Rusting Crowns

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jave never knew where his journey through the Sahara would take him. But after meeting Aarya and learning his father's darkest secrets, things would never truely be the same.

Submitted: July 13, 2012

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Submitted: July 13, 2012

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Day 1

Jave could barely keep his eyes open. Sweat dripped down his face and the sun's rays penetrated his sight and made every detail of the long sandy horizon available to view. His muscles ached, begging him to stop, but he knew that if he gave in it would mean certain death. So he kept going.

How had it come to this? It had only been a few days since he left the palace. Everything had happened so quickly, his world flipped around in just one night. He kept replaying the events in his head, reminding himself why he had chosen to go to this ghastly place at all. But he had a mission, a reason, something to keep him going. There was no turning back now.

It was moments like this that he was glad he was raised in the middle east. Not only could he handle the heat much better than most, but his mocha skin kept him from burning to a crisp. His vision blurred and he stumbled every few steps, his footing loose as he trotted over the smooth sandy slopes that made up the Sahara. There were no towns or villages in sight, and with his water quickly running out, he needed to find shelter soon.

One, two, one, two. One foot in front of the other. One, two, one, one, two, one...he bent over and took a breath, forcing his vision to align. He wouldn't give up now. He couldn't. Pulling up the small sack at his side, he held the container up to have a drink. Nothing. No more water. That was it, then. Without water, he had no chances of survival, and there was no sign of civilization anywhere. He was going to die out here.

How had it come to this? He kept asking himself that. His life hadn't been perfect, but it was still nice. A big house, delicious food, a royal title most people would die for. And then it all just changed. Maybe it was his fault. No one had said he needed to travel into the desert. But what other choice did he have? Sometimes he wondered if he ever had a choice.

His breathing was sharp and the sun relentlessly beat against his skin. He lied on the sand and stared at the sky, thinking about anything but his inevitable death. Somewhere far away there was a large bird soaring in the sky, the first sign of life he'd seen all day. His vision was too blurry to make out it's exact shape, but it appeared to be getting closer. Maybe a vulture or some other bird had come to finish him off. Not like he could fight it.

His heart picked up speed and his body began losing heat quickly. Drowsiness washed over him and he fought to stay awake. The bird got closer and closer, dipping down towards him. He could make it out better now, large black wings and an oddly long body. His eyes slowly dropped shut as the bird shot towards him. Before he passed out, he saw it, saw it land and crawl towards him.

And if he didn't know any better, he'd say there was a human attached to those wings.

 

Was he dead? No, he couldn't be dead. Not yet, anyways. The scent of various fruits filled his nose and his stomach churn. His mind was still groggy and had trouble keeping up with his surroundings. He forced his fingers to clench and unclench, before shifting his body. Life jolted back into him and he forced his eyes open.

The first thing he processed is that he was definitely no longer in the desert. To his right was a small table with a little wood angel sculpture perched on it. He was lying in a cheap bed, a thin sheet draped over him and a torn pillow under his head. The room was small and cozy, the walls and floor made out of wood, with no windows in sight. Slowly, he crawled out of bed and made way for the door. He felt rejuvenated, all signs of his previous dehydration erased, his muscles rested and ready to take on what was ahead of him.

The door pulled open with a small creak. Outside was a short hall, with his right leading to a dead end and his left turning and leading into who knows what. There was one other door beside him, but he resisted the temptation to open it. As quietly as he could muster, he tip toed down the hall and into the living room the hall lead to.

It wasn't much different than the room. Furniture was scarce, save for a low table and rugged couch. At the front of the room was a large bookshelf, with books of every shape and size in languages he had never seen. Part of the room was dedicated to an open kitchen, and beside it, the front door. Unsure of what to do next, he walked up to the bookshelf and examined it, hoping to find some clues as to where he was at.

Most of the books were in foreign languages, and at the top of the shelf were several little angel decorations much like the one in his room. One in particular, a thin glass one, caught his eye. He reached out for it and nearly had a heart attack when suddenly a voice broke through the silence.

I wouldn't touch that.” He jumped back and whipped around to where the voice was at. But nothing was there except for the same rugged couch and table.

