, the colony's expansion...
<Junan> I'm sure the wealth from fos plays a big part too
<Veznara> Of course. It's the main reason why we're all here, in the end.
<Junan> even you?
<Veznara> Oh, I don't mean that I intend to start a plantation of my own or anything. Just that without the fos, there wouldn't be such an interest in the area, and hence no land registry.
<Junan> and no strange meetings
* Veznara shakes her head
<Junan> I guess I was curious as to why you ended up in the land registry... its not a typical Hand vocation
<Veznara> Well, I have studied a great deal of history. There aren't many sources that speak of this area, but I've familiarized myself with what I've been able to find.
<Veznara> So I imagine that's a part of why I was chosen.
<Veznara> The other part, of course, is that I have also learned how to draft maps.
<Veznara> But what of you? How did you end up in this job?
<Junan> Oh I finished my apprenticeship and decided to get away from Daligash. A friend of the family got me in the loops to pick up the job.
<Junan> Its good practice for me
<Veznara> Well, it's good to have you on the team.
<Junan> speaking of team, we're supposed to meet them for a drink and food
<Veznara> Ah, yes. Where have they all gotten to?

Kemai tells Daifan about the ship full of corpseborn going to Galdai Ebesnata

<AshnabisAssistant> Daifan, as you leave the building, you see Kemai across a small courtyard, sitting unobtrusively.
* Kemai wears a plain brown tunic and tan dashi, such as a servant might wear. Their straight brown hair is worn in a short, simple cut - utterly unremarkable.
* Daifan is dressed in their usual more daligashi style :3
* Daifan will wander over
<Daifan> Well hello there :)
* Kemai nods to greet you, and will walk aside a bit, so you are out of obvious sight.
<Kemai> How did things go?
<Daifan> Well, for who? ;p
<Kemai> Mostly for you.
* Daifan smiles
<Kemai> But if it went bad for someone else, I'd like to know too.
<Daifan> It was fine. Mostly I didn't say anything, and when I did, Jimba had to repeat it 'for the record' :p
* Kemai nods
<Kemai> That's usual procedure.
* Daifan shrugs, 'cause that's just how things are
<Daifan> yes, I figured
<Daifan> other than that, I think some people just want to pin this murder on the neighbor so they can be done with it and give the land away
* Kemai nods, frowning a bit
<Daifan> though, uh, Mura? Seemed more inclined to take questions seriously
<Daifan> she said she woudl look into everythign that was raised, at least
<Kemai> She's not a bad sort. She'll do her job as well as can be expected.
<Daifan> that was my impression
<Daifan> what about the rest?
<Kemai> She and Oskor have a thing. Or had, I'm not positive where they're at these days. I think he wanted to marry her and she didn't want to settle down.
<Kemai> But she won't let that get in the way of her work, I suspect. I mean if she wouldn't listen to him when he wanted to get married, why would she listen to him if he tells her to drop an investigation?
* Daifan smiles at that
<Daifan> sensible indeed
<Kemai> As for Kikhash, I work for him sometimes. He's a good sort of person to work for. He's a revenant, guess he used to be a sentinel and he was killed in battle, but now he's a pacifist, doesn't even use knives for the most part. He's worried he's going to hurt someone. He's been an envoy for a long time now.
* Daifan nods
<Kemai> Honestly I hadn't expected to be here until yesterday. Kikhash requested permission to attend because Zefa, the woman who claimed the dead guy's land, is also an envoy from Daligash, from the same faction. I don't know any more about their specific relationship though.
<Daifan> He didn't like it when Junan brought up Zefa...
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> that makes sense
<Kemai> I don't think they're sleeping together. He's married, and his wife is the head of security for the Fand merchants. If I were him, I'd be very wary before stepping out on her, that's for sure.
<Daifan> Of course Junan is from the Bronze.... I don't know how much he realy cares, but probably it still makes him more suspicious ;)
<Kemai> Some people try to leave that stuff behind when they come here, but it still carries some weight. It's more important to some than to others.
<Daifan> but if there is something going on with the land acquisition, that would be an interesting reason for them to want someone in the room >.>
* Kemai nods
<Kemai> Was he trying to steer the questioning, do you think? Or mostly just observing?
<Daifan> he was mostly quiet, except to try and shut down that line of questioning
<Kemai> About Zefa?
<Daifan> yes
<Daifan> he said it was inappropriate
<Kemai> hm.
<Daifan> of course if he was there because of her.... well maybe that is really what he thinks, and that's all. I can see how they woudl think that, even if everything is very curious.
<Daifan> I think... if it had not been for the haunt, we would have thought the land abandoned
<Daifan> and would not have found the body
<Kemai> His role is technically diplomacy, keeping track of comings and goings of aristocrats and that kind of thing, keeping the peace among the different factions. The General likes him, I guess, because he used to be a sentinel, but he's got his fingers in more pies than just this one. I certainly learn a lot hanging around him.
