I’ve decided to share some of my own writing on here. I found the inspiration for this post whilst trawling the internet for resources for another blog post. Sprouting from the idea that not all fantasy should be set in medieval Europe. So the idea for a middle eastern inspired world at the beginning of its renaissance just popped into my head.
The first thing that Esrin noticed were the smells. A conglomerate of scents that hung as deeply in the air as dust in a tomb. Next was the noise, unlike this places counterpart back home it was subdued, all transactions done in whispers, letting the random calls of exotic birds and caged predators take the forefront of the stage. Then there were the lights, sunlight glimpsed through coloured windows set high in the walls, and the multicoloured flickering candle flames from alchemically made waxes.
Back home Esrin was considered well-travelled. Having been to the Sea of Miracles in the south and the City of a Thousand Temples in the High Mountains of Gelabad. The bazaar he found himself in now was nothing like the port or mountain cities that made up his home continent. A world into and of itself. Sheltered from the relentless beating of the sun by sandstone arches and dyed sail canvas.
“Clear for now Mikael” said the spymaster in Esrin’s ear. Shorter than Esrin by a head he was an unimposing man in his late forties. A curly beard that had lost most of its black adorned the lower half of his face whilst his curly hair made a hasty retreat from the front of his head. His name only the King and his Privy Council knew, to Esrin on this mission he was Viscount Tumlis, as was his name changed for the need of secrecy.
“Let’s find our man, shall we?” Esrin asked, using the chipped accent of a Rararan he’d been taught on their voyage.
“After you my lord, my men and I shall be… Browsing nearby” Esrin didn’t need to look to know Tumlis had disappeared as if by magic. A scary thought if it were true. Esrin being the only mage in the Kings court.
Moving forwards down the central corridor of the bazaar Esrin met many men and women of various backgrounds, he could only identify a few of the many hundreds of nationalities present. And nothing of the different tribes signified by a thousand different factors. The number of beads in a woman’s hair, the different styled men’s turbans and coloured robes of both sexes spoke a truly foreign language. One more subtle than the heraldry and swords of the Houses back home.
“Haval row el me?” One man asked Esrin as he passed, his Palish was perfectly executed but the character Esrin was playing in this game of spies and secrets knew no Palish, so simply waved his hand at the seller.
Who to his credit snapped between four other languages before finding the right one. “Ah my fine Lord” he smiled and executed a perfect courtly bow.
“That’s very unnecessary” Esrin said smiling in what he hoped was a friendly manner, even though his nerves told him to simply frown and walk on by.
“Not at all” the seller whispered, the spherical glass beads in his hair clattered as he shook his head. “I have here a fine collection of venoms” his eyes twinkled with amusement at the stunned look that stretched across Ezrin’s face.
“Are these not illegal?” They were at home, the smallest drop of Zalbarrakar venom would see the holder publicly executed for crimes against the state.
The confused look the young man gave Esrin was answer enough, he evidently decided to ignore the question; “My people use them for entertainment. They give you visions!” He waved a hand at the many rows of vials on his stall. My name is Amare, seller of venoms and secrets.”
Esrin’s eyes widened and he nearly shouted at the man before he answered “I am Mikael, collector of rituals and talents.”
Amare looked him up and down before disappearing behind the counter of his stall, he returned a moment later and without a word handed Esrin a pouch and leather bound book. A nod ended the transaction.
“For the King” Esrin whispered to Amare.
The blood drained from Amare’s face as he dropped to the floor, he writhed in agony for a few seconds and then was still. The already quiet market was silent, even the beasts keeping their noises to themselves.
“Help him” screamed Esrin in the best ‘scared-noblemen’ impression he could muster. Twenty men ran from their stalls and hoisted Amare up. After half a minutes bickering in a half dozen languages they raced off with the limp body of the spy carried on their shoulders.
Tumlis appeared at Ezrin’s shoulder, “Black magic for black powder, the King made me bring you, I’m glad I did. Heart attacks are far more natural than a knife to the throat.”
“Let’s go home. I’m sick already of this.”
Tumlis guided Ezrin back towards their waiting ship. His men and the mage set sail for home an hour later, with a recipe that would change the continent.