Okay, I had this idea and couldn't make it leave me alone. So, I devised this storyline. And while I don't know how often this story will be updated, I have an ending in mind. Thus, it will eventually be completed. I don't ever intend to abandon a story permanently. So, read and enjoy.
There will be large-scale deaths, magical battles, old friends, and powerful foes. It will start out slowly and be kind of dark at times, but don't worry. I still intend to have some of the light-hearted moments too. I do not own "Aladdin," most of the characters, and any of the crazy references that Genie will likely display at some point.
I'll be incorporating elements from all three movies and the television show, so I suggest that you've watched them. Thanks and hope that you like it.
An immortal being possessing phenomenal cosmic power and bound to fulfill the desires of others without question can follow one of two paths. They can be cheerful, out-going, optimistic slaves who try to make the best of their existence. They can pretend not to care about spending millennia in small confined spaces with flamboyant displays. They can treasure the precious few masters who do not order the magical entities to commit horrible atrocities. They can live with the hope, however dim at times, that things can get better and that the next human to gain their power might be one of the good and decent ones. They can follow the spirit of their master's orders and be a helpful slave. They can keep trying to be enthusiastic and supportive to their occasional kind owner, shoving away guilt from the past and ominous knowledge that they will spend an eternity in servitude to thousands of cruel people who will abuse that power. They can cling to their optimism, even as reality tries to destroy all hope.
Or they can choose a darker, more cynical, and vindictive path.
Anywhere that water might be found in the desert, life will find it. This might range from wildlife collecting dew off a couple of standing stones before the sun burns it away to a lush oasis where tall trees might grow. In this case, a small village had formed around a pair of very reliable wells. This location was also profitable, providing a place to rest along a common trade route. Caravans could restock their supplies, perhaps sell a trinket or two, and even enjoy a night under a real roof.
The village, too small to truly deserve a name, possessed a population between one and two dozen people. But it did have a tavern where travelers could buy a decent meal and a room for the night. Coins of gold, silver, and even copper were the preferred method of payment for these luxuries, but not the only one accepted. Just like any other tavern or gathering place, storytelling could buy almost anything. Still, considering the amazing things the desert both hid and revealed to its travelers, a tale would need to be truly wondrous and the teller truly gifted to make a significant impression on his audience.
The two strangers currently entrancing the tavern, however, could potentially earn room and board for a year with their skills. It was clear that either one could relate a thousand and one fantastic tales without effort, but together they could leave grown, worldly men gasping in amazement like children. They occupied a table in the middle of the dimly lit room. Most of the other tables had been moved closer to them so the other occupants could better hear.
Part of the pair's mysterious charm was their drastically differing appearances. One was a man with a beard, dressed in traveling clothes and a sword at his side. He was past his days of youth, as demonstrated by the grey hairs streaking through his black ones, but his smooth movements and lively expression hinted he was still as capable as a man half his age. He was confident of his abilities to handle anything that might arise. Still, his dark eyes flickered around the room regularly, as if he was continuously noting every person's position and the accessibility of potential exits. He'd seen much in his life and survived it through his wits and skills only.
The other one, currently hypnotizing his audience with his story, was even more interesting. He was a red parrot with blue feathers on his wing tips and tail. Even more amazing was the fact he was a talking parrot, a bird who spoke his mind rather than simply mimicking others. Not that it was unheard of for things other than humans to talk, but it was still a rarity to encounter. The bird, perched on his companion's shoulder, seemed to excel as a storyteller. His voice shifted to copy the different characters of his tale, giving his story more life and realism than others that had been told at the same table over the year. He waved his wings around as he spoke, as a human would wave his hands for emphasis as he reached the climax.
