|Age: 45 (at time of death)|
| Faction: |
Sultanate of Karaganda
- "If my destiny is to be a tortoise who faces a lion in the desert, I'll at least put up a fight."
- —Ismail to Refan d'Zarnagon
Ismail the Strong was the father of Razoul, the guardian of Khalid al-Saif and a good friend of Belial de Ardyn. He used to serve as the captain of the Black Guard in Vanna and as an overall military commander of the Sultanate of Karaganda until he was driven into exile. He later helped the Grand Alliance restore Khalid to the throne of Vanna. Ismail was slain by Dreadlord Leraje Thanadar in a fierce duel during the Battle of Vanna.
Rise to Prominence
Ismail was born into a family that had always had sons and daughters in the Black Guard of Vanna. His father saw it fit to train him as his successor as was the tradition in the family. Ismail was a good student and although he was less fierce than many of his companions, he showed tremendous strength in battles as he grew up. This feat made others call him Ismail the Strong.
He became captain of the Black Guard in his early twenties when his father died fighting against a rebellious tribe. He quickly showed skill in his duty and made the Black Guard a prominent unit which served the House of Saif and its then-new Sultana, Razia al-Saif, loyally. He also met Sheikh Miraj al-Zarar at the time, and the two became good friends.
Although Ismail was a fierce warrior, he respected Razia's diplomacy, and usually he did not have to fight thanks to the negotiations Razia had with the neighbouring tribes. Some Sarquil began respecting Vanna and its citizens, but others saw them as weak because of their politics.
Ismail was also interested in getting to know new people and learn new customs, and his wishes came true when Count Belial de Ardyn appeared in Vanna as a representative of the Order of the Black Rose. Although Ismail was vary of Belial's silky tongue at first, he soon came to respect the man even if he was not always happy about his complex plans. He and Belial became good friends, which many Sarquil nobles saw as a bad thing. Ismail, however, had been taught to respect strength, and he saw a lot of it in Belial.
The friendship between the two men came to a test when Ismail found out that Razia had had an affair with Belial and was heavy with his child. When the boy, Sumrah, was born, Belial was forced to take him out of the country because Sumrah's foreign looks would have made the nobles suspicious. Ismail never revealed the affair or the father of Sumrah to anyone, and the grateful Belial said that one day he would return the favour.
While Belial occasionally appeared in Vanna, Ismail had started his own relationship with a local girl, Jamila. She eventually gave birth to a healthy boy, Razoul. Ismail began teaching Razoul at a surprisingly early age of three (usually the Sarquil begin training at the age of seven), and Razoul showed surprising skill. He rarely showed love to his son, though, because he wanted him to grow independent; it was a way of preparing him for taking the mantle of the captain of the guard.
Some years later Razia had another son, Khalid, and the father was once again Belial. Ismail was happy that Khalid looked more like a Sarquil and could thus stay in Vanna to learn the Sarquil ways. He spent some of his time looking after the young Khalid, and he made Razoul learn combat in the care of other senior officers in the Black Guard.
While Ismail and Razoul grew more distant, Ismail began treating Khalid like a son. He failed to notice the growing resentment in Razoul, however, and he dismissed it as just rivalry between boys. When Khalid grew old enough to learn the use of the blade, Ismail told Razoul to help him train the boy. He did this in the hopes of making Khalid and Razoul befriend one another, but the opposite happened: the two boys became bitter rivals.
Matters remained thus for many years. The Yamatians had invaded Libaterra but had to leave the Tronin Desert and the Sarquil alone, because the Sarquil proved more than capable of slaying hundreds of Yamatian soldiers. The Grand Alliance began its campaign some time later, but the Sarquil only cared about what happened in the desert and thus remained out of world politics.
However, everything changed by the time of the Cataclysm. Ismail had been so focused on keeping Vanna safe from other tribes and outer threats that he had failed to notice the jealousy in Razia's twin sister, Adela al-Saif, who had fallen in love with Belial. He also did not pay much attention to a mysterious wanderer known as Iblis al-Djinn who often spent time with Adela, whispering strange words into her ear.
