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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Last Day!

This is it! Final day, end of sale. You snooze, you lose. Two books featuring the master storyteller, Abu Nuwas. Only 99 cents each either on Amazon in Kindle format or at Smashwords in all ebook formats.

FAIZAH'S DESTINY Kindle Ebook ~ Smashwords All Ebook Formats


TALES OF ABU NUWAS 1: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 2: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His students search for him, but are caught up in a war between the forces of light and dark. The magician's best student, Faizah, is chosen by Anahita, the goddess of light, to lead the humans into battle on the side of good. Can a simple farm girl stave off Armageddon?

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.

Okay, I'm an idiot. Nobody wants these books for 99 cents each. However, I've promised they'll be at that low price for the rest of this month. I'm not one to break promises. So, get 'em if you haven't read them before. They're both very entertaining.

The Gods (and I) Must be Crazy

FAIZAH'S DESTINY borrows heavily from Persian mythology, but the gods pretty much match up to the Roman and Greek gods. Essentially, every civilization re-uses the same gods, but give them different names and their own special flavor.

The heroes are often the mighty warrior types: Hercules, Gilgamesh, Samson. Since I’ve written this book for kids, my heroes are teenagers, not at all like the legends (might become legendary themselves). But they’re not in mythology, so you’ll just have to read "Faizah's Destiny" to find out about them.

As usual, the “real” info is from the Encyclopedia Mythica (http://www.pantheon.org).

Ahura Mazdah

In Persian belief, Ahura Mazdah (“Lord Wisdom”) was the supreme god, he who created the heavens and the Earth, and another son of Zurvan. Atar, his son, battled Azhi Dahaka, the great dragon of the sky (note that Azhi shows up in “Setara's Genie”), and bound it in chains on a high mountain. The dragon was, however, destined to escape and destroy a third of mankind at the final reckoning, before it was slain. Ahura Mazdah was the god of prophetic revelation, and bore both Ahriman and Ormazd.

As leader of the Heavenly Host, the Amesha Spentas, he battles Ahriman and his followers to rid the world of evil, darkness and deceit. His symbol is the winged disc.

Anahita

The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means “the immaculate one”. She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher). The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals.

Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the ?Great Goddess’ which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath). She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra.

Ahurani

Ahurani is a water goddess from ancient Persian mythology. She watches over rainfall as well as standing water. She was invoked for health, healing, prosperity, and growth. She is the daughter of the great god of creation and goodness, Ahura Mazda. Her name means “She who belongs to Ahura.”

Dev

In Persian mythology, Dev is a demon of enormous power, a ruthless and immoral god of war.

The Gods’ Roles in Faizah’s Destiny

I use Ahura more or less as described in the mythology site. Because he was the leader of the Amesha Spentas (the good guys), I decided to portray him like Zeus or Thor, just another god amused at the foibles of humankind, but rarely steps into the action. He is also equated with Mithra, so I have him married to Anahita. Ahura shows up in only one chapter (“Demons and Deities”) and he chats with Anahita about the progress of the heroes. He claims to have set up the whole situation (just like a man).

I made Anahita my main character’s supporter. She appears to Faizah hovering over a lake. She tells the girl that one or more of her companions (three boys, wouldn’t you know) will be seduced to the dark side by demons. In typical godly fashion, she can’t give Faizah a straight story; she only hints at what might happen.

I also include a guest appearance by Ahurani, another goddess associated with water. One of the boys is in need of motherly advice, and Ahurani provides it for him. To say anything else would be a spoiler.

Finally, Dev is the villain of this book. As a god of war, his purpose is to create chaos and disruption. He feeds off anger and strife. He’s just downright mean and Evil is his middle name (if he had one). He’s the god who sends the lesser demons to tempt the boys to his side in the first skirmish of the upcoming battle between good and evil, Armageddon.

Excerpt:

Each time the light dimmed, it returned brighter than before, pulsing in time to the beat of her heart. As the shape within the light grew more and more distinct, a part of Faizah’s mind wondered if she should be afraid. Somehow she wasn’t. Instead, she felt a strong attraction to that glowing figure and walked to the lake’s edge to get a better look.

The apparition hovered a few inches above the surface of the lake. Faizah could now see, through the shimmering aura surrounding her, the figure was that of a woman. She was looking out over the lake to the point where the shooting star had disappeared over the caldera rim. Clad in a golden cloak, a diamond tiara adorned her brow, and two small lions lay at her feet. The figure turned slowly to look directly at Faizah, and a gentle smile curved her lips.

Faizah gasped in sudden recognition. This was the goddess Anahita! She did exist! Faizah stood entranced as the patroness of all women, the goddess of water and fertility, and of war, came gliding smoothly over the surface of the lake toward her.

As the figure halted before her, Faizah glanced quickly over her shoulder at their campsite. The boys hadn’t moved, and she could hear Menog’s rumbling snore. She turned back to face the goddess.

“They will not awaken, Faizah,” Anahita’s lilting voice sounded in her ear. “I would speak to you alone.”

“Why...what...why have you appeared to me, Goddess?” Faizah stammered, her voice trembling.

“My husband has listened to your thoughts, Faizah. Ahura favors your purpose. He sent Menog to guide you through the cavern.”

Faizah’s eyes widened as she struggled to grasp what she was hearing. Ahura, too?

“Ah...we are grateful to Ahura for his favor. But...but, if he is protecting us, why did the boys become ill? Why didn’t I get sick, too?”

