My name is Giulio Elhalyn di Medici, and I was born into a large family — eight brothers and six sisters still living. I once had another brother, my twin — Regis, but he got killed by a horse when we were about three. Even though I know on some level that he is dead, I still talk to him, and he tells me things also, like when I’m about to be in danger, and things like that. My family couldn’t get used to that, so they shipped me off to the New Jerusalem Boy’s Choir when I was six, and that is where I spent the next eight years of my life, more or less.
Because of my voice and what I am told are uncommon good looks, several of the priests took an interest in me, and it wasn’t to further my study of music or religion. Eventually, I got “discovered” by the Cardinal, who took me to be his personal plaything for several years, although not exclusively his — he liked to “share” his toys, especially his boy toys. Most of the priests weren’t too bad, but the Cardinal was a real bastard, probably in all senses of the word. Fortunately, I have a high pain tolerance, and seem to heal well, if not quickly, so I survived his ministrations, the sadist. When I was eight, the Cardinal did something to me that changed my life forever. He thought he was ensuring that I would never leave him; boy was he wrong about that, although there are times when I think he has never left me. He castrated me the way that a farmer would castrate an animal. I never forgave him for it. In fact, a few years later, I got my revenge on him — I killed him. Self defense, of course, but it gave me the opportunity I needed to finally escape, and believe you me, I took it.
The priests there were real understanding about Regis, in fact, some of them would ask me how he was doing, and what he felt now that he was dead. I didn’t know it then, but they were members of the congregation of the Risen Lord, who are now my sworn enemies. The Risen Lord was once the Pope, Gregory something or other, I don’t recall which, or even if I was ever told. Anyway, his successor in office had really not liked him, and after his death, had him disinterred, and then excommunicated him — like I said, he really did not like Pope Gregory. Not being a member of the priesthood, I don’t know what the problem was, but in doing so, he created a new one — a liche, the anti-Pope Gregory. The Cult of the Risen Lord had taken an interest in me, I guess they were trying to see whether or not I could fit into their plans as well as I did into their beds. One thing about being a priest’s toy, I learned that I do like men and boys.
Once I made my escape, I left New Jerusalem, and made my way slowly to the city of Yibyorak, the Goblin City, where I met up with those who are now my travelling companions, about three months after my escape from the Risen Lord.
Coming in to Yibyorak, I decided I needed to earn some money, in order to replace my clothing, which after three months on the run was not in real good condition. I may be poor, but mine was a noble family (however poor it may also have been) and pride was always one of my problems. It tends to get in the way of survival sometimes. I had earned enough to buy some food at an inn, when I met Talbot, who wanted me to meet his employer, Lady Gundred, who had heard me singing. Did I mention my singing? That was what got me into the Boy’s Choir — you see, I have perfect pitch and very good hearing, in fact, I’ve been known to shatter glass when I put the energy to it, and even caused one of our directors to collapse from the sound. It hurts like bloody hell if I do it very often or for very long, so I try not to show off, but it does come in handy at times.
Anyway, Talbot took me to meet Lady Gundred, who is this really old widow who every year makes a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Anastasia the Merciful, who is the intercessor for mercy grief and sorrow. She had decided she wanted me to accompany her to entertain her on the journey. she seemed like such a nice lady that I told her a lot of my history, not all, but a significant portion of it. While we were talking, her niece, Tabitha, and her Sergeant at Arms brought in some other folk that they thought would be suitable travelling companions …
My name is Sarmad Daheilam ben Saadi min Shiraz. I was born in the city of Shiraz in the country of Parsib on the day of Atar in the month of Aban (2 November) 1964. My father was Saadi the merchant, born not in Parib but rather in Al‑Wazif, having arrived on the shores of Parsib as the only survivor of a shipwreck. My mother was Junaid, known as the Learned, because she was well educated (unusual for a woman in Parsib). She came from one of the rich families closely associated with the Dasturs (Mazdayas) and from which issued not only Dasturs and Mobeds but also a Moghabati Vendidad. She greatly disappointed her family when she had not married by the acceptable age of 15 (it was said she was too learned and schooled, and that no man in all of Parsib would have her as his wife). When Saadi asked to marry her at the age of 30 and she agreed, they were overjoyed, having given up any hope of her marrying into a decent family. Still, she was her parents’ only daughter, and they doted upon her.
