I started something a few weeks ago, and have been updating fairly regularly ever since. It’s called Airships of Marrakesh, and this is the first, unedited, rough rough draft. Enjoy. The rest of the story(as I keep writing it) can be found on my blog, thekiltedgerman.wordpress.com
The form came out of nowhere, and Janus felt a fist connect with his side as he slammed into the wall, knocking the breath out of him. He gasped and grabbed his attacker, bringing a knee into the smaller man’s belly, then pushed him hard and sent a kick toward a knee. His foot missed, and the man danced back several steps, drawing a knife. Janus reached for his own weapon and stepped in, slashing at the man’s face. He looked like a bedouin, and ducked under the attack snake-fast, his own blade lashing out. Janus slapped at the arm holding the knife and stabbed, leaving a thin line of blood on the man’s arm. Another exchange of blows left both men with wounds. Janus felt the spreading warmth of blood along his chest, and the bedouin bled freely from his knife hand.
It was time to make an end. Janus feinted to the right, then dropped and kicked a heavy boot at his opponent’s knee. This time he failed to miss, and the crunch of bone and gristle was audible. The man dropped and began to scream, and Janus was on him like an angry bear, the knife in his hand a vicious claw that tore open the man’s throat. The fight had lasted less than a minute.
The alley was still quiet, but it was hard to hide a body, and soon other market-goers would notice the blood. Janus dragged the corpse behind a stacked array of spice baskets, then kicked as much sand as he could over the blood. He shrugged at the mess, and tried to walk out of the alley as inconspicuously as possible, given the blood soaking through his jacket.
Marrakesh had grown considerably after the desert kings had allowed the opening of the air fields, the potential of unlimited wealth swaying even the most traditional of the area’s rulers. Now it was a bustling air-port, and the graceful shapes of dirigibles and airships were a constant above the city’s skyline. By decree the mooring slips had to be a certain distance from the market, allowing local porters to make a business of carting goods from the slips to the great market square, and also keeping the ships’ crews away from the potential trouble that such crews always found regardless of the port. The inn district was always busy, and trade only stopped for the great sandstorms that rolled in off the Sahara and blasted the city clean again.
Janus wiped sweat from his forehead, and leaned against a red sandstone wall. The market tilted around him, and he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Damn the desert kings! The inn he’d chosen was several miles away, too far to walk in his condition. He needed a surgeon, and water. A stronger drink wouldn’t be unwelcome either.
The locals ignored him, and a tide of languages surrounded him. Arabic, French, English, his native Dutch, the desert patois. Everyone came to Marrakesh, and they all wanted something. The local people were as new to the idea of foreign trade as the foreigners, and habit was still to ignore the white men unless they wanted to buy or sell.
“Sir? Excuse me. Sir? Please?” The voice was accompanied by a tug at his jacket. Janus opened his eyes and regretted it. The sun was near the horizon, and lanced into his eyes as he glanced at the boy standing next to him.
The boy looked to be about ten years old, and snatched his hand back as soon as Janus noticed him. “I beg your many pardons for interrupting you, but you must come with me please sir.”
“Why?” His throat hurt, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a drink. Dumb. Keeping water at hand was vital in a desert city like Marrakesh.
“Shopmaster Fahn, sir. He has sent me to keep a watch over you should you need assistance, and has instructed me to bring you to him if necessary.” The boy ran a hand through his coal-black hair. His eyes stopped moving only when he spoke to Janus, and he began to look even more nervous than he’d been when he first spoke. “It is not safe here. You are drawing attention, and we must go.”
“What’s your name, boy? Tell me that and I’ll come. I don’t trust strangers.” He pushed himself painfully from the wall, and gasped as his jacket tore the drying blood from the cut on his chest.
“Makhi, sir. I am called Makhi. I have been helping Master Fahn for many months now.”
“Well, Makhi, it looks like you’ve got a job to do. Let’s get going before I collapse. And if I do collapse, get me there anyways. You hear me? No matter what.” The first step was painful, slow, but it got better the longer he walked. Fahn could help. He was always resourceful.