Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 6, 2009 17:40:39 GMT -7
PCs Waleed the scholar Ya'qub the merchant
NPCs Sahra - Ya'qub's wife Mamoun - Waleed's servant Jaheira, Wudei'a, Najiba - Waleed's bodyguards Shabab Eblis - Bright Dancer's young captain Adila - bearer of the curse Shari - erstwhile guard from the Ministry of Secrets Saleh - slave of the ring
Notable crew Rasool Yameena Galeel -- 23rd of Saris
It was midday before you returned to the shores of the Abdo river and hailed the Freshwater Pearl.
Sahra rushed to the railing and called out with joy as her husband and his companions emerged from the jungle. She excitedly embraced Adila, and then waved to Ya'qub.
Upon seeing you emerge not only unharmed, but leading a procession of giants bearing a wealth of ivory the crew erupted in a roar of triumph.
The giants waded out to the Pearl and set the ivory on the deck. The cheers of the crew faded as they stared slack jawed at the treasure and giant's bosoms.
Shabab Eblis bowed deeply to the giants before his voice cracked like a whip ordering his crew to secure the cargo and send out a boat for Waleed and the others.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 7, 2009 7:17:51 GMT -7
The Freshwater Pearl fought its way up the Abdo, leaving the giants several hours and one farewell downriver.
Ya'qub delegated the task of securing the tusks to the crew and standing to one side with his arm around his bride, grinned his trademark grin.
"Everyone seems very excited by these bones, husband," Sahra commented. "Why is that?"
"One is a wealth of ivory," Ya'qub said, "easily exchanged for one thousand and one dinars, in any port. More if the trader is worthy of his trade. Ten is the wealth of Sultans. The crew knows the venture is going well and they rightly expect generous shares in the fortune and fame."
"And my husband is most worthy of his trade. Though humble," Sahra said, smiling up at Ya'qub.
Waleed rubbed his chin and was lost in thought, thinking of the shares Ya'qub had called out for himself. At first he thought it was light, since there was only the two of them, then he realized the captain and crew would be wanting their share. "Hmm, he muttered to himself. One share for Ya'qub, one for me, one for the captain, one for the crew." Looking at Shari, who had done nothing but stare at the giants during the entire affair, made Waleed squint his eyes. "I guess a share for Shari also, but you had better start pulling your weight, else you're going to be... left out of any further shares." Turning to Ya'qub, "So you were right, two tusks per share, you are most astute as always."
Hearing the cries of the sailor, Waleed rushed to the railing and looked out over the water and spied the serpent. "Just as was promised in the dream." He spoke aloud, "Serpent, I am here, speak freely!"
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 8, 2009 7:36:08 GMT -7
"Deadly poisonous, you say?" Rasool said, climbing up the rope ladder on the Pearl. He seemed curiously unconcerned by this revelation from the captain. Seven feet of black and gold banded serpent uncoiled from around Rasool, its emerald colored eyes taking in the deck and people gathered around.
Rasool frowned. "He seemed friendly enough, though come to think of it effendis, I've never liked serpents before... "
"I am Taj," the serpent said in a high pitched and nervous voice. "Herald of my king, the Ancient One, and you have been chosen by Him for a mission of utmost urgency."
The serpent's head darted back and forth, then it raised its body high enough to see over the railing. "Please, delay no longer. Continue upriver- we are nearly at the Doors of Shajar. There the Ancient One with speak to you of the pilgrimage."
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 16, 2009 7:13:05 GMT -7
The Pearl continued its arduous trek up the river. Waleed sweated beneath a midday sun but his servants' attentions prevented him from suffering overmuch. Jaheira worked a palm frond in each hand, one for Waleed's shade, the other for a breeze. Wudei'a knelt beside him, ready with dates, nuts, and water. Najiba sat crossed legged before him reciting a few stanzas of the epic poem she was composing.
"In her hand he rose, to meet her eye to eye. 'Brave Waleed fate clearly chose', she cried, 'you to spare us from the beast.' The giants three, praised as one the warrior scholar, 'And now to your feast!'"
"Outstanding," Mamoun said, clapping his hands together appreciatively. "The master's tale is in good hands and will no doubt amaze and delight generations of the Alurah family. Fate willing my master's heirs will be as numerous as he is noble."
With a hint of supplication in his voice, Mamoun asked, "Will any of my deeds be in the tale?"
"Silly Mamoun, " Najiba laughed. "Of course. Let's see... Mamoun, moon, swoon, spoon, boon, loon... Yes, I think I can work you in."
