The sky shines bright a shade of azure, the wind blows strong, stronger than it has before. Through the tear in the mountains comes the wind, unlike anything you've felt here before, it brings with it a sensation of change, as wind is wont to do.
As you start heading to the Grand Chapel (whose environment has already been cleaned of the remainders of the Festival two days ago) you happen to see a number of trucks heading towards the northern end of the city, they're tanker trucks full of, apparently, water (given the signs hanging on them)
The administrative area of the Grand Chapel is, as expected, busy as it has been since the days before, although you hear talk more often now of the waterways and the sewers, clearly something has happened with those. Still, the path to the briefing room is clear of obstruction
Once inside you'll see that this time you're not welcomed by the presence of Cor Caroli, this time it's Pope Aldiva that smiles as you arrive, she's already sitting at the meeting table "Ah… Welcome, welcome. Please, apologize Cor's lack of presence, she is unwell at the moment"
Hughbert salutes. "What exactly is she suffering from, if I may ask?"
Serenity: "What're you doing awake?" Serenity squints briefly, before taking a seat at the table.
Pope Aldiva: "Work catches up with all of us at some point. I've had an excess of rest while convalescing from a… meeting with an Akavir delegate… Despite how tiresome the meeting with the Chancellor was, I am quite well rested"
Pope Aldiva: "Cor, on the other hand, seems to have finally hit her limit. Unsurprising, given the time she has spent in the Quicksilver Chamber as of late"
Serenity: "It's just weird coming in here and you not being passed out on the couch and/or Cor's lap." Serenity shrugs,
Serenity: "What's the deal with that anyway? I think Anton mentioned it too."
Anton scratches his head before smiling.
The pope puts a hand on her chin for a moment "Hrm… The easiest way to explain is that it is a room especially designed to amplify an Oracle's sight. Imagine it like a giant telescope, but across time"
Pope Aldiva: "It is impressive even if you do not have the gift"
Serenity: "Wacky."
The pope pulls out some papers from a drawer "Hm…" she looks them over, carefully arranging them before her "There are… Two missing still, right?"
Anton: "Seems that way."
Serenity: "Harriet is having some kind of Toaster Emergency."
Serenity: "Hughbert gets to explain Amal."
Pope Aldiva: "T-toaster Emergency?" she blinks "That sounds… Omnious"
Serenity: "Somewhen Harriet 'upgrades' things she forgets limiteres were in place for a reason and lots of tiny explosions happen."
Amal: "What? I'm here. I'm just feelin' quiet."
Amal was… hiding behind some furniture??? or something??? It is a mystery.
Pope Aldiva: "Oh… I haven't noticed you, I am sorry"
Pope Aldiva: "But it seems with Harriet busy, this should be a good time to start"
Amal: "Hehe, no worries."
She looks down at one of her papers "So, you should be heading to Rissan today. Thankfully it shouldn't be an excessively difficult mission, I hope"
Amal: "What's the mission~?"
Pope Aldiva: "You will have two main objectives, first is helping the Five Hundred Cities to decide on a representative, that task should not require much effort other than being an information relay"
Serenity: "…That sounds like it could involve a LOT of information though."
Pope Aldiva: "Also, you will be carrying with you materials and technology to be shared with the Postal Service, something that should facilitate that first objective"
Amal: "Ahahahaha. Ten Rissani, eleven opinions. Still and all, these are interesting times. If it's ever possible…"
Pope Aldiva: "As you might know, Rissani clans have a certain… Infatuation with cultures other than their own, this has led to them developing some of the most advancedm eans of communications of this age, including various technologies that they have been working with in tandem with our colleges"
Pope Aldiva: "The second task is assisting the Postal Service in deploying a high quality, high durability long range hard line communication system, as well as delivering materials for their Transcontinental Radio prototype"
Serenity: "OH SHIT is that finally going to practical use testing?"
Amal grins. "Oh wow, are they finally ready t-" -they highfive Serenity.
Serenity‘ highfives Amal.
Anton scrunches up his face. He doesn’t say anything aloud, but the expression definitely reads 'Great more tech stuff'.
CuppaCoffee rushes in through the door! "Hey I'm here the fire's managed what did I miss?"
Harriet did that, obviously.
Amal: "We get to play with neat toys!"
Pope Aldiva: "Technically they aren't ready for it for another five months, however, with the technology we are sending it should be what they need to put the first prototype to work"
Serenity: "We get to help set up Rissan's transcontinental radio tower!"
Harriet: "Awesome." Harriet takes a seat (is her hair a little more singed than normal?) and grabs a cup of tea.
Hughbert: "So we're escorting a caravan filled with precious supplies to develop a transportation network. Besides ourselves, will there be any other security?"
Pope Aldiva: "Take note that- Hello Harriet, please, take a seat- The technology we're sharing is actually a gift… The last year they have slowly been cutting contact with our colleges, not so much on a problem in our partnership but… Their personnel has been forced to redirect efforts to more local efforts due to the slow depletion of their resources. So there may be technical mismatches"
Serenity: "Man, no one would want to steal this shit."