The emergence of a new threat, the Sirithai, took most of Ismail's time, and he accompanied Razia to the desert where they met Qadohi, the leader of the Sirithai. To Ismail's surprise Qadohi and Razia seemed to come to terms about a mutual existence, and thus the conflicts between their peoples came to an end.
Although one conflict was over, another began in the heart of Vanna itself some time later. Ismail realized too late that something fishy was going on, and he soon heard of Razia's death in a duel with Adela. It had taken place while he had been in the barracks overseeing training of the guard, and he immediately wondered why he had not been called to witness a duel because traditionally a captain of the guard was always present during duels.
Adela, the new Sultana of Vanna, knew of Ismail's loyalty to the deceased Razia and chose to send him into exile so that he could not rally the Black Guard against her. Ismail wanted to investigate the death of Razia further but realized he had to take care of Razia's son, Khalid, who had also been sent to exile. The duo were joined by Awar, a court mage who had taught Khalid magic with little success.
When all hope seemed lost, Belial appeared and finally kept the promise he had given Ismail back when Sumrah was born. The count saved the trio from the scorching desert and took them under his wing. Because Ismail, Khalid and Awar could not return to Vanna which had fallen under the rule of Adela and the Clergy of Artemicia, the trio chose to stay with Belial and serve the Order of the Black Rose.
Life remained relatively peaceful for the next few years until a group of Totenkopfs tried to assassinate Belial. Disturbed by this strange development, Belial found out that the Totenkopfs were planning to strike at Remon next. He gathered his most trusted supporters and immediately set sail to Remon onboard the Ardent.
The Age of Emptiness
By the time Belial began his voyage to Remon aboard the Ardent, Ismail followed along as a bodyguard. He accompanied Belial not only to protect him but to also keep an eye on Khalid who he felt the Totenkopfs might target. He had not yet forgotten how close the Totenkopfs had been to slay Belial.
Ismail was among the few survivors when the Ravensworth Watch blew up the ship, and he managed to get help for Belial's nephew Mordecai de Ardyn who had been injured in the ambush. He followed Belial loyally even though he was not sure what to think of the new allies that Belial had gained from Adram Alek and Axikasha Keiran. Nevertheless he knew that his first priority was to keep both Belial and Khalid safe from harm.
He kept quiet through most of the journey, but his swordsmanship really got to shine when a group of Totenkopfs attacked Belial's party on the way to Remonton. He avenged the fate of his companions who had died in Ravensworth and slew any Totenkopf who stood in his way. When one of the Totenkopfs named Izael Korath was captured, Ismail casually broke the mage's arm to make him speak. This did not work much, though, but Belial soon probed Izael's mind although he refused to tell Ismail or the others what he had seen in Ismail's mind.
Ismail also let his soft side be seen when he told Izael to stop mocking Ax, but he was not happy when a group consisting of Kaisa Blackwell, Rhylian Loras and Dieter von Waldheim appeared and joined the group. Ax was willing to take them along, however, and Ismail did not want to make Ax lose trust in him and his companions, so he kept quiet.
On Death's Trail
Ismail helped Ax and the others get into Remonton which was under control of the Proninist Party. He did what he could when an ice elemental attacked the party in the city. Although the ice elemental was defeated and the Second Battle of Remonton ended, Ismail was saddened to hear that the battle had only been a distraction so that the Totenkopfs could kidnap their true target, Mordecai.
He stayed in Remonton for a year and was one of the few of Belial's companions who decided to help to rebuild the city. He was also unsure whether Belial had been wise to force Refan d'Zarnagon in his service because something about the man made Ismail feel uneasy.
A Game of Deception
Ismail helped in the rebuilding of Remonton but remained as an observer during King Marcus Sarillius's meeting with the delegates in 11 AOE. He witnessed the forming of the new Grand Alliance but thought nothing of it. His loyalty lay solely on Belial and the Order... at least until he and Belial were ready to move to Vanna to challenge Adela and restore Khalid to the throne like Belial had promised years ago.
