Turn 4 Thread

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Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:25 pm

[It is Turn 4. Please use this thread rather than the Turn 3 Thread for responding to my last post. Furthermore, you now can complete an additional Secondary Objective. Which one is it to be?]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:40 pm

[Compromise leadership is the next on the agenda, although I don't yet have a plan. Guess I'll go with that. Still need to come up with a new character, but I'm working on it. I guess I can get into the swing of being them while Wren's away and hence Laval will be in temporal limbo.]

Laval waits, stays hidden, prays that her loyalty continues to be rewarded with success. Gracious has asked her to contribute if a fight breaks out, and that is all she intends to do.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:26 pm

Mkuu Mosili steps forward, wiping away nervous sweat with an extravagant, purple handkerchief. He mutters something with a smile to the lieutenant: a response that Laval cannot hear from her position. She does, however, hear the lieutenant's rather loud response.

"Wych?" the lieutenant demands, "We were not told about any wych."

The Mkuu and Gracious quickly jump in to fill in the blanks and reassure the soldier, seeming to bombard him with information. The lieutenant nods, seemingly a little irritated by their voices, but seeming to believe them. With a lowered voice, he begins to ask them more questions. After a while, he is led along with his soldiers towards the farmstead that the Slaaneshis attacked. The farmstead is on a small hill, and Laval can just about make them out if she steps on tiptoes to see above the roofs of the huts. The soldiers seem to be examining the ground. Twenty of them break off and start marching in the direction that the Slaaneshis fled. Laval just hopes that they weren't stupid enough to go directly back to Imani.

Their task done, the lieutenant is now led to the battlefield of the wyches. From where she is, Laval can see the man directing the dying to be shot and the bodies to be thrown upon a hastily erected pyre. At one moment, he pulls a pistol on the Mkuu Mosili, but Gracious quickly starts talking and the lieutenant lowers his weapon after a shrug. The Mkuu collapses to the floor in relief as the lieutenant and Gracious continue to exchange words.

A square-jawed man jumps forward, apparently called by the lieutenant. After some orders, the man takes ten others and starts heading back towards Kifodini. Taking cover back inside the hut proper, Laval watches as they begin collecting the tithe from the villagers. She smiles as they package the meat without inspection, and begin loading it into their bags.

Some time later, and the remaining thirty men with the lieutenant stride back into the town centre. They begin garrisoning the church, occupying the local huts, and Laval is forced to sneak away to avoid her hut being intruded into by a blundering soldier. It seems that the lieutenant and some of his soldiers are here to stay: at least for the time being. Nonetheless, Laval and Vex's business is finally concluded here in this damned town: the tithe has been corrupted.

[Laval gains 2 Infamy for completing her Secondary Objective to corrupt the tithe. She also gains 2 Infamy for assisting another heretic complete a Secondary Objective.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:32 am

[I've taken a few liberties with this intro for narrative's sake. I hope that's okay!]

When two psykers fought the mob in Kifodini, their power near rent the veil asunder. Such an outpouring of energy makes waves in the warp. Deaths too make ripples, and there were many deaths - not least the death of a wych of not inconsiderable power. These waves spread outward from the point of origin, growing weaker as they go. By the time the ripples reach the Lightbringers, half a world a way, they barely exist at all. But a powerful diviner is sensitive to even such distant echoes of power.

Half a world away, a powerful diviner wakes from uneasy dreams with a sense of foreboding. The diviner speaks to his warleader, confides a powerful intuition that the agents sent to the Makuu are in trouble. The warleader consults with her advisors, ponders the issue. The fortress cathedral is too far away for Lightbringer reinforcements to get there in time. And even if that were not the case, they cannot spare another soul. But Fate provides. There are many heretics who owe favours to the cadre of wyches. And at least one is known to be in the region.

A circle of telepaths assemble, linking minds and power to cast their thoughts across the vast distance. Some were rescued from the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and have suffered harsh training in this art. They lend their skills to the circle, and the voice of the choir reaches out across the miles to the mind of Marina Pardalis.

We are calling in our debt. Agents of ours named Vex and Laval are in the region of the Makuu. Find them and render them all assistance in their mission. They may be in danger. Do this, and we will consider your debt to us repaid.

