Hasib watched as Abdar woke up slowly, from his position on the floor. It was kind of amusing to watch the usually cool messenger struggle with the clutches of sleep. Abdar finally stretched and forcefully sat up, glancing across at where Hasib lay.
“How long have you been watching me?” Abdar asked, his voice thick.
“Just long enough to hear you mumble something about giant crabs and the impending doom of a massive coconut that was going to roll straight over the camp,” Hasib answered. “You sure say the weirdest things in your sleep.”
“Hey, that crab was damn scary,” Abdar answered, smiling slightly.
“The sandstorm has eased off, but there is still quite a wind.”
“I thought it was going to blow down the whole camp before it went away.”
“Just a quick storm, but I should look to leave soon,” Hasib said, stretching. “I’ll visit Fariha before I go back to the glass fields. She’d kill me if I left without saying goodbye again.”
“So you’re going to leave after checking the glass fields?” Abdar asked.
“Yeah, I need to get back to my own camp, I’ve been away longer than planned,” Hasib said, reaching for his pack. “I’m surprised they haven’t sent someone for me yet.”
“I don’t think anyone saw you enter the camp.”
“That’s not who I was talking about, but never mind.”
The both got dressed and Abdar began training with his duel blades. Hasib watched his technique, his strong blows and steady footwork. Abdar finished one movement with a backflip and turned to Hasib with a grin.
“Show off,” Hasib said, standing.
With his staff in hand, Hasib approached Abdar and bowed.
“But perhaps a moving, fighting target would provide you with more realistic opposition,” Hasib said.
“You’ve been practicing out there on your own?” Abdar asked, flipping both of his blades.
“Who said I lived on my own?” Hasib asked, thrusting at Abdar with his staff.
“You’ve never told me. So, you live with another tribe?” Abdar asked, parrying the blow.
“A family. They’re a little different from the usual tribe or camp.”
“What’s your role in the camp? Are they glass makers?”
Hasib ducked as the two scimitar blades slashed through the air. He retaliated with a low swing of his staff and Abdar just jumped over it. Before Hasib could react further the two blades swung towards his head, stopping inches from his skin.
“Best two out of three?” Hasib asked, with a grin. “And please, not so many questions.”
“Alright, but since I just won, you have to answer this one question,” Abdar said.
“Deal, what do you want to know?”
“What are you doing with yourself when you aren’t sneaking into the great Malek Asad’s glass fields and helping him out?”
“I’m a warrior, or soldier, if you prefer.”
“I see. Are there many enemies around where you are?”
“Not so much the humanoid enemies, it’s more the giant scorpions that we have to worry about. That’s more than one question too.”
They sparred for the next half hour, barely a word was spoken during this time. Hasib ended up winning their duels and Abdar admitted defeat.
“I guess the warrior of a camp needs to be good. I’d start to worry for them, if you performed badly against me,” Abdar said grabbing a towel.
Hasib laughed and accepted the towel from Abdar. After wiping the sweat from his body and downing several glasses of water, Hasib packed up his belongings.
“You should come visit sometime,” Hasib stated suddenly.
“How can I visit if you never tell me where it is?” Abdar returned, with a shake of his head.
“When you and Fariha are married, I’ll be sure to tell you. And if, for some chance, that doesn’t happen, I’ll tell you anyway.”
Abdar gave the same saddened half smile he had given before and stood up.
“Well, the wind has died down enough for me to get to work,” Abdar said.
“My que to leave as well,” Hasib said, slapping him on the shoulder.
“Abdar! Fathe- I mean Malek is looking for you,” a female voice called.
Abdar exited the tent in front of Hasib and smiled down at Fariha. Hasib finished wrapping on his headgear and exit it as well, his pack over his shoulder. Abdar was whispering something into Fariha’s ear and Fariha’s cheeks and ears were changing shades.
“Alright, sweet talker, let me say goodbye to my sister,” Hasib said, grinning underneath his shemagh.
“You’re going back to the glass fields?” Fariha asked looking across at him.
“No, I’m going home, back to my place,” Hasib answered, giving her a hug.
Abdar decided to leave the group at this moment and, after flashing Fariha a smile, walked off towards Malek’s tent. Fariha watched him go with a smile on her lips.
