Chapter 26: My Life Before I Knew It.   Posted by Raddek.Group: 0
Raddek
 GM, 1849 posts
Wed 7 Apr 2021
at 18:20
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
The Lord feeds some of His prisoners better than others.
It could be said of Him that He is not a just god but
an indifferent god.
That He is not to be trusted to reward the righteous and
punish the unscrupulous.
That He maketh the poor poorer but is otherwise
undependable.

-Reed Whittenmore

“Daughter, be dutiful!”

The words haunted Sajaa like nothing she had ever experienced.

She had lived through trials already in her life.  She had reaped the dreadful fruits of her own beauty, the lecherous stares of men who were too cowardly to approach her, and the horrific attentions of those men who were.  But these words from her father had struck her like an icy dagger to the chest.  Words that meant he had given up on her...  Words that meant he didn't care.

She had begged her father to refuse the fat, ghoulish Sheik Aarif al-Jalali’s proposal when the man approached Kassem, seeking to add Sajaa to his harem of six wives.  Of course, her Father could not have refused, Sajaa could see that now.  Aarif was a man of power and wealth.  He lorded over the Castle Aadila, one of the many fortifications that dotted the hilly landscape of northern al-Wazif.  He had his own army, hundreds of men, and the bride price he offered was twenty times greater than Sajaa would have fetched from any other suitor short of the Emir Harun abd Ishaq himself.  Her father had explained that the money offered would allow him to open a permanent shop to sell his candles and to buy a herd of camels to transport his products to the markets of the Non-Believers.

Sajaa understood this.  She could almost accept this, except for those words.  "Daughter be dutiful!"

In other words - "Your sacrifice means nothing to me... but you will do it... because you must."

And so it was duty that had forced Sajaa through the day, though she moved and acted as a waking corpse.  Duty held her up as she signed the Nikkah, Duty had held her steady through the feasting and the dancing, Duty had kept her eyes dry and her body from being overcome with racking sobs as the Mullah bloodied her and Aarif's hands with a pin, mingling their blood as they held hands together in a symbol of their unbreakable matrimony.  Sajaa could not even search for her mother's or her sisters' faces, for she knew if she saw them weeping, she would not be able to continue.

Now it was duty that smothered her as she sat upon the marital bed.  Her breaths were fast and shallow.  Her eyes were unfocused.  Her heart railed against her chest, as though it too sought only to escape.  Her white-knuckled fists gripped handfuls of the sheets, eager to feel anything, searching for courage in the satin.  Nausea pressed against her chest and stomach, threatening to overwhelm her at any moment and send her into racking dry-heaves.

Aarif had been eager to consummate the marriage...  “Come, my pretty Flower!”  Aarif had shouted for all to hear.  His voice was slurred, and he swayed on his feet.  He was a large man and very fat, his coffee-colored skin pocked and warted and freckled.  Sweat glistened on the side of his broad face and beaded on his jowls. A scraggly black beard shot with white hung limply to his chest.   “Too long have I waited!  Now I shall lift the Veil and honor you with my seed and welcome you into my family!  Come!”  He laughed as he jerked her forcefully to her feet and pushed her to the marital tent, while the crowd roared their approval.  For some reason he had not immediately followed her in, someone had detained him, caught his arm as he had made to follow her in.

However, his temporary detainment was not nearly long enough.

“Undress.”  Aarif commanded Sajaa as he entered, though the word was slurred and half-hearted.  Despite her fear and disgust, Sajaa could not move, she could barely feel, only gripping the small handful of sheets tighter in her knotted fists.

Aarif fumbled with his fat fingers at his sword belt for a few moments before Sajaa's inaction seemed to catch his attention.  Slowly, his eyes lazy and unfocused, Aarif stares at Sajaa for a moment before walking towards her and the bed, giving up on removing his own clothes for the moment.

"No?"

He questions as he stumbles over the edge of the bed, pushing Sajaa down by her shoulder roughly, smacking the back of her head against the board in a blow that brings pain and stars to Sajaa's eyes.  She is overwhelmed by his stench.  He reeks like a man who has not washed, the filth of a body that has passed long beyond musk and into the realms of festering flesh.  The stench is masked by a heavy cologne, which is sharp and cutting.  But his breath is worst of all... the sickly sweet smell that Sajaa knows only from drug addled poor, the smell of idleness and sin.

Sajaa gags on the smells, her body at last heaving in revulsion.  Once, twice, bringing the bitter taste of bile to the back of her mouth.

It made Sajaa overwhelmingly grateful she had not eaten.

Aarif did not seem to notice.  He was busy gripping at the cloth of her hijab as he straddled her, pulling it up by the folds around her hips.

"You'll learn your duty."

It was the word, more than anything that made Sajaa lose control.  Her hands were so tightly gripped now that she felt her nails bring forth a trickle of blood from her palm, her teeth clenched as a vice.  Without thinking, her senses blinded by stench and by fear she lashes up with her knee, striking Aarif square in the man-stones with a brutish thunk.

Aarif collapses on top of Sajaa, his own breath caught in his lungs in a moan of pain.  Sajaa's body recoils, releasing her death-grip on the sheets as the smell and weight of the man press down on her.  Sajaa writhes to be free, her hand bumping against the hilt of Aarif's sword as it thrashes to take action!

OOC:  It is 2200 on 14 November, 2005.

Welcome Sajaa!  And thank you for the amazing material with which to get you started.  I award you 1 Hero point for all the work and inspiration.  Hero points can be used as a one time shot of the Luck advantage, allowing you to reroll one bad roll twice more if you fail.  You are currently in close combat, on your back, with your opponent on top of you (though you are not grappled).  Aarif is most assuredly stunned, and is likely under the influence of some drug or alcohol.  Note that all your positioning penalties (prone, close combat) put you at a significant detriment to engage most combat actions.  If you wish to get out from under Aarif, roll vs. ST.  You may add +2 to the roll if you burn 1 FP.

Let's do 4 seconds worth of action.

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:47, Wed 07 Apr 2021.

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 4 posts
Thu 8 Apr 2021
at 01:46
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
For once in her life, rage and not fear, drives Sajaa.

