To Krak al-Shidda!

Su finds potential treasure spot: Krak al-Shidda. Haroushin agrees to research Adil & medallion. Talk to Yakub about Krak for info. Buy provisions for trip to ruins. Suspicious flash-flood that reveals secret entrance to tomb in wadi. Tomb belongs to Shaddad; Faruq tells ancient story of Cyclone of the Four Quarters.

Sulayman had done some research during his downtime to seek out any scuttlebutt re: treasure hoards, etc. He found not much in official libraries, but the name Krak al-Shidda came up more than once.

At the southeastern middle end of the Al-Akara Mountains there stands the wreckage of an old stronghold named Krak al-Shidda, a reminder of the bygone wars when Zakhara was being converted to the Law of the Loregiver. Opposing armies, armies of Enlightened People and armies of what would be barbarians would besiege the fortress. Because of the incessant warfare, the fort newer could be properly refortified to withstand an approaching army.

Finally, a wise old general ordered the stronghold razed so he would not have to recapture it again after the monsoon season the following year. With Krak al-Shidda destroyed, and more and more people becoming Enlightened, those who would become barbarians found they had nothing left to fight over, and the senseless warfare ended. But to this day, desert nomads sometimes find old swords and bits of armor near the ruins, a few broken remnants that remind us of those ancient battles.

Today, the ruined _______ remains in its commanding position, guarding the southwestern entrance to the Jackal’s Pass, a passage through the mountains. Travelers sometimes stop at the ruins for a night or two, seeking shelter from the winds or looking for water among the overgrown wells of the fort. A young goatherder once said he saw the glitter of gold at the bottom of a pit in the ruins. This was never officially corroborated, but it was enough to send treasure hunters investigating.

To date, none have reported any success there.

The heroes begin by deciding what to do about Adil, and elect to have him locked up for his own safe-keeping. He agrees, desperate for any kind of reprieve from this ‘curse’ he feels he’s under

Faruq makes a copy of the medallion in his book for future reference Without any strong leads, the orphans decide to look to the priesthood of Zann for directin; they are about accumulating and interpreting knowledge of all kinds; Greater, common and Heathen and perhaps they can shed some light on this. They proceed to the mosque of Zann in Huzuz and are granted audience with an older Imam, long white hair, white beard, and modest and welcoming demeanor; Haroushin

They begin by telling what they have recently encountered, and Haroushin listens intently, responding only with “Hmmmmmm” over and over lol

S: We are certain someone else is trying to aquire this talisman, and the reason we know this is because we witnessed the man being slain by what I believe is an Invisible Stalker. So someone else wants this talisman, we are sure.

Haroushin seems alarmed at this comment.

S: this is why we are interested in figuring out what it is; we don’t want this to fall into the wrong hands.
H: But you say currently it is in the hands of this… thief…
S: Correct, but we can bring you to where this man is… we’ve had him… kept underlock and key for his own safety, but I feel he won’t be there long.
H: YOU’VE kept him under lock and key? Are you… are you law enforcement?
S: No, but we have handed him over to law enforcement, but they can’t really charge him, so he’s only there temporariliy…
H: Hmmm….. this is not much to go on, i will confess I am somewhat interested in seeing how this works out
G: Have you ever heard of any of this? Any part of our story?
H: I have heard of invisible stalkers, I have never seen one, but I gather that’s rather their purpose…
C: There is a detail that may still be important… when the thief believed the curse started, he saw something in the sky…
H: What did he see?
C: He saw a meteor pass through the sky. You may have seen them as well..
S: He was also in the city of Muluk at the time, but has no recollection of how her got here to Huzuz, other than a brief memory of being on a ship. He says he frequently blacks out and wakes up elsewhere
H: Well this is an important detail… hmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm. Obviously I have no answers for you now. Is there anythign else you can tell me about this? It looks ilke from what you’ve described, that this talisman is a wheel… 9 spokes… hmmmm….
S: Have we forgotten anything, brothers?
Z: Hmmmmmmmm
G: Well, there was one thing. When he was perusing the streets of Huzuz, when we crossed his path, he seemed to stop and look at us for no reason, almost surprised or in reverence. Almost shocked to see us.. It seemed odd in a crowded street that he would pass by everyone but stop at our feet.
C: He was also muttering something in a language we had never heard before.
H: Interesting. Could you repeat what he said?
G: Absoloutely… “aldsfkha lf;hr;lqwhr as;ldfhk afd;lkjasd”