****

Marina is hunting. No glorious prey tonight, just fresh meat to supplement her dwindling supplies. This harsh planet offers slim pickings, but there are options for the savvy and the desperate. At night, little rodents come out of their burrows to feed. With a suitable lure, infinite patience and fast reflexes, one can catch them. Marina crouches motionless in the darkness, claws extended, waiting. Every once in a while, a scurrying creature comes within her reach and she has a single chance to strike. She does not catch them all, but it is enough. Each is barely more than a snack, even roasted whole, but they are fresh and succulent and she is so very hungry.

When the message comes, lancing uninvited into her mind, she leaps half out of her skin. It is utterly unexpected, unpleasantly invasive. She is meant to be alone out here. But she knows who it is from. Who else would call in a favour like that? And she cannot refuse. She did, after all, make them a promise.

She abandons her lacklustre hunt. The night is still young, and she has a way to walk. It does not take her long to decide where to search first. "In the region of the Makuu" presumably means the villages. If the wyches are inside the cathedral itself, her job will be much harder, but she will deal with that if and when she must. Last time Marina passed Sadaka it stood mysteriously empty, so not there. And her pride is still smarting from being run out of Kifodini. So it is towards Imani that she walks. She treks confidently overland in perfect darkness, her goggles revealing the lay of the land to her, and sets a rapid pace. She has a way to go, and she would like to be there before the sun rises.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:03 pm

Marina is halfway to Imani when she almost runs into the path of a listless men and women. Concealing a hiss, she drops to the ground, and watches, ready for battle. They number around a dozen, and though the light of the stars are undiluted by pollution or cloud, they do not see Marina in the darkness. They seem to have come from the vague direction of Imani, though Marina cannot be sure, and she scrutinises them to determine what manner of individuals they are. 

Whoever they are, they are physically tired and irritable. They do not talk much to one another, other than to snap or complain. They are not kitted out for trekking, some of them not even wearing shoes, and few of them with backpacks for food or supplies. All of them have weapons: low calibre pistols and knives, and more than a few are covered in what appears to be someone else's blood. None of them seem to be in charge - they act almost as if they are used to direction, but have been separated from their leaders - and they don't seem to be going in any particular direction. Marina watches them, and reaches her own conclusions.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:25 pm

Puzzling. But not what she is looking for, since they are locals. Whatever plight has led them to be wandering here is of no interest to Marina. And a dozen is too many for her to prey upon easily, especially armed. Maybe if she followed patiently, she could catch a straggler... but they are going the wrong way, and the odds are not good.

A thought crosses her mind, and she smiles. If these are the armed folk of Imani - and can Imani really have more armed folk than this? - then the other people will be easy targets. And she does need to ask some questions.

She slips past the crowd, if she can, staying low and quiet until she reckons she is far enough away, then goes on her way.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:20 pm

She ghosts past the group, leaving no trace of her passing to these ill-spirited malcontents, and continues her journey to Imani. It is clear from the tracks they left behind that the group definitely came from there, and after a couple of hours, the village is in sight. Marina can see a familiar, low hill that blocks a full view of the settlement, topped with a proud, baobab tree with low-hanging fruit. Dawn has not yet cracked, and so the hill provides a good spot to scope out Imani and see what, if anything, has changed since Marina's last visit.

The first surprise is to find corpses at the bottom of the hill. They are not unlike the individuals Marina passed on the way here, but they are horribly burned and their expressions twisted with a fixed fear. If Marina were not so jaded, it might even unnerve her. Tracks about the place suggest that the group these people belonged to ran in a hurry. Cautiously, Marina makes her way up the hill.

The second surprise is the tree. Not only is it a taller tree than the half-stumps normally found in the wilds, but its fruit are golden and tempting. Her stomach growling, Marina is almost about to grab one when she sees the third surprise. Something has definitely happened on this hill. There are the remains of what can only be a ritual site, where now-discarded braziers have fallen over and set a patch of grass alight. Now there is only charred earth and grassy ashes. That a ritual has taken place here puts Marina off the fruits, and, curious, she looks through her preysense goggles at the sleeping town of Imani.

Nothing seems particularly different, but sometimes the night conceals great events that are only apparent when people are out and about. There is the sound of a low moaning torn from a twisted throat, but Marina cannot quite pin down where it is coming from. 

Does she wait until dawn breaks?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:40 pm

Ritual magic. Wyches? A good sign?

People will know what happened here. And people may know where the wyches are. Night-time is the time for hunting.

