posted on 25-May-2002 2:15:59 PM
Title: Arabian Nights~ Roswell Style (it may change…it’s a work in progress)
Author: Cathe AKA Kitcat26
Summary: My take on a familiar story originally by Disney J
Disclaimer: Alas, I sadly do not own anything about Roswell. If I did Jason Behr would be locked in my bedroom and would never come out. ::grins diabolically:: The only thing that belongs to me is this story so please don’t take it or destroy it. Flame it if you must but please be constructive if you send feedback. I would also like to point out that although the storyline is taken from Disney I fully intend to make my story as original as possible.
Rating/Pairings: PG-13 to R (I’ll have to see where the story goes). AU of course with M/L and a sprinkling of M/M
Authors Note: ok I admit that I haven’t and inkling to how an Arabian kingdom was set up at the time of Aladdin but you will get the generally idea. If anyone sees an oops on my part in the historical department please send me a replay so I can fix my boo boos at Kitcat3686⊕aol.com (feedback also welcome at this address! J)

Part One~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Princess Elizabeth gazed solemnly at the tantalizing blues of the small pool’s waters as she awaited her father’s wrath to befall her, as expected. Sure enough, he didn’t disappoint.

“Honestly Elizabeth! I just don’t know what I am going to do with you! Yet ANOTHER perfectly good suitor comes to call, only to have you shoot him down! He stalked out of here in a huff, carrying on about how unreasonable you are! I don’t understand you, Elizabeth! You are usually so sweet and levelheaded! What on earth keeps happening here! Why?!! Just tell me what was wrong with Sir Sean?”

While Elizabeth had kept silent throughout her father’s rant but, at this last comment she jerked her gaze from the soothing crystalline waters and fixed her father with a fierce glare before retorting.

“What do you mean what was wrong with him?! Are we not speaking of the same person?! He was insufferable, pompous, inane…I could make a list a mile long! I think that I have no need to remind you of my feelings to your preposterous plan to marry me off to a COMPLETE stranger! Oh but wait I forgot! My feelings on the matter have no weight as far as you are concerned! Oh well, it is not as if it is my future we are dealing with here, it is not as if you were planning to just auction me off as some prize to be won in a contest!! Step right up boys! The only criteria are that you must have a title and be rich and pretentious!! Oh be still my beating heart!! Why indeed would I be against this idea? Gee, I wonder,” Elizabeth ended on a sarcastic note.

The Sultan dug his fingers into his scalp wearily. “Elizabeth, we have been over this hundreds of times before. You must do this. It is imperative that I have you married off to a good man who can take care of you when I am gone! Not to mention a man worthy to someday be king. It is your duty as a princess to obey!”

Elizabeth mouthed the last line while rolling her chocolate eyes, having heard this unbecoming phrase since before she herself could talk. She then opened her mouth angrily to wrangle with him once more, to make him see what a disaster this was.
The Sultan saw this and interjected before she could interrupt once more. When his pleasant daughter, his little princess, became so saucy was beyond him. He should do something about Maria’s apparent influence on Elizabeth.

“This is the end of this discussion, Elizabeth. I want to hear no more of this subject unless you are to report something positive about a suitor.

At this Elizabeth snorted in disgust and rose to protest. “But father…”

“Enough!! You will choose a suitor by your next birthday or I will be forced to choose for you!! It is the law of our people for you to be married to a man of a wealthy title by the time you come of age, and it has been for centuries. You cannot change it try as you might but I warn you. Anymore wayward behavior and you will regret it! I may be your father but I am also your Sultan and it is about time you remember that!”

And on that final note, the Sultan strode way, his rigid back daring Elizabeth to call him back and argue her case until she was blue in the face. ‘Not that it would do me any good,’ Elizabeth thought bitterly, her antagonism still threatening to boil over as her lady in waiting and best friend, Maria, attentively approached her like one would approach a ferocious tiger.

Maria plopped down next to her good friend and gazed admiringly at the luscious garden, filled with an array of brightening, exotic flowers and soothing, sparkling fountains that almost always seemed to lift up hers and Elizabeth’s spirits. Unfortunately, that was not the case today. Maria threw Elizabeth a wry smile.

“So from where I was standing that looked like it went well,” Maria commented.

Elizabeth snorted with a hollow laugh that didn’t meet her eyes. “Interesting observation. Don’t tell me you were eavesdropping too? What have I told you about that nasty habit of yours?”

“That it is the only way to get decent information, not to mention juicy gossip?” Maria asked, batting her eyes innocuously.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes yet smiled at her zany friend.

“Noo, I told you that it would one day get you in trouble and that you shouldn’t do it anymore,” Elizabeth replied half facetiously, half reproachfully.

Maria made a face at Elizabeth’s goodie two shoes nature, and then made a dramatic bow “Pardon me your highness.”
Elizabeth groaned. “Don’t remind me.” Her dark mood was back.

Maria became serious for once. “Okay I admit, I was eavesdropping, but look at it this way. Now you don’t have to repeat the awful things his royal highness said. I already am aware of his unusually arrogant behavior.”

Elizabeth sighed. “I hate this. I despise my privileged life. What good is being a princess if I have no say on how to live my life? I don’t want to marry, but if I do…I want it to be for love, not godforsaken politics! I am so sick of living a life where I have to say one thing but believe another, where I have to be the perfect princess and example for subjects I haven’t even met because I am confined to this wretched palace!” Elizabeth spat out the last word.

Maria just silently listened to her friend, their roles reversed as Elizabeth spouted out her troubled feelings and Maria lent an arm to wrap around her for comfort. Then Elizabeth stood up suddenly and said the absolute last thing that Maria expected to hear at that moment.

Part Two~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max leaped over a lone barrel that barricaded his only means of escape from one of the royal guards sent to patrol the streets. His foot caught slightly and the reason for him being chased momentarily slipped from his grasp before he righted the precious loaf of bread.

‘Smooth Maxwell,’ he chastised himself. ‘Where the hell is Michael?’ Max snorted in disgust at the thought of his careless partner in crime, the one who usually got them caught. ‘I could REALLY use his help right now, seeing how he got me into this mess!’

“Get back here you no good piece of street rat trash!” Kyle, the guard, screamed after Max, trying desperately to catch up and failing miserably, much to Max’s relief. All this for a measly piece of bread?

Kyle, or Deputy Dawg as Max and Michael more fondly called him, had held a grudge against Max ever since one of Max’s harmless pranks cost Kyle a promotion. He was firmly intent on catching Max or Michael and his obstinacy was relentless. You almost had to give him credit for his endurance. Almost.

“Not a chance Deputy Dawg!” Max laughed openly, mocking Kyle’s last statement. ‘Does he really think that I am going to listen?’ Max wondered briefly what Kyle would do if Max halted abruptly and turned to walk nonchalantly over and turn himself in. It would be interesting to see his face, but Max felt pity for Kyle’s absurd thinking that it would be that simple to catch the infamous Max, the poor boy with a heart of gold and knack for getting away with numerous goods which he shared with others like him, never taking more than was needed. Michael on the other hand…

Max’s train of thought was interrupted at the sight of a dead end straight ahead. Crap.

Kyle’s heart leaped at the thought the he was finally going to catch Max!! He was sure to get that raise now!

Max turned suddenly and tried to do some fast thinking before Kyle could get any closer.

“Ya know, Kyle, I’ve been doing some thinking and I wondered why on earth we aren’t friends. Where did we go wrong? I think it is because you secretly admire me and are jealous.” Max tried not to roll his eyes and sound sincere, while his gaze darted around to locate an escape.

Kyle stopped and blinked, not sure that he heard correctly. Then his anger and pompous swagger was back. Max silently praised himself in getting the desired result.

Clearly thinking he held the upper had, Kyle decided to have a little bit of fun before he arrested Max and had him chucked in a damp cell and left there to rot.

“I think that it is because you are a worthless piece of garbage that needs to be thrown out. You will never amount to anything. You were born trash and you’ll die as trash. I am the law and it is my duty to get stealing vermin like you off the streets of Roswell!”

Max triumphantly located a small door leading up to an abandoned rooftop but he’d be damned if he let Kyle get away with that.

“Hey now, no need to get nasty. May I point out that if the rich cared enough about the people they trample over, we wouldn’t have the need to steal? You gotta eat to live, gotta steal to eat, otherwise Kyle, I think we would get along.” [A/N okay that line was INCREDIBLY corny but I have had that song from the movie stuck in my head all day and it had to come out]

Kyle sneered at Max’s last statement and started forward, deciding that was enough talk.

Max saw this and knew when to take his cue to get the heck away from there.
“Well tootles, Kyle. It’s been lovely chatting with you.” And with that Max bounded into the minute dismal shack and pounded up the stairs leading to the roof, leaving a flabbergasted Kyle behind.

“What the…” Then Kyle noticed the almost hidden in plain sight door that Max had escaped to. By the time Max was for sure long gone.

“ARRRRGGGHHH!!!” Kyle yelled out in frustration. ‘Damn him! I was so close that time.’ Kyle’s behavior was like that of someone who had tasted a small dose of victory only to have their prize snatched way before they really received it. Kyle’s shoulders slumped as he made his way back to his captain to report yet ANOTHER failure. Ahh the bitter taste of defeat.

Meanwhile, Max made his way back to another dark dismal shack, which he and Michael liked to call home sweet home, still clutching the offensive piece of bread.

A worried and pissy Michael greeted him at the jagged hole in the wall they considered their front door.

“Maxwell! What happened!? Where were you?! I was sick with worry thinking that ole Deputy Dawg finally caught up with you!”

“More like you were worried what happened to your dinner,” Max answered dryly.

“Oh, come off it Max. I didn’t care about the damn bread. You’re like a brother to me. It would suck if Deputy Dawg got you. I would have had to deal with his gloating face everywhere. Plus I need you to keep me from doing stupid things.” Michael cracked a wry grin and awkwardly finished one of his rare displays of affection. Max knew that Michael was as loyal as they come but Max also knew that Michael was wary of expressing emotion every since Max took him in and away from his drunken, abusive father.

“Well you DO do a lot of dumb things,” Max teased. “One of those being how you got me CAUGHT today but have no fear Deputy Dawg is probably still scratching his head and crying about the street rat that got away. No worries all’s well as ends well. I know you didn’t mean it,” Max stated as he saw Michael open his mouth to apologize. “Just next time be more careful. Now we can eat!”

Michael sighed in relief that Max harbored no ill will against him, but then again Max would never turn against Michael. Michael still felt incredibly obtuse at his lack of skill in the discreet department but he was improving bit by bit each day with Max’s help. ‘Enough self pity’ Michael scolded himself. It was time to have a meager but much anticipated meal.



PartThree~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Then Elizabeth stood up suddenly and said the absolute last thing that Maria expected to hear at that moment.

“I give up.” Elizabeth said, sounding dead to Maria’s ears. The usual gleam of light that was all Elizabeth seemed to burn out of her eyes and her usual melted chocolate eyes grew hard and cold. Lifeless.

Maria became extremely concerned. Elizabeth was not a quitter. This she knew as a fact. For crying out loud, this was the girl who stubbornly refused to believe that humans couldn’t fly. A younger Elizabeth hadn’t stopped trying to prove everyone wrong even after she broke her arm. Something must be terribly wrong for Elizabeth to just relinquish like this.

Maria had been rendered speechless. ‘Well I guess there is a first time for everything’ Elizabeth thought sardonically.

“Wh-What!??” Maria finally sputtered out. “You did NOT just say that, did you?”

“Oh no Maria, you heard correctly. What else can I do? My father will get his way, he always does. It is futile to try any more. As a woman in this chauvinistic world, I have no say and never will. It is despicable but there it is. I am and always will be subjected to a world that I can’t bear to call my own.” Elizabeth dropped back down, dejectedly.

Maria was slowly beginning to overcome her initial shock and started building up for a full-fledged Maria specialized rant. “No. NO!! There is no way you can just sit back and let this happen! Elizabeth, I KNOW you!!! You have fought too hard to make your father understand just to give up now!! I cant believe you are even CONSIDERING letting them,” Maria spat out them referring to the ostentatious men of the royal court who were enough to make Maria swear off men for the rest of her life, “get to you! You are letting them win! Do you really want that?” Maria asked Elizabeth, clearly feeling flummoxed.

Elizabeth frowned at that thought. “No,” she answered with a pout, her forehead wrinkling in thought.

“Good! Now think Elizabeth! You have come too far with this just to give up now!! I mean you have done everything short of running away from here, for crying out loud…” Maria mumbled to herself, glad that she shook her friend out of the shadowy bleak land of self-doubt.

Elizabeth’s eyes acquired their familiar gleam and Maria noted with alarm there seemed to be a mischievous, impish spark there as well.

“What?” Maria asked warily, recalling other memorable incidences where Elizabeth had that same look in her eyes.

“Maria, you are a genius,” Elizabeth stated simply.

“Umm thanks I thi-…” Maria started to say in utter confusion. Then she understood.

“Oh No. Elizabeth, chica, I was so totally NOT serious when I said that! I mean come on. That would be like suicide if the Sultan ever caught us not to mention the fact that it would mean my head on a nice silver platter if he found out that I, unintentionally of course, put this incongruous INANE idea into your head…”

“Maria-” Elizabeth tried to interrupt, but alas it was too late. Maria had a full supply of air in her lungs and all signs pointed out that it would be a LONG time before she ran out again. The best thing to do was to wait her out.

“I mean what would you do out there? You have no idea what it is like out there, Elizabeth,” Maria said recalling the times her mother had taken her out of the palace to visit old friends. “And how would we live? You have no husband to provide for you and no experience of what it is like to work. We would most likely be homeless, cold, hungry, alone, and in rags! Now I don’t know about you but I have grown accustomed to royal clothing and let me tell ya it is a HUGE step up from what the fashion world is like out there…” Maria shuddered at the thought.

Elizabeth smirked. “No one said that you have to come with me, Maria.”

Maria threw her an annoyed look. “Of course I would go with you! Your pampered naive self would most likely die without my help,” Maria winked to show her that she was kidding and would go with her because she loved Elizabeth like a sister since she had no family left of her own.

“But that’s not the major point here, Elizabeth. While the other disasters I have pointed out are indeed important...”

Elizabeth snorted at this but narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her slight petite frame and waited for Maria to finish, clearly not expecting Maria to say anything to derail her rapidly developing plans.

“What about your father? It would devastate him if you took off. You are all he has left besides his creepy advisor, Khivar.”

Elizabeth bit her lip. She had not considered this. Maria was right. She loved her father dearly but lately…he had become more driven, blinded by the responsibility of being Sultan and become more controlling. Elizabeth was slowly suffocating and it wouldn’t be long until her father had her molded into some else entirely. The person she was now would cease to exist and would be replaced by a conformed perfect little princess. Elizabeth would die before she let that happen.

“Elizabeth,” Maria watched her anxiously hoping that her last statements made Elizabeth see the complete wrongness in the situation. She was still kicking herself for even suggesting it. ‘Okay here is the order, think than talk.’ “Please tell me that you are not considering running away. Please!” Maria nervously tugged on the ends of her golden mid shoulder length hair.

Elizabeth looked at fretful friend and pure resolution shot through her. ‘I have to do this! But Maria doesn’t need to be involved. Her life doesn’t need to be disrupted; she adores it here in the palace. And I’ll be damned if I drag her down with me in my attempt to be free!’

Maria watched as Elizabeth’s expression grew pensive and unreadable. “Well…!?”

Elizabeth looked away and answered, “You’re right Maria. I don’t know what I was thinking. It was stupid of me. I guess I’m getting desperate, huh?” Elizabeth laughed but still refused to meet Maria’s penetrating stare.

At that instant, a messenger boy ran up to them. He gave a stumbling bow and announced that the Sultan awaited Elizabeth’s presence at dinner.

Elizabeth looked relieved at the boy’s message and practically sprinted away from Maria, calling out a good bye as she went. Maria narrowed her olive eyes at Elizabeth’s rapidly retreating figure, knowing that Elizabeth was lying. Now what she was supposed to do about it, Maria hadn’t a clue. Maria stood up and walked away from the garden, the helpless feeling surrounding her and troubled thoughts clouding her mind.


Part Four~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The tension-filled elaborate dinning room was starving for an argument, anything to slice through the uneasy silence that hung heavily in the air. Elizabeth shifted uncomfortably in her ornate chair, longing for the meal to end.

The Sultan sensed his daughter’s restlessness but choose to ignore it, thinking that she was still upset about their previous dispute. He sighed wearily. He hated the fact that she was obviously angry with him, but stubbornly thought it was about time that he put his daughter in her place. He truly wanted what was best for her, but unfortunately, what he considered to the best for her was NOT what she believed to be the best for her.

Elizabeth, however, was impatient for an entirely different reason. She desperately wanted to get going on her plans to leave this wretched place before A. Another tedious suitor came to call and B. Maria figured out what she was up to. Elizabeth rarely lied to her friend and she despised it. However, it had to be done. But if Elizabeth was to go through with her plan, she needed to move fast. Maria wasn’t as vapid as her bubbly personality often suggested.

Finally, the Sultan finished his meal and rose from the long white clothed table.
“Thank you for joining me, Elizabeth. You may be excused.”

Elizabeth, too, rose up and curtsied. She looked at her father and felt remorse, this probably being the last time she would ever see him.

The Sultan noticed her sad scrutiny. It seemed that she wanted to say something and yet she was hesitant at the same time.

“Elizabeth? Is something wrong?”

Elizabeth made a decision. She had to a least say goodbye. He was still her father after all and she still loved him. She had to make sure he at least knew that.

The Sultan stared at her, utterly perplexed, when, all of a sudden, he was bowled over by Elizabeth’s slender figure and being unprepared, he was almost knocked to the ground.

“What…? What is the meaning of this, Elizabeth?” The Sultan asked, astounded at her behavior yet pleased as well.

“I love you, father,” Elizabeth said in answer to his confusion, as if it would clarify her strange behavior. They were, as far as he was concerned, still in a fight. “I’m sorry,” she said, meaning she felt remorse for what she was planning to do later that night.

The Sultan’s heart lightened at her words. He wrapped his arms around his daughter. A feeling of utter most joy enveloped him. “It is quite all right, Elizabeth,” he said, thinking that she was apologizing for their quarrel earlier.

Elizabeth’s eyes shone with unshed tears as she broke away, knowing that he didn’t understand. She was NOT sorry for earlier, and didn’t think she would ever be. Her heart broke for her father’s clueless ness. She kissed him softly on the check trying to say so much to him in such a simple gesture. “Thank you,” she whispered quietly, meaning for everything he had done for her, before she strode away to her room. She wondered briefly if things would have turned out differently if her mother had not died during childbirth.

The Sultan smiled at Elizabeth’s retreating form. ‘She was finally growing into the princess she needs to be!’

How wrong he was.

The Sultan turned to enter his study. He sighed. He had so much to do. Sometimes he allowed himself to wonder what it would be like if he didn’t have all of these responsibilities. He plopped onto his swishy comfy chair and listlessly began to play with a spinning top that always remained on his desk, a good luck charm. He was startled when his trusted advisor strode in unannounced, complete with his usual staff with the head of a snake.

“Yes? Khivar, what is it?” The Sultan was slightly annoyed at the disruption of his thoughts, and yet grateful for the interruption that reminded him of all his unfinished tasks.

“I apologize for coming in so brusquely, your highness, however, I am in need of your help,” Khivar said in an oily voice that sounded any thing but sincere. His annoying pet parrot, Nicholas, was ever present and called out in a monotonous, dimwitted voice, “Awk! Need your help.” Khivar glanced at it in irritation and flicked its head with his thumb and index finger, signaling it to shut up.

The Sultan frowned when it looked as if Nicholas scowled for an instant, but being that parrots couldn’t scowl he figured that it must have been some trick of the light.
The little guy seemed hungry. The Sultan immediately brightened at the thought of the stale crackers he kept in his drawer, especially for occasions such as these.

“You look like you could use a treat there, Nicholas. How about I give you a cracker?”

A look of panic passed through the ugly parrot’s eyes, unnoticeable except to Khivar, who just smirked down at his defenseless pet. Nicholas tried to wrench his mouth shut but alas the Sultan’s invading fingers stuffed the offensive cracker through.

“There you go little fella,” the Sultan said, chortling and very much pleased with himself. Nicholas looked as if he wished he could fly up and bite the Sultan’s nose off but the Sultan, of course was oblivious to this fact.

“So what can I do for you, Khivar,” the Sultan said turning his attention back onto his obliging Advisor, who rarely asked for Sultan’s help; it was usually the other way around.

“Yes, your highness,” Khivar seemed to grimace when he said “your highness” but this look quickly molded into a disingenuous look of respect. “I am in need of your Royal Ring.”

A look of uncertainty crossed the Sultan’s face. He wanted to help his friend and Advisor but…

“I don’t know, Khivar. Elizabeth’s mother gave me this ring. It is a symbol of Royalty. No offense, but only Royalty is supposed to posses it.”

“None taken,” Khivar answered through gritted teeth, struggling to maintain control in front of his Sultan. “However, it is imperative that I borrow the ring for a matter of great importance.”

“Why can you not use another ring?” the Sultan pleaded. “You should know how much it means to me.

“Oh believe me I am most certainly aware, however, no other ring shall do,” Khivar was beginning to become impatient. He had already spent too much time away from his quest. He needed that ring NOW.

“What exactly is it that you are doing?” the Sultan questioned, becoming suspicious.

Khivar held back a groan of frustration. Enough was enough. It was time to take drastic measures.

Before the Sultan could react, Khivar thrust his staff forward, the eyes of the snake glowing a faint red.

“You will give me the ring IMMEDIATELY and then return to your tasks at hand.” Khivar demanded in a menacing tone.

The Sultan’s usually dark eyes held a red tint to them as he repeated in droning voice, “I will give you the ring and return to my studies.” The Sultan glanced down at his finger, slipped off the precious gem and handed it to Khivar’s outstretched fingers.

Khivar grinned triumphantly, the malice in his eyes resembling the glowing eyes of his snake staff. “I appreciate this greatly your highness,” Khivar said snarling out the last two words, the spite obvious in his tone. He then stalked away before the effects of the hypnosis wore off. He came to a deserted corridor and tapped the bottom right hand corner, after darting a glance about to make sure he was alone. The wall gave way to a dimly light hallway, leading to his secret lair that was filled with objects needed for his quest.

Once he was certain they were unaccompanied, Nicholas spat bitterly on the ground. “ACKK! I swear to Allah Almighty, if that bumbling OAF stuff one more cracker down my throat I’ll stuff one of those infernal things so far up his a-”

Khivar cut him off. “Patience, Nicholas. Patience. Our time will come and now with the ring we are one step further to our goal,” Khivar said staring callously down at the jewel

“I don’t know why you needed that measly thing anyways,” Nicholas complained.

“That’s because you are a simpering fool. It is because of you idiocy that you were turned into a parrot in the first place, and if you have any hopes of being transformed back into a human, you’d better help me on my quest.” Khivar answered frostily. “We need the Royal seal in order to find the Diamond in the Rough. That is what the cave spirits told us when our last recruit went in and was promptly killed by the spirits. Honestly, do you remember nothing?”

“Oh yeah. So who is this person worthy enough to enter to sacred cave?” Nicholas asked, eager to get going on this expedition that would hopefully bring him back his body and rid him of this worthless parrot one.

“That my foolish friend, is what we are about to find out,” Khivar said before placing the ring among the other final elements around the crystal ball that would reveal to them the Worthy One.

The murky fog that usually swirled inside the ball cleared after a moment and Khivar hissed, “Who is the Diamond in the Rough?”

Immediately a picture of a young boy with raven colored floppy hair appeared. Khivar noted with disdain that the boy was obviously poor. This was the one worthy enough to enter to caves? A street rat no less was considered better than Khivar himself. The idea was ludicrous but the ancient spirits had always seemed a bit loopy to Khivar.

A voice called out to the boy inside the crystal ball. “Max! Hey Max!” The boy turned to see who was calling him when the fog returned and the scene disappeared from Khivar’s eyes.

