Daniel Bar Yeremiah (SteveR) - Shiradi Sage
Debora Bat Solomon (Tammy) - Shiradi Red Lion
Faqid the Witless (GM/NPC) - Amnesiac Merchant Prince
(8th day of the second Ten-day of the 4th Month of the year 5997)
Daniel Bar Yeremiah tells Debora Bat Solomon and Faqid the Witless that “it’s aware of us.” When asked, he tells the other two that he just saw lights in Shaki’s eyes and that he heard a disembodied voice tell him that it’s aware of them. Olobis is waiting. Debora and Faqid turn their attention back to the two guards, and ask what they can tell them of the North Gate. They learn that children sneak into the area all the time, almost like a rite of passage, to see the gate despite admonishments from their parents. The guards always catch the children, but allow them to look at the gate, and Shaki admits to having done so when he was a child. It’s said that the North Gate (whose true name has been lost in the mists of time) is present to protect against a sorcerous creature. The south gate to the town, the so-called Gate of Luck, is the one that pretty much all travellers use to access the town; only some people are able to enter through the North Gate, and Debora comments to the other two that it was the Gate that allowed them into Halifah. Both Debora and Daniel decide to examine the gate, he from safety some 30 feet away and Debora moving close to the gate, within about 15 feet. Shaki tells Faqid, “I think they will learn the hard way.”
As Debora advances towards the gate, she feels a mental pressure that she attempts to fight off as she approaches closer, which becomes a headache at 20 feet, and then stops her at 15 feet [she takes 1 point of damage]; she sees a cut has bled through her robe. The mental pressure becomes too much for her, and she starts back towards Faqid when she hears a “thump!” sound. She stops, and looks around for the danger. Meanwhile, Daniel attempts to learn what he can about the North Gate, and finds that it is a relic from a war. It does not let just anyone in, and is a protection device that has been there since forever, and is not related directly to Halifah in any way. The mental pressure he feels causes him some rending wounds [he suffers 9 damage] and he goes unconscious, just after hearing a voice boom in his head, “You have learned what you will, now pay the price!”. Debora finds Daniel lying on his back, talon-like rends along his chest and abdomen, a pool of blood around him on the ground. Shaki grabs Faqid as he is about to go to Daniel’s aid, saying that he mustn’t, that things must play out. Debora watches as the cuts on Daniel’s body close, and the blood on the ground is absorbed, sucked into the sand. Daniel recovers consciousness, and when Debora asks if he’s okay, he tells her that he is, and the two of them return to where the guards and Faqid are standing. Daniel attempts to tell her what he’s learned, but when he tries he suffers more cuts [and 1 damage for each] and realizes he’s under a compulsion not to talk of what he’s learned upon pain of death. The characters decide to return to the Black Dabbat.
As they return the inn, Debora tells the others that she needs to talk to Fara’s family. However, she doesn’t know where the girl can be found as she only knows her first name, so they will have to ask around at the inn. Fate smiles on the three Dragon-Marked, for as they enter the Black Dabbat, they see Fara serving food and drink to a woman - the storyteller/dancer that Debora had wanted to talk to. Debora walks up to the table, and Fara is pleased to see her though the storyteller remains neutral. She introduces herself as Habiba Bint Aziz Abd-Al-Salif [the thieves and mercenaries of the Salifah], and after the Dragon-Marked introduce themselves, she invites them to join her at the table. One thing leads to another, and the Dragon-Marked ask Habiba if she knows anything that can help them rescue the children of Halifah. Habiba says there is one story/song she knows that might help. In return Habiba asks for 1) the story of what happened when they return successfully with the children and 2) an item each that they value as ransom to be returned to them if they come back or to be given to their next of kin if they fail to return at all. Debora chafes a bit at this request, but after Faqid agrees to it readily enough, she consents as well. Debora gives her the gold bracelet that was given to her by her Shiradi love Haram Bar Shimon, whom she crossed the territory of a Djinn to prove her love for. Daniel gives her a silver amulet, the first gift given him by his first Sage mentor when he was very young, which started him on the Path that he followed. Faqid gives Habiba a gold ring from his left ring finger that he doesn’t know the meaning of, though he tells her that it holds “extreme sentimental value” to him for reasons he doesn’t understand. [It's his ring of bonding, a gift given him by his wife when they wed.] Habiba gives him a sorrowful look and smile, but doesn’t say anything. Once Fara returns with the food and drink orders for the characters, Debora tips her 1 Copper Talent, and the girl disappears into the back of the inn.
Habiba then proceeds to launch into the story/song called “Olobis and the Ten”: Olobis is a young man from a city that no longer exists, who learns that he cannot have children, perhaps due to a curse. He marries, but has no children, and in time his wife curses him for not being able to have children, and then leaves him. Olobis vows to win her back, by giving her children - so he steals children to give her. However, he is caught in the act at one point, and sentenced to death, but is saved by a Djinn. The Djinn offers Olobis the ability to complete his task in exchange for eternal servitude and, thinking that he can outwit the Djinn, he accepts this offer.
