Flashback to Irhana, 1938, Part I: Land of Enchantment
In 1938, as Hitler's Germany is in the midst of its Blitzkrieg in Europe, things are as yet untroubled in North Africa. The Adventure Team finds itself in Irhana, perhaps the most unique country in the world. Irhana was founded a millennium earlier by Christians and Muslim crusaders equally offended by the moral deficiencies of their rulers and determined to work together to build a land of peace, prosperity and tolerance.
Irhana is noted for its diversity, peace, prosperity and culture. Settled by warriors and their families, Irhana resisted colonization and embraced enlightened social policies that have kept it prosperous and safe. Irhana is known world over for its culture, especially its vibrant Jazz scene. It is a port city with strong ties to Great Britain and Spain.
Easily the most famous Jazz club in the world is Question in Irhana city, the capital of Irhana. The Adventure Team has come here for some R&R. Morrie Tanaka, who never left the Bay area before joining the Adventure Team, is excited to arrive in this city noted especially for its vibrant jazz scene.
Question (no "the" and no "club" or "bar," please) is perhaps the most famous Jazz club outside the United States. The greatest names in music beg their agents for a chance to perform on its small stage. Right now a small pick-up ensemble is entertaining the aftertoon coffee and lunch crowd. Coffee and tea are very popular in Irhana.
Club owner Desta M'boweh takes a break to tickle the keys while bar manager Neela N'gozi, entertains the small crowd with her expertise in Irhana's unique Jazz guitar style. Mike Steel, who immigrated to Irhana from Chicago years before, backs them with a gentle sax.
The mixed crowd of people with Arab, African, Indian and European descent enjoys their meal.
Relaxing in his linen suit, Adventure Team commander Frederick Douglass Crane enjoys a beer at the bar with Air Adventurer Dusty Van Zandt.
"I'll take another one, darlin'," Dusty says to the bar keep.
Outside, a small street market serves as a meeting place. While her husband Ted has a beer with the guys, Satsumi goes to the market to get to know the locals.
The Market Lady, "Mama Rolls" as she is known (because she has made so much money on her sales that she owns a Rolls Royce), enjoys the soldier's attention.
Another weary soldier is greeted by a friendly child. Crime is almost non-existent in Irhana. The army is small but highly professional--after all it was built upon the shoulders of some of the best warriors of two mighty armies of ancient times. They occupy themselves mostly with piracy and cross-border raids from their neighbors. These two have just returned from dealing with some pirates on the high seas.
After receiving another excellent Irhani beer, Dusty politely says, "Thank you, ma'am, for your hospitality to strangers."
"Not at all," she replies. "We enjoy guests who appreciate us."
"I most certainly do," Dusty assures her. "I believe Irhana is as close to heaven as I've ever seen."
"Doug, isn't this the most amazing place in the world?" Ted says. "Can you imagine anyplace like this in the United States? Or anywhere? I tell you, there's something magic about this place.'
"At that table there--is that him?" Ted asks.
"That's him. That's the king. King Okello Masoze. Likes Jazz. It's a great tradition in Irhana--the king mixes with the common folk, even dresses in casual clothing. He comes here everyday at lunch when he can. He's with his advisor, Achmed Falmed."
"Ah," Ted nods, "him."
"What about the dude in the black?" Dusty asks. "He looks a bit, um, dangerous."
"He is," Doug says. "Adnan Azim. He's the king's bodyguard. Goes with him everywhere."
"Trust me, there's a scimitar under the table, well within reach."
"But he's got a woman with him! You'd think that'd be, um, distracting for a man in his line of work," Ted says.
"Well, he likes to bring his wife when they come to Question. She likes Jazz, too."
"Well," Ted shrugs, "I like to bring my wife to potential war zones, myself. Adnan and I are just sentimental, I guess."
"Hm," Doug says. "I think the hour has arrived."
"About damn time," Dusty says.
Next: Showdown at Question Saloon (no "the," please!)