Daoud’s Wondrous Lanthorn: Chapter One
The Pavilion of Hasnat
A dwarf and a man held tightly to the edges of the tattered and threadbare magical carpet on which they sat. The embroidered fringes of the once-colorful rug had been burned away, and the whole of the weave looked to have passed through fire and water. Yet it showed itself still skyworthy, bearing them on a straight and true path through the air faster than any bird might fly. Strapped tightly to their conveyance were several small bags, bundles, and one large purse. The dwarf and the man looked no better kept than the carpet on which they flew. Earth and grime soiled their garments and smeared their faces. Long tangles of hair and untrimmed beards waved and flapped about in the wind like pendants. Despite weariness and all the travails and deprivations they had already passed through, both the man and dwarf radiated expressions of amazement and exhilaration as they peered about at the world below them and the world above them.
Daoud and Grimmly sailed above, or perhaps below, a world delicious and delightful and also doubled; one facing down upon them from above and one looking up toward them from below. It seemed to them as if they somehow flew between the mountains and the reflection of the mountains as it appears on the surface of a calm mountain lake at the height of summer if it were that the sky itself was the surface that created the mirror. Spread out below them lay a thicketed wilderness of trees overgrown and wild, while far above in the remote heights of the sky they could see, as if mirroring the world beneath them, another world in parallel, but of orchards, fields, and gardens, cultivated and tended. Below them grew cedar and pine and fir and branching palm, shade below shade, while above them (growing upside-down it appeared), they saw tended groves and orchards of the goodliest trees heavy-laden with fairest fruits, adorned with fragrant golden-hued blossoms and rainbows of color. Below them the wild untamed mountains and forests spread out for as far as the eye could see, from horizon to horizon, at points giving way to hills and lakes in the far distance or falling into green plains crossed by mountain-fed rivers in another. Above them, in perfect reflection, spread out the same lay of the land, hill for hill and peak for peak, except a world cultivated and tended, a garden of delight.
“Although it be two worlds that we see, they can be but one world and one place,” Daoud informed his dwarven passenger. “Istus has smiled upon us, and we have passed now into the Twin Paradises.”
“By Moradin’s beard!” Grimmly exclaimed. “Are all the old tales of gods and goddesses true then as well?”
“We shall soon see!” Daoud said confidently, but they met no gods or goddesses or other divinities that day, nor the next. By night they made camp beside sweet mountain lakes, drank deep of the clear crystal waters, washed the grime of the world of earth from their skin, and slept beneath a sky of stars which shone between them and the world above. They picked wild berries and mushrooms to try to fill their stomachs; once they snared a rabbit; once they nearly caught a fish. On the third day, as they sought a place to land their carpet and sleep the night, Daoud thought he heard the faint sound of music drifting on the breeze. “Do you hear those angelic voices carried on the wind with sound of stringed instruments?” the man asked.
“Indeed I do,” the dwarf sighed, “And with longing my heart is filled. In all my days, never have I heard a sound more lovely.”
Daoud piloted his carpet toward the sound of the music, and presently, as the sun sank beneath the distant horizons, they spied a magnificent palatial pavilion pitched beside a wooded lake of clear waters. A hundred lanterns, set with crystal lenses, blazed bright to dispel the darkening shadows of night. Winged angelic beings in attendance lifted their voices in heavenly song and others accompanied them on pipe and lute, zither and drum. As Daoud settled the carpet to the ground, the aroma of rich spices, sweet perfumes, and delicious food filled senses and made his heart leap with hope. As if enchanted, dwarf and man stepped forward into the light and entered beneath the great pavilion. The weary travelers beheld a veritable pleasure palace of cushions, divans, tapestries, food and drink, and musicians of every sort. At the center of it all, a dark-haired and dark-eyed woman adorned in gleaming jewelry and colorful silks reclined. A modest veil covered the lower half of her face in the manner of the Bakluni wives, but the thin cloth did nothing to conceal her penetrating beauty. From across the pavilion, she fixed her coal-black eyes upon the strangers in a kindly manner, and she invited them with a kindly voice that rang sweeter than music, “Welcome weary travelers. Come recline at my table. Here is water for you to wash your faces, hands, and feet. Here is oil to anoint your heads. Here is wine to quench your thirst. Let some honeycomb and bread, pistachios and fresh fruits be set out along with the cuts of wild game already cooking on the fire. Then we shall hear some songs to refresh your hearts.”
Daoud prostrated himself before her and Grimmly bowed so low that his tangled beard swept the ground. “Oh mighty goddess, whose name I fear to guess, your servants are utterly unworthy of your hospitality and kindness,” Daoud said reverently.
“You have already guessed it. I am Hasnat. The comfort of the cool breeze.” Her words seemed to pass through them like a delicious thrill. Daoud prostrated himself again, and replied, “Let the music of thy name never fall silent.”
