Of the Human Aikeem Abdul Jamal Yosaffa

My name is Pendella Purrfect and I am very important. I am the tenth in the circle of thirteen and I am often given the most dangerous tasks to fulfill in the name of felinity. I am not particuallary big, or strong, but I am exceptionally beautiful. I try not to trade on my beauty, but humans can not help themselves in my presence. One must be tolerant of humans for in most cases they mean well and they do give such wonderful massages. Puuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Only last season I acquired a new human. He proved himself to be worthy of my association and since his initiation we have had many adventures together. I was pleased to discover that not only is his lap very warm and his hands soft and skilled, but he also has considerable talents in areas that most humans do not know exist. Let me tell you of our most recent adventure.

My humanís name is Aikeem Abdul Jamal Yosaffa. Our journey through the world brought us to the edge of a great desert that Aikeem called Sahara. Personally Iím not fond of deserts. I prefer green and moist. Aikeem seems to have sand in his blood.

As we trekked across the great expanse of sand I could hear Aikeem grumbling about having to carry us both. I was within the confines of his wonderful knapsack. His knapsack is wonderful, because Aikeem has laid magics on it that control the atmosphere inside. I was as cool as a kitten. He was not.

We were headed to a place Aikeem called Qar. Aikeem told me that in its day it was a splendid city, but the sands had long since claimed it for its own. Personally I had no desire to go to this place, but I could see that it called to Aikeem. Actually it had been calling to him for a few weeks, although he refused to admit it. I could tell by his agitated sleep that something was wrong. Finally I became impatient with him (he kept rolling about and knocked me off the bed on more than one occasion) and I entered his dream.

Typically Iíll only enter a humanís dream to protect them from shadow creatures, but this was something else. I trotted behind Aikeem as he walked through the ethereal mirror of the once mighty Qar. Humans in long robes haggled with each other in a lively market. Gaily dressed woman in fine gold jewelry and fancy feather headdresses hid from the noon day sun under palm and bamboo parasols. Children played tag about the various kiosks much to the dismay of the merchants. And of course there was the occasional canine munching on some disgusting, smelly bit of garbage. SighÖ Aikeem did not dream up even a single cat (I didnít count because I was there of my own accord).

At any rate we moved through this market in what seemed like a slowed motion. No one seemed to notice us as Aikeem looked for something. He stopped and I followed his gaze. She was breath taking. I am quite capable of recognizing a beautiful human and this woman fairly glowed beauty. Her waist long, straight, black hair blinded with an intense sheen. Her dark brown chocolate eyes were wide but decidedly feline. Her angular face still held soft edges and her lustrous brown skin cried out to be touched (much like my own beautiful multi colored fur).

At once I realized Aikeem knew this woman. When he saw her his face transformed to an expression of pure bliss. The woman turned to Aikeem and her expression mirrored Aikeemís. Instantly they started for each other. Their arms stretched out to one another as they began to run to an embraceÖ and then the skies became angry.

I found it quite disconcerting (even if it was a dreamscape) that the skies should so quickly turn to an evil inky black boiling, roiling mess. Aikeem and this woman still ran to each other oblivious to the environment. Lightening blasted out of the heavens and struck down one of the city's towers. A face began to take form in the clouds. Wild winds whipped up and the merchants and children ran for their lives. Still Aikeem and this woman made for each other.

The face in the clouds formed up to a most vile human apparition. This man was decidedly evil. He was mostly hid within the folds of his black cotton ghutrah, but his dark burning eyes spoke of profound hatred. This was most intolerable so I did what any self-respecting dream warrior would do. I leapt on Aikeemís back and bit his ear to wake him from this nightmare, my reward? He kicked me off of the bed. SighÖ

It was our second night in the desert when Aikeem finally decided to tell me of his dream. Aikeem had stopped our march and had laid out a comfy fire. The desert night was crisp and cool and the sky was gloriously light with a million brilliant stars. I lay on my loverís lap and Aikeem stroked my fur with sensitive but firm hands. Puuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrr.

"Tell me of the woman in your dreams, Aikeem. She was very beautiful."

Aikeem became melancholy. At first his expression was a little sad, but it turned into a smile when he spoke of, "Jamila. Her name was Jamila. At one point in my life she was my very reason for living."

"What happened to her?"

"She was taken from me."

"By the man in the black cotton ghutrah?"

