MAIN SAGA ENTERPRISE | The Road to Woki-Tal

Kuno

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ENTERPRISE
شرکت، پروژه


In the light of an impregnable empire and its glory, the world as people knew it was slowly becoming illuminated. Not just in knowledge and technology, mind you; before the Earth could be fully conquered by the ambitious Persians, first its people desired to know just what was held within her reaches. Treasure hunting certainly abounded - and oh yes, treasure was found - but exploration was never quite exactly its prime directive. Hunters probed blindly for riches, taking all that glimmered and ignoring the true diamond in the rough: the prospect of unexplored territory.

The Explorer's Guild in Cairo has, unfortunately, not competed well with their grubbier, more bauble obsessed contemporaries. Once Persia's true "diamond in the rough," their numbers have since dwindled, and their funding has slackened in ways the Guildmaster would prefer not to confess to. Yet the prestige of their former glory days has not left them. Influenced by outside parties, an enterprising number of members are tasked with mapping out Woki-Tal and its famed Silk road. It appears to be a fairly simple assignment, but there are those from both the Empire and Woki-Tal who would prefer some things to be left uncharted -- by any means necessary.


 

Kuno

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Cairo


CHAPTER ONE: TO BOLDLY GO


“Here?”

“Don’t tell me you don’t like this one too.”

“I wouldn’t call it a dislike…moreso a…”

Discomfort, Mobeen thought, though he did not air it. And yet, ironically enough, the Bayt Farouq had been designed purposefully with comfort in mind – intimate comfort.

The earthen walls expanded out and curved in as they rose, hugging each room and divided space within a protective grasp. Most of the sun's searing light was kept at bay by the mashrabiyas, and what little panned through was aided by the warm, glowing candles placed in various nooks, crannies, and hanging lanterns. It was a romantic environment, not entirely ill-suited for their purposes, but a touch too familiar for what they had in mind. Not to mention rough; out of all of the patrons, Mobeen and his partner were easily the most proper looking, with the rest being - in his imagination - freshly rolled off a pirate ship.

But Sokkari did not seem to mind. She never did.

“No, I don’t want any,” Mobeen said, but the Nubian was already pouring him a glass of wine from a beveled decanter.

“Oh, you might as well. When’s the last time the Guildmaster paid for our meals?”

A fair point. Mobeen took the glass wordlessly, eyeing her over the rim of his glass as he drank. She looked lovely, as always; even in a simple sheath dress, she couldn’t quite shake the graceful air that lingered from House Selassie, and those brilliant eyes of her wandered around the lounge, drifting from server to patron to musician with the patient focus of a resting lioness.

In spite of the fine company, he still sighed.

“I still don’t see the point of this.”

“It’s tradition! And a perfectly good venue,” Sokkari teased, returning her gaze to him with a smile. “Dinner, wine, laughter–”

“Table wenches and thieves,” He hummed, his eyes on a duo of scantily clad women parading past to another corner of the lounge where an assortment of unseemly ruffians drank and brayed in laughter.

“–Abdul’s choice. Not mine. Still, a dinner’s a dinner.”

Abdul’s choice. Noting his look, Sokkari laughed and gave her friend’s hand a warm squeeze.

“Stop it. Listen; we'll have our dinner, conduct our business, and be on our way. Everything’s going to be fine.”

Mobeen said nothing for a while, his eyes glued to her fingers overlapping his own. Such a beacon of good wishes, this one. She was more a Zoroastrian than he had ever been.

“If you say so,” He finally said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------​

Welcome to the Salty Spitoon, how tough are ya?

The Guild has an old tradition of members meeting for one last hurrah dinner before embarking on a long journey. Your Guildmaster has unfortunately picked a less than reputable spot to wine and dine his finest members, but hey! At least the food and drinks are free. Pack your bags and make your way over to the starting point for our journey.

Disclaimer: lost or stolen belongings will not be refunded by the Guild.

 
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Nemopedia

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Sareen Ibn Nadim
Explorers, much like merchants, weren’t known for their stellar reputation, or considered of any social class. Though wealth lured around the corner, if played right, the amount of respect they demanded was rarely from their person other than the display of grandeur they could throw up as a façade to distract from the truth of it all. The banquet of the guild being held in a place like the Bayt Farouq was of no surprise either, even if some turned their noses at the draped curtains surrounding them, low tunes and rolling hips going on the same beat weaving through them effortlessly.

