The World Beyond: al-Jazira Sadim

Episode V: House on Not-So-Haunted Hill
When in doubt, look down

I joined the adventurers who rescued me on campaign to cleanse the haunted house on the bluff of evil. Ismail ibn Yusef was pretty excited to do some exorcising and the lizard man (I feel bad calling him that, but I can’t pronounce or spell his name. I’ll call him Liz.) was ready to pound some ghouls into the netherworld. We set out early in the day, with Liz figuring that the evil that lurked within the house may have an aversion to sunlight. We didn’t run into much trouble at first. The house seemed simply deserted and run down. I watched as Gebbel Al-Udun checked for traps and listened for trouble. He’s got such a way with such things! Each time we came to a door he’d check it for trouble and Liz would tie a rope around the much lighter Gebbel who then proceeded across the condemned floors. Twice the floor fell out under him and Liz had to haul him back up. It worked out to our advantage, though, as with Gebbel falling through the floor he was able to deduce that the room directly below had nothing of interest. Another wrong step caused part of the balcony to disintegrate from under him. We decided to go downstairs and came across a room that yelled warnings at us! We were all pretty spooked—poor Ismail and Gebbel went a bit mad! While they were fretting I looked up and didn’t see anything. Liz checked the window that looked out on the patio but no undead were there. On a hunch I examined the floor and found a well-concealed trap door. We went down and found a single Christian at a table. He ran for what seemed a solid wall but Liz grabbed him mid-stride. Ismail interrogated him with the help of Liz’s intimidation! We found that he had been running to a secret door which hid a study. We found some interesting liquids in a poorly needle trapped box under a bed. I found a really nice lantern! Ismail found more books, including one on mesmerism. He also found some scraps of paper with words on them but we never found out what they were for. I’m hoping I can use the well-crafted lenses in one of my tinkerings. Upon further questioning of the little man we found his fellows would be returning. There was a door marked DANGER and we all agreed that since the little man couldn’t be trusted his signs couldn’t either. Liz broke his neck and threw him in the room to see if anything attacked him. Inside were piles of bones which began to move! Rather than fight so many skeletons we ran away and locked the door behind us. We found a stair case and went down it into some caverns below the house. While stretching in a room off the tunnel Liz was attacked by a slime! It ate his armor and Ismail threw water on it which killed it somehow. Maybe it was magic water? We went deeper in the cave and found a boat had been there recently. On our way back we found another passage that lead to the right. We took it and found some little dog men guarding some nice fabrics. They attacked us! Liz bonked them each on the head and when they woke up they didn’t know where they were. Turns out they were mesmerized and taken from their homes. We think the little man’s friends are actually pirates or slave traders. We sent the dog men to talk to their leader and tell her that we freed them. I think my companions aren’t well-liked by the dog men’s tribe. I hope that this helps their reputation with the dog people. Then we looked around the house some more. We were attacked by giant centipedes! Oh was I scared! They finally went away after we fought to get them off of Gebbel. It turned out there was no treasure in the house! No scary monsters except the skeletons but I think they were left there as protection while the pirates were away). Frustrated we burned the not-so-scary house down. We will be returning to town to tell everyone we destroyed the haunted house. Maybe that will help my new friends’ reputation. The people in that town didn’t seem like they liked my friends.


Episode 4: Ibrahim
Ibrahim asks "What would Allah do?" and other questions

Stopping By Woods on a Foggy Evening

What was the strange altar found in the basement? Why was Balmar left alone there?

What possessed this Allahdamned goblin to assault Hassan without a question asked or answered? What possessed Ibrahim in the resulting murk that nearly wrested away his hope?

Why does Ibrahim still abide this Gebbel with his capriciousness (among other neuroses)? What would it take for all travel to be so uneventful as the next sun’s cycle?

A dead dog with arrows? How do you spell “Wawiqi”? Did Allah’s hand guide us to enlist to dispatch a caveful of “little dog people”? Would we not have been more successful if the lizard man hadn’t held us up and generally held us all in such contempt? Would you use the word “brilliant” to describe Ibrahim’s idea to trap the beasts behind their own pitfall trap?

Do you credit that the plan to surround Restenford with flaming pyres thereby trapping the residents was ill-founded? Why were the Wawiqi so intent in their desire to destroy humans? Are they perhaps racists?

Slams shield on table

When words wither a shield assures. ■

Episode 3: Ibrahim
Ibrahim's "Not Again!" Again

Frustration comes to Ibrahim in many forms

  • A chaste night with a prostitute (Fatima) that ends with only revelation as its climax.
  • A foolish attack led by a wrongheaded woman against 12 armed guards.
  • A trying conversation with a groggy bartender.
  • A fruitless conversation with a posted guard.
  • A hired prostitute, a scream down the hall.

