The Case of the Misguided Guhl (Part I)
My master, Jeremy Moonrise, was not troubled by much. But he sat on a bench outside of the building that held the apartments of our guild master; with a pensive and distressed expression. I emerged from the offices on the first floor with our official letters, clearances and instructions. I saw him on the bench and went and sat next to him.
“Well,” I said, “That’s our assignment.”
He nodded, “A message too important to be sent by any other method except us. So we must meet her in Zeif when they all get there to seek the Temple of Shame. Flattering.”
“It is, actually. I don’t know why you seem so upset. Master Evernight needs this message from Grand Master Baryoi and we will meet her Zeif and give it to her. We have letters of introduction, passage and all other papers. It seems simple enough.”
“Seems,” said Jeremy, “But there is a factor you are not considering.”
“Do you know him? The Sultan…know of him?”
“No…is this a problem.”
“Very much so.”
I thought of all the things that could be a problem for a Baklunish sultan when dealing with two men of Suel blood. The possibilities were disturbing. “I see. So what are we up against?”
Jeremy sighed, “The man…tries to get everyone married.”
I let that sink in and responded the only way I could. “You idiot.”
“I was worried. He could have been a madman who put Suel heads on pikes!”
“Why would he do that?”
“The war, the Invoked Devestation…”
He looked at me with admonishment, “Frederik, that was one thousand years ago…you need to let it go.”
A smile broke across his face. “Oh rancid Ghouls repast…you…you were joking. This whole thing, the dour face, sitting morosely…it was all a set up for that joke.”
“I’m a craftsman my friend.”
“You’re about to be a bruised craftsman.”
“Cut me a break. My feet itch and won’t stop sweating.”
I paused, “Alright. I have no idea how to respond to that so moving on…is there any real reason to worry about Zeif?”
“Oh my yes,” he exclaimed, “Desert monsters, plot, intrigue…matchmaking.”
“Hmm. Well most of those are indeed worrisome.”
“But desert monsters don’t worry me, master.”
“I thought not.”
The way to Zeif was long. And I had never been on the roads that moved past the land of Ket. The easiest and safest route was to go to Ket and book passage on the Tuflik river that was the natural border between Zeif and Ekbir.
“Is it true,” I asked my master, “that it is a land of genies?”
“You’re like a child, Frederik…mystified by tales of lamps and magic and bright colors…and desert nights.”
I was about to defend myself when he kept going.
“Exotic spices and scents, various strange undead in the desert…spelling ghoul…guhl…fine fabrics…talking animals…”
“Magic fountains that don’t shoot our blood or fire…angry, large birds, likely a kind of parrot..”
“What..oh. Yes there are Genie.”
I laughed. We both knew why it was exciting. Necromancers were often taken from their families for training and did not know them. So in many ways my family was his. And I had a Baklunish nanny who would tell us tales of high adventure from the far west. We loved her dearly and were struck by her death several years ago. It seemed as if she would live forever and we had taken that for granted. She was a strong old woman who was, for some reason, in exile from her people and living with necromancers. She was as dear to us as gold. We wept when her time came.
“Ah,” I said, “the tales of our beloved Hawa.”
“How is Hawa these days?”
I shrugged. “Mother had to reattach her arm the other day. It fell off getting a platter of tea.”
Jeremy nodded, “Happens after about 5 years. Remind me I can give Marguerite a spell to strengthen the sinews. Ah…good old Hawa. Her tales were amazing. They will serve us well on this mission.”
With that we headed into the lands of the Bakluni…the Lands of Fate.