5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame

Salahuddin watched Amina and Kaniel swear their oaths. The difference between their actions could not have been more different. One was simple much like the woman who said the words. The other was elaborate and flowing like the man himself. When the Sheikh stepped in front of Salahuddin the man was prepared to say what was needed to appease the man. He took the blade in his hand preparing to speak the oath. As the Sheikh spoke of serving the Enlightened Throne above all others, even the Great Caliph's airy throne Salahuddin glanced up. The man did not understand what he had just asked. Salahuddin's oath to his patron went beyond words. It was the source of his power. It was seared into his bones and the breath of his patron filled his lungs and let him speak words of power and binding.

The pause extended much longer than was comfortable. Would the Great Caliph be angered if he spoke the words even if in his heart he would never put mortals above his immortal will. His heart beat in his chest unsure. Then a cool breeze blew through the tent ruffling the flaps and stirring Salahuddin's robes. He had his answer. This oath was only a mortal oath. An oath to kings and sheikhs could not overwite the will of his patron. He thanked the winds.

"I will do what I can. On my life I will serve the enlightened throne above all mortal powers."

Salahuddin places his lips on the blade. Salahuddin ignores the viziers theatrics. Salahuddin stood and moved back with the others.
 
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Markets of Tajar



With vows sworn and Sheikh Ali's blessing, you leave his court for the time being as the Sheikh retires to his family life. Threading through the marble pillars and past soldiers resting in the garden over games of chess and checkers, you feel the warm salt breeze of Tajar's night on your faces. Not only is Tajar Gateway to the High Desert, but also it is Gateway to the Golden Gulf. A seasoned trader's paradise and a novice's nightmare. It does not take long to reach the markets, which extend from the city center like a tangled spider web, giving you plenty of time to converse with one another...

Local merchants, many only a few generations removed from their al-Badia roots, are the first you encounter, hawking fine metalwork and gem-studded scimitars, spices ranging from cloves to paprika, and fine horses and camels. Then goods from neighboring cities - pearls, coral, frankincense, and myrrh from Gana, flowing abas of crimson silk and silver thread from across the Golden Gulf. Even though it is night, merchants clamor and haggle while berating their competition. "If it is not available in Tajar," goes the saying, "it is not available."

The names given to you by the Sheikh are well known and easy enough to track down by asking a few traders...

Jina the Bold, who runs a firra (firm) dealing in antiquities with many tribes of the High Desert, can be found by the wharf-side auction house.

Suelasta the Magnificent, who maintains a menagerie of wondrous creatures from across the land, can be found in his manor along Al-Abib River.

Hamsar the Swift, who operates funerary caravans and mourners for the noble families of Tajar, can usually be found at the southern edge of the markets at his funerary parlor. Though he is spending this evening in prayer at the Mosque of Jisan.

GM: I decided to frame a new scene because I find it helps keep things moving, especially in PbP format. Since it seemed like you wanted to head to the markets, that's what I went for! Of course, if anyone objects, just let me know and I can tweak things.

Also [MENTION=6814006]Thateous[/MENTION] or [MENTION=6866331]Foxbytes[/MENTION] the Sheikh will have given one of you a paper writ confirming that your party has 47,000 gp backed up by the Grand Caliph's throne. While it's likely you'll want to save some money for when/if you reach Qaybar (lots of cool stuff to trade for there!), the paper writ is good with any merchants in Tajar and allows you to purchase in Tajar tax-free (i.e. using the PHB / Basic Rules prices). This is intended to be "party gold", but the fact-of-the matter is that one of you (you'll need to choose or roll off for it) holds the writ in her name. Anything not spent in Tajar can be made available in bars of gold and silver before you leave on your caravan.

EDIT: I added a "party treasure" section to the first post as well. Anything not claimed by PCs I'll try to put here.

Also, spellcasters! Now is a good time to make sure you have priced/rare components for any of your spells that call for them.
 
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Jago

Villager
~ What a wondrous city.

