Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Kadi

The Office of the Tax Collector in Melitene, or rather that of the sub-Vizier in Authority over Central Cappadocia, is a massive round stone and mud building that sits like a beehive at the rear of a court-garden, bounded by single-story dorm-like offices that form a curtain between the garden and the outside world. The party is permitted through the entrance way, to where they are directed to take a seat in the garden. There, they are met by a minor functionary, Fouad, who sets about identifying Ahmet and copying down his claim. From there you are marshalled further along in the garden, to a pond, where you sit in a place in the open (the day is cool), away from trees, and wait.

Eventually, you are met by a higher official, Jaredi al-Koum, who lets you know that Ahmet has been confirmed in his identity, and that the inheritance has been confirmed to exist, but that the matter has been tagged and must be seen first by the Kadi, or civil judge in authority of the case, and that will require his being informed. At this point, the party is moved along further still, to a slightly more comfortable place in the garden, nearer the beehive, which rises fifty feet in the air and from closer inspection appears to be covered with brown and gray mosaic stones. You are given a drink, allowed to rest on benches in shelter by the trees, and another great period of time passes, while you wait.

A minion appears to let you know the Kadi is looking over the document, and mentions the Kadi's name - Al'Azam Yacak Nazir - in passing. At this point, Ahmet's ears prick up. Yacak was the name of someone he knew when he was very young, only thirteen or fourteen, the sun of the quarter's chief grocer. He also knew Sevim, and as Ahmet remembers, was very fond of her. Yacak and Ahmet did not like each other very well, mainly because Yacak was weak-hearted and emotional, unable to train as a fighter and somewhat prideful about his father's importance, a belief with which few agreed.

The party is, at last, permitted to see the Kadi. He dwells in a very comfortable chamber within the bee hive, with a stone floor and a brazier which keeps the room warm and comfortable. It does turn out to be the very same Yacak that Ahmet has not seen in decades - he has aged, and the years have not been kind. His skin shows some yellowing that suggests the use of opium; he is thin and much of his hair is gone. His ears, never an attractive feature, now jut from his head and flap when he speaks, like wet cabbage. His eyes are sharp, however, and distrustful, and his tone is condescending and remorseless, as someone who has had opportunity to be cruel often.

The party is directed to hard benches, while Yacak sits on a sofa, reclined upon pillows, chewing dates. "We thought you dead, Ahmet," he says, having made his greetings.

89 comments:

Ahmet said...

(Ahmet glowers at his friends before being introduced. "I will be nice," he says to Andrej.)

"Many have tried but none have succeeded, Yacak," Ahmet says, then adds with a respectful smile, "or should I say... Kadi! Your father must be very proud of you."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"My father is dead, like yours," says Yacak. "And the world does turn, does it not ... yes, yes, I suppose he would be proud, if he knew. He always was a small thinker where it came to money. Never knew the value of it. Never knew the power it possessed. What of you, Ahmet. Have you come back wealthy, or does the myraid coins you've come to collect seem like all the wealth in the world to you? It's impossible to tell from the road-worn filthy clothes you're wearing."

Andrej said...

Andrej muses to himself on the quality of person one generally finds among the functionaries of the world. Is it the position that makes them so unappealing or is it rather that a certain kind of unappealing person is attracted to the position? Both? Making Farooq first perform some small trick before feeding the monkey a fig he wonders how many tricks Ahmet will need to accomplish today. How many insults will he patiently accept before Andrej, Lukas or Max will need to restrain him?

He considers quietly conferring with Lukas then dismisses this as impractical and quietly readies his hold person spell instead. Smiling, he compels Farooq to turn about in a circle and leap up for another fig.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(we will assume Andrej is not mumbling the spell under this breath ... obviously, you're not alone. I did not mention the two large guards with Indiana Jones sized curved swords in the room, but surely you know they're there, right?)

Andrej said...

Not mumbling anything and the spell would be for Ahmet, not the Kadi. :)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Heh heh.

Lukas said...

