Interlude: Garcin and Kawthar

As posted in seasonal development, Kawthar wanted to join the grogs while training, but it becomes clear very quickly that her small size and lack of strength precludes her from competency in all but the most basic weapons (Not sure if I should use the -2 or -3 STR. At -3 she can only use a dagger. At -2, a club is added to the mix). Garcin will pull her aside for a chat.

"Girl, why do you want to fight with the men? Men will always be bigger, stronger, longer reach than you. You would have to work twice as hard, and will never be anything but average at best. In your first fight you will be dead meat for any veteran with a sword or spear. You may think the idea of being a spear maiden is romantic, but the reality is much grimmer. So, why you want to fight?

There is a man I need to kill. He has many men with weapons, so I need to learn to fight so I can kill him

There are many men that need killing, yet they live their lives and die of old age. If it was one man, you might eventually become enough of a warrior to have some slight chance of killing him, but if he is surrounded by fighting men, I tell you now: You will never kill him without a larger group, and you yourself would hinder that group, not help. What did he do that makes him need killing, perhaps I have heard of him?

"I will kill him, even if I die in the attempt. He is the man in black who forced me to... forced the dogs to... no, I will not speak of this. Simply accept that I must kill him, and I have come here to help this hospital because I was assured I would receive help here in achieving this goal."

Garcin sees her grow agitated and his frown grows as her story progresses. A task more important than life itself? I understand, this is a matter of Honor. Yes, I will help you, girl, but not in the way you ask. I am afraid you will never stand in the line of battle and will never be able to cut your way through a group of men to reach your target. Instead you shall learn the way of the knife, and how to approach unseen.

He motions Oderisi to take a break from his training and to join them.

"This man is Oderisi. Do not let his appearance scare you for he is the best man with a knife in the covenant. He can show you the way of the knife and how to strike a man down with a single thrust. I will make him available when you are. Once you are proficient with this, I will find someone who can help you move unseen." He pauses for a moment and evaluates her. Perhaps the way of the Fox?

Lastly, he takes a wicked looking dagger from his belt and hands it to her, sheath and all. "All warriors carry a knife, for a sword can be broken and betray the wielder at any time. In that time of direst need, all men turn to their last resort, the knife. With this, men can still make you a victim, but never without you fighting back. This is your knife now, never go anywhere without it.

"Thank you both, I will let you train the army now, and return for my tutoring this winter."

A week had passed since Paphos, Julia and Antonius had dissapeared in the magic realm and then had came back to Malta, albeit via separates routes. The magus, in the initial stages of the planning of the restoration of the ruined temple he envisionned to be his future laboratory, had went to seek advice from Paphos and Penko, who knew a lot about architecture and masonry. After discussing and laying the basics plans of the laboratory to-be, the subject had moved to Paphos' return voyage, and eventually to Kawthar.

Troubled, Antonius had spent the rest of the afternoon looking for the young woman, and he found her talking with Garcin, as Oderisi and Zoltan were practicing their swordplay. He stood under a tree, observing the girl, and listening discretly to their conversation with a spontaneous casting of whispering winds.

He could feel the girl's determination in her voice, but he frowned when Garcin gave him a dagger and offered her training in its use. That was a dangerous path she was walking on, but hopefuly he could lead her away from it. After Kawthar had left Garcin, he approached her and introduced himself in arabic.

"Greetings. I am Antonius. I was told you needed my help. Would you like to go in a more secluded place to discuss... your past?"

The girl seemed hesitant, and the Bonisagus added quickly:

"I know it is hard for you to speak of it, rest assured we will speak only of what you want to."

"Are you wanting to know of my family, and our household, or of the pirates who destroyed it, or the man in black who bought me from them?"

"Every tale has a beginning, and witouth it, it can be hard to understand what follows. Please, tell me about your family, and then we can move on to the hardships that have befallen you."

