Djaghada to the Rescue
Djaghada is hard at work, tending hyenas, when she’s approached by lord Rusk’s servant, urgently requesting her to come to the Rusk estate. Djaghada, thinking it’s a new job request, happily obliges. When she arrives at the estate, she notices everything is in disarray: the gates are half-open, servants are frantically running around, and there is nobody at the door to announce her presence to the lord. Djaghada decides to not let etiquette stop her and confidently walks inside, finds lord Rusk in his study and greets him like an old friend.
Lord Rusk is not as happy to see her. He is, in fact, furious. He starts shouting at Djaghada and accusing her of corrupting his son and destroying Rusk family. It takes Djaghada some time to understand the situation: turns out that Zahar ran away from home and lord and lady Rusk blame the situation on Djaghada’s bad influence.
Djaghada rejects the accusation but promises to look for Zahar. She asks if Zahar left any hint on where he’s going. Lord Rusk gives her a note where Zahar rejects his family name and responsibilities to become a wandering poet, just like Kebay.
Djaghada suspects that Zahar decided to follow the famous poet. Kebay left Pharata the day before, his next stop was supposed to be Demfis – the closest city to Pharata, less than a day trip away through the desert. Djaghada immediately leaves to search for the boy.
She goes straight to Demfis, but stops in the small oasis settlement for a meal and rest during the hottest part of the day. She does not ask the locals any questions but enjoys the shade of palm trees and fresh water. In the afternoon, she resumes her travel.
In Demfis, she quickly finds Kebay in a local tavern. He’s reciting his poetry – for no fee at all – and urges the people gathered around him to stand against the injustice of political and social institutions. Wealth is illusion! Conformity is prison! Djaghada listens to him for a moment, then draws his attention and asks to talk on the side. Kebay, happy to see her again, steps down from the table he used as a speaking podium. Djaghada asks him about Zahar – it turns out that Kebay has not seen the boy since the party at lord Rusk’s estate and did not notice anyone following him. He suggests that she could rent some tracking hyenas from a local hyena trainer, Bodozor – he has heard good things about him from the locals. Djaghada finds Bodozor’s hyena pens with ease. Unfortunately, he is not of much help – his hyenas are not trained to be tracking animals, but tricking ones – their fun tricks are a highlight of any party! Djaghada is so disappointed that she insults Bodozor and decides to search for Zahar alone.
Next day, before noon, she is back at the oasis. This time she asks the locals if they saw a young boy following the famous poet – turns out that, while Kebay was seen passing through the oasis, there was no boy following him. This meant that wherever Zahar went, he did not manage to get to the oasis.
Djaghada is back on the road, but this time she uses her tracking skills to see where the boy could go. She finds his tracks and signs of a struggle, but no body or blood – it looks like Zahar was kidnapped! The tracks lead Djaghada to a mountain hideout of an outlaw group. She knows that the bandits are not well-equipped nor skilled and do not stand a chance against her, so she gives them a chance to surrender. They laugh at her and threaten to hurt the boy if she does not give them his weight in gold – wealth that’s definitely in lord Rusk’s possession. Djagahda decides not to inconvenience lord Rusk with bandits’ demands and with a few swift arrow shots kills several bandits. The rest, terrified by how quickly they lost so many comrades, give up and release Zahar.
Zahar is so traumatized by the events that once he’s back at the estate he promises his father that he will never, ever leave his side. Lord Rusk is pleased with the outcome and rewards Djaghada.
Djaghada spends the money on drinks. Next day, she wakes up in the animal pen next to a goat corpse. Again!