“Well, I’d better go before anyone recognizes that your talking with a strange short man,” Hasib stated. “I wish we could have talked more.”
“So do I, but I don’t see why you have to be constantly in hiding from the others in camp,” Fariha said seriously. “I don’t like this arrangement of you secretly visiting at random points and only seeing you if Malek Asad isn’t around.”
“It’s the way it has to be,” Hasib answered, shrugging it off.
“You heard me. Who ever said that it had to be this way?”
“Your father. He was quite clear about it too.”
“It was in a moment of rage. He does tons of things when he’s angry. He even ripped a hole in the side of his tent once because someone ticked him off so much.”
Hasib just looked at her doubtfully and shook his head. Fariha frowned and crossed her arms.
“I’ve got to go,” Hasib said.
“Not until you’ve seen father,” Fariha said, still looking stern. “Or I’ll yell that you are here and you’ll see him anyway. Although he would be in less of a good mood that way.”
“Fine,” Hasib answered reluctantly.
“Goodness, you are easy to convince.”
“I just don’t want to be troublesome for my big sister,” Hasib said with a smile.
“Yay, alright follow me,” Fariha said, pulling him forcefully towards Malek’s tent.
Hasib followed, but glanced back at where he had dropped his pack.
Should have tossed that back inside, Hasib thought. Or brought it so I can make a quick escape.
They arrived outside the large tent and Hasib could hear the low mutterings of the elders inside. Hasib could feel his breathing quicken and he began to clench his jaw.
Memories were hard things to forget, and Hasib made sure he remembered everything. However this wasn’t always a good thing, especially with bad memories. Ones like the time he was banished, he could never be near groups of elders without feeling nervous.
“Alright now I’ll go in and request a private audience and then I’ll say that I have someone to see him. That’s when you can enter and say ‘Hi Father.’,” Fariha said, interrupting his thoughts.
Hasib merely nodded and Fariha smiled once again.
“Don’t be nervous. It will be fine,” Fariha said patting him on the shoulder.
Fariha disappeared into the tent and the elders exit a minute later. Hasib kept his head lowered, even though he was wearing his shemagh still. Fariha appeared again and beckoned for him to enter. He pretended not to see her for a moment, but she then called out to him. Hasib sighed and walked forward. He began to undo his shemagh.
Okay, no need for me to hide. I’m just a traveller, who happens to have been exiled and have returned while hiding from the sandstorm, Hasib thought to himself.
Hasib cursed under his breath and paused. Fariha had already entered again and Hasib was alone.
No, Hasib. No pretences. I am here because I want to see Fariha. Also probably best if I don’t mention the glass fields arrangement, he won’t appreciate that. If all else fails and this takes a turn for the worse, apologize and get the hell out.
He entered the tent and Fariha glanced at him curiously. Hasib wrapped his shemagh around his neck like a scarf and then stayed still.
“Father, can you please pay attention?” Fariha asked aloud suddenly.
Hasib looked across the room to where Malek Asad sat. It was like a mirror, a clone, of the same position he was in the day of Hasib’s banishment. Malek was flipping pages of a never ending supply of official looking papers. His hair had grey hairs that hadn’t been there three years ago and wrinkles had long appeared on his brow. Malek seemed calm and looked up from his papers only when Fariha spoke to him.
Hasib bowed as Malek looked him over, keeping his eyes and head lowered. He felt Malek give him a careful study and Fariha moved slightly beside him.
“And who is this young man?” Malek asked suspiciously.
“Father, surely he hasn’t changed that much. You should be able to recognize him,” Fariha said with a surprised tone.
Malek grunted in slight annoyance. Malek Asad expected an introduction with everyone he met, they couldn’t expect him to remember everyone’s names.
Hasib raised his head and looked at Malek directly. His own blue eyes met Malek’s brown ones. Malek’s face froze and his eyes remained locked with Hasib’s. He could tell that Malek was shocked to find him standing in front of him.
“Hello Malek,” Hasib said calmly.
Malek seemed to snap out of his daze and he stood suddenly. He frowned and his hands clenched by his side.
“LEAVE!” Malek roared. “I told you to leave me three years ago, do you think I was jesting with you?”
“Father, calm yourself,” Fariha said, stepping forward.
“This banished man returns without permission and you expect me to be calm!” Malek yelled.