Haroushin stares straight-faced at Guzman spewing unintelligible gibberish; not a hint of a smile or even surprise on his face.

H: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
S: Guzman… shut up!

Sulayman tries to mimic the sounds he heard before as well, and it could not have been more different to Faruq‘s uneducated ears.

H: Hmmmmmmm…. those do not sound at all the same. Looking at Chaka, “Is there anything else?”

Faruq whispers to Chaka, “Did he not say he read some runes in the moonlight?

C: Yes, he did say that.
F: Perhaps insignificant, he said he read the runes in the moonlight before he saw the meteors.
H: So this man loses consciousness and then wakes up somewhere else…

Haroushin stands up abruptly, gathering his notes and things, and says, “I will send for you once I have determiend what this is, if there is something to find.”

G: How will you find us?
H: I was JUST about to ask you…
G: Su, how will he find us?

Sulayman is barely able to contain himself, but says, “He can send word to the house, Guzman!”
C: He can send word through Khalid.
S: Sighs… must we still use that fool?
C: He likes you…

Sulayman tells Haroushin where Aunty’s house is so he can send word should there be a need.

Leaving the mosque, the orphans discuss what to do about Aunty and her exposure to their plans.

G: I would hate for Aunty to learn more about our dealings than we’d like her to from an errant messenger
F: I think Guzman has a point; perhaps we can use an intermediary; one that is well known but that we trust to shield Aunty from our true activities…
C: What about Khalid? Chaka says with a smile
S: Am I the only one who hates Khalid? have you all forgotten the trouble he got us into?
G: Absoloutely not.
F: Not Khalid, but someone else I think who could act in this capacity would be very wise
G: For free.
S: This is a lot of money we’re trying to raise for Aunty. To keep it under wraps I think would be impossible. We may have gotten away with it until now, but she will learn the truth sooner or later. In fact, I think we should tell her a measure of the truth, and tell her that we are attempting to adventure to raise money for her. We don’t have to tell her the full details of course, but how long can we expect her to belive that we are ‘camping’ and working the docks?
F: She has always been understanding in the past; I agree Su.
S: I am not completely comfortable lying to the woman who has sheltered me and treated me better than I deserve. I’d rather tell her the truth, but that’s just me
F: Now that we are put to the question, I blieve you are right. We have been denying her this for her protection, but truly if she were to follow us to satisfy her suspicions she could find herself in great danger, no?
S: I would hope she wouldn’t follow us…
F: She’s followed us before, like when you went off to the wizard school. She may do it again
S: Hopefully she stays busy with her statues. Chaka, what do you think?
C: I’m not comfortable lying to her much longer either
S: At some point we’re going to have to tell her the truth. perhaps not today, but soon.
G: I agree Su, I don’t think we can keep this from her, but perhaps not today, and let’s keep it under wraps until we can’t anymore.

Electing to visit Yakub to see if he has either heard of any more ‘jobs’ they might be suited to complete

Arriving at Yakub’s barber’s tent, he is giving a haircut to a young boy, mimicking the sounds of a monster in a story he’s entertaining the boy with, “and as the heroes slashes the monster…” and a snip of hair fell to the ground. Clearly, Yakub still enjoyed his work.

