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Barsoom Tales I - COMPLETE

Desdichado

Adventurer
barsoomcore said:
We're closing in on the climax of Make It There, so hold on to your hats...
So, if I bump this again, will this rumored updated be more likely to happen soon? ;)

Besides, I can only bump my own story hour so many times, and jonrog1's Dark*Matter hardly needs bumps from me, so I thought my other favorite deserved some luvvin.
 

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barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Yeah, sure, except that I have no job. Everything's great.

Actually, it's not that I have no job. It's that everyone keeps expecting me to pay money for stuff. If they'd just drop this silly expectation and give me everything I need for free, I wouldn't need a job.

Sheesh. Do I have to do ALL the thinking around here?
 



ledded

Herder of monkies
barsoomcore said:
Yeah, sure, except that I have no job. Everything's great.

Actually, it's not that I have no job. It's that everyone keeps expecting me to pay money for stuff. If they'd just drop this silly expectation and give me everything I need for free, I wouldn't need a job.

Sheesh. Do I have to do ALL the thinking around here?
Aw man, that sucks. I went through that last year. Hope things work out for ya.

I know what you mean about expectations. I only work to support my 2 worst habits, however those just happen to be Eating and Sleeping Indoors. If I could shake those, I'd be a happy duck.

Happy to see an update whenever you get around to it.
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Graywolf-ELM said:
Is this at all related to the world your party is adventuring in?
Only in the following particulars: red guys, pink skies, banths, white apes and flying ships. And the name, which is a freakin' cool name for a world. But otherwise, no. Or at least, not deliberately.

And I have to say I'm a little surprised that such a small company is legally able to create a Barsoom-branded game. Isn't the name trademarked by ERB, Inc? Well, maybe not. Huh.
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Isaac squinted. The bright sun beat down on Duelists' Street from a pale pink sky, and somehow he'd ended up with the south-facing side of the fight.

It didn't seem fair. He was about to get killed anyway.

A dozen or so paces from him stood the greatest swordsman in the city of Pavairelle, Kendorik Oparashan, handing his cloak to a friend and laughing with easy grace and confidence. It was obvious he had no doubt as to the outcome of this contest. Nor did any of the spectators; Isaac wasn't listening too closely, but the odds being offered were enough to make him want to bet against himself.

He looked over at Elena, watching with a worried expression. Nevid had disappeared, but Isaac could just catch sight of Etienne, talking with a couple of shopgirls who were peering over other spectators, eager for the duel to begin. Arrafin hadn't even come.

Sourly Isaac waited, his eyes darting to the tall Blood Council woman who stood motionless between himself and Kendorik. Kimiko Torokan, struggling against some foreign sorcerer in an effort to control a mysterious breeding program. Whatever.

Kendorik drew his rapier and advanced, and throughout the crowd a murmur spread. The handsome young man was famous in Pavairelle for his unbeatable skill with his sword, and dozens of lives had been lost to his quick reflexes and uncanny agility. Isaac grunted and drew his heavy hand-and-a-half sword and stood waiting.

No sense hurrying what everyone thought was inevitable.

*****

"Tushan Kal Kabbar... Yes, there are some references."

Arrafin nodded as Dean Rezhik flipped through heavy books. She'd come to Pavairelle University to research some of the things they'd learned from Laughter of Stones.

"Aha. King's Ride."

His thin voice took on a sombre quality as he read the poem out loud.

When I ride I am a King
Wealthy and benign
I am a King when I ride
And all the Narid is my land

I am Tushan Kal Kabbar
Great among the ancients
Clearing the mighty forests
And gathering the people
Rich beyond all measure
Strong beyond all men
I am Tushan Kal Kabbar
Great among the ancients


Arrafin looked up, confused.

"I know that tune. That's Naridic."

"Yes, it's a beni Howetait song. This is from Desert Songs, a collection of Howetait songs published here in Pavairelle."

"What does it mean? I've never heard of Tushan Kal Kabbar."

Dean Rezhik coughed.

"Well, the song goes on to reference Suelekar Ben Azan, and the Sharina beni Howetait. The obvious conclusion is that Tushan Kal Kabbar predates Ben Azan."

