The Case of the Misguided Guhl (Part II)
How to compare the two: Greyhawk City, Jewel of the Flaness, and Zeir-i-Zeif, Star of the West. You come upon both much in the same way, one on the flat plane of Greyhawk the other on the flat land near the Dramidj Ocean; someone can see the grandeur of both rather quickly. Greyhawk city sprawls. A triumph of will itself, it is larger by far than Zeri-i-Zeif. It speaks to the strength of people to create something amazing that can preserve a way of life. Greyhawk city is massive and epic. It is daunting.
Zeir-i-Zeif is beautiful beyond measure. Winged animals fly in the air around golden domes. The city itself is reflected in the ocean as if it sits upon a magical gateway to a dream. Even from a distance the smell of spice wafts through the air. The two cities, one a monument to effort and will, the other as if carved out of dreams. It was hard to decide which impressed me more upon first sight. The one thing was certain. My master and I articulated the same thought at the same time.
“It is different.”
We looked at each other. I smiled, “We knew it would be.”
He nodded, “More different still within, I wager.”
“Not taking that bet, I mean…I can see a flying camel from here.”
“So,” Jeremy said after we both leaned forward with squinted eyes and confirmed it was a flying camel, “First we meet with the head of the family guard, a Fadia Al’ Razi, to be checked out in order to meet with the Sultan.”
“They are thorough. Less so than us…but still.”
We spurred our horses onward and passed through the first gate and customs. We showed our papers and were instantly celebrities. The guard at the gate moved us to the side to give us passes. “You do not see dignitaries from Hollowfaust often. The City of Necromancers…by the Star of Al’ Akbar itself, you will be a fairy tale for my children by nightfall.”
Jeremy inclined his head and stared intently at the man, “What will you tell them?”
The man looked up, “I did not mean to offend..”
“No not at all, we had a Baklunish nanny. Her stories filled our nighttime dreams, stories of genie and treasure, family and plot…amazing things. What role will we play?”
He smiled, “Perhaps, it is not for one such as I to say. The Sultan has requested your help because a Great Ghul has infiltrated the palace…may Istus forbid…”
“Though Fate neither forbids nor allows, it simple is.” I interrupted.
“You DID have a Baklune as a nanny…by the Bond of Salt, this is amazing. But yes, perhaps it is that a Great Ghul has infiltrated the palace in the shape of a trusted servant. And the Sultan needs men from the City of Necromancers to seek the culprit. Mayhap a grand chase through tombs and time to uncover ancient keys and treasure.”
We both laughed. And my master smiled, “A fine if false tale.”
“No tales are false my friend,” he said as he handed us the last of our passes, “They are just waiting to happen somewhere.”
We gave our farewells and headed to the palace.
The meeting with Fadia was short and efficient. “I must compliment your people,” she said, “The papers are in perfect order and all we require. My job is seldom made so easy. But I must inquire as to the purpose of your visit? That is if it is not classified and only for the ears of my father.”
Jeremy answered her, “We are here to wait for a visitor who is to come within a month. She is one of our people who is coming with heroes who seek something within your lands. Our leaders want her to know something for her safety, a plot against her in our own lands. It is of no danger to your people but the message could not be delivered in any manner but trusted messengers.”
“Wise,” she said but then grew concerned, “I know of no group coming. What are their intentions?”
We exchanged looks. It was not our place to speak for them. My master tactfully began to explain. “They are on a great quest. At the moment they are in the lands of the Frost Barbarians. But we know they will come through Geoff and come with the aid and presence of Prince Kareem Al’ Razi.”
Her eyes lit up. “Kareem! We have not been told of this! Are you sure…please tell me you are sure.”
“Sir Christopher was trained by a Baklunish monk?” asked my master.
“Yes, after his parents died, she helped raise him.”
We exchanged looks, and I saw my master file this information away. That we all should have had Baklunish nannies was…odd. For a moment his eyes danced at the possibilities and a secret society of Baklunish Nannies picking children based on the call of Fate. He marked it for later thought. And said, “How interesting, Frederik and I had a Baklunish nanny.”
“Sometimes, they seem to be everywhere,” she laughed.
“They do indeed,” my master replied, “May we see the Sultan?”
She nodded. “If you would, however,” she clapped her hands and a servant came in, “Lady Gamal, please; if she is not busy. But it is important.” She continued with us, “My sister will want to know something about those coming: For hospitality’s sake.”
“We know,” Jeremy assured her, “of your desire in this matter and will of course give her all information needed.”
After a few moments her younger sister Gamal entered the room. She inquired what her sister needed, and they moved a short distance off and spoke excitedly about their brother coming with people.
Gamal came over to us and asked, “Do you know the date of arrival?”
“I regret we don’t.” I said, “only within the month give or take some days.”
“Flocktime the 10th, by the Eastern Calendar,” My master interjected.
She raised her eyebrow. “I do not market in guesses.”
“Neither do I.”
Fadia and I looked at each other as my master and her sister seemed to face off.
“And you come to this conclusion how if your friend says you do not know?”
“Because I am brilliant. They will leave the lands of the Frost Barbarians soon and be here on Flocktime the 10th.”
She laughed, “Such a trip cannot be made in that time, pale genius.”
“Not without magic.”
They looked at each other. “And what do you know of the party with my brother.”
“We don’t know everyone,” Jeremy said, “but I can give you an idea…” He continued to describe everyone in the party and their personality. He deduced their eating habits based on that and explained his methods. Occasionally Gamal would interrupt and add something based on what he had observed. This would startle him for a second the first few times it happened. But as the conversation went on, he took it in stride as they build a profile of the group.
I walked over and leaned against the wall next to Fadia.
“They are alike.” She said, “Observant and forgetful of nothing. My sister is the one who organizes the events of our father. She arranges all the banquets of the state with 51 children, over 200 grandchildren…ambassadors and dignitaries. She has never made a mistake. She knows who must not be seated next to whom. Who is in a feud, who lies, who tells the truth…who is a danger and who is harmless.”
“Jeremy is,” I replied, “the best of our police. He can read a man in seconds; remember everything about his record and motives. He can see things in a room everyone else glances over.”
We added in unison. “And act like it is easy.”
We looked at each other. “I will warn you,” she said, “My father seeks a husband for my sister.”
“Reeeellllyyyy.” I said.
She smiled. “With that reply, are you friends or brothers?”
“Brothers in all but blood,” I said, “but don’t tell him that. He is arrogant enough as it is.”
Away from us the two of them finished their briefing. Gamal left still scratching notes and Jeremy came over to us. “Well she knows her job. That’s refreshing.”
Fadia winked at me. “I will show you to my father now.”
As we walked behind her I shook my head. “So, will you let me visit? I am sure the house will be nice.”
Jeremy looked at me confused.
“Gamal. Her father is looking for a husband for her.”
“Well,” he said, “It should not be hard…I mean…she is smart, organized…wait…wait…Frederik? What were the two of you talking about while we were talking?”
“Family.” I said being honest.
“Family! Frederik…I tell me everything.”
“It’s more fun this way.” And with looks of amusement and distress we entered with throne room of the Sultan.