Two barefoot pounded in the sands, running away from a mysterious group of men dressed in black. Rapid short breaths came out as the young woman clutched the necklace in her hands tight. She will not let the necklace out of her sight. She looked back to see they were catching up to her. It was midnight, no time for a woman to run in the desert. Especially, alone.
Her bare feet were getting blisters, having no shoes on whatsoever. A sound of a 'whoosh' cut the silent night and she felt something sharp hit her shoulder but that didn't stop her. She grit her teeth, baring the searing pain that the arrow was giving her. Blood was running down but it was hardly noticeable due to her dirty clothing.
In the distance, she saw the top of a palace. Overjoyed and relieved, she pulled her strength and gave one last push, racing for the city of Persia. Her mouth was bone dry and swear was forming on her body, mixing in with the dirt and blood. The gates were closed when she reached halfway.
No! she must be reached to safety to find someone to save her. She started to scream for help, but choked since the arrow hurt and the running exhausted her. Not to mention her parched throat was burning from lack of water.
She screamed for help again, praying it would stir the guards.
"Who's there?" One of the guards asked.
"Please," She panted, "Please help me. They're coming. And they will kill me and all of you."
"My god," the guard said, looking at her attire. There was an arrow sticking through her shoulder as well.
"Ajmer! Open the gates! Quickly before the intruders come in." The young woman was led inside and slowly, she turned around, clutching her bloody shoulder and screamed when multiple arrows managed to shot through the narrow slit of the gates as it closed.
She ducked, covering her head, shaking visibly.
"It's fine, they missed," The same guard said, pulling her up. Standing up, she remembered the necklace and brought her right hand up, wincing at the inflicting pain of the arrow. She had forgotten it was still there.
"I need to speak to Prince Dastan." She stammered..
"Of course, but first you must get medical help. Miss? Miss?" the guard said when the young woman collapsed on the ground, dropping the necklace out of her hand.
A sweet smelling aroma tickled the young woman's nose and she gasp, sitting straight up, alarmed and bewildered. She looked at her surroundings; she was laying on a red print bed, sheer gold curtains covered the rest of the bed. She was also in a different clothing and clean too. Wearing a white half cut top and a slit skirt with gold hems, she felt clean and well clothes. She looked around as she pulled back the curtains.
The room she was in was beautifully decorated with exotic curtains that reached the floor. High arched doors and windows. The walls were decorated with many different drawings. Where was she? Was she in the palace?
Her shoulder was wrapped in a white bandage, the pain was still there however. The doors opened, and the young woman quickly hopped in her bed, pretending to be asleep. Footsteps shuffled along the floor as she tried to listen. It seems to be about four people.
She peeked her eyes and saw it was servants prepping the room and putting a plate of food on the low table. There was another person but she didn't know who it was. A cold hand touched her where her arrow inflicted shoulder and swiftly, she twisted the arm, opening her eyes to see it was a startled servant.
"She means no harm," A masculine voice spoke. She followed the found of the voice and released her hold. The same shoulder length brown hair, the hard jaw line and brown eyes. He was still the same, no matter how many years has it been.
"Dastan!" She shouted, running to him to give him a huge hug. Dastan chuckled and hug back his old friend. She looked the same. Dark brown hair that was bleached by the sun; the tan skin and the clear blue eyes that stood out among the rest of the Persians.
Dastan had known Nahla when he was a child; roaming on the streets. He would have let her come when his father adopted him but being the hard head, she refused, since she was always having the visions. She told him it wasn't her time to go with him yet.
After that, he lost contact. He tried asking around to know her whereabouts, but finding no success he had given up. Nahla was crying tears of joy and Dastan notice she was clutching something.
"You've come a long way Nahla," Dastan said. "Sit down, you need not to get up until your shoulder is healed." Nahla obliged and pat the empty space beside her, indicating Dastan should follow.
"My village was attacked." Nahla said. "The warriors wanted this." She held out her hand where the necklace glistened and winked in the light. She let Dastan held it up and examined as she continued.
"I was the guardian of this necklace after you had left. I was promised to not let anything happen to it and now that they have found out…people have died because of it."
"What is this necklace?" Dastan asked. He couldn't stop staring at how deep the blue color looked.
"It gives eternal beauty. Reverses old aging process." Nahla explained. It's what made her village died because of it. She knew it was dangerous to keep it around but she had no choice. If she had told, news would reach out and kingdoms everywhere would fight over it. She had to keep it a secret. Even if it meant to die trying.
The necklace was hung on a gold thin chain, many small diamonds surrounding and wrapping itself around the chain and around the blue diamond like vines. Nahla thought it was beautiful to look at.