Habiba finishes her spellbinding story, and tells the characters that all of this took place in an ancient city called Amat, which used to lie where Halifah now stands. She says that the story goes that the North Gate of the town is the remnant of the old city that served to protect - but no one is sure what. She also adds that it is never clear if Olobis is mortal, a sorcerer, or perhaps a Djinn himself. With the evening meal crowd coming in to the Black Dabbat, Habiba excuses herself, saying that she awaits the final part of this story upon the return of the Dragon-Marked with the children of Halifah.
Attempting to find Fara, they learn that she has left for the day to return home to her family. Debora asks Mummsa, the proprietress, where they can find Fara, whose full name they learn is Fara Bint Alaaf Abd-Al-Ghandu. Mummsa is suspicious at first and refuses, but when Debora and Faqid tell her they wish to talk to her father about her future, the proprietress of the Black Dabbat acquiesces. Mummsa gives them directions, and Daniel is able to commit them to memory. They pick up some foodstuffs along the way, Faqid leading them in this endeavour, since they will be arriving at Fara’s family home just before they sit down to the evening meal. The house they arrive at is in a residential area, quite nice, and has an innovative thing called a “skylight”. The Dragon-Marked meet Fara’s parents, Jehan Ibn Alaaf Abd-Al-Ghandu, her mother, Ahara Bint Marisa, and their three children (including Fara, who is surprised to see Debora and her friends), and the maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather. After the evening meal, the discussion turns to Fara.
Both Jehan and Ahara are shocked, nay dismayed, when the Dragon-Marked tell them they wish for Fara to accompany them in search o the missing children the next day. Both parents have known of Fara’s Dragon-Mark since she was young, but their desire to keep her young and safe has overridden their knowledge of what she is and what she will become. After Faqid, Debora and Daniel vow that they will give their lives to keep the girl safe, Jehan bows to the inevitable. Sara’s grandfather, Mahash, goes and brings back two cloth-wrapped weapons - a khanjar and a sayf - that they have been holding for the girl. Mashash is revealed to have the Dragon Mark as well, and says that the weapons were not his, but belonged to someone “important to me, once.” As Fara plays with the two weapons, Debora’s Red Lion training tells her that the girl has good beginning skill with them. After some more chit chat and promises about Fara’s safety, the Dragon-Marked characters leave for the Black Dabbat, saying they’ll meet Fara at the inn at sunrise the next morning.
The Dragon-Marked are up and awake in the pre-dawn. Faqid meets Debora on the stairs heading down to the busy common room, and tells her they must talk. He tells her that he had a dream the past night, and though he doesn’t remember its details, he has the feeling that he should not take his camel with him into the desert for this trip. Debora thinks about this, and says that she will take his advice to heart, and that she will not take her camel with her as well. The two arrive in the common room, and find that Fara is already at one of the tables, tucking into a morning meal. They join her at the table, and find she is uncomfortably happy and excited. Miryam, the serving girl, comes over and she takes their food order. Meanwhile, Daniel has gone to a reputable trader, and based on Fate alone [he drew the stone from Urim and Turim] purchases two camels. Back at the Black Dabbat, Faqid tells Debora that he just remembered a fragment of the dream: A knife the size of a suyuf sticking out of the camel’s shoulder and throat, blood pouring from the wound. Daniel returns with the camels, and is somewhat put out by the fact that the other two have decided not to take their camels with them; he decides to take the two camels, reasoning that the rescued children will need some means of riding back to Halifah.
The morning dawns bright and clear, a sign of a warm day to come. The Dragon-Marked decide what they will take with them. Faqid decides to take his weapons, armour, some desert gear and clothes, two waterskins, and 3 days worth of food. Debora decides to take the equivalent from her own equipment. Daniel decides to take the same equipment as the others. Faqid pays Mummsa five (5) days worth of room and board and stabling for the camels for both himself and Debora [for a cost of 32 Silver Talents] and throws in a Gold Talent to Mummsa for “”insurance purposes”. Daniel copies him, paying the same amount.
Debora asks Fara if she’s ready to go on her first trek, and the young girl says she is, but is glad that she’s not going to ride a camel - as she doesn’t know how. “You’ll learn,” says Daniel, with a small smile on his face.
Sunday afternoon's game session of the Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked RPG campaign was a pretty good one. The players both seemed to enjoy themselves, though Tammy got somewhat frustrated with SteveR when he kept doing things that copied/duplicated actions of hers (and the NPC, Faqid). In other regards, the game session went pretty well with the players and their characters finally learning some vital information through the storyteller, Habiba, and the lovely and fun dinner with Fara's parents. The scenario should only take one more session, I think, so I'm pretty pleased about that.
Overall, a good session of the Sunday Capharnaüm - The Tales of the Dragon-Marked campaign. I'm looking forward to the next session of the game.