"Karidish? Dean, could the Karidish people have been black-skinned?"

The University professor shrugged, curious about the intense interest this thin Naridic girl had in ancient history.

"There are no surviving images. It's always been assumed they were racially Naridic, but there's nothing to say they might not have been Peranese. The jungles of Peran are rumoured to lie south of the Narid, and it's always been said the Peranese are black. Who can say?"

"Hm. What about Tabbadur? Did you find anything about that?"

"Oh, yes. It's mentioned numerous times, but exactly what it is is never really said. Contemporary sources seem to take it for granted that everyone knows what Tabbadur is. It was created by Suelekar Ben Azan, or at least he is variously attributed as its creator. One song, called, 'The Death of Farouk Ibn Zaoud,' starts When bold Ben Azan built Tabbadur / He did not build alone / For at his side, with loyal heart / Stood Farouk ibn Zaoud. That same poem goes on to mention that Farouk died on the field at Karhoum dar Than, in the deep Eastern Desert."

Arrafin stared sightlessly for a second. Suelekar Ben Azan and Farouk Ibn Zaoud. Tabbadur. Karhoum dar Than. Names out of childhood legend. People and places it had never even occured to her might be real.

And magic. She recalled Adil and his constant shrieks.

"I think Tabbadur has opened. And I think that's a bad thing. Maybe there was something inside it that needed to stay there."

"What?"

Dean Rezhik watched in confusion as Arrafin gathered up her notes and, mumbling to herself, left his office.

*****

The first clash of steel released a noisy sigh from all around as the audience exhaled in unison. Isaac side-stepped desperately and backed away from Kendorik's flickering point.

The man deserved his reputation. He was fast, accurate and terrifying. His eyes seemed to almost roll back in his head as he pressed forward, as though he fought without sight, by some kind of instinct.

Isaac knocked aside one thrust after another, without any chance to launch an attack of his own. Kendorik came on, relentless, and some part of Isaac's brain noticed money changing hands among the spectators and realised that people weren't betting on who would win the match, but only on how long he'd manage to stay alive before Kendorik killed him.

The thought irritated the Saijadani. He put both hands on his swordhilt and smashed aside Kendorik's rapier, reaching out with a wild swing that, much to his surprise, actually connected.

Only in the barest way, and only resulting in a tiny scratch on his opponent's arm, but it was something. More money changed hands and Isaac grinned in satisfaction.

Until he realised he'd just made his opponent angry.

"You're paying for laundry and mending, Saijadani. After I've killed you."

"That's fair."

*****

Nevid frowned at the sneering Pavairellean.

"What makes Hector think we'd give him the guns, assuming we had any guns to give?"

The oily little man nodded and smiled.

"Tell the half-breed we've got his Kishak friend, Korath Tushan, and unless those guns are in our hands by midnight, we're cutting the red bastard's throat. Is that clear, Saijadani?"

"Clear enough. I'll pass on the message."

Nevid plunged back into the crowd to find Etienne.

*****

The faces around him spun as he circled away from Kendorik's gleaming sword, leaping in at him again and again.

Isaac grunted with each desperate parry, feeling himself beginning to flail as Kendorik turned up the pressure. Slowly. Isaac was beginning to realise he hadn't seen half of this man's skill. And now the sword came at him again, faster and more deadly and he parried once, twice, twisted stumbling backwards, and knowing that only because he had stable cobblestones underfoot and room to back up had he not already been skewered.

At which point the cobblestones under his feet shifted and Isaac fell flat on his back. Which gave him a bit of breathing space, as Kendorik backed off to allow him to stand. Some folks in the crowd jeered and Isaac scowled as he got to his feet.

He saluted Kendorik.

"Time to finish this."

The Pavairellean nodded.

"Exactly what I was thinking."

He lunged at Isaac, the tip of his sword floating up, then down and under Isaac's parry, rising up again to strike the Saijadani right in the chest. Isaac looked down to see the blade shorten against his chest as Kendorik thrust forward, feeling only a slight pressure there.

He looked up in surprise.

