The great chariot race

It was the day of the final race of the Spring Racing Carnival in Parsantium. All four teams would be taking part, with two chariots per team running. The quadriga chariots were large and fast and the Hippodrome, though large, seemed to offer little room for manoeuvre. The favourite charioteer, Mercurius of the Blues was set to win an historic record of seven wins of the grand final if he were successful. House Scipio had a lot of money riding on the outcome. The prestige of the house, and the Noble quarter, seemed to be riding on Mercurius’ shoulders. His rival, Tarkhan Kadir or the Greens, was equally skilled and determined to finally beat his rival.

The elvish boys were in the crowd enjoying the festivities. There had been the usual gang violence but nothing out of the ordinary. Fireworks were banging in the side-streets, pantomime dragons weaved through the crowd.

The race ran. A chariot belonging to the Reds overturned, killing the driver. A kid ran on to the track and was run down. Mercurius and Tarkhan Kadir jostled for first place, exchanging the lead several times while whipping their horses and each other.

In the end it was Mercurius that crossed the finish line. Leaping from his chariot before the Basileus’ box he bowed and waved to the crowd, every bit the showman and great athlete. however, as the Basileus left his box to come down to the arena and place the laurel leaves on his head and kiss his cheeks Mercurius collapsed. Team physicians rushing to him. A hasty canopy was thrown over him. It was declared, after he was carried away, that he had simply collapsed and was unable to receive his triumph.

But… back at the station house the lads were informed that Mercurius had died at the scene. More importantly it appeared that he had actually died several days earlier. how was this possible? Everyone had seen him hale and healthy during the race.

They headed to the compound of House Scipio in the Grand Ward. The compound was large, walled, beautiful yet functional. It was the estate of that notable family and the training grounds for the Blue team. Mercurius’ body was held in isolation in the mausoleum where the cool subterranean environment would hopefully retard its decomposition. But what the lads saw was a body that had clearly been dead for several days (just a bit longer than the maximum window that would allow resurrection – smart arses with their bloody rules).

Interrogating the team doctor did not reveal much. The doctor himself seemed pretty vague: not at all the professional that might be expected to be charged with looking after the most valuable athletes in the city.

On the way out one of the slaves recognised Octavius from his previous adventures. With a bit of deft questioning he allowed the investigators a look at the team ledger book. There they found entries referring out some of the athletes to a mysterious Mr Ushi Wibu’ah from Khemet, specialist in exotic diseases. The address was acquired and the elvish lads headed into the Victory Ward.

Mr Wibu’ah’s property was an impressive structure, a group of walled compounds around open spaces of water features,villa house plans Beautiful Roman Villa House Plans Home Design 2017

When questioned, the staff acted odd, robotic even. On close questioning Octavius rolled double criticals with his advantage for being a recognised member of the Judiciary. Overcome with the compulsion to answer, yet unable to do so, they suffered a meltdown more typical of the easily confused supercomputers of the 1960’s. Zombies! The chase was on.

The lads swiftly moved through the house, slaughtering more zombie servants as they shambled out. They found a staircase leading under the house and investigated. It was a necromancer’s workshop, with all the gruesome implements and constructions of that trade. Another tunnel led out, and they dashed along it when they heard sounds of someone fleeing.

The tunnel exited through a trapdoor into a taxidermist but they were only just in time to see their quarry exit through the main door to the street. Animated creatures in various states of repair rushed the boys from all directions, but Storm blasted them all in one fell swoop with Thuderwave (he also found that he now needs to roll on the Wild Magic table whenever he has the Ioun Stone in operation).

Across the street they saw the fleeing Necromancer enter a butcher’s shop. When they burst in various animal corpses also tried to attack, but most of these were brushed aside.

Now in the back street Ushi cast Hold Person on Aerius, causing him to fall behind. In the lull the necromancer jumped into a fast carriage and careered down the street. It did him no good as Storm blasted it with Fire Bolts.

Again fleeing on foot, Ushi Wibu’ah, now revealed as a Mummy of some description, approached the gates between Victory and Harbour Ward. Aerius shouted for the guards. The captain of the watch and a half dozen uniformed guard burst out ready for action, but the Mummy gave him a Dreadful Glare and the poor captain collapsed in terror.

At last the elvish lads had caught up and they started in with their fearsome combat skills. Damage was inflicted. Oaths and shouts and alarums. Aerius became infected with Mummy Rot (but he’ll recover). [And without doing a blow-by-blow] The mummy was defeated.

****

Post game clues and thoughts:

  • The corpse of the killed charioteer also could cause Mummy Rot. When dead Mercurius won the Basileus would touch him, and contract Mummy Rot. Who would want to kill or maim or otherwise harm the Basileus? Or is that a red herring?
  • Who would have gained by killing Mercurius? If he’d died before the race then House Qassim with the equally skilled Tarkhan Kadir probably would have won. The rivalry between House Scipio and House Qassim goes back a long way
  • Why a Mummy from Khemet? Khemet, consumed by an ancient curse is the land of the dead. The former ruler of Parsantium, the Rajah, was an ally of Khemet against Qadissa. Is there a connection?

This was the first time we had a run an ‘investigation’ game rather than a typical murder-hobo game.

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