When I entered private school, I was soon found to have an aptitude for magery. Both my parents had suspected this, but refrained from doing anything about it in hopes that they could avoid the problems they had seen in other families with budding mages. I was allowed to continue in private school to acquire the basics: reading, writing and speaking Persian and Arabic, mathematics, geography and history.
I was accepted for studies at the University of the Raga Temple when I reached 15 and was considered a responsible adult. My studies included special chants and rituals under the Mobeds of Vendidad and Yasna, along with the Vesta and Zend Avesta, astrology, advanced mathematics. After three full years at these studies, I was accepted as a student of the Dastur of Fravashis. I excelled at this, advancing to the second level of magery in only four years.
My parents were well pleased with this. However, by now they were trying to convince me to become married, which I intended to avoid at all costs. I had discovered sex at the age of 12, and by the time that I had entered the University, I had enjoyed the next door neighbor’s 13 year old daughter, another neighbor’s 14 year old son, my father’s 30 year old gardener, a 20 year old prostitute, amongst others. I knew that no one wife would satisfy me, but would rather interfere as they always do to curtail their husbands’ fun. Also, I had my studies in the Library of Raga, and so had little time for the foolishness of running a household.
Unfortunately, my interpretations and questions about the Zend, Pazend and Gathas were unorthodox in the extreme. I challenged the ideas of racial/theocratic supremacy, along with the common interpretation of the Asha Vahistem (I held that the spirit of the fire was important, not the fire itself). Of course, with Parsib so isolated from the rest of the world, there was little in the way of writings or alternate ideas I could use to support my views. So, by the age of 21, I was placed under a vow of religious silence, and labelled a raimast. This disturbed my parents and my mother’s whole family.
A short time later, I chanced to enter a low tavern in search of a good fuck for he evening. Although the tavern was frequented by outcasts of one kind or another (male and female prostitutes, low class labourers, raimasts, etc.), I found the people likeable, and every bit as intelligent as my parents’ friends. There I met Kavi, a 60 year old raimast, who had made it his hobby to speak with anyone who had any contact with the outside world. I also met Amed, a worker who taught me the exotic art of karate in exchange for being the recipient of certain sexual favours.
I became more and more intrigued with the outside world, and began feeling trapped in Parib. I was also puzzled by the legends of the Jinnankeshvar, or the Land of the Djinns. I didn’t believe them for a moment, but certainly there was some mystery about the place. The primary story was that the Land was populated with Djinns who killed anyone who entered the place. Of course, since anyone who returned to Parsib from the Land was assumed to be animated by the Djinn and so was immediately burned to ashes in a sacrificial fire, there was no way to know what was really there.
One day, I merely packed some supplies, and then left Parsib, walking directly into Jinnankehsvar. I noticed nothing at all that day. However, that night, I was awakened by a figure seated opposite the campfire I had earlier built. The figure spoke to me in Persian, but by the accent, I knew that he was no native of Parsib, though the words were kind. The figure then asked if he could join me in enjoying the fire.
I sat up to look at him, and saw immediately that he was odd. Though his skin was like mine, his eyes were green and his hair a definite brown. His clothes were like nothing I had seen before, and sparkled and glinted in the firelight.
He asked me if I was a Zoroastrian. I told him some of my story, explaining that I was raimast. He seemed surprised, and asked me what I thought of others with respect to the Asha. I paused. He then asked me what I thought of others who were not human. I told him that Asha was in everything, and that nothing said could alter that.
