Imagine that you are in the Middle East and you are haunted by some sorcerer … the only way to defeat that sorcerer is by wearing a Nazar, but you have to go on a quest to find that Mighty Nazar to defeat the sorcerer.
In the town of Ranitup the locals were abuzz with the rumour that a mighty unpleasantness was about to descend on them what with it being Friday 13th. They were naturally superstitious and any Friday that fell on the 13th only added to their naturally suspicious character.
The districts sorcerer, Hesgota Nastyeye had warned the village of fire and pestilence this Friday 13th and the only way to prevent it was for one of them to go in search of the elusive nazar.
Ranitup was one of many Middle Eastern fairy villages that suffered the unfortunate fate of being a little too west and not far enough east to be considered truly middle eastern.
That fact alone made the Ranitups the most superstitious of all folk. Far more so than the good folk neighbouring towns of Ranitdown and Ranitover.
Like so many people of superstition they would at times like this looked to the magic in their midst for all answers.
But this year, the Head of the Department of Superstitions, Abra Cadabra had predicted dire circumstances if the town did not find a champion to go in search of the legendary Nazar.
That Ranitup had a Department of Superstitions tells us a lot about their mindset.
When Abra Cadabra spoke most people hid behind anything they thought would make them appear invisible. He had a tone of voice that caused most people to shake in their boots as he had an unnerving way of making you feel frightened even when giving you good news.
But a champion needed to be found and in every fairy kingdom of Ranitup there was always someone on whom the quest was thrust. All eyes turned to the young man who had recently made great progress in advocating for more representation for youth on the town council. For five hundred years the town council was a council of elders, no one under sixty-five was ever considered.
With eyes turned his way, Ikan Makitup, whose family had for years been the village’s cesspool fairies. A job that attracted attention to them no matter where they went.
Ican was an ideas man, for a young man this was an endearing quality. He has recently advocated draining the village’s cesspools and running all said matter into a central place to process it and recycle it. As the good fairies of Ranitups could consider themselves incapable of any sort of idea they collectively laughed at Ikan’s idea and gossip circulated as to his being in the cesspools far too long.
Ican was given a map. The nazar lay to the north. In the north were the Very High Mountains; beyond them the snow covered Very Very High Mountains.
After a tearful farewell, Ikan set off. Ranitups were an emotional people if not realistic. They knew such a quest, was a like a death sentence as very few if any ever returned. It was a journey through snow, sleet and rain, fierce winds and most of all he had to negotiate the dreaded slopes of nastiness.
Watching him go the villagers breathed a collective sigh of relief knowing Ikan was the one to go and not one of them.
Ikan made it too the slopes of nastiness, after all bad weather was a fact of life in Ranitup. Some days he longed to move to Ranitover where the sun shone, money grew on trees and the grass was always green. But fate had made him a Ranitup and he was determined to achieve his goal.
The slopes of nastiness were so named because they were composed of putrid gasses and slimes that once on your body never left it.
Ikan thought the place smelt ok, considering what he had to deal with each day this place was a piece of cake. In fact he breathed in deeply with each step feeling better all the time.
At the base of the Very Very High Mountains he encountered his most difficult quest.
An Inn stood before him. In the inn was a tiefling a being of demonic proportions. To enter the Very Very High Mountains one not only had to stay the night in the inn but you had to endure a poetry reading and then give a critical appraisal.
Ikan knew his poetry and he knew a good poem when he heard it. He was determined to succeed at his quest even if it meant stretching the truth. He had heard of the difficulty of understanding and reading the tiefling of the inn.
The tiefling read her first poem to Ikan; it took thirty-five minutes during which Ikan felt his brain visibly moving about in his skull as if it was trying to sever any connection with his ears as the tiefling droned on.
But he endured and after three hours he was asked his opinion, his honest opinion.
Now honest opinions are not quality you’d associate with Ranitups, they’d lie save themselves any day and Ikan was no different.
He waxed lyrically for a full thirty minutes about the metaphorical complexity he encountered in her verse then went on the explain in detail the imagery that most impressed him.
The tiefling was very impressed when he went into a long discourse about her poems as the new myths of a new age and so should be taught in every school in the middle east. Her chest puffed out with pride she gave him a map and a gold pass through the Mountains to the very location of the nazar.
As Ikan made his way up the first incline of the Very Very High Mountains he was glad he was a Ranitup, he was glad his parents had brought him up as they had to lie and cheat and live down the cess pools.
He was pleased and now understood why the Ranitdown folk never got anywhere in life. They were honest to a fault.
Two days later Ikan returned to the inn the nazar safely in his coat pocket. This time he was required to regale the tiefling with his own poetic account of his journey to secure the nazar.
Two verses in he noticed the tiefling had fallen asleep. A feature of Ranitup poetry is its sleep inducing qualities. Shame thought Ikan as he had another sixty verses to go. But taking it as a compliment he gathered his belongings and set off for Ranitup where he knew no one expected his return.