Anahita’s musical laugh was the tinkling of bells in a breeze. “Pazuzu of the southwest wind controls this valley. He guards it jealously and blows illness toward all who enter. This is why no one lives here.” Her smile widened. “And I might have had some small part in keeping you from getting sick.”

“I have read that Pazuzu can kill,” Faizah ventured, “yet the boys only have a cough. Did you do that, too?”

“No. That was your doing. Pazuzu can indeed kill. The medicine you made is what saved the boys. There is magic in you, Faizah, which is stronger than you know.” Anahita looked over Faizah’s shoulder at their little camp then back at Faizah. Her smile vanished, and her look became serious.

“I, too, favor your journey. But your friends,” she continued with a gesture toward the sleeping boys, “have lost their purpose. Be always on your guard, Faizah, for powerful forces oppose you.”

“If you favor our journey, Goddess, can you not tell me where to find Master Wafai?”

“A fair question, but the answer, I’m sorry to say, is no, I cannot.”

“But...but, you’re a goddess! Surely―”

“Master Wafai is safe; you needn’t worry about him. You are destined to follow a different path.”
Faizah’s brow wrinkled with concern. Why would she be selected by Anahita? She stammered, “What path?”

Anahita’s gaze lowered. “Many no longer believe in us, the gods and goddesses. As their belief wanes, so does our influence in the world. I, my husband, Ahura, my brother and sister goddesses, none of us are as strong as we once were. There are those, like your Master Wafai, who serve us still, and so we retain some of our strength. Even you doubted our existence, but your hope that we were real allows me to appear to you.”

“I’m sorry I ever doubted, Goddess,” Faizah whispered. “What must I do? Is it right that we go first to find the Simurgh, or should we be doing something else?”

“So many questions!” Anahita’s musical laugh drifted across the water. In the distance, a peacock’s raucous shriek seemed to answer her. “Listen, my pet calls to me,” she said. Then her smile faded, and her eyes mirrored the seriousness in her voice.

“Know this, Faizah. I will protect you as much as I can and lend you what assistance I am able. Even so, your success or failure depends on you. Your own wits and your own strength are far more important than any aid I may give you.”

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 1: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

TALES OF ABU NUWAS 2: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
The gods are at war and only a farmer’s daughter can save the world from Armageddon.

The village magician has gone missing. His students search for him, but are caught up in a war between the forces of light and dark. The magician's best student, Faizah, is chosen by Anahita, the goddess of light, to lead the humans into battle on the side of good. Can a simple farm girl stave off Armageddon?




Saturday, July 21, 2018

What is a Simurgh?

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.


Okay, I'm an idiot. Nobody wants these books for 99 cents each. However, I've promised they'll be at that low price for the rest of this month. I'm not one to break promises. So, get 'em if you haven't read them before. They're both very entertaining.

On to other business. So, what is a Simurgh? If you don't know, then here's a bit of info on the mysterious bird of legend.

What the Heck is a Simurgh?

An early reader of “Faizah’s Destiny” asked the question. When I wrote the book, I was definitely under the impression that everybody in the world knows what a simurgh is, but I guess I was wrong.

If you’ve read the 1001 Arabian Nights or even saw the movie with John Leguizamo as the genie (brilliant!), you’ll be familiar with the intelligent Big Bird. From the Encyclopedia Mythica, http://pantheon.org), my favorite source for all things mythic:

In Persian legend Simurgh is a gigantic, winged monster in the shape of a bird; a kind of peacock with the head of a dog and the claws of a lion. Its natural habitat is a place with plenty of water. According to legend, the creature is so old that it has seen the world destroyed three times over. In all that time, Simurgh has learned so much that it is thought to possess the knowledge of all ages.

I pretty much stick to the traditional description here except for that dog head and lion claws thing. Considering that the Simurgh know everything (really, not like that annoying guy at work who just thinks he knows everything), then it seemed logical to me and my heroine Faizah to ask them where to find Wafai the missing magician.

The boys in the little band of rescuers scoff at her, but it all works out anyway. The search for the bird does get them into the mountains where they need to be to save the world from Armageddon. You’ll have to admit that is just a teensy bit more important then finding an old magician. It’s all good, though. The magician finds the kids and the birds.

Illustration: This is a real page on the Simurgh from a real Arabic text dating back to circa 900 AD. I don’t see any dog’s head or lion claws. Do you?

Excerpt:

Faizah felt the sunlight on her cheek. Morning. She kept her eyes closed, savoring the warmth until something blocked out the sun. At first she thought it a cloud, and she opened her eyes a slit to check for rain.

A huge bird stood motionless over her, regarding her with a steady, unblinking gaze.

Her eyes flew all the way open. The Simurgh was as tall as Master Wafai, the biggest bird by far that she had ever seen. It looked like a giant peacock, save that its beak did not come to a point. The eyes were different, too. Instead of beady black eyes like a peacock, the Simurgh’s matched the iridescent spots on its tail. It also sported a spray of upright feathers on its head, giving it a jaunty appearance.

Was this the only one, she wondered, or were there more? Turning her head slightly, she saw out of the corner of her eye there were, indeed, more. Four more, in fact. One stood by each sleeping form.

“Hello,” she managed to say and wondered what to do next. Sit up, or remain as she was? Would movement frighten them? This last question was quickly answered by Harib leaping out of his blankets with a startled yelp. Faizah laughed as she sat up―the Simurgh standing over Harib hadn’t even flinched.

The Simurgh beside her spoke. “Good morning, Faizah. Welcome to our home.”