The light of realization illuminated Aikeemís eyes and he looked down at me with a most incredulous expression, "That was you in my dream so many weeks ago! What were you doing there?"

"Protecting you of course. Like most humans you can be most careless."

Aikeemís gentle laughter rolled across the desert, "And you dear lady can be most presumptuous, although this time I thank you for waking me. Yes, it was that vile wizard Farjule that took my beloved Jamila from me. I have loved since then, but never as passionately. Jamila had a light about her that could redeem the damned. Everything about her bespoke beauty and I was ever proud that she chose me as her lover."

"What did this wizard do?"

Aikeem stretched out before the fire and I was forced to lie down next to him. He stared intently as he told me his story.

"I was unaware of my immortality when I entered the city of Qar over five thousand years ago. At the time I was only in my forties. That was old back then, but I thought nothing of it at the time for I was still young looking and strong. Jamila was young. She had only just turned twenty and it was scandalous to the cities populace that she had not taken a husband. Her father doted on her and would not force her to marry. Qar was strong with a standing army that no potentate dared challenge. So Shah Romalla could afford to dispense with the necessity of a political marriage. As I said he doted on Jamila."

"In my early days before I discovered my true nature I was a warrior of notable talents. Few dared tempt my scimitar. I came to Qar with the intent of enlisting in the Shahís army. I had become tired of roaming the various city-states of the desert and I desired to settle down for a time. I was given an audience with the king based upon recommendations from former employers. He offered me a position of captain if I could best ten of his most skilled warriors."

Aikeem smiled with a vivid memory, "I was so brash. I asked the Shah what weapons would his warriors wield in that I did not wish to kill anyone in his service. The Shah explained to me that this would be a non-lethal test and that his warriors would swing only wooden swords. He was gracious enough to extend the invitation of a wooden sword to me. I declined and asked only for a spoon. The Shah had a most curious expression on his face when I asked for such a culinary weapon, but he was too dignified to ask what I might do with a spoon."

"His soldiers circled me and I stuck the spoon in my sash. They were good, but I was much, much better. I danced among them likeÖ well, a cat"

"Oh then you must have been very good," I observed.

"Much to their dismay. With in a few short minutes I had made a neat pile of them at the Shahís feet. At that point I whipped out my spoon and asked where the victory dessert was. I do believe they heard the Shah laughing in the next city over."

"Aikeem you really are crazy some times."

"Thank you lady. I take that as a compliment. At any rate it was at this point the princess Jamila revealed herself to me. When our eyes met the entire palace disappeared. It was just us two locked in an embrace that spanned the throne room. I remember the Shah cleared his throat to snap us back to reality and I noticed a smile at the corner of his lips. I think he finally spied a husband for his beloved Jamila."

"Obviously you were hired as captain."

"I was made captain of the Princesses guard. The Shah REALLY wanted a husband for his daughter. Our courtship lasted only a month before we were engaged. Had I only known about Farjule before it became too late. You see, I came to find out later that he too had vied for Jamilaís attentions."

"Human jealousy, Iíve seen it before."

"And Farjuleís was caustic. At first he suffered in silence, but the week before we were to be wed he cornered me in one of the palace gardens. He threatened to feed my soul to the sand demonís if I did not abandon my Jamila."

"Sand demons are most annoying."

"And thankfully extinct. At any rate I laughed in the wizardís face and told him if he so much as blinked in either mine or Jamilaís direction I would cut out his heart. I should have killed him there."

"What did he do?"

"Now I must tell you of the Jewel of Qar. In the center of the city, under a fountain in a strong room, was placed the Jewel of Qar. Jamila showed it to me early on and it was magnificent. This was no ordinary gem. It was a fiery red ruby that glowed from with in and seemed to emit delicate music that played about at the edge of your hearing. Qar derived its strength from this gem, or so they said anyway. In retrospect I believe it to be true."

"It was an artifact of power?"

"I believe this to be so. After all Qar was in the middle of the desert, but for miles around the city it was verdant. It made no sense until one saw this gem. It was Jamilaís job as princess to care for the Jewel and she was ever polishing the stone."

"Humans love such baubles"

"You seemed to be quite fond of the silk, jeweled collar I got you."

"Thatís different."

"Of course, anyway, three days before we were to be wed Jamila, the Jewel of Qar and Farjule all disappeared."

"He stole the ruby and the Princess?"

