Daniel Bar Yeremiah (SteveR) - Shiradi Sage
Debora Bat Solomon (Tammy) - Shiradi Red Lion
Faqid the Witless (GM/NPC) - Amnesiac Merchant Prince
(4th day of the second Ten-day of the 4th Month of the year 5997)
Sheik Ehadin asks the Dragon-Marked to contact him if and when they learn anything. He also says that they should pray to Hubal that they do so before another child is taken. Debora Bat Solomon takes that as a veiled threat.
The player characters leave Sheik Ehadin’s manse but, never having been in Halifah, don’t know where to go look for a place to stay. Fariq the Witless stops one of the guards and asks him where he would recommend as a place to stay in the town [he rolls CHA + Flattery, with a Result of 16 with 5 Magnitude]. They learn of the Black Dabbat near the centre of the the town, as well as the Malabar in Gold near the edge of the souk. Faqid gives the guard a Copper Talent, and the guard tells him to look him up any time he needs a service. Debora and Daniel Bar Yeremiah follow Faqid's lead, but they soon stop and discuss a bit about where they’re going. Realizing that he’s hungry, Faqid interrupts the conversation having spotted a food seller and heads in that direction. He purchases fig tarts, meat [goat] pastries, and demi-tasses of caph [coffee], enough for the three of them. After discussing matters more while filling their bellies, Faqid announces that they’ll go to the Black Dabbat, as it makes more sense than to spend too much time at the edge of the souk.
As the Dragon-Marked head into the town proper and move towards the Black Dabbat, Debora keeps an eye out and notices there are almost no children out, despite the late afternoon hour, and that all the children she sees are older kids. When they arrive at the inn, Faqid opens the door and as the characters enter, they are caught up in the sweet smell coming from various hookahs and note a female dancer and storyteller [with CHA of at least 4]. When the storyteller-cum-dancer sees the player characters, she immediately launches into the tale of “The Dragon-Marked Sailor and the Bird of Prey”. Debora notes that the woman is a very good dancer, thinking of incorporating some of her moves into her Shiradi combat style. As she moves closer to the woman through the crowded inn’s common area, she senses that she is Dragon-Marked. When she looks closer at the woman, the storyteller winks at her.
Looking around the common room, Faqid has the feeling that he’s been in this place before, though he can’t for the life of him remember why he knows and feels this. He doesn’t recognize any of the people in the Black Dabbat, but one of the serving girls looks somewhat startled when she sees him. Before he has a chance to talk with her, she dashes into the back of the inn (obviously to get food and drink for various customers). Meanwhile, Daniel looks around for the proprietor and finds her in the form of a rotund, older looking woman with slightly greying hair, Mummsa. Daniel takes three rooms for the night (at a cost of 9 ST total) for a period of four days. Mummsa says if they want to bathe, they’ll have to do so at the bath-house located one street over. Faqid flips her a Gold Talent, and informs her he wishes bath-house services for two (himself and Debora) as well as clothes cleaning. He states that the Red Lion’s purple robes are to be carefully cleaned and that if necessary, they should be dyed as well. He then flips her another Silver Talent, and Mummsa’s eyes go wide. Daniel decides to have a bath and some clothes laundered as well, and arranges this with the proprietress [he pays 4 Silver Talents for this.]
The Dragon-Marked head upstairs to their rooms and some blessed quiet, as the common room is starting to get noisy as the evening meal crowd starts to arrive and the music level elevates. The Dragon-Marked do some unpacking of their belongings, meager they may be in some respects, but are interrupted by the arrival of several servants who are there to give them cleansing sponge baths. In his room, Daniel finds a servant child waiting to bathe him. The boy says his name is Tek [spelled Tek but pronounced "Teek", with an old Saabi accent over the "e", which he realizes translates as “spawn"]. He’s seemingly a child of mixed blood, though Daniel can’t identify the other culture. As Tek starts to bathe him, Daniel interrogates the boy, making him feel threatened, and he thinks the sage-cum-sorcerer (word spreads fast in Halifah!) is one of those who has attacked and taken the children. Calling him Effendi [master, my lord] from that point on, Tek backs away from him, sponge in hand, and when he calms down a bit after Daniel tells him too much about why he's come and what's going on, he tells Daniel that his brother [Macus] was taken less than two Ten-Days ago. He says he doesn’t know what his brother was doing when he disappeared. Tek is actually 16 years old, but his brother looks young enough, and was mistaken for his junior self. Tek says his brother hadn’t mentioned being followed or that there were any suspicious people or activities leading up to his disappearance. Once he finishes talking to him, he tells Daniel that he’d best to find someone else to wash him. He drops the sponge near the wood basin and leaves. Shortly thereafter, a very quiet boy of some 8 years of age comes and completes the bathing ritual.
When Faqid reaches his room, he finds a young serving girl, Munna, waiting for him. She tells him her age, 14, and that she’s there to bathe him and service him in any other way he might wish. Faqid blushes, and says that the bathing will be enough. The girl seems relieved. He tells Munna that he is there to help find the missing children, and a gleam of hope appears on her face. She asks if she can help, and he tells her to recount for her what she knows of the missing children. She says that her mother and father have gotten more cautious about her safety and well-being, but that neither she nor her sisters or brothers have gone missing. She makes the Saabi sign to ward off evil. She tells him that one of her friends, 11-year-old Alia Bat Koran, went missing just over a Ten-Day ago. She had been sent on an errand to the souk, and disappeared somewhere on the return journey to her home. All that was found of her was a yellow scarf that she valued [given to her by her aba] and the two pouches of food spices that she’d been told to purchase. Munna asks if he really can save all the children who have disappeared, and he promises her that he will do his best to find them and save them, if it is at all possible. He gives her 2 Copper Talents, and once she departs through the servant’s entrance, he dresses modestly for the evening meal. He debates taking a pair of daggers with him, and does so, concealing one in his boot and one up his sleeve.
