PF1E Savage: Legacy of Fire

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Seventeen: Rooftop Rumble - Part One

Sufficiently cowed to deter any foolish attempts to escape, Radi leads the party through the bustling streets of Katapesh. The city comes alive as the sun sets and the temperature drops, huge crowds gathering around storefronts illuminated by colourful lanterns, like moths drawn toward a flame. A makeshift ladder ascends onto a low, flat roof overlooking the street. Wooden planks have been lain between buildings to create a precarious rooftop thoroughfare across the city. An eclectic range of vendors have set up shop along this route, selling everything from esoteric texts to candied scorpion tails. Fuk lingers beside the latter, salivating greedily, until Misfar beckons for him to catch up. Radi stops beside a crude canvas shelter and motions toward the flap.

"This is my place. The scroll is inside. I'll get it for - Stop!!"

Radi yelps as Nadiyya shoves him aside and ducks into the tent. Mundane (and most likely stolen) goods have been discarded haphazardly around the interior. A small, dark-skinned girl sits counting copper pieces into a small purse. Long, dirty brown hair hides her face.

"Brother?" the child says, "That was quick. How was your meeting?"

"I'm not your brother, girl."
Nadiyya replies.

The child looks up with milky white eyes and Nadiyya realises she is blind.

"I'm sorry, but we're closed right now. My brother will be back shortly, he will be happy to assist you."

"Your brother is a thief who stole something precious from me,"
Nadiyya answers, "Things will go very badly for both of you if it is not returned immediately."

"You don't frighten me."
the girl lies, her voice quavering, "Radi doesn't steal. It's wrong to steal." Nadiyya laughs.

"Rumi!"
Radi cries, bursting into the tent, followed by Misfar and Fuk (Zain is just too big to fit inside comfortably), "I'll give you your whispering scroll back, just leave my sister alone!"

"Best be quick about it,"
Nadiyya says, summoning fire into her hand.

Radi scrabbles on his hands and knees and produces a small, battered lockbox from beneath a small mountain of junk. Nadiyta reaches over to snatch the Scroll of Kakishon from within.

"There!" Radi cries, casting the empty box aside, "You have your scroll, now leave us alone!"

"Oh, I can't leave before making sure you've learned your lesson...."
Nadiyya says. Radi's gaze flickers fearfully to the flame still dancing in the palm of her free hand. "I should brand you as a thief, so that everyone who meets you will know your crime."

"Nadiyya, no!"
Misfar roars, grabbing her by the arm, "What are you saying? Stop this, now!"

Nadiyya spins on the old elf, eyes blazing. Flames erupt over her entire body and Misfar must snatch his hand away to avoid burning his fingers. Radi and Rumi cry out, retreating against the far wall of the tent, eyes screwed shut in terror. Despite the fierce heat, Nadiyya retains enough control to stop the flames spreading any further.

Just as things are getting out of hand, a new voice calls from outside;

"Radi! Radi Hamdi! Come out, Radi Hamdi, or we will have to come in!"

"Another satisfied customer?"
Fuk asks.

"That sounds like Tamir, from the One Source guild." Radi says, "He must have come looking for me when I didn't show up for our meeting."

"He was interested in buying the scroll?"
Misfar asks.

"Yes! He offered me 30,000 gold, more than enough for Rumi and me to get away from this whispering cesspit once and for all!"

"You're making deals with the Jackal now?"
Rumi shrieks, beating her tiny fists against her brother's chest, "Radi, you idiot! You know what those One Source creeps are involved in! How could you be so stupid?!"

"Radi Hamdi, you are testing my patience,"
Tamir shouts from without, "We had a deal, Radi Hamdi. Deliver the relic or we will burn this entire slum to the ground."

"Oh, so he wants to play with fire?"
Nadiyya grins, "Well then, lets play."

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Eighteen: Rooftop Rumble - Part Two

I've picked up a copy of Dark Markets: A Guide to Katapesh and will try to digest and incorporate some of the information / adventure hooks it contains, before the adventurers moves elsewhere.

Flames writhe cross her alabaster skin, as Nadiyya Emberstorm emerges from Radi's rooftop squat to confront the One Source guild. Night has descended upon the city of Katapesh and a pallid moon silhouettes the distant peak of Pale Mountain against the starry sky. A dozen or so armed ruffians are arrayed across the adjacent rooftops. Tamir is a disreputable looking halfling wearing a dirty grey robe.

"Who in the whispering dark are you?!" Tamir exclaims, as Nadiyya and her companions file out of Radi's tent. "No matter! We're here for the merchant, so step aside unless you want a share in his misfortune."

"We also have a grievance to settle with Master Hamdi - and we were here first."
Nadiyya replies, "You'll have to wait your turn."

"I think not."
Tamir smirks, waving his men forward, "Kill the strangers and bring me the relic!"

Nadiyya whips up her bow and looses an arrow at the halfling as he gives the order to attack. The arrow bursts into flame as it passes through her fiery aura and catches Tamir in his open mouth, punching a hole through his fat cheek. Fuk shoots (and kills) the two archers flanking the wounded halfling.

There are five One Source goons on each of the two adjacent rooftops, they rush across the wobbly plank bridges spanning the busy streets below. Unfortunately for them, there's only so much room on any one rooftop and a few thugs are left feeling very exposed. Fuk avoids an arrow Matrix-style and Nadiyya (who has not invested in the Dodge edge) is Shaken. A One Source swordsman runs screaming at Fuk! He misses and Fuk counters (another Edge!) by sinking his sharp goblin fangs into the man's throat! Blood goes everywhere! In such close quarters, Zain couldn't hope to swing a cat - let alone a +1 magical battleaxe - without hitting one or more One Source thugs. As a free action, Zain kicks aside one of the two plank bridges, sending another enemy tumbling to the ground.

Seeing that half of his goon squad are out of the fight before the end of the first round, Tamir opines that it is time for him to withdraw. He screams something unintelligible (he does, after all, still have an arrow sticking out of his face), then teleports himself away - or tries to. Due to his -3 wound penalty, Tamir fails his Spellcasting roll - presumably because he can't form the magic words correctly through his ruined mouth. Misfar goes on Hold, ready to dispel any other tricks the halfling might have up his sleeve. Tamir tries to Teleport again at the start of round 2. Misfar comes off Hold to cast Dispel, but his magic isn't strong enough to negate Tamir's. The hafling flips Misfar the bird as he disappears.

An arrow plinks off Zain's breastplate. He can't reach the archer, who is standing on another roof. Zain eyeballs the gap between the two buildings, he does not fancy making that jump while rolling a d6-2 for Athletics. Instead, Zain picks up a brick and throws it at the archer. He misses. The archer sniggers. He stops sniggering abruptly as Fuk shoots him in the knee. The thug hops backward, trips over the edge of the roof and falls from sight. Someone in the street below shrieks as an injured man crashes through the roof of their stall.

