Good thing I do this.
Tube Way Cars are big, big balls of shiny metal-of-the-ancients. Qolari say that they can be even bigger than one we call and go riding in. The Station is a large cavern that once was a airy, spacious building where many, many peoples could come and go from all over the world. These old, old things. Much ancient-ness. One needs to be careful not to open one of the Cars up without being ready for Ssu or worse to come jumping out. Everyone having done this sort of thing previously say that those stink-monger bad-things often do this to unsuspecting looters. Bad thing to run into large band of roving Ssu when you lounging on butt or already wounded and trying to escape from ancient traps, undead or prowling underworld creatures.
We lucky this time out.
We only find dried-out skeletons of ancient dumb monkeys. But Tube Way Car works and someone makes it go other place. It like a Chlen-cart only one that moves very, very fast along a smooth-walled tunnel. I wonder if these tunnels go under Shenyu. Much good use for such things amongst our armies, I mean merchants. Save expensive and time-sucking marching up-river to Yan Kor for my egg-group. I might have to pay more attention to this group and see what I can learn about these Tube Way Cars. Good thing I pick-up a back-up copy of Qolari's Tubeway Car Disks. The Empire of Shenyu could make much good and peaceful use of such a thing. We Shenmanitarian peoples. Merchants and sailors. All these lies about war-like Shen just propaganda spread by scared monkeys afraid to fight Shen without all their spells and devices of ancients. They not know we got devices too. Nyaah! We get spells someday. I working on this personally. Me be sorcerer someday. Get help from new friends. Even if they are monkeys.
The new translator marble feels funny, but it helps Shen understand more of what monkeys say around me. I still learn how to read and write other languages despite it though. No substitute for being able to translate carvings, etchings, or tomb reliefs on the spot. Marble not do that so well. Maybe one of Globes of Instruction we got last time help with such things. I ask Kaiya later. We busy raiding now. Much loot awaits us--I can almost smell it.
Our first destination brought us out in a place with a door. Stale air. No one come this way in many, many years. Qolari ask Shen to open door. I use new Eye. Door go boom. Way is clear. Nothing bad waiting behind where door isn't any more either. Very handy thing this Eye.
We enter into a large room, all colonnaded and carved -- flame demons dancing, capering and eviscerating sacrificial victims all over the walls. The carvings are vaguely familiar, definitely look fiery. Large not-Pe Choi-things, also carved into the walls. Qolari say they are Hokun. Shen hear of Hokun, but nothing good. Shen sometimes have to fight with hokun. They not good to eat.
Another door leads out into a rural, rustic, mountainous area. All cold, thin air and horrible snow. Smells like rendered hmelu fat. Rancid hmelu fat. We in N'lyssa. A group of oily monkeys gather around the door. They excited, or upset about us coming out of their temple, shrine, or whatever they've been using the place for--just to get them confused I pay the leader of the mob that's milling about some kaitars and start asking them questions. Most Nlyss not much interested in strangers, except maybe to rob them, when it looks easy. You live in empty, cold place like they do, you get strange in the head too. Shen feel sorry for them all shoved out there in the cold and forced to wear smelly rancid oil. Poor monkeys.
Eventually, Qolari and the others get the Tubeway Car operational again -- somethng about the safety interlocks getting engaged. I not know they to be wed, but I not judge inanimate objects. Monkeys get things working as we leave before a riot breaks out. That could have been bad. Nlyss good fighters. Bad merchants, but good fighters.
The next destination is a sunny, warm island. The Tubeway Station is just about the same size as the island. A small dock has been built on the side facing inland and we can see a city of some sort off in the distance across the warm, azure waters. Lots of sea shells on the small beach going all around us. A wooden row-boat with 8 slave-monkeys slumped over their oars are sitting there watching us with funny expressions. Some local official, a monkey with sea shell hat is burning big fish on an altar. We go to see what is who and suchness.
Official-guy gets all nervous, even for a monkey. Someone asks him what he is doing and he says that he was summoning a demon. Shen smile roadly at this.
"You summoned a demon. You got a demon. A demon-warrior. What you want, monkey?"
Well, only a broken finger and some boring back and forth and we find out that we're in the Nyemessal Islands. Shen never heard of them before. Others have. Seems like nice place. Warm. The official, some sort of priest, arranges for ferry-boats to take us across the bay into the city. Ru'sa, is what I think they called it. Capital city. Lots of sea shells. Much sea grass. Some driftwood. Not much else. They do have Shen delicacies, so not all bad. Lots of sea-food. Thankfully no akho. Shen no like akho. Leave bad taste in mouth ever since getting marooned by Harcharr. Am so going to stomp him if Shen ever get chance.
