Tales from the Fireside

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 The Burning World: Episode #54 
 The Everlasting 
The heroes go to interrogate Essafah, and he refuses to admit or offer


Task Genies:
Oathbinder Genie (if they're forced to break their oath, it summons the genie to kill them)
Slayer Genie
Wine Genie

Flame blade

imam of hajama is named Sirhan min Hajama
Fairly young guy (20 or so). Praises us in the name of his god for our efforts to save him during the attacks.
Not rich, but they probably deserve more

They visit the small shrine where the Imam is 'stationed'

Beautiful Salam has a shrine already.

Before the time of the loregiver
THe youth named Hasan spread word of th
The line of Sujah
Hasan preached the word of Hajama
Heard rumours of unfaithful priests speaking lies. Those who speak false prophecies are not to be tolerated.
Better to be a live dog than a dead lion.
The Lion's shrine was erected in teh middle of the desert as the group of the Everlasting's home base.

1)
2) mamluks have come from huzuz they say they're in town with a string of new recruits from the hill people but their true goal is take control in the name of hte grand caliph
3) ride and flee on the wind to the Wadih on the the valley of oblivion
4) the caliph has been convinced to give up his station in favour of one of his favourite mamluks and will announce

Faruq thinks all of these to be truthful:
1) seems to be a drama queen mentions that a new and lavish mosque to Selan and their taxing the merchants
2) a plague has infected mamluks of palace guard and
3) Grandfather of the Everlasting is immortal and his schemes go on from one lifetime to another
The air Genasi merchant sells Wind fans, big and small

Roheen thinks both are true; the person saying them believe them to be true:
1) The everlasting evil servants shoot death from the sky
2) The HOly Slayers have become little more than brigands, reduced to assaulting caravans

Printz and Kal:
Find out that the best astrologer is Banni:
4-ft tall goblin purple robes red fez on top of his head. Very talkative, but refers to himself as "the silent sheik"
Kal senses that 3dinar might grease the wheels regarding illicit goings-on. He tips him, and Banni nods to indicate that they're friends on a big secret: suggests that this should not be spoken about in the open marketplace; even in the bazaar. Banni goes on to suggest that Kal looks at the astrological charts, and Banni goes off to find 'someone' who might help.

A member of teh Everlasting assassinated Aziz and takes him down with 1 shot.
Faruq makes a sprint over and heals him, blasting the assassin back from a rooftop before he flies away on zephyr of wind

Banni leads Kal out and meets the rest, then leads the group away from the bazaar, through this zig-zag talking the whole time. They arrive at a tiny cofee house, he introduces them to a human pair waiting.

Gives Banni a couple of small coins and Banni departs.
OMar bin Mabruk
Fadiya al-Farid
The last of the house of the Phoenix

Agreement to go with the pair in the morning.
Roheen tries to barter (unsuccessfully)
Heroes go to Caliph to ask for Camels, saddlebags, 1000g, etc without telling the Caliph exactly what it's for.

 The Burning World: Episode #53 
 Word from Haroushin 
Word from Haroushin

The heroes travel to Wasat and witness the parade of the Shield of the Faithful, Kalid ______ _ _ _ _______ _ _,

MOney is thrown to the streets and the

azizullah 3
roheen 3
faruq 1
printz 3

holy slayers of the everlasting, followers of Hajama: God of Bravery
Zann: God of Knowledge

Suhail Min-Zayn possessed Chaka?!?
The book of Lions showed an illustration of a group of people (any adventurers) fighting a mix of earth elementals, fiendish creature from lower planes, and undead. The person behind them, is some sort of priest (archaic armor), body has weird tattoos (glyphs), holding a talisman that looks like the seal of the 9-spoken wheel. He thinks azaltine (before he became a lich) was part of the lions, fought whoever this guy is holding the 9-spoked wheel.

Azaltine must have been part of the group of these adventurers.

Age of the armor on the undead liches is the same era of the picture from the book of lions.

The appointment of the imam has uspet the grandfather of the everlasting. The demands cannot be ignored. Lost trusted friend and vizier. If he dies the councils of huzuz may rule wasat soon.

The everlasting's lair is rumoured to be in the mountains.
The caliph wants us to convince the Grandfather of the Everlasting to cease his attacks and see that the appointment of the imam is not the tragedy he thinks it is.

Hajama does not have a huge presence in Wasat, but the Everlasting tried to assassinate them anyway.
 The Burning World: Episode #52 
 A Queen Rises 
The heroes collect and distribute the treasure from the treasure room.

They refill their water casks and drag the dead bodies of their quarry out into the jungle and hide them from casual observers.
Taj leads us back into the jungle.

The king's daughter lives in what are called "The Leaning Towers"

The heroes continue through the humid, mosquito-infested jungle.

Deep in the jungle, Taj grows alarmed as the Yuan-Ti approach...

The yaun-ti

Elecrtrum Coins looks somewhat similar in the background is the same sort of armor the wights wore attacking us.

The heroes rest, and give thought to:
how did the yuan-ti know they had the crystal?
how are they getting back to civilization?

The heroes travel up and down the coast for 2 days trying to

Sharamaz has white skin and we are received well

Runes meant to foil divination magicks. Foil teleportation magicks. THe language of Kadari, one of two ancient empires that used to exist here. Some people still speak it, but the empires of Kadar and Nog went extinct well over 1000 years ago. (like speaking Aramaic today).

Our proud lions vanquished here,
Sorrow for our fallen friends.
Eight of Nine we’ll never fear,
Buried where the walls descend.

Our proud lions come once more,
Sorrow for their fallen friends.
Ninth of Nine will fear restore,
When in Tadabbur descend.

There were nine people who were scary, but are dead now. One of them is going to restore fear, and there's a group of lions that were defeated that apparently will come again.

A full day passes before the new Queen wakes from her reverie.

6x vials of superior healing
6x arrows of sagaran slaying

Each tower represented a powerful priest-wizard. They worshipped a cold, elemental god. They were able to morph their magicks; called Geomancers; the driving force behind the kingdom of Kadar. Ruthless, they would conquer other empires, absorb their knowledge and move on. A circle of 9.

There was one more powerful than the other 8 combined.

"I see a mighty priest wirting this, he is sad, sad for his friends who have all ddied. he is sad for his brother has died. It's like his brother had been fooled by one of the other geomancers. He is weeping over the foolishness and naivete of the brother. He is making a vow, to eradicate all knowledge of the geomancers, so the last cannot be raised and cannot rule again."

The "one" might be a powerful priestess
 The Burning World: Episode #49 
 Into the Jungle 
The heroes quaff the potions given them to protect them from disease.
They wander into the jungle and some of the party get sick
They stay overnight and the rain comes down
Faruq

Zasteen
most snakes are quite good
There is one such King Sharaman from lethargy in his dream he has seen magnificent pictures of temples

The king has one last duty
dazzling pure white diamond
receptacle
talisman must make a pilgrimage and appointement to his successor
Ritual journey must be completed by travelers

small snake 2 ft in length
nervous little creature
Taj is the snake will lead us to Sharaman

Kal casts Speak with Animals
The doors of Sha'jar:
Kal cast Speak with Animals
Led us to the doors of shajar where the two rivers meet.
Taj scares off two huge boas
Led down into a cave
Meet the king who is a cobra with an elderly human head.
King says something and snakes slither away, Taj leaves too.


Sultan of all snakes in teh grey jungle
The serptentine majesty
The king's daughter is the successor
must be touched to the headstone of the serpentine empress

draw a gallon of hoy water from the wall
take the water, brain and gem

The temples sacred treasure collected over the centuries is our reward
Rowerdawa...
King Sharuman dies.

Printz casts successful dispel magic to free the stone and tosses to faruq who carries it in satchel
Kal pries open the skull and Azizullah lifts the brain out of the skull. Faruq tries to give a satchel to Azizullah, but he walks away, uninterested in holding the brain.

Taj returns and communicates with Kal, and leads them quickly out of the tunnel.
In the distnace, the hissing grows impossibly loud and signals the they have discovered the body of their king.

THe magical feeling of easily travelling through the jungle has left the heroes.

That night, we find some ancient ruins in the jungle to rest up.
THe heroes are ambushed by sleek black panthers, which Kal, Faruq and Roheen finish them.

Printz gets the feelign we're being watched; a cold shiver runs down his spine.
As teh cold approaches,


 The Burning World: Episode #47 
 Blood is Thicker... 
kal 28
125 elven (early 30s)
40 azizullah
17 faruq
22 printz


beautiful elven woman, so beautiful in fact, we've seen her before.
sister/wife
4 favoured wives his most, young woman Tanya is #1, Yasmee is #2

met her in the city of Wasat
saved them from burglars, they were in no real danger
something has happened, but no one must know
the security of Zakhara itself
Tan
Kadarasto set upon by being much more powerful and dangerous
TOok Tanya Hostage
Kadarasto is known for it's slave trade
yasmee can't scry his sister
She has to go into the city itself to look for her
highly unlikely they know who the have; if they did and they were smart, they'd simply let her go
if they're stupid, they walk in front of her unmasked & unveiled, they would have to kill her

needs help to bring her back to Huzuz to never speak of this mission again.
Faruq & his brothers were such men.

Tanya gave him 2 girls, raised in some mountain fortress far away. NO male heir
Neglecting his duties, and tried to get an heir.
It's sad... they love the Grand Caliph more than people ike Justin Trudeau, and they don't tlak about it, but they're also worried what's going to happen if he dies

and there's no heir.
His uncle, Prince Tanos would assume the throne; a great scheming tactitican, he doesn't have any heirs either.
So getting Tanya back is of even more importance.


Kadarasto is found in the old kingdoms

Whoever owns this hideout did have some sort of shipment coming in. Doesn't say what it is, but the units are to be in particularly good shape.
Checked the bodies; common criminals with nothing of note.
Moved bodies into back room to


 The Burning World: Episode #43 
 The Temple of Azaltin 
Tonight's Session

Abdalla: husband/lover/head bodyguard to Aieysha

Al-anwar used to be a city, used to be large, but hard to tell based on destruction that time has ravaged across it.

Jann live in a fortified mosque. The warn that out in the rest of the city, they can't guarantee safety, and wells still exist, but are often guarded by creatures needing water.

All manner of things they've seen throughout the city include:
They don't worry about much danger.

They know the last expedition that came here set up from the ruined temple of Azalteen, bringing all sorts of gear with them for that purpose.

They penetrated the outer sections, but went crazy worshiping a large black idol of a kind.

The Jann have never gone in, and bluster about it. Al-Anwar became abandoned for a reason, but the Jann aren't interested in tempting fate.

Strange hermit lives in the ruins as long as the Jann have been there, and he seems strangely unaffected by all that is going on; even if there IS a magical curse. One old man alone in the ruins SHOULD be dead, but he seems to be alive, so there's something's strange about him.


I AM AZALTIN! SEE MY WORKS, O MIGHTY AND DESPAIR!

BRING THEM TO SEE THE GOD


THe Hermit's name is Nerrim. He has made the ruins of Al-Anwar his home. He laments the deaths in the temple.

11 obstacles astand between you and the truth
truth is not obvious, but can be found in the simplicity of a man's love for his wife


Scroll
Iron rod topped with the head of a lion
A small wind chime

 The Burning World: Episode #42 
 My Deepest Sympathies 
My Deepest Sympathies

I can feel the heaviness of their grief. Its overwhelming. "Slow your breathing... " he thought to himself. "...Steady its pace... Inhale... Exhale... Wait a moment... "

"My deepest sympathies to you all" said printz. His wide eyed gaze looking back deeply into the eyes of any of his new comrades who felt they could at this moment; yet his affect remained emotionless.

