Conan Acheronian Edition

Session IV: Bloody silver and broken noses

Fighting for coin, Zingaran style

The men and two children moved onward, leaving the mummified horses behind. The loot from the mysterious chest was inspected and removed, after which they buried the stone container in the ground. There was no point in dragging such a heavy object along, even if it was valuable. They could come back to retrieve it later, perhaps. After a while, Alcemides and Noam managed to convince Thothmekri that the corpse of the sorceress would need to be gutted if they were planning to transport it with them. After some persuasion, the Stygian agreed and went on to perform the grim business with Alcemides.

The wide valley turned back in to a mountain passage. Cold rain erupted from the sky, soaking the group. In the coming days it turned in to sleet and then to snow. The Journey onward in the mud was far from easy, especially when the Nemedians had no proper winter clothing. Finally, as the snow turned back to sleet again, a ruined fort came in sight, marking the border of Zingara. The promise of civilization nearby lifted their spirits, and the group camped in the crumbling fortress. Tracks inside the walls told that the Zingaran mercenaries had come the same way a few days earlier, along with their Nemedian prisoners.

Pressing ahead, the travellers set their foot on Zingaran soil, once beautiful but now ravaged by the vicious civil war. During the days that followed, they saw signs of past prosperity everywhere around them. Once lush orchards and fields had been left untended for years, farmhouses were looted and villages burned. Finally, they arrived at the fortified town of Jerida, built on the bank of the Black River. The town had seen better days and it was surrounded by a pitiful refugee camp. Even with its crumbling walls and hordes of beggars it was still a welcome sight. The thought of a warm meal, soft beds and perhaps a drink or two was on the mind of everyone, even the enigmatic Stygian.

Pushing their way through the ragged beggars preying outside the city gates, the men agreed to hold on to their Acheronian tresures untill they reached Kordova. They had some silver to spend, but the jewelry and strange coins would only attract unwanted attention. Besides, the sorry state of the town seem to tell that they’d fetch a miserable price for their treasure here. The group set up in the local inn, then went off to see what the town had to offer for them.

A few days of heavy drinking and relaxation ensured. Eventually the men ended up watching the violent entertainment of a local arena. A drunken thought lead to another and soon enough Alcemides had signed up in the unarmed amateur fighting. Alcemides won his fight, earning a few silvers and cheers from the crowd. Next morning the men started planning the journey ahead. They decided to sell their horses and buy a passage with a river boat downstream to Kordova with the money. The ship, Hawk of Kordova, would leave in five days, so they’d have time to enjoy the joys of civilization for a bit longer.

A few days and many punches later, the arena life seemed pretty good for the Nemedians. Alcemides and Noam had both their share of bruises and punches in the arena, earning more silver to drink through bets and participation prices alike. Indeed, for men with less ambition, living as an arena fighter might have been a good life. With good luck in betting, throwing and receiving a few punches was after all worth enough money to spend two days in drunken revelry – not to mention gaining a name among the ladies.

On their last day at Jerida before the ship was bound to leave, the men decided to bet large amounts of silver on the arena. Alcemides, Noam, Barathus and even Thothmekri decided to fight in the hopes of earning more money for new equipment and travel costs. Through both luck and skill, all four won, earning considerable amount of coin through well-placed bets. Despite their best judgement, an evening of hilarity followed as the victors were drawn in to celebrating their success.

Later in the evening, things started getting out of hand. Dionysos provoked a local mercenary with his arrogant behaviour, punches were exchanged and soon the whole drinking den was turned into one merry barfight. Stools were flying, tankards used as weapons and even a whole table thrown against another brawler. When the city watch entered the scene, half a dozen unconscious men littered the floor. Only the verbal talent of Barathus, the least drunk of the merry group, along with the exchange of a hefty sum of silver prevented the guard sergeant from hauling off Dionysos and a few others off to the jail. Next morning, only throbbing headaches reminded of the fray – and the discovery that the Zingaran prisoner had managed escape with a pouch of silver while the men were drinking themselves senseless.

Morbid and silent, the men boarded the ship, Hawk of Korduva, greeted by the captain. Barathus had asked around after the missing prisoner and found out that he had been sighted in the harbour with some local lowlives. The mercenary knew of the treasures the traveller carried – it was possible, even likely, that the journey to Korduva would not be entirely peaceful.