“No, thank you,” Sareen declined the offer of wine offered to him, a smile on his lips as he watched sculpted bodies turn around and offer their services elsewhere. The scene wasn’t unfamiliar to him, nor was the taste of alcohol, or finding himself in unreputable places. Yet, there was always a reservedness that clung onto the male no matter how often he found himself in an establishment like the one he was invited to today. An introvertism of the type that carefully folded himself away in the crowd with a quiet charm, safe from the stark white swirls and figures inscribed on his skin that made him stand out at once, the ones that added an exotic element to his appearance catching attention and intrigue.

“New?” A veiled figure approaches him, a finger crossing across his arm, running over the signatures drawn as Sareen moves away with a subtle step. If Sareen had seemed lost it was because he couldn’t spot the Guild’s table at once.

“No,” he answers, spotting the senior members in a corner of their own, one comfortable, the other disapproving, as was their signature. Typical, to find what he needed as soon as one thought to ask about it, and he gives the veiled figure a passing greeting before moving to the table, glad to find that there isn’t only wine on the table but also water.

“Salutations,” he greets, dropping himself and only himself at the table. No luggage brought with, as the male was known for, to pack light and lighter. His wares were elsewhere, not meant to be lugged around so arduously, nor to be put at display here.
 
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MiharuAya

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Karim Bahman



The peaceful city of Cario is overflowing with knowledge and culture that is quite different from that found in Isfahan. It seems that with every grain of sand that sits among the dunes, another wonder could be found within the diamond of Egypt. With a city as grand as this, there was so much to see and very little time to see it. So, the moment that Karim's feet hit the warm sand of the Sahara, he was inching to go exploring.

As Karim walked among the city of a thousand minarets, his steps were full of excitement as he wander through the streets. The youth's umber eyes were glued to the historic Egyptian architecture, admiring the craftsmanship. It was hard for him to believe that all of it was built in the middle of a desert. Karim spent many days simply sitting on a bench, drawing several of the elaborately decorated mosques and palaces.

When Karim spotted the famed pyramids along the horizon, he quickly hired a guide to accompany him on his journey. As the pair rode to the tombs on the backs of camels, he felt his break being sucked out of his check at their imposing beauty. It was much better than anything he could have imagined and certainly better than the description he had read in books. He had spent the whole day exploring as much of the pyramids as he was able, before returning home with a feeling of immense joy.

This was the first time in his life he was able to do as he pleased, without having to concern himself with what was best for his future or what his father expected of him. It was freeing in every sense of the word. He could finally pursue any passion he fancied, or simply spend his time in leisure. And, although most of his endeavors were still scholarly, he still enjoyed that he was able to make his own decisions, and never had to listen to someone else's rules.

Eventually, the day came to finally meet the other members of the guild. He had heard of the expedition to Waki-Tal while sightseeing. The only information he really knew about the place was the famed silk road, the rest was vague stories from the diaries of traders. But, despite its elusiveness, to Karim, it seemed like the perfect place to begin his travels and elude any family that might be hoping to drag him back home.

While Karim made his way through the bazaar towards the designated location, he often stopped to examine the rare commodities and listen to the street performers. As he passed stalls that held barrels of spices, their scent tickled his nose. Although it smelled delicious, he soon found himself sneezing and strolling further into the market.

As his eyes caught the vibrant color of woven rugs, he paused while his fingers danced over the fabric. If this had been back home, he would have instructed one of his attendants to purchase it. But, with his freedom, meant he must be more frugal than before. With a gentle smile to the owner of the stand, Karim continued on.

When he finally exited the bazaar, he found himself in a less savory part of town. The building appeared in poor condition, and there were many more beggars sitting on the side of the streets here. However, Karim tried not to pay them any mind. Even when street urchins called out to him, he simply started to walk faster until he was able to gain some distance. Though, Karim found himself weaving through the streets with his head down, not wanting to draw any unnecessary attention to himself

In the end, it was starting to get dark by the time he spotted the Bayt Farouq. Karim was eager to meet his fellow guild members as he quickly headed inside, dodging the drunk patrons outside. As he pulled open the door, his nose was assaulted with the overwhelming scent of alcohol and smoke. The youth let out a weak cough, stepping inside as he looked around.

