Runequest - Adventures in Prax

Feb 28
Episode 6: Praxian Politics

After returning the girl to the fort, the characters were personally thanked by Duke Raus for rescuing the Gubranas and the dispersal of Toadface’s gang. They were given extra time off from their normal duties for rest and recuperation, while Raus’s nomads prepared for the trip to Horn Gate to take the girl to the Chalana Arroy healers. Brakiri, who had not taken part on the attack on Toadface, would also accompany them.

Over the next few days they had the opportunity to explore the fort and meet some of its inhabitants. In the main compound were only three proper buildings, the main house where Raus's family lived, a large store and stables, and the quarters for the hired help, which were not fully finished, even though several slaves were hard at work. Here Daine introduced them to Kag Barak the dwarf mason and architect hired from Pavis. Kag was from the heretical cult of Flintnail, which was happy to trade and interact with other races (unlike most of the paranoid dwarf race). Even so he was a strange individual although friendly enough.

Also at the fort were 20 or so Lunar soldiers on temporary garrison duty, a considerable number of slaves (to whom Raus had apparently promised freedom as soon as the settlement became established), and the newtlings. This amphibious race of frog-like humanoids was apparently fairly populous in the river valley, and Raus' group were led by an eager and friendly individual by the name of Newtling Sergeant Stiff-tail. The final person of note was Daryli, Raus' personal priest, an older man who was also happy to see them, however obviously nearing retirement and not used to this life on the frontier.

One of the first tasks given to the bondsmen was no less a project than finishing the building of their own barracks block. Whilst the main structure was complete, the roof was almost non-existent. This task took some two and a half days, aided by some of the slaves and overseen by Kag the dwarf. Rhodrin, who had spent some of his earlier years in the study of engineering, tried to apply some of what he had learned to the construction of the roof, but of course building in the hills of Sartar is a very different affair from building houses in the harsh environment of Prax, and Kag put him straight in no uncertain terms. After that Rhodrin kept his ideas to himself, and Kag was pleased to have a student of the building arts who he could discuss his work with.

One evening after the communal meal, Daryli suggested to Karnak that he accompany him a short distance into the hills, which Karnak agreed to. On a high point overlooking the valley was a unusual rock, twisted and coiled around itself, which made a low humming noise as the wind gusted through it. Around the rock were the remnants of tokens and offerings, and Karnak could feel a faint spiritual power around the site of this now defunct shrine. The area was noticeably windier than the fort, as the breeze running down the valley was channelled along the cliff among the rocks and boulders, and then through this site. Karnak thanked Daryli for showing him this place, and spent much of the rest of the night in prayer to his god. Given time, Orlanth would once again see worship in this remote and forbidding place.

After six days around the fort Daine called characters together for their first task at their new home. While the duke had held this land for some four years, it had taken that long to get to where they were now, with the construction of the fort now beginning in earnest. However, in that time Raus had had very few opportunities to explore his domain in any detail, having only a basic map of the area. Nomad parties he had sent out previously had returned with very little information, if they had bothered returning at all, so he was keen to send a band of seasoned and reliable warriors instead. The plan was to circuit the Domain and meet up with Raus at the North Bog in a week and a half, a simple scouting and local contact expedition, primarily to remind the locals that Raus was their new Lord and had an armed presence about the place. Raus (through Daine) gave them strict instructions that they were to keep the peace if at all possible and not engage in any hostilities unless actually attacked.

Before leaving that morning, Daine advised the group that he was looking to appoint a second in command from among them, in the form of a sergeant of mercenaries. As yet he had not decided who that would be, but in the meantime he was temporarily giving the position to Rile, based on his military experience within the red army. Rile was initially reluctant, not wanting to take on the additional responsibility, but when advised that it would mean potentially higher wages and a greater treasure share he begrudgingly accepted the position.

The first day the mercenaries traveled up Weiss Cut, back the way they had descended from Horn Gate, and within three hours had their first meeting with the locals. Oddly enough it was not the Agimori, who were the main dwellers in this large tributary valley, but a party of morocanth leading a small group of their herd men, along with a large group of human slaves to offer for sale at the fort. Their leader's name was Keenclaw, a morocanth of obvious wide experience, able to speak Trade fluently. The meeting was friendly, and bode well for the rest of the patrol, with both parties exchanging greetings and news of the area they had come from.

Around the middle of the afternoon the group had their second encounter, this time with a party of Agimori warriors, led by a fierce looking woman called Galazi Foe-Hound who demanded to know who they were and what they were doing on Agimori lands. Karnak not renowned for his diplomatic skills, declared that all the surrounding lands belonged to Duke Raus, and the Agimori would do well to remember that. Not surprisingly tempers among the Agimori began to flare at this point, until Rile and Rhodrin managed to step in and placate the angry warriors while admonishing Karnak for his poorly chosen words.

