Knowing that taking a measured pace would require them to spend a harsh night out in the desert, the party worked double time to make it back to the encampment of Rahat just as night began to fall. Morgana used the assistance of Conroy and Ethan to manage the walk in her wounded state, but when she saw the torchfires of the settlement on the horizon, she broke off from the rest of the party. Her strength served her for maybe 100 feet before she collapsed at the feet of Sham’iso Neckless, the fortune teller.
Sham’iso poured a potion of healing down Morgana’s throat. “Damn fools, I foresaw this disaster. If only you had come to me before embarking on a fool’s errand.”
“You should have left me to embrace the sweet release of death again,” replied Morgana.
“Keep with that attitude and it may come sooner than you think,” said Sham’iso. She turned to Conroy. “Please tell me at least that you returned with Dawnbringer. Lenar’alti has been asking about you.”
“He’s not here, is he?” said Conroy, nervously.
“Probably within ear shot. He made an early night so he could set off to find you in the morning if he needed to.”
As Sham’iso spoke, Morgana gently moved to take her knife away, drawing the watchful eyes of the fortune teller in the process.
“Ah ha! I should have anticipated thievery! Lenar’alti! Visitors for you!”
As a pack of brigands rushed out of tents, drawing their night robes closed and brandishing their knives, Bellamin, preferring to avoid outright combat, found a nondescript place to disguise himself as a pile of sand.
Lenar’alti’s gang spread out to form a perimeter. Conroy tried to run back into the desert, but was stopped by a brigand. Lenar’alti played with the tip of his scimitar, absent-mindedly.
“Well well well. Back so soon? I assume this means you have good news for me. You owe me a great favor. You would be weaponless were it not for my generosity.”
“Well, yes, um, you see, the thing about that is…”
“I’m not looking for excuses, I’m looking for my sword. I will take my rightful place!” As Lenar’alti raised his blade to come down hard on Conroy, a supernatural darkness spread out from its hilt, enveloping the nearby area.
“Run,” shouted Bellamin from his sand illusion, tendrils of magical darkness drifting up from his hands.
Akloo immediately responded to the suggestion but much of the rest of the party didn’t have a clear avenue by which to escape. Morgana felt the cold sting of Sham’isi’s dagger draw against her neck, undoing almost all of the healing the potion had restored.
Lenar’alti tossed away his scimitar, sending the darkness with it, and drew his dagger, he and his crew surrounding Conroy.
“Wait,” said Ethan, raising his voice. “We made a mistake, yes, and failed in our mission. But surely, as a man of honor, you would prefer to keep friends close, rather than in the ground.”
“That blade was my pass to join the ‘El, and you’ve come back with nothing. Now, I like you, Conroy (Jamie, please update this with your Rahat name), and I don’t want to see you dead, but you have disappointed me. What are you going to do to remedy this disappointment?”
“What’s keeping you from taking that place yourself?”
“Right now, ”/characters/naar-el-rahha" class=“wiki-content-link”>Naar’el Rahha. He owes me a recommendation at the least, but seems more interested in maintaining his own power. The man is unworthy of his station, though. I have no proof of his indiscretions, unfortunately. At least, nothing that would be accepted by the ’Osi."
“Perhaps you just haven’t known where to look,” said Sham’iso, rising from Morgana’s throat and flashing her Tarot cards. “If we could see what his past and future hold, we could see where his weak points lie. The only trouble would be to get him to handle the deck and cut the cards himself. Without that, the magic is dormant.”
“Please, allow me,” said Morgana, dusting herself off. “Where can I find this Naar’el?”
“At this hour, most likely in the tavern, boasting of his exploits to the lower guardsmen.”
“I’ll be back in an instant,” said Morgana, making a breakneck pace for the tavern.
When she arrived, she found Naar’el as described, three sheets to the wind and spinning taller and taller tales to the impressionable young guards.
“Care for a game of cards?” asked Morgana.
“What, with a woman?” he responded, ribbing his now uncomfortable friends and threatening them into laughter.
“Oh, I supposed you’re afraid to lose. Would be a shame for you to part with 50 gold pieces.”
Naar’el’s eyes lit up. “50 gold, you say? I suppose I could play a hand.” Naar’el shuffled the cards and placed them in front of Morgana.
“No please, I insist you cut the cards.”
“You trust me not to cheat?”
“Would I disparage the trustworthiness of a Scimitar?”
Naar’el cut the deck, removing the top card and putting it at the bottom, and prepared to deal. Before he could pass out the first card to himself, Morgana was already on her way out the door, the magic of her mage hand lifting the deck away from him and carrying it with her.
“Second thought, you do seem to be a man without honor, perhaps the cards will prove it.”
Morgana returned and presented the cards to Sham’iso.
“Your hands did not touch them after he cut, yes?”
“Only through magical energies.”
“Very well, let’s read what Naar’el’s past and future hold.
“The Focus, the Guild Member reversed: this suggests that Naar’el is a person trusted with much, who should be trusted with nothing.
“The Past, The Mists: he has made partnership with dark powers to achieve his current status.
“The Present, the Transmutor: this indicates pursuing knowledge or magic that should be kept locked away. It can also indicate someone with an unhealthy obsession, or who has lost site of his or her original goals.
“The Future, The Tax Collector reversed: our focus can only be stopped by someone who is thought of as the lowliest of the low, and the most despicable, but who carries a heart of gold.
“The Outcome, The Trader: a bargain of sorts will result. The paths to outcomes may always branch, so you should leave this open to interpretation. Bargains can be for favors, for wealth, or even the trading of people. Be cautious with this last card.”