'The Burning World' Campaign

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 Episode 135 of The Burning World
 2019-09-15 -  
Lions of Tomorrow Notes from Kazerabet... ( Member Submission! )... 2019-09-15 
Chapter TwoThe GeomancersIt is similarly mentioned that when a human being is placed in a barrel of sesame oil and kept in it for forty days, is fed with jigs and nuts until his or her flesh is gone and only the arteries and sutures of the skull remain, and is then taken out of the oil and exposed to the drying action of the air, he or she will answer all special and general questions regarding the future that may be asked. This is detestable sorcery.
- Ibn Khaldun, from the Muqaddimah

No group of sorcerers has ever held as much sway over the Ruined Kingdoms as the ancient Geomancers. Through a frightening combination of wizardry and priestly magic, the Geomancers could predict the future, command towering monoliths, and cause the earth to heave in mighty earthquakes. Today their geoglyphs and potent talismans live on, the last surviving legacy of their terrible power.

History of the GeomancersThere is little doubt that the Geomancers once held the entire Nogaro River valley in their firm control, as their geoglyphs can be found in many of the ruins on the continent. Curiously, their talismans or geoglyphs are not found on the islands of Afyal or Sahu.
For the latter, surely it must be Vermissa's presence, cloaking the isle from the Geomancers...further proof that my theory that she is "alive" on that island is correct!!

The Geomancers' ruling elite met in the Nine Council, each member taking a title according to rank and ability: Wihda, Ithnayn, Thalath, Arba., Khlams, Sitta, Sab., Thimaanya, and Tisan. Only one valiant group was able to stand up to the Geomancers: a young and fervent band of farisan remembered in legend as the Lions of Yesterday. Guided by Suhail min Zann, they confounded the Geomancers' divinations and smashed the power of the Nine Council, destroying eight of the wizard-priests. During that 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 we know why...

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. My guess is that it is heavily protected by their glyphs...

Inspired by Zann, Imam Suhail enchanted a mighty talisman and used it to seal the entrance to Tisan's retreat. Calling upon Fate, (Doubtful. Fate serves Tisan) the priest swore an oath that he would return from Paradise to council the Lions of Tomorrow, should Tadabbur's talisman ever be disturbed. Based on what my betrothed's bard has told me, this has already happened; the spirit that rides along in his body was herself possessed by the imam when she was a living being.

Suhail 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.
Ironically, Imam Suhail wrought his work so well that today the only remaining account about the Geomancers comes from his own sacred writings. (This was insanely foolish on his behalf.)

Imam Suhail was one of the most powerful priests of Zann ever to walk the face of Zakhara. Suhail was the architect of the Geomancer's defeat in the Ruined Kingdoms many centuries ago. After that force was banished from the world, Suhail wandered through the Land of Fate, destroying all records of the Geomancers he could find.

When he knew that his mission on al-Toril was ended, he consulted the stars for an auspicious location to be buried, so that a future generation of heroes, Lions of Tomorrow, would easily discover his burial place should the last Geomancer ever be awakened. (The fool...all he has done is condemned to a Fate worse than death those who would call themselves Lions...)

During his travels, Imam Suhail befriended the Queen Mother of the giant mason wasps. As a sign of respect, she decreed that her followers would always watch over his final resting place. Since mason wasps are considered harbingers of good luck and fortune, many pilgrims would stop at Suhail's grave on their pilgrimage to Huzuz. Miracles have been associated with the grave since the first pilgrims arrived centuries ago, and it wasn't long before a small shrine was erected near his sepulcher.

Lions of Tomorrow
Before his death, he transcribed all his knowledge about the Geomancers into a book called Lions of Tomorrow, so that a future generation of heroes would be forewarned of the perils they would face and how best to combat Geomancer magic, should Tisan ever return.

The book itself is fashioned from seaweed dipped in iodine to foil Geomantic divination, which the author, Iman Suhail, feared might be used to predict the book's future location. The tome's cover and binding consist of thin silver tubes filled with mercury, skillfully soldered together by a master silversmith. These precautions effectively shield the book with a cloaked wizardry enchantment. Impressive precautions, but I am certain a wish can be used to divine the book's hidden location.

The very first page contains an ancient and powerful abjuration spell researched by, presumably, Suhail. My theory: when touched by an artifact of the time (presumably the holy avenger wielded by the brother), it will cause a massive disjunction, obliterating all magic within its (undetermined) radius. I must admit, when considering confronting an opponent such as this...it may be enough to turn the tide, even if the gambit itself seems desperate; will she be weakened enough to be defeated without any magical resources on the part of her attackers?

The book continues in Chapter One with a life history of Imam Suhail, describing his ascendancy to the priesthood and his first encounters with the Geomancers. Suhail devotes many pages to his epic battle with the Nine Council, at a stronghold called Majlis, somewhere east of the Nogaro River. Suhail describes Geomancer battle-magic in great detail, highlighting their ability to summon and direct earth monoliths in melee. (Earth monoliths would seem to be earth elementals of incredible size.) After the battle, in which eight members of the Nine Council were slain, Suhail and his army razed the castle. After Suhail's victory, the castle was renamed Yinhani Abraaja, meaning "Leaning Towers." The imam reports having a vision and inscribing a short prophesy somewhere in the ruined castle. Suhail does not elaborate on his prophesy in the Lions of Tomorrow. (My beloved and his companions discovered this; it seems to have invigorated them on their quest. Undoubtedly, they believe Fate has put them on this path, but they refuse to acknowledge Fate's true Mistress...)

Lions of Tomorrow, written in Kadari, describes how a powerful priest of any enlightened deity may use Suhail's procedure to craft scarabs of protection, provided the priest has access to a mosque or holy site in which to pray and the right materials (a brooch carved out of a precious stone, like sapphire or ruby of at least 5,000 gp value, which has been sanctified in the Golden Mosque of Huzuz). Even with Suhail's completed research and the right materials, it still takes several weeks to complete the task.

In Chapter Three, Suhail includes a description of something he refers to as a "quest spell," which the high priest used extensively in his battles against the Geomancers.
Lions of Tomorrow only contains a vague reference to the spell, requiring research that only a holy person could achieve. (And so, I have left this alone...)

Finally, Chapter Four includes a general description of geoglyphs and how each of these could be foiled by a prepared and cautious individual. In particular, Suhail mentions that the presence of salt water, or proximity to the sea, will disrupt the effects of most geoglyphs.

GeomancyGeomancy is the study of the element of earth. Its practitioners, the Geomancers, sought to understand Fate through magic and thus command the entire world. What made Geomantic wizards and clerics different from common mages and clerics was their holistic philosophy, which combined the two forms of magic to make powerful runes, called geoglyphs.

Priest GeomancersAlthough many Geomancers only practiced wizardry, the society was directed by Grumbar's priests. All members of the Nine Council were priests/wizards of incredible power, but many did not begin their instruction in wizardry. Geomancer priests worshipped Grumbar, Cold God of the Earth. Because of their devotion to Grumbar, specialty priests were resistant against sand or earth magic. They could turn and command undead. As they became more powerful, they gained the ability to turn or command creatures native to the Elemental Plane of Earth. They eventually could summon such creatures and did not seem to need to concentrate on the summoning magic; the elementals seemed to serve out of devotion...

Wizard GeomancersWizards were common in the Geomancer Empire, far more numerous than the specialty priests. Unlike the priests, specialization among wizards was not popular, as their spells, magical items, and runes required a broad background of magical expertise to employ.

Undoubtedly, Geomancers used many different spells from those employed by modem wizards. Today's common flame, sand, and wind spells were probably developed by the Geomancers. The sole exception is sea magic, which has its origin in the Corsair Domains. Geomancers also employed many spells that are currently rare or extinct in the Land of Fate; they would assimilate all magical practices from the empires they conquered, and their power must have grown exponentially.

Emblems and GeoglyphsThe Geomancers. emblem was the asfr, a nine-spoked wheel with a dark central hub. The asfr symbolized a relationship between Fate (the outer wheel), Magic (the nine spokes of the wheel), and the world (the hub). This nonmagical symbol can be found on almost all their buildings or magical items, signifying ownership. Nine was a sacred number to the Geomancers, who devised an elaborate system of magical runes and symbols called geoglyphs. Their symbols were organized into nine categories: whd, thnn, thlth, rba., khlms, stt, sb.a, thmn, and tsn, each with a different purpose or power. While geoglyphs could theoretically be inscribed by a single individual, they were almost always made by a group of nine wizards or priests, called a Council.

Given the cooperative effort that went into creating them, geoglyphs are almost impossible to erase. For dispel magic to be successful, it must overcome the contribution of each member of the Council that created it. Otherwise it fails and the geoglyph remains. A wish only eliminates the contribution of the first (i.e., weakest) member of the Council; it can thus take up to nine wishes to remove a geoglyph.

When encountered in ruins, geoglyphs are frequently invisible, flashing with gold or blue light when triggered. Depending upon their nature, geoglyphs can be activated by touch or by command. In either case, the glyph discharges once and goes into dormancy, recharging its magical energy from the earth for nine minutes (or hours, or days; the more potent the effect, the longer the recharge time). Thus, geoglyphs can discharge infrequently.

Geoglyphs by PriestsCouncils of priests made the first three types of geoglyphs (whd, thnn, thlth) by scratching with a metal implement in earth or stone.

Whd: Dream glyphs. These glyphs are typically found in private chambers, where they work their power on sleeping minds. They were used to obtain minor divinatory revelations and to influence the dreams of enemies.

Thnn: Sight glyphs. These glyphs were inscribed on a wall, enabling it to serve as a permanent scrying device, similar to a crystal ball. More complicated configurations enabled the detection of sound and (in the most powerful) thoughts as well.

Thlth: Sending glyphs. If combined with sight runes, sending runes could enable two-way communication of sight, sound, and thought. When inscribed on the walls, floor, and ceiling of a chamber, the room became a oneway gate with a fixed destination. Sending runes enabled
the Geomancers to establish an extensive communication and transport network in their empire. Their operation is unhindered by deception runes (see below).

Geoglyphs by WizardsGeomancer wizards made the next three types of geoglyphs (rba', khlms, stt) by scratching on copper with a diamond-tipped stylus.

Rba': Ward glyphs. This broad family of geoglyphs includes all rune configurations meant to harm or destroy those who inadvertently activate them. They were used to protect the entrances of strongholds, secret chambers, and the treasuries of the Geomancers. (Seems familiar with the modern symbol spell) Ward runes can be disarmed by a secret command word, muttered while touching them.

Khlms: Deception glyphs. These glyphs were inscribed on the surfaces of most Geomancer strongholds. In their most primitive configuration, they merely blocked divinatory magics, but in their more advanced forms they could misdirect divinations, giving a false reading to their caster. Deception runes can be modified to prevent teleportation and block dimensional travel both into and out of an area.

Stt: Calling glyphs. The most powerful group of wizardly geoglyphs, calling runes were used to gate in creatures from the Outer Planes. Few contain binding or protective clauses, leading to the conclusion that the summoned creatures were usually the Geomancers' allies or counselors. When encountered near treasure vaults, they summon deadly fiends (usually devils or yugoloth) charged with protecting the Geomancer's property. Such creatures are rarely amenable to negotiation.

Geoglyphs by the wizard/priestsGeomancer priest-wizards could fashion the three most powerful groups of geoglyphs (sb'a, thmn, tsn) by sprinkling the powder of precious stones on surfaces of gold or platinum.

Sb'a: Time glyphs. These potent glyphs alter the subjective flow of time for all caught within their area of effect, which is usually small (no more than a few hundred square feet). They were sometimes used to hold advancing enemies in thrall (similar to timestop) while preparations were made to decimate them. They could also be used to speed up the passage of time in their area of effect, aging the victims to senility before they could escape.

Thmn: Past glyphs. A combination of sight and time runes, this family of glyphs allowed the user to scry upon known individuals or events in Zakhara's recent or distant past. These runes transmit an audio-visual image of the past, automatically translating foreign languages into Kadari.

Tsn: Future glyphs. A much more powerful (and elaborate) combination of sight and time runes, this family of glyphs allows the user to survey the tangled skeins of Fate and understand the probable course of the future if certain events are allowed to transpire. The runes do not show what WILL be, only what MAY be, under known preconditions. The far future is thus very difficult to predict, but very specific short-term visions are quite accurate.

Nine Falling StarsThe following are my written recollections from my arcane communing with powerful extraplanar entities. There is always a risk in attempting such communion, but my need to know has pushed me to this point and I will not stop now. I feel I have emerged unscathed...for the most part. I know I am changed; whether it is as a result of a very reasonable fear of the doom that now threatens to engulf all of Zakhara, or...something else...I can not say with certainty.

Does it matter?

The night of the meteor shower...its significance is now clear. Nine meteors for each of the Council of Nine, the council of the Geomancers. This was the night the talisman used to seal away the Sunderer of Dreams was disturbed. Divinations reveal it was a desperate band of bounty hunters from Rog'osto, searching the hinterland jungles for treasure, accidentally stumbled across the outer ruins of Tadabbur. Having no knowledge of the terrible Geomancers, the group removed the talisman sealing the entrance of Tisan's prison below Tadabbur. One of the two surviving explorers, Raja al-Sadiq, is a potent, greedy, and ambitious sha'ir. Through her intellect and bravery, she managed to parley with the last Geomancer.

Tisan was both relieved and amused that her liberator had no knowledge of her history or true identity. Through her vague glimpses of the future before she was imprisoned, Tisan knew that her only weakness lay in a small seal, which could unlock the knowledge to destroy her.

Considering her liberator's possible utility in obtaining the seal, Tisan struck a bargain with Raja. The Arch-Geomancer would have retrieved the item herself, but she was weakened after nine centuries of sleep and had more important long range plans to set in motion. In exchange for the sha'ir's assistance, Tisan promised Raja rulership and power in a resurrected modern-day empire of Kadar. The pair entered into a magical contract (enforced with a geas) not to betray each other. It would seem Tisan agreed only because she could use a wish to negate the geas in the future. (Inevitable, since she will inevitably desire to eliminate her arrogant and rude accomplice.)

After striking this bargain with Raja, Tisan cast a wish to learn the location of Suhail's magical seal, but her divination spell brought only a vague response because of the seal's undetectable wardings. Collapsing in exhaustion, Tisan passed her sketchy information to Raja, who agreed to obtain the seal to the best of her ability. Herself heavily exhausted by her efforts to gain and win entrance to Tisan's company, Raja summoned a lesser servant to fetch the seal and eliminate its current owner. That servant was Tabati, a female invisible stalker.

Tisan's GoalsHaving regained her strength, Tisan wants nothing less than to re-establish a modern Geomancer empire. Tisan is not foolish enough to think that she can accomplish this on her own. Backed by the full power of an assembled Nine Council, however, Tisan feels certain to succeed. Tisan has devoted the full intensity of her supra-genius intellect to the task of rebuilding her Nine Council. Tisan's enemies did an admirable job of scattering and burying the remains of her fallen counselors eight centuries ago at the Battle of the Leaning Towers. Most were slain in a manner that would prevent them from being easily brought back to life with a wish.

That has barely slowed her down.

The Arch-Geomancer has begun researching unconventional ways to recalling the long-dead. Her archives in Tadabbur are preserved remarkably well, and during the past few months she has put together an ancient and elaborate necromantic ritual, long-abandoned by the Geomancers after they discovered easier methods of prolonging their lives. Tisan realizes her eight counselors will not rise willingly from graves eight centuries old. The Arch-Geomancer has never been shy about magical coercion, though; she willwillwillwill have her Nine Council back.

Tisan's First ExperimentAt first, Raja thought she would have the upper hand in dealing with the ancient sorceress Tisan, who had seemed so weak and powerless after their first confrontation. Then, once she had seen glimpses of Tisan's power and fury, for the first time the sha'ir was truly afraid.

When Raja's invisible stalker failed to recover the magical seal Tisan had requested, the Geomancer's dark fury threatened to eclipse the sun. The ancient sorceress seized Nadan, Raja's lone surviving adventuring companion, and brutally tortured him in front of the sha'ir's eyes. Tisan slew him and raised him several times, just to illustrate that she would not tolerate future failures. The Geomancer forced Raja to help change Nadan, twisting him into something horrid and quite insane.

Afterwards, Raja tried to flee.

Of course, Tisan prevented her.

With a carefully worded wish, Tisan had shattered the geas preventing her from harming Raja. Now Tisan spoke a word, slaying Raja's gen familiar, and ordered her fiendish servants to carry the screaming sha'ir to her workroom. Before attempting to recall her eight counselors, Tisan thought it prudent to test the elaborate necromantic procedure on the more recently deceased. Raja, a pathetic modem genie-summoner, would not offer her the same kind of resistance as her ancient, unwilling colleagues, but it was still an important exercise.

Months later, her task complete, Tisan was glad she had expended the effort to experiment with Raja. Of course,

Tisan had made some minor mistakes and the sha'ir had to be slain a few more times than strictly necessary, but in the end Tisan still considered her research a complete success. Tisan has now turned her attention to gathering the remains of Thalath, her only true ally in the council. Her fawning puppet while alive, Thalath will require the least amount of coercion to join her service, or so Tisan hopes. While absorbed in her current task, Tisan has directed Raja to find the bearers of the seal and destroy them. The possible outcomes of their continued existence are too risky for Tisan to tolerate. She once underestimated a barbarian priest from the savage western deserts. Never again.

Tisan Balshareska, Ninth of Nine, Ruler of the Supreme Council, Arch-Geomancer, Sunderer of Dreams, She Who Turns the Wheel of Fate can appear in many shapes and sizes. However, her natural form is that of a fair, heavily muscled woman in her late thirties, with jet-black hair tied back in a single braid reaching almost to the floor. She typically wears short-sleeved robes which reveal the elaborate golden tattoos covering her exposed hands, arms, legs, neck, and face. These geoglyphs protect Tisan with the effect of several permanent spell effects, including lifeproof (same as Sumulael used).

The geoglyphs glow and flash with gold or red light when actively warding Tisan, but they are otherwise inert and ornamental.

This powerful character was born nine centuries ago into one of the ruling families of the Geomancers. Her given name was Balshareska. Like all members of the nobility, she was trained as a priest of Grumbar in the service of the Empire. Her political adroitness and talent for intrigue eventually landed her in the Imperial College of Geomancy, where she completed her wizardly training. Within 50 years, she had maneuvered herself to the summit of imperial authority, the position of Tisan, Ruler of the Supreme Council, through a combination of intimidation, coercion, and treachery. Tisan carefully concealed her true name after reaching the Supreme Council.

Tisan's tragic flaw was underestimating the western barbarians, who invaded the eastern jungles proclaiming a new "enlightenment" in their alien religion. The most powerful of these barbarian priests, Imam Suhail min Zann, somehow managed to visit defeat after defeat on the Geomancers. Try as she might, Tisan could not harm Suhail; she settled for corrupting his younger brother Ashtarek, a paladin naive enough to believe she might be persuaded into changing her evil ways. Ashtarek was wrong. She slew him inside the gates of Tadabbur with a powerful death magic, so he could not be resurrected by his brother. Although she tried to capture his holy avenger, it eluded her grasp as she was driven into the bowels of her stronghold and eventually imprisoned in her laboratory by Suhail's talisman.

Malakir was bound to Tisan's service many centuries ago to act as her chief lieutenant. He appears in the short-sleeved robes common to the ancient Geomancer empire. This is only a carefully crafted permanent illusion, however, placed upon the greater yugoloth by Tisan so he could make public appearances without inciting riots. His true form is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the most battle-hardened of mercenaries. In battle, he wields a great scimitar of life stealing.

Trapped by Suhail in stasis with Tisan, Malakir has served his mistress for an uncommonly long term. Having recently learned of her plan to restore her Nine Council, the yugoloth could hardly contain his excitement. He longs for the return of the ancient ways as much as Tisan. Possessing a wry sense of humor, uncommon among denizens of the Lower Planes, the ultroloth talks with a sarcastic, almost condescending tone to mortals and delights in his ability to fool their perceptions with his disguise.

Tisan has but one pet, a large earth elemental named Keskeg. Big, stupid, and unconditionally affectionate, it is the only creature the Geomancer treats with any semblance of kindness. Keskeg is never far from his mistress's side in Tadabbur. After a few painful lessons, he quickly learned to sit quietly in a comer while Tisan works on her experiments.
 Episode 128 of The Burning World
 2019-08-08 
 On to Krak al-Niraan 
Gaunting

R: What is your business in the lands this day?
R: Are you aware of the fortress nearby?
Y: Absoloutely
R: We have business with those in the fortress, perhaps we could f. We do not wnat to put your in harms ay
As long as this fortress exists witin ithe ahunted lands, we will always be in harms way in one way or another

Suggesting

F: Is there another way?
K: I'm sure I can find a way in
R: You mean without a distraction?
K: Honestly the distraction will help, it's hard to know what security we'll be facing
R: Given what we've seen so far, any additional help we can get will be appreciated.
Y: I can't really believe that my brother is still there, but if you could find any notes about his whreabouts, It would be very appreciated.
R: Of course; I'll do anything to find your brother.

Nodding, even a little ashamed how Roheen had been treated by the tribe, Omar describes a hit-and-run plan with horseback archers.

Keriyah suggests

Faruq can tell that she is trying to 'answer without answering'; does she know anything about Krak al-Niraan, but 'her organization' has filled her in, etc.
Why is she here alone? She volunteered
Asks why she volunteered? There's never just 1 answer, but get the sense she's anxious to kill Ali because he DARED use the jade jambiya to misrepresent The Soft Whisper

I wish I could be there, but the sheik's son Omar has decreed that I cannot be part of the assault:
R: you need to rest, _____________

The

Yazid is the older one
The younger brother has gotten into conflict with the


The god of Najm... that's just a line they feed. That's the Flamedeath Fellowship... who worship one of the cold gods, Kossuth.

The orphans decide to
The desert riders begin their assault, firing arrows at the fortress walls, immediately garnering the attention of the guards on the walls. Yazid summons a Djinni who causes a whirlwind as well, and while the distraction seems to be at its peak

Keriyah asks to guide the carpet down to a small window on the parapets

The fortress is fairly austers, not meant to entertain grand guests... sipmle, well-travelled but very utilitarion; no artwork. Keriyah asks if she can disappear

I'm glad you caught up with me, this man is about to tell us where Ali al-wizan is...
he's crying, balding... scraggly

You're taking us to see the quartermaster. Once we get there, we'll stay outside the door, you'll not tell anyone that we're here. Once we're done our business, we will let you go.

Making their way through; only once


No one can stand him... he has had apprentices before... but
There's the only ones



yazid bin hanif

2 wands
several scrolls:
Conjure fire elemental
Teleport
Meteor swarm
demiplane
plane shift
delayed blast fireball

various notebooks, diaries written in a wierd shorthand to himself

Kal is hearing a wrecking ball... not going through a wall, but landing on a hard surface
Peeking down the hallway, Kal sees ________

 Episode 126 of The Burning World
 2019-07-17 -  
The Warehouse Aftermath... ( Member Submission! )... 2019-07-17 
There was a limited amount of collateral damage since most of the battle took place on the skyship itself. That ended up a bit of a mixed blessing, however, since that was the outstanding gift the Al-Danafis (Princess Tanya's family) wanted to give the Grand Caliph on his Ascension Day. Then, there was the matter of breaking and entering, a fairly serious charge. Fortunately, Yunnus swapped places with the district qadi to judge the case, even though it would almost certainly go to a higher court. The merchant tasked with keeping the warehouse, Masala, was understandably livid, and Yunnus was having a hard time keeping him calm. Extra guard were called in, led by One-eyed Kassad, who did not hide his glee at the opportunity to finally get at Azizulah.

So it was with great surprise that, a mere 30 minutes later, a group of royal bodyguards arrived with Princess Tanya bint Perijan. Imperiously, she walked through the assemblage and addressed Yunnus, asking what had happened. When Masala tried to interject, a steely glance from her silenced him. Yunnus described things as he had come upon them (honest to a fault, Yunnus) and then looked expectantly at the heroes. Thinking quickly, Tanya (somewhat too loudly) thanked the heroes for "completing her task," confounding everyone else there. She then spun a tale about how she had suspicions about the ajami mage-merchant Aja, and had enlisted the heroes to discover his secret. When Kassad began to object, she turned on him with a barely contained fury, reminding him that a red dragon had been operating in an area where he was supposed to be head of security.
She then turned to Azizulah and whispered "I believe our debts to each other are now fulfilled, yes?"

Masala, despondent but not wishing to upset Tanya, asked about the skyship, and what could be done for it, since it was supposed to be a royal gift...everyone turned to look at you at that point.

(I know Azizulah has the rod, but he may or may not want to reveal that now)

However that scenario ends, since you're in the area and you know it's time for the midday break, you decide to take a chance to drop in on Aunty. Sure enough, she has just returned from prayers, but she asks you to look in on Sulayman, who she thinks is ill. Knocking on his door, gets you a panicked shout; when you identify yourselves, he lets you in, eyes darting about. He is clearly paranoid about something, so you ask about it.

He shows you a piece of parchment, burnt around the edges. It reads:

You and your family are not safe from my burning touch. I can take you
whenever I wish, but your end shall be slow and lingering, like wood
consumed by fire.
                                                                -Ali al-Lazan
 Episode 102 of The Burning World
 2018-10-03 
 The Leaning Towers 
Batul wants much to honor the woman who helped raise his son

Faruq thanks Batul

GET FINAL $$ OWING FOR AUNTY

A day and a half or two days travelling to the Leaning Towers, Diliram is happily going over how you met, how she was so happy to find brave mortals willing to free her lover,

Namared, happy to experience all these things... Sheik Khaldun's group, the terrifying genie there, the struggle against the Brotherhood of the True Flame, she's thought

experiencing these struggles more... appreciating better that mortals help one another instead of Efreeti going after powers, Dao after wealth, etc. She seems very appreciative

of this, constant references how she'll never forget us, she'll see mortals in a new light, and it will change how she deals with them in future, etc.

Azizullah speaks up to thanks Diliram for her accompaniment; that she has been invaluable to the brothers in their pursuits.

Faruq thanks her for teaching him much more about the nature of genies; that he values her friendship and hopes that they might see each other again one day.

Arriving at the ruins, the heroes can see distinctly the nine towers... representative of the 'council of nine', those terrifying geomancers from an age ago. Some are well

preserved, some not, but did they owe their longevity to their structures or to the magic used to create them? It was almost humbling to think that this is where this climactic

battle took place... where eight of the nine were laid low by Suhail min Zann and his group.

This was hallowed ground.

Strange now, that the snakes that populated the area were friends... all due to the siblings' efforts to continue the legacy of memory to Queen Sharamaz from her father upon his

passing.

Faruq & Azizullah begin exploring the ruins again... having learned much since the last time they were here, they were hoping to find some more information.

Finding a piece of battered bronze... it has distinct similarities to the clay tablet they're carrying... the asfir (nine-spoked wheel) on it.

Taj joins the siblings... immediately approached the heroes and circled Kal familiarly.

Drawing The Breakers of the Nine Chains, Roheen asked again for the sword to devulge more information on the Lions of Yesterday:

Known Lions of Yesterday:
=============================
Suhail - Cleric without peer - (Ashtarek's brother)
Ashtarek - Paladin - (Suhail's brother) - Ashtarek's folly (Suhail could not talk him out of the folly of his heart)
Hussam - Monk - studied under ancient mystics (fists and feet)
Setarah - Sorcereress (water in her veins instead of blood). Anytime the earth elementals would draw near, she could summon a monsoon and reduce them to mud. Why didn't

Ashtarek target her with his affections; she would have made a fine bride for Ashtaraq, but he did not choose her.
Mutamin - Sage (great consultant) (was not buried alongside the rest of them)

Breaker said Ashtaraq distrusted the wizard Mutamin a great deal, perhaps because the Geomancers 'denied' him the knowledge he would have preferred for himself.

Suhail only ever accepted him as an ally, never as a friend. Included in the group because of his prowess, not as friend.

Breaker thinks that wherever Mutamin ended up, he likely adopted another identity. Mutamin was far too interested in the magicks the Geomancers were using, not necessarily in

defeating them.

Sharamaz appears, slowly slithering towards the siblings... he familiar visage still strikingly beautiful. Bowing and kneeling, Sharamaz says, a warm smile on her

face,

Sh: Please, you of all people, for all that you have done, for what you have done for me, for my father, for my kingdom... need not do that. What can I do for you?
K: We have questions regarding the region you are now occupying.
Sh: Yes, the air is heavy with history. Not of my own people, but of yours. I will answer as best I can. What is it you wish to know?
K: Were you present during the fall of this place?
Sh: I was not, but my ancestors were...

The diamond on her forehead begins to glow...

Sh: If you are willing to wait, I would be willing to see what my ancestors can recall of this place.
K: Please.
Sh: This may take a day or two, this place is very old... please make yourselves comfortable...

Diliram is amazed at this; thinking Sharamaz wondrous and amazing, happily volunteers that she will 'take care' of the siblings while the queen enters the trance, lost in the

reverie of her ancestors.

Further investigation of the ruins does not yield much more new information. Faruq seems sure that each tower had it's own 'responsiblity', one in particular that seems quite

large, tipped over and covered in vines, and deep in his soul he seems certain that Tisan would have claimed it as her own. Faruq's imagination makes him think that the towers

likely acted like a magical network, allowing seamless, interwoven casting and an interconnected use of multiple magical disciplines... how could this be possible? Surely there

must have been something else enabling this...

After a day has passed, Sharamaz joins the siblings... having woken from her reverie, tearstreaks clear on her face, but a placid, peaceful smile on her face.

Sharamaz offers to share the image with the siblings telepathically and the siblings immediately agree.

The intense experience begins as though they are 'viewing' the scene as if from the perspective of a snake... the clothes worn by those around do not seem at all what is worn

today...

They all have wine-coloured skin and their eyes are all one colour: all black, all blue, all white eyes, and they have a variety of hair colours, but basically it goes between

shades of black, white and silver. They have bizarre white symbols (inverted triangles, dodecaderons, etc) on their bodies.. engraved... and they're under attack. The city

they're in is being pummeled by earth quakes and a round of earth elementals. They defend themselves with a magic we haven't seen before... waving their hands in the air, these

mathematical symbols appear in the air... and it seems like they're using protactors and compasses as implements... banishing the elementals, opening up the earth and swallowing

their enemies whole, or assaulting them with some sort of psychic magic, felling their enemies without physical assault.

The fight looks hopeless however, and they're being overwhelmed. Earth elementals, fiendish gargoyle-like creatures and more summon more and more to tear the defenders apart.

Behind them all, one bald man with a very long beard seems to be controlling them... clearly a geomancer. When a wine-skinned defender dies, the strange man immediately

animates them as undead under his control.

Each of the siblings sees the same thing: this man gets down off his horse (nightmare), approaches one of the wineskin defenders, puts his hand on their forehead and his eyes

light up, he seems to be draining 'something' from this person, and then there's a pop, and the geomancer's gone maybe 10 sec, and then appears again in the same spot, but this

time, HE has the same sigils on HIS body... similar, but different. His are gold and purple, and they writhe a bit on his body. Another defender tries to use their

mathematical magic on the bald man, and those new sigils flash and the magic cast at him stops and dissipates harmlessly around him. And using magic just like the siblings saw

Kazerabet use on Barack, the bald man kills his attacker and in the same breath, raises him as an undead minion of his own.
 Episode 101 of The Burning World
 2018-09-27 -  
Our Tale, Such as it has been told, Part III... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-09-27 
The Eleven Baneful Gates, Pt. 1
After returning to Huzuz and recuperating, the Orphans were contacted by a messenger from the cleric Haroushin. The message described how the priest had very excitedly been researching the clay seal described by the heroes. His inquiries led him to the mosque of Zann in the city of Wasat, and he asked the Orphans to meet him there.

The Orphans secured sea travel to Wasat by hiring themselves to the merchant Barak al-Gani, a noted rival to the criminal merchant Yodfah. Taking pity on the situation the Orphans were in, he offered them better-than-usual rates to accompany his goods to the port of Wasat. He got his money’s worth: twice during the trip his vessel was attacked, by saughugin and merrow. Each time, the Orphans beat the creatures back, and so safely ended up in Wasat, the Middle City.

Once they were settled in, the young heroes decided to explore a bit of the city before meeting Haroushin the next morning. During this time, they interrupted a mugging in an alleyway where several ruffians were accosting two women; the women ended up being Tanya bint Perijan and Yasmi al-Datma, two of the Grand Caliph’s favoured wives! They thanked the young heroes for “rescuing” them (they were never in any real danger, considering Yasmi’s magical prowess), explaining that they sometimes snuck out of the Golden Palace in Huzuz for some fun, teleportingback before sunup. Swearing to keep their secret, the Orphans retired for the evening.

The mosque of Learned Zann had assigned Haroushin guest quarters, and it is was there that they met. The older priest shared what he had been able to discover, which wasn’t much, but he was excited about it. There were virtually no references to a nine-spoked wheel in any of the texts, but he did find a picture of one in the background of a book detailing the ancient kingdom of Al-Anwahr, City of Lions. Researching into the lost city, he discovered the following legend:

In the distant past, when Fate passed her knowledge to the Loregiver, Al-Anwahr was a rich and proud city ruled by King Azaltin, an intelligent man well versed in poetry, astrology, and the ways of magic. As the Loregiver wandered Zakhara, teaching the laws of the divine to man and genie alike, she is said to have stopped in Al-Anwahr and been a guest of Azaltin for 11 days. Azaltin honored his guest daily with lavish celebrations and exquisite gifts of silks, gold, and perfumes. After each night of entertainment, the king would ask his guest the same question: “How can a man live forever?”

The Loregiver warned Azaltin about the danger of such knowledge, but in the end could hardly insult her gracious host by refusing to answer. Each night she told the king about the obstacles that prevent man from achieving immortality. Azaltin’s scribes labored furiously to capture the Loregiver’s parables and cryptic riddles, which were set down in a legendary scroll titled The Eleven Baneful Gates. According to legend, the Loregiver departed Al-Anwahr, leaving the equivocal scroll in Azaltin’s care. Azaltin pondered the scroll for a decade, ignoring his people while trying to unravel its secret.

After months of fasting and meditation, he abandoned the kingdom to his brother Amakim and left to ponder the scroll in the solitude of the wilderness.

Ancient legends say he returned a dozen years later, an undead creature of hideous appearance, to reclaim his kingdom. Before long, Amakim led a revolt to topple his monstrous brother. Some members of court remained loyal to their undead king, however, and a bloody battle ensued throughout the city. Ultimately, Amakim’s forces triumphed, but when they reached the king’s palace they found that Azaltin had vanished. Amakim and his forces departed Al-Anwahr and eventually founded the city of In’aash. Centuries past, the city was renamed Muluk, while Al-Anwahr and Azaltin passed into folklore.
If there was anything to be learned about the nine-spoked seal, it was within the ruins of Al-Anwahr. As such, the Orphans prepared for a mighty journey across the Haunted Lands.

The Shattered Statue
During their sojourn, the heroes were greeted on evening by a glowing, spectral horse. While somewhat sinister, it was not threatening, and eventually the heroes understood that it meant for them to follow it. Concerned that not doing so would be unwise, the Orphans followed the ghostly steed through the desert until they were confronted with a raging thunderstorm. Narrowly avoiding the lightning strikes and flaming hail, the heroes found shelter within the abandoned city of Sokkar.

The city was filled with a mind-numbing panorama of graves and mausoleums stretching for miles in all directions. The sepulchers increased in stature and apparent importance deeper into the city. At least six lofty pyramids rose above all other structures. The city was a veritable necropolis.

The horse led them to a particular tomb; the heroes understood the tomb to be for the horse itself! They learned that it was a prized steed named Edimu, and its tomb had been desecrated. The Orphans understood that the spirit of the steed could not rest until its tomb had been repaired. Setting out into the seemingly abandoned city, the adventurers encountered the lamia, Ophidia. Unlike most of her kin, she was kind and not aggressive. She explained the history of Sokkar to the adventurers:

At the dawn of time, giants ruled the jungles that engulfed the now-desolate terrain of the Land of Fate. These magnificent creatures founded the city of Sokkar. The giants governed wisely, and the city’s human citizens prospered. But all that is good must pass, for the Destroyer of Delights and Sunderer of Societies visits every giant, every man, every nation. With time, the female giants began to produce only male heirs, and the population of giants steadily dwindled until only a few males remained. Renouncing their rulership of Sokkar, the giants built massive cairns for themselves far outside the walls of the city and shut themselves up inside their necropolis.

Although many giants passed into eternity, the three most powerful and principled members of their race could not rest leaving their beloved city unguarded. Noq the Inspired, Arun the Ever-Vigilant, and Merodach the Deprived all ignored their own deaths. Animated by their forces of will, these giants became rom, the Undying.

After the giants’ exodus, humans continued to rule in Sokkar according to their ancient laws. New kings and queens deferred to the memory and traditions of their forbears. Each year, the rulers visited the necropolis to confer with the rom and hear their undying wisdom.

Before long, the rom were praised as noble heroes and worshiped as demigods in Sokkar. Citizens begged to be buried near their sacred cairns. The rom welcomed the expansion of their necropolis and encouraged a reverence for the dead. As the centuries passed, a vast city of tombs expanded around the giants. Funerary complex, until even their towering mausoleums were lost in the avenues of vaulted tombs and memorials. More time passed, and the city of the living dwindled. Wars came and devastated the population; the jungles and fields dried up as the climate changed; and the citizens neglected Sokkar’s fortifications, pouring all their wealth and resources into extravagant tombs. Eventually, the curse that had plagued the giants resurfaced, and Sokkar’s women began to produce only male heirs. Sokkar fell into ruin and was devoured by the rapidly encroaching desert.