Serenity: "They're want to wait for it to be built, *then* take over the tower."
Pope Aldiva: "Hopefully this should also help re-estabilish better relations and they might perhaps be more willing to ask for assistance"
Harriet: "Technical mismatches? No problem, between me and Serenity we'll bang it into shape."
Anton: "I think you're giving people too much credit, Serenity."
Amal: "Mm, yeah. I've heard about their shortages lately."
Serenity: "What would they even do with an unbuilt radio transmitter???"
Anton: "I dunno, man. But the possibility exists."
Pope Aldiva: "The shortages have been getting sufficiently bad that their people have turned quite desperate, at this time their main source of income is the export of work of all sorts"
Hughbert: "Reduce it to scrap and sell it to the highest bidder. Raw materials can be repurposed easily."
Serenity‘ folds her arms over her chest.
Amal: "Yeah, things are rough…"
Pope Aldiva: "Hughbert, this is a mostly undercover operation. And Serenity, I would still advise caution, not because the goods are particularly valuable but because of Akavir interference in Rissan at the moment. There has been a high rise in aimless banditry, part of the Chancellor’s usual stratagem of waiting for an area to destabilize itself before offering enough aid to eventually turn the area into an Akavir province"
Pope Aldiva: "It is obvious to those who watch said 'bandits' are Akavir hires, yet he has been sufficiently skilled to leave no evidence of his doing, in particular due to utilizing… Local resources, that is, turning the desperate rissani against themselves"
Serenity: "Man we should of just let Alcor nuke Akavir."
Amal: "Not sure what they hope to -loot- from us if they did take over, but."
Amal: "It's Akavir, they're under no obligation to make sense."
Pope Aldiva: "I… Fear it may be Masharas' fault"
Harriet: "What
Amal: "Also yeah some of the clans are tight with Akavir, always have been. Wannabes."
Harriet: "
Harriet: "'d we do?"
Pope Aldiva: "As you know, Akavir and Rissan are in opposite sides from our city"
Pope Aldiva: "Making Rissan a very sound tactical position to maintain, given we have limited troops having to protect two fronts would deeply weaken us"
Pope Aldiva: "Hrm… Well, the mission is as always open ended"
Pope Aldiva: "Unfortunately this time we do not have a direct point of contact, but the Promenade Clan should prove to be a good starting point, given they have a diplomatic envoy with us"
Pope Aldiva: "Any further questions?"
Hughbert pulls out a clipboard and starts filling in some forms. "So all of the engineers on this project, aside from our two geniuses in present company, are Rissani, right?"
Anton shakes his head. "None here."
Pope Aldiva: "Yes"
Hughbert: "Then, in that case, I'll pull an extra hand from R+D to help with the assembly." He turns to Harriet and Serenity. "You won't mind if I get you a [Smith] as an extra pair of hands, would you?"
Serenity: "Uhhh don't care either way, they can probably handle the non-delicate stuff."
Harriet: "Yeah, that sounds great."
Pope Aldiva: "Very well, then. I wish you all good luck, then"
Hughbert: "Then I'll be turning this form in on our way out." He nods and salutes. "No further questions."
JayM: Such a simple briefing this time, I wonder what was different
JayM: Either way
After this short briefing you finally get ready to head out. You'll find your car in the garage, already getting loaded with all the equipment you need to take
It's not a lot of equipment on it's own, doesn't even completely fills the trunk (there's also a large amount of technical books), but it's visible it's pretty high quality and high precision radio equipment
Serenity: "Anton you driving I'm still working on a project," Serenity mumbles as she gets into the passanger's seat instead of the drivers.
Having given up the driver's seat Serenity fails to notice what Anton does: A new addition to the car's dashboard is a meter you haven't seen before, currently sitting at 100%. You also notice one new lever, too!
Anton glances at Serenity before hopping into the drivers seat. He pauses slowly before pulling the new lever.
Serenity: "Wait what - NO!"
Amal: "Uhoh."
Harriet: "Hey! Don't mess with the Boost Turbine!"
JayM: That's why, much like guns, those kinds of levers come with safety measures
Serenity: "…Oh right the car isn't even on of course it's not going to activate."
One of the technicians that was doing the loading looks at Anton, and sighs "I thought you people were supposed to be smart"
Serenity‘ shouts out the car. "He’s just fucking with us!"
Anton grins. "Was just getting a feel for the lever. I have to use it later, so…"
Hughbert: "Believe me when I say Anton knew exactly what he was getting himself in to."
Technician: "It needs to be running at full RPM before it activates, for what's worth. Anything slower and it'd bust up the engine"
Technician: "Keep it in mind when trying to use that Boost Turbine, also it's limited to four seconds since it's just using a simple capacitor bank"
Technician: "Manual should be somewhere in the car"
Harriet: "And it takes like three days to recharge because it's using a bank capacitor instead of radiant ragnite, so don't mess with it for no reason, okay?"
