Chapter 11: Rue the Fruits of Tempting Fate

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The next day Faruq woke early, as usual. Sleep evaded him of late. He took his bath, and went in to his father's workshop, which adjoined their home, to begin another day of apprenticeship. His father loved his work, that much had not changed, and he was usually there even before Faruq, but that day the workshop was empty.

Faruq wandered the dark room, still in shadow as only the crown of the sun had crested the horizon. His footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor. He breathed deep of the familiar scent of sawdust and varnish.

His father had split the building into a showroom at the front and workstations at the back, where some twenty craftsmen and apprentices worked for him daily.

Faruq peeked his head into the archway that separated the showroom and workspace. "Baba?"

No answer.

Ahura Mazdaa

Faruq had a sudden, burning need to know where his father was, what he was doing.

He spun to leave the workshop and stumbled over something warm, soft and barking. Thamina's puppy had grown, and neither she nor her mother paid the creature much mind anymore. The servants had adopted him, playing with him and keeping him fed. Faruq reached down and scratched a shaggy ear.

"How do you keep getting in here? This not a good place for you, Baba doesn't want you in here."

The dog was bigger, but not yet fully grown and Faruq scooped him up under one arm, took him to the door and set him free. His father arrived soon after.

"Faruq!" He said and gave him that signature warm smile. "Bright and early as always. That's my son. Someday this will all be yours, you know."

He squeezed Faruq's shoulder and gazed at him fondly, and Faruq grinned. This was his father. Fierce determination made Faruq's cheeks flush. He would fix his family. He would.

"Come, let's set up," said his father.

The sun rose, and the crew assembled, and soon everyone was hard at work. Somehow, no one talked much in the workshop these days. Only the knocking of hammers and the grinding of saws filled the silence. Faruq worked diligently, lulled into a hypnotic almost-peace while scraping his sandpaper against the surface of the footstool he was making. Time passed in weightless seconds until a soft, familiar voice jolted him back to the present.

"Craftsman Raheem of Riverside, I presume?"

Fear washed over Faruq like a frigid, relentless torrent, painful in its intensity. He paused in his scraping but he would not, could not look up.

He heard a wooden knock as his father put down whatever he'd been working on.

"I am he."

"Excellent. I am Maleek el Amin, a close acquaintance of the King. I'm looking to make a few additions to my home, and your work comes highly recommended."

Faruq knew he was shaking, but he couldn't help it. His father's voice hardly broke through the buzzing in his ears. Sweat tickled the side of his face.

"Ah, very good. What do you require?"

Faruq never heard, his mind tangled up in nightmares and plans for escape. He worried for his mother and Thamina, who might even now be dead. As his father led the wish scribe around the showroom, only snippets of their conversation pierced the roar of Faruq's alarm.

"...many important documents I need to store..."

"...this to your liking? Note the delicate gold-plated edging..."

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