With the death of Sokkar’s last citizen, the three Undying, Noq, Merodach, and Arun, summoned a great tempest to encircle their city, shielding it from view by the outside world. This maelstrom is generated by Al-Amzija, a Black Cloud of Vengeance bound to the city by the mysterious powers of the Undying. Al-Amzija cannot enter the necropolis, nor can it stray more than a few miles from its border. Enraged at its everlasting imprisonment, the malignant tempest fills the sky with a fury of sand and wind as it storms about its prison, searching for a means of escape.
The City of Eternity does not welcome visitors, Ophidia explained, but, having arrived, newcomers cannot safely depart without the express permission of the Undying. While the perimeter of the city is far too large for Al-Amzija to notice every being entering Sokkar, leaving is another matter. The sound of its own name attracts the cloud; it also senses when beings or objects that have spent a day and a night in the necropolis attempt to pass through the maelstrom. Countless adventurers, Ophidia warned, have gone fleeing through the stormy border with their plunder, only to be intercepted and destroyed by the Black Cloud. Only the Undying can call the Black Cloud away from its prey, she explained and they never bother to intercede on behalf of tomb robbers.

The Orphans explained their quest to Ophidia and she remarked that there was a pack of ghouls, led by a Great Ghul (an undead Jann) that haunted the city; the damage done to Edimu’s tomb looked like it had been done by ghoul claws. Tracking down the ghoul nest in the Pyramid of Kagemnemni, the heroes killed them and defeated the ghul sorcerer, Dashul. The latter warned them of an Underking who had been cursed by the rom before dying and was responsible for the animation of the ghouls. They tracked the undead lord down, destroyed him and his servitors, and returned to the surface. Dashur formally surrendered to them, wanting only to continue his research. In exchange, the ghul sorcerer provided them with the means to repair Edimu’s tomb. The spirit of the steed was finally at rest.

When the time came to leave Sokkar, Ophidia brought the Orphans before the Pyramids of the Undying. With thunderous voices, they gave the heroes permission to leave, since they took not a single coin from the necropolis. As well, they forgave Ophidia for her long-ago crime, and restored her to her human form. Wistfully saying good by to the warrior Guzman, she used her magic to leave. While still pursued by al-Amzija, the Orphans also managed to escape Sokkar without serious injury.

Sibling Rivalry
As they continued their way to Al-Anwahr, the Orphans were approached by a young blue dragon. Calling herself Ghish, the dragon warned the adventurers that they were trespassing in the territory of her older sister, Fakhira. She described that it was just a matter of time before the elder dragon detected them and destroyed them. 

Ghish then offered the Orphans a deal: she would show them where Fakhira’s lair was, and if they killed her, would let them have all the treasure the elder dragon kept there. If they refused the offer, she said, she would simply leave and let Fakhira destroy them.

The Orphans agreed, and Ghish did indeed navigate them safely to Fakhira’s lair. Their attempt at an ambush went awry, however, having greatly underestimated the senses of the dragon. As the battle raged, Ghish revealed herself as the true source of her hated sister’s suffering, and joined in the attack. By the battle’s end, however, both Guzman and Chaka lay dead.

Without knowing what to do, and far from any city-state that could possibly raise their siblings, the Orphans bound up the bodies of their siblings and continued on to Al-Anwahr.

Eleven Baneful Gates, Pt. 2
As the adventurers came within bowshot of the ruins, they were met by several Jann. Known to be wild, unpredictable, and extremely dangerous, the two groups came to blows, with the Orphans defeating the genies. Unable to do anything other than press on, they did so, and eventually came to the encampment of the Jann within the ruins. Their leader was a wise sheik by the name of Sheyisha. After some severe negotiations, aided by the jann prisoner, Printz, the Orphans were able to secure accommodations. After sharing many of their stories of adventures, the jann took to the group, and offered to use their magics to restore the hama of their siblings to their bodies. After a long while, the process succeeded with Guzman, but ultimately, Chaka’s spirit remained out of reach.

The Jann had a favoured prisoner, a rawun named Printz. He was permitted to join the Orphans as they searched the ruins of Al-Anwahr. They encountered a strange hermit by the name of Nerim. They had a fairly cryptic conversation with him, when he suddenly disappeared, leaving behind some magical items the Orphans would use later as they explored the ruined palace of Azaltin. When they entered the latter, they saw many murals that showed brave warriors combatting earth elementals, undead, and fiends from the lower planes. Within the palace itself, the heroes encountered such creatures, eventually discovering a sealed book and an ancient scroll, both penned in a language they couldn’t understand. Faruq’s innate magic enabled him to understand the contents, however. The book was titled The Kingdom of Lions, and it was a concise history of Al-Anwahr right up until Amakim’s revolt. The scroll was a simple message that read:

Too late have I realized the Loregiver’s warnings. Immortality is a curse, not a treasure. No man or woman should bear this burden, which I shouldered only through youthful pride. Rest assured that The Eleven Baneful Gates has been destroyed. It can tempt mortals no further.
Deciding that this was the kind of artifact that Haroushin was looking for, the Orphans set out to return not to Wasat, to meet the priest, but home to Huzuz, to first bury their sister Chaka.

A Boasting Contest
As they traversed across the deserts of the Haunted Lands, the Orphans were suddenly put upon by a giant Efreet. Calling himself Achmed al-Zuli, the Magnificient, the genie demanded tribute as they were trespassing upon “his” territory. The Efreet challenged one among their number to a boasting contest, to be judged upon by the rest of the Orphans. Should Achmed win, he would take one of their magical items (and he had his eye on the scimitar, Cyclone of the Four Quarters); should the Orphans’ representative win, he would exchange on of his items with one from Achmed’s treasure chest, which contained many wonderful items.

The contest went poorly, however, with the Orphans antagonizing the sensitive genie; Achmed attacked them, beating the group badly. To spare their lives, the heroes gave up the genie-slaying scimitar and were allowed to go along their way.

Retrieval of a Prize Most Dear
The Orphans returned to Golden Huzuz uncertain how they were going to deal with their greatest challenge: consoling Aunty after the death of Chaka.

Devastated at the loss of her adopted daughter, Aunty demanded the remaining Orphans promise to cease their adventuring to pay off the debt. They all agreed…except for Faruq, who felt honour-bound to refuse and continue to do what he could to free Aunty from the impending slavery. He was, however, alone to do so…

The funeral was attended by many of Aunty’s former adoptees; three of them were congregating over coffee in the small garden of the house they grew up in: Roheen, a former Al-Badian desert rider who had been banished from the House of Hanif; Kal, a barbarian from the northern mountains; and Azizulah, a fire-wielding sorcerer matrud who never discussed how he came to be branded a criminal. The three men were discussing how they themselves would band together and finish the work the young heroes had begun. They noticed that Faruq had distanced himself from his siblings and deduced that the young sha’ir was determined to go on its own. They resolved to help him…and make sure Aunty would not face another death of one of hers. Faruq was extremely grateful for their promise of assistance.

Near the end of the funeral reception, there was a suspicious-looking, veiled woman who lingered behind, waiting to get a private audience with Faruq. Suspicious, the older adventurers joined him. When she was certain that they could not be overheard, the woman revealed herself to be Yasmi al-Datma, wife of the Grand Caliph. Faruq recognized her right away from his encounter with her and Princess Tanya bint Perijan back in the city of Wasat. Once she ascertained that the newcomers could also be trusted, she explained why she was there.

During one of their secret excursions, this time to the dangerous city of Kadarasto, they ran afoul of the strong criminal element of the city. Separated from each other, the women found themselves fighting for their lives. Yasmi had not prepared a great many combat spells, and decided to use her magic to flee and gather reinforcements to come back and rescue Tanya.

She explained to the group that, having already discovered of their illicit excursions, Yasmi decided upon the Orphans to be her rescue team. She also emphasized that, to spare embarrassment to the Golden Throne, the entire mission must be kept a secret. She demanded that the heroes be ready to leave the next day; while she was reasonably certain that the criminal gang did not realize exactly who they held hostage, she knew it was only a matter of time.

The next day, the group teleported with Yasmi to a circle she had secretly placed in a shop in Kadarasto, near where the abduction had taken place. The Caliph’s wife remarked that she had many such circles in cities around Zakhara, making her excursions with Tanya as varied as possible. Venturing into the city, they eventually came across the criminals who had kidnapped the Grand Caliph’s Favoured Wife. In the chaos that ensued, Yasmi escaped with Tanya, leaving the adventurers to find shelter in the city. Faruq opened the package that Yasmi had given him; within was a note apologizing for how things went, and a promise to retrieve them as soon as possible. As well, there were 4 vials of liquid that were to be ingested if the heroes decided to flee into the Grey Jungle as she suggested; they were to help ward off the Grey Fever that explorers often faced when traversing within the area.

Eventually, the heroes were discovered by a rival gang to the one they had initially encountered. Securing from them (through the use of magic) a promise to find and return a specific relic from the Old Empires to them, the criminals smuggled the heroes out of Kadarasto. 

Talisman
Wandering in the Grey Jungle for days, the heroes started succumbing to the Grey Fever, Yasmi’s efforts notwithstanding. Fate smiled upon them, however, in the form of a beautiful couatl named Taj who healed them of their wounds and cured them of the fever. In return, Taj asked them to accompany him to the one he served, King Sharaman. Feeling indebted to the couatl, they agreed. 

Taj led them through the jungle, where they had several encounters, including one with warrior-wights they would later learn had escaped from the Necromancers of Ysawis. Eventually, Taj brought them to the Doors of Shajar, where a damn used to force the Abdo river into a reservoir of a now-lost city. Today, only two gargantuan statues of Shajar remained, a hint of what the ancient empire was like. About a mile past the imposing ruins, Taj led them to a cave, warning off the giant snakes that served as guardians. His task done, Taj asked the heroes to enter the cave and attend to King Sharaman.

The King, it turned out, was a benevolent Serpent Lord; a snake with the head of a kindly old man atop the body of a large snake. Atop his forehead was a brilliant stone, shining like a diamond. The Serpent Lord explained how he was dying, and that he needed the stone atop his head (which contained all the memories of his life) to be touched to the headstone in the Temple of the Serpentine Empress, deep in the heart of the jungle. Additionally, he asked that his brain be removed and brought, along with a gallon of holy water, to his daughter and successor Sharamaz. The heroes accepted to perform this pilgrimage for King Sharaman.

The Serpent Lord died soon afterwards, and the heroes fled the scene, fearing the wrath of all the serpents mad with grief. Now immune to the Grey Fever, they travelled weeks through the jungle to reach their destination, the Temple of the Serpentine Empress. It was not what they expected; it had been defiled beyond description by the Cult of Ragarra. Inside, a priestess of the cult, Anaiz, was tearing the remains of the temple apart, searching for its magical treasure. She was served by many seggeran; crocodile-headed humanoids who used to be humans but became perverted through the magic of the cult. After a pitched battle, the heroes defeated their foes, killing Anaiz in the process.

After the dust of the battle had settled, they touched the stone from King Sharaman to its counterpart on a huge serpent lord statue in the main hall. Several miraculous things happened next: The temple and surrounding land was immediately cleansed and reconsecrated. Secondly, a huge monument rose from the earth in the outer courtyard, bearing King Sharaman’s name and epitaph, to join the others that represented previous serpent lords of the temple. Finally, a secret compartment in the statue (now revealed to be solid gold) opened, providing the group with the treasure of the temple.

The group took their rest for a day within the confines of the temple. Dozens of snakes of all sizes began to congregate around them; through Kal’s primal magic, they were able to understand that the serpents meant them no harm, were exceedingly grateful for what they had done, and wished them luck on the last part of their journey. Now that the well provided holy water again, the heroes drew some to go with Sharaman’s brain to bring to his daughter.

As they journeyed to the location of Sharamaaz, a place called ‘The Leaning Towers,’ the group had to cross the mighty Nogaro river. As they tried to do so, they were beset by three giant crocodiles; the beasts had a fiendish intelligence and a woman’s voice could be heard from their mouths, demanding vengeance. The heroes would prevail, however, and eventually reached their destination.

‘The Leaning Towers’ seemed appropriately named: Nine massive towers, once tall and majestic, now cracked and corroded by the merciless humidity. Many seemed like they would topple over at the slightest touch. The whole area was basically swallowed up by the jungle. However, beneath the ruins in cavernous cellars was Sharamaaz. Attended by several snake servants, she greeted the heroes graciously, thanking them for undertaking her father’s pilgrimage. She then asked for her father’s talisman to be touched to her own, the dim light from the former transferring to the latter. Caught up in the reverie, Sharamaaz did not regain her awareness for a full day.

While they were waiting, the heroes did some evaluation of their surroundings, trying to ascertain the origins of the Leaning Towers. Using magic and Faruq’s ability to read all languages, they discovered some magical runes and a prophetic riddle, written in Kadari:

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.
 Episode 100 of The Burning World
 2018-09-20 -  
The Lions of Tomorrow... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-09-20 
Batul hosts you over a couple of days, giving Faruq enough time to go over Lions of Tomorrow fairly well.

Assuming you share your stories with Batul (not necessarily the Geomancer stuff), he makes a generous offer to pay the rest of Aunty's debt.

Nog and Kadar
Practically everywhere one looks in the modern cities or jungle, one can see icons and ruins from the past.

The Ruined Kingdoms of Nog and Kadar left behind writings, inscriptions, and magical artifacts which long outlived their doomed civilizations. Without knowledge of the cultural context in which they were created, this historical legacy is often fragmented and meaningless. Most sages are sure that more than two ancient civilizations evolved along the Nogaro, a wide, crocodile-infested river twisting hundreds of miles through the jungle wilderness.

Given the mainland's two prominent ancient languages, some think that Nog and Kadar were the only civilizations of note in the region. However, historians have found evidence of at least four other cultural traditions along the Nogaro River valley, starting with the giants before the arrival of humans. Since none of these other cultures developed a strong written tradition, however, the truth about them may never be known.

The history of Nog and Kadar is convoluted and confusing, as the two empires seem to have gone through several ruling dynasties, some of which may (or may not) have ruled different regions along the Nogaro at the same time. Kadar is by far the older of the two empires, founded over a thousand years ago by the despotic Geomancers, a race of terrible sorcerer-priests who at one time held sway throughout the entire river valley. The Geomancers were toppled by pioneering missionaries of the enlightenment and replaced by a dynasty of corrupt warrior-kings, or khedives, who seized power in the wake of the western explorers' departure.

The Geomancers
No group of sorcerers has ever held as much sway over the Ruined Kingdoms as the ancient Geomancers. Through a frightening combination of wizardry and priestly magic, the Geomancers could predict the future, command towering monoliths, and cause the earth to heave in mighty earthquakes. Today they are (thankfully) gone and all but forgotten, but their geoglyphs and potent talismans live on, the last surviving legacy of their terrible power.

There is little doubt that the Geomancers once held the entire Nogaro River valley in their firm control, as their geoglyphs can be found in many of the ruins on the continent. Curiously, their talismans or geoglyphs are not found on the islands of Afyal or Sahu.

The Geomancers' ruling elite met in the Nine Council, each member taking a title according to rank and ability: Wihda, Ithnayn, Thalath, Arba, Khlams, Sitta, Sab, Thimaanya, and Tisan. Only one valiant group was able to stand up to the Geomancers: a young and fervent band of farisan remembered in legend as the Lions of Yesterday. Guided by Suhail min Zann, they confounded the Geomancers' divinations and smashed the power of the Nine Council, destroying eight of the wizard-priests. During that 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 Geomancers 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.
Suhail 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.

The Book: Lions of Tomorrow
Lions of Tomorrow is written in Kadari, on parchment fashioned from seaweed dipped in iodine to foil Geomantic divination, which the author, Iman Suhail, feared might be used to predict the book's future location. The tome's cover and binding consist of thin silver tubes filled with mercury, skillfully soldered together by a master silversmith. These precautions effectively shield the book with a cloaked wizardry enchantment.

The very first page is incredibly difficult to decipher; it seems to contain an ancient and powerful summoning spell, apparently researched by Suhail.

The book continues in Chapter One with a life history of Imam Suhail, describing his ascendency to the priesthood and his first encounters with the Geomancers. Suhail devotes many pages to his epic battle with the Nine Council, at a stronghold called Majlis, somewhere east of the Nogaro River. Suhail describes Geomancer battle-magic in great detail, highlighting their ability to summon and direct earth monoliths in melee. After the battle, in which eight members of the Nine Council were slain, Suhail and his army razed the castle. After Suhail's victory, the castle was renamed Yinhani Abraaja, meaning "Leaning Towers." The imam reports having a vision and inscribing a short prophesy somewhere in the ruined castle.

In Chapter Two of the tome, Suhail discusses how to craft scarabs of protection. A powerful priest of any enlightened deity may use Suhail's procedure, provided the priest has access to a mosque or holy site in which to pray and the right materials (a brooch carved out of a precious stone, like sapphire or ruby of at least 5,000 gp value which has been sanctified in the Golden Mosque of Huzuz, City of Delights). Even with Suhail's completed research and the correct materials, it takes anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks to complete the task.

Finally, Chapter Three includes a general description of geoglyphs and how each of these could be foiled by a prepared and cautious individual. In particular, Suhail mentions that 1) Geomancers often managed to scribe the power of these glyphs into their own flesh as a sort of living, magical tattoo, and 2) The presence of salt water, or proximity to the sea, will disrupt the effects of most geoglyphs.

Geomancy
Geomancy is the study of the element of earth. Its practitioners, the Geomancers, sought to understand Fate through magic and thus command the entire world. What made Geomantic wizards and clerics different from common mages and clerics was their holistic philosophy, which combined the two forms of magic to make powerful runes, called geoglyphs.

Priest Geomancers
Although many Geomancers only practiced wizardry, the society was directed by Grumbar's priests. All members of the Nine Council were dual-classed priests/wizards of incredible power, but many did not begin their instruction in wizardry until they had mastered the most powerful of priestly spells.

Wizard Geomancers
Wizards were common in the Geomancer Empire, far more numerous than either the generalist clerics or specialty priests. Unlike the priests, specialization among wizards was not popular, as their spells, magical items, and runes required a broad background of magical expertise to employ.

Emblems and Geoglyphs
The Geomancers' emblem was the asfr, a nine-spoked wheel with a dark central hub. The asfr symbolized a relationship between Fate (the outer wheel), Magic (the nine spokes of the heel), and the world (the hub). This nonmagical symbol can be found on almost all their buildings or magical items, signifying ownership.

Nine was a sacred number to the Geomancers, who devised an elaborate system of magical runes and symbols called geoglyphs. Their symbols were organized into nine categories: whd, thnn, thlth, rba., khlms, stt, sb'a, thmn, and tsn, each with a different purpose or power. While geoglyphs could theoretically be inscribed by a single individual, they were almost always made by a group of nine wizards or priests, called a Council. Given the cooperative effort that went into creating them, geoglyphs are almost impossible to erase. For dispel magic to be successful, it must overcome the contribution of each member of the Council that created it. Otherwise it fails and the geoglyph remains. Even the magic of a wish only eliminates the contribution of the first (i.e., weakest) member of the Council; it can thus take up to nine wishes to remove a geoglyph.

When encountered in ruins, geoglyphs are frequently invisible, flashing with gold or blue light when triggered. Depending upon their nature, geoglyphs can be activated by touch or by command. In either case, the glyph discharges once and goes into dormancy, recharging its magical energy from the earth for nine rounds (or hours, or days; the more potent the effect, the longer the recharge time).

Geoglyphs by Priests
Councils of single-classed priests made the first three types of geoglyphs (whd, thnn, thlth) by scratching with a metal implement in earth or stone.

Whd: Dream glyphs. These glyphs are typically found in private chambers, where they work their power on sleeping minds. They were used to obtain minor divinatory revelations and to influence the dreams of enemies.

Thnn: Sight glyphs. These glyphs were inscribed on a wall, enabling it to serve as a permanent scrying device, similar to a crystal ball. More complicated configurations enabled the detection of sound and (in the most powerful) thoughts as well.

Thlth: Sending glyphs. If combined with sight runes, sending runes could enable two-way communication of sight, sound, and thought. When inscribed on the walls, floor, and ceiling of a chamber, the room became a one-way gate with a fixed destination. Sending runes enabled the Geomancers to establish an extensive communication and transport network in their empire. Their operation is unhindered by deception runes.

Geoglyphs by Wizards
Single-classed Geomancer wizards made the next three types of geoglyphs (rba', khlms, stt) by scratching on copper with a diamond-tipped stylus.

Rba': Ward glyphs. This broad family of geoglyphs includes all rune configurations meant to harm or destroy those who inadvertently activate them. They were used to protect the entrances of strongholds, secret chambers, and the treasuries of the Geomancers. Ward runes can be disarmed by a secret command word, muttered while touching them.

Khlms: Deception glyphs. These glyphs were inscribed on the surfaces of most Geomancer strongholds. In their most primitive configuration, they merely blocked divinatory magics, but in their more advanced forms they could misdirect divinations, giving a false reading to their caster. Deception runes can be modified to prevent teleportation and block dimensional travel both into and out of an area.

Stt: Calling glyphs. The most powerful group of wizardly geoglyphs, calling runes were used to gate in creatures from the Outer Planes. Few contain binding or protective clauses, leading to the conclusion that the summoned creatures were usually the Geomancers' allies or counselors. When encountered near treasure vaults, they summon deadly fiends (usually devils or yugoloth) charged with protecting the Geomancer's property. Such creatures are rarely amenable to negotiation.

Geoglyphs by the Dual-Classed
Dual-classed Geomancer priest-wizards could fashion the three most powerful groups of geoglyphs (sb'a, thmn, tsn) by sprinkling the powder of precious stones on surfaces of gold or platinum.

Sb'a: Time glyphs. These potent glyphs alter the subjective flow of time for all caught within their area of effect, which is usually small (no more than a few hundred square feet). They were sometimes used to hold advancing enemies in thrall while preparations were made to decimate them. They could also be used to speed up the passage of time in their area of effect, aging the victims to senility before they could escape.

Thmn: Past glyphs. A combination of sight and time runes, this family of glyphs allowed the user to scry upon known individuals or events in Zakhara's recent or distant past. These runes transmit an audio-visual image of the past, automatically translating foreign languages into Kadari.

Tsn: Future glyphs. A much more powerful (and elaborate) combination of sight and time runes, this family of glyphs allows the user to survey the tangled skeins of Fate and understand the probable course of the future if certain events are allowed to transpire. The runes do not show what WILL be, only what MAY be, under known preconditions. The far future is thus very difficult to predict, but very specific short-term visions are quite accurate.
 Episode 98 of The Burning World
 2018-09-12 
 Finding Family 
The book was

1st chaper
there were 9 geomancers
the head of the group was a terrible priestess wizard named Tizann
The geomancer empire, Kadal
what they did was they had different streams going into differnt streams of power
Priestly Stream worshipped cold Grumbar (earth)
some were in arcane magic so they could use
The REALLY gifted ones were put into both
Each of the 9 were powerful priest/wizards

They're all priests of Grumbar and powerful archmages
each empire they conquered, they took from those empires

Suhail isn't sure
the first empire Kadar took over was an empire of diablists
They learned how to forge pacts with creatures from the pit (devils)
whether or not they had the blessing from the greatest arch devil could not be sure
In addition to their elemental earth servants, they also had 9 hells demons

Later on, they took on other cultures strengths as well.

Another of the empires they took over was the Empire of Nog
The geomancers became much more powerful after they took over Nog, but not even sure what Nog was
One of the cultures used something called the Dreamscape
The geomancers learned how to use the Dreamscape, utilizing the "Hall of Nightmares"
The Dreamscape is like another universe, but for someone with a strong will, they can scry someone while they're dreaming, and use their will to change the dream.
They conquered some cultures without even moving, driving them insane while they sleep
Several magic items can stop access through teh Hall of Nightmares
One of them is proximity to Salt Water, this is only speculated, but thinks it has something to do with theo opposition of water to earth, unsure.

Also why he chose to place the tomb on an island surrounded by salt water.

There's only 1 left alive
=====================================================================

Little doubt that the Geomancers helf the entire nagaro valley in their control
Geo Glyphs are not found island on islands of afyal or sahu
The geomancers ruling eliter met in teh 9
each had a rank
Suhail min zan confounded their divintation and smashed the power of the council
Tizan withdrew to a secret stronghold, said never to return
She was so powerful, some said even as powerful as the other 8 combined.
They found her recluse
Inspired by teh God Zam, sealning the entrance
Suhail Min Zan said he would be able to
return to coach the next lions of tomorrow to defeat her finally, once and for all

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


 Episode 97 of The Burning World
 2018-08-26 
 Island Lions 
Seek the Southern Shores where the Lost One dwells. Only then will your secrets be safe.

So says Suhail (Minzan) the lions of yesterday
he's the guy who brought down the geomancers but weren't able to kill the last of the 9, who flew into a well-fortified fortress and was sealed up. IF the seal was ever broken, she'd be freed again.







Items
==================================================
A* - Faruq - Rod (hehe) Glowing, beautiful creamy-white purple-headed platinum sapphire at the top ROd of the Pact Keeper +2)
A* - Roheen - Gold Hilted Scimitar in a faded crimson sheath (Intelligent; knows Ashtarek... great at guilt trips - Holy Avenger - Breaker of the Ninth Chain
A* - Kal - ceremonial headsman's axe (Greataxe of Sharpness)
A* - Azizullah - STaff (fire motif and a big red ruby) (Staff of Fire)
N* - Roheen - Pair of silk slippers Boots of Elvenkind
A* - Kal - Talisman of Free Action (Talisman from the Old Kingdom (we recognize stuff from the ancient cultures: Def magical) Talisman of Free Action)
A* - Azizullah - pair of bracers (all the colours of the elements) Bracers of Armor
Faruq - ivory-hilted dagger +3
A* - Roheen - Silver ring with black onyx jewel in the middle (RIng of Necrotic Resistance)




Group
==================================================
Large clay Urn (Keoghtom's Ointment)
Musical Instrument (chime of opening)

gold dinar
thousands of silverdiram
15 white pearls
mahogancy statue of a boy riding a hippocampus
gold plated nautilus shell carved with a wave-like pattern
a delicate incense burner with 4 compartments shaped in the form of a rose


info
====================

Tisan Balshareska (The Geomancer), the last, the one who has been freed
 Episode 93 of The Burning World
 2018-07-05 -  
Not Strong Enough... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-07-05 
Faruq slumps against one of the large tables in the room, breathing heavily.

"Come..." Faruq calls out telepathically to Sachiel, "... it's not safe out there."

His relief was apparent when Sachiel slipped inside, her translucent form escaping notice from the guards outside, and when Roheen and Kal closed the door behind them, Faruq sat down, sighing in relief.

"You're safe now." Sachiel whispered with her thoughts.

"But we were lucky" Faruq thought in return. "I've never used my magic like that before... not that many people at once. They were formidable; we could have been overrun."

"You did just fine!" she smiled at Faruq but he knew she would say that.

"And next time? I'm not strong enough yet... I panicked when I felt the sting of his sword. My brothers can't depend on me..."

Before Sachiel could respond, Faruq continued.

"I need to be stronger next time. I need to focus these... these 'gifts' better." Faruq's thoughts now flowed openly to Sachiel as if he were talking.

"You must do something for me, Sachiel. You must go into the ether again and find another magic for me. I must be able to do that which others can do; to protect myself... and all of you."

Sachiel's gaze now hardened as she sensed she would be put to task.

"Yes... you must find for me another magic so that I might have it when needed. Go forth and find for me the Shield spell, my dear."

Sachiel nodded her understanding. "Like your brothers use?"

"Exactly."

"I'll return as soon as I find it!" Sachiel looked almost giddy at the prospect; she seemed to enjoy chasing the other spells she'd found for Faruq.

"I'll be waiting for you." Faruq replied, and though no sound passed between them, Sachiel Plane Shifted away with the subtle sound of rain to perform her task.

His shoulders heavy, Faruq turned and looked at his brothers.

"What next?" He asked aloud.
 Episode 92 of The Burning World
 2018-07-04 -  
Sulayman Describes First Meeting Mamoon... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-07-04 
It could be embarrassing. The people looking at Su quizzically as he walked through the campus towards the university library. Al-Bidir Sallah was the greatest university in Huzuz, and therefore, the world, and so Su was sure to find the answers he sought there. It's just that Su didn't belong there. Well, technically, he had been accepted, but the "financial situation" as he had explained now prevented him from actually enrolling. So he wasn't officially a student, and was only given library access as a special favour for his unfortunate situation, and only this one time. Su hated that he was basically being treated with pity, and sometimes wondered if it might not be prudent to try to gain access to the library of the Grand University, located in the Pilgrim's District. It just seemed to the young fire magus that everyone who saw him knew he wasn't a real student, which bothered him to no end; hells, even Khalid was enrolled as a student!

Su was smart enough to know he had to put his pride aside in order to find out the information he needed, though. Still, he entertained more than once the thought of one of these sneering students suddenly catching fire and having to run to the river to save their lives...entertained the thought with a thin smile on his lips.

The librarian assigned to assist Su in his searches was a handsome young man named Yezeed. Although Su tried to be discrete in his library searches, Yezeed gave a somewhat subdued yet alarmed look at the requests. Obviously, the subject matter was considered a dangerous one, so Su had to make the appropriate excuses for looking into the Brotherhood of True Flame. He wasn't sure if Yazeed believed him or not, but the good-looking human faithfully brought the relevant texts to Su's table with the standard offer of more help upon request.

Su learned the following about the Brotherhood of True Flame: 1) To say that every flame magus is a member is an exaggeration (obviously) but to say one in three is probably not. 2) The"Brotherhood" is an organization of flame wizards who make no bones about their aims. They believe that the only true magery is that of fire. Further, they believe that all wizards who are not elemental mages in flame must convert--that is, come under their control--or die. They believe Zakhara is best served governed by the Brotherhood. 3) The Brotherhood maintains chapters and related bodies in all major cities of the land. Su had a harder time believing the Brotherhood could go unnoticed in Huzuz, but... 4) The Brotherhood apparently has ties to the Flamedeath Fellowship, a holy slayer organization that purportedly serves the god, Najm. 5) They supposedly have their main headquarters deep in the Great Anvil, where resides their ruler, known only as The Bonfire. That last Su saw more as rumour than fact, obviously.

At one point as Su was reading, two young women, obviously students, began making obnoxious comments, ostensibly to each other, but loud enough for the elf to hear. They spoke about how the university was letting just anyone in, and more. Su clenched his teeth, not wanting to give them the satisfaction, but it began to be too much. Just as Su felt his temper about to leave his control, another voice cut them down with a polite-but-harsh insult. The two girls huffed and walked away. Su turned to see his "savior" ready to berate the man.

He stopped. Another student was there, before him, with a gentle smile that beamed out from within his dark goatee. His almond shaped eyes and slightly pointed ears identified him as half-elven. His skin was dark (a shade Su could never achieve), his eyes hazel, and his hair an absolute mess. "I hope you don't mind," he began, "but I've been waiting for an opportunity to put those two camel-maids in their place for a long time now."

"I didn't need your help, you know."

"Of course not. As I said, I did that for me; helping you out was merely a pleasant coincidence."

Su waited and frowned. What else does he want?

"May I sit?"

"Fine. I'm not a student here anyway, so I don't see how I can say no."

The young man smiled at sat. "My name is Mamoon," he said, holding out his hand.

Su smirked, but shook it. "I am Sulayman."

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Sulayman. So, since I have ostracized myself from everywhere else in the library, may I sit with you?"

"You already are."

"True, but I thought it best to be assured I am not disturbing you. I'm not, am I?"

Su sighed. "No, I am almost done here."

"And what are you looking at, I wonder?" Before Su could stop him, he had grabbed some of the texts and saw their titles. He let out a low whistle. "Interesting reading material, Sulayman."

"None of your business!" Su snatched the material back from the half-elf.

"True, true. I must apologize. Perhaps, you can listen to my apology over a cup of coffee?"

"No...I don't think so."

Mamoon looked down. "Ah, well, I can rest easy knowing I tried to satisfy the demands of hospitality, so soon after I had broken them," he said with a smirk.

Su looked him over. He smirked too. "It's just...I need to know more about them."

Mamoon nodded seriously. "Most people should. They are said to be found everywhere."

"Dangerous folk, it seems," contributed Su.

"It seems so, yes," responded Mamoon. "But is it true? Are they dangerous? They wouldn't be the first people to be misunderstood because of the flame."

Su's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"

Mamoon leaned in. "You don't know? Really?"

Su cleared his throat quietly. "No...what do you mean?"

Before he could react, Mamoon leaned in close for a whisper. "Tell me Sulayman, what would have happened to those bitches had I not arrived here in time? What would you have done?"

"No..nothing."

Mammon's breath was hot as he chuckled a reply. "Now, now, Sulayman. No need to lie to me. I saved their lives, didn't I?"

Su was starting to get very uncomfortable. "Of course not," he hissed. When people looked, he lowered his voice to a whisper "I was hardly going to kill them!"

Mamoon made a tut-tut sound. "No, not here...not yet. But you wanted to, yes? Of course you did; I know you did. You would have used your fire to cleanse the world of their completely useless presence. And you know what? You would have been right to do it."

Su looked at him in shock. How did this man know what he was thinking? "No...no that's not true."

Mamoon leaned back and smiled. "No? No, perhaps not. I may be projecting some of my own thoughts upon you, Sulayman. And so, again, I must offer you my apologies."

Su looked away. "N...no...no need, Mamoon, no need," stuttered Su in response. He turned to look back at Mamoon but said nothing.

Mamoon got up abruptly. "As you say, then. Allow me this one gesture of hospitality in return. Here is the address for my dormitory. Whenever you need to use the library in the future, simply come by and I will lend you my library permission slip. This way, there is no need to go through any more humiliating hassle at registration. You can then come and go as you please. If I am not there when you are ready to depart, simply leave it in the post-box. What do you say?"

Su was shocked. After clearing his throat, he looked up at the half-elf and said "I say thank you, noble Mamoon."

Mamoon shot a brilliant smile in return. "Excellent! Until we meet again, Sulayman." He had turned to leave, when Su called out after him.

"Su."

"A thousand pardons?"

The elf cleared his throat again. "My friends call me Su."

Mamoon smiled. " 'Su' it is, then.' " The half-elf was then on his way, leaving Su happy he had possibly made a new friend.
 Episode 89 of The Burning World
 2018-06-26 -  
Aftermath... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-06-26 
After you set up in position to take down the remaining gnoll and shoosuva, the fight was bloody, but quick. While both opponents displayed unmatched savagery, they could not withstand the ambush upon their return from the pocket dimensions from which they were sent.

After searching the remains of the wrecked building, you came across a small enclosure that had 5 prisoners in it. It still seemed strange; gnolls taking prisoners was unheard of. Even if these gnolls were somehow under the control of the cambion Aramek, why keep prisoners...?

You quickly released them from their bonds: two young girls, 2 middle-aged women, and one elderly matriarch. The latter was in bad shape; the younger women explained how she had thrown herself in front of her charges and suffered a grievous blow as a result. It didn't look like she was going to make it...

As you saw to them, it quickly came out through conversation just who these people were. Swearing you to silence, one of the caretakers, Atta, revealed that the young girls were Janya and Dalilah, the Grand Caliph's only daughters. If Aramek was truly working for the Brotherhood of True Flame, then it meant that organization was now taking direct action against the Golden Throne.

As you were deciding what to do, you noticed Kal standing off from the group, staring off into the distance. When you approached him to contribute to the plan about how to get the people back home, he responded "That isn't my concern. I'm not sure how I came to be here, but I am neglecting my duty...I must return to Ysawis. I must return to Zoraya."

You all exchanged looks. "Kal, what do you mea..."

"Why do you call me that? Call me by my name."

"...and, what is your name?"

"Kazim."
 Episode 84 of The Burning World
 2018-05-09 -  
Approval... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-05-09 
The pain in his side was like a hot poker from the fire was wedged between his ribs. Faruq clung to his side, wet with blood, staring at the lifeless body of the Yuan-ti on the floor in front of him.

Leaning heavily on the wall beside him, Faruq turned to see his companions, each of them weary and bloodied as he was, but with a faint sense of relief on their faces. Sumulael was truly dead, and they had been victorious.

The smell of the place was worse now; the blood and the steel, the memory of flames and dark magic cast back and forth lingered powerfully in Faruq's mind.

Diliram's gaze was still on the mummified creature that had turned the tide of the fight, as was that of the rest of the party.

"Faaarruuuuuuqqqq...."

What was that? A voice? Faruq turned around the room once but no one had called him. Nonsense... I am nearly spent... I need rest. he thought to himself.

As the heroes left the gory scene of Sumulael's defeat, Faruq hurried to keep up with his companions, uninterested in staying in that horrible place any more than necessary. His leg still pained him, and he was certain now that it always would.

Just as the heroes were starting to cross again the distance between the bone pavilion and the Queen's Jade Palace, Faruq definitely heard something this time; faint and tiny.

"Did you miss me?" The voice seemed familiar, but hard to place; like someone speaking in the wind. Diliram was far ahead of Faruq now, it couldn't be her.

Faruq turned around again, certain whoever said it must be close, but he saw nothing again, and almost lost his balance this time. Catching himself and leaning heavily on his wooden staff, Faruq's thoughts drifted back again to the face of the one he lost...

... Fadiya.

Weak, hungry, bleeding and exhausted, Faruq kept following back to the palace, keeping his thoughts to himself... for now.



