Kadin and the Jinni

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  1. The AL Kizar Desert.

    The sprawling desert spilled out from the horizon like a huge wave of sand and rock. It was mammoth, and in this south western part of the world, nearly never-ending. It would take a well equipped caravan, carrying a weeks supply of water, just to survive a trek from one end to the other. Many of the people in the small villages on the outskirts of the Al Kizar came to believe it was haunted by evil spirits, bringing death, disease and famine to anyone foolish enough to enter. Despite all this, A lone man made his way towards the heart of the barren waste. In his pack he had about a days worth of water left and some slowly rotting horse meat. He had started on horseback, but soon realized that there was no way to keep his mount watered and fed, leading to the heartbreaking decision to kill and butcher her. In many ways he was a fool for embarking on this suicidal journey, but he had no choice. A victim of circumstance, into the desert was his only way out.

    And So Kadin Marx, the well worker and former family man, trekked into the unknown.

    View attachment 8414 Kadin Marx is a strong, but painfully slender man. The events of the last year or so had taken a toll on his body. He no longer enjoyed the satisfaction drawn from a good meal and now only ate to survive. The once prominent laugh lines around his mouth now looked like over grown, abandoned roads. The only feature that survived his perpetual stress were his eyes, which were clear and bright. He guessed that most would take him for an alcoholic, or worse, if it wasn’t for his eyes. There was something good in his eyes, and the shepherds or occasional group of traders saw this. Instead of being cast out, he was fed and given lodging for the night. Most traveling through this godforsaken stretch of desert shunned wandering strangers, but Kadin had been more than lucky so far on his journey.

    Above his head was the merciless sun. The sky was cloudless, not even a needle head point of shade for miles. He licked his upper lip with a rough tongue, tasting salt mixed with course sand. He was thirsty, but not willing to tap into his dwindling water supply just yet. He could make it another mile.

    “Just one more mile.” He wheezed through dry lips

    He repeated this statement a hundred times, and it was the last thought on his mind before he spotted what had to be a mirage. Surely it wasn’t really there? Kadin rubbed his eyes, and looked again. On the horizon, just to the south east, were two green and lush palms. Their leaves were vibrant and stretched lovingly up towards the sun. These things told Kadin that water was present. His heart did a somersault in his chest as he allowed himself a sip of water. The sun had started to dip into the sky, and with any luck he would make it to his oasis by sunset. Kadin wept with happiness, not usually an emotional man, but this meant hope. Hope for him and his quest.

    Uncountable miles, and half his water supply later, he had made it. And to his amazement it was not a mirage. Without warning bright light exploded in his field of vision and nausea flamed up in his gut, no doubt his body telling him he had gone to far and too long without rest. Kadin dropped to his knees. The hot desert floor met his face with intense heat, but he would not give up. He crawled on his stomach, clawing at the ground, pulling himself towards the oasis.

    Just a few more feet.
  2. The setting sun stained the garden in red gold light as though the plants were infused with life fire. The small pool that Maahealani sat by reflected the sky, the clouds starting to stain purple. Gently she touched the surface of the water and watched the ripples form. Here in her hidden garden the jinni could hide. It was her secret place away from the politics under the sands, hazed from mortal gaze. If anyone knew of this place besides her and the heavens they did not intrude.

    Standing Maahealani started to roam her small domain, taking a blossom from a low hanging vine and placing it into her long midnight hair behind her pale ear. To any that could have seen her she looked no different then any human maiden, though her dress was not as modest as anything in the region. The make up design at the outer corner of each eye indicated her tribal affiliation among the Ifrit. Though not exiled in the least, she was considered an oddity with her preference to spend her time away and thus did not command the rank she was entitled by birth.

    It was with fleeting thoughts of nothing in particular that she stumbled upon a strange sight. As she went around a large three trunk she spied a form upon the dirt crawling in her direction. This was no snake nor lizard nor any mortal beast, though mortal it might have been.

    A human! Here! Within her hidden garden!