Ismail was called to action late at night by Belial who informed him and the others that King Marcus had been kidnapped. Ismail remained calm while Khalid fumed, but both he and Khalid assumed that no one else than the Totenkopfs could be behind such a sinister scheme. He, like his companions, was unaware that there would be more surprises in store for all of them during the quest to free the king from the mysterious kidnappers.
Echoes of War
- "There might be more of those Boneheads in there, and if we enter that temple without a backup plan, we'll only get ourselves killed. So far our only advantage is that they don't seem to know about the existence of our group yet."
- —Ismail about the Totenkopfs
Ismail followed the heroes to the Ruined Kingdom. He stayed behind with Waldheim's group while Ax's group proceeded into the temple. They saw a mysterious elfess sneaking around, and the newcomer turned out to be Tiyana Natiya. After the misunderstanding had been cleared up, Ismail and the others witnessed Totenkopfs entering the temple in pursuit of Ax. They and Tiyana followed the Totenkopfs into the temple.
The group soon found themselves in the middle of a battle between Ax's group, the Totenkopfs and Marcus's mysterious kidnappers who turned out to be Varalia Earthhaven and Xerathas d'Zarnagon. The battle came to a halt soon when Jacob Seneron, the man who had released the ice elemental in Remonton, appeared and explained how everything had been going as planned.
Jacob was possessed by the god Nergal, and Ismail was in awe of the awesome power of a god radiating through the host. Ismail was surprised to hear Nergal mention the name of Razia, which triggered a violent reaction in Belial. Ismail concentrated on the task at hand and joined the heroes who began a desperate battle against the possessed Jacob.
The possessed Jacob used Nergal's powers to a great effect and slew Ax. However, Ax was revived by Hephaestus who took over her body and helped the heroes in the battle against Jacob. Refan did his part as well by freeing a dark elf named Mori'sul Agara who was possessed by Shakkan. The heroes eventually managed to defeat Jacob with a bit of teamwork, and the temple began crumbling. Ismail's admiration of Ax and Marcus grew when he saw how skillfully the two had defeated Jacob.
Mori'sul used the last bits of his strength to create a portal which the heroes used to escape the temple. However, the possessed Mori'sul words still rang in their heads: they had traitors in their midst. This troubled Ismail greatly, especially because the word had been plural and thus it meant there was more than one traitor around. He was also not happy that the heroes chose to spare Xerathas and Varalia, but there was nothing he could do about it.
Ismail followed the group out of the temple after the battle and subdued one of the captive kidnappers, Varalia, under Belial's orders. He immediately had to face the wrath of Refan who was enraged by the incident and Nergal's prophetic words and claimed to Ismail and others that Belial had been lying to the group all this time.
When Belial admitted the truth and Refan tried to attack, Ismail protected his master and subdued Refan. Although the incident ended without bloodshed, Ismail became more wary of Refan. He had always known Belial's motives but he hoped that the incident would not make Khalid and Ax's group lose trust in Belial.
When the Shadow appeared and joined Xerathas, Ismail was concerned of Belial's safety. He became even more worried when he heard that the Shadow had been responsible for kidnapping Marcus and opposing the heroes in Remonton. Having such a powerful creature, which could apparently reincarnate itself, travelling along the party was not what Ismail had hoped for but the creature seemed peaceful enough for the time being. Ismail was also surprised of how calmly Xerathas had let himself be captured. He felt that something was not right, but he had no evidence to blame Xerathas of anything so he let things be.
A Crimson Dawn
- "Good night, my friend. May angels fly thee home into your beloved's arms."
- —Ismail addressing Belial's spirit during the funeral
The heroes were reunited with the army of the Grand Alliance and travelled to Maar Sul City. Ismail attended the ball in the court and observed the talks between Belial and King Gerard Aurelac for a while. Khalid revealed his true identity as an exiled emir to the Grand Alliance and the Maar Sulais court. Gerard was not quite sure whether to assist Khalid in retaking Vanna, though, but Marcus was willing to help Khalid who had been responsible for saving his life in the Ruined Kingdom.
