My third and last fic for unconventionalcourtship:
Title: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Pairing/Characters: Treguard / Majida
Rating: All ages
Length: ~3200 words
Summary: Treguard has been called to a desert kingdom to destroy an
evil ifrit. But there are other dangers around than the supernatural.
Notes: Based on prompt 48: 'The Desert Virgin' by Sandra Marton.
Treguard of Dunshelm: a ruthless troubleshooter, his mission in the remote
desert kingdom of Baslaam is covert and dangerous...
Daughter-of-the-Setting-Moon-Whose-Eyes-are-like-Daggers-in-the-Hearts-of-Men-who-guard-the-Great-Caravan-of-the-Sultan (aka Majida): a classically trained
ballerina, she's been abducted and sold to dance in the harem of the Sultan of
Treguard's in a tight spot, and when the Sultan offers Majida's body to
him, he sees a way out. But escaping with the scantily clad Majida across
the sands is more temptation that even he can handle. When they reach a safe
oasis, he can no longer hold back from taking the night of lovemaking that was
the Sultan's gift...
With quick glances, Treguard of Dunshelm looked around the Sultan's great
hall. All stood in readiness. The crude chalk triangle he had drawn over the
lavish mosaic floor was complete, without the smallest gap. The Sultan's two
junior conjurers were standing at the two other corners of the triangle,
each holding a green glass sphere. Retreating to the third corner of the
triangle, he drew a third sphere from his knapsack and held it up in his
left hand. With his right, he loosened the sword Wyrmslayer in its sheath.
"We are ready to begin," he said.
The two conjurers exchanged a nervous look, and began to chant. As they did
so, the air above the triangle began to glow a bluish colour, swirling and
thickening into the form of a gigantic face. Two contemptuous eyes glared
down at Treguard, and the vast mouth twisted into a sneer. A bolt of
lightning lashed out from the face, only to rebound from an invisible barrier
and dissipate in rivulets of white fire. For a moment, it was possible to
perceive a pale tetrahedron surrounding the being like a cage; then it faded
"Both of you, take one step forward," Treguard said.
The two conjurers stepped into the triangle, the spheres in their hands
now glowing with inner green fire. Treguard followed suit. Once more the
tetrahedral cage shimmered into existence, as it closed around the floating
face, and this time remained.
"One more step," Treguard said.
The face's expression of contempt was changing to angry alarm. Whatever
kind of creature this was, it realised it was trapped, and what Treguard and
his assistants planned to do to it. The sphere in Treguard's hand pushed back
against his motion, and he had to drag it along with him by main force.
"We cannot go further than this," one of the conjurers said. "Its power is
"If it is not applied intelligently, power is worthless. Both of you, turn
to your left until Kazim faces me, and Mukhtar faces Kazim." By way of
demonstration, he turned until he was facing Mukhtar, taking care not to
slacken his grip on the glowing sphere. "Now we walk in a circle."
The three began to walk slowly in a circle, the insubstantial cage rotating
around the apparition. Gradually, Treguard and his assistants tightened the
circle, gaining a little ground on each rotation. Trapped inside the
shrinking cage, the face wordlessly spat its hatred at them, but could not
When the trio were standing less than a foot apart, Treguard reached into
his satchel and produced a fourth globe, this time of red glass. Reaching
cautiously over, he placed it onto the tip of the glowing pyramid.
Immediately, it flared with light. With a sudden inrush of air, all four
globes shot together, crushing the apparition between them. The glow slowly
faded from them.
"You may let go now," Treguard said, placing the now fused-together globes
in his knapsack. "And you can tell the Sultan that the ifrit that has been
troubling his palace is now safely confined."
"We shall tell him at once," Kazim said. "He will doubtless wish to reward
"He does not know of my part in this, nor should he. Only the Grand Vizier
knows why I am here. As far as the Sultan is concerned, the credit for this
must lie with you."
Mukhtar bowed. "You are most generous."
Treguard returned the bow, and watched the two conjurers depart.
