She was sure enough time had passed. The day was getting hotter, and they finally approached the walls, which even she was familiar with. They had reached the formidable Valley, known throughout the surrounding realms, Alamut and Persia being the closest.
"Welcome to the Valley of the Slaves, princess." Dastan turned to her, giving an exaggerated bow. She felt uneasy, and saw him grin wryly. Looking away, Tamina fumed, inwardly groaning that he had caught sight of her nervousness.
They crossed into the walls, and Tamina was surprised. What had she been expecting though, a sword at her neck, and the option of slavery or a silted throat? Well, Tamina thought, perhaps the...inhabitants of this place were not yet aware of their entrance. Surely even murderous cutthroats would need time to catch up. She tried to cheer herself up with such thoughts.
"Oh, upon the god..." she couldn't help but mutter, as her eyes fell upon an unseemly sight. Those bones! Skeletons, hanging in the air. Travelling gypsies, perhaps? Fear crept into her own bones, and she struggled to shake them off.
"Scared, princess?" Dastan spoke up. Really, how could this... insufferable swine! How could he enter these dark realms and be as cool as an oasis?
"Of course not," she quickly, too quickly replied, stomping forward to catch up.
Dastan shot her a look, and she knew he was enjoying this. He had gotten his "Persian stride" back, so she assumed he was feeling better.
But it was also frustrating, so terribly frustrating. Urgh, stupid prince, why did he have to tell her about his past now? Now she would have a conscience, whatever she would do to him.
For she had to do something. Then quite abruptly, an idea struck her. Oh gosh, dare she? He was quite oblivious, lost in his own thoughts. And promptly, she picked up one of the scattered bones, hiding it in her cloak.
She looked at him, walking without a backwards glance, knowing she would have to act on her plan, or risk the journey ahead. Prince Dastan was a formidable warrior, and even she was able to admit her own weakness, should he turn against turn her. No, she quickly decided, she would have to get rid of him.
Tamina knew she couldn't kill him, not after what he'd just divulged. He was Persian, but as hard as it was, for her to admit, she knew Prince Dastan was not a complete barbarian. And certainly, he was far better than those brothers of his.
She would have hurt him though, and that she didn't mind. Tamina sighed loudly, holding her hand to her forehead, swaying. This had to work. As she hoped, he looked back at her, giving her a look.
"I'm desperate for a drop of water." She swooned, hoping it was act was convincing.
"That's more than we have. After all, you so considerately emptied the canteen hours ago."
She tried not to glare at him, but felt oddly guilty. After all, it wasn't as though she was the only thirsty one. Well, she tried to concentrate; he would be put out of his miseries soon. She felt a little excited. Her first bloodthirsty mission, and there were still remnants of her torn pride. This after all, was the man who invaded her city.
Whatever his origins, knocking a prince of Persia down would be quite something.
Keeping up her facade of fatigue, she mustered all her irritation, and replied, "I wasn't born of this desert like you Persians, all shrivelled and angry." He was quite unfazed, walking on. Urgh! "My constitution is more… delicate" Tamina swayed a little, hoping she wasn't too obvious
He still did not deign to look back, but only called out. "I think you mean spoilt."
"The wells of Alamut" she sighed, for a moment, missing her home, "are famed for their clean, cold water, A gift, in this parched desert, you see, you Persians do not understand" As the heat shone upon her, she realised she quite meant what she was saying.
"Perhaps," he cut in, "if you spent more time guarding your walls and less admiring your wealth, you wouldn't be stuck in this situation." He remarked, laughing at this own wit.
Tamina rolled her eyes, but felt that he had struck the right chord. Their walls were strong, Alamut hadn't been breached for a 1000 years. Yet that ought not have prevented them from becoming so careless.
But still, she knew none of those armies had Dastan, the lion of Persia, a conniving, wall-jumping prince. She had seen what he was capable of.
She still felt annoyed though. Well, she suddenly grinned. He would not get away with that. This was quite the perfect moment, now that he was off his guard, still chuckling away at her expense. Breathing in, her plan sprung into action, she fell onto the sands, letting her eyelids close. This had better work.
Dastan's voice went on, further away. "Ha! A miracle! I've silenced the princess." She wished she could smack him, and curb that gleeful tone. If he left her there, well, that'd prove him to more dishonourable as she'd first assumed, and she wouldn't hesitate to knock him down from behind. But he did need her. He wasn't a complete fool, and knew there was more to the dagger, and if she was in his shoes, keeping the princess of Alamut alive was quite vital.
"Princess?" he called. Tamina smirked, her face hidden in her arms. Finally.
"Tamina?" he was getting closer, "Tamina!"
She felt Dastan shadow, and came close murmuring, "I can't leave you here. Tamina, wake up!"
She felt a little sorry for him, and a little guilty seeped, as she heard his tone, so full of concern. Could he really, genuinely care? But she had mission, and pushed away unfamiliar feelings. Tightening her arm around the bone, she braced herself. The opportune moment was coming.
