Mirriam returns home after the croc hunt. Her father is worried about her - is she alright? She says yes no problem
Defanuh returns to the news that an acquaintance Ghitas al Zharouf was killed out on the hunt. Apparently he was only a month married to A'meers eldest daughter. Markus is going to attend the funeral in a few days and suggests Defanuh comes along as his guard.
Sarah checks in with Ib's who has been working on the mirror. He'd like to have a chat with Defanuh about what he read in Ibn Badr's book and Ramon to recover his adventure at the circus. Sarah scuttles off and rounds up all the cats. They settle down and Defanuh tells what he read.
The Tome of Ibn Badr
Now Ibn Badr was a mage on a free privateering ship plying its dubious trade between Arabia and India at the expense of spice merchants. The senior crew were:
Captain Ali Sundra : Free privateering is the life. You serve on a ship until the captain "falls over board" then you and your friends take off and start pirating the local merchants - they never put up a fight and you get to take what you want. The women in the ports suddenly go for the pirate (not that they didn't like you before!). People are too scared to call in gambling debts. Got to love it. Pleasures arise in the most unexpected places - like the ship you just raided that turned out to be selling mangos! About to let it go and head back for home on the Arabian coast when the little squirt excuse for a Captain starts blubbering about Ruby mines and how he'll take you if you'll spare his life. Anyway apparently down the Indian coast there's the mother of all mines and now you're off to raid it. Hell if he's lying you can take inthe sights, the local women and then hang him before heading back.
Physical: well built but permed rather than body built
Mental: self confident, average savy
Social: brash, assuming
First Mate Doesha el Kabir: Doesha wasn't really suited to the veil so she tried prostitution but she's built like a brick s**thouse so no go. First Mate on a pirate ship does the job great. She likes blood and guts between the teeth and cutlass in hand. Action happening - she's there. Currently the ships heading south along the Indian coast looking for some massive ruby mine some jerk of an Indian peacock captain is trying to sell you for his hide. She rather fancies being the one to hang him. And getting to fight a tiger that would be cool.
Physical: large and muscular
Mental: slower than quick, aggressive
Social: aggressive, jovial
Ship Magician Ibn Badr : You learn magic on the streetsof Bagdad, they lock you up in a bazaar shop and you analyze trinkets for hopeful passers by (not magical, not magical, not magical). Where's the adventure in that? Now you're the a pirate ship's wizard and you get to see tons and throw fire around. Who knows what strange magics you'll uncover? One day it'll be Sinbad who tell us about Ibn Badr!
Spells: minature fire balls, comprehend languages, detect magic, any cantrips you fancy.
Physical: tall but slight
Mental: very smart
Social: actually likes pirates rough and tumble, does the academic stuff and keeps it to himself
Merchant Noble Azaar Zogoiby : Azaar is a merchant Noble from Bombay - accostumed to wealth and luxury. Very irritating that his ship's captain quit with a cargo (mangos) to go. He had to take it out himself. Then pirates! His useless crew didn't even put up a fight. Captured by ruffians - oh the ignomy. Threatened too! The only way to save his life was to let slip the family secret - knowledge of a Ruby mine beyond dreams. The family deals with this weird Raja from way down the coast who deals the most astonishing rubies ever dug. Well under threat what can you do but blab that you know where it is and you'll take them. Azaar has a plan - the Raja are from Hindi speaking territory while the arab pirates seem to only speak urdu. So if he can get in the first words and warn the Raja and his men then he can pretend to translate and tell all and turn them in.
Physical: small, weak, effete
Mental: Timid, scared
Social: Fauning when scared, supercillious when confident
Following the instructions of the terrified Azaar the pirates weigh anchor off the coast of southern India. The officers and 10 crew begin the trek inland. The jungle is hot and humid with mosquitos buzzing, monkies screeching and occasionally a deep roar emanating from the deep jungle. They follow a path for a day and a half uneventfully until they break out into cultivated fields of poppies.
Half a mile away beyond the poppy fields is an ancient looking, algae covered, white marble mansion house surrounded by a wooden stockade. A small ramshackled village of wooden huts lies a little away from the main building. The land around is completely inappropriate for a ruby mine and there are no signs of wealth - the pirates eye Azaar and mutter about a hanging.