Marina prowls between the huts, checking for anyone still up and about who might provide an opportunity or pose a threat. Then, if she finds nobody (as she expects to), she picks a hut at random to slip inside and search for a victim.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:28 pm

Though Imani is not exactly a night-life village, Marina is nonetheless fortunate enough to spot a farmer ambling across her fields in the moonlight. It seems that one of her goats has been braying in a way that merits attention, and the woman is examining it to see what might be wrong. A child could sneak up on this woman, but, as it is, Marina is a highly skilled infiltrator renowned for her stealth. She ghosts behind the farmer: a middle-aged, painfully thin woman with short-trimmed, wiry hair. What does Marina do with her?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:36 pm

Claws still sheathed for now, she catches the woman from behind, aiming to put a hand over her mouth to stifle the inevitable cry of surprise.

"If you scream, this might get very messy," she hisses.

If her victim struggles, Marina will try to wrestle her to the ground and subdue her. If she cooperates, Marina will drag her a little further from the houses (to give herself a clear line to bolt if she needs to) before releasing her mouth.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:46 pm

Marina pounces, hand over the woman's mouth, muffling her victim's reflexive scream. After hearing Marina's threat, the woman nods, her eyes wide with terror, and cooperates in moving away from the houses and the village proper. Marina releases the woman's mouth. 

"W-w-what do you w-w-want?" she stammers.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:10 pm

"I've got some questions," she opens, in an almost conversational tone. She is not good at conversational tones. She clicks her claws out on her left hand, making sure the woman can see. Her right hand keeps a firm hold on her.

"First, I'm looking for two wyches. One male, one female... I think. Seen them? Know anyone who might have seen them?"

If she gets what sounds like an honest answer, she presses on. She has questions about the corpses, the ritual, the tree, the apparent vagrants. If she doesn't get full cooperation... well, it's time to get unpleasant.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:15 pm

"Y-y-yes, we know them!" the woman exclaims, happy to be given a question she can answer. The relief on her face tells Marina that she is not lying. "They came to our Imani and were here only recently. I think they were going to Kifodini." She pauses, suddenly concerned. "You do not mean them harm, do you?"

Marina clicks her claws, but this woman seems to have loyalty to the wyches, and intimidation alone will not cause her to betray them. Hissing in displeasure, Marina allows the claws in her right hand to extend into the woman's neck. Her victim howls in agony as the blade tines find the nerves, but her shouts are muffled by Marina's other hand. The hunter extracts the truth quickly, and has her four questions answered. 

The corpses used to be residents of Imani - miscreants and thieves - who turned to worship of the Dark God of Pleasure. They were killed by the magical flames of Mkuu Faruha (it seems the old Mkuu has died). The ritual was undertaken by Faruha to see off them off, but it went terribly wrong, and the Mkuu has been horribly afflicted by the magics that she called upon. As for the vagrants, they are probably the remaining addicts and layabouts of Imani who fled the sorceress's wrath.

The tree, however, is unconnected, but the woman (between pained whimpers) tells Marina that she must not to eat its fruit. Those that do will unleash a great and terrible plague upon Imani, that is otherwise contained in the baobab.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:36 pm

"Thanks!" Marina grins, "See, that wasn't so hard."

She ponders the farmer's words, idly wiping her claws clean on the woman's clothes. Sorcery in Imani probably only makes the place more hospitable to her kind. But the wyches are in Kifodini, so that is where she must go.

But before that, she is hungry. And she needs to deal with this woman.

"Where do you live?" she asks. "And would you rather live or die?"

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:48 pm

The woman, terrified and with nothing else to lose by cooperation, visibly deflates. With a shaking hand, she points in the direction of a hut on the outskirts of the village. Marina leads her there. 

The hut is small and cramped, with few possessions. There are a few rugs on the floor that act as seats and bed, and two small, wide-eyed children that the woman gathers into her arms when she enters. She tells them to hush and sits against the wall with them, watching as Marina idly inspects the home. There are herbs for cooking and a tiny stove where a half-pot of goat's blood soup is kept warm.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:56 pm

Marina helps herself to some soup.

"I'm just gonna assume you choose live," she comments as she serves herself. "Though the other option's still on the table, if you decide you'd rather not after betraying a pair of wyches. Either way, you've been pretty helpful, so I'll respect your choice."

She makes no attempt at small talk, or at further threats, if the family let her rob them in peace. She has no interest in anything other than their food, gulping it down hungrily. When she is finished, she lets herself out, calling "Thanks again!" over her shoulder.