Rage at the injustices and humiliations she has suffered at the hands of Men.  Rage at these men -- many neighbors and family members -- who leered and cat-called, and groped and … worse.  Rage that, though the Quran preaches that Women share the same rights as Men, in practice, women are treated as mere chattel to be sold for profit -- like father did to her just this night. Rage at how Men like Aarif can so casually ignore the words of the Prophet without shame or consequence. Be very careful when you make a woman cry, so read the Mullah at the ceremony but hours ago.  For God counts her tears.  From man’s rib came the Woman. Not from his feet to be walked upon.  And not from his head to be superior. But from his side to be equal.  Under the arm to be protected and next to the heart to be loved.

And yet, here now lies Sajaa, abused once again, skull aching from its crash against the headboard, breath hissing through clenched teeth from the crushing weight of the fat pig atop her.

And, now, for once, she is not afraid.  She is furious!

She delivered the well-placed knee to Aarif’s man-parts reflexively before even thinking about what she was doing. But now a beat later, the enormity of the act hits home with staggering clarity and she realizes the consequences of this one act will be life changing.  No wife without a death wish dares kick her husband!  And Aarif is not only a husband -- He is one of the most powerful men in the land!  Such a criminal act may very well earn her a gruesome death by stoning.

O God! What have I done?! Allah have mercy upon me!

But there is no time to ask questions or to beg for mercy.  There is time only to act.  And realizing her life has changed its course forever … Sajaa knows she must fully commit to the direction she has taken…

And so, with every ounce of strength she can muster, backed by seventeen years of pent-up rage, she strikes again!

OOC:  Round One: Taking advantage of Aarif’s temporary physical stun, Sajaa will attempt an All Out (determined), Telegraphic, Brawling punch to Aarif’s Throat, using Extra Effort for additional damage. Unless I’m mistaken I believe it should go:  Brawling 13 +4 (all out determined) +4 Telegraphic  - 4 (fighting while supine)  -5 (throat) = 12.  Now the roll:  21:22, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 12 using 3d6 ((2,4,6)). Hit!

If its legal, and Aarifa succeeds his active defense against this punch, I would like to spend my Hero Point to have you reroll his defenses, choosing the worst roll instead.

If punch succeeds, her punching damage does 1d-3 crushing damage +2 (extra effort for cost of 1 fatigue point) = 1d-1.  Now the roll:  21:30, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 2 using 1d6-1 with rolls of 3.  Crushing injuries to the throat are at 1.5 X the damage, so this calculates to 3 HP of damage to Aarifa’s throat.  However, IF Sajaa has not spent her Hero Point yet, I am going to spend it now for damage, making 2 more damage rolls at d-1.  Here are the other 2 potential rolls:  21:34, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 3 using 1d6-1 with rolls of 4.  Third roll Hero Point.
21:33, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 5 using 1d6-1 with rolls of 6.  Hero Point 2nd damage roll.
So,if I got this right, if my Hero Point was still valid when I inflicted damage, my 2nd roll would have inflicted 5 hits to Aarifa’s throat X 1.5 (crushing injuries to throat) = 7.5.

I know you said 4 rounds of action, but I’m going to hold here to see what happens after round 1 as my tactics may need to change radically depending…

This message was last edited by the player at 13:07, Thu 08 Apr 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1855 posts
Fri 9 Apr 2021
at 01:41
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa had asked her God for mercy... but she quickly finds that what he has given her is strength.

With the force of rage coursing through her body, Sajaa shoves her left forearm up underneath Aarif's chin, prying the face and body upwards and away.  The man seems unable to do anything, unable to stop her, and Sajaa takes full advantage.  With one swift motion she throws the whole of her weight forward, her fist crashing like a hammer into Aarif's neck, striking just at the Adam's apple.

Sajaa hears a meaty, hollow sound like the sucking noise of ripping the wing off a cooked goose.  Aarif's arms flail as he rolls away, his oversized body crashing to the floor.

Free of the overbearing weight and the smell, Sajaa scrabbles to her knees, turning her body to face her husband, as he too, fights his way up awkwardly to a kneel.

But Aarif is no longer looking at Sajaa... his eyes bulge into nowhere.  His hands grip the satin sheets at the edge of the bed as Sajaa had been gripping them moments ago and he labors with a breath that emits a low pitched whine.

OOC:  You've struck a major blow to Aarif's neck and crushed his windpipe.  He is now a hex away from you, on hands and knees.  I also had you move to hands and knees, facing Aarif, in order to keep your eye on him as he rolled away.  You can see his sword, still in its scabbard at his waist, the handle helpfully tipped up in your direction.

Let's do another 4 seconds of combat for the moment.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:43, Fri 09 Apr 2021.

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 5 posts
Fri 9 Apr 2021
at 02:36
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa is astonished to see the effect of her punch ...

But she knows once Aarif comes to his senses, the big man will snap her like a dry stick... So she must not let him come to his senses...  Ever!

She balls up her fist for another punch, but stays the blow when her eyes fall to the jewels winking from the hilt of Aarif's magnificent sword where it rests in its scabbard... within reach...

With a low cry, she lunges for it!

OOC:
Round One:  Grab sword and ready it from its scabbard. If she can move back 1 hex after doing so she will.

Round Two: She'll make a Telegraphic +4, Extra Effort STAB for Aarif's torso, presumably from her knees. 15 (fencing) +4 (telegraphic) -2 (on knees)  -3 vitals = 14. If she is successful her damage will be 1d-1 impaling +2 (extra effort) = 1d+1 (X 3). Here goes...2:32, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 12 using 3d6 with rolls of 5,3,4.  Telegraphic +4, Extra Effort STAB for vitals from knees. (14). Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 6 using 1d6+1 with rolls of 5.  impaling damage to Aarif's vitals 1d+1 (x 3).22:30. YES! So if Aarif didn't avoid the thrust, by my calculation he took 18 hit point impaling damage! If Aarif attacks her this turn, Sajaa will make an Extra Effort Aggressive Parry, slashing (cutting) at any appendage that comes in at her. I will let you make the rolls for that.

Round Three: If she has an opportunity, Sajaa will move from kneeling to standing.  She will retreat aggressive parry, slashing.

