A/N: I got tired of hearing everyone talk about how Farah was so terrible for seducing the Prince and stealing his dagger; if you pay attention to the game, that's not how it happened at all. I think it went something like this...
The dark silence of the mausoleum brought a new kind of terror after the hourglass room's whirling sands.
"A tomb," the Prince said heavily. How apt. He moved to join Farah.
The princess was still reeling. "You were there," she cried. "The dagger was in your hand. Why did you hesitate?" When she received no answer, her eyes and voice narrowed harshly. "You think you're cleverer than everybody, but you're just like the rest of them. Those soldiers…" She scowled at the memory of the Persian men who had snatched her most disrespectfully from her home – their eyes which saw her as less than a human being. "All they can do is fight, destroy."
The Prince sat against cold stone, cradling his head. She didn't know whether he had taken in her words or not, but his guilt was weighty and obvious. Kneeling down to his level, she spoke bitterly but with a softer voice, "Why did I trust you?"
The Prince could not face her. She lifted his chin to force him to, quietly begging, "Why didn't you trust me?"
The two were surprised by sudden darkness. "Ow!" Farah complained as a limb hit her, eliciting a quick apology from the Prince. "Where are you?"
"I'm right here," his voice assured her.
"Hold my hand," she commanded. He found the slender thing and obeyed, smiling to himself despite their fear. "Don't let go." In response, he gave her hand a slight squeeze and some of his guilt was transferred to her. After a few long seconds of silence, she said gently, "I didn't mean what I said."
"No," the Prince said miserably. "You're right. All that's happened is my doing; I wanted honour and glory." He shook his head in disgust. "I brought this on us."
Farah held his hand tightly in the darkness. "You are brave and good," she insisted, and continued on resolutely, "If this tomb is to be ours, at least the dagger will be buried with us. And…" Just say it. "We are together." Her heart beat faster at the confession.
It was matched by a sudden acceleration of the Prince's breathing. "What is it?" she asked. Had she gone too far?
"Nothing," came the quick reply, but his hand shook in hers.
"I just don't like close spaces," he lied. He remembered his confident decision to ask her to marry him. Where was that brashness now? He kicked himself for all opportunities he'd missed; now it was too late. Well, perhaps the story would amuse her. He took a breath to share his thoughts when her hand suddenly pulled at his – she was searching the room for an exit. Of course she would not give up so easily. "There must be some way out of here," he declared hopefully.
"When I was small," Farah began lightly, "my mother taught me a secret word. She said that when I was afraid, all I had to do was speak that word and a magic door would open."
How sweet, the Prince thought with some disdain.
"I've never told that to anybody," she admitted.
He retorted, "I can see why. It's the most childish thing I've ever heard of."
Her hand left his. He could imagine her slightly hurt expression. Alright, he would indulge her. "What was the word?"
It spilled easily from her lips, familiar as a childhood friend. "Kakolukia."
"Kakolukia," the Prince tried the foreign word while groping around for her hand. He was astonished to hear a grinding sound, as of moving stone. He grinned. "You did that – didn't you?"
There was no answer.
Light appeared from somewhere, but Farah was nowhere to be seen. Had she found a way out? His eyes fell upon a stone tomb, its lid removed. He was sure it had been covered before. Shivering with superstitious fears, he climbed inside.
It was brighter here… wherever "here" was. Farah blinked until the hazy glow resolved itself into warm candlelight. She gasped at the scene it illuminated.
Steam rose from a pool of clear water which glittered in the golden light. Surely it was too beautiful to be real. She walked in awe to the edge of the water and dipped her hand in; it was warmer than blood.
The practical parts of her mind told her the place could not exist – why would it? Maybe that's why she found herself stripping off her sweaty, sand-caked garments and dipping her sore feet into the deliciously hot pool. If this wasn't really happening, then it could cause no harm to rest here for a while, just to regain her strength. As the panic of battle drained from her, so did her energy – when was that last time she had slept? Before she could argue against her more indulgent side, she was chest-deep in the water.