"Who else could have. Besides Farjule, Jamila, the Shah and me no one had access to the palace. The Shah was distraught. He knew of Farjuleís infatuation for his daughter and he knew of the manís vile temper. He begged me to return both daughter and gem to him. It was not as if I needed to be asked."

"I took fifty men with me. We knew that he had fled the city for the desert and we headed out into the sands. The wizard threw everything he could at us, sand demons, rocs, fire jinn, but in the end nothing could defeat my fury. I was down to only three men when finally we tracked him down. He used the last of his magics to send a fierce sandstorm to hide his path, but it was to no avail. Our scimitars made love amid howling winds and biting grit. My last three soldiers watched with grim expression as Farjule and I danced the dance of death. Eventually I beat his sword from his hand."

"Did you cut off his head."

Aikeem laughed a mirthless laugh, "Oh no lady, I did much worse. Farjule did much more than steal my woman and the cityís bauble, he showed me my true path. I bid one of the soldiers to bring me one of his dark tomes. We staked him out in the sands and bade him to tell us where he hid the lady and the stone. He swore had taken neither and had run simply because he knew he would be blamed. He was a liar. The storm disappeared and the blistering sun showed itself to Farjule. While it baked him I studied his book of dark magics. Still he did not speak the truth. I leaned close to him and whispered in his ear."

"Tell me where my lady is, Farjule, or your ghost will roam this desert forever."

"I could see the fear in his eyes as he realized which section of his book I had been studying. Then he cried and pleaded with me, but he would not tell the truth."

"What did you do to him?"

"I cursed him as he died. I cursed him with the charm of specter. My soldiers did not have the gift of the sight so they did not see what I did. As the sun baked the life out of him, his spirit rose up and was denied passage to the next world due to my curse. He fled across the sands in horror and we burned his body."

"Remind me to never make you angry."

Aikeem smiled at me and gave me a most delightful rub under the chin, "You could never make me THAT angry lady. I returned to Qar with my remaining men, but it was gone."

"Gone!?"

"Farjule must have laid some curse upon the city while we battled him. The city had disappeared into the desert sand. Everything I held dear was lost to me. It would be centuries before I could love again."

"And now the city calls to you again."

"So it would seem. Youíve seen one dream. There have been others. Someone calls to me and asks for forgiveness and protection. I do not understand for the words come in many voices, but as one voice and some of those voices sound familiar."

"Do you think the city will be revealed to you?"

"The voice of voices says this is true."

"How long until we are there?"

"Another dayís journey, lady. Now let us rest for one of us has a lot of marching to do."

"I donít understand why we didnít take one of your human conveyances."

"There is dark magic afoot here lady, and these conveyances can be turned against you."

With this Aikeem laid his head down and was soon given to sleep. I pondered his words for a short while and then joined him on the dreamscape.

We continued our trek across the desert very early the next morning. After a few hours the pillow-lined compartment I was in began to shake and spin violently. I ran out of the room and scampered out the portal of Aikeemís knapsack. I found him on his hands and knees coughing up a foul smelling effluent.

"Do you have a fur ball?"

After a few gags he managed to compose himself and turn to me.

"No lady. Evidently we are heading in the wrong direction."

"I do not understand Aikeem."

"Since we entered the Sahara Iíve been guided to Qar by my stomach. If I head in the wrong direction I become nauseous. When I tumbled down that last dune it was in the wrong direction and thus I was forced to my knees and the technicolor yawn."

"Really, Aikeem, you must be more careful. Being tossed about like that in your pack is quite disconcerting," with that I returned to my comfy room in Aikeemís wonderful knapsack. I wonít repeat what I heard him grumble as he resumed our trek.

We rested again during the heat of the day under a broad white tarpaulin Aikeem kept in his pack. Toward evening we resumed our trek. A few minutes before dusk we topped a large dune and Aikeem set his backpack down. I scampered out of the pack to find a broad empty sand field before us. I sat on my haunches next to Aikeem and the fiery desert sun melted behind a dune. The beauty of the sunset was not lost on me.

"We are here beloved furball."

"I see naught but sand. Where is this Qar?"

Aikeem seemed upset by this observation and scratched his chin, "I do not know lady". This is confusing to me because in my heart of hearts I know this to be the place. Not to mention that my stomach no longer troubles me."

"Maybe you need to speak a charm, or cast a spell or offer a sacrifice?"