Misfar taps a thug on the shoulder (touch attack) and teleports him 12" into the air. Falling damage in SWADE is 1d6+1 for every 2" fallen, so falling 12" causes 6d6+6 damage! Misfar takes a step back, as the screaming thug collides with the roof for 30+ damage, beaking every bone in his body.

'That seems frightfully overpowered!' Misfar thinks, looking around for another victim.

Suddenly, Fuk is shot in the back!

"Merciful Sarenrae, save this goblin!" Zain exults, healing one of Fuk's three wounds.

Nadiyya sprints toward the last two archers, cutting one down but leaving herself exposed to the second. The last thug switches to his sword and prepares to drive the blade through her back...! There is a whoosh! The thug drops his weapon and looks down. Oh! He is impaled on one of Misfar's magical spears. The last thug dies.

"What do the One Source guild want with the Scroll of Kakishon?" Misfar ponders, once the dust has settled, "It seems they are prepared to kill to get their hands on it."

"Let them try, I'll be ready for them."
Nadiyya says, surveying her grim handiwork. The flames of her wrath have dulled somewhat, doused by the blood spilled by her blade.

"Fuk has arrow in his back!" Fuk declares, pointing proudly to the shaft.

"Yes. Well done, Fuk." Misfar replies absently, then; "But how do they even know about the relic? Could they be allied with Zayifid? We should get the scroll to Archmage Rayhan as soon as possible, it will be safer with him than anywhere else in this city."

"What about them?"
Zain asks, nodding at Radi and his sister.

All eyes (except for Rumi's) swivel slowly toward Nadiyya.

"Do as you like with them," she says, turning her own gaze to the stars, "We have the scroll back. We should get going."

Misfar releases a relieved breath he didn't know he'd been holding. Nadiyya's erratic behaviour of late has the old elf worried, but he's not sure what to do about it, yet.

"The guild will come looking for us now," Radi says, "We have nowhere to go where they won't find us."

"Travel north-west to Kelmarane,"
Zain suggests, "Princess Almah Roveshki is a benevolent ruler. Tell her we sent you and she will find you both a place to start over."

"No more stealing!"
Fuk adds.

"A new beginning!" Radi cries, tears of joy glistening on his cheeks, "Thankyou, my friends! May all the gods bless you - except for the evil ones, of course!"

Nadiyya feels a small hand close around her own. She looks down to find little Rumi clinging to her arm.

"Thankyou for not burning my brother," she says.

Nadiyya grunts, which seems to satisfy the blind girl. Nadiyya looks away. She doesn't deserve Rumi's gratitude. She had wanted to do it, wanted to burn the child and her thieving brother, then watch their ashes blow away on the desert wind. If it hadn't been for the interruption from those One Source idiots, she would have done it.

"What is happening to me?" Nadiyya whispers. She doesn't know. She just hopes she works it out before someone gets hurt....

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Nineteen: The Scholar's Villa

Archmage Rayhan resides in a modest, three-storey villa perched on a cliff overlooking the Obari Ocean. When the party arrive, they find their camels stabled nearby and Garavel waiting to introduce them to their esteemed host. The archmage greets them in a lavish reception room decorated with expensive silk rugs and overstuffed divans. Paintings on the walls depict scenes from the many planes Rayhan has visited on his extra-planar exploits.

The archmage is a tall, bald man wearing sky blue robes and the stern expression of a patient - but disappointed - tutor.

"Here you are at last. Well, better late than never. No, no - I don't care to hear your excuses, lets just get this over with. Over the last fifty years, countless frauds and forgers have claimed to have found the fabled Scroll of Kakishon, each imitation poorer than the last. The only reason I have agreed to see you at all is because Almah requests it. I have known the princess a long time. For that, I will grant you five minutes and the promise not to report you to the Pactmasters when this scroll turns out to be a fake."

Nadiyya hands the relic over and Rayhan performs a cursory examination.

"Hmmmm. Well it's certainly old enough, or has been artificially aged to appear so. Where do you claim to have found it?"

"In the Tomb of Shirak, beneath The House of the Beast."
Misfar answers. He is feeling a little starstruck in the presence of such a formidable wizard.

"Hmmmm. A curious detail. Some historians name Shirak as a servant of the ifreeti warlord Jhavul and even speculate she would have been present at the final battle between Jhavul's army and the Templars of the Five Winds - who I am to understand you claim to have met."

"We have encountered two djinn claiming to serve Nefeshti,"
Misfar confirms.

"Kardswann was alright," Nadiyya adds, "But Zayifid was a bit of a prick. He's also after the Scroll, by the way - as well as the One Source guild here in Katapesh."

"In a ruined monastery outside Kelmarane, I communed with the spirit of Vardishal,"
Zain rumbles, "He told me where to find this cool axe."

Zain presents Tempest for inspection. Rayhan frowns thoughtfully.

"Hmmm. This is either the most elaborate hoax yet, or you may have stumbled upon something truly wondrous. Let's take a look inside."

With painstaking care, Rayhan unfurls the ancient scroll. A single rune has been inked onto the parchment, staggering in its complexity. Looking at it for to long causes a dizzying sense of vertigo. The archmage grows even more excited, tracing the contours of the labyrinthine glyph with his finger.

"Long ago, there were two rival sorcerers called Geb and Nex. You've likely heard the names, the lands they ruled over are still recovering from the fallout of their many battles. There are few things in this world more devastating than a feud between wizards.
Nex created his own private demi-plane, an unassailable sanctuary where he could retreat and recover his strength before his next battle with Geb. Several scholars - myself foremost among them - speculate this demi-plane also served as a secure vault for all of Nex's most storied artifacts.
Nex called his sanctuary Kakishon and if I am correct, this scroll is the only existing way of reaching it."

"Kardswann told us that Jhavul's power was sealed within the scroll,"
Misfar says, "We assumed that was why everyone was after it."

"It's certainly possible that some fragment of Jhavul's power is contained within the relic,"
Rayhan muses, "There is evidence that Nex occasionally used Kakishon as a prison for his enemies.
"My friends, I apologise for doubting you. The authenticity of this item is beyond question. If it is your intention to open the way to Kakishon and explore its wonders, I can help you. This is undoubtedly the most complex rune I have ever seen, but I can decipher it, given time. You are welcome guests in my home for as long as you care to stay.
"Alternatively, you could auction the relic off to he highest bidder. I trust that I've impressed on you the value of this artifact. You could all become unimaginably wealthy, but you would be forfeiting the chance to experience the wonders of Kakishon first-hand.
"I will leave you to discuss among yourselves. Please take as long as you need. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and your decision should not be made in haste."


Though she will not admit it to her companions, Nadiyya is desperate to learn more about the ifreeti warlord Jhavul. She votes to visit Kakishon.

Being Curious, Misfar cannot pass on the opportunity to explore another world, he also votes to visit Kakishon.

Zain has two goals in his life; to serve Sarenrae and find/free his mother. He doubts either objective will be fulfilled in Nex's private party plane. He votes against visiting Kakishon.

"What if we help you find your mother first?" Nadiyya suggests, "It's going to take time for Rayhan to decipher the scroll anyway and we can look for information in the meantime."