I will stop here because I need to know what's happening before I declare future moves.

Raddek
 GM, 1863 posts
Wed 14 Apr 2021
at 02:14
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa knows that a man who defies and abuses his wife may reap his reward in the afterlife, but the woman who defies her husband is dead.  There is no time for thought, no need for discussion.  She knows that there are only two outcomes from this night.  Her death, or Aarif's.  Sajaa only knows that if she has her way it will be the latter!

Moving with reflexes she did not know she had, Sajaa lunges forward, grasping at the jeweled hilt on Aarif's waist.  Slowly the man reacts, choking on air as he tries to shove Sajaa's hand away, but Sajaa is too quick!  She slinks the weapon from the hilt with a hiss, regaining her balance on her knees before she pushes the weapon savage tip straight into Aarif's breast!    The weapon sinks in deep between his ribs, sprouting a font of blood over Sajaa and her robes!

Sajaa steps back, gaining her feet under her on the bed.  She stares at Aarif, who's eyes bulge as he moves to stand, the wound at his chest growing a brighter crimson and spreading outward in gory pulses.  Aarif grabs at Sajaa, an awkward lunge towards her chest, though Sajaa moves quickly with the sword, slashing it to the side in a cut that severs Aarif's sleeve and brings a fresh spurt of blood that flies out like a spritz of lemon...

Sajaa is ready for another blow, ready to kill this man who bought her as if she were chattel, who bartered with her father as if she were a livestock.  She is ready, though Sajaa watches as Aarif's forward lunge carries him straight down, face first onto the bed before her, his arm stretched out mere inches from her feet...

Though she knows she has won, Sajaa cannot risk that Aarif lives through this night...

OOC:  Ok, Aarif is clearly unconscious or doing a good job playing possum.  You can consider yourself out of combat, though if you wish to ensure Aarif is dies, feel free to role play it.  While you will leave the tent with everything on your starting character sheet, there are also other things in the tent that would be common on a noble's (sixth) wedding night, feel free to roll vs. scrounging if you are looking for anything in particular or Per if you just want to find helpful objects, and note how long you want to search.  Just know the clock is ticking!
Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 6 posts
Wed 14 Apr 2021
at 16:12
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa gasps with astonishment at how effortless it is to drive Aarif’s sword into his chest -- the fine, razor sharp steel blade grating against his breast bone before lancing deep into his innards.

She pushes the sword in as far as it will go and then with a grunt, yanks it free, only vaguely aware of the hot, sticky blood spattering her face and arms…  And yet, despite the terrible wound, Aarif, still has some fight in him! He lunges sluggishly at her with flabby arms outstretched.  Reflexively, Sajaa bats aside the man’s reaching arm with the sharp edge of the sword, slicing sleeve and forearm and releasing another spray of blood…

And then, down crashes Aarif, face first onto the cushions of the bed.

But Sajaa does not hesitate!  She will take no chances!  She has committed to this sinful act and shall see it through!

Straddling Aarif, Sajaa lifts her arms straight up over her head, the blade poised, pointing down…

Allah have mercy on me!

And then, with all her strength, she stabs straight down through the center of the man’s broad back … Once! Twice! thrice!

And, just like that, in a handful of seconds… it is over… Her life has changed forever. She is a murderess... A wanted criminal. A widow. A sinner. And her soul is damned.

She stands over the corpse of her brand-new-husband, breasts heaving, sword dripping. A wave of panic begins to wash over her… A flurry of thoughts swirl through her mind as she hops off the bed.  She stoops to wipe the blood free of the sword on the blankets, and then straightens and looks about the marital tent, her mind racing..

I will need money.  Food.  Drink.  A horse if I can find one.

On impulse, she kneels beside Aarif’s portable prayer rug and rolls the sword up inside it, tying it firmly into a cylinder and tucking it under her arm. The weapon has already proven itself to be a wonderful means of defense, and if worse comes to worse, she can sell it down the road. But it cannot be seen.  For a man not of the Sheik's bodyguard to walk openly through the village with a sword will draw all kinds of negative attention. For a woman, it is unheard of!

Sajaa presumes she has some time to prepare for her departure.  Aarif died relatively quietly and she does not believe anyone would have heard the scuffle -- and even if they did, they would probably assume it was simply the sounds of a lively tryst. Certainly Aarif’s bodyguards would not barge in on their Master on his wedding night!

But she knows she must leave as soon as possible.  But where?!

”North I shall go.” She whispers to herself after a moment's thought, as she hurries about the tent, scavenging anything she believes will aid her escape.  North, to the land of the Non-Believers, where a woman may walk about unchaperoned, and ride a horse, and carry a sword, and own property.

”God willing, I shall go to Caithness ... or Megalos.  And there beg Allah's forgiveness and make amends…” She speaks softly to herself, fighting back the tears of despair that threaten to consume her.

OOC: Sajaa will kill Aarif, presuming as a Muslim he has a prayer blanket, she’ll roll the sword up in that to hide it. Her goal is to look for (a) anything of interest you think she’d take advantage of to help her; and also scrounge for money, food and drink.  She’ll change out of her wedding clothes into her regular, darkest clothing.  She’ll then look and listen for signs that the coast is clear and slip out into the night. Her goal is to avoid people as much as possible.  If she knows of any stables nearby that may be somewhat deserted, she’ll consider going there to steal a horse. If the risk is too great, she’ll set off on foot, taking to the wilds as soon as possible. Her ultimate destination is to head north, bypassing Bannock, crossing the River Makarem and making for southern Caithness, making for the road to Raphael.She will also wipe the blood from her face and arms.
All Out +4, +4 telegraphic stabs to unconscious Aarif’s vitals X 3.
11:59, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 12 using 3d6 ((4,5,3)).
12:00, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 10 using 3d6 with rolls of 5,4,1.  Scrounging for Money 12.
12:01, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 9 using 3d6 ((1,2,6)).

This message was last edited by the player at 02:06, Tue 13 July 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1869 posts
Sat 17 Apr 2021
at 20:04
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa throws her whole weight into the thrust and she spears the sword downward between Aarif's shoulder blades.  She cuts once!  Twice!  And a third stab that sinks down low between the man's ribs, emitting a thin, hollow noise as Sajaa retrieves her weapon and feeble crimson bubbles gurgle up from the wound.

