[QAGS] Dune: "The Knife's Edge"

avantman42

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#1
"Our world is balanced on a knife edge. I do not intend to let it fall."
— Reverend Mother Zahra, of Sietch Bissal

This is another Dune campaign, but this time I'm using QAGS 2nd edition instead of GURPS. There is a campaign wiki, which is primarily intended for myself and the players, but might also be useful for anyone following this Actual Play thread. I've written a web app to help run the game. I've got five players this time. Two are new, one played in my last campaign, and two played in both of my other Dune campaigns.

The effects of the previous two campaigns may impact on this campaign, though the characters are new, and they're based in a new sietch. This one is set 3-6 months after the last one ended. The year is 10,177 and the Harkonnens are still in charge. There is a very brief synopsis of the two previous campaigns on the campaign website.

A note on names: Fremen have a sietch name, which is only known to members of the sietch, and a common name, which is used outside the sietch. I'm intending to use the sietch name by default, and will only use the common name when quoting dialogue where the common name has been used. I'll try to remember to add the sietch name in square brackets in those cases.

The Characters

I'm not putting full character details here. For those that want them, they're on the campaign wiki.

Zaetar
Common name Barika

Character concept: Utterly practical. Heavy on the mundane. Good at improvising. If anyone's going to survive the desert without a Fremkit, you'd bet your water on her.

Tag line: “My thumper got jammed, so I thew stones at it until the worm came.”
Dumb fact: Has a scar on her left hand where she was stung by a scorpion
WWPHITM:*Charlize Theron

Shahin
Common name: Dhakiy

Character concept: Hardworking Fremen with a strong technical knack, serves by maintaining/building equipment. Bright, but impatient, idealistic and sometimes naive. Believes Fremen goals can and should be accelerated by boldness and ingenuity.

Tag line: “We must act. The future we seek will not come to the idle”
Dumb fact: Keeps his hair cut quite short. Seeing someone get their hair caught in the workings of a sandcrawler will make you particular about such things.
WWPHITM:*Karl Urban

A'shadieeyah
Common name: Aleena

Character concept: A'shadieeyah is a smart, brave, precocious child and would be a talented Sayyadina if she didn't know it so much. She learns quick and angers quicker.
Tag line: “… Yes… That's just how it happened.”

Dumb fact: A'shadieeyah was found in the desert by Zaetar. No-one knows how she got there
WWPHITM:*Annagramma Hawkin

Nina
Common name: Natasha

Character concept: No act is too vile to reclaim Arrakis. No move is too bold to hold it
Tag line: “Timing is everything”

Dumb fact: Dislikes coffee. Will avoid it if possible
WWPHITM: Salma Hayek

Alttahwida
Common name: Shakush

Character concept: Huge and doesn't always know his own strength, but possibly the most easy-going man you'll ever meet.
Tag line: “Sure. Whatever you say.”

Dumb fact: Keeps a pet kangaroo mouse to remind him to be gentle.
WWPHITM: Tom Hardy playing Thor Bjornsson
 

avantman42

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#2
Well, this is hardly auspicious

The first session was mostly spent dealing with out of character issues, working out how the rules would work, etc. So there wasn't much time in-character.

It's time for A'shadieeyah to tame her first worm. As she's a sayyadina, Reverend Mother Badia leads her and the onlookers onto the sand, before hanging back to let Naib Tammam take over. After speaking the words, Tammam hands A'shadieeyah a thumper and maker hooks, then moves away to give her space.

A'shadieeyah plants her thumper, and after a while, worm sign is visible. It's a small one, which displeases Badia, but A'shadieeyah is too far back, and fails to plant her hooks. Tammam, seeing that she's failed, calls Zaetar (another character, whose job is "Fremen Survival Trainer"). As Zaetar goes to deal with the worm, Badia pulls A'shadieeyah out of trouble. Zaetar, however, also fails to plant a hook.

Finally, Tammam hooks the worm (just) and guides it away, before bringing it back around to collect the others. As the worm is small and A'shadieeyah was not successful, they ride it a little while to tire it before returning to the sietch.

As they ride, Alttahwida offers A'shadieeyah an excuse: "You were going to do it without hooks, weren't you? That's why you called a little one, without scales too tough to lift by hand. Right?". She admits, quietly, that actually she just got it wrong. Tammam tells Zaetar that he has a task, and he's decided that she's the one to do it. She is to take A'shadieeyah, Alttahwida, Nina, and Shahin, perhaps giving A'shadieeyah some practice while they're out. Zaetar wonders if the naib's intent is to punish her, or give A'shadieeyah practice.

