On board the Sokurah Ervendio blesses Bea’s body to prevent her from rising as a ghoul. He casts detect magic on Bertram, seeking clues to Bertram’s muteness, and has a vision of a ghostly steed under the gnome. Teks and Jongle pitch in as sailors and Teks negotiates to receive a cut of the crew’s payment when they arrive in Muluk.
After nearly three more (uneventful) weeks at sea, the Sokurah finally arrives at its intended port: Muluk, the City of Kings. Easily the biggest city the Revengers have visited on their journey, Muluk is home to 90,000 souls — nine times bigger than Cano City — and is one of the shining Free Cities of Amara’s northwestern coast. Built near the fertile valley of the River Al-Zalim, Muluk is a city-state ruled by an unbroken line of caliphs dating back a thousand years.
Bertram, Ervendio, Jongle, and Teks leave Bea’s body on the ship as they explore the city. First Mate Aasim assures them the ship will remain in port for at least five days as they unload their shipment, take on more cargo, and hire a new crew.
The Revengers are directed toward the Caravanserai, outside of the city, where they might find lodging, supplies, and information on Haroushin, the dwarven priest who took the third key from Teks’s village years before. They pass through the slave market and a dwarf attempts to purchase Teks from Bertram. The group plays along long enough for Jongle to palm a few gold pieces from the attempted buyer, but they move on through the Grand Bazaar — passing food stands, strange and unusual sights and smells, and curious onlookers — and finally reach the Caravanserai.
On a hunch, Teks plops Bertram onto the stabled horse of one of the caravaneers. Upon the dwarf’s protest, Teks explains that Bertram is a baby with an aging disease, and his last wish is to ride a horse. The dwarf takes pity on the old baby and trots Bertram around the Caravanserai. As the caravan workers dote on him and applaud, the wild surge-induced silence imposed on Bertram dissipates! Finally able to speak again, Bertram vocally wrestles with what to do about Bea: bring her back, or let the dead lie in peace?
The Revengers pass into the city proper and find a room at the River View Inn, which does not, in fact, have a view of the river. With only Teks and Ervendio able to speak dwarven, it is down up to the two of them to do any bartering or information gathering.
Ervendio finds out that Haroushin runs a small shop near the Mosque of Honored Elders near the city center. A female dwarf overhears Ervendio and Jongle speaking goblin, and she reveals that she had seen Minja in the city “a week ago, or more.” Minja claimed her intention to travel south, through the Haunted Lands, to the Great Anvil — a harsh desert home to mournful ghosts and whispering winds.
Paqi heads to bed early, feeling put upon and picked on by the Revengers. Bertram encourages Jongle to use the crystal ball taken from Baybars. Jongle sees Minja seated at a small campfire somewhere rocky and desolate; Minja seems to sense that she is being watched and the vision fades. Bertram, unwilling to wield the crystal ball himself, encourages Jongle to envision Jad, who they see asleep on a ship at sea. Then Bertram tells Jongle to search the planes for Bea’s soul, which they witness in a land of bright moonlight, reclining on the branch of a great gray ash tree, conversing with Mildred the Frowzywig. What they are saying is unknown. The vision fades.
Bertram stays up late and gets hella drunk. He wakes up hungover and has either cast — or was unwilling to memorize — half of his normal allotment of spells.
In the morning, the group travels across the city to Haroushin’s shop outside of the mosque. The mosque is enormous, glittering and gold, and obviously a point of interest for many Amaran pilgrims. Inside the shop of trinkets, they find Haroushin — obviously fallen quite far in stature from the priest remembered by Teks — blind and decrepit. Haroushin says he no longer possesses the third key, which he calls “The Third Rod of Unholy Law.” He is willing to tell them what has become of it — and, indeed, to resurrect Bea, even though to do so may kill him — if they will help him recover an ancient artifact of interest.
Haroushin tells them the story of The Eleven Baneful Gates…
In the distant past, when Fate passed her knowledge to the Loregiver, Al-Anwahr was a rich and proud city ruled by King Azaltin, an intelligent man well versed in poetry, astrology, and the ways of magic. As the Loregiver wandered Amara, teaching the laws of the divine to dwarf and genie alike, she is said to have stopped in Al-Anwahr and been a guest of Azaltin for 11 days. Azaltin honored his guest daily with lavish celebrations and exquisite gifts of silks, gold, and perfumes. After each night of entertainment, the king would ask his guest the same question: “How can a man live forever?”
The Loregiver warned Azaltin about the danger of such knowledge, but in the end could hardly insult her gracious host by refusing to answer. Each night she told the king about the obstacles that prevent dwarves from achieving immortality. Azaltin’s scribes labored furiously to capture the Loregiver’s parables and cryptic riddles, which were set down in a legendary scroll titled The Eleven Baneful Gates. According to legend, the Loregiver departed Al-Anwahr, leaving the scroll in Azaltin’s care. Azaltin pondered the scroll for a decade, ignoring his people while trying to unravel its secret.
After years of fasting and meditation, he abandoned the kingdom to his brother Amakim and left to ponder the scroll in the solitude of the wilderness. Azaltin returned a dozen years later, an undead creature of hideous appearance, to reclaim his kingdom. Amakim led a revolt to topple his monstrous brother. Some members of court remained loyal to their undead king, however, and a bloody battle ensued throughout the city. Ultimately, Amakim’s forces triumphed, but when they reached the king’s palace, they found that Azaltin had vanished. Amakim and his forces departed Al-Anwahr and eventually founded the city of Muluk. Centuries passed, and Al-Anwahr and Azaltin passed into legend.
More recently, a clay tablet has been discovered revealing the location of Al-Anwahr. Haroushin has already sent a team to reconnoiter the lost city, but they never returned. The Revengers agree to investigate and return the scroll, and in return Haroushin will tell them what has become of the rod and resurrect their friend. He also tells them of another healer — a hermit named Mahara who lives in the mountains near Talv, a small village they must pass on their journey. He feels guilty, but Harousin is afraid that casting resurrection one more time may kill him, and it is possible Mahara could bring back their friend as well.
Haroushin gives them a dictionary of chun, the ancient language spoke in Al-Anwahr, and a map to the lost city. The Revengers book passage on a modest riverboat which will take them toward Talv. They arrange for Bea’s body to be sent to Haroushin’s shop — though Teks clips off her left pinky to take with them, in case Mahara can bring her back.
After two days traveling on the river and two more days over land that quickly turns from verdant valley to harsh, dry desert, the Revengers arrive in Talv. They are met by a village elder who invites them into his small shack to share food. Teks reads the elder’s aura and finds that he is lawful and good, and of practically no experience outside of village life.
After weeks of journeying, countless miles, and at least three dead wizards — two their foes, one their friend — the Revengers are on the edge of the Haunted Lands….
Arrival in Amara, 2000
Bertram Unmuted, 1500
Meeting with Haroushin, 750
Group Total 4250, Individual Totals 1063
Bertram 1813 (Unsilenced 750, Group 1063)
Ervendio 1813 (Translator 750, Group 1063)
Jongle 1813 (Crystal Balling an Ex 750, Group 1063)
Teks 1813 (Great Negotiator 750, Group 1063)
2000 gold pieces each (payment from the sailors)
13 gold pieces (pickpocketed by Jongle)
Dictionary of Chun