Rukh

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"... Rukh?" Aladdin asked as the twins furrowed their brows in identical looks of confusion.

"... What is that?" Faith asked.

'Rukh... I know I've heard that somewhere before...' Hope thought.

"Oh, Obaa-chan..." Toya said, standing up and stepping aside so the old woman could get closer to them.

"Hmm, let me see your faces..." Baba said, leaning in close as she opened one eye as wide as a dinner plate, while keeping the other closed.

"..." Aladdin and the twins said, sweat-dropping, as they leaned back in an attempt to protect their personal space while the old lady stared long and hard at them to the point where it started to get a bit creepy.

"It's okay," Baba said just as Faith was about to tell her to back off. "The rukh is happy."

"Ah... The rukh is a tale Obaa-chan created..." Toya explained for them since the old lady didn't seem to have heard their questions.

"It's not a tale," said Baba. "The rukh is spread around now too."

"This again..." Toya said, sweat-dropping.

'Okay...?' Faith thought wryly, also sweat-dropping. Was this old lady senile?

"Hm... Obaa-chan can see them too?" Aladdin asked.

"Huh!?" Toya said, surprised.

"I can," answered Baba. "So you also can? This movement of countless lives in the shape of birds..."

"Birds...?" Hope asked, exchanging a glance with Faith. Wait a minute... she didn't mean...?

"Whoa! It's the first time that I've met someone that can see it besides me!" Aladdin exclaimed, jumping up and down in his excitement.

"Actually, I saw something like that in the dungeon," Faith chimed in. "At first, I thought they were glowing butterflies, but..."

"Ah!" Hope gasped. "I've seen something like that too, now that you mention it... A few times I've seen what looks like winged lights flickering in my peripheral vision, but only when I was drifting somewhere between waking and dreaming, so I thought they might be hallucinations... And, wait, you've been in a dungeon, too?"

"Eh!?" Aladdin and Faith said, surprised.

"... 'Too'? You mean, you've cleared one!? As expected of my sister! What was yours like!?" Faith asked excitedly.

"Um, yeah, but it's part of the long story I mentioned earlier... So how about we finish listening to our host's explanation about rukh first?" Hope suggested calmly.

"Well, it's nothing special," Baba said, picking up from where she left off, "my great-grandmother could see it too, she used to say... in other words... rukh is... the home of souls... While we live, it is every man for himself, but when you die, all go back to only one place... this is 'rukh'. When humans die, their bodies return to the earth, don't they? The souls return to the rukh... the home of souls..."

'Sounds a bit like the Catholic idea of the immortal soul...' Hope thought.

"???" Aladdin, Faith, and Toya said, looking confused.

"I don't understand..." Aladdin said amazed. "Hm... I didn't know that. They've always helped me..."

"Have they?" asked Baba, surprised.

"Yes, when I shared the strength in my belly with them, grains of light gathered and gave me powers," he explained.

"Oh, so that's what happened back then..." said Faith, recalling how the lights had swarmed around Aladdin while he was fighting Morgiana and Jamil in the dungeon.

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