Nicholas lifted his head to meet Khivar’s gaze. “Did you notice where he was?! It was the Roswell Marketplace! He has been under our beaks the whole time!”

Khivar smirked. It should be easy to find this Max. He would send one of the guards to arrest him in the morning, framing him for some sort of crime. Not that anyone would care or miss ‘Max’. He was a worthless street rat after all.

‘Soon Max. Soon you shall come face to face with your destiny.’ Khivar laughed mirthlessly and its evil sound chased around the damp dark lair, jumbling together until the sound was incomprehensible.





Part Five~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Velvety ebony cloaked the palace and a sprinkling of sparkling stars came out to visit as Elizabeth softly padded out of her room, an hour or two before sunrise. She had borrowed one of Maria’s drab hooded cloaks that had been stuffed in the back of her closet once royal clothes inhabited her fashion world. It was light brown and the hood, when worn, covered up most of Elizabeth’s features, which would be helpful in case she came upon some royal guards with whom she was friendly with. The russet strands of her hair, which were usually curled and formally swept up in a fashionable style, now hung down her back, shiny and straight, the way she liked.

Elizabeth made her way out to the garden where she had fought with her father yesterday and gazed about at her favorite place, the moonlight casting the fountains in a silvery glow and accenting the trees. She then set her shoulders straight and determined and made her way to the palace wall. Freedom was just over the other side.

With a deep breath to calm the flip-flops of her heart, Elizabeth started to climb up the giant tree, which was planted ever so nicely against the palace walls.

Elizabeth nearly fell and broke her neck at the sound of a voice behind her.

“I KNEW it. I just KNEW you were lying to me.” Maria’s voice shook with anger.

Maria had had a hunch that Elizabeth was up to something and had awoken suddenly when she heard a tell tale sign of someone trying to sneak down the corridor where both of their bedrooms were located. She had known instantly that it was Elizabeth and she was none to happy about it. So she had thrown on a similar cloak and taken off after her friend.

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in guilt and shock of being caught. “Maria…”

“Uh uh. Don’t you ‘Maria’ me. Elizabeth, why did you lie to me? I would have come with you, complaining about your idiocy all the way, but still.” Maria’s green eyes sparkled with tears. “Did you just not want me to come? Cause you could have told me that too.”

Elizabeth gasped. “NO! Of course I wanted you to come but I didn’t want you to have to leave your life here at the palace. I thought you liked it here and that you didn’t want to leave!”

Maria rolled her eyes. “Chica, the only reason I liked it here is because YOU were here. Yes the solid walls and clothing were a nice plus but… Anyways. Are you sure you’ve thought this through? I meant what I said before. It can be dangerous out there in Roswell. And what about your father?”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “I’m one-hundred and twenty percent sure, Maria. I can take care of myself. You don’t understand. I am slowly suffocating in this safe palace. My father needs me to be someone I’m not. The air in here is choking me and the palace walls feel like they are closing in on me and making me claustrophobic!”

Maria’s eyes widened. “Whoa. I am SO sorry! I had absolutely no idea you felt like that.”

Elizabeth’s chocolaty eyes fluttered shut for a moment. “Neither did I until recently.”

Maria’s heart went out to her friend and she knew what she had to do. She sighed. “So where are we going?” She asked resignedly.

Elizabeth squealed with excitement and she threw her arms around her friend. “So you’ll come with me?”

Maria quirked a grin. “Of course, silly. Now lets go take the world by storm and knock its socks off!”

Elizabeth laughed. “A task easier said than done.”

Maria scoffed. “What are you talking about? The world will take one look at us and be captivated with our sparkling wit and beauty!”

“Oh REALLY?” Elizabeth said while batting her eyes teasingly. “Well in order to do so we first have to get over this wretched wall!”

“Oh, right. Let me give you a leg up.” Maria answered. And with that they were on their way to greet the outside city of Roswell as the sun came up to greet them as well.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Michael was awakened from a restful sleep by the offensive sun glaring through his shut eyelids and Max shaking him. He groaned and haphazardly tried to shoo Max away with out much avail.

“Come on sleepy head. We got to go get breakfast before it gets crowded. Rise and shine!” Max said in an unbearably loud and obnoxious sing-songy voice.

“I’ll rise but I cant guarantee I’ll shine,” Michael grumbled.

“Aww Mickey. That’s no way to greet a beautiful morning!” Max said, clearly enjoying annoying Michael. He then became serious. “Seriously, Michael, get up. If you want breakfast we have to leave now.”

Michael gave another moan but obliged. He stumbled down after Max, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, as they made their way to where the downtown fruit vendors were. Little did either of them know that they were going come back with more than a little bit of food.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Elizabeth looked around in awe, taking in the slightly dirty, extremely colorful atmosphere of downtown Roswell. It was amazing. Everything was in orderly chaos, much different from the austere ways of the palace, and Elizabeth loved it. She was visibly floating, her heart much lighter. Here she could be whomever she chose to be, safe in anonymity.

Maria also took in the view although not quite as enthusiastically as her friend. She couldn’t help but compare it to the organized beauty of the palace, but she quickly shoved that thought away. Here she could be more open and free, unlike in the smothering wall of the palace, and she KNEW that Elizabeth felt the same way. This was her hometown for crying out loud, even if she hadn’t stepped foot in it since she was small. Maria also took in the startling amount of sullied men that kept leering at her and especially at Elizabeth. That girl was just too pretty for her own good. Maria moved closer to Elizabeth, protectively and whispered, “Elizabeth, maybe you should put on your cloak, until we get settled in our plans.”

Elizabeth gave Maria a strange look but obeyed. Her eyes bugged out of her head and she wished for about ten more eyes so she could take in more of her surroundings.

Maria’s eyes sparkled as she saw vendors and their little shops, which seemed to call out to Maria. Now THIS is what she most missed while she lived in the palace. SHOPPING!!

“Lets browse a bit shall we?” Maria suggested.

Liz nodded her head enthusiastically. Maria stopped at a short, stout man selling gorgeous jewelry that screamed out Maria’s name. Elizabeth kept walking, unbeknownst to Maria who was swept up in the world of precious gems that sparkled in the morning sun.

Elizabeth found herself among vendors selling dazzling looking fruits and vegetables. She zeroed in on a poor looking boy whose height kept him from reaching a ruby apple. And from the looks of it, the boy needed some type of nourishment, soon. Elizabeth’s heart went out to him and she made her way to him.
Once she reached him, he immediately backed away looking guilty. Elizabeth picked up an apple and handed it to him. “Is this what you want?” She asked, giving him a sweet smile. The boy looked up at her, astonished, and then grinned and nodded. After that he scampered away. Elizabeth watched him go a small smile still playing on her lips.

Maria had noticed that Elizabeth was gone and found her helping a poor boy steal an apple. Oh no. This was not good.

“Elizabeth!” Elizabeth started to turn at Maria’s screeching voice, but before she could do so hard hands jerked her around and she came face to face with the very angry vendor owner, who was brandishing his sword about threateningly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After successfully acquiring a tasty breakfast of juicy fruit, Max and Michael sat atop two tall barrels and lazily watched the crowd. Max’s eyes fell upon a young girl and he was instantly mesmerized. He felt his heart leap up and catch in his throat. He couldn’t see much of her features but her face was visible through the hooded cloak she wore, and she was without a doubt the most beautiful, stunning girl he had seen in his life. And he had seen quite a bit, being that people watching, after stealing, was his and Michael’s favorite hobby. His amber eyes followed her every move and he watched with glee as emotions flashed across her face as she gazed about the marketplace. It seemed as if she was seeing it all for the first time, which Max didn’t find surprising because he knew he wouldn’t forget seeing a girl like her before.

Max felt his heart stop as he saw her smile and make her way to an apple vendor and a little boy beside it. He felt momentarily jealous of the little boy, for he, MAX, wanted to be the one she smiled at.

Michael noticed how Max’s gaze never tore from the girl in the brown cloak. He had even gone as far to wave his hand in front of Max’s face and call out his friend’s name loudly in his ear, but it was pointless. Max didn’t budge nor did he get that goofy glazed look out of his eyes. Michael snorted in disgust. Who would have ever thought that Max would get his pants all twisted over some chick just walking aro-”

All thoughts ceased to exist in Michael’s head as he caught a glimpse of a gorgeous blonde making her way over to Max’s eye candy, a worried expression on her face. Michael had an uncontrollable desire to wrap his fingers through her golden hair and he wondered where the hell that came from. ‘Snap out of it Michael! It’s just a girl! Stop acting like Max and get a hold of yourself!’ But even after his self-lecture, Michael couldn’t stop staring at her.

Max’s sappy grin changed to a frown as he noticed his dream girl hand an apple to the little boy and then as the little boy ran off. This could mean trouble if anyone saw that, but Max couldn’t help it when his heart softened at her benevolent attempt to help someone in need. He jumped up in alarm when he saw the angry vendor owner grab her and point out his sword. Without a moments hesitation he leaped up and was at her side in a matter of seconds.

Michael was startled out of his ogling at the blonde when he saw Max bolt up and make his way over to the two girls. He swore when he saw a vendor owner brandishing his sword. What was Max getting himself in too? Michael quickly followed; secretly glad for the excuse to get nearer to the fascinating blonde.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~**~*~*~*~*~*

Elizabeth stared wide-eyed up at the terrify man. His sword had come dangerously close to her powerless frame, too close for comfort, and she began to shiver violently. She had never felt so frightened in her life. She closed her eyes and tried to fight the panicky feeling that was bubbling deep in her stomach and longing to escape out her throat in the form of an endless scream.

“What the hell do ya think you were doin’?!! You’d damn well better have money to pay for that apple, wench! No??!! Well I guess cutting off your hand MIGHT make up for it, then,” the vendor owner threatened while bringing his sword closer to Elizabeth.

Maria opened her mouth furiously to shriek at the idiotic to get his hands off of Elizabeth, but before she could do so, a strange young man darted forward and grabbed the vendor’s arm before it could come any closer to Elizabeth. He shot a quick glance at Elizabeth, seeming to make sure she was all right.

Elizabeth could only gape at her knight in shining armor. Well it was more like market boy in tattered clothes, but nonetheless, he was gorgeous! He had a short sleeved shirt on which showed off his muscular arms, and the shirt was also missing buttons so his well toned chest peeked out at Elizabeth, taking her breath away. ‘So NOT the time, Elizabeth.’ She scolded herself. Here she was at the brink of death and all she could do was drool over some guy.

Max did some quick thinking while calculating that his dream girl was sacred yes, but not harmed. ‘She was so beautiful’ he thought with a momentary pang.

Max turned his attention back to the livid vendor owner, who looked infuriated at Max’s hand on his arm. Max then decided on his course of action, praying that his angel and her friend would go along with it.

“Thank you, kind sir, for finding my sister.”

“Sister?” the vendor, Elizabeth and Maria all said simultaneously. Max’s eyes pleaded with his dream girl to go along, but that plan immediately backfired on him. For once he looked into her chocolate eyes he was lost.

Elizabeth was also having a hard time concentrating. He had such soulful eyes, pools of amber that beckoned her in.

Maria saw this exchange and discreetly cleared her throat loudly.

By this time Michael showed up, unbeknownst to everyone else. He decided to watch to see how the situation unfolded before he made his presence known. He had had trouble with that vendor before and he didn’t know if he would recognize him or not. Plus this gave him more staring time with the blonde.

Max wrenched his eyes away from Elizabeth’s and finally answered the skeptical vendor. “Yep she’s my sister all right,” he said looping his arm casually around her, trying not to shiver at the contact. ‘Well might as well seize the moment’ Max thought devilishly.

Elizabeth had to bite her lip to keep from sighing aloud at the feel of his arms around her and wondered at the feelings stirring from the depths of the stomach.

“She doesn’t look like you,” the vendor said suspiciously.

Different mother’s” Max lied easily while relishing in the feel of his dream girl.

“Just because she is your sister doesn’t excuse the fact that she stole from me!” the vendor shouted getting angry again.

“Yes well dear ole sis is not, shall I say, all there upstairs.”

At this Maria struggled not to laugh and Elizabeth gasped and went to pull away from Max but he help on tight.

“She’s been going to the doctor lately but sometimes she does strange things which explains why she gave the boy the apple.”

“So she’s insane?” The vendor asked incredulously.

Elizabeth huffed and glared at Max trying to ignore how cute he was.

Max tried not to smile but the expression on her face was just too damn adorable.

“If you want to put it that way,” Max said lightly. “I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t press charges. It was after all, just one apple and she didn’t understand what she was doing.”
The vendor looked at Liz with narrowed eyes. “I suppose, but keep crazy girl away from my shop from now on. Next time I wont hesitate with my sword, got it?”

Max tried to contain his anger at the thought of anyone harming her and answered, “Sure thing. I’ll make sure she steers clear of your shop.” And with that he led a stunned Elizabeth away, Maria and Michael not far behind.

Part Six~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max decided to lead them out of the Marketplace, before the vendor chose to change his mind. He also wanted to get Michael away from the vendor, seeing as he had caught Michael stealing from him more than once. Once they were a good distance away, his dream girl jerked out of his firm grasp.

Elizabeth had never been more humiliated in her life. To have this boy, however handsome he was, tell everyone that she was insane irked her beyond belief. She glanced behind her to make sure Maria was still behind her, and to add to her shock Maria was flirting with some guy!

Elizabeth fixed Max with a heated glare and cursed herself for noticing how captivating his eyes were.

Max looked at her with shock, wondering what he had done to deserve such a look. He had expected her to at least thank him for saving her life, or at the very most kiss him on the check (hey he could dream, alright?). He certainly did NOT expect to be the target of her wrath, as if HE were the one who threatened her life.

Meanwhile, as Maria had turned to follow Elizabeth and her strange rescuer, and had come face to face with a young man staring right at her. For a while she had started back, wondering whom this good-looking guy with the chaotic, unruly brown hair was. Then her anger grew.

Her olive eyes narrowed and she put her hand on her hip in a daring fashion. “And just WHAT do you think you are going to accomplish by ogling at me like that?” She spat out angrily.

Michael’s eyes grew larger as she seemed to become even more beautiful, as if that were possible, in anger, her eyes sparkling and her face expressive. ‘A little spitfire. This I like’ Michael thought with amusement and vowed right then that he would try and keep her as angry as possible.

He raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think I was staring at you?” he asked in a belligerent tone.

“OOO Never mind!” Something about this guy irritated and fascinated Maria all at the same time. She strode defiantly away after her friend, a part of her secretly hoping that he would follow. She cheered silently when he chuckled softly to himself before making his way over to her.

When she got closer to where Elizabeth and her rescuer stood, Maria whirled around and fixed Michael with another fiery glare.

“So you are following me now, too, are you?” She said glowering at him, and taking this chance to look him up and down. ‘Nice, very nice. NO! Bad Maria. Maintain your composure.’

“Not everything is about you, dear pixie.” Michael smirked. That was sure to get her going. ‘Pixie. Hmm. It suits her.’

“Wh- You- I- ARGH! I cannot believe you just said that!! Of course not everything is about me you dimwitted oaf! I made a simple observation that you were first staring unabashed at me and then proceeded to make you way towards me again, after I walked away! And what is with the ‘Pixie’ comment? Are you always this aggravating?!”

“Well, today I’m just trying extra hard,” Michael said smugly. “I actually was making my way over to my friend over there,” he lied and gestured towards Max.

Maria glanced over to where he was pointing at Elizabeth’s redeemer. “Him? He is standing next to MY friend!” Maria also noticed with a start that Elizabeth looked PISSED! ‘Uh oh. Looks like she didn’t take the insane comment very well. I had better get over there and do some damage control.’

“Well it looks as if we’ll have to tolerate each others presence for a while,” Michael said casually, trying not to look too excited at this prospect.

Maria rolled her eyes and sighed. “Oh come on. And try and keep your irritating personality flaws to a minimum. Okay?” She smiled to herself and walked closer to her friend.

Elizabeth saw Maria approach her. ‘Good. Now I’ll have some back up.’

“How dare you! You had no right to just come up like that and argue my sanity! I cannot BELIEVE you had the gall to do so!”

Max was stunned. What was he going to do? He didn’t want his angel angry with him. He felt a flash of irritation at her harsh words. “You can’t believe that I made up a story that saved your life?” he asked incredulously.

Elizabeth opened her mouth irritatingly but before she could say a word, Maria interjected.

“Hello there! I’m Maria and I would like to thank you for getting us out of that nasty predicament back there.”

Michael wasn’t far behind. ‘Maria.’ He thought. It rolled off his tongue nicely.

Elizabeth looked bewildered at Maria’s statement. “What!??” She hissed to her friend.

“Think about it, Elizabeth. You would have been chopped liver back there if he didn’t step in. He was only trying to help,” Maria whispered back.

Elizabeth pouted for a minute, not knowing what effect it had on Max. He sucked in his breath and tried to maintain a neutral expression on his face. This didn’t go unnoticed by Maria, who smirked at Max’s behavior.

Rational thinking settled in and Elizabeth realized how foolish she had been acting. She looked up at Max’s anxious face, which pleaded with her not to be angry. She sighed. She couldn’t stay angry for long with eyes like his. And as Maria pointed out, he was only trying to help.

“I apologize, sir. I was just somewhat embarrassed. Thank you for helping me.” She said tentatively.

Max’s heart leaped and lodged in his throat. But he kicked himself for making her feel self-conscious “That’s all right. It was my pleasure to help a beautiful young girl like you.” He said with a wink.

Elizabeth’s face glowed at the compliment.

Max extended his hand. “I’m Max,” he introduced himself.

Elizabeth seemed at a loss for words. ‘Max.’ she thought dreamily. ‘Max.’

Maria saw this and piped up. “Well like I said I am Maria and this is my friend
Eli-”

Elizabeth quickly interjected. “Liz. I’m Liz,” she said taking his hands and jumping at the electrical current that flowed through her at the contact.

Maria gave LIZ a strange look, wondering at the sudden desire for a name change. Maria supposed that LIZ feared someone would recognize the formal name. ‘Oh well whatever floats her boat,’ Maria thought.

Max was in heaven. He loved the feel of Liz’s hand in his own, making him feel complete.


Max was interrupted from his staring contest with Liz, when Michael cleared his throat loudly, giving Max a look.

Max reluctantly released his grip on Liz and remembered his manners. “Oh yeah. This is my good friend, Michael” he said gesturing towards him.

Maria shot a quick glance at Michael, a coy smile tugging at the corners of her lips. ‘So Mickey, is it? Let the games begin.’

Michael noticed Kyle lurking around, scanning the crowds. He shot an alarmed look at Max and gestured towards Deputy Dawg.

Max saw him and frowned. He SO did not want to get in to it with Kyle right now, not when he had just met this incredible girl.

“How about we give you lovely ladies a tour of our humble home, to make up for humiliating you back there? It isn’t much, but it has a great view.” Max suggested, speaking to both Liz and Maria but his gaze never wavering from Liz.

Liz had also noticed Kyle, and wanted to steer clear for he was one of the royal guards with whom she knew quite well. He would DEFINATLY recognize her and not hesitate to inform her father of her whereabouts.

Liz turned her attention back to Max. “Sure, why not?”

Inside, Maria’s heart leap, but on the exterior, she maintained a bored look. “I suppose.”

Michael grinned at Maria, seeing right through her act. “Let’s go then.”

Max and Michael took the lead, and after, twisting and turning down a myriad of streets, they lead Liz and Maria up to an abandoned, dilapidated building with mottled stairs leading up to a dismal apartment, complete with a hole in the wall, which seemed to provide a doorway.

Max turned to the girls, noting their shocked expressions. “I told ya it wasn’t much. Just a prim example of how good the rich take care of the lowly poor they stand upon,” Max said bitterly. “But come on. The best part is up on the roof.”

Liz was so taken aback, she barely heard Max. She couldn’t believe that people, HER people, lived in such an impecunious manner. So this was obviously NOT where all off the royal courts money was being put to use. Liz couldn’t help but think guiltily about the expensive new addition on the palace’s east wing that was being build as she thought. ‘Someone needs to Do something about this!’ she thought anxiously.

Maria also noted with culpability that she had it REALLY good, working in the palace. When had things gotten so bad? Had she lived like this, too? She struggled to remember, but instead pulled up a blank. All of her earliest memories had been of moving into the palace with her mother. She did however, remember visiting Roswell, but she never recalled it being this awful.

Liz’s train of thought was interrupted at the sight of Max and Michael leaning out the window, looking for intents and purposes like they were going to jump.

“What are you doing?!” Liz screeched, breaking Maria out of her reverie. She gasped when she saw the source of Liz’s distress.

Max looked over at them, alarmed by Liz’s scream. “We’re going up to the roof. Aren’t you coming?”

“Oh,” Liz walked over, followed by Maria, and felt incredibly stupid for the second time that day.

Michael balanced on the ledge and hoisted himself upwards, holding onto the edge of the roof that protruded out above him. He swung over and moved down so Max could follow.

Liz turned her head up so she could see them. She then glanced nervously down at the busy streets. They looked so far down…Climbing the palace wall had been bad enough!

Max saw this and extended his hand to help her (okay and to get to hold her hand again). “Don’t worry,” he said in a calming voice, “I wont let you fall.” ‘I’d die first,’ he thought silently.

Liz looked up at his amber eyes and trusted him completely, despite a little voice in her head chastising her, saying that she had only met him a few hours ago. She ignored the voice and went with her heart, grabbing his hand and allowing her to be hoisted upwards. She stumbled a bit and unconsciously walked right into his arms (not that he was complaining of course!)

Max stomach did Olympic sized flips as she lifted her head up to meet his gaze. Liz gave an involuntary shiver and her eyes fluttered shut for moment, overwhelmed at the sensations coursing through her.

Max immediately became concerned. He reluctantly released her and went as if to go back into the apartment. “Are you cold? Let me go get you a blanket.

Liz blushed. What was she supposed to say? ‘Oh no, I was just shivering at the feeling of being in your arms,’ no that would seem way too adolescent. “No!” Lix clutched his arm and cursed the electric jolt that coursed through her. “I’m fine.”

Michael had viewed this whole spectacle, and while he was amused, he wanted to get Maria up here too. “Well that’s peachy, Liz. Now if you two could just quit your staring contest, maybe I could help Maria come up here as well?”

Max and Liz stepped aside blushing as Michael made his way over.

Maria, however, had also viewed the sparks flying between Max and Liz and thought they were adorable. She was also indignant at Michaels SUBTLE hint that she couldn’t do it herself, so as he ambled over she swung herself over on top of the roof with ease, almost knocking into him in the process. “I got it,” she told him flippantly.

Michael smirked. “You sure do,” he commented.

Maria raised her eyebrow at him but said nothing, plopping down on the edge with her feet dangling over the edge. She glanced up at him, almost daring him to sit down. Michael quirked a lopsided grin at her and followed suit. What was it about her? He usually rarely smiled before he met her, and now he couldn’t wipe the goofy grins off of his face to save his life.

Liz had decided to sit a bit behind Maria. She sat meticulously, folding her legs underneath her neatly. Max wondered at her proper behavior but shrugged it off and plunked down across from her. He just sat admiring her for a moment, now that her hood had fallen down, revealing gorgeous russet strands that cascaded down her back. He had an uncontrollable urge to reach out and see if they were as silky as they looked.

Liz fidgeted slightly under his intense gaze, unaccustomed to such scrutiny. Max noticed this and glanced away, embarrassed, but quickly recovering. He wanted to get to know her better.

Liz felt surprisingly disappointed when he jerked his gaze away, and was startled when he asked her a question, breaking the silence.

“So where are you from?” Max asked, deciding that would be the best way to start off, seeing how he KNEW she wasn’t from Roswell.

Liz bit her lip, trying to make up a plausible answer in her head. “Umm… just a small town outside of the city.”

Max peaked up in interest. He and Michael had traveled there a few times, when Deputy Dawg was hot on their trail and they needed to get away for a while. “Oh really? Which one?”

Liz sighed in frustration. “Umm, could we not talk about my past right now?” she asked politely, not wanting to have to come up with more lies.

Max raised his eyebrows in confusion. “Oh. Yea, sure. Do mind if I ask why?” he asked, wondering was happened to her that was so bad she couldn’t talk about it.

