After a harrowing experience in their search for Burning Fish, Kat and Mangos are determined to never be poisoned again–could a Golden Pearl be the answer?!
The latest adventure of Mongoose and Meerkat, “The Golden Pearl”, by Jim Breyfogle, graces the cover of Cirsova’s Spring 2020 issue. Mangos is the Mongoose, a skilled, boastful, and hotheaded swordsman, while Kat is the Meerkat, a beautiful yet mysterious woman who favors the oblique approach to her well-chosen blade. Together, the Mongoose and the Meerkat have made a host of enemies great and small, including those who would settle their grudges with a little drop of poison. This sends the pair of adventurers on a four-week voyage to a tropical shore in search of Golden Pearls, a universal antidote.
The secret to the Golden Pearl is held by the mysterious Killanei, who in turn is guarded by a mountain of a man known as Marumbi. For Killanei knows how to grow the Elibibi fruit, which can grant a year’s worth of life. The Golden Pearls are the key to Killanei’s favor, and no man but Marumbi has eaten the Elibibi fruit for years. Those who dare to challenge this arrangement, even to heal their kith and kin, end up killed by hidden assailants.
As long as they find a Golden Pearl, the local struggle means little to the Mongoose and Meerkat. And then they find that the lonely girl who has helped them in the village since their arrival is the key to the mysteries of Killanei, the Elibibi fruit, and the Golden Pearls.
With this aquatic adventure, Mangos and Kat cement themselves as Cirsova’s answer to Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Instead of tackling issues of barbarism and civilization, the duo brush up against questions of friendship and community. “The Golden Pearl” illustrates how the actions of one person may have profound effects and change, but without the preachiness expected in such a tale. And while Mongoose and Meerkat follow in the grand tradition of pulp sword adventures by throwing in a trial of endurance, those hoping for the flash of blades will not be disappointed.
While the ending comes suddenly compared to the more leisurely stroll through setting and intrigue, I would love to see what Jim Breyfogle could do with a novelette or longer format to give the Mongoose and Meerkat more space for their adventures.