The Case of the Misguided Guhl (Part VI)
Anisah was old, far older than I had imagined someone still active in anything could be. She had an energy about her that seemed as if a storm of a dozen grandmothers raged within her. He ancient face brightened when Gamal walked in the room.
She rose with difficulty, “Ah, my little brilliant one. Your visit brightens my day. But you have brought an old woman young men as guests with no notice for me to become beautiful.” She and with a wink, and added, “I raised you better than that.”
“Your beauty is ageless, grandmother…you have no need of a warning.”
“Flatterer.” She looked at us in such a way that were she younger I might have been uncomfortable. Given her age I assuredly was uncomfortable. “In my prime,” she said smiling, “a dozen of men like these would have crossed the plane of fire itself to make me coffee.”
“No doubt,” said Gamal. “Father has asked them to investigate the thefts.”
Her face immediately became one of anger, “Bahhh…he should have a legion of guards on it. He should be here himself looking for the culprit. He sends, no offense to them…but pale men reeking of death to find toys. Your father, may the gods and elements keep him…is a fool at times.” She spent her strength on this tirade and sat down. “Fine, handsome outlanders. Ask me your questions.”
Jeremy stepped forward and introduced us. He made slight pleasantries before diving right into a series of questions.
“When did you notice the thefts?”
“Last week. I was looking over the children’s possessions…I am sentimental in my old age. I remember them learning and dreaming. I often go where the toys are stored to remember their dreams and play times. I keeps me young. I have kept the favorite toys in a place of honor for years…but now they are gone.” A look of sincere sadness came over her face. “Little Kalhid’s toy elephant. Kareem’s little sword. Banyamin’s letter blocks. Oh pale men, I could name all of them and more. All their little dream makers. All gone.” A tear escaped her eye and Gamal moved to dry it as if she was the servant and this some queen.
“Oh my dearest,” she said, “these men will find them.”
“Child, how? How when the culprit is likely gone so far away…some monster who has escaped with your dreams and plans such destruction with them.”
There was silence in the room. Gamal made an apologetic look as if to say sometimes her mind was not right. Only Jeremy looked deep in thought. He suddenly sprang to life, hitting himself in the head with the flat of his palm.
“I’m an idiot!!!”
The old woman was startled, “Is your friend having a fit?”
“I am,” Jeremy said. “One that I should have had last night when we learned what it was that was taken. Toys. Dreams. Sympathetic magic. It occurred to me for another reason unrelated to this case but I let the answer escape. A dream Guhl. They can give dreams and nightmares…make them real to an extent. Live off them. They were stolen by a dream Guhl.“
The old woman nodded. “Your nanny would be proud…I have been trying to tell people this all week. A monster has stolen them to open the door and get the key.”
“Deep in the bowels of the palace is the key to the temple of shame. The legend says the dreams of the children of the sultan can unlock the door made of bone that hides the key and map to the Temple of Shame.”
Gamal smiled, “All myth, beloved one.”
“No,” I said. “The heroes coming are coming to go to the temple and get part of the flute. The Song of Ages. So they can destroy the Codex of Infinite Planes.”
Gamal stood shocked. “It’s real?”
“See,” exclaimed Anisah, “I knew it.”
“Do you know where the door is?” asked my master.
“I do. Give me a few moments and I will take you there.” She said rising while using Gamal as support.
Gamal objected, “Surely the way is too difficult…”
“Ahh send the pale ones for coffee from the kitchen, and I will be fine. Let them be useful. Return when my old bones are ready and give me coffee and I have a walk in me yet.”
We followed her orders and returned shortly to find the room empty. I looked around confused. Jeremy smiled. “Good the guhl took the bait."
I spun toward him, “What?”
“The old lady. I never told her we had a Baklunish nanny. She read it in my thoughts, I noticed her poking. That was when I let it slip in my mind that the princess kept the last toy, her toy, in her room.”
“So,” I said, “She’s taken her? To a place we have no idea how to find.”
“Frederik, it is an undead that is part fire elemental. It leaves a trail.” With that my master went to the embers in her incense burner and pulled out some of his other components. Casting a spell we were on the trail in moments. It led to the princess’ room where we found her unconscious on the floor. My master revived her with aromatic salts from his bag.
“Are you alright, Gamal?”
She sat up panicked, “The Guhl was impersonating Anisah. She said we needed my toy, and when I got it she knocked me unconscious.”
“I thought so. Frederik, stay with Gamal, I’ll follow…”
I laughed, “Like a hero…really. No I think I’m coming with you master…bodyguard does not mean I guard it in the funeral procession.”
Gamal got to her feet unassisted. “And if you think that I am staying here, the years of tanning in moonlight or whatever you do to keep the milky white complexion you have…has also made your brain pale and wanting of blood.”
I nodded, “Nice imagery. Sarcastic and just on the right side of racist.”
“Alright, then” Jeremy threw up his hands, “Let’s all follow the Guhl impersonating a trusted servant on a grand chase through tombs and time to uncover ancient keys and treasure.”