5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]A study of all flying feathered things was made mandatory during Salahuddin's upbringing in the court of Calipha Fatima ibn Zaida. Cockatrice feathers are prized by mages for fabricating quills with which to pen spell scrolls. Some djinn and wind sorcerers are even known to seek unhatched cockatrice eggs to raise them as guardian pets.

Salahuddin can thank his father's penchant for practicing his lectures for the University of Sand Mages in front of the mirror for his knowledge of the roper. Ropers are unique because their internal anatomy holds myriad uses for an intrepid alchemist. The glue emitted by its tendrils can be used to create sovereign glue, while its digestive acid is so potent it must be stored in platinum vessels and can be used to create universal solvent. Moreover, a gizzard-like organ within the roper may accumulate undigested gems or platinum pieces.[/SBLOCK]

[SECTION]Nodding with no small bit of pride, Suelasta echoes as his fat fingers roll against his fur-lined jacket and he rises up on his toes momentarily, "Indeed. House Asad. Yes, in the very lands of The Lion, by foul raiders dressed in black as dark as the midnight sky and claws like iron swords."

It is only after he is well on his way to embellishing the tale that Suelasta picks up on Kaniel's incredulous tone and the implications thereof. "Well, it wasn't quite in the heart of Jamal Oasis, but on the southwestern route leaving those lands, at the approach of the Range of Marching Camels. True, his most auspicious host Sheikh Najib bin Kamal had lent my caravan several of his men to see us safely from his lands..." Suelasta clears his throat and pads a bit of sweat from his forehead with a kerchief. "Transporting such dangerous beasts – dangerous only in that they were yet untamed mind you – well, the Sheikh was quite adamant we not tarry in his lands. To have an accident while his guests were under the bond of salt would have broken his lion-like heart, I am quite certain. And it being the season for sandstorms, making haste was likewise in our favor."

Dabbing perspiration from his cheeks, Suelasta exclaims, "It's an unseasonably hot night isn't it?"[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Kaniel]Suelasta's description of how the Sheikh of House Asad might act while having a guest like Suelasta (and several dangerous beasts) under the bond of salt strikes Kaniel as quite true to al-Badia customs. Guest hospitality didn't mean all reason left the window, after all. While nothing Suelasta says is incriminating, in fact quite the opposite, his demeanor nevertheless is of a nervous man.[/SBLOCK]
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With a whisper of movement, Amina puts an arm around the scout's neck and shoulder from behind. Her grip is not terribly strong, but the pinprick the man feels at his back is incentive not to struggle too hard.

She speaks quietly, almost in his ear. "If this blade breaks your skin even a little, you are dead."

After pausing a moment to give him a chance to react...and either accept his circumstance or invite disaster...she says, "You won't be seeing the men who sent you again, but you have a choice as to why. Tell me where they lie in wait, and they will not be there when you return to them. Speak anything else, or say nothing, and they will be waiting for you still long after I have departed."

Stiffening under Amina's grasp, the wiry man slowly eases his hand away from its habitual resting place on the hilt of a jambiya. Taking wheezing breaths, he is silent for longer than is wise, but at last makes the decision to speak, "They wait at the Rawun's Well near the western gate." He is good at following directions, offering no more information than was asked.


~ " I ... See." Kaniel breathed softly, his hackles lowering a bit, " Please forgive my impertinence if any was given: the very idea of what these Raiders are doing is enough to even make Selan, The Kind Goddess, forget her manners from time to time."

Kaniel mused on what the menagerie master had said. All of his explanations were easy enough to swallow: The Bond of Salt, the ritual that preserved hospitality between host and guest, the same that they had shared with the Sheikh and his Viziers, still had its limits. The Sheikh of House Asad, The Children of The Lion, may have been a powerful man, but even he would probably be wary of spending too much time and effort guarding a merchant that carried creatures whose bite could turn men to stone. Best to let the merchants worry about their own protection, then, and let the Gods write it as they willed.

Still, Kaniel al-Masafir could not help but notice the pools of sweat coming off Suelasta, and the comment about the heat. Hot? Here? Hah! If only this portly al-Hadhar knew of the way the sun burned in The High Desert, where his tribe, the noble House Nasr, The People of The Eagle, soared amongst its rays!