“Thank you,” she responded then struggled to her feet and bowed to the bird. Curtseying wasn’t something she did very often, and she thought it a poor time to start now. “We’ve come a long way to find you. It turns out we didn’t need to after all, but here we are.”

“Yes.” There was humor in the bird’s voice. “You sought our counsel on the whereabouts of Master Wafai.” The bird revealed it had both arms and wings as it gestured with one feathery limb toward the magician.

As well as possessing both arms and wings, Faizah noted the bird’s beak did not prevent it from speaking clearly. Looking closely, she saw the Simurgh’s beak was quite flexible, more like pointed lips than the beak of the birds she was familiar with. This accounted for the bird’s precise speech.

By this time, all of the travelers were up and variously gawking or grinning at the birds that stood before them. Master Wafai drew himself to his full, magisterial height and settled his robes about him before addressing the Simurgh in his most formal tones. Faizah couldn’t help but smile. The fact he was practically vibrating with excitement spoiled the effect a little.

“I have spent my entire life waiting to meet a magical creature such as yourselves.” He waved his arms in circles. “This is most exciting! Most exciting indeed!”

“Had you stopped waiting, Magician,” the Simurgh facing him replied, “and started searching instead, you might have met us sooner. Creatures of magic do not often seek out mortals, but they can be found if you seek them. As close to you as the valley on the other side of these mountains lives a young woman who keeps company with a djinn and a flying horse. You could have met her after only a short journey, had you cared to make it.”

“Setara! Yes, I’ve heard of her.” Wafai’s shoulders slumped. He nodded eyes downcast. “You are right. I sat and waited for the magic to come to me. I should have gone to it.”

The giant bird nodded. “Oh, one other thing. The plural is Simurghs, Master Wafai.”
Wafai’s cheeks reddened above his white beard, and he bowed his head. “I’ll correct that error in my texts.”

“Never mind,” the Simurgh replied, “that doesn’t matter anymore. You are here now, and we will tell you your fate if you wish it.”

“How does this work? Do you see the future?”

“We see all the possible futures. You move from one future to another, depending on what you do in the now.”

“Do you mean that what you tell us may not happen?”

We will tell you the future that lies ahead of you on the path you now travel. If you choose a different path, you will have a different future.” The Simurgh standing before Wafai nodded, indicating the other birds. “We will also tell you of a few things to avoid.”

* * *

FAIZAH'S DESTINY
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.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Coupons for #Free Audio Books

So, when an audio book is released, Audible.com gives the author a bunch of coupons which they can give to whoever they decide.

Sometimes, it by a contest or just a "please, may I have one" or holding one or more of my kids hostage. The last would be a little difficult since they're both grown men. Their respective wives may also object. I can guarantee your that the two Mrs. Dasefs married to my sons will kick your ass from here to next Sunday. Also, the two Ms. Dasefs (my granddaughters) could also kick your ass and enjoy doing it.

So, let's make it the easiest way. Just write a comment or reply on this blog or where it is referenced (Facebook, G+, and Twitter) which says, "Please, may I have one." Easy, right?

So, get to commenting, replying, or even emailing me. I've got seven audio books from which to choose and a big bunch of coupons waiting to be claimed.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet Master Wafai

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.

The Village Magician
The four teen adventurers in “Faizah’s Destiny” are all students of the village magician, who also serves as teacher for the children who have some time to expend on schooling. Master Wafai is an all-round teacher, covering the academic topics such as mathematics and writing. As a magician with minor skills, he also loves to impart his knowledge of magical beasts that roam the earth.

Master Wafai wants more than anything to meet the elusive, all-knowing Simurgh. He feels it’s very important for his students to learn about magic, even though there is very little to be found around their tiny village. Of the Simurgh, he says:

“The Simurgh is a tutelary creature.” Wafai looked meaningfully at Bahaar’s tablet. The boy quickly applied chalk to good use. Wafai continued. “It is so old, according to legend, it has seen the world destroyed three times over.” Wafai folded his long fingers around the chalk, holding his hands against his chest. “Many believe it has learned so much that it possesses the knowledge of all the ages―a great teacher and a guardian. The Simurgh simply are. In the past for all of eternity and in the future for all of eternity.”

One day, Master Wafai isn’t at his little school. His four pupils are puzzled and concerned. Why is their teacher gone without leaving word? A possible answer is found on a page of the Magicalis Bestialis. The book was left open to the text describing the Simurgh.

Faizah, a farmer’s daughter and Wafai’s favorite pupil, knows how much the Master loves the Simurgh, she immediately believes the open page is a sign that she and the boys who are also students must seach for the home of the Simurgh.

The boys scoff at the silly idea, but agree to searching the nearby mountains for signs of Wafai’s whereabouts. They only decide to go on the search when they find the adults in the village are content to send word to the Sultan and have troops sent to search for the missing teacher.

Excerpt:

Master Wafai sat at the small table that served him for both dining and desk. One of his prized books, the Magicalis Bestialis lay on the table before him, open to the section on the Simurgh. If only they were real. Wafai sighed. His advancing years never dimmed the hope that someday he would know for certain such magical beasts truly existed.

The stories he had heard of the flying, fire-breathing horse stabled in the Sultan’s palace, helped to keep that hope alive. Still, he longed to meet such a creature, to see it with his own eyes.

He sighed again and stood. He moved into the bare kitchen and carried a bowl of fruit back to the table. In this tiny village, there was not much chance of seeing anything magical. Wafai had long ago accepted the fact he would never be a great or powerful mage. A competent magician in an average sort of way, he could cure most common ailments, cast a spell to clear the air after a sandstorm, find lost livestock, and sometimes water. He could even generate a few small curses, though he seldom chose to do so.