It was seedier than he had expected and seemed to be occupied mostly by suspicious-looking characters. As Karim inched himself forward, a long arm reached around his shoulder. The Persian tensed, looking over to see the sultry smile of a woman. "Can I get you a drink?" She asked. Karim tried to squirm out of her grip, but she held him tight.

"N-no, thank you. I'm just looking for some people…" He replied his face turning red. It was difficult not to notice the woman's immodest dress. Though, as he peeked around the room, it seemed that it was common. Still, it wasn't something that Karim was used to backing home.

"That's too bad, you would have more fun with me." The woman responded in a seductive voice, her fingers wandering down Karim's spine, causing him to shiver. His legs began to wobble, and it felt as if they would soon give out. Yet, as he frantically looked around, he missed the guild members in the corner.
 

ItariChan

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1663541506197.png “Turn right there and then it'll be on your left? Understand?”

The man spoke slowly, deliberately enunciating his words. Zi Rui nodded and smiled politely, doing his best to hid his annoyance, before setting off in the direction the man was pointing in. The chosen establishment was smaller than Zi Rui expected. Maybe the guild’s decline was worse than he thought. A pair of women shimmied toward him.

“Wow, how young!” She grabbed his arm and ran her fingers along it.

“What beautiful hair!” The second took hold of his long ponytail.

Zi Rui ignored both of them and craned his neck around the bodies to look for the other guild members. It wasn’t his first time in this kind of establishment. Though his meeting with Mobeen Tir when he joined the expedition had been brief, Zi Rui had a good memory for faces. It didn’t take him long to spot the man at a table in the corner. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed someone looking about frantically.

“Excuse me.” Zi Rui gently pushed the two women aside and called out to the lost man. “You look for guild? They are there.” He pointed at the table in the corner and made his way over.

@MiharuAya
 
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unanun

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Each morning Baobao opened her eyes to the sunbeams traced by the dust in her closet. It was a small room, just enough for her cot, personal drawer, and desk with a candleholder. The real prize was an old but carefully polished bronze mirror, which sat on the most regal position in the middle of the tabletop, and it was in front of this mirror that Baobao opened her bag of makeup.

She held a cup stuffed with straw that insulated a few cubes of ice stolen from the Guild's coffers, and chilled the bags under her eyes, plus the redness from where her face had pressed on the lumpy pillow. The mirror was small, and Baobao assembled her face one piece at time, from the dark eyeshadow to the talcum powder that dulled the sheen of her cheeks. The reflection paused at her lips, pert and bow-shaped. Unhappy.

They worked in indecision, before their owner finally reached deep into the personal drawer and withdrew a small tin of kermes-dyed beeswax. There was not much left, but just a dab was enough to bring out a brilliant crimson. The lips pursed in the mirror. A bit better. She ate the rest of the ice and locked the door behind her, ready for another day.

"What?"

She tightened her grip on her all-leather bound accounts book.

"Field work."

"B-but .. that's not what I was .."

"Sorry, kiddo. I know field work is hard. We're short on bookies, and the head is nervous about the budget, which looks .. rich. We need someone out there to keep a tight record."

"..."

"You'll be fine! There's plenty of fighting types there. Lots of skilled and old hands."

"..."

"Just make sure they get receipts!"



Ugly.

Baobao adjusted the too-heavy messenger bag. Inside was a fresh bound-all-around record book tightly wrapped in waxpaper, several graphite pencils, a tightly corked bottle of ink, an abacus, her makeup bag, a heavy waterskin, and other knicknacks. It dug into her shoulders.

Low standards men.

She pushed her way past the two gawkers at the front and into the lounge. On her way, she challenged several of the women. Their eyes met, flickered up, flickered down, returned to hold each other's gaze. Each contest lasted mere seconds. Four of them looked away first. Baobao broke on two. So she was in a slightly better mood when she arrived at the table, and sat down demurely next to the only one she recognized, Sokkari with her unmistakable shock of braided hair.
 
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Oxymoron

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Alya Dana
A part of them wondered if this was the right thing to do. Sure, work they were hired for took place a far cry from their home village but they couldn't help but worry that maybe they weren't ready to return. Maybe they were thinking about it too much. Ah, what the hell, this was the last thing they wanted on their mind today. They haven't even met the other guildmembers, today would be their first-time meeting. The Guildmaster was the only one they had the pleasure of meeting, introduced as a last-minute addition to the trip. What was the name they had written down again? Ah, Alya Dana; they'd have to get use to introducing themselves as such. Sucking in one last breath, Alya pushed open the door to the unfamiliar building.


