Disclaimer: the One Thousand and One Nights and all of the characters who appear here or are mentioned are not mine; they are only 'borrowed' for the purposes of the story.

"My Kingdom for a Horse (Of a Different Color)" by Karen

They brought water to a land dry as a bone and baking underneath the remorseless eye of the sun star by day and only made bearable by the cloak of darkness. Growing up I never feared the dark for it is only that a cloak over one ones that blinds one the five senses in exchange for sharpening others.

As a child if something could be known through touch, sight, sound, or even smell it could be made familiar or unfamiliar as one chose no matter how fabulous, outlandish or improbable it might be. I say this as I prepare for the next in the series of tales that I must relate to the man I married, and it is as much as my life is worth to make this one far outstrip the previous one.

One of the most important things that I had had to learn is to never allow myself to become a part of the tale, for that way lay unpredictable danger, more so in the fact that my grandfather placed such an importance in remaining objective. It was an equally useful lesson in transacting day-to-day business as it came to storytelling.

I am Scherezhade and in time that I can not foresee even were I granted one wish from the djinn and given the power of foresight; that one day, when we, are gone to dust; we are not forgotten. At the present time, I am full of meltingly and a certain languid reflection that is a feeling that has been all to rare to come by of late; and I really should savor it.

I do wish to be remembered. Is that rather vain of me, to wish for that. Not just for myself , for my family, even, and this is a hope against hope that I should live long enough to bear children.

The night wind blowing in from the east was cold and she got up to shut the casement on the window before returning to the cushions and seating herself once more.

"I wish that others might remember and pass on these stories to other listeners in ages yet unborn," she said.

As I look around the room awaiting my lord's arrival I notice details and as my grandfather ingrained to this rather stubborn and very valuable head of mine; the devil is in the details; they are the essence of any good tale.

The curtains are heavy and velvet and the air smells of incense. As I lay down upon the cushions my body perfumed with the oils and incenses that the handmaidens insisted on rubbing into my brown skin I find myself trembling with an odd heady mixture of both fear and anticipation. I am afraid for my life, or rather my head for those who have preceded me in this less than enviable position of wife of the shah. have quite literally lost their head because of this man.

I did not love him, sheltered as women in our society are I have had the rare fortune to learn a thing or two about how the world works and why to know that marriages among the nobles are rarely made for love and right now, let us be honest with ourselves, Scherezhad, could you really bring yourself to love a man who could murder woman as he might put down a horse from the royal stable who had stumbled in a hole in the ground, fallen and broken its leg, simply to put it out of its misery.

I knew that going into this business from the first. I went along with this marriage with my eyes wide open. I knew the risks and as I told my parents, and siblings, I knew the risks and they were acceptable. In the background I can hear the quiet gurgling and splash of the fountain courtyard and I wonder at the incongruity of it all. The heavy velvet drapes, the richly appointed furnishings, cushions, rich wood wall paneling, and wonder if perhaps my tales have managed somehow to pierce through the stiffly and laboriously constructed walls of this prince's resistance.

I do not desire him at least not in the way a woman is said to desire a man, but he is handsome and in moments when I allow myself to think on such things, that were I to somehow get past fear for my head, that breaking down those invisible walls that he surrounds himself with, much as Ali Baba and his forty thieves might bring into a castle to plunder a treasure hoard, I too, one might one day find happiness in this farce of a marriage.

She tilted her head back at the last meandering thought to cross her mind and laughed, promising herself that laughing in the face of the danger and it was very real when she allowed herself to think on it, laughter was a far better response than breaking down into tears. ⌠I got myself into this. And I do this as much for those other women, my family as I do it for my own sake."

Scherezhade sighed and reached up to rub her temples with the backs of her hands. It would not do to fall asleep now as exhausted as she was, for soon she would be called upon to tell yet another relate yet another tale in the seemingly endless nights broken only by the daystar which she seldom saw for good portion of day was either taken up by catching up on lost sleep or trying to rack her brain for new stories to tell.

'It is at times like these, in the hazy in between darkness and light that I sometimes envy the protagonists of my tales. For it seems to me it is the fate of those characters to die saving his people, his cause, and then die in a blaze glory, remembered and renowned, but little caring what those they fought far do with that hard fought freedom?"

She reached up and placed her hands in her lap to regard her reflection in the reflecting pools seeing a hazy and elongated shadow staring back up at her. ⌠Who are you Scherezhade? Who will save you from your fate? Reaching down with her right hand she stirred the water in a circular motion causing ripples to dimple the surface of the water.
"I must save myself; there is little other choice left remaining to me."