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When I Was Older

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Chapter I



Sinbad wasn’t a stranger to pleasure. Not pleasure of the flesh, or the pleasure of money. He was no stranger to the waves and threads of fate either. When he got word of an intruder in the palace, he was stunned. It wasn’t rage or fear that pushed him out of his seat surrounded by a dozen beautiful women that night, it was a wave of fate, pulling him forward. He knew better than disobey these threads.

 

He ran through the halls of the palace until he reached the Purple Leo tower. His own room, in fact. He knew the rich decadence, each artfully designed piece in the room. He knew the feather soft bed and velvet cushions. He knew the mahogany desk. He knew the weapons and armor and jewelry and clothing. He did not know the strange woman perched in the window.

 

She met his eyes just as he threw the door open. Eyes the green of the sea, freckled with gold. She pulled a deep cowled hood over head before he could get any real glimpse of her face, only a flash of golden hair. The Rukh surrounded this woman, brushed against her almost lovingly. The woman cut him a deep wicked smile. That he saw. Nothing above the tip of her nose though. He didn’t know the smile, the smile that yanked on him demandingly, was a ruse. A clever way to distract him from the scroll she slid into her sleeve.

 

Sinbad dove for her, but she simply fell out the window. Nothing could have prepared him for that. He ran to the window, looking down at her still free falling like something out of a dream. He didn’t hear a crash when she disappeared into the shrubbery. Ja’far burst into the room behind him, panting. Sinbad whirled around.

 

“It’s too late,” he said simply, “She’s gone. She jumped out the window.”

 

Ja’far looked surprised to say the least, his green eyes wide, “Nobody could have survived a fall from that height. Should I send someone to check for a body?”

 

So rare, it was so rare for somebody to best him. Sinbad nodded distantly, though he knew they wouldn’t find one. He could still feel it, that wave of destiny, pushing at him. Go find her , it whispered. He soothed it. Later, I will. Later , he told it. And he would, but later. The wave seemed satisfied, and let him be. He could still feel it though, a living thing under his skin.

 

Ja’far ran a search of his room to see if anything was taken. No jewelry, nothing of any value. He noticed the slightly askew scrolls in Sinbad’s personal library. When he reported it to his king, Sinbad only nodded. He told Sinbad that they hadn’t found a body either. Sinbad wasn’t surprised. He knew they wouldn’t.

 

He went back to his revelry, the party of Mahraja, the harvest festival. Beautiful women clung to his arm. A goblet of wine in one hand, a perky breast in another. He would probably even take one or two of them to bed. Still, he couldn’t get those damned eyes out of his mind. He’d never seen eyes like that, never in his life, in all his travels, anywhere.

 

While the party raged, nobody saw the woman slip away from the castle. As she walked her appearance changed. Little things. Just enough so that if that blasted king ran into her again she wouldn’t be recognized. Her robes, designed to be worn multiple ways, changed from something that concealed her to something that showed off her toned body and ample curves. Her hair went from loose to braided and knotted on her head. Her feet went from leather-shoed to bare. Dark khol lined her eyes and deep red lipstick was applied to her lips.  

 

She danced with the crowd for a bit. Not because it would help her in any way, but because she wanted to. She lost herself in the intoxicating music, dancing, and moving to it in a way that nobody there had ever seen before and many would consider scandalous. The fire danced on her body, the clinking belt of golden bells she’d snagged off an abandoned jangled at her waist, the rukh swarmed her. She had no clue about that though. She understood why the people of this kingdom loved it.

 

There was such life, such revelry here. She felt like a living molten flame and she let herself. Just for a few moments. She let go, just for a few moments. She became the music. She became the wanton desire that hung heavy in the air. People watched, oh, how they stared. Nobody would ever see anything like it again. She was a mirage, a fleeting dream.

 

She felt someone’s eyes on her and when she look in that direction, she saw him. Sinbad, the King of Sindria that everyone so loved. His violet tail swaying from the wind, his amber eyes wholly transfixed on her. For a moment longer, she writhed her body in time to the heavy drums. It was then she decided to make her escape, before he could send anyone after her. She didn’t feel the pull of fate to him, and if she had, she would have ignored it. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be here long enough for it to matter, she would have thought.

 

As she headed towards the port, she robed herself once more, folded herself into the shadows, and disappeared. The scroll she so brazenly stole, pressed between her breasts, the paper scratching at them. One step closer to home. Tomorrow she would be on a boat sailing far away from here, to Balbadd. Then, well, even she didn’t know where. Probably Reim.