<Daifan> I bet
<Daifan> but yes, clearly he was there purely to look out ofr her interests and name.
* Daifan shrugs
<Daifan> Is this what you do all day then? :3
<Kemai> It's something to do with their faction, I suspect. Maybe the Ruby have bigger plans that they don't want to have affected.
<Daifan> well, I don't know what you know about that plot
<Daifan> but it had a very good landing for loading ships I think
<Kemai> That would make it desirable, for sure.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> and there are all kinds of way that could be used, I'm sure
* Kemai nods
<Kemai> And, to answer your question... more or less. Deliver messages, run errands, that kind of thing.
<Daifan> try to piece together everyone's plans?
<Kemai> In my spare time :)
* Daifan smiles
<Kemai> I did learn something the other day that might be of interest to you.
<Daifan> oh?
* Daifan cannot fathom what that might possibly b ;p
<Kemai> It seems that Galdai Ebesnata, who's the cousin to my, ah, employer, is bringing some new laborers to the colony. A boatload of Corpseborn, convicted of minor crimes and instead of executing them, they're sending them here to work on her plantation.
<Daifan> oh :o
<Daifan> INterrsting....
<Kemai> I didn't hear about it from my channels back home. Apparently they're keeping it quiet, and His Imperial Majesty certainly doesn't share these details with me.
* Kemai says with a slightly bitter laugh
<Daifan> :/
<Kemai> But Kikhash deals with these kinds of things, so he knows. Probably some other people too.
<Daifan> are they goign to be kept there I wonder? Or allowed to live in Banei...
<Kemai> That's why I figured I'd mention it - people in Toadtown might want to know. I can't easily wander over there myself most days. You might want to mention it in case they want to prepare for some new visitors. I can't imagine Her Highness keeping them on her lands at night. Wouldn't be seemly.
<Daifan> (Toadtown, whatever)
<Daifan> I will let people know :x
<Daifan> DO you have any idea, uh, how big a boat?
<Kemai> I don't know how many, but at least fifty, a hundred. Expected here within the next couple of months. People are not impressed. Nobody wants even good budal around them, never mind criminals. Course, we're all criminals, really, aren't we?
* Kemai says with a faint smile
<Daifan> of course
<Daifan> :p
<Daifan> that's a lot of people, either way...
* Kemai nods
<Daifan> this is a definite thing?
<Kemai> So far as I can tell. I'd imagine she's putting them to work to challenge the Hand at their own game. If they have bubun, she'll have budal to do the work. It might be she'd hire others, too, if they want to offer their services, but I can't imagine the pay will be good - assuming they get paid at all.
<Daifan> yes... I did wonder about that >.>
<Daifan> I don't think I want to be treated like bubun
<Daifan> I can't imagine anyone else does either
<Kemai> I guess it's preferable to being executed?
<Daifan> and if she decides it isn't worth it, or working, then what happens to them all...
<Kemai> but yeah...
<Daifan> Well I guess we'll see
* Kemai nods
<Kemai> I should probably get back to work before someone notices me loafing around.
<Kemai> Chatting up pretty girls ;)
<Daifan> ^-^
<Daifan> It was nice to see you :3
<Kemai> You as well. I'm sure we'll talk again soon :)
* Kemai will saunter off, then.
* Daifan will let them get away before making their own way out of the fort :3

The group discuss the day's events

<AshnabisNarrator> You gather back at the office after having had your various meetings and discussions.
<Junan> That was an experience
<Daifan> mmhmm.
<Jimba> Think anything will actually come of it?
<Daifan> I learned something interesting from a friend who works for these people
<Jimba> Oh?
<Daifan> Kikash, the Envoy who was there, is from the same faction as Zefa
<Daifan> He asked to be there because of her
<Veznara> Ah. I had been wondering.
* Jimba nods.
<Jimba> Makes sense.
<Junan> well that expains his reaction.
<Junan> which faction specifically?
<Daifan> Well, I assume the Ruby.
<Daifan> I don't know if it is more specific than that
<Junan> yeah, thats what I assumed as well
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> though they are both Envoys too.
<Junan> and jerks too
<Veznara> Are they? What makes you say that?
<Daifan> Not that you are biased :x
<Junan> of course not, but Zefa insulted Utus when we met her.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> That is true
<Junan> or at least made it clear that he was beneath her
<Junan> they must be rolling in money and influence here
<Daifan> I think, if we are going to be pulled into this more, is is important that if there had been no haunt, likely we woudl never have found the body
<Daifan> we would have thought the land was abandoned
<Veznara> Perhaps. We were investigating the pond when we sensed the haunt, though.
<Daifan> well... I guess, I don't know >.> but it wouldn't have been expected for us to be so thorough.
<Veznara> The idea that he might have drowned would surely have occurred to us.
