Time to work the crowds. Re-familiarize yourself with the city. Huzuz has a pulse, a heartbeat, like a real person. All the major cities do, but none quite like Huzuz. It was time to get re-acquainted. And the best place to do that was the Grand Bazaar.
There was one of Laksi’s “fetchers.” Laksi ak-Afyid ran a “fetch” service for lazy nobles who couldn’t be bothered with the labyrinth that was the Grand Bazaar. The “fetchers” were good hagglers, and knew the Bazaar inside and out, despite the fact that it kept changing. You still shook your head ruefully though; half the fun is maneuvering through it all, getting all the sights and sounds…the vibe.
You passed by “Mad Aja’s.” Ostensibly, Aja Pelima was an eccentric fire magus, selling enchanted items. He was of note for two reasons: 1) He seemed to have mastered fire magic quite well for an ajami; and 2) He was quite obviously insane. More than once, city watch had been called to put out some fire he started “accidentally.”
Hearing music up ahead, you found yourself tracking it to the source, before you were even conscious of doing so. What a sight to behold: Andorra of the Many Veils. Possibly the sexiest woman you have seen (and I’ve seen naked jann, you reminded yourself), she was performing her signature dance, wherein the beat rises steadily, as she loses veil after veil, faster as the beat goes faster. Her dance always seemed to get interrupted before the last piece of silk was gone, though, much to the disappointment of her fans. You smiled as you recognized her marketing ploy, hearing onlookers whispering “Perhaps, this is the time when…” It wouldn’t be, you were sure. Still, you were surprised she wasn’t arrested for public indecency…you were sure anyone else would have been.
Speaking of surprise regarding a lack of arrest, your eyes fell on the musician accompanying Andorra’s dance. Judarin the Sot as he was known. Usually somewhat inebriated, Judarin had the very dangerous habit of espousing atheist beliefs when sufficiently drunk. Considering that was a capital crime in most city-states, you couldn’t believe he was still alive and free to roam about. You hatched a plan to convince Andorra you’d be a better accompaniment to her performance.
You continued through the Bazaar, this time following your nose, a delightful smell dragging you to its source: Howard Baker’s Pastries. The ajami halfling was an extraordinarily good pastry chef, and was now selling his “bubblers;” fruit pastries best eaten while they were still hot. You were tempted to get one, but the lineup was too long and you wanted to be on the move. You took notice of two people in line however; one was Ibtisam bint Latifa, wardrobe designer extraordinaire. More than a few royal guests were sent to her to make sure they were properly attired before meeting the Grand Caliph. You’d love to have a session with her, but any gold you were making these days went to Faruq‘s Auntie. Still, once you met the 30,000 dinar obligation, Ibtisam would be one of your first stops.
The other was Jera al-Farif. You liked Jera. He really seemed to have learned humility; he was once an arrogant sculptor of mediocre talent but seemingly overnight became a very modest sculptor of incredible talent. You knew business was booming for Jera, and you figured it was because of his new attitude on life.
Finally, you passed by the stall of Bahija Jalin, another rawun. The old crone and you had an agreement to remove the evil eye should either of you get it; a useful business relationship to have. There was something about her, though, that rang false. Of course, that was probably true of all rawun, but you never felt like you could let your guard down around her. Probably a good habit, you reminded yourself.
At any rate, Golden Huzuz may be the Gem of Zakhara, but you knew it was the people that made it what it was…and you were glad to be back amongst them.