Jabari's Point of View

I watched as the shadows of my people littered the ground, their shadows dancing expertly. I guided my eyes back up to their previous location which was resting on the door of the Den of Thieves. Many of you readers may not know who I am so let me introduce myself: I am Jabari, leader of the Den of Thieves. Watching the door, I was waiting for my friend Acelin to come with his son who had fallen ill to a great number of our people. Luckily, our healer had discovered a treatment for this disease which had prevented many of us from dying.

Acelin's eldest son, who was also the new heir to the throne of Paris' gypsies in the Court of Miracles, was in terrible shape after most likely catching it from a prison cell since Paris, unlike Egypt, was constantly throwing their outcasts into prisons. Here in Egypt, we were either enslaved or left to provide for ourselves. The Den of Thieves was now a refuge, like the Court of Miracles, for the outcasts that society constantly looked down upon.

My eyes were growing heavier and heavier. I felt someone hug me from behind and rest their chin on my shoulder blade, barely being tall enough to reach. "Are they here yet?" my wife whispered in my ear. Kissa was quite the beautiful creature, if I do say so myself. Her curly dark brown locks were all scattered and her dark hazel eyes rested on me, opening and closing slowly.

"Not yet," I sighed, rubbing my eyes. She kissed the back of my neck and I slowly relaxed.

"I'm sure they're fine, Jaba. The weather was just cold but I'm sure they are used to that more than we are." I just nodded, running my hands over my face.

A gypsy boy ran towards me with excitement in his voice. "Duke Jabari, your guests have arrived!" A smile broke out on my face as I watched a very colorful caravan roll through the entrance. Most of us in Egypt wore normal white pieces covering the necessary parts since it was usually very hot during the day.

Acelin came out from the caravan smiling weakly at me. The poor fool! He looked as if he hadn't slept once on the way here. I gave a small smile back before looking towards our healer who was waiting for my say so. I nodded towards the caravan and Nafrini, our healer, nodded and passed my Acelin as she entered the caravan.

By now, as you could imagine, most of the eyes in the Den were on the caravan, Acelin and me. Acelin's smile faded as Nafrini passed him. I couldn't even imagine what he was going through right now. His wife had been a poor choice since she had lost her patience and ended up leaving him to deal with... what was it... six children? Not to mention, right now he was afraid of losing his eldest son who, I think, was the one he bonded with the most since he had to train him in the ways of being a good leader. All those years of training would have been all for nothing if he just died because of this illness. Acelin, being the man I know he is wasn't thinking about the years of training going to waste but only of losing his son.

I released my wife's hands from around my stomach and walked towards my old friend who was staring helplessly into the caravan. I threw a few glares around us, letting the others in the Den to know to mind their own for the time being. Only a few pairs of eyes watched us as I climbed up the few steps to where he was. "Acelin I-" I began but he quickly cut me off in a hoarse, low voice that sounded like a broken soul whispering to me.

"He's gotten worse since we left," he paused and slowly met my eyes with his own black ones that had lost their shine that they normally held, "I can't lose him, Jabari. I can't even imagine losing him in my lifetime." His eyes drifted back to inside the caravan.

"You won't lose him, Acelin," my wife whispered back, coming to my side. "He's young and has always been very healthy. He can pull through and just don't think of what might happen if you don't really know," she stated firmly, talking to him like he was a child. He just nodded and gave a sigh, removing the purple hat that had a yellow feather in it off his head.

Another thought crossed my mind as I noticed his receding hair line. He needed further heirs still since his eldest had not yet found a wife. Acelin ran a hand through his black hair that was now gaining grey hairs. He finally rested his eyes back on me and I motioned him to the side to join me for some conversation with some other gypsies to help take his mind off of the current situation although I knew it wouldn't help distract him all the way.

