Binky and the Hyena Trail
The evening started out well with all of the residents at the Hunting Lodge settling down to their pre-dinner drinks. The morning had been hectic with the departure of Adrian Ryce-Pepper who had been recalled urgently to Horseguards with very sketchy bur very urgent orders. The sun had set with all its Morvalistan glory in a fiery red globe only an hour before and now the evening chorus of insects and animals was fading into the usual night murmurings. Every now and then a lion would roar in the distance to be answered by another, hyenas barked and giggled horribly over the remains of a kill by the river and an occasional elephant trumpeted in the woodlands.
Outside the walls of the lodge the village was quieting down as the natives retired for the night as the gong sounded to announce that dinner was served. The first course of locally caught tilapia fish was quite excellent and the equally fine main course of cape buffalo steaks in a red spicy sauce was followed by a dessert made from yoghurt and fresh fruit with a sauce that was mainly jana (palm wine). The meal had been cleared and the brandy was served when in strode an impressive native in a fine scarlet robe. The room fell silent.
Hewa-hewa! I am Prince Wotmiwori, son of the Benevolent Pawtbelli King of the waTembi! Hail and Greetings to you all. I have been sent here to guide you in the lands of DariMorval which you call Morvalistan. A daunting task indeed.
Our land is in transition though we have never been isolated we are now in the attention of you from the Cold Lands. I fear that our way of life is to change for the worse. As strangers you do not know our ways. Pay careful attention and I shall teach you, for the reward of the unwary is the crocodile’s jaws. Some of you have travelled here before. The Great Lord Bin Kai, The Mage Jerh Ahld and the Mighty Warrior Pee Eht are known amongst us. Ahd Rih Ahn the Far Sighted has gone from our land and many say that he will return to save the land when it is in great danger.
Forgive my gravity, but this is a serious matter. Morvalistan is not a safe place for the traveller outside the lands of the waTembi. Vicious monsters, evil tyrants and black magic await you at every turn and the m’Gahia cry out for brave heroes to enter combat with them. This is not to say that Morvalistan is devoid of peace or beauty. To the contrary, we believe that our land is the most beautiful and blessed in the whole world.
My spear is at your command. I have spoken.
With that he turned and strode from the room.
The conversation, not surprisingly, became quite excited about this turn of events. The evening passed in amicable chat and storytelling until shortly after nine thirty when the topic of the slave trade rose. A subject that was dear to Binky’s heart and also, as it turned out, to the hostess Helen Damnayshin the sister of the local missionary who is looking after the estate until the new manager arrives. Not long afterwards and as if on cue a note was handed to. She paled and handed the note to Binky. Written in rough pencil was the message:
All looked at Miss Helen Damnayshin. She said in a quavering voice, “It is a slave market. One our local converts to Christianity has been watching the drift from the rocks where, a few years ago the Marzibari Slave traders had their market camp. Now that the trade is being suppressed they use only a few places and even then only rarely and erratically to avoid detection. We must stop the market and punish the fiends who sell human flesh! I am going to call the villagers together to deal with them.”
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