" The evening seems quite pleasant to this humble servant," Kaniel replied in kind, " Though when one grows accustomed to the scorch of the sands and the freeze of the winds at night, I suppose one finds comfort within the wonders the Gods have granted us in this Fated Land."

The Half-Orc was still not sure how to read Suelasta, and wondered exactly how far the man could be pushed. Everyone had their limits, of course. Perhaps the merchant's motives would become more clear if Kaniel ... gently nudged him in the right direction.

" My people have a saying: to be uncomfortable beneath your own robes is to be uncomfortable within your heart. As Hakiyah The Honest tells us, though, 'Truth will always win out'. Are you sure that this is all to your story?"

Kaniel made his implication clear, especially in evoking Hakiyah, The Great Goddess of Truth: Suelasta looked very uncomfortable, and in the Half-Orc's experience, sometimes people needed to be reminded that honesty was a very, very comfortable option. ~

OOC: Kaniel is attempting to apply social pressure to figure out what has Suelasta so nervous.
Intimidation Check: 1d20+6 21


Stiffening under Amina's grasp, the wiry man slowly eases his hand away from its habitual resting place on the hilt of a jambiya. Taking wheezing breaths, he is silent for longer than is wise, but at last makes the decision to speak, "They wait at the Rawun's Well near the western gate." He is good at following directions, offering no more information than was asked.
Ankabut absorbed that, then slipped the black-bladed sword back into its sheathe and with a quick twist of her wrist poked the man at two points over his sacrum, then three behind his kidneys, then one along his back...all in rapid, well-practiced succession. As he reeled from that, she cuffed him hard across the back of the skull...carefully judging each strike to render him dazed and perhaps unconscious. She had not promised him release, after all...only that she would not kill him.

(Attacking with Flurry of Blows for 1 ki, nonlethal melee attacks. First is a Stunning Blow, for an additional ki; Con save DC 15 or be stunned until the start of her next turn. If he drops from damage, she will of course stop hitting him. :))

[roll0] for [roll1]
[roll2] for [roll3]
[roll4] for [roll5]
[roll6] for [roll7]


(And crit damage, if it becomes necessary to determine if he stands: [roll0])

(43 nonlethal damage done, or less if he drops quicker...and DC15 Con save if he doesn't drop)
The points Ankabut strikes cause the wiry man to seize up and then topple over unconscious, his body draped against the railing of the overlook like a drunk who should have made it home to bed hours ago.

GM: Mysterious reasons roll _: 1D20+4 = [15]+4 = 19

Make a Wisdom (Insight) check [MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION] to ascertain information/stats about the man from your surprise attack. There is a certain intimacy in the work of a holy slayer, allowing Ankabut to know her targets like no others.


[SECTION]Shrugging off the heat with a wave of his hand, Suelasta looks about for something to busy himself with. Finding no work within reach, he motions with his kerchief to the giant scorpion, wagging his finger at it, and offering a disarming smile to Akilah for preventing disaster. "It's always the quiet ones I have to look out for..."

Taken aback at Kaniel's directness, Suelasta is clearly flustered, his already flush cheeks turning a shade of crimson. "Well, that is, well, hmph! So fortunate are we that the Grand Caliph's mamluks are best put to the task of quoting aphorisms, rather than protecting merchants! There may have been some dealings that stretched the law, yes, but show me a merchant with clean hands and I'll show you a liar or a fool going out of business. Why, half the regulations on conduct of zookeepers in Tajar I've penned with my own hand because there were no regulations before! And now everyone and his house monkey is a critic! Leave the beasts be, they say, it's safer for everyone. Should the First Caliph then have left the Scrolls of the Loregiver in the cave where he found them? No! We are explorers! Pioneers! I provide a service, I say, a service!" Wheezing terribly in his excitement, Suelasta nearly forgets to breath and must muffle his coughs with his kerchief.[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Easifa returns to Salahuddin's side, a subtle trail of oats and dried apples trailing from where the invisible djinnling was snacking upon animal feed. Telepathically: Nothing out of the ordinary, master, save for bottles of marked poison in the house. May I suggest not accepting any food or drink from this pompous poisoner who surely intends treachery? The brazen fool thinks so much of himself he *marks* his poison for all the world to see. Suddenly realizing that he'd been contradicting his own advice, Easifa spits out a bit of dried apples distastefully between Sinjin' feet.[/SBLOCK]
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(Mysterious Insight Roll of Mysteriousness! I can't recall if I have any Inspiration to start with, but if I do, I will use it nao if the roll is below, say, 15...if not, disregard the second roll. [roll0] and [roll1])

