Lost are the Seekers
The shock of finding his warehouse empty still fresh in his mind, thoughts soon turn to fleeing Pavis before the fury of Count Ruuz falls in his hide. Solanthos searches for his traitorous business partner Ponzil, fully intent on retrieving the monies his stolen goods should have realised, and they a little extra payback as interest. He is only a day behind at most.
He is joined by his cousin Zlatos, who has set his sights on taking a Temple position in Balazar, where they say the heroes of the Temple ride giant hawks into battle. To further this goal he has purchased a slave, Vajaan to work as guide when he reaches Balazar.
The Ernalda temple has engaged the services of Praxian guide Braemar to guide their servant Esvana on her journey north of the Giant Mountains. They are searching for a caravan leaving quickly, for Braemar insists the best travel weeks are soon to be over.
The group meet, and all agree a speedy pursuit of the man who robbed Solanthos is in order, as he offers an equal part in plunder after his money is recouped.
Only 8 miles out of Pavis, the travellers find a scene of carnage; a caravan set upon by Nomads, it’s guards lying, dead on the road. One man barely clings to life, an arrow in his chest too close to his heart to remove, and to embedded in his lung to survive. Brights Dawnsbright, a former file-mate of Zlatos, tells of the merchant Ponzil’s betrayal, having organised the slaughter of the undermanned caravan at the hands of savage sable-tribe bandits. Brights hands Zlatos a scroll he says contains details of his family legacy, and asks that he might retrieve this legacy for his family.
Leaving Solanthos’ ponderous wagon in a local hamlet, the group set off afoot in search of the sable-riding bandits, all too soon finding half their number relaxing after their battle. The hardened veteran Zlatos demonstrate the abilities that earned him his own file command, and the conclusion, is both swift and decisive, with only one bandit surviving the encounter. Armed with new mounts and information, the travellers head towards the Paps, a site sacred to Eiritha.
The Paps are full to bursting with the assembled tribes of Prax, with many gathered for the fertility rituals of the season. Making their way quickly through the peace-bound tribes, moving carefully lest their mounts be discovered, they soon find trace of Ponzil in the markets set up during the festivities. He is in conference with a Third-Eye-Blue smith, exchanging handshakes with the man and several Zebra riders, they unload several bags of grain from his mules into the smiths wagon, only to load them again 20 minutes later. Solanthos ponders why a smith would want so much grain?
When the group follows Ponzil and his Zebra-riding companions they are noticed, and a quick pursuit soon nets them a wounded mule and two sacks of grain. Each contains concealed Iron! The group return to the market and talk to the smith and his argumentative son Slava, they learn that he is working the Iron for some Orlanthi in the Zebra camp, and Ponzil is merely making the delivery. It is also decided that Slava should leave his apprenticeship with his father, and would serve Solanthos for two seasons in Balazar, when the place was reached. “Better he learn humility before his betters,” his father said,“before he earns his Masters rights”.
Tracking Ponzil into the Zerba encampent, they soon find a great teepee guarded by Sundomers of poor repute, men known to Zlatos as gamblers, drinkers and ruffians. While they talk, Braemar sneaks inside the tent and there accosts Ponzil, quietly subduing and removing him. As Ponzil is dragged from the tent, a group of Zebra riders approaches, with them the firmly trussed Kaalyra, wife to Ponzil. The travelling group find that the Orlanthi have ransomed her to Ponzil, though at an outrageous price for a merchants wife. It is clear to all who see, that he is besotted by her. The group leave with both Ponzil and Kaalyra in tow, trying to figure how to recoup the Iron he has traded for her.
Consipiring with Slava, who’s paternal relationship is tightly drawn light a bow-string, Solanthos organises to use gastric poisoning to waylay the smith and his wife, and steal the iron in his wagon. All runs smoothly for the caper, and soon the group is riding out into the desert with several ingots of raw iron, and a few worked weapons. Safely away from the Paps, Solanthos cuts the throat of Ponzil, and abandons his corpse and his wife Kaalyra in the stark chaparral of Prax.
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