Fuk votes yes. He doesn't really understand what's going on, but he kinda' likes not being by himself all the time and wants to stick with his new friends.

The decision is made. The party will stay in Katapesh and search for Zain's mother, while Rayhan labours to unlock the secrets of the scroll.

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
These are the character builds at this point in the AP. I was trying to give 4 advances / 1 rank per book, but at that rate they will hit Legendary at the start of book 5, so I'm going to have to slow that right down.

NADIYYA EMBERSTORM (Human 45xp Veteran)
Beautiful and athletic young woman with long black hair and smouldering red eyes. Pale skin that seems resistant to sunburn.
AG D6, SM D6, SP D10, ST D6, VI D6
P 6" , PR 8 (2), TN 7 (2), PP 15/15, B 3/3. WLTH: D4
HINDRANCES: Can't Swim, Impulsive, Secret (Ifreeti bloodline)
EDGES: Arcane Background (Gifted), Attractive (+1), Frenzy, Combat Reflexes
SKILLS: Athletics D6, Common Knowledge D4, Fighting D8, Focus D10, Intimidation D6, Notice D6, Persuasion D6, Riding D6, Shooting D6, Stealth D6
POWERS: Flaming Weapon (Smite), Coerce Flame (Elemental Manipulation), Fire Immunity (Environmental Protection, 1PP), Spontaneous Combustion (Damage Field), Flamethrower (Burst)
GEAR: Shortsword (ST+D6), Bow (2D6, 12/24/48), Leather Vest +2, Medium Shield (+2PR/-2CV), Riding Camel (Blaze)


MISFAR (Elf 45xp Veteran)
Dark complexion, grey ponytail and grey eyes. Searching for lost ruins swallowed by the desert. Unfailingly polite & courteous, even to his enemies.
AG D6, SM D10, SP D6, ST D4, VI D6
P 6" , PR 6 (1), TN 6 (1), PP 20/20, B 3/3, WLTH: D6
HINDRANCES: All Thumbs, Cautious, Curious, Mild Mannered (-2)
EDGES: Agile, Arcane Background (Magic), Low Light Vision, Wizard
SKILLS: Academics D6, Athletics D6, Common Knowledge D6, Fighting D6, Notice D6, Occult D6, Persuasion D6, Research D6, Riding D4, Spellcasting D12, Stealth D6
POWERS: Mirage (Illusion), Sand Blast (Burst), Sandy Step (Burrow), Sand Spear (Bolt), Sleepy Sand (Slumber), Sandwall (Barrier), Dispel, Fly & Teleport.
GEAR: Staff (ST+D4, +1PR, +1Reach, 2H), Robes +1, Spellbook, Riding Camel (Geminara), Healing Potion


ZAIN AL-SAHLI (Human 45xp Veteran)
Tall and muscular human man, devoted to the sun goddess Sarenrae. Bald with sun tattoo forehead head. Slow to anger, but fearsome when roused. Wields an enormous hammer.
AG D6, SM D4, SP D8, ST D10, VI D8
P 8", PR 6, TN 11 (4), PP 10/10, B 3/3. WLTH: Broke
HINDRANCES: Big Mouth, Clueless, Vow (to serve Sarenrae)
EDGES: Arcane Background (Miracles), Brawny, Brave (+2), Improved Sweep, Nerves of Steel
SKILLS: Athletics D6, Common Knowledge D4, Faith D8, Fighting D10, Intimidation D6, Notice D4, Persuasion D8, Riding D4, Stealth D6
POWERS: Solar Flash (Blind), Dazzling Aura (Deflection), Healing, Solar Sentinel (Summon Ally), Volcanic Strike (Burst)
GEAR: Tempest +1 (ST+D10+1), Cloak of the North Wind (Fleet Footed Edge), Plate corselet +4, Holy Symbol of Sarenrae, Riding Camel (Sonny)


FUK URF (Goblin 45xp Veteran)
Sandy skinned desert goblin nomad. Bit of a loner, ordinarily. Likes to catch and eat small vermin that lives in the desert (lizards, scorpions, ect...)
AG D12, SM D6, SP D6, ST D6, VI D4
P 5" , PR 7 (1/1), TN 5 (2), PP n/a, B 2/2, WLTH: D4
HINDRANCES: Outsider (-2), Reduced Size -1, Reduced Pace, Bad Luck, Poverty, Quirk (eats vermin), Demon Phobia (-2)
EDGES: Bite (SR+D4), Infravision, Quick, Sneaky, Trademark Weapon (bow +1), Feint, Dodge (-2 to hit w/ranged), Counterattack, Rapid Fire
SKILLS: Athletics D10, Common Knowledge D4, Fighting D8, Healing D4, Intimidation D4, Notice D6, Persuasion D4, Riding D4, Shooting D12, Stealth D8, Survival D6
GEAR: Axe (ST+D6), Bow (2D6, 12/24/48), Leather Vest +2, Small Shield (+1 PR), Riding Camel
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty: Under the Hammer

While Rayhan studies the Scroll of Kakashon, the heroes scour Katapesh for clues regarding the whereabouts of Zain's lost mother. He last saw her twenty-five years ago, when they were captured and separated by wicked slavers. The heroes know that people trafficking is semi-legal throughout Katapesh and auctions are held daily at Slavers Block in the Lower City. The heroes also hear gossip about a group of vigilantes called the Steel Falcons, who have been targeting prominent slave traders for assassination.

Zain remembers that the men who attacked his village travelled aboard a black sailed ship. It is common knowledge that Lord Oslynn Clarion commands a fleet of black sailed slave ships, which have terrorised the coastal settlements north of Katpesh for many years. Unfortunately, Lord Clarion is nigh untouchable, favoured by the Pactmasters and protected by the Zephyr Guard.

Zain reveals that the sun tattoo on his forehead covers the slave brand that had previously been stamped there.

The party devise a strategem. If Zain's mother was sold on the slaver's block, a record of the transaction should be held by the Auctioneers Guild. The party will infiltrate the guild headquarters and find the bill of sale. In the worst case scenario, they will try to hook up with the Steel Falcons for an (likely doomed) assault on Castle Clarion.

The auctioneers guildhall is in the Inner City, where squads of Zephyr Guard patrol frequently and keep a keen eye on anyone acting suspiciously. Misfar is the only party member with skill points in Research, so the plan is to sneak him into the auctioneer's archive. The party debate several plans, each more outlandish than the last, before eventually deciding just to break in under the cover of darkness. Misfar remembers that the Burrow power allows him to walk through walls and by spending extra Power Points, the rest of the party can too! Nadiyya opts to stay outside and act as a lookout.

The guildhall is dark and quiet, all of the staff have gone home for the night. Or have they...? The heroes hear footsteps nearby; slow, heavy and deliberate. It's about now that Zain remembers he can't see in the dark and spends a Benny to ret-con a visit to a merchant earlier that day to purchase a potion of Darksight. The heroes creep forward, eyes peeled for either the archive room or the unseen guard. Up ahead, where the corridor intersects with another passage, they spot a door labelled ARCHIVE.