Printz pulled his lute from his side, and began to play. The melancholy notes emanated from the instrument, washing over those near by, grabbing their attention. Others hushed those who werent aware that they may miss something that they may regret not listening to.

Printz locked eyes with Faruq and he began to sing. His falsetto voice which blended with his instrument, was followed by a gentle echo, and at times as if another voice was singing along harmoniously. Even another instrument not visible would enmesh its self into the tapestry of sound.

The wild jann within the area stood motionless listening intently to the sounds which emanated from him. Printz stood still as he appeared enthralled in the moment of sorrow; his fingers dextrously playing his loot moving from note to note flawlessly. His lyrics painting a picture of loss and his voice imbued with emotion.

When he was done, those that had stopped to listen continued on with what they were doing prior to his dedication, and printz bowed his head respectfully to his new mortal friends.
 The Burning World: Episode #40 
 Useless and Ugly, Part 2 
D'Aro sat in a daze on the floor of the cavern. The sounds of Gish devouring her evil older sister could be heard faintly. He gazed around the dark cavern and his mind could not wholly accept the devastation and death he saw there.

Two dead bodies lay in a heap on the ground. Beloved Chaka seemed peacefully asleep. Guze the big man did not look restive in death. His face was contorted as if he was still fighting the dragon. Both were burned in several places by lighting and ozone still permeated the air. They died well, brave to the end. Hajama be proud, he whispered silently in prayer.

Su was bent over Guze, in some personal dialogue of grief. Tears streaming down his face. D'Aro thought he could see flames threatening to burst out of his eyes. He quickly looked away. This was a personal moment for the siblings. He was just an outsider. He joined them ostensibly to help them on their quest, but he had his own reasons as well. That they coincided was a great coincidence, or was it?

"Never shall I underestimate a dragon again!" he thought fiercely. His bumbling might have been the cause of their deaths, despite the fact that they emerged victorious. He understood his training was not complete, not by far, and he still had much left to learn in his quest to become what he was destined to be. He was not used to his failures causing harm to others though, this was a new bitter pill to swallow. "Fool and fool again" he whispered to himself bitterly.

He held the magic Cyclone weapon weakly in his hands, letting the tip dangle onto the ground. He could feel its magic pulsing and was slightly repelled by the weapon. It had its own desires and needs which were not in line with D'Aro. He could feel that clearly. While not intelligent, it hungered for something, it was pretty clear what that was. It was not a subtle device and would likely attract too much attention. Regardless, it was too powerful to dispose of. He felt an urge to jump onto Gish's back and use the weapon to sever her head.

He nodded at Su, breaking his reverie. "What now?" he asked him.
 The Burning World: Episode #39 
 Useless and Ugly 
"He's so ugly," Sulayman whispered to himself, as he tried to wipe at the blackened flesh on Guzman's cheeks. Behind him he could hear Farouk's shuddering gasps as he attempted to revive Chaka. It was too late though. They were dead.

One should not speak ill of the dead. The voice in Sulayman's head sounded like Auntie but he wasn't quite sure anymore, since it had been so long since he'd heard her voice. Auntie. How would he tell her? How to explain all this?

"He was an oafish brute," Sulayman muttered to himself as he gazed at Guzman. Why had the elf been so mean to Guzman? They were brothers, after all. And why was Sulayman thinking of this now?

It wasn't his fault, poor Guzman. Sulayman knew deep down that Guzman didn't deserve to be spoken to as the wizard had done, but he would probably never admit it. When Su looked at Guzman, he sometimes saw them. Those brutes from the street. The strong ones that took from you what they wanted and you could do nothing about it. They'd laugh at you as they used you. Sulayman shuddered and felt shame and tears on his face.

Gish had called them useless. The dragon had uttered the word more than once. Once was too many times for Sulayman, his eyes burned with hatred as he watched the dragon tear into the corpse of it's own sister. The wizard could feel the fire burning in his veins again. Su could see the dragon in his mind's eye, awash in flame and screaming in anguish. The thought brought pleasure to him, more than it should have. The wizard was angry at himself. Angry for letting the dragon manipulate them.

"I will see you burn, bitch," the elf promised himself. But first, they had to find these Jann. They'd have to see if anything could be done for their brother and sister. Sulayman caressed Guzman's face, and his shoulders sagged.

"I'm sorry brother," Su sighed, "I'm sorry... it wasn't you. It was always me. I wish I could have made you understand..." D'Aro cleared his throat awkwardly behind Sulayman, bringing his attention back to matters at hand.

Their cousin was holding Cyclone, his eyes concerned. "What now?" D'aro asked.

"We leave this place." Su replied.

"What of the dragon?"

"Gish will pay," Sulayman spat from clenched teeth, "in due time."

The elf stared across the cave, and smiled as he imagined the dragon burning to ash in front of him.
 The Burning World: Episode #32 
 The Plaza of Eternity 
A Horse of Sayyad from an island in the Crowded Sea

"Here Lies Hiloquan. May he rest in the wisdom of Noq, Arun, and Merodach"

The Plaza of Eternity

The horse reveals itself to be undead; named Edimu

"Edimu: May you forever gallop in the golden fields of the afterlife."

Jazeerat al-Sayyad - the island from which the horse was raised

Princess Ophidia reveals herself to the heroes.

The City of Sokhar - used to thrive, built by giants, eventually humans came to live here, basking in the knowledge of the benevolent giants. They passed along their wisdom and civilization and the city grew. As time went on, people began to misunderstand what the giants were imparting upon us, as in knowledge of the afterlife. The city became a death-obsessed culture. They began to see this world as a waiting area for another world where all knowledge would be given them.

The giants, sad that their knowledge was misused, they sealed themselves away forever, hoping that humans would revert back to normal subculture. The humans thought the giants had moved on to the afterlife waiting for them. The kings and queens had the pyramids built, countless slaves were used to build the pyramids to house their bodies and treasures.

"The Real Life" was what they referred to as the afterlife.

The pyramid of Kagamemni remained unfinished because that king died before it was finished. The next king had the slaves work on his before he too, died.

=============================================

We spotted a majestic white horse in the desert. Zephyr managed to mount it and it took off with him. We chased them down only to be surrounded by a storm that could only be described as "end of the world" shit (Think Fury Road when Furiosa is fleeing the gangs and the sand whirlwind shows up). We flee, still chasing Zephyr and the horse.

Suddenly we find ourselves in a dead city. No living beings in sight. Rows upon rows of mausoleums and several large pyramids. The storm stays out of the city. The horse leads us to a mausoleum where we discover its crypt has been raided (the horse is undead!) Through bizarro head nods and conversations, we determine that the horse's crypt has been raided (by ghouls) and they took away its golden bridle and bit. We need to recover it for the horse to rest.

We decide to rest. During night, we hear singing or some instrument, Guzman and Farouk go to investigate and find a beautiful woman. This encounter is a bit bizarro but in summary she's a Lamia and she gets "interested" in Gooz. We manage to find out through her that the ghouls roost in one of the pyramids. She leaves, bored with us.

We enter the pyramid and get attacked by ghouls... we defeat them.
 The Burning World: Episode #28 
 The Oasis 
Greetings Exhausted Travelers,

As you head back to Golden Huzuz, Gem of Zakhara, Seat of the Enlightened Throne, etc. you realize your troubles of late have taken a bit more out of you than you are, perhaps used to.

But Fate is kind! You know of an oasis, the only one of its kind, is relatively nearby. A travel inn has been built around it, owned by a blacksmith of no small skill. Perhaps it is worth a visit; Guzman can get his new armour of the desert evening adjusted to his frame, arrows can be bought (as Zephyr looks sadly at his almost empty quiver), and perhaps a new waterskin for Farouk!

And perhaps there is someone there who knows of these warriors you have just bested...

Yes! You decide to let Fate guide you and visit this inn!

====================================================================

Mamluks of the Dauntless (slaves and technically owned by the Grand Caliph)

All your water has been drained into the sands by the courageous work of the faithful and pious slayers, for we have need of the payroll of the Dauntless and the goods of the caravan for our holy work. Leave your worldly things behind. Prepare the camels to carry the goods and stack all your weapons near the date palms, or we shall poison the well, and then you may choose between the quick death of bitter water and the slow death of the sand and sun. Many of us stand among you do not attempt to deceive us or act against us. Answer us before the dawn or join us in death.

Met Character: D'Aro

=================================================
It took several days at Amin's Oasis for everything to be put to order. Chaka did most of the spellcasting, Mending torn waterskins, Creating Water, etc. Su reengineered the pulley system over the well to allow for a platform to drop down, so that Guzman could retrieve the body of the dead slayer out of the poisoned water. Once that was done, Chaka was lowered in, where she purified the water as much as she could. By the time you were ready to leave, most people were reasonably certain the water in the well was good to drink again.

The merchants all regarded you well, especially the one who accused you of being in league with the assassins. After all, they didn't have to surrender their precious cargo and lose untold dinari to the slayers. They seemed to care substantially less about the damage to Amin's establishment, but the mousy one convinced all the merchants to each contribute a small sum to cover the damages and replace the dead livestock. It was seen as a good investment by them. Whenever one of you crossed paths with one of the merchants, they would smile and nod positively in your direction. Saving a merchant money seems to be the way to his heart...if he has one.

Amin was severely upset at first at the violence that took place in his place of business. He was also worried about his reputation abroad. The merchants' gift of dinari helped quell his concerns and their promises to spread the word of his generosity did even more. By the time you all were ready to leave, he was talking (somewhat) excitedly about "renovation and expansion."

Captain Zamanyeh remains distant, however; she speaks to only a few of her soldiers and spends the rest of her time isolated. On the few occasions she is seen, she has a forlorn look when she sees any of you, though her gaze hardens when she spots Farouk. Guzman actually manages to have a conversation with the mamluk who turned him down before. Her name is Juleidah, and she lets slip to Guzman than the Captain is in a funk because she was unable to control the situation, and "allowed your 'genie-sorcerer' to escalate things beyond her ability to influence, putting the lives of everyone she was responsible for at risk." Of course, everyone is grateful for the assistance of the party afterwards, but she also lets slip that her mamluk sisters, even after confirming the bravery and efficiency of the party will often finish with "Still, if it weren't for the Halfling..."

The caravan back to Huzuz proceeds with little in the way of distraction or event. One of the caravaneers mentions he works for the great merchant Barak, who will certainly want to congratulate all of you when he finds out his goods arrived safely in Huzuz because of you.

Please let me know asap what your downtime activities will be when you return.

=============================================

D'Aro throws himself into the work of all the repairs and mending that Eric mentioned above. He is a very friendly and helpful companion on the trip. He makes sure to spend time with each of the PC's and also many of the merchants and tries with the soldiers. He is most often dressed in a simple tunic and head scarf. He carries one haversack and has a somewhat short but wicked looking scimitar at his belt and a shortbow on his back. His hair is brown, his height average and his build slight. Often times in the dawn of early light, he can be found meditating at the edge of the camp.

=====================================

You've noticed that Su seems distracted, and often times you find him eyeing the burnt stables and glancing at his hands. Guzman swears he can hear him whispering about "fire in my veins". Chaka thinks she even detects a hint of a sly smile on Su's face when he stares at the scorched stalls. Su avoids Amin, and the captain. In fact, when not busy with the others, you occasionally see him sitting off a ways by himself, staring out into the blazing desert. On his own, with the desert as company, you often find him summoning Yousef, and stroking the owl lovingly as he mumbles to the bird.

"You are beautiful Yousef. There is power in you... No one can take from you anymore, Yousef. Remember, you are beautiful..."

"When Su thinks no one is watching, you sometimes spy him looking at the magical sash he found, lost in thought."