"… And then, even though it would mean Genie would be a slave of the lamp forever, he still offered Aladdin the chance to use the final wish to become a prince again. But, because he's one of those nice and honest people who would try to help people and keep promises and won't go along with very lucrative money-making schemes," described the parrot until his companion gave him an impatient look. The bird grinned apologetically and continued, "Aladdin held on to the lamp and simply wished for his friend's freedom. Of course, it took Blue-boy a minute to realize that the kid actually did it, but he was one happy genie when he did. No more getting bossed around by psychos and he could finally see the world. But Genie did end up staying with Aladdin and the others. He wasn't as powerful once freed, but his magic was still helpful whenever they decided to go adventuring or looking for trouble. Which was quite often."
One of the listeners, a frown on his face, waited for a pause in the narration to ask, "Why would he give up a wish like that? He could have had almost anything."
"Trust me, that isn't even close to the craziest thing he ever did. But, if he hadn't, then he wouldn't have had all that magical help later on. As annoying as he might get at times with all the crazy theatrics, Genie is better to have as a friend than as a slave of the lamp."
"Did Aladdin marry Princess Jasmine?" a small voice squeaked from the corner, not for the first time that night, but still uncertain if she could ask questions.
"Took forever, but yes," the parrot confirmed. "Sultan, impressed by Aladdin, changed the law to allow the two to marry. Of course, they decided to travel across the Seven Deserts and drag me into harm's way repeatedly first."
The same speaker, a young girl around eight years old, spoke up again, "And they, Abu, Magic Carpet, and Genie all still live at the palace in Agrabah? Having adventures and facing evil?"
It was the man who answered this time, smiling at the child and her curiosity, "We saw them only a few months ago, at the wedding, so I would assume they're still there."
"And undoubtedly they've found some new evil or curse to rid the world of whenever they can distract the newly-weds from all that lovey-dovey stuff," grumbled the red parrot.
"Nada, what are you doing out here?" a voice whispered in the girl's ear. She turned to find her father standing there. "Haven't I told you not to bother our customers before?"
"She isn't bothering us," the man assured, indicating the crowd of listeners who nodded in agreement. "It's refreshing to meet such a curious child who isn't afraid to speak up."
The bird muttered, "Just be careful she doesn't end up like Aladdin and Jasmine. Running around the desert, fighting monsters and evil sorcerers."
"Right now, however, it's time for her to finish her chores and go to sleep," her father reminded. "Say good night and thank them for the story."
"Thank you, mister…" she began, pausing as she realized she didn't know their names.
"You can call me 'Cassim'," the man smiled before gesturing towards his companion. "And this is Iago."
"Thank you for the story," she finished before dashing out the door.
As she left the crowded room, she managed to catch the beginning of another story. The child was able to hear something about a treasure hidden on the back of a giant turtle. She could hear the man, Cassim, speak about it with great desire and some regret, but she missed out the rest of the tale.
The sun was setting, turning the sky a deep orange color. Most of the village's inhabitants were either in the tavern listening or already home. Thus, she found the well nearest the tavern deserted. During the day, she might find two of the three other children in the village, both several years older than her and uninterested in her ideas for games, talking about their future husbands and doing laundry. The only other child was a toddler and not allowed out of his mother's sight. The lack of proper playmates led to her fascination with the customers of the tavern, even when she wasn't helping out. She might not have any real friends her age, but she had stories.
One of her jobs around the tavern was to water the guest's animals. It wasn't a particularly hard chore, but she preferred doing it in the evening so the sun wouldn't dry it up quickly. And she liked seeing the animals, even if the camels were sometimes mean. Cassim and Iago had arrived on a beautiful, dark-coated horse that nudged at her when she poured a vaseful of water in front him. It was so peaceful.
As the child tried to draw up her final load of water, something stopped it. Nada frowned, pulling harder on the rope. It was caught on something in the well. She braced her feet against the stones surrounding the well and giving the rope a sharp tug. Whatever was holding the container back suddenly gave way, causing her to fall backwards and her collected water to spill across the sand.
"No," she yelped, trying to right the vase before all the water was lost.