Sajaa makes ready to stab again, though the thick pool of blood that is swelling atop the bed, and Aarif's complete motionlessness make the effort seem unnecessary.

Instead, Sajaa springs to the side, finding the prayer rug that has been left for Aarif and rolling the the weapon inside.  Though it is not large enough to completely cover the weapon, it hides the blade well enough, and the tight roll is small enough to be hidden under her robes when she does leave.

Using a moment to take stock of her situation, Sajaa first attends to her wedding clothes, which by now are soaked in blood.  She undresses entirely, leaving the wedding clothes on the floor next to the bed.  It only takes her a few moments to find the clothes her family has placed there for her, a set of her robes along with a clean hijab for her face and shoulders.  Sajaa redresses, then glances around the tent for anything else that might be of use in her flight.

The first and most obvious thing, was to find some money.  Aarif must have some on him.  A quick search of his person finds his leather coin purse, soured in sticky blood, though the money in there is meager pocket change to a man of Aarif's stature.  There seemed little else on Aarif's person, and Sajaa did not long to increase her contact with the dead body, so she resumes her searches elsewhere.

Along the side wall of the tent are two tables, which Sajaa pays attention to for the first time.  The table on the left are bridal presents, a skein of silk, small jars of perfume, and a dull silver necklace with marbled red and black stones... pretty, though Sajaa did not think it was something that would fetch any fortune...

the table on the right had things far more useful in her immediate future, pastries and honeyed treats clearly planned as indulgences for the wedding night.  There was also a leather skin, and Sajaa finds it full of water!  Perhaps this would be enough for her to get out of the and begin to flee off towards Caithness!

OOC:  In addition to what you have on your character sheet (we'll hand-wave the armor.  It doesn't seem to logically fit in the story, so I'm not going to force it.  You have it though) you have also found 2 meals worth of pastry and treats, a water skin with a gallon of water, a necklace, Aarif's prayer rug, and two jars of perfume along with a small coin purse.  The money you found on Aarif is what is already on your character sheet.
Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 7 posts
Mon 19 Apr 2021
at 15:17
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa’s heart is pounding so hard and fast she fears it might explode.

She wriggles out of her blood-drenched wedding gown and shrugs into fresh robes and a clean, dry hijab.  She then strips off the casing to a pillow to serve as a sack and hurries about the tent, snatching up anything portable and of value that may aid her in her escape.  She finds some coin; a couple bottles of the expensive-yet-overly-pungent perfume Aarif douses himself in; a necklace of hammered silver adorned with smooth stones.  She finds a full skin of water and some food treats left for bride and groom to snack on after their lovemaking…

She turns to leave when she looks back at Aarif’s body, laying spread eagled on the bed. She shakes her head.

This will not do.

She hurries back over and, huffing and puffing, labors the man’s fat, heavy body into position, posing it as though it is sleeping on its side.  She then lines up several pillows into, more or less a form similar to Sajaa’s own, and over both body and pillows throws the least-bloodied of the blankets. If they do spot any blood, perhaps they will presume it came from the bride's deflowering. Sajaa is no virgin, of course, but they don't have to know that! She then messes the blankets up just enough to keep the body and pillows covered, but to appear rumpled from a night’s sleep.

She looks over her handiwork and shrugs.  It will have to do!

Now, she hurries over to the rear of the tent.  She drops to her knees and takes hold of the tent canvass and pulls a section of it up, then lays out flat so she can peer outside.  She allows her eyes to adjust to the greater darkness of the outdoors and searches for the safest route to make her escape…

O Allah see me through this night!

OOC: Let’s forego the armor. It doesn’t make sense. Scavenge pillow case to contain her booty.  Pose body and pillows to appear to be a couple sleeping after a night’s lovemaking. Pull up some of the canvass at rear of tent and peek out to see if the coast is clear. If so, she will make the take the most discreet route to the most deserted area, hoping to make her way out of the village.  If her route takes her by any stables, let’s roleplay out her decision whether or not to try to snag a horse.

This message was last edited by the player at 12:30, Wed 21 Apr 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1875 posts
Tue 20 Apr 2021
at 15:59
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa grabs a pillowcase, thrusting everything of value within the thin cloth.  She is nearly ready to flee when she turns again, seeing again the lifeless form of Aarif spread eagled on the bed, blood pooling in a sticky mass around his body.

Inside, Sajaa squirms...

She takes the next several minutes trying to find a way to reasonably hide the murder.  First she starts to roll the body, from atop the blankets... though she quickly finds that it is perhaps of more use to use the body to hide the blankets, with their broad stain of bright crimson, than vice versa.  Internally, Sajaa wonders if perhaps she should have attempted to keep some of Aarif's blood inside his body.  Shaking the worry off, she piles up what remains of the pillows next to Aarif and wraps the edges of the blankets around the mass like a burrito.  The overall effect was slightly absurd.  No one that Sajaa could think of slept like that with the blankets wrapped around their body below and above like that, but at the very least it covered the massive blood stain that was still spreading across the sheets.

Sajaa assesses her handiwork, deeming it acceptable for the short amount of time she was willing to commit to it, before grabbing her pillowcase and darting to the back wall of the tent.

Sajaa lifts the fine camel hair fabric, peering underneath into the darkness.  She takes the moment, while her eyes adjust, to reflect on the way she has chosen and the difficulties that lie ahead...  but the moment passes, and as soon as she sees her way clear she darts out into the night...

OOC:  I don't think planning out a whole city will be quite worth the investment seeing as you have no intent to return.  So I think I'll take a leaf out of your book and go with semi-random interactions.  Roll 1d6.

On a 1, you encounter one of the wedding guests leaving the celebration almost immediately after leaving.  On a 2 you encounter a random male a few blocks away.  On a 3 or 4 you make your way to the city gates and find them closed and the guards at their posts, roll a contest of skills vs. Stealth to avoid detection.  On a 5 you make it to the gates and find them open, chose either a roll vs. Stealth or you can choose to flee outright, going max speed while expecting the guards to see you.  On a 6 your route takes you by an inn with stables, where you can potentially steal a horse.