As they walk back to the sietch, Alttahwida thinks "She'll be fine. There are plenty who make a hash of their first worm. I bet she could have done it with her bare hands, though."
 

avantman42

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#3
Show me a completely smooth operation and I'll show you someone who's covering mistakes. Real boats rock.

When we started, the characters were relaxing. Alttahwida was playing his baliset, and A'shadieeyah was with him, playing with Alttahwida's pet muad'dib, Dib-Dib. Bikouros, a sietch elder, came over to them. He told them to find Nina, Shahin, and Zaetar, then meet him in his yali in ten minutes. Then he headed off to the stores area.

A'shadieeyah noted that Nina had been nearby and had already heard, so went to find Zaetar, while Alttahwida went to the manufactury caves to find Shahin. A'shadieeyah found Zaetar in a common area, and after passing on the message that they were wanted by Bikouros, made an awkward apology for her performance at the worm rider test. Alttahwida found Shahin, and they headed off to Bikouros' yali. Nina hung back, waiting to see the others arrive. A'shadieeyah and Zaetar arrived first, followed by Shahin. Alttahwida paused in the corridor, not sure if he was only to get Shahin, but Bikouros called him in, and Nina finally entered.

Once they were all sat, Bikouros told them that a new group of smugglers had arrived on the planet to work the sands. The characters were to give them the two stillsuits that were sat on the floor next to him. No payment is to be collected - these two stillsuits are a gift. If they have any sense, of course, the smugglers will want more, and they will have to pay. If not, the desert will have them, and they will be of no concern.

The characters have another mission. They are to make it clear to the smugglers that they should not venture too far into the desert, without letting them know that the Fremen don't want them there. They are also to ensure that the smugglers are not in league with the Harkonnens. Bikouros' plan is that the characters will conceal themselves around a false spice blow, then emerge when the smugglers arrive. Fremen scouts suggest they have an hour or so before they need to leave.

Not knowing each other well, the characters quickly work out where their respective strengths lie, then start to make plans. A'shadieeyah goes to talk to the reverend mother, to ask her advice about determining if the smugglers are simple smugglers, or in league with the Harkonnens. Zaetar makes a plan to blow up a rock, scattering sand so that it looks like a spice blow, which should attract the attention of the smugglers. Shahin goes off to get equipment, and once a suitable rock has been found, sets up a charge inside the rock. A series of bad die rolls meant that the characters weren't able to find a rock of the colour they wanted. A'shadieeyah, however, was able to quickly make a suitable dye to colour the scattered sand.

All prepared, they headed out and caught a worm to an area close to Berk al Dib. As the others set up the false blow, A'shadieeyah got distracted looking for something. Nina set up a still tent - she and A'shadieeyah will appear from the tent, while the others stay hidden. Her thinking is that two Fremen appearing together will look much less like an ambush, making it more likely that the smugglers will talk rather than fight. Zaetar saw an ornithopter in the distance, still far enough away that they shouldn't be seen. When everything was ready, A'shadieeyah was still distracted, but Nina and Alttahwida called to her, getting her into the tent.

The blast was set off, and as the sand settled, the Fremen saw to their satisfaction that it looked almost exactly like the aftermath of a spice blow. They settled down to wait.
 

avantman42

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#4
As the ornithopter approaches, A'shadieeyah warns Nina that she doesn't speak Galach. Initially annoyed, Nina decides that it could work to their advantage, since it would force them to slow down as Nina translates, and give them a chance to talk. The ornithopter arrives, and slowly circles the fake blow, before gently landing. The engine stops, and two figures jump out, one on each side.

Nina and A'shadieeyah step out of the tent and stand, waiting. The smuggler on their side of the ornithopter looks at them warily, then shouts to the other one. He's surprised to see them as he walks around, wanting to know where they have come from. Nina tells him that they had set them up to bring them down to the desert. The second smuggler's hand starts to move to her knife, but the first one stops her as Nina tells them that they have a gift for them.