"I know of no charms or spells to raise a city. Perhaps a sacrifice, but Iíd prefer not to."

"Why?"

Aikeem smiled a devilish smile, "Because in Qar it was the practice to offer up cats to the gods."

I imagine my total look of horror was quite amusing to Aikeem for he laughed quite loudly, "Jesting my princess, just jesting."

"I didnít find that particularly funny."

A smiling Aikeem began to unpack the camp accouterment, "Weíll camp here for the night. The winds seem calm and this spot affords us a good vantage point."

The chill night air came quickly. Aikeem and I were soon cuddled up next to a comfy fire and after a brief, but satisfying meal we were soon on the dreamscape. Once again I chose to follow Aikeem there.

I trotted just behind Aikeem as we made our way through the Shahís palace. Aikeem looked quite dashing in his white silk captainís uniform with a broad red sash, tall black boots and a scimitar stuck with in the sash. I found the feather festooned turban trite, however.

The palace was eerily quiet. After a few moments it was evident that the place was deserted. Further inspection revealed a thick layer of dust on everything and piles of sand where they shouldnít be. Aikeemís expression bore concern.

After a minute of walking we entered the throne room. It was splendid and silent. Marble floors were graced with colorful but dusty rugs. Gold refinements adorned much of the furniture and the throne itself was comprised of mostly gold. It too was dusty.

Energy coalesced about the throne and a form began to take shape there. My claws extended, but I did not call forth my beast for I felt no immediate danger. The form was decidedly human, but it seemed to be many humans at once. After a few seconds the dominant form became the princess Jamila.

Aikeemís heart fairly melted before my beautiful eyes. I felt for him for it was obvious to me he still loved Jamila very much. She reached out to him and in a ghostly voice that was predominately hers, but many voices she said simply, "Forgive meÖ"

With that the dreamscape shattered and both Aikeem and I were ejected into deep sleep.

Our sleep was broken apart by a deep rumbling that emanated from the ground beneath us. Aikeem struggled to his feet, but was quickly knocked to his knees. Although I stirred I was not shaken to the ground (four paws has itís advantages).

The sun blasted through dawn behind us and Qar rose from the sands. I have beheld many majestic sights in my long life, but few rivaled the image of Qar slowing rising from the sands. Majestic, but time worn towers pierced through the earth first. Tons of sand spilled out of the way as the city walls followed. Onion domed temples, the city palace and the rest of the dwellings that comprised Qar soon followed.

At the apex of the cityís rising a fierce wind blew up behind Aikeem and myself. Aikeem dived onto his backpack and bedroll to the scream of the winds. I dived on Aikeemís leg and dug in my claws, for I surely would have been blown away.

The screaming wind raced down the dune into the city and swirled away the sand among its streets. This went on for more then ten minutes until all of the sand was blown from the city. Finally the wind ceased as quickly as it began but still the screaming remained.

"Ladddddddyyyyyyy!!!!!!! PPPPPAAAAAAAAleeeeeeaaasseeeeeee!!!!!!"

I retracted my claws and leapt from Aikeemís bloodied leg, "Sorry."

"I am not a scratching post Pendella!"

"You saved me from being taken by the wind Aikeem. Thank you."

I will not repeat what Aikeem grumbled under his breath as he dabbed at the hurts on his leg.

"I assume it is safe to say that that is Qar?"

Aikeem turned back to the city and smiled, "Yes. I have not seen it for five thousand years. It is still beautiful."

Aikeem did not exaggerate. Although I prefer natureís architecture, humanity on occasion does produce some fine sculpture. Qar was one of these. The morning sun radiated off of the various towers, onion domes and rooftops with a glorious light that boasted of the splendor that this city once bathed in.

Aikeem packed what was left of his belongings into his backpack and hoisted it onto his broad shoulders. He placed me on the backpack and across one shoulder.

"These are strong magics Aikeem. We must proceed with caution."

"This is true lady and so it shall be done," and with that we descended down the dune and into the city.

We entered through the main gate into the silent place. City banners still hung limp from the walls. They were torn in places, but otherwise perfectly preserved. As we walked through this dead metropolis we noticed most everything was as it was prior to the cityís disappearance. A beggarís cane lay against one wall. Clay pots surrounded a merchantís stall. Brightly colored rugs hung from windows. A childís string ball sat unattended.