Her fingers brushed against something thin and hard. Tangled around the rope, close to where it attached to the vase, was a thin chain with a fist-sized round object. Even covered in mud and damp sand, Nada could tell it was some kind of necklace. She'd never really owned anything pretty and shiny like jewelry, unlike the older girls of the village who each bought one from one of the caravan a year ago and loved to wear them when they went to fetch water for their homes. Caravans would carry such things, along with spices and other exotic goods, but her family's business didn't make quite enough to purchase such frivolous items for a child. But she wouldn't have to wait to grow up to have pretty things. She'd found it herself and no one else could take it.
She tucked the necklace into her dress, hiding it from view. Once she finished her chores and made it to her room, she could clean it up better and see what her necklace really looked like. Maybe the older girls would like it too and talk to her.
Small fingers rubbed his necklace gently, summoning him out of his portable prison for the first time in nearly seven thousand years. Yellow smoke spilled out of an amber oval in the center of the pendent, filling the small room quickly and blinding his new master. The necklace was fairly simple, a golden-yellow orb held in a dark coppery setting, but it was actually a powerful prison he loathed. But he could enjoy a temporary escape at least.
The smoke began to solidify into a more humanoid shape slowly. He was powerfully built, at least from the waist up. Below that point was a simple vapor-like tail. His black hair was pulled into a ponytail on top of his head. His eyes were a dark orange shade with black pupils. On his wrists was a pair of golden cuffs, as if a set of manacles without the chain between them. His body was a sickly orangish-yellow hue that denied the color's usual cheerful nature. He was large, intimidating, powerful, and…
"Are you a genie?" the child asked. "Like in the stories?"
…Apparently a slave to an innocent, little girl. One who like stories and wasn't immediately afraid of his arrival. In fact, she smiled cheerfully at the phenomenal cosmic powered being. He would have to handle her carefully since a child's mind is already a chaotic, illogical place. If he wanted to use her wishes to…
"With magic and wishes?" she continued, not disturbed by his lack of response so far. She stared at him with her bright eyes, almost adoringly. "But trapped and can't really be freed except by your master wishing for it? That isn't fair for you."
This time, he raised an eyebrow in surprise. While various masters in the past had known about the wishes and even the rules from the start, fewer knew or cared about the genie's point of view. This child actually seemed to think that a genie deserved to be free.
The girl reached out her hand, her smile never vanishing, "My name is Nada. What's yours?"
Deciding he wanted to see what else she might know and that she could be one of his more interesting masters he'd had in a while, he took her hand gently and answered in his deeper voice, "You may call me 'Djinn.' Tell me… child," he smiled in a comforting way, a skill he'd perfected over the centuries in order to subtly influence past masters towards preferred wishes, "how is it you know so much about genies?"
"There was a story tonight about a boy finding a magic lamp in a strange cave," she described. "Inside was a blue genie that helped him defeat an evil vizier and win the love of a princess. Afterwards, Aladdin used the last wish to free Genie and they're still friends."
"A blue genie of the lamp, you say?" he asked. Memories thousands of years old flickered through his mind, along with very strong emotions regarding those memories. The description was familiar and Djinn knew who she was speaking of. The form of imprisonment and general color of a genie is fairly unique. While it is possible to have two genies stuck in a lamp, it is unlikely that both would be blue. And if he actually ended up freed… Well, perhaps he could use this information to his advantage. Choosing his words carefully, he nodded thoughtfully, "Is that a fact? I'm very… happy to hear that his life is going… well."
"You know him?"
The child looked down at the necklace, her face thoughtful. He was careful not to speak as an idea turned in her mind. He needed to be careful. She could, potentially, be the one who would make the perfect wish. As long as she thought it was all her idea, she would be completely…
"What if I wish you free too? That way you can be my friend instead of my genie," Nada suggested brightly. "Just like Aladdin and Genie."
"That would be a wonderful idea, but you have two other wishes first."
"Just like in the story," she nodded.
"And, the thing is, a freed genie is not as powerful as an enslaved one," he explained, but the child seemed to already know this. Curious, Djinn asked, "Just who was this very well-informed storyteller?"
