The invader in jasmine had hoped that since she had acquired the secret to not sleeping, she had overcome the worst that this strange place could confront her with. It was evident, danger still abound, but atleast now she was awake for it. The smell of gunpowder, it was sweet like autumn fire and bitter like hate. She had never seen a pistol before. She was not impressed. Her adversary stood two metres away, where her sword could not reach and so, she readied her shield. The man before her, she had seen men like him before, not here, but in Aghraba; merchants and politicians and pilgrims. From the great north. From Europe. She knew by his stunning, blue eyes and winter skin which he revealed upon throwing off his scarf and robe.
“Don’t run.” He said in perfect Arabic.
“What do you want from me. You’ve been following me for…” The invader began.
“You want to say days, don’t you? Except the sun never rises in the black sands, so there’s no way of knowing how long it’s been- no, even then, time doesn’t pass here. Not in the same way. We do not circle a sun, or navigate by the same constellations. Not here. Not in this nightmare country.” His voice was calm, too calm for someone who was traversing the night of Akkadia.
“We don’t have to fight. We can work together to reach Babylon.” The jasmine woman said.
“There’s no reaching Babylon. We tried so hard. Now, I only wish to leave and return to… why can’t I remember the name of my country…”
“Let me help you, what’s your name?”
“I can’t remember… but you’ll help me. You’ll let me read… I need to remember… how to be like you.” Said the winter man.
“Like what?” Asked the invader.
“Human.” Winter said as he began lift up from the sand and float messily and bizarrely into the air. Panic filled the jasmine woman at the sight of the bizarre sight, but she caught herself and reared her shield, as Winter fired. The shot ricocheted. He blew towards her as though her were of the desert wind and fired again at close range, just as she knocked his arm aside.
“You said ‘we’! There are more of you?” She cries out.
“I had to read their brains. I had to read them, to learn how to get out of here… but the more skulls I opened and stared into, the more like this I became… the more… strange…” He whispers- the invader blasts her foot into his chest, cascading him through the air.
“I recognise your accent and your clothes. You’re from Britain. If you’re in Akkadia, I can only imagine you were sent as a spy to bring home Akkadian magic. Your guns really weren’t enough for you, were they? Are you happy now? Look at what you’ve become!” She roars at him. But he was gone. Simply gone.
“Do you want to know?” A whisper into her ear. “The secret of the geanie king?”
“I’ll make Mohzenwrath pay for what he’s done to you.” She whispers back.
“How little you know… Princess Badroulbadour.” Whispers the winter thing as his pistol, presses against her ear. The invader reacts- hard- she turns and swipes, slicing down. Winter’s head comes clean off and his body collapses. She breathes deeply. And her eyes grow wide, as the headless body rises to its feet and picks up its head. And it speaks. “…forget Babylon… forget the geanie king… abandon all hope…”
“If only you had loved someone.” Said the jasmine invader. And Winter was gone. The jasmine woman was left standing alone, in the sand and the night. She looks at her sword to find it bloodless. “That’s not my name.” She says to the universe and all its horrors.
We here in Akkadia may not permit these things, these… guns, pistols; but we are more than capable of treating them. Better than those northerners who actually use them; you are fortunate to be one of us, citizen. Here at the library, we hold knowledge for treatments from all the world and beyond. Bullet wounds are not beyond us. And this bullet has been most helpful. We now know, just how little the invader knows. She has no idea, the true terror, the true strangeness, of our geanie king. What? You don’t know who the geanie king is either? Well, you can peer into our most recent records, or for a full story, you can turn to the history of our neighbour. A certain city state. A certain story. A certain Arabian knight.
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