Then, a tragedy struck the heroes the following morning when they found out that Belial had been murdered. Ismail could hardly believe it but once he recovered from the shock, he immediately suspected that there was more to Belial's death than met the eye. While the hunt for the killers, the Totenkopfs, began, Ismail tried to investigate who had been the mastermind behind his friend's death but found no clues.
With Belial gone, it was time to let Khalid know about his parentage. Ismail and Awar agreed to reveal Belial's connection to Khalid during the funeral. Khalid was annoyed by this revelation, however, because he could not understand why they had not told him that he was Belial's son. Ismail was pleased that Khalid did not accept the role of the Superior of the Order of the Black Rose and that he instead gave it to Belial's close ally, Koschei Dravaris. Khalid announced that he would return to Vanna to finish Belial's mission, and Ismail and Awar promised to accompany him there.
Ismail witnessed Khalid's outburst to Ax during one meeting and was happy to see that Ax decided to accompany them to Libaterra. He was certain that the female warrior's skills would be of use to them. Meanwhile Marcus, Shyralis and a few others returned to Remon because the news said that Remoners had grown angrier after Marcus's departure and might begin a rebellion unless Marcus returned at once.
The heroes that remained in Maar Sul now faced a problem: to reach Libaterra, they would have to get to a port where they could board a ship. However, all port cities in Southern Maar Sul were under control of the Proninists. The heroes eventually decided to take over Jardine but they needed a plan or else they would suffer heavy casualties.
The solution to the problem came from an unlikely source: Titaniel Focker suggested that black men and homosexuals would enter the city and distract the Scunnish Proninists inside because the Scuns hated homosexuals and blacks with a passion. Ismail, Refan and Ronove entered the city to carry out Titaniel's insane plan.
As it turned out, the plan was a success. While the Scuns were shocked by the acting of the trio, the rest of the Grand Alliance managed to sneak in and liberate the city. For once the Scuns' stupidity had worked for the Alliance's favour. Once power over Jardine had been given to Amarawyn Jardine, the heroes began their long journey to Libaterra onboard the Hiltraud.
Tears of the Sun
- "The demon hordes, renegade gods, monsters in the desert, invading infidels from abroad... any of these could've crushed us years ago if I hadn't brought peace to this land with the help of my goddess!"
- "You may have brought stability to the tribes but at what cost? What sort of life is it if we proud Sarquil, who have conquered many nations, end up in the same position as the lesser races we enslaved? We're better than that!"
- —Adela al-Saif and Ismail
A portal opened during the voyage to Libaterra, and new passengers entered the ship: two groups led by Leon Alcibiates and Xerathas. Although Ismail was suspicious of the two group's motives, he let things be.
Leon and his companions told the heroes that it was imperative that the heroes' swords Dawn and Dusk would be needed to get rid of the Blood Fever, but the heroes told him they were going to help Khalid first before dealing with the Blood Fever problem. Ismail noticed Khalid's half-brother Sumrah Brown, who now called himself Despard Silverbranch, among the new heroes, and he went to inform Khalid about this.
Later that day Khalid explained his plan of seizing power in Vanna, and the ship dropped the heroes off the Libaterran coastline while drawing approaching Coalition warships away. During the journey through the desert Ismail and Khalid had a brief conversation about Sumrah's presence, and Khalid worried if Sumrah would seize his throne from him. The arguments stopped when the heroes discovered Jono Renfield, an old ally of the Alliance, in the desert. They took Jono with them and reached Vanna soon after.
Khalid led a group to meet Adela while Ismail led another group into the districts only to find out that the Sarquil wouldn't support Khalid in fear of Adela's retaliation. Ismail's group met warriors led by Sheikh Miraj al-Zarar, his old friend. Miraj explained that Khalid had walked into a trap and that Ismail had to save him from Adela and Grand Vizier Iblis.
Ismail's arrival in the throne room shook the court enough to force Iblis and Adela to stop their schemes for the time being. Ismail had a brief talk with Razoul who was now the captain of the Black Guard. The reunion between father and son was cold.