Suddenly, a towering figure stomps into view. It is humanoid, but taller even than Zain. Its eyes gleam with ghostly blue fire and an azure gemstone pulses in its chest. Misfar knows that this strange sentinel is an Aluum; a golem powered by the souls of dead slaves. The anti-magic glyphs etched into the golem's metal frame make the wizard feel light-headed. Misfar staggers, knocking over a decorative cactus. The aluum's eye blaze as it charges toward the sound!

Misfar rolled snake-eyes on his Stealth die, so... yeah.

Unfortunately for Fuk, he was at the head of the marching order when the aluum attacked. The golem lands a glancing blow, but Fuk soaks the damage and resists the aluum's paralyzing touch. The goblin's eyes are drawn to the glowing crystal set in the golem's chest and he tries to grab it (opposed Athletics-4 vs the aluum). The crystal is shockingly cold to the touch. Fuk rolls Vigour D4 -4 and somehow manages to get a Raise! He resists being paralyzed, but is not strong enough to wrench the gemstone from its metal casing.

"Move!!" Zain roars, swinging his axe at the golem. Fuk ducks as Tempest collides with the aluum's chest, shattering its crystal heart. The trapped souls within escape with a ghostly wail, as the golem falls over, lifeless and inert.

Fortunately, the heroes disabled the aluum quickly and without making much noise. A squad of Zephyr Guard march passed the dark guildhall, oblivious to what is going on inside. Nadiyya watches them until they are out of sight, then breaths a sigh of relief.

The heroes enter the archive. Thousands of thick, dusty ledgers are stacked and shelved around the room. Misfar gets stuck in while Zain and Fuk stand around feeling a bit useless. It takes until dawn, but the wizard is able to narrow their search to three candidates; all three are women in the correct age bracket, sold by Lord Clarion, within three months of the day Zain and his mother were captured.

The first was sold to the Gladiatior's Guild, right here in Katapesh.

The second was sold to a pesh farmer on the outskirts of Okeno.

The third was sold to the captain of a pirate vessel named the Wormwood.

Not much to go on, but better than nothing. The heroes burrow out of the guildhall and rejoin Nadiyya on the street. The party retire to Rayhan's villa to get some rest and discuss which of the three slave women to liberate first.

TBC

Monster Notes: Aluum: metal golem (Fantasy Companion), powered by the souls of dead slaves. Greater Arcane Resistance, paralyzing touch and soul scream (stun, blast template centred on the aluum). Crystal is weak spot.
 
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mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty One: Ruk & Roll - Part One

Rayhan is no closer to unlocking the secrets of the scroll, leaving the party with plenty of time to investigate the clues they uncovered in the auctioneers guildhall.

One of the three women who could be Zain's mother was sold to the Gladiator's Guild, so the heroes head to the Grand Coliseum, an immense stadium in the centre of the city. A long line of people are queuing up outside the entrance, jostling and cheering excitedly as the line inches forward. The heroes join the end of the queue.

"What's going on here?" Misfar asks the man in front of him.

"Have you been living under a rock?" the man answers, "It's the first day of the Ruk season! Go Scorpions!! Woot!!"

Ruk is a popular sport, where two teams of ten unarmed athletes compete to throw a ball through the other team's hoop. Outright murdering another player on the field is frowned on, but pretty much anything else goes. Today, the Solku Scorpions face off against the Bug Harbour Behirs. Each team in the league is sponsored by one of the major guilds.

Eventually, the heroes reach the front of the queue, purchase tickets for the match and find their seats. The roar of the crowd is deafening as the two teams take the field. The Scorpions stand out in their bright orange tunics, whereas the Behirs are garbed in muted shades of blue and brown. A mangy gnoll is taking bets on the outcome of the match. Nadiyya places a wager on the Scorpions winning the game.

A whistle blows and the match begins! Players throw, kick and roll the ball between each other and every time someone scores, a loud gong sounds across the arena, barely audible over the cheering of the crowd. Several players have to be carried off the pitch after they are knobbled by the opposing team. After thirty minutes, another whistle sounds and the game pauses for an interval. The score is Behirs 3 / Scorpions 2. Food vendors move amidst the spectators, selling nibbles and drinks. Fuk buys a bag of deep fried tarantula legs and enjoys them very much! Play resumes and continues for another half hour. Each team scores another goal and the final score is Behirs 4 / Scorpions 3. Nadiyya curses and tears up her betting slip, she is now Broke.

The crowd begins to disperse, but the heroes linger, looking for someone they can ask about Zain's mother. A bored groundskeeper points them toward the locker rooms and suggests they talk to Zari.

The heroes follow the sound of screaming to the player's locker room. They walk in on two burly men struggling to hold down a third, while a dark skinned woman attempts to splint his broken leg.

"Hold still Roone, you big baby!" the woman cries out in exasperation, "I can't help you while you're flopping about like a whispering jellyfish!"

Misfar steps forward and casts Slumber on the injured man. He immediately lies still, snoring gently. The woman nods her thanks and finishes setting the broken limb. Once she is done, she washes the blood from her hands, then turns to the heroes.

"My thanks, magi. I feared I would have to knock Roone out myself before he would stop shrieking and let me work. He's a cry baby, but he's also our star player - and out of commission until that whispering leg heals.
"My name is Zari - how can I help you?"


Zain steps forward.

"My name is Zain Al-Sahli and I am looking for my mother."

Zari's eyes widen with wonder as she stares up into the big man's face.

"Little Zain, but how can this be? After all this time, I thought you must be dead."

"Mother?"
Zain whispers, reaching down to take her hand.

"I'm sorry Zain. No. I am your aunt."

"What happened?"
Zain asks, "Where is my mother? Anything you can tell me would be helpful. I.. I don't even remember her name."

"Your mother's name is Zeri Al-Sahli,"
Zari answers, "She had two sisters, Zuri and myself. On that whispering day, when the slavers came and killed your father, all four of us were taken. I don't know what happened to either of my sisters. I was sold to the Gladiators Guild and forced to fight. I am no stranger to the spear and survived long enough to be promoted to trainer. When Ruk became fashionable, I was asked to coach the Solku Scorpions."

Nadiyya spits on the locker room floor. Zari snorts.

"Yes, we're not winning many games and are close to being relegated to the provincial league," Zari says sadly, "With Roone out of action, I don't see how we can win our next match. No doubt i'll lose my position and be sent back to the fighting pits."

"No."
Zain states, folding his arms across his chest, "I will not stand for it. You are family and I will not see you sent to the pits. If there is anything I can do, you have but to name it - and by the will of Sarenrae, I will see it done!"

"Well, there is one thing...."
Zari says, eyeing her nephew's brawny physique, "Tell me, what size tunic do you wear?"

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty Two: Ruk & Roll - Part Two

The Solku Scorpions' next match is two days later, versus the Okeno Raptors. Once again, the Grand Coliseum is packed with spectators, cheering loudly and brandishing banners in their team's colours.

