5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame

tglassy

Explorer
While everyone else is behind making plots and talking about things Harun knows little about, Harun looks at Husam.

"Husam, my friend, help me with something. There's this girl in the market I see who sells apples. She is very beautiful. I've seen you buying her apples. Do you know anything about her?"

Harun's grin is one of slight amusement, as he knows full well that Husam has had his eye on the girl. But until now, the stiff half-orc hasn't said a word to her! Time to light a fire under him, Harun thinks.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal helps set up the camp - he has traveled with many a caravan, and knows the basics; although he pays attention to how the nomads do it - he knew that the desert people could be particular about certain details.

OOC: Did Lal discover why the camel he's riding is called Sweet?

As the nomads start cooking the chicken, Lal tells another story.

"Back in my homeland, the far away Purple Lands, there are many wonders... but we do not have camels, which is a great tragedy. So all sort of beast of burden are used instead. And one of those is the giant crayfish, found only in the north.

Now the giant crayfish is sort of like a giant scorpion without a stinger, and its sole use is for war, for they are fierce combatants, with great pincers and armor, but they are very stupid.

One day a Noble Slugman - because we have slugmen in the Purple lands - decided that he would acquire an army of these crayfish and use it to defeat his enemies in the South. This slugman had tons of silver at his disposal - for slugmen are very rich - and with his fortune he made it so. So he stood astride the largest crayfish, and behind him was his entire army, with a fearsome line of giant crayfishes, and his enemies quivered in terror. They had soldiers too, but they were all on foot, and their weapons would not pierce the crayfish's armor.

As the slugman opened his mouth to demand that his foes surrender, he sneezed. It sounded like the blast of a great horn - for slugmen have very large lungs - and his crayfish took fright at the unnatural noise and threw him off. And the panic spread among the giant crayfishes and they turned around and trampled the slugman's army, and fled back north.

This is why you should make sure that your war mount is at least half as smart as you. And as I am a very wise man, I usually have to fight on foot."

Second story telling attempt with the nomads : 1D20+3 = [15]+3 = 18


A while later, Lal will change position and go sit besides Derafsh with half a chicken and a bit of wine. He looks at him with an inquiring look. "Why sit alone on such a beautiful night?"
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina attends to Akilah as needed, but when given leave she seeks out Ajan. On finding him she bows her head in deepest respect and says in her quiet voice, "I beg forgiveness for my intrusion, but may I ask a private question before you make ready to sleep?"

Assuming he humors her, she walks with him a little ways from the firelight.

"Your people live free of walls and cities. A good life, I hope." She meets his gaze over the top of her veil. "I know others who live similar lives and through them I hear tales sometimes. These dark tales of black-clad bandits concern me. Other tales too. I wonder if a man such as you has heard the name Solina al-Ganii?"
 

Matthan

Explorer
Husam tries to hide his surprise at Harun's questions and fails miserably as his cheeks begin to flush. "Uh... well...," he stutters before getting a wistful look in his eyes, "She is a very kind woman. She never makes a show of it, but everyday, shortly before noon, a few urchins come to her stand and she always gives them a few apples to see them on their way. I have seen merchants swindle and cheat travelers to line their pockets with a few coins. She never does. She has a good heart."

He catches himself slightly and his blush spreads to his ears as he begins talking far to quickly in a futile attempt to distract, "And her apples are delicious. Finest in the market. Lovely for lunch and they bake up quite nice for a treat. A fine citizen and businesswoman."
 
Ancalagon said:
A while later, Lal will change position and go sit besides Derafsh with half a chicken and a bit of wine. He looks at him with an inquiring look. "Why sit alone on such a beautiful night?"
[SECTION]The nomads' laughter resounds across the hilltop, echoing off rocks whose shadows dance in the fire light. They are quick to give Lal Qalandar the nickname "very wise man" after hearing the moral of his tale. The nomads spoon several soaked golden raisins onto the bearded dervish's plate as he ambles over toward the fire.

Derafsh glances over at Lal for a moment before resuming looking at the fire, a plate of well-gnawed chicken bones at his feet where he squats upon a rock. Pushing a sparking log back into position, he glances over at the nomads and at the other rogues before speaking in a hushed voice, "Thirty years ago, not long by the standard tribal memories, the Haras al-Sirri and these men of House Bakr were enemies. Or if not these same men, then their fathers. On one side of me is the risk of a being tied to a camel and sent off into the desert if happen to recognize my face or decide to avenge himself for the sake of his people." Nodding to the rogues, where his elder brother Nimar al-Solak keeps one eye on Derafsh. "And at the other side of me my brother, whose allegiance to the deposed Sultan of Tajar runs deep even after his betrayal of us, perhaps deep enough to place a knife in my back should I not fall in line."

