Discover Shrine of Suhail min Zann raided by foul Yak-men. Defeat them, Chaka temporarily possessed by spirit of Suhail who tells siblings of the Geomancers and to advise Nalv the Lions of Tomorrow have returned. Nalv flies off without another word.
In the large Dao-carved chamber, the orphans breathe a temporary sigh of relief in this momentary respite.
G: Are you collecting his remains, brother?
F: Do you not think this might be of use?
Z: a strange trophy to collect, no?
F: No… well yes…
C: Will other genies start to notice?
F: I hope not…
S: Do you think we can get some money for these? Everything is for sale brothers, someone will pay…
Secreting the Dao dust satchel away, the orphans look deeper into the cavern; curious what lies in wait beneath the mosque of Jann. Arriving at a set of heavy stone doors standing ajar and looking up at them, Guzman can see an epitaph for someone named, “Suhail min Zann”.
Looking into the lair, Guzman can make out the distinct shape of a sarcophagus, one end smashed and lying at the base. “I see something there, brothers…”
C: Should we move the door?
G: Should we enter and face what guards this?
F: Perhaps we can lure out whatever lies inside?
Stepping into the room, a flash catches their attention; a glyph from above crackles with electricity, flashing through the orphans. Dodging aside, the siblings are all now keenly aware of the scent of pungent, spicy aroma, a strange, horrible mixture of ashes, cloves and myrrh.
Chaka, augmenting her voice, calls out in the darkness, “Suhail min Zann, we mean you no harm. We are here to mend what was broken.”, but nothing comes back from the darkness.
Emerging from the darkness, a horrible snorting, clawing, yak-like humanoid stands out from behind the sarcophagus and raises a
hand towards Chaka, but she seems unaffected by the magic. Faruq, moving Chaka to safety, puts his body in front of hers. Another of the yak-like figures comes into view from behind the sarcophagus, and a spectral scythe manifests next to Faruq; slicing him with a flash.
The yak-mens assault continued, and in such a confined space, the orphans elect to beat a hasty retreat to collect themselves.
Reaching the relative safety of the cave entrance, the heroes begin to come to terms that their inexperience is perhaps as dangerous as some of those that stand in their path. No one taught them how to do this ‘adventuring’ and no one was going to. No just ‘heading home’ if things got too tough; this was life and death. All of their young lives, they were ‘different’ from the ‘norm’; why should they expect that to change?
Zephyr, slumping down next to Faruq with this back against the cave wall begins to chuckle. Lightly at first, then daring a little louder. Perplexed, Faruq looks at his brother curiously, and Zephyr finally says aloud, “We finally found something that smells worse than Guzman…”
You had to admit… it lightened the mood.
Almost charging back in to the caverns, the orphans engage again the yak-men, and despite their magic, the siblings emerge victorious. A large chest behind the sarcophagus springs a trap on the unwitting Guzman, but Chaka used her magic to revive him.
Looking through the chest, Chaka finds 5,000sp, 2,000gp, 5 blood red garnets, and an extensive collection of human, demi-human and humanoid skulls. At a casual glance, Chaka is able to determine that one of the skulls is considerably older than the others. Reaching into the chest, Chaka grasps the old skull and she goes stiff; her eyes staring forward and glassy as though she was seeing something else. In a voice not her own, she turns to address her brothers:
“I wish to thank you worthy travellers,
for your sacrifice on my behalf, but I’m afraid
your adventures and hardships have only just begun.
Allow me to introduce myself, I am Suhail min Zann,
priest of the great god Zann, one whose
body has been desecrated here in my shrine.
to do more than you have already done here,
I do believe Fate itself has guided you to me,
and I must give you your instructions,
for I am not long tethered here.
It is highly unlikely that you have heard of my exploits before,
for I have done much work in the years before my death
to make sure that they were hidden, hidden from all who could possibly use this knowlege for evil.
But now, with the nine-fold stars that have fallen from the sky,
the worst events that could have happened, have already begun to take place.”
Chaka looks at the body
“I sense from the… soul of this one… a very pleasant soul, I might add, that you have had encounter with a strange artifact.
It would seem lacking in value; it would look like a 9-spoked wheel, a seal made of clay…”
S: We have see this artifact, yes!
Z: The man we left in the jail
“This was a seal that was used to imprison my arch enemy, many, many years ago, before enlightenment took over Zakhara.
My group, including my brother Ash’taraq, fought against the greatest evil The Burning Lands have ever known… they are known as The Geomancers.
Terrible sorcerer-priests who ruled from the ancient kingdom of Kadar.”
Chaka begins to look somewhat confused…
“Many years ago, I… I apologize my link… to this world…. is fading…
But you must know, she has awoken…
The Ninth of The Nine. The most powerful and terrible of them all.
Her name is lost to memory, but she was known in the ancient empires as Tisan; the most powerful of the Geomancers, great priestess of the cold god, Grumbar.
Wielder of magic such that has never been seen… she… we tried to kill her, but were not able to… instead we barely managed to imprison her, but the seal…
the seal that kept her locked away, it was removed from her prison, if you have seen it, it means she is free… it means she is free…
please… go to the guardian of my shrine, tell him that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged.
He will know what to do with that information… I… I am fading… I am fading…
Faruq desperately spills his shoulder sack empty and scrambles through his papers, finding the illustration of the seal that he drew in the prison, holding it in front of Chaka‘s glaze-covered eyes for Suhail min Zann to see.
Yes… that is it… you cannot hope to defeat her without my secret, hidden knowledge that I buried away so that none may ever use it to free her…
who could… who could have imagined that this would happen by accident…
Tell the guardian that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged, he will make the necessary arrangements… I am fading..
The fate of Zakhara is in your hands, young ones… you must…”
Chaka blinks and emerges again from her trance.
Lost in thought, the orphans slowly make their way back out of the tomb, contemplating the great tale they had been told. The fading light of day greeted them warmly, and the fresh valley air was a welcome relief to the foulness of the yak-men’s stench and the stale, tomb air.
Returning to the lower level and the shrine entrance, Nalv returns and again scratches its question for them in the sand:
Generous pilgrims, I have been concerned. Is everything alright?
Two yak-like humanoid creatures were found inside, having desecreated Suhail’s tomb.
It’s head drops
S: The spirit of Suhail min Zann has come to us and spoken through my sister. It told us to tell you that The Lions of Tomorrow have emerged.
It looks up excitedly, its mandibles snapping quickly, and it disappears into the sky like a black bolt of lightning; nothing has ever moved more quickly. Within moments, it’s out of sight.
S: Does anyone understand what is going on?
G: I don’t think we’re supposed to at this point.
Deciding to rest in the shrine for the night, the orphans find shelter in the mosque and let Suhail min Zann’s words and Nalv‘s strange behaviour be their contemplation for the night.