5E Al-Qadim Moving Through the Flame


"Then seek it," is Amina's reply. "I do not have your answers. I am still a student."

"But this one, and his kin, were stalking us on the streets. You declare them harmless too soon. Good intentions do not make them harmless. I find the opposite is often true. I'm not interested in the politics, or who is to blame. They want the map, we have it. Perhaps we should focus on that."

(OOC - My apologies! I edited my post, deciding that she was being too verbose...I didn't know that you pounced on it that fast! I think it still works though, no need for you to change anything...I really liked your response! :))
[SECTION]Sinjin rests one stocky shoulder against a lion's cage as he keeps one eye on this man Derafsh, commenting wryly, "A redeemed villain tastes sweeter than any honey to the true of heart. But do not eat him completely. I've known my fair share of thieves, two score to be precise, and they always reveal their base nature. Trust him like you'd trust a hole in your pocket."[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Easifa speaks telepathically to Salahuddin like a tinkling of wind chimes in his ear. "I am at the Rawun's Well. A simple courtyard in the moonlight, the scent of fenugreek wafting from a window. There are a few armed men loping about the well, though they're quite the boisterous and jesting sort, hardly trying to hide. Is it your will to see what I see, master?"
Salahuddin continues to listen to the conversation between Derafsh and the others. He raises an eyebrow at the mention of the mention of the map leading to the deposed sultan's treasures. Though there was a good chance the man was lying to them. Salahuddin nods when Sinjin suggests to be wary of anything this man says. When the Sha'ir hears his Gen speak to his mind he smiles. Salahuddin moves next to his valet and takes a seat. He closes his eyes and takes a breath opening his senses to those of Easifa.

Show me what you see.

Salahuddin's vision shifts and he is looking over the courtyard.
[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]For a moment Salahuddin feels the world slipping away as his senses shift and blur. It feels as if his mind were unraveling, like he were simultaneously falling out of his seat and spinning in circles... It is night above the Rawun's Well, but thanks to a clear sky, a bright moon, and hooded lanterns it is possible to discern faces and colors.

The well itself is typical of its sort for Tajar, constructed to allow water-bearers to draw from it on either side via a winch and pulley system. Weathering indicates the stones are old, so this may have been one of the city's original wells. Music comes from beneath the sign that Easifa rests invisibly upon - it reads "House of the Oud"; perhaps this is a tavern of ill repute in Tajar's budayeen (red light district)?

Several men lounge near the well gossiping, roughhousing, and trading crude jokes. There are five of them, armed with scimitars and jambiyas, wearing the tattered clothes of Tajar's poor. A bottle of palm wine exchanges hands and two try to keep a conversation quiet, but their emotions are spilling over – they argue about who would win in a fight, Nimar or his sister Fereshte. For a second the men seem like they might come to blows, but the seated one's nervous laughter triggers a chain of cackling in multi-tonal voices.

When one gets up to piss in the alley, there is a look of surprise on his face as someone deeper in the alley seems to speak with him. The man makes a show of obeisance, bowing his head, but answers in the negative, that there has been no sign of Derafsh yet.[/SBLOCK]


Najiyah studied Kaniel for several long, silent seconds, speculating on the intensely personal tone of his words.

"...A chance for redemption is a wish I would be pleased to grant..."

Her gaze returned to Derafsh as she addressed him.

"...if your intentions for such are virtuous, but I fear even we could do nothing on behalf of the Sultan whose-name-we-do-not-speak. That would be far too dangerous for the city."

Ever forthright with her thoughts anyway, it was difficult to tell if Najiyah was being so candid with their position because of the effects of Akilah's spell, or because she saw no advantage to promising what couldn't be delivered. She continued introspectively.

"Neither of us would covet the value any treasure might pose; our duty is to the safety and prosperity of Tajar. But if this horde of the Sultan's does exist, it will only cause strife and greed for so long as it remains undiscovered."

Her expression became wary as she studied the man, silently wondering just how forthright he was being. His motives seemed solid enough, but being this close-up to the creature, Najiyah hadn't missed that the demeanor of Derafsh's second mouth did not match the hang-dog imploring from the first.

"But I wonder if, after a lifetime of banditry, clemency is all you really want?"

OOC: To guage the sincerity and congruency of Derafsh's words and body language:
Insight Check: 1D20+5 = [16]+5 = 21
Salahuddin is oblivious to the congestion a going on around him. Sinjin stands over the Sha'ir protectively. Salahuddin sways momentarily and then opens his eyes. They are completely white, anyone looking closely will notice them shift ands work like clouds. He turns his head as if looking at things that are not in front of him.