After hearing who the party were and who they represented, Galazi led them (over a kilometer from the main path) to a cave complex where the Weiss Agimori dwelt. There they found the Agimori making preparations for a large scale raid, and were introduced to their chief, Chaku Ironspear. After making suitable greetings, they were invited to sit with the chief, and offered food in the form of a stew.[N.B. Karnak would later discover, much to his horror, that the stew had been cooked from stolen Herd-Man, the human looking beasts kept by the Morocanth. He has since vowed not to eat any more food offered to him by Praxian nomads] While they ate, Chaku informed them that the Morocanth of Bilos Gap (the tributary valley further south) had taken two Agimori prisoners, and word had reached them that the Morocanth were going to perform a terrible magic on the prisoners, reducing them to nothing more than animals. The Agimori would never allow such an evil to be perpetrated on their people, and were preparing an attack to free them.

Conscious of the diplomatic nature of the trip, the party offered to negotiate for the release of the warriors, in order to try and keep the peace between the Duke's subject peoples. Chaku said he would be willing for them to attempt this in order to avoid bloodshed, but his people were raging for blood and there is no such thing as a weak Agimori leader. The party were given a single days head start, and left as soon as they were able, as soon as it was light enough to see.

It was a long day's ride to the tributary valley of Bilos Gap. Nothing of note happened, but they remained in awe of the harsh beauty of the place for the whole of their journey. After camping again, the following day they descended into the valley, and this time Karnak was kept at the rear of the group. After a few hours they picked up the tracks and found their way to the Morocanth settlement. Unlike the Agimori, the Morocanth had spent some time and effort in arranging piled rock walls as defences around their main camp which also sprawled in front of a small cave system. It was obvious that any battle would be pitched and bloody.

After some harassment at the gate, the party were eventually allowed to enter the fortified camp, and were taken to see the morocanth chief. This was Velakol Surestrike, an old and grizzled warrior who was also a worshipper of Waha the nomad God.

Once inside they told Velakol of the planned Agimori raid, but it seemed the Morocanth already expected this and were looking forwards to a fight. The party also learned that the morocanth had in fact captured the Agimori warriors when the Agimori had raided them and tried to steal their herd-men, killing several in the process. The Morocanth also blamed the Agimori for the disappearance of several of their young over the past few months, and so in retribution the morocanth intended to use a powerful ritual to turn their prisoner to a herd-man and put him amongst their flock. The rights and wrongs of this situation were getting less and less clear.

The negotiations went on for a considerable time, with Velakol adamant that the ritual must go ahead. The number of Morocanth within the camp were increasing every hour, making it less and less likely that the chief would back down, potentially showing weakness among his people. The party tried to cajole him using the promise of friendship with the duke, but of course Velakol believed (rightly so) that the Morocanth were the most powerful group among these lands, and he therefore had no need of such friendship. Talk then turned to the potential loss of a slaving market (the duke being the single largest buyer of slaves in this area), but Velakol did not seem overly concerned about this. However, as the two sides took a break from negotiations, Keenclaw could be seen speaking earnestly with Velakol, as the loss of such a slaving market could have serious consequences on the tribes livelihood.

Eventually negotiations resumed, and the offer was made to Velakol of sole slave trading rights with the fort for the remainder of the year, a truce with the Agimori of Weis Cut for the rest of the season, and the promise of severe retribution against the Agimori if any further Morocanth young were taken. In return, they must let the Agimori go, and agree to use the Duke as arbitrator in future conflicts of interest. The morocanth leader at last agreed, and said he would send a trade delegation to the fort in a few days. He then traded tokens with the party’s speaker Rhodrin, looping a dyed blue bone into his beard (it was then that the party noticed his thumbs), and the negotiations where complete.

Conscious of the approaching Agimori war party, the group left immediately, taking the two young Agimori braves with them. Karnak couldn’t resist insulting one, who threw a huge punch at him, so after that Karnak was kept away from the pair. Within a couple of hours they encountered Chaku and his war party, who was both pleased and very surprised to see them with the two young braves in tow. However, when told of the Morocanth claim that they had been taking Agimori young, he was furious, accusing the creatures of stealing Agimori children. Once he was calmed down, he agreed to the truce, and to take further problems to the duke, but warned that if the duke’s justice was not swift he would take matters into his own hands.

With children going missing from both tribes, the party suspected that outside influences might be at work here, and were reminded of the raid on the Gubrana stead by Toadface and his gang. Arrangements were made with Chaku to perform a broo hunt later in the season, to try and rid this part of the region of that scourge. They then parted on good terms, and the party prepared to continue their journey.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink

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