"Holy crap. You've killed me."

"That was the plan, I believe."

"Yeah, but..."

Isaac crashed down to the cobblestones, only vaguely hearing Elena's grief-stricken scream.

Marques ran out with his doctor and the two men knelt beside Isaac's crumpled form. The doctor looked up and shook his head and Marques nodded to Blood Sister Torokan.

The imperious Blood Sister raised her wavy-bladed dagger.

"Blood speaks! Blood has spoken! Blood cannot be denied!"

She pointed the dagger at Kendorik even as Marques was calling forth bearers to take Isaac's body up to the del Maraviez house. The Saijadani merchant looked across the circle to where Fernandez del Orofin stood watching.

"Tell Pilar it's not over, old man! This boy was son of my father's friend, and I'm not afraid to follow through on his vengeance. You tell Pilar to stay out of Pavairelle."

He turned to follow Elena and the men carrying Isaac's body. Behind him, the defeated Saijadani's battered hat lay unattended on the cobblestones.
 


DrZombie

First Post
Thanks, very very good story hour, except that I keep on confusing the families. It might have something to do with the fact that I've been working 36 hrs straight.
Anyway, you're Up There with Destans storyhour.

I'm off to bed.
Cheers.
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Seabirds, rousing for their night-time patrols, cried out to each other even as the dactyls sought roosts, their daylight hours ending.

Nevid peered over the low balustrade of East Harbour Road. A hundred feet directly below him lay the shipping offices of Countess del Istanzic, whose ship the Sunset Hope was one of three arrivals that might have brought the del Maraviez guns into Pavairelle. The plan was to break into the office, find the log of the Sunset Hope, and compare it against the route of the del Maraviez vessel pirated for the guns.

Nevid just wished the plan didn't include rapelling down a cliffside in full view of nearly the entire Pavairelle harbour.

The Inner Sea of Barsoom had been steadily shrinking for centuries. Five hundred years ago Pavairelle had been an island. Since then the sea level had dropped well over two hundred feet, exposing a land bridge to the mainland and dropping the water level in the harbour. Pavairelle sat atop a massive outcrop of solid rock that rose like a mountain from the coastal shallows. The harbour was in fact a vast chimney that had been carved from the undersea mountain by unknown forces long ago. It descended straight into the depths for hundreds of feet.

The result was that as the sea level dropped, the deep harbour remained navigable, but the surface of the water steadily (and slowly) dropped away from the original street level of the city. Pavairelleans, ever practical, had simply built steeply-tilting roads down to the water, carving out a shelf to serve as a quay surrounding the harbour. Long vertical tubes, wider than a man is tall, descended the cliffside, catching the outflow of the city's original sewage tunnels and carrying it beneath the newly lowered water level.

The crying of the seagulls nearly drowned out the constant rumble of that cascade. Nevid tested the rope once more, shot a look full of intense meaning at Elena and Etienne, and slung himself over the railing.

He began climbing down the rope. Up top, Elena and Etienne stood side-by-side where the rope was anchored, shielding it from the view of anyone who might pass by.

Etienne had suggested that he be the one to climb down, but Nevid's greater familiarity with the documents in question meant he was the only choice. And so the half-Kishak gritted his teeth and watched Nevid recede below him, sure that without his agility the mission was doomed.

"He's doomed."

Elena smacked her friend. "How can you say that? Nevid'll be fine."

Despite her words, Elena watched Nevid's descending form with just as much worry as Etienne. She looked up at a clatter of pikes and they both turned as a patrol of Kishak soldiers came down the road.

The leader of the patrol called a halt and eyed them suspiciously.

"What are you two doing out here?"

Elena shrugged.

"Just looking at the harbour."

The soldier opened his mouth to speak but snapped it shut as a rock dropped from above and cracked the skull of one of his soldiers. Elena and Etienne shielded themselves as a rain of heavy stones fell on the soldiers. The leader yelled and the patrol charged back up the steps, dragging two injured comrades. Above Elena and Etienne could hear a sudden, desperate struggle, clashing of steel and shrieks of dying men and women.

