Do you go to the dungeon?

Tales from Masta, 1494

Masta 1—Masta 7

The Tale of the Petulant Crew

I am Bemir. Soldier for Hakiyah and her truth. Not a galley slave put to rowing and heisting ropes. The air genasi refuses to work. The priest puts us to work on his fruitless expeditions. Travel exhausts me.

The Tale of the Dark Stairs

Durrar Island is a name you don't often here these days. It's more often referred to as the Sunless Island. They say that debbi have been sighted there. And rats. They say that the pin fruits grow there twice every year.

On that island there are stairs that descend into the darkness. Eleven steps to the first landing. The first landing is five by ten. Fifteen steps to the second landing. Those fifteen steps had blood spatter. The second landing is ten by fifteen. The stairway continue down from the second landing.

It's a five-foot-wide staircase. Steppes carved out of the Durrur rock itself.

The Tale of the Packed Bag

Call me the Brine Hand.

Umaji min-Hakiyah was my acolyte, then my novice, then my priest, and I had looked to him to be my successor. But the village is in pain under his leadership. He was my pupil, my charge. His failings are my failings.

A mosque cannot survive with two heads.
A flower cannot blossom when it is drowning in water.
Too much attention is as bad as too little attention.

I put my weapons in the ground here. I made Safaq my home. I have tried to steward it. Being focused on its present, I have failed its future.

I will search for another village to show the truth of Hakiyah. But I will settle for just a bed for me and my weary leg.

Masta 7

The Tale of the Looted Storehouse

Door locke picked by thieves' tools. Mafera refused to say what she saw.

The Tale of the Hill Kahin

There is a new Kahin in the party! Sa'ma

Also eight faris.
A'ina, Be'ina, Se'ina, Dinah, Ereena, Felina, Ginna and Heina.

The Tale of the Sea Ghost

There it lay, out on the black waters of a moonless night. The Sea Ghost. The legendary smuggling vessel.
Lantern-lit on a windy night.

Masta 7–8

The Tale of the Leaves' Comfort

The Sea Ghost, in those times, had a deck wizard named Punketah, of the wind/sea school. The school is in the old city of Huzuz.

Punketah was sitting together with me, and with a group of men, in a place of Ajiya when the wind made her stop, and stand up. She saw that I was weary of the sea, sick of the endless waves, so she offered me some leaves of the catastrophe tree to chew.

To go to where rivers flow, overlaid with sand and covered with a kind of paradise where there is no water and where nothing can be said between the paths of the sacred sand.

Only the sun with its fierce rays and the moon with its waning days and nights, and nights and days, and the two of them are my companions.

We are here together in a place of dry, soft sand, in a kind of paradise where there is no water and where Punketah sleeps with her head in my lap, and with her hands in her pockets, tightly grasping the remaining leaves, and where the water is only marked as the kingdom of the Crowded Sea and of the three-eyed god.

The Tale of the Three Lizalfos

Each of the three lizalfos has a distinct personality and keeps his own secrets from his family and friends. The three lizalfos are always in the dark about the location of the pseudodragon so that they can not be seen by travelers.

Jira abu-Fevis is the only one of the three lizalfos to have a secret lizard-home, which he keeps under the roof of his house.

The three lizalfos sealed their lips with their tongue and the smugglers are unfaithful to their sworn oaths and are unsure of how to proceed. The three lizalfos are desperate and are dismayed to find that their oaths are broken.

On their own, the three lizalfos are incapable of magic, but they are constantly reminded of their magical bond and the weapons they have promised to carry.

The three lizalfos and one pseudodragon are not to be underestimated, and no mortal can hope to outrun them. The other beings in the wilderness are so small and insecure that few cares to be near the local tribes, and are in no position to sit on their lot and risk the wrath of their distant cousins.

The tribes are as numerous as the human tribes in the wilds and are spread out over the land as far as the eye can see. The tribes are led by kings and emirs and by clans of mercenaries and pirates. They are not as organized as the human tribes but are more flexible and resilient, complete in their customs and more organized for their kind.

The Tale of the Safaq Council

The Safaq city council is founded on the purest of principles and none can point to anyone else to whom they owe their loyalty. No council can be trusted to predict events, as the council will only use the information they gain from the city watch and the barbershop gossip, and they will only trust themselves with their secrets.

The council does not lie.

Any council member who does is held to account by the sultan of the governing city, and the council is made up of the most respected of the members.

The Safaq city council has unanimously voted to ban noxious alchemy, to which the sultan of Jumlat, who has the power to do this, has agreed.

The group is led by Soldiers of the Enlightened Throne. The plan is to retain the custom on the Isle of the Blessed, and to have the council members elected by the people of the city.