    Maahealani was so surprised she spoke before she thought. "If man then speak, if ghoul flee, for I will offer my hospitality to you only if you wish me no ill will."
  3. A mix of sweat caked dirt covered Kadin’s face, his finger nails were cracked and torn from clawing at the ground, his breathing short and labored. He had reached the end of his journey, that he was sure of. Maybe that was his goal all along? To die alone, in the desert, with out any chance of survival. He closed his eyes, and to his amazement, a sense of serenity came over him. He attributed it to being close to death, but somewhere in the back of his mind he was certain it came from the charmstone that hung around his neck. It was a family heirloom, one his father had entrusted to him just a week before his death.

    His father….sadness welled up inside him, but was soon forgotten as he heard a voice. It was beautiful in his ears, he let it wash over him. A renewed feeling of strength surged through Kadin’s body, he was able to push him self up into a sitting position. He looked up at the owner of the voice, amazed.

    “ Water....I wish you no I’ll will.....water”
    The words were choked, caught in his dry throat and spit out like hot embers.He looked into her eye's, hoping that his peaceful nature would be conveyed. She was fire, for lack of a better understanding, Kadin knew that no human could live out here, hundreds of miles from civilization.

  4. "Water?" Maahealani repeated softly as she walked closer. He was indeed no threat, and seemed that left alone a bit longer never would be either. The young jinni was a compassionate soul though and indeed mean her words of hospitality. Once she was in front of him she squatted down, reaching over and putting a hand on one of his shoulders.

    Waves like heat from the scorching sand entered Kadin's vision like a mirage disappearing.

    In the heart of Maahealani's garden, with the lush leaves of the palm trees slightly swaying, they sat next to the clear pool of water that was fed by a tiny stream that started as an underground spring.

    "Drink lightly, then you should eat," she told him. "They say al Kazir can bake away all the salt in a man."

    Laying upon a pair of thick leaves on Kadin's other side was a simple fare of fruits and nuts that all looked like they could have come from this oasis despite the large variety.
  5. Kadin watched, transfixed, as the desert maiden walked towards him. He wasn’t at all frightened, just enthralled by her. It was like watching a fire burn to cast eyes upon her body, almost hypnotic. She was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, and at the same time mysterious. He nearly jumped when she rested her hand on his shoulder, but found her hand was gentle and not at all burning with heat as he had expected. All he could manage to do was squeeze out the twinge of a smile. His head was pounding and his stomach cried for water.

    In the middle of oasis, Kadin realized that there was much more to this place than he originally suspected. The palm trees were thick and shaded the entire area quite efficiently. His jaw nearly dropped to the desert floor as he spotted a pool of the clearest water he had ever laid eyes on. Kadin fell to his knees, as if praying to a god. His hands formed a cup as he began to drink. The water was amazing, and in the quenching process he barley noticed that the mysterious girl had sat next to him. In his dehydrated state he hadn’t realized how strange it was that a person was living in the middle of the Al kazir desert, when she spoke, he stopped drinking and stood up.

    “This water, it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. I can’t begin to thank you..” He stopped. It was obvious she meant him no harm, but his nature was to be suspicious, what did she want from him? This time he managed a full smile, drying his hands off on his pants he offered his hand.

    “My name is Kadin, I come from the other side of the Al Kazir” He jerked his head behind him “I do not have anything to offer you in return for you kindness.” He paused again, taking a handful of nuts from the leaf. “I am attempting to cross the desert, but I am without horse and still many days away from it’s border.”
  6. Maahealani looked at Kadin's hand in confussion, unsure what he meant by the gesture. It must have been friendly, but she had no idea what to do with it. She rose so that she could stand in front of him and placed her hands in front of her, bowing her head slightly and giving him a smile. "Your thanks and but one promise is all that I ask in return, Kadin from the other side of al Kazir. It is I think a fair promise, that you will lead another to this place."

    His mentioning of attempting to cross the great desert caused her some concern, and she tilted her head. "That seems too traitorous a journey to comit to on ones own," she told him with a more serious expression. "Perhaps the sun has indeed baked some of your senses away."

