Sayeh and Zia: Chapter 5 Scene 1

In her private quarters, Sayeh sat at the edge of an exquisitely carved wooden table.  Sitting across from her was her prisoner.

“Well, Zia.  This is a surprising development to say the least.”

The Persian lady looked around the room in amazement.  An eight-armed candelabrum sat in its centre, casting light throughout the room and accentuating the rippling colours of the rock walls.  A four-post bed stood at the far edge of the room, guarded at each side by a Roman-style reclining chair.  So many expensive and elaborate items being found in the ancient ruins of a deserted city spoke loudly to the abilities of the Sand Pirates.

“You’ve changed your face before.  How do I know you are not doing it again?”

Sayeh smiled at the testy question.  “Because I would need your blood.”  She appraised her guest’s face, pursing her lips slightly at seeing the bruising on the left side of Zia’s face.  “I can swear on my father’s departed soul that I have never had possession of that.”

Where Zia’s hair ran to the middle of her back, Sayeh’s brushed the top of her shoulders.  The pair shared soul-searching dark brown eyes and full lips, while a close observer could see that the Sand Pirate’s skin was a slight shade darker.

“Then how it this possible? It is like looking in a mirror.”

Sayeh shrugged.  “A trick of the gods? There is a jester among every religion.”

Zia held her gaze.  “I am certain that they better things to do than play jokes with mankind, and that they would not be that malevolent.  Tell me of your parents.”

“There is little to tell.  They were part of a nomadic tribe, believed descendants of the Nabataeans who used to rule this desert and its merchant paths.  My father was the chieftain, and my mother his favourite mistress.”

“Mistress?  Not his wife?”

“No.  That fact dogged me for all of my early years.  I always felt the scorn of the other children for it.  My father’s wife’s children were always the ones who began the taunts and bullying, and there was little to be done for a time than accept it.”

“I am sorry.  Terrible childhoods can haunt people until their dying days.”

The pirate leader let out a laugh.  “Haunt me?  It made me what I am today.  It made me more resilient in the face of an adversary, and more cunning in order to outwit them.”  She swept an arm around the room.  “You think just anybody can steal such masterpieces and get away with it?”

Zia’s eyes narrowed as she thought.  “That is true.  I was told this city was abandoned, yet haunted by the ghosts of its past.”

A mischievous grin crossed Sayeh’s face.  “That is one of my greatest feats, and a credit to my tribe that they are so convincing.”

“It isn’t haunted?”

“Gods no.  One of the first things I stole were some of the authentic Nabataean garments from my father’s tribe.  After that, it was a matter of relieving passing caravans of what I required, and creating similar dress of a more tattered style.”

“And people were silly enough to fall for it?”

Sayeh gave Zia a piercing stare.  “Do not think to mock me.  You would be amazed what one can do with a bit of hearsay and a correctly staged event.  You saw all those buildings carved into the cliff faces of the city centre?”  The prisoner nodded.  “They were all tombs.  Lookouts keep everyone informed as to who wanders into the city, so we know to greet them with our otherworldly ghosts, who do so enjoy sharing death with them.”

Zia nodded as she considered the words of the Sand Pirate leader.  “I have… had such stories in my personal library.  Seafarers landing on abandoned islands, being pursued at night by the undead or spirits.  Unwary wanderers stumbling into ruins during their travels.”

“Yes, my mother loved telling me such stories.  They always scared the other children, but I took pride in the fact that they did not haunt my dreams.”  That mischievous smirk crossed Sayeh’s face again.  “And, the knowledge came in useful in my later endeavours.”

“Where is your mother?  You mentioned your father had died.  What of her?”

“She lives, though I could not convince her to give up the nomadic lifestyle once I set up my base here.  The allure of the wide open spaces, even in the desert, called to her soul in a way no safe place or expensive items could.”

“Do you know where she is now?”

“The tribe travels the lands between Sakakah to the north and Ha’il to the south, as it has done since time immemorial.”

“We must meet with her.  She would be able to tell us something of this situation.”

Sayeh gave a slight grimace.  “Well, it would be difficult to meet up with the tribe, as they could be anywhere between the two cities.  As well as that, I am not exactly welcome amongst them.”

“Were the garments you stole sacred items?”

“Well, they were prized possessions.  But I did not leave on the best of terms.”

“How so?”

“One does not simply leave the tribe.  To leave is to abandon your heritage, and you are never welcomed back, to be killed on sight.  I have seen Mother a handful of times since I left, but she is the exception to the rule.  Mothers always have a soft spot for their daughters.”

“So your leaving marks you for death?”

“Yes, that as well.”

“What else marks you?”

“That I killed my father.”

– ∏ –

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6 responses

  1. How very unexpected! I look forward to the rest of the story.

    1. Ah, good old Boromir. This likely has been bent to ‘Game of Thrones’ memes? =)

      1. “One does not simply…”

        Have you read the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series? Would not want to make it spoilerific for you. =S

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