Harriet gives the technician a look which just says 'sorry about that guy, I think your addition was great'.
The technician sighs "Well, don't go hurting yourselves with it. And good luck on your mission"
Technician: "I wanna read the reports on how that radio works"
Harriet: "Thanks, I'll make sure you get a report. Oh, and thanks for your help upgrading this girl, too."
Hughbert: "Much appreciated."
Serenity: "They got the new shock absorbers put in too, right?"
Technician: "It was a pleasure, haven't seen a car customized this well in a lifetime"
Harriet: "Yeah, tweaked 'em with the bulletproofing so they'd handle the extra weight."
Harriet grins at the technician. "Yeah, I made her out of scrap. I'm pretty much amazing."
Serenity: "Oh yeah. I forgot to mention this in the chapel because of the singing but uh -"
Serenity‘ leans out the window towards the tech. "Let someone know that the main city water pump is fucked up? I mean I seriously doubt no one else has noticed yet, but just in case."
Technician: "Oh, yeah, everything got super wonky when we had to disconnect the north end of the city. Apparently there was some damaged that made the sewers leak into the water supply"
Serenity: "Aha."
Technician: "Since we’ve sealed the water supply intake there the water pump's been really moody because of an unbalanced load, but it'll live until we fix it"
Serenity: "Yeah, makes sense."
Harriet: "Don't worry, I'm sure you can handle it."
Serenity‘ thumbs up, before slipping back into the car and pulling out a small force gear, a few small tubes filled with purple ragnite, and some tools. She’s going to be messing with it for the next couple of hours.
Hughbert hops in and gets ready for departure. "By the way. Serenity. I have been meaning to ask you for a small favor."
Serenity: "Sup?"
Hughbert: "Could you perhaps apologize to the other residents of my home when you get the chance? For waking them up around midnight by swearing loudly, I mean." He adjusts his glasses and leans in, barely concealing a grin.
Serenity: "Eh, I'm sure Amal covered it already."
Serenity: "Weirdo."
Amal giggles.
Anton scrunches up his face. "Geeze. Guess I should look into what you guys were up to when I was with Cor."
Serenity: "Absolutely nothing at all."
Hughbert: "Amal was awoken too, and was included in the category of 'residents'."
Amal: "It was -great-."
Harriet: "Oh, wow, so you really… wow."
Harriet: "Damn."
And off the party goes, towards the southern exit of city. Though the tear across the mountains would have made this tunnel towards Rissan unreacheable, in just a few days a new bridge was built and ready for crossing. Thankfully the tunnel has been sufficiently well built that even that chaos did not manage to damage it. There is a strong gust of wind howling through the tunnel as you drive through
Amal waggles their eyebrows traitorously.
Serenity‘ pauses long enough to glance back at Harriet. "Where the hell did you THINK I went?"
Harriet: "I didn’t think you'd really do it!"
Hughbert: "You absolutely should, Anton. I believe you'd very likely get a chuckle out of the ordeal."
Serenity: "They were real. Real dumb. Fuck."
Harriet: "Haha, holy shit."
Serenity‘ turns back around to refocus on the device in her hands.
Anton: "Perhaps tonight. I’m driving at the moment."
Serenity: "I wonder if they're gunna install a huge ass gate or uh, what do you call the walls around a castle - rampart! or something in there to deal with the wind."
Hughbert picks up one of the books and flips through it to familiarize himself with the techniques he'll need to coordinate. "Let's see here, if there is then it's likely that the manuals will state so."
Amal: "I vote huge windchimes."
JayM: Even here, bells
Harriet is definitely reading one of those dense technical manuals.
Serenity: "That would get irritating as shit real fast."
And when you emerge on the other side of the tunnel you come to realize why there was such wind in there, it's considerably warmer here leading to a great difference in pressure. Something does feels different in this direction, the light of the sun filters with a different, redder tone making everything around feel like a painting
Amal grins a little. The air smells different, too!
It doesn't takes long to move away from the mountainous terrain and into the desert and savannah of Rissan. And the first area you reach is strangely empty of anything, yet it feels a lot differently from Orsis' emptiness of wildlife. No, here it feels natural on it's own, perhaps it's the color of the ground, perhaps it's the interesting smell in the air… This is not sand that is being crunched under your car's wheels, but this could very well be a desert. For a long distance there is nothing to see
Harriet looks up from her book. "Huh, this is cool." Goes back to her book.
Amal: "It -would- be ashing season. On the other hand, it makes the sky look really cool?"
Serenity: "Be… what?"
Hughbert lowers his book a bit. "A phenomenon unique to Rissan, I assume?"
Amal: "Every so often the volcanoes kick up and the weather patterns shift right and the air gets all full of volcanic ash and it rains down. It's part of what keeps the ground fertile but it's also super gross when it starts to rain down!"
Amal: "So… maybe we'll luck out and miss that last bit."
