This is part 3 of a story I wrote, being inspired by a worldbuilding post I made. If you were waiting, pardon the wait – the blog was on hiatus the whole of last week. You can read parts 1 and 2, as well as the worldbuilding post that inspired this story, in the links below.
I went to visit Waheed the next day. The first reason was because I felt a bit bad, having used his wares in a way they were obviously not supposed to be used. If we were in his homeland, he wouldn’t even be a part of the black market. He would just be another merchant, making an honest living. Or would he? Not everyone manages to get into a black market. Just selling illegal items doesn’t make one as connected as Waheed was. I had my suspicions, and the second reason I had for visiting him was because it was time to put them to the test.
I walked back to the bright, spice and dye smelling shop, and this time the dark elf wasn’t standing on the pile of carpets and cursing people out, but rather sweeping the floor humming a tune to herself. She looked up when I approached, and for a second I saw horror in her eyes. As before, she turned to the back of the shop and shouted for Waheed, but this time there was fear in her voice.
“Waheed! Waheed! It’s him!”
Waheed’s demeanor was also different this time. Gone was the overly friendly foreign shopkeeper calling me his ‘new friend’, replaced by a raging bull of a man, face red with anger. Steam shooting from his nostrils, he pointed a big meaty finger at me and said, in a voice that was almost a shout, “You! You dare step inside my shop again!”
I waved. “Hello, friend.”
“Do not be calling me so! I am no friend of yours,” he trailed off into a long litany of what I assumed was curses.
I shook my head, feigning sadness. “O Waheed, you wound me. What have I ever done to you?”
“You know what you have done,” he was still angry but a lot calmer this time. “My wares, my aqarram, it is for pleasure, not for the killing.”
I bowed. “I apologise, friend. Truth be told, when I bought your spice, I intended to use them as intended. The idea to use them for…business, came later.” I approached the counter when it was apparent he wouldn’t reach over and wring my neck. I doubt I could survive. “If it’s any consolation, I trust you, friend. You said you were not a cheat. I would gladly testify to that fact. Used as intended, the pleasure was…exquisite.”
Waheed folded his tree trunk arms and stared at me. At length, he said, “You are hashashin.”
“You know. A merchant, like me, but you sell death.”
“Ah. Yes, yes I am.” I showed him my daggers. “Please, forgive me for misusing your product. I promise never to do so again.”
He snorted. “The faith of a whore fades when gold is flashed before her.”
Somehow, I knew what that meant, and I laughed. “I never said I would, ah, stop selling my product, if you know what I mean.”
“Then what is you are wanting from me? I do not sell death.”
“No. I do,” I leaned in closer, and he followed. “Perhaps the aqarram you sold me was not intended to be used by one such as I, but I am sure you have something that I can use. Or am I wrong?”
“Now you wound me,” Waheed snorted again, looking like a bull ready to charge. “Just because I have rubbing of the tits with the unsavoury caste does not mean I am of the same caste.”
“Come now, Waheed, are we not friends?” I pressed. “And didn’t you insist you weren’t a cheat? I have told you what I am. All I ask, from one merchant to another, is that you supply me with my tools. Let me sell my product.”
Waheed seemed to be considering it. I let him think it over. After what seemed like an eternity, he turned to the slave and barked an order at her. She seemed frightened, staying where she was, glancing at me and at Waheed. He slammed a fist down on the counter and repeated his order, in a louder voice, and with a squeak the dark elf ran into the back of the shop.
“My soul is clean,” he said to me, “what you sell is your business, and none of mine.”
I nodded. “Of course. I look forward to a long, profitable relationship, friend.”
And that concludes the story! It’s a bit short, so I’ve decided to add on several points that I dislike about this first draft that I will change in the second. If you have any constructive criticism to offer, it’s welcome. Please leave a comment!
First off, The Introduction. It is bland. I dislike how this story started. It’s…well, boring. If I wrote it and I find it boring to read, I suppose it’s fair to assume that you will find it boring too. As to why, I feel like the assassination plot takes a bit of a back seat to the black market aspect. Which was definitely the original intention, but if it hobbles the story, it should go out.
Another reason I feel the story is boring, I think, is because we don’t get a sense of who our assassin is. I don’t mean their name, how they look like and whatnot. I mean the assassin’s character, if they had any, doesn’t quite make it through the text. They don’t all have to be Waheed, but then this guy feels like a blank slate. Which he was, but that should change.
Speaking of, I didn’t realise this while writing, but I made Waheed a total Middle Eastern/Turkish stereotype caricature. Here, I’m of two minds. I don’t want to write caricatures of real life cultures, but then again I love the phrase ‘be rubbing of the tits with the unsavoury caste’ too much to leave it alone. So, let’s compromise. I’ll change Waheed to, instead of being the caricature I wrote him to be, is actually pretending to be so to put people off his trail. I’ll think of some justification as to why he’s doing it.
Finally, I dislike that I’ve already put in DnD races in this world. I plan to continue developing it with the aid of the prompts from the worldbuilding journal, and while that journal was from the same people that brought you DnD we probably should hold off on having these fantasy races in the world until we’ve decided it’s right for our world. Maybe the fantasy races we want in the world might not be in the PHB. Who knows? I mean if I need an earth delving, mining, metallurgic people in my world I’m not going to call them Smeerps if they’re obviously Dwarves, but the point is – let’s keep our options open.
So, hopefully I manage to rewrite this in time to publish next Wednesday. If I don’t, we’ll go through the journal again. Maybe the next prompt will inform my story. Who knows. Also, I’ve bought a digital copy of Ironsworn: Starforged, and what better way to celebrate the purchase than by running a game – and posting it here? Stay tuned, guys – exciting stuff is coming to the blog soon!