Majid followed the two strangers as they entered the souk for the first time. Majid was filled with a potent mixture of curiosity and fear as they walked under the arch that was the original entrance to the old market and wondered how these two warriors would fare. The souk was a world within a world and followed no laws of men nor of the storytellers of the prowls, it was a world of magic ruled by the creatures of the Myst, the Djinn! The real city of Marrakech beyond the world of men, was divided into prowl watches based around the old gates that ringed the inner city. Outside the walls, there was no law, it was a dangerous wilderness, a patchwork of kingdoms and warring fiefs run by the strongest and cruelest of creatures with the exception of the prowl of the Last Home at Majorelle which followed the old ways. The souk had always been different, one only had to step a paw under the subtle arches that de-marked the threshold of the souk and one could feel the air change. It was dangerous yes, even for prowl warriors who were tolerated as long as they did not interfere with the ways of the Djinn and sometimes even they had to pay the price.
Majid watched the pair of human warriors walk boldly into the souk and admired their demeanor and bearing. Already they had avoided trouble from two human gangs that preyed on tourists simply by being confident and aware however this would not work in the souk, in fact it may even attract trouble. Overconfidence could easily be mistaken for a lack of proper respect and that would be intolerable to the Djinn. Majid decided to follow them in, it had been a couple of years since he had last set foot in this place and he could sense his own fear at the prospect and so, as he was taught, he knew that he must confront this feeling as it would diminish him to allow it to direct his life and it was an opportunity to grow by walking into it.
The souk was a city within a city and followed no story law apart from the laws of magic, the laws of the Djinn, the laws of balance and compensation. They were capricious and chaotic, good and bad in equal measure and alien to all but the wisest of prowl old ones. Anything and everything was possible in the souk, after all, it was a place of pure magic. Majid had seen traders who had lived there for years suddenly leave the souk, abandoning their stalls and homes forever never to be seen again, he had seen tourists enter and leave within minutes changed forever, he had seen Djinn attach themselves to travellers and leave the souk, bound for foreign worlds. He had seen the sick cured and the healthy changed forever. There was only one law here and it was known as ‘The Price’. The Price was the way the prowl warriors described it. To walk into the souk, would cost you. Whether that was immediately obvious or not was irrelevant and no matter what one was prepared to pay, the price was determined by the Djinn and not the being who entered. Majid’s prowl brother, Yousef was a living example of the dreadful and beautiful exchange, the laws of balance and compensation. Yousef was a legend. Yousef often visited the souk and was given free movement by the Djinn. Yousef’s price was the last year of his life which he would spend serving the Djinn Sultan, Abdalmalik. He would serve his last year before death. Yousef, was more than happy with this arrangement. It had given Yousuf many gifts, among which was bravery to the point of foolishness, Yousef knew that he would be summoned to serve exactly a year before his last day and with every morning with no summons, Yousef knew that it would be at least a year until his death and for today and a year at least, he would be immortal!
Majid had watched in wonder as Yousef threw himself into conflicts which would be certain doom to Majid and survive victorious. He had faced down Ali of the Dog Wanderers and survived! Majid had witnessed the fight, it was simply incredible! He had walked the lawless lands as far as the valley of Ourika and returned. Yousef’s name was becoming known throughout the land and all knew that he could not be killed, this only served to make Yousef even more powerful and Bab Taghzout prowl was all the safer for it. Majid was glad Yousef had a good heart although he was far from humble. In any case, Yousef himself seemed to be more alive than when he first stepped foot in the souk and was enjoying his life covered in glory more than he ever did before, for which Majid was grateful, Yousef had been a timid prowl member before The Price. However, Majid would not exchange places with Yousef for all the fish in Jemaa El Fnaa . He did not want to know how long he had to live and enjoyed the feelings of fear and excitement that seemed to live in mutual harmony within him. He had been taught by the wise ones of the prowl that it was this potent mixture that would allow him to grow in skill and keep the feeling of life and warriorship alive within him and the strange power of the story alive too. He wondered if Yousef had grown at all since the moment he knew of the price the Djinn had extracted from him with all fear removed?
Majid, shrugged off the these thoughts as he approached the archway after the two strangers. It was the great story that counted above all else, it must continue, it must grow, page by page and somehow Majid knew that these two strangers would be part of it if he survived for the telling. Majid knew the story was alive and well, he could feel it beating in his heart and he thanked it for its power as he put first one paw, then another across the threshold of the souk and entered the realm of Djinn magic.
Copyright Faramond Frie © 2016