The muted roar of the crowd is audible from the locker rooms, where the heroes prepare to make their sporting debut. Fuk, Nadiyya and Zain exchange their armour for the bright orange tunics worn by their side. Misfar, being too old and bookish for such larks, is sitting this one out.

"Good luck out there, nephew!" Zari says, handing Zain his helmet, "Play rough and play dirty, but above all, play well!"

The Scorpions jog out onto the playing field and the fans go wild.

"Fuk could get used to this!" the goblin says, basking in their adoration.

"Fame is a fickle friend," Zain warns, "They cheer for us now, but if we lose, they will curse our names and a tenday from now, we will be forgotten."

"Pah!"
Fuk snorts, "Fuk will give them something to remember!"

The Okeno Raptors emerge from their own locker room, wearing powder blue tunics. The two teams line up opposite one another and the two captains shake hands. Nadiyya stares at the other side's line-up and her eyes widen.

"They have a cave troll!" she cries, "Wait, are they allowed a cave troll? Why don't we have a cave troll?"

"The rules don't say they can't have a cave troll,"
says the referee, "Get ready, the match is about to begin."

The whistle blows and the game is afoot!

---

Rules for Ruk: A game of Ruk is played in two halves, each lasting thirty minutes. Each team has a Ruk skill. Each team can have a number of signature players up to to half their Ruk die. Each signature players is dealt an initiative card and makes a Skill roll (usually Athletics, but other Skills may be substituted) to either Attack, Defend or Foul.

Attack: every Sucess and Raise the player gets adds +1 to the team's Ruk roll at the end of the current half.

Defend: rolls to Defend are made with a +1 modifier, every Sucess and Raise the player gets subtracts -1 from the other team's Ruk roll at the end of the current half.

Foul: you attempt to knobble a player on the other team so they can no longer play, make an opposed Fighting roll; on a Success, the target player suffers a -2 penalty for the rest of the current half, with a Raise, the target player is knobbled and no longer participates in the game.

A critical failure on any of the above rolls results in the player being either knobbled themself or sent off by the referee. You may allow a Persuasion roll at -2 to change the referee's mind. Bribes are not unheard of.

After every signature player has acted, each team rolls their Ruk die (with a Wild Die) and applies any modifiers from the signature players individual actions. Each Sucess/Raise on this roll represents a goal scored during the current half. Repeat this process for the second half and to determine the final score.


---

The Solku Scorpions, Ruk D8
1: Captain Zain Al-Sahli
2: Nadiyya Emberstorm
3: Fuk the Goblin
4: n/a


The Okeno Raptors, Ruk D8
1: Captain Javid Dames
2: Nemaril Nevershot
3: Arjen Alba
4: Pogba the Cave Troll


First Half

"There goes the whistle, signifying the start of today's match. The Scorpions have a lot riding on the outcome of this game, a victory here could secure their position in the league tables.
I'm seeing a lot of new faces in the Scorpions line-up. Coach Zari has decided to mix things up after their recent loss against the Bug Harbour Behirs.
Nadiyya Emberstorm has taken possession of the ball and is making a bee-line for the Raptor's goal! Look at her go! Wait, is she on fire?! It certainly looks that way from up here in the commentator's box. Nobody can get close to her! She shoots...! She scores!! The Scorpions take an early lead, but there's still a lot of time to go.
Pogba is on the move! He's going after Emberstorm! Wait, she doesn't even have the ball anymore! She dodges what could have been a career ending injury! Pogba had better watch out, Emberstorm does not look happy!
It looks as though Captain Zain Al-Sahli - replacing Roone after a nasty tackle took him out during his last match - is adopting a more defensive role here. He's certainly big, but he's slow and Nemaril is through! Raptors equalize!!
Fuk... just Fuk, apparently, takes the ball! He ducks between Arjen's legs and scores!! Two-One to the Scorpions!!
Captain Javid does not look impressed. He cuts through the Scorpions' defensive line and scores! He's not finished yet though - another goal for the Raptors! Captain Zain seems unable to stop his counterpart getting around him!

There goes the whistle, signifying the end of the first round. The current score is Raptors 3 / Scorpions 2. Can the Scorpions recover, or are they already on the slippery slope toward another humiliating defeat? I'll be back after the break - but first, a word from our sponsor...."

Second Half

"Here come the teams, returning to the pitch for the second half. What's this? It seems coach Zari has substituted in a new player. Is that an old elven dude?
It looks like the Raptors are taking a more defensive approach to the second half, with both Arjen and Pogba guarding their goal. Emberstorm is going for it anyway... No! She"s going for Pogba! The cave troll goes down hard! But look, he's getting back up! Pogba definitely felt that tackle, but he's still in the game!
Captain Zain is still in defence - and he still can't stop the tag team of Javid and Nemaril dancing round him. The Raptors score another two goals in quick succession!

Fuk the Goblin attacks! He's light on his feet, but will that be enough to save the day? The Scorpions of 5/2 down at this point and the final whistle is only moments away. What's this?! Fuk has just split into three identical goblins and they're all running in different directions! Arjen and Pogba have no idea what to do! Is this some kind of illusion magic? Is that allowed? We just received a decision from the ref. The rules don't say you can't use illusion magic. Fuk scores once! He scores again! One more goal and the Scorpions equalize!! He's going for it... he shoots...! The final whistle goes! The game is over!! The final score is Raptors 5 / Scorpions 4! Wow! What a game!!"

In the Scorpions' locker room, a group of tired, sweaty heroes flop across the benches and shared dismayed glances with one another as they gulp for breath. They played their socks off, but it wasn't enough.

"I'm sorry, Aunt Zari," Zain says sadly, "I have failed you."

"You did your best,"
she answers, "That's the most I could have asked for. The fighting pits aren't so bad. At least I won't have to listen to Roone whining any more.
Don't you worry about me, I'll be fine. You worry about finding your mother. When you do, tell her that Zari is proud of the man her nephew has grown into."


The party may have failed to save Zain's aunt from the pits, but on the plus side, they do get to keep their team tunics.

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty Three: Fields of Battle - Part One


The heroes head next to the island of Okeno. The second of three women from Zain's village was bought by a pesh farmer on the island and there is a 50/50 chance that this time will be Zain's mother. The party hitch a ride with the Okeno Raptors, returning home as champions after their victory in the coliseum.

"No hard feelings." Pogba the Cave Troll grunts, while helping the party stow their luggage below deck, "It's just a game, after all."

With the wind in their sails, the voyage to Okeno lasts two days. The party disembark and bid farewell to the Raptors. After finding somewhere to stay, they ask for directions to the nearest pesh fields. They are told that a large farm is situated north of the harbour, in the foothills of Mount Stonespine. The farm is well defended, but this far from Katapesh, at least the heroes don't have to worry about the Zephyr Guard. Mounted mercenaries patrol the fields, a deterrent to the gnoll raiders skulking in the rocky highlands.