Qudra could not compare, not even in the slightest: though her walls were higher, the sights, smells, and sounds of Tajar marked her as the true lap of luxury. Kaniel considered that when he received this assignment, General Adun Abd al-Amin of Qudra was not entirely pleased that a 'backwards camel-rider' such as Sheikh Ali Al-Hadd was in charge of one of the richest cities of The Pearl. There was only the smallest bit of satisfaction to be gained from the Al-Hadhar's ire, but politeness dictated that Kaniel say nothing to such a derogatory remark.

Instead, he walked these beauteous streets with newfound companions, regarding them all. So very different, in so many ways, and the Half-Orc was not one for silence.

" Amina, it must have been quite the exciting journey across The Golden Gulf," he observed, marking the most likely means she arrived here from Huzuz, " From what I have heard, there appears to be issues with Corsairs and this Brotherhood along the waters: the siblings, Ihsan and Nireen, told us that their sorcerers of the Sea were having trouble sailing as of late. I trust that your voyage was not accosted by such brigands?"

She had been a quiet one, this Handmaiden. Though perhaps that was just her way, matching the Vizier she had been called to serve.

" And you, Salahuddin; I imagine your travel here was safe as well?" he asked of the sha'ir, " You seem to be more familiar with our enemies than I: I certainly hope they did not trouble you on the way to Tajar? It would be most disconcerting if not only were the Sea Mages set upon by these fiery outlaws, but the Djinn as well."

Kaniel had quite a bit of respect for the Djinn. Unlike their Efreet counterparts who tended to clash with Al-Badia patrols, the Djinn could prove to be far more helpful. There were many stories of a Rider being returned home after having been thought lost to a powerful sandstorm, the Bedouin telling of how an unseen force had carved a path through the tearing gale for him. For this, Salahuddin had his respect as well, for a consort of the Djinn was a blessed man, or so House Nasr said.


They passed by market stalls and their proprietors, all attempting to sell their wares with the utmost of aplomb.

" The sharpest blades! Swords fit for The Valiant Half-Orc! The sharpest edge in all of Zakhara!" cried one, Kaniel merely giving a simple nod and trying to walk past as another shot out in front of Akilah and Najiyah, holding aloft necklaces, pendants, earrings, and anything else that would fit in his hands to dangle and glisten in the light.

" Sapphires! Diamonds! Rubies! Radiant pearls for such lovely pearls as yourselves!" he flattered, the Elf giving his best smile, " Or a lovely tiara for your friend, perhaps? Yes?"

He attempted to place a heavy, garish-looking crown upon the veil of Amina, to which Kaniel gently used his larger hand to catch the salesman's wrist, easing it back down.

" You are far too kind, sadayqaa, but perhaps when we are ready to purchase such fine ornamentations, we shall, aywa?"

The Elf noted the facial tattoos and nodded slowly, keeping his smile but turning his attention towards other potential customers.

Pleased, the journey through the stalls continued, Kaniel catching a rather simple stand along the way: it seemed to mostly have ... 'junk' would be impolite, but it would take a ... special taste, to appreciate the construction of such contraptions, toys, and devices. The salesperson, a squat man with a rather eccentric energy, tried desperately to pass these frauds along, always with an excuse for why something did not work, why something fell apart, though one object in particular stood out: An Oil Lamp. Simple brass in its construction, weathered a bit but still gleaming as though she had just been shaped today. No ornamentation, nothing to mark these as another curio that the stall's owner tried to pass off. And yet, he did not try to sell this, the one item that may have been of some value. A curious oddity in a collection of oddities.

Ah well. A story for another Zakharan night.

" It seems as though we attract quite a bit of attention here," Kaniel chuckled once they had made their way through the worst of the crowds, " You will have to forgive my curtness: I am ... not accustomed to such scrutiny from anything other than a Mamluk agha. Though I am sure our Viziers would say otherwise."

He smiled softly at Akilah, inclining his head a touch.

" Unfortunately the business in the market square kept our formal introductions short, but I wanted to pass along the blessings of The Imam of The Open Mosque; she has heard of your dedication towards The Faith, and would wish one day that you may preach within Qudra, if The Gods would bless our city in such a way. Hakiyah knows that our Walls could use such a message, from time to time."