Serenity: "Oh, ash, okay."
Harriet: "Huh. That's pretty cool. Must be a pain in the ass for mechanisms, though."
Amal: "It's always been one of my favourite things about Rissan, but… I'm weird, hehe. Knowing that it'll end and the skies will clear and it'll renew the land for us, y'know?"
It really does takes the entire daylight time to finally meet something- someone at all. It is, however, a group of around thirty vehicles. The vehicles have large, thick wheels with somewhat weird compartments in the back, some are filled with food and water, some appear to have walls that have been separated from their buildings. Perhaps the most interesting part of the vehicles are those short 'skirts' around their edges, also covering the wheels and various other small bits and pieces.
Serenity: "Okay."
Anton: "Hm?"
Amal: "You definitely gotta work around the ashfalls, yeah."
Serenity: "What is the deal with all these fucking truck-cities we keep running into?"
Hughbert: "I can see how that unique weather event can paint a different way of looking at everyday business. Most interesting."
Harriet: "They're awesome."
Aside from the vehicles, however, there are also a few animals. A half dozen horses trot in pace with the giant cars, seemingly enjoying themselves as a handler looks over them from a window.
Anton: "Ask one of the natives?" He shrugs.
Serenity: "They seem impractical as hell and like upkeep would be a pain in the ass."
Harriet: "Oh yeah, I bet it's a nightmare, but it's super cool."
Serenity: "Amal's a native! Sort of."
Amal: "It's just a caravan!"
Amal: "You can't ever stay in one place around here for very long, the soil exhausts! So you gotta always be on the move."
Serenity: "Do they not know how to rotate crops or something??"
Amal: "Everyone used to live in tents and carry their stuff around on animalback but we have better stuff now? Why -not- carry cities around with us as we go."
Amal: "It's the way the soil around here is, remember when I said the ashfalls renew the soil?"
Serenity: "I'm pretty sure you could still rotate through that, but yeah."
You eventually get close to the caravan just in time to see the animal handler call the horses back in. They lower a ramp in the back as the horses trot back up to the transport. The handler spots you and waves
Amal: "There's only a few places in Rissan that'll support sustained, long-term agriculture even with crop rotation, and they're all pretty well-kept secrets. Not that we won't share harvests from places like that if things go wrong, we look out for our own, but."
Serenity: "Hmmmm."
After a while travelling in the same direction someone driving the great trucks waves at you, quite clearly asking for you to stop
Anton shrugs and slows down the vehicle.
As you slow down the entire caravan does so. In a moment said driver jumps out of their vehicle (quite a bit of a jump) landing with a heavy thud. He's carrying something on his shoulders as he comes over running "Hey! Travellers, I take it?"
Serenity‘ blinks and looks in the man’s direction.
He offers what he's carrying to you, they look like cloth to be wrapped around something, they have perfectly circular shapes "Could tell, you definitely don't have the tires for navigating fresh ash. Here, you put this thing on them before they start melting down"
Hughbert hops out of the car as well. "That we are. Ah, right… Thank you. Harriet?"
Driver: "One of the Trader Clans has settled just two hours over that way" he points "I reccomend stopping by and getting a new set of tires before you're stranded in the desert"
He nods at Hughbert and heads back to his car "Alright, good luck"
Harriet: "Oh, cool. I'll put these on now." Harriet hops out and gives her car a skirt.
Serenity: "…Thanks."
Anton starts up the engine again when Harriet is finished. He glances at Serenity. "I'm sure this goes without saying, but be careful WHEN you use that thing."
JayM: Putting the tire covers isn't a big problem, really, and you're ready to go
JayM: But from here, though… Where to? What's the general plan?
Anton: "Emphasis on the timing."
Serenity: "I mean, there's a reason I'm building it from scratch instead of just using the rifle."
Serenity: "Note the puriple, and also, that I don't even have the radiant pack out."
Harriet: "That's the entire point of prototypes!"
Harriet: "And now I think of it, getting sand tires is probably a good idea. I don't want my car to get damaged."
Hughbert waves the caravan off and hops back in after making sure the installation is complete. "So, I suppose we'll be headed over there, then? To the trader clan."
Harriet: "Yeah, makes sense."
Serenity: "Probably better to head towards a trading post than sit out by ourselves, yeah."
Just as the driver said, it takes around two hours. A trail of dust follows behind the car as you speed down that way, there is a certain gentle silence to the desert of ash you now follow, as a warm wind starts to pick up you come close to the trade post.
A half dozen large buildings with strange looking walls, there are odd decorations on the walls dividing them into smaller squares, giving you the impression of building blocks. The ash and sand has been packed tight in the space between building making it solid enough to walk on comfortably and large colorful tarps have been erected between buildings forming pathways of shade, the tarps all have a certain sigil on them
Serenity: "You know, though."
