Morning prayers before dawn. Breakfast. New proclamation from Count Sharm: Return of Terraforming Engineers from routine maintenance of external terraforming engines (i.e. those on the moons).
Travel to Gilgar manor to start expedition to badlands. Less riots, and city appears to be returning to its normal state. Ushered inside the manor to breakfast with Count Avals Gilgar, who tells us transportation will be ready around noon due to technical delays. We’re introduced to Rupert, who used to work at Thorns Manor and who will be our guide and provide proof to the inhabitants that we’re on business for the Count. There should already be various people there. A Scraver was sent to maintain the radio link, along with a priest and a Reeve. A physician, the captain of the guard and assorted servants should also be there. Count Gilgar informs us there may be an ‘animal problem’ out there, which may be dangerous. He offers us the hospitality of his manor until it is time to leave at noon.
The Scraver wanders off, and I go to peruse the library. Someone appears to have been reading up on Vau Conspiracies, and I leaf idly through the book on the table. Then I refresh my memory on the Martyrdom of St. Hecla. There are two main accounts. One is that she threw herself in the way of bandits and thieves and in a miracle her blood fertilised the ground. The other is that she kept a pagan demon god bound by her blood. The second account seems to be holding more popular opinion these days. The Scraver arrives in the library and starts sorting through maps. She calls for paper and ink, then copies out notes and bits of maps.
Then we head to a light brunch with Count Gilgar, while our equipment is loaded onto a hopper. We change into survival gear and go out to the hopper. I offer a blessing to the vehicle and all the righteous who travel in it. We climb in, and Rupert pilots it through take off. In view of the dangers of the trip, I offer to take confessions if anyone wishes it. The Baroness accepts. We fly for several hours over the wastelands and then above the ruined remains of the city in our approach to Thorns Manor. Suddenly the sky is full of some flying monkey-bird creatures, which Rupert does his best to avoid. There is a loud bang, the vehicle jerks and starts losing control. Rupert asks for a quick confession as we adopt crash-positions. We crash land roughly on the landing pad at Thorns Manor, luckily unharmed.
Three armed men run out to investigate and demand that we identify ourselves. Rupert passes on his message from Count Gilgar, and we are escorted up to the manor. The guards throw bits of debris at the monkey-bird creatures and refer to them as “Mulaki”. We are presented to the captain of the guard. There is no sign of any power in the Manor. The captain says the generator and the Scraver were both lost in some sort of rock fall or explosion. There are signs of severe weather all about.
We are brought before the Chamberlain. Rupert repeats our necessary introductions. The Chamberlain shouts to prepare a meal for 8. He seems very happy to have guests, but he hides it quite well. We’re then left to our own devices for a while.
Canon Oblay Dawan arrives, a white Orthodox priest. He proffers greetings and asks our reasons for visiting. He says Duke Gilgar is very sick, and aged 97. He also recommends both of the two shrines to St. Hecla to us. One is in the gardens and one is along a mountain path. Then the Reeve enters, and the Canon exits. Baroness Allessandra chats with the Reeve for a while, then the Reeve departs. The crass Scraver fiddles with a crossbow throughout all this.
Then we’re ushered into a large dining hall, and greeted by the physician, who informs us that for today he is also our chef. An elderly man enters assisted: the Duke (no evidence of cybernetics). The Duke sits, and the meal is served. The Baroness and the Duke talk about hunting for most of the meal. I’m asked how the Bishop is getting on, but it is not clear which one he means. The meal ends and Duke Gilgar leaves. The Chamberlain calls for quarters to be prepared for us, then the Baroness consults quietly with him.
We then head off to our chambers, where the Baroness asks me about unusual prayers. She seems to be seeking an appropriate prayer to ask the Pancreator to restore Duke Gilgar’s sanity. She then invites me to conduct the evening’s prayers for everyone and I go round to ask the rest of her retinue. Terek and Ivo decline, but the Scraver accepts, surprisingly. We have prayer, then separate to our chambers to sleep.