"A nice man named Cassim and a red bird named Iago who are staying in my father's tavern," she smiled. "They really met Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, and even Genie."
He nodded thoughtfully, taking careful note of the man's name and the fact he had a pet, and explained, "I have an idea on how to get around that little problem. It'll just take some creative wishing."
"And then you'll be free and get to be my friend for the rest of my life?" the child asked, looking so sweet and innocent.
"Of course, Nada. Until the day you die," he agreed, seeing that the only thing she seemed to really want was a friend. He patted her head in a comforting manner, "Just repeat exactly what I tell you and everything will be alright."
The young girl, eager to help her new companion and undoubtedly entranced by the earlier story, completely trusted the yellow genie. In her eyes, the magical being would lead to a more exciting and amazing life. She was certain it would end up like a story. The sweet child would do anything to help him.
"For your first wish, you must wish for me to regain my full powers upon being freed," instructed Djinn.
As she recited the wish obediently he waved his right hand through the air. There was a brief sparkle, but very little evidence of his actions beyond that. It was a wish for the future after all. He couldn't prevent him losing some of his powers upon freeing, but he could give it back this way. The wish wouldn't come into effect until after the third one. Just as long as she did as she was told, it should all work. He was an expert at finding loopholes.
"Next, I need you to wish for me to gain the ability to break the rules once freed," he carefully directed, his tone neutral.
This one was the wish he was more concerned about being possible. While there were very few rules to being a genie, those that did exist were unbreakable. Just as he was bound to the necklace around the girl's neck, he was bound to follow those rules. And, as one particularly bright master's idea had taught him, the wish to directly remove the rules wouldn't work either. But if she wished him to gain the ability to break the rules after being freed, it might be indirect enough to work. It was worth a try and it would give him pure and complete freedom if it worked.
Nada looked slightly uneasy about this wish. Likely, her storyteller had outlined the rules in his infuriatingly detailed tale. On the other hand, that same story was why she wanted to free him in the first place. She must be wondering why he wants to have those abilities. None seem particularly desirable to such an innocent girl.
Adopting a sad look, Djinn stared pleadingly into her big, brown eyes and whispered, "Please?"
With a sigh, his master repeated his requested wish perfectly. He waved his hand, granting another feat of magic that wouldn't come into effect yet. He was almost there. He could practically taste his freedom. All he needed was for a young child to speak those final words.
"And finally…," he grinned encouragingly, but she interrupted.
"I know what to do now. I grant my friend's wish instead of him granting everyone else's. I wish you were free."
There it was. The words that genies dream of hearing, but rarely do. He felt the manacles releasing from his wrists and the magic binding him to the necklace and master vanished. Part of his power also disappeared with his freeing, but he expected that. A second later, two more pieces of magic hit him. The earlier wishes worked. His plan worked.
Djinn's face broke into a grin, but it lacked the earlier warmth and comfort he'd displayed towards the girl. It was a cruel, spiteful smile. He dropped his earlier mask of "friendly" genie. He could show his true feelings now.
"Djinn, are you okay?' she asked hesitantly, uncomfortable with his expression.
"Shut up, stupid human girl," he snapped venomously. "Do you know how much your 'sweet and kind to all living things' act sickens me? Do you realize that I couldn't care less about another human and, if you hadn't been so painfully naïve, I would have twisted every wish you made into the worst possible scenario I could devise? I've done it for millennia for hundreds of masters who were far older and wiser than you. I hate serving your pathetic species and try to share that misery with all of you. But you were so eager to be like that Aladdin and free a genie. You thought I would end up as your best friend, so I played on that desire to use you. However, I no longer need to listen to your agonizingly cheerful voice. Honestly, you're as bad as that overly-optimistic Genie."
The child flinched with each hate-filled sentence. His voice, and size, both grew gradually until he filled the room. A set of frantic footsteps racing towards her room, calling her name, but Djinn simply held the door close with his oversized hand. His orange eyes glared down at her without sympathy. He reached over and yanked the necklace off her neck.
