Monday, September 12, 2011
Well, with an agreement in hand the party decided to set out for Butrús again, but, they were now concerned about their shadow. When they left town they encountered a guard on the Sákbe roads who simply would not accept their papers. It appeared they were being intentionally delayed. Never ones to plow through what they can go around, they began to look for a means to travel on the second tier of the roads. They sought a Patron who, by virtue of their clan status alone, would intimidate Road Guards and keep them honest. Mriga found one through his temple and that Grey Robed Priest.
The Party was taken on as guards for a high ranking Priest of Thúmis ( a different priest, one from a higher clan, and with higher status in the Temple). He was travelling south anyway, and felt that having a party of soldiers (well, Hriháyal guards are soldiers, in some sense) would be wise, considering the threat of Mu'ugalavyian troops encroaching in the Chákas. As a high noble he took his party up onto the second tier of the Sákbe road, and, again as a high noble, no one much said boo about it. They were advised that travel could be dangerous.
They pressed on without much delay for the first third of the journey, where they reached a guard tower who reported that no traffic was advised beyond that point. There was a confirmed reports of Mu'ug troops on the road the night before, and a dispatch had been sent to Tumíssa to bring a cohort or two of the Tangled root eaters to investigate. But owing to their patrons status, the road guards dared not actually forbid travel. When it appeared likely the troop would continue despite the warning, the guards offered to augment their parties defenses with an extra ten men. At least some of these men were, apparently, members of the Ito clan, though that is not uncommon on the Sákbe roads near Butrús..
Not trusting the offer, the party elected to press on alone. At approximately the mid point between the two cities they found Tsolyáni bodies, merchants, outside the guard tower, which was locked. There were also bodies of a couple road guards, As best as they could tell, the merchants had either arrived late, or left early, and been ambushed on the road. The guard had responded, and also died. It was probably not the whole caravan, some of whom may have escaped and were probably the ones referred to as confirmed reports. And the Sákbe guard tower gates were locked on the second tier.
Climbing down to the lower tier, they found the gates open, but the stairs to the second tier of the Tower locked. And the far gate on the second tier was also locked. Since they were all barred from the inside, it implied that there was someone there, but no one answered. So they decided to breach a bit of protocol, and climb up to the third tier and look around. On the lovely mosaic tiles of the Royal top tier, they saw a blood trail, that led to the guard house door. Which was locked.
Now, that was too much to ignore, so Mriga decided to try using levitation to manipulate the locks – really just cross bars – to get inside. However, all he achieved was a ringing head ache, as the guard houses all have some level of magical warding against such chicanery. Live and learn. At the top of the Guard house is a watch tower, and someone suggested that there had to be one last door into the structure there. So Suni scaled the guard house and found a door unlocked. Inside she found an imperial messenger, dead from a wound by a Mu'ugalavyian' crossbow. He had managed to retreat to safety, but was not able to survive his wounds.
The party wisely wrapped the body, without too much snooping, and prepared to leave, when they heard foot pads running from a distance, growing louder. Going out, they saw another imperial messenger, approaching. He slowed when he saw them, wary. They shouted that there were Mu'ugs on the road, as he drew near. They saw him evaluate the group, and then, double his speed as he headed to Tumíssa.
Arriving in Butrús, they turned the body of the messenger over to the local officer of the AOL. There were lots of question, but, it appeared nothing had been disturbed on the body, and so, they were released, but advised they may be sought for further questioning.