Chapter 11: Rue the Fruits of Tempting Fate

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"...ensure they won't be destroyed by air or water..."

"...of course. Ah, watch this."

Faruq heard frantic, yet muffled barking and he jumped up running into the showroom, his feet seeming to move of their own will.

He stopped short at the sight of the wish scribe, standing tall and regal as ever next to his father who sat, legs splayed casually with his hands on his knees, on a large, engraved chest.

"Where is the dog," Faruq demanded, though he knew. Oh, Ahura Mazdaa, he knew.

"Oh, Faruq. This is my son, good sir," he told High Scribe Maleek. The man simply nodded slowly.

"Where is the dog?" Faruq repeated.

"The little mutt finally came to good use," said his father, and laughed his usual jovial laugh. "Right now he's testing how airtight this chest is." He knocked on the chest's surface.

Faruq's eyes flitted to the wish scribe despite himself, but he only stood calmly with a look of mild interest on his face. Faruq could only guess what he was thinking.

The boy stood fraught with indecision. To stop his father and save the dog would only draw more attention to the cruelty of it all.

As he balked the yips turned to whines. The scrabbling got weaker.

Faruq threw one last glance at the wish scribe, then bounded up and grabbed his father's arm. "You've proved your point, Baba!" He cried, tugging on his father. "Let the dog loose!"

"But the dog still lives, Faruq," said his father patiently, as if explaining the measurements for a table pattern. "How can we be sure the chest is air tight if it still breathes?"

"He grows weaker! See? Listen!" The scrabbling had stopped entirely, and only soft whines came from within. By now others had left their work stations, peering curiously at the scene Faruq was making. What must they think? Faruq worried. He tugged on his father with all his might. "Up, Baba. Get up!"

"I've seen enough," said the wish scribe. "The merits of your handiwork are quite clear. No need to stress the boy, he's obviously quite fond of the little mongrel you have there."

Slowly, far too slowly, Faruq's father stood up. Faruq yanked the lid off the chest and pulled out the dog, limp and whimpering.

"Give him here," said one of his father's workmen, a serious young man named Ali. He took the dog, scowling, and left the showroom while Faruq stood shaking. The other men grumbled and whispered, but went back to their stations.

"Your father does fine work," said High Scribe Maleek.

Faruq's only reply was a high, strangled noise.

"This will do nicely," said the wish scribe. "When can you have mine completed?"

"Let me quickly check with my crew," he said, and before Faruq could stop his father, he found himself alone with High Scribe Maleek.

"Your father certainly has, unconventional methods," he said.

"Don't kill us," Faruq whispered.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Don't kill us. Please."

"My boy, why ever would I do that?"

Faruq stayed silent.

"You wouldn't be referring to a certain tested wish, perhaps?"

Faruq's eyes went big and white as two round eggs, and he glanced around wildly.

The wish scribe laughed. "It seems to have worked out spectacularly, wouldn't you agree?"

Again Faruq stayed silent. The wish scribe narrowed his eyes and gave Faruq a sly smile.

"Oh you can't possibly be worried about that spectacle with the dog. I've seen far worse than that, I assure you."

"So you're not here to do away with us?"

He laughed again. "I had no such intention. But I doubt it's me you should be worried about. Take my advice, keep your wits about you, boy."

Just then his father returned and the two men resumed talking shop. Faruq slunk back to his workstation, infinitely and foolishly relieved that the wish scribes weren't after his family.

It took a few moments, but the horror slowly caught up to him, and his chest seized up at the realization that had he not intervened, his father would have killed Thamina's dog.



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