At last, when the dust settled, the Queen and the Jinni stood on the mountaintop and looked down on the battlefield and the bodies spread like leaves across the desert. The Queen fell to her knees, wearied and wounded and her sword dropped from her hand. Before her, the doorway to Ambadya burned with fires of every color.All I wanted, said the Queen, was peace between our peoples. But I see now that this is not possible, for my people are ruled by a dreamer and the jinn are ruled by a monster. My only consolation is that thou art by my side, my Jinni. I would die in the company of a friend and give thee my final breath. For I have one wish remaining and it is for thy freedom, yea, even at the cost of mine own life.At this the Jinni shook her head, replying, Nay, my queen. The time for wishing is passed. For here is the Shaitan, Lord of all Jinn and King of Ambadya.And even as she spoke, the fires in the doorway rose higher and through them stepped Nardukha the Shaitan, terrible to behold.O impudent woman, said the Shaitan, looking down at the Queen. Wouldst thou dare make the Forbidden Wish?I would, she replied. For I fear thee not.Then thou art a fool.As the Queen’s heart turned to ashes, realizing her doom was upon her, the Shaitan turned to the Jinni and said, Dost thou recall the first rule of thy kinsmen, Jinni?And the Jinni replied, Love no human.And hast thou kept this commandment?Lord, I have. And up she rose, as the Queen cried out in dismay.Are not we like sisters? asked the Queen. Of one heart and one spirit?And the Jinni replied, Nay, for I am a creature of Ambadya and thus is my nature deceitful and treacherous. My Lord has come at last and I would do all that he commands.The Shaitan, looking on with approval, said to the Jinni, This human girl is proud and foolish, thinking she could rule both men and jinn. I am well pleased with thee, my servant, who hast brought her to me. Slay the queen and prove thy loyalty to thy king.And the Jinni grinned and in her eyes rose a fire. With pleasure, my Lord.Then, with a wicked laugh, she struck down the good and noble Queen, the mightiest and wisest of all the Amulen monarchs, whose only mistake was that she had dared to love a Jinni.
Jessica Khoury
She walked slowly towards him, taking in how he looked so eerily still. Okay you, she said, her voice choked. We have to have a talk. I know you’re a Dardano, but a wedding reception in the ICU? Not so classy. She lowered her head, her attempt at levity falling flat under the weight of her heartbreak. She blinked back her tears and cupped his face. You listen to me, okay? You are not leaving me. You’re not allowed. You’re going to fight, understand? Alessandro, I will not bury another husband. Do you hear me? I refuse to grieve for you. That is not even an option because you are my life. She kissed his forehead, the beeping of the heart monitor and the respirators the only sounds in the room. Funny huh? I spent so much time pushing you away and here I am begging you to stay. Not just for me, but for our boys. Will’s already lost one father, don’t you leave him too. And Gianni…don’t you dare leave him nothing but stories about some man in a picture frame. Bree took his hand, rubbing his ring finger. Please, Alessandro. Fight. I won’t survive without you. I won’t. She kissed his palm. We’ve fought too hard for you to just give up when we’re finally going to be happy. Dammit Alessandro, you owe me! You owe me a life, a happy life together. So don’t you dare die on me. Don’t you leave me to deal with that son of a bitch father of yours by myself. She covered her mouth with her free hand to stifle her sobs. She leaned down and kissed his still mouth. I love you…I love you so much… Her tears fell on his face as she rested her forehead against his.
E. Jamie