The goddess Artemicia suddenly appeared on the scene, and Adela ranted about the necessity to use Artemicia's power to protect the Sarquil against enemies. Ismail countered Adela by arguing that she may have saved the Sarquil but at the cost of their pride and identity. He felt that the price was too high and that Adela had defiled Tronin's legacy.
Artemicia countered Ismail in turn by trapping Khalid and Xerathas into a magical hourglass. She gave the heroes one week to find Qadohi, the leader of the Sirithai, and bring back her head to Vanna; if they failed to return in time, Khalid and Xerathas would die and the heroes would never earn the right to challenge Adela legally. Seeing no other option to win the conflict, the heroes agreed to do Artemicia's bidding.
Ismail was not sure if the heroes could defeat the numerous Sirithai, but Ax proposed that they should try to form an alliance with the Sirithai and depose Adela with their combined force. Although Ismail wasn't sure if Ax's plan would work, he knew it was their only chance to free Khalid.
The Sirithai ambushed the heroes in the desert and took four of them captive. Ismail followed the Sirithai and sneaked into their lair, Xibalba, where they were captured by a large number of Sirithai who took them to a central arena where Qadohi and the god Shakkan, who turned out to be the father of the entire Sirithai race, were waiting.
Shakkan promised to consider an alliance if the heroes defeated his pet monster Plushiebunny. The heroes succeeded thanks to efforts from Refan's demonic side and Xerathas's companion Noche who transformed into Marcus Sarillius, which surprised everyone.
Before the heroes could recover from this shock, Awar drained lifeforce from Rhylian with the help of the shard in her pendant and the two sapphires which he had acquired from Plushiebunny's corpse. This combined power was transferred to a shard of Krystallopyr which he had been hiding in his robes ever since the escape from the Ruined Kingdom. He sucked Shakkan into the shard.
Ismail couldn't believe that Awar had been working for Iblis all along. Things turned worse as a group led by Obama, an old ally of Ismail, appeared on the scene with the intent of ensuring that Qadohi was killed and that Awar returned to Vanna safely. The heroes now had to make a choice: to aid the Sirithai who might tear them apart or let Obama kill Qadohi.
The heroes chose to help the Sirithai defeat Obama. Fel Ridoon used the ensuing chaos to his advantage and captured Awar. The traitor told the heroes that Iblis's plan was to use the Black Stone of Vanna as well as the sacrifice of the heroes' friend Nalaen Silverpond to reforge Krystallopyr. If the plan succeeded, Adela and Iblis would gain Krystallopyr's powers and become more powerful than even the gods.
The heroes promised to help the Sirithai free Shakkan from the shard and put an end to Adela's reign of terror. A truce was made, and a new alliance was formed. The battle for the future of the Sultanate of Karaganda was about to begin.
The Winds of Wrath
- "The shortest path to power may not always be the safest one."
- —Ismail to Khalid al-Saif
The heroes returned to Vanna with Qadohi while the rest of the Sirithai followed them underground. They met with Sheikh Miraj who was on his way to Kilm to rally support for Khalid, and they heard from him that Adela and Iblis were planning to use recent well poisonings as propaganda to paint the Grand Alliance as monsters. Adela had also allied with the Crimson Coalition because Alent had not sent the supplies she had needed in time.
Ismail and Ax went to the office of Azriel al-Zarar once they arrived in Vanna. They came up with a plan and left to the palace while Azriel stayed behind to rally support. Meanwhile the rest of the heroes had met Harrad U'niviel who explained what had recently taken place in the city.
Adela was furious to see Qadohi alive once the heroes appeared in the throne room. Ax and Ismail reminded her that they had only been told to bring Qadohi's head and no one had set that it couldn't be attached to the rest of her body. Artemicia appeared on the scene and told the heroes that she had never planned to keep her end of the bargain and that she would dispose of all of the heroes in the city.
