The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XXVII
The dry breadth of air is filled with the sweet smells of an oasis paradise amidst the sands of the western deserts. The trip only consisted of half a days ride back to the town, but should have been longer had it not been for the enigmatic Storyteller. After word had spread from a one of the scouting patrolmen who came in contact with the Liberators of Kelmarane, the small town erupted and rejoiced with fervor and joy. The ominous howling during the moon on high had ceased, the sounds of of the Carrion King and his ilk dwindled to nothing; the day that marked it remembered as a sign of Seranrae’s Blessing – a pillar of light breaking through the deep clouds of the Pale Mountain.
As Ce-tan recounts his exploits to the passerby and elated townsfolk, he offers a good night of dancing, drink, and women, at the Sultan’s Wish for all the hard “work”, tedious travel, and a droplet of sweat that seemed to have built upon his brow. Faharid, seemingly concerned with Ce-tan’s place of business, declines his offer and slightly narrows his eyes in disgust at the house of ill repute. Quickly, the Liberators headed to Almah’s tent.
His charm radiated through his rows of honeycombed teeth; his touch felt swiftly and resolute upon Almah’s hand as he kissed it in general seductive disquiet. Though his charms had not worked previously from her battlehardened heart, Ce-tan’s charisma was impressive and acknowledged none-the-less. Ce-tan, unphased, recanted the tale in greater flourish to Almah as the conqueror of the King and warrior of Ketapesh. The evening drawing on and with great appreciation, Almah saluted them with highest regards remarking on their enduring service to fledgling town and requested him to convey a night of leisure to heart’s desire to all the weary Liberators.
Khatovar, knowing the heart of evil lurks behind the trail of the scroll, quickly interjected with Almah relaying his intentions to head to Ketapesh. Almah is reminded of Garavel, who will be leaving soon for a few weeks to resupply, and negotiate business for the coming year; if he so wished she would speak with the man with the Packmaster’s Favor to arrange transport. Khatovar accepted. The meeting was now at an end.
Restating the joys to be had at the Sultan’s Wish, Ce-tan again offers the pleasures of his establishment. Faharid again showed his disdain for the Wish. Scoffing slightly at his displaced piety, Ce-tan let the newest find their own way through town and went for his night of debauchery; Zhakmed, uncaringly, took quickly to the drink and the company of women.
The night of was of wonders and joy.
Ce-tan awoke as early as ever, his hunger for power burning for the ancient scroll. However, the fabled scroll of unlimited wealth and power was now in the possession of the Gnome after much debate and debacle. He must wait until the proper moment, and thus headed directly for Almah’s quarters. Before the others would come, witless and uncompromising as they are, to discuss the transgressions with Almah, information must be gathered appropriately. The scroll, though Khatovar had warned, needs to be revealed to the right individuals who may perish for the greater cause of its reopening. No, it should not be inferred or told of its existence without the proper consequence.
His speech pocked with questions of Almah’s step-father as Ce-tan questioned a few unknowing patrons and employees. Rayhan Xobahdi, made his fortune as a merchant. But the strength of the man lay within his sentimental and esoteric scholarly pursuits of ancient magics. However, the hardminded business sense cultivated from the cutthroat practices of Ketapesh had not translated to Rayhan as it had to daughter; Almah. The day felt as if it was crawling by as Ce-tan approached the Wish, he longed to sit at his desk to get back to business or within his silken sheets removed from the threat of the tainted weak willed Janni who was idiotic enough to be corrupted.
As he opened the door and the breeze buffeted his skin, an odd an pungent smell lacquered itself to the inside of his senses. Unsure but uncautious, Ce-tan strode into his room unable to pick it apart. The corner of his I flicked to his bed. A bubble, unmoving, that shouldn’t be there. With expectation of coy wench he unfurled to sheen sheets to find a vile and most unclean woman.
Hair matted and shaggy with the wilds; foul smelling blood and bile excreted from where the head should be. Ukar’s head lay staring upward, separated surely from the body, oozing the contents onto the bed. “MORGIANNA!”
