Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Aug 2, 2008 20:30:55 GMT -7
Ali Afyal Ramaq beni Kasim al Gana is the third son of Kasim Azraff Gabbar beni Sharif al Gana, a prosperous pearl merchant in Gana. Ali’s father had thought to train him to assist in running the family business until the day Ektibar Falakee al Fayed, a powerful sha’ir, came to the shop on business. Ektibar was accompanied by an implacable djinni bodyguard who stood by him, silent and alert. Ali had heard of such creatures and knew they were very rare. Such bodyguards were powerful, but almost impossible to obtain. That the visitor had one spoke either of his great power or great wealth.
Being a child, Ali did not know how aloof the djinni can be with humans. And so, keen not to lose his once chance to meet such a fantastic creature, Ali approached the djinni and offered his most courteous greeting. To see a small boy approach a djinn was nothing special. Boys are always flirting with dangerous things beyond their understanding. What surprised the visiting sha’ir was that the djinn returned the greeting. Even a powerful adult was like as not to be ignored by the djinn. This showed Ektibar that the boy had that spark of charisma that was so necessary for dealing with djinni-kind. Such talent was rare, and not to be squandered. As a result, Ektibar offered to take Ali on as an apprentice.
The next years were ones of hard work and wonder for Ali. He learned the lore of the djinn, the basics of sorcery, and the courtesies necessary for dealing with djinni-kind. And in these studies Ali excelled. His star was bright and there was even talk that he might become one of the great sha’ir of his generation. This talk pleased everyone, except for Ektibar’s other apprentice, Fajer Damis al Hiyal.
Until Ali’s appearance, Fajer had been the star of his master’s eye, groomed to take his place as a well-respected sha’ir and vizier. Now he saw Ali as a rival. Of course, truth be told, nothing Ali did took away from Fajer’s talent or respect. But the other apprentice did not like to share their master’s attention or praise. And so he planned to remove his rival.
Fajer stole a book of sha’ir lore from their master – a book far beyond either Fajer’s or Ali’s mastery. He used it to cast a spell summoning a salamander, knowing full well the spell would get out of control. Then he used secret magics he had learned to make it appear as if Ali had performed the summoning. Fajer further arranged things so that it looked as if Ali had been unsatisfied with the pace of his learning and had stolen the book of lore to go beyond what his master thought was safe. Then, when he tried to summon a salamander and lost control, he fled rather than deal with the trouble he caused. To make things worse, Fajer arranged to be the one to warn Ektibar and look the part of the dutiful apprentice.
The salamander destroyed part of Ektibar’s house and several nearby buildings. Thankfully no one was killed, and any injuries were relatively minor. But the damage was substantial, as was Ektibar’s anger. He was outraged at what he thought Ali had done. Here he had taken the boy in and offered him a chance at greatness such as is rarely given. And in turn he was repaid with deceit.
Ektibar cast Ali out and left him disgraced. He couldn’t go back to his father, and no respected sha’ir would take on an apprentice disgraced in such a way. And so Ali began to wander, shortening his name to Ali Kasim. He was able to eke out a simple existence doing odd jobs using the magic he had learned. But he was simply existing, not living.
He wandered for nearly a year from city to city, surviving as best he could, and seeking out those who might teach him more – for he had never finished his training as a sha’ir. He never found many learned people who were willing to talk to him, but uncovered a few and slowly learned more of what he needed to know to be a sha’ir. Finally, based on rumors he had heard, he set forth into the southern reaches of the Genies’ Anvil. Following the rumors, he found a cave where there lived a half-mad jann named Shaheen. After much honeyed talk on the part of Ali, the jann agreed to let him stay for a while.
It was not anything that would be called instruction, but Ali did learn much of djinni lore from Shaheen. And it was through his time with Shaheen that Ali acquired a link with a gen. During a trip to a nearby oasis to replenish his water supplies, Ali chanced upon a conflict between some desert raiders and a tribe of jann. Ali They never discovered the cause of the conflict, though it was probably a dispute over the oasis. Nevertheless, the raiders were numerous and the jann few, so the end result was never in question. The jann were defeated and fled further into the desert, while the raiders rested for a time at the oasis and then resumed their journey.