Debora’s attending servant is a young girl by the name of Fara [Bint Alaaf Abd-Al-Ghandu], who approaches her cautiously after Debora strips down, and begins washing her. Debora realizes the girl is not much older than the missing children and strikes up a conversation as Fara bathes her. Debora tells Fara her name and that she is a warrior. She says she came to Halifah because she sensed trouble here, and that she’s working for the Sheik to find and return the missing children to their families. Fara’s hands are shaking, and when Debora asks why, the girl hesitates and moves behind Debora’s back. She sees the [Dragon] Mark and asks what it means. She shows Debora that she has a similar Dragon Mark on her back, though Debora is surprised to see it on one so young. Fara says she was told by her parents that it’s a curse. Debora tries to explain to her that it was and is a gift. It marks her as special and that she can do much more than a normal person can. It is what you do with it that is important - she can help people, even save them. Fara asks if that’s like how she saved her friend, Rella, when she fell in a sinkhole. Exactly, Debora says, and that is a gift! Sara says that her abba told her it’s a curse, that it would cause her harm, that it’s too dangerous. Debora says that yes, there can be danger as the Dragon Mark draws one to people and places that need their help, but says that it is up to the individual whether they help or not. She tells the girl that she was drawn to this place to help with finding the missing children. She asks Fara what her Mark tells her. “To go North,” the young girl says. Fara asks the mudarrisa [teacher] what she is going to do? Debora is somewhat shocked at the girl’s use of that term, but she says that she doesn’t know where she is going after Halifah, but that she can help perhaps or they can decide what they’re going to do afterwards. [She somewhat deftly avoided answering the question directly.] Fara resumes washing Debora, until there is a sharp rapping at the door. It is Faqid, who asks if she’s ready to go and eat. She tells him shortly. Debora dresses in her purple, non-Red Lion attire while Fara cleans up and departs through the servant’s entrance. Before she leaves, Debora gives Fara a pair of Copper Talents. Debora greets Faqid, and they prepare to descend to the common room.
Debora and Faqid encounter Daniel heading down stairs, and the three sit at one of the tables. They find themselves at one of the small dining room tables off the common room. Somewhat quieter. They start with some mint tea, a tradition when eating and a sign of hospitality. Daniel and Debora allow Faqid to order for them, and he orders mutton with vegetables (his will not be cooked) and some dried fruit. He flirts, but only a little bit, with the serving girl, Miryam, and she convinces him to order the Saabi tea surprise. Before she leaves with their order, Miryam tells him her name and says that he should look her up if he has any other need for her services. Debora sees no sign of the storyteller, though she can hear the woman’s music coming from the common room proper. She asks Daniel and Faqid if they’ve noticed the increase in the number of Dragon-Marked, since they’ve encountered several of them in the last few days. They talk of the Dragon Mark and when it is gained, and Daniel tells them in a surly fashion that he was 15 when he gained the Dragon Mark and saved a Quarterian... She tells the two men of Fara and what occurred, and her asking to accompany Debora on their quest north. Daniel is reluctant to give them any information about what he learned from his bathing servant. They discuss Fara’s joining them, potentially as Debora’s student, but wonder whether her destiny is tied up with their own, not to mention everything else. “Perhaps it is her destiny to free the children,” comments Faqid, and they seriously consider the matter. Debora says they need to talk with her parents and her family. While Faqid tells her that he’ll tell her what occurred with the serving girl he was assigned (Daniel is a bit surprised and annoyed to learn that Faqid had a female servant bathing him), but not in the dining/common room; “There are too many ears,” he says.
Miryam starts to deliver the food to the table, and the three Dragon-Marked are enjoying their meal tremendously. The doors of the Black Dabbat burst open, and Jabal and two of the sheik’s guards enter. Debora notices that the two are warriors of the Ibn Rashid Abd-Al-Hassan, the Sheik’s personal guard. Jabal has a look of fury on his face. Spotting the player characters, he tells them that they are to attend the Sheik the next morning after the morning meal. Pointing at Daniel, he says that he will explain his actions this day. After Jabal and his soldiers have left, Debora turns to Daniel and asks what he did. He explains about Tek, the boy who had been assigned to bathe him, and that he may have said too much, had mentioned they were working for the Sheik. The group goes back to their meal, their enjoyment of it somewhat marred by the encounter with Jabal.
As they are finishing their food, Faqid idly nibbling at a couple of dates and figs, the doors of the Black Dabbat burst open once more. A large man, relatively fit, with dark hair and clean shaven, spits out, “Where’s the flatulent son of a dung merchant who dared treat my son that way???!!!”
Sunday afternoon's game session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG campaign was a pretty good one, and I enjoyed myself a lot. The players seemed to have a good time of it as well, though SteveR was flummoxed and unsure of himself several times during the afternoon, and Tammy rather enjoyed the fact that rather than lecture them on cultural elements of the game world, I injected them directly into play (explaining them, as necessary, in short in-game terms). The session didn't have any physical combat in it, but there was plenty of drama and action in its own right, so both players were pretty happy about that. It will be interesting to see how the players and their characters handle the situation they find themselves in now, and what Tammy decides to do with the young girl, Fara.
Overall, a lovely session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG, and I'm rather looking forward to the next session of Sunday play.