5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame

[SECTION]Malsoor listens to the vizier, eyes narrowing at her in the dim light. After several tense heart beats, at last the water bearer places a hand over his heart and inclines his head respectfully. "You are indeed daughter of the siswa. A fool could have asked for much more, but would have received far less. As you have spoken, so shall it be. I swear upon the water of Hakim to come to your aid in the future. As for the other thing..." Looking around as he secures the clasps on his shirt, the water bearer's eyes settle on the worn head of an ancient pick laying upon one of the tables, elevated above the sundry surgical tools and bandages. Rising, he retrieves it and, after a moment's reflection gazing down upon the pitted metal pick-head, he hands it to Akilah, "From my days mining the great ice that once lay beneath Hakim."[/SECTION]
 

Thateous

Explorer
"If you're able to part with the cavernesi, we are headed into the Badu-al-kabir in search of these raiders. Though I doubt a being who could live for so long would be interested in something so petty as revenge, the offer still stands." She turns to leave but pauses. "I am Akilah, Vizer and daughter to Ali al-Hadd, Sheikh of Tajar. It was a pleasure meeting you, water-bearer..." she then resumes her move toward the exit.

Akilah takes the pick and says over her shoulder, "Not sure how much more 'recovering' you need to do but take your time getting up. You're not the only 'cursed' one in the oasis and I'd rather not leave the others alone for too long. I must be going" she say with a short bow of her head.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal looks on with grave eyes, his powerful hands curled around the Holy Man's staff, the runes of his tabar glistening in the low light.

"Enjoy your freedom oh water bearer... and heed the Vizier's words. You have been given a great gift, do not spoil it. For if you do fall to baser instincts, she will not be the only one to act. I may be but a pilgrim, but the Universe is my Temple".

Punctuating his last word, Lal lifted the tabar a few inches and let the shaft strike the ground. The impact of the staff on the stone made a sound that was not particularly loud... but one that resonated, and seemed to carry far beyond what it should have.

With that, he turned and followed the Vizier out.
 
[SECTION]Malsoor rises enough to bow, though he does not relinquish his grip of the bedside, as if he has yet to realize his time of convalescence has truly ended. "I shall remember our meeting, Akilah, daughter of Ali al-Hadd. There is much to be done to repair and fortify the caravanserai... no, I won't be leaving immediately. I have grown to...care...for this place, these people. May our paths cross as Fate wills." He watches Lal Qalandar quietly with an unnerving stare from the dim light of the oil lamp, staring at the dervish even as he and Akilah leave the sick room and make their way back to the main cavern of the carvanserai, where the jann Usqual is finishing his tale...[/SECTION]
 

Matthan

Explorer
"Thank you for the story, noble Usqual. It is the first I have heard of the history of your people. I was always taught to seek out the wisdom of every tale and treat it like treasure. I see two pearls in your tale. Some burdens can only be carried alongside others so the wise man should do as Shakar and seek the strength of many hearts to aid him in his journey. However, Shakar's family speaks to the paralysis of fear. They were afraid to shoulder their part of the burden and remained trapped. A burden not shared becomes shackles to the soul."

Husam adopts an apologetic tone as he continues, "I will do my best to treasure the wisdom you have shared, but I must admit my curiosity, noble Jann, and pray that you will forgive any insult as proceeding from a place of concern. Do you carry the wisdom of this tale? Have you shared your burdens or allowed them to shackle you?"
 
GM: Great roleplaying all around. I still struggle with how to award Inspiration, but let's say that [MENTION=6814006]Thateous[/MENTION] gets it for great negotiation / resisting the vampire's temptation, [MENTION=23]Ancalagon[/MENTION] gets it for extremely in-character quotable wit (that risked antagonizing an ancient vampire), and [MENTION=20005]Matthan[/MENTION] gets it for masterfully discerning the moral of the jann's tale. Feel free to chime in if I miss anything or you all think something merits Inspiration; it's probably the area of DMing where I am most fallible.


[SECTION]Usqual, back still perfectly erect spreads his hand over the rug and the glowing sand hisses and seems to stream back into his hand and disappear. His copper-and-verdant green eyes twinkle at noble Husam seated across from him, bowing his head at the half-orc's wisdom. "Do I carry the wisdom of Shakar?" He echoes, letting the question float in the main cavern of the caravanserai carved from sandstone. "It is like reaching for a stonefruit on a tree that grows slightly further the further one reaches. But I am freshly burdened by the fighting in the Badu al-Kabir against the honor-less jann of Khaldun. The losses my people sustained were great, and those surviving were scattered in the seven directions including Sheikh Ja’afar-al-Din al-Shakari..." For a moment, Usual's voice lingers behind his veil, as if he were going to say more, but then falls into silent reflection. His eyes grow heavy at some memory, like they should be welling with tears, but no tears come. His waters have been stolen.