(WELP, I used inspiration if it's available, but the 14 is the better roll. :) Also, I don't think it was Amina who prevented scorpion-related disasters.)

Ankabut takes his weapons and secures them on her person, then ducks down to loop his arm around her shoulder...as she might if helping that drunk man along the street. His weight bears heavily on her, but fortunately the distance to where the viziers and the others hold parley isn't great...
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Akilah clears her throat, as she closes the distance on Suelasta. Her gait non-threatening, her facial features relaxed, but her within her eye's a seriousness that expected from one as graceful as she. She stops just shy of his protruding midsection and then leans forward before whispering in the most serious tone she had taken in a while, "If you don't have that scorpion clipped by mid-day tomorrow a fine for an escaped python will be the least of your problems." The fire in Akilah's eye's went away and she spun around and began to rejoin the group. She stopped and looked over her shoulder before she spoke again at a normal tone, "You may return to your duties, our meeting is done!"

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Several passing theologians and philosophers scowl at the visage of an acolyte of Hakiyah carrying a drunkard through the streets. The man's scimitar and jambiya are secured on Ankabut's person, completing the illusion of her doing her civic duty by the unconscious man.

GM: Eep! Good catch! I've edited it to make the reference to Akilah.
[MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION] let's give you the benefit of the doubt about having Inspiration cause I can't remember either. Ankabut is aware that she was drawing upon her ki-empowered strikes against this man, which is quite unusual.


Amina brings the man over, off to one side. Though she doesn't make any noise, she catches Akilah's eyes when the vizier notices her and motions very subtly with her head towards the unconscious man on her shoulder.

When Akilah, and any others, move close enough, she says "He was watching us. One of the men following us from the auction. The others are near the west gate, at Rawun's Well. Or so he said. You may want to ask him more, but be careful...there is more to him than meets the eye."
Salahuddin half listens to the remaining conversation as he thinks back to his studies. The creatures taken had some uses in the arcane arts these raids could be unrelated. However their proximity to where Jina's men where raided and the similarity of the attackers made that unlikely. There was a connection here that alluded Salahuddin. He hated being in the dark. He turns facing his invisible Gen as it speaks.

Then let us hope he is as bad at his craft as you seem to think or I may need to ask the Great Caliph for a new servant.

Salahuddin chuckled to himself at his Gen. The djinnlings antics always made Salahuddin smile. He turns back to the group as Akilah dismisses Suelasta. He is about to speak and suggest moving on to the last of the merchants when the vizier's handmaid gets her attention and waves them over. He eyes the unconscious man and listens to the woman speak of his compatriots waiting near the west gate. It appears that the book he had the viziers acquire was more valuable than he thought.

"Easifa show yourself."

There is a small gust of wind and the djinnling materializes near Salahuddin. The gen floats several feet off the ground and keeps itself hidden from prying eyes. Easifa looks expectantly at it's master.

OOC: I am going to use light blue text to indicate when I am speaking in Auran

"Easifa there are men waiting at Rawun's Well near the west gate. They are dressed as this man here." Salahuddin indicates the grey robed man in Amina's arms. Find them, when you do inform me so that I may look upon them. Go now."

Easifa bows "I server your will master." The djinnling vanishes in another gust of wind.

"Easifa will find these men if they are there. He will scout for us and see what these men are planning."
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Najiyah lingered behind the others as they departed down the pathway away from Suelasta's menagerie, silently perturbed by feelings too alien for her to identify. Distracted by a trail along the bricks leading deeper into the merchant's private residence, Najiyah noted that said trail mysteriously stopped right where they had all been standing.