"Can you hear me?"
SMACK! She hit him over with the bone, with all her strength. Dastan fell to the ground, losing consciousness immediately.
Tamina couldn't help but feel triumphant, ripping off the Dagger. "Yes Dastan, I can hear you," she replied, smirking in her victory. She quickly saddled onto the puzzled horse beside, before mounting up. She didn't doubt that Dastan would somehow survive in the Valley of the salves. He was... something remarkable.
He'd somehow survive this place. It was more of a reassurance, to herself. Even if all it did seem yet was a stretch of wastelands.
Though, why would she want him to survive? Adopted son or not, he was Persian royal. She shook her head, taking hold of the reins, as the beast was urged on, gaining speed. She felt the air, almost light before, now grow heavy, as grimness sunk in. To the high temple, she had to go. And quickly.
Dastan woke, feeling, the full blast of sunlight hitting his face. He squinted immediately, but then, made out faces. OH no. Upon the Creator. These couldn't be slave-trader. These were formidable people, a crowd, a blur as his vision focussed. He tried to get up. The last thing he remembered-
Tamina! He let out a string of curses. Oh, how could he have been so foolish? Of course she had been pretending! The princess might've been beautiful, but she was no desert rose.
And she'd now had his horse, Garsiv's prized stallion, going somewhere only the Creator knew.
"Do you know where you are Persian?" he sniggered, "And yet you enter still?"
"I-"Dastan could only blurt, but the man cut into his stutter.
"In the heart of Sudan, there is a tribe of warriors known as the Ngbaka. They strike fear into the hearts of all they cross."
And why in the world would he care about this? The man ignored him, determinedly going on with his speech, "The Ngbaka are masters of the throwing knife, wielding blades said to have been blessed by the Creator himself."
Dastan was confused now, but a little fearful. Something told him whatever these Ngbaka were their skills for blades and knives would involve him...
"Their aim is so murderously accurate, they can decapitate three men... with one strike" It definitely involved him, if the sadistic glint in the man's eyes was anything to go by.
He had to act, quickly. His eyes on the bone, just inches before him. Probably the one Tamina struck him with. Quickly, he made a move to grab it, when the man bent, shaking his head.
"Oh I wouldn't even bother doing that if I were you," he continued, a lethal edge in it, "do you know why?" Dastan shook his head, his sense on high alert. "This is Seso." Dastan glanced up at the tall black man. He had been focusing on the robed men surrounding him, but this man, with his leopard skin and fearsome brow. Lion of Persia or not, this new warrior was intimidating.
"He's an Ngbaka." Sheik Amar said gleefully, observing Dastan's shock."I had the good fortune of saving his life which means that he is now enduringly indebted to me. So tell me Persian." His voice was all seriousness now,
"Can you give me any good reason why I shouldn't tell Seso to put his next throw... just a little higher?"
Dastan shook his head, trying to clear his tangled thoughts. The Ngbaka raised his knife. Aiming straight at him.
"Wait!" he cried. These people, they were ruthless, if those stories were true. He vaguely remembered Tamina yelling out the same before Tus slaye-
Tamina. His mind worked fast. Surely these people wouldn't resist a woman of that scale of beauty. He grinned, a vague plan forming in his head.
"Sir, what would you say about a deal?"
"Sheik Amar, you can call me," Dastan couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. This man, his dirty robes and face, didn't quite look the sheik, but he thought it was best not to point that out just then.
The Sheik raised an eyebrow, but bade Seso to lower his weapon. "And what sort of deal would this be?"
"A woman, "he replied without hesitation. Tamina definitely deserved this.
"Ohhh , no, no " Sheik Amar said, as disapproval rang in the his tone, "contrary to what you think Persian, I don't keep any women in the Valley of the Slaves. Women of pleasure." The Sheik snorted. "Hah, a lot of care, you have to take. All those harem dwellers," he shuddered, "spoilt with their baths and silk. Oh trust me, I tried. But those whining, pure helpless sorts are no use. Not good for business. "
"Yes, and none o' your too," Sheik Amar snapped, but he was grinning. "Well, unless you've got something else to offer Persian, my men might just clear up with ye."
This certainly wasn't an expected turn of events. Dastan was a worried now. If they wouldn't take Tamina. Wait. He looked at Sheik Amar closely. Perhaps, another try, he thought.
"She's a beauty," Dastan slowly said, watching the Sheik pause, "and intelligent enough for your needs, " a little too intelligent, his mind added.
"Hmm." Dastan watched him, deep in thought. Perhaps now, as he looked around, would be the perfect chance to escape. But a glance at the Ngbaka's unwavering gaze bade him to freeze.
"I could use with a lady," The Sheik said, "we run, "he deliberately paused, "a profitable business. Certainly could use some women. Women with some brains. Rare breed those. But you better not be lying, Persian."