“It never shall,” the goddess assured them. “Now come, recline as my guests, and enjoy the entertainments and pleasures of my pavilion. In the morning, we must part company. You will go your way, and I will go mine, for I travel to the Walled Garden, wherein no mortal may enter. But for tonight, we shall enjoy the singing of songs and the telling of tales.”
That night, Daoud and Grimmly reclined beneath the pavilion of the goddess. They enjoyed a sumptuous meal made all the more delicious after so many years without the taste of fresh fruit or cooked meats. While they filled their stomachs, their ears were filled by the craft of minstrels and bards and with tales told well. When all appetite for food and drink had been set aside, Hasnat spoke to Daoud, in a voice like clear water, “Now tell us your tale, from the beginning, sparing no detail.”
A plan sprang into Daoud’s mind whereby he might continue on with Hasnat and accompany her company on their journey to the Walled Garden and perhaps enter therein. He said, “I fear that time prevents me, my lady. For if I should tell the whole of it, I would be still speaking when the sun rises tomorrow and not half the way through the matter. But I shall make a beginning with the tales of my noble ancestors, their valorous deeds, and how I came to be a student of my esteemed teacher who has schooled me in the art of magic and the world of the grave and has now sent me on this long and perilous quest to obtain wisdom from the inner worlds.” Daoud began his tale with the story of his grandfather, Mehmet, who first came into possession of the Bakluni ring of power, his quest to obtain it from a genie, how he became a powerful general and warlord under the sultanate of Zeif, and how he came to be the Pasha of Tusmit. At the conclusion of the tale, Daoud said, “Truly it is a pity that time now prevents me from also telling the tale of my father Sulymon the Giantslayer, for that is tale worth hearing in full, not to mention my own adventures and all that has befallen me on my journeys, and how Grimmly and I have come to the Twin Paradises by accident.”
Hasnat clapped with delight at the conclusion of the recitation and said, “Surely my sister Istus has snared you in her webs, and I will hear the whole of the tale. Why not travel on with me for one day as I continue on my way? Stay again a second night beneath my pavilion. Then I shall hear a fuller telling of the tale of Daoud of Tusmit.” To this proposal, both man and dwarf gladly agreed.
In the morning, the servants disassembled the pavilion, packed it up, loading it and all its accoutrements neatly upon one hundred silver haired camels. Hasnat herself rode upon the back of a mighty Pegasus called Sharir. Daoud and Grimmly travelled along beside her upon the magical carpet that Daoud had stolen from the Charcoal Palace. All of her servants, including the company of devas and the hundred silver-haired camels, proceeded over land. The flyers quickly left the caravan far behind. When the summer sun began to sink low on the horizon, the graceful Sharir banked and carried her lovely rider to a clearing below where, somehow, the entire caravan had magically arrived ahead of them and the pavilion had already been erected and only waited Hasnat’s arrival and that of her guests.
For a second evening, Daoud and Grimmly reclined at the table of the goddess, enjoying the rich fare in food and drink while their hearts drank in the heavenly music, the songs and the tales, and the eloquent poetry of Hasnat’s bards. When all appetite for food and drink had been set aside, Hasnat spoke again, in a voice like clear water, “Now tell us the rest of your tale, from the beginning with the story of your father Sulymon the Giantslayer, sparing no detail.”
Daoud told the tale of his father Sulymon and the Seven Giants, a story well-known to every child in Tusmit and Ket. At the conclusion of the tale, Daoud yawned and said, “The hour is late and the time for sleep has overtaken us again. Truly it is a pity that I am thus prevented from telling the tale of my days in the hidden Temple of Pharol Al-Sammal, for that is a story worth hearing in full, not to mention my further adventures and all that has befallen me on my journeys, and how Grimmly and I have come to the Twin Paradises by accident.”
Hasnat shook her head at the conclusion of the recitation and said, “Nay, I will hear the whole of the tale. Travel on with me for one day more. Stay again a third night beneath my pavilion. Then I shall hear the rest of the tale of Daoud of Tusmit.” To this proposal, both man and dwarf gladly agreed. So it went, night after night. Each night Daoud told another story beneath the pavilion of the goddess, and each night she invited him to travel on with her an additional day so that she might hear the rest of the tale. In this way, Daoud of Tusmit and Grimmly of the Crystalmist Dwur arrived at the gate of the walled garden in the company of the goddess and passed through its gates with the permission of the devas who guard the way. Therein he and Grimmly revealed to the devas the rich gemstones that they had brought with them from the world of earth. Under the artisanship of those angelic beings, they fashioned the gems into wondrous items of magical power, including a certain lanthorn—but that is a tale for a later telling.
Based on Rasgon, “The Golden Age of Tusmit,” Canonfire! [Posted Octomber 13, 2011]
To learn more about the Baklunish pantheon, see Joseph Bloch “The Baklunish Pantheon,” in Dragonne Magazine.
Featured Artwork: Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov
Don’t miss chapter two of Daoud’s Wondrous Lanthorn: “The Tale of Mehmet and the Baklunish Seal of Power.“ Follow greyhawkstories.com for the next exciting chapter.