As he explains his dilemma, Derafsh looks up in surprise as Lal Qalandar's camel has quietly come up behind him and begun licking raisins off his plate. Loud laughter comes from the nomads on the other side of camp, who give cries of "Sweet! Very wise man!" With a wry smile, Derafsh sets down the stick he was tending fire with, "My position is unenviable. What would you advise, oh traveler and teller-of-tales?"[/SECTION]

Shayuri said:
Amina attends to Akilah as needed, but when given leave she seeks out Ajan. On finding him she bows her head in deepest respect and says in her quiet voice, "I beg forgiveness for my intrusion, but may I ask a private question before you make ready to sleep?"

Assuming he humors her, she walks with him a little ways from the firelight.

"Your people live free of walls and cities. A good life, I hope." She meets his gaze over the top of her veil. "I know others who live similar lives and through them I hear tales sometimes. These dark tales of black-clad bandits concern me. Other tales too. I wonder if a man such as you has heard the name Solina al-Ganii?"
[SECTION]Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud is surprised to find Amina requesting to speak, sitting upright on the rock from the book of prayers he studies. "Handmaiden of Hakiyah, please," he gestures to some rocks that provide a pristine view of the crystalline clear desert moonlight and faint clouds moving across distant moonlit dunes. "I'm surprised you wished to speak to me without my cousin. I had begun to assume she has two shadows," Ajan observes with dry humor.

"Al-Ganii? Hmm, no. Perhaps you mean Al-Ganij? It is an Akotan name," he gestures to the far west. "We sometimes trade with the men and burnt-skinned elves of Akota. I believe Al-Ganij is a district in their great slave city." For a moment Ajan falls quiet, seemingly at ease beneath the stars of his nativity. "What is your interest in this woman that you did not ask me in the presence of your lady?"[/SECTION]
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina smiles, though the veil hides all but the crinkles at the edges of her eyes.

"I am here but still at her side, for I inquire after the thing that drives us into the desert. The name belongs to one who may be connected to these black robes. Out in the desert, finding support...maybe recruits...among the tribesmen."
 
Amina smiles, though the veil hides all but the crinkles at the edges of her eyes.

"I am here but still at her side, for I inquire after the thing that drives us into the desert. The name belongs to one who may be connected to these black robes. Out in the desert, finding support...maybe recruits...among the tribesmen."
[SECTION]For clerics devoted to truth, Ajan finds the handmaiden as infuriatingly circuitous as his cousin Akilah. "Hah, you clearly have studied at the foot of the same imam as the Vizier!"

"There are only two tribes in the High Desert which recruit from outsiders... One is unenlightened; they are raiders known as the House of Tayif, having struck near Qudra to the north and the Realm of Bleeding Trees to the south. They wear white and take the veil, swearing a crusade against the Grand Caliph, and for this earn the sobriquet "Ghost Warriors."

"The other is enlightened, but in name only; they are scavengers and horse-thieves known as the House of Uqad, or League of the Vulture. They recruit from among matruds (exiles), bandits, savages, and mountain tribes. Some of these scavengers are recently led by a woman who commands the desert sun, so the tales go."[/SECTION]
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina purses her lips behind her veil. Commanding the desert sun could easily refer to fire magic.

"Where does the House of Uqad hold court?" she inquires softly.
 
[SECTION]For a moment, Ajan has a sorrowful look in his mismatched eyes. Had Akilah been raised among House Bakr beneath the desert skies, or even among her elven kin, she would have known the answer to her handmaiden's question. "My house is the smallest of those that will attend the Gathering of the Seven Great Tribes this year at the Desert Mosque. But there are two tribes who are not welcome there: the Ghost Warriors and the House of Uqad. Many a ruler would like to know where these raiders 'hold court', but they are like the winds, rarely staying in the same place for long."

He ponders withholding what he next knows, but concludes rightfully that eventually his cousin would have the truth out. "There is a legend I've heard...more fiction than truth...that one can divine the way to the House of Uqad by following the patterns of great vultures taking flight. The same legend says that a white camel will be born among the herds of my house with the power to remove scales from the eyes of the aged and restore mobility to the maimed." He pours a cup of licorice and mint tea for himself and for Amina. "We celebrate the birth of white camels, but the only thing they seem to cure is a bit of sunburn with their dung or a hangover with their piss."