And then, as if in slow motion, Ibrahim finds Fatima in the arms of another man. A shadowy man who pulls her from the windows Ibrahim dives to save her. But his considerable strength is not enough. He cries his mournful refrain, “Not again!” as she is pulled from his grasp. Ibrahim lands on his face, which damages his nasal passages and induces a temporal-lobe concussion, permanently disabling his sense of smell. The figure’s stygian aura swallows Fatima, and she is gone.

Frustration is the new Black. ■

Episode 2: Ibrahim
Ibrahim normally leaves haiku to the professionals

Ibrahim’s second day in Restenford, aptly told in haiku:

A massacre might
Incite many to stay but
Our party took flight.

Ibrahim’s insights
Ignored. To plans to find mom
Ib mutters, ‘alright.’

We climbed up in spite
Of the castle walls’ height and
Our limited sight.

The ground was not right —
Worm It was just a lame worm but
These n00bs took fright.

Our haiku was trite
But allowed us to escape
The worm’s fearsome bite.

We entered with light
And checked room after room, and
This took a long Zeit.

First floor had a wight —
Or some undead-y thing that
The scholar did smite.

Together, we’re bright:
We set a trip trap, and, well,
We waited till night.

A corridor tight
Trapped our foes; all were glad to
Avoid a fierce fight.

Ib’s plans for tonight?
Get a gal and query her
Hard, as it were — quite.

Let it be said, rarely is the pen mightier than the scimitar. ■

The Haiku that saved us

Hazards beset us;
Quickly give entry to me;
The waxy worm jumps.

Episode 1: Ibrahim
Ibrahim recalls the teachings of Lake Farmin

Six things Ibrahim learned from the first day’s journey to Restenford:

  1. Confirmed: People who read books should not be trusted.
  2. Gebbel’s mom fixation, already irritating, is going to be a nuisance.
  3. The stonings they do on this Allahforsaken island are nothing like the stonings they do back home, Ibrahim fondly reminisces…Spiked Chain
  4. Ismail got his sword to glow. Ibrahim wonders if the scholar will teach him that trick.
  5. This spiked chain facilitates Ibrahim’s favorite method of dispatch. His life-tally of men he’s castrated? An impressive four. (If this lizard man gets out of line, he may be the fifth.)
  6. “Lydia” (if that is her real name) appears to have evaporated into the fog—with the one-eared Goblin muttering something unintelligible about a dark-cloaked figure. But perhaps the woman is a Fog Elemental?

By trusting in Allah’s mighty wisdom and wise might, Ibrahim knows he will prevail. ■

Mauser & the Mindless Minions

Despite the incredible mass of the treasure chests, Bronwyn, Gy, and the rest of their crew easily hauled it out of the swamp. In fact, on the way, they stumbled upon the crew member who had sunken into the mud pit but somehow managed to escape alive. So elated at seeing their massive haul, he forgot how they abandoned him and helped them back towards the village.

Night was falling as they left the swamp, and they heard shouts of terror from Orlane. As it came into view, they saw villagers rushing about between burning buildings, doing their best to salvage their ransacked homes. Some of the villagers saw the group and cried, “Look! There’s more of them!”

Stunned by a flashback to the destruction of Manhan, Gy barely composed himself enough to stay the villagers who had rushed toward the group, picks and makeshift clubs in hand. Although one farmhand remained unconvinced of the party’s harmlessness, Bronwyn kept him in check while Gy consorted with the remaining villagers.

Apparently, a band of pirates had just ransacked the village, kidnapping all of the able-bodied youth and setting most of the buildings on fire. Word had come to Orlane of similar raids on nearby villages, but they still had not been prepared for the swift brutality of Captain Mauser and his crew. Steeled at the mention of the villain who had destroyed his home, Gy persuaded one of the villagers to join Cotton’s crew as they set out to intercept Mauser.

By early morning, Cotton’s ship had Mauser’s surprisingly massive ship in its sights. Cotton’s deft maneuvering brought his vessel alongside Mauser’s, at which point his entire crew was shocked by a loud blast coming from Mauser’s ship. Despite the momentary disturbance, Gy, Bronwyn, and the heroic members of Cotton’s crew were able to board Mauser’s ship. Gy and Grinder found Mauser and prepared to make him pay for his crimes.

As swords clattered across the deck of the embattled ship, it became clear that something was wrong below. Hearing screams and smelling smoke, Bronwyn rushed below to see a fire raging across from the cages in which dozens of prisoners were being kept. Kicking some ass, she plowed through the few of Mauser’s crew trying to fend her off and busted open the prison cells. However, most of the prisoners seemed utterly mindless and uninterested in saving their own lives. Bronwyn realized getting these poor teenagers off the ship was more than she could handle alone, so she called up to Gy for help.