A group of ten or so short natives dressed in lion cloths and tiger skin cloaks and carrying ancient rifles come out of the stockade and address the group in Hindi. Azaar quickly answers that they must see the Raja. Ibn Badr scrambles to cast his spell to understand. They are led towards the palace.
Within the decorative theme is one of mirrors, gold trim and tiger skins. Everything is shabby and old though. They are led into a hall and asked to wait while an audience is arranged. They wait. The pirates get restless. A very small owlish man waddles past them into the throne room they're waiting to enter - he eyes Ibn with interest but doesn't stop.
Finally just as the Captain is beginning to consider pressing matters they are shown through to the Raja. He sits on a great wooden throne with a tigers head staring balefully from the top of the back rest. The Raja himself is short but muscular and decked in fine silks. His head is wrapped in a turban and in the centre of its front is the largest ruby they've ever seen. He appears bored and barely even responds to Azaar's pleas and the Captain's demands. The owlish man eyes Ibn again from behind the throne. Finally the Raja waves them away and the guards escort them off to private quarters.
The pirates are still not impressed. They go to search the compound.The owlish man intercepts Ibn and asks whether he can read Arabic. Yes. Ah well, might you, perhaps, um, this way? They head off together leaving the rest of the crew to investigate the village where an outrageously strong curry vegetable soup is being cooked. They decide to go find the Raja's harem.
Meanwhile Ibn has been taken to the wizard/vizier's workshop room where he would like Ibn to translate a scroll. After some confusion it becomes apparent that it's a scroll for summoning a sort of flying tree rat. Ibn is incredulous and the vizier politely thankful. He lights an opium pipe then suggests that magicians should stick together and that at some future point he will return the favour. Something like that anyway.
The Captain and crew infiltrate the harem sending the short local beauties running for their rooms. The captain liases with a more inquisitive girl but then the guards turn up to evict the crew. Doesha retreats while the the Captain nips upstairs with the girl. The Captain thinks he's in luck and is half way to unclothed when a huge tiger enters the room and threatens him. The girl collapses in hysterics and the Captain leaps out a window receiving some nasty claws marks on his legs for his troubles.
Doesha and crew are returning disgruntled to their quarters when they come across a group of mine workers (mud covered and pick axe carrying) coming out of the throne room. They follow them back to the village where they wash off. Returnign they meet a half naked Captain with tales of tigers. Excited Doesha goes off to search the harem but can't find a tiger anywhere.
The whole group regathers and ponder how a mine could be in the throne room. The vizier appears and invited them for dinner. The throne room is fogged in opium smoke. A table is set up and they are served the curry which is too hot for any of them to bare (save Ibn who cantrips away the taste). The Raja eats it without notice. He finally wakes from his bored haze as half the crew are fallign asleep from the smoke and vaguely addresses them - "As my honoured guests let me show you the splendors of my realm".
The Raja walks to the mirror, cries, " Abadaigamontae!" and it vanishes revealing a room beyond furnished in the mirror image of the throne room but here the furnishngs sparkle as if new and inset everywhere are rubies! He leads them through the far doors to a round room with a ceiling above that shimmers. Steps lead up round the walls. He cries, " Abadaigamontae!" once more and the roof vanishes revealing a cave whose walls drip rubies! Passing up into the mine it's as if they've walked through the surface of a lake.
The Raja tells them to take what they will. They stuff their pockets full and Azaar tries to hurry them along so he can be free of them. They return to the throne room copy but the mirror is now back where it was. How to get out. Suddenly tigers appear from the floors and the rooms seem to shift. Ibn tries the magic word on a mirror and finds another throne room copy beyond.
Azaar finds a straircase and tries to escape but finds himself in a labyrinth of stairwells. Finally he runs into a half man half tiger who accuses him of treachery. He blubs. The rakasha guts him.
The Captain is rapidly loosing his crew members and attempts to find a way out but runs into two rakasha who cut him to pieces. Doesha gleeful sest about a tiger, sparring with it, then grappling it before finally choking it out with her bare hands. Just then she is transfixed from behind by a spear.
Ibn passes through mirror after mirror trying to find a way out and is becoming desparate when the Vizier opens a mirror for him from his workshop. The Vizier advises him to flee and never return. He does!
