Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chapter 1 - Fortune's Map

Date sent: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 00:05:38 EDT
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From: NiteScreed NiteScreed@AOL.COM
Subject: [GREYTALK] Chapter 1 – Fortune’s Map

The Journal of Rekham Al-Mudri
Being An Account Of A Journey Into The Far West

Chapter One – Fortune’s Map

I was born into a merchant family in Tusmit but have never considered myself a native of that land. As is the practice among merchants, I was apprenticed at an early age to my uncle, Alain Nothman of Ket, who had the good fortune to marry my aunt, Alia, thereby increasing the fortunes of both families. A merchant of Oerdian extraction, it is not unusual that Alain would marry a Bakluni, at least not in Ket. Ket is in all ways cosmopolitan. It is neither of the east nor of the west, neither savage nor civilized but all this and more. All manner of peoples, races and religions mix, more or less comfortably, in Ket as befits its position as the crossroads between the Flanaess and the Inner West. I am by choice a Kettite.

My education was no more than what might be expected living as a merchant in a cosmopolitan mecca. That I have some skill with numbers, being able to quickly calculate sums without an abacus, and a fair memory for names and dates won me a place as an accountant for my uncle. That I was young and vigorous as well meant I could and would be sent with caravans to deliver goods as well as greeting those caravans that arrived at our business address in Lopolla. The older accountants, grown sedentary or settled, did not begrudge me the opportunity to see the world. It was in such employ that I made a fateful journey to the City of Greyhawk in my twenty-second year. We were first to Mitrik and then down the Velverdyva to the Nyr Dyv before on to the City of Greyhawk in the company of some Rhenee bargemen.

Of our merchanting in Greyhawk little needs be said. We were about our business with a load of mixed rugs, Kettish, Ullite and Paynim with some Tusman and fewer Zeifari or Ekbirian, and concluded matters without incident. We also carried as well some secretive cargo for the wizard Rary, a favorite son of Ket. I know not the nature of the cargo for it was intrusted solely to the caravan master but the difficulty he had in arranging to see the wizard allowed me freedom to
explore the city in a manner that would not otherwise have been possible.

Greyhawk is a great and overgrown metropolis with many twisting streets and allies. It is very much like Lopolla in this respect but greater in size by half. It is far more open seeming, not in the least because there is no everpresent dusty haze blowing in from the Paynim Plain. The river wind makes the city seem ever clan and fresh. Architecturally, Greyhawk sports fewer buildings of any height than Lopolla and builds more with stone. The sun dried, red brick buildings of Lopolla routinely top six or eight stories, while in Greyhawk siz is unusual. It was a simple enough matter then to navigate by the sun, not obscured by high tenements and clouds of dust, as I wandered absorbing the sights and sounds of the alien city.

Of my sojourn in this city of the unfathomable east no more needs be said before coming to my discovery. In my wanderings, I looked over the city with a merchant’s eye and a boy’s wonder. It did not escape me that a clever purchase, being returned to Lopolla, might fetch a handsome sum that I could then invest in my uncle’s business to better my lot; for I did not intend to spend my life accounting for other’s fortunes alone. Entertaining such avaricious thoughts, and lost in reverie if the truth be told, I wandered then into a passage of no particular note when I spied the sort of emporium commonly encountered in Lopolla. Zreed’s Antiquary promised any manner of oddments that might suit my need. I entered upon the shop, determined to explore.

What I found was simple enough. It was a map. Crudely drawn and lacking in detail, it was offered for a pittance, probably not cast off as trash by merest chance. Doubtless the proprietor considered it worthless but I essayed my fortune in its faded parchment. You must understand that as a merchant I have a passing familiarity with maps. I am no expert cartographer but I know what is mapped and what is not, where the caravans have pulled back the corners of the world and where knowledge vanishes into a misty horizon. The map clearly showed the outline of the Flanaess, my adopted homeland of Ket and the Inner West but it revealed much more. It was nothing less than a map of Oerth! It pushed back the horizon to reveal the lands of the Far West! Here was opportunity! I purchased the trifle with concealed glee.

Copyright 1998. NiteScreed@aol.com. All rights reserved.

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