It was only after the raiders left that Ali heard a faint wailing. The sound was akin to a keening wind, but something about it seemed different to Ali. He went to explore and discovered that a small air gen – likely a scout for the group of jann that had been defeated – lay injured in the sand. Without aid, the creature would surely expire. Ali took the gen in his hands and willed healing energy into the creature as his old master had once instructed him. It was a fumbling attempt at first, but gradually he was able to pass some power to the small creature, enough at least to keep it alive for a time.
Ali returned to the cave and showed the gen to Shaheen. Between the two of them, they were able to nurse the gen – who revealed that his name was Yakhil – back to health. And sometime in the course of this time, Yakhil bonded to Ali. It didn’t follow the procedures and rituals that Ektibar had described for a sha’ir bonding with his gen ,but in the end, Ali and Yakhil became bonded and Ali was at last a proper sha’ir.
Ali stayed a few more weeks at Shaheen’s cave until the jann’s mood turned sour and it became clear that he was no longer welcome. And so Ali resumed his wanderings. But at least now he had a companion, and that made all the difference. Eventually, Ali found his way to Ajayib. It had been nearly two years since his disgrace, and had his fill of wandering. Though he had no better prospects in Ajayib than anywhere else, he decided to make it his home.
Ali found a small room near the docks and made a passable living performing minor magics for the local seamen. He also picked up a few extra coins from the local merchants by warning them when ships were arriving in port. Yakhil would scout the sea lanes and let Ali know when ships were near. Some merchants found it valuable to know when a ship was arriving in port – so as to be the first to give an offer on theirwares – and they were willing to pay for that knowledge.
But it was still not a great living for Ali. For although he was never in danger of starving, Ali also had little in the way of luxury. But it was far better than the past couple of years had been and Ali was content. Then things took a change for the worse when a local sha’ir learned of Ali’s presence, and passed along tales of his disgrace. It soon became harder for Ali to get work. He was forced to be less choosy about who he worked for, and take jobs he would previously have turned down. Where once he only did work for honest merchants, now he began to help some on the other side of the law. He kept away from the roughest corsairs and thieves, but found that the underside of the city had many who were far more fair and understanding than the so-called honest folk in town.
In time, he got a reputation among some of the local corsair captains as being a trustworthy fellow. He would heal their sailors, help appraise some magical treasures they had to sell, and even have Yakhil scout for ships in the area. Eventually Captain Sadak al Hawa, of the Djinni’s Kiss, offered Ali a place on her ship. He knew Sadak, having done some work for her in the past. Ali knew that she was a corsair, but was more of a smuggler than a pirate. Also, he knew her to be a good woman at heart, and he trusted her.
And so Ali was hired on as a junior officer on the Djinni’s Kiss. He understood the stars and could help with navigation; he knew how to tend the wounds off those injured in battle; and his magics were of definite use in keeping the ship from harm. What’s more, Yakhil proved himself invaluable as a scout, allowing the Djinni’s Kiss to find those ships it wanted to find and avoid those ships it wanted to avoid.
Life on the Djinni’s Kiss was good, and Ali traveled the seas from the Pearl Cities to the Corsair Domains. At last he felt that he had a place that felt like home. But it appeared as if Fate had a different plan for him. Just a few weeks ago, as the Djinni’s Kiss was returning to port, a great storm arose, of the sort that is not often seen, and even less often survived.
The Djinni’s Kiss was battered and bruised, and despite all the best efforts of her crew, it finally broke to pieces underneath them. The corsairs were all tossed into the water, and scattered across the sea. Yakhil was able to keep Ali above water and once the storm ended was able to guide him to land. Once safe, Ali sent Yakhil out time and again to look for survivors, but he could find none.
Thus it was that Ali gathered together what supplies he could out of the flotsam from the Djinni’s Kiss, and continued onward as best he could, once more a wanderer in the Land of Fate.