Peeling an orange, he stared, unseeing, at his whitewashed walls, smudged with ochre chalk. His students provided the greatest joy in his life. A mediocre magician though he might be, Wafai was a born teacher. His pupils made jokes about him ‘putting on his teaching voice,’ but when he did, they listened. Although Wafai had always longed to meet a magical creature or two, what he really wanted was for one or more of his students to have the opportunities he had missed.

He thought about his three students and wondered about the new boy. Would any of them become adept? Would any of them ever meet a flying horse, a demon, or a Djinn? Most of the village children came to his school only until they were eight or nine, and then family duties called them away.

Harib, the son of a rich merchant, was the only one free to do as he pleased. He attended school to be with his friends. Left mostly to his own devices when his mother died, Harib had come to the school out of curiosity and boredom. He met Faizah and Bahaar there, and the three of them soon formed a close friendship. School was easy for Faizah and Harib, however Bahaar struggled a bit. They had all mastered the basics of reading and arithmetic and were now engrossed in learning what they could of the magical arts.

Wafai looked down at the Magicalis Bestialis and picked up an orange pip he had dropped. He closed the book and put it aside.

* * *
THE TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

THE TALES OF ABU NUWAS: FAIZAH'S DESTINY
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.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What's a Story Without a Camel?

Get both Tales of Abu Nuwas ebooks for only 99 cents each. 
Sale lasts through the end of July. The books are on Amazon and Smashwords.
THE CAMEL is an extremely minor character in the book, "Setara's Genie." It's just a bit part, so the poor guy doesn't even have a name.

The camel is known as the ship of the desert and is one of the most common draft animals in the middle east. A 1001 Arabian Nights style story like Setara's Genie must have a camel somewhere in the mix.

In one chapter, Setara is attempting to learn to ride a camel. She doesn't see the purpose since she had a perfectly wonderful horse, Nasreen.

We looking in from the outside know something Setara doesn't. A tradition of the Sultan of Semidor (the area in which Setara lives) says young girls coming to a marriageable age (sixteen) ride into the city on the back of a pure white camel. Sort of a Debutante Coming Out Party.

Setara doesn't add two plus two and realize that the ceremonial arrival marks her as a woman ready to be wed to some merchant or even the Sultan's son (who's in the market for a bride).

The spice girl, Najda, who is the listener to Abu Nuwas's tales about Setara, is in the same predicament. She's on the verge of a forced marriage to an old man. As a fourth wife, she knows she will not be treated very well by wives 1, 2, and 3. But she's stuck in a society which gives her no choice on her potential bridegroom.

This all comes back to the camel Setara must ride the camel to display herself as a possible member of some man's harem.

Excerpt

Setara screamed and flung herself from the saddle. “Ow! Ow! Stop! Whoa! Stop!” She dropped six feet, right on her tailbone, screamed again, and burst into tears. Setara’s faithful companion, Sheik, ran circles around her, alternately barking at the camel and whining at his mistress.

Dukak, the camel driver, rushed over and grabbed the dromedary’s reins. He tapped the big camel’s knee, and the beast obligingly folded its long legs. On his knees, the camel turned his head to face the crying girl. He drew his head back then snaked it forward, spitting a huge wad of cud between Setara’s shoulder blades.

Mistress, you should wait for the camel to kneel. You fell from so high, no wonder you are hurt.” The camel driver pulled out a handkerchief and plucked the wad from her back.

Setara stopped crying and struggled to her feet. Dukak offered his hand, but she ignored him. She glared at the camel, which continued chewing his cud. “He stinks, too!”

Are you injured?” Dukak’s brow furrowed with concern.

Not much,” Setara said, rubbing her abused backside. “A horse is a much finer means of transportation, Dukak. I fail to see why I need to learn to ride a camel. They sway and bounce around too much and that saddle! Why is it made of wood, not padded leather?"

Dukak ignored her question and waved his hands as if fending her off. “It’s expected, Mistress Setara. Women must enter the sultan’s palace grounds on the back of a pure white camel. So it is written, and so it shall be.” Dukak spoke as if this explained it all.

* * *
TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.

As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Twisted History

SETARA'S GENIE ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF JULY 
Amazon Kindle or Smashwords (EPUB, PDF, MOBI)

The Kazikli Bey

Most of you have heard of Vlad the Impaler, right? Count Dracul, the model for Dracula? Well, Kazikli Bey is the middle-eastern translation for something like “The Impaler Prince.” His popular last name, Dracul (there are many spellings) came from him signing up to a Hungarian chivalric group, the Order of the Dragon. Vlad’s father was also a Dragon member and the Dracula name is a title.  Vlad’s family name was Basarab. I’ve seen a couple of horror works where the authors did enough research to hone in on the family name, revealing only later that the evil monster is none other than Dracula.

The real Vlad was a nasty character. He directed his wrath against the Ottoman Empire for the most part. His habit of impaling his enemies on stakes (not only heads, but sometimes entire bodies) earned him the title of The Impaler Prince. When Vlad was still a child, his father was ousted from his own throne of Wallachia. Vlad the elder made a deal with the Ottomans to get back at his fellow countrymen. To secure ties to the Ottomans, he sent his two sons as hostages. The elder son, Vlad Junior (Mr. Impaler), was defiant toward the Sultan and was beaten quite often. On the other hand, the younger son, Radu, ingratiated himself to Sultan Mehmed II and even converted to Islam. He was given the title Bey and served Mehmed II leading the Janissaries (think Special Forces). Vlad Jr. came to hate the Ottomans for his treatment and waged a long and bloody battle with them. His nasty habit of impaling enemies earned him the title, Impaler Prince.