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 9 posts
Wed 28 Apr 2021
at 11:52
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Free of the tent, Sajaa walks hurriedly -- but does not run -- through the darkened village, making her way for the wall.  Her mind is awhirl as she tries to work out the daunting logistics of her situation.  She must escape capture; flee the village; survive a journey across the wilderness; and then, if it is Allah’s will that she actually makes it to the land of the Non-Believers, she must learn to assimilate and survive among the heathens. And of course, she must then atone for her sins. Such challenges bring on another wave of panic that threatens to overwhelm her, but she grits her teeth and mentally fights down such thoughts so she can focus on the here and now...

The night is cool and still and smells of wild jasmine. She hears muted laughter coming from behind her, back at the festival which is still going strong. A dog barks in the distance.  Cicadas zing from the brush off the road.

She walks hurriedly along, sandals crunching on gravel.  Her pillow sack is slung over her shoulder and her rug-concealed-saber is tucked under her arm. Nearer and nearer looms the wall -- her destination -- when...

From the gloom emerges a lone figure walking up the road toward her. A man!  Her heart leaps.

Immediately Sajaa slips into the submissive pose a woman assumes in the presence of Men. She lowers her head and stoops forward. She does not meet the man’s eye, but instead watches his feet … his hands… his posture.  Subtly, her right hand slips into the rolled tube that is the carpet and closes around the hidden sword’s grip, ready to draw it forth if disaster should happen.

"Masa' alkhayr sayidi.”  She mumbles softly as she attempts to walk past the man and continue on her way.

OOC: Sajaa said “good evening Sir” to the man. Her goal is to bypass the man and continue on her way. If he takes hostile action against her, stop the action before he gets too far as she may react, depending, hoping to catch him by surprise.Does the man look like a commoner? A soldier? Old? Young? Dangerous?

This message was last edited by the player at 13:33, Wed 28 Apr 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1882 posts
Sun 2 May 2021
at 19:29
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa hurries away from the tent where her new, dead husband lies in sheets sodden with his own blood, her bundle hurled over a shoulder in the pillowcase.  She keeps to the side of the road, hanging in the shadows and out of the light of the quarter moon.  Slowly, the sounds of her own wedding festival lessen in her ears - taken over by the sounds of night insects and the wind swirling through the city canyons.  The change eases the grip of anxiety over her, even if ever so slightly.  She was close to the gates now...  Only a little bit farther.

But to her horror, just in front of her a man nearly walks into her from a side alley.  The brief glimpse that Sajaa has before she averts her eyes tells her enough.  The man is bedraggled, unkempt.  His beard is wild and ungroomed like a man with no means and no pride.  It does not help her impression that he is out, alone in the early hours of the night, keeping to the side streets...  Still, it was much more rare for her to be out alone at night than for him.

Her eyes still cast downward, she grips the hilt of her sword, her one comfort, and offers the man a deferential greeting.

"Get home to your husband woman."  The man responds briskly, and Sajaa can feel his eyes follow her as she passes, though he makes no move to stop her.  "This is no time to be out exploring on your own."

Sajaa holds her breath, willing the man to stay still... gripping her sword ever tighter as she pulls it just slightly from the roll of carpet.  Mercifully, the man leaves her be, turning and continuing on his way.

And then, just ahead, Sajaa makes out the gates!  The twin structures of the gatehouse tower on either side, with a watch posted on each, looking outward.  Unfortunately for Sajaa, the gate is closed and the wall climbs forbiddingly on either side.



OOC:  I should have asked for a reaction roll to the man in the last post, but as I missed it, I went ahead and rolled for you and the result was good enough for him to be helpful to your cause.

The picture above is not an exact replica, but something close to what the gate house and walls of Quazr as-Sawr would look like.  It's a border town, so the upkeep on the walls is generally good (you won't find any completely broken sections) but they are entirely scalable.  There is also definitely no moat.  If you wish to find a spot and scale them, make a roll vs. Stealth and Climbing.  Otherwise, let me know what your overall plan is.

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 10 posts
Mon 3 May 2021
at 02:52
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa breathes a prayer of thanks to Allah as she watches the man march off into the darkness.

Now she presses on until she reaches the wall with its twin gatehouses looming before her.  She turns off the road and slinks into the shadows until she reaches the wall, then follows it away from the gatehouses searching in the gloom for a section that is secluded from the watchful eyes of the sentinels.  She swallows hard as she studies the wall. It is high -- but not extraordinarily so -- though high enough to quicken her heart at the prospect of climbing it.

She crouches in the darkness, slips off her sandals and drops them into the sack, then closes the open end of the sack, gives it a few twists and knots it.  For a full minute she strains her eyes and ears, looking and listening for anyone lurking nearby.  When she is satisfied she is alone, she gives her sack a few twirls and then flings it up and over the wall, hearing a soft thud on the other side.  She waits again, willing her heart to slow, and then heaves the carpet-rolled sword up and over the wall.  But instead of hearing another muffled thud as before, there rises a sharp clang of steel on stone, as though the sword slipped out of the carpet!

Panic jolts her to action!

She reaches up over her head and caresses the rough mortared wall with her fingertips seeking a hold.  She does the same with her bare feet, digging her toes into the irregular shaped stone, and slowly and carefully begins scaling the wall, inch by inch…

OOC: Fiddlesticks! Sajaa will try to climb up and over the wall as quickly as she can. If she makes it down the other side, she will snatch up her belongings and make a run for the nearest cover. Just my luck she tosses away her only means of protection!
22:35, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 16 using 3d6 with rolls of 5,5,6.  Stealth Attempt (12).
22:35, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 8 using 3d6 with rolls of 4,1,3.  Climbing attempt (12).

Raddek
 GM, 1891 posts
Sat 8 May 2021
at 16:09
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
At the tinny clang of her saber, time itself seems to slow to an unacceptably lethargic pace.  As for Sajaa, her heart screams against her chest and her fingers sweat even as she feels against the dry earthen walls for grip.

"What was that?"

