Akilah hunched his head down in the desert wind, holding tight to
the reins of his horse, while trying to keep the howling sandstorm
from penetrating the kufiyya covering his face and eyes. He assumed
his two traveling companions, Abdal-Akiim and Abdul-Rafi, were doing
the same. There was no way to ask, the wind was howling far too
loud. Akil could feel the wind-driven sand trying to force itself
into every crevice of his clothing.
hoped the storm would clear soon. It looked like it might be a clear
night except for the sand swirling about, and Akil needed to take
some bearings from the stars to verify they were traveling in the
and Abdul were both rough men; hired help who also doubled as bodyguards
in the harsh desert terrain they were traveling in. Hard to tell
who you might run into out here
even though it was a desolate
area. Both men expected to share in a portion of the treasure they
were searching for, although Akil knew if they found what they were
seeking it would be far more than treasure. It would be power.
described Akil justly, for he was a man who seeked out influence
and power. To have power over others was his ultimate goal, and
he used any ruthless means to obtain it.
was a hated man for his tactics and motives, but that sat with him
just fine, for that was a form of power too.
was searching for a legend he had heard of when he was just a boy.
His search had covered many years up to this point. He had just
recently heard of an old Arab named Halim in Riyadh who was a collector
of maps and scrolls; some rumored to be ancient.
sought the old man out and made the proper introductions. Soon he
was sitting in Halim's villa one evening, sipping fine espresso
and poring over the many maps and scrolls in Aban's possession.
show me the oldest pieces you have. I would love to see them."
course, of course," the old man answered. "Let me show
you the oldest one I have."
was always delighted to show his collections to anyone with an interest.
He did not realize what Akil's real intent was.
scroll has been handed down for so many generations now that I and
the person who sold it to me have had no luck in tracking its origin."
laid it out on the table carefully, as if it were fragile. But the
scroll was made of tough cloth, and still had good color. How could
it be that old, Akil thought to himself?
here," Halim pointed with a withered finger, "this scroll
is actually a map."
map of what?"
map that matches an ancient legend that speaks of unimaginable power,
far beyond fame or fortune. As you can see it clearly points to
a remote area in the southern desert with waypoints and an ending
marked by a Pillar of the Gods."
could not believe it! This was the very legend he had heard about
as a boy!
must let me purchase this scroll from you. The price is whatever
I could never sell this scroll. It is one of my most prized
pieces and Allah only knows how old it is. Is their possibly one
of the other ones you might like to acquire?"
made the mistake of turning his back on Akil while trying to pick
some other scrolls to show. There was suddenly a grip of steel around
Halim's neck, he couldn't breathe. Of course, being an old man,
it didn't take him long to collapse.
left the villa with the scroll tucked under his arm. Luckily it
was late and a dark night
he wouldn't be seen. Halim's body
would stay where it was a long time before being discovered, Akil
had made sure of that.
and his companions had headed south into the desert the next day
after obtaining horses and enough supplies for the trip. He had
to pay the two men something in advance along with a promise of
a possibly greater reward later.
sandstorm had finally subsided and left the sky clear and sparkling
with the stars Akil had hoped for. Once his eyes had adjusted to
the darkness there was no problem seeing the desert before them.
There was also just enough moonlight to help see without washing
out the stars. Akil was looking up at the stars, assuring himself
they were still heading in the right direction when Abdul yelled,
"A waypoint marker!"
The other two said in unison.
to the right." pointed Abdul.
three jumped off their horses and ran to investigate. The marker
was only about fifty feet away. They all slid to a stop beside it.
It was about the height of a man and maybe two feet square with
text still legible but unreadable. The one feature that they could
recognize was a large arrow. It was pointing in exactly the right
Allah, thought Akil. They were on the right track.
Akil shouted, "Back on your horses. The map only shows one
more marker after this before we reach the Pillar of the Gods!"
all mounted and began riding briskly towards the next waypoint with
Akil leading the way. About a half an hour later they came upon
the second marker, exactly like the first.
moving," yelled Akil. "We are riding in the right direction."
hour passed. Off in the distance they could see a vertical line
on the desert horizon. It didn't take long to reach it at their
pace. The horses slowed and stopped under the command of their riders.
is great," murmured Abdal.
Abdul replied, "this is truly a holy place."
up, both of you," replied Akil. "We need to take a look
around this magnificent structure. It must truly be the Pillar of
stood before them was breathtaking. They could see the Pillar well
enough in the partial moon and starlight. It was bronze, at least
a hundred feet high and thirty thick. It was adorned on the top
with a huge eagle with lightning held between its claws.
whole surface area of the Pillar was covered with inscriptions.
called excitedly, "Abdul, the torches. Light them and bring
unpacked the torches set three of them ablaze. He handed one to
each of them. They all set about examining the Pillar in the flickering
light thrown off by the torches. What had looked like bronze before
in the starlight was actually gold. All the inscriptions looked
to have been exactingly hand-etched into the surface.
this the treasure?" asked Abdal. "It appears to be made
of real gold. And if it is, just imagine its value."
likely it is the treasure," Akil lied, "let's keep examining
and Abdal looked at each other knowingly. Being partners in crime
many times before, they both were calculating that a half share
of this much wealth would surely be more than a third. They both
nodded to each other, knowing what they would eventually have to
do. There is no honor among thieves.
had taken out the scroll and was examining it closer in the torchlight.
Beside the picture of the Pillar was a phrase in Arabic.
back, both of you." Akil commanded.
shouted the phrase just as it was written on the scroll.
the name of Allah, bring forth your treasure!"
there was a rumbling, as if they were experiencing an earthquake.