    Tapping a finger upon her lips she looked at him. She couldn't very well toss him out into the desert right now. Once the sun had fully set the temperature would drop quite quickly passed her garden, and he didn't seem to be in any shape to continue even if he had supplies. "You may stay here tonight in the cot if you wish, to rest and reconsider your future plans." Yes that seemed the best thing todo right now.
  7. Kadin cracked a smile through dry lips. He was flooded with happiness at her offer. A night in this oasis is just what the doctor ordered.

    “It is true, the heat has warped my mind. I am still coming to grips with the fact that someone lives out here in the middle of the barren desert.”

    He hinted at question, although did not want openly question her hospitality directly. Kadin was just happy he had found her and this place. He reached down for another handful of nuts. They were delicious, crunchy and rich. He wanted more water, but knew he should wait. It was his bodies instinct to drink until he was sick, but he knew better.

    With his senses coming back, his thirst for curiosity became stronger, he wanted to know how she managed to survive out here, at least a hundred miles away from anything even slightly resembling civilization, so he decided to quench it.

    “I haven’t seen another living soul for miles, how is it possible to survive out here?”

    He had heard tales of strange beings, Jinns, who inhabited the furthest outreaches of the Al Kazir, but up until now he had thought them to only be myth. Was it possibly that she wasn’t human? When he was a child his wet nurse, who basically raised him as his mother and father worked long hours, had told him of evil spirits that possessed men who got lost in the Al Kazir. For that point on they were forced to wander the desert as nomads, never able to leave again. Kadin swallowed hard, only myth and desert legend, he reassured himself.
  8. Maahealani did not find his curiosity intrusive. Far from that she found it as an opportunity to induldge in her own questions about this strange person that found his way to her garden. In response to his question however she looked around then opened her arms wide. "This place takes care of me, and I it," she told him as she smiled fondly up at the tree that was providing their shade at the moment.

    "I like it here, it's peaceful. The plants and trees are always here, birds come from time to time, and if I really need to deal with my people I go under the sand." Maahealani wasn't purposely being mysterious, but she had learned that humans sometimes react unexpectedly if confronted by her kind suddenly. She didn't need a panicked human. He could curse her after all. No, it was safer for him to put the pieces together and come to the conclusion of what she was.

    "So Kadin tell Maahealani this, how did you find this place? I would have said it was impossible for any, but here you are." She looked at him with pure curiosity, the woman, the jinni who's name meant Heavenly Moonlight in a far off tongue.
  9. As the sky began to slowly shift with the setting sun, revealing a kaleidoscope of red,orange and purple, Maahealani spoke and Kadin listened. Her voice was inviting, soothing to his ears. He couldn’t help but smile as she asked about how he came to her oasis. He had deduced that she certainly wasn’t one of the evil spirits that occupied the desert, and it wasn’t just the fact she had accommodated him with food, drink and shelter. It was her overall aura, Kadin thought for lack of a better word, something about her was pleasant and inviting. Kadin thought that if she was an evil Jinn, that evil would have to be deeply embedded.

    “To tell you how I came to find your Oasis, I must tell you another story. Earlier this year, right around the time the Eastern farmers bring their goods across the great sea to trade with with the Desert people, I was a happy man. I worked and lived in a small village on the outskirts of the Al kazir called Dumir. I spent my days digging wells and hauling water, it was hard work but I had a good life, living with my aging father…”

    Kadin paused, thinking of the best way to retell the horrific event that changed his life.

    “One night I came home late to find we had been robbed, or so I thought. Everything had been strewn across the floor, books lay torn on the ground, tables and chairs upended. Only when I saw that our bag of coins hadn’t been touched did I realize that whoever did this had been looking for something. My mind raced, I called out to my father but got no answer. There was a trail of blood leading into my fathers room. I followed it and found him, in a pool of his own blood with his throat cut from ear to ear.”

    Grim sadness cut across Kadin’s face.

    “The villagers accused me of of the murder as there was no suspects or sign of anyone wanting my father dead. I was cast out, my only hope now is to find who did this and bring them to justice. But I am afraid that I may never return to my Village again, as I will most certainly hang for the death of my Father, a crime which I swear to you I did not commit.”