In “Setara’s Genie,” I thought that giving ol’ Vlad a different face would be a nice twist. What if Vlad didn’t really impale anybody? What if he was trying to gain peace between the rampaging warlords that messed up Romania? It’s all in the PR. If he puts himself out as the baddest mother in the valley, wouldn’t you think it a bad idea to cross him? Considering that the real life Vlad spent his youth with the Ottomans, learned Turkish, and studied the Quran, he might have actually had some respect for his former captors. What if he did perpetuate a reputation of badassery just to keep the peace?

In my book, Setara tries to go off on a cruise ship and ends up in a slave market. Lucky for her, an ancient crone pretty much forces her to buy a pendant. It’s Kismet (another middle-eastern concept)!   Basit is captured in a bottle of wine, and Setara can’t get him out of the bottle of djinn. She’s hauled off to the slave market, while her genie gets pickled.

The Kazikli Bey happens to be in the market for slaves and, noticing that Setara is wearing the locket stolen from his mother, he purchases her. He turns out to be a really nice guy, releasing Setara from bondage and ensuring her safe journey homeward with Basit, who is out of the bottle, but afflicted with one monster of a hangover.

Excerpt

“I have this girl up for sale. If she catches the eye of the Kazikli Bey, then she should fetch a good price. Keep her well-shackled. She tried to run away.”

The captain grabbed the front of Setara’s tunic and yanked the top lacings loose. She twisted away. “Stop it!” Her face reddened when the pirate exposed more of her chest than was proper for an unmarried girl her age.

The trader took the chain on her shackles and pulled her behind the platform. Many men, women, and children sat or stood with chains attached to wooden columns by iron rings. A boy of only six or seven hugged a woman’s side, crying loudly. She soothed him, but it didn’t help. One of the trader’s helpers jerked the boy away from the woman. She tried to hold him, but the man dragged the child away from her.

Setara looked around, trying to think of something she could do, but calling out for help was useless. Soon, they led her up to the stage. The auctioneer looked her over and grabbed her jaw to pull her mouth open. She struggled to turn away.

“Good teeth. Not a bad body. How old are you, girl? Fifteen, sixteen?”

Setara jerked her head away from his filthy hands. “None of your business, you piece of camel dung.”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” He shoved her to the center of the stage and began the auction.

“Who will give me one hundred shekels? She’s a strong, healthy girl. Good for household or fields.” He winked at the crowd and added, “Maybe your harem is in need of some fresh blood.”

Setara’s face burned with humiliation. She looked out at the crowd of men, for the crowd was entirely male. No self-respecting woman would come to a slave auction. The audience laughed and nudged each other’s ribs. Setara felt sick. She wondered if it would put them off if she threw up on the auctioneer’s sandals.

The Kazikli Bey looked at her intently. He rose from his throne and walked up to the stage. “Bend down, girl.”

“I will not. Keep your slimy hands away from me!”

The auctioneer pushed her roughly to the front of the stage and forced her to lean over toward the man. He reached up, and Setara closed her eyes, afraid of what would happen next. She felt a slight tug on the thong that held the amulet.

“Where did you get this?”

Setara opened her eyes and looked into the soft brown eyes of the Bey. She saw no menace there. Instead, she felt a strange attraction to him. In a flash, she realized this was the face she had seen in her vision.

“In Gamaal. I bought it from an old woman, a witch.”

“Ah, of course. Her name was Seralgo?”

“That was the name on the shop.”

The Kazikli Bey turned to the auctioneer. “She’s mine. Take her off the block.”

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Tradition of Story Telling

SETARA'S GENIE ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS UNTIL THE END OF JULY 

Storytellers: Scheherazade and Abu Nuwas

 © Mandana2000
at Deviant Art
Everyone knows about Scheherazade’s 1001 Arabian Nights. What you might not know is that the stories said to be originated by the King’s wife to keep her murderous husband from killing her are almost all derived from existing folklore and fairy tales.

The main folklore derivation is Scheherazade herself. The frame story of 1001 Arabian Nights is in itself a folk tale. Various stories were added or changed throughout the years. Modern western society likes the cleaned up Disney-style telling. Sir Richard Burton translated from the Persian in the 19th Century to produce a somewhat bawdier version of many stories. Sir Richard was a remarkable character himself, but I just couldn’t work him into the book. I recommend reading about him and also perusing his translations of various works (including the Kama Sutra). Wiki can provide additional details. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Francis_Burton

Was Scheherazade a real person? Yes and no. Like Robin Hood, this storytelling queen is a legend herself and may be based on a real person. However, it’s not known for sure. Wiki has a pretty good write up on her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheherazade

Abu Nuwas, who I have used as my story teller, was a real writer/poet in the 8th Century. While my kindly story teller is a poor man who earns a meager living with his tales, the real Abu Nuwas was quite well off and considered to be Persia’s (Iran’s) most famous poet. His reputation wasn’t sterling, and he often found himself in legal trouble. Essentially, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut sometimes. The Encyclopedia Britannica is a good source of information on the real, and much wilder, Abu Nuwas. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/2288/Abu-Nuwas

A more detailed report is in Wiki, but is flagged as potentially unreliable. It does, however, jibe with other information I’ve read about Abu Nuwas.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Nuwas

In researching Persian and Arabic lore, I was struck by the concept of the frame story. This is the style of 1001 Arabian Nights. The story of Scheherazade provides a framework for the folkloric tales. I had originally written Setara’s adventures as individual short stories. The first two were published as chapbooks by Sam’s Dot Publishing, then as I added another five tales, all the stories were included in a single collection titled “The Seven Adventures of Cadida.” Once the book’s contract expired, I decided to rewrite the stories and include the frame story to make the whole thing flow more as a novel than a series of short stories.

