- Now stuck in Persia, the party consults one of Malik’s map and discovers that they do not want to attempt to travel back to Crete the ‘normal’ way.
- Malik attempts to find a friendly Ahl-i-Batin in the area to trade favors with. Since Malik’s mentor is a bit of a jerk, the ones inside Paradise Garden are lukewarm to this idea. Instead, the party converses with a poet outside the sanctum.
- They talk with Saadi Shirazi, a travelling poet, who asks them to help the nearby town of Darud with some livestock problems. In return, he will help them find their way back to Crete.
- The party heads on a 2 1/2 day trip to Darud. Shamus wanders off into the desert instead. That’s probably okay.
- Magically, they detect that the nearby deserts seem particularly depopulated of life, at least above a certain size. Additionally, a camel whom Vincenzo gave human vocal chords (because this is a thing now) warned them, panicking, of a ‘Sharp Cloud’.
- Shamus manages to stumble back to the group partway through the camel conversation. This is fine.
- Shamus also manages to gather a sack of weird ‘stab spiders’, i.e. scorpions, for his rituals. This is also fine.
- Upon arriving in Darud, villagers confirm that their livestock have almost entirely been wiped out. People have turned to fishing and trading instead. They are concerned about the random non-eclipse eclipses and the giant slash marks in the ground that have accompanied the loss of creature.
- Magic reveals 2 very large lifeforms in the mountains abutting the town. The team purchases the last remaining pair of goats and ventures up that way.
Into the Mountains
- A flying Vincenzo, scouting, stumbles upon a roc in a very large nest. It keeps an eye on him but otherwise doesn’t move.
- The team becomes very psyched about taking down a roc.
- Vincenzo flies Shamus up to go approach the roc. It is larger than a modern house. Also, tending to a (apparently wounded) baby roc.
- In a rare moment of discretion, the team decides that killing something this large might not end well. Also, baby roc.
- The team decides that the best way to handle this is to make the roc very friendly and then very gone. Vincenzo serves as Malik’s literal wingman as he prepares a ritual to make a very large portal to Anywhere Else for the bird.
Executing the Plan
- In order to win it’s trust, Shamus casts a ritual of gentle feelings and friendship on the roc. He seals the deal with an extra offering of mana, in the form of his companion rat king. RIP, rat king.
- Malik eventually succeeds, with his final drop of mana, in opening a giant portal to the Great Rift Valley in Africa. With the roc placated, they coax her and her chick into the portal.
- With a shriek of thanks, the roc nuzzles its chick into a hiding place amongst the African cliffs and swoops down in her new hunting ground to find a rhino or three to eat.
- Malik no longer has mana to force the portal closed, so the team camps out for the next 12 hours to make sure nothing concerning goes in or out of the portal. Nothing does, minus some flocks of African birds who now find themselves in Persia. (The team is an ecological disaster.)
- The team makes their way back to Isfahan to receive the thanks of Saadi. In exchange for their good works, he tells them to wander unconcerned through the city’s streets.
- Traveling deeper and deeper into the twists of the city, they suddenly find themselves back in their sanctum in Crete. Hooray!