Just when all hoped seemed lost, Hephaestus appeared and set Khalid and Xerathas free. Artemicia and Hephaestus returned to the High Plane to begin their duel while the heroes were left on their own. Khalid, Iblis and Adela began a heated debate about which side was right, and Khalid grew frustrated enough to attack. Adela then placed her "son" in front of her, daring Khalid to attack.
Ismail tried to warn Khalid that it was all part of Adela and Iblis's elaborate trap, but Khalid countered by claiming that Ismail was growing too soft. Khalid's outburst shocked Ismail. However, Ismail quickly regained his senses and tried to stop Khalid but was blocked by Razoul.
Just when it looked like Iblis and Adela could provoke Khalid to attack and thus have a legal means to execute the heroes, the Vulfsatz appeared and attacked both sides. Adela's "son" was in fact Hannibal Losstarot whom the Totenkopfs had kidnapped earlier. Everything escalated, and Iblis finally gave the orders to attack, claiming that the heroes and the Vulfsatz threatened Adela's life. The Sirithai emerged from the ground to aid the heroes. The first phase of the Battle of Vanna had begun.
Iblis freed Awar who in turn kidnapped Qadohi and the Krystallopyr shard. While the villains fled up the tower to perform the dark ritual to reforge Krystallopyr, a few heroes went after them while Ismail and a few others remained in the throne room to fight against the growing number of enemy forces.
Ismail had his hands full fighting against Razoul. Although the young man had the upper hand at first, Ismail used the man's arrogance against him and managed to use his considerable combat skills to disarm him. When Razoul goaded him to finish him, Ismail told Razoul that he would not let him die and that Iblis and Adela had twisted him. He promised to make Razoul see the truth once the conflict was over.
Khalid eventually won his duel against Adela and was about to kill her until Ismail and Briss Phoenixheart reminded him that if he killed her, he would be no better than her and he would never get the throne legally. Khalid relented and let his men take Adela to prison. Adela tried to plead Briss to help her, but Briss refused her offer. Khalid announced himself as the new Sultan of Vanna, and the Black Guard and the Clergy of Artemicia chose to surrender while the Totenkopfs fled. The Vulfsatz and Hannibal were taken to prison.
Ismail learned that Krystallopyr had been destroyed, but it had also destroyed the Black Stone with it. Iblis had turned out to be a demon spy for the Southern Horde and he had manipulated Adela and the Grand Alliance in order to weaken Vanna's defenses. Iblis and Awar had escaped, and Nalaen had died. Xerathas's group had betrayed the Alliance but had been forced to flee after the Black Stone's destruction. The battle had ended in victory but with a heavy price. The Sarquil would now face the threat of an eventual demon invasion.
After the battle Ismail talked to various heroes and explained to Alistair Wisteria the family connection between Khalid and Despard which made them look alike. He and the heroes attended the Festival of the Dead to honour the deeds of their dead companions.
The peace of the evening was shattered when parts of the great library burned in a mysterious fire. It also turned out that Briss had broken Adela free and the two had escaped somewhere. Ismail felt that this was a portent of things to come, and he hoped that he and his friends in the Alliance would be able to stop the growing darkness from spreading any further.
- "I know now that I wasn't as good a father as I should've been. I should've made it clear to you from the start that I saw both you and Khalid as my sons but I was too clouded by my duty to see your sorrow until it was too late. You don't have to forgive me for what I did in the past, Razoul. All I ask is that you give Khalid a second chance."
- —Ismail to Razoul
Ismail was present at the formal wedding of Khalid and Ax. He was happy to see an official truce between the Sirithai and the Sarquil and to see the couple become the Sultan and Sultana of Vanna. However, he wondered how long it would last because he was aware of Ax's fiery temper as well as the fact that Khalid had only used their marriage as a means to take over Vanna without any more bloodshed.
Ismail noticed not long after that the wound Khalid had received during the battle was poisoned by the Vulfsatz. He immediately hurried to the dungeons to force the Vulfsatz prisoners to tell him where to find the cure to the poison.