Over here.” The voice said. He turned his attention to the kitchen, where a girl was perched on the counters.

She was a darker woman, with mocha skin similar to his, and features that gave him the clue that she was from somewhere in India. Like most of the women, she had light eyes and dark hair, which she pulled off quite well. Jave stared in shock.

Hasn't anyone ever told you that it's rude to stare?” Her legs were crossed and her chin was in her palms, and despite the reprimand, she seemed more curious than anything.

Ummm...Sorry.” He retracted his hand from the shelf and awkwardly turned to her.

Where am I?” He asked as politely as the situation would allow.

What does it look like? You're in my house.” She responded curtly.

Oh.” He had never been good around people, and this was no exception. It didn't help that she did nothing but stare him down.

So...how did I get here?” He finally asked after the silence had become suffocating.

You were dying in the desert when I found you. It's a good thing I did, or you wouldn't even be in this world anymore.” He thought about this. The only sign of life he had seen all day had been that bird, meaning he had stopped just short of shelter or she had dragged him a long way. Comparing the fact that she saved his life, he wasn't going to ask.

Well, thanks.” He said. She cracked a smile.

You're not very good with people, are you?”

Not really.” He said.

That's okay. I'm not exactly an expertise anyways. Oh, I almost forgot. We never introduced ourselves.” She offered a smile and wave. “I'm Aarya.”

Jave.” He held out his hand, but she didn't reach out to shake it.

Jave. That's an interesting name.” She offered him another smile, which he was glad to return.

There was a moment of silence before Aarya dashed into the kitchen. She shuffled through the cupboards, desperately looking for something. She pulled out a bowl of fruit and set it on the small wooden table in the living room.

You hungry?” She asked, holding out an apple.

Sure.” He took the fruit and retreated to the corner.

So tell me, how did you wind up in the desert?” Jave leaned against the wall and thought about the best way to explain his situation.

It's a long story.” His genius strikes again.

So? I've got plenty of time.” She paused. “Do you?”

Did he have plenty of time? It was hard to say. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. Time wasn't the biggest thing on his mind when he took off.

I'm not sure.” He said.

You know, you're not giving me much to work with.” She complained.

I know. I'm sorry. A lot of things had happened, and I wouldn't know where to begin.”

She nodded in understanding. “Sucks to hear that. Must have been quite a lot to force you to travel through the desert.”

It was.” He said. “So what about you? Where are you from?”

Me? That's hard to say. I've been in this desert a long time.” She responded.

Why?”

Why what?”

Why have you been in the desert? Where were you before?”

Where I was before is irrelevant. But the reason I've come to the desert and stayed so long is because I've been waiting for someone.”

Waiting? For who?”

It's hard to say. I know what I'm looking for, but I don't know who they are. At least not yet.” He nodded. If he had to guess, he'd say something bad drove her out here, just like him.

So, if you can't tell me where you came from, can you at least tell me where you're going?” Aarya asked.

He shrugged. It couldn't hurt to tell her. “It's kind of complicated.”

I'm listening.”

Well, you know about the legend of King Ba'al, right?” Jave said. She nodded, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips.

My plan is to find his crown, which is still supposed to be laying around somewhere in his castle.”

She gave him a skeptical look. “And what do you want with the crown?”

I want to take it home to my family.” She stared him down, as if hoping he would reveal more, but he said nothing.

That's interesting. So how are you going to find his castle? No one had reported seeing it in decades.”

I'm not sure yet. I was hoping I could do some research while I was out here.” Aarya resisted the urge to ask him why he didn't study before leaving.

Well, good luck with that then.” She leaned back on the couch and took a bite of her fruit.

Can you tell me where I could find a place to research?” He asked. Despite his hunger, he had yet to take a bite of his apple.

Actually, you're in luck. I happen to have the only library in town.” She motioned to the large bookcase in the front of the room.

Is that it?” He asked.

Of course. What do expect? We're in a giant sandy desert. Most of the people here are more worried about finding water than they are about collecting books.” His weary eyes grazed the book titles, but none looked like they would be very helpful.

He sighed. “I guess I'll make the most of it.”

