Skull & Shackles

The Journeyer
Retraining en route to Quent

The Slaver's Reward

“Is the gift acceptable, Wendifa?”

“There is no way of knowing before, Ntomo. If it is not, the wendo will not guide you. If it offends, they may attack you.”

The cargo hold is empty, most of the crew asleep a deck away. The gentle creaking of the ship fills the silence, punctuated only by the footsteps of the patrolling Nguma Oku.

Ntomo shakes his head disdainfully. They still think of silent steps as an action, not as the natural way. This must be reminded in training tomorrow.

“You are distracted. You will fail if your mind is not fully in this moment. It is a battle just as real as any you have fought, mpiganaji. Ruwa would understand this.”

“The Dancer sees it as a game, not a battle. But this one understands. Have you seen a wendo attack?”

“Only once, back on Mgange Cove. A ben kudu captain watched a ritual from hiding. Donma Goku separated their ban from maha in mere moments. Are you sure you want to do this? Already, for one who is not wendifa to demand their attention, it is an affront.”

“It must be done.”


Ntomo bows forward, and places his kukri before the metumbe. The words, long familiar, feel strange to hear in his own tongue. The Nguma Oku surrounding him and Hekima stand impassive, ready to repel any threats which may appear.

“Mfuello, this one asks for your eyes. Journeyer, show the one called Ntomo what must be seen, to know what must be known. This blade has saved this one’s ban, but has saved even the maha of those meant for the Vile Trade. It has killed the worshippers of devils and is one of the last items this one has of the Winye.

It is yours, if you show this one other worlds than these.”

He waits, silent, eyes trained upon the metumbe. In the distance Ntomo can hear footsteps again. Each step grows longer, the pauses between longer still, and the creaking of the ship begins to extend into a continuous drone. Time itself begins to slow.

Then there is silence.

Ntomo looks up to see Mfuello where the kukri once was. A strange voice speaks within his mind.

“You are not wendifa.”

Mfuello, The Journeyer

A statement, not a question. Ntomo nods, and begins to speak.

“Yes, this one means no-“

“Silence. You are dafran, and known to Mfuello. Favored of Kindo Kane, or perhaps the only maha The One Who Stands at the Gate believes has a chance. You ask to see the planes to know them, but you offer only a dagger. Mfuello would use it to cut out your eyes if you were any other, but even a dafran must give more. ”

Hekima’s voice, hard and uncompromising, comes back to him in this moment. The wendo are not superior to you. They will prey upon your awe, or your lack of standing. You must not accept a poor trade.

“No. It is no common blade, and The Journeyer knows this. Accept this trade, or leave and this one will find one who will.”

Another pause without end. Though the wendo has no mouth, Ntomo can hear a grin in its voice.

“It seems the wendifa has counseled our poor shujaa. It usually takes a few exchanges before a maha believes itself equal to the wendo. The deal is acceptable. Now leave this wretched ban, and if you value existence, stay close to Mfuello.”

Juju Foretells
The Last Words of Ajouga Baas

Mukta – What did I bring back from the ruins?
An etched table leg.
“He leads me north, into the mountains, to where the ground shines like gems. Here the Son of the Devourer rode the towers down like a wave from the sky. They fought him terribly as all fell. Most of the men and women died for their efforts. At last one still stood. It was she who drove the beast into the pit, though it bound her maha to the the stones. There she lay waiting for the Captain to come.”
A blue woman.

Kamilah – What should I be looking for?
Her father’s compass.
“Now He Who Stands at the Gate flies us west across the tress and waves, across the Eye, itself. The future is not his, but Kindo Kane tells me he can see the oceans on fire. He says Kamilah will rule the seas and storms.”
Red flames.

Hekima – What will I find, leaving here?
A juju bag.
“Something is wrong here, in the eye. He Who Stands at the Gate cannot see more. Hekima will eventually discover the truth.”
A yellow eye.

Kyoju – What did I leave?
Half a waffle iron.
“Now at last we set down on the jinx-eater’s isle. We see how they hide, didgging up what others have buried and moving it closer to home, not knowing truly why. They were never the first to hide something beneath the earth. They think their land has no arch, but they are wrong. Kyoju has left behind him every place he has called home and so thinks he leaves nothing in his wake. There is much of value he has missed. Much that will be of import.”
A white arch.