==========================================

When introducing himself to D'Aro during the trip back to Huzuz, his siblings would hear Zephyr talking about how much this latest excursion reminded him of his adventures in his youth, traveling as a scout for his nomadic tribe. His latest experiences in the desert, being away from his new home and from Auntie, has left him with feelings that city life might be making him too soft, that his skills as a scout and ranger might be suffering because of it. Upon returning to Huzuz, Zephyr retires to the stables to visit his horse Reeh, whom he'd take out for a ride if there were time available to them, but also take the time to study the tracks of wild animals that pass outside the city, or even to playfully chase whatever birds or rodents he might find in the city streets.

====================================================

Along with purschasing 3 platnum bands worth 50g each for a spell component, chaka helps auntie with her figurine building and selling. She also looks to sell her ring of feather fall. Not actually creating the figures, but helping clean up and getting the materials auntie needs to do her work. She truly missed auntie, and cannot wait for the day for her to be free of the debt owed.

Now back at home, khanye has fallen back to her regular routine of helping around the house, and running errands for auntie. To her brothers, it seems as if nothing has changed despite the adventuring they all had done.

Their adventuring seems to have taken a toll on her however. Although they have survived and come out stronger from their adventuring, it has been more difficult for her than she had thought seeing her brothers get hurt.

As for their new companion D'Aro, she seems to appreciate his calm, quiet, helpful dynamic.
 The Burning World: Episode #22 
 On to Krak-Al-Shidda 
the people of the town express their gratitudes in the only way they can; with information on Krak-Al-Shidda


Sierra leads the heroes to the shrine
Describes giving birth to a stillborn child

The giant wasp scratches the following into the ground:
Greetings, generous pilgrims, in the name of the Loregiver and Zann the Most Wise! May peace be with you, and may Fate smile upon your journey!

Mason Wasp

Generous pilgrims, would you be willing to render assistance?

Generous Pilgrims, I am Nalv, Protector of the Shrine. It has fallen victim to a series terrible earthquakes, and I have been unable to determine the source, nor make repairs.

Normally, other pilgrims effect maintenance, but pilgrimage season is so far away, and I fear there will be naught but rubble when new pilgrims arrive

Thank you, most Generous of Pilgrims! If you would follow me...?

Oh, Generous Pilgrim, they happen without warning! And more and more frequently!

Usually, during pilgrimage season, faithful will use supplies here to keep the mosque in a state worthy of Zann

========================
Translated into Medani on the inner walls of the Mosque to Xann:
"We cannot destroy what we do not understand."
"Fate is a woman, carrying us towards our Kismet"
"only a fool thinks he can escape her embrace."
"We must learn from the mistakes of our forbears."
"The written word is a gift to the Lions of Tomorrow"

Nalv continues:
The last earthquake was only yesterday, Generous Pilgrim!

At least, Generous Pilgrim! (in answer to are they happening daily)
Earthquake happens, Faruq and Nalv take dmg

Honourable Nalv, I must apologize for my foolish attempt to shield you from harm.
Generous Pilgrims, there will likely be another one soon! Such has been the pattern thus far!

Nalv:
Please, follow me!

This used to be an entrance into the tomb of the mosque's founder, Suhail min Zann. However, sadly, an earthquake has covered it up

Why do you think the Tomb will help, Nalv?

Nalv: Another, safer way to enter the shrine, perhaps?

"That is no earthquake rock that is blocking the entrance...it's far too smooth and form fitting. It's the work of dao."


Please be careful, Generous Pilgrims! I cannot enter with you.


Dao? Was it alone, Generous Pilgrim?
 The Burning World: Episode #18 
 To Krak al-Shidda 
Sulayman had done some research during his downtime to seek out any scuttlebutt re: treasure hoards, etc. He found not much in official libraries, but the name Krak al-Shidda came up more than once.

At the southeastern middle end of the Al-Akara Mountains there stands the wreckage of an old stronghold named Krak al-Shidda, a reminder of the bygone wars when Zakhara was being converted to the Law of the Loregiver.

Opposing armies, armies of Enlightened People and armies of what would be barbarians would besiege the fortress. Because of the incessant warfare, the fort newer could be properly refortified to withstand an approaching army.

Finally, a wise old general ordered the stronghold razed so he would not have to recapture it again after the monsoon season the following year. With Krak al-Shidda destroyed, and more and more people becoming Enlightened, those who would become barbarians found they had nothing left to fight over, and the senseless warfare ended. But to this day, desert nomads sometimes find old swords and bits of armor near the ruins, a few broken remnants that remind us of those ancient battles.

Today, the ruined qal�at remains in its commanding position, guarding the southwestern entrance to the Jackal's Pass, a passage through the mountains. Travelers sometimes stop at the ruins for a night or two, seeking shelter from the winds or looking for water among the overgrown wells of the fort. A young goatherd, once said he saw the glitter of gold at the bottom of a pit in the ruins. This was never officially corroborated, but it was enough to send treasure hunters investigating.
To date, none have reported any success there.

- The heroes begin by deciding what to do about Adil
- Imam Haroushin of the mosque of Zan agrees to research the medallion for us
- we tell him to contact us @ Auntie's when he has info
- we visit Yakoub who tells us more about the Al-Akara Mountains and Krak-al Shaddi fortress
- Yakoub agrees to act as intermediary for us (no one wanted to use Khalid)
- go to prison and tell Adil to contact Yakoub after he's released
- faruq makes a copy of the medallion in his book
- heroes buy supplies & stores for the journey to the mountains
- heroes travel towards the mountains, and after noticing during the day that the clouds have grown - unnaturally thick, the rain starts and increases to a flash flood
- the heroes have to escape to the safety of the bank, and then sit it out.
- when it has cleared, the heroes continue and see a marble staircase leading up to the side of the wadee
- Suleman feels a lever of some kind (up to the elbow)
- the grinding sound of rock against rock, and a secret door opens in the wall of the wadee
- two large crimson doors greet the heroes: on which are inscripted: (In medani): Be warned, O Faint of Heart: I am Shaddad, Son of Ad, Terror of the Genies, He who never yielded in battle, Defeated only by Time - the Great Destroyer of Men and Societies
- Cyclone of the Four Quarters - Shadad (powerful Sheik) - ordered noble genies to cease their campaigns against the al-badi -

buying 2 each x10 = 500gp

2x healer's kits (faruq and Zephyr)

Supplies for trek?
 The Burning World: Episode #15 
 The Enemy of My Enemy... 
Muli (Ayyam's brother) leads heroes into a trap on the Mount of Mercy


The Ledger

This outlines what seems to be all of Yodfah's businesses. He is primarily a gem merchant, but also seems to have expanded his business to all sorts of other areas including real estate, cloth (though notably not silk, since no one really competes with the Al-Kamari family in silk), foodstuffs (including wine), spices, and human labour. None of the above are illegal, though it's obvious he is not paying he taxes and that is.

It is obvious from the ledger that Yodfah also owns several gambling dens and operates a loan service as well. Equally obvious from the records is that he uses these services to trap people in insurmountable debt (the gambling is especially rigged) which he then uses to enslave them according to the Law of the Loregiver (even though the Grand Caliph has discouraged this practice in the strongest of ways, Yodfah makes sure that the debts are incurred outside the limits of Huzuz; while the Grand Caliph is technically the ruler of all Zakhara, each city-state has a great amount of independence). The crimes of Yodfah are many and well documented in the ledger.


The Journal

This is Hanzala's personal journal, though she does not seem to write in it with any regularity. It's obvious that she took her station here as overseer very seriously; you get the sense that she had intended to rise very high in the ranks of the Brotherhood of True Flame. Much of the journal details her contempt for Yodfah's servant, the dwarf Mustanir, and their power struggle in the Sakina Falls complex. There is mention of how she hopes to get promoted enough to take part in Brotherhood's "conquest of the Haunted Lands, all but assured now that they have moved the Grand Caliph's attention elsewhere." There is one entry wherein apparently she was told to make contact with the Brotherhood's agent in Huzuz, but it has a big "X" through it and the words "Never again!" written in the margin of that entry.
 The Burning World: Episode #14 
 Life, Death, and Consequences in the Land of Fate 
Still nothing.

Which might not mean anything. There could be any number of reasons under Zakhara's hot sun as to why Ayyam hasn't gotten back to you since your midnight meeting in the garden three days ago.

You spent those days well. First, was the return to Huzuz. Fate was with you as the gate's main inspectors weren't there, so no one looked too closely at your wares. Of course, getting the materials, including two large treasure chests) into the house and not noticed by Aunty was much more difficult, but it happened without incident. Since Akeylah had not been home for a few days now (where had she gone, anyway?), you stored most of it in her room. You'd deal with her when she came home.

After midnight of that day, you spent most of the rest of the day resting, not moving far from your home, anticipating a messenger from Ayyam. Aunty asked several times if you all were unwell, or if you were in trouble and hiding out...it was great to be able to answer without lying. You hemmed and hawed, but there was no need to deceive. You spent the day puttering around, having whispered conversations about what was likely to happen, what the fallout would be. While your ideas covered the gamut of possibilities, you never heard anything.

The next day, you knew you couldn't spend it all at home doing nothing again, so you came up with a rotation whereby there was always at least one of you at home to greet Ayyam's inevitable messenger, while the rest of you did what you normally do, find odd jobs for money. Your barber friend, Yakub, had promised to keep an ear out for any possibilities, and while you made sure to check with him, he apologized, saying he had nothing to report but that he would be sure to let you know if he heard of anything that might lead to some money.

Some dock work, some messenger running...but no matter who was "on guard" back at the house, nothing.

Who knows? Maybe Ayyam's mistress had to contemplate the ledger's contents for a day or two? Maybe things were progressing and you just hadn't heard about it? Not unlikely; after all, it's not like people of your station would be on a tight need-to-know list.

Day three and still nothing. You all started to get worried about what was or wasn't going on. Aunty was worried about Akeylah's continued absence, and it's not that you weren't, but you figured she could handle herself; what wasn't clear was what in the Land of Fate was going on with Ayyam, that ledger and Yodfah. Was he still at large? If so, and he knew your identities (from the slaves that survived your attack on the Sakina Falls complex), were you safe? Was Aunty?

Paranoia, nervousness, fear...things were getting highly stressful in Aunty's household. The lovely woman was sure your attitude had to do with your missing sister...you felt bad that you couldn't tell her the real reason behind your concerns...but now you were wondering...who else knew about the Sakina Falls attack? And what were they planning??

Mid-afternoon, and Khalid has shown up at your house. Something is happening in the warehouse district. A young man needs porters for a funeral. It's not a lot of money, but since he can't do it all by himself he thought he'd see if you were interested.

You all exchanged glances. You all privately wondered how Fate was intervening in your lives this time. Something was gnawing deep within each of you, but none of you said it aloud, afraid that would make it true. Unable to resist, you agreed and followed Khalid, afraid of what you were going to see.

There was a large crowd around a young man, wailing in sorrow, but your eyes weren't on him, not yet. No, they were fixed upon the body, already wrapped in linen. Your hearts felt heavy in your chests and pits opened up in your stomachs, threatening to swallow you up. Whomever had prepared the body had not shut the eyes. They stared up at the sky. Lifeless. But still beautiful. Still utterly unique.

Still the most surefire way of identifying Ayyam.
 The Burning World: Episode #9 
 Not Much to Show For It 
She looked over her brothers for a long time with a look that was equal parts curiosity and disdain. Finally, she said in a curt voice "You stink."

"Akeylah, please," said aunty as she grabbed an extra blanket to cover up Farouk. The thrill of the mermaid's kiss had passed and whatever he and Guzman had picked up in the foul waters of the disused bathhouse was running them at a fever whilst also giving them the chills. Guzman was pale and sweating, his eyes rolling back in his head and truthfully Farouk was even worse.