"My father was, I believe, some kind of merchant. It was not my position as a daughter to know what kind, but he provided us a good home with many servants. I was being raised to be a good wife to whomever my father chose to give me to, I was trained in etiquette, what portions of the Koran applied to women, and first in cleaning then in managing the household staff as my mother did. I had just reached the age where I wondered what sort of man my father would choose for me, when one night the pirates attacked our home. They killed my father, and many men of the household. I had even come so far in my training that I was allowed to give orders to male servants! But now they were dead. The women they defiled before hauling them to their ship, but I and a few of the servants daughters they did not, the captain insisted we would fetch a better price as virgins."
"We were on that ship for many days, and it stank as a chamber pot, but a hundred times as bad. Finally we reached our destination, where they pulled each of us on stage and someone began talking in a language I do not know. Finally I was given to the man in black, who gave money to the pirate leader. the man in black did not speak the language I knew, and he would hit me whenever I tried to speak it. I tried to learn his language, but he spoke too fast, and tried to instruct me in a different language still. He was impatient with my failures, and moved from striking me to beating me. He left me in a shed when he was not yelling at me or beating me. He tried to have me clean for a bit, but when I tried to clean some things he would yell at me and hit me again and soon he gave up having me clean and put me back in the shed. Then he brought in the dogs. The man who brought the dogs was the most detestable man I have ever seen, but he never spoke to me. He smiled occasionally, as he left the dogs for the man in black, but it was not a kind smile. The man in black had the dogs... I'm sorry, what he did with those unclean beasts I cannot say, but when they were done he sprinkled water from a metal rod and spoke in the language he tried to teach me, then the other man came back for the dogs, and once again I was left locked in the shed. 35 times the dogs came, and 35 times they did unspeakable things to me. I... I have never touched a man, but am no longer a virgin. I should have killed myself, after the first time, but I suppose I am not devout enough to do such a thing. But I will kill the man in black, and if I die doing so, perhaps that will be enough to clense me of what he did to me."

The Venator, heavy-hearted after hearing Kawthar's story, will keep quiet for a while thinking about what to say to her. He was filled with anger and disgut, at the priest's actions and compassion for the moorish girl. But, now was not time for anger...

"Walk with me, would you ?" He then proceeded to tell him his own story, of the rape of his mother and his childhood as an orphan, hoping that it will help him develop trust with her.

"Kawthar, I do not think you are still alive because of a lack of devotion towards God, but instead because of his love towards you. Surrendering to despair and ending your own life would have been an act that would have scared your soul, and perhaps comdamned you to eternal damnation. He was Hope in the Darkness, and by His Grace, you are now here, alive and free of sin. In truth I tell you, you did not sin at all, for all these horrible acts they commited, you were unwillingly participating in."

"But, unfortunatly, you are not unscathed by their actions. You have anger, wrath, despair and sadness, clawing inside you, clawing at your soul, as would do frienzied beasts. They are there, day and night, always there. I too have felt this way before. But, someday, you'll vanquish them. I know this, because you are a strong woman, Kawthar. But it will take time and will be an arduous path."

"I can help you in your journey. Justice will be served to those evil men, but it need not to be by you. Please, let me take that burden away from you; I swear that I shall have no respite untill they rot in Hell where they belong."

"The Prophet has told us that kept dogs are unclean, and women defiled by them should cleanse themselves through blood. I understand that those of a lesser faith may see things differently, but this is what I must do."

Disclaimer- the beliefs of this character are not meant to be representative of all of Islam.

OOC: I understand this perfectly silveroak, no worries; same thing can be said of my characters.
Antonius will answer, mildly angry.

"What your Prophet has not told you, is that when jews, christians and muslims pray, God will answer regardless. You might think of them as lesser, but clearly the Almighty does not."

"I do not think dogs are unclean by virtues of beings dogs; they do lack a soul and act on the way God made them. What is unclean however, is what can men teach them, and certainly what they did to you is. You, Kawthar, possess free will. Did you do thi this willingly ? Did you sin willingly ? I think not."