"Itís as if the people just ceased to exist," I observed.

Aikeem remained silent and continued on until we reached the marketplace. The silence was deafening, well, disconcerting anyway. I leapt to the ground as Aikeem surveyed the plaza.

My fur stood on its tippity ends with the shock of a hundred ghosts suddenly filling the place. Aikeem started and lurched back against a wall. I ran behind his legs to protect his back.

In seconds we realized these apparitions did not even seem to know we were there. They went about their business, which evidently had not changed in five thousand years. Merchants haggled with their customers and the children played about the stalls. I looked up at Aikeem and he simply shrugged, being as confused as I.

Aikeem took two steps into the marketplace and the ghosts ceased their mundane pursuits. Everyone turned to stare at us. Their expressions went blank.

"My thatís unnerving," I observed.

"Hush lady. We do not want to anger them."

They slowly began to surround us. It was hard to tell if they meant us harm, but they all began to raise their fingers and point at Aikeem. Aikeem stepped back up against the wall, "I really donít like this."

In one voice all the ghosts said, "Forgive me," and then disappeared.

Aikeem looked down at me and I shrugged, "It would seem they are in need of redemption. Did they slight you in some way once upon a time?"

"I donít understand lady. I donít know most of these people. It was a large city. I couldnít know everyone."

Aikeem and I almost jumped out of our skins as a nerve-shattering scream pierced the silence.

"Now what!?"

"I donít know Aikeem, but I prefer a calm, forgive me to that."

"You!!!!!!!!"

Aikeem tumbled back over me (stepping on my tail I might add!). Towering over us, hands on hips, his dark face revealed, the profoundly hate filled wizard Farjule glowered at Aikeem.

"Oh sweet day! You who have cursed me have returned!!! How long I have waited for this revenge."

For a second terror filled Aikeemís eyes, but my man is ever given to control and the fear was instantly replaced with self-assurance.

"Farjule, youíre looking well. How have you been?"

Farjuleís hate was somewhat disarmed by Aikeemís calm manner, "How do you think I am! Iíve been naught but a listless spirit forced to roam this desert for five thousand years! Do you have any idea how tired I am of sand and scorpions!"

"Really Farjule, you might have considered a hobby."

Farjuleís eyes squinted in hate, "You make jokes Aikeem about the curse YOU laid upon me! Now I will have my vengeance! Soon I will be free and the tortures I have planned for you will last centuries."

Aikeem picked himself up off the ground and smiled, "What are you going to do Farjule? Assault me with foul language? Flit annoyingly about my head? Youíre still just a ghost."

Now it was Farjuleís turn to smile. Aikeem and I spun on an instant to a nerve-killing shriek that pierced the air behind us.

Farjuleís venomous hiss informed us, "But I have an ally."

"Sand demon," Akieem yelled.

"I thought you said they were extinct?"

This seven foot horrific apparition staggered toward us. Itís skin, if it could be called that, undulated and shifted of its own accord. The creatureís face continually changed shape although its dry, runny, dark maw remained in place. Burning red eyes moved about the top of its head and radiated hate from under a furrowed brow.

The creature staggered toward us and I began to summon my beast.

"Do not bother lady. Metal claws and a whiptail are no match for this beast. You can not cut sand."

The creature approached and I ceased my summons, "Than what to do?"

Aikeem spun on a heel and was gone, "RRRRRRUUUUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!"

The creature took a swipe at my tail, but I was already gone. I quickly caught up to Aikeem who took a quick left down a dark alley. After a few twists and turns we ended up at a dead end capped off by the city walls. That cursed shriek echoed behind us.

"Really Aikeem! I thought you knew where you were going."

"Lady I havenít been here for five thousand years! Give me a break!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE," screamed the demon.

I leapt to Aikeemís arms in what appeared to be fear, but was really an attempt to guard his chest. Aikeem backed up against the city wall. The creature appeared at the opposite end of the alley and began to shamble toward us.

"Maybe you could throw some water on it," I speculated.

"Then we would be fighting a wet sand demon."

"Well then how does one defeat a sand demon?"

"A fierce wind will disperse it, or you can knock it into a lake or summon a deluge. Unfortunately Iím prepared for none of these."

Aikeem threw me back to the ground and charged the demon. My man is most brave if not always terribly smart. He flew threw the air and launched a vicious flying sidekick at the monster. He made a thud as the kick connected. He passed through the monster and landed on the ground behind it. The demon spun grabbed Aikeemís head and pulled him into its stomach.

