The Tears of Sakina

The Old Crones Theater: Act One
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The streets of Muluk’s bazaar seem unusually barren as a crowd begins to gather in font of a hastily built shadow box. Murmurs spread throughout the small gathering as children and adults alike all looked anxiously at the unknown stage. As the murmurs began to grow louder, a shaking of the heavy lace curtain within the box caused a shush for silence to erupt in the crowd. Within moments, a rugged hand puppet of a painted cat in a straw hat shot out from behind the curtain and began looking around at the crowd. After a small outburst of laughter from a few children in the front row, the puppet raised his hands and began to speak.

“Ladies, gentlemen, and little scoundrels of all ages, I welcome you once again to the Old Crone’s Theater for what will undoubtedly be a thrilling tale of murder, mystery, intrigue, and suspense! It’s a story of five young adventurers, each lacking the necessary skills to survive in civilized society, so they choose instead to seek their fame and fortune battling evil and forging through the great unknown in the name of duty and honor. Little did they know the fierceness of the monsters they would face, the cost of their battles, or how boring this introduction would inevitably be! Friends, prepare yourself to witness and enjoy, The Battle Behind The Waterfall!”

The audience clapped and cheered as the cat doll retreated behind the curtain and a series of new puppets were thrust into view. Five wooden figures stood beside a large cutout of a waterfall. In the lead was a figure of an elf that appeared to have the clothing of a second figure hastily tied around it. As the elf puppet shook on its stick, a muffled voice rang out from behind the curtain.

“Friends, I have led us to the great waterfall, just as I promised I would. Now, I just need the password so that I may open it!”

A muttering went through the line as each puppet shook in turn until the last one, a human holding a bow, leaned forward and whispered to the puppet ahead of him, “Sakina, stand aside!” After hearing this, the next puppet in line, an elf holding a poison vial, leaned forward and whispered, “Sakina, run and hide!” This continued as the dwarf puppet leaned forward saying, “Sakura, ordered fries!” and the human puppet responded with, “Susan has nice thighs!” After hearing this, the first puppet spread his arms and shouted to the water fall, “Sarah Palin clearly lied!” While snickers ran through the audience, the waterfall remained stationary. After a few brief moments of suspense, it sighed and muttered “Close enough…” As the five adventurer puppets jumped in joy, the waterfall cutout began to sink behind the curtain and out of view. “Let us go, friends!” the rogue puppet said as the five of them marched out of view and the audience laughed.

A backdrop of a lavish stone hall fell in front of the curtain as the puppets of two guards sprang into view. They were each struggling to hold three normal sized playing cards, which were far too big for the small wooden puppets. “I bet five silver!” the first guard said as the sound of coins falling could be heard behind the backdrop. “I call!” Said the second guard. “Why would you call that?” The first guard asked in a huff. “Because I can see your cards and know you are bluffing!” The first guard looked up at the cards he was holding and turned around so his back was to the audience. “Can you see them now?” Laughter sprang up from some of the children in the audience just as the rogue puppet came into view.

“Halt, who goes there?” The second guard demanded. The rogue, still having the clothes of another puppet tied to his body, walked forward without fear. “Just me, another guard stationed here behind this magical waterfall. Pay no attention to me while I sneak behind you, and there is definitely no one else coming in after me!” Saying this, the rogue walked behind the guards as clanging could be heard off stage. The voices of the dwarf and cleric could be heard arguing. “I am being sneaky.” “That is not sneaky!” “Yes it is, ask them! Hey, you guards, was I being sneaky?” Distracted by the adventurers coming into view, the guards were hit from behind by the rogue puppet. With an audible dying gasp, both guards fell out of view and the crowd cheered. “Dumb guards, I was lying the whole time!” The rogue struck a heroic pose while the other members of his group patted him on the back. “There is no time for praise my friends, we have a job to do!” And with that, the adventurers were once again retracted from view.

The backdrop once again changed revealing what looked to be a prison with the puppet of a paladin chained to the wall. A woman in a white dress paced back and forth as a strained and fake female voice came from behind the backdrop. “Tell me why you were sneaking around, paladin! This area belongs to Yodfah, and goody-two-shoes like you are not welcome!” At the mention of Yodfah, many members of the audience burst into booing. The paladin, unable to move, had to raise his voice over the drones of the audience. “I wasn’t sneaking around, I was just going to ask if you wanted to buy any paladin cookies!” “But you killed my men!” The woman shouted. “They were dead when I got here!” The paladin responded just as the rogue came in from the side.

