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The Emira and the Simurgh

Popular with: Akathia, Tharici, Eastern Tarsikka
Unpopular with: None
Less known by: Oresund, Athral Isle, Gaunt, Principalities
Archtypes, if any: Warrior or Trickster
Variations, if any: NA

There was being and non being, there was none but The Holy Caliph, who had three children: (PC2), (PC3), and the youngest, the Emira Nasreen who had no mother; she was the king's favorite because she was the bravest of all.

In the garden of the palace there grew a pomegranate tree with only three pomegranates; their seeds were fabulous gems that shone like lamps by night. When ripe, the pomegranates would turn into three beautiful youths who were to become the wives of the three Emirs. Every night, by the Caliph's order, one of his children guarded the tree lest anyone should steal the pomegranates. One night, when (PC3) was guarding the tree, he fell asleep and in the morning, one pomegranate was missing. The next night (PC2) was on guard, but he also fell asleep and the next morning another pomegranate was missing. When it came to Nasreen's turn, she cut one of her fingers and rubbed salt on it so the burning would keep her awake. Shortly after midnight, a cloud appeared above the tree and a hand, coming out of it, picked the last pomegranate. The Emira drew her sword and cut off one of the fingers. The hand and the cloud hurriedly disappeared.

In the morning when the Caliph saw drops of blood on the ground, he ordered his children to track them, find the thief, and bring back the stolen pomegranates. The three Emirs followed the blood drops over mountains and deserts until they reached a deep well where the trail ended. (PC3) offered to be lowered down the well with a rope to investigate. Less than halfway down he screamed:

"Pull me up, pull me up, I am burning!"

His siblings pulled him up. Next, (PC2) went down and soon he also cried out that he was burning. When Nasreen decided to go down, she told her brothers that no matter how loudly she shouted, they should not pull her up but let the rope down farther; and they were then to wait for her only until dark. If there was no sign of her, they could go home. Nasreen entered the well and, in spite of unbearable heat, went all the way down to the bottom where she found a young girl, beautiful as a full moon. On her lap lay the head of a sleeping fire drake, whose thunderous snores filled the air with heat and smoke.

"Emira Nasreen," she whispered, "what are you doing here? If this drake wakes up, he will surely kill you as he has killed many others. Go back while there is still time." Nasreen, who loved her at first glance, refused. She asked the girl who she was, and what she was doing there.

"My two siblings and I are captives of this drake and his brother and his sister. My brother and my sister are imprisoned in two separate wells where the drakes have hidden the stolen wealth of almost all the world."

Nasreen said: "I am going to kill the drake and free you and your brother and your sister. But I will wake him first; I do not wish to kill him in his sleep."

The Emira scratched the soles of the drake's feet until he opened his eyes and stood up. Roaring, the drake picked up a millstone and threw it at the Emira, who quickly stepped aside, drew her sword, and in the name of the Molten Sheik cut the fire drake in half. Thereafter she went to the other two wells, finished off the drakes and rescued the siblings of her beloved. She also collected the treasure.

As it was not yet dark, her brothers were still waiting for her and when she called them they started to pull up the rope. The girl whom Nasreen loved wanted her to go up first, because she knew that when her brothers saw the jewels they would be jealous and would not pull her up. But the Emira insisted she go up first. When she saw that she could not change the Emira's mind she said:

"If your brothers do not pull you up and leave you here, there are two things you should know: first, there are in this land a golden cock and a golden lantern that can lead you to me. The cock is in a chest and when you open it, he will sing for you. And when he sings, all kinds of gems will pour from his beak. The golden lantern is self-illuminated, and it burns forever. The second thing you should know is this: later in the night there will come two oxen that will fight with each other. One is black, the other white. If you jump on the white ox it will take you out of the well, but if, by mistake, you jump on the black one, it will take you seven floors further down."

As the girl had predicted, when the Emirs, (PC3) and (PC2), saw the beautiful youths and the boxes of gold and silver, they became jealous of their sister's achievements. Knowing that their father would surely give her the kingdom, they cut the rope and let her fall to the bottom of the well. Then they went home and told their father that they were the ones, who had rescued the youths, killed the fire drakes, and brought all the treasure, and that Nasreen had not come back.

At the bottom of the well, Nasreen was heartbroken. She saw two oxen approaching and stood up as they started to fight. In her excitement she jumped on the back of the black ox and dropped with it seven floors down. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in a green pasture with a view of a city in the distance. She started walking toward it when she saw a peasant ploughing. Being hungry and thirsty she asked him for bread and water. The man told her to be very careful and not to talk out loud because there were two lions nearby; if they heard her, they would come out and eat the oxen. Then he said: "You take over the ploughing and I will get you something to eat."