Liz decided to tell him the partial truth. “I ran away. My father is forcing me to marry,” she finished sadly. “Maria’s my friend. She came with for, uh, support.”

Max was stunned. “Wow. That’s horrible…,” he felt momentarily jealous at the thought of Liz marrying someone else. ‘Knock it off!’ “Why would he do that?”

“Umm, he uh, wanted someone to, umm, continue on with the uh, family business,” Liz stuttered out. ‘Well that’s one way to put it’, she thought.

“Allah Almighty,” Max said. “When people tell me things like that it makes me almost glad I don’t have any parents,” he finished ruefully.

Liz’s heart went out to him. “That’s awful! Do remember them at all?”

Max shook his head sadly. “Nope. Never had. This old woman found me half dead in the desert at about ten years old and took me home with her. When she died four years later, I was on my own and when I was fifteen, I met Michael. I don’t remember anything past the day Mrs. Evans found me,” Max said still perplexed about that little fact. It was as if his memories were being BLOCKED some how. Weird.

Liz reached out and grasped his hand. “I’m sorry, Max,” she said compassionately.

Max squeezed her soft hand in response, his heart swelling at her kindness. “It’s alright. I don’t remember anything. But I do sometimes wonder what they’re like…” he trailed off wistfully.

Liz’s heart constricted. Her thoughts drifted to her father, but she quickly shoved it away. She was doing the right thing!! She was! Okay, Liz, just keep telling yourself that. But as she looked up at Max’s beautiful, pain filled eyes all thoughts containing her father slipped away. She turned the conversation to less painful things and the two talked for hours, slowly getting to know each other, and falling deeper as they went.

Meanwhile, Maria had evaded all of Michael’s questions about where she was from, and had proceeded to poke and prod at the tightly lidded jar of Michael’s past. He had gruffly told her to leave it alone, but that had only added to the fire that was Maria’s curiosity. They continued this banter for a while, until Michael’s trembling hold on his temper slipped.

“Allah Almighty! Are you always this incessant about things best left alone!” he busted out, trying to shove away painful memories of Hank and his worthless childhood.

“Actually today I’m just trying extra hard,” Maria answered sweetly mocking him from earlier.

“Fine!! You want to hear about my rotten childhood, be my guest! Do you want to hear about my deadbeat dad, who left me to find food and clothing for myself after my mom died?! Do you want to hear about how he started inhaling alcohol like a fish!? And how he would beat me senseless afterwards?! And I wouldn’t even be here if Max hadn’t taken me away from him?!” Michael finished off, his voice breaking and his breath coming out in pants. He wiped at his eyes furiously, cursing his rapidly filling eyes.

Maria looked at Michael in horror and remorse, clutching her chest. “Oh my gosh! Michael, I am SO SORRY! I had no idea. You should not have had to go through that.” She for once had no idea what to say. She cursed herself for picking and prodding at him.

“It’s okay,” Michael muttered hoarsely, his eyes fluttering shut. They instantly snapped open at the feel of Maria’s arms wrapping around him. His heart momentarily stopped at the unexpected sensation and he stiffened before relaxing in her embrace. Well if he had known he would get this reaction… Michael smiled despite himself. He felt all the weight he had carried on his chest since Hank begin to float away. He hadn’t felt this calm since his mother was alive. Max had seemed to sense that Michael didn’t want to talk about it, but Michael had buried the feelings of worthlessness and agony deep down and they had built up over the years. He needed to get them out to fully heal. And thanks to Maria, he could now begin the process.

Maria pulled away hesitantly. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked tentatively.

Michael shot a look at her. Would she think less of him if he told her what hank had done to him? No, he decided, she wasn’t like that. He didn’t know how he could tell but he just KNEW. “Actually, yea if you wouldn’t mind…”

Maria smiled, encouraging him to go on. And they too got to know each other better as dusk rapidly approached, bathing them in a golden glow.

An hour or so later and after a brief lull in their interesting conversation/staring contests, Max glanced up and became aware of his surroundings. He found that when he was with Liz, everything around him ceased to exist. “It’s getting late,” he called out to Michael, disrupting his and Maria’s discussion/banter, now that they had moved on to less intense topics. Max led everyone back into the tiny apartment.

“We have a bit of fruit left from breakfast,” he said producing a few apples and some bananas. “It’s not much and if you guys want more, Michael and I can go and get some.”

Maria spoke up. “Actually, I’m not really hungry. I’m just tired.”

Liz agreed with a yawn. “Same here.”

Michael helped Max distribute the fruit and the pairs ate together in a comfortable silence.

A sudden thought struck Max. “Hey, do you have any place to go tonight?” he asked, concerned.

Liz shot a glance at Maria. They hadn’t really thought about that.

“I guess not,” Maria answered for them.

“Well, why don’t you stay with us for a while. You know, until you get settled,” Michael suggested, not wanting to part with Maria quite yet.

Maria gave a pointed look to the two lone beat up couches that most likely resembled a bed.

Max saw this and added hurriedly, “Michael and I would sleep on the floor.”

Liz objected, “We do not want to kick you out of your own beds!”

Maria looked at her. “Speak for yourself, chica. I am NOT sleeping in an alley.”

“No you are not,” Max insisted firmly. “It’s fine. I’d rather be on the floor knowing that you are safe then on my bed and worrying about you.”

Liz sighed. “Alright, alright.” And the gang arranged themselves for sleep. Liz and Maria succumbed to slumber almost immediately, while Max and Michael watched the girls sleep for a while, praising Allah for allowing them to step into their lives. They didn’t know that it wouldn’t be long at all until the girls were tactless jerked away from them.


Part Seven~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max jerked awake and the first thing he saw was Liz. A smile broke out on his face and he forgot what had woken him up so suddenly as he watched her sleep soundly for a minute. She was so beautiful. He didn’t know how or why he had fallen so fast for this girl but it was undeniable. He felt this strange pull towards her, a connection, and as he got to see more of what a wonderful person she was, the pull got stronger. He wondered if-

BANG!

There it was again. That must have been what had awakened him. Loud noises came from below Max and Michael’s paltry apartment, followed by an all too familiar voice.

“Check everywhere, including upstairs. He’s around here somewhere.”

Kyle. Ole Deputy Dawg himself. Max shot up and to his relief, Michael was awake, also, his wide eyes confirming that he too had heard the commotion downstairs.

Liz and Maria began to stir, disturbed no doubt by the incessant banging coming from below, from the guards not quite so cautious searching. There wasn’t much to look at downstairs and the guards would soon enough be up and on their tails. Max gently but frantically shook Liz awake and Michael followed suit with Maria.

Liz was none to happy about being tactlessly jerked away from a wonderful dream about Max but she quickly forgot her irritation when she opened her eyes and Max’s face was inches away from her own. She had an uncontrollable urge to kiss him then and leaned forward, her eyes on his tempting lips.

Max almost had a heart attack from Liz’s proximity and the way she was staring at his lips made them start to burn. He literally stopped breathing when she leaned forward but remembered the situation at hand and hastily pulled away.

“Liz, we have to go,” he whispered anxiously, pointing downstairs.

At first Liz was hurt when Max pulled away, but she then heard the voices drifting up from below and getting closer. She recognized one of the voices as Kyle’s. Her eyes widened in shock and she jumped up and followed Max towards the window. She turned to catch Maria’s eye. Maria also looked shaken and she kept throwing nervous glances towards the dilapidated stairs that led below.

“How did they find us,” Liz whispered to Maria.

“Wait,” Michael said, overhearing and turning back from the window, which he was already half out of. “The guards aren’t after you, they are after me and Max.”
Max looked skeptically at Liz. “Why would they be after you?”

Maria gave an exasperated sigh. “Look, can we discuss this AFTER we get away from the big, bad guards with sharp swords?” she pleaded.

Max agreed. “You’re right. Get going Michael. I’ll go last and help the girls get up.”

Michael swung up on the roof and hung down his hand to help Maria up. No sooner after Maria had disappeared, five armed guards burst into the room.

Max shoved Liz up on the roof and scrambled up after her, narrowly missing a guards sword. They turned around to look for Michael and Maria but instead they came face to face with an awaiting Kyle, with Michael and Maria held with swords to their throat by two other guards.

“So, Max. Long time no see. Did ya miss me?” Kyle asked cockily.

Normally, Max would have flippantly answered Kyle, insulting him in the process, but his fear for his friends was too great. Especially, his fear for what they would do to Liz for being in his company. Presently, he just eyed Kyle warily and swept the area for means of escape. Nothing. Not with Michael and Maria’s lives in danger and defiantly not on a rooftop, with the only way down was by jumping off. He was trapped.

Not getting any response from Max, Kyle signaled to another guard, who rushed forward and held Max captive in no time.

Liz had been rooted to the spot in fear of being found out by Kyle, but it turned out that Michael was right. They were after Max. Kyle hadn’t even recognized her yet.

“Take the boy to dungeon. Khivar’s expecting him,” Kyle said, making his way towards Max, a triumphant yet vicious look in his eyes. “And don’t bother being gentle with this one,” Kyle sucker punched Max, as he had longed to do for years, “He doesn’t deserve it.”

Max gasped for breath as Liz watched on helplessly. She wanted to rip Kyle’s head off, both of them. But all she could do was watch Max get taken away.

‘Whoa. Rewind and freeze Liz,’ she thought. ‘You’re the frickin princess, you CAN do something about this!’ It was amazing how easily she had forgotten and she cursed herself for not remembering sooner.

“I command that you release everyone at once!” Liz said to Kyle in what could only be dubbed as her “princess voice,” demanding and cold, daring anyone to differ with her.
Kyle turned, fully expecting to come face to face with an ignorant street rat. “No just who do you think you are, giving me orders, you insignificant little brat?” He asked, dubiously, whipping out his sword.

Liz jutted her chin out so that Kyle could see her features more clearly and brandished out her royal ring, which she had shoved in her pocket as an afterthought.

Max wondered what the hell Liz was doing. Was she TRYING to get herself killed or what? He furrowed his eyebrows, trying to see what she had just shoved in Kyle’s portentous face, straining against the oaf that had his arms pinioned to his side.

Maria held her breath, hoping that Liz knew what she was doing, but also because she had other problems at the moment. She tried not to wrinkle her nose and gag, but the stench of the guard holding the sword at her throat was chocking her air supply. Gross. ‘It’s called a shower, you should look into it,’ she thought before turning her attention back to the more pressing matter at hand.

Kyle halted mid-stride once he recognized Liz and the ring. He gasped. “Princess Elizabeth!” he exclaimed and dropped to one knee, the other guards mimicking him, dragging their prisoners down too.

Max’s head snapped up after the guards jerked in a haphazard bow. ‘Princess? What the heck is Kyle talking about? Had the stress of the job and having one too many street rats slipping out from under his huge nose finally made Kyle crack? Was Max just having a messed up dream? Was…’ Then it clicked. Liz was a form of Elizabeth. Liz, or rather ELIZABETH, had been reluctant to talk about her past. The story about her father forcing her to marry fit in with the rumors that had been flying around the marketplace about the princess’s impending engagement. Her tidy manners had been that of a princess. How could he have been so stupid?

Michael was also stunned. He shot a glance at Maria, who was watching Liz intently. Was she nobility also? He hadn’t even stood a chance from the beginning. He was feeling incredibly foolish for baring so much of himself to her last night. It went against everyone of his don’t-let-anyone-in philosophies. She had probably viewed him as a poor little charity case.

“Your majesty, what on earth are you doing outside the palace walls!? The Sultan has been worried sick!” Kyle said, after recovering from his shock.

“Did you or did you not hear me the first time?” Liz said menacingly, dodging the question. “Release them NOW.”

Kyle hesitated. “But-” he began. “Khivar has ordered his capture.”

“For what crime?” Liz asked.

Kyle thought for a minute. Surprisingly enough, Kyle didn’t remember Khivar saying WHY Max needed to be brought in. Kyle had just jumped at the chance to be rid of Max once and for all.

“And anyway, since when does Khivar’s orders surpass my own?” Liz inquired, giving Kyle a glare.

“Umm, never your highness, never,” Kyle added hastily but he still seemed reluctant to follow her orders. He glanced tentatively at Liz. “You’ll have to take this up with Khivar. I don’t think that he will just let him,” Kyle jerked his thumb at Max, whose mouth was still open in shock from the revelation that Liz was royalty, “go so easily.”

Liz bit back a groan of annoyance. She would have to go back to the palace to clear Max’s name (even though she KNEW Khivar must have the wrong guy). “Oh I intend to,” she said frostily.

The guards released their prisoners and Max immediately made his way back towards his apartment, embarrassed and angry with himself, Michael not too far behind.


[ edited 1 time(s), last at 30-May-2002 4:37:57 PM ]
posted on 25-May-2002 2:19:05 PM
Part Seven Continued~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Liz quickly made her way over to Max, biting her lip anxiously in anticipation of his reaction. By the way his eyes looked anywhere but hers, Liz knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“Max…” she called out before he made it to the window.

He stopped but didn’t turn.

‘Oh damn you. Don’t be all pissy because I didn’t tell you about my-quote-unquote- royal status.’ She thought helplessly, knowing that it wouldn’t do any good seeing how he couldn’t exactly read her mind.

Maria thrust eagerly away from the stinky guard who’d held her captive. She made her way over to the drama unfolding between Max and Liz. ‘Well I’m glad I don’t have noble blood in me. I wouldn’t want to be in Liz’s situation even if you’d paid me a thousand gold pieces.’

She then noticed how Michael was behaving the same as Max: closed off, stone walls high and eyes looking anywhere but at her. She hadn’t realized how much she’d liked how Michael always had at least ONE eye on her since they’d met yesterday. Had it really been that long? It had felt like her whole life…

“Max!” Liz called out again, this time more insistently.

“What?!” he spat out angrily.

“Don’t be like this! Please…” Liz pleaded with him.

Max seemed to falter for a minute, Liz’s imploring voice getting to him. Then he straightened, his anger back.

“I APOLOGIZE, your HIGHNESS,” he said mockingly.

Liz gave a sigh of frustration. “Stop it! Don’t turn this into such a huge deal!”

“No? Why didn’t you tell me? Was it BENEATH me to know of such matters?” Max retorted.

“NO! I wanted to FORGET about it!” Liz answered.

“Whatever,” Max muttered. “It’s all good now, though. Go back to your palace, princess. You’re good deed is done. Go back to the rest of your fellow nobilities and your home of comfort before the needs of your people.”

Liz could only stare in angry shock at Max. Before she could replay, Kyle came up from behind her.

“Your highness...” Kyle started.

Liz whirled around, irritated.

“WHAT!?” she bellowed.

Kyle took a hasty step back. He tentatively answered her. “We must be going. The Sultan will be most displeased if we are not back soon.” ‘Not to mention Khivar,’ Kyle added silently. Khivar would be most upset to discover that Kyle had failed to bring him Max.
“We will leave when I am good and ready!” Liz spat and turned back to Max.

Kyle hesitated but pressed on. “I’m sorry, but we must leave soon, princess.”

“Go on,” Max said. “Don’t let us lowly street rats keep you.” He gave a flourishing, phony bow.

Liz threw a strand of her protruding hair over her shoulder. “You are acting like a child. I was PLANNING on fixing this mess and coming back later tomorrow night! But if your mentality level refuses to raise back up to the sweet, young man that I met last night then I’ll just forget it!” she hissed irately.

“Fine!” Max burst out. “You do that!”

“Oh I will, don’t you worry about it!” Liz fumed before striding away towards Maria.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

All this time, Maria tried desperately to catch Michael’s eye. Finally she burst out frustrated. “Damnit Mickey!”

Michael looked up at her, startled. Then he spoke. “Mickey…?”

“Oh yeah, right. Like that’s any worse than Pixie.” Maria huffed.

“Why didn’t you tell me,” Michael demanded, deciding not to waste time and get right to it.

Maria sighed. “It wasn’t my secret to tell.”

At this Michael got an intense look. “So does that mean that you aren’t-”

“Maria!” Liz’s furious voice cut off what Michael was about to say. “We’re going!”

Maria stared incredulously at her. “What!?” She had thought, no she KNEW, that Liz was falling for Max. What was going on?

Liz leaned to Maria. “We’ll come back later tonight,” she said in a low voice for only Maria, Michael, and consequently, Max, to hear. She did NOT want Kyle on to her plans to sneak out again. ‘Not that Max is making it seem like a worthwhile trip,’ Liz thought bitterly. She, however, obstinately refused to give up on him. He would, come hell or high water, SEE what a jerk he was being and she would be the one to make him see, later that night.

Liz made her way swiftly over to a confounded Kyle. Maria threw a helpless glance at Michael before following. She stopped half-way there and looked at him over her shoulder. “Until tonight,” she mouthed at him.

Despite himself, a lopsided grin broke out across Michael’s face. He nodded at her, his heart rising once more in hope.

Max had watched Liz leave and had his heart ripped out, stomped and spat upon. ‘You are an idiot,’ he berated himself before stepping into the apartment. He couldn’t believe he had even CONSIDERED that he might have a chance. She was too good for him, even when he had been oblivious to her status. He was nothing and would always be. He couldn’t see why she had even bothered with him after her secret had been revealed. Why had she cared so much about his reaction?

‘Because she is the most beautiful person you will ever meet that’s why’ Max answered himself. But still, Max had no hopes of ever seeing her again. She would just have to be a lovely dream; one that he would torture himself with every night, no doubt.

He didn’t deserve her. He never would, not unless, by some miracle, he became stinking rich or discovered a drop of noble blood in him.

‘Fat chance of that ever happening,’ Max thought bitterly, his hope diminished and far from returning.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Meanwhile, Khivar had decided to do little background research on the so-called “Worthy One.” It was bothering him immensely that a mere piece of street trash was considered to be the chosen one. There must be SOME logic to this random fact. The ancient spirits might have always seemed liberal, in Khivar’s eyes anyways, but they weren’t completely foolhardy.

Nicholas, of course, was complaining in his usual immature fashion. “I don’t understand why it matters so much to know this loser’s past. Aren’t we just going to kill him when we get what we want?” Nicholas pointed out while trying to arrange the necessary items around the erudite crystal ball. It was a difficult task being how most of the items were heavy and Nicholas’ slight parrot frame didn’t exactly scream FORKLIFT.

Khivar sighed in annoyance, hoping it would smack Nicholas’ brain that Khivar didn’t want to be perturbed with foolish questions. If that fact did manage to penetrate through Nicholas’ obtuse skull, Nicholas must have chosen to ignore it.

“And why do we keep using this dumb ball thingy? Aren’t you supposed to be this great sorcerer? Why do you have to have help from all these gadgets? Anyone could do that, I could do that! But, NOOO. I have to be your cart horse and lug all this crap around. I mean, for crying out loud…”

Unbeknownst to Nicholas, he was treading on very shaky ground. Khivars anger was steaming up, like boiling water in an enclosed pot, longing to push up against the lid and incinerate the object of its fervent rage. Khivar reached for his dagger and pierced Nicholas with a blistering glare.

“I’d suggest,” he said in a pitiless and inauspicious voice, “that you snap your beak shut for the duration of the day before I try and remember what parrot meat tastes like for dinner. I highly doubt that you want me to find out any time soon.” Khivar traced the tip of the dagger slowly with the tip of his coarse, abrasive fingers to prove his point.
Nicholas cowered and ducked his head. But he couldn’t stop from muttering, “I didn’t mean any disrespect, I was just-”

Khivar had had enough. He made a menacing step toward Nicholas, dagger in hand and roared, “SLIENCE you IMPUDENT birdbrain!”

For once, Nicholas took the not so subtle hint and shut up.

His anger somewhat appeased, Khivar finished the obligatory arrangements and proceeded on with the task at hand. He once more whispered his query into the depths of the crystal in hopes of receiving some closure. Ever since Khivar had heard of Max, an uneasy feeling crept up over him and settled in the pits of his stomach. He was having a nasty tense foreboding that what he was about to find out was not going to bring about pleasant consequences.

“What of Max’s past? What makes the Diamond in the Rough so worthy?” was Khivar’s words. He stared hard into the rapidly clearing mist, awaiting his answer.

Images flitted in the ball’s center. An elegant palace, the architecture one of an exotic and foreign design. A young boy, with the same floppy dark hair as Max, playing with a blonde little girl. A Sultan, shouting angrily at a younger Khivar, ordering his death. The dark floppy haired boy lying dehydrated in the desert, the ravenous golden sand zapping him of his life and stretching out farther than the visible eye could see. And finally, an image of Khivar’s hard eyes staring at the weakened boy before turning away and leaving him to perish in the hot sun.

The images climaxed and the milky fog returned. Khivar’s eyes, however, remained fixated on the ball, his mouth open and aghast. “No,” he breathed. “It can’t be…”






Part Eight~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Nicholas seemed to have forgotten his promise to remain silent. The complete confusion of the situation was getting to him. All Khivar had done since those weirdo images disappeared from the crystal ball was pace about, muttering to himself. “What the heck is going on?” Nicholas squawked. “What did that mean? I’m so lost…”

When Khivar just ignored him Nicholas finally just screamed out, “HELLO!! ANYONE HOME??!!” while rapping on Khivar’s head with his oversized beak.

Khivar finally snapped out of it. Nicholas shrunk back, expecting his usual punishment for disturbing his master. Khivar however, did nothing of the sort. He merely shook his head, as if to clear the fog encircling his jumbled thoughts.

“It can’t be…” Khivar restated. “It’s impossible. He should be dead.”

Nicholas was becoming extremely impatient. “What are you talking about?! In the dark here…”

Khivar pierced Nicholas with one of his familiar glares, and Nicholas took it as a sign that Khivar was becoming himself again. Whether that was a good or bad thing, he had yet to tell.

Khivar began to speak, drugging up many unpleasant memories of his past…

“A long time ago, I was an advisor to the Sultan of the kingdom of Antar,” he began.

Nicholas of course interrupted. “Antar!!! Is that not the neighboring kingdom?”

“Nay. It is far from being close by. The expansive desert lies between Roswell and Antar, making them many moons apart, as do other smaller kingdoms,” Khivar shuddered to think of the awful desert.

Khivar continued. “ While I was serving the Sultan of Antar, Crizander his name was, I had the same plan I have now, to take over the throne and claim it as my own.”

“So what happened? How did you end up in Roswell with me?” Nicholas asked.

Khivar sighed, “If you’d let me finish I’d tell you!”

Nicholas made motions of zipping his mouth shut. Khivar rolled his eyes yet went on with his story.

“I was found out by a worthless noble of the Antarian Court,” he reminisced bitterly, his anger still strong. “He saw me using my powers, and overhead me discussing my plans with a cohort. The Sultan was furious and I was convicted of treason. Crizander ordered my death and made me mocked and ridiculed in the square before having me led to be beheaded.” Khivar’s nostrils were flaring in effort to restrain himself. He had been humiliated and degraded by the Sultan and the rest of the Royal House of Antar, and the suppressed memories were now pushing cruelly to the surface.

“But you’re here now. How did you escape them?” Nicholas asked incredulously.

At this Khivar smiled. “The worthless brats had forgotten about my powers. I created a little “diversion” and escaped towards the desert. But not before obtaining my revenge. You see, the Sultan’s sole pride and joy lay not in his power over the kingdom but in his two brats, whose mother had died giving birth to the youngest. But Crizander loved them all the same. Especially the eldest and heir to the throne, Crizander the Second. The Sultan would have been crushed, don’t you think, if per say, his beloved son disappeared?” The mocking smile twisted evilly at the corners of Khivar’s mouth.

“You didn’t!” Nicholas cried out gleefully, in awe at the audacity of his master.

“I did,” Khivar answered in a pitiless tone. “I kidnapped precious Crizander the second and left the brat to fry in the desert. I then made my way to Roswell, discovered the cave and found you. The rest, I assume you know of.”

“Brilliant!” Nicholas praised. “But what does that have to do with Max?”

The cold smirk was replaced by a thin frown. “Because. Max is Crizander the second. At least according to this wretched thing,” Khivar spat gesturing towards the milky crystal ball.

“What?!! I thought you said the little monster fried!”

