Character Sheet (WIP) Name:
Ablah Sud Aln’mr “Well-formed black panther, Ablah the Black Cat”Player:
Consort Guardian WizirTrouble:
Recently lost favor with the Sultan.Sex:
Hetro, but a girl has to do what a girl has to doOn’s:
Power, intelligence, wit, nuance and subtlety, plus the usualOff’s:
Unpleasant odors, bullies, phonies, bigoted zealotryRace or People:
Hadaree, of mixed Djaffir and Bedu ancestry.Appearance:
Eyes: Chocolate brown
Weight: 110 lbsDescription:
Swarthy and slender, Ablah appears typical of the Djaffir, her mother’s people. Graceful, supple and lithe, she moves much like her favorite animal, the panther. While she inherited her mother’s build and skin tone, her features are more typical of her father’s people, the Bedu. A sharp angular nose and high cheek bones soften into a delicate jawline that enhances her sultry lips. Her exotic allure draws the eye even in a harem full of beautiful women.One Unique Thing:
Ablah is much older than she appears*.Personality:
While she can be witty, charming, and even out-going, Ablah much prefers quiet intimacy or even solitude. Normally calm and quiet, she shows animation when challenged, particularly when asked to play devil’s advocate against commonly held beliefs. She enjoys attention, particularly at the expense of a rival, but rarely seeks it, feeling attention gained for its own sake is worth less than when earned without motive. She rarely engages in the most social of harem activities – gossip. Instead she sits and weaves, listening to her fellow concubines and remembering all. Perhaps she weaves more than just thread and cloth.Skills:
Wizir magic (minor illusion, protection, and healing), harem skills, listening, debate, weaving and sewing.Residence:
Currently the Sultan’s harem, but this is likely to change soon.History:
Short version: Ablah is an orphan adopted and trained by a wizir. She served the Emir as a harem girl and Guardian wizir for several years, but recently lost favor and now finds herself up for sale in the local slave bazaar.
Ablah is the result of a brief liaison between the daughter of a wealthy Djaffir merchant and a charismatic Bedu warrior. Her father disappeared into the desert sands shortly afterwards, never knowing he had conceived a daughter.
Ablah’s mother was disgraced, and as punishment she was banished to Sha’ib, to a trade depot and caravansary run by a distant relative. Safely distant from her home city where she could not tarnish the family honor or cause scandal, her father made a good job of forgetting she existed.
Yesenia, The flower of Djaffir beauty faded in the harsh environment. Her several-times distant cousin was almost as rich as her father, but he had none of his passion or flair. The compound was Spartan and utilitarian and everyone was required to pay their way, family included. The pretty merchant princess was not used to harsh labor, and resented everything about her new life.
When Ablah arrived she only increased Yesenia’s burdens. There were no nurses or tutors for the infant, and the young mother was not suited to the role of parent. Ablah got little love from her mother, and not much from anyone else.
Yesenia died when the girl was six years old. Perhaps the cause was eating bad clams as the medic claimed. Or maybe the young woman died of lost dreams and a broken heart. Or perhaps the cause was less poetic and more tragic. Ablah was too young to understand anything except that her mother was gone.
Her so-distant cousin sent a note to her grandfather apprising him of his daughter’s fate and updating him on the status of his grandchild. The man found the note where his cousin left it, in a bundle of trade documents he was sure to read. News of his daughter’s death hurt him. Odd, he hadn’t thought about her in years, and yet now he felt the loss. The rest of the note gave him less concern. Another useless granddaughter, of which he had ample supply. And this one a half-breed that couldn’t even be married off to advantage. Still, she was of his blood. He crumped the note and then sent a reply to his cousin.
The reply was brief. “Care for the girl.” Along with the note was a gift of three camels and a small purse of silver coins. After buying his conscious clear, the man never gave thought to dead daughter or unwanted granddaughter again.
Age eight was old enough to start formal education, and while her guardian was not one to waste money on frills, he was shrewd enough to know a child’s education was an investment in the future. It cost him nothing to allow Ablah into school. And if his cousin were ever to have a change of heart and demand an accounting he could justly claim he provided the girl with a fine education. So Ablah started school with her cousins.
School was much easier than sorting coffee beans, or spinning bailed cotton into thread. It was also much more interesting. A whole new world opened up to the girl, and she absorbed all of it she could. One of the teachers as the chief accountant and treasurer for her elder cousin. A man of vast knowledge and many hidden skills.
Fuad the Keeper was a well-travelled man, a man of learning, and nearly as wealthy as his employer. And unknown to all but that employer, Fuad was a Wizir of the less common Guardian school. He guarded not his employer’s life, but something much more important to the man. He guarded the treasury.
Sensing the girl’s potential, Fuad began schooling her in his hidden art. She was bright and lovely and her mind was sharp and inventive. She was a delight to teach, and he thought of the girl as the daughter his eunuch state preventing him from fathering. He hoped to one day pass on his wealth and his profession to the girl, keeping the family wealth safe.