The streets of Pavairelle had grown hostile to Kishak patrols. The two friends simply shrugged at each other and leaned over again to check Nevid's progress.

"He's doomed."

The yelling from above came to a halt. Othe voices rose, distant and angry. The night was just beginning.

"I think we're all doomed."

*****

"Poor Philip. I mean Isaac."

Arrafin sat in Marques' parlour, a teacup in one hand. She smiled at Consuelo, who nodded sympathetically.

"Dying is hard."

They both rose as Marques entered, flanked as always by Dominic and Vladimir. He grinned broadly and winked at Arrafin.

"If you'd like to view your friend, you may. You'll want to say goodbye to Isaac del Valencia."

Arrafin followed the big Saijadani and his two big bodyguards down a short hall and into an open courtyard near the rear door of the house. Isaac sat on a low stone bench beside the well, scowling.

"Hi, Isaac. How are you?"

"I lost my hat."

"I know. Sorry. But you're not dead."

Marques chuckled, "Oh, yes he is. He just needs a new name. I think... Dominic would suit."

Arrafin stared in shock as Marques slipped a dagger from a hidden sheath under his waistcoat and slid it quietly into Dominic's ribcage. The burly strongman shuddered and sank to his knees without a word. Vlad grabbed his dying colleague and lowered him to the ground. There was a quiet groan, a brief kicking of legs and the man lay there motionless.

Arrafin closed her mouth, stepping back from Marques who glowered at his deceased bodyguard. He wiped off his knife on Dominic's coat and returned the blade to its sheath. Vlad unfolded a sheet and laid it over the body. Marques grinned, and this time in his wide, friendly smile Isaac saw something hard and unyielding that he hadn't before.

"Bastard was a Nevakada spy. I needed to get rid of him, you needed the del Orofin off your back. I'll send Dominic out of town with you lot. Means the Nevakada'll be looking for you, but they probably are anyway. The del Orofin'll be months untangling what just happened here, and you should have a free hand with them now."

Isaac couldn't think of a thing to say.

Arrafin could, however.

"You killed him."

Marques stared.

"True. The Nevakada killed my father. They killed your grandfather, too, Isaac. Time's come for the Iron Throne to pull its influence out of Pavairelle. We'll kill them all."

*****

Nevid ignored all sounds of strife and conflict as he pawed through accounts and logbooks. He snatched up one and flipped the last few pages with anything written on them and scanned the lines carefully. He mumbled to himself.

"Raised Capo Duran, two-six... "

He slid his finger down line after line reading "same" until, on the entry for the fourth day of the third week, he found "Capo Duran under by ten." He looked back up at the entry for the sixth day of the second week, five days previous, where he read again, "Raised Capo Duran."

Between the two entries, only the word "same" repeated each day.

The young Saijadani restored the office to its original condition and made his way back to where the rope dangled down from above. He looked up into the darkening sky, shook his head, and made his way to the compound gate.

*****

"I'm really, really confused. Can we go over this again?"

Nevid sighed. He rearranged the papers and looked around the room at his friends.

"The guns were manufactured in a del Maraviez factory in Cadencia. They were being shipped from there to the Narid via a ship called the Ramona. The Ramona was due in Al-Tizim more than a week ago.

"We are worried that the ship was attacked by pirates and sunk. Now we know that a cargo of guns matching that description turned up here in Pavairelle a few days ago."

Everyone seemed to be keeping up with him. Arrafin leaned forward in the pillowy armchair she'd claimed. Etienne leaned against Marques' massive desk. Isaac sat behind the desk with his boots up and Elena stood near the narrow window that opened onto the alley behind the house.

"The guns were in the possession of Hector Sarachez, a Saijadani gangster who runs part of the Wharf district."

Etienne broke in.

"Hector's small-time. He's been a flunky to Mario Hekanyak for years."

With a nod, Nevid agreed.

"How Hector got the guns was a bit of a mystery, but checking the sailing announcements revealed that Countess del Istanzic's ship the Sunset Hope had arrived from Saidaelo the day before the guns turned up with Hector.