While every true Mamluk venerated Vataqatal, that ancient God of War, Kaniel was far more in-tune with the accepted deities of The Enlightened Faith, in no small part due to his upbringing around The Desert Mosque. It was an intrinsic part of who he was, and no amount of drill, training, and propaganda could take away his heart.

However, he had almost lost his heart, his life, everything, were it not for ...

" Najiyah."

The name was breathed as much as it was said: for years, Kaniel had assumed his vision in The High Desert to be naught more than Najm's messenger, though she looked more as though an avatar of Selan. However, her temperament in just the short time he had known her showed that she had little in common with the personality of such a traditionalist goddess: the Sorceress Vizier was mercurial, passionate, and charming with zeal rather than reserved grace.

" I am glad the Sheikh (Praise be Unto Him) has allowed you to accompany us as well - I cannot believe anyone would stand to accuse you - you! - Of the travesties this Brotherhood of Flame has wrought. By my life, I shall help you clear this unseemly charge."

A pause. A thought that brought a smile, raising his beard to better reveal the tusks that jutted from his lower jaw.

" Though considering your talent for calming a Sea Mage of his storm this morning, I warrant it is this servant that shall be needing your aid when the gift of words is needed."

His lip still bore the small nick from the Sheikh's blade, but there was a small mark of pride in that: Kaniel had heard stories of foreign soldiers, such as himself, who swore oaths and then were struck with an open palm, that the pain would remind them of their bond. Pain, to the Mamluk, was not to be shied away from: it was a reminder that you were alive, still duty-bound, still able to fight.

Before they could fight, however, they needed to find their foes.

" 'Asidqaya," he addressed them all, " This humble servant would suggest we meet with Jina The Bold first: if it is true that she deals with Al-Badia within the High Desert, I ..."

What have you to be ashamed of? he admonished himself when his tongue stopped moving. He quickly recovered.

" I know of these Tribes: they roam far, and see much. Perhaps Jina has traded stories with them, and through that we may have a better view of painting before us." ~
 
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Shayuri

Villager
" Amina, it must have been quite the exciting journey across The Golden Gulf," he observed, marking the most likely means she arrived here from Huzuz, " From what he have heard, there appears to be issues with Corsairs and this Brotherhood along the waters: the siblings, Ihsan and Nireen, told us that their sorcerers of the Sea were having trouble sailing as of late. I trust that your voyage was not accosted by such brigands?"

Amina nodded her head at Kaniel's inquiry. "I have heard of dangers on the sea," she replies in her quiet voice, "But my own journey was untroubled by such things. That we spent most of a day becalmed was the worst of it, Hakiyah be praised. I saw some whales as well, farther out to sea."

The garrulous mamluk was already turning to others in the group, so she did not press the conversation further. There was plenty to occupy her attention in the market square. She was no wide-eyed girl on her first time in a big city, but the merchants knew how to set a spectacle. The colors and patterns and fine goods were enough to tempt even the pious.

Even so, Ankabut did not appreciate having a tiara set upon her head. The timely intervention of Kamiel spared her the awkward choice between suffering the indignity or potentially causing a scene. She gave the warrior a nod of gratitude.

His invitation to Akilah to preach in Qudra caught her attention as well, and she watched the Vizier's reaction carefully. If she took him up on that offer, it would simplify some of her own work considerably. Perhaps later she could bring it up again and see what Akilah thought of the idea.
 

Foxbytes

Villager
OOC:
Najiyah shared a love for the markets with her adoptive parents, where every kiosk was a stage and every merchant the star of their own performance. In the true fashion of the Halfling culture, she fell into the colorful dance of boisterous street trade with effortless maneuvering, touching and sampling every ware in the blink of an eye while never once falling behind the pace of the group. Quite the opposite, it was frequently more difficult for her escorts to keep up with her.

But she was not as distracted or out of earshot as she rightly appeared to be; keenly aware of her surroundings at all time as was amde evident when she snagged a young pickpocket's childish hand from another man's purse behind her, even while her eyes were locked onto the odd stone nestled within a leather pouch held aloft before her.

She haggled with the merchant with the speed of an auctioneer, but in the end she declined the Stone of Sir Nord Strom, the entire exchange having been a swift distraction from the true prize that was her target: a grouping of smoky quartz crystals, for an absurd bargain. Working her nimble charm as a magician might his hands, she left a befuddled merchant scratching his head and wondering what had just happened.

