The Return to Huzuz: Faruq

It was another beautiful day in Huzuz. When wasn’t it? Sunshine, breeze coming in off the Al-Sarif river, beautiful architecture…but you were too busy with your own thoughts to notice.

You were headed to the Mosque District, to deposit the riches from your latest adventure in the Ruined Kingdoms. Despite all the wonders you saw there, despite the honour in working for Princess Yasmi, you were instead focused on your problems. As usual.

Passing by the bathhouses of Jisan, you reflected on the relationship you had with that church. Maybe they were decent bankers for you, but you were still bitter about having to lose any money at all to them. Hundreds of people used their bathhouses every day; you absent-mindedly wondered how much of the interest from your adventuring scores went to their maintenance. You also wondered how much business was done between merchants in there. Were there members of the Al-Kamari family in there now?

Aunty wasn’t home when you came in. Your siblings informed you that she had gotten a job at the Al-Kamari silk warehouse, so she wouldn’t be home as much. You felt a slight pang of guilt at the relief you felt; her being gone more often would mean less overt lying to the sweet woman. Working for the family’s famous silk company was a good job, with a decent amount of prestige; “Treat it as though it were the finest silk in the world, because it is.” You just hated that she had to work at all.

You weren’t in a rush, and so decided to meander a bit through the city; it wasn’t often that you had a chance to see anything beyond the Harbour and Warehouse districts. So lost in thought were you that you almost ran over a gnome in a hurry to get somewhere. You recognized him as the alchemist, Basem bin Rumi; the story for him, apparently, was that he was a former adventurer who found a formula somewhere in the Ruined Kingdoms to turn base metals into gold. He isn’t said to have had any success though and has apparently squandered his wealth trying to make it work. Too bad; you might have found such a formula useful in dealing with your current woes.

At one point you found yourself shocked, absolutely shocked. Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted, even. There was Khalid, walking arm in arm with a girl. A beautiful girl. More beautiful than you can remember ever seeing, with highlights in her hair, dark eyes, swaying hips… and she was with Khalid. Stupid, simple, drinks-too-much Khalid.

Fate was cruel, that much was certain in your world.

You kept walking, strolling through some of the wealthier neighbourhoods. You recognized the estate of Zima al-Hatik, the sage. He Supposedly remembers everything he’s read, and is familiar with the contents of all of Huzuz’s libraries. Snooty and reclusive too; you liked that about him. Apparently, he could charge a hefty price just for one meeting with him, and he only took one meeting per night. You spotted someone leaving his estate, a veiled man in white and red clothing. Must be his one appointment.

You imagined how nice it would be to be in demand like that, providing answers no one else could. You didn’t see how that was going to happen now, though, not with the burden you were carrying. As though to twist the knife, you found yourself within sight of the tower of the sha’ir Adnan al-Raqi. Master of the Invisible. The Pillar of Wisdom. The Whisper that Thunders. Were you ever going to have impressive sobriquets like that?

Didn’t seem likely.

The sha’ir was apparently in semi-retirement now; he had decided on Huzuz to live out the rest of his days, but decided to help the Grand Caliph with his problem; The Pillar of Wisdom was going to find out why the Grand Caliph could not sire a son. Doesn’t seem so have solved it yet, you thought, remembering how the Grand Caliph is seen less and less in public these days; whispers were that he was spending all his time in the harim.

You knew that Adnan had a school for young sha’ir, and had hoped to one day enroll, but that didn’t seem possible now. Still, you kept track of others like you: there was Essafah al-Jamila, who catered to the wealthy and specialized in the creation of genie prisons; and Qoha’dar who hoped to join the Magical Legion as a liaison between the forces of Huzuz and the Jann that served the Grand Caliph, so it was said. You never found the courage to introduce yourself to either of them, but you still liked to keep abreast of their activities; following their exploits always gave hope that one day you too might make a name for yourself as a sha’ir in Golden Huzuz.

You found yourself in front of the Mosque of Jisan, not really remembering exactly how you got there. With a sigh, you walked in to hand over more of your hard-earned dinari. You wondered for the hundredth time if you’d make enough in time.

Author: Eric