The council members are chosen by the people of the city, but only the council is allowed to rule, and the sultans are appointed by the Grand Caliph himself, who can remove them at will.

The council is divided into three seats and each seat serves a different function so that the village is divided into three parts: the harbor, the souks, and the temple.

Masta 9

The Tale of the Poor Angel

Poor Angel, I give you a gift.
I gave you a gift,
and I gave you a gift, and I gave you a gift,
and a gift, and a gift, and a gift, and a gift.

Poor Angel.
To whom Fate has not granted a single good.
I have heard, O fortunate sultan,
that she was born during the winter monsoon.

Befuddled by the loss of her beloved.
Sons of the musical instruments,
And utter strangers in her own land.

In her anguish she recited:

When I feel my beloved, be glad;
for he will be the cause of my heart's desire.

All the while I keep silent,
as I do not know what is happening.

When I see him, I weep;
in my longing I say: "My darling, do not be dismayed; I am unwell."

When she had written this, the sultan of Jumlat summoned her, kissed her hands and said: "What is this?"

"I am unwell," replied the sailor, "and I shall take leave for a life on the waves."

Poor Angel. You have been so silly to be so hard to keep from weeping when you are in your death, and in your death you will be more than a burden on your enemies.

You are so naughty, so mean and so treacherous. Your sin has reached the point of being the cause of all.

You will tire your enemies of all your good, and when you have done this, they will say to you: "Where is your love and your grace?" and you will reply: "Death to you, old fool!"

Such is the power of passion that even when it is gone it will not return. This has gone on long enough.

Hail, you who have given us your life! You who have walked on the same path as those who hunger for it! Here are you one of those who is sad and despairs? How can you say to those who have turned away from the path of truth and have wandered in the darkness of its shadow?

If we are to be saved the way Fate and the Gods has saved us, we have to sing praises.

"Go serve on the waves", the sultan said. "The council of Safaq will find a ship for you, and I believe them to be trusted, but you report to me and to your rubban."

The Tale of the Palace Garden

"I have heard," said Abd al-Rahman, "that the marble statue of the Serpent Lord was brought up to the palace of the Pilgrim Dogs. I have not seen, however, any work on the part of any one of these great beings to make any of the statues."

Durrar Island, where al-Ashar and its shadow, al-Cryx reside, is a small and unassuming fortification. The walls and doorways are decorated with exquisite tapestries and gold leafs. The interior is lavish, with a huge dining room filled with banquettes, exotic fruits, and a spacious baths.

Durrar's most notable feature is the indoor garden housed in the palace of the Great and Glorious al-Ashar. Sun bathes the garden through the stained-glass citadel windows in a multifaceted, geometric tiling of all colors. The centerpiece of the garden is the arboretum and its strong and everlasting tree.

The Tale of the Angered Queen

Yusdrayl, queen of the debbi, smiled and said: "You have been beautiful in the way you have carried yourself, but as I have told you before, there is something that is bothering me." She continued: "we have been very kind to you, Meepo, but I don’t know how you can be sure that we are not mad."

When the old queen said this, Meepo was afraid of her and said: "It was none other than the al-Hadhar, goblins and such, and I have already told you everything that I know."

When the old queen heard him say this, her anger turned to hatred and she said: "I have heard the other debbi say that the serpent's keeper is a coward, and I have to ask you, Meepo, to tell me that you are not cowardly."

The much-scarred debbi replied: "Yes, I am not cowardly, but it was under my watch that our serpent, al-Cryx, was stolen."

Masta 9, noon

The Tale of the Terrible Weapon

Yusdrayl, queen of the debbi, and all the people of the city. She has a strict system; she has a set of rules that govern her people, and every day she imposes a harsh punishment on anyone who breaks them. She is prepared to punish anyone who disobey her, and she doesn't hesitate to do so. She has a strict code of conduct and a code of honor, and every day she gives a punishment to anyone who breaks them.

The beast’s tongue is a terrible weapon, and it is more evil than any other weapon. It lets a creature swear an oath, as if it were a magical weapon, but only those who swear will know its true nature, and their oaths are often broken. The oath is of the order that the gods have given it to all living things, and it is not to be broken and abused. Some countries have outlawed the practice of oaths in their courts. If they do, the judges have to be hanged in prison, and the accused must die of natural mutation.

The Tale of the Imprisoned Elf

Havis himself is quite a character, with a long history of fighting the city guards and being captured many times by the Thieves Guild, but he has proved to be quite accommodating in the past. He is a grumpy and rash character, and can be quite violent and unpredictable in his own mind. He also has a habit of hiding in an ocean far from the city, not wanting to be detected by the city guards. He is also a terrible mime, and his signature ability is his ability to haggle.

