Abba Eban – Steve
Mohammad Atta – Dan
Avraham – Jon
The story picked up in a guerrilla camp outside of Cordoba. Prag (P: Eric) was grievously wounded during a surprise attack right before the party was able to rendezvous with Aben Humaya’s troops, and so after they assembled their camp at the edge of the guerrillas’ settlement, he retired to attempt to recover some strength. While he was asleep, a man came over and identified himself as a messenger of Humaya’s and informed them that they would be leading a group of North Africans in the assault on Cordoba. The Africans are supposedly coming up the road from the south. The party did not believe the authenticity of his message, and so they went directly to Humaya to speak with him.
After talking their way past the guards and into Humaya’s tent, they discover that he is drunk, something the devout Muslim Mohammad finds disgusting, but Abba finds quite entertaining. After verifying the message and clarifying that they would better be able to communicate with their fellow Moors than he (and imbibing a great deal), Humaya sends them on their way. Shortly thereafter, the group realize that a letter of greeting from Aben Humaya might expedite the process of convincing these North Africans to work with them, and so Abba returns to Aben Humaya’s tent to get said letter. Unfortunately, the guerrilla leader is passed out from drink, and so Abba decides to forge a letter and use Humaya’s ring to seal it. The group then discuss and determine that this is probably the best way to get into the Tower of Calahorra, which is where they have been told is the most likely place that any surviving arcane books from the Caliphate period of Andalusia would be.
The next morning, they pack a light load and leave Prag with the Moriscos whilst they head south to join their North African allies on the road and formulate some sort of plan. After a half-day on the road, they meet with the Moors on the road and discover that they are largely noble descendents of the former Al-Andalus and their servants. After briefly making conversation, they decide to pose as a troupe of actors coming to town to put on a play about the Conquista and the Spanish victory over the heathen Berbers, hence the large number of North African looking men in their number.
Putting this plan into action, they are able to talk their way into town without any problems, and they set up a meeting with Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the governor of the town, in order to secure a space in the courtyard of the tower to put on their performance. After Abba greased Menendez’ palm, the Governor was more than happy to have them perform in the courtyard.
After setting up the show successfully, the group went into town to get supplies for the performance and to learn more about the Governor and what they might face in the tower while drawing as many people as possible to the show. In the course of asking around, they found that the Governor kept council with a “painted lady” named Zola from his time in the Caribbean. She was rumored to have knowledge of dark arts, and a number of people around town and even in the Governor’s own staff were fearful and mistrustful of her.
The most important item that they were shopping for, however, was a special chair. They found a suitably ornate chair to serve as the “seat of honor” for Governor Menendez to sit on during the performance. They rigged a trap in the seat of the chair that, when activated by depressing a hidden lever on the back of the chair, would stab the governor through the seat of the chair with needle tipped with a potent poison, killing him shortly thereafter. Everything goes off without a hitch, the group practice the performance (which Abba has more or less improvised on the spot) and prepare the stage and trap in the audience.
Alas, instead of the Governor sitting on the trapped chair, his wife takes the better seat. The group decide that one death will serve as well as the other for purposes of distracting the Governor, and so they decide to go forth with their plan anyway.
The first act of the play is almost unwatchable. Luckily, the bumbling suits the Spanish’ contempt for their Moorish enemies, and Abba plays masterfully in the lead role, so people stick around after the intermission. During the second act, the group do much better in bringing the stagecraft to life, and so the audience is suitably distracted for Avraham to activate the trap, which is set to strike as soon as the weight of the seated person lifts from the chair. The Governess stands at the end to applaud, and the group notice that she grabs her bottom, meaning that the trap did work. Thirty seconds later, the Governess swoons, and the group, who have thoroughly ingratiated themselves to Menendez by this time, rush his wife into the Tower to “help” her.