Those matters taken care of, she intends to head in the direction of Kifodini while the darkness lasts, bedding down somewhere concealed before dawn.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:13 pm

The woman avoids making contact with Marina, instead hushing her children, one of which has started to cry. Marina is a fair distance from Imani before her victim seeks help, and is safely away before any repercussions can be brought against her intrusion. She begins trekking to Kifodini, soon picking up on set of somewhat faded tracks. It may be those vagrants. The boot-prints are similar, and there is the same listlessness in the traces of their gait. She notes that while a large group was making its way towards Kifodini, the tracks leading back to Imani represent about half their original number. Perhaps they were not welcome at that settlement either.

After a long walk, it is half an hour before dawn breaks, and Marina looks for a concealed place to bed down. It is tricky - the wilds of Swaad are arid - but she picks a patch of long grass in a slight valley between two, diminutive hills. Without effort on her part, it will hide her from casual observers. 

As she is preparing to rest, she spots troops of Makuu soldiers walking down the dirt path she was only recently on. They number twenty, and seem very interested in the vagrant tracks leading in the direction of Imani. In the darkness, they will go right by Marina as she hides in the long grass. Does she intervene, or settle down to sleep?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:20 pm

Marina has grown to hate soldiers. Were they fewer in number, she would kill them for the sheer joy of it. But twenty is too many. And Imani means nothing to her. She settles in to sleep.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:34 pm

In the morning, Marina rises bright and early. She has never been one for long rests, and the grass of the wilds is coarse and uncomfortable. On the other hand, her belly is still mostly fun and the sun is warm and cheerful. Marina picks herself up, and heads in the direction of Kifodini.

She does not run into any further groups of tracks in the normally quiet route between the two settlements. All she can see for hours is the small, rolling hills of the Swaad wilds, arid but for the occasional patch of long grass, flowers and the odd baobab tree. Once, she sees a scavenger bird, a tai, but it seems to clock Marina as someone still living and soon gives up interest in her. The wilds are quiet, with next to no wildlife and no wind, and it would be easy to feel lonely out here.

After a few hours, and Kifodini comes into sight. Mindful that the soldiers seem to have come from Kifodini, Marina approaches carefully. Finding a vantage point on the outskirts of the settlement, her caution is rewarded by the sight of further armed men and women of the Makuu. They seem to have occupied the centre of the town, but there are Kifodini citizens working as usual on the outskirts. The remains of a large fire - now a pile of dusty ash - can be seen on one side of the town. Of Laval or Vex, there is no obvious sign. What does Marina do?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:49 pm

Daytime hours always pose an interesting dilemma for Marina. On the one hand, the warmth of the sun is nice, and it's pleasant to be able to remove her goggles. On the other, she is far more comfortable under the cloak of darkness. It is a pity there are too many too many bright hours in the day to sleep all of them away, but she cannot help that. Maybe she will nap again later.

Her usual strategy is to do as she did in Imani - catch someone who might know and ask them where to find what she wants. That is far more problematic in daytime under the watchful eye of soldiers, however. She could just saunter into town, but someone might recognise her, and she is not good at concealing her nerves.

She slinks back and forth, out of sight, for a time, frustrated, then settles in to wait at her vantage point for an opportunity. Patience is a virtue she possesses in abundance. Sooner or later, someone will stray far enough from their friends for her to spring an ambush.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 2:36 pm

Assisting Marina is a curious social phenomenon that begs for further information. The civilians of the town seem to actively avoid the soldiery, and keep to the outskirts of the settlement. Doubtless, they might call those soldiers for assistance if Marina is not careful to pick an isolated victim, but it does mean that Marina can avoid the gaze of soldiers relatively easily. She waits, picking the farmsteads as her areas of opportunity. Goats sometimes stray, and, when they do, hungry villagers are bound to follow them.

Marina is rewarded for her patience by just such an opportunity. The wait has not fatigued her nerves, and she sneaks forward to ghost away a burly middle-aged man. He doesn't represent the easiest target, but even a man of size can be taken down swiftly if surprised. She lunges upon him once he has followed his goat over the crest of a small hill. He doesn't hear her coming, and soon she has one hand over his mouth.

Marina is strong, and she has the opportunity of surprise, but this man is built like a grox. They wrestle for some time, neither really having the upper hand, before the man wrenches Marina's hand away and clasps her by the throat. He hasn't shouted out for help yet - but that's only because he seems to be using all his effort to strangle her. What does Marina do?