* Daifan shrugs
<Veznara> Being rude to Utus and wanting to claim the land don't make Zefa a murderess. I agree she can be considered something of a suspect, but there's even less concrete evidence to implicate her than there is for Kergoze.
<Daifan> I think there is more motive
<Daifan> She had more to gain, certainly
<Daifan> there is no more or less evidence for either.
<Veznara> There is the testimony of the Voice - Zhuldofi said that he was slain by a young bearded man.
<Veznara> That is not conclusive, but I don't think it can be dismissed as purely circumstantial either.
<Daifan> Young men are everywhere, and beards come and go
<Veznara> Are they everywhere, though? Jenam was the only young man we saw in the area.
<Veznara> It is fairly remote, after all.
<Daifan> but with a good landing
<Llillilli> We should just... not get pulled into this more
<Daifan> Kergoze told the reckoner he was innocent. That can't be discounted either
* Daifan sighs
<Llillilli> THe people in charge are going to believe who they want.
<Daifan> that would be nice
<Llillilli> Regardless of reckoner powers or what some dead person says.
<Llillilli> They will just pick which they like better
<Daifan> well
<Daifan> They might not all agree what 'they' want.
<Daifan> because if that was the case, they wouldn't not have troubled to speak with us at all
<Llillilli> Either way our job's done.
<Veznara> They want to find out the truth!
<Llillilli> Sure they do
* Llillilli snorts
<Daifan> Some of them might
<Veznara> Well, there is little point in speculating.
<Veznara> It is indeed no longer our direct responsibility, and I wouldn't know how to sort it out even if it were.
<Daifan> Mmhmm
<Daifan> I guess we will see if they are really done with us.
<Veznara> What more can we tell them?
<Daifan> what more did we tell them then that we hadn't said before?
* Daifan shrugs
<Veznara> I'm not sure we'd mentioned the wheelbarrow before.
<Daifan> I don't knwo what was in the report :x
<Veznara> Well, they have that to investigate now. I can't think of anything more that we didn't say already.
<Junan> (was the wheelbarrow in the report?)
<AshnabisAssistant> (if you put down everything Jenam told you, then yes, it would at least have been mentioned. but it might not have jumped out as a strange/notable thing to them.)
<Junan> (no reason not to include everything he said)
<AshnabisAssistant> (okay - then let's say it was included as part of the account of what happened at Kergoze's farm)
<Junan> the wheelbarrow was in the report... I reported all that was said, but its not something that jumps out
<Junan> its not like it was underlined
<Veznara> Well then. Perhaps that will help determine what happened one way or another.
<Junan> I hope so
* Veznara sighs
<Veznara> He really didn't seem like a bad or dishonest person.
* Jimba shrugs.
<Veznara> But if it wasn't him, that means there was a pretty involved conspiracy. On the part of *someone*.
<Daifan> mmhmm
<Daifan> Well, if they pin this on Kergoze, then his lands will be available too
<Veznara> Yes. But who would frame him? What's so special about either claim that it would be worth going to such lengths?
<Veznara> It just seems that the simplest explanation is the most likely.
<Daifan> location?
<Daifan> Many things would be easier if they were simple, but they're mostly not.
<Junan> If Jenam is a good enough liar to fool a reckoner, I don't think he would be slogging at farming fos.
<Llillilli> Not on such a crummy plot.
<Junan> just sayin
<Veznara> No. And that does disturb me.
* Daifan just shrugs at that.
<Llillilli> Could be something else there besides magic roots
* Llillilli shrugs
<Jimba> Like what?
<Veznara> Nothing that we noticed, though.
<Junan> not like we explored after we found the body
<Llillilli> We weren't looking
<Veznara> I'm sure the Sentinels have been over the area thoroughly.
<Veznara> Or if they haven't, they're about to.
<Veznara> Anyway, I have paperwork to attend to.
<Veznara> If you'll excuse me...
* Veznara goes to deal with paperwork
<Llillilli> gladly
<Junan> I think I hear a drink calling
<Jimba> Sounds like a plan.


Daifan tells Dekhesh about the corpseborn ship

* Daifan will go out that evening to see if they can find Hangnail
* Dekhesh is at the Mudbug having a bowl of their stew of the day.
* Daifan will try not to get too distracted b their other friends and go and sit beside him after aquiring a drink
<Daifan> Hey Hangnail
<Daifan> I've got something to run by you
<Dekhesh> Oh, hi - what's up?
<Daifan> you know how we were taking the other day about how it would be great if they used corpseborn to work the plantations instead of bubun?
<Dekhesh> yes...
<Daifan> so.... what if that, but terrible?
* Dekhesh frowns
<Dekhesh> what do you mean?
<Daifan> so I heard something when I was up at the fort today for work
<Daifan> you've heard of Galdai Ebesnata?
