Talk to Yakub who tells about grave near city ripe for robbing. Orphans go to try and beat brothers who are looking too. They find the the tomb of Jabir, finding treasure also but sickened from decay.
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…
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.
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?
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 pearls 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 a 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 dinars, 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 of the higher-end restaurants in Huzuz, they can afford a mamluk guard at the door; a tall bronze-skinned, heavily tattooed 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 discuss 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.
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.
Chaka jumps down and sees an engravement on the stone, reading:
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…
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.
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
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 bottom 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
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.
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)
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 desert 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…