Feng and Cressida had not returned by the time we woke and so we decided to look for them. First, however, Lyr used her magic to cast a sending to Sartaj Bharatra and Ramal. We were all relieved to hear Sartaj was alive, having fled back to Akkarid. Ramal’s response was more worrying, as he told us to not come to his aid, but to find Lydra Geb, who had been captured by Azu-Makeen.
We passed through several populous markets in East Sefet, looking for Feng but, unfortunately for us, his magical camouflage had done its job…
As we searched, Lyr was distracted by the sound of dice and, by the time we noticed, was being threatened by a man who had lost more than he was willing to part with. A kenku emerged from the crowd and threatened him, forcing the man to back off. Feng, it seems, had found us.
He provided minimal details of his experience, but it seems he had been summoned before the head of the Black Phoenix Syndicate, who “wanted Feng’s destiny.” What that meant Feng himself seemed unsure of, but he did not want to relinquish whatever it was. Unfortunately, it seems Feng has attracted the wrong sort of attention…
He also heard an interesting piece of news, that the fight tonight at the Deep Water Court will include Ramal amongst the combatants. His admonition aside, it seems we will be finding our fiery friend, not just to rescue him, but so he can guide us to Azu-Makeen.
We discovered that the price of the fight was significantly higher than we anticipated and so traveled to the Grand Bazaar to find sponsor. By some twist of fate, we found one, Mehmet Aurelius. Though I am uneasy at his vague terms of sponsorship—if I win, I will, essentially, owe him a favor to be redeemed at his choosing—there was little choice and little time, and so I accepted his offer.
In another interesting coincidence, we also encountered Bashaa Bheretina, the young weaponsmith we encountered on the Path of Prosperity. It seems he made it to Sefet only after a very peculiar set of circumstances. We shall have to visit him again and hear his story.
With the rest of our afternoon, we prepared for the evening’s activities and enjoyed the luxuries of the city.
My mentor would be most displeased.
With Lyr as my second, I stepped into the ring with my first opponent, a sinister being calling itself Husk, but my mind was not in the fight, focused not on the present but on the near future, the next fight, encountering and, if possible, rescuing Ramal, the possibility of fighting Dendera Seth and Jaleh (who Mehmet warned me may be a competitor tonight) that I dropped my guard for a moment, moved to largely when a single step would have done, and nearly, quite literally lost my head. Though I won—my opponent bursting into a cloud of foul vapors and dissaperaing—I was only able to walk out of the ring thanks to Lyr’s magic. At least the audience got a good show.
It is one thing to know that one lives on the edge of death, it is another to feel it, and I had forgotten to feel it at all times, as Khayyam admonished me time and time again.
Were it not for Lyr, I would have likely had to bow from the competition after this first bout. I must be more cautious; if my competition continues to be monsters like Husk, I suspect that few of these battles will end in surrender, and I have no desire to die tonight. But, dear reader, if I do, please tell my mother that I loved her with all my soul, and my father that I died with no regrets.