Thursday, May 04, 2006

Conspiracy of Shadows (Season Two, Session Six)

Once again Anatoli has to beg and wheedle for his life. This time he manages to persuade Sedziwoj that not only has he helped save Kasper's life but that a local has told him of a secret passage into the mining village, the entrance to the passage being under the mound of earth in the clearing. Sedziwoj is so taken with the idea of making a surprise attack on Beker that he immediately sets Anatoli and Totay to work on clearing the entrance to the passage.

Totay is less convinced by Anatoli's story and asks a few sharp questions but seems happy to go along with the digging for his own reasons. The pair make fair progress but as the light fails work has to stop and the camp turns to thoughts of food and shelter from the night.

Totay and Sedziwoj discuss Kasper who is badly injured and only a step away from death's door. Totay persuades Sedziwoj to let Totay disguise Kasper as one of the mercenary men at arms and drag him on a litter to the mining village. As Sedziwoj, Anatoli and Sergei settle down to their very humble meal of forage Totay drags Kasper's litter towards the distant lights of the mine's stockade. Before he has even left the woods though he hears a voice call his name and then a huge blow knocks him unconscious.

Once they have eaten Sedziwoj, Anatoli and Sergei prepare for the night and being ever vigilant Sedziwoj arranges watches throughout the night. It is during his own watch when the moon is high that something strange begins to occur around the clearing. Once again shadowy figures begin to appear between the trees, moving towards the camp from all directions. Surrounding it on all sides. The fog rising from the ground is lit with blue moonlight and the translucent figures drift through it; indistinct yet urgent.

Sergei sees his father in the crowd of figures and moves towards him, Sedziwoj tries to stop him but sees the shade of his sister through the trees and she calls out to him. Anatoli sees his lost love and it is revealed to be his sister.

Each has a conversation with their spirit and each receives cryptic advice about the future. When they wake in the morning they discover that the entrance to the barrow has collapsed and the way inside is open.

Far away to the north Kaspar comes round to find his litter being dragged behind a mule. Totay is bound and gagged over the back of the mule and behind the litter Big Alexander is keeping an eye on Kaspar's expertly attended wounds.

Realising what has happened Kaspar immediately pleads to be returned to Sedziwoj before the monks get too far away. Unfortunately the Alexander's have decided to press on to Tor and are in no mind to turn back. Totay is furious with his kidnapping by the priests that so recently almost had him captured by the guards of Jenkaz but threatened with another crack to the skull decides there is little he can do except wait for the Alexanders to decide either to kill him or set him free.

The monks take their unwilling companions on a wide diversion north of Jenkaz and then west along the river. They eventually come back to the barge the group abandoned when they arrived and taking it as a divine sign they reclaim it and head rapidly downstream.

Back at the barrow the three explorers discover an ancient stone coffin containing mouldering bones and some weapons untouched by the changes of time. Anatoli takes a spear of bronze and Sedziwoj takes a fine, slender sword. The floor of the barrow is scattered with coins and clay jars scattered round the coffin and the walls of the barrow contain more. Sedziwoj has Sergi gather all the money up into a few of the jars. Anatoli spots a few stone plates covered with witch marks and hides them away before any one else finds them. He doesn't understand them but feels some strange affinity for them.

Having looted the tomb the group gather up the horses of the fallen mercenaries and travel north, skirting Jenkaz to the east. Sedziwoj is angry at Totay's betrayal but does not feel the need to test his ire against the soldiers that still guard the mining village. Instead he plans an escape to Tor. The three find the old flat barge on the riverside, untouched since they abandoned it there. Loading the horses aboard they push off and make for Drethka.