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Rekindling the Embers

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'Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.'

~ Henry Ford


'It wasn't supposed to go like this.'

That was his first thought. When he woke up in a vaguely familiar bed in a disturbing familiar room.

'I can't deal with this.'

That was his second thought. When he got dressed mechanically in cloths he remembered being torn apart at some point during his travels.

He didn't have a third thought for a very long time. Instead, he stared at the busy city below him from his spot at the large window. He remembered this scene. It was a fond memory for him. Qishan was a beautiful city. A true oasis in the middle of a harsh desert. He had enjoyed his time there even if it was tainted with regret over abandoning Balbad.

It was even more beautiful with all its people freed and smiling.

He remembered that it was here at this very window that he longed to see his home once more. He wanted to be able to help his own people smile just as brightly.

Alibaba flexed his fingers.

His hands were calloused from years of living on the streets, then harsh sword lessons, and even harsher jobs after he left. However, they weren't nearly as scarred and hardened as they had become in the past…

Or should he say the future?

'I'm scared.'

His third thought lingered in the back of his mind as he stared at his trembling fingers.

Alibaba folded his hands together and leaned down to rest his forehead against them. He had a plan. He had a goal. He was going to meet Sinbad and figured out if he was truly David. From there he would find his friends and make a plan to stop David, whether he was Sinbad or not. He had things figured out from his time spent as a spirit and then as a doll.

It wasn't a very detailed plan.

There was still a lot of things he didn't know, but it was a goal he had set for himself after talking with all the magicians in that other world.

"This can't be happening." He whispered. "What is going on?"

"Alibaba, siiiirrr!"

He opened his eyes slowly, wondering when he closed them in the first place.

"Master? What are you doing out there? I brought you food and some girls!"

He straightened and turned to face the shorter man.

Budel. His mind supplied the name as he took in the other man's appearance.

(When was the last time he thought of him? So much had happened in just a few short years.)

The laughter came out of nowhere. He felt it bubbled up in his chest and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He stood there laughing helplessly.

(What in the world was going on?)

"Little ones, I will transport you to your friends."

He slid to the floor with his back against the wall as his laughter finally died down. Did the Mother Dragon do something? That was the last thing he remembered before waking up here. Judar was being his usual rude self, but Alibaba had managed to convince the great dragon to help them.

(Could it be that one truly couldn't come back from the dead? No, that couldn't be because he was definitely alive right now.)

Alibaba stared up at the glimpse of bright blue sky peeking out from the window as he caught his breath.

'Did Judar also wake up like he did? Was…Was he really in the past?'

"Oh great, he's gone insane."

He twitched at Budel's muttered comment and looked over at the collection of confused and concerned people.

Ah, he made a scene.

"Um…" He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I'm sorry, I just…well I had a terrible nightmare and was still a little bit shaken when I woke up. I didn't mean to scare anyone."

"Of course, of course! You must have encountered so many frightening things in that dungeon! I completely understand!"

Alibaba shook his head and muttered, "Man, Budel, you're such a slimeball."

(Not that he was much better. He had no idea what Aladdin saw in Alibaba the cart driver.)

He glanced around at all expectant faces and sighed.

"Um, I'd like to be alone, please."

"If Master Alibaba wishes it, then it shall be so!" With a clap of his hands and a jiggle of his belly, Budel ushered all the attendants out of the room.

He stood there for a moment still slightly daze before he scratched his head.

"Well…"

(What exactly was he supposed to do now? Was this all just a dream of some sort…or was all that he experienced before a dream? He did wake up in bed after all. Maybe it was all a nightmare. He just imagined everything that happened because he was missing Aladdin and wanted to go on adventures with him.)

His hands curled into fists.

But, that couldn't be true.

He looked down at his hands and flexed them slowly.

(That was too real to be a nightmare.)

And…he could feel a difference in himself.

(It was something he couldn't quite place. A steadiness in his stance. A calm assuredness in his spirit. He was sure someone who could actually see the ruhk would probably be able to be more specific, but there was a difference. He knew it.)

"So…what am I going to do?"

He turned back towards the balcony and gazed over the city once more.

(So, so many things happened after this point. So many deaths. So many mistakes. So much sorrow. If he was truly in the past, then he could…he could…)

His hands turned to fists.

"Cassim…"

(He could…)

He let out a shaky breath.

(What if he messed up again?)

His hand closed in a shaky fist.

(He had to try.)