"Ah yes, thank you Kadufi, you are most generous and very strong. Your prowess in battle is something great to behold, remind me never to get on your bad side." Waleed smiled and was wondering in the back of his mind if he was going to survive the day. He also noticed Shari did little more than, well, nothing, during the battle. "You okay Shari?"
Waleed smiled at Shari's attempt at humor. "Well, we may yet see some more books, but I fear for the near future at least there will be more jungle. But hopefully not a cook pot with us as the ingredients."
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Dec 15, 2008 7:15:51 GMT -7
Emerging from the heavy foliage into a wide cleared area, you peer up into a open sky that is quickly deepening into ever darker shades of blue and gray. A colorful flock of birds rises into the sky from strange misshapen trees that surround a circular stockade. The structure is as large as a wealthy merchants home, but constructed of massive teak and ironwood trunks nearly fifty feet tall. Each of the trunks is painstakingly carved with leafy designs and interspersed with animal icons.
A second look at the misshapen trees revealed them to be living sculptures- a topiary. About half of the pruned plants are mangled monstrosities, the remainder are stunning sculptures. One row of trees is shaped into a line of elephants, leading each other by the tail.
"You are welcomed to our home!" Kadufi said, dramatically sweeping her arm across the clearing. "My sisters Wadufi and Padufi are to be preparing our dinner."
Striding toward the stockade, she called over her shoulder, "we all create the arts.
Wadufi and Padufi set down the hogtied beast in an area to one side of the clearing. Deftly cutting holes in the hind legs they attached the hooks of a iron gambrel large enough to string up a water buffalo or perhaps a small elephant. Together they pulled on a rope than ran through a simple pulley block until beast's three heads where all dangling off the ground.
"Soon we will sup and well," Kadufi said nodding as she reached up and put her hand though a hole high in the wall in the stockade. There was a loud 'thud' inside.
Outside, ropes of wet entrails spilled from the beast's slit belly, falling onto ground stained dark and thick with flies.
"But first case you will be wanting to see your ivory," Kadufi said, gesturing for you to follow her inside.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Dec 16, 2008 16:35:43 GMT -7
The dim interior of the stockade smells rank, like animal sweat and blood. Stepping in you see a large wooden bar with one end dropped to the floor. It had a rope attached that loops over a roof beam. It was the rope that Kadufi had reached through and pulled to unbar the door.
"This is where the kitties sleep," your hostess said as you pass through a covered entryway. Indeed, the scent of feline urine leaves your eyes watering.
Thirty feet beyond the door you pass through hanging skins and enter a circular inner open-air courtyard. Sixty feet beyond, a huge fire pit, large enough to accommodate a pair of elephants, rests in the center. The packed earth floor near the fire pit is stained black and crawling with large, black flies.
A sloped roof, made of stretched animal hides stitched together with sinew, wraps around the perimeter of the stockade. Leopard skin curtains hang from the ceiling separating private living areas from the courtyard. You'd noticed that standing screens further divided the covered areas within.
Elephant hides cover the packed-earth floor and the inner walls bear the same intricate carvings as the exterior.
"Sit and rest," Kadufi said, "I will bring the wine to start our celebratings."
She was across the courtyard in a few strides. Flipping up some skins, she stepped into a highly decorated room; colorfully fletched arrows being the theme. As Kadufi palmed a fifty gallon barrel in one hand a giant wasp dropped from the ceiling. Kadufi paid no attention to it as it buzzed out and away, instead she leaned to a corner and pulled out a massive elephant tusk in the from a stack of tusks.
She returned to the center and set the items down. "I said many. Here is one to see such quality as to amaze you." Muttering something she turned back to her room.
"I think she said something about cups," Shari said. He walked up to the tusk and tried to lift one end. "Ooof! There goes my back." Straightening he rested his arms on his hips. "I wager they consider ten to be 'many'. Ancient cultures often equate 'many' with what can be carried by one person or the number of fingers on two hands..."
The giantess returned with a handful of wooden bowls, passing them out to each of you. Then, pushing a thumb into the barrel, she fills each bowl till it overflows with dark red wine.
It did not matter if the wine was rancid or the best he had ever tasted, he would not dishonor his host by refusing or saying anything other than it was very good. Waleed made sure he kept an eye on his women and on his manservant Mamoun, lest they be whisked away or cause some sort of affront.