Back in the quarters prepared for them by their host, Faruq's reluctance to enjoy the Queen's generosity came completely apart. Even without complete privacy, the rest of the party quickly took to their own spaces and Faruq was left to heal and rest. Sending away the undead servant left for him, Faruq finally laid down to rest and closed his weary eyes.

"You have done well, Faruq..."

The voice!

Faruq's eyes opened in a flash. He lay still and looked around the room without moving, but nothing seemed out of place. The servant had not returned, and the room was still in shade, only a little light streaming through the veiled window.

Faruq was sure he wasn't hearing things this time... it wasn't in his mind. "Who are you?" he whispered as low as he could so as not to wake the others. Faruq waited but heard nothing in response. Daring to sit up, Faruq pulled aside his cover and struggled to get up; his leg ached still despite his rest.

"You have suffered..."

Faruq spun around as quickly as he could; the voice was absoloutely behind him, but he saw nothing. The shades remained drawn, the food and bath just as they were before. He could hear Printz snoring loudly from his quarters and a sideways glance showed no movement from anyone's adjacent quarters.

What is going on? Faruq puzzled.

Then, as if in answer to his unspoken question, Faruq caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to his left, Faruq's eyes squinted as he tried to bring into focus what was happening; the still water in the bath began to ripple, as if a drop had landed and radiated outward... slow at first, but faster and faster as the seconds passed. Unable to turn away from the curiosity, Faruq felt for the dagger at his side and extended his arm outwards toward the bath, ready to meet his assailant. But as he continued to watch, from the center of the ripple began to form a shape; water of its own control rose up, incredibly slowly, just a few feet from the surface. Pausing every few seconds, the water changed shape, and soon began to take shape... a humaoid shape... a small, female shape...

What a fool I am.

Faruq closed his eyes slowly in relief. As the shape continued to change, it finally dawned on Faruq who's voice he had been hearing, distorted by his weariness, the wind, and then this water.

Sachiel.

Faruq smiled as her form solidified, but she did not look exactly as she had before.

"Sachiel, is that you?" Faruq asked quietly, careful not to disturb his brothers.

Finished her transformation, the tiny djinn stepped onto the edge of the bath and curtsied, then turned around in a playful manner, admiring her new form.

"Don't you like?" she replied, her voice now the same familiar voice Faruq had heard before... it seemed like a lifetime ago. "I can change now."

"Yes of course, it is good to see you again."

"Thank you, master... it has been a long time, hasn't it? Quite a bit has happened..."

Faruq cast his eyes downwards. "Yes," he said. "Much has happened. I feared you might never return; I thought I was wrong to send you away."

Sachiel smiled. "No, I was always to return... just not... always at a time of my choosing...". Without warning, Sachiel moved to the edge of the bath and with a small jump, landed on the table with many of the fruit set out there. Taking one of the tiny figs but needing both hands, she took a bite and closed her tiny eyes as if savouring the flavour. "Sorry, it's been a while...".

"So you know what happened, then?" Faruq asked, moving closer to the bath to see Sachiel better in the poor light. "You know...?"

"Yes." Sachiel replied, her face sad. "We've been watching."

At this, Faruq's eyes fixed on the tiny genie. "We?"

"Oh yes, I have much to share." Sachiel smiled and continued. "Much of this has been a test, you know. For many weeks now we've watched you struggle, suffer, and wander. It's been awful not being here to help, you know... but I serve and I obey." Sachiel's face turned up to Faruq's at this point and she forced an apologetic grin.

"I understand." Faruq said, his face solemn. "I do not blame you; when I sent you away I was... uncertain... about... her. I'm sorry. I did not think it was proper to ask you stay at my side..."

Sachiel nodded in understanding.

Faruq continued, "... but why have you been sent back to me now? Especially in this place?"

"I bring congratulations from your benefactor," Sachiel bowed formally. "You have been deemed worthy of another boon, and that which you have been granted already shall now be made fuller. But know that if you accept this gift, your word already given is not broken, nay the bond will be considered even greater than before."

Sachiel's formal speech was unfamiliar; she was normally quite casual; the impact was not lost on Faruq.

"Do you accept?" Sachiel asked innocently.

"Of course... but what is it?" Faruq replied.

"Let me show you then!" Sachiel shouted and launched by a jet of water, she dove straight at Faruq, surprising him and making him lose his balance, knocking him backwards into the bath.

But Faruq did not hit the bottom. His eyes open in a panic, Faruq saw the water's surface above him, but he was sinking, legs and arms pointing upwards, further and further. No longer was he in a bath in a palace, but in a sea of turquoise water, growing darker as the light disappeared above him. In alarm, Faruq struggled to right himself and swim to the surface, but an invisible force seemed to drag him under.

"You will be granted the power to wield other magics, and I will get even more for you!" Sachiel's now serious and stern voice rang in Faruq's head even as the water filled his ears.

On top of him, Faruq could make out the amorphous form of Sachiel, her expression impossible to read but forcing him down further still. The panic of drowning set in, and Faruq's eyes grew wider still that she may be drowning him, that it was all a ploy!

His lungs about to explode, Faruq kicked and fought to stop his descent, but it was no use. Further down he sank, the light above growing even more faint. "You will call on even genies to serve you, and they will respond!" Sachiel was speaking softer now, even as Faruq's panic grew.

The water threatened to fill his lungs and his eyes stung from the salt water, but it was inevitable. "You will face greater threats and you will defeat them, all in his name." Again Sachiel making promises in Faruq's' last moments.

Desperate and light-headed, starved for oxygen and ready to pass out, Faruq opening his mouth to try and scream, and water poured in drowning any sound he might have made.

But it was not the horror of drowning that happened next, it was relief. Quiet, calm and still. Faruq's lungs filled with water and then he exhaled. And again. Faruq's descent stopped and he remained still in the water, staring out into the vastness of whatever ocean this was in disbelief. Far above him, Faruq could see the faint glow of the sun, still trying to pierce the depth to which he had been dragged, a reminder that all was not lost.

And beside him, the obvious form of Sachiel, starting at him patiently.

"And I will be with you as you see fit from now on. Such are the gifts of your patron." How could he hear her? But Faruq understood her completely. His eyes wide now not in horror but in disbelief, Faruq attempted his reply with no idea that she would hear him:

"I accept."

Sachiel smiled.



In a burst of water and air, Faruq felt the thud of hitting the bottom of the bath. Startled and arms and legs flailing as before, he caught the edges and pulled himself up, coughing and wiping his eyes as he struggled to the floor of the chamber.

WHAT IN THE WORLD!>

Faruq, now on all fours and soaking wet, looked around for his assailant. Sachiel sat on the edge of his bed, smiling broadly and giggling to herself. "This is going to be fun!" she laughed in her tiny voice.

Struggling to stand, Faruq looked back at the bath and then at himself, recalling what had just transpired. Eyes still wide but now in disbelief, the chambers adjacent where his companions slept were still quiet, as if they hadn't heard a thing! Turning to Sachiel, ready to berate her...

Faruq's eyes opened.

Sitting up, he could hear Printz snoring, and the light just coming under the veiled curtain. All was quiet. Faruq looked himself over, dry as a bone.

A dream? he thought to himself. Did that even happen?

Rubbing his temples, Faruq pulled aside the cover... again... and stood to get up. He stopped in alarm however as his feet touched the floor...

There was water all over the floor.

Faruq smiled.
 Episode 83 of The Burning World
 2018-05-08 -  
After the Bone Pavillion... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-05-08 
The zombie staggered and shambled up the stairs, easy to follow. Now that you knew what to look for, it was clear that the zombie was different in some key ways, most notably the spark of intelligence in its eyes.

Waiting for you at the bottom of the outdoor steps to the Bone Pavillion was Kazerabet, Angel of the Dark. Her eyes had a faint blue glow about them that suddenly ceased; when that happened, the zombie that had escorted you out collapsed to the ground, newly lifeless. Apparently, her latest attempt to come up with a way to penetrate the wards her now-dead husband had placed against her worked.

She was not alone. Several zombie ogres, 2 zombie beholders and over a dozen wights were at her side. The wights were not in a terrible state of decay, and were not armed. Speaking in a language you didn't understand, but were now sure was ancient Noga, she gave the wights simple directives. They came forward with silk shawls and began wrapping them gently around the shoulders of the remaining caravan workers, of which there were now only 8. She gave the undead new directives and they began escorting them through the jungle, back to the Jade Palace.

She turned to you and explained that she would see the "poor souls" would be bathed, fed, then given quarters to rest in; her servants would see to their every comfort. Looking you over with an appraising eye, she then offered the same to you, pointing out that it was now a good 3 hours past midnight and that you must be exhausted. Her eyes lingered on Diliram appreciatively for a moment before settling upon Kal. They widened somewhat as she took in the reality that she was looking at Drinker of a Thousand Souls, the blade wielded by the eternal guardian of the Crocodile Princess. She smiled somewhat (gods, but she was beautiful) and mentioned that you all have much to discuss in the morning. For now, you must receive the greatest efforts of her hospitality, to rest and recover from what was surely a harrowing experience, confronting her husband. She further mentions how pleased she is that none of you died in the conflict, for, unlike herself, "Sumulael is never really done with his opponents; to fail in a confrontation with him is to serve him forever...I am quite thankful none of you have to do that."

(The following assumes that you will respect the Bond of Salt and return with her to the Jade Palace to rest and recuperate. If this is not the case, please let me know asap)

Kazerabet's hospitality is indeed generous. You each now have your own resting chamber, though they are all interconnected. Cool baths, warm incense, and fresh fruit platters await you all. Macabre undead masseuses make themselves available to treat any soreness left over from the combat. All in all, you are quite spoiled, and it is lovely. So much so, that you are disappointed when it breaks the next day, around noon (such was the slumber you were in) by a familiar scratching at the door.

It is Shalmaneser. He is there to know your plans about killing Kazerabet. He suggests doing it before the Bond of Salt is expired since she will not be expecting any hostilities whilst under its "protection."...
 Episode 77 of The Burning World
 2018-02-28 
 On to Dihliz 
As the heroes travelled to Dihliz using Dilliram's Wind Walk ability, the conversation of how Diliram might compose herself "You should try to cover... your... how do you say....

"You just do you, man..."

She winks and Printz and looks over at Faruq "But I will do my absoloute best not to draw attention to ourselves." And then winks at Printz.

The heroes arrive in Dihliz

Ammad the pathologically clean gnome has a reuptation for providing safe clean rooms, but exorbinant rates

Entering, Faruq was immediately relieved that Barack had offered to pay for their accommodations when they met; the luxurious adornments and well-kept manner of the establishment was certainly a reflection of what a place like this must cost!

As the heroes approach, Barack greets them warmly and invites them to join him at a table already prepared.

My friend, she is a guest in our presence; we crossed paths in the desert and she has offered aid to us for a time. Barack expresses great surprise at this, but appears contemplative as he sits back down. "And so... she will help with your... security mission?"

Printz: "If need be."
Barack: agrees
Faruq "Have I said something to upset you, my friend?"
Barack: I have worked with an efreet in his service before, but the sha'ir could not control it, and lost all his merchandise. the details of their contracts were
Faruq: We have more to discuss; perhaps another time
BaracK: The sha'ir did not have proper control of it, and much was lost.

Barack goes on to describe how he has 6 elephants, and will inform you of where we are headed once we are en route. The caravan

Us, genie, barack, 27 people (12 porters, 12 animal handlers, 1 cook (Tahir), pair of dancers (Azrail and Miriam))

have to cross nagara river where we fought crocodiles & dinosaurs
Plans are to cross where it is most narrow and shallow, but likely where ambushes will be set up.
the yuan-ti sometimes target Barack's caravans specifically. The Yuan-ti know to whom Barack is delivering teh caravan, and this is part of the

Barack providers cherrywood box with several flasks that should inoculate the heroes vs. the Grey Fever rampant in the jungles.

Barack then introduces the heroes to Tahir (the cook), and both Azrail and Miriam (the dancers). They ask Barack if they can go out on the town before they leave, but he denies them.

Barack "I trust you to do what is necessary. Please enjoy the rest of the meal, I will go speak with Tahir and ensure the girls are locked in their rooms; we leave at dawn." and he goes upstairs
 Episode 76 of The Burning World
 2018-01-24 -  
The Dao of the Ferry... ( Member Submission! )... 2018-01-24 
Their names are Kenai al-Afriz and Siri al-Klemin; Faruq is fairly certain those are not their real names, but knows enough not to ask about the aliases. For these two Dao to be pushing the barge, they must have offended someone important somewhere...someone who could command their service to Golden Huzuz. They were being humbled, and it was always wiser to not poke at such wounds.


Kenai is easily the more conversational of the two, and he always talks with a sly, conspiratorial voice. He converses pleasantly with his passengers, but only imparts knowledge, gossip, or rumour after being offered a "topic fee," usually a gem of some sort (Dao being Dao, of course). After being bribed by your group (Joe, please subtract 50 gp from the group total), he offers up the following nuggets, all being prefaced with "Not that I know personally, but I heard from someone who really would know..."There is a warehouse somewhere that is working on an great engine of destruction. "They" are close to completing their work, but there is one item missing to make it complete. They would be most interested in someone who could acquire the item...
There is an unusual item that has very obviously been buried along the shoreline on the university side of the al-Sarif river. I wonder what it could be...
Law enforcement have brought in magical specialists to deal with a rash of unlawful summonings in the poorer parts of Huzuz. Perhaps a madman who is try to open a portal to the Hells themselves?
Imam Jomhur, high priest of Hajama in Huzuz is a longtime enemy of the Grandfather of the Everlasting. There are agents of the Everlasting within Huzuz specifically to "deal with him."
The Brotherhood of True Flame is also active in Huzuz. Several disappearances of prominent citizens can be attributed to them. They have infiltrated many levels of government and other city structures.
Adnan al-Raqi has lost a significant number of students over the last year. I wonder what has happened to them...?Siri says nothing, but makes a few grunts at different points in Kenai's expositions. When Kenai mentioned the infiltration of the Brotherhood though, he nodded his head visibly.
 Episode 69 of The Burning World
 2017-11-09 -  
A Conversation... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-09 
"This is quite the place."

Who said that? Printz thought to himself. Perhaps its just the sound of the wind, or his mind wandering off like it usually does allowing it to play tricks upon itself. Yet, he could not shake the feeling that the voice was in his head.

"It's more orderly than I had expected"

There it is again. It doesn't sound like the other voices... and those tend to be of a more colorful playful nature.

"Printz is it?"

Printz looked around in his gaseous form, to see if he could spot the source of the deep manly voice, which did not sound like any of his companions.

Breathe... focus... find your center... the symptoms of delirium will pass...

"My apologies for the intrusion, I am Khan. Chaka Khan. And I feel for you"

Well this is new, thought Printz. First, he couldn't remember anything that happened before the violent end to his original party and living with the Jann. Now he's having hallucinations of a man's voice with Faruq's dead sister's name. What more delirium must I endure, he thought to himself.

"I do not know what other forms of mental anguish you must endure, and I hope you feel better soon. It must be very frustrating forgetting who you are and your past. This is a fate I would not wish upon anyone. I am no man, however in my past life, my sexual preference was for the female variety."

This is quite interesting, Printz thought. Could it really be? And if so, why does she sound like a man?

"It appears the lack of memories you are suffering from has allowed me to enter your mind without your permission. I do not wish to frighten you and the others, especially Faruq. He has been through so much. I am the spirit of Faruq's sister Chaka Khan, and have come to bestow upon you the memories of my past life, and seeing that your mind is so vastly empty, you appear to be a worthy recipient of such knowledge, if you are willing to accept."

Hmmmm, Printz thought. This would be quite interesting... is this even happening?

"It is happening Printz. Let me show you a glimpse of some of my memories"

In a sudden flash of light, Printz has a memory of Chaka's first intimate encounter; it was with an older girl, and very innocent, tender, and delicate. Unlike his memories with the Jann.

Then, he sees another. This one is of her consoling Faruq; they are both sitting, and she has her arm around him, as they sit in silence leaning on one another.

Then, one final memory. This one is of a huge blue dragon opening its maw, and letting loose a lightning bolt which streaks towards herself and Guzman. As the lightning bolt reaches her, in a flash, the memory stops, and Printz is once again in his gaseous form on the trail of the genies.

"I have seen much before my passing, and my memories I feel will be able to help you all reach your goal in freeing Auntie. You are free to decline my offer. Do you accept?"

Printz replies, "Let's go crazy"
 Episode 66 of The Burning World
 2017-10-24 -  
Our Tale, Such As It Has Been Told, Part II... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-10-24 
Flick of the TailAfter 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 Babazadeh in a scuffle. Separating the two, it was revealed that Babazadeh 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 for her, 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). Babazadeh felt cheated, however, and brought the matter before a qadi. Fortunately, Fate was smiling upon the Orphans, for the qadi 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, but there was still a fine to be paid.

Suitable DonationsThe 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 SapphiresAs 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 FuneralThings did not go as the Orphans expected, however. After three days of waiting with now word from Ayyam, the young heroes began to worry. Mid-afternoon, Khalid then showed up at the 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 Khalid thought he'd see if the Orphans were interested.

Wondering how Fate was intervening in their lives this time, the Orphans agreed and followed Khalid, each afraid of what they were going to see.

There was a large crowd around a young man, wailing in sorrow, but the Orphans were fixated upon the body, already wrapped in linen. 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 StarsThe 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…They contacted a priest at the mosque of Learned Zann, Haroushin, and told him Adil’s story. Excited at the prospect of a long-term research project, the older priest promised he would look into the origins of the strange seal.

The Treasure PitThe 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 TerrorThe 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 RiddleThe 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.

PilgrimageOne 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, colloquially known as Yak-Men. 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 dead cleric 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 IIThe 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. They were ambushed by a strange group of psychic warriors who claimed to be searching for some sort of orb, but defeated them after an intense battle. Exhausted, the Orphans decided to rest at the next oasis they would come upon, and this was to be Halak’s Smithy and Inn.

When the Well Runs DryThe Orphans arrived, battered and bruised, to recuperate at Halak’s. He was a well-known blacksmith who ran a prosperous inn with the advantage of having the last oasis before reaching more civilized lands. Another group was there as well, a platoon of mamluks of the Dauntless, led by Captain Zamanyeh bint Salman al-Kahn. They were bringing their payroll to Wasat; a small merchant caravan was also taking refuge at Halak’s, also having Wasat as a final destination.

During the night, a holy slayer positioned himself above the well with a heway snake, known for being incredibly poisonous. A note was found describing the slayer’s plan to rob everyone of their wealth before fleeing into the desert. The Orphans offered to assist the Captain, but a successful plan of action seemed to elude them. Suddenly, Faruq tried to paralyze the slayer above the well with his magic, but the slayer resisted and dropped the fish into the well. Two others amongst the civilians revealed themselves as slayers as well, and a great battle began amongst the grounds of the inn, causing significant damage. In the end, the slayers were killed, and the Orphans, leaning heavily upon Chaka’s clerical magic, spent the better part of 4 days restoring the well and the inn. Captain Zamanyeh promised she would remember the good deed they had done.
 Episode 64 of The Burning World
 2017-11-01 -  
Roheen... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-01 
Whatever else, if you were taking care of a horse, you felt like all was right in the world. At least, that's how it had usually been. Now, it wasn't soothing your soul the way it always did. As you brushed down the coat of the stallion in front of you, you wondered why.

You were busy working at the caravanserai The Merchant's Home. It was the most popular one, and had the most employment opportunities, so you usually found yourself there. You had worked at others, though: The House of Wo was run by an ajami mage from Kara-Tur and was also quite popular (mostly for the food Wo made, usually involving what he called 'noodles.'), and The Darni House, which was a sort of high-end caravanserai. They all had their regular workers though, so for someone like you who needed work on an off-and-on basis, The Merchant's Home was, well, home.

That wasn't the only reason though; the last time you worked at Darni House, a group of al-badia riders came in, apparently with business in the city. You were excited to serve their horses, but quickly had to back away when you saw who they were: Riders from the House of Hanif. Your House. Well, your former House, the one you were exiled from. You had made peace with it a while ago, but you still remember, as a teen younger than Faruq is now, how you clashed with Blood Riders along the Ghost Route. You fought bravely, but when one of the Blood Riders seemed to recognize you, the other desert riders from the House of Hanif thought you had led them into an ambush, and so left you at one of Huzuz's gates. Fortunately, you were taken in by Aunty, but you always had that pain in your heart. And you never did find out how that Blood Rider knew you...

So it was city life for you now. Mostly, you worked with the different caravanserai, bringing your expertise to the care of the horses and camels people brought in. You made a few contacts along the way: Minak al-Zafyi, who could supply animals of all kinds; and Janci al-Kriman, and agent for the livestock dealers in Huzuz. He was an interesting one; apparently, no animal ever dealt by Janci could ignore an order he gave. Either the man was an incredible trainer, or, more likely, he had some magical aid in his animal dealings. You remember a story once about a man who thought to ride off with a horse he hadn't paid for; the horse ignored its rider and galloped right back to Janci... who had a contingent of the guard waiting. You really liked that story.

You saw Nabil hanging around, and walked menacingly toward him, a hand on your new scimitar. He held his hands up defensively, and sheepishly backed away. Nabil al-Rashad was an unscrupulous horse dealer, and he was no doubt here to see if there were any animals unattended to. You shook your head at the man, relaxing your grip on your weapon. The hilt was always warm. You had to admit, taking on the little sha'ir's mission certainly made life more interesting! It also made you miss the life of adventure that being part of the House of Hanif involved, though; it had awoken that spirit in you that wanted the freedom that comes with being an adventurer, and serving a great Sheik. You shook your head at this revelation and put it aside; your leather armour needed repair, and you needed to see the Al-Thuria leatherworkers before nightfall.
 Episode 63 of The Burning World
 2017-11-01 -  
Printz... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-01 
Time to work the crowds. Re-familiarize yourself with the city. Huzuz has a pulse, a heartbeat, like a real person. All the major cities do, but none quite like Huzuz. It was time to get re-acquainted. And the best place to do that was the Grand Bazaar.

There was one of Laksi's "fetchers." Laksi ak-Afyid ran a "fetch" service for lazy nobles who couldn't be bothered with the labyrinth that was the Grand Bazaar. The "fetchers" were good hagglers, and knew the Bazaar inside and out, despite the fact that it kept changing. You still shook your head ruefully though; half the fun is maneuvering through it all, getting all the sights and sounds...the vibe.

You passed by "Mad Aja's." Ostensibly, Aja Pelima was an eccentric fire magus, selling enchanted items. He was of note for two reasons: 1) He seemed to have mastered fire magic quite well for an ajami; and 2) He was quite obviously insane. More than once, city watch had been called to put out some fire he started "accidentally."

Hearing music up ahead, you found yourself tracking it to the source, before you were even conscious of doing so. What a sight to behold: Andorra of the Many Veils. Possibly the sexiest woman you have seen (and I've seen naked jann, you reminded yourself), she was performing her signature dance, wherein the beat rises steadily, as she loses veil after veil, faster as the beat goes faster. Her dance always seemed to get interrupted before the last piece of silk was gone, though, much to the disappointment of her fans. You smiled as you recognized her marketing ploy, hearing onlookers whispering "Perhaps, this is the time when..." It wouldn't be, you were sure. Still, you were surprised she wasn't arrested for public indecency...you were sure anyone else would have been.

Speaking of surprise regarding a lack of arrest, your eyes fell on the musician accompanying Andorra's dance. Judarin the Sot as he was known. Usually somewhat inebriated, Judarin had the very dangerous habit of espousing atheist beliefs when sufficiently drunk. Considering that was a capital crime in most city-states, you couldn't believe he was still alive and free to roam about. You hatched a plan to convince Andorra you'd be a better accompaniment to her performance.

You continued through the Bazaar, this time following your nose, a delightful smell dragging you to its source: Howard Baker's Pastries. The ajami halfling was an extraordinarily good pastry chef, and was now selling his "bubblers;" fruit pastries best eaten while they were still hot. You were tempted to get one, but the lineup was too long and you wanted to be on the move. You took notice of two people in line however; one was Ibtisam bint Latifa, wardrobe designer extraordinaire. More than a few royal guests were sent to her to make sure they were properly attired before meeting the Grand Caliph. You'd love to have a session with her, but any gold you were making these days went to Faruq's Auntie. Still, once you met the 30,000 dinar obligation, Ibtisam would be one of your first stops.

The other was Jera al-Farif. You liked Jera. He really seemed to have learned humility; he was once an arrogant sculptor of mediocre talent but seemingly overnight became a very modest sculptor of incredible talent. You knew business was booming for Jera, and you figured it was because of his new attitude on life.

Finally, you passed by the stall of Bahija Jalin, another rawun. The old crone and you had an agreement to remove the evil eye should either of you get it; a useful business relationship to have. There was something about her, though, that rang false. Of course, that was probably true of all rawun, but you never felt like you could let your guard down around her. Probably a good habit, you reminded yourself.

At any rate, Golden Huzuz may be the Gem of Zakhara, but you knew it was the people that made it what it was...and you were glad to be back amongst them.
 Episode 62 of The Burning World
 2017-11-01 -  
Kal... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-01 
Of the five of you, you were sure you were the happiest to be returning back to Huzuz.

The reason, of course, was seeing Tufala bint Waleed.

Tufala had been your language instructor for many years. Truthfully, if one measured her competency in how quickly her students no longer needed her services, she would be considered a disaster, since you were still taking lessons seven years later. Obviously, you no longer really needed instruction, but it was fair to say you really needed Tufala. You would never have known any girl like her back in the mountains. Quiet, with a subtle beauty and a fierce intelligence, you could get lost in her dark eyes as she went on and on about an ancient language like Kadari, or the fiery expressions of Ignan. What’s more, you genuinely enjoyed learning, enjoyed the educational opportunity your lessons with Tufala provided.

It was just really nice to be with Tufala.

You paid the street urchin Umar al-Fennec to take a note to her, letting her know you had returned to Huzuz, and wished to meet her at your usual spot. Umar was to find you with her response as soon as possible. With the time in between, you wanted to make preparations to make a good impression; you had been gone a long while, and hoped to charm her with a well-groomed appearance. With the stink of the Grey Jungle still on your clothes, you needed to hit up some of the best shops in Huzuz. Fortunately, you knew where to go.

First stop was Sadik’s. Sadik Harama was a dwarf weaponsmith who made decent to fine weaponry. You trusted his work enough to sharpen the blade of your axe again while keeping the weapon’s balance as you liked it. While there were many weaponsmiths in Huzuz, Sadik employed two ogres, and since they were each almost as strong as you, you trusted them to ensure the heft of the weapon remained to your preferences.

Off now to see another ogre, this time the tailor Hakim Sayad. Hakim owed you a favour from a while back, and you called it in to get an emergency appointment with him. The fastidious ogre took too long (he always seemed to) but you eventually walked out with fresh silk pantaloons, new sandals, and a bold vest that he tailored to appear conservative whilst also showing off your incredible physique. Money well spent. He did sniff in snobbish fashion when he was fitting you, however, and casually worked into the conversation that Gomir probably had an opening right about now.

Taking the hint, you set off for Gomir al-Kasir’s barber stall. Normally popular with the tourist trade, Gomir rarely had regulars from Huzuz, which suit you just fine. The friendly man was happy to see you, and for a few silver dirham he gave you a fresh cut, washed the dirt and tended to your wounds, and anointed you with some spices and perfumes to remove the last lingering odours from the jungle. You never felt better.

While you were getting your shave, Umar had returned with a note from Tufala. You read it more than once. Was that a curt tone? No, not curt, but...distance? No, couldn’t be.

You left Gomir’s and started for your usual spot: a café right across from Fatima’s. That’s where you had first spied her. Fatima Kossi ran a boarding house for poor pilgrims visiting Huzuz; you stayed there yourself for a while. The café served great coffee (both hot and cold) and a lemon sherbet that you knew Tufala enjoyed.

She was there waiting for you. Over 2 warm coffees and two lemon sherbets, you caught up with one another...but something felt off. Like, she was holding something back. Patient at first, eventually you asked her flat out what she was hiding. What could possibly be wrong.

With tears in her eyes, she explained how she had been invited to a party in the noble district. It was lavish and she enjoyed herself immensely. She made a great impression on whom she thought would be future customers. It turned out she made a better impression than she could have imagined. The next day, her home was visited by Prince Tannous himself, the Grand Caliph’s uncle. He spoke with her parents, then left a gift for her.

She was to join the Grand Caliph’s harim as a concubine, with the hope that she would finally give him the son Fate never could.
 Episode 61 of The Burning World
 2017-11-01 -  
Azizullah... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-01 
It's like a living thing, a network. A plant, maybe, or temperamental pet; if you don't look after it, it' die.

Or worse, turn on you.

You knew this better than most. As such, once back in Huzuz, you made sure to check in on the various branches of your "plant.”

You spied Nabil al-Rashad being chased out of a caravanserai, though you couldn't see by whom. Nabil was a snake but a fantastic opportunist. Perfect contact in case a quick getaway was needed. You saw him try to strike up a conversation with another unscrupulous person you knew, Jarda the Rogue. She brushed him off (predictably) and went back to eyeing the streets. You made brief eye contact with her, held it until she inclined her head as though to ask "And...?” You smirked and continued on your way. Today wasn't the day you were going to find out who her mysterious employer was.

One day, though.

There was Farim al-Kanafi, "guarding” the Gate of Wealth. "Making money off it” was more accurate; the guard accepted more bribes than anyone else you could think of. Not that you were judging; a bribe-able guard was your favourite kind of guard. Another guard that you recognized rounded the corner and this time you quickly took to the shadows; One-Eyed Kasad was out and about and that meant looking for trouble. You'd seen him get people thrown into prison for nothing, and that was when he was being nice. You determined a while ago to never get on his bad side.

Sneaking away, you passed by a couple of shops you liked to keep tabs on: the first belonged to an ajami dwarf, Mandrake Trollsbane. The dwarf was a master wagon-maker, and he would have made enough dinari that way, but what not everyone knew was that he was skilled enough to make virtually undetectable hidden compartments in his wagons. For an increased price, of course. Clever little being, and useful to know.

The second shop you checked up on was that of Kola bint Fayala, a retired gnomish thief who now specialized in very high quality locks (and, if rumors were to be believed, magical ones). Apparently she was always behind on her orders, so in demand were her services. The cynical side of you knew that once a thief, always a thief, and a thief whose homemade locks were the only things standing between her and the treasures behind them was a very smart thief indeed.

You passed by a few more stalls in the Grand Bazaar. The large one was owned by Gogal al-Misal, the "procurer of talent.” A shrewd judge of character and an excellent debater, Gogol always had the face of a man who knew more than everyone around him. One of your former contacts ended up as sold by Gogal as one of the "talents” he can procure.

You always felt it best to avoid him.

The smaller stall was owned by Zaynal the Scribe. She was precise, even anal when it came to her work, which was good. It was even better when she performed her other, less well-known profession, that of a forger of documents. You had done business with her a couple of times, and, while you don't trust her, there was no denying she did good work.

A cry of pain followed by a soothing voice caught your attention. There was Mustapha, "The Street Physician,” tending to what you imagined was a beggar of some kind. Rumour had it that Mustapha's wife threatened to bankrupt him with the lavish parties she would throw. Realizing he'd be in debt forever, one night he just left without a word, to live on the streets and care for those who could not afford it otherwise. Rumour also had it that she was still looking for him...

Finally you touched base with the two "runts” of your network. The first was Harjad the Water Bearer. He had a neat scam going: he'd target pilgrims and offer to sell them water from the Golden Mosque. Of course, it was just tepid water from the nearest well, but he could be quite convincing, even speaking in tongues on one occasion.

The second was Umar al-Fennec. Poor Umar; barely ten years of age, and living on the streets. Once, 2 years or so ago, you had brought him to Auntie to raise, but the boy kept running away. You thought to keep an eye on him, sporadically, since. He was orphaned when his parents, adventurers, according to him, went missing on a mission to the Ruined Kingdoms. Every time he meets an adventurer, he asks if they know his parents. The truth is, he probably doesn't remember his parents accurately at all. It was a sad situation all around, but you tried to give the boy missions that weren't too dangerous so that he would feel useful. Mostly, it worked.

After you were done your due diligence, you retired to Laski's for a brandy before heading home to try to sleep without dreaming of what happened in your tribe not so long ago.
You were not successful.
 Episode 60 of The Burning World
 2017-11-01 -  
Faruq... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-11-01 
It was another beautiful day in Huzuz. When wasn't it? Sunshine, breeze coming in off the Al-Sarif river, beautiful architecture...but you were too busy with your own thoughts to notice.

You were headed to the Mosque District, to deposit the riches from your latest adventure in the Ruined Kingdoms. Despite all the wonders you saw there, despite the honour in working for Princess Yasmi, you were instead focused on your problems. As usual.

Passing by the bathhouses of Jisan, you reflected on the relationship you had with that church. Maybe they were decent bankers for you, but you were still bitter about having to lose any money at all to them. Hundreds of people used their bathhouses every day; you absent-mindedly wondered how much of the interest from your adventuring scores went to their maintenance. You also wondered how much business was done between merchants in there. Were there members of the Al-Kamari family in there now?

Aunty wasn't home when you came in. Your siblings informed you that she had gotten a job at the Al-Kamari silk warehouse, so she wouldn't be home as much. You felt a slight pang of guilt at the relief you felt; her being gone more often would mean less overt lying to the sweet woman. Working for the family’s famous silk company was a good job, with a decent amount of prestige; "Treat it as though it were the finest silk in the world, because it is." You just hated that she had to work at all.

You weren't in a rush, and so decided to meander a bit through the city; it wasn’t often that you had a chance to see anything beyond the Harbour and Warehouse districts. So lost in thought were you that you almost ran over a gnome in a hurry to get somewhere. You recognized him as the alchemist, Basem bin Rumi; the story for him, apparently, was that he was a former adventurer who found a formula somewhere in the Ruined Kingdoms to turn base metals into gold. He isn't said to have had any success though, and has apparently squandered his wealth trying to make it work. Too bad; you might have found such a formula useful in dealing with your current woes.

At one point you found yourself shocked, absolutely shocked. Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted, even. There was Khalid, walking arm in arm with a girl. A beautiful girl. More beautiful than you can remember ever seeing, with highlights in her hair, dark eyes, swaying hips... and she was with Khalid. Stupid, simple, drinks-too-much Khalid.

Fate was cruel, that much was certain in your world.

You kept walking, strolling through some of the wealthier neighbourhoods. You recognized the estate of Zima al-Hatik, the sage. Supposedly remembers everything he’s read, and is familiar with the contents of all of Huzuz's libraries. Snooty and reclusive too; you liked that about him. Apparently he could charge a hefty price just for one meeting with him, and he only took one meeting per night. You spotted someone leaving his estate, a veiled man in white and red clothing. Must be his one appointment.

You imagined how nice it would be to be in demand like that, providing answers no one else could. You didn't see how that was going to happen now, though, not with the burden you were carrying. As though to twist the knife, you found yourself within sight of the tower of the sha'ir Adnan al-Raqi. Master of the Invisible. The Pillar of Wisdom. The Whisper that Thunders. Were you ever going to have impressive sobriquets like that?

Didn’t seem likely.

The sha'ir was apparently in semi-retirement now; he had decided on Huzuz to live out the rest of his days, but decided to help the Grand Caliph with his problem; The Pillar of Wisdom was going to find out why the Grand Caliph could not sire a son. Doesn’t seem so have solved it yet, you thought, remembering how the Grand Caliph is seen less and less in public these days; whispers were that he was spending all his time in the harim.

You knew that Adnan had a school for young sha'ir, and had hope to one day enroll, but that didn't seem possible now. Still, you kept track of others like you: there was Essafah al-Jamila, who catered to the wealthy and specialized in the creation of genie prisons; and Qoha'dar who hoped to join the Magical Legion as a liaison between the forces of Huzuz and the Jann that served the Grand Caliph, so it was said. You never found the courage to introduce yourself to either of them, but you still liked to keep abreast of their activities; following their exploits always gave hope that one day you too might make a name for yourself as a sha'ir in Golden Huzuz.

You found yourself in front of the Mosque of Jisan, not really remembering exactly how you got there. With a sigh, you walked in to hand over more of your hard-earned dinari. You wondered for the hundredth time if you’d make enough in time.
 Episode 58 of The Burning World
 2017-09-27 
 Surrender 
Fadiya is stabilized by one of the Everlasting upon the Caliph of Shadow's commands.

The tower of dawn is in nw corner of jabal sarahin

Heroes are transported to the tower of daawn

Marash tower is southest of Jabal Sarahin

The caliph says, "I've come to teh conclusion that you've been misled" pitying Faruq

Young woman with Printz' lute -
Nikolai Nicopolis
Akim al-Kalaas
Handsome Man - Farouk abd al-Bazan
Dwarf Priestess -Batina al-Shaat
Mara al-Gurab Sagir
Safia al-Gurab Sagir
Sayida Ibn Afa
Marwan - The Caliph of Shadows

PRINTZ
================================
let me tell you a tale...

Printz will offer a performance to the Everlasting. It will be the tale of Faruq. The story will be a tragic one highlighting his suffering being an orphan, the threat of his mother being sold into slavery, losing the sibling he loves the most to a blue dragon, dealing with a broken heart, and the underlying stigma he feels as a genasi. The story will also highlight how fate has brought him to where he is now; the adventures, and what is yet to come (lions). Is it mere coincidence?

After the performance, he will ask if anyone else would have acted differently and had passed the test given these conditions of such tragic loss, despite the great potential he possesses. He will also tell them that it is because of him that the rest of us are where we are now (becoming part of the Everlasting), and he has much to offer if he too were to become part of the Everlasting (also being granted a second chance to take a test).