Nasreen started to plough, commanding the oxen in a loud voice. Two roaring lions came charging toward her, but the Emira captured the lions, turned the oxen loose and hitched the lions to the plough. When the peasant returned, he was very much taken aback. Nasreen said:

"Don't be afraid. The lions are harmless now and will not hurt you or your oxen. But if you are not comfortable with them, I will let them go."

When she saw that the farmer was still reluctant to approach the lions, she unfastened them and they went back where they had come from. The man had brought food but no water.

He explained: "There is no water in the city because one of the dragons from the mountains is sleeping in front of the spring. Every Saturday a youth is taken to the spring so that, when the dragon moves to devour them, some water runs through the city streams and people can collect enough for the following week. This Saturday the Sultan's daughter is to be offered to the dragon."

Nasreen had the peasant take him to the Sultan: "What will be my reward if I kill the dragon and save your daughter's life?"

The Sultan replied: "Whatever you wish within my power."

Saturday came and the Emira went with the girl to the spring. The moment the dragon moved aside to devour her, Nasreen called the name of the Molten Sheik and slew the monster. There was joyous celebration in the city. When Nasreen, asked to name her reward, announced that her one wish was to return to her homeland, the Sultan said:

"The only one who could take you up seven floors is Simurgh. She lives in a nearby jungle. Every year she lays three eggs and each year her chicks are eaten by a serpent. If you could kill the serpent, she surely would take you home."

Nasreen went to the jungle and found the tree in which Simurgh had her nest. While she was watching, she saw a serpent climbing up the tree to eat the frightened chicks. In the name of the Molten Sheik, she cut the serpent into small pieces and fed some to the hungry chicks who were waiting for their mother to bring them food. She saved the rest for later and went to sleep under the tree. When Simurgh flew over the nest and saw Nasreen, she thought the Emira was the one whom each year ate up all her chicks. Simurgh was ready to kill her, when her chicks shouted that she was the one who had saved them from the enemy. Realising that Nasreen had killed the serpent, she stretched her wings over the Emira's head to make shade for her while she slept. When she awoke, the Emira told Simurgh her story and asked whether the mighty and noble beast could help her. Simurgh urged her to go back to the Sultan and ask him for the meat of seven bulls.

"Make seven leather bags out of their hides and fill them with water. These will be my provision for the journey; I need them to be able to take you home. Whenever I say I am hungry, you must give me a bag of water, and when I say I am thirsty, you must give me the carcass of a bull."

On their way up to the ground Nasreen did exactly as Simurgh had instructed until only one bag of water was left. When, instead of saying she was hungry, Simurgh said she was thirsty, Nasreen knew the truth, and cut off some flesh from her thigh and put it in Simurgh's beak. Simurgh immediately realised it was human flesh. She held it gently until they reached their destination. As soon as Nasreen dismounted, she urged Simurgh to fly back at once, but knowing she could not walk without limping, Simurgh refused and, with her saliva, restored the piece of his flesh to her thigh. Having learned how brave and unselfish the Emira was, she gave her three of her feathers, saying that if Nasreen were ever in need of her, she should burn one of them, and she would instantly come to her aid. With that, she flew away.

Entering the town, Nasreen learned that three royal weddings were about to take place: for Emir (PC3), and Emir (PC2), and the third for the Vizier's daughter, because the youngest daughter of the Caliph, Emira Nasreen, had never returned. Despondent, Nasreen went to a craftsman and begged to be made an apprentice laborer. Seeing that she was strong and hard-working, the Master readily agreed, and set her to work straightway.

One day some men came to the shop where Nasreen was apprenticed, saying they had been to all the smiths and craftsmen in town but no one would undertake to make what the Caliph had ordered. Nasreen asked them what it was and was told:

"The girl who is to marry the Vizier's daughter has put forward one condition to the marriage! She will only marry one who can bring her a golden cock from whose bill gems will pour when it sings; she also wants a golden lantern, which is self-illuminated and burns forever. But so far no artisan and no smith can build such things."

Nasreen, recognising the signs, spoke up: "With my master's permission I can build you a chest with such a golden cock and also the golden lantern by tomorrow."

The men gave her the jewels needed to build those items and left. Nasreen gave them all to her master for, she said, she did not need them. That night the Emira left the town and burned one of the feathers. When Simurgh came, she asked her to bring what the girl had demanded, and she did so. In the morning, the astounded men took the precious items to the Caliph, who at once summoned the young woman to the court and was overjoyed to discover it was none other than his favourite child. Nasreen told her story but she begged the Caliph not to punish her brothers for the wrong they had done. The whole city celebrated her return and there were three weddings indeed. The Caliph made Emira Nasreen his successor to the throne, and all lived happily ever after.