"I'll keep this in a safe place. You'll need some rest, Nahla." Dastan said, getting up.
"Wait!" Nahla said, following him. "I can't let it slip away from my sight. Dastan, please let me keep it." Dastan studied his old friend for a minute. Nahla may be a woman but she was smart at handling objects. She knew how to hide it well. He looked at her profile and notice how the sunlight hits her blue eyes making it seem almost gray. Maybe he's losing his eyesight.
"Alright," Dastan finally said, handing her the necklace. "I trust you." Nahla placed it in her small bag and enclosed it with the leather strings.
"Dastan, I heard you brought a new visitor." A woman's voice spoke as they both heard her coming closer. Nahla looked at the doorway to see Princess Tamina, dressed in a simple white floor length dress. Even the simplest things made her look even more beautiful.
Nahla wandered if the rumors of Dastan marrying Tamina was true. Tamina stopped midway and looked at the woman to Dastan and back.
"Who is this?" Tamina asked, stiffly, coming closer to Dastan's side.
"Tamina, this is Nahla, my childhood friend. Nahla, this is Tamina, my wife." Nahla felt her stomach dropped hearing the word 'wife'. Tamina and Dastan? Of course, Nahla had always a crush on him but as they grew up, she came to love him but she wouldn't be stupid to tell him that.
Nahla did a stiff bow, murmuring 'how do you do' under her breath. Tamina smiled but it didn't reached her eyes and held onto Dastan's arm. She may be his wife but she knew how Dastan is around women.
"Excuse me…I have other parties to attend to." Tamina said. She picked up the hem of her front dress and turned around leaving the two alone. Nahla sensed a dislike towards her already.
When Tamina was gone, Nahla punched Dastan in his upper arm. He suddenly grabbed it and sent a glare at her.
"What did I do?" He asked, rubbing the sore.
"You couldn't sent me a letter telling me you were married?" Nahla hissed. Or at least waited for me? As I, have waited for you? Nahla wanted to say but swallowed it down.
"I couldn't help it! It was my brother, Tus, who paired us up together. Tus, you remember-"
"I know who Tus is!" She snapped. Nahla closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She then turned her back on him.
"I just wish you'd tell me." She said softly. Nahla heard his footsteps coming closer and she felt his presence behind her. He wrapped her arms around her into a hug.
"I'm sorry. I was busy trying to save the world from my uncle."
"I know. I heard and I'm proud of you. I really am," Nahla said, smiling up at him. How could she stay mad at him? She loved him too much for that.
"So if you're married Tamina, does that make you king?" Dastan shook his head and broke the hug, leaving Nahla disappointed inside. She wanted to stay like that for a little longer.
"Yes, and no. Yes because of marriage. But no, because it seems boring." Dastan lied. He's just wasn't ready to be king. So Tus was king until the time was right.
"What's so boring being king? The people adore you." Nahla said, appearing by his side at the window. Below were the town people, going about, minding their own lives when they didn't know any second or any day they would die.
"Shouldn't you be eating?" Dastan said, changing the subject. Nahla rolled her eyes and stepped away from the window. She placed a hand over her shoulder, and rub it, winced as she came in contact with the wound, hard.
"Not really," She replied.
"Nahla, you have to eat. I remember you had meat on your bones now you're nothing but bones."
"Are you calling me fat?" Nahla asked, raising a challenging eyebrow at him.
"N-no, I meant to say was, you looked healthy but now you're stick skinny."
"Uh-huh." Nahla said slowly making her way up to him with her arms crossed.
"Nahla, what are you doing?" Dastan asked when Nahla held out a small dagger.
"Do you know what I do when men tries to tell me how I'm suppose to eat and look?" Nahla asked, twirling the dagger around.
"Hopefully, not cut something important off." Replied Dastan. Shaking her head, she went for the tray of food. It's been so long since she hadn't touched food nor water. She was swallowing it down more than chewing.
"Slow down," Dastan said. "there's more where that came from." When Nahla sent him a warning look, he held his hands up in surrender and stayed quiet.
When Dastan appeared in the bedroom of which he shared with Tamina, he found her combing her hair in front of the mirror.
"Who is Nahla?" Tamina asks. Dastan didn't reply because he knew how jealous Tamina can get.
"I told you. A childhood friend. We both met on the streets. She had a mother so I sometimes come visit her." Replied Dastan as he took his clothes leaving the pants on.
"I'm sorry. If I seemed…mean and hostile. It's just I love you too much to see you in the arms of another woman." Tamina said walking over to the bed where Dastan laid.
"Well you're a woman. No need for excuses." Dastan said with a grin. He received a playful shove from his wife and he pulled her towards him, giving her a passionate kiss, leaving her breathless.