“That’s what I thought!” Khivar protested to Nicholas’s shocked tone. “But I didn’t stick around to wait for the idiot to perish! He was practically at death’s doorstep when I left him! It’s impossible. How is he alive?” Khivar asked, partially speaking to himself.

“Well, that’s what we’ll have to find out when the guards bring him here,” Nicholas piped up.

“Yes,” Khivar agreed distractedly. He led the way out of his secret lair and out into the hallway, Nicholas perched on his shoulder.

Where exactly were Kyle and his inconsequential associates? They were hours late and were going to pay for that. Especially since Max’s, or Crizander as Khivar probably should be referring to him as, value suddenly increased a great deal. Khivar couldn’t risk Max, ER Crizander, finding out his true identity. He would use Ma-, CRIZANDER damnit!, to infiltrate the cave and retrieve what he needed and then…

Then Crizander would have to die.

Khivar’s questions inquiring about Kyle’s whereabouts were soon answered. A swarm of guards approached him nervously, Kyle towards the front. Khivar noticed with astonishment, that Max was nowhere to be found.

Khivar narrowed his eyes at the sight of Kyle’s guilty expression. This would not do. “Where is he?” he hissed crossly.

Kyle swallowed apprehensively. “We had him, sir, but there were a few complications.”

Khivar raised one eyebrow in expectation. “Which were?”

Kyle took a deep breath. “The princess. She, uh, INTERFEERED with his capture.”

Khivar was taken aback. “The princess?! I thought she was long gone,” ‘And something less to worry about,’ he added silently, thinking how her disappearance yesterday contributed nicely to his plans.

“She was with him for some reason, and ordered us to release him,” Kyle answered him.

“And so you just…let him go?” Khivar asked in a dangerously low voice.

Kyle gave him a strange look. “No disrespect, sir, but she IS royalty. We are obligated to take her word over yours.”

Khivar pinched his lips together and tried not to be too obvious how much THAT comment bothered him. ‘That will soon change, impudent one,’ Khivar thought. ‘Or it would have if you’d brought me the boy!’ He instead however, said, “Of course.”

Kyle hesitated, seeming to debate whether or not to tell Khivar something.

“Go ahead,” Khivar encouraged, intrigued.

Kyle plunged ahead. “The princess seemed most angry about your demand to capture Max. She might be coming later to speak to you about it. I know not why she cares so much about his fate. It is most puzzling.”

Not so for Khivar. He had a pretty good idea why the princess held a sudden interest for the boy. ‘Pathetic. Developing feelings so soon, princess? Well, I’ll soon quash THAT!’

“Thank you, Kyle. You may go now.”

Kyle gave a deep nod and retreated, wondering what was going on in Khivar’s twisted brain.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz fumed silently as she listened to her father’s upbraiding. This day was NOT going very well.

She had stalked back to the palace with Maria, still irate about Max’s behavior. Kyle had been SUPREMELY annoying trying to be a faithful “escort.” He seemed oblivious to Liz’s bad mood, which, Liz supposed, she should take as a blessing. Because that meant Kyle didn’t suspect WHY Liz was in such a rotten mood and that meant he didn’t know of her attachment to Max. Liz could only imagine what THAT little tidbit would do to her father’s blood pressure. ‘Not that it needs any encouragement,’ Liz thought irritatingly.

This lecture was getting on her nerves. She had long since tuned out her father’s angry drone about how dishonest, stupid and irresponsible her running off was. She’d told him that Maria had nothing to do with it and had tried to convince her not to go. Liz didn’t want her friend in trouble. After that though, she was off in la-la land, plotting her next escape. She only tuned into what her father was ranting about when he said the very thing that popped her plans like a massive balloon.

“You are now restricted from your usual freedoms. You will have an armed guard outside your door at all times, one who will go with you wherever you need to go. Your trips to the outside gardens are limited to daytime trips. After sunset, you will be confined to your room until I deem you have learned your lesson and can be thought to return to your usual responsible self. Do I make myself clear?” The Sultan finished in a menacing tone.

Liz was outraged. How dare her father treat her like a prisoner in her own home!

“You cannot DO that! It’s insa-”

The sultan cut her off. “I can and will, Elizabeth.” He turned to go, the conversation over for him. “Oh and I forgot. Sir Sean has restated his offer so long as your meeting will be different from the first. I assured him it would be, is that comprehensible?” He left not wanting to hear her incensed replay.

Liz gave a little scream of frustration. This was insane. She should have just stayed in the marketplace while she was free. It was suicide coming back here. Why on earth did she decide to return?

Oh, that’s right. For the sake of a man who is angry with her, for an incongruous reason.

That reminded her. She had a bone to pick with Khivar.

She located him quickly and demanded to know of his motive for attempting to arrest Max, fully giving Khivar a piece of her mind.

“And for what crime did Max commit to be brought forth by the Sultan’s Advisor?!” Liz finished of, breathing hard after finally releasing all of her pent up anger and aggravations.

“Why, he kidnapped you, the princess. Is that not reason enough for a man to be killed?” Khivar invented.

Liz gave an exasperated sigh. ‘IDIOT!’ “He didn’t kidnap me! I RAN AWAY from this hellhole!”

Khivar pretended to back up in shock. “Oh, dear. Oh, my,” He clutched his chest in fake remorse.

Liz’s head shot up in alarm. “What!? What did you do!?” she cried out, a feeling of dread creeping up over her.

“When Kyle failed to bring me back the boy, I sent out more guards out, with the orders to kill him on sight. They have returned successful.”

Liz inhaled sharply, feeling as if she had swallowed a dagger. “No!” She gasped out.

“I am gravely sorry, princess. But think of it this way. One less mangy street rat out corrupting the streets of Roswell.”

Tears formed at the corners of Liz’s stricken eyes. “How could you?” she chocked out before running blinding out of the room.

Khivar laughed mirthlessly. One less problem to agonize over. Now it was time to take matters into his own hands.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz sought solace in Maria’s chambers. After placing a trembling hold on herself, Liz managed to blubber out what Khivar had done.

Maria could only stare at her friend in horror. Finally after an extensive excruciating silence, she managed to choke out one word.

“Michael…?” Maria’s voice cracked with raw emotion.

Liz shook her head dully. “Khivar didn’t say anything about him, so I assume he’s safe.”

Maria breathed a sigh of relief but grew solemn at the sight of Liz’s tear streaked face. “Oh chica. I’m so sorry.”

Liz’s bottom lip quivered recurrently. “It’s all my fault,” she whispered in a voice so sad it made Maria’s heart break.

“Don’t say that! Liz, how could it be your fault? You came back to clear his name!”

“When I should have stayed to protect him! Maria! The reason Khivar wanted him is because they suspected him of kidnapping me!”

“But you ran away,” Maria said, confused.

“They didn’t know that.”

“Ohh,” Maria said, understanding now.

“Oh Allah! The last things I said to him were words of anger! He died not knowing how I really felt! Ohh! Why did we fight!? Why did I leave!? It’s all my fault!” Liz broke off before the sobs could overtake her. Her face scrunched up in agony.

Meanwhile, Maria had done some thinking. This didn’t really make sense if you asked her. “Liz. Listen to me. Something isn’t right.”

Liz lifted her head from her hands. She looked up at Maria with poignant eyes.

“Think about it Liz. How could the guards have gotten to Max so quickly? We had JUST come back when you talked to Khivar. And why would he go after Max after hearing how you stepped in and prevented Kyle from arresting him? Kyle TOLD me that he was going to tell Khivar how you demanded Max’s release. And since when is it in Khivar’s jurisdiction to handle matters such as these? He is SUPPOSED to give advice, not act upon it!”

As Liz listened, a glowing bubble of hope began to swell within her. She realized that her emotions had gotten the better of her and she had run from Khivar before she’d really questioned him. This time she wouldn’t leave until she got the answers she was looking for.

Liz shot up abruptly and made her way determinedly towards the door.

Maria was bewildered, but then again what else was new. ‘Talk about going from zero to sixty in no time flat.’ She thought wryly. “Liz where are going?”

“To get some answers,” came the vehement replay.

Liz made her way to Khivar’s quarters, her rage and perplexity building with every step. But when she got there, the last thing she expected greeted her. An empty room. A quick search of the palace confirmed her suspicions.

Khivar was gone.

Part Nine~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Michael gazed anxiously out at the rapidly vanishing sun, the fiery ball sinking fast, much like Michael’s hope. The red sky blazed, extinguishing the last of the natural light.

Max sat broodingly in a corner, scowling every so often. He had cursed Michael for his insistence on waiting up for the girls. They weren’t coming. Max knew it.

“Maybe they got lost! They were only here once, ya know…” Michael said suddenly, frenziedly grasping onto one last explanation.

Max scoffed. “Give it up Michael. They wont come. Why would they even bother?” he implored in a dead voice.

Michael sighed. He was getting impatient with this Max. Where was the sure-of-himself-almost-to-the-point-of-cockiness-guy Michael was used to?

Answer: He died the minute he discovered that Liz was royalty.

And why was that? So what? She was still willing to seek them out again (along with Maria, Michael added to himself). But time was beginning to point out that Michael was wrong. They weren’t coming at all.

‘I’ll give them one more hour,’ Michael thought dejectedly. Then…

Then what? Go back and pretend nothing happened? Were they just supposed to go back to being delinquents who had to steal in order to survive?

With Maria, Michael had felt a blooming hope that his life could be something… MORE. Without her… what was he supposed to do?

Michael’s thoughts, along with Max’s sorrowful brooding of self-pity, were interrupted by the voice of a strange man, carrying a peculiar bag and standing in their doorway.

“Max,” said the man. “I have been looking for you for a long time.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Liz paced angrily around her chambers. Something was wrong, very wrong. She could feel it.

And there was nothing she could do about it. She was stuck here, five stories up, with a frickin guard outside her door, waiting to stop her or “escort” her to her destination. ARGH!

Granted, the guard was Kyle, but no amount of sweet talk would make the obstinate guard abdicate his duties.

What was Khivar up to? Where was he? Was he avoiding her? Was he lying about Max?

Liz needed answers NOW or she was going to go berserk. These questions were the only thing keeping her from falling into a state of inconsolable grief.

Liz gazed at the stars, which had just now appeared, making their début not long after the setting of the sun.

‘Oh, Max! Please be out there! Please be safe,’ Liz threw out, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to hear her. Nevertheless, she felt somewhat better after doing so.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Who are you?!” Max asked warily. This stranger just waltzed right into his home, knew his name, and, apparently, had been searching for him for a while. It put Max on guard instantaneously.

“Forgive me,” the man said in an oily voice that made Michael hate him immediately. “I am your uncle, Max. I have been looking for you for a long, protracted time.”

“My uncle? I don’t have an uncle. You must be mistaken,” Max answered, trying to ignore the flutters of hope that had began inside him. Did he really have a family?

“I’m not,” the man said. Was it just Michael or did the guy seem irritated? “Your family lost you in the desert when you were about eleven years old. Do you remember that?” the man leaned forward, seeming a little too anxious to find out what, or what not, Max remembered. Michael narrowed his eyes, and tossed a look in Max’s direction. To his dismay, Max’s eyes were lighting up.

“How do you know about that?” Max asked in anticipation.

“I was with your family when we lost you. I have searched for you ever since. If you would come with me, I can show you what treasures your family left you.”

Max’s face fell. “So the rest of my family is…”

“Dead. A few years ago. I apologize for laying this on you,” the man said in a grave voice.

Max bowed his head for a moment. He had always suspected this, but to have affirmation of the fact… It was staggering.

“I apologize if I seem a bit urgent, but the cave will not wait. Do you wish to come with me and claim what’s yours?”

At this, Max looked up, intrigued. “What do you mean?”

“Gold. Silver. Tapestries. All yours to claim, tonight. Treasures enough to make even the Sultan come to his knees! You can do whatever you wish with it, to take whatever you want… Does that not sound appealing?” the man asked with bated breath.

Max sucked in air. Liz! If what this man was saying was true… Treasures to make even a Sultan fall to his knees… The quote echoed in Max’s brain. His golden eyes became determined. “Show me,” he demanded.

Michael went over to Max, alarmed. “Max,” he said in a low voice. “You don’t know anything about this guy. How do you know it’s not some trap? Don’t go, not yet.”

Max shrugged him off. “I’m going. Don’t tell me your jealous,” Max taunted.

Michael felt burned. Jealous?! When he was just trying to look out for his friend! He sighed. He knew Max didn’t mean it. This promise of treasure and his determination to PROVE something that didn’t need to be proven to Liz was making Max blind.

Max shoved past Michael. “Let’s go,” he said to the man.

Michael bit back a growl of frustration. There was only one thing left to do when Max made up his mind like this. Follow him and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. Was it just Michael or did their roles seem suddenly reversed? And didn’t it seem odd that the man didn’t even bother to tell Max his name?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

After a long, strenuous hike out into the desert, the unlikely trio came upon a cave, which appeared so suddenly, Max almost swore it was magic.

His uncle turned to him. “Now I must warn you. You must present yourself clearly to the cave or it will not accept you. You must bring me out the lamp first thing, do NOT touch any of the treasure before doing so. Then the rest of the treasure is yours.”

Michael scoffed. “And how exactly are we supposed to find this lamp? And why do YOU automatically get it?” he asked coldly of Max’s uncle.

Max rolled his eyes. What was with his friend? He and his uncle had gotten along as well as Max and Kyle did. It had not been a pleasant hike out in the desert.

Max’s uncle pressed his lips together tightly. “First of all, only Max is allowed in the cave, unless you would like to join him and be promptly killed. The lamp was the only thing left to me, the rest is all Max’s.”

Michael just stared skeptically. So the cave had some kind of force field on it, preventing only Max from entering? This was a little too weird for Michael. Max’s uncle, if that was really who this guy was, seemed to have ulterior motives.

Max intervened. “So what, Michael? What do I want with a measly lamp? Uh, no offense.”

Max’s uncle shook his head smoothly. “Don’t worry about it.”

“Okay, here I go. Wish me luck!” and with that Max was off, making his way over to cave.

Max went to enter the mouth of the cave when fierce winds blow him back. Voices come from the cave’s depths.

“Who approaches the sacred Cave of Wonders?”

Max gulped, before answering, “Um… Max, the lowly street rat.”

The winds died down a bit. “Proceed,” came the answer. “Touch nothing but the lamp…”

Max sighed in relief and then immediately tensed again. The cave TALKED for Allah’s sake, and he talked back. Umm, was there something wrong with this picture? Max looked back at his uncle, who gave him an encouraging nod before mouthing, “The Lamp.”

Max turned back to the cave. Here goes nothing.

Max stumbled down a dimly lit walkway before emerging into the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. Well, okay, the SECOND most beautiful thing. Liz was still at the top of his list.

PILES of gold coins.

HEAPS of silver ornamentations.

MOUNDS of other ornate decorations.

MILLIONS of colorful rugs and expensive looking tapestries.

Max went to pick something up before he snapped it back, remembering his uncles warning. Business first. Now where the heck was that lamp?

‘Soon,’ Max thought giddily. Soon all of this would be his and then he would have a chance with Liz. Max grinned. Okay lets go. Lamp. Lamp. Where was the stupid thing?

Was Max hallucinating or he did he just catch a sudden movement behind him? He whirled about and saw… a moving carpet?

What?

Max shook his head and blinked several times. This was probably just some wack job of a dream. He probably didn’t have an uncle or a rich inheritance. Liz wasn’t a princess. This was all just some psycho dream and when he woke up, Liz would still be in his bed, her beautiful eyes boring into his own.

Max pinched himself. HARD. Nothing happened. But the carpet was still hovering a few inches above the ground, if you call that something.

Max decided just to ignore it. He made his way around the cave, searching for the blasted thing. When he made a complete circle back to where he started he noticed that the rug had been following him the whole time. And it seemed to be…mocking him.

‘Paranoid much?’ Max chastised himself. It was a RUG for Allah’s sake. It couldn’t MOCK him.

“Where the heck is that stupid lamp!” he suddenly busted out, growing frustrated.

At the word “lamp” the rug seemed to come alive, swishing its tassels from side to side and wrapping around Max a few times over before bolting out towards another hallway.

“Do you know where it is?” Max asked incredulously. Great, this would do WONDERS for his sanity. Now he was TALKING to the thing.

It however paid off. Max followed the carpet and it led him right to a dimly lit chamber, a dusty alter set in the middle, and even dustier, dingy lamp atop it.

“YES!” Max breathed. He glanced at the carpet. “Thanks,” he muttered. Might as well…

Max made his way cautiously towards the alter. He hesitated before picking it up. ‘Oh Grow up Maxwell. Just because the cave talked and the rugs moves, doesn’t mean that the lamp is going to bite you!’

He snatched it up. Okay, take this thing back to dear old uncle and then you can claim what’s yours. Max started down the dim corridor, not really watching where he was going, the carpet not far behind.

Max still was dazed by the fact that this was HIS! All HIS! A grin broke out across his face as he imagined Liz’s reaction to this sight.

He was so caught up in his daydream that as he turned the corner, he stumbled. In order to keep from falling flat on his face, Max instinctively placed his hands in front of him blindly to break his fall.

Big mistake.

The winds were back and fiercer than ever. The cave seemed to come alive in anger, and Max swore he heard it distinctively ROAR.

Bewildered, Max looked around to see what was wrong.

It was then that he noticed the nice pile of rubies that had broken his fall. And the fact that his hands grasped a few didn’t go unobserved.

Shit.

Max hastily snapped his hands away from the offending jewels. But it was too late. The damage was done.

The cave spirits bellow obscenities about Max’s betrayal.

Max desperately cried out, “It was an accident! I didn’t mean it! See putting them all back!!” His words were of no avail. All they resulted in was a large pillar “Mysteriously” falling to the spot Max had stood before he scampered away. He had no doubt that that was NO COINCIDENCE.

Max decided that the best thing for him to do would be to get the heck out of there. FAST!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Khivar watched as the cave began to crumble. He sighed in annoyance. The damn boy had better come out with the lamp before he was killed.

Michaels eyes widened in alarm at the sight of the enraged cave. He turned anxiously towards Max’s uncle. “What’s going on!? Why is the cave going berserk!”

Khivar turned coldly to the irritating boy. “The fool must have touched the treasure. The spirits are now trying to kill Max.”

“WHAT! DO something! Don’t just stand there!”

Khivar sneered. “I’ll go to the idiot when I see that he has the lamp.”

Michael almost slugged the heartless fiend who he KNEW had been masquerading as Max’s uncle. ‘And you let him fall for it.’ Michael castigated himself. “You ASSHOLE!” he snarled.

Instead of beating the cruel man to a pulp, Michael sped off for the cave entrance. First thing first. Save Max and THEN beat the crap out his “Uncle.”

Khivar made his way after Michael. Now was the time to rid the world of these two misfits, and then he would finally be in the final stages of his plan. Khivar could almost taste it! Ahh how sweet it was. Success was in the final stretch, he could feel it.

“MAX!!” Michael screamed out into the dismal cave. He could barely see anything. He plunged onward, calling out Max’s name as he went. His eyes slowly adjusted to the lighting (or lack of) and he saw Max making his way quickly towards him.


Max’s eyes grew wide in alarm as he saw Michael. “NO!” he shouted. “Michael GO BACK!”

Michael ignored him. He wasn’t leaving without Max and that was that. Those were his last conscious thoughts before he felt an excruciating pain in his head. Everything went black.

“Michael!” Max yelled. But it was too late. The large piece of rock had smashed into Michaels skull. Max prayed with all his might that his friend was only rendered unconscious and nothing worse. Oh, Allah! If he was dead…

“So. One down and one to go,” an icy voice slashed through Max’s thoughts. His uncle. Max ignored his uncles first words; they didn’t fully register in Max’s brain right away. His fear for Michael was too great.

“Praise Allah! Uncle! Help me Michael, I think he’s unconscious!”

Khivar derided Max’s request. “First, give me the lamp.”

“Later! Michael could die!”

“Give it to me. NOW!” Khivar barked. The cave was about to collapse.

Max gave an impatient sigh and tossed his uncle the lamp. “Now help me!” he demanded.

Khivar clutched the lamp greedily. He gave a chilling cackle. “YES! Finally! It’s MINE!” Khivar shoved the lamp in his haphazardly in glee.

He made his way over to Max, drawing out his dagger as he went.

Max looked up from the task of trying to lift Michael. “What are you doing…?” he asked beginning to grow panicked. What was his uncle doing with the dagger? Suddenly, Michael’s previous warning blared through Max’s head. “You don’t know anything about this guy. How do you know it’s not some trap?”

Max cursed his stupidity. His uncle came nearer and nearer with the dagger.

Khivar took a swipe at his “nephew” trying to get this over and done with. It wouldn’t be long until the cave completely collapsed, trapping everyone stupid enough to stay inside.

Max stumbled backwards, trying to avoid the blade. “Why are you doing this!” he shouted, trying to distract him, like he had done before with Kyle.

Khivar ignored him, not deeming Max worthy enough to be in the know of his plans. He stepped towards Max again, effectively pushing him into a corner. This was it. “Say good-bye Max,” Khivar hissed.

‘Good-bye, Max!’ Max thought wildly. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember every detail of Liz, before his final moment.

But that moment never came. Michael had groggily come to and seeing the situation, impulsively swung his leg around, effectively tripping Khivar, who staggered and fell, the lamp swiveling down the corridor, unbeknownst to Khivar.

A large bolder fell from the ceiling in Michael’s direction. “Michael! Watch out!” Max cried hoarsely. But it was too late. As Michael tried to get out of the way, the boulder fell on his leg, trapping him and preventing him from movement.

Khivar knew when to take his cue to get out of there. “So long, insignificant fools! Your remains will make a lovely asset to the cave I’m sure.” He swiftly made his way out the exit, out into the desert and out of harms way.

Michael however, was not. Max tried in vain to remove the boulder but alas, it was no use.

“Get out of here while you still can!” Michael told him gruffly. Max vehemently shook his head. “No! I got you into this mess and I’m not just going to leave you here!” He pushed and shoved but the damn thing remained motionless.

Michael rolled his eyes. “You are being an idiot! Look! The cave exit is almost blocked! GO!”

Max’s eyes blazed. “You would do the same thing if it was me underneath that rock. So shut up and deal.”

Michael sighed but complied. It was then that more rocks crumbled down upon them and everything went dark…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max groaned as he slowly came to. His gaze swept his surroundings. Yup it was still a dark, dreary cave with rocks everywhere in sight. The exit was blocked. Max shoved with all his might at the accumulation of rocks that sat stubbornly upon him. Most of them where small enough that Max didn’t have any trouble freeing himself. He pushed most of the rocks off of Michael but the prodigious boulder still ensnared his friend. Michael moaned as he became aware of his surroundings and the pain, which he was being subjected to. He would much rather be unconscious thank you very much.

“Michael,” Max said awkwardly. “I’m sorry. It’s all my fault that your even in this mess.”

Michael gave a halfhearted grin that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s not all your fault, Maxwell. It’s that snake’s fault!”

“I should have listened to you though!” Max burst out angrily.

“No arguments there,” Michael joked.

“This isn’t funny! Let’s recap shall we? We are stuck in the middle of nowhere in a wretched cave that TALKS for Allah’s sake and has psycho spirits which inhabit it and try to kill people. My quote in quote UNCLE is a lying rat who now has in possession this lamp which, knowing my luck will end up helping him in a demented plan to destroy the world! Did I leave anything out??!!”

“Actually you did,” Michaels grin grew larger. He pointed to a shiny object, stick between two rocks. “Dear old unkie DROPPED something when little ole me tripped the bumbling ogre.”

Max looked in astonishment at his friend’s smug face. “Nice,” he commented.

“I know.”

Max went over to pick it up. “What the heck is this thing?” he wondered aloud.

“Too bad we can’t eat it. I’m getting hungry in here. Not to mention uncomfortable. This rock doesn’t exactly resemble a nice comfy blanket,” Michael complained.

Max turned the lamp over and over. “There’s writing on it, but I can’t make it out.”

Michael yawned. “Try rubbing of the dirt. That thing looks pretty dingy to me.”