Havis, a prisoner of the deeps of the sea, may be about to die. If he is, he will not be able to find his father or mother. He will be sorry to see his beloved again, and will be sad to leave his old home.

The Tale of the Marooned Realm

Jalara, ruler under the ground, and she is in the habit of watching with a great watch and looking with caution. She is not always right, of course, and she gives guidance to animals that are in a position to give guidance, but she is a pumpkin-head of learning, and she understands the nature of evil.

She has been acquainted with the shady and shaky affairs of al-Bek and al-Basg for a long time, and she has learned to understand their duplicity.

At times she has been too generous to the tribes, but the great and terrible pumpkin-heads have no capital cities in the land of Fate, and no rivers in the region of the Pearl Cities. She has ruled over the tribe for long enough, and they are all respectful and polite, and she has taken a great interest in their affairs, and they are all of the same mind as she is.

"It is said that" said her lieutenant, "the world is made of salt, and plants are so little understood that they have not been written down. I know nothing about passing through the water, and the water-borne elves are not to be trusted. If any person does pass through the water, he will become a vagabond and will be drowned by the others. On the other hand, if any person sees the one who has passed through, he will be subject to the lash and his property stolen."

Jalara, ruler under the ground, and all around it. The whole land is filled with a little greenish-blue shade, with the occasional white dot.

Masta 9, afternoon

The Tale of the Debbi War

The war against the debbi is not a holy war. The night is a dark, lonely place, and the Geeba speakers are often seen sleeping or playing in the dark, or wandering the dark corners. The Geeba speakers have also recorded songs for the deaf, and a songbook for the blind. The debbi have been known to attack the tribes of al-Hadhar, but their hostility is tempered by their own pride.

The war against the debbi is a long-term affair, and will only end when the city is turned into a ruin. Their rules are unable to escape, and are often imprisoned in their own palaces. The war's final blow, though, is death, as the warriors are forced to leave and seek sanctuary in the bizarre magical city of the Geeba speakers, where they learn the secrets of the Serpent Lords.

The Tale of the Crowded Sea

The Heart of the Sea, that is, of the Sea of Elements, and of the Crowded Sea.

The Sword of the al-Sayaj, one of the Ten Great Mountains, that is, of the Seven Branches of the Enlightenment.

The City of the Delights, that is, of the Palace of the Enlightened Throne, and of the Crowded Sea. And so it goes on.

The Mouth of the Sea is a vast, narrow spiral of scarlet and gold, like a great crescent moon, and there are many tales of its workings. The land is barren and drear, but the sea is filled with life, which delight the young and the old, and which is the dwelling-place of many powerful and beautiful creatures.

I saw with my own eyes the Crowded Sea, and those that lie there behind it.

The sea was covered with white, and there was a green sea, and a sea of gold.

And the ship of the Sea of Fire, and a ship of golden pearls, and a ship of wine.

Wishing to be released from a burden that no one can bear. In the midst of this sea, distant and unseen, stands an island.

The land of the Crowded Sea stands in a vast ocean of death and destruction.

Where the Crowded Sea has laughed and joyfully when the nightingale hears the song of the sea, as a girl in the land of the Crowded Sea,

While in the nightingale's song, the sea of life considers that she is a girl of the land of the Crowded Sea.

The Crowded Sea, which is the only place in the world where the sea is not covered with tears.

The Tale of the Wolf Senses

A ruined jungle is a vast network of once-living trees, prostrate and broken: a ruined jungle is a natural areas of the jungle, often dotted with the remains of a jungle's trees, which have fallen.

The invisible and intangible creatures of the jungle are a source of new threats, given their nature, known to be savage.

Though the wolves do not come across as chaotic creatures, they are often viewed as indecent, unenlightened, and even "beyond the pride" of civilized tribes. They are also believed to be intolerable and cruel.

They can also find the traces of animals and other creatures of the same type as themselves, such as the moon and stars.

The keen senses of wolves make them difficult to use as spies. Some of them have been known to follow their prey for days on end before setting off and leaving the den to wander around before returning to hunt again. Their prey consist of animals, but they can also hunt for their prey with birds, reptiles, and insects. They are also known to attack travelers on sight, and they are highly protective of their food and their meals.

The keen senses of wolves, of plants and other things that serve as food, and of all kahina, which are true to their nature, and are not deceived by false words.

They strode, on the trail of the debbi, whose head was like a headless bull, whose hair was like a hunt-camel, whose tongue was like a snake, whose nostrils were like the nostrils of a dead, whose blood was like a snake, and the blood of all other snakes.

Masta 10–18

The Tale of the Bone Nests

Nests of bones, this is where they have been for some time and they have been waiting for this opportunity to see you. Well, they shall be your servant, and they shall treat you with justice and honor.

