5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame


OOC: Sorry, I got busy and the game moved fast.

Husam maintained his vigil near the Vizier as the Bakr spoke. The hanging accusation towards the Sheikh troubled him. He knew that no such request had reached the Sheikh's ears. That meant that there had to be a liar somewhere. Either the Bakr messenger or this 'woman' that received the request. It may not be pressing, but it could be a sign of a larger issue of disrespect or ill intent towards Tajar. Not to mention, the personal insult to the Sheikh's honor was also a consideration.

However, to interject and speak over the Vizier would be a dishonor itself and serve to make her seem weak. At the moments that Ajan's attention snapped away, Husam tried to catch Akilah's attention so that she could engineer an opportunity to discuss his concerns.


OOC: Hopefully this will work for you [MENTION=6814006]Thateous[/MENTION]. Let me know if you want me to tweak it.

Husam interjected briefly, “Vizier, perhaps it would be wise to inspect the camels and supplies briefly before deciding our first stop. I would be happy to take a moment to make sure you are satisfied with what the merchant has provided.” He hoped that the insightful woman would see the truth behind the request and allow him to speak.

When they had stepped to the side, Husam began in a low whisper while making a show of inspecting the camels as they walked, “I know that you are not always in court, but I am. There has been no message from House Bakr brought to your father’s attention. I do not know whether he is lying about sending them, his messenger is lying about delivering them, or this nameless woman is lying about her relationship to the Sheikh, but something is wrong here. Whichever option is true points to trouble for your father and potential insult to Ajan if not handled appropriately. I am not skilled like your father or yourself to weave tapestries of words and their meanings that are both said and unsaid while governing. You have been raised for this however. I have often heard your father speak of the strength of knowing more than the person that you speak with. It is with that in mind that I wanted to share this with you.”


Akilah was just about to answer Ajan when Husam called to her. She bowed politely and went over to inspect the equipment, listening to his worries she say, "My concerns are the same, but I don't know how to send word to him without whoever is behind the deception catching wind." she pauses for moment, looking up toward the clear sky when the answer is shown to her. As they head toward Harun's horse she motions for him to lean in so that they may speak. "Could your contraption deliver a message to my father? Somethings not right here and he needs to be warned to keep an eye open."


Harun grinned and winked, "Ahzeem would be more than happy to, Katkoota. Give me a message and he will be there and back in no time."

He lifted his arm towards Ahzeem, who flew down and landed no it, looking at Akilah with one metallic eye then the other.


"What of Salahuddin's friend?" Amina inquired softly. "He is faster and more reliable than a mechanical bird, and could return to tell us when the message is delivered."
Salahuddin looks over to Amina.

"If Easifa is sent I can speak directly through him and hear the Sheiks response." Salahuddin speaks quietly to the others. "He is also less conspicuous and can wait for a time the Sheik is alone. What is it you wish to speak to the Sheik about?"


Dusty Dragon
Lal saw that his companions were talking among themselves... he trusted that it was for a good reason.

He instead started asking the nomads about the camels, speaking loudly and tangent-ing into telling the tale of dancing camel of the Aman Oasis, who was very clever and had been trained by a pick-pocket to distract his victims - a scheme that worked well until the pickpocket was one day unmasked by his own camel!

Performance: storytelling check : 1D20+3 = [6]+3 = 9

... it's not a very good story. But hopefully, it was enough of a distraction.


"We need to know if he ever received word requesting troops for the mission from House Bakr. I'm know something is amiss here, however I cannot see to what end. I doubt my fathers life is in any immediate danger, sending troops with us would have made attacking him easier, so it is us who is at risk." she looks to Salahuddin "Send Easifa and inquire about this." she says, as she removes her backpack and detaches the coiled rug from it. She places the rug on ground, gets in a comfortable seated position, and says, "Tartafie!" The rug slowly starts to rise and she looks to her companions and says with a smile, "Well let's get going then, after all, their expecting us."


Amina bows her head, and sticks as close to Akilah as she can...

(OOC - not assuming she's on the carpet; no idea how many those can hold :))
Salahuddin nods to Akilah. He then reaches out to Easifa with his mind.

My familiar I have a new task for you to accomplish. Return to me.

A gust of wind blows Salahuddin's face scarf indicating that his Gen has returned to him.

Easifa my faithful servant you have a task.

Salahuddin pulls a sheer of paper and pen from his pack. He writes in flowing script.

