"Hmm... Family, huh...?" Aladdin mused, staring into the fire as he remembered how Ugo had once told him that he had no parents or family. The Djinn had said he was an existence different from other, normal people, that he was special... But being 'special' was lonely. He looked at the happy faces of the people of the Kouga Clan and watched Hope and Faith as they interacted with each other. The twins had somehow been drawn into a competition to see who could shift this huge random boulder that was sitting in the middle of the plain. "Family... how lucky..."

"What are you saying?" said Baba. "The people who live on these plains are living together as one. Now that you're here, that includes you. We will be your family," Baba told him, smiling as she placed a hand on his head. "You're Baba's child now!" Aladdin stared at her for a moment in surprise, but as her words sank in, the boy lit up like a Christmas tree.

"I love you, obaa-chan!!" Aladdin cried happily, blushing, as he threw his arms around her.

"Ho ho ho ho... Koff...!" Baba laughed, choking when Aladdin tightened his grip. A very ominous cracking sound was heard.

"Don't squeeze too hard!! Her neck!" Toya shouted anxiously, rushing to her grandmother's rescue.

"Look, look, Aladdin!!" Faith said excitedly, holding up a huge platter of sweets. "Look what Hope won me!"

"Hey, those are for sharing!" Hope chided her.

"Wooow!!" Aladdin said, loosening his grip on Baba in his surprise. "You moved that big rock all by yourself, Hope onee-san!?"

"Well—" Hope started to explain.

"No way!!" said Dorji and his friends. "I'm telling you, that's cheating!"

"Yeah, using tricks is playing dirty!" said Boyan.

"What 'tricks'?" Faith asked, annoyed that they were still arguing over this.

"Yeah, all I did was use a sturdy plank and a smaller rock to make a lever and fulcrum. And you never said we couldn't use tools," Hope reminded them.

"Well, she's got us there..." said Bator.

"Hohoho... Don't be such sore losers~! You're men now, aren't you?" Baba said with a Cheshire cat grin as she munched on one of the pastries with Aladdin.

"Ah! They've gotten to Baba-sama!" Boyan cried, while everyone else laughed good-naturedly at the little conspiracy the girls had going.

Meanwhile, the enemy was approaching from the east. Troops bearing the colors of the Kou Empire had just reached the edge of the mountain, and from a height they could see on the distant horizon a dim light from the Kouga Clan's bonfire. The steps of the great empire towards the village's domination were drawing closer.

But the others were blissfully unaware of the approaching danger, so they were still taking it fairly easy the next day.

"Hmm, then are you the 'troopers'?" Aladdin asked Dorji while Toya was showing Faith and Hope how to milk a mare.

"Yes. We live, work, and fight alongside horses, since the ancestors of antiquity. And when needed, I shall also fight bravely for the clan," Dorji explained proudly.

"Whoa, horse's milk is good~!" Aladdin said, alerting them to the fact that he had started drinking straight from another mare's teat. And the mare did not look happy.

'He wasn't even listening...' Dorji thought, chagrined, as vein popped on his forehead.

"You can't drink it directly!!" Toya said urgently as she ran over to stop the boy, flustered.

Magi: The Tale of Faith and HopeWhere stories live. Discover now