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Old 2012-05-10, 1:23 PM   #151
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Old 2012-05-10, 1:40 PM   #152
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Old 2012-05-10, 2:40 PM   #153
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In the few months since Farid left home, he thought he had seen everything the Crowded Sea had to offer. Port villages great and small, Ajami seafarers, and all manner of ships carrying goods from around the world. Nothing could surprise him at this point.

Then he arrived at Huzuz, on a bright afternoon in the month of Mihla.

So many people! How did they all survive, crowded so close together? And had he really seen not one, but two captive djinni working at the harbor? The City of Delights was a world unto itself, or so it seemed to the island youth. So much to see, so many new wonders to experience! His amazed stares did not go unnoticed by his crewmates, either.

The captain of the Servant, Essafah the Round (for so he was called by his fellow captains, being wide of girth), cried out as his crew disembarked to find their way while awaiting the results of the captain’s hearing, "Look out for the youngster, lads! He might twist his head right off his neck trying to see all the city in a day!" And with that farewell in their ears the crew drifted apart, eager to renew their acquaintance with Golden Huzuz.

Farid was taken under the wing of the ship's quartermaster. Whisked away to a nondescript inn near the Trade Harbor where Jisan's Servant lay in her confinement, Farid took a room with the quartermaster and two other crewmembers, and followed as he was led back to the harbor. There, the group took jobs as day laborers, unloading and loading ships at the behest of the Harbormaster. Thus, Farid's introduction to the City of Delights was made.

As the weeks passed, Farid came to understand the pace of life in the great city. From his shipmates, he learned how *not* to act like the provincial bumpkin he had been, and he took in more each day after hours of toil under the watchful eye of the Harbormaster. Yet even as Farid became accustomed to the sights and sounds (and smells!) of the city, there was always some new wonder around the next corner.

But ever-present among the minds of the Servant's crew was the upcoming period of the High Holy Days. Farid learned of the celebrations and other customs as they were practised in Huzuz. He yearned to catch a glimpse of the Grand Caliph as that august one made his way to the Golden Mosque. And so, as Yasad dawned Farid and his companions (for they were loathe to leave the inexperienced islander to himself on this holiest of days) made their way to the center of the city, swept up in the multitude of worshippers. The nearer they came to their goal, the more crowded the streets became. Only their coordinated movements allowed them to carry on, even slowed as they were to ensure they kept together.

Finally, they came to a standstill at the edge of the square surrounding the Mosque, and there awaited the procession of the Grand Caliph.
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Old 2012-05-11, 11:01 AM   #154
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It wasn't hard to find him. Hardly ever was for her at any rate. The only thing slowing her down was the influx of people here for Yasad. One couldn't quite stalk as angrily as they might like when every other step had to be a careful dodge of the people about her. Nasrin check the usual places. She knew that eventually, she'd spot him.

And once she did, she closed the distance quickly. With all the activity, it wasn't hard to blend amongst the merchants and the people looking to get last minute purchases before the real party began. From where she stood behind him, she couldn't tell if he was looking for someone...or debating who to steal from next.

Nasrin approached silently from behind, waiting until she was standing mere inches from him before speaking.

“ I have not yet decided, whether I should kill you now.” She spoke calmly, eerily calmly. “ Or give you a chance to use that silver tongue of yours to weasel your way out of this.” Her arms folded before her chest.

“ After all, I'm fairly certain that I could find someone that would give me a pretty sum of coin if I were but to bring them your head.”
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Old 2012-05-11, 11:24 AM   #155
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The Tale of the Ruba’iyat

Date: 592 Yasad.
Location: Huzuz
Weather: Sunny, 116/92 (High and Low in Fahrenheit)


You rise before dawn on Yasad, and it’s already hot, about ninety degrees. The city has swelled to nearly twice its normal size with the mass of pilgrims from all corners of Zakhara. Every room in every guest house is rented. Citizens of the city host friends and family, and even strangers from afar. The crush of people is oppressive, and it just makes everything feel hotter and stickier. The great plazas, where the fountains offer some respite, are the most crowded of all. There is barely room to move.

The crowds are friendly and conscientious, despite their size. Mothers hold small children close, but they are in no real danger of being crushed. The crowds pass bread and dates around to ensure all are fed, and somehow, enough copper coins get passed back to the merchants to pay for it all. No day brings Zakharans together in a spirit of confraternity like Yasad.

As the sun rises, muezzins scale the minarets of the mosques of the many Gods and proclaim morning prayer. The faithful gathered throughout the city bow their heads in the direction of the Golden Mosque and pray. Many are silent, many are loud. Those from the Pantheist cities pepper their prayers with loud cries, and beat their breasts. Those from the Pearl Cities seem to be among the first done. As the crowds complete their prayers, the great shuffle towards the Golden Mosque begins. Most of these people will not make it into the plaza; there are well over a million souls in Huzuz today! Magic loudspeakers attached to the minerets rebroadcast the proclamations from the Golden Mosque to plazas across the city.