Well, when you say it so sadly, it's hard not to show you.”

Show me what?” Before he finished his sentence Aarya smirked and dashed down the hallway. The sounds of moving furniture came from the first room before she quickly returned with a large, worn out book in her hands.

What's that?” He asked.

A guide, to everything you could need to know about the desert and it's locations, including King Ba'al's castle.” She set the book down on the table and he raced over to examine it.

Is it accurate?”

I assume so. It hasn't failed me yet. And if it doesn't work, there's always intuition.” He picked up the book and flipped it open. The pictures were surprisingly detailed, and he knew if anything would save his life out here, it would be this book.

It looks great. Can I use it?” He hated to keep imposing on her, but he really could use the help.

Sure. But on one condition.” He gave her a doubting look.

What?”

You have to take me with you.” He stared at her, waiting for her to flash a smile and say she was joking. But she looked dead serious. She would be helpful out in the desert, especially considering he had no one else to help him, but the idea just didn't sit well with him.

Why?”

Well, for a start, it's my book. You could also use all the help you could get, and I've been looking for an adventure for a long time. And who knows, maybe I'll find the person I'm looking for while I'm out.” It was difficult to argue. She had him caught.

Are you sure? What if we run into trouble?”

I can promise you, I'm not as weak as I look. I've lived out here long enough to realize the dangers. Let's face it, if anything bad happens, chances are you'll be the first to go.” He couldn't find it in himself to disagree.

Fine. I guess I can't argue.” Jave said.

Good. Look, it's only been an hour, and we're already making friends.” She pointed to the little wooden clock that hung on the wall.

I guess so.”

You guess a lot of things.” He gave her an offended look, to which she chuckled.

Don't be offended. I was just joking.” She stood up and waltzed into the kitchen. His legs begin to ache, and seeing as he was hardly even a guest anymore, he took a seat on the couch.

So, how about dinner?” Aarya asked him. He nodded and picked up the book that would be their guide through the desert. It had only been an hour, and yet his course had already been completely changed. It's funny how life worked like that.

 

Jave stretched his worn limbs. Drowsiness was creeping up on him, and he barely had the energy to keep reading. Outside, the sun had set and the inside of the house was bathed in the moon's glow. On the end of the couch Aarya was perched with her legs pulled up to her chest and her nose buried in a book. It was in some language he had never seen before. His book was the classic One Thousand and One Nights, which was one of the only things on the book shelf that caught his interest. He set the book down and turned to Aarya.

She noticed his stare and peaked at him over the book. They had stopped talking a long time ago, and she probably caught the hint that it was getting late.

Yes?” She asked.

I think it's time to go to bed.” Jave said. She smiled and set down the book.

Okay. And where do you plan on sleeping?”

Can't just sleep in the same bed I woke up in?”

Sure. I'll take the couch then.” He paused.

Wait, that isn't your bed, is it?” She smiled.

What do you think?” Of course. He should have guessed. She lived alone and probably never had guests, so it seemed logical that she would only have one bed.

Oh, I'm sorry. If you want, I can take the couch.”

Or we both could.” He gave her a bewildered look.

I mean, we could both sleep on it. I only have one blanket anyways, so unless one of us wants to freeze we're probably going to have to share.” He nodded.

Alright.” She stood and dragged out the pillow and blanket. He rejected her offer to give him the pillow, and with a little work, they both managed to fit onto the couch, Jave facing one way and Aarya facing the other. She was careful to keep her limbs from touching his, though he wasn't sure why.

Isn't this comfy?” Aarya joked. He smiled and pulled his arm up to make a pillow.

They both closed their eyes and were silent for several moments until Jave spoke up.

Aarya?”

Yes?”

Why are you helping me?”

I don't know.” She said. “Maybe because you might help me find the person I'm looking for.”

He must have been satisfied with that answer, because he didn't push the topic any further.

His eyelids began sinking down and the world faded from his view. He was anxious to find out what would happen tomorrow, and even in his exhausted state the thought plagued him. If so much had happened today, what was going to happen to him tomorrow? How did he even know if he was going to succeed? The last question was the hardest t answer. He pushed the thoughts off his mind and focused on getting some sleep. He would need all he could get for the journey tomorrow. Even as his conscious faded, he could never even guess how quickly his fate would be changed.

