[Campaign Journal] Sword, Sorcery and Minarets #03

by Kalman Farago
Terrorist bastards

The next day, we considered our options. Returning to the astrologer Chandir Lakh for more information was quickly rejected: for a few coins, Burzasp learned from a beggar that many soldiers have entered the astrologer’s house earlier and have never left. It was clear that visiting him was a bad idea in the first place: after meeting with us, he must have informed some local potentate, and now there was an ambush set up for us to walk into. Also, we’ve caught someone eavesdropping on our room: as we were discussing our affairs, Santiago became aware of someone breathing. He ran outside, just to see a figure bolt from the gallery and across the common room. After a brief pursuit, and a bit of a scuffle, the man was apprehended: a bow-legged nomad with long moustaches, his lips red from chewing seaweed. Going for the quickest solution, Muzafar cast a Charm spell, but the captive only laughed in his face, telling him he would never talk. After the fruitless interrogation, we let him go and unsuccessfully tried to shadow him in order to find his employer, but he was slippery and quick, disappearing from view soon.

Later in the morning we’ve received another unpleasant surprise: we were kicked out of the Sea Foam Serai after some soldiers appeared and asked some questions about us. And this right before the Night of Tigers, when soldiers lead tigers through the streets, killing anyone on sight! Ambrosius and Khasim were incensed, but Skaganti begged them to understand that his own safety was on the line. He offered a temporary hideout in the Warehouse of Abdul Tawab, a place he could offer us “with the blessings of Varkat Melnar (the patron god of travellers, as he told us).

On the Run

After spending most of the day on arguments and fruitless ventures — we briefly contemplated following our lead on Hisam Singh, or getting closer to how we were related to the narrow power elite of the city — we have eventually decided on a risky course of action. It looked liked someone was specifically trying to kill us, using the Night of Tigers as a convenient excuse. Therefore, rather than hiding, we’ll turn the table on our assailants! After a bit of planning and preparations, the following events transpired.

Shortly before curfew, a visibly drunk Burzasp showed up at the Sea Foam Serai and was surprised and outraged that he, along with all his companions, have been turned out. In a drunk rage, he announced to anyone within hearing distance that he’ll just spend the night out on the piers and damn those stupid tigers. Night fell, and the tiger accompanying a patrol in the same area has picked up a mysterious blood scent (deliberately laid by Burzasp with the aid of some fresh meat), and followed it to a long pier, where a drunk man was whiling away the time. With a holler and a whoop, the soldiers and the tiger ran for the easy target, trampling their way down the pier — until the wooden planks suddenly disappeared from under their feet, plunging them — heavy armour and all — into the water; while the slippery oil on the rest of the pier suddenly burst into flames and several figures jumped out of a boat and leapt to the attack. A quick and bloody massacre finished the tiger and all the soldiers, except the one that Burzasp pulled out of the water. Resigned, the man explained that the attack was, in fact, an arranged hit ordered by someone named Panduk Khan: apparently, our friend Muzafar was recognised by someone on the street as Djandal Adarfiroz, a certain local nobleman who died several days ago during an orgy of unknown details. Looks like Vifranavaz isn’t the only one among us with a mysterious doppelganger! Having heard all the soldier was going to say, Burzasp had him strip out of his armour… then quietly let him go while his companions were busy butchering the last few drowning soldiers in the black waters. Letting a witness go certainly raised a storm once the others became aware of it, but there was nothing to do.

Anyway, back on a more proactive track, we’ve gathered several suits of armour from the dead – very nice, ornate pieces specific to the Guard, loaded them on our boat, and rowed over to island tower where the Fisherman King’s Men made their base. We pretended to be somewhat clueless merchants, competitors of Gulai Mir the Nomad. We’ve heard — we explained — that the Fisherman King has stolen several crates of goods from Gulai Mir, and were willing to buy them off their hands — this would not only rob Gulai of the chance to recover his merchandise, but would also allow us to sell his stuff for our own profit. In exchange, we were prepared to offer several suits of armour, all completely identical to the ones worn by the Tiger Warriors — surely, the Fisherman King’s Men could use such a disguise in their future skulduggery. “So…” — the leader of the thieves said with a greedy glint in his eye — “you’re offering these two suits of armour for Gulai Mir’s three crates and whatever is inside them, is that right?” A bit of further haggling also got us some gold to sweeten the deal. They loaded the three crates into our boat, grinning widely and thinking they managed to stiff us by selling us three corpses instead of whatever merchandise we gullible merchants were expecting – not realising that getting the corpses was our goal all along. Later, we returned the bodies to Gulai Mir in exchange of his heartfelt thanks and the agreed-upon reward.

At any rate, after killing a whole patrol (minus one witness), our position in the city became rather untenable. We rowed out under the cover of night and made camp on the shore, a small distance away from the city. The next morning we were horrified to wake and find Khasim’s dead body among us! His body was covered by bite marks, but there were no tracks or any other indication of wild animals. His cold fingers were in his pocket, wrapped around the small bag in which he kept the gemstone teeth removed from Khojar Mirza’s mouth. We decided that he was probably killed by the Mirza’s vengeful spirit, and gave both him and the teeth a quick burial before moving on, also hiding the rest of the Tiger Warrior suits of armour that we had for possible future retrieval. Muzafar was also missing: during the night he decided to leave our group and the mystery surrounding us and try to make his fortune and peace elsewhere, alone.

Notable quotes
Vifranavaz (over Khasim’s makeshift grave): “And let us take our farewells from Khasim, the noted dentist…”

Originally posted on Dragonsfoot
Original date 20 November 2011.


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