In harbor we see something unbelievable. Harcharr's ship is at anchor there. Shen see opportunity for revenge on bad monkey.
Our group go along with the official--he is a High Priest we find out. Some monkey sea god-thing. It no matter to Shen. One monkey god smell muchly like any other monkey god. Only interested in those ones that might help Shen. Rest no interest.
Guesthouse nice. We talk business with High Priest. Quickly Kaiya and Shen see good way to stick sharp zrne-tooth into Harcharr's buttocks--we start dealing for all sea shells we can get, all our group become shrewd businesscreatures instantly. Seashells much used for purple dye-making Hruu-priests pay very good money for them. Hard to get--long way to travel to get them and need to be fresh to be at best. Tubeway Car makes this a very good opportunity for our group. We make much dealings. Also run into Harcharr. He recognize us. Good thing he make arrangements to satisfy lady of Sea Blue clan and Shen for stranding us on small island surrounded by akho. We make very much monies from all these dealings. Shen have idea of what to do with monies. We get help from High Priest and his functionaries to draft-up documents, trade agreements, contracts, all those things necessary for us to make much monies. Everyone in party seems to be doing business or involved in the process. Group making much money without having to fight nasty Hra or battle hordes of Ssu. This very different than what Shen used to doing to make loot. Shen like very much. Paying much attentions. These monkeys know many good things that will come in handy some day. Shen like making much monies with Tubeway Car. Much potential in this approach. Just need to defend against the Ssu and others who use these things. Maybe set-up a Shen protection franchise for the better Tubeway Car stations? Must think this through. We could charge a toll to use the Stations. Might be something to this idea...
Qolari talk with other guests. One guest Vimuhla-priest or warrior or something. We to be taking messages back home for this one later. Very serious monkey. Got lots on mind. I learn he riding with Harcharr, all become clear. Now that Shen knows how things go on that ship, he nervous riding with Harcharr, too. No ride boat with him ever again. Not even with sword-axe under his chin. Just not worth it. Akho not so good to fight. Too big. Eat Shen. No. Shen not let that happen. No ride with Harcharr. Poor monkey. He still part of Harcharr's crew. Hope it work out better for him than it did for us. Of course, things did get better afterwards. Maybe he go to South Sphincter of World one day, too. Much good loot there, but Shen stay quiet about that. No spoil a good thing.
Shen also find rest of crew of Harcharr's ship. One carry stick, other knife--buy them much drinkings. We talk dealings of our own. Shen going into business in monkey-lands, needs documents, certificates, much many official things. They have complete set of papers for inspections, import licenses, customs documetns, tariff exceptions, exemptions, quaratines, all sorts of things. One set for all seven or eight empires, including Yan Kor which is much good. One set in Engsvangyalli, very ornate. One set might be for some Mihallu-place. Not sure. Shen not know that writing bestest yet. But aim to learn. Shen make deal for whole set. Comes in nice bag, but Shen no need bag, carry them in own bag. No good idea to walk around Butrus with used Imperial Courier satchel. Might be bad fashion faux pas. Monkeys get worked-up over such a gaff. Shen no do this.
Group buy many art objects. Crafts objects. Tourist trinkets. Eat much fish. Ask questions. They no have much metal, mostly driftwood and sea-grass. Poor monkeys. We talk about trading them dna grain, stinky cheese and maybe some metal to make life easier for them. Shen consider starting a melon-ranch here, especially if sea routes bring Shen-ships this way, but unclear on that point. Shen get idea that islanders no like idea of Shen coming to island regular basis. Like most monkeys, they afraid we eat them. Pfah. They too stringy. Smell all wrong to be eating, anyhow. Taste too much like hmelu in all wrong ways.
Later on, we learn it Winter Solstice. Big festival. Much drinkings and feastings. Conchshell trumpets, ornate masks, processions. Very lively, colorful. Pageant. Groups of dancers form a living human orrery, portray the planets. Very astrological stuff. Shen not know much astrology yet. Locals point out symbols and meanings. Monkey in big mask brought out--smells familiar. Shen realize it the friend of Qolari. He drafted into ritual. Makes miracle at solstice for isalnder priests. Light in the darkness. Very impressive. Nice show. He go off with female. Everyone know they married now except him. Even Shen know he married.