The treasury remained safe throughout her cousin’s life. But his sons fighting over their inheritance almost before the man was properly give back to the earth. Squabbles, lavish parties, failed investments, and a run of bad luck drained the family coffers until there was nothing left in the treasury worth guarding.
An old man now, Fuad left his employment. Sadly, he had been too trusting of his wealth and discovered it lost along with that of his deceased employer. For as he aged most duties of accounting and treasury now fell to Ablah. And she allowed the most handsome and sliver-tongued of her cousins to persuade her to invest her father’s wealth along with the family fortune on one failed scheme after another.
The old man never blamed her. After all he had little use for wealth in these final few years. Though it saddened him that the girl would not inherit. The old man and the young woman moved to another district of the sprawling city. And there he resumed her lessons. Lessons he’d neglected earlier, as there seemed no need to teach her the skills needed to find a job.
“There is a hidden communication to these things.” He instructed. “Men of power hire our kind in secret. Not the secrecy of shame, but the secrecy of security. When a person of sufficient wealth needs a guardian, he hires a bellman to announce an event. It might be a wedding, or a grand feast, or a funeral. What matters is that the phrase…”
The ritual of hiring was complex and obtuse, designed to protect all involved. Neither party knew the identity of the other until far into the process. And even then they might never meet until an agreement was finalized. This meeting was commonly either secret, or done incognito. Sometime after that final meeting, the guardian would gain employment with their patron, in a job to which they were well suited and that was unrelated to their real task of protection.
Ablah thought it all overly complicated and not a little silly. But she learned the process just the same. And so, six months after the death of Fuad the Keeper, she found herself on the slave block, about to be purchased by the Sultan himself.
The auctioneer knew nothing of her background, the man that had come to own her knew nothing other than he had purchased her from Bedu bandits. Even the proctor that came to buy her knew nothing except his instructions to buy three slaves for the young emirzade, at least one of which should be an exotic.
She was several years older than the emirzade, but they bonded. His father never told the boy that one of his concubines was more than she appeared, and the boy delighted in the attentions of an older woman. For sixteen years she served him, and she bore him two sons and a daughter, the daughter died as an infant, and she knew not the fate of her sons. They were pulled from her breast at weaning, never to see their mother again. For the sons of an Emir are not raised nor taught by slave girls.
The Emir died with fourteen sons suitable to inherit his lands, properties, and titles. It was the way of the nobility that one son would receive the bulk of this estate, and that the rest must content themselves with his beneficence. This wealth was not conferred upon the eldest, nor upon the paternal favorite. Instead the formal heir was selected by vote among the eligible males. In theory this reduced fraternal bloodshed, as it was not usually practical to kill all of one’s brothers.
Bloodshed occurred of course, but politics, intimidation, promises of wealth, and simple persuasion usually narrowed the field down to less than a handful of real contenders. When the old Emir died only three of his sons had any real hope of acquiring his wealth, lands, and hereditary titles. And of course, whoever assumed their father’s wealth and position was practically guaranteed the appointment to replace him as Emir.
The son Ablah served was most likely to succeed his father. The old man had known this, after all, not all of his sons were gifted with a guardian wizir. This proved a wise action, as one night only days after his death Ablah was finally called upon to serve her true mission. A trio of assassins visited her lover while they slept. No one knew which of his brother’s they served, or how they got past his guards.
Ablah woke before the assassins struck, and the shadows began to move to confuse the assassins. Two of them dispatched one another, thinking they attacked the heir apparent, just before their target slew the third. The man knew his intended assassins, masters of weapons all. He also knew his skill did not match theirs. Only the confusing shadows saved his life.
There were changes in the harem in the aftermath of the assassination. The assassins had gained entrance to the inner sanctum, and no one was to be trusted. Guards were transferred to distant posts, and the new Emir sent his favorite concubine away, advised perhaps by the woman that saved his life. Even Ablah was not beyond suspicion, and the Emir wondered, perhaps with paranoia, if she had perhaps set the whole thing up to gain his trust.
Then the Emir had an idea. “The Wiziry you used to protect me. I could be used against my rivals, could it not?” Ablah was no assassin, she was a Guardian. But one did not protest too strongly to the master. The Emir did not want the assassin he sent traced back to himself, so not too long after sending her main rival away Ablah found herself again on the slave block in a circuitous route toward a mission she swore she would not attempt.
A killer body.
A keen mind.
A sharp tongue.
Various paraphernalia of a harem girl – jewels, wisps of silk, hair pins, and other oddities that serve mostly to adorn her killer body, but might also be used to aid her magic.
* Her youthful and ageless appearance is just that – appearance. She is actually a healthy woman in her mid-thirties, and probably has several decades of ‘youth’ left before one day she dies of old age. While she looks young a vibrant and beautiful, and even feels that way to the other senses like touch or taste, she actually ages just like anyone else.
This effect is mere illusion, though illusion that can’t easily be pierced or dispelled.