Her satisfied smirk lifted into a quizzical expression as she heard her name mentioned, and she turned to face Kaniel.

" I am glad the Sheikh (Praise be Unto Him) has allowed you to accompany us as well - I cannot believe anyone would stand to accuse you - you! - Of the travesties this Brotherhood of Flame has wrought. By my life, I shall help you clear this unseemly charge. Though considering your talent for calming a Sea Mage of his storm this morning, I warrant it is this servant that shall be needing your aid when the gift of words is needed."
Her black eyes darkened and she pressed her lips more firmly together with a slight shake of her head. "Do not judge the accusers too harshly my friend, their conclusions are not so outlandish when my position and power are so widely known. I am not so concerned for myself as I am for the reputation of the Sheikh (May The Sands Protect His Steps). Akilah's wise countenance should go a long way in remediation, but I am not the only one with gifts...nor are we lacking for gilded tongues around here."

She sent the half-orc a sly, but admiring look.

" 'Asidqaya," this humble servant would suggest we meet with Jina The Bold first: if it is true that she deals with Al-Badia within the High Desert, I...I know of these Tribes: they roam far, and see much. Perhaps Jina has traded stories with them, and through that we may have a better view of painting before us."
"I have no objection to the order in which we meet with the tradesmen, but I caution against lingering too long before meeting with Suelasta, or we'll find ourselves bartering over a half-starved mule and an ornery packrabbit. Quickly, now..."

Picking a path easily through the crowds, as though she herself were ethereal in the physical world, Najiyah disappeared down a narrow tapestry-filled alley only to emerge from a cloud of scarves to a salt-filled gust of wind and the cry of sea birds. Somehow, she knew how to cut past the byways to lead them unerringly to the wharf-side auction house, where a brightly-painted Jina, whom must have had dwarf-blood in her, was easily recognizable.
 
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Thateous

Explorer
Akilah makes her way through the busy streets of Tajar with a certain determination in her stride. Kaniel's adoration for her sister was obvious, so she playfully nudged at Najiyah and shot her a sly grin.

When Kaniel suggests that Akilah preach within Qudra she is taken aback by the idea. "Preaching is not among the services i normally provide, however if our travels take us near Qudra, and time permits, I would be honered to." As she speaks Akilah glances over her shoulder occasionally making eye contact with Kaniel between watching her step.  "As for visiting Jina," she paused as she pushed past the scarves of a merchant, apologizing for the disturbance of his wares, "We are here."

OOC: I can frame new scenes too :p. As for the writ, whoever can rp it in first can keep it. Not sure if we want to do any trade for profit when we make our way to Qaybar... but it's a plan I'm ok with.


Sent from my SM-G935P using EN World mobile app
 
By night, the markets of Tajar take on a less savory character, for the prying eyes of the Sheikh's market inspectors and his "pet hakima" are usually not to be seen. Indentured servants and slaves from Akota, live scorpions, and dwarven-made koumiss (fermented mare's milk) so strong it could fell an ogre. Nowhere is this more noticeable than at the lively auction houses burning oil lamps until the dawn. Swarthy sailors rub shoulders with shrewd-eyed nomads and veiled thieves trying to outbid one another without paying too much.

The animated auctioneer sings praises to the bounty of the gods in between taking bids on a rainbow obsidian skull, with betting pushing above 100 dinar (gp).

A proud-cheeked raven-haired al-Hadhar (city-dweller) woman watches the auction from the rear close to the entrance so she has a better vantage point of the bidders. She slices a pear with a jambiya, taking the slices from the blade, when she notices you pointed her way by one of the doormen. Already, whispers are flying that Vizier Akilah is here to raid the auction house.

[SECTION]Pushing off the wall, the woman cleans her jambiya, smirking at your approach. "Should I be flattered that the good Sheikh sends not one of his viziers but two? Since you don't have a retinue of sweaty guards with you, I'll presume this is a business visit?" Jina the Bold sheathes her jambiya, and gestures politely to a table with a pitcher of palm wine and several ceramic cups. One of her men, a man with tattoos of a corsair, comes over to fill the cups during which time Jina falls silent. Once he is gone she continues. "It's information you're after? If you were here to bid, the good viziers would be better disguised. So it must be information..."