=======================
printz will ask marwan for mercy, "for although the kid has acted brashly towards you, I hope you may grant him mercy for, i feel he knows not what he does"

========================
Ahhhhh... does being part of the story of the lions of tomorrow something of interest for the Everlasting? For it seems the fate fo Faruq has a part to play in this... (persuasion check)

KAL=====================
I thought it was that group that was fighting that lich in that book we saw in Wasat...


I was just curious cause you mentioned as a reason for saving Faruq and that he is somehow tied to it. Maybe it happened before Kal joined the group or I might have missed it.

ERIC
The Lions of Yesterday opposed the Geomancer Circle of Nine centuries ago. The Lions of Tomorrow (ostensibly your group) were prophesied to arise if the Geomancers should return.


Jonas
--------------------------------
wow, i've forgotten a lot of that!

now that we have a genie in our service for 101 days, is it possible to ask her about some of the mysteries we've yet to uncover or to contact those who are now in our favor for help?

contact or locate the following?
Mermaid
Adil the beggar (who has the seal)
Nalv the giant wasp
Kamilla the jackalwere leader
acquire information?
Al-Afaz, Al-Mirish, Al-Kazad; who are these people?
who sent the invisible stalker after the seal?
what does it mean "The written word is a gift to the Lions of Tomorrow"?
 Episode 55 of The Burning World
 2017-09-06 
 A Warm Welcome 
Omar looked at the fallen body of Samia al-Giss without speaking.

THe villagers can't believe one of their shepherds was one of The Everlasting... she's been 'one' of them for months... part of the community. They were thinking now... 'who else'?

Around her neck was a ring of thick beads (like a lava lamp, but dry)

Faruq is pretty certain the item she is wearing would allow the user to summon Sand Creatures

Omar and Fadiya looks forlorn for a moment, then she said, "Yes... she knows us. She knew us." Fadiya thinks there is probably 2 weeks before the Everlasting realize that she doesn't reply.

Sarahin: the Fortress of the Everlasting.

The grandfather was: Marwyn, "wait and see type". IF the one who replaces him with assassination, then they may be

The heroes travel for days and then they see black smoke in the distnce, they approach carefully... certain it looks like

The horses all used to have saddles, but no footsteps leaving. Definitely looks like a couple of fireballs, but Aziz recalls hearing of a group of Holy Slayers that used oil staves that set their victims on fire.

2 days after that, Kal notices there's a group of mounted people on camels headed their way. Several of them are loaded down with heavy packs, large carpets, ... looks like an odd caravan... except they have a lot of non-burdened camels on them. They're all armed.

They approach and 'insist' that they offer the heroes 'hospitality', but battle immediately ensues.

Leader: Jaffer al-Mawli

Trading ranged attacks, the heroes and al-Mawli raiders engage

Jaffer has: 32 gp & 10x +2 arrows

Fadiya confides in Faruq that she and Omar were cast out for running from Blue Dragon and they were marked for punishment. Still had one friend, warning them before the first attack. With nowhere else to go, they hid from The Everlasting. They hid in vain, repeatedly attacked, betrayed them... "We NEVER revealed where they're from" Never judged by the Oathbinder genie. NEver able to get help. The attacks kept coming, and then eventually they slowed down, taking respite to contact a powerful wizard.
12-fold master/shackle breaker lives in Hayal. They wanted free of the strictures of the oath. She has no magical tattoo and they can speak of the Everlasting without fear.

Omar and Fadiya didn't know any trade other than head, but joined The Grey Fire - Hajama's brother. They've been plotting

Fadiya & Faruq hubba hubba

The heroes travel the next morning to the village of Muluk... the first of the villages in the area of The Everlasting
 Episode 54 of The Burning World
 2017-08-30 
 Into the Haunted Lands 
You whisper to DM: "At some point, Faruq tries to surreptitiously collect a few wild flowers for Farida while things still grow to say 'a reminder of what we leave behind'"

Marching Order:
roheen - Omar al-Farid - Fadiya al-Farid - Azizullah - Printz - Faruq - Kal

sapphire eyes - failed wis save - went to sleep - camel missing

Kal sees there was some sort of struggle, and a creature with 4 legs may have dragged it away.

Roheen the only creature he can think of are Wyverns

why couldn't it have bene the other one?

FIght blue dragon (Safsaf) and killed her.

"Overnight, Faruq makes sure to harvest some of the dragon's blood and one of the dragon's more wicked-looking teeth"


That night
Fadiya & Omar
Printz & Kal
Roheen & Faruq
Azizullah solo

In the night, Printz is attacked by Samia al-Giss with a wicked scimitar. A comely woman dressed as one of the hill people, with a crossbow at her side. The everlasting!
Faruq falls asleep as does Kal
She barks in Terran

Faruq teleports to and administers a potion of sup.healing to Printz.
Kal Rages
Printz inspires Kal and goes invis
Fadiya and Omar join the party
Faruq falls asleep again

She sees Omar, and she has a huge look of surprise on her face, and she says, "You!"

A flurry of blades from Roheeen takes down Samia
Fadiya compliments Roheen but clearly recognizes Samia,
Fadiya nods and admits they know her; a spy for the Everlasting.

Says to Omar: "I'm sorry but there's no way they don't know we're coming.'








 Episode 53 of The Burning World
 2017-08-23 
 The Everlasting 
In this Episode: Banni - Essafah - Sirhan min Hajama (Imam of Hajama) - Caliph's retainer (cash, camels) - Fadiya al-Farid - Omar al-Farid
==============================================================
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.

 Episode 52 of The Burning World
 2017-08-16 
 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.
 Episode 51 of The Burning World
 2017-08-09 
 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
 Episode 48 of The Burning World
 2017-07-19 
 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,


 Episode 46 of The Burning World
 2017-07-05 
 Blood is Thicker... 
kal 28
125 elven (early 30s)
40 azizullah
17 faruq
22 printz

Yasmi; the second favourite wife of the Grand Caliph

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


 Episode 45 of The Burning World
 2016-10-05 -  
Our Tale, Such As It Has Been Told, Part I... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-10-05 
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 Babazadeh in a scuffle. Separating the two, it was revealed that Babazadeh 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). Babazadeh 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

"Babazadeh 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 Babazadeh 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.
 Episode 43 of The Burning World
 2016-10-26 
 The 11 Baneful Gates 
Taking a few minutes to rest, the siblings discuss their plight; wondering whether or not finding the scroll mean surviving the tests or bypassing them...

D: Guzman here; take my bow. We must keep you out of close-range battle.
G: Um... I don't really use these, but thank you...

F: How many trials have we defeated?
G: I don't know that we've been counting...
D: We've not eaten from the banquet and we've not drunk from the fountain...
D: Printz; how do you feel? Will you be able to avoid partaking of the water and feast?
P: I have thus far...
D: I suggest we stay next to each other; a buddy system of sorts...
D: Printz; with me. Come.

Continuing their explorations, the siblings continue through the temple; utilizing careful searching and mage cantrip to

Wandering into another room, the overturned bottles, stains on the floor and furniture, suggests this was an office of some kind.

G: I prefer the dead bodies, frankly.

D: Have you not the ability to read

A bright flash of light as an invisible symbol above the door flashes as they open the door. The room the siblings are now looking into is different in several keys ways: nicer carpets along the floor, cloth hanging from the ceilings now covered in dust and tattered. Printz thinks this likely a room where a harem would have spent time... a sure sign they are making their way deeper into the private rooms of the palace.

D: Do you think that this is likely to be the head wife's room?

Opening an adjacent door, D'aro sees a beautiful woman, lying down on a bed, the rest of the floor is pillows, satin sheets hanging from the cieling, and just as they walk in, a slight shimmer appears and disappears every so briefly, as her eyes flutter open to look at you. She speaks foreign words that you cannot understand.

D: M'lady, I am D'aro and this is Printz; we have come to save you.

The woman squints at the pair and speaks again in words they do not understand.

D'aro thinks she's speaking the same language as the murals and frescoes seen throughout this jade palace.
S: We cannot understand you; but do you speak our language?

She stares, and reaches over to a nearby desk, grabbing a beautiful tiara and places it gently on her head.

Netari: Ah, that's better...
P: Yes, do you like music?
N: smiles sweetly as Printz begins to play, "What an incredible sound to be woken up to."
P: I am inspired by your beauty.

Her eyelids flutter and she says, "Oh you must be one of my husbands most favoured servants. Tell me, is he waiting for me?
P: Perhaps.
N: Perhaps?
D: I am D'aro. We... have come to... give you some news. Sulayman, tell her.
S: I can't imagine what news you imagine me to tell her. Tell me lady, what is it that you last remember before your large sleep?
G: I don't think women like to be referred to as 'large', Su.
N: I... don't recall... I remember thinking... no... he seemed very upset, as though something terrible was about to happen... and then... I laid down; he told me to go rest... he told me not to worry.
D: Is your husband Azaltin, then?
N: Yes, so you ARE my husband's servant.
D: In a manner of speaking
F: My lady, what year is it?
N: she gives a year tht's hundreds of years too early.
D: I think perhaps you should sit down...
S: I am afraid there is some bad news. Your palace has fallen into a state of disarray and you may have been put into stasis... you are no longer in the timeframe you were originally in.

Netari looks at your like you're insane.

D: What he says is true, my lady.
N: Wait a minute... what do you mean?
D: It's important that you remain calm; we will do everything we can to help you.

She looks bewildered, "help me... with this outlandish story!?" the presence of her mind weighs down on the siblings as her confusion rises... "Do you really mean to tell me, my husband is dead?"
S: He is quite dead...
F: In fact, my lady, it is your husband that we seek audience with...
N: But... but he's DEAD you said...
S: Yes, he's dead. We're not looking for him, we're looking for information about the 11 Baneful Gates.
F: We were hoping where we might have found the answers in life, we might find them now...
N: Putting her hand to her head "My husband is dead, yet you seek audience with him... what... what does that mean ... are you some sort of sorcerer? That you can speak with the dead? I don't know!! He wished me a good rest and then.. . now I'm speaking with you!
F: But you live here.. you know this place...
P: Yes... what is this palace about? What is with the garden? And the food... the delicious food...
N: What?... she's clearly bewildered
P: Come with us if you don't understand...
N: Please... I .... I need a moment to capture my breath...
S: I think we've overwhelmed her with misinformation here. The palace has fallen.. perhaps Amakim... do you remember him?
N: Yes, my brother-in-law...
S: History tells us that he raised an army against your husband. Well there's more to the tale, I'm not sure how much you'd like to learn in one shot; I will let you decide what you'd like to learn next.
G: It's like a choose-your-own-adventure...
D: Are you hungry...
S: We are not here to commune with your dead husband, we are here to find what we can find left over from this battle that ruined the palace. We are most interested in The 11 Baneful Gates

Netari is clearly crying now, her mind filling the gaps in the horrible story.

Sulayman steps forward and tries to comfort her gently; awkward and unfamiliar with the gesture...
Looking up, she seems to say without words "If you're not good at this, please don't try." Looking over at Printz now, her eyes convey to him that she's a shell of a woman; her life devastated in minutes after hundreds of years have passed. Reaching up to Printz, he takes her hand and helps her to stand. Looking him deep in the eyes, "Had it not been the wonderful music I woke to, I'm sure I would be completely mad right now. Thank you." and she kisses Printz on the cheek.

G: Play more music.

Printz, lost in the moment, kisses her back... hard. But his eyes pop open in horror as the woman's nature is revealed, her magic draining him of his life essence and her sad face turns to an evil grin.

Letting loose of the stunned and reeling Printz, she reveals her true form.. that of a succubus and telepathically taunts them, "Mortal fools... I'll enjoy taking you back to my home..."

Zephyr looks stunned as his arrow bounces harmlessly off her, and Faruq blasts her backwards with two well-placed Eldritch casts. D'aro engages, Cyclone of the Four Quarters cutting through the air neatly, but she easily parries his kicks; she appears surprisingly strong!

Stepping back, the demon whistles sharply and then locks eyes with Guzman, "Protect me..." Guzman's posture straightens and his eyes glaze over. From behind the heroes, a barrelling commotion erupts, and loud footsteps can be heard, bursting through the door is a gigantic creature that announces it's presence by swinging wildly at Faruq, slamming him hard in the chest, and biting it's demonic fangs into Sulayman's shoulder. The beast-like demon towers above the heroes as it roars ferociously.

Seeing Guzman's plight, Printz tries to Dispel the demon's magic, but to no avail.

Another arrow forces the succubus to change into a dissolving puddle... bizarrely confusing the siblings. D'aro turned to the huge demon, stunning it and cleaving it hard with the artifact, the beast roaring in rage.

Guzman, still charmed by the demon, rushes at his brother and tries to wrap his arms around Zephyr, easily holding him and bonking him on the head with the powerful mace.

Z: Brother, you're not yourself!
G: Shutup! No one ever liked you anyway... you were the worst of the family... Auntie hates you...

Printz tries again to wash the magics from his brother, but to no avail.

Z: Let go of me, you don't know what you're doing!
G: (taunting) Nobody likes you....

But Guzman holds his brother fast as Faruq and D'aro continue to hammer away at the massive beast, felling it to the ground and starts dripping fiery blood... smells like sulfur, turning into a gas and disappears.

The succubus, also having been felled finally dissipates

Z: Why are you saying such things, Guzman!?
G: Shut up! Auntie doesn't love you! I'm not even charmed anymore...
D: Do you think we triggered this scene
S: Who knows... if this was another test, I can't tell if we passed or failed it.
P: I failed it, I think.
G: I don't blame you... she was beautiful.
D: I did suggest that you comfort her... think we all failed it.

Faruq continues his awkward habit of collecting the succubus' ichor

D'aro looks at Faruq quizzically, "Faruq, what are you doing?"
F: We have all come upon our powers in different ways, mine demands this of me.
D: Understood.
F: Do not worry, D'aro. I will not try to bring her back.
D: I worry more that you may drink it by mistake. This will surely cause you issues with your bowels, I have seen it first-hand.

Printz and D'aro walk up the stairs, exploring the harem further and see another door with different writing above it, just as the room they last entered. Joining their brothers, Sulayman and Faruq go upstairs as well, immediately noticing a secret door along one of the walls. Conjuring simple magics, Sulayman tries to press against and open the door, revealing some sort of vault.

G: This is another test, idiots!

perfectly preserved book - (Tome of Clear Thought) - Sulayman
scroll 1 - Scroll of Protection from Dao
scroll 2 - Cure Wounds, Neutralize Poison, Greater Restoration
whitish-silvery scimitar - words appear on the hilt, "Zephyr of the Winter Moon" - (Scimitar of Dancing) - Guzman
amulet in the shape of a lion's head - Amulet of Health - (Zephyr)
pair of silk slippers - Slippers of Soft Movement (Boots of Elvenkind) - Printz

D: How do we resolve this dilemma?
G: By leaving!

Sulayman recalls the Hermit Nerim's words: "there is no love more sacred than that shared between husband and wife", words meant to assist the siblings in their pursuit of The 11 Baneful Gates...

"The truth is not obvious, that can be found in the simplicity of a man's love for his wife."

D: Are there any magics that can help us know if this is the goal of our quest?
S: I can do this...

Spending time in the apparent safety of the upper harem chambers, the siblings pour over the items and the scroll... trying to commit it to memory.

In discovering the identify of the scimitar, Guzman locks eyes with Zephyr and says, "I think we all know who THIS belongs to..." and picks it up.
Z: It might bear my name, but it will just mean I'm always with you.
G: Disgusting. Why would you taint this with those words!?
Z: Because I know you didn't mean those things you said to me earlier...

Exploring the chambers further, the siblings discover another secret chamber, in which they find a large tome with a sigil of a golden lion on the cover, similarly untouched by time, in the same language the siblings could not understand. Beneath the book there is a scroll tube. Excitedly, Sulayman spends time to determine the tome is not magical

D: This could be the end of our quest

Printz whispers words and cast Comprehend Languages, and the book titled "The Kingdom of Lions". It seems to be an accurate though concise account of the history of Al-Anwahr up until Amakim's revolt.

The scroll also in the same language and it reads, the following:

"Too late have a realized the loregivers warnings. Immortality is a curse not a trasure, no man or woman should bear this burden which I only shouldered through youthful pride. Rest assured that The 11 Baneful Gates has been destroyed. It can tempt mortals no further."

D: I'm sure this history book will be of some use to some scholar...
F: Haroushin will be most excited at this
P: We should leave right away...
D: There are perhaps other items to obtain here, no?
P: But what of the Jann?
S: Correct, we're on a timeline
F: We have come in search of the gates that we now know has been destroyed...
D: Maybe this is just a ruse, perhaps the baneful gates resides elsewhere in this palace... perhaps another test?
F: Perhaps...
S: Remember the hermit's words... he said this is where we would find it, and we have certainly found evidence of it.
D: Perhaps... hidden... I think you're right. Will this book satisfy our employer?
S: I don't see why not... he said they might not even be here.

D: Will we have to pay the Sheik tribute upon our return?
F: One such as her would certainly see through our deception, and if not her, one of her attendants.

The siblings leave carefully, wondering how much history and tragedy transpired there that would remain undiscovered...

The Jann see the siblings return to the ruined mosque where they fought the manticores

Look! They didn't kill each other! hahhahaha
J: Someone owes me money...
J: I thought for sure they'd kill each other.. the others did
S: It was pretty close...
D: We tried...
J: Tell me, how did you resist? That one I would kill without ANY magical compulsion forcing me... hahahahaha
S: I suspect it was just a little bit of luck..
J: Mmmmmm.... so.....? Find anything interesting?
P: Nothing at all.

The Jann look at each other with smirks on their faces.

S: Sadly, not what we came for.

J: Come. Our Sheik will want to speak to you before... you leave. After all, the bondof salt is about to expire, yes?
D: We have another day and a half.
J: Hmm... look at this one... a salt rules lawyer.

Returning to the mosque to see Sheikh Sheyisha lays on her stomach, quite unashamedly naked but for some silk pantaloons, her bodyguard massaging her shoulders.

Printz starts to play.

Sh: Oh I missed that... I'm not sure I can let you go...
S: I supposed that would have to be an arrangement between Printz and yourself.
Sh: So tell me; what did you find?
S: Not what we were looking for, sadly.
Sh: How disappointing. You mean all those other mortals came here and killed themselves for nothing? Well, that does sound like a mortal thing to do...
S: Well, I can't speak for them and what they were trying to do..
Sh: I suppose. So did you find anything interesting at all?
S: Ancient lore
P: Lots of dead people
S: At one point, we thought we might have met one of Azaltin's harem
D: She ended up being a demoness
S: Succubus
P: She left a mark on me
Sh: Oh my! Are they still lurking about? I would have you take care of them for m.
S: Already taken care of. We didn't search the whole place, it was becoming too dangerous for us. Having found evidence of what we were looking for not being there, we decided we have lost enough in these desert sands..
Sh: Oh you mean your dead sister?
S: Correct.

Faruq winces.

Sh: I wonder why she'd refuse to come back? Well... or maybe I don't wonder.
D: Honoured one, the magic in that place is far below your own power, you could easily and safely be able to enter.
Sh: Why would I? A dusty old mortal place. I suppose if I get bored enough...
D: Well there were a few rooms with tempting feasts and delicious water... we assumed they were traps
Sh: Do mortals always assume water is a trap? hahahahaha
D: In a desert, one would agree! hahah
Sh: Alright you're boring me; leave.
S: if it would not be asking much, I suppose you don't mind that we take our sister with us?
Sh: Oh, I have no plans to keep her here, yes, I insist you take her with you.

Sulayman bows.

Sh: We have some mortal camels, feel free to replenish yours. On your way out, if you see one of my advance scouts, tell him he is overdue to return, more than a day and a half now. His name was Alrauq. You didn't see him on the way in, did you?
D: No, we came in with your attendant my brother called.
Sh: Yes well tell him he's overdue if you see him please.
D: There's also the issue of the dragon that lingers on the border of your domain. Would you like us to take care of it for you?
Sh: I would think you'd be honour-bound to do this anyway... how do mortals think... I don't even understand...
Abdullah: They have strange minds, Sheik
Sh: You said it. Do what you have to do. If you don't care about your sister, then leave it alone, if you do, go kill yourselves trying to defeat it. But if your'e just going to go kill yourselves, don't take any of my camels!
D: Your hospitality has been second to none.
Sh: Go on, someone will make you some fresh food and water... I don't mind telling you that you smell like death.

The siblings excuse themselves with profuse thanks.
 Episode 42 of The Burning World
 2016-10-19 
 Deeper into the Temple 

The session begins with the siblings still embroiled in conflict.

Faruq dodges away from Sulayman's attempted grapple, "Su! Snap out of it!" Guzman swings the heavy Mace of Smiting against the huge construct, but it continues it's assault. Trying to dodge away from the construct, Guzman nimbly ducks away, weak and bloody.

D'aro calls out; "Stop attacking it!"

The gems that make up the eyes of the idol glow with red malevolence, and Guzman feels himself losing control but snaps back and regains control.

Printz uses his magical voice to shatter more of the idol

D'aro: Guzman, you have to stop being so stubborn! And he fells Guzman into unconsciousness. D'aro grabs Guzman from the collar and turns towards the idol, ready to offer another sacrifice...

Zephyr runs up and grabs Sulayman solidly and punches him to weaken his resistance, but Sulayman swings at Faruq as he tries to get away from his brother.

Faruq blasts the idol and pushes it back, trying to break down the door behind it, but it remains in one piece, the door undamaged. Retaliating, the idol blasts Faruq hard in the chest, knocking him back.

Printz, whispering a word of magic, sees Guzman blink as he regains consciousness.

D'aro: Guzman, you just have to come to your senses...... D'aro tries to grab the now conscious Guzman but Guzman slaps his hands away.

Zephyr, still trying to distract and bother Sulayman who has lost his mind, smacks him just enough to deflect Sulayman's Burning Hands away from him, avoiding the brunt of the flame. He can see in Sulayman's eyes that his brother is not in control.\

Guzman, ignoring a powerful attack from D'aro, swings his mace wildly at the statue, smashing it finally; the glowing eyes go dull and stop their malevolent glow.

G: WHERE'S YOUR GOD NOW!?

D'aro and Sulayman, seeing their god destroyed, felt rage wash over them, and hatred for those would would dare, but the magic soon faded and they regained their senses... remembering everything that had transpired.
S: Brushing Zephyr's shoulder... it's not as bad as it looks...


D: I am so sorry; I was ensorcelled; I hope I did not hurt you, it looks like I did. Hehe... I apologize.
G: I am fine; the blood on the ground isn't all mine.

Guzman grabs the beautiful red gems from the destroyed statue.

Realizing their dire state, the orphans decide to rest.

S: This is only the first of 11 trials, yes?
F: Brother, can we trust them?
G: We dno't have much choice anymore, we're still family.
F: looks Guzman hard in the eye, "And yet, we are not whole."
G: I don't think it's time to mourn now, brother.

D: Surely we must not move on to the next trial as casually as we did this...

Huge brass rings on the door leaving the room prevent D'aro from opening them, certainly a person only of titanic strength would be able to open them.

Printz; now brandishing the Chime of Opening points it towards to the huge doors and they open perfectly; a smile displays broadly on Printz' face.

D'aro looks in, terrible stench, what looks like outer gallery, walls carved with impressive relief, oncer verdant gardens of a lush kingdom. Almost as if creating inside what the kingdom used to look like outside. The marble has weathered the test of time, and D'aro sneaks forward, telling his brothers to follow from a distance.

D: Stay here brothers, you're making too much noise.

As D'aro moves through the huge room, he notices passively the frescoes along the walls, depicting life and how it must have been in another time; children playing, people laughing, and a time when things were much different than now.

While waiting for their brother, Sulayman continues to examine the depicitions

Someone drew someone that was wearing a crown/diadem , and wielding what looks like the same mace that Guzman used to destroy the black idol. The figure looks gaunt and sad, as if he is not able to participate

S: Guzman, look here... is that not your mace?
G: It looks similar, but I'm holding the mace, so I don't know....
S: flash in anger but does not snap in anger. Puts his hand on his shoulder. Guzman, you're not in teh picture, you're right. It looks like your mace is important somehow.
G: Yes, it felled the idol!

D: Brothers, come there is a door to the north.

Without any indication of traps or sound coming from beyond, the siblings push into the next room, the doors opening easily.

The next room looks like a waiting room; benches long the walls, diases with bowls on them, likely filled with cool water for guests once upon a time. Moving into the next room, D'aro sees an old scene of battle, remembering how Al-Anwar fell; the skeletal remains of dozens of soldiers who apparently fought each other in this room during the civil war that claimed this city hundreds of years ago when Azaltin returned to the city, undead and tried to take it from his brother. This, certainly was where the pentultimate battle finally happened.

As D'aro steps into the room, the bodies of the skeletal creatures rise up, grabbing nearby weapons, ready again to wage war on those who would enter Al-Anwar; the Lionguards of Al-Anwar remain loyal to this day!

With no choice but to defend themselves, the orphans respond in kind, easily destroying the skeletal warriors; returning the room to the ominous, battle-scarred scene they first discovered.

Pondering the history of Al-Anwar and the scene before them, the siblings discuss briefly what lay ahead; surely the story of this ruined kingdom is not yet completed...

Proceeding deeper into the temple, the siblings enter a room strewn with skeletons and the walls are marred with ancient, dried blood. In the center of the room, a beautiful rose garden is illuminated by a continual light spell, and a ornate water fountain adroned with centaurs in its center splashing contemplatively.

P: Magnificent
D: I feel this room is a room of death
S: What gave it away? The skeletons or the blood?
G: Shall we turn around then?

Doubling back to protect their flank, the siblings enter another room to see a simliar scene; skeletons and blood strewn everywhere.

D: I wonder if this scene of death has turned into a scene of life...

S: I suspect this is one of the 11 trials...

Guzman, stepping on the grass... feels a wash of rejuvenation wash over him. Moving forward, the siblings open

A marvelous feast has been set out on a massive carpet. Beautiful silverware, chalices filled with wine, fruit, platters of pheasant, boar and succulent pastries... an impossible feast. After weeks travelling through the haunted lands, with naught but simple rations and Zephyr's Goodberries, no one was immune to the feelings this evoked.

D: This is certainly one of the tests the hermit told us about...

G: Can we not just rub some of the food and drink on our face if we don't swallow it?
EVERYONE: THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID.

In their minds; Zephyr, Su and Printz feel like 'eating would not be such a bad idea...'

P: What if we just tasted it... just the tip?

Guzman skirts the carpet careful not to step upon it, resisting the urge and the growling in his stomach. Opening one of the adjacent doors, another scene of carnage appears as the doors swing open, and the skeletal lionguards animate as before, mindlessly defending their stronghold.

As the lionguards move to assail the siblings, the first of them approaching Guzman pauses for a moment, and seems to salute Guzman before moving past him to attack D'aro.

G: Did anyone else see wht I saw? It looked like they were saluting me or paying me reverence?
P: Yes
G: Do you think we should try it again with another of the scenes?

Continuing their exploration, the siblings are careful not to fall into temptation at the sumptuous feast in the room they keep crossing. The bronze portals in the next room with blue green statues with open hands at the sides, and as Guzman steps next to one of them, they animate; wielding two glowing scimitars, turning to the siblings who have trespassed. Felling these automatons handily, the heroes return to the room with the beautiful rose garden. Printz; feeling a longing to test what Guzman mentioned, wanders onto the grass, feeling the same rejuvenating feeling his new companion did.

Overwhelmed by the aroma of the flowers, Printz admits to himself, he'd like to have a garden like this at home; and knowing this, would your previous companions have met such a horrible fate if they had known this peace was waiting for them further in?

Faruq speaks briefly with Sachiel, and she listens intently. He then asks her to determine (as a Maridan) what if anything she can determine about the fountain and its magical properties.

D: Printz, you must leave.
P: I can't make anything of it
D: Powerful magic is meant to test us, no?
G: What if the test is to overcome the temptation to drink and by not drinking, we're not actually passing.... but Guzman confuses himself

Sachiel returns, the water is magical, but doesn't know what it does... it's not golden water for sure, but what it is exactly, she can't be sure.

Deciding whether to rest or not, the siblings discuss their next move....
 Episode 40 of The Burning World
 2016-10-06 -  
My Deepest Sympathies... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-10-06 
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.
 Episode 39 of The Burning World
 2016-10-05 
 The Jann 
After a brief period of cautiously-optimistic mourning; the brothers set their eyes on seeking out the wild and mercurial Jann of the haunted lands, hopefully they can restore Guzman and Chaka to life. The ruins of Al-Anwar were not far from here, but it would be a sullen and somber journey without two of their siblings.

After a brief rest, Faruq uses magic to preserve his brother and sister, so they may be ready for more powerful magics to raise them later; a small consolation that brought him no joy; only his sister's smile would lift this cloud.

As they travelled, the young band was reminded of Fhakira's/Gish' words before the battle; that she had 'cleansed the land of other beasts', and this was true... not a single hyena, jackal or any of the normal wild fare could be seen during their trek. It wasn't long before the ruins of Al-Anwar were visible in the far-off distance, small wisps of campfire smoke rises in the distance.

In their minds, the siblings were reminded that this was their eventual goal; Haroushin had asked them to travel to the ruins of Al-Anwar in search of a scroll called "The 11 Baneful Gates", a scroll purported to give its reader immortality! No one thought they would have suffered such a defeat on their way...

Had it not been for bringing Haroushin that damn clay seal with the 9-spoked wheel on it, perhaps none of this would have happened.... Faruq thought to himself. That he recalled a tiny reference to a seal such as this in "The Kingdom of Lions" (the Kingdom of Al-Anwar), is the only reason they travelled this way... Faruq sighed heavily in the hot desert air.


In the distant past, when Fate passed her knowledge to the Loregiver, Al-Anwahr was a rich and proud city ruled by King Azaltin, an intelligent man well versed in poetry, astrology, and the ways of magic. As the Loregiver wandered Zakhara, teaching the laws of the divine to man and genie alike, she is said to have stopped in Al-Anwahr and been a guest of Azaltin for 11 days. Azaltin honored his guest daily with lavish celebrations and exquisite gifts of silks, gold, and perfumes. After each night of entertainment, the king would ask his guest the same question: "How can a man live forever?"

The Loregiver warned Azaltin about the danger of such knowledge, but in theend could hardly insult her gracious host by refusing to answer. Each night she told the king about the obstacles that prevent man from achieving immortality. Azaltin's scribes labored furiously to capture the Loregiver's parables and cryptic riddles, which were set down in a legendary scroll titled The Eleven Baneful Gates. According to legend, the Loregiver departed Al-Anwahr, leaving the equivocal scroll in Azaltin's care. Azaltin pondered the scroll for a decade, ignoring his people while trying to unravel its secret.

After months of fasting and meditation, he abandoned the kingdom to his brother Amakim and left to ponder the scroll in the solitude of the wilderness. Ancient legends say he returned a dozen years later, an undead creature of hideous appearance, to reclaim his kingdom. Before long, Amakim led a revolt to topple his monstrous brother. Some members of court remained loyal to their undead king, however, and a bloody battle ensued throughout the city. Ultimately, Amakim's forces triumphed, but when they reached the king's palace, they found that Azaltin had vanished. Amakim and his forces departed Al-Anwahr and eventually founded the city of In'aash. Centuries past, the city was renamed Muluk, while Al-Anwahr and Azaltin passed into folklore.


Just as they finish recounting the story for their recollection, an arrow lands in front of them, and out of invisibility, floating above the heroes appears a tall, 7' man. Wearing silk-beige pantaloons, maroon sandals that curve at the toes, a vest, over a large strong body, skin is dark brown, his moustache well-waxed and wielding a large, heavy bow.

"You're trespassing..."
"I said... you're trespassing..."

Z: I do apologize, we've been through a lot, we're not as receptive as we suaully are
D: Your chest looks receptive to one of my arrows...
S: Please please... we don't mean you any harm!
D: Even if you did, that doesn't mean you could do it... hahahaha

Other laughter rings out... clearly he is not alone

D: We fought a dragon and killed it, but we have some slain ourselves...
Z: We seek sanctuary

D: Dragonslayers?! Hmmmmm
D: D'aro... have you not noticed the change in weather.

The laughs continue

D: Oh... a change in weather... heralding the dragonslayers approaching our camp... hahaha

Laughs continue.

F: Whose camp is it that we've mistakenly trespassed into?

J: You're trespassing in the lands of our Sheik... Sheyisha
D': "So people live out here then?" with a smile"
J: What an observant dragonslayer you are then... hahahaha
D': So what would you have us do then? Shall we leave?
J: Truy running. Running targets are always harder to it
D': What an odd man
S: Yes, he isn't being very cooperative:
F: What would you have trespassers do if they do so unwittingly, killing them on sight is not at all profitable...
S: I think that might be exactly what it is if they take everything on our bodies
D': I'll tell you what. Do you fancy a little bit of a challenge or do you just like to fly in the air?
J: Go on, little man
D': I will stand here and allow you to shoot me with your precious bow. If you are able to draw any of my blood, we will leave. However, if you cannot hit me, or if I dodge or catch your assault, you will lead us to your camp so that we might parley.
J: He smiles and says "As you wish, you may want to ask your fellow dragonslayers to stand aside, if I do miss, I might hit them. hahahah
J: I hit you, you become our playthings... heheheh
D': That wasn't our deal... we leave
J: You catch the arrow, and... we speak some more. Are you ready?
J: Are you ready?
D': If you fail to hit me or draw blood, then we speak.
J: Very well... excuse me one moment

The Jann disappears again invisibly, and D'aro, realizing the Jann warrior has no problem cheating, covers himself with a sphere of darkness.

J: "Well-played, little dragonslayer!" firing an arrow into the darkness, missing D'aro.

The Jann looks enraged at having missed the half-elf, and the laughs now turn on the archer. "No! That will not be!"

D: Come down and face me, you over-dressed poof!

Enraged, the sentry fires back at D'aro, and the invisible accompaniment lets loose on the siblings. But the Jann underestimate the siblings, and even in the orphans' somewhat-weakened state, they easily meet the Jann's attacks. In fact, it is almost by accident that the first of the antagonizing Jann is reduced to elemental dust; and this only enrages the remaining Jann further, attacking the siblings without pause. The Jann are defeated however, and the siblings look ahead to the settlement, wondering if they'll receive more 'emmisaries' soon.

Sending Yousef to scout ahead, many other Jann apparently inhabit the camp, playfully pranking each other, undisciplined and wild.

Worried now that defending themselves against the Jann may jeopardize their willingness to help return Chaka and Guzman to life.

Travelling further from the scene




A voice calls out from the sky "Yes?"
"Friend I have a favour to ask of you. Come closer that I might see you."
A shimmer appears in the sky, and a Jann looks down on you.

"My brothers and sister humbly rquest your aid, noble Jann for we are in need bothof the magic you wield so easily but also perhaps to revify my dear sister and brother."

"His eyes widen in surprise."
J: Are you sure I can't just offer you something to drink?
F: It would be my pleasure to offer you such hospitality were we in better circumstances...
J: What's wrong with our circumstance?
F: I have not but what you see with me to offer you.
J: Wait, were you summoning me to offer ME a drink?
F;
J: oh well... you are doubting our power?
F: I have only yet learned the secret of calling such powerful beings as you
J: I couldn't tell
F: You will forgive my naivite

The Jann descends and looks Faruq in the face

J: You have genie blood running through you
F: I have a lineage yes, that perhaps one day I will come to better appreciate
J: Does that mean you agree you have genie lbood in you?
F: Indeed, but now I do not feel happy for my heart still feels heavy at the loss of my comrades
J: Right, where are they?
F: I have done what little I can to preserve them from further disgrace in these burning lands, but...
J: Yes...

The jann unceremoniously lifts the shroud from Guzman and then slaps his face, "Hello... no you are right, this one's dead." Going over to Chaka, he sniffs and says, "mmm... Dead. Where are you coming from that they should be dead like this? This is not the sun that did this!"

F: We have travelled far, and to make it here we crossed paths witha powerful dragon who in her rage and jealousy felled my brother and sister. It is only through their strength that I myself survived, and I might speak with one such as you today. I owe them my life.

J: Yes, but do I? Does my Sheikh? Maybe she will enjoy your tale, dragonslayer. Follow me
F: You are most kind.
J: Yes, I know!

The siblings travel into the ruins of Al-Anwar, led by the Jann.

The main 'drag' is lined with tents, surrounding the occassional water sources, and the wind whips above the siblings; a reminder the invisible Jann are numerous here.

A beautiful garden lies at the end, date and olive trees, adorned with tapestries, carpets and adornments, and it is this structure to which the Jann leads the orphans.

A long, low table at which sitts a sever looking but attractive Jann woman sitting at the head of the table. Relaxed, wearing a white, puffy shirt witha blue silk vest. Golden hair, her face decorated with mamluk, 3 beautiful rings, being fed grapes by another muscular jann.

J: Dragonslayers, may I present our Sheik Sheyisha! Oh great and wise Sheik here ar ethe dragonslayers. This one, grabbing Faruq roughly by the collar and shoving him closer to Sheyisha, is the one who disturbed our feat by yelling in such a fashion.

Faruq bows and says, "My most sincere apologies, for I only now understand the might of the Jann.