Y: Ah, my friends. Please come in. A cool glass of water on this fine, hot day.
Z: I hope you have some more stories to tell for us
Y: I always have stories. not as many as my cousin Uar in the grand bazaar, but hopefully enough to entertain. But I have a suspicion that you’re interested in a very specific kind of story. He pours himself a glass of what
Z: Indeed. Well y’know, Sulayman and our get rich quick schemes…

Guzman chuckles under his breath.

Y: I am still paying much attention to anything that might prove useful to you in these ‘get rich quick schemes’ of yours.
Z: Well, we seem to maybe have found another. Are you familiar with the Al-Akir mountains?
Y: Yes, of course, the nearest mountain range to our wonderful city.

Referencing the ruins of Krak al-Shidda, Zephyr asks Yakub if we may have any information that Su has not found.

Y: Oh yes, one of the last great fortresses that were resisting enlightenment, or so the story goes. Hmm… you think there are treasures there, eh?

Looking at Faruq and Sulyaman in particular, he says, “I am willing to bet that your brothers are MOST interested in the sorcery that was done there.. HMM? Yes.”

Z: Sorcery?
Y: Oh yes. The barbaric unenlightened sorcerers used magics that are no longer in use today. that is why many of them travel there; to find magics that are no longer available today.

Whether or not they have found any? Who can say. But it is much easier to hit the Al-Akir mountains than to travel far east to the Ruined Kingdoms where such magics are rumoured to be much more likely to be found. Krak al-Shidda is the place to go for the ‘lazy adventurer’. Those who do not wish to tempt fate and disease in the great jungle. The old kingdoms of Nog and Kadar. No, those kingdoms travelled as far west as Krak al-Shidda, but they were put down by the forces of enlightenment, or so the story goes. But what magics they conjured there, in resisting the law of the loregiver, hehe, my friends. Perhaps it is YOU who will discover this, hmmmm?
S: Do you know of anyone who may have gone there recently that we can talk to?
Y: Scratches his goatee and adjusts the red fez on his head. Hmmmm, there was one group I remember hearing of, this was perhaps within the last six months or so, they had intended to go out there. Krak al-Shidda… just like all Rawun learn the first tune, they all know THIS song, such is Krak al-shidda for adventurers for they all go there eventually.
S: Then it seems a right of passage we should travel
Y: Oh, how I envy you, to be young. Forgive me, I do not envy your position, I do not even what Aunty is going through, but to be young again, to have the wind at your back, the sands stinging your eyes, ruins, fortresses old, Vishap nipping at your ankles, ahhh
G: This fortress. If it is such a right of passage for adventurers, what do they typically bring back, or do they come back at all?
Z: … and have YOU been there?
Y: Ah… i have never been myself. I was not even a lazy adventurer. I had thought about it much in my younger days, but (looking at his somewhat rotund belly) such a life was never meant for me. But it may be for you, already people have spoken of crime-fighting group of Aunty’s boys (looking at Chaka), no offense.
C: None taken
Y: This is an interesting reputation you have started building for yourselves; interesting indeed.
S: Yes, but a reputation isn’t dinar and we need dinar.
y: Then perhaps you should go. I cannot imagine many return, so you will have much to return with if you DO go. That was very morbid, I apologize.
G: thank you for your honesty, at least.

Looking over the faces of the orphans affectionately, “My friends it is obvious to me that Fate is somewhat looking out for you. If I were you, if I were a younger man (looking at himself in teh mirror), If I were a DIFFERENT man, I would go. Who knwos what you’ll encounter?

G: Should we tell him of our friend in jail?
S: I don’t see why not.

The orphans tell Yakub about their encounter with Adil; sharing everything with a man they trust.

Y: ah; so THAT is what the ruckus was about. Interesting; people came screaming past my shop about young men swinging their weapons at an imaginary foe.
G: You may not be an adventurer Yakub, but you are very wise. have you ever heard of anything like this?