<Dekhesh> Yes, sure. Isn't she a cousin of the Emperor of Taizi or something?
<Daifan> yup
<Daifan> She wants to do what you said - use corpseborn to work her plantations
<Daifan> but not locals, or people that are already here, that might be okay, even if she is kind of a bitch and probably horrid to work for
<Daifan> shes going to ship in budal from Taizi - people who've been arrested and that maybe they'd have executed otherwise. or you know how it goes.
* Dekhesh nods, listening
<Daifan> Maybe people that they'd say they were going to execute otherwise because the emperor's cousin wants cheap labour for her plantations out here
<Daifan> (Do I know what she's got for plantations currently?)
<Dekhesh> (she has a large plantation outside of Kaskind)
<Daifan> (okay)
<Daifan> and we're not talking a few people.... I hear like... 50 to a hundred, but I think that was aguess. a 'boatload'
<Daifan> that
* Dekhesh looks shocked
<Daifan> is a lot of people for toadtown, all at once.
<Daifan> right?
<Daifan> That was my face too.
* Daifan sips their drink
<Dekhesh> And they're going to be coming here? I mean.. allowed to live here? Or is she keeping them as slaves, basically?
<Daifan> I don't know. She;d have to build somewhere for them to stay, if not just send them here
<Daifan> and that sounds like effort and money that doens't have to be her problem.
<Dekhesh> Well... maybe. It depends if she's worried about them maybe running away, or just... stopping working for her. But I think she's a Mystic - maybe she can just, I don't know, make them work.
<Daifan> maybe
<Daifan> that's a lot of people to magic though, it might make her head explode :p
<Daifan> I feel like probably there's other ways to compell them
<Dekhesh> maybe.
<Daifan> especially if they're "criminals"
* Dekhesh nods, frowning
<Daifan> I dont know when this is supposed to be happening though
<Dekhesh> Where did you hear about it?
* Daifan shrugs
<Daifan> There were some people talking about it at the fort, and I heard.
* Dekhesh nods
<Daifan> they thought she was just doing it to piss off Hamsala, I think
<Dekhesh> hrm.
<Dekhesh> Did they say this was definitely happening? Like the ship has already sailed?
<Daifan> well, they seemed pretty sure it was happening, but I didnt hear anythign abut when
<Dekhesh> All right. Well, probably there is a little time to think about what is best to do - it's a long trip by sea.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> and gosh, they'll have to round up all those criminals :p
<Dekhesh> maybe, yeah...
<Daifan> I think there's someone who works for her.... wolf?
<Daifan> maybe she knows somethign too
<Dekhesh> That might be worth looking into.
<Daifan> I don't know her well though
* Dekhesh nods
<Dekhesh> Might be time to get to know her better, if you can...
<Daifan> yeah, I guess
<Daifan> debating saying anything to Prickles, or waiting to see if I can find out any more :x
* Dekhesh makes a bit of a grimace
<Dekhesh> She'll probably just complain about 'too many newcomers' >.>
<Daifan> sure.... ut imagine if she didn't know they were coming
<Dekhesh> that's true :/
<Dekhesh> but still, it might be worth trying to find out more first.
<Dekhesh> otherwise she'll get all worked up over something that might turn out to be less of a problem than we're thinking right now. Maybe the number is too high, or the people you overheard didn't have all the information about what was happening.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> I guess I'll see what more I can find out...
<Dekhesh> all right.
<Dekhesh> I do hope that it turns out to be a hundred, though. If they're here, then there's hope to find a way to get them away from a bad situation, and into something better.
<Daifan> That's true... sort of.
<Dekhesh> If they were executed, there's nothing that we could do. At least this way, there's a chance.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> there is that
<Dekhesh> Thank you for letting me know about this.
<Daifan> well, I didn't think I could handle being the only one thinking about it -_-
* Dekhesh nods sympathetically
<Daifan> so thankyou, I guess?
<Dekhesh> of course, any time. Let me know if you find out anything else.
* Daifan nods.
<Daifan> I'll keep my ears open.

Veznara and Daifan talk about the murder investigation and about Galdai Ebesnata

* Veznara is in the Land Registry office, drafting a new map based on her notes from the Zhuldofi case
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 17 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 24 ].
* Veznara smiles, satisfied. It's a pretty good map!
* Daifan slips in, seeing that you are alone at the moment
* Veznara look up, still smiling
<Daifan> ...Hand Veznara?
<Veznara> Daifan.
<Veznara> I just finished my additions to the map... I think it turned out well!
* Veznara shows it to Daifan, evidently not above a little professional pride in such things!
* Daifan looks at it but doesn't really know wht they are looking at or how to make sense of it
<Daifan> It looks very nice.
<Veznara> Thank you. You can see where we came along the river, here... the landing, and the features of Zhuldofi's farm.