Ce-tan fuming with anger at the insolence from that despicable Janni brought Morgianna before him. Her hurried state carry with her the same eyes for alertness and murder behind them. With an unsure glint in her eye when face-to-face with her master, she could not understand what had prompted his burst of rage until Ukar was revealed. Her face pale with fright, her cheeks and eyes yet gave away the lust for revenge behind them; Morgianna stood to her master with a face of unknowing. How could it happen? How could she let this be in the sanctity of her masters office?! There was nothing that she remembered well enough. Ce-tan knew otherwise. Probing her with the force of his being manifested though his eyes, Ce-tan felt the wave and residual magics wash over him. “That son of a bitch.” Magics indeed. Someone had come in and tampered with his priceless property. Pushing the interrogation further Morgianna divulges the descriptively vague and convention appearance of the perpetrator. Releasing her to her duties and given a new task, Ce-tan called forth again with sonorous yell, “KHATOVAR!”
The morning had gone well within the Battle Market. Those who desired to seek the teachings of the Master of Masters or at least find in themselves a measure of mastery filled the halls with the studious application. Khatovar awoke from his bed afresh and rose from his long evening “conferring” with Haleen. His mind set on his leaving Kelmarane in hopes to deter the flood; the seekers of scroll. Haleen arose with him still laden in sheets, boring in with her boredom of the backwoods town and her objection to his quick leave.
The cry curdled rock and it was felt through the bone as a roar of hatred and contempt. The call flashed in his ears with hard honesty as Khatovar looked toward the sound and amplified call of Ce-tan.
The thin air was met with stiff muscle as Khatovar lept without hesitation from the top of the Battle Market. His feet somehow adhering to the vertical wall as it was ground ran downward with haste to meet his comrade in distress. The wall became a board and the vestibule became his target as Khatovar hit the stone with such force it shook the wooden cabinets of wine and myrrh, crouching in expectation of battle. “Ah! It’s about time you got here. LOOK AT THIS! LOOK AT MY SHEETS!”
Ce-tan ranted and his fury spewed forth from frothing lips and insidious eyes. Khatovar approached the bed without concern as Ce-tan cradled his tirade for stolen silken sheets to which he knew he could clean. To his surprise, the sheet bore thick stench and putrid puss of the guide that had brought he and company through the mountains and to the Pale Mountain, the ancient temple to the World Serpent, and the Carrion King’s once-but-no-more throne. Ukar. Hideous as ever blithely stared out with unflinching and glassy dead eyes. Curious as to what message she had to give before her death, Khatovar continued his investigation by rifling through her armor and belongings. Nothing. Her mouth was shut with rigor indicating she did not howl or yell, but a faint pale amid the yellow rotting fangs. Something.
With strength and leverage Khatovar pried open her mouth. Inside a crumpled piece of parchment lay, oiled by the look of darkened glistening but not undone by the blood and water that would have destroyed it otherwise. Khatovar stood in silence as he felt the fury of Tempest and his own collide into a subtle storm, “Such is the fate of tools who lose their purpose.” Passing the note to Ce-tan, Khatovar leaves the Wish hurriedly knowing that it was the smallest of them who carried the largest burden.
The unquestionable threat upon the lives that do not acquiesce to his demands, Zayifid’s morbid message resonates to the heart of the dungeon delvers with a hard reminder of the weight they carry in their possession. Ce-tan pushed into the day to find the whereabouts of the Messenger as Khatovar tracked the Gnome. The even and graceful steps made with malevolence; every person questioned mentioning a tall goodlooking man leading around Kelmarane asking questions of regarding Khatovar and looking for work around Kelmarane. The last of it bringing the Wishcrafter to the doors of his only competition; the house of Al’Din.
Hassan Al’Din was a merchant that tried to corner the pesh fields of Kelmarane, whose viciousness was paralleled to that of an oily snake bred from the soils of Ketapesh. His stakes within the town had gone up but had always been staved off by the more accomplished Ce-tan. This however would not deter an opportunist such as he, yes, Al’Din would take over everything with the right leverage, Ce-tan surmised.
Pushing aside lackeys with mere stares and biting sarcasm Ce-tan barged in with flourish and fervor; the Hotblooded human pushing aside curtain and door. Ready to rip Al’Din limb from limb, Ce-tan hurdled forth well placed temperament upon the half-witted businessman and his right hand lackey, Raadi. The matter of business being the proprietor had sent a person of his employ to kill Ce-tan in his sleep.