It was quite disconcerting to watch my man flail about, suffocating with in the gut of that dusty demon. I did what any self-respecting feline warrior would do when confronted with a mobile sandbox of this magnitude. I leapt to the creatureís head and peed on it.

Its head began to melt and smell very bad before I leapt off. The creature let Aikeem go and fell backwards clutching at its head and reacting to the noxious ammonia odor. Personally I felt it was over reacting my pee doesnít smell THAT bad.

"Come Aikeem!"

A dazed Aikeem stumbled after me as he spit sand from his mouth, "What did you do?"

"There is an expression Iíve heard you use. I really pissed him off."

"How?"

"I used him as a litter box."

Aikeem burst into laughter as we rounded the corner back out into the main street. The sand demon screamed and once again gave pursuit. Aikeem scooped me up and began to run down the street. I was placed on the top of Aikeemís backpack as he flew by the silent buildings that lined the streets.

After a few seconds a huffing Aikeem ran into a central plaza. In the center of the place stood a glorious stone fountain.

"Too bad it no longer spouts water. We could have pushed our granular opponent into it," I observed. The creature screamed again from nearby.

"It is getting closer lady. I canít keep this up all day. I swear Iíll always bring a wind spell with me into the desert from now on."

With that the plaza filled with ghosts. This time they seemed intent on doing us harm. Aikeem backed up toward the fountain as hundreds of obviously angry apparitions started toward us.

"This is just not going well at all," Aikeem said, just as a stone section of the fountain dropped out behind him and we tumbled over backward. I managed to leap off the backpack to keep from getting crushed, but I too fell down the dark hole into the stone chamber below. At least I landed on my feet.

Poor Aikeem was covered with scrapes and bruises. Blood trickled from a cut over one eye and I rushed to lick the hurt clean.

"Lady Please!!!!!"

"I only mean to tend to your wounds."

Aikeem dabbed at the cut with a rag from his pocket, "Thank you lady, but you have a tongue that is akin to sandpaper."

Aikeem groaned and stood to survey the stone chamber around us. With a snap of his fingers a glow ball appeared over our heads.

"I see you remembered to bring a light spell, not that I have any use for that."

The sand demon screamed from some where above and began to pound on the stone trap door that had sealed behind us.

"Persistent devil isnít he? This place looks familiar to me. Letís go that way." Aikeem pointed to an open corridor and we left the place.

The corridors we traveled were all carved out of rough stone. Iron brackets were intermittently placed on the walls for torches, but no torches had burned there for millennia. After spending at least half an hour roaming this tomb we entered a large room with a circular dais in the center.

"By the one God! This is it!"

"And what would that be beloved?"

"This is the temple of the jewel! This is the secret chamber where the Jewel of Qar was kept!"

Aikeem approached the dais in silent awe. His glow light went out. We were cast into a darkness so complete even I could see nothing. Then the dais began to glow and the room was filled with a warm gold light. An apparition began to form in the center of the dais. At first it seemed to be just a singular human, but then it became many all in the one space.

In a hushed tone I asked, "What is it Aikeem?"

"I do not know lady, but it does not seem hostile."

With this Aikeemís heart was grabbed as the shimmering, ethereal image of Jamila formed up in the center of the dais.

"Jamila!!!!!" Aikeem exclaimed as he ran up the dais. He grabbed the ladyís hand which seemed to be one but many at the same time.

"We are Jamila, Aikeem, but not."

"What are you talking about? What has happened to you my love? What strange magics are these?" Aikeem was desperate to hold her, but she withdrew her hand.

"It is the power of the Jewel Aikeem. I am Jamila, but I am not. Forgive me."

"I donít understand Jamila. You never wronged me."

"The day we/I disappearedÖ it was my/our fault not Farjuleís."

"What?!"

"I/we had taken the jewel back to my room to study it. I/we were foolish. I/we opened a portal to its center as was sucked in."

"You are trapped in the jewel!?" Aikeem was most incredulous.

"At first. I/we were desperate to escape. I/we knew so little of the arts, but enough to cause great trouble."

Aikeem leapt back from the apparition that instantly transmorphed into Shah Ramalla, "After you left, Aikeem, she unleashed a great power from the jewel. All of the cities inhabitants without exception were drawn into the jewel and made as one."