The smugglers are skeptical that the stillsuits offered by Nina are any better than the ones they already have, but eventually accept the gift. When one smuggler complains that they can't wear shields, Nina worries that they have shields with them, but they don't. They agree that the smugglers will be allowed a few days to test the suits, and the smuggler tells Nina that he has a message for one of her people - a man by the name of Omair*. "Tell him that Renno and Gregor said that if he ever gets off this planet, he'd be welcome on Tantalos. They said they'd teach him to swim!" Then, to the other smuggler, he adds, "Imagine that! A swimming Fremen!", and the two laugh. The Fremen, meanwhile, have no idea what is so funny.

They agree to meet in a city. Nina names a village, wanting the smugglers to think that to her, such a small place is a city. The smuggler, of course, has never heard of the village, and they agree instead to meet at the market in Arrakeen (continuing her deception, Nina says "that is.. that is more than a city") in three days' time. The smugglers leave in their ornithopter, leaving the engine running while on the sand longer than is sensible.

As they get ready to leave, Nina tells the others that the smugglers may not survive long. If they make it to their rendezvous at the market, she may warn them about leaving engines running while on the sand. Once the ornithopter is well out of sight, they take a worm back to the sietch.

At the sietch, Bikouros takes them to his yali for the report. Nina reports that they met two of the smugglers, saying that if they are spies, they are good, but if they are smugglers, they aren't. Alttahwida adds that they didn't have griffin badges, so aren't Harkonnens, and Bikouros thanks him for the information. When Nina reveals that she didn't explicitly warn the smugglers against going into the deep desert, Bikouros becomes annoyed. He tells them to go, so that he can talk to Reverend Mother Badia and get her advice.

Zaetar leads the others to her yali for spice beer. A thoughtful Nina thinks that Bikouros missed that they were trying not to over-play their hand. They start to wonder if there is something that they aren't being told, and A'shadieeyah drops repeated hints that Nina may wish to eavesdrop on the conversation between Bikouros and Reverend Mother Badia, but Nina doesn't rise to it. There is also some discussion of what else the smugglers may be up to, with some speculation that they may be intending to abduct Fremen women.

In the end, Zaetar persuades the others that they should wait to be called, as they have been ordered. A'shadieeyah isn't happy, but doesn't argue too hard.

*OOC Note: Omair was the common name of a character in the last campaign. Renno and Gregor were two NPCs that he was friendly with
 

avantman42

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#5
It's not a victory. It feels... like some part of me will go with him, when the sun sets

Two days later, Alltawida is sparring with another warrior in the common area. Various people are watching, but Alltawida shows no sign of having noticed them. Ashfaq and Meymona head into the area, talking, and head to get coffee.

Alltawida appears to be barely concentrating, but is parrying every blow all the same. His opponent, Faysal, is working hard, but clearly outmatched.

Burayd, a physician, enters the area, asking after Liet. Meymona says she believes he is with Safwan (a sietch elder) and asks if something is wrong, but Burayd won't say.

A little later, Burayd comes back in, with reverend mother Badia. Burayd gets a coffee, before telling Meymona that Umma (Pardot Kynes) has been killed in a rock fall at Two Birds. Reverend mother Badia heads to see A'shadieeyah.

Badia tells A'shadieeyah that she may get a chance to see Liet, as she has asked. She tells her that Liet has been trained to take over from his father, and the relevant forms have been submitted. Now that his father is dead, he has to get to the city to ensure that everything goes as the Fremen wish. A'shadieeyah responds, "But as Fremen, we need to make sure that no treachery takes place".

Ashfaq speaks in a loud voice, directed at Badia, "He can take over from Umma as far as the Emperor's concerned, but that's all".

Meymona tries to stop him, but he brushes her off, and heads towards the reverend mother and A'shadieeyah, as Alltawida realises that Faysal has been put up to fighting him by some others.

Badia asks Ashfaq if he wishes to talk to her, and he says, "The son is not the father. Liet is not Umma! He can take over as the emperor's planetologist, but we all should have a say if he is to take over from Umma".

A'shadieeyah asks who he'd have take over, and he replies that no-one should. Giving him a terrible look, she says, "So you'd condemn your descendants to never-ending desert? To no hope of improving our lot as a people? What ARE you?"

He replies that he's Fremen, and knowing that she has not yet conquered Shai-Hulud, adds that he's a wormrider.

A'shadieeyah slaps Ashfaq in the face, and appears ready to do so again.

Ashfaq asks if she wishes to issue Tahaddi Challenge, and calling him a traitor, she does.