She lowered herself briefly, bending at the knees so as not to part the skirts of her elaborate caftan and immodestly expose her legs, then scooped up a bit of the grain and rubbed it between her fingers. Animal feed? She stared after Salahuddin's back with narrowed eyes before finally following after the party and rejoining them.

Najiyah tucked her sleeves more over her hands and rubbed them together for warmth, the night quickly bringing its coolness to the dry, desert lands. Though portly men such as Suelasta might sweat easily in the heat of the city's braziers, Najiyah frequently found there was never enough fire around to keep her comfortably warm. But even more so, tonight. All day, she had been feeling uncomfortably chilled by...something.

And so it was that when Salahuddin unceremoniously, and without warning, bade the wind genie to appear, Najiyah's reaction was...less than composed.

Her black eyes dilated until they appeared otherworldly and beastly, and she thrust her finger pointedly to Salahuddin and Easifa both, with any thought towards Amina's prisoner completely overshadowed by something more instinctual and more powerful taking over.


To anyone witnessing this scene without knowing Easifa was there, it would look as if the vizier had spent too many hours in the sun. Emotions were running hot and fast from the pit of her stomach, only to boil some place around her ears; emotions so foreign and so uncharacteristic for the jovial Najiyah that it took her quite some time before she ascertained the nature of them. Anger, disdain, hostility.

"He's been here the whole time!"

Something about the djinni made Najiyah wrinkle her nose and resist the urge to spit at his non-existing feet. But that was completely irrational, rude, and frightfully unlike her. She had no reason to feel this way about someone she had never met. Great gods, she'd never even seen a wind genie, before.

The shock of having identified the unprovoked hatred for what it was, was at least enough to shake Najiyah out of her possession. She pressed the heel of her hand against her brow as she stumbled back, her gaze blurred and unfocused as she tried to look towards Amina and Akilah.

"I'm sorry...what? Who is trying to follow us?"


~ Several things happened at once, and even the sturdy Mamluk was thrown off guard. Amina appeared having captured someone: where in Zakhara did she learn such skills of disappearance and reappearance, bearing gifts, no less! And this man had been following them since the Auction House? Had they truly made a powerful enemy by procuring that strange book that none of them had yet to try and read?

And then there was a Djinni! Appearing out of thin air, the creature was gone as quickly as Salahuddin had summoned it forth from the ether! Kaniel had never had dealings with such creatures, but often knew that sometimes, just sometimes, they could be allies out along the desert. They were often friendly to al-Badia such as himself.

This realization made Najiyah's reaction even more uncharacteristic for the cheerful Vizier. The Half-Orc was taken aback by her exclamation of deduction, as if she had noticed something peculiar about Salahuddin since they all had met ... and who was to say she did not? Sheikh Ali al-Hadd did say that Vizier Amahhum was his expert on matters concerning the mystic arts and genies, after all. But Kaniel also remember the woman that had saved him in The High Desert as someone divinely compassionate and genial, not ... not this.

When Najiyah tumbled backwards, Kaniel swiftly moved behind her and laid his hands upon her shoulders, keeping her upright and balanced. He peered over at her from the side to make sure that her own two feet could sustain her before slowly, gingerly removing his grip.

" What in the name of The Loregiver was that?" he asked pointedly of her and Salahuddin both, not accusatory but definitely seeking answers.

" We've ... We've been in the company of a Djinni this entire time? And why does this bother you, Nujaym?"

Starlet, he called her, for in his mad visions in the desert as a teen, he recalled that her skin had glowed with flickering suns, as if the haze of heat had given him some arcane insight to what she was beneath this mortal shell. It had been his own, personal name for this saving grace of his for years before he had ever come to know her as Najiyah Amahhum, Sorceress Supreme, and so it slipped from his tongue now.

" While we've clearly other matters to attend to, I would like an explanation on this. From both of you. Does the 'Venerable Fatima ibn Zaida' instruct you to keep this genie hidden in our midst on behalf of the Djinn? And Najiyah, as astonishing as this may be, why the loss of composure ..? Are you feeling alright?"

