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Episode #6: 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
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:
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
vial of rose-coloured liquid
dented metal mirror
worn out broom
gem studded anklet
small crystal prism
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
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?
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
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!