Herein lies the story of Ma'aruf and Scheherazade; both of whom wanted to become the story-teller in the court of the Sultan of Baghdad.
The Tale of Ma’aruf and Scheherazade
Scheherazade, a firm believer in Allah, was determined to show her faith to Him by sampling wonderful dishes from all over the world. She began her journey by making a brief stop in Mecca and enjoying a taste of the local cuisine. Upon arriving in Mecca, she happened upon a temple dedicated to the Magian Fire Worshippers, where its worshippers were partaking in their rituals. Being an inquisitive sort, she quickly disguised herself and slipped in among the throngs of worshippers. Once inside the temple, she beheld a beautiful robe and a marvelous snakeskin bed, which she immediately desired to be hers. When the worshippers were other-wise distracted, she saw her chance and absconded with the items. She smiled to herself, marveling at the wonderful start to her own adventures.
Ma’aruf, on the other hand, did not start his journey under such beneficent circumstances. Having been accused by the vizier in Baghdad of a crime he didn’t commit, Ma’aruf fled into the wilderness to avoid imprisonment and hoping to clear his name. During his wanderings in the desert, he happened upon a Roc’s nest in which lay a large, spectacular treasure. Ma’aruf considered sneaking into the nest to grab the treasure, but upon seeing the Roc his courage failed and he turned tail and ran away into the wilderness.
As Ma’aruf fled through the wilderness, a raging sand-storm swept across the valley towards him. Not wanting to be caught unprotected in the storm, Ma’aruf tried to outrun it and find a place to hide. As he ran, he happened upon a wonderful spring hidden among the rocks. Parched, he eagerly quaffed mouthful after mouthful of water. He was amazed at the taste and the pureness of this spring, and he knew he had found a true treasure – one he could sell to others. And so, he noted the location on his map and began filling bottles to sell during his travels.
Scheherazade, after leaving the fire worshipper’s temple, wandered into a nearby land. There, she beheld that all of its denizens cut off their right pinky finger. Appalled by the customary self-mutilation, she inquired as to the origins of the custom and discovered that it began with a sultan many, many years ago. The sultan, having had a disfigured hand himself, ordered all his people to cut off their right pinky, so that all would be disfigured as he. Scheherazade, thinking this custom out-dated, approached the local Sultan and, using her stunning beauty and silver-tongue, convinced the Sultan to do away with the custom and to instigate a new one in his own glory. The Sultan was so impressed with Scheherazade, that he made her his own vizier.
Ma’aruf, thinking his luck had changed, began journeying to a nearby city (to sell his water and to avoid the guards looking for him). However, on his way, another terrible storm arose – one of swirling energies and colors. Scared at the awesome display, Ma’aruf once again ran, trying to find cover. However, the magical energies of the storm quickly ensorcelled him, and he found himself compelled to do its biddings.
Scheherazade, leaving the old Sultan with much fanfare, headed out into the wilderness to continue her adventures and find her destiny. As she traveled through the local woodlands, she happened upon a poor, hungry dog caught in a poacher’s trap. Feeling sorry for the poor creature, she opened the trap, allowing the dog to quickly scamper away. Happy with her act of kindness, she turned and continued her journey.
Ma’aruf, under the compulsion of the magical storm, found himself guided to a nearby city, which was fine with him, as he wanted to sell his water. However, just outside the city walls, he happened upon a band of brigands, whom were dehydrated and starving. He wanted to help the brigands, not realizing what they were, and offered them a swig of his refreshing water. The brigands, being brigands, helped themselves to more than just the offered drink and promptly robbed Ma’aruf of all his food, water, and riches. Poor once more, Ma’aruf stumbled into the city at night. There, in the dimly light back streets, he saw a mass of roving shapes. Thinking they might be monsters, he quickly lit his lamp, hoping to scare them off. The light revealed that the ‘monsters’ were nothing more than ensorcelled men, shambling about the night. In a turn of luck, though, the proximity of the ensorcelled men disrupted the enchantment upon Ma’aruf, and he found himself freed from the spell of the terrible storm.
Scheherazade, making her way into an Indian city, was delighted to see a wide array of foreign food and spices. With haste, she eagerly purchased a wide array of the food, and fell to sampling the myriad of tastes. While thus engaged, she stumbled across a hag. Thinking the hag might like some food, she offered to share her meal. The hag quickly refused the offer and bustled away down the street, leaving Scheherazade to return to her roaming.