 

Nobody saw the shadow of a woman sitting on the edge of a dock, her feet swinging over the water, gazing up at the stars, and the stars gazing back. That was the way she wanted it. No attachments. No problems. One goal. Get home.

Chapter Text

Chapter II

 

The King of Balbadd, Ahbmad Saluja, was a self righteous ass. Sinbad had no love for him. Of all the things that had happened that day, this was the one thing that got under his skin. You could almost see the irritation rolling off him as he walked with Ja’far and Masrur to the local tavern to Aladdin and Morgiana. Oh, he would do as the King wanted, rid them of those thieves. Trade needed to be reestablished. He’d spent years cultivating a good relationship with Rashid, all for that little brat to try and tear it down in the matter of a couple weeks.

 

When they arrived at the tavern, Sinbad saw that Morgiana and Aladdin had already arrived. They were sitting at a table talking amongst themselves. He’d met the two earlier that day, when he’d stumbled upon them on the road to Balbadd. Of course he was completely naked because he’d been robbed blind. Ja’far had given him such shit for that . He wasn’t too bothered. He felt the waves of fate pulling him towards the two kids and telling him he’d get his things back.

 

He knew enough to trust the waves. Even the one that pulled at him as he passed a table with a shady looking figure wearing a hood. He put that one off for now. Later, he’d deal with it later. No, now , the wave seemed to say. He almost stopped, but the wave suddenly swept him to Aladdin and Morgiana’s table. Alright then. Sinbad almost chuckled.

 

He sat down at the table with the two kids. Aladdin, a young boy with bright blue hair, cut choppy on top like his own, but braided into a long tail, and blue watchful eyes, smiled at him. Morgiana, a slip of a girl with short red hair and red eyes, the trademarks of the Fanalis, didn’t so much as blink.

 

“Hello,” he said, “And how was your afternoon?”

 

“Really good, Mister!” Aladdin said exuberantly, “We went down to the market and saw so many things!”

 

Just then, the waiter appeared. Sinbad placed the order for all of them. A dish he’d already tried and deemed one of his favorites. After the man walked away, he picked up his conversation with the two kids.

 

“To think, if you’d come when Rashid was king, you would have seen so much more,” he stated looking at them, “Much of their trade has been halted.”

 

“Really?” Aladdin said, his blue eyes wide.

 

“Yeah,” SInbad replied with a chuckle, “There are so many places that came and delivered goods and took goods from Balbadd! It was truly a hub of merchants.”

 

The waiter arrived with their dishes. A succulent baked fish studded with fresh herbs in a rich sauce. He set one down before each of the kids and SInbad. He’d offered one to both Ja’far and Masrur, but they’d both declined.

 

“Help yourselves!” Sinbad said cheerfully, “This is a Balbadd specialty! An herb-baked Eumera sea bream!”

 

Both kids stared, drool dribbling out of their mouths. They dug in vigorously. Sinbad smiled softly, happy that he was able to feed these two delicious food. He enjoyed making people happy.

 

“I almost forgot,” Sinbad said, “I haven’t introduced you to my subordinates yet, huh? This is Ja’far and this is Masrur.” He gestured to the two men standing at the side of the table.

 

Masrur was huge, tall and well-muscled. He had the signature bright red hair and eyes of his people. And their stony attitude as well. His chin was pierced with a simple silver stud and he was clad like a warrior. Ja’far was a good head shorter than Masrur. He had silver hair and green eyes, bright with cunning. He wore rich white and green robes with voluminous sleeves he could hide his hands in.

 

“This should interest you Morgiana, Masrur here is a Fanalis,” Sinbad said with a smile. Both children paused their eating to look at the warrior. “So are you, right? You both have the exact same eyes.”

 

“Hello there,” Masrur said.

 

“Hello,” Morgiana said quietly, looking away from the warrior.

 

After that, he decided to confer with Ja’far. Or rather, Ja’far said they needed to talk about their plans and the kids and Masrur wandered away.

 

“So, what’s the plan?” his second asked, “Making such a rash promise when we don’t even have our equipment.”

 

“Don’t worry about it,”Sinbad said easily, “When I first established SIndria, I learned quite a bit  about trading from the former king of Balbadd.” His voice grew sad as memories of his former mentor swirled in his mind, “He’s been dead for many years … but I won’t let this country sink into the flames of war.”

