Enter Abd-al-bari

Abd-al-bari slows his horse to a cantor. The brown stallion is a fine one. Daughful the Snake was always a very good judge of horse flesh. Abd will have to compliment him on his skill, when next they meet.

The horse has worked up a nice sweat, but is nowhere near over taxed. Abd has paced the horse well. Slowly increasing his lead on the knot headed brigands that pursued him. They eventually gave up the chase, as he knew they would.

The wily treasure hunter stops the horse and gently pats its muscled neck. Abd takes the reins and begins to prod the horse along the road, when a thought stops him in mid-action.

Abd reaches down and begins to shuffle through the saddle bags resting on his mounts haunches. A smile spreads across his face as he surveys the treasures he has found there.

The 140 silvers are a small consideration, though his pockets are all but empty. The carefully folded parchments are much more valuable. There are lists of cities from Shakkadia, Aksuum and Brixia. This is what Daughful has been using to navigate his travels. There are also names corresponding to each one. Abd recognizes the rogues listed there, underworld figures and criminals all.

“By my father’s tattered britches.” Abd whispers with a smile, and then he exclaims: “This is a copy of that fool, Daughful’s entire black market network!”

Abd sorts through the papers excitedly, until he comes across another bit of information that grabs his attention. It is a contract written to Daughful by the lump of an Aksumite; Bumgul. The cur pretends to be a spice trader, but in fact he is maybe the largest black market trader in all of Azul. Although he is fat and lazy now, in his youth he was a daring treasure hunter, just as Abd’s father was. In fact they were quite the rivals in their time.

Abd despises the unscrupulous underworld boss and continues to refuse Bumbul’s offers of employment. Bumbul’s methods disagree with Abd and he takes great joy in undercutting the fat man whenever he can. This of course angers the dark skinned Aksumite to no end, but Abd could care less.

Abd chuckles as he stuffs the papers within his tunic. He doesn’t want the horse riding off with this valuable information. Though he mocks his nemesis, Abd has to admit Daughful the Snake is a cunning, daring and resourceful adversary. Abd is just too smart for him.

He scrounges through the remaining saddle bags, and discovers an unpleasant reminder of the Snakes ruthlessness. There are various rings and bits of jewelry. Some with the feint traces of dried blood on them. So this is how that scum and his henchmen have financed their journey, while Abd’s own resources have run low.

Now that Abd has a moment to pause and take in his surrounding, he notices the road along which he rides. Deep wagon marks in the road. There a mass of hoof trails in the ground around the wagon. It appears they have been traveling together following the road south. Abd can’t tell how many horses because they are stacked on top of each other, and he can’t figure out how to count them separately, Abd just know there are many. It appears that the wagon/horse tracks may lead as far back as the burnt village.

Abd prompts his horse forward until he eventually comes to a fork in the road. One trail leads north while the other leads east. The trail of horses follows the northern path while the wagon continues along the eastern one. This poses a problem for Abd. Which group has his precious horn? Which path to follow? He decides to follow the wagon. It will be slower moving, and if it doesn’t have what he is looking for; hopefully he will be able to back track and catch the horseman. Abd snaps the leather reins and his horse begins to sprint after the Wagon.

After riding perhaps twenty miles Abd sees a large wagon in the distance. It has pulled to the side of the road. There are two wagon drivers sitting on it and two armed guards atop horses next to the wagon. There are four riders slowly passing it on the road. Two South Brixians, a tall chain mail clad elf, and a smaller elf, the likes of which Abd had never seen before. Things are very tense, and it looks like there may be conflict between the two groups.

Abd would know exactly what is going on before things get out of control. He could wait to see what happens, but watching is not his way, and if his intervention can prevent an unfortunate situation then more the better.

Feralon Cercer is the first one to notice the figure galloping towards them from the west. The man is slumped over the front of the horse, and is obviously in distress.

“Look there!” Cercer says.

Wagon riders and adventurers look towards the rider in curiosity. The wounded man raises his head as he moves within earshot and begins to yell.

“Loftshire has been destroyed by brigands!” The man screams as he rides towards the group. He is nearly amongst them when he hollers again. “The city has been razed!”

Now confusion has been added to an already tense situation. The wagon riders stiffen and look at each other, as they lay their hands on their weapons.

“The shadow walkers have returned!” Vaellen says, referring to the Shadow Elves he had encountered in the inn some weeks hence.
“Be aware wagon drivers. We will stand with you if they attack.”

Baros quickly calculates the situation unfolding in front of him, and he is not so sure of Vaellen’s snap judgment, although the high elf’s deduction is logical. Baros detects the strange accent of the approaching rider and raises his eyebrow in consternation.

“Stranger than strange.” The Brixian agent mutters to himself.

Abd can see what is about to happen as he rides amongst the confused group. The four riders holding the road are merely confused, while the wagon riders are more decisive in their actions. The carriage riders raise their crossbows and begin to take aim and all at once the scene explodes.

Next Skin of my Teeth

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Enter Abd-al-bari

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