Alltawida tells Faysal that he needs better friends, then finishes the fight by sending him spinning through the air to land on the three that had put Faysal up to it. He then advances on them, full of fury. "Take him to the infirmary and know that Faysal fought with greater courage than the three of you will ever know. If I ever learn again that the three of you have driven a sietch mate into such a hopeless fight simply for your own entertainment, then I will break each of you slowly into small pieces".

A'shadieeyah heads to the sparring area and strips down to fight, shouting insults at Ashfaq, who follows more slowly.

Burayd hurries over to Faysal and checks him over, then tells the three to follow her, and bring Faysal.

Alltawida notices A'shadieeyah's anger, and asks what is going on. Nina answers that an argument caught fire, and now they are to fight for real.

Zaetar asks Badia why she did not intervene. Badia answers that they all have the right to call challenge, and that "When A'shadieeyah wins, she may quiet some voices that would cause disharmony otherwise".

A'shadieeyah attacks, but misses, and Ashfaq's return cuts her leg. Ashfaq lunges, but misses, and his eye is caught a nasty scratch from A'shadieeyah's fingernails. Angry, he charges at her, but she moves out of his way. Standing behind him, she lightly grabs his throat, spins him around and drives her knife deep into his uninjured eye. He is killed instantly, and she is showered in blood.

A'shadieeyah apologises to Badia for losing her temper, before running off to clean and cry. Meanwhile, Meymona takes the body off to the death stills.

Alltawida picks up her clothes and water rings, then goes to find her in her yali. He drops the bundle on the floor, then asks with disgust and scorn, "So, how does it feel to be a killer?". This brings her up short, and stops her crying.

Nina, who had also followed, tries to tell A'shadieeyah that Ashfaq died because of his pride, which was not her fault or her doing.

Alltawida repeats his question. A'shadieeyah replies that, "It's not, what you think it might be. It's not a victory. It feels... like some part of me will go with him, when the sun sets".

Alltawida replies that it's a burden, and maybe a lesson. Then adds, "I'm not actually sure what the lesson is. I just really remember Ashfaq saying the same words to me the first time I killed someone. It seemed kind of important and helped me to get to grips with what I had done".

After giving him a sharp look, A'shadieeyah tells them both to leave. She needs space. Alltawida pauses on the threshold, to tell her, "By the way, that knee-kick was really nicely executed. If you like, I'll teach you why it never works as an opening move. When you're ready".
 

avantman42

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#6
We are friends of Ashfaq. We are not wailing for our dead like a pack of garvarg

We started the session with Ashfaq's funeral rite. I'll not go through the whole thing, but I would like to list what each of the characters said:

A'shadieeyah: Ashfaq was my friend. When I was a child rescued from the desert, he showed me how precious water is to our people, and the value of the rings I was carrying. He set me on the path to learning how our planet and the lot of our people may be improved.
Alttahwida: Ashfaq was my friend. He taught me to think about the difference between "can" and "should"
Shahin: Ashfaq was my friend. Often, while I repaired the wind traps, he would ensure I was brought nourishment, that I might better serve the Sietch.
Zaetar: Ashfaq was my friend. He taught me to keep my water in me, and not in my catchpockets.
Nina: Ashfaq showed me how to act with honour, even at the end he demonstrated what it is to be one of us.

After the rite, Alttahwida sits off to one side, playing his baliset. He's not playing a particular tune, but the notes fit the prevailing mood.

A'shadieeyah finds Adira, Ashfaq's wife, apologises, and silently hands her the water rings she's got from Ashfaq. Adira quietly refuses to take them, saying "Ashfaq didn't want our ways to change. You showed that they have to, but please, accept his water, and I shall accept your apology".

A'shadieeyah accepts, and shows Adira the piece of jewellery she took during the funeral rite, asking if it's important. Adira replies that she gave it to Ashfaq before they were married, and so A'shadieeyah gives it to her to remember Ashfaq by. She also tells Adira that she's free to go and do as she pleases - A'shadieeyah has no desire to shackle her as a servant.

Noting that A'shadieeyah is in pain, Adira tells her that she should see a physician. A'shadieeyah's reply that she is a physician is overheard by Burayd, one of the sietch physicians, who calls out, "I heard that, A'shadieeyah. So, you think you're a physician as well as a sayyadina, do you? Is there no end to your talents?" A'shadieeyah rolls her eyes, but allows Burayd to take her away to the infirmary.