A thought floated up to the surface of her conscious mind: Where was the Prince?
He must still be up in the mausoleum. If only he could see this wonderful place, she thought with a luxurious sigh. Well, he was bound to find his way eventually. She hoped he would stumble upon the exit soon.
And just why was she hoping he would join her? a sly part of her asked the other parts. Well, that was clear enough – the Prince was an attractive man with a good heart and any fool who had been through what they had would be falling for him. She smiled to herself; there was no point in denying it. She ran a hand down her naked hip under the water and wondered how far away he was.
Was that his voice? She wasn't sure. "Where are you?" she called, sitting up. She listened intently for a response but heard only the quiet lapping of the water.
After some minutes had passed, she took to languidly treading water, occasionally murmuring delighted things to herself – it was so blissfully beautiful there – and calling to the Prince in case he was nearby, although she did not hear him. Surely the way out was not so hard to find… unless perhaps, she mused, there was another… but no, that would be ludicrous, two exits from a seemingly inescapable tomb. Still, the possibility that he had ended up elsewhere chilled her for a moment before the warm water reassured her that everything would be fine.
She was not startled when he finally came in; it was not the sort of place for surprise, or for shame. She merely smiled and beckoned him in, making no effort to hide her smooth body where it rested under the water.
If it was not real, it was the kind of dream one cannot dismiss as mere night-fancy. No, it was something in between; perhaps the solid part of them was elsewhere, but some part of both of them was together there, she was certain.
He joined her without a word; speech was no longer necessary. Still it did not stop him from teasing her with a hushed "kakolukia" – she tried not to giggle at his frisky tone – before they leaned in together for a long-desired kiss.
Farah woke up sore and confused. Where were her pillows, the gauzy curtains around her bed?
She remembered the Prince first – his arms were still wrapped around her – and the thought of him warmed her before the day's events returned to her memory and sickened her stomach. The Sands, the Vizier, all of it was a frightening blur she wanted to push away for just a while longer. But the fear was chilling her, despite the warmth from the Prince's body.
She shivered as her bare skin noticed the stone floor. The Prince did not stir. Easing herself out of his arms, she drew her knees up to her chest and wondered what to do. It seemed somehow cruel to wake him – in the dim light, she thought she could make out a smile on his dreaming face.
His face creasing with suspicion…
She shook her head, as if trying to deny his lapse of trust. To come so close, and then… and then…
She hugged her knees tighter as her eyes found the dagger upon a slab of stone. Her dagger – the Sands of Time had always been her family's responsibility to keep safe. But her father was old and nearly everyone had forgotten they existed. She glanced at the Prince, watched the innocent curl of his smile. As an outsider and a naïve young man, he could not possibly understand the full consequences of the Sands.
I should never have trusted him. Her heart broke to see him so peaceful in oblivious sleep. He hadn't asked for any of this; he was just a foolish boy. She suspected he was older than she, but he was his father's youngest and the King's doting showed. As far as she knew, this was just an exciting adventure to him. Surely if he had been able to comprehend the catastrophe, he would not have hesitated in the hourglass room.
Her thoughts kept spinning back to that moment. Why should I trust you? his voiced asked her. Why, indeed? They were strangers forced together by the cataclysm he had unleashed – an event she knew she should have been able to prevent, or die trying.
Then there was nothing else to do, she decided grimly, rising and moving to where the dagger lay. She would finish the task alone.
His sword was heavier than she had expected, but she would need it, she was sure. Her arrows ran out too quickly for her to confront many sand monsters alone – and there would be monsters. They were stupid, so she would run past or through them when possible, but when she had to fight… she checked the dagger; it was full of sand.
A shiver passed through her as she took off her medallion and laid it in the dagger's place. She glanced back at the Prince's sleeping form and wondered if she would see him again. "Goodbye," she whispered. I'm sorry you couldn't be a hero.