The Magic of Dashkir: The Prophet’s Tale (shorter)
In ages past, when the desert of Gabir was far smaller than it is now, the Ra’uf lived under the oppression of the Wa’il. Between the desert and the armed guards patrolling the high protective wall, escape was nearly impossible. Most escapees were captured and hanged. Others got lost and died in the desert. But the Ra’uf still tried at every chance.
An opportunity for escape came on the final night of the spring festival, during the eighth year of the reign of Raeem. While the soldiers enjoyed the festivities more than they should have, a party of twenty-three Ra’uf men, women, and children crept over the walls into the Gabir desert. Although they never reached their destination, more is known of their escape because of how they survived their failure where so few had before.
Several days into their journey, they were overwhelmed by a fierce sandstorm and forced off their path. When they could safely move on, they found the storm had removed all traces of the path they were trying to follow through the maze of canyons and crevices that was the Gabir.
With no choice but to press on, they made their way north. They rationed their water as carefully as they could, but it was not enough. At the base of a high cliff, they drank their last drops of water and waited to die. Following their death rituals the eldest of their company began to speak, reciting from The Ways of Magic passages that would bring comfort to the dying. As his voice failed, another picked up where he had left off. Soon, they were all by turns speaking the sacred words to one another.
But then, an extraordinary thing happened. A child was the first to see it. A creature approached from the distance, perhaps a sand ray at first, then shifting, and lifting itself up off the ground in the shape of a man, or a woman, no one could tell, for it was still seemingly made of sand and moving with the graceful flow of a ray. It spoke just one passage from the Ways of Magic, “They who sell what they’re freely given walk not in the Ways of Magic.” Then it began to hum a simple tune. The song grew in intensity until suddenly, an enormous spring of cool water gushed up from the rocks a few feet away.
Stunned and speechless, no one moved, until the child reached out a tentative hand to touch the water that was by now spilling out all over the ground. Finding the water real, and not a mass hallucination, they gulped the life-giving stuff, splashing, laughing with the kind of hysterical relief that comes from being saved from so close to death.
Not until they began filling their containers, lest the flow of water stop as suddenly as it had started, did they notice that the FirElf had slipped away un-noticed and un-thanked. No one knew how long the water would last, but faced with the prospect getting lost in the desert, they stayed by the spring. As a precaution, in case the water should soon fail, they sent out small teams in search of other settlements.
The spring never failed. The refugees carved shelters in the cliff, dug canals to irrigate crops and orchards, and lived simply and freely for several generations. Gradually, as the population increased, the descendants of the twenty-three began to look to the world outside their oasis. Scouting parties eventually found the way to Awan and soon a trade route was established. In time, the oasis of Dashkir became known throughout the land as a city that welcomed travelers. There were no walls, no gates. Every comfort was lavished freely on weary travelers. Every home had an extra room, every table an extra place set for the unexpected guest. The people lived to hear stories of far off lands and adventures.
After many generations, the water wasn’t given so freely. It was first suggested, then expected, then demanded that travelers should give something of value in exchange. The people of Dashkir became rich and proud. But they were a people who had lost their way.
One day, late in the evening, a lone traveler came to Dashkir. He left at dawn the next day without speaking to anyone. In exchange for water and lodging, the only “gift” he left behind was a collection of scrolls. It was a letter-perfect copy of The Ways of Magic with an addition that came to be called, “The Stranger Prophecies.” There was no mention of Dashkir by name and no one thought much about them until they began to come true.
The Stranger Prophecies
Rumblings from below.
Quaking, breaking, shaking,
Out of rubble, you will rebuild.
Fire from above;
Smoking, scorching, burning,
Out of ashes, you will rebuild.
Water from all sides.
Gasping, sinking, drowning,
Out of mud, you will rebuild.
Unseen death from the ground.
Coughing, stinking, dying,
Out of the graves, you will rebuild.
Shaking, burning, drowning, dying.
A shadow of what’s to come.
Out of this, you will never rebuild.
A stranger will come hearing Magic.
A stranger will come hearing none.
One will be the unmaking
Of all the FirElf has done.
A stranger will be called a brother.
A stranger will be called a thief.
Too few will follow the one.
Many will perish in grief.
She will know one from the other.
She will know which one to choose.
Follow the wise man’s daughter.
You’ve everything to lose.
The one in the Ways of Magic.
The other gone astray.
Face to face again,
The end will come that day.