The book was published by MuseItUp Publishing and is now available under my own name as “The Tales of Abu Nuwas: Setara’s Genie.”

Excerpt

“Oh, goodness. Look at how low the sun sinks. I’m afraid we’ll have to continue tomorrow.”

Najda made a sad face. “I know how you are. You’re just like Scheherazade leaving the story hanging to keep the sultan from killing her.”

“I have met the lady. She was quite clever that way.”

Najda’s eyes grew wide. “You’ve met Scheherazade? That’s fantastic. Where is she? What is she doing now? Does the sultan still love her?”

Abu Nuwas patted the air with his hands. “Calmly, calmly. That was many years ago. She was old; I was young. But, yes, the sultan still loved her to the moment of her death. His heart broke, and he died within days himself.” He shook his head sadly. “A tragic tale in and of itself, yet the sultana left the world with so many delightful tales.”

“She certainly did. A thousand and one stories. Do you know that many, effendi?”

“Of course!” Abu Nuwas put his hand to his chest and bowed his head. “I know every story. Did you know that she did not make them all up?”

“No! Really! But—”

“It’s true.” He winked at Najda. “It was how she told them that made them so special. I still seek to be as good a teller of tales as she.”

“And in that tradition, you’ll tell me to go home now and come back tomorrow. Is that right?” Najda heaved a deep sigh. “I should have learned that by now.”

Abu Nuwas smiled. “You’re an adept learner, my child. Go home and take care of your mother. I’ll see you on the morrow.”

Najda stood. “Of course.” She walked away until she was hidden within the crowds bustling through the marketplace.

Abu Nuwas pushed his old bones to a stand. He had to bide his time with this tale and hope he would hear from his friend soon.

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA'S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?


Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar on his threadbare rug; a cup and sign proclaim him a teller of tales. For one small coin, he bids passers by to listen. A poor girl, Najda, sells spices from a tray. Would he, she asks, trade a tale for a packet of spice? Abu Nuwas agrees and begins the epic adventures of a girl and her genie.

As did Scheherazade before him, Abu leaves Najda hanging in the middle of each yarn to keep her coming back. Between stories, he questions the girl about her life. He discovers that she’s been promised in marriage to an old man whom she hates, but she must wed him to save her sick mother’s life. The rich bridegroom will pay for the doctors the mother needs. Meanwhile, Najda sells spices in the market to earn enough money to keep her mother alive.

He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who put him in a lamp; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Setara Breaks Her Silence


FOR THE MONTH OF JULY SETARA'S GENIE IS ON SALE FOR ONLY 99 CENTS AT



I didn’t set out to be a hero. All I wanted was a little romance in my life, just the slightest bit of adventure. Was I seeking danger? Did I wish to consort with demons? Heavens, no! I will have to admit, though, the idea of being the future wife of a rich merchant was highly unappealing.

When the mountain raiders kidnapped me, I thought that I’d have neither adventure nor much future at all. Especially when the raiders threw me into the cave as a sacrifice to the demon who supposedly ruled within the mountain.

I’m happy to say that Basit wasn’t a demon at all, but a genie in search of a new master. I wondered what happened to his old master, and he assured me the man died of natural causes. I also wondered why Basit wasn’t in a bottle or lamp as the legends say. Again, he assured me that only the stupidest of djinns would get themselves caught in that manner. Genies choose their masters, and Basit thought that having a female master—a mistress, so to speak—would be a nice change of pace.

Once he forced me to figure out how to get out of the cave, he continued to be of little help. Well, that’s not entirely true. He did change a camp dog into a sheik (a handsome one, of course) when I asked him to, but that didn’t work out entirely. It seems that Basit prefers to have his charge (that’s me) figure out how to rescue herself. Sheik, when returned to his dog self, became my close companion from then on. So, something good did come from my wish for a rescuer. It just turned out not to be as romantic as I first believed.

Once I had tasted freedom and a touch of adventure, I hungered for more. It occurred to me that some other poor soul might be thrown into the cave for the demon to eat (even though there never was a demon), and it was up to me to rescue them.

I wasn’t sure how to get Basit’s attention, since he simply disappeared once I was safely home. It turned out that calling him worked eventually. I’ll have to say he sometimes takes his own sweet time to answer my summons. Not a very obedient djinn. I got used to him, though, and we enjoyed many adventures together. But our first adventure (after my initial rescue) turned out far different than I imagined. There was, indeed, a lost soul within the cave, but not exactly what I expected.

Throughout our adventures, I gained the dearest of friends. Who would believe I could love demons, fire-breathing horses, sentient eagles, or even a genie? There are many more brave and true companions I met. They taught me the meaning of love, loyalty, and bravery. Yes, they made me a hero. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Excerpt:

Note: Several of Setara’s unusual friends take part in the following scene. Briefly, pirates had stolen a mare, the beloved of Hasib (a talking, fire-breathing horse). The friends, determined to rescue the horse confront a nasty array of pirates. All of them show great bravery, but Setara leads them, willing to risk her own life to aid her friend, Hasib.