"Beneath a full red moon, Waleed's faithful servant Mamoun, sent on a quest for a spoon, bravely searched..."
Her impromptu recital was cut short by laughter from the other two girls.
"What?" Mamoun asked, "it was just getting good. What happened next? Why are you laughing?"
Across the deck Waleed noticed Shari engaged in conversation with Adila. From the bits of conversation Waleed could hear, he gathered that Adila was retelling her tale. Pulling the clay seal from her robe she handed it Shari.
"Definitely Kadari, though ancient. Actually, its easy to recognize once you figure out the verb conjugations. Translating is a simple matter once... oh, I don't suppose you'd find it as interesting as I."
Shari adjusted his glasses and read the seal aloud, haltingly. "Embrace Fate, and she will smile upon you. The key to understanding lies through the mists of ignorance. Learn from yesterday to shape tomorrow."
He handed it back to a hopeful Adila. Clearing his throat he struck a thoughtful pose. Thought. Removed his glasses. Thought. Put them back on, and sneaked a glance at the young woman. Thought again and then shoulders falling in defeat, he sighed. "I don't know what it means, sorry."
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 18, 2009 12:32:48 GMT -7
"Drop the anchor!"
Rubban Eblis allowed the Freshwater Pearl to swing around and face downstream, straining against its chain like a stallion ready to race back to its stable and oats.
There would be no further travel upriver for the Pearl. She floated in the shadow of a massive stone dam. Water cascaded through its sundered middle, roaring over moss covered stone debris thirty feet below.
The vine covered dam is buttressed by two gargantuan, hippopotamus-headed statues whose stone eyes stare at you with stern regard.
"The Doors of Shajar," the Rubban told Waleed and Ya'qub as they joined him at the stern.
Sighing a little after having been pulled away from his girls, Waleed straightened his shirt and called out to the large snake, whereever he may be coiled up, "Taj, we are here, please show us the way and we will follow." Turning to the captain, "Be careful, who knows what dangers lurk here." Smiling and giving the captain a clap on the shoulder, "Try not to have too much fun while we're gone." Waleed strode back to his girls and Mamoun and said confidently, "Suit up, full weapons." Then to Shari, "Prepare to use your brain Shari, I think it'll be interesting this time for you." Then finally adressing his traveling companion, "Ya'qub, do you think Adila should come with us? This could possibly concern her, but I am uncertain."
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 26, 2009 7:06:26 GMT -7
As the preparations for the journey were underway, the serpent approaches you, weaving its way along the railing. "A thousand pardons effendi. If I may suggest, my king has a weakness for flesh that is burned. Any offering but that of fish would please him mightily."
Nearby, you see a concerned looking Rasool watching the serpent. "Careful little friend! Its a long way down to the water, don't you get too close the edge!"
Yameena looked up from the rope she was inspecting, shaking her head disgustedly. "You soft-headed camel chaser. Get to work!"
Rasool scowled but did not reply, instead he turned and walked to the other end of the Pearl.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 26, 2009 7:20:17 GMT -7
The spray from the waterfall reaches the shore where your group disembarks from the rowboat. The mumbling roar of water rolling over the broken wall and pummeling the worn rocks below nearly drowns the constant cacophony of jungle cries.
The sand is white beneath the scattered detritus washed up from the river.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jan 26, 2009 12:38:38 GMT -7
Over you looms the massive statue, a relic from times before enlightenment, when men worshiped all manner of deities.
"Praise to the Loregiver who freed us from the darkness with the gift of Enlightenment." Sahra recited the children's prayer quietly, avoiding more than a quick glance up at the giant hippopotamus head. She shouldered her small pack and stepped closer to her husband.
"It's even larger than it looks!" Rasool called out from behind you. He waded out of the water, dripping wet and staring up. "There's one god I'm glad's forgotten! Whew!" Rasool shook water from his hair and upended his shoes one at a time.
"Oh, Rubban said he didn't need me at the moment," Rasool said, slipping his shoes back on. "Where's my new friend?"
High up in the trees that lined the shore a flock of birds suddenly took flight.
"Has anyone seen my friend?" Rasool repeated, a look of concern quickly spreading across his broad face.
"Over here..." hissed the serpent from his perch halfway up a nearby tree. A colorful bird fell to the ground from his coils.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Feb 3, 2009 7:08:20 GMT -7
You scramble up the hill to the top of the dam with the roasted fowl still cooling on the spit. The sweet smell of meat occasionally wafts beneath your nose, and for a moment you recall the markets of faraway Tajar; its lively markets with meat sellers fanning spiced meats to lure customers.