Max rubbed the lamp profusely. Instantaneously, smoke spewed from the small opening and to Max and Michael’s complete astonishment, a young man appeared, looking a few years older than them, clad in smoke.

“Alex, the magnificent,” the man introduced himself cheerily, bowing deeply. He straightened and looked at Max and Michael. He winked before adding “What can I do for you fine gentleman today?”
Part Ten~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz slammed the door to her room angrily. She had returned from another fruitless attempt to convince Kyle to let her sneak out. Damn him!

She had sauntered up to him with her patented puppy dog look that had never failed her before now only to have him firmly tell her that he had allegiance to the Sultan, which prohibited him to do what she asked.

Brownnoser.

Kyle had always considered her and Maria sort of like his sisters, since they had grown up together in the place. But ever since Kyle had risen in his career field, he had become more and more pompous and less rebellious. Liz and Maria blamed it on his spending too much time with Khivar. Now he refused to take part in any “frivolous activity that would jeopardize his job” Or that is the way he put it when he had shut her down five seconds ago. He seemed to be immune to her pleading looks now.

It wasn’t frivolous! It was a matter of life and death! She was going insane with worry over Max. ‘Something isn’t right’ Liz reiterated in her mind for the thousandth time.

She couldn’t remember the last time she had been so frustrated and irate. She sighed trying to ignore the gnawing feeling that something was VERY VERY wrong. She threw herself on her couch and sighed. It was getting really late. She might as well TRY to sleep and sneak out in the morning. She knew, though, that her dreams would be haunted by Max and also by Khivar’s mysterious disappearance. She had a nasty feeling that the two were somehow horribly linked.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max and Michael’s jaws sunk to the bottom of the dingy floor of the cave at the sight of A MAN coming out of the tiny lamp.

‘There must be some law of nature forbidding a guy of his size to be able to fit in that tiny thing,’ Max mused in shock. Even in astonishment, little details like this didn’t escape Max.

Michael began sputtering. “How did you…I mean, that’s impossible…you cant possibly…What…Allah Almighty! I must have hit my head harder than I thought!” He finished.

Alex chuckled. “Come on now. Surely you’ve seen a genie before!” He stretched and cracked his back. It had been so long since he had been freed from his lamp and allowed a look into the outside world. It put a definite crick in your neck, that’s for sure.

Max raised an eyebrow. “A genie? That’s just a legend told by drunkards in a bar.”

“Hey I resent that! I’d like to think that my legacy has traveled farther then the local pub [A/N or whatever the equivalent is in Arabia]” Alex huffed in mock indignation.

Then, he glanced around the ruined cave and gasped. “What did you morons do to the cave!? It looked a LOT nicer before, now look at it! Rock piles all over, instead of gold piles, and the dust! Whew, you boys really pissed off the spirits didn’t ya? Allah Almighty, I haven’t seen a beating like that since someone put a banana in my pants and turned a monkey loose.”

Max looked at him strangely and sighed. “Never mind,” he said tersely.

Alex winked. “I was just kidding. I never liked the place that imprisoned me. I almost hate it worse than the person who incarcerated me.” A dark look shadowed his face.

Michael still had a puzzled look upon his face. “How are you an all powerful genie? I don’t see any magic powers or anything.”

At this Alex got semi annoyed. You would too; it was the same as insulting Alex’s manhood. “Hey! I’ve got more than you’ll ever have!”

“Oh yeah?! Prove it! Get this damn rock off of me.” Alex scowled for a minute and then waved his hand. The rock levitated for an instant and then shoved off into a neighboring pile. Michael went to stand up and winced before collapsing back to the ground.

“Now do you believe me? Sheesh, I can’t believe I had to prove myself. The mere sight of me usually invokes terror,” Alex’s teasing tone was back.

Michael groaned at the pain and shot Alex a disbelieving look.

Max moved towards Michael and asked in concern, “Are you alright now? Is anything broken?”

Michael rolled his eyes. “A friggin boulder was on top of me! How do you think I feel? Peachy keen?” He rubbed his foot. “Nah, nothings broken. Unbelievably lucky, aren’t I?”

Alex nodded his head in agreement. “Exceptionally lucky. Now. Down to business. What do you guys want to wish for?”

Max and Michael looked at each other. Wishes?

Alex sighed. “Wow, you guys really ARE dense aren’t you? You get three wishes, whoever rub a dub dubbed on my lamp! Now who would that be?”

Michael pointed at Max. “Well, sonny looks like it is your lucky day! What’s your name?” Alex asked in a deep voice.

Max stared incredulously at Alex’s quirky behavior. “Uhh, Max,” he finally said.

“MAX! What a great name, reminds me of a friend I knew once,” Alex’s eyes darken once more with painful bitter memories of the past. Then, almost as quickly as it happened, it disappeared and the levity was back. “Great name for a dog too. Not that you’re a dog or anything, I’m just saying. May I call you Maxie? And what’s the name of your fine looking traveling companion?”

There was a silence, and Max and Michael were unsure of how to proceed. It wasn’t everyday that they were attacked with numerous questions by a genie whose mental state didn’t seem all that sound. Finally, Max spoke. “That’s Michael,” he jerked his head towards Michael, who was still slumped on the ground, with a bewildered look on his face.

“Mickey! Brilliant! Love it! So what’ll it be boys? A nice trip to Europe? New shoes? Perhaps a pet elephant?” Alex continued to ramble out possible wishes until Michael interrupted, thoroughly confused and irritated.

“Are you always this WEIRD?” Michael demanded.

Alex winked once more. “I can tell this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship,” he said. “I can also tell you another thing, you aint never had a friend like me!”[A/N Another one! Grr will the corny lines never stop?!]

Part Eleven~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“So lets get started shall we?” Alex asked after the moment of silence.

Max and Michael were still having a bit of trouble getting used to Alex’s quirkiness. Finally, Max spoke.

“You’re really going to grant me three wishes?”

Alex rolled his. “Give the boy a prize! He’s been taking notes! Yes, three, no more no less. And before you say anything, there are a few limitations. Numero Uno [A/N Yea, pretend that was in Arabic] I cannot make anyone fall in love. It’s just morally wrong, anyways. My last master was a bumbling fatty who tried to make this poor women fall for him. Do you know what would have happened to her life, if I were allowed to do that to the poor soul? Yea, it would have gone down the poop hole, if ya know what I mean.”

Max raised his eyebrows at Michael, who just shrugged back incredulously.

Alex ignored their perplexed looks and went on. “Second, I cant bring anyone back from the dead. First of all, its really gross and if I did you’d probably be wishing I didn’t in the first place. The deceased don’t keep on smelling like roses if you know what I mean.”

Alex continued. “Lastly, I can’t kill anyone. Now before you say it, yes that’s a bit over the top seeing how’s some people are only alive because it’s illegal to kill, but it’s not in my genie jurisdiction or whatever you want to call it.”

Michael snorted, once Alex had finished. Alex turned and raised his eyebrow. “What?”

Michael threw him a goading and skeptical look. “Limitations? And you call yourself an all powerful genie?” he scoffed.

“Watch it Mickey. Or I just might have to unleash some of my ultimate cosmic power on you.” Alex warned, only half-joking.

Michael’s eyes widened. “But you just said…”

Alex interrupted. “Hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You’d be surprised at what you can live though.”

Michael’s mouth hung open in shock, not for the first time today. Max laughed at his scared look. “Michael, calm down.”

Michael’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You weren’t serious were you? I mean…Because that would…Uh…”

Alex chuckled. “I was kidding!” He turned to Max, with a knowing grin on his face. “You’re friend’s wound tight, isn’t he?”

Max laughed again. He was beginning to warm up to Alex. It was hard not to, the guy was hilarious, AND had cool magical powers. “Yea, its been a stressful day.”

Then, Max’s face darkened. “That’s too bad about your limitations about killing someone,” he muttered, thinking of his “uncle.”

Alex’s eyes rounded with shock. “Whoa, there. Hell Hath no fury like Maxie scorned.” He tilted his head. “So what happened to you guys? Why is the cave all trashed?”

Max scowled. “Some guy masquerading as my long lost uncle convinced me to try and get the lamp for him, saying that when I did, the treasures in here would be mine.”

Alex gave Max a puzzled look. “So he wasn’t really your uncle? Who was he then?”

Max blew out a sigh of exasperation. “I have no idea.”

Alex furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “Why did you believe the guy? What proof did you have that he was really telling the truth? Was the money that important?”

Max tosses Alex an irritated look. “Which one would you like me to answer first?”

Michael interjected. “Mr. Whipped over there had just gotten burned by a girl and made some rash decisions. I of course tried to stop him but the guy can be real tenacious at times.”

Alex turned toward Michael, thoroughly amused. “Oh really?”

Michael gazed smugly at Max’s rapidly turning red face. “Yup.”

“Shut up Michael,” Max said.

Alex knew when to take advantage of a situation such as this, especially since he didn’t get much time out into the real world. “So a girl, huh?” He wriggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

If it were possible, Max’s face got even hotter [A/N in more ways than one! Hehe] He tried but failed to hit a nonchalant tone. “None of your business,” he growled, glaring at Michael. “Besides, if you want to talk about whipped, ask Mickey over here about how he stayed up for HOURS waiting for a girl the other night, telling me that she was definitely coming so he couldn’t go anywhere else, least she miss him.”

Alex laughed at Michael’s sour face. Then he sobered. This could get ugly fast so he decided to mediate.

“How about this,” Alex suggested. “You boys tell me your sob story and I’ll get you out of this cave so we can get cracking on those wishes.”

Max was immediately suspicious. “Will it count as one of the three wishes?”

Alex waved his hands in front of his face. “Nah, consider this a freebie. I hate to admit it but I’ve taken a liking to you boys. You especially remind me of an old childhood friend,” he gestured towards Max.

Michael nodded his head. “But first get us out of the cave. I’m beginning to get Closter phobic here.”

Max quickly added, “Please. God Michael. Could you be any ruder?”

“I could try,” Michael shot back.

Alex laughed again. “It’s okay! I’ll get you guys out of here. But first, have you seen a flying carpet around here anywhere?” His gaze glided across the cave, perusing every corner.

Michael did a double take. Did he hear correctly? A FLYING carpet??

Max thought for a minute and then remembered the rug that had helped him discover the lamp. He wondered what happened to it.

Then Alex gave out a triumphant cry. “Found it! But a big ole rocks sitting on it. Poor guy…”

Max made his way over to where Alex was standing, followed cautiously by Michael, who was a bit scared of the thing.

When a swipe of the hand Alex removed the rock from the carpet and set it free. It immediately began to zoom around the room and it landed right in front of Max. It seemed to wave its little tassel in a gesture of hello.

Max looked at it for a minute and then up at Alex.

Alex grinned. “Bob[A/N LOL!] says hello,” he stated.

“Er…Hi there…Bob?” Max again looked at Alex, his expression inquiring the carpets strange name.

“I named him. Is it a great name or what?” Alex said proudly.

“Or what indeed,” Michael muttered. The carpet didn’t take too kindly to the jab at its name and it proceeded to fly straight at Michael, who ducked in surprise. “Hey!” Michael exclaimed.

Alex smirked. “Bob’s a bit touchy.”

Bob continued to dive bomb Michael until finally Michael screamed out, “Okay okay! Allah Almighty! I’m sorry!”

This appeased Bob somewhat and he ceased to attack Michael by landing once more on the ground.

Michael rubbed his head ruefully. “Jeez…”

Alex chuckled and then raised his hands. “Let’s get out of here, and then its story time!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz awoke to the sensation of someone shaking her urgently. She haphazardly swiped at the disturbance in annoyance.

“Liz! Liz wake up!” Someone whispered urgently.

Liz was hit with a sense of déjà vu. She recalled awaking just the other day to Max shaking her awake with the same urgent voice.

“Max??!” She called out groggily, as she struggled to open her eyes.

The sight that greeted her was not the face of the object of her affection but rather…

“No, its not Max, sweetie, its Maria. Get up, hurry.” Maria whispered again.

Liz struggled to sit up, a wave of disappointment washing over her. “What’s the matter? Is Khivar back yet?”

Maria shook her head. “No nothing like that. Sir Sean is here, and he’s reconsidering his marriage proposal!”

Liz groaned. “What!?”

Maria nodded. “Yup, Mr. Pompous himself. Liz, your father wants you down in the grand hall to meet him like ten minutes ago. He sent me to get you.”

Liz buried her face into the pillow. “Maria I cant go now! I have to figure out a way out of the palace so I can go see Max! And I still have to confront Khivar!”

Maria twisted the hem of her dress nervously. “Liz you cant sneak out. Kyle’s still on duty as your bodyguard and your father is still irate. He was practically fuming out his ears when I said you were still in bed. Just go be civil to Sir Sean and try to turn him off.” Maria suggested.

Liz gave Maria a pleading look. Maria looked at her and sighed. “Tell you what. I’ll work on Kyle to see if we can get him to lay off tonight so we can sneak out then. Or I’ll come up with a plan for us to trick Kyle and then we can sneak off. Deal?”

Liz pouted. “You get the easy job. I don’t want to see that oaf Sean today! Urgh, he makes me feel like I need a bath.” She shuddered.

Maria smiled at her. “The faster you deal with him, the faster he’ll leave.”

Liz sighed. “You’d better be right. Now go work on Kyle.”

Maria gave a mock salute and strode out to her duty. Liz dragged her feet to go off and do hers.

She finally reached the ballroom to discover both her father and Sir Sean discussing something. They didn’t notice her yet so she decided to listen. What she heard shocked and outraged Liz so much that she exploded into a fit of her patented rage.


Authors Note~ I don’t wish to infringe upon the lyrics that will be used later on in this part. They don’t belong to me; I am simply putting them in here for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!

Part Twelve~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz could only stand, stunned into silence, in the midst of the Hall. She had caught onto the last bit of Sir Seans and her father’s conversation, and it irked her beyond belief.

“…pay you two thousand gold pieces to marry my daughter…” Jeffrey finished. He had no choice but to barter with Sir Sean, as he had been most reluctant to come back and seal the deal. Although, the Sultan had a nasty suspicion that Sean was milking the situation for all its worth, just to receive more money. Not that he could blame him. His daughter would be a spitfire to contend with.

The next statement out of Sean’s mouth only further exemplified the Sultans qualms. “Perhaps you had better make it three hundred, and oh, throw in a dozen rubies,” Sean replied with a smirk.

It was then that Liz’s anger broke like a dam. “How dare you! Both of you! Discussing MY future, and SELLING me like a prize to be won! Haggling over my worth like a barrel of fish you’d buy in the market!” She yelled, her eyes fuming with an uncontrollable fire.

The Sultan was confused. “Elizabeth? What’s wrong? What is all this nonsense about fish, dearest?”

Sir Sean smirked in his usual irritating fashion, while Liz could only give a scream of outrage.

Liz turned to Sean, longing to wipe that condescending look off of his face. While she would have loved to smack it off, she settled for using her wit instead.

“For your information, I would rather be tarred and feathered before marrying you! I would rather have my eyeballs gouged out with a sword! I would rather have the Egyptians shove a spoon up my nose and scoop out my brains than have to marry you! I would rather…”

“Elizabeth! That is ENOUGH! Honestly, I apologize, Sir Sean. She does not mean it, she hasn’t been herself lately.” The Sultan tried desperately to do some damage control, while glaring at his daughter. He had thought her punishment would begin to shape her up.

Liz was sick of this. She had better things to do then waste her time with ostentatious suitors and overbearing fathers. “I most certainly did mean all of it!” She sneered at Sean, who glared angrily back.

Sean was flabbergasted. He longed to be Sultan himself, but if it came with these hassles…Not that Elizabeth wasn’t pretty. On the contrary, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he was bound and determined to make her his wife. And also, to control her wayward spirit. The first step was to get her fathers consent for their marriage, and he was almost there. Or they would be if they didn’t keep getting interrupted.

“Now if you will all EXCUSE me, I’m going back to my chambers.” Liz spun on her heels only to be confronted with yet ANOTHER source of her wrath.

“YOU!” she breathed angrily.

Khivar had just come around the corner, and was very angry indeed. After last night’s disaster, he had trudged to a pub and drowned his sorrows before sneaking in late and collapsing into a painful sleep with whispered promises of a tremendous hang over the morning after. It didn’t disappoint. He winced at the sound of the princess’s disgusted outraged and so very LOUD voice. He forced himself to mold his body into that of a very excruciating bow of respect, though what he felt like doing was throttling the girl for ruining his plans. That and also contributing the headache he was currently sporting.

“May I help you with something princess? You sound most distressed.” He gritted his teeth and hoped to Allah that he sounded somewhat sincere, least the princess get suspicious.

Liz bite back another scream of frustration. “Yes actually, you can. Where were you last night? You did not have a residence in the palace, I made sure I looked everywhere! I have much doubt in your claims that you have already done away with the boy you captured the other day!” She thrust out an accusing finger, jabbing furiously at the advisor.

The Sultan turned in surprise to the sound of Liz’s angry words at his advisor. Allah, what was wrong with the girl now?

Khivar made an effort to conceal his true feelings for the meddlesome princess and worked on molding his face into one of faint puzzlement. “I do not know of what you speak, your highness. I retired to my chambers early, as I was feeling a bit under the weather. I apologize if it inconvenienced you in any way. But I assure you, I WAS in the palace last night, as I am every night,” Khivar lied smoothly, while internally cursing the girls prying. Allah, WHY couldn’t she have just disappeared and STAYED out of the way? Nooo, she had to develop an interest in Crizander and RUIN EVERYTHING!

Liz was taken aback at the ease of which Khivar spoke. She KNEW he had not been here last night, she’d searched every room, TWICE! She opened her mouth to argue, only to be cut short by her father.

“What is this, Elizabeth? What are you accusing Khivar of? If he said he was in the palace, then he was! For Allah’s sake, what is it NOW that has got you all worked up?” The Sultan finished incredulously. Khivar was the most trustworthy person he knew, and Elizabeth was accusing him of something??

Liz gave a great big sigh and turned to her father. “HE *claims* that he murdered an innocent street rat, gave an empty excuse as for why he did so, and then had numerous holes in his story! I went to speak with him further on the matter last night, only to find no room in the palace with his presence. Does that not strike you as odd, father?” Liz’s voice dripped with malice; sure that she had the upper hand. How could anyone argue with such a defense?

The Sultan gave Khivar a pequliar look. “Khivar, is what my daughter says factual? What of her accusation is truth?”

Khivar gave an outraged look. “None of it! I retired early to bed last night, therefore remaining inside the palace no different than any other night! Is it my fault that the princess could not find me? And I had excellent reasons to rid us of the boy!”

“Which were?” Liz demanded expectantly, wondering what excuse he would cook up this time, seeing how’s the Sultan KNEW that Liz had run away, NOT been kidnapped.

Khivar narrowed his eyes. “Ones that I do not wish to disclose at this time.” He spat out. Then his face smoothed over in impeccable charm.

“Your majesty,” he addressed the Sultan, while giving the princess the evil eye. “Do you not trust me? Every one of my actions are for yours and your kingdoms benefit. Do not tell me that now you doubt my loyalty! I am sorry for any misconceptions here, but I assure you, my actions are justified!”

This appeased the Sultan greatly. He turned to his daughter. “You see, Elizabeth? Nothing but a misunderstanding! Now, lets just put this whole matter beside us now and get back to your wedding plans.”

At the mention of “wedding plans,” Khivars head shot up, alarmed. Oh no. This would not do. He’d speak to the Sultan later.

Liz’s mouth dropped in outrage. “But father…!”

The Sultan pierced Liz with a warning look. “Elizabeth, not another word out of you. Your marriage will commence, even if I have to drag you there kicking and screaming!”

She glared at her father. She was getting no where here fast. She would drop it, for now, but this was in no means over. She turned to Khivar. “Don’t think I don’t know something’s up! You’re hiding something and have no qualms, I WILL figure it out! The only good thing about my being forced to marry is that I finally have the power to be rid of YOU!” She glowered once more at everyone in the room before stalking out.

The Sultan broke the tense silence with an uneasy chuckle. “Well, she certainly is intense!”

Khivar’s face darkened. “Indeed.” Sean bobbed his stupid head up and done in profuse agreement.

“She’ll come around, don’t be concerned,” the Sultan tried yet failed to assuage the two men.

Khivar face soured even more. He highly doubted that. The princess was a problem, one that must be dealt with sooner, rather that later.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex led the way out of the cave, tossing rocks left and right with his powers as they went. When they finally reached entrance (or exit, depending on how you wanted to look at it), all three of the boys were not all that pleased to feel the hot fiery desert air greet them in an unwanted salutation.

Alex especially wasn’t all that happy, as he had grown accustomed to his damp lair and using his powers was kind of strenuous.

Ok, fine, all he had to do was flick his hand and rocks would move, but still. After an hour or two, you get tired.

He sighed an turned back to his companions. “Well, duckies I think we’ve made it!”

Max didn’t even look up at Alex’s weird nickname, as he was rapidly growing habituated with Alex’s random comments. As it was, Michael himself only snorted but said nothing.

“What say you boys and I hop a carpet here and fly [A/N To another Arabian Niiiiiiiiights! ::giggle] somewhere a little more cooler for story time?” Alex suggested.

Michael tossed a weary glance down at Bob. “Uhh, are you sure its safe? It looks questionable to mee! [A/N whoops wrong movie]” he said, remembering all to well of Bob’s earlier attack. And really, who could blame him? He was a bit reluctant to be within ten feet of the bundle of yarn, much less RIDE the thing IN THE AIR.

Alex chuckled while slapping Michael on the back. “No worries Mickey! Bob is perfectly perilous!”

Michaels head shot up. “Wait, doesn’t perilous mean…”

Alex snorted once more and hopped onto Bob. He turned to a hesitant Michael and a choking with laughter Max. He patted the spots next to him. “Hop on boys! Adventure awaits! Time never stands still in my presence and things will never be boring!”

Max guffawed again and plopped down next to Alex. What the hell?

Michael still held back. Alex rolled his eyes and with a wave of his hand, Michael was levitated into the air and set down upon the carpet with a thump. He twisted around and said “if you fall, I’ll save you with my oh-so-wonderful-you-wish-you-had-them-magical powers. All right?”

Michael mumbled discrepancies under his breath and then lay silent. That is until Bob began to take flight.

“Ahhh!” A girlish scream absconded out of Michaels mouth. He quickly covered it with a more masculine clearing of this throat.

Max raised his eyebrow at his friend, but the scenery flying beneath them immediately captivated his attention. This was amazing! It sure beat a camel caravan that was for sure. For a brief instant, Max wished Liz were here. He knew she would love Bob and the ride would take her breath away…

The ride was cut short at the sighting of a few lone palm trees standing amidst a rare pool of water. An oasis, a lovely change from the dry desert. A great place for story time! Alex thought eagerly.

You knew you were incredibly bored when you anticipated the life story of two strangers you’d just met hours ago. Well heck! It had been a few years since Alex’s last master. And he hadn’t been a genie for that long either…

Bob landed smoothly, as Alex choose to point out to a slightly green Michael. Alex giggled at Michael’s expression. Classic.

He leapt off Bob with levity and immeadiatly scooped up some water to drink. Ahh, his throat had been so dry! He greedily gulped the liquid while Max and Michael stared. Alex glanced up and met their looks.

“What?!” he protested. “You try spending years in a dusty ole lamp and see how you feel afterwards!”

Max held up his hands in a signal of truce. “I didn’t say anything!” He objected.

Michael just shrugged and followed suit. After the boys were done refreshing themselves, Alex got down to business. “Okie-Dokie! Sharing time! The best part of the day after snack time! Who wants to first?!”

“Wait,” Michael interrupted. “I have a couple questions about the lamp.”

Alex gave an exasperated sigh. “Make them snappy, Mickey,” he said, eager for Story Time to commence.

“First off, how do you get in and out of the lamp?” Michael asked, the science of it all confusing our friend greatly.