Taken aback by the shreds of bloodlust from his compeditor, Al’Din stayed motionless for just the right amount of time to sate Ce-tan’s desire to eviscerate him nose to navel; to his right Raadi remained silent. Raadi was a mean looking man with a scar over his eye and exuded a similar presence of violence as Ce-tan burst forth; his hand stay by a short, curt motion of the hand of Al’Din.
Unsure of whether to purify them with a gout of flame, Ce-tan brought the conversation back down to cutthroat business level after discovering Al’Din had not intended any immediate harmful plot. After some discourse, Al’Din agreed to seek the perpetrator out and also remove their head from their body in recompense for employing such a useless slave. After tactful tongues and the cogs of commerce were greased, Ce-tan left to see if the cleaning of his bed had finished.
Glarthoblavott stood within the Battle Market shopping around for various sundries and items that could elevate him to a higher understanding of the singularity of the planes. “No, no this wont do…” The rummaging through stall after stall grew tedious but not boring as their were always new exotic wares to find among the rubble which their owners had never known about, idiots. And there he was minding his own haggling spectacle when from no where Khatovar jumped down and landed right next to him; thinking huh? Why, why now? and more audibly, “What? Where are we going?” The Gnome had no leverage as the big linen clad man picked him from the floor. After a bit of walking from eavesdropping ears, the fighter divulged that Ce-tan had been threatened with a note and corpse of Ukar, his room ransacked with nothing taken. The scroll was out in the world and supposed to be in the hands of Ce-tan; Zayifid knew of this and would be patient to get what he wanted.
Gathering at Almah’s, Ce-tan, Glarth, Zhakmed, and Khatovar request that the escort be pushed ahead of schedule. The faster the Liberators were out of Kelmarane, the less collateral damage that may be done to its people. Two days at minimum; it would have to suffice. But the escort could use better and more fastidious hands. Under the suggestion of Zhakmed; arriving at the temple of Seranrae, Glarthoblavott and his companion Khatovar sought Faharid.
Faharid stood hunched breathless as always, but in fluid motion going over the tenents of his craft for the Sirf al Nour. His form steady though his cough fits may have been at their worst with the dry, sand filled air. Khatovar explained to him the situation of the escort and requirement of better hands, to that Faharid pledged his service to see the scroll through to the end – but on one condition. The redemption of the Well of Paradise.
A long time ago in the City of Brass, an Efreeti princess escaped with her life. Avanasshea bore the heart of goodness, opposed to her kin of darkness, and worshiped the goddess Sarenrae. Though she lived her life seeking only goodness in the world and furthering the cause of her church, the sin of her treachery was not forgiven. The Sultan, her father, sought her death, and by his order her two efreet children caused great harm throughout the material plane. At the place that would become the Deep Well of Paradise, Avanasshea acknowledged that darkness and evil could not be ignored. She had fled the evil of her kin, seeking a land after her own heart. But that evil festered, grew in her absence, and now sought her out, with fire and death. With tears in her eyes she slew her children, saving the lives of many of Katapesh’s earliest settlers. By some miracle of the Dawnflower, her tears gave birth to an oasis, sustained by magic unknown, the oasis has endured despite the season for over two thousand years.
As historians knew, a temple was constructed by her to the Dawnflower amid the desert between Kelmarane and Ketapesh along the Obelisk Trail. For many years at had been a wellspring of beauty and rest known as the Well of Paradise. Over years, the sanctuary fell into a corrupt darkness. Fedayha of Solku, a most devout and zealous member of the Church of Seranrae, found this corruption an affront to Her divine pride. The anger welled and she against council sought to purify the Well, alone. Though a paladin and most courageous, Fedayha fell in over her head… and hasn’t been heard of since.
It’s unsuccessful purification and insidious corruption led the Well to its new name; the Hell of Eternal Thirst. Rumors say now, a guard stands watch over the well, ever vigilant. A lamassu, calling himself the Lion of Five Heavens…an agent for the Empyreal Lord Ragathiel. Bearer of Vengeance, Duty, and the Destruction of evil, the lamassu stands before the once brilliant oasis barring entrance.
The time is at hand to keep the people of Kelmarane safe, and Zayifid at bay.