Your Wish Is His Command
 
    Before The Beginning

    Tartessos, Iberian Peninsula 3
BCE
     
    Kal ducked into the first building he came to,
the cool stone shadows doing nothing to dry the sweat from his
body. He’d thought once he got the dammed shackles off, he’d be
free.
    Showed what he knew.
    Of course, if he could outrun the vizier after
him, he’d be a lot freer.
    Then he got a good luck at his hiding spot and
almost groaned. Iman’s home.
    Once, not that long ago, he and the widow been
more than friends and she’d been more than happy to help him in
oh-so-many ways. Now? He’d hoped she’d forgiven him for that
kiss-and-run on what became their last night together when he’d
been called, once more, to The Service. The Service he was bound
and determined to be free of.
    “ I’ll find your sorry ass, donkey.”
The shadow of Faruq’s angular profile flitted across the far wall
through the window above Kal’s head.
    Kal worked to slow his breathing, wanting
nothing to give him away. Faruq was known for his tenacity, and Kal
had known this wouldn’t be easy. Faruq wasn’t about to give up any
of his djinn any more than Kal was about to give up his hard-earned
freedom. It made them at odds more than they’d been throughout the
years.
    “ Khaled, you cannot hope to escape
me. Give yourself up. We’ll come to a compromise. It will be worse
for you if I have to bring you to the High Master.”
    Kal could imagine Faruq stroking his beard and
flicking his tongue over his lips like the lizard he was.
Compromise? Faruq didn’t know the meaning of the word. Not that Kal
wanted one. He wanted one thing and one thing only; the one thing
he’d gambled his life for ever since Faruq had stolen what was supposed to have been his life.
    Freedom.
    The shadow above the window moved. Kal held
his breath and began planning his next move. He didn’t have many
options.
    “ Tell me, Kal,” Faruq whispered.
“Tell me how you did it. How you got the cuffs off.”
    Ah. He had something on Faruq. Something Faruq
didn’t know. Something Faruq wanted.
    Well, the vizier could rot in the bowels of a
fiery pit before Kal would ever share that knowledge with
him.
    Faruq cursed, a term as foul as he was. The
vizier had never liked him, even during those years of hedonism
that came from their youth and the magic they controlled. Back when
they’d developed their powers and learned the ways of the world
that existed beyond the shadow of the minaret where they’d been
raised. Back before they’d been assigned to their individual
prisons and masters. Back before Faruq had stolen the one thing Kal
had wanted above everything.
    Faruq had played the game like a pro and
earned his way through the ranks as a sycophant of the High Master,
ultimately stealing his way to eternal servitude to the highest
official of their world on the back of Kal’s hard work and years of
study.
    Bastard. He might have stolen Kal’s career,
but he was not going to steal the rest of his
life.
    Kal slid his lantern from the folds of his kaftan . As long as he was in possession of this he was in control of his destiny. But should Faruq get
it—
    Kal didn’t want to consider the
ramifications.
    A tiny gasp at the far side of the room drew
his attention. Kal stared at the doorway to the bedroom and saw
her. Iman. He put a finger to his lips and used the other to point
to the window.
    Iman was more than just pretty and willing;
she was smart. And she was also, unfortunately, mortal. The moment
she saw Faruq’s well-known profile, she would know the stakes if
the vizier should find either one of them.
    “ Come, Khaled,” said the slimy
vizier. “You can’t hide from me forever. That’s a long time and I
have more resources at my disposal than you do now that I’m vizier, including the ability to trace your magic. I’ll find you,
Khaled, and you’ll pay. For every day you hide from me, I’ll make
you pay.”
    Iman’s eyes grew wide and guilt crawl like a
scorpion over Kal’s

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