 

Behind them, someone blue an off key note on a flute. Ja’far eyes widened and he spat the water he’d been taking a sip of all over Sinbad. It took a lot to unsettle Ja’far. SInbad shifted to take a look at what was going on behind him. A giant blue djinn was standing right before him, his massive hand mere inches from him. Sinbad let out a cry of surprise.

 

He stood up to get a better look at the thing, coming to one conclusion, “Aladdin … so you’re a magi too …”

 

“Too? Does that mean you know another magi?” Aladdin asked, his eyes surprised.

 

“Yeah,” SInbad said, rubbing the blue giant’s arm.

 

“Who are you exactly?” Aladdin asked.

 

“Well, you see,” Sinbad turned to face them wearing a cocky smile, his golden hoop earings glinting in the afternoon sun, “I’m Sinbad!”

 

When the kids showed no flicker of recognition, going so far as to look confused, Sinbad’s brows furrowed. How could these two not know about him? He was probably the most famous person in the world.

 

“You don’t know about me!?” Sinbad blanched, throwing his arms up. He leaned down and held his arms out, “Like the adventures of Sinbad? And … you know …”

 

Aladdin seemed as confused as ever. Sinbad was frozen in shock, a sound between a gasp and cough coming from his mouth. Quickly, he straightened and cleared his throat.Then he began in his entertainer’s voice, “the man of numerous journeys and sea voyages whose adventures span the seven seas of the world, who heroically captured seven dungeons and established his own country! The master of seven djinns, conqueror of the seven seas! That’s who Sinbad is!” He made sure to add dramatic waves of the arms and such. Ah, telling them that brought him back to his stage days when he was young. Sinbad folded his arms over his chest.

 

Aladdin stared at him with wide shining eyes, “That’s amazing!” He paused, then added, “Isn’t it?” The child threw his arms into the air. Sinbad’s ego was decimated in one blow. “I don’t really get it, but …”

 

“You don’t, huh?” Sinbad said, his voice shaking, “But you’re a magi …”

 

From that table where the shady figure still sat all by themself, a snigger issued.

 

“I’m still not sure what a magi is,” Aladdin said, watching him, “I guess I don’t really understand that much about myself yet.”

 

Sinbad didn’t know how to tell him he didn’t really know much about the magi either. It was probably better if Aladdin thought he had all the answers anyway. He’d trust him more.

 

Sinbad hummed, touching his chin, “One thing is for sure …” He gestured up to the blue giant behind them, “This means you’re definitely a magi. You generated enough magoi to effortlessly keep a djinn fully materialized.” He dropped his hand, “You see, magoi is the energy that’s created by the rukh. Ordinary humans can only use the rukh that’s inside them, but a magi also has access to the limitless rukh created by all other beings.”

 

Aladdin’s eyes and mouth widened like he couldn’t quite believe what SInbad was saying.

 

“Your kind is special, beloved by the rukh,” SInbad leaned down and smiled at him, “Magis are seriously amazing!” Sinbad smiled again, a plan forming in his mind, “Wait, since you are so amazing, I have a favor to ask of you …”

 

“What is it?” Aladdin asked.

 

“You think you could help me catch the thieves that have thrown this country in an uproar?” Sinbad asked, extending his hand to the young boy.

 

“Wait Sin,” ja’far leaped forward, glancing at the two kids, “We should really discuss this first. Are you really going to involve these two kids?”

 

“What are you worried about?” SInbad demanded, crossing his arms over his chest, “Aladdin’s a magi, isn’t he? And he has enough power to have been chosen by fate.” He knew it was no accident that these two had come into his life. Ja’far glared at Sinbad. “And, we don’t have any of our metal vessels.”

 

“And whose fault is that?” Ja’far barked.

 

Aladdin looked at his comrade, “What should we do, Morg?”

 

Morg walked over to the edge of one of the canals. Her eyes were narrowed in thought and determination. “I want to cross over to the dark continent,” she said slowly, “If we defeat the Fog Troop, will that clear the way for the ships to sail?”

 

“That’s the only reason we came here,” Sinbad said,.

 

“We’re also looking for someone, someone who’s very important to both of us,” Morgiana explained, “If everything goes well, will you please ask the king of this country to help us find him?”

 

“Consider it done,” Sinbad said firmly.

 

“What do you think, Aladdin?” Morgiana turned to him.

 

Aladdin pumped his fist enthusiastically, “We’ll do it! We’ll vanquish the thieves!”