In order to celebrate his liberation from the ifrit that had been making his
life a misery, the Sultan had ordered that a banquet should take place that
evening. The rules of hospitality dictated that everybody under his roof
should be invited — even the barbarian crusader who, unbeknownst to the
Sultan, was chiefly responsible for this happy state of affairs. Seated at
one of the lesser tables, Treguard ate moderately, keeping a watchful eye
on events. The faction at court which resented his presence was a powerful
one, and they were doubtless eagerly waiting for him to make any slip.
The Sultan clapped his hands. "Come, let us have some entertainment!" He
leaned across to one of his servants. "Send in the women, and let them
Treguard sat back, maintaining an air of intelligent interest as, to the
sound of flutes, the Sultan's wives and concubines danced, one after the
other, in the space between the tables. The first three did little to
attract his attention: in their various ways, they were attractive and
gifted, but he'd seen their like in a dozen lands.
As the fourth dancer went through her gyrations, Treguard suddenly leaned
forward. Like the others, she was a skilled dancer, beautiful in face and
figure, decked in gauzy clothes and jewellery. For a moment he was certain
that he detected a quality about her which her fellows did not possess; on
second thoughts, perhaps she had simply made an unfortunate choice of
adornments that evening. Had Treguard had his usual freedom of action, or
some time in private to prepare a suitable spell, the question might have
been resolved there and then. For the moment, though, he merely made a mental
note to look into the matter, should the opportunity present itself. Again,
he sat back, forcing composure on his features, and risked a glance at the
high table. The Sultan was exchanging a word with his Grand Vizier — not a,
comforting one, if the Vizier's expression was anything to go by.
It was as he returned to his room after the banquet that Treguard found
himself jostled, in a manner that he had become all too familiar with. This
was not the shove of a rival attempting to provoke him, or the crafty nudge
of a pickpocket trying to flush out his prey; rather, a clandestine message
had been pressed upon him, for there was a scrap of parchment between his
fingers that had not been there before.
Treguard waited until he was in his room to examine the parchment. It was
in the Grand Vizier's hand, and its message was stark. The Sultan had tired
of his unwanted guest, and, setting hospitality at naught, had ordered his
death. Assassins from Alamut were on their way, and if Treguard was to
survive, he must be far from the palace by dawn.
"All very well for you to say," Treguard murmured, as he burned the
parchment in the flame of his oil lamp. The Sultan, or those of his courtiers
with any grasp of forward planning, would doubtless have taken steps to ensure
that he remained exactly where he was until dawn. In fact, one of those steps
seemed to be happening now: the sound of slippered feet could be heard in the
Treguard rose to his feet, buckled Wyrmslayer in its scabbard around his
waist, and took up a defensible position with his back to a solid wall. He
kept his eyes firmly on the doorway. After about half a minute, the heavy
curtain was pushed to one side, and the outline of a veiled female figure
appeared in the candlelight.
So this is your plan, my good fellow, Treguard thought. Beguile
me with one of your harem until the morning, so that I don't get any bright
ideas about leaving early. He looked down at the woman's feet. Ah.
An excellent choice.
He stepped forward into the circle of lamplight. "Good evening, madam."
"Oh!" The woman jumped. "You startled me. I am His Majesty's Number Four."
"Don't you have a name?"
"His Majesty does not allow us the use of names."
"Might I at least see your face?"
"Oh, at least." The woman removed her veil, revealing, as he'd expected,
the proud, passionate face of the dancer who had so caught his attention
earlier that evening. "You like what you see, huh?"
Treguard gestured to the bed. "Lie down."
"I see you don't waste any time," the woman replied, doing as she was told.
"I suppose a barbarian like you isn't interested in dancing and singing and
fine art. So much for all the hours I spent practising. Just 'get on the bed'
Treguard had caught her by the foot, tipping her forwards onto the bed,
and was dispassionately examining her ankle. It was encircled by a bracelet
of copper and iron, a crude thing by the standards of the other jewels she
had worn earlier that night.
"I thought so," he said. "Madam, I am leaving immediately, and I require
The woman shook her head. "No. There are things I do, and things I do not.
And I do not help rude barbarians."
"You will help me."
Treguard lowered his voice. "Because you're a prisoner here, just as much
as I am. And because I know what you are. Only one kind of person would need
to wear a bracelet like that."
"I do not need to wear it."
"Then take it off."