"There must be hundreds of slaves working those fields," Misfar mutters, as the party surveil the farm from afar, "How are we going to establish if your mother is amongst them?"

The party opt to sneak in after dark. There are twelve stone dormitories, each housing fifty or so exhausted and malnourished slaves. The dorms are locked and guarded overnight. Unfortunately, Zain is just too darn big to go unnoticed for long and a sharp eared sentry hears him blundering through the pesh fields.

Again, the human heroes forgot they can't see in the dark.

The slavers can though, as it would be too dangerous to carry torches into the fields and risk the merchandise catching fire. A posse of mounted guards descend upon the party, a-whooping and a-hollering as they close in on what they believe to be a group of escaped slaves.

Nadiyya can hear the riders crashing through the fields, she calls on the fire in her blood and projects a cone of flame in their direction. One rider is caught in the burst and the fire quickly spreads into the pesh as the burning horse rears in terror. Fearing that the fire will endanger their own lives, Misfar dispels the flames before they get out of control.

"No more fire!" the wizard screams at Nadiyya, "You'll kill us all!"

"Fire is kinda' my whole deal!"
she snaps back angrily, "What if told you 'no more magic'?!" Nevertheless, she switches to her shortsword.

This kinda' sucked as I had planned for the smoke from the burning pesh to cause the combatants on both sides to experience weird hallucinations.

Fuk can see in the dark just fine, but he's too short to find targets amidst the towering cacti. A rider approaches and Fuk tries to scale the horse, giving him a better view of the battlefield. He slips and narrowly avoids being trampled beneath the beast's thundering hooves. The beast rears, but the rider manages to stay in the saddle.

Zain swings Tempest at a passing rider and chops him in half at the waist. The top bit falls to the ground, leaving the bloody legs dangling from the stirrups.

"These ain't no 'scaped slaves!" one of the other eleven riders yells, "We's being raided, boys! Yee-haw!!"

One rider wheels his horse around and gallops back toward the farm to raise the alarm. The other ten attack from horseback. They are accustomed to mounted combat and aren't hindered by the Unstable Platform penalty.

Zain is surrounded by a trio of armed horsemen. He sweeps Tempest around, but misses all three targets. For five Power Points, Misfar can cast Slumber over a small burst template and not effect his friend. Two of the riders surrounding Zain suddenly fall asleep in the saddle.

The rider of the shaken horse hops down and stabs toward the prone goblin beneath his horse. Fuk bites his hand and the shaken guard drops his sword.

"You done bit me, boy!" the rider shrieks, holding up his bloodied fingers.

Fuk scrambles out from underneath the man's horse and lops off the entire arm. He scrambles up onto the horse's back, finally Fuk can see what's going on! He opens fire on the mounted archers; killing one and leaving a second Shaken.

More arrows whistle through the dark and Nadiyya is struck in the shoulder. She suffers two wounds and is Shaken.

"I got you, girlie!" the archer heckles, "I got you good!"

Misfar places his hand against the flank of the horse adjacent to him. It disappears!! The rider falls prone, staring up at the wizard, all bug-eyed and befuddled.

"Whut you done with my horse, boy?!"

There is a meaty splat as the aforementioned mount falls 12" and lands atop its helpless rider.

"So OP." the wizard chuckles.

An arrow whips passed Misfar's head as he turns away from the mess he has just made. He is Shaken. Another arrow hits Nadiyya and she suffers a third wound. Seeing that his friend is grievously injured, Zain calls upon his goddess to heal Nadiyya. With dawn still hours away, the power of Sarenrae wanes and only one wound is healed. An instant later Misfar is hit again, now he is wounded also!

"By the Starstone, find cover!" Zain yells, "I only have one pair of hands!"

"Perhaps we should consider a tactical withdrawal?"
Misfar suggests.

"Piss on this!" Nadiyya yells, toasting a pair of riders in a burst of fire, "They can't chase us and save their pesh! Time to go!!"

"Don't breathe the smoke!"
Misfar warns, "It will dull your wits!"

The party retreat through a haze of hallucinogenic smoke, leaving the surviving riders to fight the fire spreading across their fields.

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty Four: Fields of Battle - Part Two

The heroes return to their lodgings, weary and reeking of smoke. Despite the lateness of the hour, there is a visitor waiting for them; a bespectacled half-elf who introduces himself as H'kul Mushain.

"Late night?" Mushain asks, eyeballing their bloodied weapons and armour, "I hear the Clarion farm was raided a few hours back. You could see the flames from the edge of town. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

"Clarion? As in Oslynn Clarion?"
Nadiyya asks, "Haha... do we look that stupid?"

"You look like you just lost a fight you were ill prepared for,"
Mushain states, "Let's not waste any more time. The farm you so recklessly assaulted is owned by Lord Clarion's uncle Calvin. Fortunately, for you, the two of them don't get on.
You can't stay here. Calvin won't call on the Zephyr Guard, but he has allies among the Stonespine gnolls and they will be tracking you. Burning the pesh fields was smart, that will slow them down, but they will be coming."

"Why should we trust you?"
Misfar asks.

"You don't have to trust me, but I believe we can help each other," Mushain answers, "I can take you somewhere safe, or you can stay here and wait for Calvin's dogs to pick up your scent. It's entirely your choice, but choose quickly. I can't jeopardise my own mission and I'm already taking too great a risk being seen with you."

"Wait! Are you with the Steel Falcons?"
Nadiyya asks.

"We can't talk here," Mushain says, "I have a ship. Come with me and I'll tell you all I can."

The party follow the half-elf vigilante to his ship; the Cloud Dancer. Mushain introduces them to the rest of the Falcons, a rag-tag crew of Andoran freedom fighters and escaped slaves.

"We've been watching the farm for some time," Mushain explains, "We were working on a convoluted scheme to masquerade as mandingo trainers, but your actions last night suggest a straightforward assault could succeed, if we work together."

"We didn't come here to assassinate Calvin Clarion,"
Zain states, "My mother is being forced to work in the pesh fields. We came to Okeno to free her."

"Your mother is one of six hundred slaves being worked to death on Calvin's farm,"
Mushain answers, "We plan to free all of them, but Calvin will just buy more if we leave him alive.
"Are you with us?"


The heroes decide to stand with the Steel Falcons. Calvin Clarion had thirty mercenaries guarding the farm; the heroes killed six and several more were injured fighting the fire in the burning fields. Gnoll reinforcements have been summoned, but are not suffered to enter the farmhouse. Zain and Misfar will lead a squad of eight Falcons in a diversionary assault on the bunk houses, while Nadiyya, Fuk and Mushain infiltrate the farmhouse to kill Calvin.

Rather than run a huge, drawn-out tactical combat, I treated this scene as a Quick Encounter.