Akeylah nodded, and went to get the boiling water Aunty had set to the fire. She poured it into two ceramic cups that contained Aunty's all-purpose herbal remedy. Soon, the small kitchen filled with the sweet and pungent smell of the hot beverages. The young woman, stone-faced as ever, took the steaming mugs to her aunt, who administered them to her sick boys.

"Drink slowly, you need to let the herbs do their work" cajoled Aunty as Guzman tried to down it all in one gulp.

"I don't need this!" hissed the barbarian, struggling to stand up. It was a testimony to how sick he was that he failed to overpower Aunty and sit up.

Akeylah arched an eyebrow. "Yes, you do," she said coldly. "Look at you, you look like you're going to die, even with the drink."

"Akeylah, please!" said Aunty with an exasperated voice. "He's sick; he doesn't need to be badgered..."

Akeylah didn't look convinced, but she knew better than to argue with Aunty. As far as she was concerned, Guzman needed constant badgering. Usually, Sulayman took care of that. Speaking of which...

"You stink too," she said, fixing her elven brother with a stern look.

Su shrugged his shoulders. "We all had to do some impromptu swimming, dear sister."

"Yet you're not as sick as him," she said, indicating Farouk.

Su shrugged his shoulders a second time. "Perhaps Farouk just doesn't have the constitution the rest of us have."

"And Guzman?"

"Oh, that's not the diseased water, that's just his bad hygiene finally catching up with him."

She looked at him quizzically.

Su rolled his eyes. "My apologies, dear sister; I forgot you don't have a sense of humour."

"What? Who told you that?" She seemed genuinely offended.

"Well, that is... you know... "

"I know what?"

"Well, that,... I mean... .Akeylah, you never laugh."

"I laugh. People think I'm funny."

Su's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief.

"People think I'm funny," she insisted.

Sulayman was racking his brain, trying to imagine what people his sister was talking about.

"For instance," she continued, "I know how funny an elf looks with a black eye."

Su raised his hands defensively and backed away, a sardonic smile on his face. "I've never heard that one. Gods willing, it will be a long time before I do. Reminds me, though... where's the nice sister hiding? She might be able to do something to help our hapless brothers."

Akeylah gave him a quick look. "I heard that."

"Heard what?"

"How you said that. How you hit the word 'she.'"

"Akie, I have no idea what you're talking about... " protested Sulayman.

"Shut up," interrupted Akeylah. "I'll help; I just don't want you thinking you manipulated me somehow."

"Sister, who could manipulate you?"

She narrowed her eyes at Su (who wisely fled)and then went and knelt by Farouk. She looked him in the eye and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Were you brave?" she asked seriously.

Farouk stirred, barely awake. "What... ?"

"Were you brave?" insisted Akeylah. "Did you show bravery? Is this pitiful condition you're in a result of you exercising courage?"

"... yes... I suppose so," whispered Farouk.

Her gaze softened at his words. "Courage should be rewarded, brother, and Hajama looks after those who are brave. If you've been brave... " She placed her other hand on his chest and after a few moments of concentration, the young genasi began to feel better.

Aunty smiled at her. "Now, don't you feel better having helped your brother as opposed to haranguing him?"

Akeylah frowned in genuine confusion. "Can I not do both?"

A tut-tut from Aunty meant that particular conversation was over.

There was a sudden commotion by the entrance. "Aunty! Look who's here!" In walked Chaka, eldest sister of Aunty's brood accompanied by a much taller man. Eldest but smallest in stature; Chaka was a Halfling with a personality as large and giving as Aunty's. It was an unspoken assumption that she would continue Aunty's work with orphans after Aunty passed, though the latter event was far, far off as far as Chaka was concerned; Aunty's health was the first thing Chaka prayed to the Ten Thousand Gods for at every prayer time, and every other time she stopped to pray, which was often.

"Yunnus!" exclaimed Aunty, rushing towards the man who had walked in with Chaka. They embraced warmly, with smiles breaking across their faces. Yunnus was a former "Aunty's Boy" a while ago. With the help of her and Uncle JoJo, Yunnus found a passion for law enforcement in the Golden City. Initially, he tried to become a member of the Diligent contingent of mammluks, but found he lacked the constitution for it. His officers, however, saw the young man's keen intelligence and flawless memory would be great tools as a qadi and wrote excellent recommendations for him. Studying law and graduating at the head of his class, Yunnus al-Awwa became a qadi for the City of Delights. It was whispered in more than a few corners that he was being fast-tracked to become a palace qadi. Yunnus was one of the greatest success stories to come out of Aunty's generosity.

"Hello, hello all," he said in a friendly fashion as he went about the room, Aunty's arm locked with his own. "I trust you are all well... or... as well as can be hoped," he trailed off, seeing the shivering form of Guzman.

"I'm fine," responded Guzman in a guttural voice, clearly irritated at the attention he was receiving.

Akeylah looked at him somewhat sternly. "You are hardly 'fine,' " she reproached him.

"Oh, he probably just doesn't understand what the word means, Akie," added Sulayman with his trademark smirk. He received a strong pinch on the arm from Aunty for his sarcasm.

"Oh, you poor thing," said Chaka as she knelt by Guzman. "Whatever happened to you?" she asked and then began a murmur of a prayer.

"Nothing! I'm fine!!"

"You won't tell me?" asked the Halfling. "Really?"

"Really, no!"

Yunnus cleared his throat, breaking the tension in the room. "I'm afraid that you'll have to tell me, however," he began. "Sadly, this isn't just a friendly visit."

"What do you mean?" asked Aunty with concern.

"I'm afraid there was an incident in the wharf area today, Aunty. One that involved the boys," offered Yunnus.

Both Akeylah and Chaka rolled their eyes in unison. The little halfling shot a look at Guzman, then asked "Honourable Qadi, before you interrogate my brothers, may I minister to this one's sickness first?"

"Yes, by all means."

After a quick prayer where the little hakima named off several gods at once, Guzman had to admit he was feeling much better.

"The midday bell for prayer is going to ring soon. I suppose this is going to take a while?"

"Sadly yes, little sister."

"Fine, then. I'll make sure to pray for all of you in your stead. Coming, Akie?"

The young woman arched an eyebrow, not sure what was going on... but she didn't want to miss prayers. "Yes, coming," she said in a low voice, joining her sister as they headed for the mosques in the center of the city.

"They are good, your sisters," said Yunnus as he looked at the doorway they exited. "I know you are too," he hastily added. "But... I will need to know your version of events, today."

"What events are you talking about?" asked Sulayman.

Yunnus fixed him with a look that said Let's not play this game, little one. Sul, arched an eyebrow, but didn't respond.

They all stood looking at each other.

Finally, Aunty said "You boys need to speak up! Yunnus IS a qadi after all, and he's family. I'm sure this can all be cleared up. Let me go prepare some coffee, while you all sort things out."

After she had left, the judge looked over the boys. "Please. I am trying to help here, but there are serious charges pending against you."

"What charges?" asked Zephyr

"Babazedeh is asking for you to be charged with grand larceny."

"Huh. Yeah."

Yunnus tilted his head. "You agree it has merit?"

"Well... "

"Of course it doesn't have merit!" interrupted Su with a harsh look at the air genasi. Zephyr looked at the floor.

"Why don't you tell me what happened, and let me decide, all right?"

Su crossed his arms in front of his chest but didn't say anything.

Yunnus sighed. "Fine. What about the rest of you? Farouk?"

The fire genasi struggled with himself, but finally relented. "All right, I'll... don't look at me like that, Su! Yunnus is family... "

"Not our family... he was gone by the time we all got here."

A silence descended on the room. Aunty had returned just in time to hear the young wizard's comment, the hurt obvious on her face. "I... I came to see of anyone wanted something to eat with their coffee... I... I should go." Before anyone could say anything, the sweet old lady had retreated back into the kitchen.

"Idiot," whispered Guzman harshly as he smacked the back of Sulayman's head. To his credit, the elf did nothing in response.

Farouk then took the lead to tell Yunnus everything that happened, with Zephyr offering some details his genasi brother missed, and Guzman offering some colour commentary. Yunnus listened intently, asking some questions for clarification every now and then. He subconsciously started biting his nails during the recitation, obviously uncomfortable with what he was hearing.

Finally, with a sad look on his face, he said "I am sorry, my friends... but Babazedeh has a case. According to the law, I must rule in his favour."

"And what of the man he was beating, Khalid? Nothing happens there?" asked Sulayman, breaking his silence.

Yunnus took the question seriously, nodding. "I spoke with him at length. In the end, he refused to press charges against Baba. Either he feels bad for being ensorcelled or he doesn't want to engender hard feelings... either way, he seems to have forgiven and moved on. Sadly, for all of you, Baba has not."

Looking somewhat concerned, Zephyr asked "So, what does this mean?"

Yunnus bit his nails again. "Some sort of monetary restitution needs to be made. I've asked around the Grand Bazaar and gotten an idea of what he could have sold his fish for... "

"Mermaid," corrected Sulayman. "Talking, thinking, and with full consciousness."

Yunnus nodded again. "Yes, I thought that might be a way to dismiss the case, but... mermaids are not considered Enlightened creatures. They have no protection under the Law of the Loregiver."

Su snorted, and Yunnus ignored it.

"Yunnus... we have no money," began Farouk. "And, certainly, you have heard of... "

The qadi raised a hand. "I have, of course," he interrupted. "And I am greatly saddened by it. Aunty has refused all help from me, and others, from what I have heard. I am sympathetic to your situation, truly, but... it cannot influence my judgement here."

"But, we really don't have any money," began Zephyr.

Yunnus looked at them. "Baba gave testimony that you all received some pearls from the mermaid... that could be used to pay for restitution. I would have them appraised and count them against what needs to be paid."

"And if we don't feel like handing them over?" growled Guzman

Yunnus sighed. "Boys... please don't have me bring in the city guard into the house of one I love so much... "
 The Burning World: Episode #8 
 Shair Notes 
Ok, so gen "spell-fetching" simply replaces the warlock's additional spells known based on their patron. Like a standard warlock, you never have to choose one of your spells known from your list of bonus spells; it's just there as an option. The advantage the Sha'ir has is that he can essentially create his own personalized list of "bonus spells" from magicks he has seen in action.
Forbidden Magiks:
Awesome DM RP opportunities here! Quick questions:

1st & 2nd: What is the "evil eye"?
3rd & 4th: Who decides what 'atonement' is necessary? How does the sha'ir know? Does the Gen bring back a message from the offended party?
7th+: this one is just too cool

The gen will return with news of the displeasure of the being it tried to take the spell from. The sha'ir does not know what, exactly, to do to atone...discovering is part of the issue!

Elemental Protection
Cool (and useful!) ability; does this apply to traps and other non-attacks? Are there many of these? The resistance part is powerful, and I think it's appropriate that you only get it when the familiar is around, and if you sent it off to get a spell for you, then you have to choose between the two. Good idea imo.

Yes, to your question. Whenever someone takes "____" damage with an element filling the blank, the sha'ir's Elemental Protection feature applies.

Genie Binding
This is very cool... and because of all the conditions, really makes PCs hold up to their ends of the bargain. One of the things I keep wondering is why it's so good tohave genies in the first place? In the Al-Qadim world, are Sha'irs commonplace? Do Djinn's walk around a busy city like a rare race might and get little attention? Should I be looking up a particular monster to better understand why having bound genies is such a good thing? Things like "freed from obligation for 1 day in 10" sounds like we might have a genie walking around with us like a party member?