"Pardon my frankness," he bows in apology, "I forget I'm in the presence of the devout." He looks up, evaluating Amina with his mismatched eyes.[/SECTION]

GM: Ajan is suspicious about Amina's inquiry. Make a DC 13 Deception check to keep him in the dark.
 
The day's journey was peaceful for Salahuddin. He listened to the wind as it blew across the desert. The rocking of the camel soothed him and he smiled to himself. He was pointed in the proper direction and his masters will would be done by his mortal hand. He remained quiet today just listening to the conversations around him. Ajan's men kept their distance awed by the Sha'ir and his Genie servant.

When Ajan called for the group to stop and make camp Salahuddin dismounted and rubbed his back. He was not accustomed to riding for so long. He knew he would be sore in the morning. Sinjin helped his master from the saddle and conjured water for him to drink. Salahuddin smiled at his friend. Sinjin moved off to help make camp and Salahuddin sat to the side. When Easifa spoke to him he smiled.

My gen prepare to show yourself and allow my voice to speak through you. I must converse with the Sheikh.

Salahuddin settles down and prepares to place his mind and senses into his familiar. He turns to Akilah.

"Easifa is with with the Sheikh. I will speak with him now. I will relay his answers to you."

Salahuddin then places his will over his Gen. His eyes cloud over and he saw the Sheiks private quarters. The Sheikh sitting in a chair staring at Easifa as he floated in the middle of the room. Easifa speaks but Salahuddin's voice comes from the small djinn's mouth.

"Sheikh Ali, blessed by rain and wind, I apologize for summoning you but we have word that you must hear."

Easifa bows to the Sheikh and waits for indication to continue. Once given Salahuddin continues.

"It has come to our attention that your nephew, Ajan, had sent a request for troops to assist in taking on the black robed raiders. He states that one of his tribesman made the request to one of your confidantes, a woman. Did this message ever reach your ear?"

Salahuddin waits for an answer and then continues.

"We do not believe you are in immediate danger but be vigilant. This whole problem runs deeper than we think and someone close to you is involved."
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*​

[SECTION]Sheikh Ali al-Hadd rests wearily in his chambers, frowning at the blue misty gen before him. Summoning him! May the Great Gods preserve him from the arrogance of genies and their masters! He rests in a great wooden chair, cracking the seal on an official correspondence when Salahuddin views the Sheikh through Easifa's eyes.

"Peace onto you, sha'ir. How is the Vizier?" he immediately inquires.

Upon hearing mention of his nephew Ajan's name, the Sheikh scowls heavily, "Troops to Ajan? He really is addled by sunstroke if he thinks that I'd send soldiers to him, depleting Tajar's garrison at a time like this." When his initial reaction subsides, the Sheikh thinks for a moment, "My son Afzal is honorary commander of our cavalry. He is aided by a most skilled askara (female soldier) Hatia min-Turab who handle the day-to-day matters of command." Though the Sheikh does not call out his son's incompetence as such, the concern and disappointment are written on his aging face. "Perhaps she received the letter and knew it would displease me..." Yet the words leaving his mouth trail off, as the Sheikh appears unconvinced of his own theory. "If my son spent more time attending to matters of state and less trying to woo Dulcet Riqqiyah, perhaps this mistake would not have been made."

Resting in his callused hands is a letter bearing a merchant's seal. Sheikh Ali listens to Salahuddin's voice issuing from the floating gen, his scowl deepening when Salahuddin asserts that someone close to the Sheikh may be deceiving him. "I see. Well, I would not have made it this far as Sheikh if I did not always remain vigilant, oh sha'ir. Is there more news you bear for me?"[/SECTION]
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina has spoken no word that wasn't technically true...but she has avoided speaking openly of her aim. Her eyes and voice are inscrutable, betraying nothing of her purpose.

[roll0]

She nods.

"I will tell the vizier what you have said," she replies, still truthfully. "Perhaps she will see in your words a truth that is still closed to me."

"Thank you, Ajun. I think this will help."
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal laughs with the nomads at the camel's anticts, and he says softly " Well, first be grateful for this camel, as it is a great distraction and a stout beast of burden..."

This face grew more somber and he continued

"... but you are cleared eyed - your position *is* difficult, not one I would envy. I think though that the men of House Bakr would not risk angering the Sheik... but yes, caution is advised. But what I really wonder about is your brother's ongoing link to the deposed Sultan - is he still alive, even 30 years later? I truly believe that you and your family have a chance to redeem themselves, but it will never happen if they are not willing to let go of the past... History is a wise teacher, but we must not let it become a set of chains."