From the top of the dam you see the Abdo River is a bit wider upriver, obstructed as it is by the sundered Doors of Shajar. You pause only momentarily before continuing along the hillside, following the serpent. You trek leads generally downward and eventually away from the river.
"This was once far beneath the reservoir," hissed the serpent without slowing. "Water for a forgotten city..."
About a mile beyond the Doors of Shajar, you arrive at a wide cave opening flanked by two tall trees. Two serpents dart down from branches at the sound of your approach. Seeing your guide, they whip around and disappear into the darkness of the cave.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Feb 4, 2009 7:38:11 GMT -7
A tunnel wide enough for six or seven men to walk abreast, descends into the earth. Its ceiling is a tangled mass of thick dark roots, black worms, and a host of insects. As you descend, the failing light from the afternoon sun shrinks to a weak point like a distant star behind you. Unable to continue into the solidifying darkness, you pause to discuss options for light sources.
Ya'qub snapped his calloused fingers igniting a flame, nursing it into a roiling globe the size of a juggler's ball. It pushed the darkness back around you, revealing more of the tunnel before you.
Eventually, the tunnel opens into a huge vaulted cavern. Ya'qub willed the flame up and away from his hand, slowly feeding it with energies until it filled the cavern with a flickering reddish yellow glow.
"Ancient One, your lowly servant Taj has returned," the serpent you followed hissed. His long body was positioned in a standing "S" shape, head bowed low. "The Pilgrims are here as you requested."
From a twisted mass of hundreds of serpents an ancient human face emerges, wrinkled and bald. A large diamond in the center of his forehead shines with an inner light. The face rises with great effort from the mass, revealing its body as that of a serpent.
"I am King Sssharaman, Sssultan of all sssnakes in the Grey Jungle. In the name of Her Ssserpentine Majesssty, who watchesss over all, I greet you and welcome you into my kingdom."
The head eased back down into the mass. The serpents around the king seemed to be growing agitated.
"My Lord grows weak," hissed Taj, his strange voice thick with worry. He slithered forward.
Again the head rose slowly from the mass.
"I summoned you here to perform," the king hissed slowly, "a ritual pilgrimage of my behalf..."
"King Sssharaman, greetings and salutations." Waleed said with a bow, "We are eager to help and we bring this offering to show our respect." Waleed takes the cooked bird from Mamoun and lays it before the king, but he keeps his distance for fear of being attacked.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Feb 12, 2009 7:11:52 GMT -7
The snakes became agitated at Waleed's approach. The serpent king hissed sharply and they uncoiled themselves and made their way past you and out of the cavern.
The king's face lost some of its weary strain as Waleed proffered the charred bird. Stretching forward, tentatively he sniffed it with his human nose before a long forked tongue flicked out and brushed the meat.
"Yesssss," he crooned.
The king's jaw dropped with a sickening pop, stretching his mouth beyond any human proportion. Leaning forward the king took the entire bird into his mouth, pulling it off the stick as he eased back to his resting place. The bulge of the bird moved past the king's mottled neck and his jaw snapped back into place.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Feb 12, 2009 8:01:45 GMT -7
Seemed to have gained a measure of strength, the king slowly rose up and spoke.
"The stone on my forehead containsss all the memoriesss of my life. Before I can enter Paradise, it mussst be touched to the headsstone in the Temple of the Ssserpentine Empress, deep in the heart of the jungle. My beloved Taj will show you the way."
The king's eyes grew heavy, and as if the weight of time bore him down, he began to sway gently back down. "I feel my death approaching..."
Sighing, he continued: "My Fate guide and keep you, especially from the servants of the goddess Ragarra... they infect the heart of the Grey Jungle..."
"When I pass, take this talisman from my forehead. It will show you the truth of all things."
Quieter now, weak whispers you had to lean in to hear: "Then, though it may displease you, open my head and take out my mind. When you are in the Temple, be sure to draw a draft of holy water from the sssacred well... take them both with the talisssman to my daughter and anointed sssuccessor, Sharamaaz."
Eyes closed, wavering voice fainter still: "She will know what..."
Eyes opening as if by a costly effort of will, "Your reward is the treasure of centuries..."
Perhaps a note of pleading could be heard in that last.
Waleed picked up the diamond gingerly and then gave a bow of reverence, holding the bow a few long moments. When done, he asked Rasool, who he noted had an axe at his waist, "If you would, please remove the snake lords brain as he instructed. Mind you, be respectful of the process."