Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Bazaar of Bokhara

I was planning on doing a bunch of writing these holidays, but so far I've been sidetracked but in a good way ;) I started on Chuck Wendig's Unicorn one last week, but didn't get it done. The one for this week is about shopping at a flea market. After rendering down the unfinished Unicorn one, I worked it into: The Bazaar of Bokhara. So it's sort of shoe-horned into a two for one combo deal, weighing in at 888 words.

Ulf Magnusen sighed with contentment when he finally caught a glimpse of the tents and awnings of the Bazaar of Bohkara. Tucking his russet beard into his belt, he drew his ermine fringed robe about him, contemptuous of the sweltering heat. Muttering in Old Eldritch, he thumped his gnarled staff of the cobblestones and threw some blue feathers into the air, spitting on them. A hazy figure coalesced in front of him, unnoticeable to an untrained eye. Bowing subserviently, it slowly led Ulf towards the marketplace.

The mage wended his way amidst the bedazzling throng, ignoring the raucous calls of hawkers and merchants. His nebulous guide hovered attentively, waiting for its master when the crowd separated them momentarily. They came to an ornately plumed tent, and the being dissipated in a puff of sweet smelling smoke.

The wizard Magnusen was unimpressed by the spaciousness of the tent's interior, nor by its eye-catching stock. Glancing about quickly he smiled to himself. Surely, if any could locate such a beast, Abdul Ibn Wazik would be the one. Upon his entry, a wizened and bent servant gave him a brief nod, and shuffled into to the one of the many rooms branching out from the entry hall. After a short period, an impassive man in a bright green turban entered, accompanied by another who was ostentatiously moustachioed and berringed. The latter bowed, and began speaking. It was an unintelligible mishmash of growls and vowels to Ulf - the incomprehension was obvious on his face. The man ceased speaking, and waited. Annoyed, Ulf reached into his pouch and brought out his babelstone. Although its powers were on the wane until the next neap tide, it should be able to handle the pleasantries.

The stranger stroked his moustache, then began again. “A thousand blessings upon you, O Traveller, and welcome to the humble stall of Abdul Ibn Wazik. My master wishes me to regretfully inform you he has pressing business in Damascus. But I, Akheem, his unworthy servant am authorised to act upon his behalf. If you will but return on the morrow, then I am sure we can come to a most felicitous agreement.” With a curt nod the wizard left wordlessly, smiling to himself. It had been a long journey from the fjords of his homeland but he was willing to wait another day for such a treasure.

Ulf’s good mod left him while he was trying to organise a room. With a flare of ochre light from his babelstone, the harsh and guttural local language once again abraded his ears. Communication became impossible but money speaks all languages. He was offered a less appealing room and simpler fare than was his wont, but he made do after summoning a succubus to take his mind away from such suffering.

The following day he returned to the bazaar, which was just as chaotic. Ulf paced a complex route that formed an intricate rune amongst the stalls, before arriving at the tent. The old bearded servant met him outside, and in Old Eldritch reminded him once again that infidels were not permitted to speak words of power within, on pain of permanently losing their sanity. Dispassionately, Ulf waited to be ushered inside.

Once again the man with flowing moustaches was waiting. When Ulf did not produce the babelstone, Akheem went to a wicker basket and withdrew a snake from within. The serpent coiled around his arm, and he dulled the iridescent scales with charcoal, barking short phrases in southern Magetongue. Its form shimmered, and changed into that of a Naga.

Looking around the tent lazily, the being licked its lips, and had an extended conversation with Akheem. Finally, it turned its attention to the wizard Magnusen and explained it would act as translator. Knowing Naga to be treacherous, Ulf went into great detail about the beast he sought, so as there could be no confusion. Echoing various phrases, the Naga nodded and smiled. “Noble, yesss,” “Virginsss, offf courssse,” “Rare, defffinitely,” “Yesss, pure, and ssserve the righteousss.”  When he had exhaustively described the creature, the conversation turned to price, but there was little room for haggling. On the finely woven rug, the wizard Magnusen completed the rune that he had walked that morning, and reached through the thus-completed portal. He handed over a fragment of unmelting ice from the heart of a glacier, the scrolls of Trin and a rope woven from the beard of a frost giant. The Naga smiled and informed him that what he sought would be provided to him in three days.

At the allotted time, Ulf impatiently returned to the stall of Abdul Ibn Wazik. The old servant invited him in Old Eldritch to take his comfort on a mound of cushions. Leaning his staff against a table covered in books, Ulf picked idly at sweetmeats until Akheem and the Naga came into the room with an effeminate, prancing dandy. The Naga watched the newcomer intently as he looked at the wares on display with mounting horror. With a bow towards his guest, Akheem snatched a jewel encrusted dagger from his belt, and lunged at the stranger’s waist. His hand’s came away bloody and the stranger began shrieking uncontrollably, writing on the floor. “Compliments of Abdul Ibn Wazik, one Eunuch’s Horn,” the Naga said with a sneer.


  1. all that pretty writing with a killer, shocking, yet darkly hilarious ending!

  2. I haven't been able to post any comments on blogger w. my wordpress, so I am starting to use anonymous.
    Good story. Good writing. I felt sorry for the Eunuch's Horn. It should have been the Naga that suffered : )
    Louise Sorensen

  3. I love the concept of the babelstone! Beautiful writing. I was surprised by the ending.