The Diamond in the Rough
Prologue: The Treasure in the Sand
Disclaimer: I don't own D. Gray-man or Disney's Aladdin. Anything you recognize is a direct transcript from the movie.
Just outside the walls of the Black City a young woman, hardly more than a girl, watched with frigid golden eyes as a pudgy silhouette of a man on a horse detached itself from the shadow of the city walls and made his way swiftly across the sand.
She was seated atop a magnificent black stallion that pawed impatiently at the ground. Perched on her shoulder was a salmon pink and pumpkin orange parrot.
"You..." said the woman, sneering down at the man that swung down from his beast and approached her, "…are late."
The pudgy man bowed deeply. His beady black eyes skirted from left to right and he refused to meet her gaze.
"A thousand apologies, oh patient one."
"Do you at least have what I sent you for?" demanded the woman with a long-suffering sigh.
"I had to slit a few throats to get it. So much trouble for such a little bauble," said the pudgy man.
He reached into his robes and pulled out an odd, misshapen bit of gold, holding it up so that the woman could see that it was indeed the trinket she had commissioned him to steal.
The woman's eyes lit with unholy glee when she saw it and she reached out an imperious hand.
The pudgy man yanked the trinket back to his chest with a sly expression and the woman narrowed her golden eyes.
"Such impudence," she hissed.
"My Lady, you of all people should know better," he admonished her with a leering grin, "Payment first. Where is my treasure?"
The parrot immediately swooped down off the woman's shoulder and snatched the little bit of gold from the pudgy man's filthy hands with an affronted squawk. He deposited the bauble into his mistress' outstretched hand before resettling himself on her shoulder, glaring balefully at the thief.
The pudgy man scowled as the woman polished her prize on the front of her robes until it gleamed in the light of the moon.
"Not to worry, akuma scum, you will get what is coming to you."
"What's coming to you! Lero!" called the parrot mockingly.
Almost reverently the woman pulled another oddly shaped bit of gold, almost identical to the first, from the inner pocket of her robes and as if by magic or magnetism the two pieces came together to form the shape of a small golden beetle. It hovered in the air and began to glow blue. Wings appeared at its back and all of a sudden it streaked away, leaving a trail of burning gold in the night sky that led deeper into the desert.
"Quickly! Follow the trail!" cried the woman spurring her antsy mount into a gallop after the insect.
The akuma was quick to scramble up onto his own horse and whip it into following after them. Further and further into the desert they rode until the lights of Agrabah were far behind them. Then, just as suddenly as it had taken off the insect medallion stopped, glowing like a beacon over a large sand dune for a long moment before splitting into its two halves and plunging into the dune, still glowing brightly.
The horses reared, whinnying and dancing under their riders. The woman kept her seat but the thief went flying in short order, his horse fleeing into the night.
Before their eyes the sand dune shifted and grew until it formed the head of a lion the two pieces of the medallion serving as its glowing, fearsome eyes. It opened its great maw to reveal a passageway and a descending set of stairs lit from the inside by magic and flickering torches.
The woman let out a joyous cackle the hood of her robes falling back to reveal the midnight blue of her hair, the grey-tinged pallor of her skin and the tattoos of the god-touched on her forehead.
"At last! After all my years of searching! The cave of wonders," she crowed triumphantly.
"Cave of wonders. Lero," parroted the bird on her shoulder.
The akuma thief knelt dumbstruck in the sand, black eyes round, barely able to believe what he was seeing.
"By Allah," murmured the pudgy man, practically salivating.
Everyone who hunted for riches knew the tales of the cave of wonders, a hidden trove, bursting at the seams with the ill-gotten gains of a demented sorcerer who lived ten thousand years ago known only as the Lord Millennium. He was on his feet and had taken two steps forward before he realized what he'd been doing.
"Now remember," warned the woman, "Bring me the lamp! The rest of the treasure is yours but the lamp is mine!"
"The lamp!" squawked the parrot, "The lamp! Lero!" then more quietly, "Mistress Road, just where did you dig up this bozo— Lero?"
The thief was chuckling and wringing his hands, greed lighting his beady black eyes as he approached the mouth of the cave.
"Who disturbs my slumber?" demanded the sand-lion in a voice like thunder.
The pudgy thief froze for a moment before bowing low and declaring tentatively, "I am but a humble thief, one of many who call themselves akuma."
"Know this," rumbled the sand-lion, "Only one may enter here. One whose worth lies far within. A diamond in the rough."
That gave the akuma pause and he turned to look back at Road. Still sitting tall on her horse, her mouth twisted into an awful grin.
"What are you waiting for? If there was ever a man whose worth lay far within, it would be you akuma!"
Reassured despite the woman's jeering tone the thief inched forward until he was standing just to one side of the jagged row of stalagmites that formed the sand-lion's teeth. Just beyond were the stairs. Hesitantly the thief stuck out one slippered foot and pressed it gently to the top step.
When nothing happened he grinned in relief and hopped over the barrier dashing down the stairs towards the treasures of legend. The sand-lion roared, loud and terrible.
"Unworthy!" it rumbled and the great maw snapped shut on the akuma's panicked expression.
An unnatural wind kicked up and the sand-lion began to sink back into the sand until it was once again little more than a dune with two glowing pinpricks to denote eyes.
"Seek thee out, the diamond in the rough," came the final guttural instruction as the pinpricks of light winked out and the two halves of the medallion rolled down the steep slope of the sand dune.
The parrot launched itself from Road's shoulder and retrieved the two bits of, now un-extraordinary, metal for his mistress. For her part Road snatched them from the air and tucked them back into her robes in separate pockets, her expression dark but contemplative.
"I can't believe it! I just don't believe it! Lero!" cawed the parrot angrily, "We're never gonna get a hold of that stupid lamp! Look at this! Look at this! I'm so ticked off that I'm molting! Lero!"
Indeed when he ruffled his ragged orange plumage a few feathers fell to settle in the sand, the desert now still and quiet.
"Patience Lero. Patience. The akuma have their uses but they are clearly less than worthy."
"Well there's a big surprise! Lero!" said Lero, settling back on Road's shoulder, his grating voice practically dripping with sarcasm, "I think I'm about to have a heart-attack and die from not surprised! Lero! What're we going to do? We've got a problem! A big problem! Ler—"
Road reached up and cruelly clamped his beak shut with strength and malice that no girl her size should possess to put a stop to his squawking.
"We do indeed have a problem. Only one may enter," she pouted looking out over the dune that concealed the cave of wonders, "I must find this one. This…diamond in the rough."
AN: So hi I'm Berry! Nice to meet you, and thanks for reading. Um this is my first time writing this style of fic and in this fandom but I know there are a few pieces with the same idea out there, hopefully this turns out to be original and interesting.
In any case drop me a review on the way out! I really appreciate any constructive comments or criticisms or just plain I liked its!