1636: Mission To The Mughals – Snippet 01

1636: Mission To The Mughals – Snippet 01

1636: Mission To The Mughals

Eric Flint and Griffin Barber

PROLOGUE

February, 1634

Lyon, France

Salim let the door to Baram Khan’s sickroom close before addressing the man who walked out. “Any change?”

The physician started and wheeled to face him. “I didn’t see you there.”

Salim stepped into the light of the candle the man held, quirking an eyebrow.

The local man shook his head. “No, no change. I must be going. A — another patient, you understand.”

Salim did not blame him for being frightened. Knowing the fate of physicians who failed to save the lives of powerful men in his own nation, Salim could forgive the man thinking Salim might attack him.

Waving him away, Salim turned to look at the door.

Beyond it, surrounded by a very few of his remaining loyal servants, the emperor’s envoy was dying a slow, painful death. A week, perhaps a bit longer, and the man would breathe his last and go to his final reward, whatever it might be.

Taking his prayer beads in hand, Salim said a prayer in the darkness to speed Baram Khan’s passage to Paradise. Just because one thought little of another man’s deeds did not make them unworthy of Paradise; it only showed the unworthy state of one’s own soul.

Hearing a horse in the courtyard below, he stepped to the window at the end of the hall in time to see the physician ride out of the torch-lit courtyard.

Good riddance. The man had proved almost worthless, failing, even, to see what was plain to Salim and anyone else with even the slightest experience of court life: Baram Khan had been poisoned.

It wasn’t even entirely the pompous courtier’s fault he was dying, since Baram Khan’s tasters had all died in various mishaps before the envoy even entered the Germanies. Then, understandably angry at being robbed by Grantville’s mercenaries — which the Mughal noble could only see as confirmation of the histories Salim was translating for him — Baram Khan departed the wonders of Grantville before new tasters could be found.

No one knew who had killed Baram Khan but, like everyone else in the man’s entourage, Salim had an idea who it might be.

Salim shook his head. Regardless of the who and the how of the current situation, decisions had to be made.

Rehan Usmani, Baram’s first servant, would want to return immediately to Agra and report events to Nur Jahan, Baram Khan’s patroness.

Fear seized Salim’s heart at the thought. Little could be worse for the Empire and Mian Mir’s hopes than that woman possessing proofs that Aurangzeb would, in his hunt for the throne, imprison his own father and murder his brothers. She would certainly seize the opportunity that any conflict in the family might offer to again attempt to place her own choice on the throne.

Baram Khan’s exile on what the court had believed a fool’s errand had led to this much, at least: Salim had the books from the future, he had the pictures.

He could return to Mian Mir and ask the living saint what to do, couldn’t he?

Finding his answer in the question, Salim turned from the window and started for his chamber.

Grantville’s mercenary company might have stripped Baram Khan of everything of value he’d carried on his person, but his servants had passed largely unmolested. Salim still had several small pouches of fine gemstones, and knew where to sell a few.

At least five hours remained before morning prayers. He would pack quickly, walk a couple of the pathetic excuses for horseflesh from the manor and, once out of hearing, be on his way.

A long, dangerous journey lay ahead.

 

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Comments

8 Responses to 1636: Mission To The Mughals – Snippet 01

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    Since when has Grantville had a mercenary company?

    • cka2nd says:

      Bret, I could swear I remember at least one or two GG stories that mentioned or were about mercenary companies employed by Grantville in the early years, although I can’t say if that extended into 1634.

      This novel started out as a story in the GG or one of the RoF’s, right?

    • Mark L says:

      Don’t take anything believed by a distant foreigner visiting Grantville for the first time and briefly at face value. He may believe he was robbed by mercenaries based on a misinterpretation of the situation due to limited knowledge. They might or might not have been robbed. Something that was contraband might have been seized at the border (like Gangatic opium). If something was taken it might have been taken by some group pretending to be associated with Grantville.

      At this point we lack information and need to let the story unfold before we know what is going on.

      • Jeff Ehlers says:

        Yep.

        I wonder if he would have done better staying in Grantville? Although I have my suspicions regarding his clear assumption that Baram Khan was poisoned.

    • Sam Y says:

      I think the company in question is Thomas North and Liam Donovan’s company, the Hibernian Mercenary Company. The events Salim is referring to occurred in “The Company Men,” in Grantville Gazette II, as I recall.

  2. GregB says:

    Sam and Tweeky “hit it on the nose”! Baram Khan was stripped of anything of value on his person when he refused to pay the fee for rescuing his worthless hide from some German mercenaries. Besides bigoted, snobbish, and ungrateful, he was stupid! Refusing to pay mercenaries their due, outnumbered, and outgunned to boot? Received his just desserts there! He was poisoned by North to slow down the revelation of India’s history in the OTL and Britain’s role in the “humiliation” of the Mughals. North has a brother over in India at the time of “The Company Men”. The Hibernian Company is mentioned several more ROF stories, including “1636:Commander Cantrell in the West Indies” and “1635: The Papal Stakes”. Rogues, but “our rogues”! Enjoy the snippets”!

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