Glancing at Kaniel's mamluk facial tattoos, she purses her lips. "You're setting forth to face these raiders, I take it? I've crossed their paths once or twice. Rather, I should say, they crossed mine. It did not go well. For them." She winks at Salahuddin as she takes a sip of palm wine. "However, I did lose several wagons of antiquities that set back my firra (firm) by months. Old elven antiquities too, from before the time of the Loregiver and First Caliph. Very valuable to the right collector."[/SECTION]
 
Sinjin his valet walked next to Salahuddin. The crowds parted for the two of them. All the merchants and hawkers fell back from the giant blue skinned genie. The spenders being shown around him seemed to not phase the Sha'ir. Tajar was a beautiful city but Salahuddin had grown up in the grand Citadel of Ice and Steel. No mortal city could compare to the floating wonders of the city of the Djinn. Salahuddin's attention turned to Kaniel when he asked of his journey here.

"I was unmolested on my journey. Two travelers with no supplies tend to be ignored by bandits and raiders. Plus Sinjin deters most mortal men from bothering me." Salahuddin pausing at the comment about the enemy. "I only know what I do through the grace of the Great Caliph. My Gen gathered the information for me and he would not lie. The thing he did not hear was why. It is not much but it points us in a direction."

Salahuddin continues to walk in quiet contemplation. As they move through the market he stops occasionally to purchase this or that. He deftly bargains for a pearl from the same shop Najiyah picked up the quartz crystals. He stops and picks up a Horned Owl feather from another merchant. Salahuddin spends several minutes picking through a tinkerers wagon. When he is done he has a small pouch filled with various components to make something. The others have little idea what they could be used for but Salahuddin seems incredibly pleased with the purchase. He picks up several more components for his craft.

As they step into the auction house Salahuddin sends Easifa into the crowd. The Gen will ferret out any juicy gossip if any is here. He turns and looks towards Jina. The woman quickly deduced why the group had payed her establishment a visit. Luckily she seemed willing to talk. Salahuddin listened as she described the raids and what they stole. He accepts the glass from Jina's man and takes a sip.

He extends a hand to the woman. "Jina, Salahuddin Ibn Hamid Al-Qadibi. It is a pleasure to meet you."

"These stolen goods, I assume you kept an inventory of the lost goods. If you would be so inclined we would like to see them?"
 
[SECTION]Jina murmurs in the affirmative at Salahuddin's question, offering a hand like a princess expecting her hand to be kissed. She arches a brow at him in mild intrigue or amusement. "Naturally. I keep records of every expense and item on my caravans. It would be a simple matter, were it not for my need to make up for lost profits. Sadly, with the Sheikh's strict laws forbidding some of my...more colorful...crew from coming to shore, it impedes my ability to make up those losses." Eyes darkened with kohl, she exchanges a meaningful look with Salahuddin and then Akilah.

"If only great Hakiyah saw fit to grant the Thursday night dock guards the truth that only family life and a quiet night around the hearth can provide." Her insinuation could not be any more obvious; she is well named 'the Bold.' "Why it would be like roasting two birds with one coal."[/SECTION]

GM: Jina is willing to share the information, but she wants something in return. If what she's asking for is unacceptable, you might propose something else based on what you know about her and her operations. No roll needed for that, just roleplaying.

Alternately, you might interact with her to get a sense of something else she could want with a Wisdom (Insight) check.

Or you might try to offer a compromise in what she's asking for with a Charisma (Persuasion) check.

Or you might threaten to reveal information about her activities or threaten to draw attention to her activities with a Charisma (Intimidation) check.
 
Bidding on the rainbow obsidian skull rises above 200 dinars (gp) amidst the clamor of men who've indulged in too much palm wine. Several guards poorly attempting to blend in with the rest, keep an eye on your dealings with their mistress, Jina the Bold.