Their hunger causes them to be quite relentless, nipping at the clothes of the bahrayin and their enemies, often causing them to get overwhelmed by their strength.

Nights of torment are sometimes called upon by the harpies. Sometimes they are called upon by the sultan of the crescent moon, and are used to on the stars, meteors, and other large bodies. The crescent moon is not the only crescent moon, but this is the one that is most commonly observed.

Some are as though they are bones, and some as though they are mammals; for the former are the fish, while the latter are the rancid animals, reptiles, and birds of the wilds.

All so changed that they resemble the creatures of the sea. Others have been returned to their former forms, and are as though they were the creatures of the land.

The Tale of the Last Journey

I put on my best clothes, and I went to study, until I got up and went to the baths. Then I washed my hands, and I brought bread and butter, and I sat eating and drinking until I was ready to leave Safaq.

Attacked by four stirges, who seemed as if they were angry with me for all the trouble I had caused Umaji. I was taken aback, and asked why I had been so angry when I had always been so sanguine.

As I lay dying in the desert, I see the
sunken ships, and the dead bodies of the bahriyin.
They buried my dead,
My bones were broken in the desert,
and the waters of the Crowded Sea overflowed my house,
and I had to bear the weight of my own tombs,
and my own dead were buried beneath the sand.
My mother and my father, O Hakiyah,
Have you not sent down the cry, O Hakiyah
that they came hither to me after death,
and my soul was filled with the love of the waves? That I saw the beauty of the honey sun,
and the reflected rays glimmer in my sails?

The Tale of the Hesitant Fleet

They asked us to send a fleet as fast as we could, and to ask Jumlat for help. We told them that we could not sail until the sultan brought them the news and the result of the battle.

I have heard, O fortunate king, that when the king had given orders to the city guards, they did the same and when they had done it, they said: "We have put them to death. We have sent a fleet to visit them and this year they will be killed." So they set out and when they came back they said: "We are damned."

They then set out to search for them and when they had done this, they said: "We are damned. We have killed our own."

Masta 9, prequel edition

The Tale of the Dead Traveler

He had a great interest in trade, and he was a merchant. Most of his trade took place in the desert, but he also had a small shop in the city. The enemies of the Three Freedoms and the Maghribis are also Merchants in the City of Brass.

I called him to see what he wanted. "I want to know your name," he said. "I want you to tell me where you are and what you want," I told him, "and how you are here." He agreed, said he didn't have a name. He was just known as al-Karakas. He said: "I have come to ask you for your name and your message." I said: "To hear is to obey," and I told him: "By Najm, I am already dead, and I can't get up".

The Tale of the Twilight Thorns

The kahin just watched his tree and its branches die out and die and die and die until the tree fell down and they all went into the stables to die. When the tree was dead, the hounds killed it and the tree died. The kahin got up and hid the wood from the tree, and then he began to eat the fruit of it, but it kept on dying until he reached the end of the dvargir mine shaft, and the tree kept on growing and growing inside of him until it had reached the size of his own spine.

The kahin was dying and he was going to wash his hands and ask for mercy, but when Nazeera, the pumpkinhead, saw him, she laid hold of him and took him by the hand.

"You can be sure of what I say," said Nazeera, "and I"m not afraid of you or your people. I mean to make your bed, and to die for you, my son, in your own land. You are safe. And to hear is to obey. You have been warned. Do not you unlock your dungeon door or else I will put you, kahin, in your place.

You know, my son, what fate has drawn out, but the truth is not to be trusted. You are not safe. And what is the secret of your secret?"

Al-Bek, for that was the kahin's name, did not answer, and so Nazeera went back to the door, and the kahin, terrified by the sight of his own body, kept on his guard. He then went to al-Basq, the doorkeeper, and said: "I don"t have a body to bury, except this one, my son."

"To hear is to obey," he said. "I shall be upon you in no way."

The tree was not hard to reach, and the kahin could not be trusted to destroy it. The kahin just watched his tree and rarely spoke. He was as easygoing and polite as the trees. The pumpkinhead's only fear was that the kahin might be a spy for the Sand/Sea school. But the kahin did not care.

So it is that the kahin is cast out of the tree, and the tree he inhabits is his own personal plantation. Apart from the fallen fruits, the kahin, and his two slain guardians, no one else lives in the tree.

The tree is a living tree with a life of its own, growing and rejuvenating as needed. The tree does not rest on itself, but lives in the branches of its own tree, growing and reculturing every few days to find somewhere else to rest its head. The tree does not see the world, as it is a tree. It sees only what the trees see, and that is the unending twilight under Sunless Island.

