Cassio of Padiha finally manages to finish with the family business that demanded his attention and joins the party for early morning breakfast just as Varediis Eloi departs and heads for the Palace (which does seem to demand much of his time recently). The party are glad to see him again, with Czerlai in particular noting the bags under his eyes showing his lack of sleep; Cassio indicates his work has kept him busy but this is only part of the reasoning;
Cassio has been experiencing a sequence of dreams after the first one, all of them seeming to focus around the life of an unknown woman warrior of an unknown barbarian people. That there is a connection between this woman and his sword is in no doubt, for she wields one exactly like it (maybe even the same one?). The first nights dream involves a single combat played out between the champions of arrayed forces of two large barbarian armies facing one another across a small mist wreathed valley; one is this woman that Cassio sees through the eyes of, and the other being a mighty six metre tall giant. The woman (by dint of shucking off her armour and fighting sky clad and using a Truesword spell) defeats the enormous brute (which was itself armed with a tree trunk) in a fight where she dodges its great sweeping blows and lands powerful blows with her sword on its legs and abdomen. She drops the brute and then administers the coup de grace as it lies bleeding out. At this point the 2 armies rush towards one another with her standing naked but for battle woad and the giants blood, holding her sword and crying defiance at the onrushing horde…
His dreams of her over the next 3 nights seem to follow key scenes from this womans life, from childbirth of a son (where the gathered people outside her dwelling greet her and her child with the cry “Indegga!” repeatedly and triumphantly) through victorious battles against hordes of Broo, to her final moments being mortally wounded in a great battle with strange and wicked seeming foes and suffering some strange ghastly fate at the hands of a mysterious Shaman (which seems to cause enormous consternation and rage with her husband and the by now elderly Perang Priest). All of these dreams become so progressively vivid that he feels like he has lived them. He decides for now not to mention this to his comrades, though he notes that The Large bickering, arguing, Magical Sword seems to be more subdued and slightly more supportive than usual, like it is distracted somehow.
The party decide to split up and do different things with Bucephala Clangula going to the Hama Encanda to try and locate the mischievous rogues Patch and Solimara with a view to asking them if they wish to join the party for the quest to seek Varrax Pyrofer. szletko, Cassio and Czerlai decide to seek out Din Dak Koro Tuk’Vo to see if he would be interested in the adventure, and Abbas Jalil goes to meet Metellus Sambir to see if he has heard of Tyrus’ fundraising for the purchase of The Dwarven Book and The Cletian Tome.
Bucephala arrives at the great temple just after morning services and seeks out SunFather Callus to see if the elderly priest might know of a way to track the down the larcenous pair. In exchange for taking the next class of youngsters for Rhetoric lessons, the SunFather shuffles off to see if any in the Temple might know where the distinctive twosome might frequent. After a less than thrilling lesson with the dutiful children the SunFather returns to tell Bucephala that the pair are sometime seen in an insalubrious establishment within the dubious Metara district (a notorious rookery) called The Bastard Bar and Grill. With this information, he stays to help the SunFather as he had agreed to wait here for the Altai nomads and Cassio after they had seen to their own errand.
The three travel to the parkland area that Din Dak spends much time at, and speak to him about their offer and suggest he accompany them; sadly he must refuse (though he is mightily tempted) for his duties as the Tan Ti Kikkuya cultural observer on The Armavine Empire require his presence in Armarissa (for now). He does suggest that they ask another who might be interested, and mentions Taturii Asamakiiro, the woman warrior of Omiskiira; somewhat of an outsider in her own culture, she would very likely jump at the chance for some new direction and focus. They thank him for his time and head off to seek her at the Hama Salleia (where she often is found, liking the gardens there as she does). Indeed, they do find her there, standing out in her memorable dark leather armour. She greets them in better Armanian than the last time they spoke to her, and is delighted to accept their offer, for it sounds brave, dangerous and worthwhile to her. She agrees to meet them at the Eloi house before sundown the following day, for she must gather her effects and say her farewells to the Omiskiiran Embassy. At this she bows to them and they part company, with them having only a short trip to the nearby Hama Encanda to meet up with Bucephala.