Lal picks up his tabar and lays the long axe on his lap, looking at the head's greenish metal and angular runes. After a sigh he adds "Perhaps my greatest victory was convincing my foes to realize that a true enemy had pitted us against each other, and that we had to unit to vanquish said enemy. I will not lie to you, it was a bitter triumph... but the alternative was utter defeat. You must find the link between your brother and the Sultan and break it."
 
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"Peace onto you, sha'ir. How is the Vizier?"
Easifa bows to the Sheikh.

"The Vizier is well. We have only begun our journey and many hard days are ahead of us."

Upon hearing mention of his nephew Ajan's name, the Sheikh scowls heavily, "Troops to Ajan? He really is addled by sunstroke if he thinks that I'd send soldiers to him, depleting Tajar's garrison at a time like this." When his initial reaction subsides, the Sheikh thinks for a moment, "My son Afzal is honorary commander of our cavalry. He is aided by a most skilled askara (female soldier) Hatia min-Turab who handle the day-to-day matters of command." Though the Sheikh does not call out his son's incompetence as such, the concern and disappointment are written on his aging face. "Perhaps she received the letter and knew it would displease me..." Yet the words leaving his mouth trail off, as the Sheikh appears unconvinced of his own theory. "If my son spent more time attending to matters of state and less trying to woo Dulcet Riqqiyah, perhaps this mistake would not have been made."
"You would know the will of your council better than I. The Vizier and Husam both found it odd that the request never made it to your throne. The fact that one of your council might have through malice or negligence prevented it's delivery weighed heavy on them. Concern for you and Tajar prompted this Audience. We all feel that these events in isolation are not cause for alarm but all put together paints a picture of something far more troubling and sinister."

"I see. Well, I would not have made it this far as Sheikh if I did not always remain vigilant, oh sha'ir. Is there more news you bear for me?"
Salahuddin makes Easifa bow in apology.

"It was not my intention to imply your vigilance was lacking. However forewarned is forearmed as my father used to say."

At the question of other news Salahuddin releases his voice from Easifa's and speaks to Akilah and the others sitting with him.

"The message has been delivered to the Sheikh. He was never made aware of the request from House Bakr. Is there any other news we wish to relay to the Sheikh?"
 
Ancalagon said:
"... but you are cleared eyed - your position *is* difficult, not one I would envy. I think though that the men of House Bakr would not risk angering the Sheik... but yes, caution is advised. But what I really wonder about is your brother's ongoing link to the deposed Sultan - is he still alive, even 30 years later? I truly believe that you and your family have a chance to redeem themselves, but it will never happen if they are not willing to let go of the past... History is a wise teacher, but we must not let it become a set of chains."
[SECTION]Sucking in his cheek, Derafsh smugly probes the fire which grows lower and lower as the evening deepens. The way his diffuse vision scans for desert threats (or a knife in the back) while tending it shows he is no stranger to life beyond the city gates. "He is not the Sultan of much these days, books in monastery perhaps, but yes he is alive. At least the last I heard. During the rebellion, the Grand Caliph answered Sheikh Ali's plea – then the Sheikh was barely a young man – with a fleet of mamluks. They took Al-Azrad in chains back to Huzuz where he was tried...recanted..." at this, Derafsh smiles wryly like he doesn't believe it for a second, "...and sent to a monastery of Zann the Learned in the hill country near Wasat to meditate on his sins, a most honored guest." Derafsh pauses in his explanation with a glance to Lal Qalandar to clarify that the line between guest and prisoner must be very thin for the deposed Sultan.

He murmurs in agreement about his brother and the strange hold the Sultan's character seems to hold over Nimar, at least according to Derafsh, but falls into a sullen silence as he contemplates. "The wood is nearly spent. It is time to sleep, wanderer," he says, before kicking sand onto the hot logs and dousing them in a roil of smoke.[/SECTION]
 
[SECTION]Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud raises his hands in a prayerful gesture, his doubts about the handmaiden Amina allayed. "Perhaps your mistress, my cousin, will have further truths to share in the morning. Peace, handmaiden," says Ajan in his quiet voice, mismatched eyes twinkling like stars of the desert night.[/SECTION]

The camels have bedded down for the night, a cool evening breeze carried from the east making for comfortable camping weather. As Amina returns to the tent she shares with Akilah, the night sky is awash with stars, each holding some promise or secret or forgotten prayer. In time, you each fall asleep, some of you – like Husam – alternating taking watch with Ajan's nomads who at last have fallen silent beneath the glory and majesty of the desert night sky.