His wife is secured in a bedroom in one of the upper levels of the tower, and as soon as Avraham says that he suspects poison and begins trying to suck the poison from the puncture wound on the Governess’ exposed buttock, Menendez sends away for Zola. When some of the guards leave to fetch her, sounds of Spaniards dying come in from the town: it appeared that Aben Humaya was finally making his attack on Cordoba. Avraham silently locked the door, and Mohammad chose then to make his move to stab Menendez, but the guard interrupted his attack. During the fight, the guard was killed and Menendez disarmed and knocked out cold, but not before Mohammad is seriously wounded in his sword arm, rendering it limp and unusable. As Mohammad is about to kill the unconscious Menendez, Zola arrives at the door with the other guards. She tries to enter, but the door is locked, and the group yell that Zola must have poisoned the woman, trying to take advantage of their inherent fear of the slave woman and her dark magic.
Through the door, the party hear the guards move to subdue Zola, and then there is loud shrieking and guttural yelling punctuated by the shouting of the guards and sounds of fighting. Avraham believes the sounds to be some sort of demon. After a few tense seconds, Avraham moves to open the door. Mohammad is frozen with fear for the moment. Avraham sees into the center of the tower: where the guards had been are just some bloody corpses, and an injured demon is bearing down on the door. Avraham throws a vial of flame retardant at the beast, but it does nothing. After a few attacks, Avraham decides to blow a fireball using his flame magics, and he drives the demon over the railing of the stairs. It falls to its apparent death. When they look over the railing, they only see the body of a black slave woman with blood pooling from it. They then kill Menendez and dump his body over the railing where Zora’s body lays.
Looking out the window, Abba sees that Aben Humaya’s forces have withdrawn, and their compatriots in the courtyard that were fighting have been largely wiped out. They draw the few that survive into the tower and bar the front door. The group ask the remaining men to man the murder holes over the door of the tower and try to hold off their attackers for as long as possible while the group search for information concerning the Book of Soyga and an escape route.
Mohammad sets up a trap on the front door, and they then start to search the bsaement of the tower where they had earlier heard most of the black magic was conducted (as well as where the wine cellar was – Abba’s primary concern). After killing a sleeping guard at the end of the central corridor, they searched the wine cellar and then a room on the other side of the basement. This other room appeared to be where Zora was doing black magic and sacrificing people as evidenced by the chains and strange glyphs and symbology that lined the walls. The group searched fruitlessly for something pertaining to the Book, and then realizing that time was short, they took as many books as they could carry, and then they began to search for a means of escape. Abba took the uniform of the guard they murdered in the cellar hallway while the rest of the people searched. No exits were forthcoming in the magic room, so they went back to the wine cellar and took a second look, this time finding a false wall of bottles that could be moved. They gathered the remaining men up top (four survivors of the original sixteen men they met on the road) and fan down the tunnel they had uncovered, leaving a mammoth fire and cloud of choking smoke behind them. The group were rather disheartened to come all this way and find nothing relating to the Book of Soyga, and there is some light debate about whether or not they should continue searching the tower, but the sounds of the Spanish breaking the main door in change their minds and unite the group in their commitment to exiting the tower with haste.
After a few uncertain minutes of travel down this strange tunnel that they have just uncovered, they emerged on the banks of the Guadalquivir River and followed the shore away from the now-burning tower into the forest. Feeling distrustful of Aben, only Abba went back to the guerrilla encampment while he wore the guard’s uniform under a tattered cloak. He was approached by a member of Aben’s personal guard and chided for wearing the uniform of the Spanish because Aben didn’t want it to be well known that he had consorted with the enemy. With this knowledge, Abba drew his cloak closer, found Prag, and beat a hasty exit from the camp.
Believing that the North Africans had been sold out, the group hastily made the trip back to Gibraltar where they recuperated at Ferag ben Ferag’s for several days while telling of Aben Humaya’s treachery. They were then notified that Faisal had sent for them to come see him immediately in Tangier. Ferag promised to see that Aben Humaya gets what is coming to him.
With that arranged, the group return to Tangier and find Faisal with little trouble once they are able to locate the sailors with Faisal’s boat in the docks. Upon entering Faisal’s newly purchased Tangier home, they are greeted by Faisal and an Englishman by the name of John Dee…
Players earned four CP for this session, and more points are available for Character Logs of the session as well as background info for those characters that have not already posted such a story. Next session will not be for some time due to the summer scheduling crunch. We are shooting for a late July/ early August playdate.