Sha'irs are not necessarily common, but everyone knows about them. Genies are rarer, of course, but still heavily part of the culture, so common people might be surprised at the appearance of one, but not ignorant as to what a genie is. Particularly wealthy and/or advanced city-states (like the captial, Huzuz) use genies in the running of the city.

While I can't summarize genies here, they are each CR 11. And yes, if the sha'ir either successfully negotiates or captures a genie, it accompanies the sha'ir.

Genie Prisons
This sounds like a potential business opportunity; if imprisoning genies is hard (opposed check) and earns you their undying hatred, then not a lot of sha'irs would be doing it, right? And the rule of the power of the prison fading 20 days after its created sounds like evil sha'irs might commission a genie prison be made for them when they have a specific event (and time) in mind, no? Can Genies die? Or are they like demons and they simply reform back in the abyss or devils reforming in the 9 hells?

Some sha'ir's have high spell save DCs and don't want to negotiate...hence, prisons. Some sha'irs only use them to trap dangerous genies. Genies can definitely die. The magic of the prison to initially capture a genie lasts for 20 days...otherwise, it stays active as long as there is a genie inside it. In other words, after crafting a prison, you have 20 days to use it.
Great Ambassador of Genie Kind
Sounds awesome for a story, and strikes me as an epic encounter for a Sha'ir whos spent their adventuring career being very careful with their negotiations with djinn they summon, and the 'contracts' they sign.
 The Burning World: Episode #7 
 Al-Qadim Primer 
There are no rapiers in Zakhara. If you are playing a class that gets rapier, you can now use a saber, which has the same stats as a rapier but does slashing damage instead of piercing.

(For nomenclature purposes, I would actually prefer to change the names of the two, but I don't want to screw up the framework).

Some foreigners'especially pale-faced characters from the distant North'have dubbed Zakhara 'the Burning World.' Whether the setting is city, sea, desert, or jungle, the Land of Fate is uniformly hot by day, especially during the summer months. Only the high mountains of northern Zakhara offer relief from the searing midday sun, but in turn they offer new difficulties, such as unsteady footing and sheer slopes.

The omnipresent daytime heat shapes every aspect of life in the Land of Fate. Resting (or at least slowing the pattern of business) is common during the midday hours. Bazaars are busy during the early morn and late afternoon. But in between they may be empty, save for a few dozing businessmen and half-crazed barbers flashing their blades in the sun.

The most obvious concession to climate is dress. Loose robes are preferred to tight-fitting leggings. More importantly from a gaming standpoint, the heat also affects a Zakharan's choice in armor. The heavy plate mail found in the distant North is a rarity here, used for occasional pomp and ceremony if at all. Full metal plate armor, encasing the body from head to toe, is unknown to the common Zakharan; those few suits which exist are collectors' items, procured for their magic or as curiosities.

The reason for this is simple: heavy armor makes movement difficult and even dangerous in a hot climate. Foreigners who insist on wearing such armor often stagger and pass out with exertion. Even with 'exhaustive'training, a man in full plate will be less effective in the Land of Fate than a man who chooses his armor more prudently.

Armor (not including shields) heavier than 20 lbs. is laborious to wear in Zakhara, inflicting a penalty to weapon attack rolls and physical ability and skill checks as follows:

Ring Mail and Half-Plate -1
Scale Mail: -2
Chain Mail: -3
Splint Mail: -4
Plate Mail: -5

More to come.

-Eric
 The Burning World: Episode #6 
 Our Tale, Such as it has been Told 
Our Tale Such As It Has Been Told…

Flick of the Tail

After the departure of Imam Renn min Zann from their home, the Orphans headed to the docks to look for sources of income.  They encountered two of their acquaintances, Khalid and Babazedeh in a scuffle.  Separating the two, it was revealed that Babazedeh had acquired a magnificent sapphire-scaled talking fish, only for Khalid to take it from him and through it down a well.  The Orphans descended into the well and investigated the passageways, discovering an entrance into an abandoned bathhouse, owned by the merchant, Yodfah.  Eventually, they found the fish, in a bowl owned by a mysterious old crone who had taken up residence in the bathhouse. The crone only spoke Midani backwards, making communication difficult, but eventually, after performing some grooming tasks, the Orphans took possession of the fish.

However, Faruq found himself magically charmed by the fish, and absconded with it, heading towards the docks.  Before his siblings could stop him, he flung the fish into the river.  It turned into a beautiful mermaid, and thanked the young sha’ir for his service (charm, notwithstanding).  Babazedeh felt cheated, however, and brought the matter before a qadi.  Fortunately, Fate was smiling upon the Orphans, for the qadi in question was  in question was Yunnus, another one of “Auntie’s Boys.”  He managed to make legal matters easier for them than they might otherwise have been.  A more narrative account of the aftermath can be found below:

She looked over her brothers for a long time with a look that was equal parts curiosity and disdain.  Finally, she said in a curt voice “You stink.”

“Akeylah, please,” said aunty as she grabbed an extra blanket to cover up Faruq.  The thrill of the mermaid’s kiss had passed and whatever he and Guzman had picked up in the foul waters of the disused bathhouse was running them at a fever whilst also giving them the chills.  Guzman was pale and sweating, his eyes rolling back in his head and truthfully Faruq was even worse.

Akeylah nodded, and went to get the boiling water Aunty had set to the fire.  She poured it into two ceramic cups that contained Aunty’s all-purpose herbal remedy.  Soon, the small kitchen filled with the sweet and pungent smell of the hot beverages.  The young woman, stone-faced as ever, took the steaming mugs to her aunt, who administered them to her sick boys.

“Drink slowly, you need to let the herbs do their work” cajoled Aunty as Guzman tried to down it all in one gulp. 

“I don’t need this!” hissed the barbarian, struggling to stand up.  It was a testimony to how sick he was that he failed to overpower Aunty and sit up.

Akeylah arched an eyebrow.  “Yes, you do,” she said coldly.  “Look at you, you look like you’re going to die, even with the drink.”

“Akeylah, please!” said Aunty with an exasperated voice.  “He’s sick; he doesn’t need to be badgered...”

Akeylah didn’t look convinced, but she knew better than to argue with Aunty.  As far as she was concerned, Guzman needed constant badgering.  Usually, Sulayman took care of that.  Speaking of which…

“You stink too,” she said, fixing her elven brother with a stern look.

Su shrugged his shoulders.  “We all had to do some impromptu swimming, dear sister.”

“Yet you’re not as sick as him,” she said, indicating Faruq.

Su shrugged his shoulders a second time. “Perhaps Faruq just doesn’t have the constitution the rest of us have.”

“And Guzman?”

“Oh, that’s not the diseased water, that’s just his bad hygiene finally catching up with him.”

She looked at him quizzically.

Su rolled his eyes. “My apologies, dear sister; I forgot you don’t have a sense of humour.”

“What?  Who told you that?”  She seemed genuinely offended.

“Well, that is…you know…”
 

“I know what?”

“Well, that,…I mean….Akeylah, you never laugh.”

“I laugh.  People think I’m funny.”

Su’s eyes widened in surprise and disbelief.

“People think I’m funny,” she insisted.

Sulayman was racking his brain, trying to imagine what people his sister was talking about.

“For instance,” she continued, “I know how funny an elf looks with a black eye.”

Su raised his hands defensively and backed away, a sardonic smile on his face.  “I confess, I’ve never heard that one.  Gods willing, it will be a long time before I do.  Reminds me, though…where’s the nice sister hiding?  She might be able to do something to help our hapless brothers.”

Akeylah gave him a quick look.  “I heard that.”

“Heard what?”

“How you said that.  How you hit the word ‘she.’”

“Akie, I have no idea what you’re talking about…” protested Sulayman.

“Shut up,” interrupted Akeylah. “I’ll help; I just don’t want you thinking you manipulated me somehow.”

“Sister, who could manipulate you?”

She narrowed her eyes at Su (who wisely fled) and then went and knelt by Faruq.  She looked him in the eye and laid a hand on his shoulder.  “Were you brave?” she asked seriously.

Faruq stirred, barely awake.  “What…?”

“Were you brave?” insisted Akeylah.  “Did you show bravery?  Is this pitiful condition you’re in a result of you exercising courage?”

“…yes…I suppose so,” whispered Faruq.

Her gaze softened at his words.  “Courage should be rewarded, brother, and Hajama looks after those who are brave.  If you’ve been brave…”  She placed her other hand on his chest and after a few moments of concentration, the young genasi began to feel better.

Aunty smiled at her.  “Now, don’t you feel better having helped your brother as opposed to haranguing him?”

Akeylah frowned in genuine confusion.  “Can I not do both?”

A tut-tut from Aunty meant that particular conversation was over.

There was a sudden commotion by the entrance.  “Aunty! Look who’s here!”  In walked Chaka, eldest sister of Aunty’s brood accompanied by a much taller man.  Eldest but smallest in stature; Chaka was a Halfling with a personality as large and giving as Aunty’s.  It was an unspoken assumption that she would continue Aunty’s work with orphans after Aunty passed, though the latter event was far, far off as far as Chaka was concerned; Aunty’s health was the first thing Chaka prayed to the Ten Thousand Gods for at every prayer time, and every other time she stopped to pray, which was often.

“Yunnus!” exclaimed Aunty, rushing towards the man who had walked in with Chaka.  They embraced warmly, with smiles breaking across their faces.  Yunnus was a former “Aunty’s Boy” a while ago.  With the help of her and Uncle JoJo, Yunnus found a passion for law enforcement in the Golden City.  Initially, he tried to become a member of the Diligent contingent of mammluks, but found he lacked the constitution for it.  His officers, however, saw the young man’s keen intelligence and flawless memory would be great tools as a qadi and wrote excellent recommendations for him.  Studying law and graduating at the head of his class, Yunnus al-Awwa became a qadi for the City of Delights.  It was whispered in more than a few corners that he was being fast-tracked to become a palace qadi.  Yunnus was one of the greatest success stories to come out of Aunty’s generosity.

“Hello, hello all,” he said in a friendly fashion as he went about the room, Aunty’s arm locked with his own.  “I trust you are all well…or…as well as can be hoped,” he trailed off, seeing the shivering form of Guzman.

“I’m fine,” responded Guzman in a guttural voice, clearly irritated at the attention he was receiving.

Akeylah looked at him somewhat sternly.  “You are hardly ‘fine,’ “ she reproached him.

“Oh, he probably just doesn’t understand what the word means, Akie,” added Sulayman with his trademark smirk.  He received a strong pinch on the arm from Aunty for his sarcasm.

“Oh, you poor thing,” said Chaka as she knelt by him.  “Whatever happened to you?” she asked and then began a murmur of a prayer.

“Nothing!  I’m fine!!”

“You won’t tell me?” asked the Halfling. “Really?”

“Really, no!”

Yunnus cleared his throat, breaking the tension in the room.  “I’m afraid that you’ll have to tell me, however,” he began.  “Sadly, this isn’t just a friendly visit.”

“What do you mean?” asked Aunty with concern.

“I’m afraid there was an incident in the wharf area today, Aunty.  One that involved the boys.”

Both Akeylah and Chaka rolled their eyes in unison.  The little Halfling shot a look at Guzman, then asked “Honourable Qadi, before you interrogate my brothers, may I minister to this one’s sickness first?”

“Yes, of course, by all means.”

After a quick prayer where the little hakima named off several gods at once, Guzman had to admit he was feeling much better.

“The midday bell for prayer is going to ring soon.  I suppose this is going to take a while?”

“Sadly yes, little sister.”

“Fine, then.  I’ll make sure to pray for all of you in your stead.  Coming, Akie?”

The young woman arched an eyebrow, not sure what was going on…but she didn’t want to miss prayers.  “Yes, coming,” she said in a low voice, joining her sister as they headed for the mosques in the center of the city.