By the time Ismail returned to Khalid's room from the dungeon, he was surprised to see the Sultan well. Once he heard how Azriel had threatened Khalid, he grew worried. Having Azriel as a potential threat in the future didn't appeal to him at all.
Ismail told Khalid that their prisoner, Hannibal Losstarot, demanded a meeting with the Grand Alliance, and Khalid decided to hear the boy out. Hannibal explained to the heroes that the Crimson Coalition would find out his whereabouts and send its armies to reclaim him. The Sarquil could not fight a war both against the Coalition and the demons, so the Grand Alliance proposed a compromise: they would take Hannibal and the Vulfsatz to Alent as prisoners in order to convince the Council of Mages to join their side. Meanwhile the Sarquil could strengthen defenses around Vanna.
Jono and Vaetris Redfield broke Hannibal out of prison not long after the meeting was over. Although losing Hannibal was a serious setback, a group of heroes took the Vulfsatz with them and began the journey to Alent while other heroes stayed behind in Vanna.
Not long after a group of heroes had left for Alent, Vanna found itself besieged by a demon army. It turned out that these demons weren't allied with Iblis but were a rival faction known as the Northern Horde. The demons demanded Vanna to surrender or else they would execute their Sarquil prisoners in front of the walls of Vanna.
Ismail realized that something had to be done before things got worse, and he challenged Dreadlord Leraje Thanadar, leader of the horde's army, to a duel. He also used this opportunity to recover Miraj whom Leraje had beaten in front of the gate. Miraj was taken to the infirmary although the clerics said that he would not have much time to live. This was sad news for Ismail, but he promised to make the demons pay for harming his friend.
Though Khalid protested, Ismail ordered Razoul to be brought to him. They would need Razoul's experience in dealing with demons. Ismail also felt that it would be a good excuse to get Razoul out of the prison: although he had not admitted it, he had not been happy to put his son in prison, and he thought this was finally his chance to make things right.
Once Razoul joined the heroes, Ismail and Qadohi told them their plan: Ismail had challenged Leraje for the sole purpose of delaying the executions of Sarquil prisoners. If all went well, Ismail would slay Leraje and the heroes would be able to rescue the prisoners and flee through Sirithai tunnels before the demons knew what was happening.
Ismail faced Razoul and told him that he loved him and that he had failed as a father. He did not beg for Razoul's forgiveness; instead, he asked him to give Khalid a second chance. He also told Razoul that if something should happen to him, Razoul would become the new captain of the guard. Razoul promised to keep the city safe and wished good luck to his father in his own gruff way.
The duel between Leraje and Ismail was fierce. Although Leraje had the upper hand at first, Ismail soon changed the tide of the battle by stroking Leraje's ego and using it against him. The black captain feigned weakness and the arrogant Leraje fell for it. Just as the Dreadlord was about to cut Ismail down, Ismail attacked with full force, catching the Dreadlord by surprise. Although Ismail had beaten Leraje, he still felt uneasy. Something about the Dreadlord's eyes had reminded him of someone and he tried to remember who it could be.
- "Here's a little hint, asshole. If you want to kill a demon permanently, cut off the fucking head!"
- —Leraje Thanadar to Ismail
Ismail suddenly realized what Leraje's eyes had reminded him of. He turned to look at the walls of Vanna and saw a familiar person standing near Khalid. The black captain now knew what this person represented and understood how everything, including Shakkan's warning, Refan's visions, and Fel's investigations, all pointed to yet another betrayal. Ismail promised not to let that prophesized betrayal come to pass. He would reveal the traitor's identity and save his friends.
However, this momentary distraction was all that was needed for Leraje to heal himself enough to catch Ismail unaware. He pierced Ismail's stomach and cut off the head before Ismail could finish his sentence about the traitor's identity. After so many years of bloodshed, Ismail's long journey had finally come to an end.
Ismail's death had an effect on both Khalid and Razoul who realized that their guiding light was now gone. Losing Ismail nearly made Khalid have a breakdown, but Razoul seemed to gain new strength from his father's demise as he took over the title of Captain of the Black Guard. Ismail's sacrifice also gave a group of heroes enough time to free some of the captives from the Northern Horde. Ismail had given his life to save the lives of many innocents.