The packed sand 'road' between buildings leads to a small market plaza, and you realize you're not the only travellers here, there's seven trucks that have parked here, smaller and more normal ones, each one of them bearing a different sigil. The market plaza has a variety of stalls, a lot of them are personal goods, things such as food, clothes, useful trinkets like portable fans, of particular note is that headscarves of various colors and patterns seem to be a hot item at the moment
Serenity: "Going to Orsis right before going to Rissan?"
Then, there's those quite smaller stalls that seem to have a lot more… Intense trading going on, from what you can hear from here it's stalls for bulk trading
Serenity: "Does a lot to make you appreciate living in Marsharas. Fuck all this dust."
JayM: Masharas is often reffered to as a blessed land, after all
Serenity: "Okay Amal you're the local expert. Which of these stalls is gunna sell us something actuall eidable?"
Hughbert: "Hmm… This looks like the place that Lorelei's stationed at. I'm going to find my subordinate first, our extra set of hands when it comes to this project."
JayM: One would imagine the stall selling food (mostly food on cups, but also on wraps and a few types of hard food to chew on, everything to eat on the go)
Hughbert unbuckles, hops out of the car, and heads towards the trade stalls. "…Fairly hungry, but I'll meet up with her first…"
Hughbert will find his target somewhere in the bulk trading stalls, hair long enough to make you wonder wether she's a technician or not as it every so slightly brushes against the ground, skin stained in equal parts by the sun and by the forge, arms thick in a manner that shows exactly how much effort goes in her usual work. Not today, however, as she taps on a piece of paper at a trader and gesticulates in wild and wide gestures for a while, sighs and puts a hand on her forehead for a moment, before repeating it in a slightly different pattern
Serenity: "Well… yeah. But not all of it's GOOD, or actually fit for human consumption."
Harriet: "I'm always amazed when I see someone in the business who manages to keep their hair long. Like, Serenity, how do you guys do it?"
Serenity: "Do what, not chop off my hair?"
Harriet: "Not have it catch on fire!"
Serenity: "Hair ties and clips, Harriet. And not letting most of our machinery explode."
Serenity‘ shakes her head.
Harriet: "Oh, come on, every prototype explodes eventually."
Serenity: "That’s… that's honestly mostly just you."
Harriet: "It is? Huh. Weird."
Serenity: "Yeah, when you're not trying to push output to the limit 24/7, when you flip switches they tend to just not activate, rather than sparking."
Serenity: "…I'm pretty sure this was even on that poster of lab safety rules your friend had hanging on the wall…"
Anton: "It's okay. It makes you unique! Most people just y'know, start low and scale up until they get it how they want. Not start high and scale down until it stops exploding."
Harriet: "Oh, that poster is more of a suggestion."
Harriet: "I mean, why wouldn't you try and push it? That's the entire point of a prototype! Figure out exactly how much it can take! Okay, sure, Anton, I guess I could do it the boring way, but that takes so much more time."
Serenity‘ shakes her head again with a smile, before wrapping the small force gear up in some cloth and getting out of the car.
Anton: "Like, if I was around with you I’d be able to tell you if it'd explode BEFORE it explodes during the design process. But doesn't building a new prototype solo take more time…?"
Harriet: "Oh, most prototypes aren't completely destroyed. That only happens with the big explosions. Besides, I keep good notes, so making another's no big deal!"
Harriet: "You bring up an excellent point, though. I'm definitely gonna have to steal you to help with prototyping shit."
Anton opens his mouth before slowly closing it again.
Harriet just grins. You dug this grave for yourself Anton.
Hughbert taps the quiet woman wearing the same uniform on her shoulder and salutes. "Need any help with this situation, Lorelei?"
Lorelei turns around rather startled, blinking. She waves around in your direction for a while before saluting, she has a very annoyed expression
Amal absolutely, /absolutely/ picked food out for people. On, like, a person by person basis even. Serenity got a sandwich-adjacent wrap obviously.
Serenity: "…Why do they use this weird papery bread stuff instead of normal bread? … Guess it's easier to hold with one hand."
JayM: Rissani food can be spicy, but it's often flavorful and with quite a bit of energy. Uses a fair bit of vegetables, eggs and cheese, rice's a staple. Don't expect food you can eat on a dish, however
Hughbert hands her a notebook and a pen. He gives a slightly apologetic smile to the merchant. "Thanks for your patience."
Amal also buys a bunch of really fancy colourful keffiyeh for people and shows them all how to wrap them around their face and head so a) they won't look like crazy foreigners that dunno how to wrap a keffiyeh and also b) so they won't get ash in their hair and mouth and literally everywhere and die of sunburn. Important priorities!
Lorelei sighs, rubbing her forehead, and takes the notebook and pen. She writes down "Sorry, this is annoying. I can't make him understand me" the writing is an awfully rushed scawl, but readable "He's having issues with the deal on magnesium and I'm having issues getting my point across"
Harriet pulls her goggles over her eyes (a sensible precaution against all the dust), and wraps the keffiyah as Amal directs.
Serenity: "Amal that seems like a lot of effort."
