Masks

This is a thread for @Fel and Gallow.


The Grand Bazaar was bustling with people. Casper pushed his way through the crowds, past spice merchants standing in front of mountains of saffron, sticks of vanilla, and cloves. The smell was almost overpowering, yet managed to strike some sort of balance that enticed rather than repelled. Casper had never been good at haggling, so he found it fascinating to watch. No time today, though.

He had memorized the map of the bazaar. Istanbul’s networks were unstable at the best of times, and there was always a risk of attracting the attention of the wrong people even with something as benign as a simple map search. Casper’s identity was only so deep, and he couldn’t afford to have someone chip away at it.

A hand caught his arm as he pushed past a lamp store.
“Extra special price for you today, effendi!” The proprietor was a big man with a big round belly and a black beard, oiled and braided. A bronze monkey construct perched on his right shoulder, beady little eyes scanning the crowd.
“Not today,” Casper replied in Turkish and wrenched his arm loose. The vendors were getting more and more bold as night set in and the tourists became more and more drunk.

Casper walked into the jewelry quarter, where the crowd was more upscale and even more touristy, wide eyed Europeans taking pictures of the silver and gold on display. Two displays of beautiful prosthetic eyes whirred and clicked and shifted their gaze endlessly back and forth as the crowd flowed by.

Finally, he arrived at the entrance to Zincirli Han. A massive man stood in the doorway, well over six feet tall, his bare arms bulging with vat grown muscles. Behind him, Casper could see actual trees growing in the little courtyard.
“I am here to see the Kethüda,” Casper said.

1 Like

The man remained silent. Casper could sense a shifting of light, and he felt intensely watched. The smell and sounds of the bazaar carried themselves off into the doorway as Casper stood, in quizzical silence, facing this man. Casper realized he stood in the man’s shadow.

Finally, as if breaking a vow of silence, the man moved. Upon this movement an old lady - so ancient and light, Casper mistook her for a walking corpse - emerged behind him.

“Forgive us for the silence. You understand that he does not do the talking.” She spoke, her voice young and unforgiving. “What business does the Kethüda have with you?”

“I am here to answer his search. I believe I will be of service to him.” Casper answered carefully.

She regarded him one more time. “Good. You will go in alone. He waits for you in the Hall. May the war end soon.”

And so Casper walked into the trees in the rigidly cultivated courtyard, being underwhelmed by the residence of perhaps the most covertly powerful man in the city. He felt an urge to change, but he had learned to control such things. He is not a chameleon. A change of environment does not mean a change of circumstance. A boy whistled, and his attention broke. He hurried into the Hall, dark as a place of worship. The Kethuda emerged.

“You may begin.” Casper was told.

“I understand you are looking for certain abilities for yourself. Unfortunately, there is no potion nor apothecary in the world that would enable you to change and mold your appearance to will. Such an ability is innate, and terrible and mercurial. I speak to my own experience. I cannot offer you my ability, for I do not know of anyone else with my curse, but I can offer you my service.” Casper said in one breath.

“And can you travel through time?” The Kethuda was calm and pensive.

“Yes, but on my own terms.”

“If you are hired, what do you ask for as compensation?”

“Not your money, but a chance to -”

And at this time, the door to the hall was hastily opened. The footsteps were long. Casper squinted, but could not make out the traveller’s face.

1 Like