Elaborating on the end of the Previous Run.
Fiamma with Akbar Al-Jaqal, Jafar's rescued apprentice, examine the rooms of Magus Jafar carefully. The spell maintaining the invisible servants seems to be stil in effect although there is no telling when it should be renewed.
There is some evidence that something untoward happened: one room has much stuff scattered on the floor as though someone had been searching. But there is no evidence of damage to furniture, window glass of door frames. On wall has a slash - partially repaired - as though someone missed a strike with a weapon. There are a few drops of blood on the floor, but no real signs of destruction. The invisible servants have, obviously, not tidied up those things.
Akbar, demonstrating no social awareness, instructs Fiamma and Orlando to go question the neighbors to determine if anyone say anything concerning the abduction of the magus. Orlando prepares to be offended but Fiamma "pleasants" him out of it.
One of the neighbors is a little too adamant about having seen nothing but Fiamma is unable to persuade him to further conversation. Returning to Jafar's, this news is met by Akbar with the assurance that he has a spell that will help. Akbar insists that Fiamma lead him to the informant. Their knock is unanswered, so Fiamma sneaks around back and finds the unwilling neighbor trying to slip away out the back. She uses a light spell to blind him, and summons Akbar and Orlando.
Akbar conjures up a truth flame and then begins to question the captive. The first "I saw nothing!" causes the flame to go out, so Akbar retorts, "You are lying; I must kill you." This calls forth A Look from Orlando to which Akbar responds with a wink. Understanding, Orlando draws his sword noisily. The captive starts blubbering.
Apparently some days ago, three men came to Jafar's house. While one - a large, dark man with an eye-patch - waited outside, two went in, emerging later with Jafar's body: either dead or unconscious. The neighbor had denied this knowledge for fear of something similar happening to him.
The three interrogators release their captive and Orlando reminds Fiamma that the eye-patch man sounds similar to the man who pawned Nasir's father's sword. They decide to consult with Shadya and so return up the mountain to Aw'wal.
Meanwhile Shadya heard one of the other basilisk victims ask about the family of Arzum. Quickly hushing him, she leads him away to a private spot in one of the gardens and questions him. Although he is somewhat cautious as well, she learns that he is Fahd, brother to Amina the Arzum. He'd left home to seek a fortune that could buy them freedom from the Dragon treasure: either enough on which to live comfortably or enough to allow them to relocate to a far-away land. His time as a gonna-be-basilisk is to him as naught. He is distressed when Shadya calculates that he has been under the enchantment for 4 years. She tells him about her experiences with his sister and advises his going to visit Amina in person.
At about this point Fiamma finds Nasir waiting in their usual inn. He does not immediately take to Akbar, but volunteers to lead Fiamma to where Shadya is n conference. Orlando is left at the inn to make small talk with the beak-nosed journeyman mage.
Fiamma tells Shadya about her discoveries concerning Jafar and Shadya comments that the presence of the scarred man may indicate that Jafar let it be known that he had the water the Party had brought him. The scarred man's questions at Shamar had indicated that he had an interest (no doubt unpleasant) in the Well of Al Arzum. She tells Fahd that the two problems (his and Jafar's) may thus return to the inn.
Orland has learned that Akbar was entrapped about 7 years ago when he was a journeyman searching out herbs for his researches. He evidences some considerable interest in the basilisk potion as a potential hair-growth restorer. Akbar is observant enough to comment on Fiamma's not-quite-humaness; to which Orlando is ambiguous. They both, nonetheless, express gratitude at her having released them from enchantment. Akbar does have the decency to inquire as to Orlando's experiences and learns that Orlando is questing for a lady he met in a dream. Akbar asks if the lady is to be his teacher. Orlando, caught somewhat by surprise, is amused at the thought and replies ambiguously. He then admits that he is questing for love. The journeyman mage is somewhat disdainful of this and equates it with sickness, but admits that it is a sickness beyond his power to cure. Overhearing, Shadya resolves to speak with Orlando on the position of love in society. [See Interlude: On Love.]
Shadya outlines a plan for a trip to Shamar both to reacquaint Fahd with his sister and to check as to whether the scarred man has returned again to that town. Orlando notes that the scarred man may well have been tracing the Party's steps. This adds a note of urgency to the plan. Shadya formally invites Orlando to accompany them - both because she knows he has his own quest and because she has noticed that Akbar seems lacking in proper respect for the prince. Nonetheless, she is circumspect in all this conversation - never once naming the well or the Arzum or Orlando's title or even the fact that water was what they had brought Jafar. Akbar expresses an interest in helping recover Jafar. Shadya is forced to warn him that they might have to deal with a dragon. Akbar is not dissuaded.
Shadya and Orlando exit to prepare for the trip, leaving Fiamma to talk shop with Akbar, and Nasir to tell tales to Fahd. Together Shadya and Orlando select tents (noting that Orlando's true size makes Shadya's construction for him obsolete) and foodstuffs and further desert-designed clothing for the prince. (He favours white to Shadya's black.) They resort to bartering some of his gold pieces (which feature his father as a young man) for dinari from a goldsmith, to meet these expenses, and continue on toe purchase 3 more mounts. Hasim's House of Hooves turns out to have moved to Old Lamp Street, but there Shadya chooses 3 suitable horses - camels being much too expensive for their lean purses - including a black stallion for Orlando.
Their final trip is to the tower of Hassan En Ashop, to acquaint the magus with the kidnapping of Jafar and the Party's surmises on that subject. Hassan worries that if this is the doing of the Dragon, the College of Magi may not be able to do much. Shadya passes on to him the conviction of the muzzim of Shamar that the scarred man was not a minion of the Dragon, albeit he was also up to no good. Hassan promises to send whatever news the College can glean "by the same means as before" (i.e., by moth).
Upon their return to the inn, they find Fahd somewhat over-awed by Nasir's stories of their prowess. Although Shadya denies any intent to confront the dragon in person, Orlando does comment that the magic of the well, were it dependable, might make such a confrontation possible and survivable. Shadya is intrigued by the possibility and notes that Jafar's researches on the subject make finding him all the more important.
Akbar adds to the preparations by taking Nasir shopping for medicines which he generously provides for the boy's own professional supply. Shadya considers asking the magus if he can provide tutoring as a healer while they travel; Nasir hopes she is not considering such a course. Akbar, despite his good points, is somewhat abrasive and over-bearing, even on such short acquaintance.
Unfortunately Akbar has never learned to ride, so their start is somewhat delayed by a riding lesson. They do offer their apologies in advance because they must ride hard this day to reach Shamar with no delay. Although Orlando, Shadya and Fiamma have been a-horseback since toddler-hood, Nasir recognizes that he and Fahd will certainly feel the effort - and Akbar, who doesn't know it yet, will feel practically crippled at the end of the ride.
A last delay happens at Al Mazur where the Party visits the pawnbroker who keeps Nasir's sword. As expected, the scarred man with the eye-patch had been there within the week and had been much put out by being denied the sword. The pawnbroker claimed to have advised him to take the matter to the authorities. The pawnbroker confided that he hoped that would be done and that the authorities would resolve the matter in Nasir's favour, as we were far politer than the scarred man.
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