S: So I am to forgive your ignorances, is that what you are saying?
F: It is but one of my hunble requests, yes
S: Oh, I thought that's all I was going to do. You are going to ask more of me now?
F: I ask not for anything for myself, but for those to whom I owe my life, we have felled a powerful dragon, but paid a terrible price, and I know not how to return life to my dear brother and sister
S: So this is the second favour you are asking? For us to return life to your brother and sister?
F: It is a power I know only some in the lands...
S: Are they genie muts like you?
F: They are not, they have raised me and protected me all of my life...
S: They might still be genie muts, like that one over there, with the bow and the arrows...
F: He is also my brother...
S: A genie mut...
F: Whatever names you wish, he is dear to me as both my fallen siblings...
S: hhmm... but they're NOT genie muts...
F: They have not been graced with such latent power that I hope to one day discover, that I might consider myself worthy of your company
S: Hmmm.... Abdallah... be a dear and touch my ass. Do you find it wet from his kisses?

LAughs...

S: No but seriously, is it wet from his kisses because he has kissed it many times. Dragonsalyers, alright then, bring the bodies of these beloved siblings and put them on this table
F: As you wish

D'aro and Sulayman carry their siblings forward.

D: Honoured Sheik, we thank you for any help you can give us.
S: With apologies for disturbiong your feast, had we known, we would have come at a more approrpiatime.

Sh: Opening up the wrappings "Disgusting. What dragon did you say you fight?"
S: We fought a dragon named Fhakira... after we were convinced by her sister Ghish that we needed to.

ALl the Jann Laugh in unison.

S: Oh, she was bound to find someone.

D: Fhakira lays dead, and Gish has taken up residence in her lair.
Sh: She came to do this many times, and each time we told her to buzz off... hahahaha.. she was bound to find someone, I guess it was you. So you managed to kill her big sister... what a strange thing for family to have such vicious hatred for each another. What was it like, for you who speak about your siblings with such love, to get involved in a sisterly spat like that? Did you have time to reflect on the irony before she burned your siblings to death?
F: I did not, for in my naivite in negotiating with dragons, was such that I acted out of fear
Sh: is it worth than your naivite in negotiating with Jann? Laughs... I'm kidding you, of course we will help you.

A serious look falls over her face, "They are in terrible shape, I must say. Alright, Abdallah, be a dear and rub my neck? Ah... could you be a dear again? Take these two and bring them to my tent. Some of the rest of the members of my tribe will take care of you... some of you... sniff sniff still smell of dragon. Wash up, take care of yourselves... wait... how were you able to come so close to our camp? Abdallah... who is on patrol?

Abdallah rattles off some names, one of which we recognize.

F: I was led here as a great gesture of trust.
S: Yes, I know but what I'm wondering if why we didn't detect you beforehand. Abdallah, who was on patrol?

Su: My brother has some ability to call upon aid which is how your loyal subject brought us to you
S: Yes, I understand, I told you, his call disrupted our feast, but I want to know that he got close enough without our sentries knowing?
S: How far do your sentries go?
Sh: Well, some claim they have the eyes of an eagle... laughs but maybe only when he's spying on those that are bathing... laughs. Abdallah please bring them to my tent.

Abdallah, whispering a word of magic, becomes twice his size and picks up both Chaka and Guzman gingerly.

Seating comfortably, the Jann conjure food and drink, serving the orphans dates and try and make them comfortable.

An hour passes, coming staggering out comes a pale, and sweaty Guzman.

Faruq immediately embraces him.
G: Don't.. I might fall over.
Faruq smiling, puts his hand on his shoulder... trying to make sure he's real "My brother, you have been returned to us."
G: I think that's obvious. Pass me those dates!

Guzman, uncharacteristically has tears in his eyes, but refuses to talk further.

Abdallah, now returned to his normal size, enters after with a grave look on his face. "My wife, will not be joining us for an evening meal. She is exhausted after using her magic to bring back this one."

Guzman has a tear coming down his cheek, does not look up at Abdallah.

"I am sorry. But the spirit of your sister was unwilling to return. She ignored my sheikh's summons to come back to this world." He looks at Faruq and says, "It would have been good to know this was going to happen before my wife exerted herself in this fashion."

D: Why wouldn't she come back, cousins?

Faruq, stunned... stares blankly.

S: Do you know why she wouldn't return, Guzman?

Guzman only shakes his head.

Faruq, still frozen with clawed hands by his side, brow now furrowed cannot help the manifestation in his hands... a never before seen reddening, a soft glow... barely noticeable flames licking at his finger tips... and then gone.

"I am going to tend to my wife and my sheik. Hmmm... she would be here to do this herself, but..." He conjures a small bowl of food and a pinch of salt, and he subtly salts the food. Taking a small bit himself, he passes it to the siblings, offering it to them. They each take part.

For the rest of the day, D'aro and Sulayman spend time getting familiar with the lay of the camp, but do not venture far.

Some hours later, Sheik Sheyisha summons the orphans, clearly feeling better.

Sh: Abdallah, my neck is hurting. So... one wished to come back and I brought him back. The other did not, so I did not.
D: Eternal thanks to your greatness
S: We apologize for the effort put in that did not pay out. We had no way of knowing she would not return; obviously we hoped she would.
Sh: Mortals are odd.
Sh: So, why did you come here in the first place?
S: We were searching for these ruins that you now inhabit.
Sh: Interesting. What were you looking for in these runis?
S: Ancient lore. I suppose we are not the first then? Others have come in search of the same thing?
Sh: Many have come, yes. Very few have survived.
S: We have proven to be somewhat resourceful...
Sh: And someone prone to dying...

Faruq winces.

Sh: Well, I can tell you about the other people that have come here before. Months ago, there was 1 expedition that set up camp in teh ruined mosque, you'll see it up the boulevard. near the buried palace that looks lke it's constructed of jade. They soon started excavating and eventually found a way in. They all went in, but only one came out. He's been somewhat scarred... he's been our guest since you see. He makes me laugh; sometimes it's nice to have a mortal around; you know it changes your perspective on things.

A: why don't we give them this mortal? They are short one after all.
Sh: We could do that, sure. Abdallah, summon the Printz. She winks, he's 'a prince' you understand

Abdallah returns with a man, 5'3 25 yrs, light-skinned (tanned), well dressed, almost feminine clothing and demeanor.
P: I'm not a prince, my name is Printz.
Sh: No, you're a prince to us...
D: So your name is Printz then?


Printz' party excavated "The Jade Palace" but when they went in, some of them were going crazy, investigating the Big Black Idol, deciding that they needed to worship the big black idol (7 wanted not just to worship, they also wanted to sacrifice, sacrificing each other)

D: Was there a scroll?
P: Yes; he had heard there was a scroll called the 11 Baneful Gates
Sh: You should be aware there are strange creatures that move about the ruins, they protect the water sources you see, so if you find another water source that is not ours, you are not alone whether you can see them or not. There is one man that moves about the ruins, and he seems to know more about this place than even we do. He's kindly, but stinks. IF you find him, he may know more about this place's history than the rest of us. We don't actually care, you understand hahah. You hav ethree days of our hospitality, after that... we negotiate again. (winks).
S: So we are free to come and go as we please?
Sh: Exactly.
S: You have our thanks.
 Episode 38 of The Burning World
 2016-10-04 -  
Useless and Ugly: Part 2... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-10-04 
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.
 Episode 37 of The Burning World
 2016-10-03 -  
Useless and Ugly: part 1... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-10-03 
"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.
 Episode 31 of The Burning World
 2016-07-07 
 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.
 Episode 27 of The Burning World
 2016-06-08 
 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.
 Episode 23 of The Burning World
 2016-05-04 
 Krak-Al-Shidda 
After watching Nalv disappear into the distance without any indication of its return, the orphans decide to rest the evening in the shrine of Zann; a structure once devoted to surely one of it's most powerful Imams; Suhail min Zann.

They discuss what to do with the remains found in the treasure chest of the horrible yak-men, and elect to bury the skulls of those they assume to be the 'missing pilgrims' Nalv spoke of on the shrine grounds, that the final chapter of those devoted to or seeking the guidance of Zann might finally be written.

Setting out through the mountain path again, the siblings expect to arrive before the end of the day; having travelled much of the distance already. The try mountain range made for easier travel, but the heat began to wear on the orphans; only Faruq and his heritage seemed unaff

S: Perhaps you can guide us on how to best survive in this environment, Zephyr?

Zephyr takes a small lead

G: Due respect brothers, I have walked these lands many times; I do not need a guide! and he strides off.

The orphans make their way onward, and as the sun seemed highest in the sky, they are alerted by a creature diving at them from high in the sky; the sun at its back. Even with the blinding sun, three heads are visible, one reptilian, it's maw agape. Coming into view now, the beast's other heads are that of a lion and a goat, and Faruq's eyes widen as recognition hits him... a Chimera!


Blasting Guzman with its fiery breath, the orphans focus their attacks and fell the beast; half-amazed and half-relieved. Fending off two hungry vultures, Sulayman taking the brunt of their attacks, the orphans retreat to some cover and safety.



While resting, Faruq dares going back to the fallen chimera and collects some of the thick blood pouring from the chimera's decapitated head. Seemingly unphased by the gory task, Chaka stares in amazement at her brother.

Returning to their rested siblings, the orphans set out again, and as Krak al-Shidda finally looms in the distance, Zephyr spots four large griffons blocking their path. Sniffing in the air and decided they did not like what they smelled, the griffons screech loudly in the air, a sign that they were not going to leave.



After travelling another short hour, the siblings finally arrived at the ruins of Krak al-Shidda. Gazing at what was once surely beautiful, the orphans are reminded of the story of how the General had the city razed to the ground so it wouldn't be something worth fighting over any more, but it's also true that time itself had done quite a number on them even more. Walking amongst them, most walls brought down such that none were more than waist-high, shattered stone and dust. Every here and there, evidence of a road or a path can be seen, but the major fortress still loomed large ahead of them; the rumoured resting place of what riches were to be found here.

As they approach, the siblings see someone standing a hundred yards away and decide to approach slowly, to determine if they're hostile or not.

Creeping closer, they are able to make out the details of this sole individual, now seen to be kneeling. What looks like a young woman, dressed in different shades of white cloth, with gold filigree. Wielding a spear, she seems to be counting something in front of her. Startling her before they can get very close, she picks up her spear and looks at the siblings with concern in her eyes.

G: Su, I think you should take this one.









 Episode 22 of The Burning World
 2016-04-27 
 The Shrine of Suhail min Zann 
In the large Dao-carved chamber, the orphans breathe a temporary sigh of relief in this momentary respite.

G: Are you collecting his remains, brother?
F: Do you not think this might be of use?
Z: a strange trophy to collect, no?
F: No... well yes...
C: Will other genies start to notice?
F: I hope not...
S: Do you think we can get some money for these? Everything is for sale brothers, someone will pay...

Secreting the Dao dust satchel away, the orphans look deeper into the cavern; curious what lies in wait beneath the mosque of Jann. Arriving at a set of heavy stone doors standing ajar and looking up at them, Guzman can see an epitath for someone named, "Suhail min Zann".
"May he never be called to finish the task he started."

The doors apparently, ripped open by something very powerful have been put back haphazardly and lay open for the orphans to pass easily.

Looking into the lair, Guzman can make out the distinct shape of a sarcophagus, one end smashed and lying at the base. "I see something there, brothers..."

C: Should we move the door?
G: Should we enter and face what guards this?
F: Perhaps we can lure out whatever lies inside?

Stepping into the room, a flash catches their attention; a glyph from above crackles with electricity, flashing through the orphans. Dodging aside, the siblings are all now keenly aware of the scent of pungent, spicy aroma, a strange, horrible mixture of ashes, cloves and myrrh.

Chaka, augmenting her voice, calls out in the darkness, "Suhail min Zann, we mean you no harm. We are here to mend what was broken.", but nothing comes back from the darkness.

Emerging from the darkness, a horrible snorting, clawing, yak-like humanoid stands out from behind the sarcophagus and raises a
hand towards Chaka, but she seems unaffected by the magic. Faruq, moving Chaka to safety, puts his body in front of hers. Another of the yak-like figures comes into view from behind the sarcophagus, and a spectral scythe manifests next to Faruq; slicing him with a flash.

The yak-mens assault continued, and in such a confined space, the orphans elect to beat a hasty retreat to collect themselves.

Reaching the relative safety of the cave entrance, the heroes begin to come to terms that their inexperience is perhaps as dangerous as some of those that stand in their path. No one taught them how to do this 'adventuring' and no one was going to. No just 'heading home' if things got too tough; this was life and death. All of their young lives, they were 'different' from the 'norm'; why should they expect that to change?

Zephyr, slumping down next to Faruq with this back against the cave wall begins to chuckle. Lightly at first, then daring a little louder. Perplexed, Faruq looks at his brother curiously, and Zephyr finally says aloud, "We finally found something that smells worse than Guzman..."

You had to admit... it lightened the mood.

Almost charging back in to the caverns, the orphans engage again the yak-men, and despite their magic, the siblings emerge victorious. A large chest behind the sarcophagus springs a trap on the unwitting Guzman, but Chaka used her magic to revive him.

Looking through the chest, Chaka finds 5,000sp, 2,000gp, 5 blood red garnets, and extensive collection of human, demi-human and humanoid skulls. At a casual glance, Chaka is able to determine that one of the skulls is considerably older than the others. Reaching into the chest, Chaka grasps the old skull and she goes stiff; her eyes staring forward and glassy as though she was seeing something else. In a voice not her own, she turns to address her brothers:

"I wish to thank you worthy travellers,
for your sacrifice on my behalf, but I'm afraid
your adventures and hardships have only just begun.
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Suhail min Zann,
priest of the great god Zann, one whose
body has been desecrated here in my shrine.

Although it would seem most impolite to prevail upon you
to do more than you have already done here,
I do believe Fate itself has guided you to me,
and I must give you your instructions,
for I am not long tethered here.

It is highly unlikely that you have heard of my exploits before,
for I have done much work in the years before my death
to make sure that they were hidden, hidden from all who could possibly use this knowlege for evil.
But now, with the nine-fold stars that have fallen from the sky,
the worst events that could have happened, have already begun to take place."

Chaka looks at body

"I sense from the... soul of this one... a very pleasant soul, I might add, that you have had encounter with a strange artifact.
It would seem lacking in value; it would look like a 9-spoked wheel, a seal made of clay..."

S: We have see this artifact, yes!
Z: The man we left in the jail

"This was a seal that was used to imprison my arch enemy, many, many years ago, before enlightenment took over Zakhara.
My group, including my brother Ash'taraq, fought against the greatest evil The Burning Lands have ever known... they are known as The Geomancers.
Terrible sorcerer-priests who ruled from the ancient kingdom of Kadar."

Chaka begins to look somewhat confused...

"Many years ago, I.... I apologize my link... to this world.... is fading...
But you must know, she has awoken...
The Ninth of The Nine. The most powerful and terrible of them all.
Her name is lost to memory, but she was known in the ancient empires as Tisan; the most powerful of the Geomancers, great priestess of the cold god, Grumbar.
Wielder of magic such that has never been seen... she... we tried to kill her, but were not able to... instead we barely managed to imprison her, but the seal...
the seal that kept her locked away, it was removed from her prison, if you have seen it, it means she is free... it means she is free...
please... go to the guardian of my shrine, tell him that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged.

He will know what to do with that information... I... I am fading... I am fading...

Faruq desperately spills his shoulder sack empty and scrambles through his papers, finding the illustration of the seal that he drew in the prison, holding it in front of Chaka's glaze-covered eyes for Suhail min Zann to see.

Yes... that is it... you cannot hope to defeat her without my secret, hidden knowledge that I buried away so that none may ever use it to free her...
who could... who could have imagined that this would happen by accident...
Tell the guardian that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged, he will make the necessary arrangements... I am fading..
The fate of Zakhara is in your hands, young ones... you must..."


Chaka blinks and emerges again from her trance.

Lost in thought, the orphans slowly make their way back out of the tomb, contemplating the great tale they had been told. The fading light of day greeted them warmly, and the fresh valley air was a welcome relief to the foulness of the yak-men's stench and the stale, tomb air.

Returning to the lower level and the shrine entrance, Nalv returns and again scratches its question for them in the sand:


Generous pilgrims, I have been concerned. Is everything alright?

S: We had defeated a Dao which was the cause of the earthquakes which you have noticed have stopped.

It nods.

Two yak-like humanoid creatures were found inside, having desecreated Suhail's tomb.

It's head drops

S: The spirit of Suhail min Zann has come to us and spoken through my sister. It told us to tell you that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged.

It looks up excitedly, its mandibles snapping quickly, and it disappears into the sky like a black bolt of lightning; nothing has ever moved more quickly. Within moments, it's out of sight.

S: Does anyone understand what is going on?
G: I don't think we're supposed to at this point.

Deciding to rest in the shrine for the night, the orphans find shelter in the mosque and let Suhail min Zann's words and Nalv's strange behaviour be their contemplation for the night.

 Episode 21 of The Burning World
 2016-04-22 
 On to Krak-Al-Shidda 
The sun still sat high in the sky; the villagers of Tedohfosek still fawning over the siblings and their heroics earlier in defeating Ynadin.

Mindful that their honour demands they grant us a gift of some kind, but unwilling to take what little money they had, the orphans asked if they could offer any insight about the ruins of Krak al-Shidda; where they might find greater riches. Dubious that there would be anything left since it is such a common destination for would-be adventurers, they did remind the orphans that many adventurers who travel through the valley on the way to the ruins... never come back. A morbid fact perhaps, but they certainly had provisions with them when they set out, to be sure.

They villagers also mention that if you continue a little further, there is a 'lucky' shrine that many would-be adventurers ask to visit before their attempt to delve into Krak al-Shidda, hoping for some extra luck in their adventure.

Before the orphans set out for Krak al-Shidda, they ask the villagers not to spread word of Guzman's weapon and they agree gladly. One of the few young women of the village, Sierra, was offered to act as a guide for the siblings, and she led them astutely through the narrow passes, listening intently to the orphans' stories and keenly interested in the goings-on of Huzuz. Asking about why there were so few young children in the village, Sierra offers that she herself gave birth to a stillborn child, and that very few others had been born in recent years.

Sierra leads them within sight of the shrine, and points further on "There you go, we are here."

F: Thank you, Sierra... be home quickly and be safe.
Sierra: May the Loregiver watch over you.

As the orphans start to make their way down the treacherous descent to the valley below, a loud buzzing can be overheard, and a huge, six-foot black wasp descends from the air above, careful to keep its distance from the siblings. Difficult to see, the wasp seems to be scratching something in the sand, and flies further away from the siblings, then pauses and looks at them again.

Faruq creeps closer, inspecting the area that the waps was scratching at and is amazed to see they are legible words:


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!

Sulayman whispers to his siblings; I know of these creatures... they are called Mason Wasps... associated with luck... some are rumoured to even be sentient! One has found us, it seems...

Generous pilgrims, would you be willing to render assistance?

Creeping forward, the orphans see what the amazing wasp scratched on the next spot:

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.


S: Yes, we will be more than happy to assist you.

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

S: Be wary, brothers and sister. I wonder if this amazing creature is actually the reason why so many adventurers do not return from this place? I do not think it wishes us ill, but...
F: I think it is safe brother... I am not suspicious of this creature for some reason.

Following the huge black wasp that hovers only ten feet off the ground, they are eventually led to the shrine. A low, decorative wall surrounds the shrine, and wells covered by leather tarps dot the grounds. Countless eroded tombs testify to how many adventurers never made their return trips from their pilgrimage. A locked, wooden door in the mosque's outer courtyard. From the outside, the orphans can see why this creature is concerned that this mosque to Zann is in poor repair.

Faruq begins exploring the area, looking to see if the obvious fissures affecting the mosque are affecting the area around it; wondering whether or not these 'attacks' might be targeting the mosque.

Sulayman asks Nalv; how often do these attacks occur? What causes them?

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

S: Do you have some mechanism for stopping them?

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

S: Where does the side door to the mosque lead?

Nalv scratches into the sand again,
That is where the supplies are kept, Generous Pilgrim.

Faruq, still investigating outside, but the remaining orphans enter the mosque, and the damage is extensive. Despite the extensive damage to the cieling, the walls, and the fixtures within, only some of the writing on the walls is still clearly legible:

Translated into Medani on the inner walls of the Mosque to Zann:

"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"


Z: When, Nalv was the most recent earthquake?

The last earthquake was only yesterday, Generous Pilgrim!

S: Are they happening daily now?

At least, Generous Pilgrim!

As the siblings consider the information at hand, the entire mosque begins to shape with a terrible rumbling. Guzman, Sulayman and Zephyr make for the door; mindful of debris that may fall. Faruq foolishly tries to help Nalv, but rubble falls and hits both Nalv and Faruq as they clumsily flee the mosque. Less than a minute goes by and the rumbling and shaking stops, and all is quiet again.

F: 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!
Please, follow me!

Leading the orphans up a small incline, Nalv continues to communicate to them:

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.

S: Why do you think the Tomb will help, Nalv?

Another, safer way to enter the shrine, perhaps?

Faruq, looking at the entrance way, says to his brothers, "That is no earthquake rock that is blocking the entrance... it's far too smooth and form-fitting. It's the work of Dao." And as they inspect further, the orphans are more convinced than ever that it is the same type of seal that held Mahara captive.

G: Hello? Is there anyone in there? Guzman calls through the hole in the rock. The echo continued long after Guzman stopped to listen.
G: Do you want me to smash open this hold? Guzman offers.

Guzman sets to work with his warhammer on making the hole bigger, and Faruq picks the lock on the mosque's side door to find more tools to help. Guzman, exhausted, rests while his siblings work pathetically to widen the hole such that they can fit through; after more than an hour in the hot sun, panting and wheezing, the orphans have made a hole large enough to squeeze through.

Before entering, Faruq asks Nalv, "Are there any protections around the tomb that might cause us harm?"

Nalv indicates no.

Please be careful, Generous Pilgrims!
I cannot enter with you.
I cannot abide enclosed spaces, Generous Pilgrim!


Beyond the entrance made by the orphans, a long tunnel descends into darkness ahead of them. The apparently widened tunnel is cause for concern, as Faruq immediately recognizes the claw marks to be those made by the massive hands of the Dao. Guzman looks to Cyclone of the Four Quarters to see if it is sensing the presence of genies, but it remains quiet for now.

Tossing a small stone down the long corridor, the sound echoes into the distance, and with almost perfect timing, the cave around them starts rumbling again; the heroes rattling about within the 10x10 corridor, and just as suddenly as it started, it stops.

As the orphans continue, Guzman notices that Cylcone begins to feel warm in his hand, and as soon as he recognizes the fact, the faint green glow wreathes the blade, indicating the orphans were not alone...

The tunnel opens up into a wide cavern; perhaps the antechamber to the tomb of Imam Suhail. The tomb seems to be home now to a less-than-vigilant genie, massive and apparently sleeping on a massive stone slab along the far wall. Cyclone is shaking now in Guzman's hand, and even with his great strength, he is having trouble controlling the sword. Guzman tries to sheath the sword, but it resists.

S: Sneak up on the genie Guzman, now's your chance.
G: If I do this, you'll all have my back, yes?

No one answers because none is necessary; the siblings all set their gazes and their minds to felling this Dao.

As if in answer, the genie sits up, eyes still closed, and in Medani seems to mumble to himself, "I'll show you... lose some weight you fat... just wait until I'm free... do I have to watch you eat.... zz.... snoring so loudly that the cave itself starts to shake... and the siblings all realize: the SNORING is the cause of the earthquakes!!

Steadying themselves, Guzman charges and unleashes Cyclone on the unsuspecting genie; gouging into his hard flesh and the genie awakes with a scream, "Who dares awake the slumber of Hasan!!?"

G: It is I, wielder of the Cyclone!

Swinging again, Guzman calls out, "By the power of Shaddad!"

H: No! It cannot be!

Hammering away at the genie with their magics, the orphans marvel at the long, green arcs of their brother wielding Cyclone of the Four Quarters. Their magic and his steel made them more confident, until, amidst the onslaught, the genie extends his hand outwards, and rocks start to pile up on each other, forming into the shape of rock-like humanoids that

H: And so now it is just you and I, Terror. And when I bring back your battered corpse to the great Khan of the Dao, I will be made a noble. You have just made yourself a form of promotion for Hasan! Forming a massive maul from the rocks around him, Hasan moves to crush Guzman.

Disposing of both the Dao and his summoned elemental, his siblings see Faruq curiously again, gathering some of the Dao's essence into one of his small pouches, and Chaka hears him whisper to himself, "This will surely be of interest to my him... ""

Seeing the cavern descend further, the orphans elect to inform Nalv that they have found and resolved the 'cause of the earthquakes'. Sulayman returns to the entrance, and seeing Nalv still there says, "We have destroyed a Dao which was the cause of the earthquakes, but we wish to investigate the shrine to make sure there is nothing else here."

Dao? Was it alone, Generous Pilgrim?

S: That's what we're investigating. We shall return. And Sulayman turns to rejoin his brothers and sister.
 Episode 20 of The Burning World
 2016-04-13 
 The Djinn of Earth 
The orphans spend the night hunkered against the cold desert night in the wadee, but far from the ravaged tomb of Shaddad.

Sulayman finally figured out the code for a new spell.

The map says we have to navigate through the valley of echoes on our way to Krak al-Shidda.

The area was clearly not well-travelled here, but it was obvious that someone had tried to make a pass out of this trail; but no tracks were visisble to Zephyr's attention. Thus far, the siblings had seen nothing but dust, sand and rock, but now they made way for some clumps of grass and brush, and the valley began to appear ahead of them.

Making their way carefully down the pass as the sun slowly rose into the sky, the siblings were keenly

A shepherd up ahead, with 3 goats appeared around a corner.

G: Lo and well met, traveller.

Clearly startled, the shepherd clenched his crook with white knuckles.

G: Friend, how long have you been out here?
Shepherd: I have no money...
Z: We're not here to rob you.
G: We're not looking for money; do you live in these parts?
SH: Yes, yes... have you come to raid our village?
G: I'm not quite sure.. have we?
S: No, we don't do that sort of thing, Guzman
Z: Not anymore...
G: My brothers and sister and I; we are heroes of the highest caliber

Looking very confused, the shepherd clutches his crook more tightly and takes a defensive stance in front of his goats.

Z: Sir, what is your name?
Sh: Anan. My name is Anan. My village is Tedofosehk; are you servants of Ynadin?
C: We mean you no harm. We just need safe passage through this valley.

Looking desolate, I am not sure anyoen can be safe, not anymore, but if you continue down this path, you'll reachmy village

S: Why don't you feel safe in your own home?

Our holy man, Mahara, he has not been seen in some time.

C: Where has he gone?
Sh: We do not know; he has been gone for some time. We take care of him, and he takes care of us. The last group of people that went to bring him provisions... well they did not return. It's th ejackals... we hear them in the night.

C: Have you seen them?
Sh: There came down once a man who had eyes... terrible eyes... they were all black, they did not have irises, just black orbs of hate. Said he was a servant of Ynadin, and there were others like him. That we should give up searching for our holy man, that there were others like him, and that our village was theirs now. We have not seen him since, but we foolishly sent another group to see on our holy man, but they have also not returned.
C: How many of these people have you sent?
Sh: Humble villagers such as myself, including one young boy who had hoped to be taken on as an apprentice by Mahar
G: How long ago did you see this man with the black eyes.

Stopping to consider, "A few days, perhaps?"

S: Anan, if you would be so kind as to take us to your village, perhaps we can be of assistance in finding Mahara or ridding you of this curse.
Sh: Really>? So you are not here to raid the village?
S: Of course not, we are, as my brother said, adventurers.

Sh: gives a smile and says, Why not? Perhaps Fate has decided to simle on my little village after all. Please, come with me.

He brings us down through a desolate path, strewn with large black rocks; some over 10 feet tall. Zephyr can tell that there's not much passage, just deer or goats. Once in a while, there are different tracks, but hard to say... maybe jackals, maybe a desert hound... or worse...

The small village might have been 12 structures in total, but they did have a well; offering some sustainability. When the orphans are seen, some wail immediately; assuming the worst just like Anan did. The overall sense is that these people are very poor, and it occurs to the orphans that beggars in Huzuz live sometimes better than these people did.

Anan assures them that we're here to investigate the disappearance of Mahara; some even brave enough to approach the siblings timidly. Apparently immediately however, is teh stark shortage of young to middle-aged men; perhaps all off in search of Mahara. Offering what meagre accommodations they have; the orphans can tell how generous they're trying to be.

G: Anan tell me; we've heard this area is called the valley of Echoes; where did that name come from?
Sh: smiles and says There are certain parts if you stand upon them and made a loud declaration, and you cna be heard for miles. But now, the only echo we hear is the caterwauling of Jackals. Thsi reminds us we are under the thumb of Ynadin.
G: And this 'Ynadin'; who he might he/she/it be? They don't seem much of a happy person...
A: almost smiles, shaeks his head, "Truth is, we have never seen him, only his servants
G: So he's not a god, you're saying?
A: I do not know; once we saw the man with the black eyes. He knew we had sent some of our families in search of our holy man, and he said no further attempts would be tolerated. And just then, the sky grew dark and there was a loud clap of thunder; we knew not what Ynadin was, but that he was a being to be feared if he can control the weather as such
Z: Sounds like nothing more than a bully if he picks on a defenseless village such as this

Some of the villagers seem uncomfortable at Zephyr's words; perhaps concerned they might be overheard.

S: This evil man with no irises; was he human otherwise? Or is there anything else you can tell us about him
A: He smelled... as though... like when we prepare meat... that kind of smell? He did smell that way
S: Like charred meat? Like burnt?
G: Marinated!
A: When we engage in butchery... I could swear when he smiled he had blood on his lips
C: Was this during the day or night?
A: No; during the brightest day.
S: I believe the baying of hyenas; might be gnolls
G: You mean Jackals, brother
S: No, like gnolls... like jackals but they walk upright. I just don't understand the black eyes
G: Anythign distinctive about what he was wearing?
A: I don't think so... not in any type of formal
C: Can he be summoned? Can we speak with him...
A: He just appears, demands something of us, and leaves
S: What does he normally demand?
A: LAst time it was... some of our children.
C: Well then, we must get them back
G: Anan, I mean no disrespect, but it seems strange that such a man would come to such a small village and demand you give your children; is there something special about this place, that would attract the attention of such a being?
A: We are a smiple people; we do nothing but live off the land, telling stories; I cannot imagine there is anything here that someone would want... my only thought is that there is some knowledge, some wisdom that Mahara possessed... that they are using us to get to him
G: Then for certain we need to find him.

Sul takes his siblings aside, "It is clear we need to help these people. Perhaps they can give us information about finding more treasure in Krak al-Shidda; and besides, it's teh right thing to do."

F: If we are to rescue the men and children; we must know how many have left and are missing.

Asking around of the village, the siblings learn that 3 children and 6 adults are missing besides Mahara.

F: We will find them for you; but tell us please... how often does this man come. Is it the moon? Or the weather? Perhaps the howling of jackals announces his coming?
A: Yes... perhaps the jackals may be more active when he comes...
G: Is there anyone else that you would like us to speak with? But Anan assures the siblings they would offer anything else if they thought it would help.

Refilling their waterskins, the orphans begin their trek into the rocky paths of the valley of echoes.

After a short time, Faruq perks his ears up and calls out, "Stop! We're being watched." and as if on queue, the caterwauling the siblings heard of begins to ring around them. Ahead of them, two jackals reveal themselves from around one of the large rocks. A sickly, horrifying sound can be heard and the siblings watch in horror as the bones and skin of the jackals distorts and bends, creaking and growing; both jackals now stand upright and draw huge scimitars.

"Oh look, delivery. Food has arrived."

Z: You'll find no meal here with us! and Zephyr looses two quick arrows, striking home. In response, the jackal leaps down, incredibly agile and charges Zephyr to retaliate; the jackal's strange gaze locking with Zephyr for a moment. Springing into action, Guzman draws the Cyclone of Four Quarters, the multi-coloured blade glinting in the midday sun. Faruq, for a moment, sees his brother attacking in slow motion; wielding this legendary weapon as in a story he was told as children.

The remaining jackals, at this fierce display of spell and steel, disappear back into the cover of the stones and brush.

Chaka, whispering a word of prayer, takes on a fierce image; her eyes red, and with a voice deeper and commanding simply says, "Run!"

Faruq, felling another jackal, approaches Guzman; his eyes more on teh sword than his brother. "No eyes have seen this blade wielded in many years, brother. I am thinking Fate surely has put it in your path, for you wield it with skill and purpose.

G: Fate, or because I am the one to have picked it off the ground, either way, I am satisfied with its performance thus far.
Z: We mustn't linger; they know we are here now.

Inspecting the felled jackals, no discerning marks or identification was to be found.
S: This does not bode well for the children of the village. These are Jackalweres, they are tainted by a foul corruption. These creatures serve something far darker, I think.
C: Then we must move quickly.

Finally arriving at the cave the villagers described as where Mahara lived, they see it completely sealed shut but a perfect stone door that matches the rickety dimensions of the cave mouth. Strangely though, there's a hold in the wall, the size of an ogre's fist.

G: This looks like the magic of Mahara perhaps
S: That he may have sealed himself in? Or perhaps trapped inside?

Guzman creeps closer, poking a stick through, and a cry rings out. Please, please stop it!
G: Mahara, is that you?
M: Y.... yes... who is out there?
G: We come from a neighbouring village; are you in any danger?
Z: they're in a cave...

M: No... it is you who are in grave danger... run... while you can... run....
G: Can we get in then, let us in if we are in danger?
M: I cannot let you in, I am trapped here
S: HOw long have you been trapped... ugh...
M: Days... perhaps more... I am losing time....
C: How do we free you?
M: You cannot free me, his magic is too pwoerful... you must run, he will return soon, attemping... Ynadin
C: What is he?
M: hughh..... he is a Dao

Faruq's eyes go wide, "A genie of elemental earth." Faruq quickly passes his waterskin to Mahara

M: Thank you, you are most kind, I have been meditating to keep my strength up, but I have not eaten; I cannot remmeber the last time I ate and drank.

C: Where are the others
M: there were others?
S: They were likely killed by the jackalweres
M: nooooooo
S: They were either killed or taken. This creature has been taking children from your village; there will be no more; we have come to stop it.
M: ughhhhhh
Z: There is still some hope left!
M: He is a most powerful genie, but he is tupid; he had come here ostensibly to destroy me, he thought me the powerful protector in what he thinks are his lands. I could not stand against his might, but I told him a riddle and he is not bright... every day he comes back with another answer... every day he is wrong. I know, he will not kill me until he proves himself smarter tha me. But one day his anger will override his pride. He will destroy me, and release his wrath upon those he believes I protect.
G: That sounds like an opportunity for hiding then if we know he's coming.
C: Yes...
G: We can at least hear the riddle before we decide to spring and attack him.... if we decide to do this... I mean... Guzman looks at his scimitar admiringly.
C: The jackals; are they his servants?
M: they are not; not normally... but since he has arrived, they have fallen under his sway. Normally the roam to the south, but when they heard the revival of the Dao, they flocked to his side. He promises them great glory and works incredible magic in front of them. They are easily swayed.
G: So, what do you think we should do?
S: What can you tell us of Dao, Faruq?

Faruq tells his siblings all he knows of the earth genies, but the orphans all realize they have never come in confrontation with a genie before, so they discuss how to interact with the genie when it comes time. Asking Mahara what if anything did you do to stave off his fury, Mahara tells the orphans the riddle he uses without knowing the answer:
Centuries dead, and still is living
Can't forget, but is forgiving
All beauty gone, all men reviling
Time betrayed, but still is smiling


In the distance, a rumbling can be heard and the

Y: Old man! I have solved your riddle at last!

Crawling on his hands and knees, Mahara appears in the mouth of the cave; thin and gaunt

Y: So you finally understand your position in front of me. I knew you would eventually for no one can match my power, no one can match my wits. Are you ready, old man?

Mahara nods feebly.

Puffing himself up, Ynadin "It is the pyramid of Agamzemny!"

Silence. A tumbleweed rolls by.

M: No.
Y: What do you mean, no!?
M: No, that is not it.
Y: You will tell me this riddle, or is this a lie you are perpetrating?!
M: No, can you not feel it?

Before he knew what was happening, Guzman had Cyclone in his hand, and was raising it uncontrollably. Even from his hiding spot, he could see the blade now visible from the sheath wreathed in a green flame.

Y: I sense... I sense you are RIGHT! Tell me the answer old man... tell me before I grind your bones into dust!

Mahar looks up and says, "Can you not feel it? In the lump of coal that is your heart, mighty genie? Can you not feel it... icy grip... of terror...."

Chaka casts and the ground trembles audibly...

Y: What sorcery is this? The earth responds to MY commands!

Slowly, Guzman raises out of the sand, not bothering to dust himself off.

G: Who dares speak so loudly in front of me!? Making sure that Ynadin sees the sheathed sword vibrating with anticipation. As the sword is drawn, it's as though a song rings out; the green flame now engulfing the entire length of the wicked scimitar, Guzman for a moment wasn't sure if he was wielding the sword, of if the sword is wielding him... the only thing certain was the song Guzman heard was heard by Ynadin as well!

"NOooooo!! The terror has returned!"
G: What gives you the right, Ynadin to stand in front of here casting down those poor people!?
Y: I .... I .... I.....
G: Get out of here, Ynadin!
Y: The khan would see me reduced to coal dust! He clenches his fist, fear evident "The pact must be fulfilled! Though I die here, you must be overthrown!"

G: Give up, Ynadin!
Y: for all the crimes against my people... I cannot!

The orphans let loose their magic and steel, but it is the Cyclone of the Four Quarters that eviscerates the Dao

G: Go back from whence you came, this is the word of Shaddad

Mahara looks up at the siblings in disbelief. "You are... you are... the terror..."

Sul putting his hand on Guzman's shoulder, "Sometimes you do good work, brother. Just rememeber you're not actually Shaddad."
G: I know...

