Ghana Tovici lived around the time of King Amisos.
Ghana Tovici had always been interested in alchemy–that mysterious art which was said to be able to both help people and destroy them. Her uncle was an alchemist and she could have easily become one too. Except Ghana was a girl. And in Tajmen, where she lived, girls did not have trades, except for things like weaving and sewing. She was expected to quietly marry the man her father chose for her, and then busy herself with running daily life for her family. Ghana was not going to stand for this. When her father picked out a boy that she was to marry, she disguised herself as a male teenager and ran away. At this her family immediately began a hunt for her–half malicious, half worried–that was to cause her a lot of trouble later on.
Ghana knew that her uncle lived in Drec, a large city-state in the center of Tajmen. So she traveled there, only to be stopped by the gate guards. Why, they demanded, was she coming alone? Young people always came with a relative or friend. Ghana insisted that her name was Sombrue Songoe, she was a boy, and that she was an orphan going to live with her uncle. The guards didn’t exactly buy her story. But they did let her through.
So Ghana traveled to her uncle’s house and pretended to be a smart street urchin interested in alchemy. As she expected, her uncle’s soft heart kept him from turning her away, and she finally became apprenticed to him. All under the name of Sombrue Songoe, a young boy, an orphan. Nobody managed to track her down. At least, not for twenty years…
Ghana was a talented alchemist and was quickly conducting experiments much the way her uncle did. But Ghana was less interested in turning palm leaves to gold–she wanted to create medicines that would help people in the short run. Her greedier uncle continued to try to create gold, but he did help her with her medicinal studies.
A little while later, an official named Luitican came to meet her and inquire about her alchemy. What exactly happened is not clear. But we know that somehow the fact that she was actually a young woman, not the man named Sombrue Songoe, was discovered. She then fled the country, supposedly afraid that her family would catch up with her. Ghana traveled first to the Geisel Isles, where she was rudely attacked by some wild seakitties, and after this went to Sengoria.
Now if Luitican’s diary can be trusted, Ghana and Luitican staged this whole fleeing business on purpose. They knew that King Amisos of Sengoria was eager to accept scientists, alchemists, and medicine mixers into his kingdom, and also was quick to help anyone in trouble. So they figured that they could pretend that Ghana’s life was in danger and have her run to Sengoria, where she would probably be accepted into the court as an alchemist, and then could be a spy. A spy for the king of Drec, who now was on his toes regarding his relationship with Sengoria.
King Amisos faced a dilemma. He writes in his book The Life of Amisosthat he had an “uncomfortable gut feeling” about Ghana Tovici. But he had just survived through an assassination plot, so he was understandably jumpy. Amisos accepted her into Sengoria and quickly gave her a place at court as the Minister of Alchemy (the second female minister in Sengoria’s history, the first being Ameratsu Qua-Feni, the Minister of Seakitties).
Ghana was a very clever scientist. She was soon making observations about how chemicals reacted and created a theory of atoms, that while was mostly false, had a kernel of truth. She married a Sengorian man and had one daughter (who unfortunately died after accidentally dumping some acid on herself). She trained a few other people in alchemy and science. But all the while, she was watching. Just watching. Watching for anything that might be of use to the Drecish king.
Luitican came to see her when she was thirty-five. He said that it was because he was interested in science and wanted some tutoring, but it was probably a secret spy conference, carefully arranged so that nobody would be listening in. At this time the king of Drec was beginning a war with another city, Sarchon – a war that looked like it might become a major deal. Luitican was interested in getting help from Amisos.
Ghana Tovici was too careful. Amisos had an Ambassador of Tajmen, who, while he was fat, lazy, and selfish, was supposed to represent all the warring factions of the little island country. If she tried to get King Amisos to help Tajmen, she would not only get on the Ambassador’s bad side, but would also be dropping a hint to the fact that she was a spy. Ghana was getting lots of information that would be useful if the Drecish decided to attack Sengoria. She didn’t want to risk all the knowledge.
Luitican and Ghana must have either had a big argument (as was known to happen a lot with the easily angered Luitican) or agreed peacefully, but whatever happened, he returned to Drec without any aid from Amisos. By this time the war with Sarchon had died down, but now the Drecish king had managed to pick a fight with Douisbon, the other main city-state of Tajmen. As Luitican fumed in his diary, ”[the Drecish king] is about as bad as a toddler who can’t share his toys!”
A year later Ghana died suddenly in a laboratory accident. She was doing an experiment that involved a poisonous gas, but her tools for dealing with this gas were broken. The gas filled the room and she suffocated and died. A couple minutes later her husband came in, worried that her experiment was taking a long time. He, too, died from the gas, and it was lucky that a smart little handy maw-maw managed to open the window and air out the room, or else several other people might have died too.
Was Ghana really a spy? Luitican says so. But we don’t really know. And we never will.