Daniel Bar Yeremiah (SteveR) - Shiradi Sage
Debora Bat Solomon (Tammy) - Shiradi Red Lion
Faqid the Witless (GM/NPC) - Amnesiac Merchant Prince
(2nd day of the second Ten-day of the 4th Month of the year 5997)
Some two days later finds the Dragon-Marked having the morning meal with the other members of Master Afab’s caravan. The player characters are feeling the pull of the Dragon Mark to the south, straight into the desert. Faqid the Witless pays a visit to Master Afab, who is sitting with his two advisors at a small fire, enjoying the morning meal and a cup of tea. Master Afab invites the Dragon-Marked to join him, which Faqid gratefully accepts. Afab asks him what’s on his mind, and Faqid tells him that he needs to head due south. Master Afab asks if it is the mark that he bears, and when Faqid tells him that it is, the caravan master says he will be sorry to lose Faqid’s cooking, among other, skills. Faqid says that he regrets not getting to see the Nabiy oasis, to which Master Afab responds that he’s already seen it. When Faqid asks what he means, the caravan master tells him that he will learn that in good time. Faqid finishes his tea, and goes back to his billet and starts to pack up his gear.
Daniel Bar Yeremiah feels the pull of his Dragon Mark, and decides he can’t put off heading due south any longer. He goes to see the caravan master, and interrupts a conversation between him and his advisor, Solom. He tells Master Afab that he’ll be leaving the caravan as soon as possible to head south, to follow the Dragon Mark’s leanings, not realizing he’s broken etiquette by interrupting the conversation and thus insulting both Master Afab and Solom. Holding his temper, Master Afab says farewell to him and then dismisses him.
Debora Bat Solomon goes to see the caravan master, and finds him going about his normal business. When Master Afab asks why she has come so see him, she tells him that she is compelled to travel due south. He says that he will not interfere with a Dragon-Marked, and it is just Hubal’s way. He tells her that Faqid the Witless has also told her that he must travel south. Master Afab tells her that there is a town some day and a half to two days to the south called Halifah. He tells her that she must keep an eye on Faqid, as he is suffering from a curse, and could be in danger. He tells her she must watch what he does to get an idea of what skills he has and the personality of the man. He also tells her that she may need to talk to one of the Salonim physicians of her people to get help for him. He says his farewells to her, and Debora says that she’d best go and talk to Faqid.
She goes to see Faqid and has a quick conversation with him. The two make an arrangement to travel south together, as there is safety in numbers, but she also seems concerned about him after her conversation with Master Afab.
Once Master Afab’s caravan continues on to the east, the settling desert dust reveals that three characters are left standing there - Daniel, Debora, and Faqid. The latter two have camels loaded up with their belongings, but Daniel doesn’t. Debora questions Daniel about going into the desert without a camel. He replies, “The Dragon Mark wouldn’t send me somewhere I cannot reach,” to which Faqid asks him why? Daniel replies in a manner that questions his faith in Shirad [and thus losing a point of Faith]. The rest of the journey has a somewhat running gag about the traveller without a camel. As they prepare to head south, Daniel remembers that there is a small town called Halifah, perhaps some 1-1/2 to 2 days’ travel south. He’s never been there, so doesn’t know anything about the place.
The player characters set off towards the south, Debora leading the way. As they travel, Faqid asks Daniel what he is and learns that he’s a sage. He questions Daniel as to whether he’s a kahan. Daniel replies that he is that too, but Faqid does not believe him. Faqid asks Debora what she does, and she tells him that she’s a macchabah; when he tells her he doesn’t know what that is, she says that she’s a Red Lion of Shirad. He nods in understanding, but it’s plain to Debora that he doesn’t know what that is either.
The next morning, as the Dragon-Marked continue their travels, Daniel spots something sticking up out of the desert terrain some 40 paces ahead of them. As they get closer, the Red Lion drawing her sword as a protective measure, they see they are pieces of broken wagons, the wood badly burnt, sticking out of the ground. Despite his checking in detail, Daniel can find no markings of any kind to identify whose wagons they were or whether they were affiliated with a tribe. By means that he doesn’t understand, Faqid is able to identify the wagons as belonging to a Saabi merchant named Charom Ibn Yussef Abd-Al-Salif. [While he is amnesiac, his knowledge of the Saabi caravans of the Salifah remains intact in his head.] For some reason, Faqid keeps that knowledge to himself. He tells the others that they are wasting their time, and need to continue on. Faqid determines the direction they need to travel in [he rolls a 16 on his Survival skill, with 3 Magnitude], and the group continues their travels, moving from sandy terrain into serir. After another couple of hours, the group decides to set up camp for the night.