"To what extent are you ready to go ? Would you kill innocents ? Would you lie ? You might not admit to yourself, but if you look deep down inside of you,you'll know. The seed of sin was planted there by the Adversary, and you'll make it sprout with blood."

Antonius, trying to dissuade the young woman, spontaneously create enough blood over Kawthar to cover her from head to toe. The magus, peering deed in her eyes with his own, colored of charcoal and blood.

"No ammount of blood will cleanse you if you follow that path, Kawthar. Blood only calls for more blood."

OOC: Might not be the best way to treat someone with PTSD, but hey, that is dramatic :slight_smile:
CrCo ? (Base 3?, +2 voice, +1 conc, ind)

"The pig is unclean by virtue of being a pig, but a dog is unclean when it is kept as a pet. Perhaps the dog the man in black had were meant for work, to guard his house. I do not know. Could they be not unclean? Perhaps, I am not learned in religion, but insulting me and what I do know with the lesser understanding of earlier faiths will not impress me. Will I lie? If I have to in order to kill the man in Black. Will I kill innocents? Nobody who protects such a man can be innocent."

The blood on Kawthar disappears instantaneously as the magus stop concentrating. Antonius, surprise by the lack of reaction from the woman, sigh:

"My intention was not to insult you. You have no reason to trust me, most don't because of I wield magic; it is both a blessing and a curse from God. No, Kawthar, I was merely trying to warn you. You take comfort in what Islam has taught you, but know nothing about what you are about to face. You don't even realize, blinded by rage, that already the Ennemy has a hold of you. Do you hear yourself ? No innocent would defend that ugly and vile man ?

"Know that in your hour of triumph, when your hands are red and the priest lay dead at your feet, after you have slashed and stabbed many more, you'll have lost. Of course, most will be guilty, but demons will make sure some aren't, and "cleansed" by blood, you will never asf God for forgiveness. And as you walk away, satisfied with your vengeance, the Ennemy will laugh, for he will have both the priest's soul and yours."

Antonius will then walk away, and go see Ismael. If this girl would not listen to him, maybe she would hear the advice coming with a respectable and wise man of the same religion as her. He will then tell him about her story, and urge him to make her reconsider her decision.

That Friday, while Kawthar is assisting the servant women of the covenant an elderly man will approach the group; he is obviously well known and is respected by them. He does not introduce himself, but gives a traditional Adnan, the Muslim call to prayer, praising Allah and calling those to haste to worship him. Several of the women put aside their work and leave. The man pauses for a moment and addresses Kawthar, "I am Ismael, acting as Teacher to the true believers of this household. You are Kawthar, yes? Come, girl, it is time for Ju'mah."

Ismael will lead Kawthar to the baths where the other women are already beginning their bath, a ritual purification before the service. he will leave Kawthar with the other women who include her in their banter, allowing her to feel part of the community.

After bath, the group heads to a tent on the outskirts of the encampment, well away from the covenant center and especially far away from the aura and associated dig. There they leave their shoes on a mat outside the tent and enter. Ismael and the Muslim men of the covenant are already inside chatting freely about their daily activities. When the women, including Kawthar take their place, Ismael will begin his teaching.

The most important part of the ritual they share is the khutbah, or sermon, which is always given in two parts, separated by prayer and reflection. Ismael begins his khutbah with Quran 5:45

" And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution." He will go on to explain how the Prophet and his followers were martial people, proud and capable. When injured, they did not suffer the wounds lightly but instead smote their attackers down while praising Allah. This is the was of the Arabs and their Persian allies, and their culture became the basis for Islam as well.

This is what Kawthar has been seeking - a community, inviting and open, and the teachings of Allah to cast down the demons that plague her.

The first part of the kutbah is over. Ismael leads the group in meditation, first controlling breathing, then slowly and incrementally letting the outside world go. "Look inward and focus on your breathing and on your heart. Relax muscles, let go of the world. Seek inward and you will find your true self. See your true desire, your emotions, your love, your hate, your pride and your humility. Let go of your heart and surrender your will to Allah. When you are able to look past your true self and past the emotions of your heart, there you will find Allah. Recite with me: "I am muhhammed, servant of God. I am second, Allah comes first."

