It could be embarrassing. The people looking at Su quizzically as he walked through the campus towards the university library. Al-Bidir Sallah was the greatest university in Huzuz, and therefore, the world, and so Su was sure to find the answers he sought there. It’s just that Su didn’t belong there. Well, technically, he had been accepted, but the “financial situation” as he had explained now prevented him from actually enrolling. So he wasn’t officially a student, and was only given library access as a special favour for his unfortunate situation, and only this one time. Su hated that he was basically being treated with pity, and sometimes wondered if it might not be prudent to try to gain access to the library of the Grand University, located in the Pilgrim’s District. It just seemed to the young fire magus that everyone who saw him knew he wasn’t a real student, which bothered him to no end; hells, even Khalid was enrolled as a student!
Su was smart enough to know he had to put his pride aside in order to find out the information he needed, though. Still, he entertained more than once the thought of one of these sneering students suddenly catching fire and having to run to the river to save their lives…entertained the thought with a thin smile on his lips.
The librarian assigned to assist Su in his searches was a handsome young man named Yezeed. Although Su tried to be discrete in his library searches, Yezeed gave a somewhat subdued yet alarmed look at the requests. Obviously, the subject matter was considered a dangerous one, so Su had to make the appropriate excuses for looking into the Brotherhood of True Flame. He wasn’t sure if Yazeed believed him or not, but the good-looking human faithfully brought the relevant texts to Su‘s table with the standard offer of more help upon request.
Su learned the following about the Brotherhood of True Flame: 1) To say that every flame magus is a member is an exaggeration (obviously) but to say one in three is probably not. 2) The”Brotherhood” is an organization of flame wizards who make no bones about their aims. They believe that the only true magery is that of fire. Further, they believe that all wizards who are not elemental mages in flame must convert–that is, come under their control–or die. They believe Zakhara is best served governed by the Brotherhood. 3) The Brotherhood maintains chapters and related bodies in all major cities of the land. Su had a harder time believing the Brotherhood could go unnoticed in Huzuz, but… 4) The Brotherhood apparently has ties to the Flamedeath Fellowship, a holy slayer organization that purportedly serves the god, Najm. 5) They supposedly have their main headquarters deep in the Great Anvil, where resides their ruler, known only as The Bonfire. That last Su saw more as rumour than fact, obviously.
At one point as Su was reading, two young women, obviously students, began making obnoxious comments, ostensibly to each other, but loud enough for the elf to hear. They spoke about how the university was letting just anyone in, and more. Su clenched his teeth, not wanting to give them the satisfaction, but it began to be too much. Just as Su felt his temper about to leave his control, another voice cut them down with a polite-but-harsh insult. The two girls huffed and walked away. Su turned to see his “savior” ready to berate the man.
He stopped. Another student was there, before him, with a gentle smile that beamed out from within his dark goatee. His almond shaped eyes and slightly pointed ears identified him as half-elven. His skin was dark (a shade Su could never achieve), his eyes hazel, and his hair an absolute mess. “I hope you don’t mind,” he began, “but I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to put those two camel-maids in their place for a long time now.”
“I didn’t need your help, you know.”
“Of course not. As I said, I did that for me; helping you out was merely a pleasant coincidence.”
Su waited and frowned. What else does he want?
“May I sit?”
“Fine. I’m not a student here anyway, so I don’t see how I can say no.”
The young man smiled at sat. “My name is Mamoon,” he said, holding out his hand.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Sulayman. So, since I have ostracized myself from everywhere else in the library, may I sit with you?”
“You already are.”
“True, but I thought it best to be assured I am not disturbing you. I’m not, am I?”
Su sighed. “No, I am almost done here.”
“None of your business!” Su snatched the material back from the half-elf.
“True, true. I must apologize. Perhaps, you can listen to my apology over a cup of coffee?”
“No…I don’t think so.”
Mamoon looked down. “Ah, well, I can rest easy knowing I tried to satisfy the demands of hospitality, so soon after I had broken them,” he said with a smirk.
Su looked him over. He smirked too. “It’s just…I need to know more about them.”
Mamoon nodded seriously. “Most people should. They are said to be found everywhere.”
“Dangerous folk, it seems,” contributed Su.
“It seems so, yes,” responded Mamoon. “But is it true? Are they dangerous? They wouldn’t be the first people to be misunderstood because of the flame.”
Su‘s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
Mamoon leaned in. “You don’t know? Really?”
Su cleared his throat quietly. “No…what do you mean?”
Before he could react, Mamoon leaned in close for a whisper. “Tell me Sulayman, what would have happened to those bitches had I not arrived here in time? What would you have done?”
Mammon’s breath was hot as he chuckled a reply. “Now, now, Sulayman. No need to lie to me. I saved their lives, didn’t I?”
Su was starting to get very uncomfortable. “Of course not,” he hissed. When people looked, he lowered his voice to a whisper “I was hardly going to kill them!”
Mamoon made a tut-tut sound. “No, not here…not yet. But you wanted to, yes? Of course you did; I know you did. You would have used your fire to cleanse the world of their completely useless presence. And you know what? You would have been right to do it.”
Su looked at him in shock. How did this man know what he was thinking? “No…no that’s not true.”
Mamoon leaned back and smiled. “No? No, perhaps not. I may be projecting some of my own thoughts upon you, Sulayman. And so, again, I must offer you my apologies.”
Mamoon got up abruptly. “As you say, then. Allow me this one gesture of hospitality in return. Here is the address for my dormitory. Whenever you need to use the library in the future, simply come by and I will lend you my library permission slip. This way, there is no need to go through any more humiliating hassle at registration. You can then come and go as you please. If I am not there when you are ready to depart, simply leave it in the post-box. What do you say?”
Su was shocked. After clearing his throat, he looked up at the half-elf and said “I say thank you, noble Mamoon.”
“A thousand pardons?”
The elf cleared his throat again. “My friends call me Su.”