Byford, or the Road to Al-Wazif is paved with good intentions
June 18 – 29, 1989
Awakened about 5 am by Melrose and Sarmad, they set out with the intent of going to Al-Wazif.
Spending one night at an Imperial Way-station, Sarmad sleeps with a serving wench, Gwen The next day they come upon the burning remains of a wagon that had passed them up the previous day.
Looking for survivors, they come across an old man, who turns out to be the Grandfather of Angelica, age 17, who has been kidnapped by the bandit Gregory (that name again!).
Gregory was once the Marquis Gregory Augustus, and by selling state secrets to the Al-Hazi, committed an act of treason that got him banished from the Empire. There is a reward for him, dead or alive. In the attack on the old man, Gregory stole a map to the Elven city of Keriseth, which once held the Elven Library of the Queen. He also took the old man’s granddaughter, Angelica, who was betrothed to Baron Mandorallen. According to the old man, the Baron has refused to pay the ransom for her. Giulio prayed with the old man, who gave him his confession, and charged him to give it to the proper persons, and also gave him a scroll and a ring, to deliver to Angelica, which Giulio said that he would (foolish boy!) Having said this, the old man died, and the party burned the bodies and the wagons, and resumed our journey to the next town.
At the next rest stop, Qan and I-na’Queh learned something about I-na’Queh’s people, and set off on a side journey in search of them, while the rest of us went on to the next town, which happened to be Byford.
Arriving at the beginning of Fair, the party split up for the day. Giulio went to the local church, where he delivered the old man’s confession, and spent much time in prayer and in discussion with the local priest. In their conversation, Giulio expressed his concerns that Qan was a member of the Scarlet Salvation; however, the priest set his mind at ease, sort of. He told the boy that Qan was definitely not a member of the Scarlet Salvation and when asked how he was so sure, was told that it was because he spoke with them on a regular basis.
The priest did say that most of his traveling companions did not appear to be “good Christians” and that he should work hard to bring them to the true Faith
This eased Giulio’s mind somewhat, but with all of I-na’Queh’s talk of firebird spirits and then shaping fire into that form, the boy is not fully convinced that she is not some kind of necromancer, or something similar; after all, the Risen Lord were interested in spirits also. After his own confession, the boy asks the priest for his Blessing, which the priest gives. Giulio then went in search of a companion, and after being avoided by the other teenagers of the town, found Steven, a strapping young lad of 14, a shy boy who had not much social grace and who was ridiculed and taunted by the other children. However, this was only after much work by Giulio, who had to convince Steven that he was not a lord simply because he carried a sword. (It turned out this was also why the other children had avoided him.)
Giulio and Steven spent most of the afternoon attending the fair, practicing knife throwing (something Steven was very good at with no training), and following a bath by the river, the boys discovered they had much in common, although Steven had more of it than Giulio, and they spent a pleasant time in each other’s embrace. Steven was taken aback when he discovered that Giulio had been castrated, but Giulio explained it away to his satisfaction. They talked about the local robber, Gregory, who was something of a folk hero to the boy and others in the area. Giulio told him that Gregory had been responsible for kidnapping a young girl and killing her grandfather, which almost ended their relationship, as Steven did not want to believe this. Dropping the subject, they resumed other activities
Melrose gambled much of the day and evening, catching a person cheating at gambling, which endeared him to the local populace Afterwards, he and several others got into an honest game After trying his hand at some artistic sketches of locals, Sarmad spent most of the day in search of sex.
Fairly late in the evening, after Giulio had returned to the Inn and had dinner with Sarmad and Melrose, there was an attack on the merchants’ wagons by a bunch of bandits, which, as it turned out, were part of Gregory’s band.
Upon hearing the disturbance, Giulio and Sarmad rushed outside, where Sarmad began employing fireballs in an attempt to quell the attack. One backfired and set a wagon on fire, so Sarmad took care of that, and then began a whirlwind. Giulio in the meantime, had seen a mage across the way and charged him, as he was “obviously” the cause of the wagon fire. Giulio managed to get in a few good licks with sword and dagger before the mage began changing into a tiger. Melrose, joining the attack, was battling a mounted foe, and took a severe chest wound, but also managed to seriously wound one of their horses, which slowed the getaway somewhat, but not enough to prevent it. However, he did manage to bring out the merchants, whose arrival chased off the mounted bandits.
The mage, having Giulio climbing his way up his torso with knife and sword (Giulio having taken a major wound to the leg, just barely avoiding taking it in the chest instead), managed to make good his escape as Sarmad came up on them with whirlwind in full force.
The merchants, while relieved that damage and loss had been minimal, also did little for the party other than to call for healers. Giulio gladly welcomed their ministrations, especially since it also brought Steven to him, but Melrose, strangely enough,although seriously wounded, refused all medical and healing attention, stating that he would be all right until I-na’Queh arrived. Later, as Sarmad tried to bind the wounds for him, he discovered the secret of Melrose — that Melrose was actually a woman! The next few days were spent recovering and gaining back health.
During this time, Sarmad told Giulio that he carried another magic item besides the scroll/ring/soul-jar the old man had given him. It was a power stone of some type. Although he first intended to tease Giulio with the knowledge; the growing fear that he senses in him causes him to relent and tell the boy, matter of factly, about the stone.