Faruq slowly approaches the remnants of the dao

S: Be careful with the sowrd, brother..> i think it makes you a marked man when it comes to Genies.
G: I agree... it will be sheathed
S: But that did feel good, didn't it?
G: I just... destroyed a genie. Brothers and sister... thank you. This plan could not have worked had it not been for you.
Z: You also saved a life today
C: Many lives
S: We still need to save the children.
C: Should we go after the jackals?
S: We need to get Mahara back to his village

F: It is likely that this Dao was adorned with jewels; perhaps he has a place where they are kept.

Zephyr sees a jackal loping away... they were watching.

The siblings take Mahara back to the village, and the gracious villagers wonder at the story they are told. Offering a small pouch in thanks, Chaka shakes her head saying, "No, you need this more than we do."

Faruq chimes in, "We have come at the behest of Fate, perhaps one day you will help us."





 Episode 19 of The Burning World
 2016-04-06 
 The Tomb of Shaddad: Part 2 
Waiting around the makeshift campfire they had made after their second bout with the shadows guarding Shaddad's tomb, the moon was high in the sky and the winds were cold, very cold.

S: Do we think there are more shadows there? We have dispelled a dozen of those dark shadows; as many as the sarcophagi in that room.
F: Then we are off; to finish what we started, and he gathers his things.

Deciding to loot the remaining sarcophagi on their way out, anxious to delve further into Shaddad's tomb, emboldened perhaps by surviving the onslaught of the shadows.

Creeping deeper into the tomb, the siblings are more keenly aware now that the cold they feel is not just because they're walking deeper into a crypt in the sand, but because they are perhaps set on spoiling the tomb of a long-dead folk hero...

S: Should we not look into the pit? We would not wish to leave something behind us that might cause us harm, shall we?

Chaka triggers the trap in the doorway that Guzman unwittingly discovered on their last foray, and the pit opened with a well-engineered 'shunt'. Deftly dodging aside, Chaka holds the continual light stone above the pit, making out four humanoid shapes at the bottom. Peering intently, Chaka can't seem to make out what they're wearing, but each seemed to be standing against each wall of the square pit, but they remain motionless.

G: You down there; what are you doing? Come out. I think they're dead. Does anyone want to go down and grab an arm or something?

Faruq joins Chaka at the edge and peers into the pit to see if he can make anything out, but to no avail. Leaping across the pit, the orphans raise the portcullis and venture further into the darkness.

Beyond the gate, the party discovers a square burial chamber. In its center, the mummified corpse of the sheik sits proudly on a stone throne draped in embroidered cloth of gold (500 gp). The corpse itself wears a heavy gold crown (1,000 gp), a ruby ring of protection +1 (1,000 gp), and tattered red brocade robes (50 gp). A beautiful scimitar sits on the mummy's lap, gripped by withered hands. As you step forward, all of a sudden, it's eyes glow with green malevolence and you know it sees you.

Creaking, it stands up, unsheathing the massive blade, curved and forged from different metals; brown, aqua-green, sky blue, and deep, deep red and it stands up and leaves its throne, ready to deal with another grave-robber.

The mummified sheik strides forward and begins the melee.

F: Shaddad, son of Ad, we come not to rob but to learn. Drop your scimitar and teach us!

While Shaddad continued his assault on the orphans, Faruq did not heed the scratching sounds of four desiccated forms of woman climbing out of the pit, dressed in tattered and rotted wedding gowns. Eyes grow wide of the siblings; the dead wives of Shaddad the Terror. Setting the mummy aflame, the eyes dim and it collapses to the ground. The dead wives are joined by Shaddad's zombie minions, and the siblings are able to fend them off; setting them aflame and casting them into the very pit from whence they came.

4 pieces of cloth around the hilt, meant to help to grab it better

Calm returns to the cold tomb, and the only sound is the siblings' heavy breathing and their scuffled footsteps on the stone floor.

As if in a trance, Faruq wanders over to the body of the mummified corpse of Shaddad the Terror... starting silently and contemplating the significance of what just transpired. Then, his attention turning to the legend that remains unruined wordlessly touching the hilt of the Cyclone of the Four Quarters with a sense of reverence.

F: It is amazing to me that a weapon of such legendary power could be wrested from the hands of an ancient one such as this... with such ease... perhaps Fate speaks to us again now, brother.
G: Perhaps is does, but quite honestly I'd rather not wait for a translation, I think we should get out of here right away.
S: May I see it, brother?

With words or arcane skill, Sulayman closes his eyes and hovers his hands over the blade, trying to discern the properties of this weapon of legend.

Cyclone of the Four Quarters - Guzman
================================
+3 Scimitar
+3d6 damage to genies
advantage to spell-like abilites that offer a saving throw
resistance to damage from genie attacks

Cloth of gold from throne: 500g
Heavy gold crown: 1000g
Gold Sheath: 500gp

Ruby Ring of Protection +1 - Guzman
 Episode 18 of The Burning World
 2016-03-30 
 The Tomb of Shaddad: Part 1 
Having just read the inscription on the huge red doors:
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.


the orphans continue into what they now suspect to be his tomb.

S: Fortune favours us, siblings...
G: Any fool can see that, Sulayman!
F: I cannot help but think of the times we have already been surrounded by the dead... the things that live here... and the eye; ever looming...
C: If you don't mind brothers, I will inspect the door.

Zephyr is lagging clearly behind; clearly hesitant to be first into the tomb. Chaka, uncovering the continual light stone from Yodfah's waterfall complex, rolls it into the front door of the tomb to cast light from inside. Peering inside; the orphans' obviously reluctance to enter the tomb seemed to increase the longer they waited. Looking for traps or wards around the door; Faruq tries to step inside the tomb. Guzman steps forward and helps Faruq nudge the door open. Faruq quickly scribbles down the warning on the doors... who knows what use it might be.

Stepping inside, the crypt inside is covered with mud and water the flash flood forced through the doors. Columns reach to the top of the ceiling, and a dozen stone sarcophagi dot the large room. Moving inside along Faruq, Chaka picks up the continual stone and placing her hand on Zephr's shoulder; grants him the ability to see in the darkness.

His curiosity getting the better of him, Faruq notices the design on the closest sarcophagus is of the oldish design, this one definitely seems from an older time, in fact you can't make out the name on the sarcophagus; clearly not written in Medani. The syblings follow suit, examining the floor, the walls, and the ceiling but can discern no distinguishing marks or hints as to what they do next.

Examining another sarcophagus, the strange markings differ... is that a name? If so, they're different...

F: I have an uneasy feeling about this place... and with a note of concern, Faruq's fears are lessened when he can't find any marks that suggest the lids of these sarcophagi have not been removed and replaced...
Z: Why so many coffins for one man?
S: I think it's not for him... I think it's for his guards... these would have been his most loyal servants.
F: Let us pass them by; will Shaddad's tomb not hold the treasure we seek?
S: We should not leave these untouched; are we not here to gather treasure?

As the orphans make their way to another door, the temperature most notably drops, and all the siblings are struck by the distinct feeling they're no longer alone.

Stepping to the door, Guzman trips a trap, and a pit opens up, and Guzman is just able to leap to the side to avoid being swallowed whole.

Rising through the floor, a dark shape rises from right out of the floor beside Sulayman and a hoarse breath escapes its maw as one attacks Sulayman and another at Faruq. Eyes wide in horror, Faruq recoils and the darkness misses him.

S: Shadows!

The orphans, panicked and frenzied, defend themselves valiantly against the cold, dark assailants. The touch of the shadows weakens even the strongest of them, and Faruq is felled in the fight, his strength drained completely The orphans manage to finish the last of the shadows.



The cold may have left Faruq, but you all feel a little distance from your brother for some reason... like he's cold... and distant...

After breaking open one of the sarcophagi, the orphans found:
- lamellar armor (scale mail)
- scimitar
- ring finger: gold ring with scimitar on it
 Episode 17 of The Burning World
 2016-03-22 
 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 _______ 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 goatherder 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, and elect to have him locked up for his own safe-keeping. He agrees, desperate for any kind of reprieve from this 'curse' he feels he's under

Faruq makes a copy of the medallion in his book for future reference Without any strong leads, the orphans decide to look to the priesthood of Zann for directin; they are about accumulating and interpreting knowledge of all kinds; Greater, common and Heathen and perhaps they can shed some light on this. They proceed to the mosque of Zann in Huzuz and are granted audience with an older Imam, long white hair, white beard, and modest and welcoming demeanor; Haroushin

They begin by telling what they have recently encountered, and Haroushin listens intently, responding only with "Hmmmmmm" over and over lol

S: We are certain someone else is trying to aquire this talisman, and the reason we know this is because we witnessed the man being slain by what I believe is an Invisible Stalker. So someone else wants this talisman, we are sure.

Haroushin seems alarmed at this comment.

S: this is why we are interested in figuring out what it is; we don't want this to fall into the wrong hands.
H: But you say currently it is in the hands of this... thief...
S: Correct, but we can bring you to where this man is... we've had him... kept underlock and key for his own safety, but I feel he won't be there long.
H: YOU'VE kept him under lock and key? Are you... are you law enforcement?
S: No, but we have handed him over to law enforcement, but they can't really charge him, so he's only there temporariliy...
H: Hmmm..... this is not much to go on, i will confess I am somewhat interested in seeing how this works out
G: Have you ever heard of any of this? Any part of our story?
H: I have heard of invisible stalkers, I have never seen one, but I gather that's rather their purpose...
C: There is a detail that may still be important... when the thief believed the curse started, he saw something in the sky...
H: What did he see?
C: He saw a meteor pass through the sky. You may have seen them as well..
S: He was also in the city of Muluk at the time, but has no recollection of how her got here to Huzuz, other than a brief memory of being on a ship. He says he frequently blacks out and wakes up elsewhere
H: Well this is an important detail... hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm. Obviously I have no answers for you now. Is there anythign else you can tell me about this? It looks ilke from what you've described, that this talisman is a wheel... 9 spokes... hmmmm....
S: Have we forgotten anything, brothers?
Z: Hmmmmmmmm
G: Well, there was one thing. When he was perusing the streets of Huzuz, when we crossed his path, he seemed to stop and look at us for no reason, almost surprised or in reverence. Almost shocked to see us.. It seemed odd in a crowded street that he would pass by everyone but stop at our feet.
C: He was also muttering something in a language we had never heard before.
H: Interesting. Could you repeat what he said?
G: Absoloutely... "aldsfkha lf;hr;lqwhr as;ldfhk afd;lkjasd"

Haroushin stares straight-faced at Guzman spewing unintelligible gibberish; not a hint of a smile or even surprise on his face.

H: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
S: Guzman... shut up!

Sulayman tries to mimic the sounds he heard before as well, and it could not have been more different to Faruq's uneducated ears.

H: Hmmmmmmm.... those do not sound at all the same. Looking at Chaka, "Is there anything else?"

Faruq whispers to Chaka, "Did he not say he read some runes in the moonlight?

C: Yes, he did say that.
F: Perhaps insignificant, he said he read the runes in the moonlight before he saw the meteors.
H: So this man loses consciousness and then wakes up somewhere else...

Haroushin stands up abruptly, gathering his notes and things, and says, "I will send for you once I have determiend what this is, if there is something to find."

G: How will you find us?
H: I was JUST about to ask you...
G: Su, how will he find us?

Sulayman is barely able to contain himself, but says, "He can send word to the house, Guzman!"
C: He can send word through Khalid.
S: Sighs... must we still use that fool?
C: He likes you...

Sulayman tells Haroushin where Aunty's house is so he can send word should there be a need.

Leaving the mosque, the orphans discuss what to do about Aunty and her exposure to their plans.

G: I would hate for Aunty to learn more about our dealings than we'd like her to from an errant messenger
F: I think Guzman has a point; perhaps we can use an intermediary; one that is well known but that we trust to shield Aunty from our true activities...
C: What about Khalid? Chaka says with a smile
S: Am I the only one who hates Khalid? have you all forgotten the trouble he got us into?
G: Absoloutely not.
F: Not Khalid, but someone else I think who could act in this capacity would be very wise
G: For free.
S: This is a lot of money we're trying to raise for Aunty. To keep it under wraps I think would be impossible. We may have gotten away with it until now, but she will learn the truth sooner or later. In fact, I think we should tell her a measure of the truth, and tell her that we are attempting to adventure to raise money for her. We don't have to tell her the full details of course, but how long can we expect her to belive that we are 'camping' and working the docks?
F: She has always been understanding in the past; I agree Su.
S: I am not completely comfortable lying to the woman who has sheltered me and treated me better than I deserve. I'd rather tell her the truth, but that's just me
F: Now that we are put to the question, I blieve you are right. We have been denying her this for her protection, but truly if she were to follow us to satisfy her suspicions she could find herself in great danger, no?
S: I would hope she wouldn't follow us...
F: She's followed us before, like when you went off to the wizard school. She may do it again
S: Hopefully she stays busy with her statues. Chaka, what do you think?
C: I'm not comfortable lying to her much longer either
S: At some point we're going to have to tell her the truth. perhaps not today, but soon.
G: I agree Su, I don't think we can keep this from her, but perhaps not today, and let's keep it under wraps until we can't anymore.

Electing to visit Yakub to see if he has either heard of any more 'jobs' they might be suited to complete

Arriving at Yakub's barber's tent, he is giving a haircut to a young boy, mimicking the sounds of a monster in a story he's entertaining the boy with, "and as the heroes slashes the monster..." and a snip of hair fell to the ground. Clearly, Yakub still enjoyed his work.

Y: Ah, my friends. Please come in. A cool glass of water on this fine, hot day.
Z: I hope you have some more stories to tell for us
Y: I always have stories. not as many as my cousin Uar in the grand bazaar, but hopefully enough to entertain. But I have a suspicion that you're interested in a very specific kind of story. He pours himself a glass of what
Z: Indeed. Well y'know, Sulayman and our get rich quick schemes...

Guzman chuckles under his breath.

Y: I am still paying much attention to anything that might prove useful to you in these 'get rich quick schemes' of yours.
Z: Well, we seem to maybe have found another. Are you familiar with the Al-Akir mountains?
Y: Yes, of course, the nearest mountain range to our wonderful city.

Referencing the ruins of Krak al-Shidda, Zephyr asks Yakub if we may have any information that Su has not found.

Y: Oh yes, one of the last great fortresses that were resisting enlightenment, or so the story goes. Hmm... you think there are treasures there, eh?

Looking at Faruq and Sulyaman in particular, he says, "I am willing to bet that your brothers are MOST interested in the sorcery that was done there.. HMM? Yes."

Z: Sorcery?
Y: Oh yes. The barbaric unenlightened sorcerers used magics that are no longer in use today. that is why many of them travel there; to find magics that are no longer available today.

Whether or not they have found any? Who can say. But it is much easier to hit the Al-Akir mountains than to travel far east to the Ruined Kingdoms where such magics are rumoured to be much more likely to be found. Krak al-Shidda is the place to go for the 'lazy adventurer'. Those who do not wish to tempt fate and disease in the great jungle. The old kingdoms of Nog and Kadar. No, those kingdoms travelled as far west as Krak al-Shidda, but they were put down by the forces of enlightenment, or so the story goes. But what magics they conjured there, in resisting the law of the loregiver, hehe, my friends. Perhaps it is YOU who will discover this, hmmmm?
S: Do you know of anyone who may have gone there recently that we can talk to?
Y: Scratches his goatee and adjusts the red fez on his head. Hmmmm, there was one group I remember hearing of, this was perhaps within the last six months or so, they had intended to go out there. Krak al-Shidda... just like all Rawun learn the first tune, they all know THIS song, such is Krak al-shidda for adventurers for they all go there eventually.
S: Then it seems a right of passage we should travel
Y: Oh, how I envy you, to be young. Forgive me, I do not envy your position, I do not even what Aunty is going through, but to be young again, to have the wind at your back, the sands stinging your eyes, ruins, fortresses old, Vishap nipping at your ankles, ahhh
G: This fortress. If it is such a right of passage for adventurers, what do they typically bring back, or do they come back at all?
Z: ... and have YOU been there?
Y: Ah... i have never been myself. I was not even a lazy adventurer. I had thought about it much in my younger days, but (looking at his somewhat rotund belly) such a life was never meant for me. But it may be for you, already people have spoken of crime-fighting group of Aunty's boys (looking at Chaka), no offense.
C: None taken
Y: This is an interesting reputation you have started building for yourselves; interesting indeed.
S: Yes, but a reputation isn't dinar and we need dinar.
y: Then perhaps you should go. I cannot imagine many return, so you will have much to return with if you DO go. That was very morbid, I apologize.
G: thank you for your honesty, at least.

Looking over the faces of the orphans affectionately, "My friends it is obvious to me that Fate is somewhat looking out for you. If I were you, if I were a younger man (looking at himself in teh mirror), If I were a DIFFERENT man, I would go. Who knwos what you'll encounter?

G: Should we tell him of our friend in jail?
S: I don't see why not.

The orphans tell Yakub about their encounter with Adil; sharing everything with a man they trust.

Y: ah; so THAT is what the ruckus was about. Interesting; people came screaming past my shop about young men swinging their weapons at an imaginary foe.
G: You may not be an adventurer Yakub, but you are very wise. have you ever heard of anything like this?

Smiling at the compliment, Yakub replies, "I cannot say that I have. Did you determine if this item was in fact magical in any way?"
G: Not yet, we're waiting to hear back from the Imam.
Y: That would be best for now, but... I mean no disrespect to the enlightened clergy, they sometimes get caught up in their... well there are other ways of learning things. i will keep an ear out as well. And if the enlightened priests at the mosque of Zann do not help you, there are others... mystical groups... who gain their knowledge from the god in other ways. I will keep an ear out for you. But enough, I do not wish to delay you from your next most amazing adventure. I only ask, when you are done, come back and tell me about it so I may entertain more of my clients with these stories.

- go to prison and tell Adil to contact Yakub after he's released
- the orphans buy supplies & stores for the journey to the mountains
buying 2 Potions of Healing each (10 total)
2x healer's kits (Faruq, Zephyr)

The orphans leave the city in search of Krak al-Shidda. To travel along the rocky paths is somewhat exhausting and treacherous; uneven ground and common, well-travelled pitfalls.

Finally though, the orphans came upon the wadi... and at this time barren, sun-baked clay, much easier to walk along, so they make better time. This morning, the wind is blowing unusually strong in the direction of the sea, the clouds have grown unnaturally thick, the rain starts and increases to a flash flood!

F: Is it the time of rains, Zephyr?

The orphans, realizing this is not a natural occurrence have to escape to the safety of the bank, so quickly was the water rising. Securing his sister with a rope, Faruq Misty Steps up to the safety of the bank, and helps to pull Chaka up the bank to safety.

When it had cleared, the orphans continue along the banks of the wadi and eventually see a marble staircase leading up to the side of the wadi.

F: Perhaps Yakub is right... that Fate watches over us.

Sulayman 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 wadi. Entering into the wall of the riverbed, there are two large crimson doors greet the orphans: on which are inscribed (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.


Upon finishing reading the inscription, Faruq's eyes light up with recognition, and he repeats what he recalls from his studies:

In long ago days, mankind and genies did not have the set of rules that have been handed down which actually created genie pacts by Sha'ir. They are the result of a lot of stern negotiations between man and genie-kind long, long ago. This is shortly after humankind and genies basically conspired to take Zakhara from Giants. The 4 most powerful elemental mages from the al-badia tribes of the high desert, in an effort to ensure they had a weapon that could combat marauding genies, bound together air, fire, water and earth into a single weapon, known as Cyclone of the Four Quarters. They entrusted the blade to an unworthy sheikh known as Shaddad then departed to a distant land. With this scimitar, Shaddad sought out the genie nobles in the lonely parts of the desert, brandishing his scimitar with a foolish sense of confidence, he ordered the genie lords to cease their assaults against the al-badia and challenged them to single combat if they refused. The genie lords, rightly amused by his impertinence, enveloped Shaddad in a whirlwind, burnt him with fire, drowned him with water and buried him with earth, but to their amazement, Cyclone of the 4 Quarters protected him and he stepped through their obstacles unharmed. This only inflamed the genies further, and they attacked over and over. Shaddad parried their attacks and advanced, and the genies' confidence turned to fear. Promising him any wishes he wanted if he spared their lives, Shaddad demanded that the genies restrict themselves to the untraveled areas far from any al-badia lands. The genie lords too hastily agreed, and Shaddad returned to his home to live out the rest of his life.

G: I cannot believe you have not told us this before, brother.
F: What reason would I have to tell you such a story before this?
G: Shaddad seems like a marvel... an inspiration...
S: it seems we've come to the right place for treasure...
G: I wonder if we'll find any, anything... something to carry back... a token of what it means to be an adventurer.
 Episode 16 of The Burning World
 2016-03-17 
 A Stranger and a Riddle 
It was two days since the orphans had to 'deal' with Muli.

The heroes travel to meet Sulayman

Along the way, a beggar stumbles into the street mumbling incoherently. His eyes were rolled back into the back of his head.

Faruq: Embrace fate and she will smile upon you.
Faruq: The key to understanding lies through the mists of ignorance
Faruq: Learn from yesterday to shape tomorrow.

Chaka tries to use her magics to both determine the truth of Adil's words, and to decipher the mysterious language Adil is speaking, but to no avail.

- $$ - cost for food bought at the Cafe for Adil al-Muluki
- Adil admits he is a street thief
- Rumour of the Beggar King comes to our minds... a figure rumoured to
- tells us of a shortly, balding, dark hair, portly priest leaving mosque who ignored him earlier
- stole the bag from the priest (Holy Imam of the God Zann), and found the medallion with the

- Adil tried to speak the words in the moonlight; 9 meteors streaked across the sky...
- then he blacked out
- he now awakens in random places with no memory of how he got there
- Faruq seems to recall that a few months ago, he heard some news of a strange meteorological occurrence being discussed
- Adil does not know the language, but was making an attempt to pronounce it anyway
- He says he has asked the Imams of the mosques to take the seal from him, but it mysteriously always returns to him
- hopeless, Adil asks for some money to go on his way, but as the heroes argue, he is snapped up by an unseen force and strangled in the air.

S: Tabati (Invisible Stalker)


- the heroes try to free Adil (Zephyr flies to grab him, Faruq shoots him, but to no avail)
 Episode 13 of The Burning World
 2016-03-01 -  
Life, Death, and Consequences in the Land of Fate... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-03-01 
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.
 Episode 12 of The Burning World
 2016-02-26 
 The Brotherhood of the True Flame 
POWER OUTAGE NIGHT!

I think we all disconnected at least once this night; our DM lost power at least once for a period of time, and as such, my notes were nonexistent; I guess I just never started taking them and forgot the rest of the night, only copying down some of the briefest details below. Sorry!

Chaka heals the desert rider prisoner who introduces himself as Rashad.

Rashad says he is of the House Hanif from the well-known tribe in the Haunted Lands, and frequent border disputes caused Rashad and his contingent to investigate, where they were set upon and his entire group was killed, and he was taken captive.

His details were limited, but he was able to say he heard the name of the dwarf in this place, whose name was "Mustanir".

Devising a plan to pose as members of the operation, the orphans continued deeper into the complex. Encountering more 'retainers'; their attempts to bluff their way through failed and combat

ensued, during which Mustanir returned from his errand beyond the waterfall to join the fray. Weilding his wickedly curved scimitar, he faced off against Guzman and the two stood toe-to-toe, trading vicious swings and artful dodges. More retainers joined from other rooms, but the heroes would not be denied... until Hamzala herself appeared, having heard the commotion from an

adjoining room.

The slave the orphans interrogated was not mistaken. Hanzala immediately threw out fire spells as if they were part of her. Even Sulayman was impressed as her skill. Faruq, his heritage

shielding from the fire, returned her offensive with some blasts of his own, taking her by surprise. Zephyr too, let loose a volley of arrows and struck Mustanir square in the shoulder, all but
crippling the fierce dwarf.

Z: I'm still waiting for Hanzala to hit Faruq so I can say Faruq, Faruq, Faruq is on fire

Singed, bloodied and beaten, the orphans kept firmly in mind their mission and would not be denied. Felling both Mustanir and his mistress, Hanzala, they breathed a sigh of relief when the melee ended, standing victorious over the Brotherhood of the True Flame.

Certain now that they had emptied Yodfah's complex of those who meant them harm, the young ones proceeded to ransack Hanzala's quarters, and along with inspecting those less fortunate than they,

found the following:

Mustanir:
- Purple Fez leather armor
- Silk pantaloons
- gold earring
- purse: 29g
- hand crossbow & bolts (19)

Hanzala:
- Red Sash of Heat Endurance (suffer only half damage from fire spells level 3 or lower)
- 12gp, 1x pearl, glass prism, brass key, vial of perfume
- Spellbook
- Personal Journal
- packets containing fine yellow powder (under carpet)

Hanzala's 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.

VAULT
- 2,735sp
- 3,287cp
- 1x potion of fire resistance
- 1x potion of extra healing
- 1x potion of speed
- 1x potion of invisibility
- ... and finally: THE LEDGER

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.

Having accomplished their mission, the orphans began the journey back to Huzuz to meet with their benefactor, Ayyam. On the way, Faruq ensured to copy in detail the Yodfah's ledger, though he had little concept of what all the numbers and notations meant. "Just some insurance... you can't trust everyone..." he said when asked.

Just as she promised, once the orphans informed Khalid they had returned, they received a note from mistress Ayyam to meet them in the garden again on that same evening.

Upon turning over the ledger, Ayyam informed the orphans that her benefactor is a powerful lady, one whose husband has been tricked by Yodfah and the ledger would guarantee that these wrongs

(among many others) were righted. Gladly completing their arrangement, Ayyam gave the orphans the remaining payment with her thanks and the thanks of her maiden.

Exhausted, elated, and with more questions than when they started, the orphans returned to Aunty's to finally get some proper sleep...

... if their consciences would let them.
 Episode 11 of The Burning World
 2016-02-17 
 Yodfah and the Waterfall 
The next morning, the orphans chat in hushed tones on how they should prepare for their trek they have been commissioned to by Ayyam the night before.

Their recent trek outside the city to reclaim the treasure of a miserly merchant taught them some important lessons, so each of Aunty's children had their own checklist.

Agreeing they needed to set off in short order, they spent the morning gathering a few things for their trip:

Shopping:
breastplate
5x potion of healing
shovel
2x 20 arrows

As the orphans prepare, Aunty helps as much as she can, helping Chaka fit the large chain shirt back to her size, and asks what they need all these things for; some of her naivite showing, but seems suspcious of their answers.

S: it was terrible of us to lie to Aunty
G: I tried but no one backed me up
S: It would have been better to tell her some semblance of the truth, you know. We could have been making money as caravan guards or at least something...
G: She has too much on her mind, Su. Let her believe what she wants in this instance. She will most likely forget it. As long as she knows we are safe, that's what her concern is.

The lands are well patrolled by the Grand Caliph's forces, so the orphans encountered naught but a desert hound along the way that Guzman was able to out-growl and it disappeared. The lands are very much still considered 'civizilied lands' farms and the occassional structure dot the lands. These are well-travelled caravan paths.

Following the roads they eventually come to the Secchnia river, and just as any map would show, they began to follow the banks of the river towards the

waterfalls.

G: Brothers, I think we have arrived, but...

Scanning the horizon, none could see any structures nearby as they all expected. Falling what must be 250 feet, the falls thundered down the cliff, but

barely visible was a small foot path that seemed to disappear behind the fall.

Z: Are you sure we followed the directions properly? Who would hide a cottage in the falls?

Chaka advances towards the falls... braving the water and mist. Zephyr too sneaks closer to the river whose current was significant; the water moved too

swiftly to be sure, but it looks deep enough.

Sulayman summons his familiar Yousef and sends it into the sky to scout the area.

Faruq approaches the waterfall from the top; trying to see if there's a concealed entrance somehow; thinking of how well-hidden the door to Jabir's

mausoleum was in the orphans' last exploration.

Watching Faruq from the other side of the falls, Guzman follows suit and begins looking himself for a secret way in or behind the waterfall. Even after

everyone joined in the search, not a single hint was found. Sulayman pauses for a second, and thinks of how one might hide a complex beneath the

waterfall... "There MUST be something magical about this, damnit..."

Zephyr gives up and takes a look at the tracks Chaka identified along the path, certain that the tracks may be only two days old...

Chaka, thinking now of the powers of her gods... is there truth to this waterfall? Is this really even a waterfall at all? But she remains convinced

that it's as real as the rudimentary tests her brothers were performing; throwing sticks in the water, reaching out their hands, etc.

Frustrated, Guzman steps closer to the rush of the waterfall; the thundering water soaks him through and through. Intuition saves him, however, and he

pulls back at the last minute; certain he would have been swept away like a feather on the wind.

C: Perhaps patience brothers, perhaps somebody will come by, and we can watch them go through.
G: Perhaps nightfall, even.
Z: You mean we should wait for someone to come here?
C: Yes, and we hide, and we watch them.
Z: that could be days...
C: What other choice do we have?

All the orphans look at each other, thinking on Chaka's suggestion... and it sounded better than anything tles they could think of.

Deciding to wait and see, the orphans find vantage points sufficient to see the falls but remain hidden. Sulayman perches his familiar, Yousef in full

view of the waterfall.

G: Did anyone bring any ranged weapons?
S: Did you buy any javelins when were in the city, Guzman!?
G: We didn't have any more money, remember?
Z: I have my bow...
C: Are we planning

Waiting. Such long waiting. Hours and hours pass, and the orphans begin to start doubting their plan. But as the sun begins it's slow descent, the now

familiar sound of thundering water began to change in the orphans' ears. Growing louder even, and from their hidden perch, the unbelievable sight of

Secchnia falls actually MOVING held the orphans entranced. The water was actually, somehow, shifting all the way up, moving away, like a curtain.

Z: By the gods...

And almost as in answer to Zephyr's exclamation, two wagons appear in the periphery, each with two guards pulling each wagon; a dwarf at the front, and

now the area marked by the mule's path now leads directly into the waterfall! The three-wagon caravan led by the dwarf; bald wearing a fancy pirate

shirt, silk purple pantaloons, scimitar at his side, big jewelled earring in his left year, his beard braided with jewels leads the three mule caravan.

After all the mules are out, the dwarf turns back towards the waterfall and Faruq barely makes out the words, "Secchina draw aside." And just as

unbelievably, the water shifts back into place, just as if a curtain drawn by a huge, invisible hand.

S: What could they be transporting in those large pots?
Z: Well, they have to get food in the cottage somehow...
G: I think we should go now, and waste no more time
C: Or should we wait for the cover of night?
S: I say we go now, we are on the clock, after all.

Considering the manner in which they might infiltrate this complex, Chaka considers impersonating the workers who accompanied the flamboyantly-dressed

dwarf, and Sulayman notes that all the workers had a similar stain on their legs; perhaps blood?

Whether anxious to leave his argumentative brothers or anxious to try out the command words, Faruq starts climbing down.

C: Would you like to do the honours?
Faruq smiles and says aloud, "Secchina draw aside." Unbelievably, the water draws aside just as it did for the dwarf. Proceeding with both apprehension

and excitement, the orphans walk into the cavern revealed behind the thundering curtain of the Secchina Falls.

As the orphans proceed a little further; the water would certainly move back like they had witnessed before. With the sound of the water still around

them, the orphans walk in, and see that the path opens into a 20 foot wide hall; with pillars and tiles adorning the ceiling. Depicting water motifs,

they sparkle in cobalt, and three small fountains adorn the hall. Unfortunately, four retainers seated at a nearby table notice the orphans enter, and

draw their weapons.

With many floor-to-ceiling pillars dotting the hall, the orphans all take cover behind them, waiting for their quarry to come into range.

Intruders! We must stop them!

Racing forward, one of the guards makes the mistake of coming out from behind a pillar, and Faruq blasts him with magic; sending him flying backwards

against the wall.

"Ughhh! Waht hit me?" the stunned guard

"They have a sorcerer amongst them!"

I don't kknow why you came here, you only came to die! Swinging wildly, his scimitar glances off Guzman's new breastplate.

Zephyr finishes the guard with another well-placed arrow to the shoulder.

"Where are you, little one? Ah HAH! There you are!" One of the guards looks for Chaka behind the fountain but she dodges deftly past their swings

displaying the dexterity halflings are known for.

S: Careful sister! Sul calls out and conjures a firebolt at another of the guards.

"Did something happen?"

S: Just a warning shot; Sul disappointingly

F: Chaka! And he blasts one of the guards, knocking him backwards away from his sister.

Guzman, unbuckling his warhammer, swings back at the guard, slamming him hard, "Enjoy that; c'mon try... hit me!"

"You goad me and then you run? WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU"RE GOING?!"

Zephyr, taking careful aim at one of the guards, "Stay away from my sister!" and skewers him with another arrow, felling him; his body dropping in front

of Chaka.
Z: Thanks, Yousef!
S: Yousef's the bird, you fool!
Z: I knew what I was saying!

One of the guards runs to attack Faruq, but Chaka quite reflexively reaches out with her dagger; impaling the guard who slumps to the floor.

Faruq, looking at hte body with wide eyes, looks at Chaka with concern and amazement.

G: Women are not immune to giving pain, brother.

Sulayman, with only one guard remaining, throws another bolt of fire and engulfs him in flame; his lifeless body falling unceremoniously to the floor.

Faruq puts his hands on Chaka, "Sister, are you ok? My thanks." Chaka wordlessly nods.

Inspecting the bodies of the guards, the orphans notice they are dressed similarly, but without the curious stains on their boots and legs.

F: I do not relish that you have all had to kill, but I fear they would have done the same to us...
S: I think there will be more killing before we're done today, best come to terms with it
G: I agree, something tells me you may enjoy it after a while
S: Oh Guzman, have you no sympathy!?
G: None.
C: Perhaps we should take their guises...
G: a good idea
C: And rid their bodies into the falls
S: one of us will be without a guise
F: Perhaps one of us plays the role of prisoner?

After a quick discussion, the orphans decide they had best get rid of the bodies of the guards to avoid them being found and raising an alarm. Faruq

tries in vain to carry one of the guards' bodies out to the entrance, but soon has help.

C: We should do this quickly.
Z: Faruq, I don't know how I feel about throwing dead bodies into the river...
F: Why aren't you helping me? I do not relish this at all either, but we are doing this for Aunty, yes? Surely they would have killed us. Think on

this...
G: That is an interesting thought, but I don't know that Aunty would be happy that we are killing 'in her name'..
S: We need to come to terms with this reality brothers, we're not going to save Aunty by 'playing fair'

Listening carefully for more guards, Sulayman's attention is distracted by teh Continual Light stones that illuminate the hall. Prying one easily from

it's perch, the stone appears fairly to be enchanted with continual light; but still a bit strange that so many would be found in a merchant's hideout.

Even the decor and tiling... depicting crashing waves and dolphins, seems strange for a merchant interested in illegal commerce.

While her brothers are distracted by the magical stone, Chaka turns her attention to finding where the beasts of burden they saw earlier may have come

from. Exploring further, the heroes discover the stables from which the mules are packed, and in an adjacent room, a huge store of grapes...

S: What kind of creature eats that many grapes?
G: Perhaps a serial grapist
F: Perhaps the stains we saw on those workers were from making wine?
S: Ah... clever, Faruq.
S: Did you hear that Guzman, that's what intelligence sounds like

Faruq raises his hand when he gets close to the door, and tries to sneak around the corner. Peering deeper, Faruq can make out that this hallway is

luxuriously appointed with tapestries, beautiful columns, and three 10-foot tall piles of ripe grapes. Over 50 large urns are stacked, and 2 wooden vats

at one end of the hall. Two men in each of them, basically mashing down grapes, stomping away, but apparently unaware of Faruq's presence.

G: They're in the middle of wining, only slightly less than you are, let's leave them be

Sneaking to the other side of the stables, the orphans continue to move deeper into the hideout. Making a sound however, Faruq listens and hears

footsteps fast approaching from the hallway. Gesturing for everyone to hide, the orphans wait to see what happens.

A guard appears in the hallway outside the stable, but after hearing nothing else, returns back where he came from without any apparent concern. Peering

around the corner, Faruq is amazed at both the trappings of this hallway and it's decoration; a magnificent mural adorns the ceiling, and it is not just

Faruq's predilection for magic; the water in the scenes does seem to be moving...

Seeing two guards in the hallway, Faruq tells his siblings what he saw.
G: I see two options: either someone stealthy goes in and cuts both their throats, or we lure them back here into a trap
F: perhaps the latter...
S: Well, fi we lure them here, won't the grape-makers hear them?
G: I don't think they're 'making grapes', but nevertheless you may be right
S: You're the tactician, Guzman, tell us where you think this combat should take place

Guzman, deep in thought... focusing clearly. "I think we might be best.. to... quietly lure them.. perhaps one of us can close the doors on the other

side? Well.. I'd be most interested in other opinions..."
S: My opinion Guzman as ever is that you're stupid and ugly, but I'll close the doors
C: I shall lure them, are we ready?
Z: Perhaps let's not slit their throats here.. maybe just knock them out and hide them in the hay?

Chaka peers around the corner, listening for a moment to the chatter fo the guards to one another when one of them stops, "Eh! Who are you?" Chaka, now

with their attention, maintains eye contact with the guards as they fast approach.

"Ah... what I have been dreaming of..." says one of the guards perversely.

Their footsteps audible from the stables, Chaka's brothers prepare for their impromptu ambush.

As soon as one of the guards appear through the doorway, Zephyr fires an arrow past one of their heads; Guzman choosing to charge at them without his

accustomed battle roar. Chaka, the game now up, swings with her dagger but misses. Sulayman singes his beard with a fire bolt, "Aye, it burns! We're

under attack!" Faruq reaches out blasting the closest guard with force damage, striking home.