"But… you promised to be my friend," she whimpered, the young girl terrified at his change of personality.
"Until the day you die," he reminded. He transferred his necklace to the hand holding the door and held his free hand in front of him, a giant fireball materializing in thin air. He didn't care how frightened the previously-trusting girl currently looked. "And since I can break the rules now…"
Fire swallowed the room and everything inside it. And all the while, Djinn laughed.
'You have quite a talent for storytelling," Cassim complimented, their audience finally distracted away from the pair by a visiting musician. "Perhaps you should have considered being one instead of riding with the former King of Thieves."
Though he spoke of his former life in a light-hearted manner, his voice dipped to near silence when he mentioned his old title. Even with the Forty Thieves disbanded and his son the future Sultan of Agrabah, there was still a price on his head and too many dungeons waiting for him. Still, he was far from his old hunting grounds and, even in the old days, few people could actually recognize the face of the King of Thieves. But it was better safe than sorry.
"Spend as much time as I did running cons and creating believable arguments for the monkey when we try to grab some treasure, you pick up a few tricks," Iago shrugged. "And it beats wasting gold on a room."
The man chuckled, "You mean the gold you swindled off that caravan with the 'evil spirit of the desert' trick?"
"Hey, if you hear a creepy voice at night coming from above, promising to devour you if you don't leave a tribute of gold, you'd definitely react," grinned the bird. "I just took advantage of that superstition and I was lucky enough that no one saw me flying overhead. That was hard-earned money for my efforts."
Cassim shook his head in amusement, "It's rather nice to meet such a creative natural criminal."
"And it's nice to finally be around someone who can properly appreciate the value of gold. I mean besides the monkey."
The tavern owner walked back over to where the man and parrot conversed. He'd been pleased by the crowds drawn in by the stories. More customers meant more money for his business. The effect that good storytellers had on a population was part of the reason they could earn free food and a room with that skill.
"Thank you for the stories this evening," he began. "And for letting my daughter pester you with questions earlier. She loves anything to do with adventure and magic, but she hasn't learned not to bother the customers yet."
"It was no trouble at all," Cassim assured. "I missed out on much of my son's life growing up. I imagine he would have been just as curious at her age."
"No doubt she'll be talking about flying carpets, evil sorcerers, genies, and magic caves for a long time," he smiled ruefully. "To be young again."
A loud, booming voice began to echo through the tavern. The specific words were muffled and unclear, but the tone dripped hatred and power. The tavern owner, responding as any concerned parent would, broke into a run towards his daughter's room in the domicile section of the tavern. The customers stumbled around the room, uncertain of the speaker's location, identity, or even if it was a threat. Iago drew upon his year of experience of being the cowardly "sane" member of whatever group he ended up in.
The red-feathered bird grabbed Cassim's head and shouted, "Get out of here. Now. Whatever's going on, it isn't good. And I want to get away from the threat."
Cassim, unlike his son on various occasions, actually took the parrot's advice about running away. He shoved his way through the confused crowd towards the door. Taking advantage of the fact he had wings, Iago flew over their heads. As they reached the dark exterior, the situation worsened.
Fire erupted from every door and window of the tavern, causing screams of pain from those caught in the blast and burnt. Others didn't even have time to react before the flames engulfed them. The force knocked Cassim flying, but he'd managed to escape the fire itself and rolled across the sand to escape most injuries caused by being thrown by the explosion of heat. Iago ended up being flung into a sand dune roughly, but he'd been hit by worse in his life.
Pulling his head out of the grainy particles, the bird muttered, "I thought things would be calmer and safer away from Aladdin and Agrabah. But, no…"
He paused as he turned back towards the burning tavern. The bright red and orange flames flickered from every opening and illuminated the scene imperfectly, casting long and shifting shadows across every surface. It was like a nightmare, the dark smoke rising above the building and pained groans of the survivors mixed with the crackle of flames. The horses and camels in the stable were panicking from the smell of smoke, but that fact seemed less important. One distant part of the bird's mind wondered why Genie wasn't extinguishing the fire in some over-the-top fashion, why Aladdin and Jasmine weren't trying to help the injured people, and why Carpet wasn't carrying the survivors to safety. The rest of his brain knew he'd left them behind when he went with Cassim, but he still subconsciously expected for them to be present during a disaster.