The tome ends with Ibn Badr back on the ship musing that this word might open any mirror and allow him to find the mine! He tries it on a mirror in his cabin and observes the mirror reflections as real creatures that collapse to black goo whenin contact with the real world. He intends to enter and find the mine. There is no further entry.
Ib's is most intruigued by the tale and suggests that the cats might care to join him on a foray into the mirror realm.
*********** Session 2 ***********
Sarah skips off home where Samuel is planning a small dinner do to award Quentin a medal for bravery.
Ramon and Benoud take the night off to go gambling with the profits of the hunt. The first establishment they try refuses them entry because of Benoud's debts to the place. Ramon is a little horrified to discover his friend is a debtor but they go on to another place and gamble away a reasonable amount of money before retiring via a bar.
Mirriam finds her father is working doggedly in his secret study on his numerological study of the Koran. He doesn't seem to have had much sleep or be intending to get much. She does her best to get him to bed but he keeps sneeking back down again. After prayers the next morning she takes a look at his notes and copies down the least garbled bits.
Quentin is awarded his medal and a pleasant dinner is had by the usual crowd. Quentin seems to be more in with his army buddies than before the hunt. Mirriam corners Mr Meldewd on the subject of numerology but he is unrevealing - secret oaths and all that.
Mirriam's father continues to over work himself and makes stupid excuses when she arranges to accidently discover his study - he just keeps some old books in there for the local mosque. In the end she again lets him get on with it.
Ramon goes shopping in preparation for the trip beyond the mirror - butter, small mirrors, a hammer....
The cats regather with Ibs. Ibs has warded the mirror to stop anything they unleash getting too far. Defanuh is to be left guarding the entry while the others investigate. Abadaegamonti! And the mirror opens dripping a little black goo and giving access to the halls Ramon was trapped in before. Ib's lights the way with aglow from his staff head. The mirror morphs are gone and everything is covered in a solidified black resin. The pool of morphs in the cellar is solid resin. The machine is solid and still. The statues are unidentifiable resinous lumps and the wizard is gone. They stare from a balcony across the craggy dusky realm of mirrors with its castles. Broken war machines are clustered at the bottom of the walls and on the horizon something glitters perhaps.
Time to retreat and equip for a longer expedition. Ib's breaks out two flying carpets (Alicazow up! Alicazump up!) and they pack rations. The troop flies out (tentatively at first)and investigates the ravine bottom first - broken mirror land stone war machines and people line the edges of the ravine. They begin to formulate a theory that the resin is overly "souled" morphs and the rock under "souled" morph.
They follow the trail of the army and find another broken and resined castle. Perhaps the glitter on the horizon will reveal more. Flying over they encounter a morph eagle that dive bombs them when Ramon waves at it and then disintegrates into goo when it gets too close.
The glitter is sea water with floating dead fish. At Sarah's suggestion they search and find a castle seeping a water fall. The mirror must be open and under the sea - perhaps it's Ibn Badr's mirror on his sunk ship. Ib's scorns the chances. They search the broch above with a mirror open on to the sea. They find a diary which, to Ib's irritation and disbelief, is by Ibn Badr. Apparently he entered seeking rubies and returned to find the mirror at the bottom of the sea - had the pirates cast it overboard or sunk? Anyway he felt his essence slowly seeping from him over the next few days and decided he must make an attempt to reach another castle and that is the last entry.
Worried that their essence is being drained they decide to retreat while they still feel well. Is the wizard Ibn Badr and the army some half baked result of the desire to infiltrate oter castles, perhaps Ibn's final sane thoughts? Ib's suggests they take a day off to recuperate.
*********** Session 3 ***********
They go shopping for drapes and a desk for Ramon's detective agency and teach Sarah some of the fine arts of haggling.
Sarah returns home. Eugene indicates Samuel is in a bad mood and suggests she goes quietly to bed. She does. She's woken in the morning by the tramp of army boots on the gravel outside. The captain of Quentin's brigade is shown in to Samuel's office. Samuel goes ballistic; DRUNK AND DISORDERLY? WHORE'S UNDERWEAR ON HIS HEAD? AFTER MY DAUGHTER HAD PINNED A MEDAL ON HIM? INTOLERABLE!
