The Return to Huzuz: Azizullah

It’s like a living thing, a network. A plant, maybe, or temperamental pet; if you don’t look after it, it’ die.

Or worse, turn on you.

You knew this better than most. As such, once back in Huzuz, you made sure to check in on the various branches of your “plant.”

You spied Nabil al-Rashad being chased out of a caravanserai, though you couldn’t see by whom. Nabil was a snake but a fantastic opportunist. Perfect contact in case a quick getaway was needed. You saw him try to strike up a conversation with another unscrupulous person you knew, Jarda the Rogue. She brushed him off (predictably) and went back to eyeing the streets. You made brief eye contact with her, held it until she inclined her head as though to ask “And…?” You smirked and continued on your way. Today wasn’t the day you were going to find out who her mysterious employer was.

One day, though.

There was Farim al-Kanafi, “guarding” the Gate of Wealth. “Making money off it” was more accurate; the guard accepted more bribes than anyone else you could think of. Not that you were judging; a bribe-able guard was your favourite kind of guard. Another guard that you recognized rounded the corner and this time you quickly took to the shadows; One-Eyed Kasad was out and about and that meant looking for trouble. You’d seen him get people thrown into prison for nothing, and that was when he was being nice. You determined a while ago to never get on his bad side.

Sneaking away, you passed by a couple of shops you liked to keep tabs on: the first belonged to an ajami dwarf, Mandrake Trollsbane. The dwarf was a master wagon-maker, and he would have made enough dinari that way, but what not everyone knew was that he was skilled enough to make virtually undetectable hidden compartments in his wagons. For an increased price, of course. Clever little being, and useful to know.

The second shop you checked up on was that of Kola bint Fayala, a retired gnomish thief who now specialized in very high-quality locks (and, if rumours were to be believed, magical ones). Apparently, she was always behind on her orders, so in demand were her services. The cynical side of you knew that once a thief, always a thief, and a thief whose homemade locks were the only things standing between her and the treasures behind them was a very smart thief indeed.

You passed by a few more stalls in the Grand Bazaar. The large one was owned by Gogal al-Misal, the “procurer of talent.” A shrewd judge of character and an excellent debater, Gogol always had the face of a man who knew more than everyone around him. One of your former contacts ended up as sold by Gogal as one of the “talents” he can procure.

You always felt it best to avoid him.

The smaller stall was owned by Zaynal the Scribe. She was precise, even anal when it came to her work, which was good. It was even better when she performed her other, less well-known profession, that of a forger of documents. You had done business with her a couple of times, and, while you don’t trust her, there was no denying she did good work.

A cry of pain followed by a soothing voice caught your attention. There was Mustapha, “The Street Physician,” tending to what you imagined was a beggar of some kind. Rumour had it that Mustapha’s wife threatened to bankrupt him with the lavish parties she would throw. Realizing he’d be in debt forever, one night he just left without a word, to live on the streets and care for those who could not afford it otherwise. Rumour also had it that she was still looking for him…

Finally, you touched base with the two “runts” of your network. The first was Harjad the Water Bearer. He had a neat scam going: he’d target pilgrims and offer to sell them water from the Golden Mosque. Of course, it was just tepid water from the nearest well, but he could be quite convincing, even speaking in tongues on one occasion.

The second was Umar al-Fennec. Poor Umar; barely ten years of age, and living on the streets. Once, 2 years or so ago, you had brought him to Auntie to raise, but the boy kept running away. You thought to keep an eye on him, sporadically, since. He was orphaned when his parents, adventurers, according to him, went missing on a mission to the Ruined Kingdoms. Every time he meets an adventurer, he asks if they know his parents. The truth is, he probably doesn’t remember his parents accurately at all. It was a sad situation all around, but you tried to give the boy missions that weren’t too dangerous so that he would feel useful. Mostly, it worked.

After you were done your due diligence, you retired to Laski’s for a brandy before heading home to try to sleep without dreaming of what happened in your tribe not so long ago.
You were not successful.

Author: Eric