Love was in the air… or lust it seemed on this island, Maeve noticed. Everyone on this island seemed to be paired off and enjoying each other's company a little too much for Maeve's liking. Unlike so many other stops that the Nomad made, this one was actually planned. Sinbad was requested by this kingdom's queen to ship a precious heirloom from Asoron to Baghdad. Asoron was a small island of the coast of Ethiopia which, despite its size, was wealthy with gold and iron ore. Do to the seriousness of this transport; the entire crew was treated with honor and respect.
Despite that, Maeve's mood was quite sour. Although she was always happy when others found love, seeing so much of it simply depressed her. The men of the crew, on the other hand, seemed very excited. The few single women on this island seemed to have noticed them and want their company. Even Rongar broke out into a smile.
So this must be what it feels like to be Sinbad, Firouz thought as he waved to a few ladies who giggled in his presence.
Sinbad, as always, was getting the most attention, but seemed only concerned with getting to castle on time. He didn't appear to notice the glances he was getting from single, coupled and married women alike. Finally, Maeve had had enough of the crew waving and smiling like little boys.
"Alright, hold it!" she demanded.
"Maeve, what's the matter?" Sinbad questioned.
She looked at everyone strangely, "Don't you feel it?"
Doubar sighed, "Don't tell me, 'There's evil on this island'"
Maeve gave a sarcastic look, "No. Not this time."
Just then an attractive lady just passed Doubar's line of vision.
"That's very good then," he responded as his eyes followed the woman until she was out of sight.
Maeve threw her hands up, "See that's what I mean. Doubar isn't usually such a pig."
Everyone, including Doubar, looked at her questioningly.
Maeve sighed and rolled her eyes, "When it comes to women."
"There's just something strange about this island. Everyone's so…" she looked around at the people, "…in love."
"And that's a bad thing?" Sinbad asked, unsure at what Maeve was getting at.
"No. Just… strange," she replied.
Firouz nodded, "I believe I have the answer, my dear. Asoron is also famous for producing a very potent aphrodisiac, unique to this island. Legend said that the goddess of love herself taught the ancestors of the Asorons to make this concoction."
Now it was Maeve's turn to be confused, "I thought that island was called Aphrodisia?"
"It was, the Aphrodisians are our ancestors from island long gone," said a new, strong voice. The crew turned to see a woman richly dressed in purple and gold robes, Queen Jenuba. The entire courtyard bowed in her presence as did the crew. Queen Jenuba smiled.
"Rise Sinbad and crew of the Nomad, you are among friends," she stated in a gentle voice. Then she turned to the rest of the people.
"Rise my loyal subjects. Please enjoy this day with love and joy in your hearts," she said with her hand over her heart and the bow of her head.
The people rose and went about their business.
"I am pleased to meet you, my Queen," Sinbad said and turned to his crew, "This is..."
The Queen held her hand up to stop him, "I know. Rongar, Firouz, your brother Doubar, and the lovely sorceress, Maeve."
Everyone was surprised that she knew all of their names already. She laughed.
"Oh don't be shocked. It is not only the captain whose reputation precedes him. For what is a captain without a crew who is loyal to him and unique within themselves?" she responded.
Maeve smiled, for the first time that day, "You are very wise, my Queen."
"Thank you. For I would think it is rare you give compliments to women," commented she.
Sinbad laughed at this, "She usually just scowls."
Maeve promptly smacked him on the chest.
"Ow!" he exclaimed.
Everyone, including the Queen, laughed at them.
"You should have seen that one coming, little brother," Doubar managed to say in between fits of laughter.
Queen Jenuba clapped her hands to get the crew's attention.
"Come, come, let's go to the palace," she stated and lead them through the gates.
On the way, their rooms inside the palace, Maeve noticed a room off to the side under guard.
"What's that?" she asked.
"That's the room contains the Balouris," the Queen replied softly.
Maeve's eyes widened, "The Balouris! I thought that was a myth, a legend."
The Queen turned to Maeve, "Maeve, you of all people, should know that all myths have basis in truth. I thought Dim-Dim would have taught you that."
Maeve was taken back as well as the entire crew, "How do you know about Dim-Dim?"
The Queen smiled, "He's my brother in-law."
"Brother In-law? You're Caipra's sister?"
"Yes, that's part of the reason why I requested that the crew of the Nomad be apart of my dealings with Baghdad. For if sister trusts you, then I know I'll have nothing to worry about," she stated.
"I'm not so sure about that," Firouz stated under the protest of the crew, "We do have our share of adventures."
Queen Jenuba's smile got wider, "I know. But that's just fine. Who would want a sailor whose all stuck up and straight laced anyway? Love and laughter is just as important as business and trade, or at least that's the credo of this isle."
Sinbad couldn't agree more. He was liking the Queen more and more by the moment. She seemed happy, fun and nearly perfect. One thing was irking him though.
"May I inquire as to the whereabouts of the King?"
Queen Jenuba let out a sad sigh, "Unfortunately, the King died about two years ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Sinbad quickly stated, "I didn't mean…"
"It's okay," she responded, wiping her misty eyes, and turned the corner.