Ramon gets home with his purchases to find Benoud hanging around trying to get him to go for a drink. This turns out to all be a cover for Benoud to ask for money because the casinos are after him. A hundred pounds is cut down to seven and Benoud goes away grateful if still worried.
Mirriam returns to a copy of the New York Times with headline "French Eygptologist on Trail of Elixir of Life". D'Aver has been mouthing off again though now you mention it it would be very easy to interpret the heiroglyphs she's been having such trouble with in that light. Hurm. In the morning her father drops the bomb shell that he won't be going to prayers. Mirriam follows him to a different small mosque where the Jalal Hazar group meet. The initiates reveal their numerological failures to the religious leader who exhorts them to try harder. Her father admits to worry about Mirriam's behaviour and the leaders eyes fly straight to the cat in the corner with a cry of "Devil in the building". Mirriam flees worried.
Sarah convinces Ramon to arrange an accidental meeting between her and Quentin. Quentin is doing extra laps of the trainig field this morning so is non too pleased when a cat steals a letter from his mother just as he gets out of the shower. He chases the animal out into the streets of cairo until he collides with Sarah. They pick up their thngs flustered and Sarah suggests he should come and visit, he mutters about ruckus in barracks and not being in good books but sarah insists everything will be alright. He has to get back before he's missed but blows her a kiss as he leaves and throws a stone at Ramon.
Mirriam goes off to the library to work then meets up with the other cats at the temple. She's worried about Jalal Hazar and more so when Ramon tells her they're a bunch of religious fundamentalist zealots. They all trot back to check that her father is alright but he hasn't come home and they have a mysterious feeling of being watched. They try a number of avenues for where he might be but end up peering at the Jalal Hazar mosque which they find has an armed guard on the door and a physical training ground out back in which twenty black robed fundamentalists work out. Mirriam scouts the Shadows version of the mosque out - the air is strangly still there. Finally her father emerges and heads for home. Mirriam rushes to get back ahead of him but he comes in and quickly goes to bed without explanation.
In the morning Mirriam comes to realize that her father is scared stiff of her which can't be good. She convinces Sarah to let her speak to the Governor. He's shocked to hear her father has taken up with an illegal organization and promises to send int he troops. A squad of Britain's finest raid the place and arrest 25 people not including most of the dark robed men or the leader or her father but they do impound the mosque.
Ib's is rather keen to undo whatever mischief Ibn Badr has set off in the mirror realms. They fly their carpets off in the direction the bird came from in search of interesting things. They find a small hut of alive mirror morphs sat round a working mirror in a kitchen. Not wanting to harm the morphs after a little investiagtion they continue on.
A cloud of morph birds darkens the sky over a keep. In the valleys below a seething mass of morph army and machines toils up the cliff. In amongst them beneath a black flag is Ramon's wizard on a wheeled machine with a tank of slopping amber fluid. Within the castle the morphs have a mirror looking into a colonial bedroom. The party is unsure what is the right line to take so decide to watch and learn. The army eventually overrides the castle, breaks through the walls and starts killing the morphs. On the other side of the mirror thieves ransack the bedroom and as the alst morph is killed break the mirror. The wizard approaches takes a strange device from his robes and operates it at which it says "Abadaegamonti!" and the cracked mirror's pieces open and the morphs are all turned to goo. He retreats. Is the wizard the natural way for this dimension to mimic breaking mirrors (or vice versa?). Surely the wizards knowledge of the word is Ibn's doing though.
They return to the broch to try to trace Ibn Badr's last movements. The only place you might try to climb down is by the waterfall. Sixty feet down the climb becomes impossible but there is a shelf of rock with a pool, a lantern left and the glistening surface of the rock wall behind has been opened like a mirror! On the other side the pool has been opened... the recursive open mirrors continue through several iterations as a dizzy Ramon discovers linked back to the others by a rope. Finally it ends at a dessicated pirates body - Ibn badr!
He has some final notes in a pocket. He was trying to find a way out but his strength failed. In annoyance he hurled a stone into the pond and the wizard emerged. they failed to communicate and then the wizard left and Ibn's strength failed him. More thoughts to ponder. They return to the real world.