Lukas sits nearby and ready should anything come up beyond verbal sparring, but he actually spends more time considering if he should interject at any point.

(OOC: Wouldn't it be convenient if this fellow were in cahoots with Ramazan.)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet smiles, or at least turns up the corners of his mouth as he grits his teeth.

"Alas, I journeyed long and hard to get here, Kadi, and I was in such a rush to secure my claim..." He does his best to look appropriately ashamed. "I apologize for not preparing properly for this meeting.

"My condolences on your father. As you know it has been many years since I have visited our village, and news of our homeland does not circulate far among the infidels.

"Do you know how the others are doing... How is Demir, the blacksmith? Or Fat Halim? Has he found a wife brave enough to lie under him yet?" He laughs. "Oh, and Imam Ramazan... what news of him?"

Andrej said...

(OOC: real subtle ;) )

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Demir lives on his daughter's good graces now - she and her husband operate a pastry shop on the north hill. Fat Halim did ultimately get a wife; his son is a Janissary now, I understand he is stationed on the Digorian frontier. And the ex-Imam ... ah, well, he dwells in a hollow near the thorn forest by Kessar Mountain. We keep close tabs on him."

Yacak sighs, then turns around one of the scroll cases on his desk and opens it. He unfurls a piece of paper, 12 inches by 15 in size, with plenty of fancy writing. "Well, I won't keep you from your inheritance," he says. "I have busy things to do. Sign here, and then we will make haste to carry out the death sentence."

Andrej said...

Andrej drops a fig and finally gives some outward appearance as to being interested in the proceedings as he looks first to the Kadi and then to Ahmet, mouth slightly open.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet studies the paper, as if he can read it, but alas, he cannot. He beckons for Lukas to come forward. "My learned friend, Lukas, examines all my documents for me," he says.

"Ex-Imam, eh? And why are you keeping close tabs on him?"

He mulls something over, thinking. Then chuckles. "Demir's daughter! When I saw her last she could only make mud pies!"

He stands there smiling vacantly, still thinking. And then at last:

"What was that about a death sentence?"

Lukas said...

Lukas will gladly take the paper and look over it (he suddenly remembers he is the only fully literate person here.)

He will take special care to read each of the legal portions as carefully as he can.

Possibly even gaining some benefit from his civitas general knowledge?

He is also extremely curious about this 'death sentence' and is taking special attention to the document at hand regarding it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

There is nothing whatsoever in the document about a death sentence. The language is a bit strange for Lukas, being European, but as far as he can tell, it is a legitimate transfer of 10,000 gold pieces from the state's care to Ahmet.

Yacak chuckles. "Not your death sentence, Ahmet. Sevim's. For if you accept your inheritance, she will die. I will see to that."

Lukas said...

"I'm curious, the document doesn't appear to refer to any death sentence in regards to this transfer."

Lukas begins reviewing the document again for any language regarding abstract pre-requisites or if this is just a funds transfer document only.

Maximillian Boii said...

(ooc: I'm no Lukas, but I am literate as well...)

Lukas said...

(OOC: Apologies, for some reason I thought you weren't.)

Andrej said...

Andrej shoos Farooq away and gets ready to restrain Ahmet, should that arise as a necessity.

Ahmet said...

"There were many nights when I dreamed of nothing but Sevim's death," he says quietly, "but a wise man taught me, it is not my place to judge others, but Allah's. So I must ask, why should my inheritance cause Sevim's death?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yacak laughs. "Because, obviously, when I learned about your inheritance, I had Ramazan deposed and driven out and his daughter jailed for his crimes. I knew you would return, Ahmet ... and that you would want your money. Well here it is. Sevim's life is in my hands. If you will have the money, then I shall have the pleasure of killing Sevim with your knowledge that it was with your approval. If you forego your inheritance, I will free Sevim and give her to you. The choice is yours."

Andrej said...

(OOC: Geez, who pissed in this guy's hummis this morning?)

Lukas said...

(OOC: I dunno, nobody liked him, now he has power, revenge time. Who is best target, also unliked Ahmet who diddled with his crush? Add opportunity...)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet stiffens.

