Burning Hyboria - Shifting Shadizar

Ch 1.3 - Lies, Loyalty, and Friends Well-Skewered

Driven by her often inconvenient honesty and beaten-dog loyalty for her master Zar, Uloro realized that she could not deceive him.  She decided she must inform him of the plot to leave not only the Turanese with fake coin, but Zar and the Zarhana Bank as well.  Near equal loyalty to her allies and The Cause also meant she could not inform Zar in secret, so early on the second morning of their journey she informed Tarim and Bashar that she had no choice but to tell Zar of their deeper plot.

Tarim responded first with negotiation.  He spoke of the questionable choice to follow so loyally a master like Zar who shows little love and even less basic human respect to his servants.  He spoke of Szahir, his own master, a man who treats those beneath him well.  Uloro listened respectfully, but informed Tarim she understood and yet still had no choice.  Bashar did his best to arbitrate the debate.  Once Tarim had said his piece and it was clear Uloro could not be swayed with words the climate of the situation turned quickly.  Tarim's blade was drawn, his boot was planted firmly on Uloro's chest, and despite her cat-like reflexes in the blink of an eye his sword was buried deep in her gut.  In a moment of desperation Bashar called out to Prospero to intervene, and like enervating shadow and mist the specter enveloped Tarim, driving him away from Uloro and potentially saving her life.  Tarim was halted, but he was undawnted.  The mission could not be risked, and Uloro had shown herself little more than the beast of burden Zar believed her to be.

By this point the commotion drew the rest of the caravan's attention (just in time to half-see Prospero as he de-materialized).  Bodhan and Andrij approached with Bohdan drawing his sword on Tarim and demanding an explanation.  Zar looked on in disgust at the sight of Uloro so bested, oozing failure as well as blood.  Zar commanded Bohdan to execute Tarim for the crime of property damage, but a proud son of Mihan such as Bodhan would never let a Spandiyadh functionary give him orders.  Zar approached Uloro and drew his knife, his mouth dripping insults and disdain, and he prepared to execute his wounded livestock.  Bashar and Tarim intervened before he could slit her throat, indicating the fight had begun when Tarim was insulting Zar and Uloro would not allow him to continue.  Unconvinced, Zar was at least distracted enough to pass over Uloros throat and instead remove her left ear, a mark of failure for martial slaves in Zamoran culture.

Zar walked away and the situation relaxed somewhat.  Bodhan was satisfied that Tarim was not a complete villain and the altercations was one of insulted pride, so he put away his sword and set one of his men to stand guard over Tarim and Bashar, the eager-to-please-and-impress Emil.  Andrij patched up Uloro enough to stop any bleeding and stabilize the wound, though she would require more skilled hands to truly address her injury.  The party packed up and began their journey once again.

Uloro was placed in a cart as her wound left her unable to walk.  From her place there she called to Bashar when Emil was busy with Tarim and implored him to send Zar to her so she could tell him the truth.  Though loyal to The Cause, Bashar's cultural stance towards women left him deferential and later that day he complied.  Zar, still disgusted, came to speak to Uloro.  She told him the gold was in jeopardy, indicated that some plot involving  a demon would see him without the wealth (a convenient half-truth as the plan was for Bashar to send Prospero to exchange counterfeit coin for real).  Zar deemed Uloro lost to the Purple Lotus pain-killer haze, but none the less his suspicions were raised.  For the rest of the day he paid more attention to the litter carrying the gold.

Through the day's travel, Tarim kep mostly to himself, brooding somewhat over the events with Uloro.  Previously he had sough to help her, to convince her to leave Zar and come to a better master such as Szahir.  Now he could not see her as much better than the dog Zar believed her to be, and could no longer find the care to try to help her.

Hidden to the other caravan members, while Bashar tried to play peace keeper he was none the less suffering the terrible cost of his dabbling with the worlds and beings beyond the vale.  The back of his mind was addled with the chattering of the unknown, like the gnawing and chewing of 10,000 rats.