 

“Sounds good!” Sinbad said happily, taking Aladdin’s hands, “Then let’s come up with a strategy!”

 

They were so caught up in their own conversation that they didn’t hear the soft padding footsteps approaching them. Or even see the long shadow. She approached them from behind, her footsteps feather light.

 

“If I may,” her voice delicate as a rose, her accent a rolling purr.

 

Everyone jerked upright and stared at the girl. Her white and turquoise robes billowed in the wind. Her earings glittered in the sun. She was tall and lean, sleekly muscled. Her long hair, the bright tone of true gold, fluttered around her face. However, it was her eyes that captivated Sinbad. Teal, flecked with gold. All of them stared as she crossed her arms over her ample chest. Two knives hung on the belt that was slung over her hips at an angle.

 

It was only Aladdin who saw the most interesting thing about her. The swarm of golden butterflies, crowding her, fluttering around her face, a couple even perched on her. His eyes were wide with wonder. Never had he before seen the rukh act that way with anyone.

 

“I’m after the Fog Troop myself,” she said, “They stole from me and I’d like to get it back.”

 

“You …” Sinbad murmured, his burnished gold eyes fixed on her like she was something from a dream. And for him, she was.

 

His mind flashed back to the woman who free fell unafraid out his window. To the dancer in the midst of the crowd who captured everyone’s attention with the sensual graceful way she moved her body. He could still hear the mesmerizing clash of those bells and the glow of the fire on her pale skin.

 

“Sinbad?” Ja’far’s voice was distant.

 

“Me?” she said, a delighted smirk slashing across her face.

 

“You broke into my room, almost a year ago, on Mahraja,” he said slowly, “You stole a scroll.”

 

She raised an arched eyebrow and picked at her nails, “Did I? I can never keep track of what I’m doing and not doing.”

 

She knew. She definitely knew. He could feel fate twisting them together, pulling at him, like it was crying out, Her! Her! Her! He wanted to reach out and touch her, but Ja’far stood between them. He was also sure that if he did, she’d chop him into little bits with those wicked looking knives.

 

“That was her ?” Ja’far said with disbelief.

 

Name. He had to know her name. Fate demanded it. He demanded it. Just being near her made the rukh sing, but he couldn’t see that. Only Aladdin, who watched their exchange with awe.

 

“What’s your name, milady?” he asked, bowing at the waist.

 

He straightened and looked her in the eyes. Most people fell under their spell. He waited. He waited for those syllables that would change his life. He was on the edge of his seat watching a show he never thought he’d get to see. She shifted, her arms hanging down by her sides, her thumbs slipping into the belt loops of her tight cotton pants.

 

“None of your business,” she said flatly.

 

His entire world crumbled around him. He stared at her, jaw slack. None of his business. She said, none of his business. He almost glared at her, but he caught sight of those dancing lovely eyes and any thought of that travelled out the window.

 

“My point was that I’d like to help,” she said.

 

“If you think we’re going to let a thief -,” Ja’far started, but Sinbad held up a hand to stop him.

 

“If you’d like to help us, you may,” he said easily, punctuating it with a careless shrug, “But, I have to warn a beautiful lady, it’ll be dangerous.”

 

Ja’far gaped at him. She was a thief, a criminal. They should be arresting her for trespassing and stealing. Instead, here was his master talking to her like he’d like to bed her. Of all the stupid knuckleheaded dumb things Sinbad had done, this had to be in the top ten.

 

She smiled, “Perfect.”

 

“We have to have something to call you by though,” Sinbad said smoothly, “If we’re going to be working so closely together.”

 

She cut Sinbad that same wicked grin she had almost a year earlier, “You can call me Ma’am. Or perhaps, Princess will do. Pick a name, that’s what I’ll answer to.”

 

Sinbad stepped forward, and said in a purr, “Even Darling, or Honey? How about Love, Angel, or Dearest?”

 

She chuckled, “If you think you can unsettle me with petty little nicknames, it won’t work. I’m not impressed by any of you, except maybe that big hunk.” She gestured to Musrar. The redhead’s eyes widened. He glanced at the blond and looked away quickly, his high cheekbones flushed. “And definitely not by you.” Every word was carefully emphasized. She flashed Sinbad a cutting smile.

 

Every word seemed to strike the king to ground. Ja’far watched her flashing eyes. He’d never seen anyone talk to Sinbad like that ever, then again few people ever needed too. Everyone fell under his spell eventually. Maybe they’d finally met someone who could actually keep him in line.