Music filled the air, filled this small world of light, life and dancing in that place of long night and fear. These people, whom Invader had thought were going to kill her, showed her their art which filled their tents to bursting. They sat her at sapphire fires and told her spectacular stories. If only she was able to tell her own. They sung with voice and oud and kanoun and an instrument which breathed storms, which they called ‘saxophone’. Some of the children told her that in the time of Empress Xhecate, there was a tree which grew in the clouds, a great tree with branches that stretched out across stars. All the early instruments of the nation were made from that tree, its bark retrieved by enchanted carpets when they could still be controlled. And because they all came from the same wonder, all instruments were connected, across time, space and night. The exiled Babylonians explained to Invader, that music wasn’t something that was played, rather it was something that was accessed and channeled through musical instruments, the same way that fire activated the air or words channeled the soul. This was the fantastic science and philosophy that Akkadia had kept hidden from the world. The science that had made it possible for them to live in peace with the monsters and the spirits and horrors. They made them into wonders. Then, maybe because they knew who she was, maybe because they knew why she was there, they told her about love.
And it was the phantoms, clad in their masks and awesome darkness, it was they who told her. They told her that love was a force of physics; that it moved the world in phenomenal ways, building nations and dreams and horrors and that like music, love is channelled,by the bizarre machine we call the heart. The spectres explained that Akkadia was a point of overwhelming love, searching for a channel, a way into the world, giving birth to myriads of night dwellers, ghosts and phantasms which walk this desert. And Invader could believe that. These black sands, in their desolation and terror and beauty. It was no different to being in love.
“You’re a-lot more relaxed.” Mitra teased.
“You said you needed my help.”
“We do, we need you to save us.”
“From the new geanie king? From the black sands?” Invader’s mind had opened to the possibility of the most bizarre of answers.
“I know why you’re here, in Akkadia.” Mitra smiled, with the mischief of knowing.
“You read me?”
“No!” Mitra laughed. “You think he’s here! That’s why you came, it so obvious, everyone knows you two, the thorn in Prince Mohzenwrath’s eye. Princess Badroulbadour and her fantastic street rat, the spectacular-”
“Don’t say his name. Please.” Invader held her stomach, at the behest of some impossible pain.
“You want answers, you need to press on, through the darkness of this place. Help us and you will come so much closer to finding the answers you seek and so much more. You’ve shown us here, you are as much a conduit for love and joy as you are fury; so we know, we know that we can believe in you.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Far and long from here, is a city of ghosts which has always existed in balance in Akkadia, with Babylon. There you will find something and become something that will take you to the next chapter of your journey.” Mitra answered, without answers.
“City of ghosts?”
“Pandemonium. Inhabited by a tribe of night dwellers who have been given different names by different civilisations. Christians mistook them for a single entity and called them ‘Satan’ and in Islam, they are know as the Shaytan.” Mitra finishes and Invader simply stares in disbelief. “No humans may enter, but you have to. You can, because you channel what the devils are made of, more so than any of us. Love. You’ll understand them.”
“How will I find it? Distance and time have no meaning here.” Invader shakes her head.
“Can you play an oud?”
“Then follow the songs. Can you do that?” Mitra flashes a final, wry smile and the Invader glances at her lap, finding the instrument there. She grasps it the way she would her sword and stands. “Before you go, please, let us hear your name.” All eyes fall on the invader, children peer hopefully and spirits raise their heads in anticipation. So instead of answering, she begins to play, a song the spectacular boy with a lamp made with her. It was about jasmine flowers.
“Jasmine.” One child laughs.
Yes, we all heard the music come from the library’s instruments. It has begun, this is her true declaration of war. Here at the library we record the universe and its wonders, so everyone prepare, the geanie king will want to hear, to welcome and archive a most impossible tale, about a human girl who walked into a nightmare world and became song fantastic.
Follow the story for the month of October! Here and on Facebook, #welcometoakkadia, #heistories