The Tale of the Hard Three

The hardy trio are always on the wrong side of the law. They are fought over for the black market, and the thieves and assassins who frequent the barricades of the sunken cathedral know them well. The city's conversation is heated and small, and the madmen are ruthless and unpredictable. Their presence leads to violent incidents, as they are always on the move, although they do not like to be left alone too long.

The citadel has a reputation for being a beggar's paradise, though this is not exactly true. Madmen have often acted as little more than caravanserai, and at any given time they may be crowds or busts. The city is home to a number of seldom seen beggars, who sell their wares to the greatest of the merchants and the most powerful.

The three hunters could only see the shadows that they were trying to hide from their own eyes. The night had fallen heavily in the mountain beneath the waves, and the familiar torchlight and fluttering rivulets of the night were dimmed by the tree's voice from the forest below.

The three partnered, and it was now only themselves that they could see. The others were asleep, and as the night wore on Moudaa's obsession grew.

The night was now dark and cold in the Veins of Stone, and the night stayed dark and cold for several more days, until they were forced to go hiding in al-Bek's thorn grove, until the trees grew to be too cold and the violet light of fluorescent fungi started to shine on them.

The three of them spent the night in the tree-branches, Moudaa terrified of Bu'ah and Atah, and the two secluded themselves until morning came, and then they resumed their instructions.

The next morning they went to the upper level, and the Geeba speech that they had learned in the forest must have been the same as the language of Jalara's gang.

Masta 19–22

The Tale of the Spacious Mosque

Hakiyah's mosque in Sikak is larger than the one in Safaq, but there aren't as many novices and acolytes here. The mosque is more spacious, with buildings and walls, and the floor is covered with books. Most of the furniture is black, but the door carpet is darker, and the rug is black.

The walls of the mosque are of a dark grey stone. The spice rack is also similar. The shrine is filled with fragrant wood and jasmine.

The garden is surrounded by a maze of trees, but the forest is blocked by a hedgerow of walls to keep out the besieging eyes of the sultan when he visits. The maze was painted by immersing the painter in a sea of colors, and the maze is decorated with random motifs that the artist has never seen before.

Rilcha min-Hakiyah, the priest here, studied with the Brine Hand at the seminary in Jumlat. She saw him as one of her best friends in many ways; but she hadn't heard from him since he left to found the mosque in Safaq years ago.

The Tale of the Novices' Fate

Locked in the brig, if you can't resist the song,
It's the most delicious of songs, no matter what you ask.
I used to tell myself:
You don't have the power to escape,
but if you do, I can guarantee you
that a day or two of peace will come over the seas.

Now I know better.
It is only when you think you can't
that you turn to bars, where the lyrics are not to be trusted.
They are my companions in life, and they are
the most unspoilt of the two.

What are the verses of this song? It is all that I have to say,
Plentiful in the night, but now I can't sleep.
And now I have a lover to whom I can swear,
Before I ask, if they ask, I can't promise.

Then it is with deep sorrow that I have written this song,
Love is the only thing that has kept me awake,
And the only thing that has kept me awake.

Locked in the brig, if you can't resist the song,
You cannot say that you cannot hear you.
I am your servant, and you are my slave.

A terrible thought came into the Captain’s mind, and he trembled and laughed.

Locked in the brig, if you can't resist the song, I'll have you
whipped to a thousand stripes and I'll buy you a nice explorer's pack
from the local shopkeeper and send you out in the desert.

The Tale of the Soul Ransom

Reached into his core, grabbed his soul, tore it out, and shook it alive; there he sat up writhing in a dark, enveloping, and terrible agony, until in his terror he realized that he would die and that his own soul would be his ransom.

The imam wraith knew that the two were doomed together and feared that they might be drawn into the power of the Four Great Disasters, whose destruction is in their own hands.

It was foretold that they should be caught and put to death, but it was foretold that they should escape and return to the fair land of fire, the land of joy, the land of life, the land of the bounteous, the land of death, where they would have no fear and where they would not be seen or heard by any other creatures.

Masta 22–26

The Tale of the Eagle Eyes

This pair of crystal lenses fit over the eyes. They are effective in and above water: they are not affected by their owner's water breathing. They are completely opaque and do not permit eye contact with the wearer.

The gaseous forms are more common in the eastern jungle and in caves and ruins that are often hidden by magic. The crystal variety can be used as eyeglasses, eyeslopes or a special kind of hunting eyepiece. They are useful for eye sight.

Millennia ago, they were forged by the dvargir of the underground city of Tanis, where they were used to guard the city from the effects of the sea, miles above the rotten veins writhing through al-Toril's stone core.

They were found by Abu Heriak, one of the poorest sailors in Sikak's styes quarter. All other magical items that were found in the Labyrinth had been swept aside in the wind, but he used the crystal lenses to protect his family from sharks.