Abbas meets up with Metellus, busy sitting in his garden digesting his morning meal in the cool autumnal air. They talk and exchange pleasantries, and the wily old quoriente advises him that he can have Tyrus (plus funds) meet him in the afternoon, as he has managed to secure 500 Ames funding for the Dwarven Book, though he is still haggling with the Fiscal Commitee of the Magna Ludata over the Cletian Tome. Abbas is sure that the 500 Ames plus the translation will be an acceptable sum of money for the book, and decides to head to the Eloi house to speak with Thenaiis Eloi about further contacts that might help in the forthcoming adventure. He will return to Metellus after this at about 2 pm.
The others meet up at the Hama Encanda and decide to hire one of the pleantiful canal boatmen and their river boat to travel to the Bastard Bar and Grill which is apparently built over the intersection of several canals. They pass through the pleasant Middle class Three Canals district on the way, but know when they enter the Metara district due to the appalling smells in the air (tanneries amongst other things trade here) and the gentle bumping of debris in the canal against the boat hull, one bit of which may very well be a corpse. Little sunlight shines here as the houses and buildings tower and lean over the canal. Soon they see the dubious establishment, squatting like a slowly collapsing wooden spider over the canal with its cheery sign of a violent thug holding a knife in one hand and a severed arm in the other. Charming. After an unlucky patron is forcibly ejected out a window head first into the canal (oh the poor man) the boatmen and Cassio decide to drop them off on the rickety and unsound looking jetty and wait in the middle of the channel whilst Bucephala and the Altai mount the alarmingly iffy stairs to the door. They enter and the stale smell of unwashed bodies, poor wine and worse beer assaults them, being as it is fresher air than that outside (a tannery is actually 50 metres up the canal from here). Inside the murky half lit bar is peopled by a mixture of criminals, thieves, murderers and worse, served by men/and or women who look much like the figure on the sign. All cups and bottles are clay they note; never a good sign in a pub they think. Szletko first sees who they are looking for, as they are also coincidentally the same folks that they gave the 2 spare tickets to for the Blues Banquet the night previously. Curious that. The double act are in the process of playing cards with 3 drunken cut throats, but seem happy to see the approaching party members.
They wrap up the card game (coming away with a goodly number of silver Lara) and repair to the main bar to talk. Coming straight out with it, the party offer a berth on the trip to seek Varrax Pyrofer, and unsurprisingly the pair agree on the spot, providing it is fun, profitable and smells better than their current locale. They agree to leave, though Patch suggests Bucephala and the Altai leave first, as in about a minute or so’s time he’ll be telling the barstaff that A, the drink in this place tastes like urine and B, subsequently they are not paying their tab. The 3 have just gotten to the bottom of the jetty stairs when a large roar and bellow comes from within the pub followed by the loud tinkling of coins on floorboards. The canal boat punts its way towards the jetty as Solimara and Patch come running out of the door, deciding to jump from the top of the steps onto the boat; Solimara is grace personified as she lands lightly on the deck, but Patch fares not so well, overshooting the deck and dropping into the unpleasant water with an “Oh Fu…”. The big and burly thugs try to chase down the stairs but the lead one falls through the rotten planking of the steps into the canal; Czerlai notes that The Odd Topaz Stone glows warmly at this point.
The boatmen punt away up the canal leaving behind the 8th worse pub in the city, and as they enter a much nicer area (taking some of the last with them as it covers a bedraggled and ripe smelling Patch), they decide to drop Solimara and her smelly companion at a bath house, leaving instruction that they shall meet up again the following day; given the moral dubiousness of the pair, they decide that hiring rooms for them, likely at the Measured Response, is a better idea than invites into the Eloi house. Slowly but surely, the expedition is coming together…