The Emperor’s Heir has been very sick for many years and is slowly dying. Healers from across the Empire have been consulted but no one has been able to help the young Prince. A cure does exist but has been lost to us for some years.
The Emperor used to possess the houou bird. The houou is regarded as a direct sign from Heaven that the Emperor’s reign is just and wise. This bird was stolen two years ago by an unknown party.
Now rumours have found their way to the Imperial Court about a bird with feathers the colour of fire residing in a city beyond the Great Desert to the north of the Empire.
Objectives - Cross the Great Desert to the city of Medinaat al-Salaam. Find out if the rumours of the houou are true. If they are retrieve the bird and bring it back to the Emperor alive.
Travelling Through The Desert
Rules for Random Encounters
Ask Players To Name People, Places or Problems they might encounter. A piece of paper with one or two words is placed in a hat for every encounter you wish to run through. The GM then draws out a paper and makes up the encounter on the spot.
The GM should know how many encounters he wants to run the players through in advance and provide that number of extra dice, action points or whatever you use in your system.
Anthetic and Omarjavi set out from the Khol Mountains and begin traversing the Great Desert.
A few days into their journey they come across a pyramid of red brick. They enter the Desert Temple to find an old man sleeping on a throne. The Temple walls are lined with candles which show statues of beings with the bodies of men and the heads of animals.
Anthetic creeps up on the Old Man of the Temple and puts a knife to his throat demanding food and water. The old man wakes up in a rage and reluctantly takes them to the Temple pantry. Omarjavi hangs back in case there is someone else living in this Temple they don’t know about. The characters also take a Black Amulet hanging on the wall.
About a week later the partners come upon an Oasis. They immediately drink from the pool and are confronted by Desert Tribesmen who sneak up on them. The Tribesmen threaten the partners as only people of their tribe and worshippers at the Desert Temple may drink from this well.
When asked for a sign that the partners have been to the Desert Temple they produce the Black Amulet. The Tribesmen immediately draw their swords as the Amulet marks them as unclean. A battle ensues and afterwards the PCs take the one Tribesman they did not kill, Abdul as their prisoner and guide.
In the days that follow Abdul is turned by our agents and teaches the language of Mekhem which is spoken in Medinaat al-Salaam
Arriving At Medinaat al-Salaam
Upon arriving at the city the PCs decide to visit taverns to find if the rumour of the houou is true.
Anthetic goes to the Crooked Saw Inn to ask the City Guard about the houou. Abdul tries to cry out for help but Anthetic stops him telling the guards that Abdul is sick. The guards arrest Anthetic and Abdul and take them to the prison below the Caliph’s Palace.
Omarjavi goes to the Dagger Tooth Badger Sun Inn and plays cards with a group of merchants. Before taking their money he discovers that a bird with feathers the colour of fire is kept below the palace. When attempting to find Anthetic he gets arrested and is taken to the palace dungeon.
Anthetic breaks out of his manacles using a lock pick lodged in his throat. As his hands are manacled he manipulates the lock pick with his toes!
The PCs break out of prison half-naked and have a couple of fights with guards while trying to reclaim their equipment and clothing. They leave the engagement by setting blinding powder on fire. They then follow a trail of feathers to find the Avery of the Firebird.
Once there they encounter a dangerous looking Desert Tribesman named Kamahl Akar. The PCs fire arrows. One releases the houou from it’s cage. The other disappears into Akar’s chest. Akar looks at the arrow, back up at the PCs and smiles. Pulling the arrow out of his chest he says “you’re not from around here are you”?
Wielding his two swords Kamahl Akar slices Anthetic from hip to shoulder killing him instantly. Omarjavi fights Akar and chops of his head. The body of Akar fights on and Omarjavi is forced to pin Akar’s head face down into the ground with a large knife.
Unable to catch the houou and despondent over his companion’s death Omarjavi kills the houou. I’ts feathers fall on Anthetic’s body closing the cut on his chest and healing him.
The PCs find an embalming jar meant to preserve the houou in case it dies. Storing the bird in the jar they make their way out of the palace.
Escape To Freedom
The PCs climb the palace and descend to the street from the second level. Being spotted by patrolling City Guard they run and hide in a seemingly abandoned house.
They are confronted by a mother and her three children. Demanding to know what they’re doing in her house the Single Mother chases the PCs out of her home swatting them with her broom.
They are seen by a camel salesman who laughs at their predicament. After buying a couple of camels they are stopped at the city gates and search. They fight through the guards and are chased into the desert.
The Road Home
After a couple of weeks of travel they come across the Desert Temple. They find the Old Man who laughs upon seeing them.
He asks, “Did you like my little joke”?
The PCs resupply and then kill the Old Man as they are leaving. Upon the Old Man’s death the PCs hear large booms from within the Temple. Not waiting to hear what the cause is they run away on their camels and look back to see giant statues chasing them! Mounted on camels they are able to leave the Stone Golems in the distance.
Eventually the PCs reach the Khol Mountains and from their they travel to the Capital. They are admitted to the Emperor’s presence and present the houou preserved in the jar.
Upon realising the houou is dead the Emperor’s face goes white and he commands the houou be taken to his physician for his son.
He thanks the PCs for saving his son’s life but deplores the death of the houou. It is a sign that Heaven no longer approves of his rule. As both reward for saving his son and punishment for failing to bring the houou alive he banishes the PCs and announces a death penalty should they be captured by any of his servants.