The Story of Massil

by Alwyn Hamilton

Many nights ago, the city of Massil was ruled by a great and powerful Djinni. He protected the city, which sat on the edge of the small sea in the middle of Miraji. Because of its position and its powerful patron, the city of Massil thrived in trade and was a prosperous and happy place.

At this time, there was a merchant, who had a beautiful daughter who outshone even his finest wares. His wife had died a year earlier and as the year of mourning came to an end, many men offered for her hand in marriage. Her father picked a wealthy young merchant from across the small sea, a young man.

A few days before she was to be married, the Merchant’s daughter walked through the market with her servant. It was there that the Djinni who ruled Massil saw her. He was so taken by her beauty that he fell in love with her.

The Djinni went immediately to the Merchant to ask for his daughter’s hand. The Merchant was at first awed by his visitor, and could not speak except to say that his daughter could not wed the Djinni. The Djinni, so desperately in love with the daughter, offered the Merchant a chest full of pearls. The merchant stuttered again that he could not marry her, and before he could explain that it was because she was already engaged, the Djinni offered him more: two chests full of rubies and a ship full of fine silks, but the merchant still said no. Until finally the Djinni offered the Merchant the whole of the city of Massil in exchange for his daughter. At this, the merchant’s greed made his tongue slip, and he said yes, he would trade his daughter for the entire city. The Djinni rejoiced.

The Merchant knew, however, that his daughter could not marry two men, so he conspired to trick the Djinni. He fashioned a doll made of wax, and brought it to life with a spark of magic.

The Djinni was deceived by this fake figure, so bedecked in wedding finery he could not see what was underneath. He handed the city over to the Merchant while the daughter sailed away on a ship across the sea to her true husband-to-be.

But the trick could not last forever. After the wedding feast the Djinni took his new bride by the hand, only to see her melt in his grip as the wax surrendered to his fiery form. The Djinni’s fury at the Merchant was unmatched. He would have reclaimed the city, but that he had sworn it over to the greedy merchant, and Djinn, like all first beings, are bound by their word.

And so he turned his wrath elsewhere. The Djinni summoned the desert. He summoned the swirling sands with such fury that they crashed into the small sea, destroying the ships that floated across it and burying many alive, including the merchant’s travelling daughter. He did not stop until the whole of the small sea had drowned in sand, until the city that the greedy merchant had tricked the Djinni out of was no longer perched on a prosperous shore, but at the edge of a barren desert. And so the Small Sea became the Sand Sea and, to this day, travellers cross it on foot at great cost. As a reminder of a Djinni’s power.

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