<Daifan> oh, hmmm
* Daifan peers at it, but won't touch it or anything ;p
<Veznara> I thought I should work on it now, in case it can be useful in further investigations.
<Veznara> And we should have accurate maps just for their own sake, of course.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> I'm sure it will be very useful
<Veznara> That was a good point you raised - asking why Kergoze would mention the wheelbarrow if he'd just taken it.
* Daifan shrugs
<Daifan> We don't even know that Zhuldofi ever owned one at all to lend... there's a lot of things we don't know.
<Veznara> No.
* Veznara sighs
<Veznara> It's troubling.
<Veznara> I really didn't think Jenam Kergoze was hiding anything. And Junan didn't think so either.
<Veznara> But the simplest explanation is just that he managed to fool both of us.
<Daifan> and the reckoner
<Daifan> that's more than lucky though
* Veznara frowns
<Veznara> Yes, and the Reckoner.
<Daifan> that makes it a much less simple explanation, to me....
<Veznara> I can more easily believe that he fooled me than the Reckoner.
<Daifan> or all three of you
* Veznara smiles ruefully
<Daifan> he might have gotten lucky once
<Veznara> If he's that skilled a villain, though, why would he be working a relatively small fos claim out there?
<Daifan> Indeed.
<Daifan> I am glad it is not on me to sort out the truth.
<Veznara> No. But I want justice to be done.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> I think Mura is inclined to seek it....
<Daifan> so we will see.
<Veznara> Do you know anything of her?
<Daifan> Not really - little bits of gossip.
<Veznara> Ah.
<Daifan> I heard that she was involved with Oskor, but turned him down when he wanted to marry though.... which makes her sound like someone who will stand her ground.
* Veznara raises an eyebrow at that
<Veznara> I see.
<Veznara> She did strike me as thorough. Not surprising, given that she serves the General.
<Veznara> More directly than we do, I mean.
<Daifan> mmhmm
<Daifan> it does make it seem liek they are taking this seriously at least.... even if it is not on Zhuldofi's behalf
<Daifan> may I ask you about another matter?
<Veznara> Yes?
<Daifan> you are from Taizi, yes?
* Veznara nods
<Veznara> Yes.
<Daifan> do you know, or know anything of... Lady Galdai Ebesnata?
<Veznara> Yes. She is a Princess of the Imperial House.
<Veznara> Why do you ask?
<Daifan> well... I know that she is someone who employs some Corpseborn here, at her plantation
<Daifan> or in her service in some manner, anyway
<Daifan> There are many reasons that someone might want to do that, but I don't know what hers might be.
<Veznara> Ah, yes. I have noticed at least one. Nezha, I believe.
<Daifan> I had heard that she might be interested in employing more
<Daifan> I'm happy at the land regsistry, but there are always those who are looking for work...
<Veznara> Really?
* Veznara looks somewhat taken aback
<Daifan> what?
* Daifan looks concerned
<Veznara> I'm surprised. Of course, it is a great honour to serve one of the Imperial House... but you are not Taizi.
<Daifan> uhh...
<Daifan> I don't know about any of that. But good work, for anyone, can be hard to find.
<Daifan> I wanted to try and find out if what work she might offer us... would be good work.
<Veznara> (Sense Motive - is Daifan really asking for others?)
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 10 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 17 ].
<Lan_phone> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Lan_phone: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 10 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 17 ].
* Daifan does seem to be concerned promarily for others :x
<Veznara> Ah. Well, I'm afraid I can't advise you - I'm not privy to the inner workings of Her Imperial Highness' household.
<Veznara> But Nezha would probably be able to give you an idea, and is someone you should be able to approach.
<Veznara> I believe she does reside in Banei.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> thank you for your advice.
* Veznara nods
<Veznara> You're welcome.
<Veznara> It is good of you to try to help others.
<Daifan> My kind have to look out for each other.
* Veznara nods
<Veznara> I hope that Nezha will be able to help you further, then.
<Daifan> as di I.... I will leave you to your work, then.
* Veznara smiles and nods, and turns back to her maps

Daifan talks to Nezha about her employer, Galdai Ebesnata

* Daifan isn't sure where she would find Nezha?
* Nezha lives in Banei, so you can try to visit her at her small home there, or seek her out somewhere in public, like at the market or something? I don't know that she goes to the Mudbug very much.
* Daifan will try and find her at home
* Nezha has a small but neatly-appointed house, and will open the door for you when you arrive. She's in her mid-thirties, light complexion, with lank light brown hair that hangs to her shoulders.
<Daifan> Ah... hello!
<Nezha> Hello, Smiles, nice to see you.
<Daifan> thanks, you too. Mind if I come in for a it? I had some things I wanted to ask you about >.>
<Nezha> Oh, all right. Can I offer you some tea? I have a pot already made, it's no trouble.
<Daifan> oh, thank you, that would be lovely :)
* Nezha will pour you some tea made from local herbs - it's pleasant if a bit sharp-tasting.