The pair was later used by holy slayers of the Grey Fire to detect ambushes that otherwise couldn't've been detected inside a dungeon or city.

Although lenses like these are now more difficult to find than ever before, they were once used in large numbers by a tribe of al-Badia called the House of Nasr, or the People of the Eagle. In that era, a few centuries ago, the tribe were sometimes referred to as the Crystal Peepers. Now only one pair is known. It is believed that all other varieties are lost in the fungus of the desert.

In the city of Gana, they are known as sultan's eyeglasses or eyes. Worn by the sultan's vizier, Al'ia bint-Hazir of the Sea/True school, they were displayed in public and were allowed to be sold to the efreet-singed captain Xendros, the faithful quartermaster of Safaq.

She, in turn, on one of the last days of winter, sold them to her patron, Na'im al-Qadib of the Flame/Wind school.

The Tale of the Evernew Grimoire

This spellbook doesn't deteriorate with age, even compared to other magical items. Magic items that deteriorate in this manner amount to magic gaseous. Thus, they are often consumed as mage hoods and mage lanterns, though the mage hood is always invisible, and the lanterns are controlled by the mage. Not so this book.

The spellbook, which bears the inscription "The Tale of the Unattainable Pearl of Night" in midnight ink, was bound in the era before the elements and before the elemental planes were formed, when the masters were masters themselves.

They are no longer the only ones with it, of course, but none have ever been aware of its existence.

The elemental plane of fire was formed around this tome. The Tale of the Unattainable Pearl of Night was a cornerstone of the Mosque of Blistering Atonement when the City of Brass was originaly built.

The spellbook is magically connected with the worn hilt of its twin, who is the dagger named The Star Before There Were Stars. It's this dagger whose hilt suffers all the wear, tear, flames and waves that are inflicted on the Tale of the Unattainable Pearl of Night. The book appears evernew while the dagger's hilt grows ever older.

The efreets have an extraordinary knowledge of the arcane and the magical arts, and their spellbooks are filled with arcane spells. An efreet named Kann had been searching for a great wizard long before a dark magician vizier named Badr al-Din, who had long ago forgotten his purpose, came to their lands.

The vizier, who came by land from the desert, who wandered through the burning sands into the burning plane, had come to visit the holy shrine of Karak Kadar, and had befriended the efreet, who are almost all religious zealots or mystics.

The vizier and the efreet are generally polite, but occasionally rough and uncooperative, and they are not above occasional violence.

These are now the most powerful of the efreet. They are the reason why the people of the Land of Fate do not worship the dragon, the cruel god of dark magic and death.

The Tale of the Unattainable Pearl of Night was bound before the elements were sparked, and its pages are constructed from the sands of time and involve the great magic of the gods. Its spine is the mathematical equivalent of a function of conculturation.

The Tale of the Unattainable Pearl of Night is full of destructive, irrevocable instructions and useful spells.

It contains the following:

  • beginner's guides to spell-like abilities
  • a list of magical items to use in the construction of conjuration spells
  • a list of spells and magical items to construct spells;
  • a list of potion items to use in the conjuration, transmutation, and enchantment spells
  • and a list of magical items to use in the derivation of illusion spells.

The efreets are not the only ones with it either; the tome's cover is itself a kingdom of the stone, and the stone is itself part of the castle of the dao. The dao are the only ones who know of most of the other majestic creatures and of the hidden spellbook.

The dao have been forbidden for many years to use it, because they view it as an evil weapon. However, they have no wish to use it, for they know that the spellbook will be used to defeat them.

Visiting the City of Brass, captain Xendros stole this book and sold it, in the brief few years when there was a stagnant, unjust peace between Gana and Jumlat, to the breeze-ruffled rubban of the Sea Ghost, Na'im al-Qadib of the Flame/Wind school.

The Tale of the Loyal Barahyin

It's simple. We trust our rubban, Rax bint Vander.

(At that, the half-orc rubban's eyes were bright as the sun, and the red of her hair grew redder.)

Yorin has lost two barahyin just in the last week. I would never want to sail with him. Rax sticks with us, no matter what.

We're not insane defenders of this city. We're not too sure about you, for you seem to be hiding some sort of strange dark treasure in the tunnels beneath the city.

We don't really want to get this on too long. I'm not sure you'd be in much the city of Sikak, Rubban. Or perhaps you are a desert-dweller?

You seem to think that this city is a desert, and that the only place you can find water is on the mountains!

That would be a good idea if it weren't for the monsters who hide and dwell within the stone burrows.

Our rubban, Rax, is the most trustworthy of sailors and she is such a loner that she doesn't consider any being who dwells in the sea to be a threat.

If this is your attempt to save our lives, you have no idea who you are or what you are talking about.

What I want is for the waves to take care of you.