Lorelei seems to be trying to make an offer for a shipment of purified magnesium, the trader seems to want a bigger payment. What Lorelei can't seem to communicate is that yes, the price is acceptable according to this particular portion of the provisioning contract. He thinks she's saying she can't, she's saying she can
Amal: "You get used to it!"
Serenity: "What if I just wear a medical mask and goggles instead?"
Harriet: "I dunno, this is way better than having the sun bake my neck."
Serenity: "Or a gasmask."
Amal: "Won't help with sunburn or your hair getting all ashy!"
Serenity: "Your country is dumb and also sucks."
Hughbert nods. "I'll take it from here." He steps forward, taking a moment to size up the trader before offering a handshake. "Nice to meet you. I'm Lorelei's CO, Hughbert. Now, about that magnesium sale, please fill me in. What is your asking price?"
Amal giggles. "But keffiyeh are pretty!"
The trader nods "Thanks, it would really have gone by faster if she decided to, I don't know, actually talk to me? Either way, as i've said many times, the prices have raised due to a shortage of staff for mining, so if you want this shipment, especially the purified one, it's going to be eight hundred thousand. I'm also willing to accept five hundred kilograms of food if you have avaiable"
Serenity: "I guess they COULD be, if you grew up around 'em."
Harriet: "I guess they're okay. I've never really been good at fashion."
Amal: "That's why I picked 'em out for you~!"
Hughbert looks back to Lorelei for a confirmatory signal, then follows up, "It'd be most convenient to meet you in the middle here, actually. I'll sign off on four hundred thousand and a shipment of two and one half kilograms of Masharasian sustenance. Do we have a deal?"
The trader considers "Fine, sounds like a deal"
Hughbert gives the merchant a handshake and signs off on the deal, making sure the shipments are set to go to where they need to. "A pleasure doing business with you." He then turns to Lorelei and gives her a pat on the back. "You did fine, getting the deal to the closing stage. Follow me, my team's getting some lunch and I'm quite savoring the idea of joining them. I'll get you something, too."
The trader whips out a document stating the terms of the trade, two copies. He signs one, hands it over to you, and eventually he gets a copy signed by you (presumably both of you end up with a copy signed by both). From here, it'll just be up for the transport teams of both sides to do it
Lorelei nods, looking relieved, and follows
Hughbert returns to the party and introduces Lorelei. "She does good work, I assure you. Don't let her lack of speech give the wrong impression. …By the way, what are you all wearing?"
Harriet: "Amal got us these scarves so we wouldn't get all sunburnt."
Serenity: "Amal is trying to convince me to wear a scarf over my face but I'm not having any of that shit while we're still eating."
Amal: "I mean obviously not while you're eating, no. I got one for you too!"
Lorelei looks over what the party is wearing and nods, she waves her hands around a little, and shrugs
Anton gives a nod to Lorelei. He seems a bit distracted.
Harriet has just kind of pulled it down to her chin while she's wolfing down her food, because she's pragmatic like that.
In case one was wondering, finding the ash tires is a bit more difficult, the mechanic shop is kind of hidden in comparison to the usual living stuff shop, but hey it's there. They're generally none too busy too! Thankfully the tires are perhaps the cheapest tires you've ever seen! The rubber on them is somewhat odd, however, and you can't quite tell why
Amal grins at Lorelei and wriggles their hands around a little in response before ambling off to go try and find the mechanic.
Hughbert: "There is a high probabily that sunburn will make our mission difficult. We'll both need one, then, preferrably ones that match the uniformed look, if you'd be accomodating. Ah, but Serenity's right, food first. Are those sandwich-looking things good?" Hughbert gazes at a stall with hunger.
Serenity: "It's pretty alright. The texture is weird as hell though."
Serenity: "Bread's all weirdly flat and smooth."
Hughbert: "Fascinating." Hughbert has already bought a pair of them by the time Serenity's finished her explanation.
Amal totally bought Hughbert a keffiyeh in a colour that /eerily/ matches his uniform, yeah. One step ahead!
Lorelei starts doing something with her hands, stops, picks up notebook and pen, writes something down. Then she just picks a small paper bowl of food and drops in some coins on the counter and starts eating, then hands the notebook to Hughbert "Try the vegetable one Lt it's pretty good curious what the mission is tough"
Serenity: "Oh she's mute."
Harriet finishes wolfing down her food, and inspects those tires. "Huh, this is an interesting design. Hey, Amal, why's this rubber so weird?"
Hughbert makes sure to follow that recommendation! Careful to keep it between bites, he explains what he's been told. "In short… Still trying to find… Our next destination… Will start looking for a clue… After… You know, this is quite good, you were right."
Amal: "It's made from coal and ash instead of plant sap! It's a Rissani thing, it's a lot harder and more heat-resistant than the normal kind."
Lorelei nods at Serenity, she waves a little bit
Harriet: "Coal and ash, huh? That's pretty cool. I should get the specs for that at some point, heat-resistant rubber sounds useful."
