Our “Heros”: Max, number 23 and Jael Exlibris have been on the road for some time.
They happen upon the town of Sokoro, which seems like a reasonably well fortified, but relaxed, trading town.
They gain admittance and find a watering hole where they can refill their waterskins and talk to the Really Really Old Bartender who tells them they can buy food from The Mad Monk out in the plaza. The plaza has a number of stalls set up in it, and a large chunk of space is taken up by Tyvik’s Caravan, which includes a Winnebago with the words Tyvik the Trader painted on it.
The group approaches The Monk’s Stall, which is decorated with a white cross. The Monk is a slightly plump looking man dressed like a monk who sells meat kebabs grilled over an open flame in an oil drum cut in half. 23 is curious about the grill but looses interest when it turns out to be of a very simple design that can’t really be improved upon. Jael asks the man in Unislang what kind of meat it is and the man seems confused. Just as she thinks to herself, “He looks religious, maybe I should try Ancient.” Max says, “I bet this guy speaks Ancient.”
Jael repeats her question in Ancient and the Monk is pleasantly surprised. He remarks on the fact that she is educated and on her pale skin. The Monk only speaks Ancient, apparently and usually has his customers point at what they want. He is non-committal about what kind of meat it is and sells them three servings for 2 cp because Jael is so educated and speaks Ancient 9he says). He also blesses the meat in a language that is not Ancient, and unidentifiable, before handing it over.
Jael is curious about the cross and asks him about it. He says it is a symbol of THE Religion and goes on for some time about “The Word” and “The Father” and how he has a copy of “The Word”. The last bit suggests to Jael that he has a book of some kind and asks to see it. The monk is pleased by her curiosity (maybe a little to much) and tells her to come by his tent later that night after he closes.
While that is happening, Max and 23 finish their mystery meat kababs. (One of them finds a scale in it so it’s not human, or at least not a Pure Human.) Max heads over to some caravan guards are hanging out. A middle’ish aged human man and a large hunch-backed mutant with an uneven face, one deformed arm and one REALLY strong looking arm gripping a 4×4 with nails sticking out of it. He speaks the human, named Cappy, who claims to be Tyvik’s forman. When asked about work, Cappy offers Max 1 cp per day for guard work (presumably more if Max were to bring his own food and water). They will be heading out on a roughly 4 day trip to the The Free City of Styx in the morning. Max will need to be on hand to help load and unload when needed and must not just run off into the wasteland if they get attacked.
23 is checking out the vehicles in Tyvik’s caravan and finds it to be well equipped and probably well defended. She gets a bit close to the Winnebago and is stopped by Sal. Sal won’t let 23 get close to the giant vehicle but is interested when she indicates she’s a mechanic. He asks to see her tools and she shows him. Then he goes into the Winnebago, from which wafts a large cloud of odd smelling smoke, and comes back out a bit later telling her to come back in the morning.
When they’re done with their conversations the three come back together and Jael says she thinks the crazy meat seller may have a book. Based on the ramblings of The Monk, she thought the book was about how you should live your life. She also mentioned that she was going to speak more with the Monk after he was done selling his greasy, overcooked, but at least none of us is sick… yet, mystery meat.
Max and 23 mention that they have jobs with the caravan now and, preferring her current companions to The Monk, Jael goes over to talk to Sal. Jael tries to interest Sal in her scientific skills, saying she could improve the Hol that comes out of the still they have but the still works so he’s not impressed. He remarks on the nomadic style of her clothes, but becomes interested when she tells him that she can maintain and fix things like stills but she mainly maintains and fixes people. He asks her if she’s a “cutter” or a “sawbones” and she tells him she can do those things but she also understands Juju medicine. He seems to like that quite a bit and tells her to come back in the morning.
After a difficult conversation with the Really Really Old Bartender, he directs them to The Van where they can get a place to sleep indoors. The building is kludged together with adobe and salvaged parts, with the entrance being the back double doors of an old service van. The proprietress is a plump lady with some clothes she probably thinks are fancy. Max says something under his breath as they approach about greeting “Her Majesty”. Amusingly the woman, quite seriously, introduces herself as Queenie. She informs the group that The Twins will be back shortly if they’re looking for “entertainment” and she takes quite a shine to Max. She wants to charge 3 cp for the three of them to share one room for one night. Jael offers the woman a soup packet which she thinks is worth more then that but Queenie disagrees and asks what, in addition to the soup packet, they will offer. (She’s giving Max the eye when she asks of course.) Max indicates that he now doesn’t want to stay there. 23 agrees and Jael is neutral so they leave.
While Max and 23 are looking for a place to bed down, Jael goes to the tent of the Mad Monk who is happy to see her. His tent includes an alter with a white wooden cross that has a figure wired to it. The figure is made of plastic. Dressed in red, white and blue armor with a helmet and a round shield sporting a star in the center, The Monk’s “Savior” looks like some kind of warrior. The Monk rambles on about how this image portrays The Savior in one of his aspects that represents faith and blah blah blah… He says he will not show Jael his copy of The Word until she converts, dedicates herself to the faith and proves herself worthy. (This could take about two weeks or so.) It apparently must start with a sacrament and, of course, she must be baptized. It’s not so much what he’s saying but how he’s saying it, that causes the creepdar (which was just slightly ticking before) has now jumped off the scale. Jael tells The Monk he’s given her a lot to think about and that she must return to her friends to either go with them in the morning or say good bye.
When she rejoins her friends they ask what the book said. She tells them he wouldn’t let her see it and that she has begun to suspect that he might not actually have a book. He was really creepy and since she speaks Ancient it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that she would be interested in seeing a book. Max asks what a book would be worth. Jael supposes that it would depend on the content, but the only time she saw a book sold it went for something like 3,000 cp. And the book didn’t seem to have very valuable information in it as far as she could figure. It was small with very few pages that were mostly blank, though each page had a picture of a blue furry mutant imploring you not to turn the page.
Not knowing if The Monk actually had a book, where he kept it if he did or how light a sleeper he was… The group decides to make a small fire with some brush to keep the critters away, set watches and go to sleep.