Yaakov bar Asher
Yaakov is a Fogarma scholar, teacher, physician, and exegete of scripture. He lives in a Fogarma mahallah in the Kochmak city of Udyn, alongside his siblings and in-laws. He is trying to make his way in the world while balancing the demands of calling and family. Yaakov is a tall, young man of 20, with blue eyes, dark hair, and a short black beard. He dresses in accordance with his station, in a purple tunic, with white robes, and a dark turban. At official functions, he wears a white and blue prayer shawl. He is also a measured young man, considering the demands of power, propriety and principle against one another in ways that are precocious for a man of his age. He also keeps his ears to the ground, and is quite well-informed about what happens in his community and the world around him. Early on in his scholarly training, Yaakov exhibited talent as a healer, and was apprenticed to the best physician in the mahallah. Even as an adolescent, he already had a clientele. A rich merchant who thought a rival had cursed him came to Yaakov for a consultation, and was happy with the results of Yaakov's intervention. In due course, others who had been cursed came to Yaakov as well. The young man treated all of them, though he began to suspect that he was helping fuel their superstitions. The money was too good, however, and overwhelmed his occasional sense of being a charlatan. Word of Yaakov's skill soon spread beyond the mahallah, and reached the ears of important people in the city. While they were being treated by Yaakov, they often told him of their problems, and shared news about important goings on. One day, he heard that the envoy of the Norik Grand Prince had arrived in the Nart Quarter just outside the city walls, and that the man was sick, and seeking medical treatment. Yaakov decided to pay him a visit. The man was named Zinovii Surikov, likely a nobleman, who was staying at the mansion of a rich local merchant, Georgii Nikonov. Zinovii clearly had a humoral imbalance, so Yaakov followed standard procedure, and applied leeches to the man. While the leeches were doing their work, Yaakov stepped outside, and met some of Zinovii's supplicants. They were also Noriki, and two had arrived from far away, while one lived at a local monastery in the Nart Quarter. The new arrivals - Yuri and Lokan - had an interesting story to tell - their village had been burnt by Kochmak raiders, and their people had been driven off into slavery. In order to redeem their family, they needed to make some money, and were doing so by guarding a local cemetery against grave robbers masquerading as evil spirits. Finding their plight compelling, Yaakov undertook to help them, and promised to meet them at the cemetery that very night. He was also intrigued by their local companion, Agapia. After removing his patient's leaches, and saying he would come back tomorrow to see if there was improvement, he follows her to a local market, seeing if he could learn more about the Gaalite neighborhood. Later that night, Yaakov returned to the Nart Quarter and joined his new acquaintances at the graveyard. His new companions have already investigated the tunnel by candlelight, and found that a wall had been erected in the way, albeit one with easy-to-remove blocks, should the grave robbers choose to return. They also found another tunnel, with a similar wall. Yaakov tells them that his contacts in the city told him that the grave robbers are Banu Tabar, who are based at a certain apothecary shop. His companions discuss removing the blocks and seeing if the tunnels do in fact lead to that apothecary shop, but decide to follow that lead later. At the end of the night, Yaakov bid farewell to them, saying he will meet them at Zinovii's the following day, and then talk about any news that have been discovered. After he returns home, Yaakov's sister-in-law was quite upset with Yaakov for being out all night, and not attending to family duties, She left him to watch her children for most of the day. When she finally returned to collect them, a tired Yaakov got his things, and went back to the Nart Quarter to check on his patient. He tried to bleed Zinovii again, and when the patient protested, Yaakov told him that his problem was excessive drinking. Then he got the skeptical Norik to tentatively agree to cut his mealtime consumption of alcohol from five drinks to three. While there, he heard Yuri, Lokan, and Anatoly - Zinovii's servitor, discuss their earlier visits to the Kochmak encampment and the docks, where they learned that Yuri's betrothed and other women from his village were sold to a zilant named Yaqub, who lives somewhere on the other bank of the Udena River. At the end of the house call, Agapia showed up with a new jar, before being taken away by her monk uncle. His companions had plans to return to the cemetery later that night, but Yaakov, still