GM: Dang [MENTION=6814006]Thateous[/MENTION], kick it off with a natural 20! :cool:


[SBLOCK=Akilah]Having seen Jina the Bold slicing a pear and drinking palm wine is enough to lay bear the trader's secrets...some of them at least...to Akilah. She is clearly high-born, judging from her haughty air with Salahuddin, the way she seems to look down on the men serving her, and how she seems to hold the simple ceramic cup with an air of wistfulness for finer things. Moreover, her way of flaunting her barely legal enterprise almost seems exaggerated to Akilah's eyes, as if she were reacting to a conservative or moralist household; it wouldn't be surprising if the entire image of "Jina the Bold" disguised a runaway from the Pantheist League. Akilah suspects that keeping this secret is of utmost importance to Jina, for it might ruin her carefully constructed reputation as a hard-dealing merchant-rogue.[/SBLOCK]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Easifa plays with a discarded date pit, which floats through the air moving like a fly - who would be the wiser at a place like this? He (?) conveys back what he has overhead to his master telepathically: One man whispers the skull is cursed as told to him by a trader from Qaybar, another that it is a token left behind by jann a century ago as told to him by his great grandfather. And a third man whispers that the best item of the auction is yet to come – Akdam's Traveling Spellbook.[/SBLOCK]
 

Thateous

Explorer
"Jina the Bold," Akilah begins, taking a seat next to Jina and as she speaks."You should be more careful around a Hakima. It is with little effort we see right through the veil lies weaved be men... and women." She finishes while maintaining eye contact as she raises a hand turning down the wine.

Sent from my SM-G935P using EN World mobile app
 
Salahuddin smiles at Jina. She was definitely living up to her name. Openly asking the viziers to look the other way as she flaunted the law. But the viziers would need to speak to that. Salahuddin had no power over the docks or the Sheikhs men. Salahuddin listens to Easifa as the Gen telepathically tells him what he has heard. The book peeks his interest and he try's to think if he has heard of it before. As he thinks he takes a sip of his wine.

"Jina my desert flower. I am no Cleric or Imam. I doubt the dock guards would listen to me on the will of Hakiyah."

He smiles at the woman.

"I am just a humble Sha'ir. Now let us speak of things that I can do for you."

[sblock=Action]Persuasion to get Jina to open up.: 1d20+9 23
Arcana check on spellbook: 1d20+5 23 [/sblock]
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina sank down behind and to the right of Akilah, sitting on her knees. A little trick that made it easier to pop up to standing more quickly. Servants did that a lot, but they were far from the only ones. Similarly, sitting behind Akilah was expected of a handmaid and assistant, but it also kept her from the Hakima's sight, which was good. She was perceptive. Ankabut would need a plan ready for when, not if, her disguise was penetrated.
 
[SECTION]The unnerving and prescient stare from the vizier cut to the quick. It was Jina the Bold who normally was the one to provoke or unbalance during negotiations, but with a simple gesture the tables were so profoundly overturned. Her eyes dart around the auction house briefly, realizing how much she has to lose, before smiling demurely at Akilah. "Forgive my humor. Too much time at sea and I've picked up the dark humor of the corsairs." Her eyes dart back up searchingly to Akilah's as she bows her head slightly. She knows.

Sucking her lip, Jina raises her brow at Salahuddin. Desert flower? Oh, these two made a dangerous pair. "Humble? And a sha'ir? Then you are twice as rare. What I'd intended to ask..." she glances to Akilah again, making sure she's not asking too much for the information she will share. A subtle shake or nod of the vizier's head would suffice. "...was if you would do me the favor of looking into the House of Uqab (the Vulture)? While I trade with many desert tribes, these outcasts have been scavenging for antiquities at many of the sites I've visited, working at cross-purposes to my own men. The odds are too slim for it to be chance."

After a moment, Jina's manservant comes bear a leather-bound ledger. Taking it from him, the raven-haired merchant flips the pages with a knit brow. "Here it is, an itemized list of what was lost to the raiders..."