Our boat may be a small one, but we are always on the move and taking risks. We have to keep our promises. If we don't, we will come back and wait for you to come. If that doesn't happen, I will sail with you, but I want you to come with me to see how bad the enemy is.

Masta 10, prequel edition

The Tale of the Last Descent

Captain Ma'sa and his squad of guards were all well trained and fully equipped with spears, battle armor, and shields, and they were all loyal to Eli.

They had been tasked with protecting Safaq from the enemies of Jumlat, a mission that had taken them far from home. Wordlessly, they descended those seemingly endless steps, leaving the sun and bright skies behind.

Something had been bothering Ma'sa. A thump… thump… sound. He tried turning his head, in both direction, to see where it came from, but it was a sound from his own imagination. His mind playing tricks on him, distorting the echoes of his guards' steps on the hewn stairs. It had to be.

It sounded almost like shovelfuls of damp earth being tossed on a coffin lid.

As if this descent into the ground was his funeral.

The Tale of the Desperate Prayer

Oh shit holy shit Hajama give me courage Hakiyah wash over me the captain is dead so many teeth so many arrows my feet are killing me poison spray they are spraying pure death was that guy playing the bongos why are they here they looked like people but what was that language they were speaking sounded like geeba geeba bree-yark they were yelling we need to get out of here get on the boat do something and that chick her eyes were glowing through her helmet and those teeth those long arms and did you see Ma'sa was cleft in twain I can't it's hard to run when my feet are bleeding oh shit these stair steps please let me reach the surface I feel like I can't breathe down here please let me see the sun please mom

The Tale of the Dead Horizon

Two times every day, Eli looked out over the dead horizon. At dawn, as the sun rose above it, and at dusk, when the shadows of Safaq's houses danced long over the Crowded Sea.

The ship of twenty of the towns precious few guards that he sent out still had not returned. The sea had always been dangerous; its depths always endless under the wooden planks of a ships' deck. Connected not only to all the lands of al-Toril but to the world-of-all-worlds where Marids swim.

The roaring, crashing danger, over which the sun still rose every day. A danger that had become familiar, even to Eli, whose ancestors came from deep sand and the Dao.

These last few weeks, however, the ocean seemed to reassert its cold dominion. At first the fish stopped coming in, and then, the fishers themselves. The only ship that had returned was The Sea Ghost, that old smuggler's vessel that the council had gifted to the Brine Hand's successor.

With the endless cries from the north, where the mine used to be, and the recent successive raids from Istishia cultists, from mamluks, and from the Emirs of the Sea… And what were those wraiths Adan and Sa'ma talked about? We needed our full strength.

Eli thought himself a mad man to have sent a full fifth of his force to Durrar Island. Yes, sometimes a stitch in time saves nine, but… How thinly stretched is too thin?

Masta 26–28

The Tale of the Dead Ocean

The dead ocean is understandably unstable and the wind is driven by intense currents, but the tides are not too far off the shoreline at any given time. This is the result of the Zakharan's use of the wind to control the tides, which they use to keep themselves and their ships safe from the storms.

The dead ocean, the black sand, and the light of the night.
The lover, who has forsaken the hateful
and deserted the dark places, waits for his beloved.
A month of love, like the morning in the House of the Sirens.
A month of sorrow, like the nights on the shores of the crowded sea.

The corpses of sea creatures are often buried along the shores. A seafaring community is built upon the sea's lower reaches.

The dead ocean is a place of peace and beauty, filled with the wonders of art and the gentle life of those who live there. But it is not without danger that the coast is so rich and varied. Beaches, swamps, reefs, frays, and rough seas add to the beauty of the coast.

The dead ocean. The blood of the living, and the oceans are the source of their blood. The living are all in the ocean, and the dead are in the land of Fate, where their blood is kept safe from the sea. The living are scattered throughout the world, and the dead are scattered among the stars. They are abandoned by the sea, and the stars are scattered across the world.

The Tale of the Siren's Hymn

You will find me in the streets,
but in my own land of the dead I wait
for the coming of the Sea, the Crowded Sea.
I can see the Pearl Cities in the gloom
of the desert, and in the land of the dead.

For you will find me in the cities of the seas.

I will not rest here, and I shall not rest here,

But always you will find me in the water
in the water where life begins and flows.

I will be your guide, and your guide will be me,
until I make my way to the Pearl Cities
where the inhabitants are
like a dark cloud upon the land, and the wind upon it.

I will not rest here, and I shall not rest here,

But always you will find me in the water
in the water where life begins and flows.

You must know that all this land is sacred,
to the gods of the Sea, and that they revere
the sun, moon, and stars that dwell beneath
the waves, and in the depths of the sea.