Aliases and Nicknames
- Ismail the Strong
- A nickname given to Ismail because of his great strength.
Ismail looked like a scary black man. He was clad in a casual slave attire which he was fond of for some reason. He did have armor which he used to wear during his time in the Black Guard, but he felt he should not use it unless he is accepted back into its ranks. He did begin to use the armor once he became the captain of the Black Guard following Khalid al-Saif's restoration to the throne but sadly his time was short-lived because he was cut down by Dreadlord Leraje Thanadar during the Battle of Vanna.
Personality and Traits
Under Ismail's tough exterior is a compassionate albeit determined man who wanted to see his loved ones safe. He was willing to do whatever it took to succeed in whatever quest he was in, and he won every battle except when he faced Dreadlord Leraje in an ultimate showdown.
Powers and Abilities
Ismail possessed no magic but was very skilled in the use of scimitars. He was often called unbeatable because of his record of wins. Although he was a skilled warrior, his lack of magic resistance made him a great target for mages. He never had much experience about fighting against mages apart from the few Totenkopfs whom he had encountered over the years.
Ismail had never paid much attention to Adela al-Saif, mainly because he was busy serving her sister Razia al-Saif. Adela did not see much in Ismail who she saw as a coward for following Razia's advice, and this sentiment turned worse when Adela became the new Sultana of Vanna. She knew that Ismail had been loyal to Razia whom she had killed, so she decided to send him into exile in order to strip him of the Black Guard's support. Ismail never forgave Adela's treachery, but he chose to act politely in front of her out of respect for the title she held even if he did not respect her as a person.
The relationship between Awar and Ismail was always formal. Ismail felt uncomfortable being with Awar, one of the few Sarquil who possessed magic. Nevertheless he respected Awar's devotion to teach Khalid, and he and Awar eventually got to know each other better in the years of exile. Awar never told Ismail everything about his life but they got along and turned out to be a good team in battles because their strengths and weaknesses complimented one another. Ismail was shocked to discover Awar's treachery later on and he came close to killing him but decided against it in the end.
Belial de Ardyn
Ismail had always had a close bond with Belial de Ardyn. Maybe it was because they were near the same age and got to know each other during Belial's visits to Vanna, but it could also be because Ismail helped Belial develop his swordsmanship skills. Ismail respected Belial's wisdom, and Belial respected Ismail's strength. The two formed an almost symbiotic relationship, constantly learning stuff from one another. Ismail was grateful to Belial for keeping Khalid safe during these troubled times, and he acted as Belial's most trusted bodyguard. Ismail could not believe it when he heard that Belial had died, but he swore to do what he could to carry out Belial's original plan to the end.
Ismail always watched over Khalid despite being the captain of the guard in the palace of Vanna. He also taught him some skills that one could not find in any theory books, such as how to fight dirty. He was also the one who suggested that Khalid should learn to wield two blades instead of just one blade and a shield, because in his opinion defense is for the weak whereas offense is used by those who are strong. Ismail and Khalid became to respect one another: Ismail saw his younger self in Khalid, and Khalid saw great swordsmanship in Ismail. It was somewhat amusing that Khalid's most bitter rival turned out to be Ismail's only son, Razoul.
Ismail and Razia respected each other. Razia was happy with how strong Ismail was and how he kept her son Khalid in check. Ismail saw Razia as the sort of ruler who might finally be able to make the Sarquil society grow stronger. This loyalty cost Ismail his job when Razia was killed, and he was driven into exile with Awar and Khalid.
Razoul respected and loved Ismail not only because Ismail was his father but because Ismail was the only person who had ever succeeded in besting Razoul in a fair duel. He was quite hurt when Ismail began caring for Khalid, and he considered this a betrayal in their father-son relationship. Adela's manipulations eventually drove Razoul into a bitter hate, but Razoul is not aware that Ismail in fact did care for him but only acted cold in order to prepare Razoul for the eventual leadership position within the Black Guard.