Liet Kynes finds A'shadieeyah in the infirmary. He tells her that he'll be leaving for the city tomorrow, but he wanted to thank her before he left. He says that he has to make sure that the emperor will stand by his promise to make him planetologist now that Pardot Kynes is dead - if he doesn't, it could be disastrous for the Fremen. A'shadieeyah tells him to be careful.

As Liet leaves, Nina arrives. She and A'shadieeyah discuss whether there is an organised group trying to sabotage them, and how life might change when the planet changes. A'shadieeyah is worried that the Fremen won't adapt.

...

While A'shadieeyah is in the infirmary, Shahin goes to see Bikouros, the sietch elder that gave them the mission to meet the smugglers. He tells Bikouros that the smugglers are expecting to meet them in the city the next day, and asks if they are to make the rendezvous.

Bikouros replies that they should go, and that their original instructions still stand. Now, however, they now have an additional mission. They are to escort Liet to the city. Whether they are to escort him within the city is up to Liet. They are to take an ornithopter, although Bikouros advises landing it outside the city and walking in.

...

Shahin goes to find the infirmary, where he finds A'shadieeyah and Nina, and tells them that they are to escort Liet to the city.

A'shadieeyah is worried that someone will attack as they travel. She thinks Umma's death might have been deliberate, and that the killers will want to stop Liet taking over, presumably because they have their own candidate for the planetologist's job.

They start to discuss ideas, and A'shadieeyah mentions the possibility of decoys, but Shahin points out that they should get the others before they make any real plans.

Nina and Shahin go to find the others.
 

avantman42

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#7
Ultimately, trust is a matter of perception and detection, of small and large things, parts that add up to a whole.

Later that evening, Nina went to see A'shadieeyah in the infirmary. A physician, Burayd, was going to bed, but told Nina that she needed bed rest, but he doubted she'd stay long enough to get it. A'shadieeyah proves Burayd right, jumping out of bed as soon as Nina arrived, saying that they needed to go and see Liet.

They wake Liet, explaining that they intend to take him to Carthag now. Nina goes to fetch the others, while A'shadieeyah makes coffee and asks Liet where the risks are likely to come from. Liet responds that the city fremen are unlikely to be a threat. He knows that some desert fremen are unhappy with the changes that are happening, but he doesn't know how many.

When the others arrive, they start to discuss plans. Liet accepts that some of them will escort him in Carthag, while the others go to Arrakeen to meet the smugglers. Eventually, it is decided that Shahin will fly them all to Carthag. He and Nina will then leave the others and go on to Arrakeen. They will stay with Liet for a few days, while they get trusted people in place.

They get into an ornithopter that Shahin has previously prepared. He's stripped it of non-essentials to increase speed, and fitted some rudimentary defensive systems in case they are fired at. To Liet's surprise, the very tall Alttahwida insists that Liet should take the seat with the most leg room. As they fly, Zaetar studies some books on poisons that A'shadieeyah has provided. They have to divert to avoid a spice mining operation, but they are not spotted.

As they head into the city, Liet briefs the others on what they need to know — keep their heads down and weapons hidden, walk with rhythm, and try to avoid Harkonnen patrols. He also warns them that there's a reward for a chrysknife, and remembers that there was once a reward for his father, except that the Harkonnens didn't know who Umma was — they thought it was a warrior from Sietch Bissal. A water seller attracts their attention, with Zaetar finding it hard not to stare, but he keeps out of their way.

Spoiler: Show
The mention of Umma and Sietch Bissal is a reference to events from season one

With A'shadieeyah's wounds causing her pain and difficulty in walking, they decide to rest for a little while. Liet indicates a coffee shop, and Alttahwida finds a suitable table, intimidating the city fremen already sitting there into leaving.

Meanwhile, Nina and Shahin carry on to Arrakeen. As they head into the city, they start to make plans. Nina will meet the smugglers, with Shahin out of sight as backup. They manage to avoid a Harkonnen patrol, and get to the market where the meeting is to take place well ahead of time.
 

avantman42

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#8
Keen and gleaming, guard it kept o'er the man of war

In Arrakeen, Nina and Shahin make their way to the market to meet the smugglers, making sure that they arrive early. Shahin finds somewhere to watch while staying out of sight.