Salahuddin takes n the scene in front of him. These men are defiantly Derafsh's pack. They laughed the same as the man with its discordant pitch. He watches them argue and fight and the one stumble off to the alley. When he hears him speak with someone about Derafsh. Salahuddin nudges Easifa to move into the alley. Perhaps he could get a look at the one hidden in the shadows. He needed to see if others were hiding around the courtyard.


Akilah sat back monitoring the man as he spoke of his past and desire for clemency.

"Although I do not doubt the sincerity of YOUR words, I do doubt the idea that your kin collectively share those ideals. I do question what led you and your family to a life of banditry... or did I miss that part of the story? Loyalty is not gained so easily. Even if you were given the and made good on your promise to offer the treasure to my father there is no guarantee that you would be returned to your former status. Have you considered that possibility?"

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[SBLOCK=Najiyah]It is evident that Derafsh has aspirations beyond common banditry or blindly serving a tyrant like the former Sultan. Yet he's also the sort of man used to double-talk and innuendo, and even his most candid confession could seem ingratiating and silver-tongued. While he does seem to feel genuine guilt for some of his past actions, his concern over his brother's salvation seems a bit played up to Najiyah...who knows how to spot a performance when she sees one. It's clear to Najiyah there's some kind of bad blood between the two.[/SBLOCK]

[SECTION]Still bound, the strange man gapes a bit at Najiyah's conclusion that the treasure is immaterial except insofar as it causes strife. However, slowly he nods in silent sober agreement. His second mouth at the back of his head purses its lips as if in disapproval or consternation. "It's true I aspire to more than clemency, but for a man to make his way in Tajar first he must not be reviled as a traitor. He must have a chance to rise on his own merit. I can't go chasing apricots before I can climb a fence." Derafsh's proverb is one heard among the al-Badia, meaning roughly 'first things first.'

Clearing his throat, Derafsh smacks his dry lips, and squints his eyes at the visage of Akilah superimposed in front of one of the ever-burning braziers. "My kin lack the proper vision, shackled to the memory of the Sultan and our moment of greatness. You see, they still think of themselves as cursed wretches. Forgive me, I neglected to tell of how we came to be bandits not out of a desire to deceive you," he says with a voice made raspy from a parched throat even as his second mouth enunciates the word 'deceive' with gusto, "but because once people know the truth they take pity on us. My father and his father before him were cursed by a great saher (sorcerer) for laughing at the saher's misfortune; they and their offspring were cursed to wander the deserts finding no welcome in the cities of this land, cursed with a voiceless mouth which none would trust. And so none would take me as doorman, as guide, nor even porter. But banditry? That my siblings and I were surpassing good at." There is a look of relish in his amber eyes, though it fades quickly as he furrows his brows again, as if attempting to dissuade himself from dwelling on a past long-gone.

After weighing Akilah's caution, Derafsh licks his lower lip and swallows. "Loyalty should not be easily placed, you are right, vizier. We put our loyalty in the Sultan and look what it cost us. Traitors, those not stoned to death left reviled and remanded to the shadows like rats. No, I have no need of status. The Sheikh has no reason to trust me, nor I him. Only a chance to make our own fortunes in Tajar without concern for the Sheikh's guards hounding us or the people driving us from the gates. Is it so much to ask?"[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]As Easifa floats over to peer down the alley, Salahuddin sees two figures in the shadows conversing with the man about Derafsh. They are wearing dark silk headdresses and veils over worn and weathered leather smith's aprons. One is a tall man with a jutting lower jaw and eyes that nearly glow a ruddy hue. The other is a tall woman with elongated forearms and pinpoints of crimson light in her eyes. They are discussing Derafsh's recent behavior and the morale of the others in "the family" in low conspiratorial voices. A cursory scan of the courtyard and adjoining alleys by Easifa reveals a few urchins playing a game with colored white and black stones, and a few drunks leaving the "House of the Oud", but no other suspicious looking men.

Easifa Wisdom (Perception) check _: 1D20+3 = [20]+3 = 23[/SBLOCK]
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"Cursed with a second mouth," Amina comments, then adds, "And with magic powers over minds, and a body that's unnaturally tough. Clearly the sorcerer gives, and the sorcerer takes away."