“Who are you?” The woman asked. “I’m a guard,” the rogue responded, “I came to tell you that the prisoner escaped!” “Escaped?” The woman looked back and forth between the paladin and the rogue in confusion. “Which prisoner?” she asked. “That one!” The rogue said, pointing to the paladin. Again, the woman looked between them in confusion. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Yes.” The rogue said, nodding his whole body in a cartoonish bow. The paladin struggled to nod as well, “Yes yes, I’ve escaped.” Shaking her head, the woman began to move to the edge of the stage. “What do I pay you for! Guards, guards, find me the prisoner!” And with that, she was pulled behind the backdrop as multiple people in the audience bent over in laughter.

The dwarf, cleric, and warlock came into view as the paladin began to thank the party. “Thank you, thank you. I am Rashad, servant of Osiris! I have been prisoner for many days now, and thought that I would never-” The rogue cut him off mid-sentence, “Yes, yes, yes, nobody cares. We’re looking for a book, have you seen it?” The paladin, still chained to the wall, stares at him blankly. “A book? In here? This is a prison… Why would they keep a book here?” “He makes a good point,” the warlock says but the rogue shakes his head. “Nameless paladin, if we cut you loose will you help us in our quest?” Responding quickly, the paladin asked, “Will you buy some of my paladin cookies?” The adventurers huddle together comically for a few moments before the rogue replies, “Sure…” Cutting the paladin free, the six adventures head out as the woman and a handful of her guards come walking back onto the stage.

“I want to find this prisoner quickly, I just know he has come to steal my perfume bottles!” She walks quickly back and forth along the stage with the guards quickly in tow. One of them speaks up, “But my lady, they are more likely after the wine… Or the treasure… Or the book-” “Silence,” she screams, cutting the guard off, “We must protect the perfume at all cost!” A shuffling sound comes from off the side of the stage and the woman spins around. “What was that?” Before anyone could move, the ranger comes jumping into view. The puppet begins to quickly spin around on it’s stick as dozens of tiny wooden arrows shoot around the stage. The woman and guards begin running around frantically as the wooden toothpicks fall around them. As the audience cheers and laughs at the spectacle, the guards and women one-by-one falls dead behind the stage.

Stopping his spin, the ranger settles onto the stage and shouts to his comrades, “It is done, all of the enemies are dead!” The cleric springs into view holding a paper chest of coins, “I have found loads of treasure!” The warlock springs into view holding a paper book, “I have found the book!” The dwarf springs into view holding an urn of wine and wobbling on his stick, “I ’ave dranked an ale!” Finally the rogue comes into view with five arrows sticking out of his body, “I don’t feel so good…” After a long drawn out death wail, the rogue falls beneath the stage as the rest of the part yells in grief.

As the backdrop was removed and each puppet retreated from the stage, the audience began to clap and the cat doll returned to take a bow. “Thank you my friends, and I hope you enjoyed the show!” A large cheer went up from the crowd as the curtain behind the doll begin to move. The painted face of a man came into view and he stood there watching the puppet on his hand speak. “Fear not, for this is far from the end of the story. There will be many more adventures for our heroes, with many more battles and enemies to overcome. Will they survive? Will they find the treasure and fame they seek? Well, I could tell you but…” The man and the puppet looked out past the crowd to the streets beyond. Far away, Dovak, Rashad, Severius, Lester, and Takashi could be seen riding in through the city gate. Their horses were piled high with sacks of coins, and it was clear that they were weary from their long ride. Back at the theater, a smile crept onto the puppeteer’s face as he raised a finger to his lips and began to slink back behind the curtain. “If I told you, it would spoil the secret!” The doll said to the crowd as they slowly disappeared from view. There was a large burst of laughter from behind the curtain before the box fell forward and crashed to the ground leaving the space on the street silent and eerily void of all life.

The Tears of Sakina

Tales from Elrond taddow Gunsmith