The two smugglers they'd seen in the desert arrive. Nina sees the male speaking to a woman, who stays long enough to see who he meets with, before disappearing out of view. The female smuggler doesn't get involved, obviously acting as a lookout.

Nina and Tagir, the male smuggler, soon agree a price of 1,350 solaris for seventeen stillsuits, to be delivered the next evening, at the same place in the desert that they first met. Nina also manages to warn the smugglers against going into the deep desert, letting them think that even the fremen couldn't survive there.

Arrangements made, Nina meets up with Shahin and they discuss plans. They both agree that they should have others with them when they deliver the stillsuits, in case the smugglers try to kill them rather than pay.

[hr][/hr]

In Carthag, the others sit for a while to give A'shadieeyah some rest, drinking coffee and eating snacks. After a short break, they start again, taking alleys and avoiding main streets that are more likely to have Harkonnen patrols.

Arriving at Liet's residence without trouble, Liet stands back, bemused, while the others open the door after checking for traps, then enter, acting as though they expect assassins behind every corner. Zaetar points out that they are simply being thorough, and Liet replies with a smile, "That is true. Should I be killed, my spirit will return to inform Naib Farrukh of your thorughness"

Once the fremen are satisfied, A'shadieeyah makes proper coffee for each of them. Zaetar and Liet talk as they drink, then Alttahwida takes watch on the roof as they others settle down to sleep.

A few hours later, Zaetar is on watch when Nina and Shahin arrive, moving carefully. Zaetar allows herself to be seen, then heads down to the door. Alttahwida wakes at Nina's gentle knock, but Zaetar tells him that it is the others. Once the others are safely inside and they are sure they have not been followed, Alttahwida takes up sentry duty on the roof once more.

Nina and Shahin tell Zaetar about their meeting. They discuss tactics for meeting the smugglers. Nina has an idea to distract anyone following the lead ornithopter, but Shahin convinces her that it's over-complicated.

The three agree that some need to go back to the sietch to get the stillsuits and also collect a back-up team in case of ambush, while some need to stay with Liet in case of trouble. Zaetar volunteers to stay in the city, and Nina suggests that A'shadieeyah should meet the smugglers - the sayyadina may see something that she would miss, and they'd be less likely to harm a child. Shahin is not convinced, and Zaetar points out that if her leg is not healed, she'd slow them down.

Zaetar suggests that the other two rest, and that they ask A'shadieeyah after they are rested.
 
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avantman42

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#9
Does he really not know that his father is dead?

Zaetar makes coffee for everyone. After drinking hers quickly, she goes to the roof to take over from Alttahwida. When Alttahwida comes down, Nina and Shahin tell him how their mission went. They will be going to get stillsuits from the sietch, and want to have people to back them up when they meet the smugglers, in case they make trouble. They all agree that Alttahwida should stay with Liet, though.

Liet Kynes comes downstairs, and gets himself coffee, asking after Nina and Shahin's mission. He tells them that he will need to go to the palace soon to formalise his position as Imperial Planetologist. When offered an escort, he points out that he's never needed one before. Nina counters that his situation has changed, and Liet agrees, though he's not exactly sure how. Alttahwida helpfully points out that "Well... Your father died and left his work for you to continue." Liet accepts an escort, but advises that they don't go inside with him.

Nina tries to wake A'shadieeyah gently, but she jumps up, ready to fight, then explains that she'd had some bad dreams. Once she has recovered, Nina explains that A'shadieeyah, Alttahwida, and Zaetar are to escort Liet to the Beast's palace. Liet asks that they don't storm the palace if they think he's been inside too long, prompting Alttahwida to ask how long he thinks is too long. Liet isn't sure. He thinks it shouldn't take longer than an hour, but the Harkonnens may get difficult. It's settled that the others will come looking for him (but not assault the palace) if he isn't out by nightfall.

A'shadieeyah changes her dressings again, and Liet starts to sort through drawers, looking for the relevant paperwork. Alttahwida goes to get Zaetar from the roof, and briefs her: "Liet's going to the Beast's palace, Nina wants him to be escorted there, but we can't go in. If he's not out by nightfall, we can go looking for him, but we're not allowed to storm the place. I think we're allowed to fight our way out again, though."

Liet leads the way to the palace. On the way, A'shadieeyah realises that they're being followed by an off-world woman, and discreetly points her out to Zaetar, who then informs Alttahwida. A'shadieeyah asks Liet to take a route that is likely to have Harkonnen patrols, saying that she doesn't believe there will be any today.