"A thousand pardons, Kafi," he says, more formally now, "but I must confer with my colleagues, by your leave?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Well, I am a very busy man. Very well, take a few moments. I'll ask that you'll remain here - there is a matter I should look into."

He will move towards the wall behind him, where a curtain hangs from the 15' ceiling.

Maximillian Boii said...

I shake my head and say, "Ahmet, I cannot help you. Perhaps there is some way to avoid this demon's choice, but there may be only these options. Only your own heart can answer this question, but remember that it is not just your own heart at stake; your blood, Fatima, depends on this money as well.

I will stand by you through everything though, and perhaps we may yet seek justice in this life."

I look at Andrej, in expectation of better advice.

Maximillian Boii said...

sorry, I say that in a low voice.

Lukas said...

In private as possible to the group, "Technically if where she is now is as terrible as said, she is better off in either case. I am sure we can find a way to support your sister if you choose not to take your inheritance. For instance we should have multiple locations to house her in the near future."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yacak will move behind the curtain and a door will be heard opening and closing.

Andrej said...

"There is but one question to be considered here, in my mind. Does Ahmet act for the sake of money and comfort or for the sake of justice and mercy? Let this... man have his thirty pieces of silver and let us be off, my friend."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet grunts. "Yacak is mistaken if he thinks I will throw away my family's fortune for the life of that treacherous woman," he says. "But nor do I want the blood of an innocent woman... well... of a woman on my hands." He sighs, looking skyward. "What would Mullah Yazigi tell me to do?"

Finally, he looks at Andrej. "I do not seek this money for me, but for my family. If I refuse it, Fatima loses everything. Can she remain with Herr Eberhardt forever? Will we send for her to life with us among the barbarians in Cumana? No. She must return home to marry. And as a penniless girl with no family, who would have her?"

Andrej said...

"So you would consent to this injustice primarily to be rid of the obligation to your cousin? Does the world hold so little opportunity for you? Are Sevim's sins so grievous that she must be abandoned to these dogs? You are not responsible for this situation, Ahmet, that sin belongs to others... but you have been empowered to stop it."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet grumbles. "So your advice is I walk away from my family's fortune, to allow Sevim to continue rot in that foul prison? At least until this... this..." he composes himself, should someone be listening, "...this Kadi decides that he wishes Sevim to die for some other pretense."

Andrej said...

"Ach! But if your ears were only as worthy as your sword arm! The Kadi has said that he will turn Sevim over to you if you would but abandon your fortune! In one hand you have your family's gold and in the other the life and well being of a young woman you once professed to love. What a paltry thing your love must be if 10,000 pieces of gold may buy it. Think, man!

Ahmet said...

"I don't want Sevim!" Ahmet barks. "She lied to me! Laughed at me! Betrayed me!"

He realizes how loud he has been speaking, and composes himself, speaking in a tight mutter. "Yes, there was a time I would have given up a fortune, or anything I possessed... my very life... for Sevim. I was a foolish boy. I gave her my heart and in return she took 10 years of my life. But I am no longer a boy, Yazigi!"

He turns to the guards. "Tell the Kadi I will sign his papers!"

Andrej said...

Andrej, unsure which papers Ahmet wishes to sign, blurts out the rest, "Paul tells us that God will reward every man according to his works Ahmet, you have told me that Allah weighs an individual’s good deeds against his sins on the Day of Judgement and punishes those individuals whose evil deeds outweigh their good deeds. Which is it you choose now!"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet laughs bitterly. "I have no doubt my soul is already consigned to Hell," he says darkly.

"Tell me, what would you have me do with Sevim if I buy her with my cousin's fortune -- return her to her craven father? Send her to Babylonia to mourn over her slaughtered husband?" He snorts. "After three years in Acanthius' Hole, who would have what little of her that remains?"

Andrej said...

"I would have you do nothing with her were it up to me! She may choose whatever path is before her! She may choose to hate you, to spit upon you, to fling herself into a chasm for her self-loathing or self-pity! I would have you only make those choices God has set before you."