Free from the enchantment, Ma’aruf quickly sped from the city, narrowly missing being apprehended by guards sent out from Baghdad. As he ran back into the wilderness, he encountered an evil ‘efreetah. The ‘efreetah was about to engaged in some unpleasantries with her newfound victim, when Ma’aruf quickly began to spin a tale – causing the ‘efreetah to believe that Ma’aruf was actually a descendant of Solomon. The efreetah, too scared to test Ma’aruf’s claims, bestowed Ma’aruf with wondrous gifts; a yellow kohl and a brass trumpet. Amazed at his luck, Ma’aruf graciously accepted the offering, and then quickly retired before his deceit was uncovered.
Scheherazade, while traveling through the desert, came across a small town wherein lived a vizier. The vizier was wealthy beyond imagining, but was cruel to the local people and never shared his wealth. The people convinced Scheherazade to slip into the vizier’s house and steal some riches – which she was then to dole out to the people. Scheherazade easily gained entry to the dwelling and discovered a large diamond – the biggest she had ever seen in her life. Upon seeing such a spectacle, she greedily filched the diamond, and then ran away into the night – never returning to share it with others. The vizier, upon finding his prize gem stolen, vowed to have his revenge and began sets out after Scheherazade.
Feeling like a new man, Ma’aruf continued his trek through the wilderness. While traveling, he saw a beautiful enchantress, and desired to have her. With arcane words, he tricked the beautiful enchantress into obeying his every command. However, as Ma’aruf heard her bemoan her fate and cry at the injustice, his heart was turned and he released her.
Scheherazade, running through the wilderness, found herself confronted by an evil ‘efreet. As the ‘efreet approached her, Scheherazade decided to appeal to its vanity and pride, and began to sing its praises and glory. Unimpressed, the ‘efreet promptly grabbed her and threw her down a well. Scheherazade remained at the bottom of that dark, damp well – up to her ankles in refuse – for several days before a wandering party found her and dragged her out. By that time, however, she had fallen ill and was in the midst of a terrible disease. She was quickly cast away from the band, due to her state, and stumbled upon a great palace. Curious, and hoping to find food and shelter, she entered the palace and began opening door, after door, after door. As she opened what the 1,000 door (although it felt like many more to her), she found the remains of a Sultan. Seeing how the Sultan had spent all his days amassing wealth, only to die alone, Scheherazade praised Allah that she was able to learn this lesson. Allah, glad for the praise, blessed Scheherazade and removed her illness. As an unknown blessing, her time in the well and the palace allowed her pursuer, the angry vizier, to lose her trail and have to pick it up again.
As Ma’aruf continued his journey into India, he found a disguised slave amidst a large crowd. Feeling sorry for the slave, he asked how he might help. The slave asked Ma’aruf to join him in a business venture. The slave set up a game of shells, and Ma’aruf played the winning contestant – easily bringing in plenty of customers and coins. After a few rounds, Ma’aruf felt dirty and slipped away to head towards a nearby city.
Scheherazade, leaving the palace, found a peculiar map which showed the location of a wondrous treasure. However, she knew that she would need a partner to succeed in recovering it. Finding a local youth, she enlisted him to climb down into the pit marked on the map. When the youth returned, Scheherazade, her mind filled with greed, asked the boy to give her the treasure before pulling him up. The youth, suspicious of the behavior, refused – asking to be pulled out first. In a fit of anger, Scheherazade slammed the cover to the pit closed, trapping the boy, and the treasure, inside forever. The thought of the missed treasure weighed heavily upon Scheherazade’s mind, and she found herself coveting it, or any other treasure that might take its place. Luckily, as she roamed Gaya, her mind was cleared and the covetousness in her heart faded away. Also while in Gaya, she was able to sample the local cuisine, thus completing her desires to taste all the foods in the land for Allah – and was richly blessed for her efforts.
Leaving the slave to his machinations, Ma’aruf continued to wander through the wilderness, always seeming to be one step ahead of his pursuers, the Baghdad guards. Thus wandering, he witnessed another storm – a violent storm of swirling madness – racing towards him. Believing it to be a punishment from Allah for his dealings with the slave, Ma’aruf fell to his knees and called out to Allah, begging for forgiveness. Allah, having mercy upon Ma’aruf, caused the storm to divert around him, leaving him unscathed by its onslaught.
Scheherazade, embarking upon a new adventure, set off into the vast wilderness. While traveling, she found a Roc’s nest, and inside it laid an egg. Full of curiosity, she moved close to the egg, to get a better look at it. As she approached, however, the egg cracked and fell apart, and out popped a baby Roc. The Roc was hungry, and Scheherazade looked rather tasty, but before the Roc could pounce, its mother returned with more succulent food, allowing Scheherazade the chance to escape.