Sajaa hears the voice ring out from the towers of the gatehouse.  She finds her grip and pushes herself upwards a few inches off the ground...

"Probably just some drug-addled derelict."  Another voice answers, this one lazy and disinterested.

Sajaa hopes against hope, reaching ever higher, her body now pressed against the stone almost her own height off the ground.

"No!"  The first voice shouts.  "Stop!  Thief!"

Sajaa reaches up again, slowly finding the next foothold and pushing herself up ever higher.

Zip!

Sajaa hears the stone of the wall crackle off to her left some dozen paces as he pulse throbs behind her ears.

Zip!

Another handhold higher, nearly there!

Zip!  Zip!

One of the arrows lands much closer, shattering against the wall within her left arm's reach.  Just a little farther!

Zip!

Sajaa reaches up, fially finding the top of the wall!  She thrusts herself upward, throwing her legs over hastily.  She hazards a glance towards the gate house, where she sees the two silhouetted archers in the distance, their bows raised and ready to fire!  She slinks her other leg over and dangles her body down on the other side, pondering for the moment the difference between lowering herself down slowly and risking the hail of arrows or simply jumping down from this height, risking injuring herself in the darkness.

OOC:  The wall itself is about 15 feet high, so if you lower yourself down and drop you are 'falling' from about 3 yards.  Alternatively, you can climb down, which takes 5 seconds for every 1 foot.  Obviously, you can do something in the middle as well if you want to climb down a few feet before dropping.  It's hard to see exactly where the arrows are hitting, though you know there has been at least one that has gotten within about 5 feet of you.  The archers do have a shot on both sides of the wall.

Let me know if you want to drop down or climb, or something in the middle, and where in general you want to go from there so I can fast forward if it makes sense.  I'll stop the action if something significant happens in the middle

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 13 posts
Mon 10 May 2021
at 13:18
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa hisses with surprise when the sentry calls out into the night.  Clawing at the wall for any purchase for her fingers and toes, she increases her speed, continuing to climb.  She knows her only hope for survival is escape.

She hears the whine of an arrow cutting through the air and stifles a scream of terror...

By some miracle, she finds herself abruptly at the top of the wall, and she throws a leg over and begins scrabbling her way down the other side…  But then…

An arrow cracks into the wall so close, she feels the sting of flying stone chips...

With a cry, she pushes off the wall and braces herself for impact…

OOC: Her goal is to hang full length to minimize the distance, then make as controlled a jump down as she can.  She will then snatch up her belongings and sprint for the nearest cover (woods/rocks/hills?),zig zagging as she goes to make herself a difficult target.

This message was last edited by the player at 16:58, Thu 20 May 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1896 posts
Fri 14 May 2021
at 03:45
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa has never been shot at with arrows before... nor scaled a wall with others in pursuit.  She finds the two of them together to be more than she cares to deal with.

She hangs as low as her arms will let her and kicks off the base of the wall, letting go with her fingers as the wind whips up the loose cloth of her robes.  Sajaa has a moment of panic before she hits... she seemed to fall far longer than she had planned...

Thunk!

Pain erupts in Sajaa's heel as she hits the ground, crashing over sideways, hitting her right hip with a jarring blow before her side and shoulder fall after.  Sajaa does not have the luxury of time however, and as soon as her body stops its decent, she pushes herself back to her feet, her heel tender, but weight bearing, and grabs at her pillowcase and sword, with the prayer rug unfurled some several feet away.

Zip!

Another arrow flies, where to Sajaa knows not, for she is already running!  The folds of her clothes whipping around her body, her sandals slipping dangerously on her feet as she moves at top speed, Sajaa heads for the hilly scrub out in the distance, hoping only to escape the hissing flight off arrows that are far to close for comfort!

Sajaa runs.  Each step feeling freer than the last.  Each step more sure and certain.  But even when Sajaa has run far enough to feel comfortable to stop and take a breath, her eyes scrying the plains behind her looking for pursuers, she knows that however things seem know, it will only take time before they have dogs and soldiers on her trail.  Sajaa is freer than she has ever been, but she is a hunted woman...

OOC:  You've sustained a mild contusion to the heel and hip from the fall.  For the moment, it doesn't seem like the guards from the gatehouse are chasing you, nor are they shooting in your direction any more.  To be frank, you aren't sure where they are, as your attention was mostly on not tripping and falling while you ran at top speed through the darkness.  You are confident however, that you are out of bowshot from the walls.

Here's what I need from you:

1)General direction you want to go - the two that make sense are north along the road to Raphael, or Northwest towards the Makarem River.  You could also go South which would put you into the mountains.
2)General intentions.  How much of your night/day do you want to spend walking/fleeing?  A normal GURPS day is 16 hours.  You can spend all of it walking if you wish, though note that if you are moving you aren't doing things like looking for water or food.  Do you want to double back to make your trail harder to follow?
3)Give me 3 survival rolls. 

Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 14 posts
Fri 14 May 2021
at 13:07
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Grimacing from her sprained ankle, Sajaa gathers up her belongings and limps as fast as she can for the cover and concealment of the darkened scrubline…

Breathing hard, she labors up a steep slope to the summit of a low hill and gazes to the north to consider the direction of her flight.

In the dim starlight she can just make out the ribbon of road that winds off north and knows it leads ultimately to the Caithness lordings.  Travel by road appeals to her, for she will be able to travel faster and with the regular armed patrols, she is less likely to blunder into beasts or highwaymen.  But she knows the road is out of the question, for once Aarif’s body is discovered, she will be named the prime suspect and the Sheik’s men will be hot on her trail -- and surely their first effort will be to follow the roads in search of her.

So, the wilderness it shall be.  She decides. If she can make it across the River that serves as the border between the two nations, she just may be able to shake off her pursuers...

Hugging her belongings to her chest, and praying silently to herself, she sets off at a steady, limping lope…

OOC: Direction is off-road, northwest toward the Marakem River.  She will spend 12 hours of forced marching and 4 hours of foraging for food and water.  She is mindful to follow terrain that is not as conducive to tracks as, say, soft sand. She may follow rocks, streams, etc., to reduce her footprints.
09:01, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 5 using 3d6 with rolls of 2,2,1.  Survival #3 (11).
09:01, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 16 using 3d6 with rolls of 6,5,5.  Survival #2 (11).
09:01, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 8 using 3d6 with rolls of 1,4,3.  Survival #1 (11).
 