Thereupon, shortly after Hadia's return, Vizier Akilah and Lal Qalandar rejoin the main room, providing Usqual the moment he needs to regain his characteristically enigmatic and suave demeanor.[/SECTION]
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
OOC: thank you :)

Lal looked grave as he entered the room. He sat upon a cushion and closed his eyes for a moment. As he opened them, a smile blossomed upon his face, and he took the benevolent countenance the others had grown used to.

"Fate smiles upon us. The water bearer is well again. Furthermore, we have learned more about the raiders - They are servants of the Brotherhood of True Flame, and their master is hidden in the Badu al-Kabir. Justice shall be delivered upon these brigands, and peace will return to the Oasis".

... I hope the conversation here were equaly beneficial?


Husam, trained to notice such thing, can see that Lal's Tabar is within easy reach, and that the runes on the blade seem to be glittering a bit more than normal...
 

Matthan

Explorer
Husam notices the subtle hints of disquiet about the monk and shifts slightly to be ready for an attack. He keeps an eye on Lal waiting for a signal just in case. "Master Usqual was just sharing a story with us. You would have enjoyed it. He is an incredible storyteller."
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal's smile widens

"Ah, I am sorry I missed it. I do enjoy a good story. I only caught fragments of the end. Something about fighting in the Badu al-Kabir? Given that is were we are probably headed..."

"I have been remiss - a good story deserves a reward, and so does hospitality. I have pondered what trinket of my homeland I should give you oh Usqual, and I can think of nothing more appropriate than this"


Lal reached into his sack of trinkets, and after a few moment took out a small vial of clear glass, containing water. Despite the waxed cork, over the years some of the water had evaporated, and the vial was only half full. He presented the vial to Usqual and looked at him straight in the eye, and intoned:

"This is the water of the God River. It has many sources, as waters are collected from the endless glaciers of the Mountains of the Moon. Then they are swept countless leagues under fierce jungle, and they meet the sea at the Yellow City. On its banks one always finds temples and shrines. No one has ever counted the shrines, powers and divinities that are followed there - but each has its cult, praying, worshiping and sacrificing on the shores. This water has the power of ice, traces of countless sacrifices, and the essence of divinity. Perhaps it will ease you the pain from your lost waters..."
 

Thateous

Explorer
"Amina, I will be returning to camp. You are free to stay and enjoy the hospitalities of the cavernesi." Akilah says as much to Amina as to the rest of the party.

Sent from my SM-G955U using EN World mobile app
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina rises to her feet, eyes dutifully downcast.

"My place is with you, Honored," is her reply.

To the keepers of the caravansi she adds, "Thank you for your generous hospitality, and your wondrous story. I regret I have nothing suitable to offer in return. Stories of temple training would no doubt make uninteresting tales."
 

Thateous

Explorer
Akilah takes her leave from the cave and stands at the edge of the steep drop off they climbed to get here. She calls out for her carpet and waits patiently. "What were your thoughts on them Amina?" she asks. "There was an edge to your voice when you called to me. Could you sense something was a miss?"
 

Shayuri

Villager
Amina considers her words, then says quietly, "They were too eager to separate us, and make sure we stayed that way. No one thing they did or said was incorrect or suspicious, but there was a larger pattern to what they were doing that felt very wrong. The perfection with which they played their parts was also suspicious. It had a...practiced feel to it."

She lifted her eyes to stare unblinking at Akilah.

"If it pleases you to say, what was amiss?"
 

Thateous

Explorer
As the carpet arrives Akilah step onto it and offers a hand to Amina. Once they are on there way she speaks, "Makes sense when you realize the secret they keep. Turns out the water-bearer is an enlightened Vampire of old that has been looking after them for quite some time. I managed to heal him of his wounds and in return I may call upon him when we need him. This," she says raising the pickaxe, "Is an item I shall use to keep an eye on him..." she allows the sentence to trail off as they arrive at the camp.
 

Matthan

Explorer
Husam offers a bow. "Thank you for your hospitality. It is probably time for the rest of us to return as well." He turns towards Usqual, "I greatly enjoyed your story, sir. I hope that we will meet again and I pray that Fate brings you the opportunity to reclaim your stolen waters." Husam turns towards the others to give each an opportunity to excuse themselves as well. However, he makes sure to be the last one to leave.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal gets up with the others and bowed as well. He keeped an eye on Usqual to see how he reacted to the gift.

Sensing that Husam wished to guard the rear however, he yielded him that honor.
 
