This story is set in the Persian world of the 1001 nights. Merchant Arash Zayed is sent on a mission to find an unknown treasure, while his first wife and his mother prepare his second wedding.
“Migthy Rukh, I’m here to trade with Javad the Elder. It will not help my cause if I free you against his wishes.”
“I know what you seek, little merchant,” its voices booms, “why do you think the mage tied me to this place? I will not let you enter his treasure room. Unless…”
The ruhk’s eyes shine with cleverness. Zayed feels his mission slipping through his fingers. If the beast’s request is anything like in the tales of wonder, it will ask him to bring it one hundred feathers of the mystical Phoenix. ‘I don’t have time for this.’
The bird grins. “It doesn’t require adventure,” it says, as if reading Zayed’s mind. “Only trade. Go to the village blacksmith and ask if you can borrow his hammer. It has the power to crush this chain’s weakest link. It will be hidden amongst his other tools, looking no different. Find it.”
“If it looks like his other tools, how will I recognize it?”
“You are a feeble merchant if you don’t know. Go! And don’t come back without it, or our next encounter will be most unpleasant for you.”
The ruhk spreads its immense wings. Its flap whooshes the air out of the room. Zayed tumbles along with the force of the wind, ending up outside. His back catches the brunt of his fall. He stretches, winces and rolls his shoulder. What did the emir get him into? From the beginning, Arash knew there was something wrong with this task. He didn’t expect this!
Wondering how to approach the situation, Zayed let’s Shaheen show the way back to the village. Whatever angle or ploy, he could use, first things first: he needs to assess the blacksmith. The innkeeper is a talkative sort likely to share some local gossip. Arash will be all ears.
Laying down five silver dinars, Zayed orders a room for a couple of days with full meals. In the greedy eyes of the innkeeper, he sees that shiny coins have the desired effect. The man orders his daughter to prepare the best room, and his cook to make a supper fit for a king.
The meal is simple but good. Arash licks his fingers. The innkeeper has kept him company, and his glass well filled. All the while, he mixes boasts, gossip and naughty observations about the women in the village. The man even suggests he may find appropriate bed companionship. Zayed thanks him for his more than adequate hospitality, but declines the last offer. Wobbling up the stairs towards his room, he savors the most important piece of information: the blacksmith is a single woman. The innkeeper was adamant that no man has been able to tame her.
After a hearty late breakfast, accompanied with more tattles about the village women, Zayed heads towards the blacksmith’s shop. Upon entering, he sees a broad-shouldered woman, wearing nothing but short pants and a leather apron, her body glistening in the fervour of her work.
I hope you enjoyed episode 5 of Season 3.