Liet turns onto a busier main street. The woman follows, although the busy street makes it harder to keep track of her. Zaetar nips into an alley so that she can climb onto a roof to keep watch from above. Alttahwida, noting the crowd ahead making room, directs the others into a shop doorway, out of the way of the oncoming Harkonnen patrol. Once the patrol is past, they continue along with the rest of the crowd.

As they turn onto the street with the palace, Liet tells them that there's a coffee shop called Yalla Yalla that would be ideal for keeping a lookout on the palace entrance, but it's popular with Harkonnens, and they may object to sharing it with Fremen. None the less, A'shadieeyah and Alttahwida go into the coffee shop as Liet heads into the palace. The coffee shop is fairly busy, and all of the other customers are Harkonnens, many of whom give the fremen nasty looks. A nervous waiter takes their order for cofee.

Zaetar follows the off-world woman to a place nearby named Ahmedia, which appears to be a lodging house, then heads to the coffee house to join the others and inform them. She also points out that the off-world woman was like A'shadieeyah. Not "confident beyond her years and disturbingly ready to start a fight?" as Alttahwida thinks to himself, but likely Bene Gesserit.
 

avantman42

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#10
Instead, tend to the wolf within your fences. The packs ranging outside may not even exist.

As Zaetar and A'shadieeyah discuss the woman that followed them, a Harkonnen comes over to their table, demanding to know what they're doing in a Harkonnen coffee house. As Alttahwida translates for A'shadieeyah (who doesn't speak Galach), Zaetar simply replies that they're drinking coffee, and adds that they'll be gone soon.

A'shadieeyah tells Alttahwida that the Harkonnen clearly wants a fight, and he translates that to Galach for the Harkonnen. The Harkonnen laughs, and Alttahwida adds, "But that I should wait until you draw a weapon"

The amused Harkonnen asks what difference it would make, and Zaetar replies that it would only be fair. His friend, still at their table, tells him to leave them alone, but he draws a knife, and tells the Fremen to get out now.

Zaetar suggests that he should listen to his friend, adding that was nice meeting him, then pointedly turns away, keeping him just within her field of vision. He lunges at Zaetar, as A'shadieeyah jumps up and kicks her chair at him, and Alttahwida punches him in the face. A follow-up knee to the groin lifts the man off the floor, and he lands unconscious.

Alttahwida turns to the other Harkonnens, who were only just reacting, and says "I'm sorry that violence has happened in your drinking place. Where should I put your friend so that he may rest?" The Harkonnen's friend look up at the huge Fremen (Alttahwida is 6' 11" tall) and slowly takes his knife away from his knife, telling Alttahwida to put the unconscious Harkonnen in his chair. Alttahwida does so, restoring the man's knife to its sheath, before nodding to the others and returning to his table.

Some hours later, Liet Kynes leaves the palace and heads to the cafe. By this time, most of the Harkonnens have left. Liet comments that it is very quiet, and A'shadieeyah asks, "What were you expecting, a gun fight?" Completely deadpan, he replies, "No. A knife fight".

Changing the subject, Zaetar asks if his business is concluded. He replies that it is for now. Signals are to be sent to Kaitain, and eventually a reply will be sent back. They head back to Liet's residence, and as they leave the cafe, Nina joins them, having left Shahin at Liet's residence. As they walk, they discuss the apparently Bene Gesserit woman that followed them earlier, and speculate as to her motives.

Liet pauses at the door to his residence, aware of how paranoid the others are. Alttahwida kicks the door open, maula pistol ready. He finds himself facing Shahin, who calmly asks if he'd like a coffee.

Once they are all inside and (with the exception of Nina) helping themselves to Liet's coffee, he asks if they are to return to Suhula. This prompts something of an argument. The PCs are unhappy at the thought of leaving Liet without bodyguards, but he points out that even his father never had bodyguards. A'shadieeyah, however, is concerned that the rock fall that killed Pardot Kynes was not an accident.

Eventually it is decided that if Liet does not believe he needs bodyguards, then his views should be respected. A'shadieeyah, however, sets up an old Zensunni rite intended to convey blessings onto a pendant. She gives it to Liet, telling him "It will not save you from all harm, but it will help you to remain aware when otherwise you might be deceived".

With that, they leave to return to the sietch, where they will report and prepare to meet the smugglers in the desert.
 
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