Zephyr fires another arrow, striking the guard right through the neck, falling down dead. Following his brother's example, Guzman swings again with his

warhammer, slamming into the other guard full in the chest. Reeling, the guard didn't even see Chaka flip her dagger and slam him in the back of the

head, knocking him to the floor, unconscious.

G: Nice, sister. Truly learning that weapon well.
C: As are you, you're quite impressive with that hammer.
G: I do my best; thank you sister.

Quickly ridding the guards of their belongings, it becomes clear that all guards here took turns making wine, but since they weren't great with their

weapons... were they even guards?
C: Chaka perhaps they're slaves...
G: It could be argued that we're setting them free...

Hiding the bodies in the hay, and binding and gagging the unconscious guard, the orphans return to the hallway with the moving mural

C: Maybe we should drag him back nearer the waterfall to muffle his voice?
F: Yes, back to the waterfall
S: We have no time; ask him quickly
S: Which of you wants to do the talking
G: I strike myself as more of an imposing figure
S: Yes, we need someone persuasive to do the talking.
G: Why not you?

Zephyr looks at Faruq purposefully.

G: Ah yes, Faruq.. what a better choice.

Faruq looks with wide eyes at his siblings... "But I ... um... well I'm... I haven't...."

Chaka interrupts Faruq's stammering and says, "I can question him. Wake him up."
F: Thank you, sister...

Guzman slaps the unconscious guard awake and Sulayman silences him quickly, "We're going to ungag you fool, but if you make too much noise it'll be a

dagger to the throat, understand?"

C: ... or worse, my brother's hammer will crush your skull.
G: Oh; that sounds nice...

The guard nods fearfully at Chaka's words. Taking his gag off, the guard looks up with big eyes and nods fearfully. "Now don't lie, I'll know, you

understand? And if you lie, my brother's hammer comes down on you. Who do you work for?"

Prisoner: My master is the merchant rogue Yodfah.
C: And what are you doing here?
P: we're here to help him with his business. We make the wine.
C: Is there anything else that's happening here?
P: Uh.... yes....
C: Please.
P: I'm sure there is, but I'm not privy to everything
C: Who is?
P: The waould be the mistress, Hanzala.
C: Hanzala, eh?
P: She is his..... the master rarely comes here. She is in charge of this operation.
C: And where is she now?
P: She has her quarters within the complex.
C: Is she here now?

"Yes..." he looks at you all and says, "I must say, you are in great danger."

S: We are aware of that. You said you don't know much, but can tell us more of what you DO know?
P: I told you what we do! We are owned by Yodfah! Each one of us has come to be in his household in different ways;' everyone has their story.
S: And yours?
P: Mine?
G: The quick version
P: Gambling.
S: But you said there was other things going on.
P: Yes
S: give us your impression then
P: we crush the grapes to make the wine. not specifically outlawed by the loregiver. This is not a problem, people drink the wine. But Mistress Hanzala, she inspects the wine before it goes... she.. I... I do not wish to speak ill of her, but I suspect something else is going on with the wine...
S: You think she's adding something to the wine?
P: I have not said that. That is not what I said!
C: Shh....
G: keep your voice down
S: Of course not, we're not going to drag you into a court of law. Now where in teh complex can we find this mistress?
P: She has her own quarters off the winery. You must... must... leave... you do not want to make an enemy of this woman. Please, I am trying to save

your life, if you promise to save mine; you DO not want to make an enemy of this woman!
C: Does she have a ledger?
P: I have seen no ledger. Many apologies, small one, I have seen no ledger. Please understand, I gave my life away when I did this, but you are about to

give yours away if you confront this woman.
C: Is there a way of not confronting her? If we search for a ledger?
P: if there is a ledger to be found here, then I am sure Mistress Hanzala has it.
F: Why do you fear her so?

The prisoner bites his lower lip, sweating tremendously, "She's a wielder of terrible magic. I saw one of my friends who displeased her once, she burned

him to ash where he stood. And she... it is not just who she is, but what she belongs to... if you know what I mean!" His voice lowered, his whisper

sharp and conspiratorial.

C: No, what do you mean?
P: I cannot speak their name out loud.

At this, Sulayman's back straightens and his gaze drifts for a moment; checking his recollection.
S: I believe his is referring to The Brotherhood of the True Flame
G: What makes you believe that?
S: Because they were burned to ash, and it's a group he would rather not speak of. They are a subversive group of fire mages, terrorists. they want to

conquer Zakhara. Their leader is rumoured to be 'The Bonfire' and they have many secret agents.
S: What is your name, slave.
P: Azzad.
Z: Thank you, Azzad.
S: Azzad, we have no desire to kill you, you understand.
Azzad: Well, that's good...
S: If we release you, what are your plans?

Azzad looks down and says, "I... I am honour-bound to play out my service."

S: Hmm. Where can we stow you then until we're done. Because you understand the alternative is... not good for you.
A: Stow... stow me!? What do you mean?
S: We either slit your throat or put you somewhere where you cannot cause us problems. You understand now?

Azzad looks depressed and dumbfounded... "I... uh... I do not think I can help you with this."

S: The room... what room just west of the room we found you in, what is in there?
A: well.. yes... there is a prison here
S: Is there anyone in it? What will we find there?
A: There is a desert rider... he came too close.
S: Perfect, let us bring you there then.

When they arrive at the prison, hanging upside down is a desert rider, unconscious but still breathing, with burn marks all over his body.

A: Oh... the Mistress has been interrogating him, it seems.
S: How often does she come here?
A: I do not follow the... comings and goings of Mistress Hanzala. He was brought him in by the dwarf who wanted to kill him, but Mistress Hanzala said he would be good to be interrogated first. I... I do not think he has anything to tell her... I think she keeps him as a plaything.

Faruq steps forward, a look of pity on his face, "Someone help me get him down." Zephyr steps forward to assist Faruq.



Discover that Yodfah has engineered the circumstances by which they everyone here became slaves and they are forced to work off the engineered debts to him.

silver & copper
tapestries
supplies
Food & water for the trip
Containers specific to what was being distributed

 Episode 10 of The Burning World
 2016-02-10 
 The Hama 
The orphans continued under the hot midday sun. After a time, from 25 feet above the heroes on an outcropping a figure appears and calls down to the orphans: "Hello there! Hello! Hello grave robbers! Thieves! Hello!"

He turns and says, "See? I told you they would answer..."

So, how does it feel? Robbing from my father, taking my inheritance? Does it feel good? He sneers.

A scimitar at his side, a small quiver of javelins at his belt.

I thank you for finding it; my retainers and my brother and I have not been able to discover it, weeks in searching. So you have my gratitude, but you will lay down MY inheritance on the ground in front of you and walk away, or my scores of retainers will fill you with arrows such that your mother will not be able to tell you apart from her pincushion!

F: I knew we should not have trusted the acolyte...
G: Let me get this straight then, this is your father, the person who bore you with your mother and this money was not given to you directly?
S: How odd it is, eh Guzman
G: Seems strange

I am certain, that whatever thing you are thinking, it cannot make more sense than people breaking into his grave and stealing
S: I suppose that wasn't your plan then?

I don't thin you understand. Perhaps a warning shot

An arrow flies out from behind him and lands right in front of Guzman

Plenty more where that came from. Your lives are in great danger here; put it down and walk away.

Guzman picks up the arrow, inspecting it, then looks up and snaps it in half.

You hear from behind him say , "See? I told you that wouldn't work, sometimes I think you WANT to fail.."

He turns around and says "Shutup, shutup, shutup!"


S: A family as close as ours, Guzman
G: Brothers it seems like we have a group of failures in front of us. Shall we, I don't know, continue their legacy?
S: I am pretty surE I hav ea grou of failures in front fo me, too
G: Shutup, shutup, shutup!

Last chance. Throw it down, or your lives are forfeit.
S: This is not your treasure to claim, my friend. We have done the hard work, it is ours now.

So I suppose the laws of the loregiver have described things this way. Whoever digs up the body gets to keep the money?!

S: Don't act like you weren't about to do the same thing

"At least I am his son, I have the most right to the claim."

Without another word, he grabs one of his javelins and

"This is not what we wanted" and he backs away from the ledge, out of sight.

G: Did anyone bring any ranged weapons?
F: I AM one.

An arrow suddenly springs from cover and strikes Guzman squarely in the shoulder, but no assailant could be seen.

F: You are dishonoured in the eyes of your father, this is how you hope to win it back?

Zephyr quickly grabs his longbow; pulling back an arrow and scanning the terrain for their assailant.

Guzman reels back and yells, "Oh you attack from the shadows you must think yourself very brave!"

Whispering arcane words, a glimmer appears around Sulayman and he puts his back to one of the canyon wall.

Chaka moves to beside Sulayman scanning the walls above.

With a glance to the side, Faruq sees one of the assailants and immediately looses his now familiar magic.

"AHHHhhhhh!" and he stumbles back from the blast.

F: Let us stop this before one of us regrets it...

Zephyr turns quickly and fires an arrow that sails over his head. "Easy to say after you strike me with your magic, after the ugly one impugns my honour!

G: Was he talking about me!?
S: You're the ugliest one here, Guzman.

Another javelin sails over Zephyr's head, but distracted, another arrow strikes him from behind straight in the back, and he collapses to the ground, unconscious.

Kalib: Ah hah! You're supposed to be the older one brother, but look whoo's doing all the work!

Anwar: Shutup, shutup!

Faruq rushes over to Zephyr and rips the arrow out, applying gauze and pressing hard to stop the bleeding, and thankfully it seems to stop from the tiny but deep wound.

Guzman, bleeding, moves over to Chaka and whispers, "Sister, I need your aid."

Sulayman, now able to see Kalib from where he attempted to hide, conjures a magic missile and sends them flying through the air;

K: Ow it hurts, they're sorcerers!
A: Yes, and? What does that change?
K: I don't like magic, you...
A: Shut up, Kalib...

Chaka puts her hand on Guzman's back and says, "I love you brother." Her eyes close in concentration and Guzman sighs a breath of relief, immediately feeling rejuvenated.

Anwar looks at Faruq and tosses another javelin, hitting the small genasi in the leg.

Sliding down the rocky cliff, Kalib draws a long scimitar and moves to engage the orphans.

Faruq, wincing in pain calls out, "We warned you... " and blasts again at Anwar, hitting him but only seeming to make him scream louder in anger.

Guzman, now able to see an enemy he can attack, turns from Chaka and swings wildly at Anwar, but misses.

Sulayman, conjuring now another of his magics, sends a bolt of fire at Anwar, striking his squarely on the side. Tossing his flaming cloak to the ground, he calls out, "Water then fire, what

next? Sand!?"

Chaka, seeing her opportunity, sprints over to Zephyr, whispering "Rise, brother" and with closed eyes, lays her hands on the form of her brother, Zephyr. Wish a gasp and wide eyes, Zephyr sits

upright as if startled from a dream.

Anwar slashes at guzman with his scimitar; slicing across his hairy chest.
G: I barely felt it...
Undeterred, another swing cuts into Guzman's side
A: Not so funny now, eh ugly one?
G: I needed the shave...

Another arrow flies out from the brush, and strikes Faruq squarely. Faruq staggers back; his head light from the bolt.

Faruq, only able to see Anwar, reaches out and sends an errant blast of force against him but to no avail.

Zephyr, climbing to his feet and with his arrow still in had, fires an arrow at Anwar's back.

Sensing his opportunity, Guzman calls out "See if you like this!" and swings wildly but misses.

A: Like what? What are you talking about?
G: Shutup!
S: Casts a blast of cold at Anwar but in the desert heat it seems to have little effect.
A: Looks at Guzman and says "This is it, prepare to meet your fate" but misses.

Another arrow from cover flies towards Zephyr but he ducks below it.

Faruq, wary of the unseen assailant stares intently into the brush until the opportunity presents itself.

Zephyr shoots another arrow at Anwar, through his armpit and he falls down, his taunting now ceased.

Z: Show yourself!
F: There is no honour in dying alongside your brother!

Sulayman stares intently at the cliffside in the hope that Kalib shows himself, but the brother remains hidden.

And just like that, an arrow fires out from the brush at Zephyr, who deftly dodges again.

Faruq and Sulayman, their keen eyes picking up the movement, fire in that direction but both attempts miss.

K: Ah... that was... you killed my brother...
S: He left us no choice. You attempted to kill all my brothers, you fool.
K: We simply wanted what was ours! YOU instigated the violence!
G: You wanted Death, is that what you wanted?
S: Funny, I believe your arrow was the first one to fly into the fray...

and as quickly as he appeared, Kalib disappears into teh brush with amazing deftness

F: What fool is this? He shot an arrow...

Zephyr hops up to the rocks and starts to climb the cliffside of the canyon.

Guzman follows his brother, climbing behind Zephyr, but his injuries make him unsteady and he falls to the ground, panting and wheezing.

Chaka tends to Guzman, using her subtle magicks to invigorate her brother.

Another arrow screams out from the bush, and strikes Zephyr hard in the chest, felling him to the ground again.

Guzman with renewed vigor leaps up the canyon wall and the look in his eyes convinced Faruq that if he met his quarry, it would not end well for them.

Reaching the top of the canyon all, Guzman sees his brother Zephyr felled and alone on the plain with no sight of his quarry.

Reaching her brother; Chaka revives him but notices that as she lifts him up, the golden circlet they all wore was missing.

It looks like Kalib got some of his father's inheritance, after all.

With no sign of their quarry, and the hot midday breeze the only sound on the plain, the orphans pick up the unconscious body of Zephyr and carry him away from this place; certain it would be

dangerous to rest here.

Anwar is carrying:
- scimitar
- studded leather armor
- 37sp

Chaka remarks that these brothers do not look like they have any money, and certainly not with an entourage in tow...

F: I do not think this crow is one we 'attack', brother
As faruq is gazing up at the crow, you see him rub his chest where the crow flew through, but just as soon as he realizes he was doing it, dropped his hand quickly
F: Perhaps this crow follows us for what we have done at the grave site...
S: So... we could have done THAT better
G: I agree.
F:I have never shot a person before, I don't know if I'm cut out for this
S: Better him than us, no?
F: Yes, of course.
G: Either you'll be cut out for it, or you'll be cut up for it. Choose one, and choose it quickly.
S: I imagine we've just incurred some sort of family feud with that fool. We did slay his brother, after all.
G: Next time we will be ready for him, he will no longer hide in the shadows
F: You're right; for we have perhaps endangered our whole family with these actions
G: He has no idea where we come from and who our family is
F: Remember there is always something behind what you see. He may have come because of the raven, or perhaps he came at Abdullah's behest. Remember; I trust him now.
S: He was already out here brother. I don't think the acolyte betrayed us; he was already out here searching for his father's tomb. They just had no luck finding it because they didn't pay to

know where it was. If they knew where it was from the acolyte, they would have robbed it before us
F: Perhaps the acolyte cut a better deal with the brothers
S: What better deal was there?
F: Perhaps in exchange for the information, they would give him a better percentage than he negotiated with us

C: Perhaps we should lure him out. We have what he wants; he wants the treasure. We killed his brother.
G: Set a trap...
F: Your mind turns much as mine does sister, I like this.

After Zephyr woke, the heroes continue their journey back to Huzuz. Sidling up to Chaka, Zephyr says quietly to her:
Z: Maybe... perhaps I shouldn't have killed the man.
C: He had what was coming to him.

The orphans continue their return to Huzuz, and as the sun sets, the walls of the Golden City appear in the distance.

Since the constant vigilance of the guards on those who might smuggle goods into the city might reveal the riches the orphans acquired, the orphans secret away the goods where they will not be found.

C: Should we ask Yakub what to do with these riches?
S: Yes, but first let's focus on getting back into the city.

The guards just give their stern, polite nods as the orphans walk through the gates; even in a city of so many thousands, the orphans faces are not alien to the vigilant guards.

Back in the city, and with no idea what the items found are worth, the orphans discussed quietly what to do with them; sell them quickly or find an intermediary?

Walking through the city, Chaka feels a tingling sensation of being watched, and with only a cursory glance, spots of the 3-eyed raven perched atop one of the walls. Almost as if a blanket is cast upon them, the orphans begin to feel a heavy weight on their shoulders, and feelings of remorse and regret affect them all:

Oh my god...
We're going to fail and Aunty will become a slave...
Did we break into a tomb?
Did we steal from a dead person?
What kind of people are we?
There was a cat there, he must have been a sweet man in real life!
and then we killed his son; did we kill his son?
He was just trying to get the inheritance his dad decided he shouldn't have, and we put an arrow through his heart!
And i'm going to go home, and Aunty is going to wipe the dust off my clothes, and make me tea, and have no idea what kind of person I am or what I've done...

Realizing their need to find someone to evaluate and sell the treasure, the orphans seek out Yakub, found wrapping up for the day. Yakub immediately notices they have a curse on them, described as "The Hama" that Yakub says spells death for anyone who carries it long. Pleading that the orphans not return to Aunty's until they have been cured of their plight, he suggests visiting the

Mosque of Jisan in the morning to cleanse them of this curse for 'a suitable donation'. Frustrated that another cost will further set back their efforts, Yakub offers to appraise the items,

having had some experience in being paid in items rather than gold for his services as a barber.

Pleasantly surprised at their yield, Yakub suggests that they may have over three thousand gold dinar with them, and that this will more than cover the donation those at the mosque might ask for a

cleansing of The Evil Eye. Thanking Yakub, he humbly offers that it is nothing; Aunty has helped him a great deal in the past. Suggesting the orphans hide the goods better, offering a cloth to hide it further from prying eyes.

S: Any suggestions on where we should spend the night, Yakub?
Y: Well, it IS a beautiful night for camping...
S: Yes, another sleep under the stars then brothers?

Finding a place far enough from the city walls to feel safe, the orphans are all plagued with HORRIBLE nightmares that night. So tormented were the hours they tried to rest, that none rested much

at all and they all woke feeling worse than the dday before. Dreams that Yunnus defending the orphans against another giant Qadi fail, and so the Qadi lowers a gavel now a scimitar, decapitating all the orphans in a single blow. Others have Aunty ridiculed as "Mother of Graverobbers" and even Gogol who might otherwise own Aunty according to th contract wants nothing to do with her, such would be the shame of owning such a slave...

Quiet, sullen and exhausted, the orphans return to the city and meet Yakub as planned. After prayer service, they go together to the mosque of Jisan and see Abdallah waiting to meet them. Seeing

them, he makes the sign to avoid The Evil Eye. Leading them into a chamber in the mosque, a man waits for the party to arrive. A neatly trimmed beard, completely bald, beautiful rings adorning

his hands; clearly a wealthy man.

Looking at the orphans, he says, "My attendee Abdallah tells me you wish to make a donation to the mosque of Jisan."
C: Yes
G: This is true.

I see. Now you understand while we appreciate generosity, Jisan is the goddess of understanding how the world works. And WE understand how the world works through the exchange of favours. Money is just a way to ease this process. Surely you are asking for something, you would not come here to offer us charity.

S: Is there some other form of charity you wish? Is there perhaps a service we can provide your temple?

He gives a condescending smile and says, "NOt at this time... So. What kind of service can we do for you?"
S: It seems we have been cursed by a Hama perhaps."

"t-t-t-t-t-t-.... oh my" He says "Goodness, what have you done to deserve this?"
S: I'll spare you the details but we've happened upon some treasure (and withe a sideways glance at Abadallah) and while we counted ourselves fortunate, for we desperately needed this treausre, it

seems the previous owner of this treasure, one who is no longer on this earth if you get my meaning may not have taken kindly to us taking possession of it.

"Ah.... not eh first time I've encountered such an issue. And so now, this previous owner, not on this earth as I understand it, has decided to curse people that have taken what was his."
S: Precisely
"Hmmmm..... where is this treasure?"
G: It's not with us.
Sulayman visibly flinches "Nevermind my brother, he sometimes has lapses. We need to vacate ourselves of this treasure. We were hoping you might be able to help us with that too, possibly.

Perhaps point us in teh right direction. You see if we are to donate to the mosque, we must first sell the items to make the donation. Do you understand what I am saying, friend?"

"Just barely. let us see this treasure which has caused you so much trouble."

Sulayman, Chaka and Faruq display the items, but Guzman hesitates.
S: Do not be a fool, Guzman.
G: Why do we need to show him everything?
S: They are cursed items, brother.,

Looking at Guzman with great condescension, the imam says, "It's very important... that all the items... may be cursed..."
G: I understand! And he takes out the remaining items
S: He does not wish to make insult.

Looking it over, he seems impressed and says, "Hmm... why does this look familiar to me? Abdallah, does this look familiar to you?"
Answering a little too quickly, Abdallah blurts out: "No! Why would it?!"

Hmmm.. I can see why the hama would be so upset. It is possible through the magic of our priesthood to remove this magic from you...
G: And?
S: Let him finish, Guzman

I would require 1-2-3-4... 6 castings..
Y: No my friends, I will pay for myself

As you wish... 5 castings... hmm.... I will do this at the cost of 2 of these necklaces. This is no small task, each casting is powerful magic.

Looking at Yakub, bobbing back and forth, and gives Guzman a curt nod.
S: This seems a fair deal to me...
G: I agree

"Excellent. Place your hands on the treasures and think of where you acquired them." Then, whispering words of prayer that perhaps only Chaka fully understands, the imam finishes his chanting

and the orphans feel immediately better. Taking his fee, the imam holds two of the necklaces and turns to Abdallah; you're sure you don't recognize these necklaces?

Too hastily perhaps Abdallah responds again, "No, why should they!? I've never seen these necklaces before!"

Anyway, did you want me to have the rest of your items appraised for you?
S: Is there a cost to the appraisal?

Laughing, "MY friend this is Huzuz, there is a cost to everything."
G: I feel as though it can be absorbed in what we have paid. No mean offense, but you understand the risk was in getting this...

No, I don't. You've told me no details of how you've acquired them.
S: We stumbled upon it, right Guzman
G: That's right
S: What is the cost to appraise these items?

"Give me a day, 20g dinars and I will have an appraisal for you."

S: Can we also liquidate the items via you.
Yes, there's a handlers fee of course.
S: what is that?
"10%"
S: 10% it is.
"Come back tomorrow same time."

Leaving the mosque, Yakub turns to the orphans and says, "Well, I think that went well.."
S: Yes, we think so too. But I think though we are feeling better, we could use some rest.
Y: Yes, well I have to go and make people look better. I will keep an ear to the ground and see if there are any more odd jobs that you might like.

Returning to Aunty's house, she insists on making us breakfast and tries to pry some details from the orphans.

After a rest, Aunty comes to wake everyone saying, "Your friend is at the door..."

CHaka answers, and sees Khalid

K: Hey, wasting the day sleeping, this is not how you will be ready for success...
G: Do you want some fee for that advice?
K: No need to be hostile Guzman, I'm actually making some money right now.
G: Wouldn't it be nice brothers to make money just stnading?
K: Oh I'm not stnading, I'm giving you a message... he's maybe been into the brandy... Oh yes, yes ... the message.

Handing a sealed envelope to Chaka

S: who gave you the note, Khalid.
K: I did not ask, but htose eyes... but those eyes could look into Khalid's soul. Ha I'm talking about myself in the third person like that idiot Baba. Anyway, I have made my money today
S: Yes, thank you again for putting us in debt by throwing that fish away and then absconding yourself of any blame.
K: It was a beautiful fish, uh? Oh, I'd do that again...

Chaka promptly closes the door on Khalid and turns to her brothers with a satisfied smirk.

A very delicately written message on the paper

"I hear you're looking for work, and I hear you're willing to take on dangerous tasks.
I have one such for you, and I can make it worth your while.
Meet me in the public gardens this evening."


Feeling refreshed and less remorseful, the orphans can infer only that it is clearly a woman's writing.
G: What do you make of this?
S: It's either an opportunity or a trap, but we're going either way.

That night, the orphans arrive at the gardens, and like most places in Huzuz, magic is used both to create and maintain these beautiful gardens. Use of marids and dao to cultivate and tend to the

flora were not uncommon. Statues honouring past Grand Caliphs in stone and marble dot the gardens. Even living in Huzuz their whole lives, the orphans were reminded that they haven't seen much

of the city, and there was still much to see! Each of the orphans were reminded how their lives have been so different from those who perhaps were not orphans, or who were not poor.

A voice breaks their reverie, "Ahem."

A woman, sitting on a bench was looking at the heroes, her robes of black, white and silver sat quietly. Her eyes veiled did not hide that she was clearly a woman of means. Even though her face

was hidden, Khalid's words came rushing back; this was surely the woman who sent the message. "So, are you the ones known as 'Aunty's Children'?"

C: Who's asking?
A: My name is Ayyam.

With a whispered thought; Chaka's eyes narrow just slightly as she attempts to perceive truth from falsehood, and Chaka could swear for a minute that Ayyam may have smiled ever so slightly, giving

a slight nod.

A: I would have done the same thing, please, sit. Gesturing for the orphans to sit, Chaka does first on the grass.
A: Are you for hire?
C: Yes, but that depends.

Nodding to the halfling
A: An excellent answer. Fear not, I am asking you to do nothing illegal, it's not like I'm asking you to rob a grave."
C: that's good to hear.
A: In fact, I'm about to help you strike against an enemy you did not even know you had.
C: And why is that?
A: Because he also happens to be an enemy of my mistress.
C: I see.
A: You have a group that recovered the genie fish, are you not?
C: My brothers are.

A: Little did you know that in your excursion to find the genie fish, you broke into a warehouse. The owner of that warehouse is a man named Yodfah. Yodfah is the man who I wish to strike back

against. He has discovered that someone has broken into his warehouse that he had rented out to someone else. Yodfah is a terrible man. When he finds out who it is, when he finds out it is you,

he will have vengeance upon you. this is certain. But Yodfah is terrible, and he needs to be dealt with. He is breaking several laws of the loregiver, and I believe I have found proof of it.

And so this is what I'm asking you to do. he has a complex not far from here, somehow hidden behind the Secchina falls. The water that drains eventually into teh great bay. I am asking you to go

and retrieve a ledger that contains all the details of his businesses including the ones he is not paying taxes on. When this is found out by the Grand Caliph's men, he will be thrown in jail and

possibly executed. There is a great deal of money he is keeping from the caliphate. What say you? I am willing to offer you as much as twelve hundred gold dinar to go his secret location,

discover the location of the ledger, and return it here to me seven days from now, at midnight.
G: What is your interest in this man?
A: It is not my own. Right now I have managed to secure myself in his employ, but I am doing this on behalf of my mistress. She is the one with the grudge against him. I am but a humble

servant.

Chaka's eyes have not left Ayyam, and she can tell; this woman is telling the truth.

A: Do we have an agreement?
C: We do.

Reaching behind her, she pulls out a very small chest. "half of it up front. Use this to equip yourselves as you see fit. You know where Secchina Falls is, yes? Anything else you find at the

complex is yours."
C: And this complex, is it guarded?
Z: Would you like us to bring back Yodfah himself?

Looking the orphans over, Ayyam hesistates and then says, "No, I'm going to ask you to bring back only the ledger." Leaving the chest on the bench, she gets up and addresses the orphans once

more. "A week today at midnight. Do we have an agreement?"

Chaka bows.

"When you have returned, that charming your porter that can be found in the business district; Khalid is his name? Let him know you have returned and eventually I will find out." She bows and

says, "May Fate be with you."

At the end of the day, word reaches the orphans that their presence is again required at the mosque of Jisan. Arriving immediately, the imam has the items provided displayed in a private room

A ledger was already prepared for the orphans in which the values of the items were outlined clearly. Pleased with the result, the orphans looked at each other, knowing that they're on their way to saving Aunty.
 Episode 9 of The Burning World
 2016-02-03 
 Grave Robbers! 
G: Bring them... see if I care
S: Guzman... don't make things worse
S: forgive my brother, he is... stupid.
G: Quit it
S: Now Yunnus, I would like to discuss some facts that you have named not in dispute of course but you do mention that it is a mermaid and not a fish in your recolllection, and you do mention that Khalid was ensorcelled, these facts are not in question, are they?
Yunnus: It's very difficult to prove ensorcellement
S: Why is Khalid not being held accountable for the events that occurred? Why only us? Had we not try to help, Babazadeh would be in the same position he is now without a fish; all we did was try to help; we didn't even promise him anything, all we said is that we'd try to help
G: I assume Babazadeh left out the fact that he was in the middle of attacking Khalid
Yunnus: No, he did not
S: So he admits that Khalid is the one who stole the fish and not us? And yet we are made to pay restitution?
Y: If he not seen you throw it back in the sea, then yes
S: Why do you suppose it was thrown in the sea?
I couldn't say
So even though myself and my brothers attest to the fish being a mermaid, doesn't it follow that the mermaid did charmed both Khalid and my brothers to return her to the sea
Y: I'm sorry, Im' not an expert on mermaids
S: But you do know that mermaids lure seaman into the water...
G: Sulayman!
S: Don't be so base, you know what I meant
Y: I would be willing to believe in the ensorcellement if Babazadeh has suffered from it himself,
S: My race is much more resistant to those magics; perhaps Babazadeh has stronger willpower than most?
Y: I will see if the law allows for 'lack of willpower' to be an excuse for rule breaking, but I cannot promise anything
S: I have one more question if Babazadeh wanted the fish back, why did he walk away
Y: His testimony is that he agreed with all of you for some sort of deal where you would split the sale of the fish 50/50
S: No he attempted to bargain that, but none of us agreed to it, we said we'd see what we can do, we did not promise to return the fish
G: I would like to see a contract where we made this agreement
Y: Unfortunately, Khalid agrees with Babazadeh's interpretation of the events
S: Odd that the man who is be exempted from the actual crime he committed would then agree with Babazadeh; I supposed if I was given the choice of having to pay for the fish or agree with him in whatever story, I might have chosen the same as well
y: It sounds as though you're implying I'm part of some unlawful scheme
S: No, I'm implying that Khalid has deceived you and possibly Babazadeh as well
G: He might be threatened from another beating as well

Faruq, still hunched over his drink, looks at the faces of his brothers, and then at Yunnus
F: So all we have is opne word against another, this is not a judgement but a trust of one's character. You know us well, but you do not know Babazadeh
Y: That's not true; I know him well, I am the Qadi for the wharf district, after all
F: And have ever before you had to render judgement in a case that has ever involved us? Can there be any denial that he used brute force to resolve his issue? But when it was four or five...
Y: I don't understand, do you want to press charges against Babazadeh?
F: No, I am saying that when physical force was not an option against myself and my brothers, this story is now his only recourse
Y: I don't see how the story has changed at all, in fact. It is still true that you threw the fish into the sea, the fish that he laid claim to. I'm sorry, I understand; I personally would agree that a mermaid should be thought of as something different, but under the Laws of the Loregiver, they're not recognized as enlightened creatures.

F: Your point is a valid one, a moment if you would be so kind. Turning to his brothers, Faruq motions for them to join him in a corner to discuss quietly.

Chaka enters the room: "Has anyone seen my beads?"
F: Chaka, join us.
S: Forget the beads; join us
G: We have much to discuss
Z: We have pearls!

The brothers huddle, and Faruq continues: I suspect something else is going on here. I do not know yet what it is, but I look into the eyes of the judge, I think he has an alternative motive. Perhaps it would be best for us to give the pearls and solve this another way later.
Sulayman glares at Faruq: Do you know something we don't? Why do you suspect he has an alterior motive?
F: Keep your voice down; I suspect because he is making a strong claim when there is not much there. I suspect there is something else going on; just call it an intuition
S: he is a judge, Faruq. He is passing judgement based on facts we presented him
Z: Is that fish still talking to you?
S: Not to mention, he's not just asking for the pearls, he's asking for the pearls AND more restitution. You understand that part, right? You wish to put us FURTHER in debt?

The orphans continue to banter back and forth uselessly; conflicted even on the nature of their 'agreement' with Babazadeh in the first place; Faruq feeling uneasy about how 'clear cut' Sulayman's interpretation of their exchange was... there IS such a thing as a verbal contract, after all.

Frustrated at Sulayman being argumentative but without offering any other ideas, Faruq suggests giving the pearls and seeing whether or not there is a debt remaining. Chaka agrees and eventually all agree to keep the conch a secret; endangering the mermaid further is not an option.

Yunnus offers to find the best deal for the orphans in the hope that hte pearls will more than settle the debt, so Sulayman finally relents and gives Yunnus the four pearls.

S: What of the old hag woman who had possession of the fish in the sewer?
Y: Yes, I have my suspicions about that... I suspect you are all lucky to be alive. You say she spoke backwards, you say?
S: Yes
Z: She was very nice.
Y: Oh I'm sure she was, but you perhaps don't realize; that was a Silat. Shapeshifting witches. You must be... very charming, they've been known to eat trespassers. I'm going to have to use the information you've given me to perhaps sent a contingent to clear her out
S: I just want to point out that my brothers almost died in those sewers, and we put our lives at great risk facing this woman, under no agreement from Babazadeh; it seems a poor reward what he has dealt back to us, don't you think? Perhaps you can keep this in mind before you render some sort of final judgement. All we were trying to do was help him, and we fell victim to the same thing Khalid did.
Y: Understood, but I thought you said there was no contract...
S: Correct, I said we would do what we could. It seems wrong that he can charge us for not helping him. We could have walked away and he would never have been any closer to getting back his fish
Y: I will do my best to make sure you get as much for these perals as possible, and as for Babazadeh

Chaka: Well said, brother.
Y: "If there is nothing else?" He goes into the kitchen to see Aunty, and after a few minutes he returns back and says "Good day, I will be in touch before too long."

Chaka excuses herself after finding her beads, and heads off to prayer, her brothers quickly trying to catch up.

The short walk to the mosques is familiar to the orphans, the noises and commotion of town soothing after their incredible morning.

After arriving at the city center, Chaka heads to the Temple of the Ten Thousand Gods, and the brothers head off to their respective mosques.

Returning from prayer, the orphans hear a familiar laugh and boisterous voice from away. A family friend, Yakub can be heard regaling a young client with a fantastic story that sounds even a little familiar; trimming his hair with his usual care and attention to detail that so engenders his clients with loyalty.

Spotting the orphans, Yakub gives them that look that says, "Hey I need to talk to you."

The orphans head over.

Y: Greetings, young ones. I was most distressed to hear about Aunty's troubles. Please sit.
S: Thank you.

Yakub basically serves as the family doctor for Aunty.

Yakub whispers conspiratorially, "I am very aware of the predicament you find yourselves in. Please tell me young ones; have you found a way out of this? It would b the most cruel of fates to find that brave woman... someone's slave..."

S: The only way seems to be to raise 30,000 dinar
G: You don't happen to have that in your basin, do you?
Y: No, I am afraid not, I could not save that much in 30,000 lifetimes. This is a great responsibility upon you, but sure you are going to do something.
F: leaning forward, "We are interested in new pursuits; no amount of work on the whraf will pay us 30,000. Do you know of any work that might carry with it increased reward?
Y: I might...
S: I don't think work will do it
G: Steal it
Y: Silence young one... sit in my chair... I'll see if I can do... something
S: Give up; he's hopeless
Y: Ah... a challenge. As he begins to lather Guzman's face he says be careful; this soap can be quite toxic, it would be terrible if any got into your mouth...

Faruq paces nervously; watching the crowd for onlookers.

Y: well, I do hear things. People tend to speak loosely when they are at their barbers... haha there is not story the barber guild could tell grand stories. You may have heard that sometimes it is too expensive to pay for a proper funeral. Some people cannot afford it. What happens then, is that they are still buried, but out in the Cairn hills they're called. So, there are things to be found out there.

Some people choose to be buried out there. Not because they can't afford a proper funeral, but because they choose to be buried out there. I have heard of just such a man; his name was Jabir. He was so miserly, he refused to divide his inheritance between his sons: Anwar and Khalib. He thought they would squander those riches. His advice to work hard and they would be rewarded was ignored. He kept strict control of the money, and upon his death, he disinherited both his ungrateful sons, had all his wealth liquidated into gold and buried with him... in the Cairn hills.

Smiling mischievously, Yakub continued, "Having a private mausoleum built in the wilderness in exchange for a sizable donation... off the records. Now upon hearing of their father's wishes outlined in the will, the brothers were appalled and outraged. They immediately sought to have their father's 'unjust' wishes overturned by the Qadi; and after another 'suitable' donation, the Qadi allowed himself to be persuaded and ruled that the sons could claim the property if THEY were ever to recover it. They were buffoons, and had no idea where to start looking, but could neither afford nor risk further 'discussion' with the Qadi of Jisan. So they departed the city months ago in search of their father's hidden resting place. They'll need Fate to take a hand if they're ever to find it, or... maybe fate will smile on someone else...

What say you, my friends?

S: Do you have any inside information on where this mausoleum is?
G: Do you know someone who does?
Y: You should not be talking... you risk your life!
S: Can you leave that on his face all day?
F: Your words are interesting... what would this information cost us?
Y: I am sorry to say, but he had an open tab with me... 8 silver coins. If you could take care of that, i could spend some time finding someone who could find more information on that

F: It would be my pleasure to settle the outstanding debt for you, my friend.
Opening up his secreted coin purse, Faruq has exactly 8 silver and counts it out for Yakub; hesitating only slightly. Yakub has always been nice to Faruq though he hasn't had his hair cut for a long time, and he does not think he may ever need to shave... such is the plight of the genasi...

