Take the truth with many grins of salt (Spring 1234)

Selim stops mid sentence and turns to look at Arnau, his hand still holding the haft of his sword that is now halfway unsheathed. He'd been loudly engaged in a friendly debate with some of the more openminded members of the expedition on the merits of Damscene steel over the steel worked in Toledo. He turned and smiled back to those he was talking with as he sheathes the sword and nudges his horse over towards Arnau. With a jovial voice he proclaims, "Ah, the mountain speaks! I had feared you had sworn a vow of silence," he finishes with the jolly laugh.

"I am a purveyor of fine things, a merchant if you will. I have traveled the Silk Road east of Arabia and Persia, led expeditions across the vast desert and seen wonders the likes many have never even dreamed. But, truth be told, I am only a man, with little power as compared to the sahi...magi of the covenant. But this word heathen, you wield it deftly like a blade. But is it not true that a weapon is best kept sheathed until it is time for war? I am no warrior, friend, simply a merchant who enjoys women, wine and song."

(just a note...Selim is quite more persuasive a communicator than I could ever be, so please consider that)


Back at the covenant, during her rest and relaxation time, Vibria is lounging with her treasure horde and swimming through coins like Scrooge McDuck. She remembers where each and every one came from. This she found long ago, these were a gift from grandfather, this pile her earnings as a Mistress and Officer, and this stack of gold came from killing the salt wyrm...
And as she grasps one of the coins from that horde, it crumbles into salt.

Vibria stares at the rapidly crumbling saline disc for a moment before she lets out a soul-rending [color=red]"Nooooooooooooo!!!" to the heavens.

She scrambles around to find the other coins from the salt wyrm's hoard to see if they've met the same fate.

All of them. All the ones everyone else has also. Every item and tid bit disintigrates into salt.

Meanwhile, the odd couple known as Arnau and Selim arrive at Las Salines. The villiage is hustling and bustling and everything seems psosperous and happy :smiley:

As she realizes that she hasn't been singled out for this outrage, she tries to figure out how this happened. Were the coins possibly magical counterfeits, that reverted to their original form after a certain time? And what of the stuff we got that wasn't coinage? Looking back, we got about a hundred or so gems, artifacts of precious metal, items of jewelry, (rough cut and crude, but valuable nonetheless), any of which might have been a magic item, and a few obviously worth a closer look (an uncorroded Vandal-style broadsword an a slender wooden case which might have been a wand case).

Then she realizes that we gave a lot of the money to the villagers, and if their money just turned into salt (which, while not exactly worthless, doesn't have the same appeal as gold and silver) they are going to be piiiiissed.

How far is that village?

Far enough and with enough time lapse that you have to wait for Arnau and Selim to start interacting with the populace and start seeing strange things with their own eyes.
I am bad with pacing :smiley:

Arnau considers this merchant. At least he has taste for what is important in life. He likes that, even if he is a Muslim. The idea of him knowing where he can find his targets is also appealing to him. Maybe he can get something useful out of him

Not a sword, just a definition. Nice to hear you are well versed in the ways of arabia. Better not to call respectful Magi of the Order of Hermes by that misname, though. Speaking of which, have you found many Sahirs in your travels? I am quite interested in where I can find them. I find them interesting company. This stone I wear around my neck was given to me by one of them. A gift before he made to me in his death bed.

The fact that the bed in question was a burning house and that the gift of the perforated stone was involuntary is something he reserved for himself.

((Okay...I'll just be over by the curtain waiting for my cue.))

Selim shrugs, "Eh, I have already called the Magi of the covenant Sahirs, and they took no offense; perhaps you think them more tempermental than they actually are. I would not say I have met many Sahirs, as there are not many in the world I think. But there was a Sahir wiseman in the tribe I was born in, and I have come across some in my travels along the Silk Road, but I have not met any since I have left Arabia. So how did you and your company come to join the Covenant?"

While you are asking that question, you notice the people of the villiage you just entered several panels ago, they are looking at you with supicion and anxiety. The hustling busy vibrant town grew quiet all of a sudden. Like in a western, when a stranger or infamous rougue/hero rides into town, and the town instinctively knows there is about to be trouble.

Looking at the villagers, Arnau leaves the promising gathering of Sahir intelligence for later and centres on the matter at hand. He and his men are carrying Andorra's livery in their shields, so they should have been readily identified. The group stops in what would be the central square of the village, a place where the main street gets larger and the church sits by the village green.