As time passed Waleed decided to tell a tale, using his air magic, weaving the fire to paint fiery scenes of what happened when it was discerned that his traveling companion Keesha was heir to the important house, al-Dihlizi. Waleed recounts the story complete with the flying assassin attack at the Jasmine dream, and the final confrontation with Mabruk and the devastating Efreet, Saleh. Combat, assasins and women floated in the fiery smoked filled air as Waleed told his tale. He made sure to describe Keesha as a hideously ugly woman with a face like a frying pan, and a personality to match, but it was not her that lead them this far, it was Adila's curse they had come to remove, that was their mission, and he shared that tale with them openly.
His eyes turned to find Adila, she had remained silent for such a long time he had almost forgot she was traveling with them, but remembered she remained on the boat for her own safety. "Is there any knowledge of Adila's curse, or what we know that you could help us with?"
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Dec 18, 2008 20:58:04 GMT -7
The wine was good, likely picked up from Misr traders. Waleed's simple compliment elicited an unrequested explanation.
Sitting cross-legged amongst you, Kadufi took a deep drink from the barrel. "It is good. I traded many skins for this. 'It is the blood of those who battled against the gods, and from whom, when they had fallen and had become commingled with the earth, the vines had sprung.' My memory is well, no?"
She refilled any bowl that was not overflowing. "Drink! It restores the appetites."
At the end of Waleed's tale, through which Kadufi said nothing, only watching wide-eyed and drinking, the giant shook her head.
"I know no curses," she said, standing up. "And we are needing more wine. And fire, a big one." The sun was far below the horizon and stars began to appear, filling the dome of sky above the open courtyard.
She returned from her room with four more barrels, two in each hand. "My sisters will be here soon," she said, nodding approvingly at the fire Ya'qub had started. She added several thick logs.
"We will need coals, hot coals and many, for to roast. Tonight we feast! Drink for your appetite!"
Waleed was slightly disheartened by Kadufi's reply about Adila's curse, but it was not the end of the world. Sitting back down he drank more of the wine, but slowly and sparingly so as to not lose his wits-- he did not need to wake up in the morning to find himself married.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Dec 23, 2008 14:39:33 GMT -7
"Here theys come!" cried Kadufi.
Loud squeals erupted outside the compound sending the jungle into a momentary cacophony of beating wings and angry cries. "We baited the hunter but they were too wise to take it."
The sisters strode into the compound, pulling five fat wild boars by nose rings and ropes. Three tigers padded behind, patient as vultures.
Kadufi hastened over to close the heavy compound door and dropped the bar back into place. Her sisters tied the boars to a post, selecting one to drag toward the fire. Its squeals grew to a nearly steady peal.
Pinning it down near the fire Kadufi plucked a long thin knife from the wooden frame straddling the fire. Firelight dancing in her large wide eyes, she slid the blade behind the boar's shoulder. It thrashed beneath her hand, sending blood in a dark rope looping around the ground. Switching the knife to her teeth, Kadufi reached out and grabbed a bowl to catch the blood. Then another. For nearly a minute the creature bled, until it kicked its last and lay still.
Kadufi closed her eyes briefly, as if in prayer, then dropped the boar into the flames.
She repeated the ritual with the others.
Soon the air was heavy with the stench of burning hair and charred flesh. Pulling the animals one at a time from the fire, the sisters butchered with frightening proficiency. They offered the tips of ears to each of you and snacked on the delicacy while they worked.
Soon the meat was either cubed and salted, spinning on a spit over the coals, or being gulped down by snarling tigers.
It was late in the night before the roasted meat was ready, and then through wine clouded minds you ate and watched the giants reenact the hunt of the three headed beast. Shadows cast by the flickering firelight danced the tale along the compound walls beneath a starry sky.
Rubbing his aching head and then the soft posterior of his closest bodyguard, Wudei, Waleed raises himself up, yawns and stretches mightily. The fleeting thought of taking one of the tigers with him as a companion/pet was all but gone as he saw how pitifully small he was compared to one of them. The only reason the giants could control them were, well, that they were giants.
Gathering up his companions, Waleed gave his hearty thanks to Kadufi and her sisters for the opportunity to help them with their problem and for the splendid feast last night.