When I awoke at dawn I found Acelin lying on his stomach with a blanket thrown over him in his colorful garb. I tip-toed around him until I realized he was still awake, his eyes blood-shot from sleep deprivation. I frowned, kneeling down next to my friend. "Still no word about him," he mumbled, his words slurred. I sighed, getting to my feet and making my way towards the caravan. I made sure Acelin had stayed outside so he wouldn't get this illness as well. I knew he wanted to get back home as soon as possible.

My eyes tried focusing on the now even darker caravan. I could make out some objects such as trunks and shelves. I walked forward even more and pulled back a curtain at the back where I saw some light. I lifted the curtain aside only to see Nafrini looked up at me in the dim light of a candle that was next to a sleeping, wiry figure. She smiled at me and nodded. He would survive. I smiled back at her and left to give Acelin the good news.

Layla's Point of View

I yawned, sitting in the circle of the always gossiping women. My mother, Kissa, was the leader of nearly all topics while I and the other women my age joined in on the fun topics. My mother looked over at me from across the oval-shaped formation we had put ourselves into. "Lay, have you heard anything about the Prince of Thunes?"

I rolled my eyes at that statement. "He's probably just like all the other 'princes'. Always rude and thinking he's all high and mighty over everything and everyone," I muttered while the rest of the women debated over that.

He had remained the topic of conversation for the next few hours since we had gotten word that the Prince of Thunes was going to survive the deadly illness he had come here to get treatment for. All eyes focused towards the caravan behind me when we saw Nafrini come out, holding the curtain behind her for a dark-skinned, skinny man. He looked as if he had very lean muscle and I looked deeply at his back which was now bare since he had obviously changed into our type of clothing which went against my theory of him thinking he was more than our people.

His back was to me, as I said, and my eyes traced a long scar going from his shoulder and under his fabric to the back of his knee. He had his hair in a very loose ponytail that was extremely short for many of the men I had seen arrive with him. I heard some of the women behind me giggle. Apparently, although we were several feet away, the Prince had heard them since he turned his head to us. His coal black eyes, the same as his father's, were shining brightly as he gave a smile to us and gave a small wave. A few more women giggle behind me and I rolled my eyes, continuing to watch him. His smile turned from a friendly one to a nervous one. He drifted his eyes away from us and his smile dropped as he seemed to be looking for someone. He talked to Nafrini briefly before walking towards my father's tent.

My mother motioned Nafrini over. Nafrini was a few years older than my mother and was she always considered a trusty advisor as well as one of the best healers there ever was. To be honest, I was very surprised the Prince was walking by now. He was a little shaky when he made his way down the stairs but I assumed he just needed some fresh air instead of being in that cramped space for the past few weeks.

"Tell us what you know, Naf!" my mother laughed as Nafrini sat on her legs next to her. All the women in our group grew closer for some juicy gossip. I looked through and over the tents, trying to see the man again. I got him in my view as he was talking to someone who was hidden by the tent obstructing my view. My eyes remained on him as I heard Nafrini speak about him. "His name is Clopin Trouillefou. He is, as you all know, the Prince of Thunes and the soon-to-be King. He is probably one of the nicest men I've met and one of the most courteous. One thing's for sure though: he definitely knows how to handle the pain of his injuries and illnesses. He laughed once when I was applying herbs. I looked over at him and asked him what he was laughing over. He said, 'My father probably only brought me here to find me a spouse.'

"It was obvious he was just joking about it but I talked to his father earlier this morning and he told me that he is eagerly looking for a spouse for Clopin since there is no heir to Clopin's throne yet. They kill off gypsies left and right in Paris." Some of the women gave her quizzical looks. "It's true! I've seen them kill off a few when I was visiting there," she said frantically.

Many pairs of eyes looked over at me. My father had been looking for a spouse for me as well and he was getting eager in his old age which I'm sure Clopin's father could relate easily to. I thought it over in my head. Both fathers were good friends and I'm sure my father wouldn't mind moving me to Paris for a wedding and for my spouse. My eyes widened and I looked over at my mother with begging eyes. She merely shrugged at me, helpless in the decision.