Alex grinned and then to Michael’s horror, broke out into song. “If you wanna be with me, Baby there's a price to pay, I'm a genie in a bottle, You gotta rub me the right way, If you wanna be with me, I can make your wish come true, You gotta make a big impression, I gotta like what you do, I'm a genie in a bottle baby
You gotta rub me the right way honey, I'm a genie in a bottle baby
Come, come, come on and let me out!” Alex finished with a flourishing array of colorful complicated dance steps.
Max’s jaw dropped and Michael muttered, “Sorry I asked.”
Alex smiled beautifully at them and halted his exotic moves. “Now! Time for sharing!” He pointed at Max. “You first!”
Max scowled for a minute, his anger getting the best of him once again. “Well, you already know that that guy tricked me into getting the lamp for him. I’m guessing he knew about you and wanted his wishes?” He looked at Alex for clarification.
Alex nodded his head. “There have been times when my masters turn out to be evil and seeking to use the wishes for their diabolical plans in destruction, which you had BETTER not do,” Alex warned.

Max nodded, a faint smile on his face. “I wouldn’t dare, you still scare the crap outa me,” he said before growing serious. “Did you have to grant all their wishes, even when you didn’t want to?”

Alex’s bright face darkened. “What makes you think I wan to grant ANYONES wishes? Do you think I like having to go POOF What do you want POOF What do you want POOF What do you want?”[A/N more corny lines coming atcha!] Alex said while poofing in and out of view in a shower of magical dust, “and never being able to grant any of my own wishes?”

Max pondered for a moment, something bothering him. Alex had said earlier that someone PUT him in the Cave of Wonders. What did that mean? “Were you always a genie?” Max asked softly.

Alex had to close his eyes briefly for a minute at the emotion that accompanied that question. “No,” he said hoarsely. “I wasn’t…”

Part Thirteen~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Alex took a deep breath. This was surreal. No other “Master” had ever given a damn about HIS past. There had never been a validated reason to rehash the painful memories. The love he left behind, the family, the friends…the future….

Max leaned forward, but continued to listen patiently. Something told him that this wasn’t easy for Alex, and the best thing to do would be to listen.

Michael became uncharacteristically silent. “Do you want to talk about it?” he inquired softly?

Alex looked away for a long moment, his face grim and pensive. Then he turned towards them once more and quirked a half hearted grin. “Might as well,” Alex said. “I mean, I was the one who wanted Story Time, right?”

Quickly Max interjected, “Look, if you don’t want to, its okay. We’d under…”

Alex shook his head vehemently. “No. I need to get this out. You, know, as long as you guys don’t mind…”

Michael laid back in an indolent manner, yet his voice was filled with concern. “Go ahead,” he encouraged.

Alex shut his eyes again, dragging up the cold dreadful memory from the depths of his encrusted soul…

Flashback~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Fourteen-year-old Alexander walked jauntily down the halls of the palace. Life was grand!

He flashed back to earlier that afternoon, where he had enjoyed the company of his best friend and his best friend’s sister, who also happened to be Alex’s childhood sweetheart, as his father liked to categorize the relationship.

Alex chuckled. He wouldn’t put it that way, as it had been years before the princess had looked at him in any manner other than that of a good friend. Nevertheless, she had come around, and the last year had been the best of Alex’s life. He knew that his father was preparing to propose a marriage between them, and he couldn’t be anymore thrilled.

Zan had laughed at his friend’s excitement over the impending marriage. “You don’t mean to tell me that you are actually looking FORWARD to spending the REST of your life with my obstinate sister, are you Alex?!” Zan had teasingly asked Alex, while dodging a smack from Isabel. Zan himself was revolted by his father’s hints that he too would join his older sister in the steps of arranging a marriage not so far off into the future.

Alex had chuckled at the situation, before replying, “And you don’t mean to tell me, that you actually evoked the wrath of Izzy meaningfully, do you?” His laughter filled statement earned him a pout from the object of his affection.

Zan had to dodge yet another onslaught of merciless blows from his non-too pleased sister. He held up his hands in surrender. “All right!” He said between peals of laughter. “I’m sorry! Alex! Help me out here!”

Alex chuckled to himself for a few minutes before taking pity on his friend. “Isabel. Zan is off his rocker. He KNOWS what the whole world knows, that I am happiest man alive with the knowledge that you’ll be my wife. Also the luckiest!” he finished with a wink. His words were rewarded with the breathtaking smile that had enthralled him all those many years ago, when they had first met as toddlers in the palace. His father had brought Alex to live in the palace, after being newly appointed as the Sultans head guard. Charles had leapt at the chance, as his life had been taking fowl turns every since Alex’s mother died during childbirth.

Alex had fit right in at the palace, his charming personality and quirky jokes winning the heart of all those who resided in the palace. The Queen, especially had taken a special interest in young Alex, his motherless status tearing at her heart, and she had made sure that he was always taken care of, along side her own children.

Alex’s reminiscence was cut short by Zan’s muttered statement, “Since when do you consider yourself a man?”

And the tender moment was broken as Alex hurled himself on top of his friend and a mock fight broke out between the two. Isabel, never one to be left out, joined in the attack, per usual siding with Alex. It wasn’t long until the two had poor Zan pinned to the ground.

Zan shouted protests about the unfairness of the situation, that Alex, being older, should have to defend himself against the siblings. Alex immediately protested, saying that three years didn’t warrant him into the “Older” catergory. Zan, however insisted, deviancy resounding through his amber eyes. Knowing that it would be fruitless to continue to argue with Zan, Alex turned to Isabel. He threw Isabel a pleading look, only to be met with mischievous brown eyes before he was shoved to the ground. A mane of blonde silken curls covered Alex’s face and he tenderly pushed it back behind Isabel’s ear. He then blushed in realizing the compromising situation that they were in, with Isabel more or less on top of him. Alex begged his wayward body to behave and struggled to attempt to keep his face neutral.

Zan wrinkled his face into one of disgust. He SO did not want to see his best friend and sister this way. “HEY! GUYS! Yoo hoo!” When he received no response, Zan snorted in disgust and walked to the opposite end of the room to finish a very intriguing puzzle, while he waited for his friend and sister to return to normal. ‘If I ever get that way about a icky girl, someone gouge my eyes out with a sword.’ He grumbled to himself.

Meanwhile, Isabel was having trouble breathing at the moment. She wondered vaguely how she had overlooked Alex’s importance to her in the past. She was glad, now, that she came to terms with her feelings, the ones she had so desperately tried to keep buried for so long. She noticed, with amusement, that Alex was trying ever so hard to remain a gentleman. He tried to kindly push her up off of him so they could stand, but Isabel had had enough of Alex’s conservative behavior. She pressed her body more firmly against him and was delighted to hear Alex’s muttered groan. “Isabel…” Alex whispered hoarsely. “What…”

She leaned closer to Alex, smiling faintly. “Shhh,” She said. And with that she kissed him softly on the mouth.

Alex came back down off cloud nine to the present. He grinned goofily remembering with detail that afternoons kiss. This day was the best he had in a long time. Nothing now could go wrong!

How wrong he was.

Alex turned the corner and pushed open the doors to what he had though was his fathers study. Instead, in his euphoric state, he found that he had gone too far east and was now located in a room which he had never seen before. There were magical elements located all about the room, complete with a eerie looking ball located in the center atop a table, a glowing light faintly encircling it. What was this place?

And then to Alex’s horror, he overheard an all too familiar voice cackling from behind another room, which seemed to connect to this one by means of the door yonder. The door remained carelessly ajar and curiosity and dread filled Alex as he inched forward to listen.

Now. He knew that eavesdropping was wrong, but then again, when had Alex ever followed the rules? Never that’s when. He got away with it too. His strange humor got him away with almost anything.

When the voice spoke once more, Alex’s suspicions were confirmed. It was Khivar, the Royal Advisor. What was he doing here?

“Finally, our plan can be set into motion,” Alex heard Khivar say to someone. “And once we succeed, I can murder that simpering fool Crizander and take his place on the throne!”

Alex stumbled backwards, shocked. Did he hear correctly? Was KHIVAR, the TRUSTED advisor to the Sultan plotting TREASON?

Alex ceased movement for a minute and then made a quick decision. He would go to his father, have him listen to Khivar’s conversation with his cohort, and go from there.

Alex quickly sped off towards his fathers post and returned as quickly as he went.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Alex grasped onto Isabel’s hand as the trial ended. She looked so pale today. Not that Alex could blame her or anything, seeing how’s someone had been plotting to kill her and her family. Alex shivered as he imagined a world without Isabel. Definitely not a place he would like to be. His thoughts drifted back to the memories of what had happened after he had overheard Khivar’s evil plans.

He had fetched his father quickly and Charles had come to the same alarmed conclusion that he son had. Charles had burst in on Khivar and arrested him and his cohort on the spot. Khivar had been bewildered at the fact that his lair had been discovered, and when he had found that he had been found out by a mere fourteen year old, he had been livid. He immediately accused Alex of lying. Alex had gulped nervously at the venomous glare that he had received before Khivar was carted away.

Now, a few days later, the trial took place and Khivar was found guilty and sentenced to death by beheading.

Alex and his father had received medals of Honor for ensuring the safety of the royal family and their family name was going down into the record books. Alex had been slightly embarrassed by all the attention, but he quickly got over that, and made the most out of every situation.

Isabel was so proud of Alex. She couldn’t believe that he had been so brave and had done the right thing at the right time. She felt an icy chill course through her. What if he had been too late?

Zan looked troubled at the sight of Khivar being carried away by the guards. He watched as Khivar sneered at Alex, and then shivered when Khivar turned his hateful gaze upon him. Something didn’t feel right…

Suddenly, Khivar broke free of his chains and elbowed the guards away.

A gasp went up through the crowd as men surged forward to contain Khivar. Khivar laughed mirthlessly and magically shoved them out of his way. “Fools!” He cried. “Did you forget about one little fact? Sorcerers have powers!” And with that statement, Khivar lunged at Zan, grasping onto his arm.

Zan gave out a yelp of pain and surprise and struggled desperately against Khivar’s iron grip.

Guards rushed forward, only to be magically knocked to the ground once again. Pandemonium broke out, as the Sultan roared orders, nobles ran every which way, and Khivar tried to escape.

Alex watched in horror as his friend was attacked by the ruthless villan. Without thinking he dropped Isabel’s hand and in one movement, he began kicking and punching Khivar with all his might.

Before anyone could do anything, Khivar whipped around, drawing out two strange vials as he went. He chucked a purplish one at Alex feet and roared an incantation [A/N Yea insert spell/curse/incantation here. Creative juices aren’t following today so make one up yourself if you wish]

A purplish blue smoke arose from out of the crushed vial, engulfing Alex in an aura of fog. He gazed, panicked and afraid out at the crowd. His last vision was of Isabel, her beautiful face scrunched up in horror and her pleasant voice shrieking his name.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
posted on 25-May-2002 2:20:38 PM
Part Fourteen~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Alex jerked back down to the present, after reliving his nightmare. He took a deep breath to regain control over his emotions, the heartrending sentimentality that had burst cruelly to the surface. Then he opened back up his eyes to be faced with the stricken expressions of Max and Michael. Alex shuddered. In telling his recount of the past, he had gotten so absorbed that it was if he were reliving the experience. He felt his anger boil up again at the thought of Khivar. Stupid bastard.

Not that the memory had been all that bad. How it began was one of his more fonder memories of Isabel.

Isabel…Alex’s heart felt a slice of pain go through it. He wondered if she was even still alive…

Finally, Michael cleared his throat. “Umm…wow…I uh…man that really sucks.” He finished lamely.

Alex gave a hollow laugh. “To put it more blatantly, yea, it does suck.”

Max’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. During Alex’s recap of his past, he had felt…like it was FAMILIAR, or something. Max shook his head. That was impossible. And yet…

Max glanced up at Alex, his eyes narrowing in trying to place Alex’s face with a memory. What was going on? Was he going insane? Was the stress of the past few days making him crack? Or was he going into withdrawal from being without Liz’s presence? Whatever it was, Max shoved it down. He didn’t need MORE weird crap springing up to further complicate matters. What was important now was Alex. Max wanted to help his new friend, but he didn’t even know where to start.

Michael thought for a minute and then began to fire questions at Alex. “Exactly how old are you? Do you know where Isabel is now? How many master’s have you had? When did Khivar curse you? What exactly did he DO to you?”

Alex laughed and held up his hands. “Whoa there bucko! Which one do you want me to answer first?”

Michael rolled his eyes yet grinned. He was beginning to warm up to Alex and his patented quirkiness. “How old are you?”

Alex’s eyes darkened and Max realized how painful this must be for him. The only thing he could think to do was to listen.

“I actually don’t know how old I am. Time works different in the lamp. All I know is that I was cursed when I was fourteen and now…well how old do I look?”

Max studied him critically for a minute before answering. “About three or four years older than me and Michael, making you in about your earlier twenties.”

Alex twirled around in haphazard glee. “Whoo hoo I’m older than you guys!” He grinned and cackled loudly.

Michael raised his eyebrow at him. “Don’t get too excited over there, because you sure don’t act like it!”

Alex stopped spinning and stuck his tongue out at Michael good-naturedly. It amazed Max how vibrant Alex remained, even after all those years imprisoned.

“What exactly did Khivar do to you?” Max echoed Michael’s question softly. Alex turned and looked off at the rapidly disappearing Arabian Sun, studying the brilliant reds and golds as they intertwined across the sky. He was surprised by the sudden thought that it might be the same sky that Isabel was looking at that very moment, and the idea comforted him. He sighed and turned back to Max.

“I actually don’t know the correct answer to that one, but I do have a theory. You get bored stuck in that lamp and end up with a lot of time to think. The interior decorating needs some SERIOUS work and don’t even get me started on the smell…” Alex tried to joke. “So you find things to ponder over to take your mind off of the fact that you are going to be stuck granting everyone’s heart desire while your own remain untouched.”

Max’s heart constricted at the heartfelt statement. Then he gritted his teeth. Khivar should pay for what he had done. Again, Max vowed that he would do anything to help Alex out.

“Anyways, so I came up with this,” Alex continued. “Do you recall that I said Khivar had TWO vials of stinky potion crap? Yea, well I think he accidentally used the wrong one on me.”

Michael wrinkled up his face in perplexity. “Wait, what?”

Max too was confused. “Yea, what do you mean?”

Alex sighed. “If you guys would let me FINISH, I would tell you,” He stated simply. Max and Michael nodded their heads to show that they would be good and Alex went on. “As I was saying, I think he used the wrong one. I mean think about it. Why would he curse me to be an all-powerful genie and then just LEAVE me? The guy was real evil but unfortunately he wasn’t stupid. He would definitely have used me and my powers for his “psycho plans” and such. So that’s what I came up with. I also came to the conclusion that the vial was like some weird new potion that Khivar was TESTING or something like that, and I got doused with it. Said potion then whipped me off to this weird cave and here I’ve been ever since, with the occasional disturbance of irritating masters. I also think that the potion transported me back in time, as my first couple of masters were a bit underdeveloped in some areas, such as trade and appliances.”

Michael whistled lowly. “Whoa, you’ve sure thought a lot about this, haven’t you?”

Alex nodded his head solemnly. “Yea, well there isn’t much to do in there, besides twiddling your thumbs or knitting and such. And let me tell you, I suck with a needle and thread.”

Max’s mind was reeling as he tried to take this all in. It was so complex and befuddling, and yet, the way Alex put it made it all make sense. He remembered Michael’s other question and debated whether or not he wanted to bring it back up. Isabel seemed to be a very touchy subject for Alex. He decided he’d wait until Alex recovered a bit from the intense remembrances.

Michael however, was not on the same wavelength. “Do you know where Isabel is now?” He asked bluntly. Max rolled his eyes as he saw Alex flinch. Lovely job, Mickey!

Alex bounced back quickly though. “I have no idea. I don’t even know if she’s alive, or if she is, if she’s moved on…I don’t know what became of Zan…what became of my father, or my king…I don’t even know if Khivar succeeded or if the bastard ever got what he deserved.” Alex finished off sadly.

Max decided to turn things back to a happier note. “Well, what can we do to help?”

At this Alex’s head jerked up. “What…?” He asked incredulously. Was Max for real?

Michael quickly caught on. “Yea, just say the word. We want to help you hunt down Khivar and do some serious ass kicking! What do you got to do to be freed of the lamp?” He tried to hit a light tone, yet his words carried a promise that lifted Alex’s heart.

Alex couldn’t believe this. First, these guys actually CARED about his past, showed genuine sympathy and now they wanted to HELP him? He felt momentarily choked up. It had been so long since he had allowed himself to unload his problems on another person and DEPEND on others. He swallowed down the lump in his throat that had risen up and finally choked out, “Umm, the only thing I can think of is if my master WISHED me to be free, but since that’s never going to happen in a million…”

Max cut him off. “I’ll do it!”

Alex blanched. “WHAT?!”

Max nodded, “I’ll do it,” he reiterated. “After my two wishes, I’ll use the last one to free you.” Michael also nodded his agreement.

Alex was stunned. “Are you sure?”

Michael waved off Alex’s concern. “Don’t worry about it! We’re positive. I mean, it’s the least we can do, after you helped us out of the cave back there. Besides, we’ve taken a liking to you. I didn’t think it would happen when I first met you, but there you go.”

Alex just stood there for an instant, letting everything soak in. Then he broke out into the most infectious grin they had seen.

“Well then boys, lets get a cracking on them wishes shall we?”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Isabel gazed longingly at the crimson glowing sky. She sighed and tried to suppress the ever-present longing that raged within her.

She missed Alex. His absence was like an incessant ache, tearing at her heart.

Isabel snorted at the word ABSENCE. As if Alex’s disappearance were like a business trip or something and he’d be back the following week.

This was different. Alex was never coming back, and that was a fact that Isabel was only recently beginning to accept. But it was times like these, when she was alone, baring her soul to the world, that she grasped onto a glimmer of hope. A hope that argued with all rational and told her wait for the day when Alex would return…

Isabel sighed. Unfortunately, rational and its cold hard facts were difficult to contend with. Her mother was pressing her to marry, as Antar needed a strong King. After the death of her father, Crizander, who had died searching for her long lost brother, Zan, the kingdom of Antar had suffered greatly. It needed a King.

Isabel felt a furious rage at the thought of her father and brother, and the memory of what Khivar had done to her family. She had learned to combat the deep grief with animosity. If she hadn’t done so, she would have been able to leave her couch and face the day. Her new, cold, distant attitude towards life earned her the reputation of being an “Ice Princess.”

She didn’t care. Nothing was worth any value to her anymore. If she didn’t bare the responsibilities to the kingdom that her father left behind, then she would have ceased to bother long ago. Her royal duties were all she had now, and she threw herself into them. Carrying out the family line would have been what her father would have wanted…

She felt empty every day with out her men in her life. All of them, taken away in such a close amount of time. ‘It wasn’t fair!’ She thought helplessly, as she closed her eyes in despair.

Her ice blue eyes snapped back open, startled by the sound of a voice.

“Princess? What are you doing out here? It is getting late,” Sir Jesse broke through her poignant thoughts. She inwardly groaned.

She liked Jesse sure. His friendship had pulled her through some awful, horrible times. And yet, lately he had been hinting that he yearned for something more than friendship.

Queen Diane, Isabel’s mother, urged her to consider marriage to Jesse, as he was a renowned noble who would do wonders in improving the state and mindset of Antar. Diane hoped that Jesse would be the one to lead Antar to better times in the absence of Crizander and Crizander the second. Diane had long since given up hope that her son would ever return, Crizander’s death breaking her feeble hopes.

And Isabel wasn’t sure if she was ready for another man to enter her life. It felt like she was…betraying Alex in some way.

‘Fool,’ Isabel berated herself. ‘Alex is most likely DEAD! Why do you insist on torturing yourself with empty hopes?’

And yet….Isabel couldn’t help it. She turned to Jesse. “I was just looking at the sunset.” She answered simply.

Jesse glanced at her with an unreadable look. “It’s getting chilly out here. May I escort you back to your chambers milady?” Jesse offered his arm to Isabel, hoping she would take it. He was in love with her, and prayed that one day she would get over Alex and open her heart to him. After all, it had been years, and the last time Isabel had seen Alex was when she was a mere adolescent.

Isabel studied Jesse for a minute. Maybe her mother was right. Maybe it was time to let go. Perhaps her holding on to Alex was keeping her back from the possibility of ever loving again…and from ever being loved in return. She felt a melancholy pain ripple through her and try to abscond out her throat in a painful cry, yet Isabel held it in. She took a deep breath to calm herself and reached out to take Jesse’s arm. Maybe it was time to say goodbye…to begin again…

As Jesse lead her back inside, Isabel glanced out back at the sky, discovering that the stars were beginning to twinkle in the blackening sky. Stars had always been a “thing” with her and Alex. It was THEIR special significance. She smiled sadly at them, hoping that Alex was among them, and maybe, just, maybe, he was one of the stars twinkling down at her, whispering his love and encouragement.

And with that, Isabel turned back to Jesse, and strode into the palace, feeling slightly better about what she was about to decide.



















Part Fifteen~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Alex cracked his knuckles and then stretched. “So. What is it that you want to wish for?” He asked. He couldn’t wait to get started. The possibility that he might be reunited with Isabel and his family and friends…not to mention Zan. Alex hoped desperately that his old friend was alive and well, as he didn’t know what Khivar had done after he had zapped him. Little did he know that Zan was closer that he thought…

Max thought for a minute. Immediately Liz’s beautiful face loomed in his brain, searing him with heat. He knew what he wanted. The question is, how to get it.

Max blushed slightly and nervously ran his fingers through his raven colored hair. “Well, you see, there’s…there’s this… girl…” he stuttered out. Immediately he cursed himself for sounding so adolescent. Allah, Michael was going to have a riot with that.

Sure enough, Michael smirked. “Oh really? A girl? Are you sure that’s what she was? C’mon now Maxie spit it out,” he teased good-naturedly, his eyes glinting.

Max scowled at his friend, warning him with his amber eyes to shut up. Michael obliged but his eyes continued to gleam with deviousness.

Alex smiled wistfully at Max, his thoughts flitting to Isabel’s sweet face before the harshness of reality flared up. “Sorry Max. It’s against the rules for me to make her fall in love with you,” he told him apologetically.

Max shook his head. “No, that’s not what I meant. I wouldn’t want to be with her just because of stupid spell.”

“Plus from the looks of things, she didn’t need any help in that department,” Michael wagged his eyebrows up and down suggestively.

Max furrowed his brow. “Huh?” He asked, as Alex shook with laughter.

Michael rolled his eyes. “I MEAN that it looked as if Liz didn’t need any spell to help her fall for you. She was Loooooong gone,” Michael teased.

Max couldn’t help but allow a goofy grin to overtake his face. “You think?” He asked anxiously. Michael nodded, while rolling his eyes at Max’s besotted expression.

“So go on. Her name is Liz, is it?” Alex asked slyly. He was enjoying hearing about the objects of the boy’s affections and even more so the expressions of young love on their faces. It was painfully reiniscent of Isabel. Alex swore by Allah that he would do everything in his power, magical or not, to help Max and Michael get their girls. To give them what Khivar had so cruelly ripped from him. And not just because it guaranteed him his freedom, but because they were now his friends. And once you became Alex’s friends, he was there for life.

Max nodded his head, a DREAMY smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Yea. Allah Almighty, she BEAUTIFUL! She’s got these, these eyes! Oh and this hair!”

Michael rubbed his chin with mock severity. “Uh huh, uh huh, eyes, hair, check, check. Now, would there be a nose and lips to follow, or does the woman have weird looking face?”

Alex rolled his eyes at Michael’s jabs. That wasn’t nice. He’d have to have a little revenge when this was over. He smiled at Max, ignoring Michael and said, “What else?”

Max glared at Michael but couldn’t hold in his smile for long. “Plus, she’s smart, quick on her feet, caring…Allah, I could go on for hours!” All of a sudden Max’s face fell. “But she’s the princess!” His amber eyes darkened and he blew a sigh of frustration.

Alex raised a black eyebrow. “Umm, so? I’m missing the problem here.”

Max gave him a pointed glance. “And I’m…well I’m not,” he said, as if the reason were obvious.