Ntomo – What becomes of the maha of those who are sacrificed?
His mask.
“Beneath the dirt we descend, where the ban are interred. You ask what becomes of the maha culled by the northern fools and now I see them. They pour down in flames to where lies drip from castle walls, where nations have drowned in their blindness. there the maha are ticked against a ledger, bound in the library of sworn oaths and used to fulfill a bargain of personal and terribly pride. Sold to the lord of this black sea, they are beyond hope.”
A green scroll.

Ruwa – What has become of my friend, Hasim?
Her dancing shoes.
“He who Stands at the Gate pulls me right and beneath the seas, where shapes dark and strange beyond reason lurk. The boy, dragged below the sands and hidden from the sun will never see the light of the future. He is held by the Master of Boats, with whom a bargain must be struck. The Boatman fears…”
“Kindo! Kindo! Kindo Kane!”
“He has me, has ripped me from my guide! I see fangs and claws and coils and wings and bright flame in shadow! He will consume me for what I know; I know he builds an army to attack the gods themselves!”
A black sea.

Excerpts from Kyoju's Journal

Thumping Man calls it “Robotucan.” Must be some Muwangi word from his tribe. All tribes have words that are theirs alone. Still is good name. Rotgut and King Chicken now unified in purposed. It is always the same, the new is feared until there is another new. Then the old unite in lack of trust of new.

Island of Robotucan is still a mystery. Must go back. So many mysteries on the isles. Maybe Captain Shocking Little Man allow Kyoju to find more mysteries. Though Captain wanted to seek mystery as well. This is good for Kyoju.

Thumping Man takes us to island of his people, though not his tribe. Magic of Muwangi is curious to Kyoju. It is not like those of book and self, or like the Men’s Gods. Juju looks to be the magic of the place, and the magic of that which lingers. Colorful Dancing Man made Juju work. Thumping Man not impressed, seems like Juju for his people. Magic is for all. But there is enough for Kyoju if Juju is not shared.

Do all have magic? What is Magic of Wrathful Stabbing Man? Fights well, and glad that Kyoju has not been target of Wrath. Runelords use magic of Wrath.

The Whalebone's Reward

“Do you hear the bells a’ring?
Singing the song of Mukta’s Men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the ringing and the thrum
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in the Reward?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Grab your sword, climb aboard,
To carve your name into the sea,
And join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!

Do you hear the bells a’ring?
Sounding a dirge of death so grim?
It’s the vanguard of a madman
Who will not draw breath again!
When the beating of your heart
Pumps in your ears just like a drum
There is a battle soon to start
When The Deathknell comes!

We gave all that we could give,
Except our lives and liberties,
Death too died and yet we live
Rejoicing Mukta’s victory!
Sailings for the living,
To truly live is to be free!

Do you hear the bell a’ring?
Singing the song of Mukta’s Men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the ringing and the thrum
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!"


Victory on top of victory

Captain’s Log — Skydate 19EIJA.I

Today we captured our third ship. The Reward and her crew continue to perform above my expectations. This last ship had a trick up its sleeve. During the combat they released a manticore to counterattack. It was a bold move but ultimately futile. The crew, under the direction of Kyoju and Ntomo, were more than a match for that winged beast. After we killed the beast we took the ship easily. Slaver’s are, as a rule, not brave men. They can be brutal and cruel but when the tables turn and they no longer have the advantage they will fold like a busted straight.

I can say this with certainty because the exception to this rule serves on the Reward as my first officer. I was right in my assessment of Kamillah. She has proved herself a valued member of the crew and her insights into the mind of the slaver have been a great boon. The last ship we took was bound for Cheliax. She had been transporting a group of Mwangi slaves to that pit of hellspawn. When I saw the state of those prisoners I suspected the worst but Kamillah confirmed it. Those people were being kept barely alive to be used not as workers and servants but rather as sacrifices. The remaining crew of that ship were given their reward immediately after we had secured the ship. I felt it necessary to make a swift execution of these slavers to serve as an example of the justice that our ship brings to the Shackles.

Kamillah assures me that this crew was not like the Chelaxian vessel. Some of these people can be trusted and I have agreed to bring them on as part of the crew. I must be mindful that perhaps not all of the crew of the Slaver’s Reward understands my vision, especially now that we have brought on so many new shipmates. I will need make it clear what our mission is and why these most recent additions were spared.

