Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus

The Casebook of Frederik Wolfsmith: Interlude

Flocktime 16, 636 CY

Dearest Mother,

I hope all goes well with you and the rest of the Chorus of the Banshee. I do miss your stories and songs but I wish you could see the market here in Zeif. My letter will, I will tell you now, mostly focus on this amazing place. I do this both for your benefit and so that you can read the letter to Annabel. Such wonders may be useful as she crafts nightmares on stage for the Sowers of Fear in some Baklunish related performance. Of course, a later letter where I explain in detail the nature of Guhls will be more useful to her.

Jeremy is well. He and I are helping some people find a man in the marketplace. We thought it best to familiarize ourselves inside and out with the place in order to prepare for the inevitable chase. As you know, whenever Jeremy has to apprehend someone there is always a chase. So we are looking for a man who seems to be a con-artist, but someone skilled in real illusion. We will need him to see through the illusions of a master gnome.

From our rooms at the palace the vast size of the market is visible. The colors and scents rise to great us each morning and put us to sleep each night. Above the market genies hover and wizards glide on fine magic carpets. You will find items from the market, including such a carpet, in the enclosed package.

It is wise, so we did not do it at first, to get a guide for the market for your first few forays. Jeremy said it was best to experience it the first day as fate decreed and without a guide. After three hours with no food and seeing nothing but lamps…I convinced him, with some arm twisting, to get a guide. On a related note, your herbal remedy for sore and twisted joints still works wonders.

We employed the best guide, a Parok Mirami, to show us the layout and explain the dynamics of the market. He was a happy man who very much enjoyed his work. A smile was constantly on his face as he led us around the bazaar. It appears there are several complex noble merchant families, the exacting details are not important, and this place is the battlefield in a constant war.

We started in the area that is for exotic animals…dominated by the large tents of Minik-al-Zafyi, purveyor of exotic animals. And exotic is not the word..it is too small a word. Species and forms of beasts too varied to report were for sale and inspection, for both companionship and consumption. Mother, I saw a winged elephant the size of my hand hatch from an egg. I saw trained monkeys and war Peacocks. The flying cats were, predictably, jerks. The Camels, surprisingly, paladins; and the frogs, just frogs.

Near this shop was also the area horses were traded. The Baklune take their horses seriously. Though a place of joy and merriment it is also a serious place of business. To the untrained eye every horse here was perfect, a king or queen of its kind. To the trained eye both beauty and faults abounded. And they were discussed loudly with great love and anger. This place was the most educational to the Baklunish soul. We can talk of Genies, magic and mystery but it was here with their horses…beloved and traded, that the depth of their passion was evident. Genies are a dime a dozen to them, but a special horse is a friend, family member and legend of a lifetime.

I cannot describe the wonders of the entire market. There were places with elemental magic, fine leathers and silks, rugs, foods of amazing sweetness and intricate savory flavor and (as I said before) a surprising number of lamps and lanterns. But above it all there were the barber shops. These shops were for relaxation, grooming and stories; because their barbers are like our bards but also not like them.

It was in the business of the master Barber Gorar-Al-Askar that our Jeremy again worked his magic: That magic that is not magic but one of observation and intellect. When we entered he saw the star charts and began a conversation on the astrology of Hollowfaust as well as the Isle of Pearls. Gorar, excited beyond belief began a dissertation on stars and stories. We moved into a discussion of all our travels and out home as well. Jeremy spoke of how our little sister Annabel was an actress and necromancer for the Sowers of Fear. He was enthralled at the idea of an order of Mage actors who told the stories through art…of the dead. We mentioned that necromancy and illusion are the two magics most commonly used. He regaled us with the tales of a master illusionist who was a foreigner who was in the market on select days. A con man of sorts, a barber at heart he said. Who fleeced the unjust and mighty and gave it to the suffering. He told us where to find this man the next day.

My brother in all but blood…the only man who can figure out how to find people using the eyes of others while sitting in a chair getting a shave. So tomorrow we will go and find this man…with such a name…Quentin Gabriel Tarella III. The key to seeing through at least some of the illusions of Taren. I suppose it will be more involved than I think…so I will call it the Case of the Merciful Illusionist.

Your Sons Always,
Frederik and Jeremy

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