Alex stifled a grin. “You’re not a princess? Well I should hope not. Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of us Max?” He silently guffawed at the appalled expression that had befallen upon Max’s face. This was fun!

“What!? No!” Max protested. He sighed and ran his fingers once more through his hair, causing precious few hairs to kiss his forehead and reach towards his eyes. “I mean, to even have a chance with her I’d have to be…” Suddenly his eyes lit up.

Alex nodded knowingly. “Ahh, give the boy a prize! I think he’s got it.”

Michael narrowed his eyes in perplexity. “Wait a minute. Gets what?”

Max looked excitedly at Alex. “I mean…Can you…?” He inquired. Would he actually be able to have a chance with Liz? Hope rose along with his heart and leapt up, catching his throat. This was undoubtedly surreal. Who would have thought that his life would have changed so drastically in the span of only a little more than forty-eight hours? And it was still changing…

Michael waved his arms. “Hello! ‘Can he’ What?!”

Alex ignored him and nodded at Max. “You say the magic words, and I’ll deliver what you want,” he reassured.

Max grinned for about the thousandth time that day since the first mention of Liz. “Okay then.”

Michael sighed in exasperation. “Hey! Okay what!? What is going on? A little lost here fellas…”

Max just took a deep breath and after a moments hesitation, blurted out confidently, “Alex, I wish you to make me a prince!”

Alex grinned widely and outstretched his arms. Then he swished his wrist in a circular fashion while crying, “One Prince, Coming Up!” And with that he flung his hands towards Max, causing a sparkling golden glow of smoke to encircle Max.

When it finally cleared, there stood Max, adorned from turban to sandal in the finest silk this side of the Prime Meridian. Jewels graced the white colored turban, and to top it all off (literally) there was a lovely purple peacock feather bowing down from the ruby colored jewels. All in all, it was a spectacular sight to see. Max had never looked more magnificent. Dashing and bold, the spotless white of the outfit contrasted beautifully against Max’s bronze skin.

A little light went off in Michaels head. “Oh, that,” he muttered. “Thanks for telling me, by the way. Jeez, leave a guy in the dark why don’t you.”

Alex turned towards Michael and, remembering the way Michael had ragged on Max a while ago, a mischievous gleam appearing in his dark eyes. He grinned evilly at Michael, a plan forming in his head.

Michael, taking dual notice of the glint in Alex’s eyes, began to back away slowly. “Hey, Alex. Whatcha doing?” he asked weakly.

Alex rubbed his hands together craftily. Max tore his admiring gaze from his exquisite new clothes and prince persona, to give Alex and Michael a curious look. He had to hide a smile at Alex’s devious look. He probably should intervine on his best friend’s behalf, but hey, this could be fun.

“Well,” Alex said. “I was thinking that Max looked rather nice and princely. Don’t you agree Mickey?”

Michael gulped, wondering where Alex was going with this. “Um, yea, sure.”

Alex began to pace, circling about Michael the way a lion circled its prey. Then, Alex halted suddenly and pierced Michael with a scrutinizing gaze. “But I was also thinking that he needs something…more. What do you think Mickey?” Alex kept up a serious demeanor but inwardly he was cackling with glee.

Michael’s eyes widened in paranoia. He gazed wildly around at Max, but he was only greeted with a smirk. Another sweeping gaze was only rewarded with an image of Bob…laughing? Wait a minute. Carpets cant laugh, magic or not. Right??

Bob held his tassels crossed over his front, and was shaking, giving the illusion that he was giggling silently at Michael’s plight. Michael scowled at the rug. He’d be damned if he let a piece of string laugh at him. He jerked his chin up in a defiant manner and stared at Alex. “I think it looks fine.” He insisted. He didn’t want to find out exactly what “more” Alex had in mind.

Alex pretended to ponder the matter a little longer, and then shook his head. “Nope, actually, “fine” doesn’t do it for me. You know what, I think I got it.” Alex started advancing on Michael. Michael threw a panicked look over his shoulder and knew when to take his hint to run, not walk, to the nearest exit. Unfortunately, Alex was too quick for him.

“What he needs is a form of transportation!” Alex bellowed while thrusting out his hands, emitting a purplish fog, which immediately surrounded Michael. When it cleared, there stood, not Michael…but a frilly horse???

Max couldn’t help himself. This was just too damn funny. Max also noticed with levity that Michael was a MARE. Max felt tears form in the corners of his eyes. Too much, this was too much. The fact that Michael was now a horse, he could have handled. But Michael was now a horse with frilly BOWS in his mane. Oh Allah, there Max went again. Michael had a MANE.

Pretending to be oblivious to the rolling on the floor laughing Max, Alex rubbed his face with his hands. “Hmm, its extravagant, but it seems a bit stuffy. I’m not sure if this will stay. What do you think of yourself Mickey?” Alex waved his hand and a mirror popped into the air, setting itself right in front of Horse Michael. Michael took one look at his reflection and screamed in outrage, although in his horse state, it came out as more of a whinny. Michael stamped his hoof (his HOOF??) and neighed loudly. (Translation: Alex! Change me back you *!*⊕*#($)⊕&*!)

Alex unsuccessfully hid his little smirk. A snapped his fingers, trying to think. “What do we need? Hmm, Thinking, thinking, thinking…” As he snapped his fingers, Michael turned into a different animal each time. A duck, a monkey [A/N Monkey! Abu!], a rabbit, a camel. Stopping at the camel. Alex pondered that for a minute before snapping his fingers once more. “Nah. Too much spittle. I never did like camels anyway.” Two more snaps later and Alex suddenly had a eureka moment. “By Jove, I’ve got it!” He shouted excitedly, while moving closer to Michael. Camel Michael backed up apprehensively, jerking his head from side to side in a desperate attempt to escape Alex’s madness. Alex chuckled at Michael’s helplessness. “Oh come on,” he said in between laughs. “What could be worse than being a camel?” he asked innocuously, knowing EXACTLY what could be worse.

Camel Michael stopped for a minute, and then his hump [A/N lmao…his HUMP!] sagged in defeat. Alex was right. It couldn’t possibly get any worse, right?

What Michael failed to remember is that when you say, or think, the nasty little phrase “It couldn’t possibly get any worse,” things ALWAYS prove you wrong by getting a hell of a lot worse. And today was no exception.

Alex took a deep breath before yelling “Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom, I give you, a form of transportations in IMMENSE proportions…ELEPHANTE!” And with that a bluish cloud of smoke engulfed Michael, who squeezed his eyes shut, and when it dispersed…

That’s right, you all guessed it. Gold stars for everyone. *happy*

An elephant stood in Michael’s place. Max’s side was hurting so badly from laughing so hard. “Hey, Mi-Michael,” he managed to get out between gales of laughter. “Looking good,” he teased.

Michael was almost afraid to open his tightly sealed eyes and gaze into the mirror. What he saw when he finally did open them, the sight that met his eyes caused him to shout in surprise. Only, in his current state, instead of shouting, he TRUMPETED.

Alex couldn’t hold in his laughter anymore, and he nearly bust a gut guffawing. The expression on the elephants face was so…un-elephant like, that it was completely hilarious.

Michael began pounding his elephant feet into the ground to shake Alex and Max out of their facetious state. This was NOT funny. He was going to be out for blood when he got turned back.

Wait.

He WAS going to be turned back, right? Right!?? RIGHT!??

Completely terrified and paranoid, Michael began to pace about in circles. Now, in case you haven’t realized, Michael was now a BIG elephant, and the surface-area to volume ratio didn’t allow that kind of movement for an animal that big to perform such glandular movements. The result ended up quite drastic indeed.

Michael the elephant fell over, splashing trunk first into the little pond of water.

Still laughing, Alex waved his arm, changing Michael back to his original human form. A dripping wet Michael sputtered curses at both Max and Alex, who were holding onto each other for support during their giggle fit.

Michael growled in frustration at their mocking him, and he flicked water at them to startle them out of it.

“Hey!” Max called, dodging out of the way. “Watch the outfit!”

Michael rolled his eyes. “I’m glad you guys enjoyed that, but can we get a move on? It takes a while to get back to Roswell, and I am now dripping wet and very disturbed!”

Max nodded, and went to hop on Bob. “Yea, lets get this show on the road. I cant wait to arrive in Roswell in style.”

Alex held up his hands. “Wait, wait! The outfit and elephant were only the beginning! I’m going make you into a star kid! Just wait, Liz is gonna be swept off her feet.” Alex stopped and then added as an afterthought. “Oh yea, you too Michael. I have some more goodies for you too,” he said, thinking of how he could transform Michael into “Prince” Max’s Second in command.

Michael sighed, still fuming about his earlier bout with Alex’s magic. “Ok, but lets get going. And NO more animals, you got that Mr. Genie?”

Alex shook his head, still grinning. “Ya know Michael, I think I liked you better as an elephant…”

posted on 30-May-2002 4:36:19 PM
Sigh, hmm is it really worth posting over here?

Part Sixteen~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Khivar paced up and down the length of his secret chamber. Questions and curses resounded throughout his brain. He couldn’t let the princess marry…it would ruin all of his plans to overtake the throne from the Sultan. The princess’s angry words echoed through his brain…

‘“Don’t think I don’t know something’s up! You’re hiding something and have no qualms, I WILL figure it out! The only good thing about my being forced to marry is that I finally have the power to be rid of YOU!”’

Khivar growled angrily. This would not do. He knew the princess meant what she said. Once she was married, she WOULD get rid of him, and that would be that. He would be washed up, and back to square one all over again. Oh Allah, if only he had that lamp! He cursed the street rat brats, especially the one who tripped him. He had been so close to obtaining his goal! And now he was two steps backwards. He bit back a scream of rage.

Nicholas wouldn’t stop whining. “Why can’t we go outside? It’s so musky in here. The damp air is making me molt! Look at all these feathers flying off! If this keeps up, by the time I get turned back into a human, I’ll be bald! And bald guys don’t get the ladies. And if I don’t get the ladies, I am going to be mightily pissed. And when I’m pissed, I malt even more! Don’t you see!? It’s a vicious cycle that must be stopped!”

Khivar shot his annoying parrot a withering look. “You’re lucky you haven’t lost more than that!” he warned in an icy voice.

Nicholas rolled his bloodshot parrot eyes. “Jeez, what’s got you in such a pleasant mood today?” He muttered.

Khivar whirled around incredulously. “You MUST be joking. Where have you been all these days, Nicholas? With your head up your tiny parrot arse? Don’t you see? We are ruined! Our plans are halted! We don’t have the lamp and it’s only a matter of time before the princess is married to some chump husband and has our behinds chucked out of here!”

Nicholas interrupted in true irritating style. “Just our behinds? What about the rest of our body parts?”

Khivar sighed loudly, resisting the urge to smack Nicholas’s beak off. A blow of that momentum might kill the tiny parrot. And yet…that thought was no less pleasing than any other…

“Fool! Why do you make light of such a situation? You find this funny? At this rate, you’ll never be turned back into a human.”

At this Nicholas pouted. “Don’t say that! Jeez, way to put a damper on the day. You gotta think positive. We can fix it!”

Khivar rolled his eyes. “And how, pray tell, are we going to be able to do that? I don’t hear any suggestions on your part!”

Nicholas flew upon Khivar’s shoulder and rubbed his wings over his beak in a contemplative manner, one that was unusual to see on his bird face. It wasn’t every day that one saw Nicholas actually THINKING. One would hope that he wouldn’t burst a blood vessel in doing so…wait scratch that, one would hope that he WOULD burst a blood vessel…

After a few moments thought, and one exasperated sigh courtesy of Khivar, Nicholas flew up and down in excitement. “I’ve got it! Boy, oh boy am I smart or what?”

“Or what indeed,” came the dry reply. “Now get on with it, before I am forced to pluck out your feathers, one by one.”

Nicholas flinched. “Ouch…” He flapped up and landed clumsily upon the neighboring table. “Anyways, this is it. Why don’t you become the chump husband?” [A/N…((groan))…corn ball line…and yet, I loved that part of the movie…teehee]

Khivar narrowed his eyes in anger. “WHAT?” He gritted out in a sharp voice.

Nicholas shook his head in an attempt to do some damage control. “I mean, why don’t YOU marry the princess?”

Khivar looked at his cohort strangely. “What? Why? I have no interest to marry, even if the princess IS rather lovely…”

Nicholas fervently shook his head once more in a desperate effort to have his master understand what was going on in his birdbrain. “No, no. Don’t you see?? If you marry the princess, than that would make you the next Sultan! You wouldn’t NEED the lamp! And once you’ve secured your position you could drop the Mrs. and the old man off a nice ole cliff…”

Khivar’s brooding, evil face lightened at this. He grinned maliciously. “I love the way your twisted mind works…and let me say I rather enjoyed the cliff image.”

Nicholas nodded and then pantomimed diving off of a cliff, or really off of the table he was currently perched upon. “Zooooooooooooooooommm!” He cried while dive-bombing towards the ground. But alas, in his excited state, Nicholas forgot how close the floor really was and with a sickening CRUNCH, he landed beak first into the hard stone floor. Nicholas let out a painful moan. “Khiiivvvarrrr!” He croaked out in agony.

Khivar smirked, stepping over the mangled parrot. “And Ker-splat,” he quipped before striding out of the door. There was work to be done, and a wedding to plan. Khivar’s thoughts drifted to possible things he would like to do to the princess before pushing her off of a cliff. His mouth twisted into an evil grin as he thought about the ever so hyped up “wedding night.” ‘Oh, yeah,’ he thought. ‘That definitely had possibilities.’

So wrapped up in gross, perverted thoughts was he, that Khivar stepped upon Nicholas’s already beaten up body before disappearing out of the chamber and back into the palace halls. From behind him, a defining vociferous shriek could be heard.

“AWWWWWWWWWWWWW THAT HURT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Max and Michael, both clad in expensive, classy looking princely attire, hopped aboard Bob, (after several cajoling for Michael’s trepidation of the carpet. It had taken Max’s non too subtle hint that the faster they got to Roswell, the faster they’d get to Maria before Michael would willingly set foot on Bob) closely followed behind a grinning Alex. Max blushed, thinking of all the extravagant things Alex had planned for his “entrance” into Roswell. He didn’t think Liz would appreciate all the cheesiness of his (well, Alex’s) grand gesture, but he HAD to do something to get her attention.

Michael just smirked. This was bound to be a riot. Well, it would as long as he steered clear of Alex in his zap happy mood. Allah knows, what Alex would do once he got carried away with the entrance parade. The staggering amount of magic Alex had told them that he intended to use was quite terrifying to Michael. He did NOT want a repeat of the elephant escapade.

Suddenly a thought occurred to Max and he shot an alarmed glance to Alex.

“Wait!” He cried and Bob screeched to a halt, the abruptness of it causing Michael, who was in the front, to fly forward and fall back to the ground, five feet under him.

“MAX!” Michael shouted angrily. He wasn’t hurt, but boy was he irate. He KNEW that Bob wasn’t safe. He didn’t trust the carpet farther than he could throw it.

Max muttered an apology to Michael, who got up and dusted himself off, before turning back to an expectant Alex. “Yes?” Alex asked, his eyes sparkling. “What made you stop us? Did you just want to see Mickey hit the dirt again?” He joked, while giving out his patented wink as Michael mumbles expletives under his breath.

Max smiled faintly but shook his head no in the negative. “ Actually, I just thought of something. What is my name?”

Alex raised his eyebrow at Max. “Uhh, I’m sorry to tell you this, but Max, if you don’t know your own name, there isn’t a lot I can do for you.”

Michael snorted, glad to see that he wasn’t the only one to get picked on.

Max sighed in exasperation, yet he couldn’t help but allow the corners of his lips to twitch a bit in amusement. “No, I meant, I can’t have the name Max. It would be too suspicious. Liz would recognize my name and so would other people in the city. Plus, it doesn’t exactly have a “royal ring” to it.”

Alex sat back a minute, musing as he crossed his arms. After a few minutes of silence, Alex snapped his fingers, causing Michael to jump in alarm, remembering all too well what happened the LAST time Alex had snapped said fingers. Alex tossed him an amused glance, and replied “Easy there Mickey,” before turning back to Max. “How about you use the name…Zan,” he finally said, a curtain of despondency shadowing his bright eyes.

Max felt a lump rise in his throat, and also, another unexplainable stab of familiarity. Why did that name, for lack of better terms, ring a bell?

“Are you sure? I know how much Zan meant to you, you won’t mind calling me that?”

Alex shook his head, a tight smile gracing his lips. “Naww, besides I told ya, you kind of remind me of him, so it wont be too difficult to call you that.”

Michael broke in. “I don’t know if that is such a good idea, guys. What if someone in Roswell recognizes that name? I mean, I’m sure that the royal family keeps in touch with Antarian Royalty.”

Alex waves his hands in reassurance. “No worries, fellas! Zan was a nickname for Crizander, and not many people knew of that nickname. So we’re good.”

Michael nodded his head in acceptance, and Max blew a breath of relief.

Alex waved his hand to magically set Michael none too gently back upon Bob, and then exclaimed loudly, “Come on boys, lets get this show on the road!”

And with that, they were off, speeding through the desert, set upon their destination, hearts racing in excitement, two anticipating being reunited with their loves, and the other awaiting the moment when his freedom would be granted and he could begin his own quest for the one he loved.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz sat upon her couch in despair; clutching a velvet pillow, compete with golden tassels on the edge, to her chest, as if it could assuage the pain that resided there. Maria herself was also depressed, though she tried to stride through it by forcing cheerful conversation.

“Cheer up Liz! It’s bound to get better, I mean, it cant possibly get any worse!”

Liz shot her head up and pierced Maria with a disbelieving look. “I cannot believe you just said that. Maria! You KNOW that whenever someone speaks those awful words, it ALWAYS gets worse!”

Maria clapped her hand over her mouth in horror. “Oops! I, umm, I take it back?” Liz chucked the pillow at her and wailed. “I HATE MY LIFE! Max probably forgot I existed and is off with some bimbo in a harem, while I’m stuck here forever in this suffocating palace with a sneaky creepy lying advisor, a naïve father, and a witless fiancé! This is horrendous! Oh, and lets not forget my house arrest at the moment…”

Maria placed a comforting arm around her friend, only to have them distracted by the faint sound of…music?? And what was that…was that a cheering crowd? Maria rushed to window, while Liz trudged sullenly behind. Maria gasped and quickly placed herself in front of the window, blocking Liz’s view. Liz tossed Maria an irritated look. “Come on Maria. What is it?” She inquired while trying to simultaneously maneuver around her friend.

Maria shook her head vehemently. “Uh, uh, Liz. Trust me. You don’t wanna see it!” She pleaded with her friend. Liz gave her friend a demanding look and Maria faltered. Man, her best bud sure could give out the evil eye. She sighed. “Liz, you were right,” Maria said dejectedly. “It CAN get worse…”
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Khivar waltzed into the throne room, his snake staff imperiously at his side. He tried in vain to conceal his malevolent grin. This would be oh, so easy. The Sultan looked up in alarm at the sound of someone entering, but relaxed when he saw whom it was. “Oh, yes Khivar? What is it?” The Sultan glanced at Khivar’s unnaturally bare shoulder. “Oh, dear, where is little Nicholas?” He asked in concern. He was disappointed as he had a moldy cracker set and ready to go.

Khivar smirked, and answered. “Actually, Nicholas is a bit…how you say…under the weather just now.”

The Sultan’s eyes rounded in concern. “That’s too bad. Perhaps I should pay him a little visit, and bring some of those crackers that he likes so much.”

Khivar hid his smile. “I’m sure he would appreciate it. Now, about why I am here…”

The Sultan nodded, settling back more comfortably upon his throne, wriggling his behind further into the pillow that adorned it.

Khivar leaned forward, and released a scroll, complete with all of the palace rules upon it (false rules no doubt, conjured by Khivar’s dark magic) and brandished it into the Sultan’s face. “I have discovered the solution to marring off your daughter.”

The Sultan’s face wrinkled in confusion. “But I thought we already made arrangements with Kalif [A/N Thanks Gabe ] Sean…”

Khivar smoothly interjected. “Yes, but I’m afraid I must advise against it. Sean doesn’t have that high of a reputation suitable for your daughter and you are PAYING him to marry her. I assure you, my solution is much cheaper. And haven’t you always trusted my advice in the past? Why is now any different?”

Per usual, the Sultan was swayed and he eagerly nodded his head in agreement and awaited Khivar’s plan. Khivar went on. “Now, I stumbled across this a while ago, it says here, that if the princess has not obtained a suitable suitor [A/N har har har] by the appointed time, then she is to marry…” Khivar stopped and pretended to be pleasantly surprised. “Why she is to marry…hmm this is most interesting…”

The Sultan craned his neck out in a frantic attempt to see. “Who?! Who is it?!”

Khivar smiled benignly, “Why she is too marry the royal advisor…me…”

The Sultan wrinkled up his nose. “You? Are you certain?” The Sultan reached out for the scroll in order to get a look at the supposed rule. Khivar hastily snatched the scroll back and rolled it up, tucking it into his cloak. “Positive your Highness.”

The Sultan peered incredulously up at Khivar’s face. “But you’re so…OLD…”

Khivar pursed his lips in effort to calm his anger at that statement. “That’s what it says,” he insisted while thrusting forward his staff, beginning the hypnosis. The Sultan’s eyes gave off a faint glow while his brain turned to mush, ready to comply with whatever Khivar demanded off him, or a short period of time anyways. It was too bad that the effects of the staff wore off after a few minutes, or Khivar would have long before used it to take over the throne.

Just as he was about to utter the fateful words that would destroy Liz’s future, a loud sound broke the mood. It sounded like…music…The Sultan immediately snapped out of his daze and rushed for the balcony. He squealed (yes squealed) in delight at the sight of a parade. It was a young man, obviously wealthy, atop an extravagant looking elephant, surrounded by slaves, servants, exotic looking animals, gold and jewels like you wouldn’t believe, and most importantly…dancing girls [A/N for you Gabe] clad in harem girl attire, and gauzy colorful ribbons, in which they used to twirl in the air to gain the growing crowds attention, and also used to wrap suggestively around their slim, jeweled covered bodies. Slowly, languidly, and seductively, the girls weaved the ribbons about the air, only to have them return to their brazen, skimpy clothed selves.

This of course caught the men of the crowd’s undivided attention and caused the women to gaze on jealously.

But none was as captivating as the leader of the grand parade, who carried a large baton, in which he waved about furiously while beginning to sing.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Alex glanced back at Max and Michael, who were perched atop another one of Alex’s creations (an elephant, although not Michael this time), for approval for him to begin. After hesitating, Max nodded and Alex beamed. This was going to be fun! More fun than story time! Alex loved to perform and this was no exception. He was going to put his heart and soul into this, and enjoy every damn minute while getting Max and Michael their girls.
And with that last thought, Alex took a deep breath and began to belt out the lyrics to a peppy song, made up on the spot [A/N well not really but…]

Hey! Clear the way in the old Bazaar.
Hey you! Let s through!
It’s a brand new star!
Oh, come be the first on your block to meet his eye


While singing these words, Alex pushed through the crowd, grabbing spectators left and right to serenade them face to face, as they looked at him in astonished uncertainty. It wasn’t everyday a parade of this magnitude, and this much levity and informality, came through their city, and it was highly unusual for the leader of the parade to come up and shake them by the shoulders in an attempt to get them to dance along.

Make way, here he comes!
Ring the bells, bang the drums!

Alex banged upon a less than pleased fat guys protruding belly. In all irony, it was the fruit vendor who had threatened Liz not so long ago. Max watched this and chuckled while waving and smiling to the crowd nervously. He wasn’t so sure that he liked all this attention. He was used to being inconspicuous. Michael, however, as enjoying every minute. Finally, a chance for him to be in the spotlight for fame! He loved the occasional cheers of the crowd, though he knew most of them were for Alex’s show.

Aww, you’re gonna love this guy!
Prince Zan! He is the man!!
Zanni Ababwa
Genuflect, show some respect
Down on one knee!

