Orphans take Chaka and Guzman‘s bodies to Al-Anwar. Jann renegs content w/D’aro, kill Jann. Faruq calls for Jann to introduce to the encampment. Sheyish resurrects Guzman but Chaka doesn’t return. Bond of Salt and introduced to Printz.
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 sombre 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…
<i>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….</i> 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.
“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
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.
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?
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…
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?
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: 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.
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.
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…
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?
S: You have our thanks.