GM: This is not a long rest, in terms of the rules.

When it comes to travel, I require you to find a sanctuary (e.g. oasis, amidst an entire desert tribe, settlement, a tower/ruin you fortify) to gain benefits of a long rest.


Day 2 – Decisions on the Trail

Camp is broken down early. The sores from staying in the saddle for so long and the queasiness from the rolling gait of the camels are ever present, though soon you will grow accustomed to them. Resuming your marching order like before, you head toward the Al-Yabki Mountains which grow increasingly clear along the horizon, emerging from the washed out sands of the Badu al-Kabir beyond them.

By late afternoon, however, Ajan's men have begun grumbling almost as much as Nimar al-Solak and his rogues. While you take a shade and water break beneath a small cluster of palms and sandstone ledges, Nimar rides to the front of the caravan to speak with your party clustered in the diffuse shade.

[SECTION]Nimar, his eyes locked in a permanent squint, points to the foothills to the southeast, "Jabir's tomb is somewhere in this region. The treasure you promised you'd help us seek, Vizier." Though his tone remains saccharine and polite, it is clear Nimar is the sort of man who only gives when he knows he can get. "It cannot be far. We are so close, it would be a shame to not search for it. Have you discerned the secrets of the map from the spellbook?" He gazes from Akilah to Salahuddin.[/SECTION]

[SECTION]Ajan frowns as he sucks on a dried sour plum, reclining against a rock as he studies Nimar. He does not trust this bandit. Reducing his voice to a quieter tone, Ajan leans in toward your party, "I have stilled my tongue about traveling to the Badu al-Kabir, but already my men suspect your destination. It is a place forbidden to House Bakr. A haunted place. As long as you do not ask us to go into the Badu al-Kabir with you, however, they will follow. But robbing tombs? Their morale could break. And, is it not forbidden under the Law of the Loregiver? Or at least discouraged?"

Gesturing to the southwest, Ajan insists, "We should make camp at the foot of the mountain pass, enjoy storytelling and music, then cross early tomorrow morning. There is an old qalat (tower) on the other side that we have rested at before. Many nomads and merchants pass through it. We can rest there during the day tomorrow, then venture to Hakim Oasis by night, avoiding the worst of the High Desert's heat of the day. Surely this is preferable to exploring a tomb?"[/SECTION]



GM: Random Encounter Checks
Day 2 17+ is an encounter while traveling with Ajan and his nomads: 3d20 14, 9, 5 No encounters
 
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Matthan

Explorer
OOC: I'm assuming that Husam has no clue about the tomb and I believe the agreement was before his time


Husain bent towards the Vizier and whispered, "Vizier, I trust you to lead us, but if my opinion holds weight, it seems beneath the daughter of our Sheikh to plunder the tombs of the righteously buried. It might be different if the tomb was of a wicked man or contained something necessary for the safety of Tajar, but mere wealth seems beneath your station. Allow these men to rob a tomb if you must, but surely there is no need for us to join in the deed."
 

Thateous

Explorer
"Easy now, I had no intention of ever entering the tomb. I'm merely allowing fallen souls the chance at redemption. What they do with it is their own." Akilah says with mild irritation in her voice.

Sent from my SM-G955U using EN World mobile app
 

Shayuri

Villager
Sensing that the time to speak to the cursed hyena-men may be coming to an end soon, Amina goes to speak quietly to Derafsh as his brother and the others are paying attention to Akilah and Ajan.

"Derafsh," she said quietly. "May I have a word?"
 
Sensing that the time to speak to the cursed hyena-men may be coming to an end soon, Amina goes to speak quietly to Derafsh as his brother and the others are paying attention to Akilah and Ajan.

"Derafsh," she said quietly. "May I have a word?"
[SECTION]Despite Derafsh keeping one eye out for the sly handmaiden, he fails to notice her approaching as he attends to fixing a strap on his camel's saddlebags, his attention equally diverted by the task and making sure none of Ajan's men or his fellow rogues decides to stick a dagger between his ribs. When he hears "Amina" behind him, he pauses and looks down, the second mouth at his occiput moving underneath his keffiyeh ever so subtly, "For a handmaiden, you're light on your feet. What is the Vizier's will?" He inquires in a jaded tone, assuming "Amina" has sought him out to deliver a message from Akilah.[/SECTION]
 

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