Akilah's brow raises as the beginnings of an idea form in her head." So you conducted raids in desert for some time before you were saved by him correct? Exactly how good is your memory of the desert?"

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Salahuddin blinks his eyes and they return to normal. He stands and walks back over to the group. As he does he reaches out to Easifa.

Keep an eye on them especially the two in the alley. If either move or anyone else shows up and speaks with them let me know. If the two leave follow them.

He walks upto the prisoner.

"How many wait at the well for you?"

OOC: From the description it sounds like the two figures in the alley are not werehyenas. Is this correct? If they are not werehyenas would Salahuddin know what they are?
[SECTION]Without hesitation, your captive Derafsh licks his lips and manages a dry chuckle, "I know much of the High Desert near Tajar, and not to travel in a wadi (dry stream bed) in spring while clouds are on the horizon, if that's what you're asking."

When Suelasta unlocks the gate for Salahuddin, Derafsh cocks his head slightly to study the man, amber eyes shifting up and down from his clothes to his face, "Maybe four, maybe eight, maybe in between. It depends how many my family could gather without drawing the attention of Sheikh Ali's guards...and how many haven't been drinking themselves into a stupor on palm wine."[/SECTION]

GM: Can you normally tell by looking at a creature if they're an innate shapechanger? No...no you can't. Normally that goes without saying.

If someone were visually inspecting a creature's appearance, and that creature happened to have an illusory appearance ability like a hag or innate disguise self like a lamia for example, then an Intelligence (Investigation) check is possible to see through its illusory disguise. However, since you're saying Salahuddin believes these to be werehyenas, I'm forgoing that check.
[SECTION]Derafsh hesitantly regards Akilah, making no move to rise immediately, as if expecting this to be some trick. After a moment, he shakes his head with a rueful laugh. His second mouth pantomimes the laughter a bit too hysterically. "No, that won't work, not with Nimar. You haven't been listening, Vizier. I'll do as you command, seeing as I have little choice, but it would be a bad idea to make a direct approach..."

Realizing he needs to offer some kind of explanation, Derafsh shifts uncomfortably in the rope binding his hands and licks his dry lips, glancing at the others before returning his gaze to Akilah, "Rawun's Well is full of orphans, each paid a pretty dinari (gold piece) to keep an eye out for...well...for servants of the Sheikh." He inclines his head toward Akilah and Najiyah. "So they'd scatter far in advance of you finding them. Even if you did manage to meet with Nimar, it wouldn't go well. He can't be swayed with words because he can only see one way. That's why the Sultan's treasure is your best option... Once the treasure is in the hands of the Sheikh, then he can issue a pardon, then Nimar won't be backed into a corner." He squints hard at Akilah from his place on the ground, checking to make sure she follows his reasoning.

However, if commanded to, Derafsh stands ready to lead the way to Rawun's Well.[/SECTION]

[SBLOCK=Salahuddin]Easifa's whispering voice echoes telepathically in Salahuddin's ear, "Master, the veiled man in the alley has come out to speak with the others, and the lout cuffed a poor beggar boy begging for coin. But the veiled woman in the alley is leaving somewhere. Do you wish me to stay with him or to follow her?"[/SBLOCK]


Akilah motions for Derafsh to stand and for Amina to untie the man. "No Derafsh, I fully understand. We have a map you require to free your family from the shadows and I wouldn't mind some knowledgeable guides to get us to our destination. Perhaps we can come to terms?"

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Follow the woman. She seems to be the more interesting of the two. Be careful, these are not mere mortals.

Salahuddin turned to regard the others. It seemed Akilah had a plan. Hopefully she doesn't end up getting us killed.
[SECTION]Slowly Derafsh rises as Amina undoes the bindings on his hands. Rubbing his wrists, he glances from Amina to Akilah hesitantly. "Terms? I'm listening..."[/SECTION]
[SECTION]Squinting at Akilah as if she either is mad or insinuating something, Derafsh shakes his head. "No, like I've been saying, that's my brother Nimar." Though his voice lacks conviction, his second mouth exaggerates its articulation of the soundless word 'brother'. "Unless my dear sister has at last put the fool in his place," he adds with a rueful chuckle.[/SECTION]


"So if you were in charge, what would your plan for your clan be?" Amina asked as she wrapped the rope in a coil. The action and her tone were both measured, calm...as if she hadn't just been holding this man prisoner after nearly knocking him out.