In just the time that Sulawesi guessed it would take them, the little troop arrived at a dune overlooking the cove where the thieves’ galleon lay in the water. The thieves were already at the beach, preparing a pair of small skiffs to row out to the galleon. The thieves tied the stolen horses together, one horse to the next; nose to tail. A sailor on the ship was rigging a sling to the yardarm. Clearly, they were planning to make the horses swim out to the galleon.

“We need to hurry before they leave the beach, or we’ll not catch them,” Setara said.

“I’m sure I can find something to delay their departure,” Basit replied.

“Allow me,” Sulawesi said, spreading his wings. He soared down toward the beached skiffs. The rest of the troop went over the top of the dune and hurried toward the thieves as fast as they could through the shifting sand.

Setara gasped as she struggled to run but made little progress. “Basit, can you make this a bit easier? Make the ground hard.”

Basit waved his hand, and the sand became firm beneath their feet, allowing the motley crew of adventurers to run toward the captured horses.

The thieves looked up, pulling out knives and swords. Setara thought maybe she hadn’t planned this out well enough but drew her own small knife and hoped for the best. A scimitar appeared in Basit’s hand. The two demons bared their claws and fangs. Hasib puffed real flames with every leap. Sheik barked furiously as he ran. Setara hoped they looked fearsome as they dashed toward the thieves.

The thieves also had a formidable array of sharp weaponry and did not appear afraid of the strange group attacking them. The two groups met in a clash of swords, knives, howling demons, a diving eagle, a leaping dog, and a flame-throwing horse.

“Let go of those horses!” Setara screamed and leaped at a thief. She slashed her knife downward, cutting a long rent in the thief’s sleeve. He rounded on her with a sword, and she held her knife up to block. The sword slid off her knife blade, but the man immediately drew back his arm again. She was not ready with her knife, so she ducked her head, hoping to evade the sword slash. She heard a scream and looked up to see the thief flying away from her. “What the...”

A snort that sounded much like a laugh came from her left. She turned to see Hasib with a horsy grin on his long face and his powerful hind legs hitting the ground where the thief had been a mere second before.

All around, her friends were struggling with the thieves. Those confronted by Azizah and Kairav lost their will to fight and went running down the beach as fast as their legs could carry them in the loose sand. Setara thought it was a wonderful thing to have demon friends.

Sheik had bitten down on the arm of one of the thieves and was shaking the man back and forth. Basit laid about with swift strokes of his scimitar, forcing the men back toward the ocean. Unfortunately, another skiff had just come ashore with several more pirates. The thieves now outnumbered them nearly three to one.

“Basit! You must do something,” Setara shouted. Basit didn’t seem to hear her as he beat off the attack of one of the thieves. She wondered why he didn’t use magic but had no time to think about it. She saw a thief slash down on Kairav, sending the pool demon staggering back with a deep cut, blue blood pouring down his brawny arm. Another smacked Azizah on the side of the head, sending her reeling. Sheik yelped in pain, but Setara could not spare a moment to look while she fended off a muscular thief wielding a heavy club.

Things weren’t going very well at all.

* * *

TALES OF ABU NUWAS: SETARA’S GENIE
A girl, a genie, a few demons. Would could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Bottle of Djinn


SUMMER SALE! SETARA'S GENIE ONLY 99 CENTS AT

AMAZON AND SMASHWORDS


Genies or djinns are great fun. Robin William’s genie in Aladdin was a hoot. But when was Robin Williams (R.I.P.) not a hoot? Okay, don’t tell me about One-Hour Photo, Insomnia, or Death to Smoochy. Nobody bats a thousand.

Ahem. That’s not the subject here. It’s genies.

Let’s not talk about I Dream of Jeannie. That is clearly a complete and utter corruption of the wonderful race of magical beings brought to us from Muslim tradition. So, here’s the skeenie on genies.

From Wikipedia:
In Arabic, a genie (also jinn, Djinn, jinni) is a supernatural creature which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of God (Allah). Possessing free will, a djinn can be either good or evil.

The Djinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an, and there is a Surah entitled Al-Jinn. While Christian tradition suggests that Lucifer was an angel that rebelled against God's orders, Islam maintains that Iblis was a Djinn who had been granted special privilege to live amongst angels prior to his rebellion. Although some scholars have ruled that it is apostasy to disbelieve in one of God's creations, the belief in Jinn has fallen comparably to the belief in angels in other Abrahamic traditions.
Golly, that’s not near as much fun as Robin Williams. Still, a supernatural being that can wreak havoc on humans is right up our alley, right?

Copyright 7ARS
In my book, “The Tales of Abu Nuwas - Setara's Genie,” Basit the genie serves Setara. Well, ‘serves’ is a bit of a stretch. He suggests, advises, and pretty much makes her figure out how to get things done. Every once in a great while, he will whomp up a little magic if Setara is about to fall off a cliff or something else dangerous.

Basit appears in all of Setara's adventures except one. In that story, an evil genie has tricked Basit into the bottle that Aladdin put him in years before. He introduces himself to Setara as Sharif, Apprentice Djinn Second Class, and claims to be taking over for Basit while he’s missing. Setara is naturally concerned for Basit. The evil genie (disguised as a boy djinn) wants to lure her into helping him kill the Great Vizier ---- screeeech! Calling a halt here. The plot is too complicated to explain in full.

The short of it is that Setara and her gang have to rescue Basit from the bottle. To do that, they have to put the bad genie into another bottle. Setara, Kairav the water demon, Azizah the cave demon, Sheik the dog, and Sulawesi the eagle are all needed to put that dang bad genie back in his bottle and get Basit out.