Amal: "Hm, yeah, we could probably work something out, I bet it'd be really handy for your stuff."
JayM: So
JayM: Ready with a new temporary NPC, food and good tires
JayM: What is the plan? How do you want to proceed?
JayM: With few hints o ther than contacting the Promenade Clan for aid and that the tech you're bringing is for the Postal Service
JayM: What's the idea?
Serenity‘ figures that’s all Amal's Department, is going to largely remain focused on her new gear until they arrive somewhere else.
Hughbert: "Say, Lorelei… About these sigils, on the tarps and the different traders and such. Do any of these correspond to the Promenade Clan?"
Lorelei thinks for a moment, taps her chin for a moment, then shakes her head
Anton: "The tires would have lasted around six days if we didn't swap them by the way. If you were curious."
Serenity: "Amal's, like, some kind of mercenary bandit king or some bullshit or another anyway isn't he?"
Hughbert: "Hmm… What about the postal service, then? There is a high chance they'd also be able to help."
Amal giggles! "Not exactly. But, hmm…"
Harriet: "Six days? Ugh, those poor tyres."
She thinks for a moment, writes down "They pass by settlements daily"
Amal: "The postal service SHOULD have a representative here somewhere. Or will if we hang around long enough."
Lorelei nods, waves at Amal a little bit
Serenity: "Man."
Amal: "And if I can find a river I can probably find the Promenade Clan turf."
Serenity: "That must be a logistical nightmare job here, what with caravans constantly on the move."
Amal looks up. "Yeah?"
Amal: "Oh, okay. They pass by at noon apparently."
Amal: "So, wait for that, look for Promenade pathmarks in the meantime."
Hughbert: "Hmm… I'd prefer if we didn't waste time just sitting around and waiting, or we'll fall behind schedule. Ah, but if we can do some information gathering here while we wait, then that's acceptable."
JayM: Information gathering here, well, this is a trading settlement. What information are you seeking?
Serenity: "Don't look at me, that's your department."
Serenity: "Oh!"
Amal is looking for a Promenade pathmark! So, trying to find the nearest river!
Hughbert: "Let's see if there are any maps available, first off."
Harriet: "I mean, do you really want me to try and shake information out of these people."
JayM: Well, maps and a river, okay!
Serenity: "That reminds me though, Harriet you should pull out that portable radio from the trunk and see if there's anything interesting we can pick up from here. I've heard they use a lot more radio out of Rissan than they do back home since it's… well, actually kind of useful here."
Harriet: "Oh, hey, that's a good idea." Harriet goes to grab the radio! It's in there somewhere.
Serenity: "That's like information gathering right? Right."
Amal: "Y'know you can bounce radio waves off of ash clouds? That's part of the trick."
Serenity: "Huh."
JayM: Maps are slightly hard to acquire but not hard to find. There's a specialized map store! Getting a map here is slightly difficult because to get one map you need to trade in your caravan's travel plan as well, because apparently that's how they contain the logistic nightmare of where people are travelling all the time: To get a map you must give one in return. Solo travellers like you are difficult find so it does takes a while to convince the map store clerk that you are, in fact, solo travellers. They still ask you to say what is the most likely next destination
JayM: But you get a map non-the-less
Amal has probably done the solo-travelling-in-Rissan rigmarole before at least a few times so it doesn't take as long as it could have taken, at least. Now, river!
Harriet follows along behind Amal, fiddling with the radio.
Hughbert: "I will trust in your ability to find where we're actually located right now on this map, Amal."
JayM: The map has the answer! A few minutes off to the east… What is weird, you should have seen that when you were coming closer
Amal is used to needing a map to notice things right in front of their face; when the world's covered in ash and smoke that sort of thing is the norm, anyway.
Hughbert: "…Really? That close? Well, I don't think it's very likely that waiting for the post to arrive will give us a better lead than that. Right?"
As Harriet fiddles with the radio she picks up… Something! It's music! Unexpected music, because you're fairly certain you have heard this band perform in Masharas before. Wonder what the deal is- But the music soon gives way to a short section on news, reminding travellers that the extended ashing seasons has had high causticity so please be protected, and then proceeds to rattle off a series of clans, metioning that anyone willing to help their refugees from the Second Shattering please contact the closest postal service
Amal sighs a little.
Harriet: "The Second Shattering? Are we supposed to know what that is or was I just not paying attention."
The river…The river certainly was a river at some point. And probably will be a river again in some time, but for now… It looks more like a depression of quicksand… The waters have become so thick with ash you can hardly differentiate it from the ground, but it runs with such fierceness, that river will not be denied, it will flow even if it is more gelatinous than liquid in this state
Amal: "When, uh. When the world got huge-ass chunks torn out of it by Alcor the other day?"
Serenity: "Wait."
Serenity: "Wait."
Serenity: "Were they playing MUSIC over the radio before that news report?"
