The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.
The village magician has gone missing. His four pupils think he has left a clue to his whereabouts in the Magicalis Bestialis--the book of magical creatures. They must seek the help of the elusive Simurgh, the mythical birds who know all the secrets of the universe.
However, this is not an easy camping trip into the mountains. Spirits, gods, and demons confront the four friends, who are not aware they’re being set up by otherworldly forces for a much larger task.
A farmer’s daughter, Faizah is chosen to lead the humans in the battle. She must persuade a slave, an orphan, and a rich merchant’s son to join in the battle on the side of good. Although divided by Dev, the evil god of war, the teens must band together to find the Simurgh, rescue their teacher, and stave off Armageddon.
Bahaar grunted as Fat Raziq threw him to the ground. Raziq knelt on his chest and then slapped him—left—right—left. His face stinging, Bahaar struggled to throw off his tormentor. The bully’s gang circled, a murder of ragged crows, laughing and urging their leader on.
“Smack him again!”
“Use your fists!”
With Bahaar’s brother seldom in town, the gang often attacked the smaller boy. Still, Bahaar never backed down from a fight, even with the odds against him.
Raziq raised his hand to slap the boy again when two figures burst through the ring of jeering bullies and catapulted into him, shoving him into the dust. Bahaar struggled up immediately, fists clenched and ready to fight. The untucked end of his turban drooped over one eye. Although he reeled from the slaps, his ears ringing and vision obscured, Bahaar didn’t need to look to know his rescuers were Faizah and Harib.
They stood back-to-back, facing Raziq’s thugs. Bahaar pushed the end of the turban out of his face and whispered, “I’ll take Raziq and Ali if you two handle the other three.”
“Yeah, sure, Bahaar,” Faizah replied. “It’s not likely any of us can handle any of them.”
Raziq sneered. “Need a girl to save you, Bahaar?”
Faizah, a farmer’s daughter, shook back her long black hair and raised her fists. “Try me, fat head.”
Slapping the dust off his clothes, Raziq glowered at the three friends. “You’re really going to get it now,” he threatened, raising a fist. “I’m going to...”
“Ah, there you are, my students. You’re late for class,” intoned a deep voice halting Raziq in mid-threat. A tall, gray-bearded figure stepped into the ring of youths. His ragged, once-white robes swept the sandy path as he took Faizah and Harib by the shoulders and pushed them through the circle. “Come along, come along. You too, Bahaar. Mustn’t be late.”
The gang reluctantly parted to let Master Wafai pass through. The village’s resident magician ushered his students away. From a safe distance, Bahaar turned back and made a very insulting gesture at Raziq. Wafai’s wise old eyes twinkled as he pretended not to notice. “They say,” he stated to no one in particular, “that a brave man fights when he must, but a wise man waits to fight until the odds are favorable...or at least even.”
“I could have taken him,” Bahaar said, glancing over his shoulder.
“Oh, yes, I could see that,” Master Wafai replied solemnly. A slight smile belied the serious tone of his voice.
The three students followed their teacher and mentor north along the longer of the village’s two streets and then turned east at the town’s common well into the lane leading to the school. The village, Lulubi, little more than a handful of mud-daubed houses, surrounded a shallow well set in its central square. As a watering stop along the north-south caravan route, it supported a bakery, an inn of sorts, and a blacksmith shop.
* * *
Since an image always makes a post more interesting, here's a rendition of a Simurgh from an ancient Arabic text.