Composing himself, "and be not so certain it is Hell that awaits Ahmet oglu Ahmet. Only God knows. Only God knows."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet folds his arms across his chest and pointedly turns away from Andrej, glowering at the Kadi's papers.

"Sevim chose her path when she betrayed me," he mutters. "Now I must do what is right for Fatima."

Alexis Smolensk said...

There is a burst of laughing from behind the curtain.

Yacak stumbles out. "Oh, Ahmet, Ahmet, Ahmet. You always were a stubborn clod." The judge mocks the fighter: "Ooooh, Fatima! Ahh, my poor Fatima!" Then breaks down in a long fit of laughter.

Maximillian Boii said...

I stand, tensed.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet frowns at Yacak. "You mock me, Kadi?"

Lukas said...

Lukas moves to interject, but is interrupted by the laughter.

He physically attempts to place his hand on Ahmet and take his attention for just one moment if he can.

He will speak in a low tone only to Ahmet.

"Andrej speaks morals, let me speak logic. Each person is unique in their value, each gold piece is as good as another.

If you decide you are to discard the gold here, you can get it somewhere else and it will be just as good.

If you seek it I would see to the comfort of your cousin as if you were my brother."

Lukas said...

OOC: Aaaand I'm too slow... Well if Ahmet wants I'm sure he can wedge it in..

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: the timing still works, Lukas - your comment comes right after Ahmet's question ... the Kadi will laugh for a bit before he can answer)

"Yes, yes," says the Kadi between tears. "I mock you. Remember, I have been here this whole time! I was not in prison! I was not wandering the world. I saw Sevim's father imprison her when she tried to find you in the prison. I saw the painful way she walked on that day of her wedding, for though her dress hid the bruises her father had given her, we all could see the truth. I saw a dozen times her husband scream at her in the streets, I was HERE to see to it that he did not have her stoned to death when the callous fool took a whim to have her executed. It was good that I was here, and had some small influence I could exercise."

He shakes his head. "And now you, Great Big Lout, you preen yourself with family, the family YOU deserted, that you left to their own means, that made their own wealth despite your failure! You HIDE behind the dress of your woman to justify your own CRIMES, committed against your family. Yes, I mock you. It is but a little of the mocking you shall receive in the Hell for which you are so justly bound!"

Andrej said...

"One man cannot see all ends, Ahmet. A viper (Andrej eyes either the Kadi, Ahmet or both briefly at this) may be God's tool just as any other creature he has made. This is not a choice for or against your cousin Fatima. This is not a choice for or against Sevim. It is a choice for or against Ahmet oglu Ahmet."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet sneers. "You are the one who says she is to be executed, Yacak, not I. If you wish to show Sevim mercy, that is in power your as Kadi. As for her father, I will..." he bites off his words.

"...I will pray to Allah he meets a deserving fate," he mutters.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I imprisoned her, Lout. And mark my words, when you sign, for you certainly will, out of weakness if nothing else, she will die in three days. And I shall cheerfully give you your money. It will be a pleasure to pour it out as the blood will pour out of her! And everything you spend it upon will be tainted with her blood. Your family's honour, your family's history, for generations, shall shine with her blood, Ahmet. And I shall be most pleased at that!" He turns the paper towards Ahmet. "Sign! Go on, do it!"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet visibly recoils at this idea of his family's honor being stained. "Why should... what does my inheritance have to do with her execution, anyway?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I wish it!" grins the Kadi. "There are benefits to power!"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet glowers. "Ramazan had power once, too, Yacak," he says quietly. "And yet you claim you know where he is. Why is he free, while Sevim suffers for his crimes? That is not justice, Kadi."

Andrej said...

"I do not think justice is the Kadi's concern Ahmet, but it can still be yours. What does the gold profit you or Fatima when weighed against this vileness?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Justice is what I say it is. I have already explained his fate; I have already explained the choice that awaits you. If you will not make a choice now, I shall have you thrown out." He chuckles. "She will rot where she is, and you will have nothing. All will be as it has been, until she dies in prison and the money vanishes into the hands of an unknown thief.