 

Day 2

When Jave opened his eyes the next morning, the sun had risen over the horizon and altered everyone of a new day. He was stretched out more then when he went to sleep, and at the other end Aarya was curled into a ball, the blanket wrapped firmly around her. He considered waking her up, but figured it would be best to let her sleep. They had a long day ahead.

Slowly getting up he made a bee line for the kitchen. He was starving, and couldn't wait until she woke up to eat something. He opened the cupboards and was met with nothing but empty space. He tried again on a different one, but still nothing. He looked through every cupboard, but every one was just as empty as the last. On the table, the bowl of fruit was still sitting out, meaning it had to be the only food in the house. It was so odd. How could she survive on only a bowl of fruit?

He walked over and picked out a pear, biting down and surveying the room. There wasn't much to do here, other than read the books and sit around. Without thinking, he had wandered down the hall, and before he knew it he was standing in front of the first room in the hall, the same one Aarya had gotten their guide book from. What was in there? He knew it wasn't nice to go peaking around someone's house, especially when they had been so courteous, but he couldn't resist the temptation. How bad could it be, really?

He cracked open the door, flinching as it squeaked. Luckily, Aarya didn't notice, and without a sound he slipped inside.

If he thought the living room was under furnished, then this place was a desert. The only thing in the room was one large mahogany desk that sat to the very back. He slowly walked over and pulled open one of the drawers. Like the cupboards, it was empty. He tried with another, but still, nothing. How could a person live like this? Wouldn't she own at least some personal possessions? He opened drawer after drawer, but found nothing. He was about to give up when he opened the top one and something caught his eye.

It appeared to be a ring, made out of gold with something carved onto it. Gently he picked it up and brought it close to his eyes. The ring was definitely a woman's, the small size and roundish shape gave that away. Silently, he read the inscription.

I love you, Mihika. ~ Yaquib.

Jave nearly dropped the ring. Yaquib? Like his father, Yaquib? No, that couldn't be right. He was miles and miles from home, there was no way a ring from him would wind up all the way out here. Maybe it was someone else with the same name. It had to be. But who was Mihika? And why did Aarya have this ring? Why, in the entire room, was this the only possession?

Outside, he could hear the sounds of creaking as Aarya slowly woke. Without a thought, he slipped the ring into his pocket and rushed out the door, slowly shutting it behind him. He tried to seem casual as he rounded the corner. Aarya was awake and offered him her usual smile.

Have a nice night?” She asked groggily.

It wasn't bad.” He said. She chuckled and stood.

I'm guessing you've already figured there's nothing in the cupboards.” He gave her a quizzical look. Without realizing it, he had slipped into the kitchen.

Oh, ya.” He said awkwardly. She laughed, obviously enjoying his embarrassment.

Well, how about we finish this bowl and head out to find a town? Chances are we won't be back for a while, so might as well finish it all now.” He nodded and picked another fruit out of the bowl. She unwrapped the blanket and set it between him, giving him a sheepish smile and biting into her apple.

They ate in silence, occasionally sneaking peaks at each other from the corners of their eyes. It didn't take long for the fruit to disappear. Aarya stretched and tossed the bowl into a bin.

How delicious. Hopefully the next town has some real food.” She joked. He gave a sheepish smiled and stood up.

So what now? When are we going to take off?” He asked anxiously.

Don't freak out on me now.” She stood to meet his eyes. She was several inches shorter than him, but he had no doubt she could be intimidating if she wanted to be.

We can leave any time you want. I've got nothing stopping me.” Aarya said. And by the looks of her house, she wasn't lying.

Now, then.” Jave said. She gave him a skeptical look, but nonetheless shrugged and followed him out the door.

Before she left, she grabbed the survival book and a small pouch of money. Jave had refilled his water container last night, and other than that, there wasn't much left to take.

This is gonna be fun.” Aarya said as Jave opened the door.

