The World Beyond: al-Jazira Sadim
al-Jazira Sadim I
Chapter 1: The Book of Ali
Early in 1418 AH, Ismail escaped from the clutches of a secret slave smuggling ring that captures Muslims and Christians alike from unsuspecting caravans. The slavers’ central depot is Bandahurr, a crime ridden port city on al-Jazira Sadim (the Isle of Fog) in the middle of Keyhole Bay.
Stolen from Ismail when the slavers captured him, a massive tome collecting various sheaves of paper from his father Yusef made its way to the Mosque of Orlane, the farthest reaches of Islam on al-Jazira Sadim. Rumors of his book made their way to Ismail, who had been staying in the island’s port city of Bandahurr, and he immediately set out with a band of companions to retrieve his precious papers.
Lake Farmin, the party’s first stop, had recently been converted to Islam under the strange influence of Hassan, but the party soon found this strain of their great religion to be infused with evil. Women were abused, raped, and stoned to death without reason, and the party was quick to rescue Lydia, a former shopkeeper, from Hassan’s clutches. Overcoming the dangers of the ruined castle overlooking the town, the party met Ali, who soon flees with his lover Lydia to Bandahurr, abandoning her son Balmar to the whims of the vengeful Hassan. Collecting some of Ali’s books, Ismail began a new tome of scraps, which he studies closely in the coming weeks. The party eventually destroys Hassan, whose death brings upon a mystical encounter with an unknown power that somehow teleports the group to the hills south.
After aiding a tribe of Muslim Wawiki, the party arrived at Restenford, the final intended stop for many of Ismail’s companions. He aided them in cleansing a “haunted” house that served as a cover for more slavers before heading off to Orlane on his own to find his papers. During his time in Restenford, Ismail learned from Ali’s journals that he had long yearned for Lydia, who until recently had spurned his advances. Ali performed a complex ritual to summon the demon “Wassum,” whom he believed would give him the power to seduce Lydia. The next day, Lydia came to him in tears, utterly vulnerable having just been raped by a member of the town guard. From that day forward, Ali’s journals reveal much guilt over but little resistance to manipulating Lydia’s need to his own ends.
Chapter 2. The Book of Yusef
Shortly after Ismail departed for Orlane, Erasmas of Tredroy arrived looking for him in Restenford. Briefly sidetracked, Erasmas soon persuades the boy Balmar, convinced that his mother had been unnaturally enchanted by Ali, to help him in finding Ismail in Orlane.
Upon reaching Orlane, the duo almost immediately learned that something foul was afoot at the mosque and discovered an underground complex of caves, but are unable to locate Ismail. Suspecting that he has been taken by whatever evil held Orlane under its sway, they enlisted the aid of his former companions in Restenford and then return to Orlane, where, to their shock, Ismail seems to be alive and well, newly hired at the mosque itself.
However, the group soon realized that Ismail, while alive, was not at all well, having become a slave to a mysterious being claiming to be Allah incarnate. Ismail trapped them in a secret torture chamber in the mosque, but they somehow escaped, capture him, and have him lead them down the path that he and others like him had been taken before becoming possessed.
After a three day journey into a murky bog, the group discovered a massive mound of earth serving as an entrance to the lair of “the Great One.” Narrowly escaping capture, they flooded the entrance and fled back to Orlane. It took some days, but Ismail’s possession eventually passed and he finally met Erasmas for the first time as himself.
Once back in Orlane, the pair sought out Ismail’s papers in the mosque, only to find they had been recently ransacked by Melnox, an eerie goblin Erasmas had encountered in Tredroy. Erasmas ascertained that various illustrations, diagrams, and instructions regarding magical artifacts and portals had been removed, leaving only choppy allusions to their existence. Unfortunately, the group cannot linger in the town they had just saved, as it is invaded by Kobolds, who had also recently taken Restenford.
Avoiding Restenford, the group made its way back to Lake Farmin, which had undergone a transformation of its own. Now under the rule of Lord Garrow, the town was being fortified. Lydia had returned to lead the town guard, but was unable to stop a Kobolds raid from stealing a herd of wild horses from the town stables. Despite buckling down for more attacks, her guards somehow allow an assassin to slip into Lord Garrow’s chambers and murder him in his sleep. With Garroton on the brink of chaos, the party moves on to Bandahurr.