exhausted from the night before, wanted to return home to get some rest before the start of the sabbath later that night. He would have to refrain form interacting with goyim until the sabbath ended the following evening. After the evening star rises, Yaakov returned to the Nart Quarter to seek out Zinovii, but the residents of the Nikonov mansion, where he was staying, tell him that Zinovii left, along with his whole entourage. Yaakov headed back into the main city, but found the gate already closed. Trapped in the Nart Quarter until sunup, he decided to check the cemetery, as the companions meet there to hold vigil, every night. There, he found Lokan and Agapia, as well as another of Lokan's companions - Alden - who had been missing for several days, apparently because he was seeing a friend off, and fell into a drinking binge. Yaakov had heard that Alden was a wolf shapechanger, and the man is acting drunk and aggressive (but fortunately, the wolfsbane in his pocket helps keep the man at bay). Yaakov then learned that the companions were apprehended by the vizier's men earlier in the day, and that Yuri remained in custody. The companions spent the night telling their life stories. Most of them are full of adventure, though Yaakov only had his residence in his mahallah, his practice, and his in-laws to discuss. Lokan and Alden take watches throughout the night, but at dawn, Yaakov overhears them sharing their suspicions of him with one another. Apparently, Lokan wanted Yaakov to take Agapia, and then meet them at the docks, where they intend to cross the river. Yaakov decided to take up the invitation, but later in the day, after his appointments end. He took Agapia home with him, though this outrages his sister-in-law Chaya. She pestered Yaakov while he was seeing patients, but after one arrived for a private, sensitive consultation, he sent her out into the courtyard. Subsequently, he collected her, and heads to the docks. After waiting for some time in the rain, Lokan and Alden were nowhere to be found. Agapia then took him to her favorite haunt at the docks - an antiquarian shop, where the proprietor offered to send him a tonic liquid. The proprietor came across as a quack - any real tonic would have been offered to him directly at his practice, so Yaakov took leave of the place. As they headed back to the Nart Quarter, Agapia unexpectedly slipped away, as is her wont, and Yaakov could not find her. Annoyed and confused about what was going on, he went out through the West Gate, and headed to the monastery, where her companions were staying. He did discover Lokan and Alden there, though they gave him a less than credible explanation for why they failed to show up at the docks. He did, however, learn, that Agapia never returned here, but also that the hegumen had gone into the main city to attempt to free Yuri, but the fool refused to pledge to desist from hunting down Yaqub. Though the hegumen insisted that freeing him now is a lost cause, Lokan said that they should at least try. They headed back into the main city, and were immediately arrested by soldiers at the gate, and brought to the citadel. Here, they were questioned by Ilyas ibn Umar personally, and learned during the interrogation that Yuri had escaped shortly after he refused the mediation offered by Hegumen Mitrofan. As the vizier suspected that these three aided Yuri in his escape, or at least knew where he went, they were all thrown into the dungeon, and interrogated individually. Yaakov had not been involved with this group for long, and was not privy to many of its plans, so he did not expect special treatment, but he was tortured, along with Lokan, and lost one fingernail as a result. In the end, the vizier could find no evidence that the three connived with Yuri or knew anything about where he went, so after apologizing for using extreme measures, he paid them a small restitution, and released them from the citadel. Surviving the ordeal, the three companions returned to the Nart Quarter, and decided to celebrate a bit to mark their narrow escape. They paid to spend the night at an area hostel, ordered a few drinks, and, at the owner's suggestion, some entertainment for the night in the form of his nieces. Though the owner assured them that the girls were disease-free, Yaakov the physician was unsure, and decided to give them an examination. Though he discovered that two of them were infected, he decided against riling his companions, and simply declared that the owner had been telling the truth. Alden grew suspicious and retired to a loft by himself, so Yaakov appropriated the redhead for which Alden had earlier expressed a preference for himself. He subsequently enjoyed a very restful night at the hostel, and took the opportunity to sleep in the following morning. He is currently still there, in the Nart Quarter. He appears in Chapters 9, 10, 12, and 13.