Arnau remains on horseback, but Jordi and Berenger dismount in the village geen. Arnau smiles broadly and looks around. He speaks in Catalan.

Ho there! We come in the name of Andorra Covenant to check on the mines. Who talks in the name of Les Salines?

After that he scans the grouped population waiting for an answer. He tries to appear relaxed and friendly, but he has noticed the tension ion the community and is alert on what is going on. He expected them to be nervous when the bosses call, but not THAT tense!!

The folk look around at the one silently chosen as spokesman of the village. He nervously steps forward and speaks in Catalan.
Heh, hello. Everything's great so far, how have you been? You have been receiving the dividends we send I do trust? I hope everything's been great.No problems here. Um, would you like to take refreshment and a gift of some wine before you return home? And other gifts, just to assure you that everything is fine when you report home.

This is all Antoni hoped to hear.

Looking hopefully at Arnau, the big guy smiles: What a great offer captain! How about we take these people's nice food and wine? We wouldn't want to offend them, after all! :smiley:

Arnau, frowns slightly. He listens to his retainer and smiles, but with a fairly hard face. He does not like the attitude of the villagers. However he decides to play along and after this brief change of face he becomes all friendly and a wide grin appears there.

Yes master, of course! We have been receiving your payments. Those have been great. We will be extremely glad to report positively on your venture once you show us around the mines and explain how it works to us. The tour will be extremely interesting for sure. Some of the members of our retinue, including Selim, a trusted member of the covenant, have seen mines like yours before, so they might be able to point out some improvements if you do not have them in place already. We would be very glad to sip your wine while you show us the mines.

he is fairly sure that the merchant does not know much about mines, but he is also quite sure he is a better charlatan than himself, and hopes he sees the idea here. He looks smart and worldly enough for a heathen, after all.

Selim raises an eyebrow briefly but then nods, "Yes, I have seen mines in many places, but I am particularly interested in yours. The...volume of your mining is quite impressive and I would like to understand how you are able to produce so much in such a short amount of time. You should truly be proud of your work here."

Xavi, allow me to introduce you to Invisible Castle :smiley: . It is a nifty dice rolling website that I have seen used in many various games. You can also ask others to roll for you, or I can. But I am also cool with the honor system if you are honorable.

The local yokel is named Joaquim. He invites you guys to partake in refreshment, Antoni accepted with enthusiasm. Arnau, Selim, Antoni, and the others are all enjoying some fruit and cheese and some tea or ale or wine and little fluffy cakes.
Joaquim makes polite conversation and tries to answer questions as evasively as possible.
We work very hard and are quite dedicated. Yes sir, we are soooo lucky you guys came along and killed that dragon and made sure he really was dead instead of just faking. Yes sir, lucky we were indeed!
The mine...
It is closed today because of a holiday. Local saint. I can arrange to give you a tour tomorrow if you want. But really, I understand that your time is precious and I take no offense if you really must go.

Selim shrugs as he takes a long drink of wine, "We would never consider asking you to open the mine on a holiday. But I am truly interested in seeing this mine of yours. I would be happy to spend the evening with your people and tour the mine tomorrow."

Arnau agrees with the merchant. With a grin in his face and a cup of wine in his hand he supports the merchant's words.
Yes, it would be unholy to break the sacred time of rest, but we can certainly wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I am sure you can show us around the place and explain to use some of the smelting techniques that you are using. The rulers of Andorra are certainly happy with the results so far and would like to know more about your needs and desires for the future as well as knowing better how you achieve such results

Arnau doubts that they will be left alone, but if they are he plans on conversing with Selim to see if he has noticed how dodgy the locals seem to be about their mining venture. This is fishy for sure. And he does not like fish

The smelting, of the salt,..., yes. Um. Very difficult process. What with the smelting day and night. Of the salt. And the minting. All those coins. The boss has us very busy around here. Heh-heh...

We would really like to see those processes says Arnau in a tone that does not invite a tangential lets-avoid-it answer. Maybe looking at the installations now that they are not being used because of the holy day would be a good idea. That way you can show us the installations more calmly than tomorrow, when they will be in active use and ypu would not be able to show us some of the minutiae of the operation.

Arnau suspects some kind of underhand operations, and this is why he wants to see them ASAP, especially since Joaquim seems so keen in avoiding attention on the mines and installations. Maybe they are smuggling materials out of the place. And that cannot be allowed.