* Nezha invites you to sit down at her kitchen table, looking out over a little herb and vegetable garden that she grows.
<Daifan> oh, what a nice space :3
<Nezha> Thank you :)
<Nezha> Now, what can I help you with?
<Daifan> ahh, well.
<Daifan> I wanted to ask out about your employer...
<Daifan> (you about)
<Nezha> oh...
* Nezha looks a little uncomfortable, but nods.
<Nezha> What about Lady Galdai?
<Daifan> I, ah, heard something interesting about her plans for her plantation, from Pinkberry
<Nezha> what did you hear?
<Daifan> ....that she is going to bring in a lot of budal, from Taizi.
* Nezha frowns and looks a little upset.
* Daifan looks apologetic
<Daifan> had you heard anything about it?
<Nezha> I don't know all of the lady's plans... but I know that she's looking at expanding her holdings if she can.
* Daifan nods
<Daifan> (but also sm)
<Nezha> (you can make a roll)
<Lan_phone> !roll 1d20+8
* Daifan rolls for Lan_phone: [ 1d20+8 ] getting [ 3 ] which, after the modifier [ 8 ] totals [ 11 ].
<Daifan> (pfft)
* Nezha seems to be telling the truth.
<Daifan> do you have any idea of the timeline?
<Nezha> Well, I think it all has to be dealt with through the Land Registry, technically? If she is able to convince some of her neighbours to give up their holdings, or find new areas she can expand into, she would still need to get it approved. But that wouldn't be a problem for her, I'm sure.
<Daifan> mmhmm, I am sure it would not.
* Daifan makes a mental not to keep an ear open at work
<Daifan> I'm just worried about so many people coming at once... it can already be a bit tense around here, between locals and newcomers
<Daifan> assuming they wuld be living here, anyway :x
<Nezha> Well... there's some new buildings going up at the edge of the plantation. I think they are going to be ... like dormitories? Places for workers to stay.
<Daifan> oh...
<Daifan> hrm.  :|
<Daifan> that's maybe worrying too... I don't know.
<Daifan> what do you think?
<Nezha> I don't really know :/ I serve the lady, but I don't always ... agree with her.
<Daifan> is she a fair person to work for?
<Nezha> >.>
<Nezha> I know what to expect from her, generally.
* Nezha says with a tone that suggests "shitty"
<Daifan> mmhmm :|
<Daifan> The budal who are coming.... they wouldn't be peopel who chose it freely. Not really. "Criminals" whos other choice would be execution. I don't think that is much of a choice at all.
* Nezha frowns
<Nezha> what sort of criminals? dangerous ones? :/
<Daifan> I don't know. Maybe.
<Daifan> But maybe not. There's all kids of stupid lawas about what we can and cant do
<Daifan> and if an imperial princess wants criminals to work for her, criminals will be found.
<Daifan> that is my feeling
* Nezha nods unhappily
<Daifan> I'm sorry - I'm just venting now.
<Nezha> I know... I understand how it is, we all need to talk now and then about our problems, our worries.
<Nezha> I can... try to find out more?
<Daifan> I would really appreciate anything you can tell me.... but I don't want you to put yourself at risk either.
* Nezha nods
<Nezha> Well, if I hear anything or see anything that tells me more, I can let you or Pinkberry know.
<Daifan> thank you.
<Nezha> I won't go poking into her business, any more than I usually do, but just being around there, of course I see things...
* Daifan nods
* Daifan smiles a little
<Daifan> I know how it is
<Daifan> I'll talk to Dekhesh, and maybe we can think of some way to lok out for these people.
<Nezha> all right
<Nezha> Be careful.
<Daifan> I will... thank you. And thank you for the tea.
<Nezha> of course, anytime.

Veznara talks to Zeba Mopister

* Veznara goes to call on Zeba Mopister, the Taizian representative
<Zeba> (you can find her at her home, a well-appointed sort of place centrally located near the fort, not quite as nice as Galdai's manor house but still clearly aristocratic)
<Veznara> Zeba, how good to see you! How are you?
* Zeba wears a long layered woven tunic embroidered in gold, and a green-gold hair covering that leaves her face exposed. She blinks rapidly, as always.
<Zeba> Ah, Veznara, good to see you as always.
<Zeba> How is your family?
<Veznara> Well, the last I hear from them, thank you.
<Veznara> (heard)
<Veznara> And you?
<Zeba> Yes, it can be difficult being so far away from home.
<Zeba> Oh, I'm well enough. Zusir is trying not to be too much of a pest. He's always been difficult, you know.
<Zeba> Would you care for a drink? I have some wine I've just imported and have been meaning to try.
<Veznara> Thank you, that would be lovely!
<Veznara> It would be pleasant to have a quiet chat over some wine.
* Zeba has a bottle and two glasses brought out.