Misfar causes a distraction with magic (Spellcasting, success), firing off multi-coloured fireworks to draw the guards away from the farmhouse. About half of Calvin's men mount up to investigate. Zain and the Steel Falcons engage the mercenaries (Fighting, Raise). Even outnumbered, the freedom fighters hold their ground. More guards are drawn away from the farmhouse to join the battle, leaving the way clear for Nadiyya and Fuk to get inside. Fuk sneaks ahead (Stealth, success) and reaches Calvin's study undetected. The slave owner is left with only a handful of bodyguards. Even wounded, Nadiyya is able to best them in combat (Fighting, success). Calvin Clarion sits behind his desk, reaching for a box of fine Cheliaxian cigars as Nadiyya cuts down the last of his men.

"Any of you sons of bitches got a light?" he asks.

Nadiyya holds out her bloody sword. The blade glows brightly then burst into flame. Calvin leans forward and holds his cigar over the burning blade.

"Calvin Clarion," Mushain says, raising his crossbow to point at the slave owner's chest, "You are found guilty of perpetuating a system of unwilful servitude. On the authority of His Excellency Codwin of - "

"If you're planning to kill me, just get it done,"
Calvin growls, blowing smoke into the half-elf's face, "Don't bore me with your Andoran politics."

"So be it."
Mushain says, pulling the trigger. Calvin grunts as the crossbolt knocks him out of his chair. A pair of legs stick up from behind the desk, twitching feebly as the life leaves the slaver's body.

"Bad man has nice shoes!" Fuk observes.

Calvin may be dead, but the mercenaries who took his coin are still fighting around the bunk houses. Zain and the Falcons drew the majority of the slaver's men away, but now they are grossly outnumbered and surrounded by enemies.

"We've got to go help the others," Nadiyya says urgently.

"Fuk coming!" the goblin cries, struggling with the laces on Calvin's boots. They're a bit too big, but he'll grow into them, maybe. Fuk follows Nadiyya and Mushain out of the room. A moment later, he returns to snatch the box of cigars from Calvin's desk.

The sellswords are caught fighting on two fronts and the tide of battle turns against them. Some flee into the mountains, but most are slain. The Steel Falcons don't extend mercy to those who profit from slavery. One of the dead mercenaries was carrying the keys needed to unlock the bunk houses and release the slaves.

Zain moves among the throng, desperately searching for his mother. He can't remember her face, but he does spot one woman bearing a familial resemblance to his Aunt Zari. Zain feels his stomach lurch. Somehow - he doesn't understand how, but somehow - he knows that his long search is over.

"Mother?"

The small, dark-skinned woman looks to him, recognition coming slowly to eyes dulled by decades of hardship.

"Zain? My little lion. Is it really you?"

"It is me, mother. By the grace of Sarenrae, I have finally found you."


For the first time since he was a child, Zain Al-Sahli embraces his mother. Fuk stumbles around in Calvin's oversized boots, handing out cigars to celebrate this momentous occasion.

"We must go!" Mushain cries, cutting short their joyous reunion, "The Cloud Dancer is waiting to carry these good people to their new lives in Andoran."

The heroes escort the freed slaves to the ship and guard the docks as they are all bought aboard. It seems cruel to Zain that he and his mother must part ways so soon after finding each other, but she cannot remain in Katapesh. As an escaped slave, she would be hunted, until someone else put another collar around her neck.

"You could have gone with them," Nadiyya says, as she and Zain stand together on the dockside, watching the Cloud Dancer cast off, "To Andoran, I mean. You could have been a family again."

"When all this is over, perhaps I will do that."
Zain says, "But my work here is not yet done. The slave trade is abhorrent to Sarenrae and it runs through Katapesh like a poison in the blood. My mother is free, but what of the others who still bear the yoke of slavery? My work will not be done until every last chain has been broken and all the peoples of this sacred land stand together, free and united against evil."

"You set yourself an impossible task."
Nadiyya says sadly, "You would sooner soak up all the oceans of the Inner Sea with a sponge."

"Have faith, my friend."
Zain says, turning his face to the glorious sunrise, "Sometimes, faith is all we have."

TBC
 

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty Five: The Jackal's Price

The heroes return to Katapesh, eager to check on Rayhan's progress deciphering the Scroll of Kakishon. They have been away from the city for six days and much has changed in their absence.

"I have been awaiting your return," the archmage says, "I have unlocked the secrets of the Scroll and you can open a gateway to Kakishon at any time. However, this message came for you this morning...."

'To the Heroes of Kelmarane.
'Radi Hamda and his sister are now my guests. If you would see them again, you will agree to my price. I want the Scroll of Kakishon - you will surely agree their lives are more than fair trade for such a treasure? Bring the relic to the One Source warehouse at sunset. Once I have the Scroll, my guests will be released unharmed. Fail to deliver the Scroll and their blood will be on your hands.
'Z'


"Whispering Zayifid, that son of a witch!" Misfar curses, screwing the missive into a ball and casting it aside, "Hiding behind innocent hostages, that jackal!"

"What do we do?"
Zain asks, "We can't give him the Scroll."

"And we can't let him hurt Rumi!"
Nadiyya says, surprised to find she actually cares what happens to the little blind girl.

"Or Radi." Misfar reminds her.

Nadiyya shrugs. She's less concerned about Radi's fate.

As is becoming par for the course for this party, they decide to attend the rendezvous with no plan and no contingency, hoping that good fortune and exploding damage rolls will carry the day. To be fair to the players, it has worked in the past and probably will again.

The party head to the One Source warehouse as the sun is going down. They are expecting a fight and are armed for bear. An open space has been created in the centre of the warehouse floor, surrounded by a wall of precariously balanced crates. Zayifid, Tamir and the Hamda siblings are waiting for them. The heroes don't doubt there are more enemies hidden nearby.

"My friends, you came to rescue me!" Radi cries happily.

"Lets not get ahead of ourselves," Zayifid says, "Did you bring the relic?"

"Release the prisoners, then you'll get what's coming to you."
Nadiyya replies.

"Now that answer strikes me as purposefully ambiguous and vaguely threatening." Zayifid observes, "To save us all some time, I think I'll just have my men kill you and go through your pockets once you're dead."

Several large, brutish gnolls loom out of the dark corners of the warehouse, dragging their furry knuckles along the ground.

"After you killed the Carrion King, his Unchosen were left without anyone to serve," Zayifid says, "They serve me now."

Tamir hurls a burst of flame towards the party, who are bunched up like a group of idiots. Their armour is a little scorched, but nobody is hurt. Nadiyya counters with a burst of her own, but the halfling wizard is protected by his magical ring. Misfar spends four Power Points on an empowered burst of abrasive sand, killing two Unchosen and grievously injuring Tamir. The halfling wizard claws at his face, half of which has been flayed of all flesh and muscle by Misfar's attack.

"Kill the wizard!!" Zayifid screams.

There are One Source goons armed with crossbows clambering amongst the stacked boxes. Zain moves to shield Misfar with his own body; most of the bolts bounce harmlessly of his breastplate, but one particularly well aimed shot finds a chink in his armour. Zain grunts as the bolt punches into his torso.