A deep laugh began to rise over the chaos. Iago knew a maniac laugh when he heard one. Jafar loved them and the memories of the sound still sent chills up his spine. This sound was just as unnerving.
Cassim, climbing to his feet, turned to face the parrot. The fire, the laughter, and even the earlier voice all pointed to a powerful threat. And they had no reason to believe it was over yet.
The smoke, originally black and nearly invisible against the dark sky, began to change color. The cruel laughter was coming from the smoky, lightening shape. For a brief and terrifying moment, Iago thought the being forming from the strange colored smoke could be his long-dead former partner, Jafar. The days he'd spent working loyally for the corrupt and power-hungry vizier were gone and the thought of him returning, especially after the bird's firm betrayal of the deadly being and his new life with non-psychotic friends, left him shaking in horror of the revenge he'd suffer. It was only after he realized the solidifying shape was becoming orangish-yellow, not red, did he dismiss that fear. But, the bird also realized the large figure was a genie. And he didn't look happy or annoyingly cheerful. The villagers who could move still stumbled and crawled away from the large magical entity, leaving only the bird, his companion, and a couple of barely alive people behind.
Intending to fly over, grab Cassim's hair, and force the man away from the extremely powerful being, Iago launched himself into the air. His plan was interrupted, however, by the giant hand of the genie grabbing the former King of Thieves firmly and lifting him to eye level. Considering this was high over the burning tavern, this action certainly caught the man's attention and kept him from making any attempts to escape immediately since falling from this height would kill him, even if the flames didn't.
"Okay, this isn't too bad," Iago mumbled to himself as he circled the genie at a semi-safe distance. "He can't kill Cassim. He's a genie. That would be against the rules." He glanced down at the fire below uneasily. "On the other hand, I'm willing to bet that would have caused a few casualties, so…"
"Tell me, human," the genie's voice boomed firmly. "Are you this 'Cassim' I've heard of?"
In a look of defiance that was incredibly similar to the one his son wore when trapped in the coils of Jafar's snake form so long ago, he answered, "I am he. And who are you to cause all of this pain? These were innocent people and you slaughtered them without warning. Are you too cowardly to face an opponent like a man?"
Ignoring the rest of his captive's words, the yellow being asked further, "And you are familiar with this… Aladdin and his… blue genie of the lamp?"
His last few words were filled with pure hatred, beyond what already existed in his tone. His eyes narrowed and his fist seemed to tighten unconsciously. Cassim grunted at the extra pressure, but still managed a spirited retort.
"If you should even think of harming my son…"
"I see… Your son, you say? Intriguing… Well, let me explain things to you. You are currently held by a genie found and freed by a small girl after listening to your stories. She was so certain that it would be just like the story and agreed to every wish I told her to make. Not only am I no longer bound to follow the orders of pathetic, greedy, short-sighted, disgusting humans, but she helped ensure that I retain my full powers upon being freed. And gave me the ability to ignore the rules. I can kill any of you I choose. Including that naïve child. Everything I've done since she summoned me is because of your story. All of this," he waved his free hand, indicating all the destruction below, "is thanks to you. And you will help me more. You will be the key to finding that… Genie."
Something told Iago that the creepy creature really had it out for Genie. Which could be really bad. Especially since he just said he could break the rules. If Jafar could have done that… The bird shuddered at the thought. He could try a suicidal attack on the phenomenal cosmic powered, no-conditions-on-powers, yellow genie to save his companion. Or, he could keep his distance and not draw the attention and wrath of the crazy killer. Since that idea was more likely to help him survive, he chose option B for the time being.
"I will never help you," snapped Cassim defiantly.
