Following on immediately from “Ale and a warm bath“.
Then we went to the square where the celebration was prepared and in fact already going on. They had placed two thrones in the centre and since we are all the royalty they are going to get here that’s understandable. We ate and talked and danced and things were nice and simple, except for the fact that the Nameless and his people were completely absent. There was even a seal around the square to warn people off. While we were enjoying the surroundings we were reminded that when the Enshah dies, turmoil and probably revolution is inevitable, and it will be soon.
It seems banditry is widespread in a region named Theme, where young men who do not wish to spend 15 years in the army go. There is one administrator to govern an area the size of Valdyas and currently his legions of soldiers are needed in the army that should be fighting the Khas, but is right here.
On our way back we saw soldiers patrolling, dressed in chain shirts and red with a white sash and many colored banners on their spears. The front man had a red plume on his bronze helmet.
This was not just for show, for a little later out of nowhere our guards were pushed away and an assassin pushed his dagger and his anie at Athal’s throat. Athal swept away the attack and shielded us. The attacker seemed to be alone and was captured. Then the city’s soldiers arrived. We told them we’d take this prisoner with us. But then a group of people who were watching from a street corner ran and the guards gave chase. Soon a fight broke out and more guards appeared, but the fight started to go badly for the soldiers. Someone was hindering them with semsin. So Athal started to counter this until three of them stopped and focussed some unknown attack on Athal which, thanks to all the gods, he reflected back at them. We later found all three of them dead with internal bleeding. I started to undo the unfair advantage our attackers had and then the fight quickly ended. The assassin was the only one of them left alive and we took him with us.
When we got home it was not long before midnight so I changed into my night-clothes and took Vurian and Rovan with me, handing them to Senthi when we saw a witch approaching. It turned out that what she wanted was to know if the two princes were assigned wives. I assume she meant Rovan and Vurian, and I fully intend to let them make up their own mind about that after we have raised them to be responsible young men and without subtly being influenced by interfering old women, except for me.
During all of this, Athal noticed someone sneaking into our room. He hid himself and if I had not been in mental contact with him I would have looked right past him. She did too, and when she got close he grabbed her hand and made it clear she should be silent until the witch left. Luckily she did, and she only found out later that it was in fact Athal –and thus a man– holding her wrist or she would have screamed. It was Asa.
The eldest wife of the Enshah was dying and her position was dangerous. People also suddenly knew that Asa was pregnant. I suspect they arranged for that to happen as it seems they can by influencing people’s emotions or lust, inhibitions or drives or something like that. She could not stay so Athal taught her to hide herself and she stopped being wife to the Enshah and started being a servant in Rikhi’s house. Her name is now Khora. We called them to our room very early in the morning with some clothes and they took her in.
Over breakfast Halla came with two more invitations to unofficial meetings. The sacred high priests of Dayati, Dhamilo and Amaldara, invited us to visit them and we decided to do just that.
The other one was from Aheste, the king of Jomhur. Whose country is now in the hands of the Khas. The Khandihan and the Rising Sun would both send someone to assist us and tomorrow we will ask the representatives of the guild of merchants for a third.
When we got out we went to take a look at the prisoner, we talked, but all we got from him was hate and he firmly believed that all we would tell him were lies. Nothing we could do there so we let our soldiers see how much they could get out of him. Then we went to see Rishi to see how they were doing and peek at Khora. She was mending something and she seemed to be doing well. She called Rishi a priest of the Father, and this surprised me for a moment but it could well be true.
Then it was time to go and as soon as we left the palace we were joined by four hundred more soldiers. And this was not just a gesture because of the assassination attempt: there were riots in town. The captain of the guard assured us that they had everything under control, but there were still riots going on. After a little more time which I spent with Hinla, learning words and just giving her a bit of undivided attention I felt she deserved, we arrived at the closed gates of little Solai. There we were greeted by Dhamilo and Amaldara who turned out to be the children of Dayati and Talay who Imri, the friend of Moyri’s mother, helped deliver. On the way there she asked me if it was true that we came here with plans of freeing Solay and that if we defeated the Khas Athal was to be made emperor. I told her the latter was new to me and that before we freed Solay we had to make sure Iss-Peran did not fall to the Khas. Though we would dearly like to free Solay, I don’t see it happening any time soon.
Before the inevitable banquet she took us apart and led us to a little room where children affected by the Danst-root were being cared for. We confirmed that we were here to put a stop to that and she told us something that at least makes it seem vaguely possible. It appears the Enshah has given license to the house Shoma-Iya to trade in slaves affected this way, and they are the only ones who know how to use the root effectively. If the house is no more and the Enshah does not give out a new license the practice will become illegal, which is a start, though I don’t think that would put a stop to it entirely.
On the way to little Solay, we saw a street that was deserted, shutters closed. The captain told us this was nothing to be concerned about and that probably either the Red or the Blue faction had warned people away from that street at that day.
Should we taunt the Red party so that they strike too soon and expose their plot? They might succeed or cause a chaos. The Red faction and some witches seem to have a plan for who will be the next Enshah. Khiarban perhaps?