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PostPosted: Tue May 3, '11, 4:02 pm
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Na’il awoke suddenly, discovering that he was not in his room. He was not in any room, actually. Looking around, he soon came to the conclusion that he wasn’t even in Landan for that matter; Landan was many things, but a large expanse of desert wasteland wasn’t one of them.

The prince arose and looked around for any sign of civilization. Turning around, he saw a lone figure standing proudly in the sand, its face covered by a blood-red hood. The prince squinted to get a better look at his company, and it was clear that it was a woman who greeted him in the middle of the desert.

“Pardon me, fair maiden. I am Na’il of the kingdom of Landan. Can you tell me where we are?”

The hooded lady remained silent, but beckoned him to follow her.

For almost an hour, the two people traversed the desert sands, neither of them speaking a word. The blistering heat of the sun pounded relentlessly on Na’il’s face and soon his mouth was so dry that, even if he had wanted to say something to his companion, he’d probably not be able to say anything. The heat and thirst were soon compounded by the pangs of hunger, and Na’il felt as if a rukh had wrapped its huge talons around his stomach and started squeezing.

Just as Na’il was about to surrender to the elements and collapse in the sand, his eyes spied something in the near distance. Something large. A building. But not just any building, a temple. It was a huge building indeed, hewed of marble so brilliantly white that it almost pained him to look upon the structure. Nonetheless, the building, with its perfect square base and magnificent columns, was one of the most beautiful things he had ever laid eyes on.

When Na’il and the woman arrived at the foot of the steps that led up to the temple, she beckoned him to go up. The young man’s legs burned after the tenth step, which constituted about a fifth of the total number of steps in the temple. Na’il was practically crawling by the time he made it to the top. However, his efforts were rewarded by a fountain of clear, pure water bubbling before him. The woman with whom he had traveled sat at the edge of the fountain and bid him drink of the water. He scrambled excitedly over to the pool and cupped his hands in the water and drank several gulps.

“Thank you,” Na’il said, his mouth no longer parched.

The lady pulled back her hood, revealing a beautiful face of a young woman. Her long blonde dresses were like the Golden Wedge of Ophir. She wore a ruby on her forehead. Her gaze was intense as to pierce the very frame of Na’il and make him tremble and even if she were to smile, it would still bore a hole into his being.

“Welcome to my temple, Prince Na’il,” said the stranger.

“A-And m-may I ask who you are?” stammered the awe-struck prince.

“I am Layla,” responded the lady.

“The fairy queen!?” cried the young prince in disbelief. “So that would be that this—“

“—is my temple, yes.” Layla’s voice was gentle, yet strong. “You are my special guest today, Prince Na’il of Landani. Come, you must be hungry from your travels. I have had a feast prepared for you.”

Layla’s mentioning food immediately lifted up Na’il’s spirits and he excitedly followed her into the temple. The building was vast, by almost empty, save a row of statues of female warriors wielding weapons not commonly seen in the North Country. At the back of the spacious room was large table filled with food. Na’il struggled to hide his hunger and followed his host with dignity to the table. His eyes fell upon numerous desserts, most of which were specialties of Landani bakers.

“Please, my dear Na’il, help yourself. This is all for you.” Even when her tone was gracious, Layla’s voice made the young man burn within.

Nial ate a small piece of a date pie, native to al-Ilan, which was quite pleasing to his palate. His wandering eyes spotted an Orakian wedding cookie, a traditional dessert from Satiri that his mother often made for him as a child. He gleefully threw one in his mouth and let the dough melt on his tongue as he looked around. He spotted a star-shaped pastry; it must be the Aghaan cream roll. He took a bite of one and found it quite desirable, if a bit too much like eating pure sugar for his tastes.

As his belly began to be stuffed, he noticed a small platter on the far corner of the table, with a single peculiar moon-shaped pastry on it, covered in a thick green frosting. He had never seen a pastry like that before, so Na’il felt it his duty to try it.

“What sort of dessert is this?” asked Na’il, inspecting the exotic sweet up close.

Layla smiled. “That is a Dalian moon cake. People say it is the last remnant of fairy food in the land?”

Na’il cocked an eyebrow. “Dalia? The city of ether? Isn’t that a legend?”

The proud queen fixed her stare on the boy, causing him to almost drop his cake out of fear. “It is as real as cake which you eat,” she replied soothingly.

Na’il continued to inspect it. “You said it was fairy food, right? Doesn’t that mean that if I eat it, I’ll be forced to live in this temple forever?”

Layla chortled. “My dear prince, I didn’t say that it was fairy food, I said that people say it is fairy food. There is a difference, you know.”

Blushing, Na’il looked down at his feet and then suddenly prostrated himself before the blonde-haired fairy. “I’m sorry, Queen Layla. Please forgive your servant for his insolence.”

Layla knelt down and, taking Na’il by the shoulders, brought him to his feet. “Try it. I’m sure it will make you feel better.”

Na’il took a bite of the pastry. His tongue tingled with delight as the sweetness of the cake tickled his taste buds. For a moment he felt a feeling of extreme pleasure, as if the taste of the dessert had spread to every muscle in his body. It was almost as if Na’il could never be sad again, from the sentiments that the Dalian moon cake had inspired in him.

“T-t-this, t-t-this is the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted. I must have another one, Layla. Tell me how I can make it, and I shall do anything you wish.”

Layla ran her fingers through Na’il’s loose-hanging brown hair. “I’m sure you will. But you must wait. When the time is right, I shall show you.”


***

Na’il shot up in his bed, glancing around to see where he was. To his disappointment, he was back in his room again, shrouded in darkness save a few powerful beams of blue light that were able to make their way through his curtains. The young prince got out of bed and, pulling the curtains aside, looked up at the moon, that huge disc of brilliant blue light that seemed to be smiling down on him at that moment.

“Moon cakes,” he muttered to himself repeatedly.

The prince threw on a silk robe over his undergarments, and stole out of his room. Creeping stealthily through the shadows, he furtively went from one hall to another, until he reached Mah’s quarters. He turned the knob and slipped inside, trying to minimize the noise he made by opening the door only slightly before ducking into the room.

The prince tip-toed to his nurse’s bed and gave her arm a light tug. She turned over and opened her eyes lazily, before gasping aloud.

“Prince Na’il,” she whispered in bewilderment. “What on earth has brought you here at this hour?” Feeling his forehead, she asked, “Are you sick? You do not seem to have a fever. Did you have a nightmare?”

Na’il lit her bedside lamp and sat next to her. He proceeded to relate unto her the dream he had just had, telling her about the conversation he had had with Layla, the fairy queen, and about the desserts. Mah listened intently to his account.

“So what do you think it means?” she asked.

Na’il sighed. “I think it means that you should ask my father if you can attend to me while I’m locked up in the tower.”

Last edited by H-Man on Wed May 4, '11, 11:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

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