“They are good, your sisters,” said Yunnus as he looked at the doorway they exited.  “I know you are too,” he hastily added.  “But…I will need to know your version of events, today.”

“What events are you talking about?” asked Sulayman.

Yunnus fixed him with a look that said Let’s not play this game, little one.  Su arched an eyebrow, but didn’t respond.

They all stood looking at each other.

Finally, Aunty said “You boys need to speak up!  Yunnus IS a qadi after all, and he’s family.  I’m sure this can all be cleared up.  Let me go prepare some coffee, while you all sort things out.”

After she had left, the judge looked over the boys.  “Please.  I am trying to help here, but there are serious charges pending against you.”

“What charges?” asked Zephyr

“Babazedeh is asking for you to be charged with grand larceny.”

“Huh.  Yeah.”

Yunnus tilted his head.  “You agree it has merit?”

“Well…”

“Of course it doesn’t have merit!” interrupted Su with a harsh look at the air genasi.  Zephyr looked at the floor.

“Why don’t you tell me what happened, and let me decide, all right?”

Su crossed his arms in front of his chest but didn’t say anything.

Yunnus sighed.  “Fine.  What about the rest of you?  Faruq?”

The fire genasi struggled with himself, but finally relented.  “All right, I’ll…don’t look at me like that, Su!  Yunnus is family…”

“Not our family…he was gone by the time we all got here.”

A silence descended on the room.  Aunty had returned just in time to hear the young wizard’s comment, the hurt obvious on her face.  “I…I came to see of anyone wanted something to eat with their coffee…I…I should go.”  Before anyone could say anything, the sweet old lady had retreated back into the kitchen.

“Idiot,” whispered Guzman harshly as he smacked the back of Sulayman’s head.  To his credit, the elf did nothing in response.

Faruq then took the lead to tell Yunnus everything that happened, with Zephyr offering some details his genasi brother missed, and Guzman offering some colour commentary. Yunnus listened intently, asking some questions for clarification every now and then.  He subconsciously started biting his nails during the recitation, obviously uncomfortable with what he was hearing. 

Finally, with a sad look on his face, he said “I am sorry, my friends…but Babazedeh has a case.  According to the law, I must rule in his favour.”

“And what of the man he was beating, Khalid?  Nothing happens there?” asked Sulayman, breaking his silence.

Yunnus took the question seriously, nodding.  “I spoke with him at length.  In the end, he refused to press charges against Baba.  Either he feels bad for being ensorcelled or he doesn’t want to engender hard feelings…either way, he seems to have forgiven and moved on.  Sadly, for all of you, Baba has not.”

Looking somewhat concerned, Zephyr asked “So, what does this mean?”

Yunnus bit his nails again.  “Some sort of monetary restitution needs to be made.  I’ve asked around the Grand Bazaar and gotten an idea of what he could have sold his fish for…”

“Mermaid,” corrected Sulayman.  “Talking, thinking, and with full consciousness.”

Yunnus nodded again.  “Yes, I thought that might be a way to dismiss the case, but…mermaids are not considered Enlightened creatures.  They have no protection under the Law of the Loregiver.”

Su snorted, and Yunnus ignored it.

“Yunnus…we have no money,” began Faruq.  “And, certainly, you have heard of…”

The qadi raised a hand.  “I have, of course,” he interrupted.  “And I am greatly saddened by it.  Aunty has refused all help from me, and others, from what I have heard.  I am sympathetic to your situation, truly, but…it cannot influence my judgement here.”

“But, we really don’t have any money,” began Zephyr.

Yunnus looked at them. “Baba gave testimony that you all received some pearls from the mermaid…that could be used to pay for restitution.  I would have them appraised and count them against what needs to be paid.”

“And if we don’t feel like handing them over?” growled Guzman

Yunnus sighed.  “Boys…please don’t have me bring in the city guard into the house of one I love so much…”

Suitable Donations

The Orphans were soon approached by another one of “Auntie’s Boys,” a barber named Yakub abu Yusuf.  He remembered her fondly, and was aghast at the idea that she may end up in indentured servitude.  He promised the Orphans he would keep an ear out for any possible schemes that might net them gold enough to eat away at the 30,000 dinar debt.  Within a week, the barber made mention of a miser, Jabir, who had been buried not far from the city, preferring to be buried with his wealth rather than give it to his sons, Anwar and Kalib.  Yakub had them meet with the dwarven acolyte, Abdalla min Jisan, who revealed the location of the hidden tomb in exchange for a cut of whatever they find inside.  Reasoning that Auntie needed the money more than a dead man, the Orphans set out on their first grave robbing.  After combing through the hills for two days, they eventually discovered it, and looted its riches.

Unbeknownst to them, the miser’s sons had been hunting through the area themselves, and tracked the Orphans down, demanding they hand over the money they had stolen.  A fight broke out, resulting in the death of Anwar, though Kalib managed to escape with some of the treasure after knocking out Zephyr.  The Orphans returned to Huzuz and opened an account with the priesthood of Jisan, also paying to have the Evil Eye removed from them, it having been placed upon them by the hama of Jabir.

Nine Flawed Sapphires

As good as his word, Yakub had discreetly spread the word that the Orphans were willing to undertake dangerous tasks for proper compensation, and this yielded results:  Using Khalil as an unwitting messenger, a hakima by the name of Ayyam contacted the Orphans and met with them at dusk in the public gardens.  There, she outlined that she worked for a powerful noblewoman in Huzuz, and that this noblewoman had been cheated in a sapphire transaction with a merchant named Yodfah.  Rather, her husband had been unwittingly taken advantage of by the merchant, and she wanted revenge on his behalf.  Ayyam had infiltrated Yodfah’s household, posing as a servant, until she could discover what was needed to bring the merchant down…which she eventually did.  Ayyam tasked the Orphans with finding Yodfah’s ledger which she was certain would have the proof her mistress needed to have the merchant arrested.  The ledger was said to be in one of Yodfah’s headquarters hidden behind a waterfall; the merchant had bought it over a year ago when its previous owner, a powerful sea magi, had abandoned it.

Waiting for the right opportunity, the Orphans set up camp near the waterfall as they tried to figure out a way to get inside without being washed over the edge.  Eventually, that time came, as one of Yodfah’s henchmen, the dwarf Mustanir, left with a small caravan, and his password to magically draw aside the waterfall was overheard by the Orphans.  Using the same magical phrase, the Orphans penetrated the hideout and had several scuffles with some of Yodfah’s servants.  It was revealed that many of them were slaves, and had been tricked into slavery by Yodfah using all sorts of illegal means.  Furthermore, they discovered that the merchant was manufacturing wine in the hideout, contaminated with the drug yimna, which causes a deep, almost supernatural slumber.  Their search throughout the complex also uncovered a prisoner, the desert rider Rashad, who had been captured and tortured for information about the House of Hanif al-badian tribe.

Of greater concern as the Orphans investigated the hideout was the discovery of the fire magi, Hanzala, member of the Brotherhood of True Flame.  A conflict broke out, made all the more serious by the return of Mustanir during it.  However, Mustanir and Hanzala refused to cooperate with each other, giving the Orphans a chance to defeat them all.  After the combat was over, the Orphans discovered Yodfah’s ledger, freed the remaining slaves, and took the treasure they discovered, the ledger, and further proof of Yodfah’s crimes with them back to Huzuz.  On the way, Faruq prudently made a copy of the ledger they were to give over to Ayyam.  Upon their return, they did exactly that, at the prearranged time and place.  The hakima promised to get back to them about the results of their investigations.

Invitation to a Funeral

Things did not go as the Orphans expected, however.  A more narrative account of events is recorded below:

Still nothing.

Which might not mean anything.  There could be any number of reasons under Zakhara's hot sun as to why Ayyam hasn't gotten back to you since your midnight meeting in the garden three days ago.

You spent those days well.  First, was the return to Huzuz.  Fate was with you as the gate's main inspectors weren't there, so no one looked too closely at your wares.  Of course, getting the materials, including two large treasure chests) into the house and not noticed by Aunty was much more difficult, but it happened without incident.  Since Akeylah had not been home for a few days now (where had she gone, anyway?), you stored most of it in her room.  You'd deal with her when she came home. 

After midnight of that day, you spent most of the rest of the day resting, not moving far from your home, anticipating a messenger from Ayyam.  Aunty asked several times if you all were unwell, or if you were in trouble and hiding out...it was great to be able to answer without lying.  You hemmed and hawed, but there was no need to deceive.  You spent the day  puttering around, having whispered conversations about what was likely to happen, what the fallout would be.  While your ideas covered the gamut of possibilities, you never heard anything.

The next day, you knew you couldn't spend it all at home doing nothing again, so you came up with a rotation whereby there was always at least one of you at home to greet Ayyam's inevitable messenger, while the rest of you did what you normally do, find odd jobs for money.  Your barber friend, Yakub, had promised to keep an ear out for any possibilities, and while you made sure to check with him, he apologized, saying he had nothing to report but that he would be sure to let you know if he heard of anything that might lead to some money.

Some dock work, some messenger running...but no matter who was "on guard" back at the house, nothing.

Who knows?  Maybe Ayyam's mistress had to contemplate the ledger's contents for a day or two?  Maybe things were progressing and you just hadn't heard about it?  Not unlikely; after all, it's not like people of your station would be on a tight need-to-know list.

Day three and still nothing.  You all started to get worried about what was or wasn't going on.  Aunty was worried about Akeylah's continued absence, and it's not that you weren't, but you figured she could handle herself; what wasn't clear was what in the Land of Fate was going on with Ayyam, that ledger and Yodfah.  Was he still at large?  If so, and he knew your identities (from the slaves that survived your attack on the Sakina Falls complex), were you safe?  Was Aunty?

Paranoia, nervousness, fear...things were getting highly stressful in Aunty's household.  The lovely woman was sure your attitude had to do with your missing sister...you felt bad that you couldn't tell her the real reason behind your concerns...but now you were wondering...who else knew about the Sakina Falls attack?  And what were they planning??

Mid-afternoon, and Khalid has shown up at your house.  Something is happening in the warehouse district.  A young man needs porters for a funeral.  It's not a lot of money, but since he can't do it all by himself he thought he'd see if you were interested.

You all exchanged glances.  You all privately wondered how Fate was intervening in your lives this time.  Something was gnawing deep within each of you, but none of you said it aloud, afraid that would make it true.  Unable to resist, you agreed and followed Khalid, afraid of what you were going to see.

There was a large crowd around a young man, wailing in sorrow, but your eyes weren't on him, not yet.  No, they were fixed upon the body, already wrapped in linen.  Your hearts felt heavy in your chests and pits opened up in your stomachs, threatening to swallow you up.  Whomever had prepared the body had not shut the eyes.  They stared up at the sky.  Lifeless.  But still beautiful.  Still utterly unique.

Still the most surefire way of identifying Ayyam.

The Orphans were approached by a young man by the name of Muli, who claimed to be Ayyam’s brother.  When he found out the Orphans were the ones Ayyam had employed for her last mission, he halted his grief long enough to ask them to be porters for his sister.  Additionally, he whispered with them conspiratorially that he believed his sister had been murdered, and he hoped the Orphans would look into it after the funeral was done.  They agreed.

Fate did not smile upon the young heroes, however.  After accompanying the procession to the funeral hall, Muli stealthily locked them in, as the three priests who awaited them there turned out to be ghouls and a ghast.  The undead creatures set upon the Orphans but were beaten back and destroyed.  The Orphans discovered a series of underground tunnels beneath the hall from whence the undead emerged, and traversed them to find a way out, having several more distasteful encounters along the way.  Eventually, they reached the surface again, about a mile away from where they were locked in.