Instantly, they knew they were overdressed. Their pale figure was almost entirely covered by fabrics. The only visible parts of them was the length of their worked fingers and the upper half of their face, pearly locks of hair spilling out of their shawl and trailing close to the ground behind them as they walked. Any other person might have felt a bit embarrassed by this but they weren't going to apologize for such a thing. The sun was trying to kill them, after all. Even with their shortsightedness they could see that most people here were wearing few clothing and what clothing was being used had been picked out to show off the most skin. They knew this because one of the workers was kind enough to get within their vision range.


"That outfit looks heavy," Came the sultry voice at their side. Their head had turned to face them before they spoke, their narrow eyes inspecting their form. It was a man but he looked like nothing more than a silhouette of blurry shapes and warm colors to them lest they made the effort to focus. The man reached out and carefully took one of their wrists, holding it up to his mouth to place a gentle kiss upon it.

"Why don't we help you take it off~?" Added another voice. A women this time, but still just another mix of sights and sensations. Her greeting was to wrap her arm around the others, pulling them in the opposite direction.

Alya's response came in the form of a two-headed serpent that shot out from under their shawl, its inky scales having kept it camouflaged from their sight. One head each pointed at the unappreciated guests, hissing loudly at them both and baring their fangs, its ruby red eyes staring daggers straight through them. The two instantly recoiled, enough to let Alya slip away from them and sulk away to find the other guildmembers. Hopefully the Guildmaster was among them, Alya didn't stand a chance of recognizing them otherwise. They clutched their belongings close to them as they trudged along, not putting even the slightest amount of faith in this establishments security.
 
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FrostedCaramel

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Elea

Was there ever a time she’d said no? Of course, there had been, but this certainly wasn’t one of them. The servants had fallen upon her quickly when she’d made her way into the Bayt Farouq, she’d known they would, her time spent in establishments just like this before the Guild had taught her that she was a good mark. She was just the kind of patron she’d have chosen. Alone, smaller than average, and uncomfortable. She’d have loosened her up with a couple of drinks to get to her coin faster, some sultry words and affirmations would have eased her guard even more, maybe even gotten her more than she would have initially bargained she could.

Yet, even with her own personal knowledge of what would happen, they had done just that. Now here she was, frantically combing her hair through her fingers as she used the reflection in a bowl of water to rub away someone else's makeup from her skin and the heat from her cheeks. Satisfied she’d gotten the dragon's share of it, she adjusted her clothes and pushed out through the heavy curtains that separated the main dining hall from those more secluded areas.

She skirted her way around a group of boisterous drunkards with a litany of hushed apologies, flashed past another group of waiting servants with an uneasy smile, and started off toward the table she had seen Sokkari and Tir at when she’d first entered.

As she slipped around gaggles of patrons and servers Elea lifted a drink from a server's tray and downed it in a single go before depositing it on the next table she passed. About to lift another drink from a passing tray, Elea came up short as her eyes landed squarely on the sort of person she’d have stayed far and away from in her past.

Shifting her path she came up alongside the woman with a soft exhale, “Guild, I take it?” she began as she leaned slightly forward to catch the stranger's eyes beneath her shawl, “the table is just over here,” she offered, no hint of unease at the woman's mystifying eyes as she motioned for the woman to follow her toward the guildmembers at the table.
 

Mglo

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Ral Darya
Ral Darya 2.jpeg Eskanral Saadatmand could not have blended in even if he’d wanted to. In fact, Eskanral Saadatmand would never have even wanted to, so Ral Darya was no different. A figure such as his drew attention in ways that any attempt to fade from it would have looked stupid, and Ral Darya’s vanity prevented him from looking stupid. So it was that clad in simple dark garments of the cheapest quality he allowed himself would have done more for a connoisseur of fabrics than the swinging hips that prowled the Bayt Farouq. In the seemingly unassuming quality of his fashion, Ral Darya walked through the most impressive establishment he had ever viewed in all his travels. He didn’t want to be there of course, yet there he was, repelling with his demeanor any attempted approach, followed nevertheless by interested and carnal appraising eyes as he walked through. This, for a change, he was already used to.