Slowly, the woman reached down, but as her hands approached the bracelet
they started to shake. She drew them back, looking as if she'd been asked
to put them in a fire.
"Exactly," Treguard said. "You cannot remove it. I can, and if you help me
to leave the palace, I shall."
"The Sultan will kill me."
"Only if he catches you." Treguard was hastily changing into his worn
travelling clothes. "Which he will not."
"You will stop him, huh? One barbarian against all the Sultan's army."
"That is how all the most glorious victories are won," Treguard said,
tipping the contents of the fruit bowl into his battered knapsack.
"And also how many fools die." She gave him a dubious look. "You can take
the bracelet off me?"
"I can and will, as soon as we leave the palace."
"What if he catches you before we are out of the palace? Answer me that."
"Then you say I threatened you." Treguard drew Wyrmslayer a foot or so from
its scabbard. "You had no choice."
She shrugged. "I could almost believe you."
"Would you prefer to see me die tomorrow, and know that you turned down
The woman swallowed, took a pace forward, and held out her hand. "I can
conceal you," she said. "As long as we are touching."
Treguard took her right hand in his left. As he did so, the room seemed to
darken, and his hearing was muted, as if he was underwater. Together they
passed out of the bedchamber. Two burly men were standing on guard outside;
Treguard's free hand was on the hilt of Wyrmslayer, but the two men showed
no signs of noticing as he and his companion passed, ghostlike, between
Invisible, unmarked, they passed through the many chambers, courtyards and
staircases of the palace, until at last they stood between a tall, ornate
gateway and a long, low building. Above the gate, the silhouettes of
armed men could be seen against the stars.
"That is the stables," the woman whispered, still holding Treguard's hand.
"And that is the gate. What will you do? Cut your way through with your big
"All in good time, madam." Turning away from the gate, Treguard made his
way to the stables. Dozing camels gave the pair suspicious looks.
"Choose a camel," he said. "We shall both need to ride it. I shall clear us
a path. When I call you, bring the camel out."
"You think I can hide a camel as I am hiding you?"
"Concealment will not be necessary, at least at first. Can you hide a
camel, in fact?"
"It would be difficult. Camels do not desire to be hidden."
"Then, for now, don't bother. Release me, and choose us a mount."
The woman let go of him, hurried down the stalls, and indicated a camel.
"This one," she said. "I shall make her ready. Whatever you plan to do,
Treguard strolled out again, until he stood in the centre of the courtyard.
Ensuring he had all the guards in view, he spread his arms wide.
"Spellcasting," he said. "S-T-U-N."
There was a thump, more felt than heard, throughout the courtyard. Atop
the wall, the guards, as one, toppled and disappeared behind the battlements.
"Now!" Treguard called.
His co-conspirator emerged from the stables, leading the camel by its
"So you have killed the guards?" she asked.
"No. They are briefly indisposed: that is all. We must leave before they
They hurried to the gate. It was bolted, but with its guardians unconscious,
it was a simple matter to push one great door wide enough to allow the camel
through. The moment they were clear of the gatehouse, Treguard swung himself
into the saddle, pulled the woman up behind him, and urged the beast forward
at its best pace.
In a hollow among the dunes, which Treguard deemed far enough from the city
to be safe from immediate pursuit, he brought the camel to a halt and climbed
off, gesturing to his travelling companion to do likewise.
"You want to stop already?" she asked. "You should have gone before we
Ignoring her words, Treguard knelt down before her and took hold of the
bracelet around her ankle. It took a moment of searching before he discovered
the hidden catch; then, he pressed it. There was a soft click, and a
feeling as of a sudden lessening of pressure. As he stood up, the bracelet
in his hand, he half-expected her to vanish, but she remained where she was
and met his gaze triumphantly.
"You have done it!" she proclaimed. "You are not so stupid as I thought at
first, Mister Treguard."
"I always keep my word." Treguard looked around, to see if there were any
signs of pursuit. So far, it seemed they were safe. "You are no longer a
slave of the Sultan."
"Or of any human."
"Quite. Does that mean you have a name again?"
Though his greater height made it impossible, he got the feeling that she
was trying to look down at him. "You may call me Daughter-of-the-Setting-Moon-Whose-Eyes-are-like-Daggers-in-the-Hearts-of-Men-who-guard-the-Great-Caravan-of-the-Sultan."