Almighty Sheikh, we your servants have a message. Please retire to your private quarters alone at your convenience and our messenger will meet you.

Faithfully yours,

Salahuddin ibn Hamid al-Qadibi

Salahuddin presses his seal into the ink and then to the paper next to his signature. He dusts the note with fine sand and folds it neatly and holds it up. Easifa takes it and the paper vanishes form view.

My Gen, deliver this note to the Sheikh and then watch him for when he is in private. Once you have him alone and no others are about reveal yourself and notify me. We have a message of utmost importance to deliver to the Sheikhs ears alone.

Salahuddin dismisses his Djinnling and he feels him through their bond as it flies back towards the palace.

"It is done. Easifa will notify me when he is to speak with Sheikh Ali."
Day 1 – House Bakr's Tale

The al-Badia of House Bakr laugh loudly at Lal Qalandar's ridiculous tale of the pickpocket and his trained camel. No stranger to the antics of camels, it is all too easy to distract them from the quiet words exchanged between the others. Readying their own camels, the white and blue clad nomads laughingly refer to Lal's camel as "The Sweet", but become vague and dismissive about why the camel should deserve such a nickname. "All is in the hands of Fate," one replies while restraining a chuckle and unfolding his reins. "The pickpocket deserved what he got, but may the innocent be preserved from camels," chuckles another, shaking his head. "Are you sure you do not belong to House Bakr already, friend? You are a natural atop the camel," another says with mirthful twinkling eyes. Already, Lal Qalandar's camel leans forward, sniffing at the supplies hanging from the saddles of the pack camels before a couple of Nimar al-Solak's rogues fill in the gap. Despite having no direction yet, the jovial men follow Ajan. That is all they need to know.

[SECTION]Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud arches his brow at his cousin Akilah, giving his camel a light nudge forward. "A floating prayer rug? That is new, cousin. Will it help you be closer to the heavens?" he asks with a wry smile. Though he has not yet been told the party's destination, he trusts in his cousin's purpose and the will of Sheikh Ali. For now, that is enough. Intuitively, Ajan steers the forming caravan toward the south, as if some unspoken understanding exists between him and Akilah; south toward the last sites of conflict with the black-robed raiders. "Hakim Oasis, four days, south by southwest; there is a pass through the al-Yabki mountains on the 3rd day," he says, gesturing toward the barely visible haze of mountains in the distance.

Within an hour, the caravan passes through most of the farmland surrounding Tajar and the al-Abib River, one of the land's most overused waterways. Women washing laundry watch you mystified, bowing when they recognize the vizier. Others, worried kinsmen of House Bakr walk alongside Ajan's men for a short time, trading small trinkets, exchanging news, and pleading for the raiders-in-black to be brought to swift justice.

Ajan furrows his brow, letting Husam and Harun take the lead, speaking loud enough so that they as well as Akilah and Amina can hear him, "I remember those worried eyes. Back when the Sultan al-Azrad ruled. Would they be taxed a handful of kirat (barley grains) or half their harvest? It was always uncertain then. My father, Najon, led the fighting against al-Azrad's army, pushing them back to the river, then back inside the city, and at last taking the city gate. Until the gate fell, victory was uncertain. The people of Tajar looked up to Najon, but he wished to return to the desert. Not the great Kori al-Zafiri, father of Sheikh Ali, could convince him to stay with offers of wealth and captaining the cavalry. There is a purity in the desert. Tajar's people forgot this once, but my father reminded them, raising them up against al-Azrad." Though he seems like he might continue, Ajan falls quiet as you leave the main trade trail, skirting several fields of wheat framed by date palms as the landscape slowly transitions into drier desert.[/SECTION]
[SECTION]Knowing well Akilah's tone, Ajan offers a momentary smile of affection before pursing his lips. They are blood, even if distant, yet Akilah is also Vizier of Tajar. "I feel... that it is more likely you'll encounter a liar in the City of Trade than here beneath the desert clouds with House Bakr." At once he answers the question and evades it. The sway of the bidad (camel saddle pads) becomes rhythmic as you settle into the journey.

After a moment's reflection, Ajan continues in a quieter voice, "You recall how my father Najon received an ill omen of what would befall him and his tribe if he remained in Tajar? As he told it to me: The night of revelry following their victory over Sultan al-Azrad, my father received a vision of a beautiful marid crying. When he asked her what was wrong, she turned to reveal she was cradling my father's severed head, lamenting that only sadness would follow House Bakr in Tajar. The next day he gathered what few tribesmen wished to return to the High Desert and departed."