In the morning we make course for Blood Cove with more people than we set out with. Not, I expect, a common occurrence for privateers.

Ruwa's Letter
Bloodcove, early Rova

Shahnaz al Hala, Paladin of Dawn, First Order
℅ The Pathfinder Society, Absolom
There is no time to tell you everything I would like. A kind travellor has assented to carry my letter, and so I write with haste. I found no sign of Hasim in Rahadoum. The border guards were helpful and receptive to my search. I was perhaps more creative than you would have liked with the details.

Several months ago I arrived safely in the Shackles. I have been twice abducted by pirates. Do not worry! I am in good health and good spirits. I have fallen in with a peculiar and marvelous band of privateers. You would love them, Shah, you really would. They are true to their hearts aboard this ship. The Captain, Mukta (I don’t think that’s his real name), was a slave once. He sees that men can be redeemed, even black-hearts. But he is no fool; his judgement is to be feared. You would like him the best. He reminds me of you.

I have decided to stay on as a Ship’s Steward. Do not worry! I have a plan. Enlist the Pathfinder’s aid as you planned, it is a good plan. My plan just happens to be a little better.

We are currently in Bloodcove but leave in the morning to hunt slavers and liberate their captives. I told you, these are good people I sail with. Do not worry! Our ship is called ‘The Slaver’s Reward.’ You can write to us—send copes to Bloodcove and Port Peril. Where can I reach you next?

Your shield has saved me many times. If you’ve gotten yourself killed without it, I shall never forgive you. Be safe, Shah. Write to me.


Rule of Fear

A long night of drinking, camaraderie, and stories in Bloodcove led to many shared tales. Ruwa shared one tale in particular about her youth in Thuvia, and about the boy Hasim she adventures to find.