What is immediately striking about the list, besides that nearly 60,000 dinars (gp) worth of art objects were taken, is there are two references to urns marked with old Elvish script reading akashta bariyat.[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Those speaking Elvish]Akashta bariyat roughly translates to “shield creature” or "created guardian."[/SBLOCK]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Akdam was a merchant-mage of Zakhara famous for collecting his life's work researching the magic of neighboring lands; however, a war that took place in Qadib centuries ago resulted in much of his collection being looted or burned. Their are persistent rumors, however, that his "traveling spellbook" escaped with his apprentice. It was rumored to be a collection of spells used while on the trail to facilitate travel...spells to summon servants unseen and phantasmal horses, protect one's wares from thieves, not to mention fit a shepherd's crook into an aba's (robe's) pocket.[/SBLOCK]
 

Jago

Villager
~ Kaniel did not trust this woman. He did not trust this place: it reminded him of the slave markets in Qudra, where he had seen many like himself stand upon the block and be auctioned off. Pieces of meat to be traded and sold at a whim. He was lucky: the Mamluk had taken him, and thus given him status, a power that no other man may touch.

The others ... While a Slave was expected to be treated well by his master, Chains were still Chains, even if the hand holding them was gentle.

However, Jina spoke of The Vultures, and this piqued Kaniel's curiosity. This Tribe was known to him. All the Tribes of the High Desert were, but the poor Uqab did not have the reputation his proud House of Nasr did. Eagles soared above such scavengers, but that was where he took conflict with Jina's assessment.

" You consider House Uqab to have robbed you?" he finally spoke up, narrowing his yellow eyes at the smuggler, " They live up to their name: Vultures. Rare is it that we see them attack to secure their prize, unless the prey was already weakened to begin with. They must have outnumbered your men greatly, or your men must have had some disadvantage to them, for the Uqab to be so bold."

He let the statement hang in the air: The Hakima already seemed to have a handle on the woman, and Salahuddin was trying a, er, different approach, but he wanted them to have all the information at the very least.

[sblock=Kaniel's Insight]Our Mamluk tries to discern if Jina is giving the entire story: [roll0][/sblock]
 
[SECTION]"No, House Uqab never would dare attack one of my caravans," Jina the Bold says with a thinly restrained imperious air. "Even these raiders, whoever they are, didn't make off with all the goods they'd sought once my men rallied." Keeping one eye on Akilah, lest her secret be at risk of revelation, Jina taps her ledger. "But the Uqab have made appearances at many of the sites where my men reappropriate antiquities. Several times the Vultures have beaten us by only a day or two..."[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Kaniel]Jina the Bold seems like the type who'd have several stories going on concurrently, and "truth" might be a matter of degree and audience. However, she's difficult to get a read on, artfully giving just enough information without revealing her entire hand. Fortunately, she hasn't yet caught on that Kaniel is scrutinizing her reaction.[/SBLOCK]
 

Foxbytes

Villager
Najiyah's head was not entirely as focused on the task at hand as it should have been. The undercurrents that passed between Jina and Salahuddin as they tried to outplay one another went unnoticed by the sorceress, though she should have recognized it right away. It was difficult for her to listen to what wasn't being said while her mind kept wandering to that nudge Akilah had given her with a knowing look, and Najiyah found herself stealing glances at Kaniel and wondering what her insightful sister Vizier had intuited. The implication had been clear enough.

To complicate matters further, something kept flicking at the back of her mind during moments just before Salahuddin spoke. It was very...distracting. More than that, it made Najiyah distinctly uneasy, as though she were barely missing something of great importance on the edge of her peripheral.

Therefore, it was not until Jina began listing the stolen artifacts that Najiyah's clouded mind finally tuned in to her present surroundings. The urns held a note of familiarity, and she raised her knuckle to press against her lip while recalling what stories she had heard of them.

OOC: Arcana Check: 1D20+4 = [8]+4 = 12
- to see if the urns have a magical background.
History Check: 1D20 = [10] = 10
- to recall any stories regarding these urns
 
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[SBLOCK=Najiyah]While Najiyah doesn't speak Elvish or know any lore specific to these particular urns, she did run across many treasure-hunters and charlatans growing up giving fire shows on the streets of Tajar. Ceramic urns marked with strange runes - like those lost by Jina the Bold - are often involved in binding elemental spirits...particularly those associated with the earth.[/SBLOCK]
 

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