"Investigating the Sunset Hope's log showed that it had spent five days waiting off Capo Duran in southern Salejo. Apparently just sitting there. I suspect it was waiting for the pirate vessel that took the Ramona, so that the guns could be transferred and brought here to Pavairelle.

"It seems that Hector's no longer satisfied being a flunky and has joined up with the Nevakada to move on Mario, presumably using the guns to finance the operation. Unfortunately for him, Mario found out what he was up to, and now Mario has the guns."

Isaac frowned.

"So Mario's the bad guy?"

Etienne turned to his Saijadani friend and laughed.

"You better hope not. He's the toughest gangster in Pavairelle."

Marques had entered and heard Etienne's comment. He chuckled. Isaac quickly slid his feet off the desk.

"We're all gangsters, Etienne."

Seeing Arrafin's frown, Elena patted her friend's shoulder.

"He doesn't mean you, Arrafin. You're not a gangster."

Arrafin rolled her eyes.

"But what do we do now?"

"Well, Mario's offered to sell the guns to us," began Nevid, "But that's gotten complicated. Hector has kidnapped a friend of Etienne's and threatens to kill him if we don't acquire the guns and hand them back to him."

Elena shook her head.

"Good grief. Now I'm confused, too."

"Yeah, well, let's not forget that the Nevakada are after the guns, Mario and ourselves. And that Countess del Istanzic doubtless had plans for those weapons herself."

"And that the streets are ready to explode," added Etienne, "With Kishak patrols getting attacked and Naridic refugees ready to riot all over town."

Marques nodded. He was still holding the knife he'd stabbed Dominic with in his hands.

"I should let you folks know that I've received word from the Whispers. They're in the middle of a massive purge of Kishak elite. There are assassins all over the city. No doubt the Nevakada are out as well trying to fight them off.

"Tonight is the night. Pavairelle will be free."

Isaac shrugged.

"Glad we can stay in, then. The streets must be deadly."

His casual pose stiffened as he caught sight of the grin on Marques' face.

"Oh, no. Now what?"

"Mario wants to meet with you to discuss terms. At his casino down in Wharf District. You should leave right away."

"Great."

*****

The streets WERE deadly.

Arrafin shook. Not in fear but in rage.

At the intersection ahead four Kishak soldiers were jabbing their spears into a mass of terrified people, mostly Naridic, driving them back into an alley, swearing in Kishak to each other.

Elena tugged at the slender girl's sleeve.

"Arrafin, we can't do anything about it. Come on."

The Naridic girl whirled on her friend.

"What do you know about it? Those are MY people, Elena, I can't -- "

She broke off as a sudden, louder scream came from the scene. One of the soldiers stumbled back, blood spraying from the stump of his right arm. A sudden roar erupted from the crowd and from the rear they surged forward, the ones in the front helpless to resist being impaled on Kishak spears, but the numbers of the crowd overwhelmed the soldiers and they disappeared into a snarling, shrieking mass of desperate refugees.

Screams echoed from the tenements. From other districts similar scenes evoked similar responses. In some places the mobs acquired torches and stormed Kishak positions. Or the businesses of anyone imagined to be symmpathetic to the Kishaks. Pavairelle, the Jewel of the Inner Sea, was beginning to burn.

"Come on, Arrafin. We're going to be killed if we stay here. By your people, if no one else."

Already they could hear the marching feet of Kishak reinforcements. Arrafin, sickened and horrified, turned with Elena and they fled, following Isaac, Etienne and Nevid to Mario's casino.

*****

"I smell smoke."

"The city's burning, Nevid. You can see the fires up on Temple Hill, look."

"No, I smell smoke right here."

Nevid and Etienne rounded the final corner and stopped in the street. Ahead, where Mario's casino had once stood, lay an ash-covered ruin. The massive building, a full city block across and once three stories high, was a charred skeleton, still smouldering and still giving off heat.

Isaac, Elena and Arrafin came to a halt behind them. Nevid turned to Etienne.

"How far back to Marques' house, would you say?"

"A good forty-five-minute walk."

"And of the districts in Pavairelle, this one would be..."

"... the worst."

Nevid nodded as though he'd expected that answer.