Alex whipped a rug from out beneath a few guards standing viewing the parade looking board. At the line “down on one knee”, the guards found themselves surprisingly enough kneeling down in a stance of reverence. They glared at Alex irritatingly, and Alex mock saluted them before moving on. Michael saw this, and, smirking, nudged Max to point out Kyle bowing among them. They shared a good laugh before the crowds and dazzling special effects a la Alex took their attention.

Now, try your best to stay calm

Alex dug his elbow into a swooning young lady, who was all a flutter at the sight of “Zan.”

Brush up your Sunday salaam

Alex wiggled over to a merchant, slapping his back to gain his attention before wagging away, his hips shaking in time to the music.

Then come and meet his spectacular coterie
Yes it is he!
Our Prince Zan!
Mighty as can be!
Strong as ten regular men definitely!

At this line, Max goofily decided to do some flexing, to exemplify such strength. And what a sight it was! Biceps bulged and abs tightened in a spectacular display seen clearly through Max’s tight tunic. Harem girls sighed from their balconies and another girl appeared so suddenly from behind them, that one would have thought that she had popped out of thin air. Another peculiar fact about this girl, was that beneath her sheer pink veil, she looked suspiciously like our good friend Alex. The pink clad girl resembling the genie shimmied her hips and pointed a discreet finger at flexing Max. Instantly, Max’s already impressive muscles were accentuated greatly, almost seeming…BIGGER than usual. The rest of the harem girls swooned, falling over and gripping onto the balcony to keep from falling over. Getting into the spirit of things, Max winked at them and blew a tantalizing kiss towards their direction. All the girls jumped to be the ones to receive the air kiss, but the pink clad one (Alex in impressive disguise) shoved her way forward, clawing the girls in a successful attempt the grab the air kiss. After sticking her tongue out at the pouty harem girls, the pink harem girl mysteriously disappeared.

Elsewhere, Alex reappeared in front of the parade, continuing his facetious song.

He faced the galloping hordes, a hundred bad guys with swords!
Who sent the goons back to their Lords?
Why it was he!

Alex pointed his finger from behind his back at a group of awestruck little boys, making one of their wooden play swords magically float above them and begin swashbuckling with the air, much to their amazement.

He’s got seventy five golden camels…(don’t they look lovely, June? Came the side comments from Alex, dressed as a local news reporter, complete with a microphone and cheesy smile)
Purple peacocks, he’s got fifty three…(fabulous Harry, love the feathers...Came “June’s” response, her foofy blonde hair carefully stiff with spray and gobs of lipstick blaring out into the camera)
Our Prince Zan, a handsome man, Zanni Ababwa!
That physic! Oh, how can I speak?
Weak at the knee…

Alex reappeared in yet another part of the crowd, dressed as another harem girl, although this time he was clad in purple, and he belted out these last words, while pretending to faint into the arms of a shocked merchant, while the merchant’s wife glared disapprovingly before stalking away. The merchant hastily dropped Alex, who fell with a loud, THUMP, and hurried after his upset spouse. Alex gave a fake frown and pretended to sniffle for a minute, but he quickly whisked himself to another area when he saw an old wrinkly man come forward with arms wide open in a sick attempt to “comfort” Alex.

Our Prince Zan! What an amorous man!
Zanni Ababwa!
Heard your princess was a sight, lovely to see…

At this, the entourage neared the palace and Max could see a face at a balcony. Liz’s face. His heart swelled in excitement and he waved slightly, a grin breaking out on his face. His soul fell when Liz seemed to shake her head in disgust and turn back inside. Max tried to swallow his disappointment. She must have not recognized him. Or at least that’s what he hoped.

And that, good people, is why he got all dolled up
And dropped by…
With sixty elephants, llamas galore, with his bears and lions, a brass band and more.

With each exclamation of the animals, every animal stepped forward; twirling in a way that could only be Alex induced. If they weren’t under magical influence, they would have no doubt tumbled down, much like Michael the elephant. At the mention of elephant, Michael scoffed and turned away, as Max gave a half-hearted snort.

With his forty fakirs, his cooks, his bakers, his birds that warble on key!
Yes it is he!
Make way for Prince Zan!

And with that last proclamation, Alex gave one last flourishing spin and motioned for the menagerie of animals to barge in through the tightly sealed palace doors, landing directly at the Sultan’s and Khivar’s feet. After taking a well deserved bow, all the animals, jewels, slaves and dancing girls inconspicuously followed Alex to made their way back out of the palace and back into the lamp, where they came from. It was then that Max and Michael (who tired not to be sick) flew in upon Bob after making daring somersaults, to land graciously in front of the throne, where Khivar had failed to reestablish the hypnosis. Khivar scowled at the sight of another suitor. Then he frowned. For some reason, the young prince looked…familiar…and not in a good way. He struggled to place his finger on it, but nothing would come to him…for the moment anyways…[A/N DUN DUN DUN!]

The Sultan clapped his hands anxiously, showing his delight with the performance. “Bravo, bravo!” He cried in glee.

Max leapt off of Bob, and bowed deeply to the Sultan. “Your Highness,” he stated grandly. “I am Prince Zan Ababwa [lol!] and I have come to seek your daughters hand in marriage. I also come bearing gifts,” he said, gesturing behind him at the mounds of gold and piles of jewels.

The Sultan bobbed his head up and down in agreement, forgetting totally about Sean. “Yes, yes, what a WONDERFUL idea!” The Sultan jerked his head at his messenger boy, who stood up straight at being addressed by the Sultan. “You boy, go fetch Elizabeth. Lets get you two acquainted, shall we?”

Michael opened his mouth without thinking. “Maria, too.” He said. Max threw him a dirty look and Michael winced apologetically.

The Sultan whipped around and pierced Michael with a questioning gaze. “What was that?” He asked curiously.

Michael cleared his throat searching for a way out of this. “Umm, ME too, I said. I, uhh, am in search of a wife as well. Anyone one of your ladies in waiting would uhh, suffice…” Michael stumbled off, cursing Maria’s hold over his thoughts, and now apparently over his tongue as well. Being in this close of proximity to her, though he couldn’t see her, was turning his brain to mush. He prayed that the Sultan would send for Maria as well.

The Sultan still looked at Michael peculiarly. “And who are you?”

At this Max smoothly stepped in. “This is…errr...Rath, my second in command,” he introduced.

The Sultan beamed and heartily shook hands with an unenthused Michael. The Sultan then called out to the messenger boy. “Send down Maria as well.”

Silently, Michael praised Allah and pummeled an imaginary fist in the air in triumph. Whoo hoo!

The messenger boy nodded his head and went off towards the girls’ chambers.

The Sultan nudged Khivar in the ribs, and Khivar struggled to keep his face expressionless when he really longed to pop the Sultan one. “Well, this is good news! Looks like you don’t have to marry Elizabeth after all!” He whispered.

Khivar suppressed a scream of rage. Once again, his plans were being thwarted! This was just unacceptable! And something smelled fishy about Prince Ban...and his rather messy headed second. He hissed back to the Sultan. “I’m afraid I must advise against this your highness…you don’t even know anything about them, or where they came from…”

The Sultan quickly interjected. “Nonsense! Stop being such a nincompoop!” After putting Khivar in his place, the Sultan then turned to the boys and grilled them good-naturedly about random topics. The three chattered away nicely, Max and Michael laying on the charm as to impress him and to be considered worthy of the girls love. All the while, after stomping away in annoyance back to his secret lair, Khivar’s anger grew and his eerily familiarity concerning the boys ate away at him as he tried in vain to place the connections….
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz paced angrily up and down her room. Another stupid suitor to deal with! And a flashy full of himself one as well! Ohh, she did not NEED this right now! She ignored the way her stomach was dancing with recognition. It was almost as if she…KNEW this prince from somewhere.

No. That was impossible. The flipping of her stomach had to be indigestion or something. Grr, damn that spicy Arabic food!

Maria watched as her friend paced. She sighed. Liz needed to relax more. The girl was going to give herself an ulcer. And yet, she truly felt Liz’s distress. It was the same as her own. If she didn’t see Michael in a little while, she was going to combust!

And yet, ever since the parade, she had felt a funny queasy feeling her stomach, similar to the way she had felt in Michael’s proximity. But he couldn’t be in the palace…right? That was preposterous.

A tentative knock at the door interrupted the pacing fest. Liz irritatingly threw open the door. “WHAT?” She spat out. The messenger boy flinched backwards, and then spoke in a soft scared voice. “Umm, His Royal Highness requests an audience with yourself and Lady Maria immediately.” He finally managed to stutter out.

Liz rolled her eyes. “I’m not surprised. No doubt that this here prince was more endowed in the money area, therefore knocking Seanie off of the list. And now, of course, I am too come down and be oh so charming so that Prince Pompous will want me desperately on the spot…” Liz bit out. “Yea, well tell my father he can kiss my ass. I’m not coming. I’ve been confined to my room anyways, and now watch him eat his words. You can go now, and inform my father that I refuse to come down,” at this Liz plopped down upon her coach, gazing forlornly out of the window towards a freedom that was oh so close, and yet just out of her grasp.

The messenger boy glanced nervously about the room, his eyes pleading with Maria for her to come with him and help him break the news to the soon to be irate Sultan. Maria sighed, cursing her guilt complex and told Liz that she would be back after telling to Sultan what to expect from her, and also to see what he wanted of her. Liz barely nodded, her intent gaze still fixed outside.

Making her way through the halls, Maria grumbled incoherently to herself, about the unfairness of it all. Why was she the one that had to face the Sultan’s upcoming wrath about his daughter? She rounded the corner and was met with a beautiful sight.

There stood Michael, his hair in blissful disarray and his clothes…they were quite spiffy indeed. For a while Maria could only gape happily at the man before her, her Michael induced tunnel vision keeping her from seeing anyone else. Michael grinned goofily back, drinking in the sight of his beloved. She looked better than he remembered, and in his memories, she had been a goddess.

When she finally regained her voice, Maria blurted out in astonishment. “Mich…” She quickly snapped her rosy lips shut in seeing Michael shake his head vigorously. “No” he mouthed, giving her a warning glance. She stopped and gave him a puzzled look, which he only clarified by nodding pointedly at the Sultan. Her inquisition grew. How did he get such fine clothes (the clothes that only accentuated his good looks), and how did a street rat gain audience with the Sultan? And why was Max dressed as a Prince?

Max craned his neck trying to see behind Maria, his anticipation growing. Where was Liz?

The Sultan also strained his neck in search of his daughter. “Well?” He said after a minute. “Where is she?”

Maria twirled her blonde locks nervously (Which Michael found absolutely adorable). “Umm…she’s ah, not coming.” She stuttered out finally. She saw Max’s face fall, and she tired to tell him with her olive eyes that Liz wasn’t aware that it was HIM who was seeking out her hand, and that if Liz DID know, she would have been down here in a second. Max nodded slightly to show he understood, but understanding didn’t raise his spirit.

The Sultan sighed in exasperation. “I apologize Zan. She must be ah, tired tonight. You may seek audience with her in the morning. For now, though it is late. I shall be retiring in a minute and my servants will show you to your room. Oh, and Maria, this is Rath. I trust that you two will be better acquainted this time tomorrow. I’ll leave the rest up to you, Rath, but be warned I am trusting you with a girl I consider my own. Is that clear?”

Michael nodded, “Yes, Your Highness,” He said, while blushing under the circumstances in which the Sultan implied

Maria raised her eyebrow at Michael. “Rath…?” She mouthed silently.

“Later…” Michael mouthed back, his eyes upon Maria’s lips. He was itching to taste them, to see if they tasted the same as they looked…like ripe, juicy raspberries…

Max bid farewell to the Sultan and then his shoulder’s sagged. He wouldn’t be able to see Liz tonight. No, that wasn’t all of it. She didn’t want to see him. Plain and simple. She thought he was just another portentous suitor whom her father was going to force her into marrying. Exactly what she had told him that she was trying to escape from during their conversation up on the rooftop not so long ago. “Stupid Stupid,” Max chastised himself. This was the wrong approach. He’d have to find something else to gain her attention. And he thought he had just the thing.

Maria had every intention of leading Max straight to Liz so all of their heartache could be resolved. Really, she did. But when she lost herself in Michael’s burning eyes, everything else ceased to exist. All she could see was Michael as she dragged him into a secluded garden, the same one that was underneath Liz’s bedroom balcony. No one ever came that way. They wouldn’t be interrupted. Her last coherent thought before Michael’s hot mouth swooped down upon hers was that everything would work out between Max and Liz, regardless of her help.

Oh, yeah. They DEFINITELY didn’t need her help. The only one who needed her attention right now was Michael. And she happily obliged, not getting enough of him. Finally, her heart was whole again, and she was at peace. Or rather her SOUL was at peace. Her body was a whole different story. It raged like fire, only increased by the way Michael’s hands were running down her body.

Oh, yeah. Max and Liz could wait. Maria, however, could not.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max stumbled through the gardens, trying desperately to locate the one he KNEW was underneath her balcony. Bob followed closely behind, occasionally nudging into Max in a semblance of comfort. He sighed. He WOULD have asked Maria for help, but she bolted out of the chamber, dragging Michael behind and Allah only knows what they were up to now. He sighed again. Lucky undeserving dog.

Finally he spotted it, but not before he spotted a sight that made his eyes bleed. “Allah Almighty! Jeez you guys, in the middle of a peaceful garden too, have you both no shame?” Max yelled out at the disturbing sight of Maria and Michael’s entangled limbs. Ugh. Definitely a sight he would have rather not seen.

Maria hastily pulled apart from Michael and began to smooth her mussed hair. “Hey Max. What are you doing here?”

Max rolled his eyes at her calm tone. “Looking for Liz’s balcony. Did I find it?”

Maria nodded and pointed upward and sure enough, about two stories up was a telltale balcony, exactly the same as the one Max had seen Liz at during the parade. He muttered his thanks as Maria dragged Michael towards the bushes. He grumbled in disgust. Allah, they were going at it like rabbits on a hot spring day.

Finally, though, he had reached his destination. He pulled out the lamp and rubbed. Instantly smoke filed out, clearing away to reveal Alex. Alex stretched and yawned. “Hey, man,” he mumbled out between gaping yawns. “I was just about to get a little sleep. What’s up?”

Max blew a sigh of frustration. “Liz didn’t want to see me, because she thought I was going to be the same kind of pompous suitors that her father tries to force her to marry. I totally took the wrong approach. I need your help in getting her attention. Do you have any ideas?”

Alex whistled. “Wow, bummer. Where are Mickey and his little lady?” He asked scanning the garden. A chorus of giggles could be heard coming from a neighboring bush, and Alex chuckled. “Uhh, never mind that. I think I figured it out.”

Max rolled his eyes and awaited Alex’s answer. After he stopped laughing, Alex wiped the tears from his eyes. “Yeah, actually, I’ve got an idea for you. Now first you’ll have to…
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Liz stepped out onto her balcony, gazing up at the stars. She sighed in despair. Maria never came back from meeting with her father, and Liz didn’t take it as a good sign. But she couldn’t bring herself to worry. Most likely her friend was in bed right now, sleeping. Sleeping. Something Liz hadn’t done properly since she slept in the warm comforting apartment, with Max at her feet.

Max. Oh, Max. Oh often her thought drifted to him and their last unfortunate meeting. Oh what she wouldn’t give to see him one more time, to hold him once more, and to beg his forgiveness for their fight and her anger, sealing her apology with tender embraces….

She sighed again, Max’s name upon her lips…

Below her, Max’s heart leapt up into his throat at the sound of an angel’s voice whispering his name. He dared to glance up and was rewarded with a breathtaking sight. Liz. The moonlight shone softly upon her, accentuating her features and making them glow in sliver light. Her dark hair gleamed in the night, and his fingers itched to tough it, knowing that it felt as smooth as it looked. A none too subtle clearing of the throat broke Max’s trance and he looked back at Alex, who had what he called a guitar strapped around his chest. Alex gestured with his hands in a circular motion “Get on with it”.

Max nodded, and took a deep breath before gazing back up at his beauty. Just as she was turning away to go back inside, Max called out softly. “Liz…”

Liz’s thoughts were still with Max as she started to go back inside, that she thought it was just wishful thinking that made her hear Max’s voice speak her name. But nevertheless she looked down, and there he was. She gasped in surprise. He was adorned with the same princely duds as the prince in the parade! But how did he…

All thoughts of incredulity and confusion ceased to exist in Liz’s brain as Max began to sing. SING. He was SERENADING her. A faint sound of music was coming from somewhere close by but all she focused on was Max. And while she disbelievingly thought that ‘Max would never do anything so cheesy,’ she felt herself melting inwardly at his sweet tones echoing softly up to fall upon her ears. It was all she could do not to swoon and she gripped the edge tightly as she allowed a slight smile to grace her pretty face, a smile meant just for him.

I can show you the world,
Shining, shimmering splendid.
Tell me princess, now when did you last let your heart decide.

While Max was singing, Alex thought of something and shot a blast of magic at Max’s hands. A lovely bouquet of white flowers appeared there, and Max hesitated for only a moment before throwing them up at Liz, who caught them graciously. She lifted them up to her nose to inhale their fragrant sent, and then beamed her thanks down upon Max, who smiled shyly, while clamoring upon Bob, and rising slowly in the air to ascend up to her balcony, rising to be face to face with her. The roses were forgotten as he continued, and Liz’s brown eyes widened in shock at the sight of Max IN THE AIR. Alex grinned as he watched the emotions play across the young couples faces. He sighed. Everything was going according to plan. He might as well get some shuteye now. He discreetly disappeared into the lamp that was carefully tucked at Max’s side in a cloud of smoke.


I can open your eyes,
Take you wonder by wonder

Max extended out his hand, gesturing for Liz to come on with him. She hesitated briefly, her fear of heights slowly outweighing her desire to be with Max. Max noticed her fear and stopped singing momentarily. “Don’t worry,” he coaxed using the words he used not so long ago at his rooftop. “I wont let you fall. I’d die first,” he said. Liz smiled at the familiar words and gazed down at the magic carpet, which held out a tassel in a salutation. Max chuckled. “This is Bob. He’s perfectly harmless, I assure you.”

Liz laughed and took the tassel. “Nice to meet you…BOB,” She said, and then she slipped her hand into Max’s warm welcoming one and allowed herself to be hoisted onto the carpet. Momentarily loosing his balance, Max jerked Liz a little too hard, and she landed right in his lap. She giggled as he stammered out an apology, but when he went to help her get into another position, she shook her head and wriggled more firmly against him, snuggling with her back to his torso, basking in the feel of his warm strong arms through his silken sleeve. Another warm strength bulged beneath her, and Liz smiled naughtily to herself. To think that he had such a reaction to her proximity…it was breathtaking, and truly, completely amazing. She glanced back over her shoulder and smirked at his tortured expression. “Max,” she said coyly.

“Yeah,” He managed to get out huskily.

“You weren’t finished singing to me,” She pretended to pout, while settling her bottom more firmly against him and cackled with glee inwardly at the sound of his groan. Whether it was from pain, pleasure, or both, she had no idea, but she liked the sound of it. Bob took off into the night and Liz was momentarily distracted by the view of the palace shrinking, and the view of the stars expanding until Liz felt as if the sky were enveloping them in its silvery wonder…

Max narrowed his eyes at Liz’s devious expression. ‘Two can play at that game missy,’ he thought. “Yea, well I’ve got a better idea actually…” he said with bated breath, zeroing in on her lips. He gently lifted her up and positioned her so that she was now facing him.

Liz’s breaths hitched in her throat as she viewed Max’s amber soulful eyes darken with desire. She shivered slightly, but it had nothing to do with the cold night air whooshing around them… “Oh, yeah,” She breathed out. “And what is that?” She inquired, anticipating the answer.

“Well, first, I’d have to do…this…” And with that last statement, he leaned forward and captured her lips with his. After a few seconds, they broke apart, a wondrous expression upon both their faces. They wondered how just one moment could feel as if it were stretched out for your whole entire life, making all your troubles float away as the stars became in reach…

Liz leaned forward again, eager to repeat the same motion and perhaps take it a little further. She smiled sweetly up at Max, and he obliged to her silent request. He lowed his head to hers and kissed her, softly at first, and then more deeply as her mouth opened slightly, allowing him access. Their tongues dueled for supremacy for a few blissful minutes, before they broke apart gasping for air. Max leaned his forehead on Liz’s and closed his eyes. “I’ve been waiting for that for a long time,” he admitted hoarsely.

Liz smiled. “Me too,” she agreed and then she sighed in content. However, once her brain started functioning properly again after that kiss, she bolted up right. “Oh, Max! I meant to say this before…”

“Before what? Before I attacked you with my oh so kissable lips?” Max teased while tightening his grip around her, stealing a look at the lands passing beneath them.

Liz smacked his arm lightly, trying not to be affected by the easy way the word “kissable” flew from his mouth. His mouth. Oh, Allah, here she goes again.

Max smirked at Liz’s loss of concentration. “Umm, Liz?” He asked. “You wanted to tell me something,”

Liz made a face at Max’s smug expression before growing serious. “Yeah. I wanted to apologize for before, the way I just walked out on you and let you get captured by Kh…”

Max placed his finger on her lips, marveling at how soft they were. “Shh,” he silenced her. “Lets not worry about that right now. Right now its time for right now. Lets not ruin it with the drudging up of our fight. We both said things that we didn’t mean and let anger get the best of us. Right now, lets just let love get the best of us.” He said simply.

Liz’s heart fluttered in her chest. He just said love! Oh, Allah, she couldn’t remember a time when she felt more happy. He was right. She would save all of her questions as to where he was, what Khivar had to do with it, and how he was suddenly a prince, for later. Now it was time for right now. And there was no time like the present. Liz laid her head on Max’s shoulder and they continued to glide over A Whole New World [A/N Teehee], relishing in each other’s company, occasionally chatting about nothing, and stealing a few more kisses.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Max gently helped Liz off of Bob, his gaze never leaving hers as she slided down onto her balcony. She smiled tenderly at him, loosing herself in his warm, amber eyes. “Goodnight Max,” she said, cursing the lame words that abscoiunded out of her mouth. For she wanted to say so much more…and yet she had to contend with the fact that in gazing into those honey colored orbs, she was at loss for anything resembling intelligence.

Max felt his lips curve into a smile, for he too was infected with tongue-tied-ittis. All he could say back to her was a similar farewell. “Goodnight Liz. Sweet dreams,” he said before leaning in for a compassionate goodnight kiss.

‘Oh, I will have sweet dreams,’ thought Liz as she sighed into his mouth. ‘As they’ll be all of you…’

They broke apart, neither wanting the night to end, but knowing that it had to stop here, least they go farther than they were ready. Liz turned, a dreamy smile tugging at her lips as she stole one last glance back at the man she loved. Finally, she made herself enter back into her room, readying herself for what the next day may come.

Max threw himself back upon Bob as he was gently laid down to the ground after spending the most beautiful night with the most beautiful girl…He sighed in contentment as he recounted all of what had happened…

Only to have his exultant thoughts jerked to a halt by the rough arms of Kyle. Kyle did a double take when he looked at Max’s face, but then shrugged it off, and continued to tie the binds around Max’s arms. Another guard forced a gag over his mouth as Max kicked and struggled to no avail, his muffled cursing falling on no helpful ears. It was over before it began. He was trapped, with little room to even move his finger let alone escape. He was stuck.

Kyle and another guard jerked him upright only to put Max face to face with the last person he expected to see again.

His fake uncle was sneering at him, in an all too familiar fashion. A flash of the same smirk flitted across Max’s brain as he remembered the incident where the same smirk was thrown his way as his “uncle” left him and Michael in the cave to be crushed. A wave of anger rolled through Max’s stomach, but what happened next shocked him to the core.

For the next words out of Kyle’s mouth were ones that suddenly made everything seem so clear, and more muddled then ever.

“I’ve got him, Khivar. Now what?” Kyle inquired. Khivar pierced Max with a cold glare. “Make sure Prince Ban or whatever is never heard from again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have my wedding to plan…”

Icy realization crept up Max’s spine, and bile raged in the back of his throat. KHIVAR! That means his so called uncle, and royal advisor was really the one who…

The butt of Kyle’s sword came smashing down upon Max’s head and everything went pitch black…