Authors: Ashley Nemer
asir and I will take the front with half of the troops, the other half take the back. Remember, no survivors but Derrik and Hamza. Let’s roll!”
The men broke up into groups, grouping off in fives. Walking up the mountain, they all knew to watch for the land mines that Zayn installed before they quit using the facility as a training camp.
“Nasir, it looks as though someone has been driving through here. Have a soldier follow those tracks and see where they lead,” Zayn said with gun in hand and Nikole’s sword at his side. Moving through the brush he began to have flashbacks of the escape in 1777.
“Come on, Nikole, move it. We can’t stay,” Zayn told her while pulling on her arm. “Mama’s dead. We have to run; she said to save ourselves. Come on!” Nikole’s tears streamed down her face, her omm’s blood on her clothes and skin. She stood there frozen. Zayn came from behind her and pushed her out the door. “Come on, Nikole, Mama said to run; we have to. Please, let’s go.”
“Zayn, what happened? How did this…”
Zayn took a few seconds to hold his okht in his arms. He embraced her and let her cry into his chest. He stroked her hair, trying to calm her, but she was gone. He saw Nasir from the corner of his eye and called to him. Nasir had as many of the people gathered as he could at the end of the hallway. Together they walked out of the castle and left their home.
The group made their way across the bridge, when suddenly a child screamed. Everyone’s attention turned in the direction the child was pointing. Nikole and Zayn let out a cry. Nasir dropped to his knee. Hung from a tree, his body torn apart, was King Tamman. Nikole ran to him, wanting to save her abb. With Zayn behind her, they realized as they got closer nothing could be done. He was gutted, his organs spilled on the ground. Nasir came and forced Zayn and Nikole back to the crowd. They pushed on their journey, both embracing and crying.
“Nikole, we will get our revenge. I swear it. Haydar will pay for this betrayal.” Nikole nodded and continued in a trance as they all walked across the mountains. The underbrush crunched beneath their feet; the smell of the trees floated on the breeze. They reached the end of the trail and started to descend into the city. It was then that they saw the fires. The whole town was on fire. Humans were on fire, their houses, and their possessions. It was total chaos.
Nasir led the Algula around the city, out into the terrain of the country. “We need to head for the ocean. There is this ‘New World’ I have heard about. We should travel there. Put as much distance between him and us as possible. We can come back later to seek revenge. Right now, we have to rebuild our people.”
Zayn nodded, not fully listening. He was still focusing on the horrific images of seeing his parents slaughtered.
A journey of three days got them to sea. Nasir prepared five ships, enough for everyone to travel. They loaded up the ships and departed for The New World. It was there, on the ship, that Nasir handed Zayn a letter from the King.
“What does the note say Zayn?” Nikole asked half-awake half asleep. “It’s from abb,” Zayn told her while wiping away his tears. “Here, I’ll read it to you.”
If you're reading this than that means your omm and I have died before you were ready to wear the crown. Nasir and I have discussed this, and I would hope you listen to his advice. You will know when you are ready to lead on your own. Nasir has agreed to treat you as his own ebn’ and protect you and Nikole. Please take care of her. You two have each other. Never let differences keep you apart. You will each need the other to keep the kingdom alive. Your omm and I believe in the both of you, and know you two will make great leaders. We love you both.
Coming back to the moment, Zayn shook his head, trying to clear his mind, stay focused on the mission. “We are here, Sire,” he was told by one of his soldiers. “Let’s go,” he told Nasir.
They blew the door open to the front of the training center and moved cautiously around the corners. There was blood all over the floor. They kept searching, opened every door and looked in every room. “Zayn, come quick!” Hearing Nasir call for him, he ran across the hallway to the room Nasir was in. Bursting through the doorway, the stench of blood overwhelmed him. There, lying in a gory heap, were Derrik and Hamza.
“What happened here? Where is Nikole?” Zayn said, looking around, confused and worried.
“Sire, I don’t know. You can tell she has been here. The table has been used, there are strands of her hair still here, and the burn marks on the metal I am sure are from her.
“FUCK!” Picking up the table and throwing it against the wall, Zayn snapped. “She couldn’t have disappeared. Check this whole place from top to bottom. No one leaves until we until we find her!” Zayn’s temper was flaring at the thought of his okht not being there. As he walked past the walls, he exploded in anger, punching holes along the hallway as he passed. He needed to get out of there; the sight of the blood was too much to handle, and the fear of not knowing where Nikole was became unbearable. He summoned the water from the pipes and it began to flow through the halls like a river washing away the blood and the dead bodies. His eyes flared yellow, swirls of black moving back and forth in them while he watched it all run past his feet and out of the building, down the side of the mountain.
