Hassan stared at the momentous scene before him, feeling numb. Voices seemed to seep sluggishly into his ears, drowned out by the sound of his blood beating hotly in his head.
The tiny hut was hot and cloying. In the unrelenting Saharan heat, the simple dwelling was only cool at night, but tonight, its interior broiled with an unnatural heat, brought on by dark magick. Arts which he had often warned his brother not to dabble in, even though their father had long practiced and reveled in it. But Abdul never listened. He was more likely to throw a kick or blow at the frail but wiser Hassan, than take his counsel seriously.
Now the tall, muscular Abdul knelt in the middle of the hut, the hem of his luxurious robe dusty from the earth floor as he cringed before the majestic figure that towered over him. Even through the mists of powerful illusion that swirled lazily around the heated room, Hassan could see the royal bearing of the tall apparition. He looked every inch the king he was famed to have been, his regal shoulders thrown back in silent fury, nose arched up and a luxuriant beard brushing the collar of his magnificent clothing as he stared down at the craven wizard before him. The dusty floor seemed to fear the hem of his gold-threaded robes, and his radiance half-blinded Hassan.
“Fool!” the richly-appareled man intoned, his voice ringing hollowly through the simple hut, and the stars outside the solitary window seemed to blink in tandem with him, “You dare to summon me? Attempt to enchant me and make me your slave? Your greed has rendered you foolish, mortal. Like your father before you, you shall reap the fruits of your wicked desires!”
Mutely, Abdul turned his stricken eyes to his brother, who stood unmoving in a shadowy corner, only the tattered hem of his threadbare robes moving in the silent breeze whipped up by the forces that seethed in the hut, and his eyes which glittered in the reflection of the ring of fire which surrounded both Abdul and the conjured king.
Hassan smiled bitterly. The silent plea in his brother’s gaze was clear; beseeching him to apply the dregs of magicked mastery he had been allowed to learn to his aid. Looking into Abdul’s eyes, Hassan shook his head slightly, and felt a wave of satisfaction as his refusal to act added a furious tint to the immobile wizard’s frozen visage.
The king swung his gaze to Hassan, and nodded at him, “I have long watched you from the nethers, Hassan. Every indignity visited upon you by your vile brother and father deserves to be judged today. You, shall chose your brother’s fate. I grant you one boon; your brother’s destruction or your full enrichment, as far as my special abilities will allow. Choose wisely, young wizard..”
Hassan stared at Abdul, his stomach roiling with hate, his head filled with visions of his gentle mother, who his evil father and brother had sent to an undeservedly early grave. His weak hands clenched and a twisted smile slid onto his lips as his brilliant mind worked feverishly, “How about both, my liege? In one fell swoop.”
The apparition raised one kingly brow and beckoned Hassan closer, still holding Abdul in his thrall. Hassan advanced as close as he dared, feeling waves of power beat against his simple robes, leaned close to the king’s ear and whispered a few words therein.
The powerful king reared back in surprise, then threw back his leonine head and laughed heartily, his voice roiling towards the ceiling and falling in echoed cadence about their ears. Abdul glared in helpless fury at Hassan’s cold smile, knowing he had finally been thwarted by his smarter, weaker sibling, and sure of his doom.
King Midas leaned close to Abdul and stretched out his famous hand, “Very well, Hassan. As you wish….a slap on the wrist…”