<Zeba> Things here have been well enough. Dealing with the General is always a bit of a trial, you know.
<Veznara> Ah, yes. That's part of what I came to see you about.
<Zeba> Oh, is she causing you difficulties?
<Veznara> No. Or... something odd happened the other day, and I wanted to ask you about it.
<Zeba> Oh, of course, what is it dear?
<Veznara> In confidence, of course.
* Zeba takes a drink.
<Zeba> Absolutely.
<Veznara> Well, as I'm sure you know, we in the Land Registry are responsible to the General.
<Veznara> The other day, I and my team were called to the fort for a follow-up interview on one of the claims we investigated.
<Zeba> Oh?
<Veznara> After the interview, the different members of the team went on their way. But the Envoy, Junan, and I were approached by someone: a Lieutenant Tiz Chomakosh.
<Zeba> Yes, I know her.
<Veznara> She's one of the General's near advisors, I understand?
<Zeba> Yes, I believe a friend of hers from Choradan. Typical, really, of Ghurtai, picking her friends and allies from home for senior staff positions, with no eye for competence.
<Veznara> Is she not really competent enough for her position, then?
<Zeba> Oh, I suppose I'm being unfair. She's in charge of fortifications and such, stonework and masonry and defenses and whatnot. A subject on which I know precious little.
<Zeba> It is just infuriating how these Choradani ... officials think that just because they were here a few years before the rest of us, they own the place.
<Zeba> And they certainly are not sending their best and brightest.
<Veznara> Well, as I say, she took us aside to her office and asked us for further details on another claim we'd been investigating.
<Veznara> And it was just... odd.
<Zeba> Why would she have any interest in some claim, I wonder?
<Zeba> That is strange.
<Veznara> Well, before I tell you about it, I must emphasize that it is a matter that requires the utmost discretion.
<Zeba> Of course, dear.
<Veznara> It may have all sorts of implications that involve local sensitivities, and the Voice.
<Zeba> All right, I understand.
<Veznara> Yes, I'm sure you're far better equipped to navigate it all than I am - that's why I'd like your insights and your advice.
<Veznara> On our last mission, we were sent to investigate reports of a ruined temple out in the swamps.
<Veznara> We found something that was indeed an old temple of the Voice. However, it appeared to be still active in some sense.
<Veznara> And there was evidence that somebody had been there relatively recently - ashes in the central hearth.
<Zeba> Hmm, how very odd.
<Veznara> The place had magical defenses - some of my colleagues suffered from an illusion of fire that drove them out.
<Veznara> I myself could sense that it was not a haunt. The place was still hallowed, at least in some sense.
<Veznara> There was an image of a woman at one end of the place, in an area that may have been lower than the rest. It was difficult to tell; it was underwater.
* Zeba nods.
<Veznara> There was imagery of persimmon fruit and brances in carvings, and persimmon trees outside.
<Veznara> And there was a box that contained the remains of an ancient stoneguard.
<Zeba> Oh ... hmmm.
<Veznara> (Sense Motive?)
<Zeba> (sure, you can try that)
<Veznara> !roll 1d20+7
* Daifan rolls for Veznara: [ 1d20+7 ] getting [ 9 ] which, after the modifier [ 7 ] totals [ 16 ].
<Zeba> !roll 1d20+18
* Daifan rolls for Zeba: [ 1d20+18 ] getting [ 2 ] which, after the modifier [ 18 ] totals [ 20 ].
<Zeba> (nope, seems fine to you!)
<Veznara> (No reaction to the stoneguard?)
<Zeba> (seems fine to you)
<Zeba> All right ... I assume that Voice Tegus has been informed about this - this would be a matter of most concern and interest to him. Not Chomakosh.
<Veznara> Yes, he has.
<Veznara> I thought the Voice might want to reclaim this place.
<Veznara> It seems there is no plan to do so. At least, not yet.
<Veznara> But Lieutenant Chomakosh took us aside to ask all sorts of questions about this place.
<Zeba> They might. Although, if it's out in the middle of the swamp, I'd think you'd just unhallow the place, pull the ancestor out and rehouse it.
<Veznara> Yes, that's what I'd expect. But as I say, it appeared to be in use by... well, by someone.
<Veznara> I understand that there is a local Sashnir clan that reportedly has a temple of its own in the area.
<Zeba> Never heard of them. But then I don't interact much with the locals.
<Zeba> You think this abandoned, or not quite abandoned temple is related to it?
<Veznara> There was an old version of the Sashnir name carved on the Stoneguard's box.
<Zeba> Hmmm. Well, that is very interesting.
<Veznara> In any case, Lieutenant Chomakosh was very interested in the place.
<Veznara> She kept asking us questions about its physical state, how much effort we thought it would take to restore it.
<Zeba> Which is quite odd. She would have no official reason to be concerned with such a matter.