Though he was sincere in this, Kaniel's tone made it quite clear that he did, in fact, want this addressed sooner rather than later. They had all just begun to work together, and it did not behoove them, the Sheikh, or The Grand Caliph to have misunderstandings on their natures and goals. ~


Akilah turned back to notice Amina motioning her over and explaining the circumstances of the situation. As she's digesting the information Salahuddin summons and dismisses his Djinni which prompts an out of character reaction from Najiyah followed by her nearly colapsing causing the Mamluk to jump to her aid and ask for explanations from them both.

Akilah took a deep breath as she mentally balanced the situation.

"Amina, take this man inside the Menagerie and put him in a cage. Avoid the scorpion, as it is not as tamed as Suelasta would have everyone believe." "Kaniel!" she called, "Take her inside, this is not the time nor place for this discussion." Akilah then moved to assist Amina in moving the man.

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Amina blinked in surprise and dismay at Najiyah's outburst. First that she'd had no idea they were being followed, and then by the realization that this was not a team of people used to working together, except for her. Not entirely.

There would be interesting conversation tonight, she thought.

She dragged her quarry to Suelasta and said, "I need an empty cage...or a cage with something that will not attack a man who's fainted."
[SECTION]Suelasta's eyes go wide at the revelation of the unconscious man, but his surprise quickly turns to grumbling as he fiddles with the large set of keys at his belt. "An empty cage? An empty cage? Why, with these dastardly raiders I have a surfeit of empty cages and not enough revenue! Now, I'll trust the good vizier not to go fabricating charges of me holding sentient beings in my cells anymore, hmm? That issue with the cobra was quite enough for one time, thank you!" He complains just loudly enough for Vizier Akilah to hear, but begrudgingly leads Amina to a habitat.

A coiled python some 12 feet tall slumbering in tree branches makes him reconsider, and Suelasta moves to another cell, unlocking it. "This was to be the leucrocrotta habitat," he gestures, opening the door wide. Within is a sizable space for running, a simulated desert habitat, and several small caves constructed by masons. "And how long, pray tell, will I have the pleasure of hosting this man as my guest?"[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Akilah, passive insight 19]. [MENTION=6814006]Thateous[/MENTION] As Akilah hefts the man, something about his breathing and movement of his eyes beneath closed lids unsettles her. Instinctively, the answer flashes in her mind. This man is feigning unconsciousness, and is actually still lucid![/SBLOCK]
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Akilah let's out an audible sigh as she adjusts her hold on the man with one hand holding his arm that was draped over her shoulder and her other hand placed comfortably on his spine. Without specifying who she is speaking to she begins, "You should've known better than to try and pull such a ruse around a Hakima." her eyes never leaving the intended direction of travel. "How long did you think your little deception would've lasted?" Akilah sighs again and then mutters something under her breath before patting the man on the spine.

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Tiny lights dance in the darkness among tendrils of smoke. A shower of sparks accompany the waves of heat, eminating from some unseen source just off to the side of her peripheral. All she had to do was turn her head slightly to reveal the truth of what was there. She turned her gaze.

Najiyah looked over her shoulder and blinked to bring Kaniel's worried visage into focus. Her perpetual smile returned her lips as the fog cleared from her eyes, replaced instead by an expression of self-deprication and slight puzzlement.

"Oh, thank you Kaniel, what a clumsy bungler I can be!"

She released the vice-like grip she had on the mamluk's arms, seeming to not have taken any notice of how her fingers had dug into his arms hard enough to leave little white marks in his chartreuse skin.

She brushed her sleeves off as she regained her footing, all signs of hostility and upset completely vanished.

"Bother? Me? No no, of course I am not bothered, merely intrigued, but why in Zakhara would you think I was...oh, you mean where I lost my footing? I'm sure it was just an uneven stone I tripped over. But I hardly think I can be accused of 'losing my composure' just because I have two left feet."

She chuckled brightly as she looped her arm through Kaniel's to lead him back to Suelasta's abode herself. "And I'd thank you not to draw so much attention to my little topple next time. Come, let's go watch Akilah work her magic on our new friend while we wait for Easifa to return."