"You cannot moralize with me, Ahmet. I care for results, not morals. I leave it to wallowing fools like you to worry about family and honor and meaning. All it means to me is that you're afraid to take action. Right now, you stall and wait like a woman that cannot make up her mind about two donkeys she might ride. Make your decision. I have business of State to attend to."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet looks like he just swallowed a bug. He grimaces and glowers.

"Bring me the girl," he mutters at last through clenched teeth.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yacak opens a different scrollcase, and draws forth another writ. He hands it automatically to Lukas, to look it over. "Sign it, and I shall have her brought to the Black Ivory Hostel by day's end tomorrow."

Lukas, should he look, will see nothing in it but the handing over of Ahmet's inheritance to the state for the benefit of the Sultan and of Allah.

Maximillian Boii said...

I wouldn't...

Ahmet said...

Ahmet looks sourly at Andrej. "You can tell my cousin about your Paul and your justice," he says bitterly. "She will never forgive me for this."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet snaps at the muttering Maximillian, "What was that, Tyrolean? I have yet to hear your counsel on this. Tell me, what does your god say I should do?"

Maximillian Boii said...

The powerless hate power
their envy building bile.
And beggars also loath to see
their donors silver clasp.
Hate's worm becomes a serpent vile
When power sees what lies beyond it's grasp.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Looking back, I see Max did counsel Ahmet earlier, but I like that poem!)

Maximillian Boii said...

I do not know what any god wants, but I think I know what the Kadi wants. I think that you should take your money, and never think of him again.

Lukas said...

Lukas conveys the contents of the document handed to him.

Ahmet said...

"Would that I could, friend Maximillian," Ahmet says, and takes the document from Lukas.

He glares at Yacak. "I make my mark upon this paper, and she is brought to me, alive, and the business between you and I is concluded. No tricks, no surprises. Because otherwise, I..." he pauses a moment, glowering, "...do not want to cause you any more inconvenience, Kadi."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"You may rely upon my honesty," says Yacak. "I have not told you a lie. She will be delivered to you."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet smirks. "I'm sure your hospitality over the last three years has been... most kind."

Andrej said...

"If we are finished, perhaps we should adjourn. I'm sure the kadi has other business to attend to," Andrej offers carefully, fearing an escalation of words and anger now that the thing is done. Clucking his tongue, he calls for Farooq and holds his arm out for the monkey to climb upon it. He eyes Ahmet, wishing to speak to his truculent friend once clear of the audience chamber.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet makes his mark on the writ that frees Sevim in exchange for his family's inheritance.

Ahmet said...

And adjourns with Andrej, if the Kadi is finished with him and no one else has anything to say.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let us say, then, that you have been moved from the bureaucratic offices and back to the street, or the hostel where you're staying. Is there anything else, or shall we move forward to the expected arrival?

Andrej said...

"Ahmet, you are angry and I understand this. I advised you to leave the money and you did so. But know that I was advising you for your benefit. You did not purchase Sevim's freedom today, but your own. Whatever happens tomorrow evening, it will happen toward resolving the black cloud that has followed you these many months that we have been friends. The gold we will recover some other way, you have my word, Fatima will not be put out without means."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet listens to Andrej's words, but at the moment it is apparent he doesn't believe him. He rudely makes his way through the crowd and returns to the hostel, where he will wait until Sevim is presented.

(OOC: I'm ready to move on, but we have time if anyone wants to do anything else...)

Andrej said...

Shooting each of Max & Lukas a concerned look, Andrej follows.

I'm also ready to move on.

Lukas said...

Lukas, on the way out will turn to the Kadi and with a death glare state (not ask), "She will be alive." Before exiting.

On the way back to the hostel Lukas will listen to Andrej and say to him, "What's done is done Andrej, now we wait for the woman then see what happens to those clouds. You can tell him how he SHOULD feel all you want, but the truth is in the moment. Give him his peace for now. Meanwhile I will start considering how to increase his cousins security."