Smiling at the compliment, Yakub replies, “I cannot say that I have. Did you determine if this item was in fact magical in any way?”
G: Not yet, we’re waiting to hear back from the Imam.
Y: That would be best for now, but… I mean no disrespect to the enlightened clergy, they sometimes get caught up in their… well there are other ways of learning things. i will keep an ear out as well. And if the enlightened priests at the mosque of Zann do not help you, there are others… mystical groups… who gain their knowledge from the god in other ways. I will keep an ear out for you. But enough, I do not wish to delay you from your next most amazing adventure. I only ask, when you are done, come back and tell me about it so I may entertain more of my clients with these stories.

– go to prison and tell Adil to contact Yakub after he’s released
– the orphans buy supplies & stores for the journey to the mountains
buying 2 Potions of Healing each (10 total)
2x healer’s kits (Faruq, Zephyr)

The orphans leave the city in search of Krak al-Shidda. To travel along the rocky paths is somewhat exhausting and treacherous; uneven ground and common, well-travelled pitfalls.

Finally though, the orphans came upon the wadi… and at this time barren, sun-baked clay, much easier to walk along, so they make better time. This morning, the wind is blowing unusually strong in the direction of the sea, the clouds have grown unnaturally thick, the rain starts and increases to a flash flood!

F: Is it the time of rains, Zephyr?

The orphans, realizing this is not a natural occurrence have to escape to the safety of the bank, so quickly was the water rising. Securing his sister with a rope, Faruq Misty Steps up to the safety of the bank, and helps to pull Chaka up the bank to safety.

When it had cleared, the orphans continue along the banks of the wadi and eventually see a marble staircase leading up to the side of the wadi.

F: Perhaps Yakub is right… that Fate watches over us.

Sulayman feels a lever of some kind (up to the elbow). The grinding sound of rock against rock, and a secret door opens in the wall of the wadi. Entering into the wall of the riverbed, there are two large crimson doors greet the orphans: on which are inscribed (in Medani):

Be warned, O Faint of Heart:
I am Shaddad, Son of Ad, Terror of the Genies.
He who never yielded in battle, Defeated only by Time
the Great Destroyer of Men and Societies.
Upon finishing reading the inscription, Faruq‘s eyes light up with recognition, and he repeats what he recalls from his studies:

In long ago days, mankind and genies did not have the set of rules that have been handed down which actually created genie pacts by Sha’ir. They are the result of a lot of stern negotiations between man and genie-kind long, long ago. This is shortly after humankind and genies basically conspired to take Zakhara from Giants. The 4 most powerful elemental mages from the al-badia tribes of the high desert, in an effort to ensure they had a weapon that could combat marauding genies, bound together air, fire, water and earth into a single weapon, known as Cyclone of the Four Quarters. They entrusted the blade to an unworthy sheikh known as Shaddad then departed to a distant land. With this scimitar, Shaddad sought out the genie nobles in the lonely parts of the desert, brandishing his scimitar with a foolish sense of confidence, he ordered the genie lords to cease their assaults against the al-badia and challenged them to single combat if they refused. The genie lords, rightly amused by his impertinence, enveloped Shaddad in a whirlwind, burnt him with fire, drowned him with water and buried him with earth, but to their amazement, Cyclone of the 4 Quarters protected him and he stepped through their obstacles unharmed. This only inflamed the genies further, and they attacked over and over. Shaddad parried their attacks and advanced, and the genies’ confidence turned to fear. Promising him any wishes he wanted if he spared their lives, Shaddad demanded that the genies restrict themselves to the untraveled areas far from any al-badia lands. The genie lords too hastily agreed, and Shaddad returned to his home to live out the rest of his life.

G: I cannot believe you have not told us this before, brother.
F: What reason would I have to tell you such a story before this?
G: Shaddad seems like a marvel… an inspiration…
S: it seems we’ve come to the right place for treasure…
G: I wonder if we’ll find any, anything… something to carry back… a token of what it means to be an adventurer.

Author: Turnerbuds