The apparition changed into one of the city guards, "We are one, but many Aikeem. We are bound with the jewel."

"Bring Jamila back to me!" Aikeem was most adamant.

Jamila coalesced from the apparition of the guard, "I am no longer Jamila, Aikeem, you must understand that. I am something more."

"I can bring you back Jamila. It has been many years. I am a great wizard in my own rights now."

"NO!!!!!"

Aikeem was knocked back down the steps by the force of that command. He picked himself up and Jamila smiled down upon him, "You must understand Aikeem. We are something new. We are not what we once were. We have been this way for thousands of years. If you were to separate us you would kill what we have become."

"A most interesting dilemma. If you free your lady love you kill the super being sheís become."

"Hush lady! I need to think." Aikeemís brow furrowed. He typically does not talk to me like this, but he was distracted to say the least.

Eventually Aikeem slumped. He seemed resigned to the fact that his beloved Jamila truly was no more, "You break my heart again Jamila. Why did you summon me here after all of these years? Why do you cause me this pain? I donít know that I can bear to lose you again."

Jamila smiled a sad smile and the love that was once there was still evident, "I/we still love you Aikeem. Never forget that. I/we would never purposefully cause you pain."

"Then why have you summoned me?"

Jamilaís expression turned to one of concern, "Farjule has found Qar. Even now he searches for the Jewel. If he finds it he will use its power to free him from the curse you laid upon him. If he does that the power required of the jewel will separate us and I/we will die. You must forgive us Aikeem and lift the curse from Farjule. He was not to blame for what has happened."

Aikeem slumped to the ground in realization of what he had done. My man was quite distressed. I felt very bad for him, but there was nothing I could do. The weight placed upon his shoulders was ultimately of his own doing.

Aikeem stood and looked into his once belovedís eyes. She smiled and then so did he, "I will always love you Jamila and of course I forgive you."

A bass note rang out from the ground below our feet along with a rumble that must have caused the city to shake. In counter point to this was the ear-shattering scream of the sand demon as it entered the room opposite us. Farjuleís malevolent spirit followed close behind.

"Farjule! Would you shut that blasted creature up! Itís giving me a headache!"

"It is going to do more than that in a second, Aikeem. It is going to rend you into bloody little bits!"

"Farjule, I never liked you but now that I have learned the truth I have come to realize I have done you a great wrong."

Farjule spied Jamila on the dais, but his expression did not soften, "Oh so the sorceress wanna be filled you in on her first and only spell, eh?" Farjule grew even angrier and he screamed at the many Jamila, "Thatís why magic requires adult supervision!"

Aikeem frowned, "She has already professed her sorrow to me Farjule and I have forgiven her. I hope you can forgive me."

Farjule smiled an evil smile as the demon slowly made its way toward us, "Is that supposed to make me call off my demon? Do you honestly believe this pathetic attempt at an apology will let me forget five thousand years of suffering! Do you honestly think that her sudden revelations mean one bloody thing to me! I will have her power and I will be free!!!!"

"No Farjule. You will simply be free," with this Aikeem waved his hands in the air to form an ancient runic gesture. A flash of light filled the air and Farjule screamed in terror as he realized the curse was broken. Farjule dissolved into the air like so much smoke. An instant later his demon lost cohesiveness and fell into a pile of sand on the floor.

"You have saved us, Aikeem. We will be eternally grateful," the many Jamila said with the most loving of smiles.

"I would die for you Jamila. You know that. Even if you are more than what you once were."

"I am more than what I once was, Aikeem and I am more for having known you. You must go now for the city must return to the sands. As you travel through the world Aikeem know that you are always loved by us and may this in some way sustain you," and with that the lady was gone.

Aikeem said nothing as we left the city. I did not attempt to break his silence. I could see he had a very heavy heart. We made our way back to the dune from which we saw Qar rise. As the sun set behind a dune opposite us in rosy splendor Qar sank back into the sands. A few tears rolled down Aikeemís cheek, but I pretended not to notice.

I learned from this adventure just how special my man is. He is not given to discussing his emotions with me so sometimes it is hard for me to understand his truer nature. But I have seen that he is capable of great humility, forgiveness and love and I am proud to say that he has saved some of this love for me. Well, MOST of this love for me, after all I am Pendella of the thirteen. Puuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


copyright 1999 A. A. Roberts All rights reserved