The heat tore through their skin the moment they stepped outside. Compared to the outside the house had been a freezer. Jave scanned his surroundings for any clue of life. There were no other homes or animals around, just a smooth trail of desert every direction in sight. But what interested him was the tracks. There was no sign that Aarya had dragged him over the dirt, and the only marks were right outside her house. Now that was definitely odd.

Are you just going to stand there or are you going to start moving?” Aarya asked. She was already several yards from the house, and in his distraction he had been left behind.

I'm coming!” He rushed to catch up with her. She didn't seem to mind his inattentiveness. If anything, she seemed amused.

So, where are we going?” Jave asked.

There should be a large village about a mile up from here. It's usually where I get my food. We can buy camels and other things for the trip there.” He nodded.

The desert sun continued to pound on him, and after enough time his steps began to get heavier and heavier. Aarya didn't seem to mind as much – she had probably gotten used to the heat – but he knew he could only keep this up for so long. The town couldn't get here soon enough.

 

Jave wiped the sweat from his forehead and kept trudging through the desert. They had to have been walking for at least an hour now, or at least it felt like it. Even Aarya was beginning to look exhausted. The sun had just gotten worse with the passing hour and Jave was close to suggesting a break when he saw it.

Over the horizon, he could see the outline of several tall buildings. They were mostly mud houses, but it was a still sign of civilization, which was enough to make Jave pick up his pace. As he got closer the town looked larger and larger, and he knew that this was the place Aarya had been talking about. He shot ahead of her and before he knew it was approaching the main street.

Hey! Don't leave me behind!” Aarya shouted as she struggled to catch up with him.

Sorry.” They trotted down the street as Aarya lead them to the market place. At this time, it was relatively empty, as most shopping was done at night when the air had cooled. He saw carts for all sorts of things, and was tempted to buy something from all of them, but she kept leading them forward.

Where are we going?” Jave asked.

Here.” Aarya pointed to the small mud building in front of them. It wasn't particularly note worthy, the only thing separating it from the rest being the small sign above the door that read Tavern.

They stepped inside and were immediately greeted by a rush of cool air. Inside were a few small tables and a poorly constructed bar to the right. Behind it stood a man who looked to be in his late forties, and when he spotted them he offered a cheerful smile.

Aarya! It's good to see you again. Long time no see.” She smiled and took a seat at the bar along side Jave.

Same for you, Abagwa. How's the family?”

Good.” He smiled and gave a curious look to Jave. It was rare that the village had visitors, especially ones who looked as foreign as him.

So who's your friend?” He asked.

This is Jave. Me and him are traveling through the desert and stopped to pick up some things.”

Oh, finally found yourself a mate? I knew it would happen eventually. It was only a matter of time.” Abagwa pulled out two cups and poured them a drink.

No, it's not like that-” Aarya interrupted Jave.

It's not what you think, Abagwa. He's out here in the hopes of finding King Ba'al's crown, and I knew he'd die without someone who knew their way around, so now I'm stuck with him. Anyways, you're crazy if you think anyone can tame me.” She smirked and took a drink.

Oh, of course. I forgot, you don't need a man.” He chuckled. “So, what's this about King Ba'al's crown?”

Instead of saying anything, Aarya just stared at Jave, waiting for him to say something. He wasn't sure what to do. He didn't want to tell anyone about his mission in the first place, but it didn't look like he had much of a choice.

It's...” He began. Once again, Aarya interrupted him.

A long story, I know. But can you at least tell us why you want the crown in the first place?”

He fidgeted. “Like I said, I want to take it back home to my family.”

Because...”

Because I was falsely accused of something I didn't do. I need the crown to clear my name and give me back my honor.” He paused and look down at the counter.

And?” Aarya stared at him intently. There was something else he wasn't saying.

Don't worry about it. It doesn't matter. But I'm determined to find the crown, no matter what.” He took a drink, ending the conversation.

Hm. I've give him points, he seems honest.” Abagwa said. “So how are you going to find the castle?”

Aarya held up the guide book.

Good choice. Well, I don't think there's much more I can say.” He paused, as if thinking about something.

Actually, I change my mind. There is something I want to say.”

What?” Jave asked.