To learn what else happens to the gang, you’ll just have to buy a copy of the book. Lucky for you Setara's Genie is on sale for 99 cents for the rest of July.

* * *

The Tales of Abu Nuwas - Setara's Genie


A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Under the Deep Blue Sea

Get SETARA'S GENIE for only 99 cents all this month at both Amazon and Smashwords.

Amphitrite and Poseidon

I like to use any mythologies which might coincide within the same time frame. That is, Celtic myths probably shouldn’t be mixed up with Greek mythology. But the ancient middle-eastern myths that predominate Setara’s Genie easily coincide with Greek myth. That’s why I feel fine with having my middle-eastern heroine go to the bottom of the sea and meet up with Poseidon and his wife.

Poseidon
Poseidon is a god of many names. He is most famous as the god of the sea. The son of Cronus and Rhea, Poseidon is one of six siblings who eventually "divided the power of the world." His brothers and sisters include: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Zeus. The division of the universe involved him and his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Poseidon became ruler of the sea, Zeus ruled the sky, and Hades got the underworld. The other divinities attributed to Poseidon involve the god of earthquakes and the god of horses. The symbols associated with Poseidon include: dolphins, tridents, and three-pronged fish spears.

Amphitrite
The queen of the sea, variously given as the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys or of Nereus and Doris. When the sea god Poseidon wanted her as his bride, she declined the honor and hid from him in the Atlantic Ocean. A dolphin not only located her, but also brought her back to him, and he married her. The dolphin was awarded a place in heaven. Their son is the fish-man Triton. Amphitrite was portrayed on Greek amphoras together with her consort, riding in a chariot pulled by sea creatures (see above), or sitting on a sea creature, surrounded by Tritons. She is decorated with the attributes of a queen, her waving hair covered with a net, and sometimes with the pincers of a lobster attached to her temples. The Romans referred to her as Salacia.
The name means something like “The third one who encircles (the sea).”

This adventure has Setara helping the merboy, Dolph, find his true self. Nasty old uncle, Terrapin, paid a seawitch to toss Dolph out of the sea. With amnesia, he’s taken in my a rich man and made the stableboy. Considering that his father (Poseidon) is the god of horses, he fits in nicely. Setara first meets Dolph on an adventure in which she is made a slave by pirates. But that’s another story. The second time, she and Dolph meet, he has come to Setara’s home hoping that Basit (her genie) can help him discover who he is. With a good dunking in a demon pool, Dolph recalls some of his past life and they discover he is a merboy. He asks Setara and her friends to help him return to the sea.

Setara, Basit, and Kairev (the pool demon) help him to return to the sea where he regains his memory completely. The name Dolph is one given to Triton (Amphitrite’s only child) by his new friends. His real name in undersea language (think of the sound of dolphins) wasn’t pronounceable, so Setara continues to call him by the nickname Dolph.

Dolph must fight a duel with his uncle to regain his rightful title of Prince of the Sea. Of course, Amphitrite wants her son to win, but she's not aware of the the obvious fact that Dolph is falling for Setara, and vice versa. Amphitrite has a high-pitched voice (dolphin squeaks) and wears a crown of crab claws (sometimes depicted as lobster claws).

Excerpt

All the merfolk living within swimming distance of the palace gathered in the great hall to watch the duel. Mers sat on the wall seats, and others floated in the water above and around the dueling ring. Setara hadn’t noticed the ring before. The merfolk must have installed the inlaid mother-of-pearl circle overnight. She floated down to examine the ring, but it looked like it was part of the smooth, shell-covered floor. She wondered how they could have laid down the forty-foot circle in such a short time.

The murmur of the merfolk fell away when King Poseidon entered the hall from an archway behind the throne. He had changed to the normal size for a mer, about the height of a very tall human, or a medium-sized demon. His long fish tail made up most of his height, just like all the mers. He swam up to sit on his throne, which had shrunk to match his size. A lovely merlady wearing a crown resembling crab pincers joined him on a second, smaller throne. Dolph’s mother, Setara thought.

King Poseidon swept his eyes around the hall until they reached Setara. He beckoned to her. She poked an elbow into Basit’s ribs and tilted her head toward the king. Basit took her by the arm and swam to the throne.

Poseidon spoke, but his voice was no longer as loud as the booming of waves crashing on the shore. “Setara and Basit, may I present my queen, Amphitrite.” Setara bowed from the waist rather than attempting another underwater curtsey.

I am pleased to meet the girl who saved my son. You, as well, genie,” the queen said in a high-pitched voice, the tone wavering up and down. Setara thought she heard a few clicks and whistles, too. The queen continued, “We will reward you before you return to the lands above.”

Setara shook her head. “Your Majesty, we want no reward other than seeing Dolph safe at home again.” She turned toward the ring. “I wish Dolph didn’t have to fight this duel.”

Basit’s pointed ears perked up at the word ‘wish.’

* * *

The Tales of Abu Nuwas - SETARA'S GENIE 
A girl, a genie, a few demons. What could go wrong?

Abu Nuwas sits in the bazaar telling stories to the passersby he can tempt to pay. He relates the adventures of the bored daughter of a rich merchant, Setara, and her genie, Basit, as they encounter the creatures of legend and folklore: a lonely cave demon seeking a home; a flying, fire-breathing horse who has lost his mate; a dragon searching for his family; an evil genie hunting for the man who bottled him; and a merboy prince cast out of his undersea kingdom.