<Zeba> I'm no expert on fortifications or defenses but I can't imagine what a mostly-abandoned half-sunken old shell of a temple would serve, in terms of a military purpose
<Veznara> No. I asked whether the Voice intended to reclaim it, but she said there had been no such request
<Veznara> She claimed she was asking for the future.
<Veznara> For when Kaskind expands beyond its current boundaries, and may have need of such an additional temple.
<Zeba> This is typical Ghurtai, meddling in everything, assuming that her charter from the Marshal of Choradan entitles her to act as royalty.
<Zeba> I smell her work at play here.
<Zeba> Officially she must defer to the Voice, who have the rightful claim. Unofficially she'll have her lackeys go around and strongarm you fine folk.
<Veznara> I asked if the General wanted us to investigate further. She said any such request would come through the Commissioner, but that she did not anticipate it at this time.
<Veznara> It was just... very odd.
* Zeba nods.
<Veznara> I had a very strong sense that she was not telling us pertinent information.
<Zeba> I mean, listen, dear, you *could* talk to Zusir, who might, as a stoneguard, have some insight. But if you want this to remain confidential, you shouldn't do that. He's such a child.
<Zeba> I can almost guarantee that if you say anything to him that it will be out within a week.
<Veznara> I confess, I was thinking of it.
<Veznara> Perhaps I could ask about it in general, without telling him the full story.
<Veznara> But I am most disturbed by the interview with Chomakosh.
<Veznara> Why would she want to talk to us? And why *her*?
<Zeba> Yes. But with her, and the others of Ghurtai's inner circle, you should be circumspect. Some of them are extremely cunning.
<Veznara> Was she doing this without the General's knowledge?
<Zeba> Perhaps.
<Zeba> It's possible. But what would her interest be?
<Veznara> I don't know. I mentioned local sensitivities before... I do get the sense that there is something of importance to local people here.
<Zeba> That is surely true. The locals are mysterious.
<Veznara> But of course I know far too little about any of that, and nobody is talking.
<Veznara> But Chomakosh is not local.
<Zeba> It's almost as if the locals don't want us here.
* Zeba remarks in what you surely must interpret as irony.
<Veznara> Yes.
<Veznara> Anyway, I wanted to tell you all about it, as I was sure you would want to know.
<Zeba> Of course. I appreciate that, I really do.
<Zeba> Perhaps I could talk to Zusir on your behalf?
<Zeba> That way, it might still get out, but your name wouldn't be attached to it.
<Veznara> Hmmm. Well, if there's specific information, I'm afraid it will be all to easy to make the connection no matter what we do.
<Veznara> I thought that as a member of the Hand, I might plausibly ask him about general stoneguard practices in ancient times.
<Zeba> Yes, I'm afraid so. I just would want to reinforce to you how very, very foolish he is. My brother should have had him beaten more often as a child, perhaps.
<Zeba> His mother, in particular, was fearful that if he stayed at home he would have been killed, so she sent him here.
<Veznara> Ah. I'm sorry he was in such danger.
<Zeba> I suppose you could talk to him in general. About stoneguards, historically.
<Zeba> That, at least, would make him feel like his training had not all gone to waste.
<Veznara> There is a particular name I'd want to ask about, too.
<Veznara> But if the temple itself is not mentioned, it might be alright.
<Zeba> You mean the name of the dead stoneguard at the temple? I wouldn't bother. Zusir's no scholar, and Aummesh things don't concern him.
<Veznara> In that case it probably wouldn't hurt to ask him. Less chance he'd remember it.
* Zeba chuckles.
<Zeba> The things we do for our kin. But you know a little about that, don't you dear?
* Veznara sighs
<Veznara> Well.
<Veznara> Anyway: do you have any ideas as to what this may be all about?
<Veznara> I thought that with your finger on the pulse of Kaskind, you might have some insights or some information about the General's plans that might explain it.
<Zeba> I'm afraid not. But now that I know about it, I can be alert for things going on at the fort that might otherwise have slipped my attention.
<Zeba> We'll make sense of it, eventually.
<Veznara> Yes. I just don't know if it's something the General is up to, or if it's happening behind her back, or...
<Veznara> Well, never mind. We'll just keep our mouths shut, and eyes and ears open.
<Zeba> It's good to be curious, but also good to be patiently curious.
* Veznara smiles
* Veznara smiles
<Veznara> I can manage curious. Patience... I will work on.
<Veznara> In any case, I feel much better having brought it to your attention, Zeba.
<Zeba> It is so strange that the young, who have so much time, have so little patience, whereas the old, who have so little time, have so much patience.
<Zeba> I'm glad you came, dear. You take care of yourself, and remember that these are not all your problems to bear.
<Veznara> Thank you. I hope I'll be able to call upon you again soon!
<Zeba> Anytime at all.
* Veznara thanks Zeba again, and takes her leave