Very nice visit to islands. Lovely warm place. Ate too much seafood. We have good sleep, nice morning, gather up our things and get rowed back out to the little island and our waiting Tubeway Car. We load things into the Car and then we leave the place. Harcharr on some sort of secret mission. We got other things to do. Kaiya and Shen examine gold given to us by Harcharr as recompense for troubles. Coins are perfect. Too perfect. Too high a gold content--they are counterfeit, but the best possible counterfeits--they were cast in the Jakallan mint. We be careful where we spend them.
Monkeys insert Disk into Tubeway Car, it take us to another place. Lights. Fresh air. Tinge of ozone. Very tidy and clean. A corridor runs past the Tubeway Car platform. A strange flat Ru'un is cleaning the floors. Thumis priest likes Ru'uns. Wants to make a pet of it like Shen do with zrne. He spreads a spiral of dirt so that the Ru'un is kept busy. I think he means to steal it.
We follow the hallway into a vast indoor plaza with skylights. It is another location of the ancients. It is also very active, awake, alive. There are shops here. The Tinaliya discovers a hardware shop and begins to negotiate for a tool that can do just about anything from the sounds of the yeleth-clerk's litany of features. But tinaliya has no payment cube. We all ask about payment cubes. Yeleth are very helpful if you ask them nicely, and not try to hit them. They are ancient things and probably are lonely. Qolari locates a jeweller's shop and manages to exchange a few of his gems for a payment cube. As we each learn about this, we each exchange gems or anything else of vlaue for our own payment cubes. Shen help Thumis priest get his own payment cube. Monkeys all help Shen, he no mind helping them in turn. Just good business.
Yeleth say something about being entered into planetary database, but Shen not know what that mean. Maybe someday, later on, we find out what that mean, but too much to see and to buy right now to worry about it. Kaiya goes and buys tourist guides, children's books, all sorts of things. Shen pick up Shen comic books, erotic-novels and Shen-lingerie for re-sale when we get back. Things no other Shen has for sale. Bring much monies. Shen no dummies.
Khamra find a Yeleth-seller place. They make a yeleth to serve you if you pay enough money. She gets some kind of demon-pet. Shen buys a Shen-yeleth. It a good investment. Shen has yeleth-shen carry stuff. The yeleth-shen will be good for guarding things later-on. Like the entrance to the Tubeway Car Station under the Vriddi Estate, or if Shen does well and settles down, yeleth-shen can guard Shen's own villa. A good investment. Too bad yeleth are all white with black eyes, like a reverse shen, almost. It will have to be kept out of sight and away from prying eyes. Monkeys get all overwrought and upset over little things like a yeleth-shen in the basement. Bah. Shen buy it fair and square. Kept receipt too. Registered in planetary database. Hah. Monkeys not all registered. Whatever that means.
Group is able to get bunches of equipment for Thumis priest's laboratories, we try to buy things for Ksarul priestess' laboratories too so she not get left-out, pick-up lots of seeds (inclduing melons!), gardening books and cookbooks (all in Sunuz...), and a few sample casks of Shen liquor. Very potent stuff of vintages and sorts that haven't been available in millennia, some of it legendary. Definitely worth bringing back for later. Might share with the flammable Vriddi. He appreciate real liquor. Give him Shen liquor. Might be funny.
We find sporting goods place, buy 'pop tents', fire extinguishers, power supplies--whatever those are, and many other things. Shen careful not to run out of credit. Need to get more gems and come back in order to exchange for more credits. We buy more good things another time. Very nice place to shop. Friendly yeleth are helpful, offer good customer service. Shen muchly satisfied customer. No tell anyone else about this place though. This our private shopping place.
Thumis priest buys a ru'un of his own so no have to steal one. Asked for tools, too. Not sure what he planning, but might get loud or dangerous. Shen think it time to move to safer, more discrete quarters. Everyone buys much interesting things. Most of these things not to be found anywhere else.
Eventually the group makes our way back to the Tubeway Car station and we head back to Butrus. This was a very good trip. Much loot. Made Harcharr pay for stranding us, got papers to set up import/export business, made new friends, made much business dealings, found a wonderful new place to acquire amazing things from shops of the ancients and Shen now have own yeleth-shen to act as bodyguard, loot-carrier and door-opener. Plus spent wonderful time in islands, getting warm and eating much fish. Too bad we go back to cold place like Butrus, but it is where things are happening, and it is where orders say Shen is to set-up operations. Maybe it time for Shen to get own place.