Morning dawns, with the promise of a bright and hot day. After breaking their morning fast, the Dragon-Marked continue to head south, the pull of the Dragon Mark getting stronger as they go. Around mid-day, the characters crest the top of a dune and look down on what they presume is the town of Halifah. What they had thought was a village turns out to be a small town. It is walled and at first glance has a watercourse through the town. There is a main set of gates to the south that seem designed to let caravans and the like in there is a caravanserai inside near that gate) and what appears to be a gilded portcullis on the northern wall of the town. Most of the travel is obviously from the south and the cities of Kh’saaba. Evaluating the defensive capabilities of the place, Debora determines there doesn’t seem to be an army of any sort, but the walls would appear to be solid fortification. She doesn’t really know all that much about the town, and Daniel gives her a somewhat confused look. Faqid points out there’s a caravan in the town, perhaps having just arrived judging by his sensibilities, and the three agree they are puzzled by the presence of the river in Halifah that seems to descend into the earth at both “ends” of it. Daniel points out that it’s odd that the serir gave way to desert once more in the area around Halifah. He’s convinced that it’s not natural. After discussing matters, the player characters decide to go into the town through the northern gate. The pull of the Dragon Mark becomes even stronger. “It’s the right direction,” Debora mutters. As they near the gilded portcullis, those within the walls seem to be aware of their presence. The portcullis opens, seemingly of its own accord. Several of the guards prevent them from coming in, and one of them asks who they are and their purpose for coming to the town. Debora tells them that the Mark of the Dragon brought them there, and they are invited to enter the town. Debora and Faqid are able to enter easily enough, but when Daniel passes through the gate, he is surrounded by orange fire (that does no harm). With mutterings of “Sorcerer!” around him, they ask Daniel what he is - to which he replies he is a Sage. [The gate can detect truth as well, and since he believes that he is a Sage, this is true for him.] After a bit more conversation, the authority figure of Halifah comes to greet the player characters. The deep voiced, dark-haired man, surrounded by attendants and accompanied by three bodyguards, introduces himself as Ehadin Ibn Malik Abd-Al-Hassan, and tells them they may address him as Sheik. He tells them that he knew that they would come, for it has been foreordained. Looking around, he tells them that they will talk elsewhere.
Followed by his retinue, Sheik Ehadin leads the group through the town, past three temples, a busy souk, and dizzying streets, until finally they reach his manse. Once there, they engage in a traditional tea ceremony, after which Sheik Ehadin talks to them. There is trouble in Halifah. The children have been/are disappearing. They do not know when this started to happen, only noticing when certain children were abducted. There are now 8 children missing that they know of. They first noticed this some 2 weeks ago... The caravan that is here has stayed because one of the bints from the caravan was taken two weeks ago. Even the son of one of Halifah’s few al-kimyati has been kidnapped. One child even disappeared from school while eating a mid-day meal. His fellow students didn’t even notice anything unusual until he just wasn’t there. Another child, one of the caravan lads, disappeared while in the busy souk! They have since learned that 8 children are also missing from the lower ranking peoples.
Daniel asks about the river and the insinuations that follow cast moral doubt on the people of Halifah. Sheik Ehadin says that the people of Halifah would not desecrate the River of Allath, but grudgingly admits that those who took the children may not share these values. As the conversation goes on, Sheik Ehadin’s voice rises and gets shriller, attracting the attention of a handsome, bald-headed man [CHA 3], who inquires of the sheik if he is all right. Sheik Ehadin says that all is fine, and introduces him to the Dragon-Marked as Jabal Ibn Mussah Abd-Al-Hassan, his main advisor. The Sheik orders him to leave, but the attentive Debora does not hear the door close behind him. The Sheik tells the Dragon-Marked that there is no place where the children could be hidden, as all of Halifah has been searched. He asks, almost begs, for their help. The three Dragon-Marked say matter-of-factly that they will help find the children for the children’s sake. Daniel adds that he will help because that is what the Dragon has decreed. Both Daniel and Debora say that it would be better to stay in the town itself so as to get information and talk to the people as opposed to the manse, when Sheik Ehadin offers them accommodation at the mansion. Faqid flatters the Sheik on the terms of payment, and the Sheik agrees that he will determine their payment when all is done. He then asks if Jabal if wants to come and help them get set up at one of the inns. Jabal [Stealth 4] steps out of the shadows, and says no, and that he has other things to do. Faqid whispers to Debora that he does not trust Jabal. Jamal overhears him, and both Debora and Faqid realize that Jabal has a Dragon Mark...
Sunday afternoon's game session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked campaign went pretty well, I thought. The game session was slightly marred by SteveR's defensiveness about not taking a camel when he had the chance to purchase one during character generation, especially with his Wealth level (!!), but there will now be taunts and barbs about the traveller without a camel from this point in the campaign. Fun stuff! I was worried about SteveR's character insulting Master Afab early on, but may decided on consequences to the insult later on. Part of the problem is that he's playing a Sage, but doesn't ask a lot of questions or know what questions to ask. This could cause problems later on, unfortunately.
Overall, it was a fun session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG, and I'm looking forward to the next session on Sunday, weather and health willing.