Chapter 50: Test Drive
We are in Badgad -- evidently a pre-Moslem, mythical-age Bagdad --
having just had Robbie and Dafnord healed by Na'imah, an efrit friend of
Leila (our efrit friend). Dafnord needs to come back to Na'imah in
three days, for a second dose of healing potion, so we decide to just
hang around Bagdad in the meantime.
So what shall we do? How about go shopping? What a surprise...
First, what do we have for money? Well, thanks to Daphne's habit of using her larger friends as unwitting pack-animals for her goodies, we all have oddments of shiny stuff in our backpacks, pockets, vacuoles, etc. In particular, there's a fair bit of emerald shrapnel from the pantope deck. That will probably do.
But it probably won't wow the locals as you might expect. We've seen flying carpets flit across the sky, here, and it seems one can be a djinni or an efrit publically, perhaps.
Well, what about a flying carpet? It would go well with the magic tent and be generally useful. Leila guides us to the bazaar, and enough of us have psionic or magic translators to get by with.
It turns out that flying carpets are sold by the same merchants who sell regular carpets -- if they're really nice carpets. The dealer shows us a sample and sets it to hovering a foot or so in the air. We stare at it, wondering if we should kick the tassels or look under ... something. We scan in telepathically, to make sure it doesn't contain, for instance, an imprisonned djinni. It doesn't.
Tom asks the dealer to let him take the carpet for a test flight. The dealer wants to come, too, naturally enough, and explains to Tom that, after the basic command words to start and stop it, the carpet needs a certain knack to steer.
Tom's got knacks, including a Knack of Tools that lets him fly the carpet well enough to make the dealer believe he's flown rugs before. We go cruising out over the Iraqi desert, then return.
On further consideration, though, we want something larger, something we can all ride at once, with, probably a couple of friends and a large gun or two. The dealer produces another carpet, older and more worn, but much larger. We try flying that and agree to take it.
Now for the payment. We profer a chunk of emerald and, as mentioned above, it is not all that impressive to him, but he doesn't turn it down flat. He merely remarks that it is rather irregular and flawed. (That happens under heavy plasma cannon fire.) Tom takes the chunk back and -- There's this trick phony psychics pretend to do with forks and spoons. Tom can really do it. He hands the emerald back, much less irregular and hardly flawed at all. Now the dealer is rather impressed. (But still only rather.) That will do nicely. The rug is ours.
Are we done shopping? Of course not! Daphne would like to acquire some small, young trees, to coax into growing arrow shafts and other useful stuff. We locate a flower seller who also deals in ornamental shrubs and, one more emerald later, have saplings that Daphne sets to growing almost visibly.
[ There was more to the encounter, but it will have to wait for the full version. ]
Erratum, supplied by Barry:
Um, not quite.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.