Monday, December 30, 2013

Day Six-Hundred-Six: Return to Civilization

A few weeks ago, we determined that we'd be skipping settlements on our trip to see Iko. We figured jumping into towns and cities would not also be dangerous, it would also slow us down.

Now that we've all decided to simultaneously look for Logan... well, that determination has gone to the wayside. Sigh! And, hey, a settlement already! So much for progress!

Don't get me wrong. I love Logan. He's my pal. We had some... kinda... good times back at Castle Nostalgia. He may've been a brat, a swindler, a prankster and a quasi-stalker (wouldn't stop reading my diary uninvited, y'know), but he was a pal. I look forward to tracking him down again. 'specially now that his dad is also kinda my buddy. Maybe some fences can be mended there.

It's just... my gods. This could take a really long time. We're on a bit of a timetable, y'know? We haven't heard any news of the Non back home lately, largely because we've been avoiding Imperium towns, but I can't imagine The Baron and Kierkegaard and Doc and eeeeeveryone else they've got on their side is sitting dormant. 

Maybe we can get news of Pubton. Maybe it's still untouched. I really, truly hope so.

At any rate, settlement. We caught sight of one of the Imperium's infamous walled towns in the early afternoon, and, true to our words (and under the harsh glare of Grylock, who's made it his holy mission to find Logan), we stopped to have a look.

... several thousand feet away.

... and we approached in carts.

... aaaaand we may have buried the Dauphine in a giant snow bank. 

(What? You want us to get caught by the Imperium's army? You would be a cruel diary, had you a personality. And not just... feet. Maybe I should ask somebody about that while we're here.)

The settlement, name of Trademore, has seen better days. It looks as though it's been through a siege: the walls are cracked and broken, the front gate is badly cracked, the houses are full of enormous holes, the streets bear craters... it's not a happy sight. Imperium workers buzz over it all day and night, toiling feverishly to restore order, and I'm sure the local builder's guild at least is happy for the money they're making.

It's quite difficult to get into an Imperium walled settlement without a set, obvious purpose (usually trade or other forms of commerce), so we approached under the guise of travelling merchants in a small caravan. Turns out we needn't have bothered being so intricate.

"Hail!" I yelled to the guard standing in front of Trademore's busted entrance. "We come from the east, bearing precious metals! We seek refuge that we -"

"Yeah, sure, go on in." The guard grunted out a sneeze and ordered the front gate open.

I faltered, urging my cart's ox (Morris has picked up a few on our travels) to slow down. "Uh... oh. Huh. Don't you wanna know...?"

"Know what? That you'e a merchant? Pretty obvious, innit? Go on in."

"Huh." I scratched my head, peering back into the cart at Libby and Fynn. They both shrugged. "Uh... this is... usually... harder."

"It's harder when your town ain't busted ta shit." The guard spat into the snow at his feet and sighed. "In case you hadn't noticed, we're a bit broken right now. Any money or materials comin' in is good. Don't cause any trouble 'n I don't give two humbugs what you're haulin'."

"I... seeeeeee." I might have mopped my brow at this successful infiltration, but the amount of effort put into it... so minuscule. Not worthy of the gesture. "So, uh, might I ask why everything's looking so bad?"

The guard pointed up and over the wall. A large, blue flag flapped lightly in the winter breeze, on it the cheery face of a shaggy, one-eyed man. His face was covered with a big, red 'no' symbol.

Plato, who was also in the cart (Fynn insisted - he has a thing for Plato's rat), quacked and jabbed two fingers at the flag. The rat did more or less the same on Plato's shoulder, though with a bit more dignity.

"That's Traveller? Hum." I turned back to the guard. "What'd he do, exactly? This place is a mess."

"What he always does," the guard growled. "Rolled in, acted all friendly, got in trouble with the local garrison, ran amok for the better part of a day, destroyed damn near everything in his path. I personally watched 'im hurl a cart full of polished stone statues through a pub. Terrifying, that idiot, terrifying."

'Stone'. The word tickled my mind with unease. I'd already heard that Traveller is the infamous rock hurler of the Imperium, but seeing what he can do with stone firsthand... terrifying indeed. "He's... not still here, right?"

"We're still standin', ain't we?" The guard snorted. "Naw. Took off two weeks ago. No word of him since. Between that guy, the sloth rampagin' in the west and all the trouble at the border... dark times, folks. Very dark."

I wanted to ask more, but the guard forcibly waved us in, as it was time for his break. Trouble at the border... a sloth, somewhere in the direction we're headed... and Traveller on the loose... yikes. Shaping up to be a dangerous trip.

At any rate, we're now in Trademore. The few savvy traders amongst us acually are trading with the local populace while the rest of us take in the sights, visit the remaining pubs, and look for signs of Logan. Unlike Traveller Logan's calling cards are subtle, but surely we can find 'em if they're out there.


Dragomir the Wanderer