The Burning Sultans

On the edge
A letter from the Reeve

Letter from Djeeta Sungeld, Reeve of Vez, to Karakrum, emir of House Sungeld, dated 5th day of Wyvern, DY 1285

Dear Cousin,

I write with grave concern. As you well know, life here in Vez has never been as easy as it was in the Canyons, but I have weathered the various hardships for the good of my citizens. In return, they have gifted me with a life of which I can be proud out here beyond the comforts of home, and proud I am.

Earlier this week, however, we discovered that the supply to our qanat has been cut off somewhere nearer to its source. More often than not, this is simply an issue of rockslides or erosion, and I dispatched a troupe of guards as such, but they have not returned in days. The citizenry are not yet widely aware of the situation, but if water is not restored, it may soon be that I must give the order to evacuate Vez. It is not a thought I relish, and I am reticent to ask you for aid, but should the worst come to pass, I pray that I can rely on you for assistance. I know you have long harbored resentment about my leaving the Canyons, but please consider helping us not for my sake, but for my villagers’.

As luck would have it, one of our water traders happened to arrive in town earlier today, and brought with him four mercenaries that he claims are capable. These four I dispatched to rescue my guards and, if possible, restore the water supply to our qanat. I know better than to place all my hopes in one group, though, no matter how skilled they may be, and so I send you this letter. I will eagerly await your reply. Please send it back with the messenger who will deliver this to you. He is trustworthy, and he is quick.

I remain your faithful cousin,
Djeeta

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An Elvish Reunion
Back at the Salamander's Smokehouse

You’re sure that bunch is as capable as you say, my friend?” Valar asks, in Elvish for discretion’s sake. The majority of the villagers don’t yet know about the problems at the qanat, and he hopes to keep it that way for fear of inciting panicked water hoarding. His cup is half-drained, but what was once a cloud of worry across his face has softened somewhat to a lighter shade of stress.

Everything will be fine,Anans replies. “I wouldn’t have allowed them into my troupe if I didn’t have the utmost confidence in them. The tiefling is young, but I’ve seen her slice a beast clean in two with that hulk of a glaive. The halfling’s songs will make your lost party forget all that ails them once they’re found, and the ranger will be the one to find them, sure and true. And should they meet with any trouble, that gnome will lay it out quick as a desert gale. They’ll be fine.

I hope you’re right. Reeve Sungeld worries that it will come to the worst, and I understand her concern. We’d not be the first town to sink below the sands out here, nor the last, Mahara knows.

“You’ve become just as much of an anxious ant as her, ravenhair!” Anans laughs, prodding Valar with his childhood nickname. His shift into Common signals the time for hushed whispers is over.

“I followed her out here from the Canyons because I trusted her judgment, Anans,” the other elf retorts. “That judgment has kept the town from failing these past decades. You’ll forgive me for not countermanding her now, dervish.”

“I suppose not, but by the Lady, how you seem to have aged out here, friend. To look at you now, no one would believe that I went on my first route a decade before you. Come, let’s restore some of that youth! Torvec, another round, if you please!” The proprietor of the smokehouse lays new wine cups in front of the elves with his characteristic silence.

They’ll find your villagers, Valar, and bring back your water besides. It’s my livelihood, too, you remember. I need that water to come back just as you do, and when it comes to my business, I wouldn’t have sent any but my best to handle it.

“So the dervish does have cares! Well then for you just as much for me I say may you ever find the Feyqueen’s favor!” Valar raises his cup, his choice of an Elvish toast recalling the oasis where the two elves had grown up together so many years before.

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Approaching Vez

“Nearly there, by the Feyqueen’s grace.”

Anans’s voice is somewhat muffled beneath his sunveil, somewhat hoarse from the dust and sand that had dried out his throat. The elf, so jovial when you set out from Ambershade only a few days before, now looks weary as he sullenly tugs his turban down in an apparent rebuff of the sun. The two-day detour on account of the dust storm meant he was behind on his scheduled route and had to make up for lost time with daytime travel. More irksome still, with the harder pace, he had found it necessary to dip into his own stock to keep the caravan members hydrated. Any longer, and he would have had to use even more for the camels.

You cast your eyes in the direction of his gaze and can barely make out the hazy outline of a small village through the heat distortion. The Ridge of Heaven rises impossibly high ahead of you, its highest peaks lost to view. You hope it will give you some shade from the heat once you arrive in Vez, at its foot.

“Just a bit farther now!” Anans calls, and the other members of the caravan give a cheer and pick up their step.

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