Hours passed, and there was still no sign of her. Nasir convinced Zayn he needed to return home. The men packed up to leave the facility. Zayn was too upset to think. He walked around in a daze. He didn’t even remember making it down the mountain and into the car. “I failed her, I failed my parents, and I just failed,” he said, putting his head in his hands and weeping. Nasir lead the way back home, and when they arrived, Zayn walked up the stairs, passing everyone who was watching.
Sitting in the back of the room, Adara’s cried, knowing her friend was in trouble. She saw Zayn walk to his office. Slowly she made her way past the crowd of people and up the stairs, passing the guards who had come to know her presence was welcome in the King’s home. Knocking on the door she heard, “Come in.” Slowly she pushed the door open and saw her King sitting on the ground by the window. He looked up at her and motioned her in.
Sitting next to him, her back against the wall, she placed her hand on his, resting on his knee. “She wasn’t there, huh? Did he lie to me?”
Zayn slowly shook his head no. “I think she was there; she just isn’t now. Derrik was killed, so was Hamza. There is no sign of her at all.” He felt the warmth of her hand on his. Slowly, he leaned his head on her shoulder, needing her company.
“Hopefully she is safe; maybe she got out and is seeking shelter somewhere. We can pray for her safe return.” Adara slowly caressed his arm with her left hand. Trying to show him the comfort he desperately needed.
“Thank you for coming; you didn’t have too.”
She shook her head at his words. “I didn’t want to be alone either.” Sitting there together in seclusion for a while, they comforted each other as they each cried in silence.
A knock on the door woke them both up. They had fallen asleep. Looking at the time, they saw that about two hours passed. Zayn cleared his throat. “Come in.”
Nasir came in and saw the two of them sitting on the floor. He bowed his head reverently. “Sire, the men have returned. There is no trace of her. The track you found led to an abandoned vehicle at the end of the mountain. Right now, we have no leads.” Zayn nodded, dismissing Nasir.
“What are you going to do, Sire?” He looked at her, moving strands of her matted hair off her face. Her yellow eyes sparkled from the tears still pooling in them. He had never noticed her beauty before. He’d always dismissed her since she was Nikole’s best friend. “Call me Zayn, and I do not know.”
Zayn stood, looking at Adara’s yellow eyes, looking back at him. He offered her a hand and helped her to her feet. Their bodies were so close together, the friction was evident in the room. He made a move, leaning down, kissing away one of her tears. “We will get her back. Please join me for dinner; I could use your company.” She nodded at him, and then followed him to dinner.
e carried her through the mountains, around the trees, and down the trails. His cabin was tucked away, not visible from the main trails. Her body was covered in dried blood. He couldn’t tell how old the wounds were; burn marks, knife cuts, scrapes, and bruises marred her beautiful skin. He didn’t know where to begin dressing her injuries. Opening the cabin door, he walked in and took note; nothing looked like it had been touched. He always checked to make sure he hadn’t had unwanted visitors.
Slowly walking her to his bedroom, he gently laid her down. Her heartbeat was light, her breathing shallow. Going out to his storage shed and grabbing a pail, he brought it inside to the bathroom and filled it with warm water. Collecting a washcloth and some soap, he took the pail and went to the bed. Sitting on the edge, he started with her feet. Dipping the rag in the warm water and lathering some soap on it, he wrung it out and slowly started to clean her skin. Inch by inch the blood came off; her toes revealed her olive skin.
He worked his way up her body but hesitated at her thigh. He’d seen her naked on the table, but this was different, more intimate. He took his shirt off and decided to drape it over her lower half. Her legs almost completely cleaned, he counted the number of burn marks, 34 in all on her two legs. He retrieved the first aid kit. Taking out the burn cream, gauze, and tape, he returned to the bed. He applied cream to each wound and placed gauze over it, securing it to her body.
He moved to her well defined stomach, making sure the fabric covering her more intimate areas was still in place. He had chills across his arms as his fingers grazed over her skin. She was perfection. He had never seen a finer body. She had gashes all over her, some of the cuts going right to the bone. He couldn’t begin to understand why they would cut her so badly. As he tended to her wounds his mind couldn’t quite wrap around the torture this woman had gone through and he couldn’t help but wonder if she was involved in something elicit.
