Asala bin Qalam stroked the long white whiskers flowing from his chin. He cocked his head to the side, clutching his wand and adjusting his seat in the throne. “You present unto me a conundrum, minuscule one,” the wizened Dokkaebi’s voice filled the audience chamber.
“Yes, great merchant, though I am but the humble messenger,” the Parua beggar bowed before the merchant lord, his tatter hat and stained vest stood out among the lush surroundings of the chamber, his white, black, and grey mottled fur thick with the smell of dust and sweat.
The room was filled otherwise with Dokkaebi courtesans, with Jinn and human merchants come to trade with bin Qalam, and with four Pitr guards flanking the entrance and the throne. Silks and carpets from Zhang covered near every surface, their bright patterns, many of hte Sun, stood out in the dimming evening light that filtered into the room.
“You confess to me that a raiding party from the Fah tribe are on their way to this domicile now, intent upon appropriating from me what you assert as ‘some item of great worth.’ You say that they, Children of Padaga, as we ourselves are, would intend to make war upon us?” The Dokkaebi paced as he spoke, twirling his wand in his hand, the grayed fur of an old man shifting as he walked.
“Yes, great one,” the Parua bowed lower, his front paws rubbing together as those of his kind often did when they were nervous.
“And moreover you claim that the Melikwan Mercenaries would offer santuary unto me from the Fah, in exchange for only a, ‘modest’ fee?”
“I am but your humble servant and messenger.”
“Well, minuscule one,” Asala rapped his wand against the palm of his hand, “We shall see if this tale you speak is truth– for I have here the very same bauble the duplicitous Fah seek– the Qalam stone, in the tongue of my people, or in the base tongue of this land– the Truth Stone.”
Asala bin Qalam had produced from behind him a large emerald, round cut and gleaming, of a size with a plump fig. The Parua spy, Mettel, blinked two times when he saw the item his tribe had sent him to steal.