After leaving the barbers, Zephyr turns to his brothers, "Do I understand correctly? We mean to grave rob?"
S: Hmm... let's look at it as treasure hunt, shall we
Z: Still... disturbing the dead...
S: You think the sons will do any better than us? They're going to take his corpse out and take his money.
Z: And whatever curse of fate will befall them and not us.
S: We've already been cursed enough I think, Zephyr. Can it get any worse?
G: We could listen to you TALK all day...
S: I prefer the sound of his voice to yours, Guzman.
G: I am similarly uncomfortable with this plan...
S: But we all agree that working the docks will not earn us 30.000 dinar, yes?
G: That may be true, yes.
S: So I think we need to be more adventurous, I think we need to take up a more dangerous life... I think this is the first step
F: My brothers you need not worry for what fate may befall us, for we make it ourselves.
S: Right... but... i think this is our best option for now. We don't know what kind of debt we're going to carry out of this Babazadeh affair...

With this in mind... the orphans set about to prepare for this 'trip':

Guzman is praying a lot more often, he is very shaken, and not happy about the prospect of graveroobbing, but he does understand the mercenary game, and that 'gold buys things', so he's begrudgingly making peace with it.

Zephyr spends what time he can with his horse as always; sneaking away for his daily ride and tending to the animal as best he can in his makeshift stable at the side of Aunty's home.

Chaka spends time at home; consoling Aunty and assuring her that there will be a way to resolve the problem.

Faruq try to secret away to the shore, find some isolation and alone time; a habit he's been doing for months now.

Sulayman studies hard, and summons his familiar as practice in anticipation of needing him on their trip.

On the third day, a messenger boy arrives and delivers a folded note to Zephyr.

G: What does it say, Zephyr?
S: Don't hold out on us, brother...

The message invites the orphans to The golden Oasis; one fo the higher-end restaurants in Huzuz, they can afford a mamluk guard at the door; a tall bronze-skinned, heavily tattood guard. Looking the kids over, he says, "Can I help you?"

S: We're here to meet Yakub
Guard: Oh yes... Yakub the barber. Yes, he and his guest are inside. Is this... well hopefully you won't stay long.

The restaurant smells amazing; the cooking here is excellent. Gold filigree on the tables and serving trays, a huge fountain in the middle with magical golden water... rare because a drop can open a small portal to the elemental plane of water.

In a far dark and smoky corner, Yakub can be seen sitting with a dwarf both of them smoking
Y: Come, come.. .yes... come. These are Aunty's boys AND Aunty's girl. Please; this is Abdallah; acolyte of Jafar. Abdallah; these are my friends.

Bowing in respect, Yakub continues, "Please sit, I have ordered food for all of us"
S: You are kind.
G: sits quickly at the mention of food

Abdallah seems to have a permanent scowl, his beard is quite short and unbraided. Grubby hands of a labourer, and as conversation continues, he might be an acolyte of Jafar, but certainly no grand orator; more likely doing menial tasks.

The food served to them is varied and delicious; elegant and sumptuous.

The dwarf talks during the meal about all the work he's done; it turns out he was leading the crew that built the mausoleum for Jabir; leading the workers up there, planning the build, fighting off monsters of the wild, and all of it without any public thanks. He's clearly upset about a lot of things; unhappy in general; he doesn't like the food of the restaurant (even though it's delicious), he's unhappy with his compensation, the weather, complains about the government, etc.

Y: Yes, this is all true. it sounds as thought they've worked you as hard as a mamluk, but he knows the location of Jabir's tomb.

G: Would you be willing to bring us there?

A: Scowling; I've already been there once... to go again? i've already been ripped off. Jisan's priests look at me and say, "The reward is the work." No! THe reward is the reward! I have no intention of going there again. I can... draw you a map.

Chaka: That is excellent. May we have this map?

Ab: Well... yes....

F: But surely a map accurate enough to point us in this direction... we could make it worth your while.... bowing.

Ab: Yes, well... Yakub said you were very honourable for such young folk
Y: Yes, this is true... Auntie's kids... always honourable. She's a great woman
C: May the gods bless her.
F: And so if you would be so kind as to direct us to this area, we could discss a compensation for the time spent in illustrating such a specific map
Y: looks embarrassed at Faruq's words. Perhaps young master, you could pay him now for the map...
C: How much would you like?
Ab: I have a good sense of just how much gold is waiting in that tomb. I will draw you the map, and for a finder's fee of 10% of whatever you find...
Y: Yes, um....
C: Does this seem fair, Yakub?
Y: Oh my friends, if the tales of the gold within are to be justified, it is more than fair.
C: brothers, do you agree?
G: I think that's fair. I agree
Z: What else can we expect at this mausoleum besides this treasure?
Ab: Backbreaking work, hot sun, scorpions, dust to choke your lungs. Can you imagine? Three days I spent doing this... and the reward was "the work"?! Bah
S: So in return for themap you expect 10% of whatever we find in treasure, correct?
Y: I've actually taken the liberty of writing up a contract. Withdrawing it from his purse-bag.

Reading over the contract, all things look in order; the compensation boiling down to 10% of the findings within or 300g, whichever is greater.

Faruq; normally suspicious... quietly waits for Sulayman's predictible objection.
S: I am concerned about this contract. Why the 300g minimum? What if we show up there and the tomb has already been looted?
Ab: Scoffs at the idea. No one is finding that place unless I tell them where.
C: And no one else has this information?
Ab: I supposed my superiors do..
S: As well as the sons; they may have found it.
Ab: I don't see how.
S: But if they do, then we'd still owe you 300g. Could we not agree that IF there is treasure, we give you some? I don't wish to rob you, I just want to avoid putting ourselves in a worse position...
Y: now starts to get really embarrassed
Ab: looks at Y as if to say, "WTF?"

Yakub and Abdullah go aside to speak briefly

C: Do we have an agreement brothers?
S: I have no problem with the 10% Chaka, I have an issue with 300g if there
G: Brothers; sisters... he is scowling at us even more than before

Y: returns to the table. My friends, I am afraid you have gravely insulted the acolyte of jafar.
C: My apologies, we did not mean to insult him.
Y: You understand, whether or not you find anything, he is taking a risk in just letting you know where it is...
F: It is not commonplace to let people know where the burial sites are
G: do you trust this man, Yakub?
Y: I expect he will tell you exactly where it is, yes
C: It's just money, brother. We are young, we will make the money.
Sulayman takes the contract and sides it, and passes it to Chaka, "Let Fate decide, right Faruq?"

The orphans all reluctantly sign the contract

S: Faruq? Will you sign as well?

Reluctantly, the orphans all sign the contract.
Y: This is excellent. I will go and try to convince Abdallah that we are still in business
F: Yes we will be more than happy to settle... please extend my apologies.. my thoughts sometimes go too quickly.
Y: You are young. It is the privilege of the young to not make sense when they speak
S: So glad you offered to pay, Faruq as Sulayman narrows his eyes at Faruq.

The meal all told is 30 silver.

The orphans finish the meal.

The next day, the messenger boys arrives again with another message... and quickly unfolding it, it is a very detailed map.

S: I hope this was in a sealed envelope... as he looks at the messenger boy.
The boy takes off fearful of Sulayman

The mausoleum isn't quite so far out of the city that it will be exceedingly dangerous; it's close enough that patrols of mamluks might still patrol nearby.

Yakub must have made a great impression on Abdallah; it's a well-detailed map. By their estimate; it looks to be a 3-day walk from the city.

S: I guess this is what 300g buys us...

The orphans hadn't planned a trip together since any of them were very young; the realities of life in Huzuz had long taken precedence over more leisurely activities. Putting together their things and packing a small cart, the orphans set out in the direction suggested on the map in search of the tomb of Jabir.

The journey was easy and uninterrupted; still within the very near radius of the golden city; just far enough away to benefit from the occasional mamluk patrol, but far enough so as not to attract attentions of passers-by.

Finally coming to the area indicated on the map, the orphans' first reaction was one of dismay and concern... scanning the horizons and the nearby outcroppings; nothing even close to a mausoleum was evident. Frustrated, Faruq and Sulayman wandered; thoughts of 'betrayal' and 'restitution' at the forefront of their minds. And then, almost in answer to their growing dismay, from behind a small outcropping could be seen what might be described as an 'unnatural' set of rocks... perhaps they had found their goal?

Chaka looks around to see if there's anyone in the distance, watching the young band of would-be treasure-hunters.

Guzman, anxious to do something other than walking immediately set to the task of moving aside the rocks. None seemed big enough to pose a problem for the strong half-orc, but there were a lot of them.

Faruq, despite his stature, joins Guzman; the idea of moving closer to freeing Aunty of her burden was a powerful motivator, even if it seemed a million miles away right now. And, he admitted quietly to himself... he was anxious to see what they'd find...

G: Thank you for your efforts, Faruq.. I guess our brothers are afraid of a little hard work
S: sends Yousef 100 ft. up to scout and see from a higher vantage point whether they should expect guests
Z: Merely hesitant to disturb the dead and rob them of their riches Guzman, that's all.

After almost two hours, Faruq and Guzman felt like they might not have even moved have the rocks. The monumental task seems out of their reach under the hot midday sun.

G: A alittle help here, please
C: Should we return with tools?

Faruq... now breathing heavily

G: We didn't bring any tools but for you, Guzman... you're the biggest tool here.
C: Leave your brother alone..

Faruq, leaving on one of the larger rocks still very much in their way, looks at his hands, almost trembling from the fatigue and then stops. Wait a second...

Climbing out of the rubble, Faruq turns to some of the rocks further away from the mausoleum entrance, and more out of curiosity than anything, extends his hand, palm flat and with it's face to the rock, just like he had done in the tunnels in Huzuz. With a short, sputtering blast, the same blue energy sprang forth from Faruq's palm and blasted the nearby earth where Faruq was apparently aiming. With wide eyes and a half grin, Faruq tried again, this time hitting the tiny rock and sending it flying into the distance.

Turning now, and seeing his brothers and sister staring at him, he walked back to the entrance of the mausoleum, and said aloud, "Maybe we have another way..." Carefully aiming this newfound talent of his, he blasts the remaining stone away from the entrance, gradually revealing the entrance.

Looking at the entrance, one large stone remains. Faruq, seeming very pleased with himself says, "That was easier..."
Z: and louder too
C: Should we enter?
S: That's what we came for...
C: Guzman... Faruq?

Chaka jumps down and sees an engravement on the stone, reading:
Jabir min-Hayim sleeps here in paradise. May the fleas of a hundred camels infest any who plunder his remains. Let the oasis drain at the robber's approach. May his children wither from hunter, and may he lay down and die in his sleep after a thousand nightmares.

S: That's welcoming...
The door is sealed with a golden coin-shaped holy symbol of Jahur. Immediately Chaka understands that is a burial symbol to repel ghouls and other tomb-raiding undead.

S: Guzman, I know you're uncomfortable with this, but if we don't take this man's money, those ungrateful sons will.
G: I don't like taking your advice, but in this case, I agree. Why don't you help me with this stone then?

The stone, standing 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide, was too large for Guzman to budge despite his best effort.

Looking around, the orphans struggle with how to open the tomb.

Z: Perhaps we can be less as grave robbers, and more as grave liberators...

Guzman, Faruq and Zephyr try to nudge the stone
S: Put your back into it, Guzman
C: Use your legs.

20 minutes of straining and groaning, the stone finally moves.
Exhausted, Guzman leans heavily against the massive stone; spent and sweating heavily.

G: I am so happy to have

Assaulted by a smell as soon as they open the door, it is clear that's it's oils and herbs masking the smell of decay.

S: We can be sure, there are no mermaids here.
No sounds echo from the chamber ahead of them, but Chaka, Faruq and Zephyr move quietly into the tomb.

Approaching the sarcophagus, the orphans can see that it is carved of imported yellow marble inlaid with red and white flower patterns. In the corners, four jars covered but opened a little bit to allow the scent to slowly escape; surely aromatic burial oils.

Faruq examines the sarcophagus for traps, seals, or anything obvious that might thwart would be robbers from opening the lid.

Sulayman examines the walls, hoping to see cracks or a secret that might lead to a hidden chamber.

Zephyr stands at the doorway, as far from the sarcophagus as he can; perhaps wary of what might lie within; childhood stories racing through his head, no doubt.

Faruq uses his quarterstaff to try and wedge but loses his footing and stumbles, realizing

Guzman gets up and sighs weakly, wordlessly pushing against the lid of the sarcophagus, and easily nudges it off the sarcophagus. A burst of foul odour explodes outwards, sickening Faruq and Chaka.

From within, the mummified remains alongside considerable wealth and a few curiosities.
- A couple of small jars of the same oils
- his mummified cat; my dear Mansuri in a mini sarcophagus
- A deck of ivory playing cards
- A gem-studded mask of gold
- 6x heavy gold necklaces

F: Is this all there is to find?
C: It's a start. Should we return?
G: Let's not stay here any longer than we need to
S: Wait. Should we check the sarcophagus to see if there's a false bottom.
G: I think his buttom is pretty much eviscerated at this point
S: Just when you can't get any dumber
G: I have not been in a dead person either, I hope to never have had this experience.
S: Now I won't be able to eat supper, Guzman

Peering into the sarcophagus, Sulayman notes how heavy the mask and necklaces. Beginning as a whisper, Sulayman begins to recite arcane words sounding alien to his family.

Touching the mask, Sulayman says, "It's not magical, but still worth money. Let's grab these things and move on."

Faruq starts to make his way to the door, leaning heavily on the wall; still sick from the stench.

Reluctantly, gingerly, Zephyr and Guzman take the items from the mummified corpse, and gathered everything we can from the tomb.

S: Maybe we should have some soup or stew for supper?

The orphans all marvel at the luxury of these magnificent items... they've never seen anything like this.

The sun was setting... still visible on teh horizon.

Handing the cards to Su, the orphans agree to quickly leave, certain they'd be unable to explain what they were doing next to a robbed tomb.

Dividing up the riches among everyone in the party, the orphans quickly begin the journey back, knowing it would take them some days.

That night at camp, as the fire crackles, something out of the corner of Zephyr's eye catches his attention. Looking in that direction, he sees nothing. Then Chaka sees something, but looking in that direction, there is nothing.

A strange animal screech like a crow with a bad cold breaks the silence, and the orphans freeze in place. Then at the edge of the fire, we can see it, staring at us intently. It's three eyes glimmer from the fire, but it stays there, unmoving.




Then it lets out another screech.

Faruq stands, testing to see if the bird responds.

Z: Guzman, you're not crazy, we might be being watched.

Craaaaaaaaaw! the bird screeches again.

S: Does anyone speak 'raven'?

Chaka whispers a short prayer (Comprehend Languages), but the screech makes no more sense. Narrowing her eyes, Chaka wonders if this animal has ill or good intent, but nothing seems apparent (Detect Evil and Good)

Faruq takes a couple of steps toward the bird, and it's gaze locks on Faruq. Crawwwww!

Bending down to set out some of his rations, Faruq leaves a tiny spec for the raven, and just as he does so, the raven flies right at Faruq and right THROUGH him and disappears into the night sky.

C: This is not a good omen, my brothers. There WAS a warning on the tomb...

G: We need to return where it's safe, as fast as possible. I say we sleep now, wake early and leave to get back to the city

S: I agree

Faruq, startled... stares with wide eyes at his brothers and rubs his chest but felt nothing different than a moment ago.

The next morning the orphans leave in haste, very little conversation happening from anyone. Still feeling the effects and sickness from the tomb, Faruq and Chaka are a little slower to gather their things before leaving.

As they travel, the calm of the barren dessert is broken by the Sul's owl swooping down from above with a panicked cry. Looking up, the orphans see the distinct silhouette and now familiar form of the raven, circling above...
 Episode 7 of The Burning World
 2016-02-02 -  
Not Much to Show For It... ( Member Submission! )... 2016-02-02 
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'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 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

"Babazadeh 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 Babazadeh 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... "
 Episode 6 of The Burning World
 2016-01-27 
 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.



Fate was no doubt in play, as news of the orphans' plight has risen all the way up to the Golden Palace, and it is no secret that the Grand Caliph is no fan of slavery, though it is understood it is still a part of the day-to-day across Zakhara. Even pne of the heads of the Grand Caliph's security was a slave who was bought and immediately freed.

Gogol is one of the 'procurers of talent'; not wanting to fly in the face of law and the Grand Caliph's clear preference, and there remains a trade across the continent due to families with too many children who either are sold or volunteer themselves to join 'the trade'.

Even though Aunty herself may not have signed the contract, since she let Uncle Jojo handle the finances despite his 'get rich quick' attempts. Failing more often than succeeding, it was the orphans' job to help chip in working more to make ends meet when things didn't go well with these schemes. It was all ok though, because Aunty and Jojo provided a great, welcoming home.

It was a surprise then, that Imam Ren min Zamm; high priest of the god of wisdom: Zann to declare that the contract will only take effect in one year after the signing.



"If fate has brought this upon us, then it is something that we deserve." her faith is astounding.

"I'm sure everything will work out. Now, can you help me prepare the coffee?"

With meaningful glances, both Chaka and Akeylah suggested the boys go to the docks to begin the arduous task of earning such a monumental sum.

Zephyr says, "30000 dinars, that shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

"This is embarrassing that I have to explain this to you, but I don't think we'll be making that money at the docks!"

Zephyr continues, "Is it a lot?"

Zephyr, it's more than we'd make in a thousand lifetimes hauling crates off ships."
Zephyr's eyes cast downwards, the realization hitting home.

Faruq loosens his scarf and coughs, his eyes wide... his mind racing as he sheepishly follows Sulayman.

The family heads towards the wharves... thinking that this massive task begins with manual labour. The smell assaults you; the sea, the spices, the fish. All the orphans have done work like this before, sometimes hauling crates, sometimes passing messages regarding merchandise, and so they're used to the hustle and bustle.

All Zakharans are polite and tend to be good-natured, but business is business and so it comes as no surprise as a commotion can be heard as they approach the wharves.

A small crowd has gathered around the two combatants, and as we push through the crowd, the orphans make out the figures of both Babazadeh fighting with Khalid; and it doesn't seem to be going in Khalid's favour.

Babazadeh is a dock worker/porter in the harbor district of Huzuz. Baba always had grand 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 in some fashion.

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! 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.

Zephyr reaches for Khalid to try and restrain him.

Guzman tackles Babazadeh and knocks him to the ground, "Friend Guzman, why do you strike Babazadeh?!"

"That's enough; no more violence; not here."

"No more violence?! And what of the violence THIS one has done to Babazadeh?!"

"I said that's enough."

Sulayman mocks him, "What sort of violence has he done you, Babazadeh, has he bruised your knuckles with his face?"

Well, yes, as a matter of fact he has, but he has cost Babazadeh all the money in the world. That is what he has done. He has cost Babazadeh. Babazadeh cannot feed his family today, or for the next week because of THIS one!"

Zephyr asks, "Khalid are you ok?"

With a dreamy look on his face, Khalid look "Ah, Zephyr... so good to see you"

explain how he has cost you so much money, Babazadeh

Straightening himself out, standing up straight, Babazadeh looks a little bit suspiciously

You have known baba many years. You know baba has never been a lucky fisherman. TODAY however, Fate has looked upon my nicely and when Babazadeh casts his net out into the ocean, I yield NOTHING, except for one fish, beautiful sapphire scales. I have never seen a fish like this before. I daresay it must be a genie fish. Yes, that is what it was

At first, I stopped and started apologizing to the fish. But then Babazadeh stops and wonders, "Why am I apologizing to a fish!?" Then it occurs to Babazadeh; selling this fihs at the Grand Bazaar could feed babazadeh's family for weeks; months maybe.

Sealing it in a pot, I carried

Accusing Khalid of bumping into him, and upon seeing the fish, Khalid

Why is Babazadeh so unlucky?!

Khalid, with a dreamy look on his face says yes, you should have seen this fish... I have never seen a fish like this. I go to pick up the pot and return it, and all I can think is; this fish is the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Some fat merchant or noble might eat this fish?! No.... I will save you, and I threw the fish into the closest water I could find. This well, right here. I have saved this fish.

"And you have cost me all my money!" Babazadeh yells.

Khalid reponds in the same dreamy fashion; calm and very pleased with what he has done.

I think Guzman was trying to prvent you from causing a blood feud before you killed this man.

"Babazadeh demands justice!"

Sulayman suggests the brothers can help retrive the fish if Babazadeh promises not to continue his assault on Khalid.

Guzman says he's not going down the well; not worried that they will continue fighting.

"Really, Guzman..." Sul sighs...

"I make no promises, if this fish was indeed a 'genie fish', it is likely smarter than all of us."

Babazadeh promises to cut in the heroes 60/40

Sulayman looks astounded, "But this is Babazadeh's fish!"

Guzman suggests Babazadeh go in himself

Why don't you find somewhere to calm your nerves and we'll figure out what to do next.

He apologizes to Sulayman, "I'm sorry to hear what's happened."

Khalid pipes up as well, "Yes, very sorry to hear this."

In light of what has happened I am willing to offer 50/50.

Sulayman says, "It's not in your hands, can you really say it is yours to sell?" Babazadeh looks crestfallen, but Zephyr anxiously jumps into the well. Sulayman rolls his eyes at his brother's lack of subtlety.

Sulayman asks, "Did either of you geniuses bring a rope?"

I ditn't think you were going to physicall accost him? We don't need more enemies today, do we?

There's always room for more.

I thought you could talk it out with him

You know very well I speak the language of devils and nothing more

You're hidious

Get in there (almost pushes Sulayman into the well)

Don't touch me, I'd have to bathe for a week to get the stench of you off me.

Then you better get in quick!

Faruq looks at Guzman and says, "Should we not take the easier route?" He removes rope from his pack.

Guzman says "I'm not missing the chance of jumping on top of him!" and Guzman jumps in. Guzman cannonballs Sulayman.

Faruq, leaning over the well, laughs at his brothers' antics and then ties a rope with a slipknot so he can climb down slowly rather than jump dangerously.

"I meant to question the other one; he did not seem himself, no? Almost like he was ensorcelled or something."

"He was probably drunks from the many blows."

I'm torn whether you're stupidly hideous or hideously stupid.

keep crawling and if you fart on my you'll get an enema.

The heroes continue crawling single file.

Finally emerging into a large cistern, the brothers find themselves treading water, wondering what's next.

Sulayman "What did you have planned when you got us this far, Zephyr?"

Zephyr says, "Well... here fishy, fishy, fishy..."

Sulayman says, "Today of all days I surround myself with the titans of reason."

Sulayman dunks underwater to look what other tunnel choices they have.

Able to hold his breath indefinitely, Zephyr disappears down one of the tunnels to find out how far it is. Faruq, clearly tiring wedges his dagger into the stone of the cistern, trying to give his legs a rest.

Reaching an adjoining bathhouse, Zephyr takes a look around and returns to his brothers to let them know they can make the distance with a big, full breath.

Guzman, with a look at the gate under water as they emerge into the bath house is pretty sure that the damage done was not the work of water over the years...

The bath house seems in terrible shape; the tiles green with algae lay littered on the ground, animal fur and bird feathers are scattered everywhere; clearly this place has not been either visited or cleaned in a long, long time.

"That is one powerful fish..." Zephyr muses.

"What do you mean?" Guzman asks.

"This might be a nightmare for me to be surrounded by you all." Sulayman laments.

The brothers call climb out of the water, glad to be on steady ground again.

"This place is awful and it smells..." Guzman complains.

Zephyr, distracted by the trash in a corner, is surprised by the emergence of three giant centipedes that race towards the heroes.

Biting into Zephyr, one of the centipedes fells Zephyr immediately; he falls unconscious to the floor. Another races at Guzman and bites into his leg, and Guzman winces in pain and collapses like his brother.

Sulayman stabs wildly at one of them as it scampers by, skewering it with his short sword. "Disgusting!" he calls out and then conjures a bolt of fire to incinerate another of the centipedes.

Dodging one of the centipedes, Faruq relying purely on instinct outstretches his hand at the centipede and a blast of force crushes the centipede.

Faruq and Sulayman race over to resuscitate their brothers, still reeling from their surprise.

sulayman says "Surely these centipedes aren' the ones to have pulled off these tiles; something else has been here."

Examining further, the brothers can see carved into the cement, but backwards:

The evil eye is upon you. Respect your elder.

Faruq, "We all know of the evil eye that can haunt and follow you..."

Sulayman, "yes but what do you make of it being written backwards"

Guzman, "Pay it no mind, let's continue."

Sulayman: "What would they have bricked up the exit for, I wonder?"

Faruq notices a small window, eleven feet above the floor, and there are what seem to be scratches maybe even claw marks leading up to the window, suggesting that at least a couple of large things tried to get through that window.

Faruq suggests Zephyr use his Genasi gift to rise and see through the window. A swirling of wind rushes around Zephyr's ankles, and like stepping on 'hard air', Zephyr can see that it's an exit to a small, deserted alleyway. Reaching out, Zephyr pulls himself closer to the bars, and finds the window easily gives way, swinging quietly on a hinge.

Arguing over what caused the claw marks and whether or not we'll find the fish, Faruq starts looking around the bathhouse walls to see if there's any other access in or out of this room, but finds nothing.

Going through the window easily, landing in the alleyway outside, the bustle of a busy day visible from the far end of the alley.

"Come on, it's clear." Zephyr beckons.
Sul: Where doe sit lead?
Not the fish as far as I can tell
You conjure your majicks more easily now
Well that's the point of studying, I guess
I wouldn't know
You could always try it if you were curious... read a book man
Not all of us have the brains.
Looking at Guzman, Sulayman says, "Well don't pick on him to his face, Faruq."
Faruq climbs up and out the window to join Zephyr in the alleyway.

Guzman; tired of waiting, gives a kick to the bricked-up area to see if it's solid

Sulayman: Get back in here, Faruq; we're breaking bricks now.

Zephyr and Faruq climb back to join their brothers, deciding now to continue down the other of the two tunnels from the well found earlier.

Kicking again and again at the mortared-up bricks in the wall, Guzman finally brings down the wall enough that they can start to make their way through the wall.

Looking through; the brothers realize they're looking into a warehouse. Looking around, they can see it's used by a cloth merchant, but no vandalism evident; all appearances that it was a legitimate warehouse.

Almost without thinking, Guzman suggests that they take some of the cloth for sale, but is scolded by Sulayman and Faruq.

Faruq: Aunty would never forgive the dishonor of taking what is not ours.
Sulayman: Maybe we can put the bricks back and no one would notice
Would you risk it if it was your family?
Guz: We're wasting time, we go either forward or go back
Faruq: What did you expect to find?
Sul: Behind the sealed entrance? 30.000 gold dinars
Faruq: My hope is the same... Faruq says as he start to put the bricks back.
Sulayman: Go in and see if there's someone there

Faruq, thinking better of the idea decides to head into the warehouse to try and warn them of the breach and advise them of their error.

Faruq: Not a soul is in there; we should return later and advise them of what we did. let us hurry then, we're in the pursuit of our split, yes?

Zephyr: Money, I thought we were looking for a fish?

Sul: I guess they weren't trying to seal something in our out; it's just convenient construction.

Zephyr: I think you've been reading too many stories borther

Sul: Something does come and go though; nothing natural left THAT I don't suppose...

Z: Then perhaps we should press on..

S: Yes with all haste to find the great clawed beast that makes those marks.

G: Hurry, Zephyr is hurt.

S: Perhaps we should have brought our sisters if you were going to break a leg...

Zephyr makes his way back into the water and disappears down the tunnel, back to the cistern .

S: I don't think he should go alone; he almost got snacked on by those centipedes.

The brothers quickly follow Zephyr back down the tunnel.

Continuing in the other direction, the brothers quickly realize they're climbing through a huge pipe leading to a copper boiler. Without anything to drag the water back and forth through the pipe, it is stagnant compared to the water from the well. Peering towards the end of the pipe, the boiler is visible only through a hole punched into the wall of the boiler itself. Below the pipe, the water below is brackish, black and stagnant, and the scent rises to meet the brothers is awful.

Faruq gently lowers himself down to the bottom of the boiler, stepping into the awful water below is overcome by the stench, and begins to retch involuntarily. Looking around, there are no tools that you can see that would have been used to punch through this boiler.

S: Is there a way out down there?

G: What do you see, brother Faruq?

G: It's just like your bathwater, Su.

S: Only if I bathe after you, Guzman...

Stepping down into the awful water in the room, Faruq glances around desperately; anxious to get himself out of this foulness.

Now throwing up completely and through bleary eyes, Faruq can make out two arches leading out of the room, presumably the tops of two doorways. The thought of wading through the water and through those archways was too much for Faruq, so he pulled himself back into the pipe and quickly threw away his robe so stained by the foulness.

Pushing past Faruq, Guzman hops out of the pipe and into the water below, retching just as Faruq was. Sulayman quickly follows, but his stomach holds. Zephyr hovers above the water, avoiding the horrible stench as much as possible.

Guzman's ears perk up... is that singing?

G: It's a sickly sound...

Guzman starts going up the northern passage, and rolling his eyes in frustration, Faruq joins his brothers wading through the foulness and down the northern archway.

Emerging into a section that they must assume was the 'hot pool', the brothers look around and see tiers of benches covered in thick dust, and the walls have tiles like the other rooms. Another exit is now visible on the far end of the room.

Now all the brothers can hear the humming sounds both female and old... it even sounds a bit like Aunty.

G: We must at least investigate.
S: this must be a trick but I agree
G: Keep your guard up, your weapons drawn.

Heading down the corridor, it's obvious that there are wet footsteps ahead of them; something has been through here before them. Stopping at a door on the west wall, Guzman seems un-distracted and continues down the corridor towards the source of the humming sound.

Sulayman forgets the door and follows his brothers down the corridor.

G: Take a peek if you like Su, we won't stop you
S: We can come back, Guzman.

Ending up in another room, the brothers see three tiers of benches which are covered with mounds and heaps of bone, even though the effect is quite ghastly, but realize they're all animal bones.

As their eyes adjust to the darkness, it's now evident at they are not alone in the room.

In the center of the chamber, kneeling on a rotten rug sits a withered old woman, dressed in tattered rags, rocking slightly side to side humming to herself unintelligibly.

On the lowest bench sits a ceramic bowl, and there it is; the sapphire-scaled fish lies in the bowl with laboured breathing.

G: I told you she was old

O: She looks up and says "Toned Low"

Z: Toned Low to you too.

G: Fish, you have the fish. Can we see it?

O: mutteres something unintelligently

S: I think there's something wrong with her

Guzman tries to mimick the motions of a fish, and she has a glimmer of recognition, but she mumbles something crazy-sounding as she pets the fish.

The beauty of the fish is undeniably. Starting at it for just a brief moment, the brothers are pretty sure this fish is intelligent!

S: I'm no genius but I think the fish needs water...

Faruq approaches, and the lady calls out "kits yawah, kits yawah"

G: Wait, wait brothers. Back away slowly; if you don't rmemeber , there was backwards writing, she was saying itsayawah; it means stay away, be very cautious around her.

Z: I think she's scared because you all smell like shit.

Zephyr floated the whole time

spread out on the three tiers of benches
2 ceramic bowls
dirty porcelain teapot
change purse
vial of rose-coloured liquid
tattered garment
wooden bucket
silvers spoon
camel brush
jambiya
gold ring
dented metal mirror
silver earring
worn out broom
gem studded anklet
small crystal prism
elephant goad

Sulayman also bows to the old lady.

The woman continues to mumble, but the pattern starts to emerge for the brothers

F: she's speaking in reverse
Z: Yes it is a pretty fish
S: It is a pretty fish, what would you take in trade for the pretty fish, revered mother

She thinks a bit and picks up the broom, and say "Peews. Peews." Waiting, she repeats herself, "Peews."

Enlightenment hits Sulayman, and he walks forward, understanding that she wants him to sweep. Noticing immediately, Sulayman sees her hands are strong and her eyes are sharpened claws, and as she smiles at Sulaymen sweetly, he can see her teeth are yellowed with some that are sharp as well.

S: Where woud you like me to clean?

She gestures at the entire floor "Peews"
S: I can't wait to see what she asks of you brother
G: Nothing as humiliateing as that
I hope she makes you lick the floor

She looks at Faruq, picks up the brush she had and says, "riahymhsurb"

Faruq bows and walks forward, extending his open palm. She places the brush in his hand, and then turns her back to him, making evident her intent. Her hair is long and steely, so sharp in fact that Faruq scratches his hand as he first touches it.

Faruq's eyes examine her closely, not repulsed by her awkward appearance, but she turns and makes a gesture like Faruq should cover his mouth. Understanding she can sense his sickness, Faruq grabs a scarf from his pack and ties it to cover his mouth. She smiles and turns again to let him comb her hair.

Looking at Zephyr, she says, "nessig noss". Stamping her feet and repeating herself, she says it again.

Z: WOuld you like me to sing for you?

O: Mmmmmmmmmmm the woman does not repeat herself but waits patiently for Zephyr.

Zephyr floats closer and begins to sing a song none of the brothers recognize, and she starts to hum horribly along with the tune.

This continues for a short while

O:

Faruq is looking over at the fish to see if it's still ok, but it seems to actually make eye contact with Faruq.

The old woman says: rouyshif

S: The fish needs water, is that what you're saying? Oh... it's OUR FISH!?

Sul bows to her, and says it's been a pleasure doing business with you and hands her back to the broom "I love what you've done with the place"

Faruq reaches out to see how she reacts as he attempts to take the fish, but she watches and allows it.

G: Is there a way out of here?

O: "wodniw"

S: Window.

Leaving the old lady, the brothers hasten back into the brackish water to retrace their steps; making sure to keep the beautiful, jewelled fish high above the foulness.

Making their way back through the tunnels to the fresh water at the bottom of the well, Faruq quickly steps out of the water and makes his way to the window, trying to climb it.

Sulayman grabs his arm and says "Where are you going brother, the fish needs water."

F: Yes, but if it was caught in the ocean it needs to go back to the ocean, of course
S: It surived the intiial fall into the well, it should be fine.
F: But why prolong it's agony, if it's to be a trasure, we must take care of it.

Sulayman and Guzman, suspicious of Faruq's actions, wonder if he is not acting like Khalid

S: Give me the fish, brother.
S: Something's amiss here, Guzman.
G: Give him the fish, Faruq.

f: No, but we can save this fish and make it healthy, so it will be worth more when we sell it

S: Let me see the fish, brother.

Guzman moves behind him

F: You are being ridiculous, I will be right back. and he tries to pull away from Sulayman.

Sulayman grabs Faruq but calls to Guzman to grab Faruq as well; but his ailment keeps him from making a good grasp. As he stumbles, Guzman locks eyes with the fish and catching himself, agrees with Faruq, "We SHOULD get this fish to the water."

Faruq attempts to squirm free of Sulayman's grasp and wiggles free, scampering up the wall to the window. Zephyr, trying to grab Faruq, instead pushes him out the window and Faruq lands unceremoniously on his head outside in the hallway.

In the room, Sulayman tries to get to the window but loses his grip, and even though Guzman tried to grab him, misses and they both tumble over each other uselessly.

Faruq, righting himself properly makes his way down the alley and into the streets on his way to the wharf.

Baba: Hey! What are you doing?! You have Babazadeh's fish! And he starts scampering through the crowd to get to Faruq.

Zephyr, grabbing Faruq spins him around and locks eys with the fish, the pleading, desperate look of the fish actually makes him feel bad.

Baba: Hold him! Hold him!

S: Get off my Guzman, you fat ass and he climbs out the window after his brothers. Seeing Babazadeh scamper after Faruq, Sulayman sprints into the crowd as well.

Guzman climbs out the window as well, and landing quick and sprints after his brothers.

Faruq easily breaks free from Zephyr, sprinting through the busy crowd towards the wharf, and as soon as he is in reach of it, he tosses it in.

Guzman and Faruq feel their senses come back to them, Faruq is so pleased with himself, wait... why? What are we doing here? I know I was doing something very important, was it with water, a fish? What?

S: You threw the fish into the sea! You may have just dashed our hopes of saving Aunty. there was something special about that fish
G: Why would you have done that Faruq? That was so silly of you
You helped him, you buffoon
I did? I don't remember
This is... I don't recall

A moment lair
Turqoise hair, high cheeckbones, pointy ears
eyesMolten sapphire orbs,

Bursts up out of the w

Oh most honourable one, how you have saved me? Kisses him full on the lips, Thank you thank you thank you, covering

Thank you so much for saving me
This has been such a hard day, but thank you for saving me
She dives back into the water
waiting...
Babazadeh arrives... my fish? Where is it?

S: Your fish was not a fish, it was not a fish...
Faruq is stunned

She emerges again, seawead over her shoulders

4 small pearls
Here; for my noble heroes

My name is: Bahari

If you are ever near the coastline; she takes out a conch and says you need only call

S: Bahari you don't happen to know where we can find a treasure chest full of gold, do you?

She looks at you quizzically

F: snaps at Sulayman "Silence!

B: If we see one we will be sure to let you know

She sees babazadeh and takes off

S: Your fish is gone, babazadeh... it was never a fish
S: Yes, you seemed to have stumbled across a mermaid

B: Babazadeh had a mermaid? What of our contract?! We had a deal? Babazadeh said we would split 50/50

Sulayman argues with babazadeh that he owes them nothing, and that he has no claim to the pearls.

B: I will fetch a Kadi! You have not seen the last of bababazadeh! That I promise you!


 Episode 5 of The Burning World
 2015-07-06 -  
Prologue... ( Member Submission! )... 2015-07-06 
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 Babazadeh, one of the porters you’ve come to know…
 Episode 4 of The Burning World
 2017-08-07 -  
Equal Pay for Equal Work... ( Member Submission! )... 2017-08-07 
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.
 Episode 1 of The Burning World
 2015-06-28 -  
Al-Qadim Primer... ( Member Submission! )... 2015-06-28 
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