"I, too, have received my own vision," he says as if straining, staring straight ahead into the desert with his mismatched green and copper eyes. "It was like unto my father's: I was watching my hawk fly about our camp at sunset, when I felt a presence about me. A powerful djinn clad in sweeping silks stood before me, proclaiming that he bore a gift from Tajar. I could not tell whether I dreamt or it was real, and the moon seemed to cover the sun. I did not wish to see what was in the bundle he bore, but he revealed it regardless. My own severed head. It was a vision, my grandmother says, that if I enter Tajar I will never leave alive."[/SECTION]


Akilah let's the silence hang for a moment after Ajan's tale before saying, "Well you're right about Tajar, my ears ring every time I walk the streets..." and then the unthinkable happened. Akilah actually let out a laugh. Barely audible, but a laugh none the less. When the she regains her composure she switches the tone back, "Cousin, do you know if it is possible to influence one's dreams?"
[SECTION]Unaccustomed to seeing the vizier laugh, Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud arches his brow, "I imagine there are many ways to influence a man's dreams, cousin. Palm wine, promises of gold, a comfortable life and bountiful water behind secure city walls... If you're speaking of sihr (deception magic), there was no such magic at hand in my vision." He pauses as if about to explain further, but seems to grow exasperated with trying to summon the right words to express his certainty. "You still have not told me where we are headed... your irregulars," at this, Ajan gestures back toward Nimar al-Solak and his rogues, "seem to have more privilege in knowing our destination than I..."[/SECTION]


"We're headed to a few locations of interest. We hope to find our ultimate agenda somewhere in the Badu al-Kabir." she say nonchalantly. "As for our strange companions, I wouldn't place to much faith in them. All that needs to be said is, they seek redemption and I aim to provide them with the opportunity."


Amina glances sidelong at the vizier, a little surprised she was being so cagey. Ajan would see where they were going soon enough. Why play a game of withholding that information? Was there a reason opaque to her, or was Akilah simply keeping her cards close?

Friction between Ajan and Akilah might help her own cause...giving her a chance to ply the man for information. A delicate task, but perhaps necessary. She could not lose herself in this assumed role, after all. There was a man somewhere in the High Desert she had important business with and Ajan might have an idea of where to look.

At the mention of Badu al-Kabir, your guide Ajan, cousin to Akilah and nephew to Sheikh Ali, falls quiet. His mismatched eyes say it all. The Badu al-Kabir is a cursed place, inhospitable desert. Only desert nomads seeking the overland route to Qaybar, City of the Jann, dared brave it, and only then with exceeding precautions. This and more plays across Ajan’s face, evident to Akilah, but for the time being he remains silent.

His men, and Nimar al-Solak’s rogues for that matter, have no shortage of words. The nomads trade poems, tales of valor, lore of the desert, and witty repartee in equal measure; they do not yet realize the Badu al-Kabir lies ahead, and in their ignorance they are joyful. The rogues – bandits turned secret police turned…whatever they were now – keep to themselves for the most part, snickering in lilting laughter at dark jokes, recalling tales of their former glories, and taking every opportunity to complain.

Eventually, after some 25 miles of travel, Ajan declares a good place to make camp as the sun inches toward the horizon at the end of the first day.

The nomads of House Bakr are swift to set up tents amidst a cluster of boulders atop a grassy hill, badgering each other about the spices used for making a proper maqluba (upside down chicken-and-rice dish). Derafsh, Nimar’s younger brother, prepares a fire by himself. Beyond this, the traces of flora grow scarce far from the reach of the al-Abid River.

Clear skies. Only a slight evening chill in the desert air. No sign of other travelers or dangers; the mere threat of the raiders-in-black seems to have curbed most overland caravans.

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Easifa, your faithful gen, reaches out to you telepathically as camp is made, her voice as a tinkling bell in the breeze. The Sheikh is alone, it is done. What is your will, oh master Salahuddin al-Qadibi?[/SBLOCK]

GM: Random Encounter Checks
Day 1 17+ is an encounter while traveling with Ajan and his nomads: 3d20 4, 10, 6 No encounters
OOC: Does that mean he has delivered the note or is the Sheikh alone and Easifa has shown himself and ready for me to speak through him? If I wouldn't know that then that is fine as well.