Rasennan Summer

24 - Cracking Melons

Respectful visits are paid to houses of the gods, and carousing takes a turn for the violent.

“The master is fluent in a variegated and polychromatic amount of bullshit.” — Carpa

The next morning, the four head to the Basilica of Sacred Earth. They meet the high priestess, Mother Capestica, and Opilio relates the story of Blackharvest Chapel. Capestica is troubled to see that the scythe was once a Chanethi artifact, and calls for a militant priest named Caraverna to examine it. Caraverna is a considerably more intense templar than expected, and asks many questions about the Blackharvest affair. Vesper tells him of the ledger (somewhat against Ettorio’s wishes). Ettorio goes so far as to give the Scythe of the Faith a single name from the ledger — that of the local horse merchant Orimo Bastracci — and Caraverna goes to investigate. They leave the scythe with the temple, where the priests will attempt to reconsecrate it. They also mention their desire to have the Chanethi visit the chapel and perhaps cleanse it. When Mother Capestica offers a reward, Opilio asks simply for the temple’s blessings on Ambira to find a good match — something particularly weighing on his conscience after seeing his daughter clearly admiring the very dangerous Caraverna.

Carenza feels the tug of piety herself, and visits Canteria’s Shrine of the Lance, a temple to Goreador. She offers up prayers and incense to the altar for the spirits of those fallen Scarhawks that might be worthy of the Lord of Battle’s mercy, then requests a sparring session with one of the temple faithful. The priest Toranir obliges. He’s a lean man with a talent for spearmanship, but Carenza feels the godmind settle over her, and cannot be bested. The two effusively thank one another for the bout, and she departs in a fine mood.

That evening, the group negotiates a potential pub crawl among the taverns of Canteria. The discussion of who’s chaperoning who takes a few turns before it’s decided that everyone is going: Carenza, Ettorio, Opilio, Vesper, even Ambira and Carpa. It’s a very successful bit of carousing for a while. Opilio’s still recognized among the locals as a festival hero, and many citizens purchase wine for the group. Ambira moves to the “not as inhibited” stage before long, and begins questioning Carenza about her ambitions.

During the celebrations, Opilio notices a small group is following them from establishment to establishment — and that some seem to be wearing Tuderi colors under their jackets. He calls them out immediately. “Barkeep! A round of wine for all my good Tuderi friends over there!” The Tuderi bravos — clearly focused on giving Ettorio a drubbing if they get an excuse — don’t know how to respond to this. Ettorio confuses the situation further, as is his wont, until finally declaring that the violence will be taking place outside. A surprisingly large group of bravos meets them there — a handful of clearly experienced blades, but plenty of extra muscle.

The street fight begins with some rounds of threatening and bravado. The lead Tuderi — a somewhat oily fellow later named as Cianetto — gets in a few decent jabs, but is quickly overwhelmed by Ettorio’s seamless freeform verbal abuse techniques. When the Tuderi brace to attack, Carenza opens up by shoving a melon cart into their ranks, flattening one bravo and spilling sticky fruit-flesh everywhere. The battle begins in earnest then, both sides laying about them with lengths of hardwood (save Carenza, who cannot resist using her prized Uromni weapon in truncheon form, and Vesper, who prefers to utilize necromancy as always). The Tuderi use numbers and surprising skill to ensure most of the group will feel it in the morning. When Ettorio disarms Cianetto, the slippery fellow responds by bodily hurling the Iluni into the melon-cart.

Despite their drunken valor, the Tuderi are ultimately overwhelmed. Some flee in terror from Vesper’s sorcery, Carenza dominates others into flight with sheer force of presence, and Opilio angrily overturns the melon-cart on one hapless ruffian. Cianetto gets the worst of it — Ettorio is seized by an uncharacteristic rage, and leaps on his Tuderi opponent, beating him mercilessly before finally regaining control. This goes largely unremarked, though. Carenza purchases the overturned and emptied melon-cart from its distressed owner (a transaction paid for largely from the purses of the Tuderi fallen), and calls for more wine to celebrate their victory. The question of whether or not she’s getting into the melon business is brought up, and the argument closes with half a melon being pressed bodily onto Carpa’s head.

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