Returning to Huzuz, they tracked down Muli (with some assistance from Khalid), who unsuccessfully fled from them.  Interrogating him, they discovered he was not Ayyam’s brother, but rather another unfortunate soul who had been enslaved by Yodfah and was promised his freedom if he lured the Orphans to the funeral hall where the merchant used the undead to dispose of evidence.  He showed great remorse for his actions, enough that, after having Khalid fetch the qadi Yunnus, the Orphans asked that Muli receive mercy.

Nine Falling Stars

The Orphans found no new opportunities, and were waiting for more to manifest when they had an odd encounter.  While lounging at a coffeehouse, they were accosted by a beggar who was yelling and screaming strange utterings in a mix of Midani and at least one other language.  Finally, Fate directed him to fall at the feet of the Orphans.  They tended to him, and he awoke.  His name was Adil, and he described his curse:  He had been a thief in the northern city-state of Muluk, when he picked the pocket of a Zannite priest.  While he did not obtain the gold-purse he was hoping for, he did obtain a bizarre clay seal, outlined with nine spokes.  He was wondering what he could get for it when he suddenly passed out.  He awoke days later, at an oasis, with no memory of how he got there.

Concluding that it was the strange seal that was responsible for his predicament, Adil tried to throw it away…only to discover it on his person again within a few hours.  He tried to leave it at a mosque to Zann but got the same results. He continued to awake in strange places with no memory of how he got there.  He was certain something was following him as well.

As if on cue, an invisible force picked up Adil and began strangling him.  While the Orphans tried to save him, ultimately the beggar was killed, and the invisible force seemed to depart.  Miraculously, Adil recovered.  In a highly emotional state, Adil explained how the seal would resurrect him whenever he dies, his curse keeping him alive for some mysterious reason.  At this point, the invisible force returned, with Su correctly surmising it was an invisible stalker.  The Orphans managed to just barely destroy the stalker, and turned Adil over to Yunnus, who promised to keep the beggar in protective custody as long as was legally possible.  It seemed all was at peace, but Su ruminated darkly upon the stalker; these creatures were usually summoned to the Prime Material Plane, and usually to track down a target…

The Treasure Pit

The barber Yakub caught up with the Orphans again, using Khalid as a messenger.  He had come up with another lead for the prospective treasure-hunters: the so-called ‘treasure pit’ in the ruined fortress of Krak al-Shidda located near the al-Akara mountains.  While many prospective treasure hunters began their careers pursuing whatever riches the pit might still contain, some never returned, enhancing the reputation of the place.  The Orphans weighed the options and decided it was worth the risk to investigate.  They made preparations and took off towards Krak al-Shidda.

The Genie’s Terror

The Orphans followed the al-Sarif river until it forked into the mountains, and began following that.  The river bed was mostly dry and made for easy traveling until Fate turned against them, sending a huge thunderstorm to wash them away.  They narrowly avoided being drowned in a flash flood.  After the waters had passed, however, they noticed that the water had washed away a secret entrance alongside the ravine wall of the riverbed.  Clear steps led to what appeared to be a marble door embedded in the wall.  The inscription read that it was the lost tomb of Shaddad, Terror of Geniekind.

Unable to resist, the Orphans penetrated the tomb to discover what riches in might contain.  In the pitch blackness, they were set upon by a dozen undead shadows, the cursed remnants of the men who served Shaddad.  Faruq was badly injured and the Orphans were forced to flee.  Chaka managed to use her faith to keep the fire genasi from becoming shadow-like himself, though was unsure of any long-term consequences.  They decided to enter the tomb again, this time defeating the shadows and confronting the mummy form of Shaddad himself and his zombie wives.  Shaddad wielded Cyclone of the Four Quarters, the legendary genie-slaying scimitar that allowed the al-badia sheik to cow all genies who crossed his path.  After a pitched battle, the Orphans proved victorious, with Guzman claiming the undead sheik’s blade and ring for his own.

The Hermit’s Riddle

The Orphans continued their trek through the mountains, eventually coming across the small village of Tedofosehk.  The inhabitants explained that their local holy man, a wise hermit by the name of Mahara, had not been seen in some time.  As well, a group of werejackals would raid them periodically. Offering to help, the Orphans journeyed to Mahara’s cave, fighting off an ambush of werejackals, only to see it perfectly sealed in stone.  Realizing it was the work of genies, Faruq cautioned there may be a Dao nearby.  Mahara explained how the Dao Ynadin had taken on a group of werejackal servants, and had trapped him here until it could solve the riddle Mahara had put to him:

Centuries dead, yet still is living;

Can’t forget, but is forgiving.

All beauty gone, all men reviling;

Time betrayed, but still is smiling.

Mahara explained that Ynadin periodically returned to put an (incorrect) answer to the mystic, and that he was due to return soon.  The Orphans prepared an ambush, with Guzman pretending to be The Terror himself!  They ambushed and destroyed the genie with Cyclone of the Four Quarters doing much of the damage, wreathed in green flame.  After dealing with Ynadin, they returned to the grateful villagers of Tedofosehk, who treated them as heroes.  There was a tragic occurrence in the village, a stillborn birth that the Orphans found strange, but seeing as there was nothing to be done, they decided to continue to the treasure pit.

Pilgrimage

One of the villagers told the Orphans that more than a few treasure hunters opted to visit a nearby mosque for good luck before setting off for the treasure pit of Krak al-Shidda.  Intrigued, the Orphans asked to be led there.  Once there, as they approached, they noticed a giant wasp watching them from a distance.  Communicating with the Orphans by scratching in the sand, the wasp explained that its name was Nalv, that it was the guardian of this mosque, and that it needed help to discover the source of some localized earthquakes that were tearing the mosque apart.

The Orphans agreed to help, eventually discovering a passage in the mountainside that led into a chamber beneath the mosque.  There, they saw that the “earthquakes” were caused by the snoring of a sleeping Dao, Hasan.  Ambushing the genie, the Orphans destroyed Hasan.  Further investigation into the mosque’s basement led the Orphans into a pitched battle with two Yikaria.  Unprepared for the assault, the Orphans beat a hasty retreat, only to return later and finish the insidious beasts off.  Once they had done so, they investigated the area, and Chaka touched one of the many skulls the Yikaria had in their collection; the beasts had been ambushing and devouring pilgrims as they arrived at the mosque.  Chaka found herself possessed by the spirit of the skull’s owner: a great priest known as Suhail min Zann. 

 

Using the Halfling as a medium, the priest explained that this mosque was dedicated to him, where he was laid to rest a great long time ago.  He explained to the Orphans that he had been part of a legendary adventuring group, The Lions of Yesterday.  His group was devoted to the defeat of the Geomancers, the despotic rulers of ancient Kadar, in the early days of Enlightenment.  During their last battle, the ninth Geomancer, Tisan, withdrew to a secret stronghold called Tadabbur and vanished from sight, some say never to return. In Midani, the word tadabbur has come to mean foresight, or divination.

 

Now, Tisan’s power was great, such that her strength equaled that of all the other Geomancers put together. After many years, the Lions discovered Tadabbur. Those who entered to confront Tisan met with a slow and horrible death, but the mighty Geomancer did not dare leave the safety of her last fortress. Inspired by Zann, Imam Suhail enchanted a mighty talisman and used it to seal the entrance to Tisan’s retreat. Calling upon Fate, the priest swore an oath that he would return from Paradise to council the Lions of Tomorrow, should Tadabbur’s talisman ever be disturbed.  The spirit then informed the Orphans that the meteor shower described by Adil, the “Nine Falling Stars” was the sign that the talisman had been removed.

 

The spirit of Suhail explained how he gathered the few surviving Lions and labored the rest of his days to destroy all traces of the Geomancers’ existence, breaking their talismans and burning all the records he could find of their foul sorcery to prevent others from duplicating their spells. He then told the Orphans that they have been entrusted with the seed for Tisan’s destruction; more specifically, that the magical seal discovered by Adil can help arm them against Tisan and her allies. Finally, the spirit of Suhail min Zann left Chaka, but not before saying these final words:

 

I wish I could stay to counsel you further, but my link with this world is fading. After I am released tell the guardian of the shrine that the Lions of Tomorrow have awakened. He will know what to do next. My last request is that you repair my tomb and restore my remains to their rightful place in my sepulcher. Then, and only then, will my mission on al-Toril be complete.

 

The Orphans repaired the tomb and the mosque above to the best of their ability.  While in the mosque, they noticed the following saying etched into one of the walls:

 

We cannot destroy what we do not understand.

Fate is a woman, carrying us towards our Kismet;

only a fool thinks he can escape her embrace.

We must learn from the mistakes of our forbears.

The written word is a gift to the Lions of

Tomorrow.

They told Nalv that “The Lions of Tomorrow have awakened.”  Excited, the wasp took to the sky, and was quickly out of sight.  Surmising that it had its own instructions to follow, the Orphans offered up a quick prayer for luck and continued to Krak al-Shidda.

The Treasure Pit, Part II

The Orphans eventually arrived at the ruined fortress of Krak al-Shidda.  There, they meant the adventurer Kamilla, who told them of the great pit located near the centre of the fortress.  The Orphans descended into the pit to investigate, but were set upon by a large Yellow Musk Creeper plant.  The Orphans narrowly avoided becoming zombies under the control of the plant.  Discouraged, they and Kamilla looked around the fortress for any other possible treasures.  They discovered a staircase leading to the dungeons of the keep.  Kamilla had left them by then, so the Orphans descended into the dungeons to see what gold could be found.  The dungeons seemed mostly abandoned, though they did destroy some undead spirits who had been cursed during the last battle of the keep.  Two encounters were of particular note:  In a summoning chamber, the Orphans accidentally released the Slayer Genie, Al-Ashara Usbiyad, from whom they barely escaped.  The genie seemed to have precognitive powers, predicting the exact manner of Zephyr’s death.  Additionally, while investigating what seemed to be a wizard’s study, the Orphans discovered three names in an ancient language written on one of the recesses of the shelves: Al-Afaz, Al-Mirish, Al-Kazad.  What the names meant, they could not decipher.

When the Orphans emerged from the dungeons, they found Kamilla waiting for them…along with the rest of her pack of jackalweres.  It turned out that Ynadin had stolen many of her pack from her, and that his destruction at their hands sent them crawling back to her.  To further test their loyalty, she demanded they destroy the Orphans and take their valuables (no one, as far as she knew, had ever returned form the dungeons).  The Orphans managed to kill most of the pack, though Kamilla herself escaped.  Disappointed at how little progress they made in overcoming the debt, the young adventurers started back for Huzuz.

 

 
 The Burning World: Episode #5 
 The Quest Begins 
Sitting around the hearth, the smell of sweet spices and frying onion swirling in a dizzying, invisible cloud in the dimly-lit room, Guzman looks in Sulayman's direction and snarls. No doubt this one will continue to get in the way. Once a con artist, always a con artist.

30,000gp is the goal... how in the world could this massive fortune be amassed?!

The family heads towards the wharves... thinking that this massive task begins with manual labour.

Babbazedday fighting with (beating the pulp out of)

Khaled danad al-assad

Khalid Dhanab al-Asad Khalid is a dock worker and has been since he was young, which really wasn't that long ago. Khalid is weird in that he always shows up to work in formal, clean clothes and fastidiously washes them at the end of his long work day. He says he feels more professional and ready for success! that way. Khalid can work long days without tiring, but he tends to be a bit clumsy. Wise merchants have him handle non-breakables as much as possible. Surprisingly, Khalid speaks several languages fluently, including Terran and Auran. This is because he tends to save up as much money as possible to take classes at the university whenever he can. He believes an education will take him new places.