"Do I have to have to do everything myself?" Zayifid cries. He prepares to unleash a devastating magical attack, rolls snake eyes on his casting roll and overloads the crystal set into the end of his staff!! The crystal explodes and everyone within a small burst template is hit by flying shards of broken glass! Zayifid is Shaken and Wounded!

Tamir looses his nerve and turns tail. Fuk shoots him in the back and the halfling wizard does not get up.

Zain recalls that Tempest is a genie-bane weapon and he is presently in combat with a rogue djinni. He makes a Wild Attack, hits with a Raise and does a truck-load of exploding damage, far more than Zayifid can Soak with his remaining Bennies.

With Zayifid and Tamir both defeated, the remaining One Source thugs cut their losses and retreat. The Unchosen fight on, eager to join their late king in gnoll hell. The heroes are only too happy to oblige.

The heroes loot the bodies. Tamir was wearing a Ring of Defence that boosted his Toughness. Fuk claims the ring to offset the loss of Vigour when he was incapacitated in Book 2. Misfar recognises Zayifid's broken weapon as a Polar Staff, which enables the user to apply ice trappings to his spells at no additional cost. He reckons that the weapon can be repaired by replacing the shattered crystal. The party also raid the One Source coffers and bump up their Wealth die.

Radi and Rumi Hamda are safe and resume their journey to Kelmarane, accompanied by Felliped the Bard, who has concluded his own business in Katapesh.

The heroes return to Rayhan's villa. Nadiyya, Misfar and Zain are all injured from the fight in the warehouse and opt to rest before activating the portal to Kakishon. Fuk is left to his own devices.

"I hear the Sunset Ship has returned to the city," Rayhan tells the goblin, "It last came through Katapesh over a decade ago. I'm going to pop over and see what the good captain has to trade. Under no circumstances should you mess with the Scroll in my absence!!"

Rayhan pauses on his way out the door and turns back to Fuk.

"I really cannot stress that point strongly enough. Do not tamper with the relic! Don't even look at it while I'm gone, and definitely don't do anything weird, like lick it, or something."

Fuk tries his best, he truly does. He takes all the arrows out of his quiver and organises them by length. He goes through Rayhan's magic food preservation chest and makes an awesome sandwich. He even starts the first draft of his hard-hitting autobiography.
He lasts nineteen minutes and fifty-three seconds.

Misfar shoots up in bed, overwhelmed with the feeling that something awful is about to happen.

Then something awful happens.

With a sudden explosion of light and sound, the world is engulfed in fire. The ground itself seems to give way and suddenly the wizard is plunging through a vortex of fire, plummeting into the throat of a volcano. Zain, Nadiyya and Fuk fall beside him, their expressions almost comically horror-struck. A sense of vertigo overwhelms even the fire and noise, as the sensation of falling grows into a tempest of burning wind.

Shapes begin to emerge from the firestorm; warriors formed from smoke and fire, adorned with glittering jewellery and wielding scimitars of fire. They surge upwards, roaring a collective battle-cry, oblivious to the heroes tumbling passed them.

Then comes the last of them; a towering warlord with curling horns and an enormous, burning sword. This figure does notice the party and bows mockingly as the they plummet toward him. Then he is gone, rocketing upwards in a plume of choking black smoke and bright cinders.

The violent firestorm ends as suddenly as it began. For a moment, the heroes can see nothing, hear nothing. Slowly, sensation returns; the sound of waves breaking on a sandbar, the cool sea breeze against exposed skin. The heroes rise unsteadily and take in their surroundings. They stand on a tropical beach, a sandy wedge positioned betwixt the azure sea and lush green junglescape. The only sign of civilization is a simple hut erected beside a low stone jetty. Tropical birds squawk from the dense foliage, a disharmonious welcome to this strange paradise.

"Fuk not do anything!" Fuk cries, a little suspiciously.

Welcome to Kakishon.

TBC
 
Last edited:

mikeawmids

Explorer
Chapter Twenty Six: Welcome to the Jungle

"So let me get this straight..."
Nadiyya says, "Not only are we now trapped inside a piece of magic paper, we also released a power hungry warlord and his army of vengeful djinn back into our world?"

"That's an accurate summary of recent events,"
Misfar replies, glowering at Fuk, "And since someone who shall remain nameless decided to mess with the relic while everyone else was resting, we haven't even got all of our equipment."

Each player was allowed to pick two items from their character sheet that they carried with them into Kakishon. Nadiyya picked her sword and her armour. Misfar picked his new staff and his spellbook. Zain picked Tempest and his holy symbol. Fuk picked his bow and his armour.

"What's that in the water?" Zain says, peering toward a dark shape moving toward the beach, "Ready your weapons!"

Seven serpentine heads rise from beneath the tropical surf; each head is connected to the body of a single monster by a long, scaly neck. The hungry beast looms over the party as it splashes clumsily through the shallows.

Nadiyya projects a cone of fire at the hydra, catching three of the seven heads in the burst. Those three heads hiss as their scales blacken and turn to ash, the other four heads turn toward the young woman. Fuk shoots two of the unharmed heads, drawing their attention away from Nadiyya. Zain can't reach the heads, so he focuses on the torso. He swings Tempest into the hydra's flank, hard enough to crack a few ribs. The hydra's many heads snap at the heroes, one exhales a gout of flame over the party. Misfar is severely scorched by the beasts' burning breath.

Fuk shoots one of the heads between the eyes, piercing its thick skull and killing it dead. The head dangles limp and listless as an old man's wrinkly bell-end. The goblin disables another head - and because he isn't severing them, they don't regenerate. Misfar unleashes an empowered Burst at the hydra. He rolls snake-eyes!! Misfar suffers Backlash and a level of Fatigue. Zain delivers a mighty blow to the monster's chest, crushing several important monster organs and finally slaying the beast!

Before the dying hydra has stopped thrashing, the heroes hear a soggy clapping sound and spot a giant sea turtle applauding their victory. The turtle looks very old and very wise. It coughs, as though clearing its voice before saying something thought-provoking, but instead retches up a golden scroll case entwined with lengths of partially digested seaweed.

"Gross." Nadiyya observes, "I'm not touching that."

Misfar gingerly collects the slimy message;

'Greetings and welcome to the Serpent Isles, great hunters!
'Here, you will find a challenge to satisfy your thirst for adventure! Your task is simple, you must hunt down the Golden Ram and claim its horn. The islands of the Kakishon archipelago contain many wonders, but you will need a ship to ferry you between them. Blowing the golden horn will summon such a vessel.
The Imprisoner is gone now, but his world remains - a world that we created. You have only just arrived and we don't yet know whether you are allies or enemies. Complete the hunt and we will have more tasks for you. Present the egg to the boatman and he will bring you directly to us. We have much to discuss.'


"What egg?" Misfar asks.

More retching from the turtle. It vomits up a large blue egg marked by brown spots.

Fuk grabs the egg greedily; that's his breakfast sorted. Misfar takes the egg off him.

"Maybe these mysterious world builders know of a way to escape Kakishon." the wizard suggests, "Completing their tasks might be the quickest way out of here."

TBC
 

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