Above deck, Mauser had already cut down Grinder and was making a mockery of Gy’s swordsmanship. Gy, hearing Bronwyn’s cries, put his mission for vengeance on hold to marshal the escapees from the holding cells onto Cotton’s ship. Unfortunately, by the time they had rescued everyone, the fire had become too overwhelming to endure any search of the ship, so Gy and Bronwyn were forced to return to Cotton’s boat.

Over the next two weeks, Cotton’s ship returned the kidnapped youth to villages all along the coast of Lake Acheron, including Orlane. In all cases, the crew was given a heroes’ welcome, but Gy and Bronwyn could not help but feel uneasy. Was it too much to hope that Mauser had gone down with his ship? Were these kidnappings related to the eerily similar amassing of youth at the monastery from which Bronwyn had escaped?

The End

Into the Mire

After the open ocean, South Sea is Jebediah Cotton’s second home, so he led you and his daughter to Joppie’s, one of his favorite taverns. “It’s fair enough the Watch’ll think us beneath it, but not so fair that the lovely patrons’ll give us a skance,” reasoned Cotton, though Gy had to ask Bronwyn what “skance” meant.

Joppie, a jovial and stout Goblin, was so thrilled to see his old friend alive that agreed to put you all up for the evening. He also insisted on a hearty round of Megalan mead and a pot roast.

Over dinner, you all shared a bit about yourselves. Jebediah was at first interested in learning more about Gy, perhaps because his daughter seemed suddenly smitten with him, but it soon became apparent that he was most inclined to learn more about Bronwyn, whose daring bravery had saved him and the group earlier that evening. Lavishing fatherly praise upon the young Bronwyn was pleasant enough, but it was easy to notice Virginia’s mood sour slightly. Gy made sure this did not last too long.

The next morning, Jebediah and Bronwyn headed out to scrounge up a crew and a ship for their journey and learned that Captain Mauser had retaliated against Cotton’s crew while he was imprisoned at the manor. The few remaining loyal to Jebediah were hard to find.

Meanwhile, Gy and Virginia got up considerably later and returned to their former inn to retrieve the Lady’s possessions. While she gathered her things, the innkeeper approached Gy with a note that had been delivered by a “man in white” for Bronwyn the day before. The note was an apology of sorts and an invitation to meet at the Temple of Hu-Babeh before dawn.

The next morning, Gy and Bronwyn found their way to the temple to meet the “man in white.” The abandoned structure reeked decay yet still retained the calming allure that once drew so many worshipers. Bronwyn ascended the curved ramp to the dark entryway and entered upon a moonlit amphitheater, at the center of which lay a crumpled body upon an altar.

Bronwyn stole her way to the altar and, overturning the body, was stunned to find the decaying corpse of Aporcus Beedle, that slimy character who’d tricked them into looking for his stupid box. Then, from the shadows emerged the man in white himself, grasping an emerald dagger with his blood-soaked hands.

The man in white uttered some nonsense about his “transformation” and how Bronwyn was the “only one who could stop him,” and, incensed by her wisecracks, leaped forth and cast her into the temple wall. Hearing Bronwyn’s cries, Gy and Grinder rushed into the temple, but the man in white easily kept them at bay with his dark magics.

As he moved in upon Bronwyn, the man in white suddenly appeared disturbed. Disappointedly, he proclaimed that she was not the “Slayer” and left the trio in the temple to suffer.

For the next two days, the group gathered a ragtag crew to set sail for Cotton’s treasure. Recruitment was tougher than it would have been because Bronwyn kept getting into brawls in taverns and Gy came off a bit too ardently on several occasions, but Cotton’s experience as a seasoned pirate made up for these limitations.

After a four day journey up the canal and then along the western coast of Lake Acheron, the ship anchored near Orlane, a small village near the hidden treasure. Cotton was still weak from his imprisonment, so he sent Jerry, his inept first mate, along with Gy and Bronwyn and a few other crew members ashore.

Skirting Orlane, the band made its way to the stream by which they were to find the cave in which the treasure resided, but recent rains had flooded the nearby land into a marsh. Following Jerry’s lead, the group became hopelessly lost and one crew member found himself sinking into a mud pit. Although Gy argued that losing a party member is simply a part of the natural order of the wild, Bronwyn attempted to kick some ass but failed to rescue the poor sap.