There was also a loud sound like a continuous peal of thunder. The
whole Pillar began to lift off of the ground. Abdal and Abdul scurried
back away from the moving Pillar, suddenly terrified. Akil didn't
flinch at the movement or sound.
Pillar stopped about ten feet off the ground. Akil came closer to
get a better look with the torchlight. The underside looked to be
solid, yet at ground level there was a small platform holding a
very ornate table that had been exposed by the rising Pillar. It
was decorated with red velvet covering which extended to the bottom
along with pillows on top that were embroidered with all types of
gemstones. In the middle of the pillows sat a golden oil lamp covered
with inscriptions similar to the ones on the Pillar.
quickly picked up the lamp before the other two could guess its
purpose; he couldn't take any chances being this close to success.
He held the handle of the lamp and quickly began to rub the side.
lamp began to vibrate and hum. Akil quickly set it down on its table.
It also started to glow in an iridescent fashion. Thick smoke was
beginning to come out of the spout of the lamp and was taking the
shape of the upper half of a man about fifty feet tall.
the desert night was illuminated with stark flashes of lightning
along with rumbling thunder. The torso shaped cloud began to swirl
rapidly while all the commotion continued. Akil stood his ground,
even though he was fairly close to the calamity.
glanced quickly towards Abdul and Abdal and noticed they had taken
refuge behind a low dune nearby. Sons of coward dogs, he thought
looked back up and noticed the cloud had finally finished morphing
into the shape of a man floating in midair, surrounded by an ethereal
glow and tethered to the lamp by a thin wisp of smoke. He was gigantic,
as tall as the Pillar itself. The commotion had died down now. The
floating man looked down at Akil and began to speak in a booming
voice that seemed to echo from all directions. Akil had knelt down
in awe at the amazing sight and sound.
can call me Genie," his voice reverberated, "But I must
call you Master."
right! I am your Master. That is how the legend is presented."
course, you released me from my imprisonment. And it has been millennia
since I have been free of this accursed lamp! And I have you to
what of my three wishes?" Akil said in a demanding tone.
Ho! You know the legend well, Master. You shall have your three
wishes, of course.
But choose wisely, you would not believe what some past Masters
have wished for. They were short-sighted to the point of foolishness."
not concern yourself about that, Genie. I have put much thought
into that area for many years now. Am I allowed to ask questions
about how I state my wishes?"
course you may, Master. Ask anything of me."
this one seems to be much brighter than any of my former owners.
I need to be wary of this one.
asked, "Genie, first off, are you all-powerful?"
is impossible for me. Except for my constraint."
constraint is that?"
am forever tied to my lamp. I am only allowed out if summoned by
my Master of the moment. When the three wishes are given, I must
return to my confines until the next one comes along. The only way
to be totally free is if a Master wishes me free. But as you can
see, that has never happened."
well, Genie. My next question is am I allowed to make conditional
so long as the condition involves the wish itself."
is this going, Genie wondered, and what is this bright one up to?
excellent!" Akil responded. "For my first wish Genie,
I want to be all-powerful just like you without any of your constraints."
no, thought Genie, I do NOT like where this going. But he had no
choice, he had to grant Akil's wish.
clapped his hands twice and said, "Let it be done!"
was suddenly surrounded by swirling clouds, with lightning flashing
in and out along with loud claps of thunder.
cloud cleared, leaving Akil still appearing quite normal. But then
he exclaimed in a thunderous voice:
is done! I feel so powerful now, like nothing is beyond my ability."
suddenly grew to the same height as the Genie, matching his stature.
you, Genie. You have truly delivered a dream come true."
are quite welcome, oh mighty Master."
and Abdal," Akil thundered, "Come claim your reward!"
of the men scurried over to Akil from the dune they had been hiding
fell on their knees before him, heads bowed.
wise and mighty Master, you are all-powerful now and can grant us
any wish we desire."
was a half question, half statement.
motioned with his hand and both men floated up into the air. He
pointed a finger at each man; bolts of lightning flashed out from
his fingertips and consumed both of them. They both vanished in
a bright flash of light.
just reward for two thieves who were thinking of killing me and
taking the treasure for themselves."
turned back to face Genie.
I still have two wishes remaining. I could grant them myself, but
I choose to give you the honor."
is very considerate of you, oh wise and powerful Master."
else could there be, thought Genie. Akil had already surprised him
with the first wish and was now as powerful as himself and free
on top of that.
I now request a wish that you have been wanting to hear for an eternity.
I wish you free of the lamp."
thunder and lighting, along with loud sound as of a chain being
the Creator be praised!" shouted the Genie flying upwards,
"I am finally free of that accursed lamp and can now go where
you forgetting something? Like my third wish?"
sorry Master, in my rapturous excitement I had forgotten. Please
let it known, and then I can be on my way."
my third and final wish, is for you to be a mortal human!"
loud scream of "NNOOO!" was drowned out by a whirling
cloud with lightning and thunder. Genie slumped to the ground, shrunken
to human size, obviously weakened by the sudden transformation.
Genie could say in a weak voice was; "Master, why?"
very obvious, I had to eliminate all competition to my power. Now
if you will excuse me, I have a world to conquer."
clapped his hands and was gone in a flash of light.
sat on the sand. He had been all powerful for so long that he had
never contemplated what it would be like to be mortal. It was a
terrible feeling of inadequacy and weakness.
was nothing he could now call his own. The horses and supplies the
men brought with them had fled at all the commotion earlier. And
the torches that were lit earlier had gone out, so that it was dark.
He looked around and noticed in the starlight that even the Pillar
was also lost in this vast expanse of desert, cold and hungry, which
all was new to him.
for the first time in eternity, he had to go to the bathroom.