*********** Session 4 ***********
Defanuh and Markus meanwhile attend the funeral of al Zharouf where there is much discussion of who will get his cloth import export business. After the ceremony someone even blurts it out too loud infront of the wudow, A'meer's daughter, Maryam. To everyone's embarassement she declares that as his wife its her decision. People slowly slink away.
Rajiv sitting on the University steps palying with his latest pipe tune watches a tall, beautiful man with dead black died hair in the shops. He gets to the bit of the tune where it really works and the man gives him a very sharp look. Intruiged they chat - Raphael invites him to an artistic commune at St Marks church.
The other cats emerge from the mirror realms and decide to head off for coffee. On the way they pass Rajiv playing away. They chat. Ramon should have a gun if he's a detective. Mirriam would like to have Defanuh try to convince her father to behave himself. Ramon buys a gun with the dwindling reserves of his finances. Mirriam's father has no returned.
She rushes around town but no one has seen him again. They investigate the Jalal Hazar temple and find numerology and machine gun orders but no message pointing to a secret hide away.
Mirriam and Sarah return to the Governor's Palace. Ramon and Defanuh chase the pig in the grounds and wait for an attack by the sect. Rajiv visits St Mark's and discusses art and Raphael's enthusiasm. The local clergyman does not seem to appreciate either.
In the morning while Mirriam is away at prayers Sarah receives a note from Quentin, scented too. Meet me at noon by the fountain in the singing bird bazarre, bring a rose. How sweet. Sarah wants to go - the other cats think they should tag along because it looks like a trap. It is! When Sarah gets to the fountain she vanishes leaving only a small whirlwind in the Shadows. Ib's can't locate her either and worries that religious fanatics might be able to use their divine powers to hide.
Maybe they can learn something from the prisoners at the barracks but they're well guarded. Ramon and Defanuh tell the Governor about the machine guns and suggest letting some prisoners escape to be followed. Having none of it he imposes a curfew and a house to house search instead. Then Mirriam lets him know about Sarah and he becomes even more determined. Meanwhile d'Aver gets a message to Mirriam that a man came round this morning having seen her working on the heiroglyphs and suggests she try a private library in the old city.
Defanuh, Ramon and Rajiv rush round the city trying to find anyone lost. Finally Benoud leads them to a note at Ramon's house asking his detective agency to find the twin of a silver locket allegedly stolen - the address on the letter doesn't exist (Carrot Street only goes up to number 13).
Meanwhile Sarah is in a very large green glass bottle with a pleasant array of silk cusions and no way out.
*********** Session 5 ***********
Finally a plan comes together. They steal the Governors official stamp and letter head then forge a release document for two of the Jalal Hazar prisoners. While the commanding officer at the barracks is out of the room they slip the forgery onto his desk so when he returns he thinks it just delivered. Falling for it the two are released and escorted back to an address of their choosing in the old city.
Its an old street by the city wall. They go into a house, everyone sees them but when they investigate the house has a normal family in it and no religious fanatics. Huh? Suddenly a brooch falls from the wall and Ramon and Defanuh (yes you did :-) ) leap to see what it is. It's the other amulet from the trap - futzzt! They vanish to a bottle.
Rajiv startled investigates the wall to discover that suddenly there's a gate house there with Jalal Hazar guards all over it. There must have been a phantasm! He rushes off to tell Mirriam and Ib's. Ib's says he can dispel the phantasm so the British can deal witht he place. Rajiv tips off the British.
A squad of soldiers with heavy artillery in tow head to the street. Atop the gate house which is perfectly visible is an ibis. Samuel is over ridden by the commanding officer who starts shelling the strong hold.
Ramon and Defanuh's bottle starts to shake from the blast shocks so they join in to tip it off the shelf breaking the bottle and releasing themselves. Jalal Hazar are being decimated by the British shells and following infantry charge. Defanuh takes out a few more and the clerical leader on the top floor. Mirriam's father is there too and surrenders in a daze. Ramon releases Sarah from the bottle.
Tear filled reunions occur. Everyone heads back for brandy at the Governor's residence. Mirriam just has tea. her father has had a nervous breakdown and is going to need a long quiet recovery period.
Ib's is glad to see Sarah rescued and suggests that after all that mirror land exploration should be put on indefinite hold. Afterall probably best to let nature take its course.