The market was alive with color and sound. It had been five years since the last festival, five years since the church took her in, gave her a home, taught her to dance. And tomorrow she would dance for the festival: her first solo! She hoped there would be many more. But that was tomorrow. Today there was the marketplace, and the people, and the silks, and the sounds from across Thuvia and from across the Inner Sea.
Shah had been entirely against sneaking out of the gardens to explore the marketplace. Strictly speaking, they weren’t required to stay in the garden. It was just where Ms. Mala, Shah’s mother, had asked them to wait. Shah and Hasim were meant to meet some relative visiting from Merab. He sounded imortant. Of course, all of the Hala sounded important. Even little Hasim would puff up like a meerkat when he spoke of his father and grandfather. Ruwa did not understand her friends, not really.
Shah was the prettiest girl Ruwa had ever seen, inside and outside. She was tall, and honest, and strong, and she always looked out for her baby brother and for all the other temple children. Even the older ones! The thing about Shah was that she was always so uptight. Ruwa was convinced that it was because Shah spent so much time worrying about other people that she neve had a chance to unwind. Whenever Shah stamped her foot and twisted her perfect face into a scowl, Ruwa would laugh. Ruwa liked Shah best when she was uptight—it showed what was best in her.
Hasim was a stupid boy. Ruwa knew it was mean to think that, but it was true. She didn’t dislike boys just because they were boys—Priestess Jenet had taught her better. But if she did dislike boys just because they were boys—which she didn’t—she would dislike them precisely because they acted like Hasim all the time. He was really pretty, just like his sister. But all Hasim seemed to care about was getting into trouble. And the frustrating part was that he never actually got into trouble! All he had to do was grin and act like a little gentleman and the grown-ups would let him get away with practically anything. Ruwa could never get away with stuff like that!
As well as she knew them, though, Ruwa still couldn’t quite understand Shah and Hasim. They always had new clothes, and fancy toys, and sweets: as much as they could want. And they always shared with her. But they never seemed to care so much that they had all this great stuff. If Ruwa could have new clothes all the time she would probably pop with excitement! But it was never a big deal to them. And it was never a big deal that they got to travel to Merab sometimes, or that they got to meet important people from Osirian at the fancy dinners that Shah’s father would host, or that they had servants! Ruwa couldn’t understand.
What Ruwa did understand was that Ms. Mala had asked them to wait in the garden. And they had waited in the garden. They’d waited practically forever in the garden, but Ms. Mala hadn’t come back. They’d played Crusaders and Legionnaires for a while—Shah beat Hasim especially badly in a duel with sticks, so Ruwa fought him next and let him win. Shah rolled her eyes. Ruwa never let anyone else win expect little Hasim. She kind of felt bad for him since he was so much smaller than his sister. It wasn’t his fault he was so stupid.
Two or three forevers passed. This waiting was making Ruwa nervous—she didn’t like sitting still under the best circumstances, but today all she could think about was her performance on tomorrow, and it made her hands clammy. Ruwa decided it was time to go searching for Ms. Mala in the market. And to browse silks and plums along the way—because it would be a waste not to. Hasim was immediately on board for an adventure. No one was surprised. But Shah was being all Shah about it. Again, no one was surprised. But Ruwa knew all the right buttons to push, and with Hasim on board Shah didn’t stand a chance. All he had to do was grin and stamp his feet and Shah would always do what he wanted in the end.
The three friends were plowing through the cramped marketplace at full speed. Shah had bought a cone of spun angel hair, but Ruwa had snatched it and taken off running. Shah bolted after her, face set in thrilled determination. Little Hasim tumbled after the two, throwing the pea-sized packets of some strange black powder that he’d purchased from a half-way-bleached gnome. When they hit the ground, they popped and flashed in little sparks. The chase raged on. Though Ruwa had been in the temple for years now, she still knew how to plot a thrilling route through a busy market place. She led the merry chase over awnings, under camels, through seas of water carriers. She managed to vault a low wall, but ended up in a dead-end alley between two tall buildings. Shah came crashing over the wall, a tangle of knees and elbows. In a shower of sparks and pops, Hasim slammed into the ground next to them. The trio burst into peels of laughter.
Underneath the laughter, however, Ruwa heard a sound. It was a wet kind of sound, like a slow slurping. Shah heard it to. She punched Hasim in the arm to silence him, and rose to join Ruwa on her feet. They alley was overhung with shadows, and oddly chill. Down at the other end, there was a tangle of old rags and hay. Something was moving there. Something was gasping there. Shah had pushed her way in front of Ruwa and Hasim. Ruwa stood very still, watching. The other end of the alley grew suddenly silent. As her eyes adjusted, Ruwa could see what looked like a man’s legs sticking out from the hay. But there was something over top of the man, hunching. A pair of red eyes snapped open. Ruwa screamed. Deep set, glowing from inside in a thickly wrapped turban and mask, the hunched thing’s red eyes darted across the children. The thing rose up, and it was taller than a man, wrapped all in rags and robes so that it seemed like a huge shadow. The thing hissed. Black wettness poured from underneath its mask. It had been eating.