Amal: "Okay don't actually… go near the river, it's not an arroyo, you'll get sucked in, it'll be a bad time."
Harriet: "That has a name now? Weird. And yeah, that was music."
Amal starts scouting around. The pathmarks -should- be around here, somewhere…
Anton: "What's so strange about that?"
You see a few people have set up near the river with those long machines with spherical cloth-covered objects in one end, a pump leading to a glass case where you can see the water flow and then to large tanks of water "It's still not good…" you hear one of them comment
Serenity: "Uh well we usually just use them to relay research notes or important warning and shit over them?"
Serenity: "So it's kind of neat that someone thought to, like, playing music over it."
You do happen to find various path markers here, but theo ne you want indicating the around north-northeast is there, showing where the Promenade Clan should be
Serenity: "And unexpected!"
Amal: "Well, Rissan already went through one Shattering already. Another one at this point is just…" They shrug helplessly then wave to the water testers.
The testers wave back to Amal, with a weak smile
Amal: "Still too alkaline?"
Harriet goes to investigate their pump, because, you know, it's technology and it's not working to spec.
Tester: "Yeah… We're trying new purifiers, but not much luck. The filters aren't good enough"
Harriet: "The filters, huh?"
Hughbert: "Are those devices… for cleaning the water? With this weather, they certainly have a tough job, don't they…"
Amal: "Yeah, at this rate the water's just gonna eat through the filters. Could neutralise it first but that'd take a -lot- of bench acids." They frown. "Seems worse than usual this time around."
Serenity: "Isn't this basically like. The first job we did?"
Tester: "Yeah, we're trying out devices for personal resupplying, everything we made up to now has been far too bulky for anything short of a small settlement"
Tester: "Oh, you've worked with that before?"
Harriet puts down the portable radio, starts poking at their machine. No, she never did ask permission. "What are you… oh, you're using cloth? Yeah no this is way too wide to actually filter this shit out, you need something much finer. And you need to multi-stage this, even fine cloth's not going to clear this out in one shot."
Serenity: "Well generally, I think it was a different kind of poison metal making the issues but yeah, same deal."
Tester: "True, normally we used three types of cloth plus a layer of thigh packed coal dust. But that gets really bulky and hard to transport on your person, which is the goal of this one"
Serenity: "Pretty sure Harriet probably still has the reworked design in her notebook."
Serenity: "Oh. Yeah our solution was a fair bit more uh…. stationary."
Hughbert: "I don't suppose it'd be feasible to deploy any electrolysis or a centrifuge to help separate things… There's that method we helped Flake with."
Harriet: "You could try layering your cloth to help make it a bit more efficient, but it's not gonna do much for you. I think it'd be best to try a ceramic filter if you wanna keep this design spec."
Serenity: "Not if they want something easy to shove into a backpack and carrying around all day."
Tester: "A… Ceramic filter?"
Tester: "I haven't heard of those"
Harriet: "Okay, so you know how coal gets all gunky with water and fabric gets all clogged with ash? Ceramic means you can clean the filter and put it back instead of, like, replacing the entire setup every half an hour."
Tester: "Huhn… How do you even manufacture that, though?"
Tester: "Do you think you could write that down? It'd be helpful"
Amal makes a few suggestions while Harriet's writing down the instructions, knowing the sort of materials that are available and the substitutions you could make…
Harriet: "Basically, you get a ceramic pot and set it over a bowl. The water seeps through the ceramic pores, which are too small to let the ash through, and drips into the bowl. Bam, drinking water. There's more to it than that, but - yeah, sure, I can write this down." Harriet makes notes! Helped out by Amal, which is useful, because Harriet's used to Masharan availability.
Harriet pulls the page out when she's done, and hands it over. "Here, this should explain it."
JayM: There's quite a few substitutions required, surprisingly not of the more difficult to find materials, those are common here, but of the more common materials such as the proper clay for ceramic. The tester takes "Hah… thanks, that's useful"
Tester: "Wish I had some good water to share right now, you really deserve it"
Harriet: "Hey, don't worry about it, soon you'll have enough to go around."
Amal: "Yeah, no worries. You know if the Promenade clan is that-a-way?" They point in… whatever direction the pathmarks had been indicating.
Tester: "Oh, yeah, they're at that settlement this time of the year"
Amal: "Awesome, thanks~!"
Tester: "Uhn… Careful if you're heading that way, however. I hear some strange group of marauders has been harrassing them basically daily"
Tester: "You look like you can hold your own, just don't get caught off-guard"
Amal frowns! >:( "Thanks for the heads up."
Harriet: "Don't worry, solving those problems is like, basically our job."
Tester: "After you pulling this information out of nowhere like that, I don't doubt"
JayM: So heading for the Promenade Clan's settlement, huhn?
JayM: Things look grim with that latest bit of news
JayM: But I know you'll do well
JayM: I guess now we know how we start this leg of the adventure
JayM: And I wish you godspeed- Or goddesspeed as it would go, huhn? I don't know how that saying works

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