And he does.

Lukas said...

Ready to move on.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I would like to move on, but I'm hung up a bit. I would like a bit of response - my first ask in months - for the presentation of this last alternative to 'finding the bad guy and trading him for the girl.'

I was entirely happy, myself, with either choice. I don't see giving Ahmet a vast compensation of coin an imbalance to the game, and had an expectation of consequence regardless of the decision made. I wanted it to actually BE a hard decision; and I positively thrilled ad being able to take some background a player wrote about his character years ago and actually transform it into a dilemma. Ahmet gave me this confrontation himself years ago, but admittedly I didn't see the situation myself until the party was in Innsbruck. That was more than a year ago, real time.

I had some difficulties recreating a deleted file this morning, so my free time has been markedly hampered)

Andrej said...

(OOC: I have really enjoyed this most recent course, and while Andrej took a clear stance I would have also been OK whichever way Ahmet chose. Of course I was more interested in the choice that led to some resolution to this thing in Ahmet's past that has been directly or obliquely referenced for so long, but 10K gold pieces is nice compensation.

I'm anxious to know the others' thoughts on it as well, particularly Ahmet's.)

Lukas said...

(OOC: More interest in Ahmet's view, but I'll pitch in.

I tried to play someone neutral in the discussion. Personally I feel like either way would be fine, but the significant lack of evidence that the 'villain' would comply is unnerving.

Just to get a jump on things, Ahmet, do you feel at all cheated out of 10k Gold? That would be my biggest fear on the matter.

Although hunting down a criminal did seem to be a fun pursuit. With possible XP.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I don't feel "cheated" because Ahmet didn't do anything to earn the 10K -- Alexis giveth and Alexis taketh away. ;)

Plus, even if Ahmet did get the money, he would have given it all to Fatima anyway, as he wouldn't want to be tied down as a copper mining magnate in Melitene. But still... Fatima is depending on that money for her dowry. So Ahmet better start making some coin fast!

All in all, it was incredible fun, if agonizing, to RP Ahmet twisting in the wind like this! I loved it.)

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC: I enjoyed watching it too, I really wondered which way you were going to go.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I protest! I did not 'take it away.' Splffff!)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Just quoting scripture, Boss. Obviously Ahmet had a choice in the matter!)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Re-reading the RP reminded me of another thought that I had. I kept looking for the reason as to why the two things should be linked.

My initial thought was that the basis for Ahmet being jailed was blasphemy -- he swore to Allah that he would return and make Sevim richer than her wildest dreams, which was laughably impossible for a penniless orphan to promise and therefore a false oath. Ahmet inheriting 10,000 g.p., however, pretty much fulfills that promise -- and therefore he wasn't guilty of swearing a false oath, therefore Sevim (as the witness against him) was the guilty party, for bearing false witness!

Of course I (the player, not the character) went into "lawyer mode" -- technically, Ahmet had promised he would make Sevim wealthy, not himself, so as long as he doesn't give Sevim any money, she was still right -- Ahmet didn't make her wealthy, just himself. Aha! Take that, judge!

But Alexis neatly skirted around this loophole by simply making the Kadi a prick. Well done!)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I perceived the blasphemy charge as trumped up, the sort of thing you imprison people for because its convenient, the way that vagrants are tossed into jail for spitting, whereas a great many middle class people might casually spit and be ignored)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I am getting there, my friends. Give me a couple of hours)

Andrej said...

(OOC: No worries Alexis)

Lukas said...

(OOC: I for one am supremely upset.

That you feel you need to say that.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Think of me as saying, "I wasn't hit by a bus today." A status post)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Just watching the snow come down... and down... and down. You getting hammered, James?)

Andrej said...

(OOC: Yeah, the local weather tracker still swears up to six inches but I can see at least 9 on the patio table and it's still coming down in piles. It was like a white out 30 minutes ago.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: My friends in Toronto tell me it's -15 F there and turning colder. You must be getting the edge pressed forward from a south-moving Canadian High.

Clear and warm here, about 35 F)

The next post is up.