Continuing my earlier Story Time post, here is part 2 of Hall of the Mountain Lord.
Adara, Hamim, and Adara's father now sat in audience with the Imam.
Adara sat in silence, looking towards to floor with eyes still red and puffed from shed tears. A cup of coffee sat in her hands, almost hot enough to burn. She didn't mind the little bit of pain it caused- it helped to keep her focused, in a way.
The Imam put down his now empty cup of coffee, which a young serving boy instantly refilled with the steaming beverage. He took another sip, and now looking at Adara, he spoke to her:
"Adara: tell me what you told your Father- about your dream."
"It was just a dream, Teacher" she said.
"No dream is just a dream, daughter of Yasser" he replied. "Tell me what it was that you saw in your dream."
Hands shaking a bit, she took a sip of her coffee - it was strong and bitter, and she hated the flavor, but it gave her a moment to collect herself. Then she spoke:
"I saw...I saw my brother- I saw Shamal", another tear escaped down her cheek, which she brushed away with her sleeve. "I saw him in the moonlight. I...couldn't move. In the dream- outside the dream - I could not go to him. I couldn't go." Her single tear was now doubled, now trebled, and she struggled to wipe away their evidence as they fell without heed.
"I could not GO", she lamented.
"I understand, my child" said the Imam. "Please now- tell me more. What else do you recall?"
"I heard the sound- of a bell? Like the Moon itself was calling. But....but....the call was not for me...", she recounted.
"The Moon? It was the Moon that called?"
"I don't know, Imam", she said. "That is how it seemed in the dream. I saw Shamal- in the dream, I saw him- walk towards the rock above our camp, towards where the Moon's light shone brightest. Towards the sound of the bell."
"Teacher- can you tell us what the dream means?" asked Adara's Father, Yasser.
"Mmmmm" said the Imam, stroking his black beard. "Mmmmm. Was there anything more to the dream, Adara?"
"And you searched everywhere the following morning, right? No sign at all of him? Nothing taken from the camp?"
"Nothing- just the clothes on his back" said Hamim. "And we searched the area, calling for him, many times. There was no trace at all."
Hamim paused then, a pained look overtaking his countenance. "No trace at all", he repeated.
The Imam seemed lost in thought for a moment, taking a another sip from his coffee. Then he said, "Yasser?"
"Yes, Teacher?" said the other man.
"Yasser...." he paused before continuing "My friend. My dear friend.." he trailed off, and then said, gravely:
"You need not seek your boy any further, I am afraid. Based upon all that I have heard today, we must assume that he has been spirited away by the Jinn. I am very sorry."
"No" said Yasser, quietly. "No- by The Creator, please no. He...he is my only son."
"I am sorry, Yasser" said the Imam "I am so very, very sorry. There are simply things that are beyond our control and understanding in this world. There is nothing to be done."
Adara looked up to see a veil of despair fall over the face of her Father. She looked the Imam in the eye and said:
"Nothing?" she questioned. "Why have we come here then? You are our wise teacher and protector! You tell us that we can do nothing now?"
"Adara" cautioned her Father. "Please, do not be unseemly. The Imam is trying to help us."
But he continued, addressing the Imam, who he had known since a boy, now by name:
"Dhakir- are you certain that there is nothing to be done? Do you know at least that he is safe, if he is truly among the Jinn now?"
"It is..." started the Imam. "Well, many things are said. But no one knows, really. I am truly, deeply sorry, my friend. I do not know. He is, as always, in the hands of Allat, Mother of All."
Adara had broken into sobbing again, and her father had taken her trembling body into his arms. He stroked her head with his right hand- she, now the last of his issue remaining to him.
"Thank you for seeing us today, Dhakir" said Yasser, quietly. Hamim noted that his voice cracked then, just a little.
The next dawn broke cool and dry, the only sound beyond the cock's crow being the restlessness of the camels, and the whipping of an early wind; forecasting a blustery day ahead.
As usual, Adara awoke early and prepared breakfast for her Father. She was to go to the well and the market that day and, also as usual, Hamim was to go with her as well- as her helper and protector.
As they set upon the road, however, she said to Hamim:
"Let us go north first, to see Lacan."
Now, the man called Lacan was an old man, blind in one eye, who was known as a hermit (though nowadays he lived with a young ward, said to be his nephew). He was also a scribe, and known to be scholar; very learned, it was said - maybe as much as the Imam himself.
It was also whispered in low tones- usually among the older folk- that he was not a scribe and a scholar only; it was murmured among those that murmur that he was also Magi- a wizard!
Hamim looked over at Adara, but she would not meet his gaze.
"Mistress" he said, imploring.
"I won't give up on him, Hamim. I won't!" she said, still facing forward. "A thousand Imams can tell me a thousand times no first. I will find him, if it takes all my life to do so."
Life had taught Hamim humility, and the futility of arguing with his Mistress when her mind was set to a task. So he simply said to her:
"Very well, but please cover your face; the wind is moving the sand much today."