He is a bit of a dreamer, such that Khalid can be found staring off into space for long moments of time. Khalid is really friendly with everyone he meets. He just assumes people are on a path to self-improvement like he is. He deeply respects all life, and feels people given a chance at real enlightenment will no longer do harm. Khalid keeps a glass eye with him at all times; he was convinced by his now-dead grandmother that it came from a ghul and protects the wearer from the Evil Eye. While seemingly good in all ways, Khalid has a serious alcohol problem; he is a classic jovial drunk, but it has cost him work every now and then and has prevented his full-time registration at any of Huzuz' universities.

Babazedeh Babazedeh is a dock worker/porter in the harbor district of Huzuz. Baba always had grander plans, but Fate seems consistently turned against him. He will often bemoan how unlucky he is, and maybe he has a point, considering the ugly birthmark high on his left cheek. Baba is nimble and quick, which are great qualities for a porter, but he is a dreadful conversationalist, with every discussion turning into a pity fest regarding himself. If one can get him to talk about something else for once, he makes a good passer on of messages, since Baba has actually been able to pick up some thieves cant. He is usually secretive about this fact, but will sometimes hint at it (or even say a phrase or two) to impress someone. Otherwise, he tends to fidget as he mutters about some latest misfortune (real or imagined) that has befallen him. Baba is hot-tempered, and refers to himself in the 3rd person. Baba is not all bad; he gives to charity regularly, though if he does this out of a good heart or to try to bribe

Fate is another matter.

Fight with Centipedes

Discover bathhouse entrance

brackish water boiler room

walking through archway and see corridor with wet footprints, hear singing (like Auntie)

 The Burning World: Episode #4 
 The Burning World Awaits 
Golden Huzuz. Home of the Grand Caliph. Gem of Zakhara. City of Delights, where all can excel and succeed.

So they say. You wish you felt that way. Today, it does not look like Huzuz will be particularly forgiving.

It’s not the hardship that you will inevitably be facing that has you thinking this way. No, you’ve been through a lot and are confident you can face anything.

No, it’s not yourself you worry about, nor your fellow adopted siblings.

It’s Auntie.

Samnit bint Jarella and her husband Johanin took you in when you were at your lowest: an unwanted orphan with nowhere else to go. Knowing of Huzuz’s reputation, you made your way there, hoping to find opportunity. You didn’t, not really, but you found something better: Auntie and Uncle.

Auntie Sam and Uncle Jojo, the elderly couple who had been married as soon as it was legal. Whose Fate had been to never have children of their own. Who embraced that fate to instead look after the abandoned and unwanted. They had made a lifetime of taking in orphans, loving them as their own children and seeing them enjoy the opportunities Huzuz had to offer, to make something of themselves.

While Auntie had some skill in pottery, especially in the creation of heroic figurines, it was Uncle Jojo who was the breadwinner. While a kind, loving man, and generous to a fault, Jojo was always after a way to get rich quick. That he should ever turn away an orphan in need was not to be considered, so instead he worked tirelessly to make sure they had the funds for their sometimes enormous family. He was a labourer of some skill, and most people knew of the kind of family he and Auntie had built and so tried to hire him as much as possible. It was hard not to like Uncle Jojo.

As he got older, though, it became increasingly difficult for him to work. Merchants started to regretfully hire him less often. Some continued out of charity, but Uncle Jojo sensed it and would not hear of it. As a result, he would use what money he had to make investments in merchant caravans, hoping to make a profit from their business.

It rarely worked out. Most times, Johanin would be lucky enough to make his initial investment back, but usually little more. He began to look for more dangerous caravanserai to invest in, such as those headed to the Ruined Kingdoms in the south east, or the sea lanes of the Crowded Sea. It never worked out. The Jarella family didn’t have two dinars to rub together.

Maybe that’s why he entered into that crazy contract with Gogol al-Misal, the merchant. Gogol was known as a “procurer of talent” which meant he dealt in slaves. While slavery is perfectly legal in Zakhara, Huzuz is known to be the most enlightened regarding slavery; the story of the Grand Caliph in his early days as a prince buying a slave only to free him (and become a military advisor later on) is a well known one and the people of Huzuz try to imitate their beloved leader. As such, there is no official slave market in Huzuz.

In practical terms, this just meant there was no real competition for Gogol’s business. Truth be told, there was also plenty of demand, enlightenment notwithstanding. Not that anyone in Huzuz would dream of mistreating a slave, and certainly not one procured by Gogol; the finest cooks, meticulous gardeners and enticing dancers were always found by him.

Uncle Jojo also thought he had something going for him: one night he awoke from a dream, certain that the family’s financial woes would be over. He knew of a caravan that would return from the World Pillar Mountains laden with treasures never before seen. He knew that if he invested in that caravan, his family would be set for life.

But one needs money to invest, and he had none. While everyone was kindly predisposed to Uncle Jojo, no one wanted to lose their money on such a fool’s errand; everyone knew those were the lands of the Yikaria, and few had returned from there. Uncle Jojo dismissed such fears and even volunteered to do labour on the caravan himself, so confident was he.

Confident about the journey, but desperate about the money, Jojo approached Gogol and under what circumstances Fate only knows, drew up the contract that was no hanging like an executioner’s scimitar over their heads. While it was filled with legalese that only the wisest of qadi could navigate, the end result was that if Gogol was not paid his loan back with interest before a year had passed…

…”Johanin and all members of the Jarella family shall present themselves to be sold as slaves to pay off the debt owing.”

Now, Huzuz was known to be one of the few cities that did not have the practice of enslaving people who could not pay their debts. Gogol and Uncle Jojo knew this, which is why the contract was drawn up to specifically allow this. Several qadi verified the contract and signatures, and it was found to be binding.

Auntie would never speak against her husband. Whenever the topic came up, she would smile sweetly and say she was sure he would return with all that was needed to make everything all right. In the meantime, she began to produce more of her figurines, hoping to make a few more dinars and pay off some of the debt.

Knowing of the sad situation, people would buy out of charity…but that lasted only so long, and eventually Auntie lost her tiny space at the Grand Bazaar to another merchant, named Yodfah.

Every night, you’d go to bed, with some of Auntie’s figurines by your sleeping roll, and you’d imagine yourself as one of those heroes. Your adopted brothers and sisters all had similar dreams, you were sure: To study geniekind under Adnan al-Raqi, Master of the Invisible. To apprentice oneself to the enigmatic magi, the White Agate. To return to the Haunted Lands as a sheik with a tribe of one’s own.

It seemed like those dreams were to remain firmly dreams…

One year to the day Uncle Jojo’s caravan departed Huzuz, you all took up silent vigil by the same gate he had left. With no shared words but plenty of shared looks, you knew…yet still you waited. Finally, when curfew was announced, you returned home, not knowing what the next day would bring. No shed tears; you had been through too much to cry now; instead, it was like walking through a void, not knowing what was on the other side or if you would even make it through.

A small crowd had gathered the next morning outside Auntie’s little house. Miracle that she is, she wondered aloud how she was going to make coffee for all the people assembled, and began gathering beans to grind. Before long, there was a knock on the door. It was Gogol and the dwarf qadi, Mutamin al-Subvir.

To their credit, neither looked very pleased at what was about to happen; everyone loved Auntie after all. Nevertheless, with a small contingent of the city guard ready to enforce the contract, the dwarven qadi was about to render judgment, when all of a sudden, an excited cry from the back of the crowd drew attention to a new visitor to Auntie’s home.

Walking a bit hunched over, but with eyes as alert as they were 200 years ago, the most powerful priest in Huzuz, the ancient elf Imam Renn min Zann, approached the proceedings. Everyone was shocked, including Gogol and Mutamin. All fell over themselves offering respect, prostrating themselves, and making holy signs of Zann, god of wisdom.

He took quiet council with Mutamin and Gogol. No one could hear what they were saying, but it was obvious that the latter two were having instructions given to them. After disengaging with them, Imam Renn turned to Auntie and held a brief, quiet conversation with her. She would not speak of it afterwards.

What you remember most of that day was that the venerable wise elf turned to look at all of you, winked, and said simply “You have much to do,” before leaving.

As it turned out, someone in the Golden Palace has gotten wind of Gogol’s contract with Uncle Jojo. While it could not be undone, it went “significantly against the spirit of the law and culture of Huzuz,” and so it was decreed from the Grand Caliph himself that while the trip may have been a year, the payment was only due a year after the caravan was due to return. Certainly, someone spent enough time with the contract to come up with that interpretation. Was Fate smiling upon you after all?

The happiness quickly turned to despair when Mutamin informed Auntie of the debt, once interest was applied. Thirty thousand gold dinars.

That was more money than you had ever dreamed of…but then you remembered your dreams. Dreams of being free men and women of adventure; didn’t the heroes in those tales come across treasure such that could engulf a man? Mountains of gold and silver, magical items that commanded genies, staves that summoned sandstorms…

A year. A year of professional treasure-hunting…could it be done?

Making a vow amongst you that you would all rather die than see the kindest woman, the one who loved you when you thought none could, fall into slavery…you decided that you would forge your own way to free yourselves from this yoke. There are treasures aplenty left over from the World that Was…you would find them and finally pay back Auntie for all her kindness over the years to you all…

Which was surely worth much more than thirty thousand gold dinars.

You set off to the bazaar to see what rumours you could pick up, when you heard the shouting of Babazedeh, one of the porters you’ve come to know…
 The Burning World: Episode #1 
 Gammam 14 
Faruq dipped the quill in the ink and straightened the parchment he 'borrowed' from Auntie's desk. Alone finally, he sighed, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly in disbelief.

Gammam 14, 23rd Year of the Grand-Caliph, Khalil al-Assad al Zahir

I don’t know why I’m doing this.

Chaka said it would help, but it feels completely ridiculous. Why would I read what I wrote?

She says it will help when I get like this… like I am now. It wasn’t even a big deal… today… those bastards always try to cheat us. I hate them. But we need to work; Auntie can’t do this alone. I wish Uncle was here… he’s been gone for so long.

He said it would be a short trip, but Guzman said he’ll be gone longer this time because trade is not what it used to be. Used to be? He’s only gone on one trip with him, it’s not like he’s some big trader now…

So I’m supposed to write what happened. Fine. It was Hamza again. He’s always hated me. From the very first time I worked there. I knew it the first time he looked at me. He had that look of pity and disgust like people in the street. Damn him. This time when we were finished, Guzman and I both went to collect our wage and he said he didn’t have enough for us both. Of course he gave Guzman his. I told him that wasn’t fair, but he said he had not received a full shipment anyway so it wasn’t worth as much to unload it. My arms were aching because I did the work; why would he not pay me!?

Guzman didn’t even seem upset; so I’m mad at him too.

What happened? Well I felt the same burning in my eyes; I hate it. I knew what I looked like. Everyone always looks shocked when my eyes change. I can’t stop it. I hate that I can’t. I wish I never had these damn eyes; this skin, I am cursed.

So as soon as Hamza saw the change he ordered me out of the office. Without any money! How dare he! I started to feel my skin get hot like it always seems to but Guzman saw it too. He stopped me and said Hamza had to pay or neither of us would leave. I hate how people do what Guzman says but they ignore me. It’s not fair.

Of course Hamza did what Guzman wanted. And he found more dinar of course. He looked at me as he handed it to Guzman; he was trying to make me angry I could tell.

Guzman said when we left that I need to control my temper better; what a laugh! Coming from him that’s funny; he’s always throwing a tantrum about the dumbest things. But I didn’t say anything because I was glad we both got our wage. And Auntie was happy when we came home; the carvings have not sold well lately and she does everything alone with Jojo gone. I think I would do anything for her; even put up with Hamza; I almost totally forgot when she made dinner for us; she makes the best moutabal in Huzuz.

Chaka might have been right; this was not very hard.