He moved to her arms. Her beautiful arms were cut deeply, muscle was showing and it looked like the wounds were also burned. Working slower on this than the rest of her body, he gently removed the dried blood. She was going to need stitches, and lots of them. Moving to her shoulder, he slowly moved the shirt down some. He saw the cut from her shoulder to her breast. He sucked in his breath at the sight… Her skin destroyed and mauled. Cleaning it off, he carefully worked on the other arm.
Her body now cleaned, he looked to her face. Her hair was soft as silk, a rich brown color. He began removing the dirt and blood from her face, the cuts on her cheek not looking as bad as the ones on her body. He left her to go look for his medical supplies. He wasn’t sure if he would have enough; she was going to need so many to tend to all of her wounds. Sitting back on the edge of the bed, he started to stitch up the wounds on her arm. He could picture how she would look once she healed Two hours later, her body was cleaned and her wounds tended to. He found her one of his old oversized tee shirts and worked it down onto her, keeping her covered to the best of his ability. He grabbed a pair of socks and put them on her feet to keep her warm. He tucked her into bed, pulling the sheets around her, securing her properly.
He let her sleep; clearly she needed it. Going to the kitchen, he rummaged around and found some soup. The cool nights of the mountains could be hard on some, and he wanted to make sure she was comfortable when she woke up. Now he just had to figure out who she was.
Her mind was racing. Why couldn’t she get out of here? She screamed and yelled but no one could hear her. “HELLO!!!”
It was like she was trapped in her body. She tried to open her eyes, to scream out, but nothing. Her voice was lost, and the rest of her wasn’t cooperating either. Exhausting herself completely, she drifted off into a dream.
“Come on, Nikole, you can do it… Think fire!” her siti told her, as she waved her hand in front of her to show her how fire can dance.
“But siti, look.” Nikole held her hand up in front of Afaf’s face. “My fire is broken; nothing happens.” Nikole closed her eyes and thought FIRE but nothing happened. Her little face began to crinkle, the tears starting to form. “Siti, I’m broken. I don’t work!”
Afaf laughed at the sight of her hafeeda Nikole whimpering. “Calm now, Nikole, you will get it. You are only five. Why, I was much older when I learned how to control it. Maybe next year.”
Afaf heard a little growl come out of Nikole. “No. I want fire NOW” Without warning Afaf’s skirt caught fire. She quickly moved to put it out, while still laughing at her hafeeda.
“Well, leave it to you, little stubborn Princess, to make fire so young. Now you must not ever burn your siti’s skirt. Especially her favorite one.”
Nikole laughed, clapping her hands. “See, Siti, I made FIRE!”
Hearing the commotion, Ikram and Tamman came in the room and gasped at the sight, the Queen Omm’s slightly burnt clothes, their bent laughing and clapping, and the servants hiding.
“Omm! What did she do to you?” Ikram said, walking over and picking up Nikole.
“Well, she wanted to learn how to make fire, so we made fire. Didn’t we my little Princess?”
“FIRE!” Nikole called out, and one of the servant’s shirts burst into flames. Nikole laughed and clapped. “Abb, FIRE!” Tamman’s body froze as nothing happened. Looking around, everyone was relieved he didn’t combust. Tamman came and picked up his baby girl. “No more fire, Princess, not till you’re older.” They all look around at each other, laughing.
“You know she has strong abilities. Five is very young to start controlling elements. We will have to train her, make sure she knows right from wrong, and make sure she doesn’t burn down the home,” Tamman said, laughing with a bit of pride in his voice.
“I’ll take care of her lessons. As the only one with the fire ability left around who knows how to harness the power, it’s my job,” Afaf declared.
Ikram ran her hand over Nikole’s arm. “Nikole, make sure you don’t set anyone on fire, okay?”
Nikole looked at her omm and smiled. “Yes Mama, no siti on fire I know.” The adults all laughed. “Yes, because siti is the most important of all!” Afaf chimed in.
The man watched her body. She hadn’t moved in hours. If her chest wasn’t rising up and down, he would think she had died. He pulled the covers back and checked the wounds. Everything seemed to be healing. Tucking her back in, he noticed something he hadn’t seen before. Leaning down, he realized her cheeks were wet. She was crying. He stepped back away from her body and moved to sit in the chair next to the bed. He wondered if she was in pain or if she was just crying.