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Episode #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
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?
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:
- studded leather armor
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."
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."
"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...
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?
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
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?"
"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.