Ibn Jellaba

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Ibn Jellaba was an Arabyan merchant and scholar who was the first to penetrate the jungles of the Southlands and live to tell the tale. He discovered the Lizardman temple-city of Zlatlan in around 1150 IC[1a][1b]

Arabyan merchants were facing opposition from Elven and Cathayan fleets as they tried to exploit trade routes around the Southlands to the Far East.[1a][1d] The Sultan commanded Ibn Jellaba to find an overland trade route across the Southlands to avoid this competition. He gave Ibn fifty camels and an escort of loyal eunuch soldiers from the palace guard, commanded by their champion Haqim. Ibn himself hired several Tuareg scouts to help lead him across the desert.[1a]

After three weeks the expedition reached the Plain of Tuskers.[1a][2] The Tuaregs found several previously unknown oases and water holes, which Ibn marked with cairns of stones and recorded on his map. No-one from Araby had ever entered this strange land before, and Ibn had to promise the Tuareg more gold to continue. After several days the vegetation thickened and the eunuchs found it ever more difficult to hack a way through with their scimitars. Suddenly however, the expedition stumbled onto a paved road stretching to the horizon. As it was aligned to the southern constellation, Ibn decided to follow the road southwards.[1a]

For many days the expedition continued southwards. Eventually they saw the top of a tall tower shimmering in the distance. At first Ibn thought it was a mirage of the Elven Fortress on the southern tip of the Southlands. However, after a while he realised it was a stepped pyramid, quite different to the pointed pyramids of Khemri.[1a] Skink scouts on Terradons spotted the camel caravan and circled them from high up in the sky. Ibn, wanting to avoid fighting, ordered that anyone firing arrows at the Lizardmen would be executed. Eventually the airborne scouts flew back to the distant temple-city.[1b]

Later that day the expedition was crossing a causeway over a swamp when Skink warriors suddenly swarmed out of the swamp and blocked their passage. As the eunuchs formed a battle line, Ibn tried to communicate that he came in peace and laid out 'all manner of good things' from Araby as a gift. Whilst the Skink Chiefs examined the merchandise a regiment of Saurus warriors appeared on the causeway behind Ibn's expedition.[1b]

The Skinks left all the merchandise on the causeway and retreated, another regiment of Saurus replacing them. With both ways blocked, but the Lizardmen not attacking, Ibn and Haqim agreed that they would wait. If they were attacked they would fight their way out and meet their fate honourably. Just before sunset the ranks of Saurus parted and a small group of Skink Priests appeared. The leader started to speak in a tongue that Ibn eventually recognised as the ancient tongue of Nehekhara. At first Ibn was afraid that the Lizardmen might be evil followers of the undead, but he realised that it was an ancient version from before evil entered that land. Unfortunately for the Skinks, Ibn might be able to recognise Nehekharan, but he certainly couldn't speak it. Ibn could just about understand that the Skink Priest had asked questions about the shape of the world and realms of nations and races. In return he presented his boxes of charts and mathematical instruments. The Skinks, thinking these were gifts, took them and left.[1b]

The Skinks returned after delivering the charts to their Mage-Priest and escorted Ibn and his men into Zlatlan, where they were well cared for. Through long and difficult conversations the Skinks acquired some knowledge of the Arabyan language and Ibn was able to deliver the Sultan's request for a trade route through the Southlands. The Mage-Priest refused this request, even when Ibn promised a tribute of gold. Ibn did get his charts and mathematical instruments back, the Skinks having made copies.[1b]

Ibn's help was requested for an expedition that the reigning Mage-Priest of the city, Lord Xuaxamul, was planning. The aim was to recover the the mummified remains of another Slann, which were believed to be hidden in a Nehekharan necropolis. The Lizardmen were unaccustomed to the arid desert north of the jungle, and required Ibn's knowledge of the desert and the lands beyond it.[1b][1c]

The expedition consisted of Saurus, Stegadons bearing howdahs and great gourds of water, Skink cohorts and Ibn's small contingent. The leader of the expedition was Yniminhi, a Skink Chief. The army marched several hours after sunrise and sunset, resting in the cold of the night - where the cold-blooded Lizardmen were too sluggish to march properly - and in the hottest part of the day. During this time Lord Xuaxamul was sending his thoughts across the desert to locate the remains of the mummified Slann and entrance the Tomb Kings of the necropolis to make them slothful and inactive if they discovered the expedition.[1c]

Lord Xuaxamul was successful in his magical feat, for when the expedition entered the ruined necropolis they were faced only by a lesser servant of the undead king. The undead army attacked in the heat of day, forcing Ibn and Yniminhi to break camp. Although the skeletons would hae terrified a human army, the Lizardmen stood firm and defeated them. As the army penetrated further into the necropolis they found shafts leading into dark crypts. The Skink scribes entered each one and Saurus were instructed to break open chambers and sarcophagi with bronze chisels. According to Ibn's advice, all the evil scrolls were burned and several mummified Tomb Kings were dismembered, burnt and scattered to the four winds.[1c]

The remains of the ancient Mage-Priest were recovered and placed on a palanquin. The Lizardmen then returned to Zlatlan. Ibn was permitted to keep all the gold and gems as a reward for his help and set off back to Ka-Sabar. When he returned he told the Sultan everything that had happened. Although the Sultan was disappointed that the Lizardmen were unwilling to trade, he was pleased with the treasure Ibn had recovered. Ibn and his men were rewarded and there was enough left over to build a new fleet of war dhows to challenge the High Elves and Cathayans for the southern trade routes.[1c]

Quotes

I, Ibn Jellaba made the trek from Ka-Sabar into the interior. No-one had ever done this and lived to tell the tale

~ Ibn Jellaba.[1a]

Sources


Araby
Units Arabyan Bowman - Arabyan Guard - Arabyan Knight - Arabyan Spearman - Camel Rider - Desert Rider - Flying Carpet - War Elephant
Characters Abdul Alhazred - Abdul ben Raschid - Anmar bin Muntasir - Haqiqah Al-Hikmah - Har-Ak-Iman - Ibn Jellaba - Ibn Naggazar - Jaffar - Khaled al Muntasir - Khar-mel - Muhannad Ru'af - Rasha bin Wasim - Suliman le Saracen
Cities Al-Haikk - Bel Aliad - Copher - Ka-Sabar - Lashiek - Martek - Sanaá
Images - Miniatures- Vehicles