"And we've heard the Kishak regiments being called out. Which means between us and Marques' house there's now probably about... "

"Seven thousand angry Kishak soldiers. In battle with at least fifteen thousand Naridic refugees. And let's say another ten thousand Pavairellean citizens."

"Yes, let's. And let's not forget the scores of assassins on both sides scouring the rooftops for victims."

"And somewhere in this mess Hector has my best friend."

"Who happens to be a Kishak soldier. Right. So what we have to do is... "

"... Is somehow find Hector... "

"... Free your friend... "

"... Find Mario, if he's still alive... "

"... Get the most powerful crime lord in Pavairelle to tell us where the guns are... "

"... and get back to Marques' house."

"With a Kishak soldier in tow. Without getting killed."

Nevid nodded again. He shook. In fear, not rage.

"We're doomed."

"Yes, I've said so."
 


barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
Yeah, that was a lot of fun, that fight. Isaac was I think about fifth level, and Kendorik 18th or so, but Isaac got one natural 20 and actually hit the bugger!

Tormenting Isaac was really a serious hobby of mine (still is), so it was nice that he got a moment of minor triumph.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Did I mention before I really like the pseudo-Spanish names? Where do you get them? Do you just make stuff up that sounds kinda Spanish, or are you finding old Spanish registers of some kind, or are you looking at related languages like Catalan or Provençal to get a similar feel?
 

barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
For the most part I'm making them up. del Maraviez is an old barsoomcore name that I've used in a couple of campaigns -- they're always this big sprawling family of meddlers and schemers whose hearts might or might not be in the right places.

A lot of Saijadani names come from Spanish -- usually with a little twist or two. IMDB is a great resource for ethnic names.

Pavairelle names (like del Istanzic) are twists on Hungarian and Czech names, with the Spanish-sounding attributive (on Barsoom, it's Saijadani-sounding) "del".

For reference, because a couple of people have commented, here are some of the key families on Barsoom.

Among Las Familias, the powerful merchant families of Saijadan, we have

del Maraviez: wealthy, well-connected and known for their very long reach. The del Maraviez are among the chief architects of modern Saijadan and number many of the greatest heroes of the war of independence from the Kishak Empire. Our heroes work for Isabella del Maraviez but are currently attached to the staff of Marques del Maraviez. Sort of.

del Orofin: wealthy, well-connected and known for their utter ruthlessness. Crossing the del Orofin is always a bad idea. Careful readers will note our heroes have made something of a habit of that particular bad idea.

Power in Pavairelle revolves around a number of aristocratic families that own shipping fleets. Pavairelle has a near-monopoly on sea trade -- even del Maraviez ships are usually contracted from Pavairellean families. The key family of this tale has been

del Istanzic -- run by Countess Sara, this family has apparently gotten involved in piracy, using one of their ships to transport guns stolen from the del Maraviez.

Back in Bayonne we encountered King Percival de Beliard, who's not actually from any family of particular note. We may get more details on King Percival's family life in the future.

Hope that helps!
 

Berandor

lunatic
Phew... I'm through! What can I say? Well, don't take this the wrong way, barsoomcore (and read to the end) - it's not that I don't like your Story Hour - I hate it.

Why? Well, for two main reasons:
- You defy my ability to leisurely peruse the text by leaving me hanging at every update, wanting to read more. This leads to me reading the whole text in four days.
- Now that I am through, I will have to stare blankly at this space, anticipating updates. Plus, I will probably go out and read another SH, where the above repeats itself.

In effect, you are a drug dealer, barsoomcore - and that's bad. To make you better writer in my eyes, you could
- write boring stories
- stop with interesting and distinguishable characters
- refuse to write about a detailed world
- perhaps stop updating altogether? (on second thought - please don't)

That is to say, I love this SH. It's really, really great! I just hope Isaac won't be recognized by his trademark scowl
...
 
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barsoomcore

Unattainable Ideal
No worries. I've gotten myself a new job now, and it's not one where I can spend hours typing updates, unfortunately (what was I thinking?). But I AM working on the next bit, so it'll come eventually. Sorry, folks.
 


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