[So your options are broadly as follows: (1) continue the grapple (the man is in control of the grapple, but neither side is yet hurt or fatigued) or (2) wriggle out of the grapple and try other (potentially more lethal and louder) means of subduing. Or a (3) I haven't thought of! Let me know.]

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Mon Sep 12, 2016 2:48 pm

[Recall that I have the Takedown talent, if that is relevant.]

This is exhilarating - far better than the last easy catch. She doesn't want him to cry out, so it's probably too early to bring out the power sword - even if she is careful not to kill him with it, such a thing is frightening. Claws, however, are fair game at this point. Since he is still fighting quietly, she continues to try and wrestle him briefly, [Another two rounds maybe?] but if that is going nowhere, then she will try to get away from his grasp and knock him senseless [Takedown/Stun, as seems appropriate] before trying again to choke him into submission.

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:29 pm

Marina escapes from the stranglehold with a hiss of excitement. Extending her claws, she wrestles the man back and executes a perfect throw of him to the floor. He lands hard, and she leaps upon him, her claws digging deep into her torso as her boot muffles his mouth. She squeezes with her blades, leaving his chest and abdomen bloodied as he struggles increasingly weakly. Realising that the man is being killed by her claws, Marina retracts them, leaning into a bear hug of her victim. His frantic efforts grow weaker and weaker still, before one of his ribs breaks with a horrendous sound and he stops entirely. Marina steps away from her prey.

He is bruised, bloodied and out. Marina drags him back to her lair before anyone can come to find him. There, she waits for him to awake. What does she do in the meantime, and what does she do once he wakes?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by Jewelcast on Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:56 pm

Napping would probably be imprudent. Shame.

She binds the man hand and foot, though she is down to her last scraps of twine. Then she considers her position. Her victim is likely to scream, and screaming tends to bring attention. If they're still in screaming distance, she drags him about as far as she can from the town.

And then she waits for him to come round.

When he wakes, she is sitting by his face.

"Awake?" She queries. "I've got some questions. You don't have to answer, of course, if that bothers you. I'll just have some fun, and you can tell me when you change your mind. I've done a bit of a number on you, so I won't be stabbing you any more, but I've got some brands in here, and I reckon you can take a bit of burning."

Her main question is still about the wyches. Has the man seen them? What were they doing? Does he know where they are now? When she's got all she thinks she is going to get regarding them, she has broader questions. Why are there so many soldiers here? What are the people afraid of? Are the soldiers patrolling the wider area? Who is in charge?

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Re: Turn 4 Thread

Post by The GM on Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:17 pm

The man makes an effort of resisting Marina's intimidations. He promises the heretic an eternity of hell-fire, quoting scripture and the glory of the God-Emperor. But as soon as Marina reaches for her brands, he breaks down into bitter tears and begs for mercy. And so, the questions begin.

There was at least one wych here, a man who summoned hellfire. Marina does not know the exact powers that Vex Carrion can wield, but the gender singles him out. Unfortunately, that wych is dead, torn apart by the mobs of Kifodini. It seems Marina has arrived too late for Vex.

The man does not mention anything of a second wych, even going as far as to deny that there was another when asked. But Marina can tell he is lying, and another reach towards the brands gets him to sobbingly confess. There was another, fighting beside Vex. The powers Vex unleashed left the mob fleeing - Vex himself was killed by a fanatic, Nuru Haki. The man doesn't know what happened to Nuru Haki, other than that she died and the female wych was unaccounted for. He doesn't know where the wych is now.

Marina sighs. She's tracked Laval as far as Kifodini, but it's possible that the wych is long gone. She continues to ask questions for any hint of her quarry. There are soldiers because of the wych attack, and an attack from knife-wielding marauders on the other side of the town. A few questions quickly clarifies that these are the Imani vagrants, and that half died in the attack. The soldiers are here to restore order and defend the town, for the priest Nia Upendi died in the attack. There are no soldiers generally patrolling, but a score of soldiers was sent after the remnants of the marauders. 

Now Kifodini is still, in theory, controlled by the Mkuu Mosi Wakili. However, a new voice of faith, a non-Swaad man by the name of Gracious Obscura, has the loyalty of the people. The soldiers are led by a Lieutenant Naasir, and the Mkuu has no real power.

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