The Golden Mosque sits in the largest plaza in Huzuz, The Court of Enlightenment. The east end of the Court holds the Grand Caliph’s Palace. The Golden Mosque lies in the western end, and the entrances to both buildings face west. Between the two is a high, covered pavilion, with a platform 10 feet above the plaza. From here, the Grand Caliph will address the crowd. At the westernmost end of the Court, a crescent of smaller mosques faces the Golden Mosque. From north to south, they are dedicated to Kor the Old, Brave Hajama, Najm the Adventurous, Bountiful Jisan, Free Haku, Hakiyah the Honest, Beautiful Selan and Zann the Wise.

The crowd hushes itself as the Grand Caliph steps up onto the Pavilion of the Enlightened Throne. He raises his arms and his voice, magically amplified, booms across the Court and all the plazas of the city, “Blessed be you, Enlightened people of Zakhara, lovers of the Law!” The roar of the crowds is deafening as the reply, “Praise be unto you, Grand Caliph!” The noise seems to rattle the foundations of the brick buildings. The Grand Caliph continues for about 10 minutes praising the people for their honor, courage, generosity, kindness, mercy, faith and honesty. After his speech, mamluks lead members of the crowd forward to petition the Grand Caliph. He hears the pleas of both the rich and poor, and judges them with great mercy, bestowing gifts on all the petitioners. After less than half an hour, he farewells the crowd with grand salaams, and his guards lead him back to the palace.

The crowds in the square attempt to crowd into the Golden Mosque to see the House of the Loregiver, contained inside. No matter how hard you press to get in, there are just too many people. Eventually the day begins to heat up, and being outside is unbearable. You’ll have to go under cover somewhere, perhaps to your home, or a guest house, one of the outlying mosques, or perhaps the great covered market in the center of Zakhara that is kept a bearable temperature by genie magic.

As the people flee the heat of midday, the Grand Caliph’s agents pass through the streets looking for candidates for another special Yasad tradition. Every year, the Grand Caliph hosts a fantastic banquet in his palace to celebrate the end of the Holy Days, and he sends his guards out to invite commoners from the street to attend. By a stroke of fantastic luck, you are spotted by the guards and invited to attend!

((Tell us how this occurred. How did you react? Your character can be reluctant to go or overjoyed by the opportunity, but one way or another you have to get there because that’s where the adventure takes place.))
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Old 2012-05-11, 11:45 AM   #156
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Khalil doens't turn around right away. "And should I fail completely, my neck awaits the cool touch of your blades, Friend Nasrin. But I have not failed completely. Do you not see? The hand of Faith may take away, but it also offers other opportunities."

It's then that he turns around, hands outspread to prove he's unarmed. "And look at this place in this time. If this isn't an opportunity, I am a blind beggar dreaming he is young and hopeful again. There are hundreds of thousands of people here, Friend Nasrin, most with the hard coin of the traveler.

"Give me this day and this night and I will may you a woman of power and wealth. End me now and you'll be lucky to recoup a fraction of what you've lost from the clothes on my back. The price on my brow is not worth the price of the journey you would have to make to obtain it."

He smiles brightly. "But trust me; a chance at greater things are just around the corner."

.... At which point, they are singled out and invited by the guards.

Khalil smiles even more broadly. "And already your faith in me has been rewarded."
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Old 2012-05-11, 11:52 AM   #157
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“ I am not your friend.” she answered flatly. “ And I know better than to believe you, of all people, are unarmed.” she added, one brow arched at him.

She had been about to explain to him exactly how she intended to get her money from his corpse, when the guards approached. She fell silent, regarding them with obvious resentment, but the invitation was not something a girl simply turned down. An invitation to the palace. Well, they might as well empty their pockets now then.

“ My faith has very little to do with this...stroke of luck.”

“ Fine.” Nasrin sighed. “ You have this night. And only this night. Figure it out, or your hide will make a lovely example of what happens when I am crossed.” She explained. Th elf could not afford to have anyone thinking her weak...or easily tricked for that matter.
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:03 PM   #158
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Khalil heaps praise and thanks upon the guards until they are gone and turns back to Nasrin, still smiling. "I understand entirely the penalty for not producing. But as you can see, I have this well in hand. I do so appreciate their sense of dramatic timing." (Bluff check 15. Sooo trying to take credit for that.)
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:16 PM   #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaal View Post
Khalil heaps praise and thanks upon the guards until they are gone and turns back to Nasrin, still smiling. "I understand entirely the penalty for not producing. But as you can see, I have this well in hand. I do so appreciate their sense of dramatic timing." (Bluff check 15. Sooo trying to take credit for that.)
((Are you bluffing Nasrin? She needs to make a Sense Motive check.))
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:19 PM   #160
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((What does roll for that?))
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:31 PM   #161
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((You roll 1d20 and add your bonus in Sense Motive, which is on Page 1 of your character sheet. You get a +1. You can go here and enter 1d20+1 in the dice box, then post the result here.))
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:36 PM   #162
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(One hopes I've done this right.... http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/3513474/ ..... I got a 12.)
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Old 2012-05-11, 12:42 PM   #163
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((That means his bluff worked. More or less, anyway. You're taking his story with less of a grain of salt than it deserves.))
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Old 2012-05-11, 1:04 PM   #164
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Nasrin eyed the man, and shook her head. " This time, it had better work, Khalil. My patience does not go on forever."

