Well, good news and bad news. The good news is that we survived a near-death experience with the frogs, the bad news is everything that has happened since then. We managed to make it to Raam and it is as I remembered it, a revolution barely contained by the preachings of the fanatics. They have a god or something they worship here, it doesn’t make much sense to me but dropping his name into a heroic song tends to result in a better tip afterwards, I guess he’s kind of a big deal.
We entered Raam through the ghost city, home of the unclean. Raam is divided into a caste system and these unfortunate souls are doomed to a lifetime of toiling at tasks deemed to vile for anyone else to perform. Our employers take us to the nicest places. Well, as the dray were conducting business, finding a buyer for their cheese or whatever, we saw someone yelling at a growing crowd. At first I thought he was another member of the god squad telling everyone how Badna, their god, will grant them eternal happiness or new clothing or something when I heard things like “rising up” and “overthrowing” which set off numerous alarms in my head. The speaker then pointed at us, or at least our cart declaring us evil tools of the merchant class bourgeoisie and cast some sort of arcane magic, defiling the area around him and creating a being of fire next to the cart. It was at this point that most of hell broke loose. The mob and elemental moved to the cart, which we were regrettably close to, and the speaker advanced upon myself. For reasons that were never made clear some sort of abomination emerged from a slaughterhouse wall like some sort of carnal Kool-aid man and I guess our cart angered him as he attacked as well, thus moving us from most of hell to all hell breaking loose. We once again performed our roles as defenders of the cheese, beating back the encroaching horde. It was bloody, violent and not nearly as impressive as most stories make combat appear. It did reaffirm my opinion that I should stay on the good side of both Strug and the Thri-keen, and now the githzerai has been added to the list as I saw her kill most of the crowd in a hail of arrows. Times like this make me wonder how being someone who plays music for a living gets associated with a band of psychopathic murderers but I suppose I should be grateful that they seem to hate people other than myself.
We managed to kill the attackers and put out the fire set by the elemental and saw that the dray had been watching from a distance and clearly looked displeased. The Mansabdar also decided to make an appearance, probably smelling a bribe. The Mansabdar are a sort of police force, helping ensure order an enforcing the the sorcerer queens laws. The dray approached them, some talking took place, some money changed hands and they happily went on their way, taking the bodies of the mob with them for disposal. Did I mention they are as crooked as authority comes? They don’t even pretend to do anything for the good of the people any more, although I wonder if they ever did. Organized crime could take lessons from this group, although if you have money they can be remarkably agreeable.
As we were catching our breath the dray were investigating the cart and talking to each other in hushed tones. They then approached the group and happily reported that, according to their appraisal of the damages to the cheese and cart each of us owed them 400 gold. Now, I’m not an expert appraiser but I know how much most things are worth. The cheese was cheep and unspectacular. It lasts for months but at no point during it’s existence is it ever really tasty. The cart would cost 200 gold if it was bought brand new. The thri-keen and gith attempted to convince the dray to let us simply part ways though they weren’t very successful. I guess they’ve never done much bargaining in the past. I attempted to use my own natural charisma and Strug’s physique to hopefully convince them that selling us into slavery was going to cost more than we’re worth, though I like to think that I’d be a fairly valuable slave. Threats were made, swords were drawn, and we found ourselves in mortal conflict with our employers, well, former employers now. They were formidable and their cart held tricks we hadn’t seen yet but we triumphed, which once again left us surrounded by bodies with the guards no doubt on their way to arrest those responsible or get paid depending on the wealth of those involved.
I had an idea, though it’s a trick I’ve used in the past. Impersonating people is easy, especially if they’re foreign. As long as you play to expectations most people won’t give you a second glance. I donned the dray’s metal armor and waited for the appropriate moment to emerge from the cart. Of course someone finding out you’re an impersonator is a problem so I got rid of any evidence, which in this case meant the dray’s body was tossed into a vat of acid. In my defense he was already dead, I’m not some sort of lunatic, at least compared to those around me. I heard the guards arrive and begin asking questions of my associates and emerged from the cart, a near identical copy of the dray. In retrospect I should have warned Strug. He isn’t exactly the shiniest shell in the sand and I could almost see the gears of his mind suddenly crashing into each other. The gith, Uza-something, looked suspicious more than anything. I suppose she had seen me unconscious and got at least a glimpse of my nature although I wonder how much she actually knows? Anyway I began to talk to the guards but they were a bit irritated at having to clean up bodies again in such a short time. The gith came to my assistance handing me the gold that had been on the dray. I kindly donated it to the guard as evidence of the dray’s malfeasance and the Mansabdar once again cleaned up several bodies. Well we decided that we’re in this together and went to a corner of the market to take stock of our new acquisitions, and this is where things got complicated. Very complicated.
We cracked open one of the numerous barrels in back and saw the cheese we had seen before. The gith began probing it with a dagger. I guess she had some realization concerning the weight of the barrels. Regardless when she pulled it back there was a glistening, glittering substance on the end. Now I recognized it almost immediately ans judging by the others reactions I was only one. These barrels were filled with residuum. Lots of it. A whole new spectrum of alarms went off in my head, many blaring comments concerning my lifespan if we’re caught and others contemplating what I could buy if we managed to sell it. I did my best to impart the severity of the situation on my compatriots, making sure they knew that if we were caught with this we would probably envy those who were only tortured to death. After a bit of discussion we hatched a plan. We could head to Tyr, the free city, and sell it there. That’s our best chance of both getting filthy rich and maintaining our vital organs.
Of course it’s not that easy. We manage to sell the metal armor to another gith taking advantage of our desperation in order to make enough money to buy supplies for the trip. We were also once again familiarized with the corruption of the local officials as they kindly pointed us in the direction of the nearest temple to make a donation to their god. Fantastic. At least this went on without incident though I once again became worried as I returned to the cart and saw it surrounded by elves. I was maintaining the appearance of the cart’s former owner and tried to scare them off when one of them revealed himself to be a templar. Worse yet a templar who recognized the person I was impersonating. I guess he was affiliated with the residuum purchase but with a bit of fast talking I convinced him that the deal had fallen through, taking care not to implicate failure on my/the dray’s part and he told us to run. Finally someone told us to do something which could only make us safer.
And so we find ourselves in cart headed for Tyr, carrying enough residuum to attract every single sorcerer king on Athas, hoping to sell it before we meet an untimely and probably painful end at the hands of a professional torturer. Like I said before, things have gotten complicated. On the plus side we’re alive, though we will be passing by the black lake again. Dammit. Hopefully more to come.