It's about the legend of King Ba'al. Now, you know I'm not a superstitious person, but if the legend does turn out to be true, then you know what that means, right?”

No.” It had been years since he last heard the entire legend, so he was shaky on the details.

Well, you know how it goes. If-”

Just tell us the entire story, Abagwa. We could probably use the refresher anyways.” Aarya said.

Alright, if you insist. It starts like this: King Ba'al was born a regular boy, and grew up with a regular childhood and had a regular family. But there was one thing that set him apart from the rest: He wanted power, and would do anything to get it. So one day an angel offered him a deal. In exchange for his soul, he could have the power to rule over his land forever. He could keep his soul for now, under the condition that he always be kind and just, and if he broke that rule the angel would return and take his soul. He agreed, and the deal was set. For many years, things went perfectly, Ba'al was a kind king who ruled over his land a gentle hand. But eventually he became paranoid and obsessed over gaining more power. His rule quickly turned to one of tyranny and terror. Seeing this, the angel returned to collect his soul. Ba'al knew he was in trouble, and had to act quickly. He summoned another angel, this one more corrupt than the last, and made a deal with her. He would give her his powers in exchange for breaking the contract with the other angel and remaining immortal. The only condition was that he would only lose his immortality if someone else put on his crown and gained his powers. So the deal was made. The king fell from power and famine spread over the land, leading to one of the darkest periods in history. The country eventually recovered and King Ba'al was left to be something of legend. No one has seen him or his castle since.” Abagwa took a deep breath. Even he was surprised he still remembered the tale.

What, so what's the issue?” Jave asked.

You see, if the legend is true, that means that King Ba'al is still alive and inside the castle. Meaning, if you do find the crown, you'll also find King Ba'al.” Abagwa said.

But what makes you think he'll still be in his castle?” Jave asked.

Why wouldn't he be? He's probably guarding the crown, waiting to see who will take it.”

And how do you know that someone hasn't already taken it?”

You sure ask a lot of questions, don't you?” Jave gave a sheepish smile.

Like I said, I don't know if it's true. It may not be. I'm just warning you that if it is, don't be too surprised at the things you may find.” Abagwa said. Jave nodded and looked down at his drink.

Well, I think we better get a move on. It was good seeing you again.” Aarya pulled out her pouch. Abagwa held up his hands.

No, no. It's on the house.”

Thanks.” Aarya smiled and made way for the door.

See ya.” Jave waved, which Abagwa returned.

Outside, the market was slightly more busy, with lunch quickly approaching. Men and women in long garbs bustled this way and that while Jave and Aarya weaved from cart to cart. They each filled their bags with the necessities before heading out to get the most important piece of all: two camels to carry them through the desert.

A short man in white garbs was attending the camels when they approached. The stable was small and surrounded by a low fence, with several camels herded inside. It wasn't the nicest place in town, but it was the only place to get what they need. Aarya immediately scowled when the man turned around.

What is it?” He asked. His already sharp frown deepened the moment he spotted Aarya.

Oh, it's you. What do you want?” He said.

Two camels.” Aarya answered sharply. They stared at each other for a moment, forcing Jave to uncomfortably break the silence.

Um, is something wrong?” He asked.

No.” The man turned on his heel and shepherd out two camels.

Will these two do?” He grumbled.

Fine.” She took the reins and tossed him some money. Without even hooking up her bag, she hopped on and took off.

Hey! Wait!” Jave jumped on and struggled to catch up with her. He had ridden horses when he was younger, but the camel proved to be much more difficult.

What was that about?” Jave asked as he came up alongside her.

Nothing. He's just...” She trailed off.

What?”

An idiot. He constantly complains about the way I dress, because god forbid I don't cover myself head to toe, and then when he's not complaining about that he's either obsessed with my 'bad manners' or something else. He's lucky my manners aren't bad enough to show what I really think of him.” Her knuckles tightened around the reins.

Oh. I'm sorry to hear that.” He stared ahead at the open desert. The sun beat down on him and he suddenly missed the tavern very much.

Though they moved faster than on foot, it still felt like forever as they moved through the glowing desert. The town quickly turned into nothing but a dot on the horizon before completely disappearing from sight. He hated having to leave, but he needed to complete his mission, no matter what the cost.