His bright green eyes widened with a mix of interest and repulsion the further he walked through. Each table he passed tugged at the edge of his mouth an entertained yet mocking smirk. A playful slap on a woman’s curves sent her a step from the table she’d seduced and right into Ral’s path. Habit formed a certain look in her eyes like a sling releasing its rock into a great big empty blue sky. “Tell me, lovely creature of the Bayt Farouq,” he lied for her troubles, “where might I find the gathering of the Guild? I was told there’d be a free dinner.” He prided himself on adding the last line, sure that it would make him sound of low coin.

As soon as she flirtatiously set him back on course, he lied to her no more.

He approached the nearly full table respectfully. The professional facade of his own making delivering a well mannered and unobtrusive greeting and acknowledgement. All fun and games until he caught amongst them a familiar face. “I believed Bayt Farouq had no gods, however I see their tricks reveal them,” displeasure subtly coated his words around the fake humor, “Ral Darya. Investment advisor.” He looked at Karim when he said so though he addressed the group in general.
 
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Oxymoron

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Alya Dana
This place was a bit of a maze of sensations to them, one that was difficult for Alya to navigate. Around every turn they bumped into patrons and servants alike, drawing forth all sorts of mixed reactions. Their vision was poor, completely unable to read the very name of the establishment as written on the sign outside. In turn, their other senses were quite sharp. Though their eyes were hardly functional their heritage offered them a different form of sight. Alya sensed heat, in fact that's how they noticed the stranger approaching first. They only saw people as a collection of warm colors and whatever vague features their weakened eyes could identify.


Though the stranger hadn't seemed uneasy at their presence the sentiment wasn't shared, Alya craning her whole body away. This wasn't because they distrusted her but because they could still see the warmth that radiated from them. Her flared temperature and faintly clinging smell of a servant's perfume betrayed just what they had been up to before approaching her. Alya would have confused her for a servant if she hadn't mentioned the guild. Regardless of how true that was they didn't want to stick too close to them, at least not until they were certain she had been cleaned up. This sentiment was shared by Wǔyè, who had slithered underneath the shawl to hide from the stranger.


The only reply Alya offered them was a simple thumbs up, their spare arm adjusting the veil that covered half their face. Carefully they creeped their eyes open just enough to get a quick look at the others features, using their previous action to hide their snooping. The first thing Alya noticed was her hair, a unique color even among this crowd. This had unintentionally made the stranger a bit of a beacon for them, easy to spot among a crowd even with their poor vision. They found some comfort in this, at least until they could confirm whether the Guildmaster was even present.


First things first, they were dying to have a seat. They were carrying many things with them under that shawl, a few of which definitely weren't allowed in this establishment. Despite this Alya wouldn't dream about leaving these items at home, they found it prudent to expect the best but prepare for the worst. In spite of their initial reservations they followed behind the stranger, though at enough of a distance that the tinge of perfume didn't tickle their nostrils.
 
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Doctor Jax

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Amada Dy Ortiga

Bayt Farouq.

Why was she not surprised this was the venue that Abdul had chosen for their usual pre-trip fare?

The Rider looked about the warm and extraordinarily inviting interior of the establishment, largely with amusement. She could not say this was the sort of place she was unfamiliar with, though it had been many years since she’d seen the inside of any bar. She slipped by the women with grace, practically invisible to most of them— she wasn’t their target. No, they seemed far more interested in the careening, flush-faced patrons who gravitated in their direction.

No, she knew what her quarry was. With the single-minded effort her order was known for, she wove through the crowd in a headscarf and beaded dress, choosing to wear something both formal enough to set her apart from the women plying their trade here, and casual enough not to be seen as a possible stiff who simply walked into the wrong restaurant.

An intrepid hand did make for a pouch at her belt, the wrist snatched in a vice grip. A startled girl of only thirteen looked up at Amada with a terrified expression, realizing she had literally been caught redhanded. Evidently, Amada hadn’t dressed informally enough. The Rider gave her an arch look, letting go of the girl. The look was clear.

Make for a better thief, or find different employment, before she lost a hand. The girl disappeared into the crowd like a mouse escaping the claws of a cat.

Amada continued through the crowd to Mobeen and Sokkari, a smile spreading on her face as she drew toward the swiftly crowding table they had.

”Good to see you, friends,” Amada greeted cheerfully, before looking to the others at the table, “and potential friends, as well.”
 
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