Farewell to Daine
As the waning moon rose over the oasis of Horn Gate, Tech-na dreamed. He dreamed of a little girl and a wizard of the blue-eyed folk. He dreamed that the mystery of Horn Gate might be revealed with persistence.
He awoke, and decided to stick around for a while. That meant getting rid of Duke Raus’ henchman Daine.
The bones don’t (always) lie
Yucta told his plan to the others, who agreed. Yucta, Blundar and Ockasiola disdained Duke Raus’ offer. Yucta prepared some hallucinogenic herbs to put in Daine’s food, but he couldn’t slip it past Daine’s mercenaries. Meanwhile, Tech-na put on a great performance of chanting in strange voices, smearing his face with ash and throwing the bones. He warned Daine about omens. Daine was unmoved, although his mercs were somewhat flustered. Daine departed Horn Gate, not to anyone’s great displeasure.
A day in the life at Horn Gate
Horn Gate was a bustling town of about a thousand. Ockasiola spent his day at the Bazaar, watching passerby. Yucta returned to the hill, where he questioned the Healers about the caves and the blue-eyed folk. Tech-na prepared himself for a night of dreaming, crafting effigies of reeds which he concealed that evening in the blue-eyed hetman’s hut.
That night, Tech-na directed his dream self first to Daine, camped out on the plain to the west. Tech-na mischievously filled Daine’s dreams with trouble and foreboding. Then he dreamed his way to the hetman’s hut. Once more He saw the little girl, the hetman’s daughter and the wizard. The wizard grinned at Tech-na: “Show me your power!” he said.
The next morning, the little blue-eyed girl waited patiently at the tent flap. She was probably about seven. She motioned for Tech-na to follow. In the street, a couple of Sables swaggered past, kings of the oasis. They shoved the little girl aside so that she fell. Tech-na tripped one of the Sables, trying to make it look like an accident. The Sables stood up menacingly. Ockasiola sucker-punched one of the Sables and he fell in the dust. “Better take your friend and get out of here.” The Sable backed off, dragging his unconscious friend.
“They won’t like that,” whispered a passerby. Yucta ignored him and they continued out of the walls to the huts of the blue-eyed folk.
The girl led Tech-na and the others to a decrepit hut on the edge of the village, she motioned to Tech-na and pointed inside. Curlicues of smoke drifted from the windows. Tech-na ducked under the partway collapsed door frame and entered. Inside was a crazy-looking and smelling old man smoking some kind of choking weed. It was the wizard. He offered some to Tech-na, who managed to take two lungfuls without collapsing into unconsciousness. Impressed, the wizard offered to take Tech-na (and reluctantly, Yucta and Ockasiola but not Blundar) to his secret family cave on the hillside.
Leaving Blundar at the hut, the three ascended the rocky hill above the Horn Gate settlement. In spite or perhaps because of the powerful narcotic he had smoked, Tech-na bounded up the hill like a mountain goat, while Yucta and Ockasiola struggled up some way behind. In the late afternoon they reached a spot some way up the hillside. The wizard stopped, and communicated to Tech-na that this was the place. He pulled a chicken from beneath his robes and proceeded to slit its throat. Then he made a fire and sat gently rocking while he cooked it. Tech-na, Yucta and Ockasiola wandered away. Time passed and the sun sank lower across the river valley.
When night fell, the wizard was ready. He offered some cooked chicken to the three, then showed them a crack in the rock which none had seen before. They lowered themselves into the crack and found themselves in a low cave, dimly lit by the light of Yucta’s glowing globe. The wizard proudly showed them the various small statuettes in his family cave. Then he pointed to a hole at the back. “Not mine.”
The lost tunnel
Yucta peered through the hole and found himself looking down a pile of rubble into a larger tunnel, this time of worked stone very different to the cave above. The three scrambled down and found themselves in a wide tunnel, partly blocked with rubble on one side, leading into darkness on the other. On the ground was a loose greenish oval stone with a strange star-like design upon it.