"Oh, believe me, this woman, you will not regret it." Dastan replied, feeling almost cheerful.
"And now, Persian, how are we to get to her?" the Sheik asked.
"That way, if you please." Was the prince's reply. He stood up, grinning as he pictured Tamina's reaction when he turned up with these men.
Sheik Amar too, looked rather more relaxed. The other men had lowered their weapons, and already mounting the horses. The sheik stepped forward, stretching out a hand. "Very well then, we have ourselves a deal." He grinned.
The ride was mostly in silence. Aksh's hoofprints, was rather easy to trace, but catching up, was harder work. Tamina, he groaned, feeling his irritation build up with every gallop. The further they rode, the more peril his life was in. The Sheik did not seem like a patient man. He cursed her, travelling. How fatigued Aksh would be.
And yet, he would have almost... admired her. No one had ever managed to outrun him. Still, that was only if he didn't have his own neck in the rope.
They rode on, the minutes turning into hours, and the sun, getting hotter. He missed Aksh. His brother's prized stallion was after all, the most comfortable and swift horse in the empire.
"There!" Dastan suddenly yelled. She was there, in front of him! The princess, there in the distance, he saw her figure. She had slowed her tracks, quite unaware of company.
His companions hurried, spotting the princess too. He couldn't quite see then though, through the dust that was kicked up by the galloping horses. It cleared before he could curse, and he could see her again, her figure, surrounded by Sheik Amar's men. Oh, he couldn't help but grin. Now her turn to suffer.
Tamina turned, getting down the horse, and caught of him. Her eyes flashed, and suddenly, she was fumbling with the necklace, hiding it behind the neckline once more. So she really was hiding the sands, Dastan thought, this just reconfirmed what he had already suspected. The vial did contain more Sands.
Well, her turn to suffer. Dastan grinned, slowing his tracks. "Hello again princess," he held out his arm, watching with delight as her face grew crimson.
She really was furious, indeed. Furious and helpless. Well, he thought, as she placed her sword in his hands, she needed to learn a bit of humility anyway.
Tamina glared, as he held out his hand once more. She only glared, slightly shaking her head.
He raised an eyebrow. "Surely you don't think I that daft do you?" She smiled a little at this, and on looking back, well, he guessed she probably did.
"The Dagger princess," he lowered his voice. Tamina understood. Her face contorted in anger, she placed the dagger in his palm, her whole hand shaking. He couldn't help but marvel. Surely you couldn't get that insanely furious?
"So this is the one eh?" Sheik's Amar broke in, said peering forward at Tamina, "You're right, she's not bad"
Tamina shifted her fury to the Sheik, who was quite oblivious, surveying her.
"Could smell a bit better though" Sheik said, leaning away, and he signalled to his men. Dastan grinned. Tamina's expression really was quite priceless. "Still," the Sheik turned to Dastan," we have a deal"
"Deal?" Tamina called out, irate, "What deal?" Was that fear in her voice? Well, it would be nice to see some sort of vulnerability in her He didn't quite feel too guilty conscious though. After all, whatever they were going to do, he wasn't selling her into a harem. Though that had been the initial idea.
But Dastan knew he wouldn't have left her there. She was the princess, a noble first of all, and really, whatever the princess thought, he was not so big a Persian brute as to leave her there. .
"Wait, I'll take her," he said. The men were typing her up, carting her onto the horse.
Tamina looked far more annoyed, but seemed struck dumb in her anger. The men shrugged, and he lifted her.
"Clever princess." He couldn't help but mock, as she was loaded behind him. Tamina let out a not very princessey snort, which instead of annoying, made him rather delighted. For once she didn't retort with an annoying remark.
His horse geared standing forth. He knew Aksh would be safe, he looked on of the Sheik's men led him off. Underneath all that dirt and now ragged saddle, it would be hard to see what he was worth.
As they rode off to a place he had no idea of, Dastan couldn't help but look at the woman in his arms, the ever present anger. She had now twice tried to outrun the lion of Persia. No other man, let alone women would've done that, except his brother. He shook away his sombre thoughts.
Tamina shifted behind him, moving closer. And he suddenly felt hot, and he wasn't sure if it all from the heat of the desert.
So I finally finished NaNoWriMo, and school's out! Thanks firstly, to anyone still reading this story, and I'll probably churn out chapters faster.=) Still in love with Prince of Persia, but I think its slowing down, the obsession lol. I'll finish this fic, though...errr, someday, before I die at least, promise.=D Hope you liked this chappie!=)
A/N : hey guys! So, to anyone reading still reading this, or even interested in it, thank you! We really do support each other in this community, its amazing. Anyway, this is to answer Dane, who asked when this story will be updated. Thing is, I wasn't sure either. With real life having taking over, its pretty much shredded my creative drive, as well as the fact my obsession with this fandom has died, so I'm really sorry, but I'm not looking to update this story anytime. But thank you, to everyone who kept reading till reaching here.:) Cheers!:)