Together, Gy and Bronwyn wrested control of the group from the idiot Jerry and got them heading in the right direction. They finally found the three massive treasure chests within the promised cave. Now, they had to figure out how to get these enormous objects back through the muck to the ship…

Breaking In & Breaking Out

Silent as the wind, Gy Manhan skirted the wall outside the auction house. Below, Bronwyn the Slayer unleashes Grinder upon the guard by the front gate, who drops his sheaf of papers and flees in terror. She unlocks the front door as Gy distracts the other two guards with some well-thrown pebbles and then swings down from the roof to the main entrance.

Now posing as a concerned, law-abiding citizen, Gy engages the two guards inside the auction house as Bronwyn slips into the rear warehouse. Using the papers she grabbed from the guard, she is able to find the palette with the Kirkland properties, but Beedle’s case is nowhere to be found. She spots a fearsome cloaked form rapidly approaching her. Despite its stony, burning flesh sears the two guards who rush to stop the intruder, but Bronwyn dispatches the creature with ease. After a quick search of the rest of the auction house, the pair flee into the night with Grinder.

The next day, they revisit the auction house, where the guards are taking credit for having fended off an attack by a “Dark One” the night before. Beedle’s case is never auctioned off, and the other attendees, including a mysterious man in white, are either uninteresting or dismissive.

The heroes spend the rest of the day preparing for the masked ball at Baron Pettigrew’s manor. Bronwyn’s lack of familiarity with South Sea flusters her, wasting Gy’s pack of hodgepodge items on failed attempts and makeshift costumes. She then nearly gets caught trying to steal clothes and has to lay low until sundown. Fortunately, Gy manages to secure a servant’s attire and a rough sketch of Pettigrew’s manor from the hotel kitchen staff.

Once at Pettigrew’s manor, Gy makes his way into the kitchen while Lady Cotton persuades the butler to get a mask for Bronwyn so she can attend the ball in style. These two try to head upstairs, but hostile guards embarrass Lady Cotton despite her best attempts at seducing come ons. Meanwhile, Gy realizes that the manor does not have a basement and develops a ruse that sends the entire servant staff looking for a missing brooch.

This ploy gets the group to the guards’ hangout on the other side of the manor, where Jebediah Cotton is being held. Gy sends away the staff and guests while Bronwyn kicks some guard ass while making a few lighthearted quips. The group rushes outside and heads down a pathway into the woods.

While this move gets a couple guards off their trail, another pair intercepts them as they leave the woods back to the road. Bronwyn gets a little bruised up fending off these goons as the rest of the groups flees.

Back in town, Jebediah reluctantly admits to his life as a pirate and the massive haul for which he was captured. However, he qualifies this heist by pointing out that stole it from the infamous villain Captain Mauser, rather than directly from Megalan merchants. In gratitude, he offers the heroes a share of the treasure, which they will retrieve together.

The Lady Betrayed

The heroes’ first sight upon being casy into the filth of South Sea is the attempted kidnaping of the beautiful Lady Cotton. Quite Heroically, Gy rushes to her aid, and Bronwyn follows. The two struggle with the lowly pirate until Bronwyn knocks his cutlass from his hand, and Gy uses it to slay him in a single blow.

Dragging the assailant and the Lady into a nearby alley, the heroes are approached by the odd Aporcus Beedle, who, impressed with their heroics, wants them to help secure a black cask for him from the auction house. Before they can complete the deal, Lady Cotton awakens and, shrieking at the sight of murder, forces the group to rush to the Royal Crown Tavern, where they are to meet someone who can help her find her missing father.

At the Royal Crown, the group finds out that Cotton’s father, a pirate, is being held prisoner at Baron Pettigrew’s manor. When he realizes she has no idea where her father’s stolen treasure is, the informant calls upon a group of thugs to seize her.

Bronwyn whisks Cotton to the kitchen, where they prepare a trap for her attackers should they get through the door. Meanwhile, Gy and Beedle fend of the thugs and rush outside when Bronwyn tells them to escape. Once outside, the heroes agree to secure Beedle’s possession that evening and meet him at the Cussing Crow in Scurvytown after sundown. The kitchen eventually begins to burn down, forcing the group to flee.

Cotton pays for the heroes’ new gear, and then they proceed to the auction house. Here, she flirts with and distracts a guard while Bronwyn snags his keys. Gy tries to convince two other guards to let them into the warehouse while Bronwyn sneaks back there alone. Two additonal guards there nearly spot her, but she and the others manage to slip away.

After talking an innkeeper into taking Cotton for the evening, the heroes return to the auction house as the sun sets. Gy successfully climbs the outer wall and spots two guards patroling the pathway around the auction house. Bronwyn anxiously awaits his signal below…

Learning from Experience

  • Bronwyn: Fighting, Stealth
  • Gy: Fighting, Persuasion

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