" Now, what is this plan?"
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Old 2012-05-11, 1:18 PM   #165
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"Quite simple, really. As luck would have it, I still have the exquisite robes I was going to use for the previous plan. I will sully them a bit and tell a story of woe to the powerful in attendance this night; of how I was once as wealthy and powerful as them before raiders in the desert took everything I had. Luckily, a common woman in their own fair city (this would be you) has taken it upon herself to help me begin a new life for myself in Huzuz.

"They will be shamed by being trumped in generosity by a mere commoner and intrigued by the providence of our being invited and will be very susceptible to persuasion to invite us into their homes to continue the celebration after the banguet."

He smiles slyly. "And once we are inside... well I don't have to tell you the rest, now do I?"
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Old 2012-05-11, 2:05 PM   #166
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Garen was relatively unfazed by the increasing temperature of the day. As he rested, he watched the crowds disperse, draining away into the streets of the city. Mid day was almost his favorite time of day, right after dawn.

After a while, Garen looked around and noticed he was alone on the dais that had once held a dozen or more celebrants. In the square below, a few people were still moving around, bustling across the flagstones and away from the heat. Garen could have called to any of them for assistance; on a day like today a friendly hand was easy to find, after all.

He decided to get down on his own, though. He'd made bigger hops, and this one didn't even have broken rocks at the bottom like some of them had. Still, he was a dwarf, and they're not known for their stunning agility. He hopped down as best he could, hit a small curb that surrounded the dais, and took a pretty impressive tumble down the steps, finally rolling to a stop at the base of the bottom step.

"Well, that's one way to get down, I suppose," a voice said nearby. Footsteps quickly approached and a hand reached out to Garen, offering assistance.

"Thank you, Officer," Garen said, slightly out of breath as he took the proffered hand. The guard grinned as Garen knocked the dust off his arms and torso and said, "I'm no officer. I work for a living! Please, call me Jarib."

Garen gave the guard a matching grin and said, "Well then, Jarib, thank you! What brings you out of the celebrations in the share into this lonely oven?"

Jarib motions for Garen to walk along beside him, and they start walking toward the edge of the Square. The square is truly empty as they pass into the shade of an arched corridor, and Jarib says, "Many of the guards were sent out to find people to invite to the Grand Caliph's banquet tonight. I don't suppose you would be interested in attending?" He asks it as a question, but he knows the answer even before he finishes asking. He knows of no one refusing such an invitation, rich or poor, guest or citizen.

Garen's eyes grow wide, and he stammers out an acceptance.

"Excellent!" Jarib exclaims, and makes a mark on a piece of slate he is carrying. "You make 10, the last of my slots."

"Are you off duty, then? If so, would you join me for a cool drink before you head back to the palace? I've never spoken with a guard before."

Jarib graciously accepts, and they share a couple of drinks at a small vendor's spot in an alleyway near some palm trees.

They briefly share their histories. Jarib had grown up locally and spent some time in the military before his family had been able to land him a spot in the guard corps. Guard life wasn't as exciting as being on tour, but the pay was better, and afforded him more social opportunities, as his mother regularly reminded him.

After a while, Jarib bids Garen farewell, and leaves to turn in his slate. He tells Garen when and where to arrive at the Palace, and cautions him to be on time. "The Grand Caliph is a gracious host, but does not suffer impoliteness, even accidental."

Garen discovers that Jarib had picked up the tab on the drinks, and heads back to the Temple to prepare for the party. His small group of friends all mutter in disbelief at his fortune, even while teasing him for his clumsiness at falling off the dais. He finally escapes and prepares for the banquet; dressing in his best clothes and making sure everything is as presentable as it can be.

He leaves with just enough time to arrive a bit early.
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Old 2012-05-11, 4:29 PM   #167
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Farid stares in open-mouthed wonder at the guards. "Me? You mean – me?! You want me to go to the Grand Caliph's banquet?" This is more than Farid ever could have imagined – he had thought only to see the Grand Caliph from afar, to hear the words he would speak to all the people of Huzuz. This – to dine at the Caliph's table, to witness life at the very heart of Zakhara – this is surely a dream!