"I certainly won't."
She sighed. "Nobody ever does. All right — 'Majida.'"
"That's more like it." Treguard cast another glance around. "I cannot
remain here. And you had better go your own way, unless you want to be
"Do you know where you are going?" Majida folded her arms.
Treguard swung himself up onto the camel. "The nearest harbour. Now, run
along, there's a good djinn."
"The nearest harbour is two days' ride by road. And you cannot use the
road, because the Sultan's guards will be watching. You must cross the
desert, and to do that you need a guide." She took a few steps away from
the camel. "Do you still wish me to run along?"
"Wait!" Treguard called. "I accept your most generous offer of assistance."
"That is more like it." Majida pointed, apparently at random, into the
desert. "There is an oasis there, five hours' ride. That is where we must go."
"Get up behind me, then."
"As you wish." Majida rose gently into the air. "But the camel only needs
to carry you."
The camel lurched across the desert, with Treguard on its back. On his right
side, Majida kept pace with him, seemingly floating on thin air.
"This is good," she was saying. "I have not ridden the wind for many
"If the wind were against us, would it be necessary for you to tack
against it, like a dhow?" Treguard asked her.
Her face set firmly forward, Majida pretended not to have heard him.
"Might one enquire if the Sultan knew he had a djinn in his service?"
Majida's voice was full of scorn. "He knew nothing. To him I was simply a
dancer, bought from a dealer in slaves for less than I was worth."
"Then who put the bracelet on you?"
"A hermit magician."
Treguard waited to hear if there was more, but if there was, Majida
seemed reluctant to divulge it. In the end, he had to ask "Why?"
"As a punishment."
"Speaking out of turn." Majida bit her lip. "He was a powerful man, and
quick to anger."
"As are you. You were a well-matched pair, I do not doubt."
"You like to live in danger, Mister Treguard. We are all alone in the
desert and you think I am quick to anger. Suppose you infuriate me, and
I leave you?"
"Then I shall navigate by the stars." He patted his knapsack. "My trusty
astrolabe accompanies me everywhere."
"You have been to many places, then?"
"Indeed I have. I make a living by my sword, and my wits."
"And magic." Majida sounded disparaging. "Borrowed magic, that vanishes
from your mind when you use it. My magic is always with me."
"But it is limited, even in different ways," Treguard said. "You could not
have escaped the Sultan on your own."
"No more could you."
"True." Treguard looked at the sky. "The dawn is coming. We must find your
oasis soon, or not at all."
"Then you will find it soon," Majida replied confidently.
In the shade of palm trees, by the edge of the small pool of water that
was responsible for this tiny patch of green among the endless dunes, Majida
threw herself down beside Treguard.
"We rest now, huh?" she said.
"Until sunset," Treguard said. "Unless we learn of danger approaching
"The Bedouin in these parts are no friends of the Sultan. If soldiers come
this way, they will not return. If an army comes, we will know of it in time."
Majida glanced across at him. "Are you tired?"
"I have not slept for a day and a night, both of which were busy. Maybe
things are different for your kind, Majida, as they are for the elves; but
I find myself in need of sleep."
"Then sleep now. I will keep watch." She remained lying beside him, showing
no signs of vigilance. "You have been among the elvenkind?"
"As I have told you, I have travelled widely."
"And you will go on travelling?"
"At present, I see no alternative."
Majida paused slightly before her next question. "By yourself?"
"I have met few with the skills and inclination to accompany me." He turned
his head in her direction. "I believe that last night, I met one such. You."
"You wish me to travel with you, then?"
Treguard nodded. "I think such an arrangement could be mutually beneficial."
"Even if I am 'quick to anger'?" She leaned closer to him. "You think you
will find a spell that turns me to a fainting maiden, perhaps."
"I very much doubt that a spell of such power could exist. No, if you
became intolerable, madam—"
"If you became intolerable, I would merely have to find some other way to
stop your tongue."
"I can think of one." Her lips were inches from his. "Maybe you try it now,
huh? Just to see if it works?"
Treguard put his finger on her mouth. "Oh," he remarked, drawing out the