Four sibeccai had followed them up the stairs and stood at the door to the helm. They had a particularly bedraggled look about them, two men and two women, each dressed in the loose pantaloons and long button-less shirts favored by most Faridians. They were not armed, and indeed looked more than a little nervous to be facing the intimidating Fey-blooded warriors Hanbal and Quinvera; not to mention the bizarre Prophet and the blue genie.
“Please, we mean no harm or trouble.” One of the sibeccai stepped forward. “Excuse me I didn’t mean to startle you. I am Alriak. One of the prisoners taken by the pirates."
Quin tensed when Hanbal drew his sword, but she quickly laid a calming hand upon the First Mate’s shoulder, “Be at ease Templar. You can see these people mean us no harm.”
First Mate Hanbal lowered his blade at her touch and relaxed. The Prophet seemed not to have noticed, he was gazing out of the windows at the coming night, lost in his evening prayers.
Alriak turned and motioned to the others. “This is Ali, and Sara and Jamila. They were also taken in the raid on the caravan we were working. I must tell you it has been a very tough journey for us at the hands of those ruthless cutthroats. The last thing we are looking for is trouble or a fight.”
“What he says is true.” Parizade spoke. “You have my sincerest apologies for the part I played in your capture. I had no choice.”
“At first I thought being captured and forced to serve the pirates was just another unfortunate twist of fate for me. But when I saw you two," Alriak said to Quin. “I knew there was more to it than just fate. My being here and meeting you is my destiny. I know this may sound like a trick but since I was very young I have been plagued with dreams. Actually more like nightmares and horrible visions. They mostly make no sense to me. I was told by a dear friend that through focus and concentration, I may one day develop a gift for interpreting them. I have yet to see that day come and often think of this “gift” as more of a curse.”
“These visions and odd things that always seem to happen around me have mostly ruined my life." Alriak said with a serious and disheartened expression. "I can’t tell you exactly what the dream I had was, because it is so unclear. But I do know that it involved all of our destinies entwined. In the near future we will face crisis and serious challenge that we must overcome together or be destroyed. This much I know to be true.”
Bowing before the adventurers Alriak continued, “I ask nothing of you but that you would allow me to serve in any way that I can. I don’t know the wishes of my fellow captives, but I know that my destiny and only chance for any kind of future lies in fellowship with you.”
Ali, Sara and Jamila were grateful that Alriak had elected himself their spokesperson, and they nodded their agreement, and bowed in kind.
“I am sorry that you were each so abused by these pirates. But you live, where others do not, and your shackles have been removed. You are free again.” Quin said. “You are welcome to join us Alriak, but you should know that we are fugitives pursued by the Templars of Yhakkoth; and that we seek a confrontation with the Sand King himself. Our future is as uncertain as it is safe, and you might wish to reconsider. That said, my friend the Prophet,” Quin nodded toward the praying human, his face hidden beneath his tangled dreadlocks, “has taught me well that dreams, such as you describe, are to be taken very seriously indeed. I have had dreams that I have not understood, but the Prophet has been able to decipher them for me. If your dreams counsel you to join us, well, I won’t be the one to tell you to ignore them.”
“I know of the Sand King” Alriak said with a concerned look on his face. “He is a very powerful wizard. If you, my new friends, are fugitives who are about to face the Sand King perhaps I would be crazy to join with you."
“If you had any sense you would be afraid! All of you!” The Prophet said, turning suddenly and spitting his words out. “But especially you, young one.” He pointed his strange, short human finger towards Alriak. “You would consult a prophet but not walk forward one step for a glory beyond your comprehension. You step lively now after your drink and comforts of this ship, but will you step so nimbly into the jaws of death? Lo! It may be true that I am mad, as Quin would say, but I am with a fever that isn’t a sickness but a glowing heat of Truth."
“I don’t know anything about fighting the King, that sort of talk makes people disappear very quickly." Ali said, nervously stepping back from the Prophet. "But, we’re grateful to you all for killing the pirates and freeing us. Whatever we can do, to express our gratitude.”
“Well, if you know anything about crewing an airship,” First Mate Hanbal said with a wide grin, returning his sword to it’s scabbard. “We need to get this Princess looking ship-shape. The genie here might be able to fly us without a crew, but there’s no excuse for tardiness and those thieves have made a right old mess below-decks. And, I for one, could use a strong brew after the day we’ve all had.”
Quin clapped and smiled when Hanbal mentioned food, “That is a grand idea! I am as starved as I am tired. Did I not see a sign for a tavern above the passenger’s quarters? Let us eat and drink. And then let us rest, the Goddess only knows what tomorrow will bring.”
“We would be happy to help crew the ship." Alriak said with a large grin. "We do know our way around a bit and don’t mind hard work. If its strong brew you’re looking for, I know just where to find it. The pirates have a large stash of alcoholic beverages in the tavern. If you haven’t yet I recommend we have a look around the ship and gather up supplies and equipment that may aid us in our journey. As for my friends here, they will get busy preparing a meal to celebrate our new friendship and our recent victory.”
“We will head to the kitchens to prepare the meal and pour some ale”. Sara said.
“This young one has the sight.” Alias raised his voice once more. “A Vatic gift wasted upon a manchild who is perhaps best left pondering his wondrous nightmares with his slave maidens and wine below the decks! Can you not see in my eyes the slightest hint of glow? Mad? Do I have a tail? Do I not sting the enemies of Truth with a poison greater than clear water? A hiss towards flames that brings a mist into your unseeing eyes?”
“Yet you, little one, you Alriak,” in Alias’ heavily accented tongue it sounded like Ulleyray. “You can see? You can still see even with your eyes closed. Inside you is an unopened gift. It brings you foolish joy. Such as a warrior child who desires a sharpened blade, only to sever his fingertips before the master teaches to hold it by the hilt. Look into the eyes of a true warrior.” He pointed to Quinn. “Look upon the curve of her blade before you are struck blind again in your folly! And see not the orb of blue? And in my eyes? The glow of a sight of a thousand in a thousand leagues upon a ship on a blue sea of water, not of orange dust. The curve of the earth itself, which like the blade turns and glints as it is watches the chase of the Sun and the Moon.”
Alriak produced a small orb from his bag and gazed into it as the Prophet continued to rant.
“This blue orb, this big blue ball, the heart of Anwen’s land where false gods reign and true Prophets are asked to drink Sibeccai poison with galley slaves! I, too, was once a slave Ully. I walked free as Shoshanna willed. Now you too shall walk free. It is her will. But I did walk towards my mad death without a purpose. Do you walk with purpose, or seek only glory for an unformed self? Those who hold the orb are not smashed by the earthly fist? A fist of sand no less! For in your infant Vatic Truth you have seen great acts unfold whilst you slept. Yet you offer no praise for the Mother. Quin calls me mad, yet you say you must be crazy to face the Sand King.”
The Voyages of The Princess Parizade
by Ian Hewitt
Game Master (Ian Hewitt)