He laughed, and told me that he was an air Djinn. We talked for what seemed hours. He wanted to hear more of my learning, and he told me that he would travel with me though the Land to protect me. I agreed to this, though I did not know that along with the learning, our association would include sexual favours. With him being an air Djinn, sex with a fire mage was especially intoxicating for the both of us.
My travels with Abu in the Land of the Djinn lasted two full years, during which I learned air magic to go along with my fire magic. I had always had a fondness of new things and learning, so I enjoyed the time with Abu.
When I did at last reach the far edge of the Land, I found that I was entering Al‑Wazif. I also found that Abu would not accompany me further. I travelled to the capital of the country, and there began to seek for employment.
One evening, I chanced to meet a young boy of 16, named Omar ben Nefawi, in a small tavern. I learned that his father was a old book seller, now in his 70’s. who carried on trade with certain goblin bibliophiles in Megallos. Omar was his youngest son by youngest wife. Recognising my chance, Omar and I became really good friends over bottles of wine. Soon we were calling each other “brother”, and I took him back to my room for some brotherly affection.
The next day, Omar took me to his father. Although Nefawi was suspicious of me, he and I talked for hours about books, with me calling on what I had learned and seen at the library of Raga. Soon, despite my not being a Moslem and therefore being an infidel, he hired me, and I was working regularly in his office. I was also sleeping regularly with his son. Later, Omar’s younger sister found her way to my bed in search of education, which I was glad to provide when Omar wasn’t there.
My duties for Nefawi expanded to include delivery and exchange of rare books, which afforded me some opportunity to travel. In, truth, I suspect that Nefawi merely wanted to get me away from his son as often as possible. My most recent assignment was the delivery of a book to Yigyurbliblunk of Yibyurak in Megallos.
The trip to Yibyurak was without note or incident. I delivered the book, and after a few anxious moments because of a magic seal on the package (the words for opening it were “goblins eat dirt”, a little surprise from Nefawi to me), went on my way. I stopped at the Platinum Cockroach for some food and drink.
The tavern was peopled by the usual bunch of gamblers, roustabouts, and travellers. One was a particularly odd looking fellow, visually more out of place than was I ‑ a man of decided Asian appearance. I noticed a young woman being harassed by a small band of ruffians, but decided to wait and see what developed. Suddenly, the Asian stepped up to the band, and demanded that the ruffians leave the girl alone. Naturally, a fight ensued. Then a mercenary joined in. At last, I joined the fight, not so much because I like fights, but because I hoped to save the girl and get an appropriate reward of her favours in bed.
The fight did not go well, but we did beat the ruffians, the girl and her guardian, Talbot, did take us to meet Lady Gundred at the Inn of the Gelded Lion. The Lady, an incredibly old and unbearably ugly old woman, already had a 15 year old boy with her when we entered her chambers. The boy appeared to be singing to entertain her (better singing than anything else with a woman that hideous). Immediately afterwards, a man named Anthony entered with a young exotic woman who had obviously been accosted.
After some discussion, we learned that Lady Gundred would soon be travelling to the Shrine of Anastasia. Using all my diplomacy, I persuaded her to take all of us with her as protection. We were told that we would leave in three days.
Later, I approached the boy, Giulio, but found that he charged for his favours, at which point I told him to go talk with Lady Gundred, as she could surely pay him well. The exotic woman, I-na’Queh, turned out to be a mage from the Iroquois (a people about whom I had heard only vague rumours). She too, was a fire mage. Upon lighting a fire in the fireplace, the mercenary seemed excited and aroused. However, neither he nor Ina were interested in removing their clothes, so I was left frustrated for the evening. The Asian, named Qan, I did not approach, as he was too strange for even my interests.