“Father, I invited Hasib,” Fariha said. “He’s your son. Stop being so hard headed and forgive each other.”
“You do not understand, Fariha,” Malek replied, trying to reign in his temper.
“Then explain to me, father. I am no child, I am fully grown now. I can understand if you tell me.”
Malek replied with a shake of his head and a wave of his hand.
“I shall not be dismissed like a maid. Answer my questions, father, so that I may understand,” Fariha implored.
“I will not tolerate being mollycoddled and protected.”
“Fariha,” Hasib spoke, stepping forward.
Hasib placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her to him.
“Your father isn’t ready to speak to you. In time he will explain everything, I am sure of it. Please let it go,” Hasib explained quietly.
“I need to know, Hasib. I must know why my family has broken to pieces in front of my eyes,” Fariha said, her eyes filling with sadness. “And stop calling him ‘your father’. He is your father too and no argument can break a blood bond.”
Hasib looked into Fariha’s eyes and then across at the tensed back muscles of Malek. Hasib sighed and shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Fariha,” Hasib said, quietly.
Fariha’s eyes filled with anger and hurt. She stepped back and glanced between the two men.
“You are both stubborn and manipulative,” Fariha spoke through gritted teeth. “I will not be treated like an outsider anymore.”
Fariha spun and marched out of the tent, leaving the two men in silence. Hasib turned to Malek and bowed.
“Why do these blue eyes continue to haunt me? Whenever I feel I have recovered, they appear suddenly,” Malek muttered, before turning back to Hasib. “Just leave me!”
“I’m sorry for the intrusion, forgive me. I shall be departing from the camp now,” Hasib said without emotion.
“It would have been better if you had never come back,” Malek muttered aloud.
“I agree,” Hasib replied bluntly. “I should have known it would end like this. Goodbye, Malek.”
“That’s right,” Malek said with an angry snort. “Leave. Leave the chaos you have caused. Turn your back on Fariha. You are your mother’s son after all.”
Hasib opened the tent flap and left Malek alone. He marched through camp, a million eyes glaring at him as he passed tents. It was just like all those years before. There was only judgement in this camp, judgement and prejudice.
Hasib approached his pack, where it still sat on the sand outside Abdar’s tent. Abdar appeared beside him as he strapped it onto his back.
“Hasib, what happened?” Abdar asked, a concerned frown on his face.
“Malek Asad did exactly what I expected him to do,” Hasib answered shortly.
“I’m sorry. Fariha just really wanted you two to get along. She loves the both of you so much.”
“I know, but it would take more than a ‘hello’ to heal the damage that has been done. Our relationship was broken from since I was a child.”
“I understand,” Abdar said seriously.
“Take care of her, Abdar. I can’t from my current position, and you’re the only man I trust her with. Malek is foolish if he denies that you too are in love with each other.”
“I promise I’ll do my utmost to protect and love her.”
“And if Malek says no, then take charge. Run away with Fariha to where I live, you’ll always be welcome. We have just as much right to marry you where I live than here. I’d be more than willing to give her away to a man such as yourself.”
Abdar nodded seriously.
“Now I’ve got to go,” Hasib said, giving him a hug.
“You’re not going to tell Fariha?” Abdar asked.
“I can’t, she’ll want me to stay, or beg to come with me. I can’t be the one who takes her away from him. He’ll hunt me down and I dare not think of what he’ll do,” Hasib said, with a half-smile. “Good bye, my friend. I hope we can meet again soon.”
“Farewell, may the gods be with you one your journey,” Abdar spoke.
Hasib slapped Abdar on the shoulder and began to make his way through the camp. Members of the camp mostly ignored him. It was supposed to be as punishment, but Hasib was grateful. It was much less troublesome.
As he passed Fariha’s tent, he could hear her talking to herself. She had always done that as a child, it seemed she still did. He smiled and paused at the tent flap. Hasib recited an old verse he had learnt and often told her when they were children.
With beauty you glister
Even when we are apart
I’ll remember you in my heart
Hasib then continued out of camp, the soft sand seemed hard to tread on. When he topped the sand dune and dropped out of sight, he sighed. He rolled his shoulders and had a massive sense of déjà vu.
“Well that went well,” Hasib said wryly.