After a pause, Ismael will resume his Kutbah.

"When I was younger I thought I was a wise man; I was knowledgeable and had a community that revered my teachings. I met a youth in Baghdad, a mere lad of fourteen years, but the name of Rumi, who was passing through the city with his father and household; we had a brief chance to talk and that youth changed my life forever. He said to me, "No man may step into the same river twice". I often wonder what happened to the boy, for he was destined for greatness. The meaning is simple - we make choices, and through those choices shape the world around us. Does Allah teach that the world is according to our will? No, it is according to Allah's will. We surrender ourselves to Allah's will and gain Paradise. Qu'ran 5:45 tells us more than an eye for an eye. Let me continue the passage:"

"But whosoever forgoes it (retribution) by way of charity, it will be for him an expiation."

"Allah grants us two paths, one of the sword, and one of forgiveness. Once we choose, we may never step back to the same river. We can live, and die by the sword and thus exult Allah. But we can still find forgiveness of our sins by forgiving those who do us wrong. Look inside your heart and see again the emotions, the hate, the love, the pride, the humility. It is hard, very hard to give these up, but if you can walk this difficult path, there at the end will you too find Paradise."

"This is the will of Allah"

After the service Kawthar approaches "I don't know how much you have heard of what was done to me, I had thought the conversation would be private, perhaps it was, but in any case, I have a path where I cannot forgive. I was ready that day to turn around and throw my life away for vengeance. Can you guide me in seeking justice instead? Even if I could forgive him for myself, which I cannot, I would fear he would do to another what he has done to me."

"I teach this sermon a little more than once a year, Kawthar. Vengeance, Justice and Forgiveness are themes that resonate in the souls of all. Lysa, for example, one of the temporary work gang, is trying to decide if she will forgive her husband for cheating on her. While I'm sure you will benefit from the kutbah, I daresay, you are only one of many in need of guidance.

Having said that, there are good people in this household who are worried about you and your fate. I do not know the details of your ordeal, save that it was horrific, and that you wish to be trained in bloodletting. Despite what some others may tell you, this is a valid path, and if you succeed, Allah will grant you paradise for smiting the unbeliever. If you were male, and of a heroic physique, I would expect that Allah was calling you to lead Jihad to purge the Franks from these and other lands. Alas, people such as you and I are not inspirational and will never lead armies.

I ask of you a single question, do you think it is the will of Allah to set your feet on the path of vengeance, yet take away the weapons you will need to succeed? Success means paradise, but those who fail to please Allah are cast into oblivion.

The will of Allah is often not clear. Is he calling you to smite the infidel despite unsurmountable obstacle? Does he wish to teach you that anything may be endured, so that you may glorify him at a later time? Has he created a hardened heart so that forgiveness may be seen as more beautiful when the heart is melted?

I leave you with this. Allah calls for vengeance, injury for injury. You still live, therefore the laws of Allah demand injury, but not death. The Justice of man would be somewhat harsher, I'd imagine. If you could persuade his superiors of his crimes, I have no doubt he would be executed. Lastly, you have the choice of forgiveness, the hardest path I think, and the most bitter. Allah tells us all of these things are good, and grants us the free will to choose which path to follow.

You must think upon this and submit to the will of Allah.

Edit: While he's at it, he'll sense unholy on her, just in case. Per -1 + Ability 5 + roll 4 = 8

She is neither holy nor unholy

"What was done to me is worse than death, but I cannot bring myself to visit that same horror on anyone, so I will settle for death. I do not know what Allah is trying to teach me, I guess I will have to find that out when I have learned it."

Later that week, when Sunday comes, Atonius will go to Mdina to hear the Mass. After the congregation starts to disperse, the magus will walk towards Priest Ratzinger.

"Hello Father. There is an important matter I must discuss with you, in private if possible. I aware that I am unnannounced, but recent events have deeply troubled me."