“Tamuuul! Tamuuul! Tamuuul akbaaaaaar!”
Calls to Tamul, great ancestor spirit of the desert people, greeted the dawn from the walls and structures of al-Khaydijah, rousing the people of the city from their beds. Akbar al-Aws swept through his home, rousing his sons and daughters. “Come! Awaken! Abdullah, get out of bed! Aaliyah, don’t be lazy!” Paternal affection was readily visible through the pudgy desert man’s gruff facade. Stepping into the chamber of his youngest son, Abdelfettah, Akbar clapped his hands loudly. “Come, Abdelfettah! It is your time to learn how to bargain like a man!” The man’s face sank. “Abdelfettah?” He said, voice trembling. The boy was nowhere in sight. “Abdullah! Sherif! Where is your brother?! You must help me find your brother!”
Since the death of his wife, Shariyah, Akbar al-Aws has raised his six children mostly single-handedly. He has always treated them with kindness and charity, and has groomed his sons, Abdullah, Sharif, and Abdelfettah, to follow in his footsteps as merchants. Akbar’s profession has made him very wealthy, and, though fathers raising their children alone are almost unheard of in the traditions of the desert, he has always been able to provide. Recently, he has announced his intention to re-marry. Abdelfettah, who was hit hard by his mother’s death, has been very depressed since his father’s announcement, even to the point of neglecting his studies in the Scholarly Temple. It appears, from the evidence that Akbar has scrounged up, and from things that were noticed by Akbar’s other sons, that Abdelfettah, upset with his father and the plans for a new wife, has run away into the Kalih Desert, and is probably lost, if not worse. Akbar, as any parent, is nearly beside himself with worry. Abdelfettah has never had a very good sense of direction, and he is a poor fighter.
Akbar has contacted the heroes under the pretense of hiring them to protect his trading caravan, because he does not want the true story spread around. He appreciates his son’s dignity. When the heroes arrive in Akbar’s house, the merchant tells them the true story, and offers them payment of 200 gold pieces, 3 cases of pepper, worth a fortune in more northerly locales, and 3 cases of silk, also worth a fortune in more northerly locales, in return for finding his poor lost son, Abdelfettah, or at the very least, bringing back his body.
Abdelfettah, having become miserably lost in the desert and become separated from his camel, has been captured by Bedune tribal raiders in a cave about ten miles north of the city. The heroes may follow Abdelfettah’s camel’s tracks for about three miles, but after that distance, an overnight sandstorm moving east has obliterated the tracks for four miles. If a ranger is with the party, the ranger may find certain signs by which they can track the trail, but they will soon find that they are now following the trail of Abdelfettah’s lost camel, who has travelled about two miles west to a little known oasis. If they are to find the trail of Abdelfettah himself after following the camel, it will take the ranger about 3 hours to once again find Abdelfettah’s tracks, and, soon after that, the signs of a struggle and the tracks of the Bedune raiders.
The Bedune raiding party’s cave has three large chambers. The first chamber contains the tribe’s plunder from last night, including Abdelfettah’s desert supplies. The second chamber is where the raiders are sleeping. 3 of the Bedunes are still awake and are playing knucklebones in a corner, and one of their wives is cooking a small dish of lamb over the fire. The third cave is the personal den of the tribe’s leader, Azad al-Batif, where he is keeping Abdelfettah in a cage. He periodically strikes Abdelfettah with a large cane to try and make him divulge the location of his father’s secret trade route, which the al-Aws family has been using for years without being discovered. His wife is sleeping in a small offset bed-chamber with their children. Azad al-Batif is unarmored (He has been sleeping and is only wearing a loincloth), but within his reach is the cane with which he beats Abdelfettah and an enchanted scimitar that has a flaming blade.