This message was last edited by the player at 19:05, Fri 14 May 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1901 posts
Wed 19 May 2021
at 18:04
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa feels she has little to decide, so much is laid out before her as if in a straight line.

She must flee.

She cannot go north to Bannock or she will be caught and returned to her fate.

She cannot go south and hide forever in the wilderness.

Thus, the only path left to her is to the northwest, through the badlands and towards the Makarem, to Megalos or else to Caithness beyond...  somewhere where she could hope to be safe.

Without so much as a pause to look at the men who continue to fire their bows at her, Sajaa flees at a hobbled run, off into the direction the sun had set some many hours ago.

Though Sajaa is tired, drained of energy from not eating the whole day and her exertions as he ran Aarif through over and over like a blood-saturated pincushion, Sajaa knows she cannot rest.  That she must go on, through the night at least if she wishes to be far enough away to avoid an immediate capture.

And so she walks.  She favors her good ankle slightly, though she manages to get on without too much ado.  She walks hastily, though she navigates her path carefully, staying to the hard rock and avoiding the soft earth where she is more likely to leave a noticeable trail.

She walks the whole night before she falls down in exhaustion, drinking the rest of her water in whole while she eats what remains of the flaky pastry treats.  As the sun rises, she huddles herself in a shady recess of a rocky hill and sleeps as the dead...

Two more days Sajaa walks on, finding what she can to eat from the barren landscape.  Though Sajaa has spent most of her life in the city, or rather, in the home, she has fond memories from childhood where she had explored the outdoors, watching the miracle of spring where the desert sprang to life with edible flowers and fruit.

Of course, the rainy season and the spring had long past.  The fruit long dropped from the branches or eaten by birds and insects.  But even in November, there was food for the watchful eye.

Once, Sajaa stumbles across a patch of prickly pear cactus, a veritable bonanza of food and water once the spines were sheared off.  The skin was bitter, but the flesh was tender, and Sajaa ate what she could, even if it did not seem to sate her hunger.

Later, Sajaa found what she thought was Agave, a large stalk that burst up from the ground... though it tasted far chalkier than she remembered, even after she had boiled the stalks.

And on Sajaa walks, resting during the hot hours of the day in whatever shelter she can find.  Using the twilight and the dawn to find water and food.  She finds plenty of the former...  not nearly enough of the latter.  And at night she walks.

At the end of her second night of walking, Saja is forced to stop from cramps and diarrhea.  She drinks the last of her water, cursing her memory and her hunger that had guiled her into eating that chalky plant.

Sajaa fares somewhat better the last day, though she finds little to eat.  She refills her stores of water and drinks more than she thinks she needs to, pushing the hunger aside as she continues on into the night.  If they had not found her by now, perhaps they had given up?  Perhaps if she managed to life through the wilderness, she would be safe?

Sajaa collapses at the end of her third as the dawn breaks, feeling weaker and more tired than she can remember, though at least her ankle no longer feels tender.  She falls asleep amid a small rocky valley thinking of the river and the safety of Megalos, out of sight to any but those who would venture down nearly all the way to the bottom.

It is late when Sajaa awakes.  The darkness is broken only by the light of the heavens, without even the moon, which has seemed to forsaken the night sky.  Sajaa's senses feel dull and confused, saturated with sleep.  It takes her a moment to figure out what had awoken her.

But then she feels it again.

A small poke.  Just a touch at her hand.  There is something there.  Climbing on the back of it.  And then Sajaa sees it.  It's massive.  Four inches at least with its front legs and pincers propped up atop her fingers.  Its stinger hangs up high in the air, curled at the end of its wrapped and hairy tail.

It's the largest scorpion Sajaa has ever seen in her life.

OOC:  It's 0200 on the 17th of November.  Feel free to take any action you wish, though the scorpion is half-on and half-off your right hand, with its back legs still sitting on the ground.  You can assume your sword is within reaching distance if you wish to grab for it with either hand.  Just let me know what you want to do - no need to play it out in combat turns.

Of note, you are down 4 FP from missed meals, and have sustained a few HP damage to your gut from attempting to digest an inedible substance.  You've naturally healed the 2 damage to your foot and hip though.



Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 16 posts
Thu 20 May 2021
at 13:22
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
In the dim starlight she can just make out the arachnid’s silhouette as it trundles across the back of her hand.  She freezes, her breath catching in her lungs…

God, it is HUGE!

Scorpions are common in al-Wazif.  In most circumstances, their stings are mere nuisances -- painful but not life threatening.  Only rarely -- to those with allergies intolerant of their venom -- do they actually kill.  But this one is bigger than any scorpion Sajaa has ever before seen, and of a species she is unfamiliar, so she cannot be sure what her fate would be if the thing lashed out with its long, whip-like stinger.

Every fiber of her being screams to jump up and fling the thing off of her.  But instead she remains as still as possible.  She presumes the creature simply sought her bodyheat out as a place to warm itself from the desert’s chill night air.

She swallows hard, then lets her breath come out slowly and evenly, praying the thing cannot sense the rapid pounding of her heart.    And then, ever so slowly, by infinitesimal degrees, she lowers her hand to the ground, watching the creature's movements and behavior…

For this brief moment, with her attention riveted on the scorpion, Sajaa forgets about her desperate state.  Forgets about the brutally blistered soles of her feet from miles of trudging over broken land. Forgets about the bone-chilling cold she endures each night; and the scorching heat each day.  Forgets about her gnawing hunger and parched, dehydrated state.  Forgets about the boiling sickness deep in her bowels. Forgets about the constant state of fear she lives in every waking minute, expecting the Sheik’s men to come galloping over every rise with scimitars brandished and murder in their eyes. Forgets about the fear of being alone in the wilderness, or the equally frightening prospect of traveling to a foreign land of heathens. As the monstrous scorpion crawls slowly across her hand, Sajaa forgets everything else but it … and God.