The thing surged forward, one foot on the ground, the other running along the adjacent building. Ruwa screamed again. Shah held her long arms across the alley, as if she alone could stop the monster; the tall girl held her breath and pursed her mouth but did not look away from the thing. Ruwa had never seen anyone be so brave. The thing screached like a dying bird, pale clawed fingers darting from beneath its many robes, and it leapt towards them. Then Hasim did something stupid.
Ruwa’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head when she saw it. Little Hasim grabbed the ahnk from his sister’s belt, stepped underneath her sheltering arms, and thrust the symbol toward the blood-soaked thing. His other fist sent a payload of little sparking, popping bombs flying at the thing’s feet and he cried out in his most impressive little voice: “Leave us alone!”
And it did. It recoiled, hissing, spitting in a vulgar kind of Varisian that Ruwa could not understand. The thing cowered back from the little boy with the holy ahnk, its glowing red eyes heaving hate and fear towards Hasim. Shah could only scream her brother’s name, furious and astounded. Ruwa could only stare. She had never seen anyone be so stupid; and of course, because it was Hasim, the stupidity was paying off. He was so stupid!
Hasim’s free hand flailed uselessly at the thing, as if he were throwing more of his tiny poppers. He thrust the anhk forward over and over, but the bloody thing rose to its full height and took a single step forward. It stank like old blood and mold. Hasim froze, suddenly a tiny boy again. Shah cried out for her mother. Ruwa readied another scream. That’s when the man appeared.
He dropped down from the far side of the alley, a long coat trailing him. His heavy boots thumped into the sand; the beast spun to face him, barking in its vulgar tongue. The man stood straight, like a bolt, his features hidden in the dim light of the alley, and spat back in a proper Varisian. Ruwa could not understand the words, but the low rolling tone of his voice told her that the man was older, and very angry. The thing charged at the man, running as much on the walls and the ground, a billowing terror of darkness and shrieking. The man did not budge. The man did not blink. The man raised his walking cane, and pointed it like a sword. With a single word of his strange tongue, the top of the cane ignited in a glorious and binding daylight. The creatures screamed in agony. Ruwa could see torrents of smoke streaming out of its robes, as if it were burning in the light. Ruwa could see the man, handsome and older, a long scar down the right side of his face. He wore a high collared coat over a chalk-dusted vest. A great gold monogrammed “L” glittered from the pin in his kravat.
The creature slammed impotently into either side of the alley, clawing at the walls and shrieking. The man was the picture of calm, as he raised a tiny glass bottle and pointed it towards the beast. The man now spoke in a tongue Ruwa recognized as Vudrani—it was an exceptionally beautiful language, one of the boys in the temple would often sing songs in the tongue. As the man spoke his words, something amazing happened. The thing, still smoking and screaming in the daylight, burst into a cloud of black mist. Swirling in a great shrieking spiral, the entirety of the mist was sucked neatly into the bottle. The strange man popped in a cork and tucked the bottle into his jacket without ceremony.
Ruwa stared. Shah clutched her brother. Hasim had been crying, but was now beaming with enthusiasm. The man stepped over to the three friendss quite primly, tapping his cane in the sand to extinguish the blinding light. When he spoke, it was in the common tongue; though it was thickly accented with a high Varisian: “Are you all well?” Ruwa nodded, her mouth hanging open. Shah and Hasim followed suit. The man continued, “Good. Good. Run along, then. This is a matter for older adventurers to mend. You will no doubt have adventures of your own to accomplish in due time.” He looked pointedly at Hasim: “I have a daughter about your age. She would be quite taken with that display of heroics, young man.” Hasim grinned like an idiot. Ruwa could have screamed. Shah looked like she wanted to punch the man. As the man turned to go, Ruwa couldn’t contain herself. She blurted out: “Who are you?”
“I am friend of the Good. Now, best you pop off.” He paused. “And best not tell your parents. They’d be worried. And I assure you that this was the only one still unaccounted for,” said the man. “The only one what?” Shah demanded. The man was already scaling the far wall of the alley. He called back, “Why, it was a monster, my dear! The world is crawling with them. But never fear, there will always be those of us who hunt them.” And with that, he was gone.
After a few moments, Hasim broke the silence: “I’m going to be a hero some day.” Shah punched him in the arm. Ruwa punched him in the other arm. Shah gave him a stern lecture all the way back to the gardens about how dangerous adventuring was, how stupid he had been to rush forward, and how strange wizards in alleys were not suitable role models. Ruwa stayed mostly quiet. Shah had tried to protect them. And Hasim had done the same in his own stupid way. All Ruwa had done was scream. And in that moment she decided that her friends were more important than being scared; next time, she’d be ready to save them.