Time in the desert varied between bright and brighter, and with the time just dragging along Jave found himself going insane. The silence was stifling and finally he couldn't take it anymore.

So...” He said, not sure where to start the conversation.

What?” Aarya flashed him a questioning look.

I'm bored.” There was no point in dodging it. Aarya chuckled.

Is that so?”

Yes.”

Then how about I tell you a story?” She offered.

It depends. Will I walk away feeling like I need to take a scalding bath after words?”

No promises.”

Fine then. Story away.” She paused for a moment, as if gathering all she would say, before she began.

A long time ago – scratch that, not that long ago, but still long before now – there was a noble Arabian boy.”

I already know my story. I've been here too.” Jave interrupted. He waited for her to continue, but instead she just smiled at him.

What?” He asked.

You were noble? How interesting. We're learning new things already.” He felt silly for having revealed that so mindlessly.

Well, back to the story. This Arabian boy lived a good life, bathing in his families wealth, but sadly things aren't always as perfect as they appeared. The family was quickly falling from nobility and needed to save their hinds soon or fall into poverty. The boy was unaware of this fact until one day he went on a trip to visit another noble family. They had decided that they would marry him off in the hopes of regaining their fortune through combining the blood lines.”

Wait.” Jave said.

What?” Aarya turned to him. He paused, as if something was troubling him, but let it go.

Nothing.” He retracted. She stared at him. He was so unpredictable sometimes. She couldn't help but wonder what he was hiding.

Okay. So this boy was sentenced to be married off to another noble. While he wasn't worried about getting married, he was worried about the reasons behind the marriage, having finally realized what it really meant. After meeting the woman in question he was appalled by her horrible attitude and knew he couldn't live with her. He was a stubborn child, and decided there had to be another way to save his family. So he approached his father and made a deal with him: he would travel to the Sahara and find King Tut's crown in exchange for not having to marry his horrible finance.”

Stop.” Jave said again. He looked incredibly bothered by something.

What? Is it too gory for you?” Aarya joked. He didn't say anything.

Seeing that the tale was really bothering him, she quit. Maybe she'd bring it up later, when the sun wasn't beating down on them and ruining the mood. Even as she waited for his scowl to fade or signs of his regular self to return, he continued to stare straight ahead. And for the rest of the ride, she knew that his mind was somewhere else.

 

Even the longest of days eventually come to an end. After hours of riding the sun finally dipped over the horizon and they stopped to set up camp. Jave's worry look had all but faded now and it only took them a few minutes to set up and get relaxed. There was no wood to start a fire, so they dragged out their blankets and sat on the sand covered ground, staring at the stars.

So, want to tell me what all that was about?” Aarya asked. Jave flashed her a look.

What do you mean?”

I mean earlier, when I was telling the story. It really seemed to bother you. Care to spill the beans?”

He sighed and turned back to the stars. “Maybe tomorrow.” Was his only response. She didn't like it, but it was better than 'it's a long story'.

For a while, they sat there in silence, before Jave turned to her.

Can you keep going?” He asked.

Keep what going?”

The story.” He said. She smiled.

Fine. Where was I...oh ya, making the deal with his father. So he made the deal and took off from the palace into the desert. It was incredibly difficult for him: not only did he not know the land scape, but he barely escaped death on several occasions. After months of searching he was close to giving up, when a miracle happened. While traveling through the desert he spotted a large bird, with black wings and a long body, that led him right to the palace. The castle was more amazing than he could have imagined: despite being abandoned for years, it was still one of the finest places he had ever seen. He searched the castle for days, wondering through it's corridors and admiring the treasures that lay there. But treasures were not his goal. He wanted the crown more than anything, and after enough waddling he began searching for it. Everyday he was at the castle the bird watched him. This fact didn't escape him and after several days at the castle he decided he wanted a better look at this bird.”

She paused and took a deep breath.

Then what?”

He planned it out and one morning, while the bird was still sleeping, snuck away and crawled to the place where the bird was usually perched. It was facing out towards the horizon with it's wings wrapped around it's body. It was easily the same size as him and had wings


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