Ch 1.2 "Friends" "willing" to help

In his quest to find knights of the cross trade to help stage a raid on the tribute in transport, Tarim instead stirred up the mucky bottom of his past.  His brother, the brutish Semi, responded to the call.   Instead of showing willingness to accept a reasonable wage and help Tarim, Semi instead responded with aggression and threats and demanded full partnership.  Tarim was not dismayed and threw his own threats right back.  Meanwhile, Bashar bent his soul and called out to his strange ally, the dead Mitran knight Prospero, who manifested in an image of terror.  Collectively this was enough to break the spirit of Semi and his men, who fled the slum in which the meeting occurred.  Tarim and Bashar were able to round several of them up and demand service, which they agreed to in their compromised state.

Bashar later sought out his own people, and met the Zuagir band leader Ibrim in Shadizar's market square.  Trusting them like his own family, he told the Zuagir of all his plans, and they seemed amused by the black eye this would give the Zamorans as well as keenly interested in the vast sum of coin involved.  They agreed to help with the party's rouse, and Bashar is confident they will keep faith, but his allies see potential for a double cross when so much wealth is in play.

Uloro tapped her contacts at the bank and sought to gain details on the design of the strong boxes which would carry the gold.  She intended to use this info to help Zhang Daifu replicate them.  Sadly the bank did not respond with as much care as she had hoped, and ultimately an underling of the organization showed her boxes which were not of the same make as those used for the tribute.  This lead to Zhang Daifu providing boxes which did not match.

With these plans in place, shaky as they increasingly seemed, the day of departure approached.  A ritual of transfer was held at the main Zarhana Bank, and Bodhan with the kings guard (and the the final member of the conspiracy, Ansgisil) appeared.  Words were said, prayers were sung, and the wealth was transferred to Zar and Bohdan.  The company departed on it's journey.

The group made camp in the low border mountains of Zamora that first night and gathered to discuss there plot.  Many things became clear in the exchange (including that several PCs need lessons in the Zamoran language), but mainly the conspiracy came to realize the level of risk in their original plan.  Neither of the actors (the bandits or the Zuagir) are likely trustworthy, and the complexity involved in switching the wealth had increased now that the strong boxes don't match.  Doubt grew in their hearts.  An alternate plan was hatched involving once again the dead man Prospero who could switch the gold himself through his ethereal talents.  The bandits and Zuagir would remain as a backup (or an outside challenge that now requires management).  No choice is yet made, but Prospero seems the likely path.

This planning also included the revelation that Ansgisil's former teacher and patron, a knight named Prospero who was meant to meet him in Shadizar but never showed up, may be connected to the spectral Prospero of Bashar's summoning.

Towards the end of the discussion Bohdan approached.  A man of keen perception, he began questioning the conspiracy, and though the full plot is likely beyond his imaginings, he is sharp enough to have detected unseen and perhaps troublesome layers.  What he will do with that info still remains to be seen.

Ch 1.1 - Tribute to Turan, Tribute for Thmei

The party was tasked by The Children to intercept a large tribute payment being sent to Yezdigerd Khan from King Tiridatis by way of Zuagir intermediaries, and to keep their involvement secret.  The complexity of the challenge quickly ramped up as they realized the House Spandiyadh, controllers of the Zarhana Bank, had similar intentions (through their agent Diwan Zar, Uloro's master).  The PCs met with Zar and made plans to acquire counterfeit coin on behalf of the Spandiyadh (Tarim being an agent of Szahir, the middle man in the counterfeit deal, and Bashar, intended as translator for the Zuagir).  Their true intentions however were to acquire double the counterfeit amount so as to cheat both the king and the Spandiyadh.  Through clever streetwise (Tarim) and the summoning of spirits (Bashar) the PCs managed to locate a counterfeiter (Zhang Daifu) and made a good deal for the counterfeit coin.  Next they hatched a plot to use two forces on their payroll, faux bandits and faux Zuagir good Samaritans, to stage a theft and recovery of the the actual coin during it's transport so as to obscure the switching of the fake for the real.  To this end Tarim and Bashar sought allies to employ in this purpose.  While they did so Uloro located the king's guard who would be accompanying the shipment (and therefore must somehow be duped or overcome).  She discovered the job is to be handled by Bohdan, a noble son of militant House Mihan, and his men.  Uloro engaged Bohdan in practice combat to assess his skills, and while her lithe sexuality and playfulness bested him in the contest (and unsettled his insides in a not-so-unpleasant way), she discovered him unquestionably more skilled.  He is not a man to trifle with.

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