O Allah, guard me from what is upon me and in front of me and behind me , from my left , and from my right , and from above me . I seek refuge in Your Greatness from being struck down from beneath me.

Millimeter by millimeter, her hand lowers toward the hard ground, turning her wrist slowly at an angle such that it will encourage the scorpion to hop off to the dirt…

OOC: First, I rolled willpower to see if she had the composure to remain calm which she succeeded: 08:26, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 11 using 3d6 with rolls of 2,5,4.  willpower roll to resist panic (needs 11).  Goal is to slowly slowly slowly lower the scorpion down to the ground and tilt her hand so gravity ‘might’ encourage it to move to the ground. If she succeeds, she will roll away and stand up fast. Her goal will be to keep an eye on it, being mindful to stay away from it, and then gather her things and flee. Picture for effect. Sajaa is much darker skinned.

This message was last edited by the player at 15:06, Thu 20 May 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1905 posts
Sat 22 May 2021
at 15:28
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa feels that her heart betrays her, throbbing violently in her chest as she tilts her hand ever so slightly, trying to let the thing walk off of its own accord.  She is not an expert, but she knows that most scorpions are not deadly... they sting to stun their prey rather than kill it.  Still, she does not feel that putting that generality to the test in this specific condition would be prudent.

Slowly...  painfully slowly as Sajaa wills herself to remain calm, the beast pokes and prods its way along her hand at a lethargic pace.  After what feels like hours, the thing has finally crossed, and wanders its way back down onto the stone.

Thrilled with her freedom, Sajaa pulls her hand back and rolls away quickly from the spot, snatching her things once she gets a little bit of distance.

Though the scorpion seems alarmed, it does not move...  And Sajaa has the time to thrust herself to a stand and walk swiftly away from the place.



Sajaa can hear the sound of running water.  It is appreciated, for certain.  Though she had happened across some damp ground where she could dig for water, or else small cave springs that trickled down the walls to be absorbed by the earth, finding a real river or stream would allow for one fewer thing for Sajaa to worry about.

Perhaps the river would even have fish to catch.

Her stomach still cramped painfully.  The thought of food was mesmerizing while at the same time slightly repulsive.  Sajaa shook off the feeling.  Her first priority was escape.

The sky is just starting to lighten from black to a deep indigo in the eastern sky when Sajaa crests a hill and sees the river below her.

It's wide.  It's hard to tell exactly how far the swim would be, though Sajaa knows that she is thankful that the rainy season has not yet begun in earnest.  It must be the Makarem... the last barrier to her freedom.

OOC:  It is 0500 on the 17th of November.  You are near the peak of a hill that overlooks a wide river which appears to run from west to east and you assume it is the Makarem which marks the border between Al-Wazif and Megalos.  There are bridges which cross the river, though all of the ones you know are much farther back to the east on the road North from Quazr-As Sawh or near Bannock.  Roll vs. Perception.
Sajaa al-Kassem
 player, 18 posts
Tue 25 May 2021
at 15:43
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa chokes back a sob of relief at sight of the river. After days trudging through the wilderness, she never thought she'd actually reach it.

Judging by the river's great width, she assumes this is, indeed, the Makarem, which serves as the border between her own al-Wazif and Megalos.  Once across, she will have left her homeland -- and hopefully her pursuers -- behind her.  Of course she knows that a lone, unescorted woman entering a foreign country is going to carry its own share of obstacles and risks -- especially one as corrupt, violent and draconian as Megalos is reputed to be.  But despite these risks, Sajaa sinks to her knees and thanks God for protecting her thus far in her journey.

She drops to all fours and slurps from the cool, muddy tasting water.  Though her thirst is slaked, hunger continues to gnaw at the pit of her belly.  She decides to forage for some food for some strength to help her in the crossing.

For a time, she stalks the bank, eyes and ears peeled in the dim pre-dawn light, searching for anything she might eat -- a frog, a clam, some duck eggs, perhaps watercress or mint she knows occasionally grows along rivers. Anything with a few calories to put in her stomach.

OOC: 11:40, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 10 using 3d6 with rolls of 3,1,6.  Perception (12).  Sajaa will attempt to hunt for food (give her, say, an hour). 11:17, Today: Sajaa al-Kassem rolled 11 using 3d6 with rolls of 5,5,1.  survival - plains, searching riverbank for food 11.After an hour, whether or not she is successful, she will then gather up a big mound of sticks and buoyant logs, enough to hold up her sack and sword/rug.  She will then slip out of her clothing and stow those in her sack, then slip into the water and attempt to swim across, pushing the belongings with her.

This message was last edited by the player at 15:56, Tue 25 May 2021.

Raddek
 GM, 1912 posts
Tue 1 Jun 2021
at 16:59
Chapter 26:  My Life Before I Knew It
Sajaa rushes down from the hilltop straight for the river, plunging her hands into the murky water of the grassy banks.  It tasted muddy, and had a slight metallic bite to it, though Sajaa knew well enough that she should drink what she could while she had the opportunity.

Food was another matter though.  The hunger in her stomach has somewhat subsided, though Sajaa knew that the lack of the nagging hunger was not a good thing.  It meant that her body was entering survival mode, that it had resorted to feeding on her own muscle until food became plenty again.  Sajaa would have to find what she could, and there was no better place than a riverbank to find small animals to feed on.

Sajaa began to walk along the bank, though she does not make it far before she sees something that gives her pause.

In the stark light of the early morning, just a stone's throw from the bank a hundred yards or so upriver, a large, leather tent stands out in the distance along with two horses which seem to be grazing on the plains grasses.  Sajaa crouches low, unsure if she has been seen, and waiting to see if there is any reaction.  Slowly, a few details begin to fall into place.

She hears murmurs, nothing concrete, but the remnants of words that have carried too far along the wind.  She sees a silhouette which breaks out for a moment from the background of the tent canvas, then fades back into the darkness.  There is no doubt there is someone there.  Someone awake...

OOC:  It is 0530.  The sky is just beginning to brighten and the stars disappear directly behind you.  Whatever campsite you are viewing is about 100-200 yards away to the west.  You definitely see two horses and a tent, and the outline of at least one person.  You have not yet gotten any benefit from your survival roll.