Wild, yet never seen,
nor ever heard,

But your utterance has beamed
down on me;
it is a song of pleasure, but you have a
song to make.

Your tongue has a song to make;
your tongue has a song to make.

But your utterance has been
cast down on the ground;

You have been cast down from your own tongue,
you have been cast down from your own tongue.

And your voice has been cast down;
and your voice has been cast down.

And your ears have been cast down;
your eyes have been cast down.

You have been cast down from your own eyes,
you have been cast down from your own eyes.

The Tale of the Replacement's Clarity

Back in those long Masta days when Safaq was going through its first Season of Pain, Namarida abd-Umaji asked of Na'wa min Hakiyah:

"Are you ready to come here to Safaq to oversee Hakiyah's mosque, built by Velmar, called 'The Brine Hand'? Our priest, Umaji, has not returned."

I am. I prefer to write rather than read. I'm a Priest of the Faith Ethoist of Hakiyah, the Wave of Truth. I am always busy. I am not on good terms with the people of Safaq, but I have always been a good friend to the merchants on Jumlat's trade routes, and I'm not going to complain if I can have steady work at the minbar of Hakiyah.

I am not the Brine Hand, but I am prepared to be a substitute.
I am not Umaji, but I will be willing to be substitute.
Followed by another, a fourth and then a fifth.
Some clerics are the end, others the means.
You, Namarida, I have no doubt.

Commander of the Faithful, if you will.
I would be honored to be your priest, if you will.

But it is said that the beginning is the end,
and the end is the beginning.

I would be honored to number among your messengers and your sages, if you will. The hammer of fate is on your head, Commander of the Faithful; you must learn to trust in the Wave of Truth, be guarded.

Starting midnight I will lay — awake but perfectly still — face down in the soils of Safaqs graveyards.
When the dawn strikes, before I pray for spells,
I will walk down to the shore and cleanse myself of dust in the harsh waves.

To Hakiyah I bring my regrets, missteps and sins.
From her, in return, I receive clarity.

Masta 28–30

The Tale of the Silent Mine

They arrived to town early one morning. Gufsha and the seven dwarves. All welded together into a big ball of arms, legs, pieces of armor, hair, screaming faces; screaming all in the dwarwen tongue, because Gufsha's scream was frozen silence. Tears streaming down her face. Two of the dwarven men were blindfolded.

To those who could understand the dwarven family tongue, the song seemed familiar, like one from their childhoods.

"When we see a city without walls,
we are afraid to enter it, fearing to pass the night.
While the walls are raised, the gates are shut,
and those who pass through are met by a hidden door
that we must not enter, lest we be looked on."

At the same time, they only had to keep on living for a long time. Fate had never dealt with this particular case before.

Then, after the seven dwarven miners all had been killed by the town guard, the tongue-less woman roared, a roar straight from her stomach, without being able to phonate any clear words, and tore up herself. The city was left alone.

The Tale of the Emptiness Between

"The emptiness between this particular walking staff and this handful of incense sticks is what I worship."

This void is a way to view experience; it neither adds or removes anything from the raw sensation of events and perception. You see what is going on in your own mind, and what you can sense of the outer world, without making any assumptions about underlying causes.

This is what we call emptiness since there's none of the presuppositions that we usually bring to all of our experiences: the stories, gods, planar beings, classes and levels we reference to try to make sense of who we are and this Land of Fate.

The kahina found that when focusing too much on the questions those elements raise about our true selves and the reality of the prime material plane distract us from a more impactful sensation of how events affect each other right here and now.

Between the top of the pyramid shaft and the bottom of it is another kind of emptiness. The emptiness in a 200 feet fall. There is a peace there.

The Tale of the Foldable Hat

"Oh, yes! I have a new hat!" said the old woman. "And what's that? That's a nice hat!"

The younger woman stretched her arms out in front of her, and she then got up and took the hat her bag and tossed it at the old woman.

She then went to the window, away from the window, and made a great bonfire, which was delightful to see, and the old woman herself then got up and entered and lit the bonfire.

She then thanked the old woman and kissed her hands, and then she told her to take care of the foldable hat.

The reason she had given her the hat was because she was thinking of giving alms, and she was thinking of giving the gift to the poor, as well as to the stranger, more trustworthy, more than the old, wiser, and less greedy. She was thinking of giving them all, but the stranger had told her that he was here to make a deal with the city council, and that he was not to be left for a day.

The young woman was delighted to hear this. The stranger said: "I have come from the west to make a deal with the council." "How did you get here?" asked the young woman, and the stranger replied: "Oh, I'm used to go wandering in the deserts and take shelter in caves."

With this in mind, she could give up the hat, not to one of the town's beggars, but to the older noblewoman, with a purse heavy with dirham.