Ma’aruf, full or relief and thanksgiving towards Allah, continued his journey once the storm had passed. Following in the storm’s wake of destruction, Ma’aruf found that the storm had uncovered a mysterious trapdoor. Wondering what was inside, Ma’aruf tried and tried to enter, but found he could not make the door budge. Noting a gem atop the trapdoor, Ma’aruf decided to take it, and call it even. After prying the gem free, and having it appraised, he found it to be rather worthless. However, it did give him the medium to a great story, and so Ma’aruf began traveling from city to city, relating the wondrous story of how he found the gem – each tale more fanciful than the last. However, his story-telling left a trail for the guards, and he was quickly apprehended and carted off to Baghdad – there to rot in a jail.
Scheherazade, still wandering in the wilderness, ran into a sage. Finding him rather attractive, she decided to seduce the sage. The sage, finding her desirable, easily gave into her advances and the two fell madly in love and were soon married, settling in nearby Antirah.
Ma’aruf, languishing in his cell, was visited by a jailer. The jailer seemed to speak with two voices, and Ma’aruf realized that the jailer was possessed! Knowing the arcane words to free his soul, Ma’aruf quickly expunged the spirit, setting the jailer free. The jailer, ecstatic beyond words, promptly set Ma’aruf free and gave him a Copper Drum as a token of his appreciation. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Ma’aruf promptly fled Baghdad to continue his business ventures – selling his precious spring water to those who could afford to pay.
Scheherazade, leaving her newfound husband to pursue her destiny, soon found a large, Crystal Palace. Amazed at the spectacle, she ventured closer, only to be caught by the guards and promptly cast into prison. Luckily, one of the Sultan’s children was fond of Scheherazade, and during the night, the child stole down to the prison and let her free.
Ma’aruf, high-tailing it to a nearby city in hopes of selling his wares, stumbled upon a strange, run down old temple. Slipping inside, he noticed a large, golden snake statue, with gems for eyes. Amazed, he wandered closer. As he approached, the statue came alive and slipped from the pedestal towards him. With a cry of fright, Ma’aruf quickly turned tail and raced from the building.
Scheherazade, feeling that her destiny had been fulfilled, and that she had a story worthy of telling, began her return trip to Baghdad – hoping to find a place in the Sultan’s court. She hopped onto a boat, feeling it would be a much faster way to reach home. While on the ship, the captain came to her, telling her about an ensorcelled passenger and seeking her aide in freeing that passenger. Scheherazade agreed, and slipped into the lower decks to find the trapped soul. As she neared the passenger, though, she set off magical wards and found herself paralyzed. The enchanter, finding Scheherazade trying to steal the passenger, promptly threw her overboard. Drifting on the currents for days, Scheherazade found herself washed up on the shores of an island – Stonehenge Island. Caught in the midst of a druidic rite, she quickly threw on a nearby robe and moved along with the throng of druids into the center of the giant stone formations. Following along with the rituals, she completely fooled all those present, and was even given a Protective Talisman.
Having escaped from the snake statue, Ma’aruf set up a camp in the wilds. While relaxing before his fire, he his camp was encircled by a gaggle of monsters, all starving. To save his skin, Ma’aruf quickly related to the monsters the location of a secluded valley, where wild game was abundant, and promised to give them a map if they would spare him. The monsters, moved by his story, agreed and left him be (after he gave them the map, of course).
Scheherazade, having escaped the island of Stonehenge, began traveling back towards Baghdad and her beloved. As she crossed the ocean, she ran into a prince. It was the same prince from the Crystal Palace – the same one who had grown fond of her and freed her. Scheherazade – grateful to the prince for her freedom and finding him pleasing to the eye – danced for him. The prince, wanting her above all else, married her, and moved both her and her other husband, to Adrianople.
Ma’aruf, feeling that he had a wonderful story with which to impress the Sultan of Baghdad, returned to the city. As he arrived there, he saw a strange looking beast approaching him. Not sure what else to do, Ma’aruf fell to his knees and began praising Allah. As he did so, he realized that the strange beast was actually ensorcelled. Speaking more arcane and mystic words, he removed the enchantment upon the beast. Much to his surprise, the beast transformed into a lovely young maiden. She was so thankful to Ma’aruf, that she eagerly agreed to marry him, and they settled in Baghdad – with Ma’aruf telling stories to the Sultan and all who would hear them.
Scheherazade, learning that the Sultan had found his story-teller, decided to give up her life of adventure and settle down, permanently, in Adrianople. There, she looked after her two husbands – the prince and the sage – and told tales of her adventures to the youth; thus instilling them with a sense of adventure and the desire to see the world.
Thank you travelers for relating your wonderful fantastic tales!
Sao Joao do Estoril
Thanks for the write up!!