"These are your rooms," she announced, "Maeve, Sinbad would you follow me? The rest of you, you may retire or explore the kingdom to your leisure."
Firouz and the rest of the crew bowed.
"Thank you, your highness," replied Firouz.
Maeve, Sinbad and Queen Jenuba turned back around and walked out of the hallway.
"I would like to personally, thank you for coming, Sinbad," she started and they walked.
"Of course, but why did you want to speak to Maeve and I alone?"
They turned into the chamber where the Balouris was kept.
"This is why," she said and signaled to the guards to open the chamber. Inside, was a single ray of light reflecting off of a glass bookstand that contained the Balouris. The glass refracted the light to all points in the chamber creating rainbows on the walls.
"I can't believe it," Maeve whispered, going to the book and looking at it more closely.
Sinbad turned the Queen, "What is the importance of the book?"
"It is the Book of Love, handcrafted by the Goddess herself. She chose the people of Aphrodisia to be the guardians of her strength and her stories, all of which are contained within the Balouris, or the Book of Love. It is one of the most dangerous magical books in the world. That's why its presence is considered legend even amongst the most advanced of sorcerers," she finished, hoping that Sinbad would understand the strength of this magic.
"What is the danger of the book? I would think the Book of Love would be a blessing upon this world," he questioned.
Maeve looked up and shook her head, "The Balouris also contain several spells that influence love, sex, strength and desire. As the legend goes, whosoever is able to read the Balouris will have the power to possess anyone and everyone they wanted. Correct, your majesty?"
"Yes, Maeve. If an evil ruler were to possess it, he could have army of incredibly loyal subjects and could conquer all lands without a sweat. Even the most magical of beings could not match the strength of the people so completely in love with a ruler or a country or concept."
Sinbad put his hand over the glass that contained the book. He could almost feel it buzzing with magical energy. He looked up at Queen.
"Are you sure you wanted this shipped all the way to Baghdad. It seems too dangerous to let it leave its spot."
"I agree, but it is not this which I am giving to your Caliph. Maeve, there is a small compartment at the bottom of the stand, could you grab what is inside it, please?"
"Yes," Maeve said and did what she was told. Inside the compartment was a small gold pendant with an emerald in the center.
"It's beautiful," Maeve commented.
The Queen nodded, "Quite. It is also the one of the keys to the Balouris. I feel that the book would be better protected if its keys were somewhere else."
"Baghdad," Sinbad stated.
"Yes, Baghdad. And I would like Maeve to keep watch over the key while you all are here."
Maeve was shocked, "I'm honored beyond words."
The Queen smiled and turned to go.
"Your highness?" Maeve questioned.
She turned to Maeve.
"What is the other key to the Balouris?" Maeve asked.
"A heart full of love and magic that love creates," she responded and left with Maeve and Sinbad in tow.
From a mystic, reflecting glass, Rumina observed the entire conversation. She had wanted the Book of Love since childhood, but her father told her there was no such thing and even if there was, they would have no use for it. How wrong he was and now Rumina had a way to get it. But she decided to wait a little longer, for she new something that the Queen forgot to mention. The aphrodisiac on this island was used in everything from spice to incense, so with it all around him, Sinbad wouldn't be able to resist her. All she needed was time.
So that was chapter one and this is a preview of chapter three or four. But this will give you an idea of where this story is going and I couldn't resist putting it up. Enjoy… OMA
"What do you want with me, witch!" Maeve demanded, struggling in her chains.
"Oh, you shouldn't worry about what I'm going to do to you..." she said and stretched her arms forward, changing her appearance as her hands moved. Suddenly, Maeve was looking at her mirror image.
"You should worry what I'm going to do as you," she continued, laughing with her own voice in Maeve's body.
Maeve shook her head.
"Never. They'll see right through you. Sinbad will see you're not me." She insisted
"Oh I think not. He'll be too busy undressing me to care," she cackled.
Maeve's eyes widened a bit, surprised by her frankness.
"No," Maeve replied with a soft, but dangerous voice.
Rumina looked at her in eyes, "It shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean, you don't love him anyway."
"And you do?"
"Yes, or at least I want him. I can see it in your eyes that you want him too. But after so long together and doing nothing, I think your time has passed. And it's time for the new Maeve to take charge."
Maeve struggled against her chains again trying to reach out and attack Rumina.
"You'll never win!'
"Such threats. I've already won and after Sinbad and I make love, it will be permanent. He will belong to me mind, body and soul. It's time for a real woman to be with him instead of something pathetic peasant witch who acts like she's never been with man," Rumina taunted and then looked at Maeve more carefully, scrutinizing her. Then she laughed.
"You haven't, have you?"
"You have never had a man in your bed. How precious. Waiting Prince Charming to come to you or for your captain to take you in his arms? Honey, let me give you some advice, men are stupid. If you are waiting for him to make the first move, you'll be waiting forever. Although," Rumina looked down at herself in Maeve's body.
"This outfit isn't helping."