During the day and a half in town Gavin caught up on sleep, prayed to Iomedae for strength and perseverance in the face of chaos and evil, replenished supplies, and traded the unspent portion of his reward money for gems with Hector Lessley. Much easier to carry around six gems than hundreds of coins. He kept two dozen gold and a half dozen silvers for food and other small items.
Gavin was not an overly devout man. But he was raised on the edge of war with men constantly training and going off to die. He had a healthy sense of propriety and reverence for how the gods can act in a man’s life. Thus, the first evening back ( Day 21), he had taken a trip to the temple and found the main alter to the warrior goddess, Iomedae. Even this far from the crusades it was possible to find her knights and priests carrying out her will to bring justice to the lawless world. It was refreshing.
Gavin had faced some challenges in the last month. He was only 25 years old. This was his first real adventures. Despite growing up in Lastwall and attending the Crusader War College this last month had pushed him further than ever before. He had nearly died, twice, made friends, been betrayed, killed men he could have called friends, and seen friends die. He had also discovered an item of such importance to the order he served that it could change his narrative in history, or just as likely, get him killed. With his sword propped tip down on the floor, rising sun symbol of Iomedae wrapped around the hiltless grip of the Katana and kneeled with hid on hilt these revelations washed over him. “For Victory, For the Heart”, he whispered in payer.
In those moments of prayer and reflection Gavin felt something like a tugging at his soul. He wouldn’t say the goddess was talking to him but it was the closest thing he could think to it. The words of Arjana came back to him from nearly two weeks earlier when they had fought before she escaped. “The town is corrupted by the thieves’ guild and the merchants are being extorted…Are you working for them?!?…These items were given to me to help build our reputation and undermine profits to the thieves guild.” What he had dismissed as the rantings of a brigand were coming back to him as a message about justice. Where was this coming from? He had pushed these questions to the back of his mind during their attempts to track Arjana in hopes that she would turn out to be working with the monsters. However, there had been no evidence of her working with the Leucrotta, Gnolls, nor Pugwampi. In fact, her going to ground did kind of make her seem more truthful. If she were connected to a robbery ring she would have moved the goods for profit instead of sitting on months of stolen goods.
Staying on his knees, head bowed to hilt of his Katana, Gavin prayed and let Iomedae pour her strength into him. He ticked off the information he knew from the affected merchants in town. There were six primary merchants. Four had reported theft and much of the ware had been recovered in the bandit keep. The four who had been affected wereAlbrecht the smith,Jakub Rainz the bowyer, Hector Lessley the gem merchant, and Oppius Quill of the general store. If he were to put this in the light of Arjana’s story, then these four were allowing their goods to be seized in order to undercut or circumvent the extortion they must pay for doing business. Gavin thought another minute. Two merchants were not included in the reports of theft and very few of their items had been recovered: Mike’s Leather Shop andFilib’s Potions. These two were either honest and unaffected or in on the corruption and happy to pay the cost of doing business.
Gavin pondered this over while asking for guidance from Iomedae. The prayer was a bit like a dream after the weeks of missed sleep and wounds of battle. Ideas swirled around in his head showing truth to some words and anger to others. What did it mean?
Gavin finished his prayers and stood. He retrieved the holy symbol, a bronze sun about four inches across, from its position on the hilt and tucked it back inside his shirt. He sheathed the katana with practiced precision.
The problem with corruption like this is how much is too much? He had studied the River Kingdoms on the voyage north from Absalom and discussed it at length with the mariners on board. He had also confirmed it with additional research and inquiry while in Daggermark for a week before heading here to Pitax. His research had taught him the six river freedoms (the sixth is “Have what you hold.” A saying that most interpret that possession is 9/10ths the rule. Or that, Thieving is only bad if you get caught. He had also heard the numerous stories about the thieves’ guild of Pitax (and most major cities) charging “taxes” for allowing trade to pass through and enter their gates/merchant houses. So where do you draw the line between thieving and cost of doing business?
What is law in this lawless land?
Gavin needed to ask a few people about the “cost of doing business” so he could understand the intent behind Arjana’s perhaps mislead attempt to exert some control in this land.