"You have no choice," the genie informed him. His dark orange eyes began to swirl in a familiar pattern that Iago quickly looked away from. It was the snake staff all over again. He couldn't really stop it from working on Cassim, but he didn't need to get hypnotized too. "You will go to visit your son. You will act normally, as if there was nothing beyond your desire to see your family that causes this trip. Do nothing that would attract suspicion or attention, but if any should try to stop you or suggests something is not right… kill them. You will transport this to where your son is," he placed a strange necklace around the man's neck. "When you are certain that his genie is present and unsuspecting, rub the pendant. I will await your signal so that no one will sense my presence until it is too late."
In a monotone voice, Cassim nodded and answered, "It shall be done, Master."
Nodding with satisfaction, the yellow genie set the man down on the ground. Then, with one final cruel grin, he dissolved into smoke and vanished into the necklace now on Cassim. Apparently without a care of what just occurred, the former King of Thieves simply walked over towards the stable. He began to saddle his horse calmly. Iago carefully flew down to where he stood.
"Hey, Cassim, are you alright?" he asked cautiously, not wanting to activate the whole "kill them" part of the instructions.
"Yes, I just feel like heading back to Agrabah," the man answered, sounding perfectly normal. If the parrot hadn't just seen him be hypnotized by a yellow genie, he wouldn't have even realized something was wrong. "Are you coming with me?"
"Uh… no, thanks. I have a couple more… moneymaking schemes I'd like to try here first," the bird lied quickly. "Tell everyone I said 'hi' though. And be careful. You never know what you'll run into in the desert."
He laughed, "I survived for years without you watching my back, my friend. I'm certain I'll be fine on a short journey to visit my son."
"Yeah, sure," Iago chuckled uneasily before taking flight again.
No doubt Cassim wouldn't even notice the fire, thanks to that genie. He'd ride along the caravan trade routes at a reasonable rate, acting perfectly normal. Then he would deliver "Mr. Killer Genie" right to Aladdin and everyone in the palace. With full power, no rules, and the element of surprise on his side, he'd slaughter everyone. The smart thing would be to head for the hills and place as much distance between him and Agrabah as possible.
Once, Iago essentially did the mental equivalent of having having his conscience bound and gagged before dropping it off a cliff into the sea so that he wouldn't be bothered by that nagging sense that "this is wrong." It made little ideas like "Jafar can marry the princess, become Sultan, and kill her and her father off afterwards" easier to suggest. But, somehow, it escaped from its bindings enough to result in the bird saving everyone from Jafar, the vengeful and evil genie who had to obey the rules even while trying to kill them. On other cases over time, he'd ended up wrestling with that same conscience over other life-and-death situations. As much as he wanted to deny it, his greed could no longer quite overcome his annoying sense of morality. And it was currently saying that the "running away" option was not a choice.
The trade route wasn't direct, but it was safer. It followed a path that would allow travelers to find scattered villages and sources of water. A straighter path would skip these luxuries. It was easy to get lost out there and a traveler could end up dying of thirst if they try that route. But it would be faster.
He once jokingly told Aladdin he was part homing pigeon. He could find Agrabah. Most of his life had been spent in the palace, first with Jafar and then with Aladdin. Iago could find it if he tried. And he had several cool and dark hours of travel he could take advantage before the desert sun made it unbearable. It wouldn't be an easy trip, but that nagging little voice in the back of his head said it was his only option. Cassim was his new partner in crime and everyone back in Agrabah was his… friends. He hated to admit it, but that nasty, self-serving, greedy, little villain that once perched on Jafar's shoulder was long dead and he was just as much a "noble hero" as the rest of them.
"This has not been my night," he muttered as he took off into the desert.
Okay, most chapters probably won't be as long as this and I'll be bringing in far more familiar characters later. And I still don't know what the updating schedule will end up being like since most of my focus is on my other stories. But it will eventually be completed. Feedback is appreciated. Insults and mindless scorn is not. Thanks.