Maiden Voyage
Captain’s Log — SkyDate 19EIH0.G

The maiden voyage of the newly rechristened Slaver’s Reward was a success. We were fortunate to have free captain Pegsworth at the christening ceremony. No doubt his luck lingers with us, especially given the two ships’ anti-slavery missions. The ship and the crew performed admirably during the short trip to Firegrass Isle. The recruits brought on before we left port have integrated well with the old crew and once we have brought on a few more hands we will be ready to make our name on the open sea.

Captain’s Log — SkyDate 19EIH4.8

Well the Slaver’s Reward is certainly making a name for itself! Damn those two! Our first gods damn port and we are run out of town in the dead of night. Chased off like some kind of mummers troupe. Some reputation we are building. Do they not understand the fragile state we are in right now? This ship will not make it if we keep angering every port lord we come across. At the moment we don’t have the strength to take on a free captain should they decided that we are annoying enough to stomp out. We simply cannot afford mistakes at this stage. Perhaps Lord Pissant of Stopover Town 6 isn’t that big of a deal but who knows which palms he has greased or whose bed he will find himself in tomorrow.

I still don’t know all the details of the incident. Apparently there was a fight in one of the local bars. My first officer and Steward were involved, or involved themselves, and once all was said and done two men were dead. Kamillah says that everyone was alive when she left the bar and that she had no intention of killing anyone. While I don’t doubt that Kamillah is capable of killing someone during a brawl I hope that Ruwa would have been able to restrain her. Despite the ridiculousness of the situation I am pleased to see the two of them getting along.

I ordered Kamillah to surrender her weapon to the quartermaster as penance for the incident. A strange punishment perhaps but the symbolism is more important in this case. I know she feels the punishment was too severe but I felt it was necessary. Kamillah is my First Officer and I need her to be completely onboard with my mission, perhaps more than the other officers. She is my insight into the world of the slaver. I know at some point we may have to recruit some former slavers and I need Kamaillah to help me find the ones that will actually follow this new life.

In the morning I will speak with Ntomo. I want him to start working on training the crew in nonfatal combat and boarding actions. Kamillah can be part of this and hopefully we can more past this incident.

Captain’s Log — SkyDate Supplemental

During the night the ship was boarded by Sahuagin from an unknown location. Three crew members were killed during the attack. We will give them to Besmarra in the morning. Kamillah was spectacular, diving into the sea to fight off the Sahagin with Ntomo despite being deprived of her weapon. She may make a good example to the crew yet.

Kyohu's Inspection
Touring the ship with King Chicken

“So this ’Slaver’s Reward.’ So Captain Sparking Little Man calls her. Yes, Yes. Is most likely reward is revenge. But is because the Little man was once a slave. Poking Stabbing Man was slaver, so man says. Slaver serving slave on reward? Kyoju does not understand man in this. or little man.”

“Squibbing Man did good. Beams solid. Extra room for officers good. Not sure of glass case full of water. Kyoju still officer. Not Bosun, yes. But Kyoju now is role of Cutthroat Grok Orc. Fishguts Cook Friend and Kyoju now with stores. Yes, yes. Is home for you as well. All are still here. Well mostly, Light of Untold Burden is now with the Captain’s table.”

“Red one will be with us. Man call him Rotgut. But name seems wrong. Is man name, not name of one. Still Good King, name will found for new one.”

“Captain did get new tools from Squibbing Man. Simple tools, for now, but Kyoju will fix and make better. Maybe make better ideas for them to throw. Need not change tool much, just new idea. Could make larger Muska, but that would take much good iron. Not much to be had here.”

“Took on more crew. Many new hands, but few worth a name right now. Most are for themselves. Still maybe a few will be known to Kyoju in time. Need new Cook’s Mate. Maybe find man like Kyoju. Good with ideas. Uses tool of head. "

“Armory still light. Still more will come with as Captain Rewards other ships.”

“Kyoju still needs to fix Bilge.”

Ruwa's Journal, Rickety Squibs
3, Rova
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d,//It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven//Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:// It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." — Melodies

. . . Kamilah and I have made ammends! Even one day of estrangement was an agony. I know her heart is full of love. Yet it is also full of such fear. How can one offer mercy when one has seen it so rarely in her life? But she is brave, like Shah. She came to me, as Shah often would. I am never so brave as to speak first after a quarrel. Perhaps Kamilah can teach me bravery, as I would teach her mercy? . . .

“For I can raise no money by vile means: by heaven, I had rather coin my heart, and drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring from the hard hands of peasants their vile trash by any indirection. — Melodies

. . . We are at our first port of sale. I hope to have done well bartering a price for our goods; I so often feel so useless aboardship. I jested that the Captain required a Thuvian to get the best price. I don’t speak for my people, but I do speak for those of us who know empty bellies; the coin is not as dear as what it might purchase . . .

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.” — The Birth of Light and Truth

. . . I told the Captain of Hasim. I will speak to my new friends tomorrow of him. For some weeks I’ve been able to leave off my purpose. Speaking of it again lends it truth. It is a hard to truth to acknowledge: I seek one fool-hearted boy in a whole sea of lost souls. He should pray Dawn and Dusk that I find him before Shah does. She will have his hide for this foolishness. Yet, he has succeeded in becoming the center of my attention at last, hasn’t he? Praise the gods for loving him so; he is an impossible boy.


Prepare to be rescued, Hasim al Hala.


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