"Of course he means you, boy!" The quartermaster's words shake Farid out of his stupor. "And how else would Fate reward such a bold one as you? This is merely the beginning of your tale, I feel certain."

With these words of encouragement, Farid bolsters his resolve and looks the guard straight in the eye. "Well, sir, as Fate would have it I would be honored to attend the Grand Caliph's banquet. Where and when shall I present myself?" The leader of the guards then takes note of Farid’s name and particulars, giving him directions to his destination and the time he is expected to arrive.

"Come then, Farid, and we'll let Captain Essafah know; he'll want to hear all about it. After all, he's had precious little else to occupy his mind while waiting for his turn with the courts." With that, the quartermaster claps Farid on the shoulder and steers him back toward the harbor to prepare for the evening's events.

Back at the inn Farid meets with the Captain, who upon hearing of his crewman's great fortune graciously arranges for the purchase of a fine caftan and keffiyeh for Farid to wear to the banquet. Later, just before Farid makes ready to depart for the palace, Essafah presents him with one other item. "Take this – the akal worn by my father on the day he christened Jisan’s Servant. It has had a place in our family for generations. Wear it with pride, and know that all the Servant’s crew are with you in spirit on this greatest of nights."

Tears well up in Farid's eyes as he nods his thanks and places the akal over his headcloth. And with a whispered prayer of thanks to Najm, Farid embarks on what will surely be a grand adventure!
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Old 2012-05-12, 7:41 AM   #168
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((Sunday is my son's first birthday, and my wife's first mother's day. We're actually doing mother's day today so she can have a day to herself. I have the update half-written, but it's a very busy weekend here, so please be patient with me. I'm going to try to get it up today.))

((Never mind. My son went down for his morning nap while my wife was still sleeping in.))
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Old 2012-05-12, 8:12 AM   #169
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You arrive at the palace in the late afternoon, before the Court of Enlightenment begins to fill with the thick crowds of revelers. As you introduce yourselves to the mamluk guards at the gate, they respond courteously and check your name and physical description against a master list of invitees. You are led through the main gate and into a courtyard. No weapons or questionable items will be permitted in the palace, but the guards will watch over your belongings. They offer you a chest, large enough to hold about a backpack’s worth of things. Anything you want to leave behind will be safe in the chest, and you will be given the key to carry with you.

((I will assume that you take nothing in except your clothing, unless you specifically tell me otherwise.))

You are welcomed into the First Court of the palace. It is a large, green courtyard crisscrossed by marble paths. It is planted primarily with fruit trees, pomegranates, apricots and citrus. All are exploding in blooms and are heavy with fruit, a bursting display of color against the background of the white marble walls. (Any characters who have been around fruit groves before will know this is unnatural, and the trees should have neither this time of year.)

You are among the first to arrive, and the servants are just putting the finishing touches on laying out tables of appetizers including fruits, stuffed grape leaves and bread with cheeses. There is no wine to drink, but you are offered a ceramic cup of fruit juice by a young serving girl.

The court is a model of serenity and peace, which has frankly been hard to come by over the last five days. Without the incessant din of crowd noise, you start to hear your own breathing.

You have an opportunity now to check out the court in more detail, and you could bump into the other PCs and introduce yourself if you like.

After 10 minutes or so, when all four of you are coincidentally in a corner of the court, the event in the spoiler occurs.

((I put this event in a spoiler tag so you can RP being in the garden before you react to it, if you like. Or you can just skip to it! Your call.))

A middle aged man in fancy, exotic dress is weeping in the corner of the Court. (Farid will automatically recognize his clothing as being from the Ruined Kingdoms region; the others may figure this out on their own with a DC 10 Local Knowledge check.)

He turns and sees the four of you standing together, or at least near each other and says, “Oh woe is Omar! You have to help me for surely Fate has been unkind!”
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Old 2012-05-12, 8:37 AM   #170
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(( I should be able to post from work later today))
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Old 2012-05-12, 10:08 AM   #171
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((Don't'cha just love it when family calls up and says "Hi, we're coming into town today. How about a visit?" I'll be able to post this afternoon sometime as well.))
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Old 2012-05-12, 12:12 PM   #172
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(( I am guessing the super hidden secret second set of theives tools would still be upon her person in this case, yes?))
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Old 2012-05-12, 12:13 PM   #173
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(( I am guessing the super hidden secret second set of theives tools would still be upon her person in this case, yes?))
((Only if you pass a bluff or sleight of hand check and are willing to spend the night in jail if you fail. ))
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Old 2012-05-12, 12:16 PM   #174
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((Hmmmm))
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Old 2012-05-12, 12:17 PM   #175
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((Damn'it....work won't let me look at my character sheet from here.....I shall ponder this further.))
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