Melrose, also known as Melonie Rose Plant, is the only girl in a family of twelve sons, being born “somewhere in the middle”. Being the only girl in a family of men, she learned from an early age how to defend herself and how to fight, both with weapons of war and with weapons at hand. When I was fifteen, the local land baron who owned our families property, decided that I would make the perfect new bride for himself. Other than the facts that he was about 50 years older and 300 pounds heavier than I, this might not have been too bad, except that his family was highly placed within the Church, and very long lived — his father had not died at a decent age, but had lived to be somewhere around 100. As my family was not overly devout, being somewhat atheistic, I decided in a misguided attempt to spare my family to run away, and to seek my fortune as a mercenary. I bound up what bosom I had, and disguised myself as a man, and have lived thusly for the past three years. Recently I made my way to Yibyorak, where I was seated in the Platinum Cockroach gambling, when Qan entered seeking tea, without butter. Following a rescue of Tabitha, who turned out to be the niece of Gundred, we went to the Inn of the Gelded Lion, to enter(?) into service with Gundred on her pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Anastasia the Merciful.
Anthony, Gundred’s Sergeant-at-Arms, brought with him I-na’Queh, whom he had “rescued” from a press gang.
I am Tenzing Qan, and am from a small village in the mountains. Born the third on of a yak merchant and merchant trader, I developed dislike of yaks early in my life. As third son, it would not be likely that favorable opportunities would present themselves to me. I entered the most virtuous order of Red hooded acolytes of the Shining Paths of Haven’s Way. Here, it was found that the Buddhas (may their example increase the virtue of all sentient beings!!) had granted me a gift of understanding animals. Thus, I was assigned to tend yaks, camels, horses and donkeys. (It is often said that Buddha provides for enlightenment through being virtuous to yaks. Buddha’s way is often strange.)
I have been trained as a runner, a lay brother ministering to those on the pilgrimage way, sworn to the protection of spiritual travelers. I have some small skill with quarterstaff, the use of the body in preventing injury in defense of pilgrims, and other things of which it is not polite to speak. I have skill with plants the healing of animals, and in knowing danger. I dislike yaks, although abbot Shaineyyi says that they are purveyors of truths. Buttered tea too has a rank odor about it.
I have a wondrous group of travelling companions, engaged in holy business. I worry most of Giulio. I fear for him, and feel that his path to wisdom shall be painful. There is a delightful Zoroastrian mage of fire, Sarmad. We have a knight with us, Melrose. There is a Bon priestess from the New World named I-na’Queh, she whose name I can pronounce easily. There is a great task she has in rescuing her people. It would seem that there are some unfortunates who specialize in the undead. They are not favorable to enlightenment. The scarlet salvation, who look like priests, are scarcely better. I do not like these people of the strangely smiling jesus avatar. They need to reincarnate and gain virtue–far, far away from us. I am shamed by my clumsiness and lack of combat skills in comparison to my compadres. I trust for swift betterment so I may serve better. And, then there is the problem with lady Gundred. She is not nice.
I am called I-na’Queh, Shamaness of the Firebird. My people are the Nation of the Iroquois from the land across the Great Western Ocean. Many seasons ago the Aztec came down from the cold northern lands on the day of the Harmonic Convergence, which was the end of the age of their calendar. They are a vicious and cruel people, and killed many of my Nation. This was done to appease their Sun God, who must be presented with the still-beating hearts of their victims.
Many of my people escaped to the Logrean people’s villages, and were given passage on their great ships which sailed swiftly over many moons to the land of Logres. I came over the sea myself, in one of the final ships to leave my forested land. It was a very sad time for me, with my tribe and my Nation dying all around.
I lived for a time in Logres, but not many of my people stayed there. Logres is a small island country, and could not support such refugees as my Nation. Indeed, this was why their people came to our land many generations ago. Their own people were too many for the land to support. My people scattered to the winds.
I was saddened by the scattering of my once mighty Nation. It seemed to me that we should at least know where all the scattered tribes had gone, what Totems had survived, what families, and which of the Elders and Shamans had escaped the great death. And so I journeyed from Logres to the continent and the City of Yibyorak to begin my search to find my people.
I have many talents that may help me in my search for my people – flight, fire and plant magic, and the calling of the Firebird Spirit to the duty of the Shaman. And I have found several companions who wish to help me in my seeking. May the Spirits preserve us all on our great and noble quest.