GM: Encounter Checks (18+)
Day 5 encounter checks (18+): 3d20 = 1, 6, 3 no encounters
Day 6 encounter checks (18+): 3d20 = 4, 17, 17 near-encounter
What is the near encounter? high desert encounter: 2d10 19 genie(s)


Days 5 & 6 - Parting Ways & Toward Khaldun



It is said the al-Badia of the High Desert have over a dozen names for wind. During your night camped at the base of the escarpment at Hakim Oasis, you are graced by “the wind that foretells”, a soothing gentle wind that promises warmer temperatures in the morning, the kind of wind that some seers believe brings prophetic dreams. Beneath the stars, embraced by the wind, you listen to Akilah’s quiet tale of the water-bearer, actually an ancient vampire brought to the Enlightenment, “caring” for the caravanserai including Hadia and her two sons. There are wonders beneath heaven, and appearances may be deceiving.

[SECTION]Plans are drawn up for the next day with Ajan bin Najon al-Yaqud, your guide who parts ways with you.”East by southeast. Follow the hard sand staying to the eastern edge of the dune. That will take you to the wadi (dry riverbed), and from there you’ll have a full day’s travel before you reach Khaldun. May Fate smile upon you, for the Badu al-Kabir surely will not.” Typical parting words from Akilah’s superstitious cousin.[/SECTION]

[SECTION] It is early in the morning, as hues of dark blue still blanket the oasis when the jann Usqual al-Shakari finds Lal Qalandar contemplating upon a rock. ”Qalandar,” he says quietly, red veil about his face, yet his voice carrying like a whisper on the wind. ”It is here I part ways, as I have the sad duty to return to the court of Amir Boulladin to report what has befallen my tribe. Perhaps your gift of water from the God River will cause our paths to cross again at your Yellow City, and perhaps there I will find the waters the Khaldunis have stolen from me.” Drawing a small wrapped bundle from the folds of his aba (robe), Usqual hands Lal a jagged shard of topaz containing a mote of faint shifting light. ”A gift for you, from my travels. When held aloft it will provide you protection from drying sirocco winds. It won’t help you against monsters or traitors, however,” he gestures to the pyrohydra corpse in the distance, ”so keep your axe sharp.”[/section]

The werehyena rogues break camp early, Nimar al-Solak having committed to do his part to guide your party through the hazards of the Badu al-Kabir. Few words need to be spoken in those early hours. All know your destination: Khaldun, an oasis settlement of “wicked” jann with strange magic. They perhaps could offer information on the Brotherhood or a safe resting place in the Badu al-Kabir.

[SBLOCK=Marching Order]
[/SBLOCK]

Setting forth, the sway of the camels becomes familiar for those of your on camelback. The steeds ridden by Husam and Harun at the lead begin to whinny and whicker in complaint at the heat. There are no more caravan trails to follow as you leave Hakim Oasis and its mystery behind you. A full day of travel and at last you reach the dry riverbed, again camping beneath the stars of a clear night, your party smaller and quieter now that Ajan’s men no longer ride with you.

The morning of the sixth day brings a new kind of wind, whispering above your heads as you use the dry riverbed to speed your travel and gain a bit of protection from the winds. Harun’s mechanical bird companion Ahseem twitters idly as it scouts ahead of you a few hundred yards, its whirring presence joining the background noises of your caravan. Day bleeds into the midnight blues of night once more, and silhouetted on the horizon you can make out the ancient basalt pillars surrounding Khaldun that the jann Usqual spoke of… leaving you with the question of whether to push your weary bodies another hour or so and approach at night, or to camp and approach fresh in the morning…

[SECTION]”Al-Aeshma,” mentions Sinjin later in the day, his demeanor having grown steadily more sullen and cautious with the unusual winds. Exchanging a glance with Salahuddin, he explains as you survey the pillars of Khaldun from the edge of the dry riverbed. ”The wild wind that whispers in the palms. Al-Aeshma. It is a dark portent of genie-kind… of sand that beguiles the senses… be on your guard, oh traveling companions, for we are far from the cities of your kind.”[/SECTION]



[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]The term “Al-Aeshma” has a double meaning to sha’ir, for it also refers to wicked genies of the wastes – djinn who refused to grant wishes, who refused to acknowledge the Enlightened Faith, and were exiled to the Material Plane where they haunt the inhospitable deserts, unforgiven for eternity.[/SBLOCK]

[SBLOCK=Travel Map]
[/SBLOCK]
 
Last edited:

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Lal thought about Usqual's parting words. He hoped the Jinn wouldn't travel to the Yellow City. There were no Jinns in his homeland, but he could imagine many being eager to ensnare their kind... The returning gift was... ambiguous. But perhaps, one day, useful. As far as the axe remaining sharp... the dwarven runes would ensure it. He suspected it would keep shedding blood long after his bones had turned to dust.

Lal looked thoughtfully at the pillars in the distance. Hadn't there been mention of Irem, the lost city of pillars? A place where reality was... slippery.

"I don't know the winds as well as Sinjin does... but I don't think we should be approaching this place at night."
 

Shayuri

Villager
"If trouble comes on an ill-wind, surely we'd be better facing it at our destination rather than a makeshift camp in the middle of the desert," Amina points out.
 

Advertisement

Top