    Kadin looked directly at Maahealani now, for the first time since he started his tale. He reached into his shirt and gripped the charm stone that hung around a silver chain.

    “This is all I have to go off of. My father was gripping it in his hand, knowing him he wanted me to take it…for what reason, I do not know.”

    Tears threatened to escape from Kadin’s eyes, but he fought them back.

    “It may not seem like much, but what you have done for me today is the first kind act I’ve received since being cast out.”

    Kadin felt tired all of the sudden, and at the same time relieved. Telling Maahealani his story was like pulling a splinter, and even though he was no closer to finding out the truth, he let the sense of relief wash over him.
  10. The trickling of the water further back in the garden was the only sound for several moments. Maahealani listened to his story with interest. Her eyes warched the charm longer then she realized. She was sure these were true words he spoke. If a lie, they were very outlandish. She then reached over and touched his hand lightly with her fingertips, unsure if he could or would take the comforting gesture. "I am very sorry that your tale is so sad." Slowly she removed her hand and sat back again.

    "Your people will not have you, and you seek justice." She spoke the words, summarizing and thinking about what that summery of events meant. "You believe the charm is a key, but not how, nor who your foes are." Maahealani shook her head. "Don't think me unkind when I say that I believe your road will be a long one."

    She then smiled slightly, hopefully in a reassuring way. "I hope you find what you need on this journey of yours Kadin of Dumir." Again her eyes were drawn to the charm. It was unusual, but nothing amazing. "I am happy to continue talking with you, but please if you need rest, take it."
  11. Kadin knew his road would be long, and possibly ending only with his death. A grim nod was his only response to the desert maiden’s words.

    During the hot months, and even in particularly warm winters, it is custom to travel at night while in the Al Kazir. Kadin had been doing so, but tonight he felt exhausted, emotionally and physically. He also felt safe, and protected. He wouldn’t realize it for a few more days, but he had found something that he thought to be gone in his life, companionship. The short exchange between he and Maahealani had been somehow different than most of his recent conversations. During his travels through the Al Kazir he had always been guarded, not wanting to give any unnecessary information to people he met, but with her it was different. He wondered just why that was? Possibly she had some powers cast over him that made him vulnerable, or at ease?

    He laid back, propping his head against his bedroll. It was so tranquil here! The tension that had ripping and churning inside him was finally at ease. He knew it was only temporary relief, but still he was thankful. He would sleep well tonight.

    His last thought was of the charm stone around his neck before slipping off into a deep, dreamless slumber.

    Kadin woke before the sun. He hadn’t moved so much as an inch in his sleep, and it was the deepest he had slept since the night of his fathers death, six months prior. He sat up, stretched and quickly gathered his things. He didn’t immediately see Maahealani, so he went straight to the stream and began to fill his water skins.
  12. Maahealani blinked up at the foliage over head, filtering the morning sun. She had went to her familiar place of slumber once the man had fallen asleep. It had seemed very odd to her that there was another in her garden when she sought her bed, and at first had trouble sleeping. Eventually though she thought through the short interaction with this Kadin and knew that her nervousness was silly. He wasn't anything for her to worry about, and she did feel bad for him and his plight.

    Her thoughts now returned to the man with the strange pendant, even in her dreams she saw it. It concerned her that her attention was still drawn to it and the child of fire felt a sensation of cold for a moment. She let her thoughts swim around for a time more before finally rising and wandered towards where she left Kadin.

    Reaching the small stream she stretched and yawned before glancing around and finding Kadin as he bent down to gather cool water. "Still intended to continue your travel?" she asked. Maahealani wasn't interested in inviting the human an indefinite stay, but his resilience surprised her some. "It will be hard to travel on foot though wouldn't it?"

    Pulling out a needle, the type any woman might use to sew, she held it out to let the sun catch it, making it shine for a moment. Then with the other hand took two fingers to the top of the needle, as though she was to pull a thread through the eye. Instead of thread though a camel passed through the eye of the needle, now standing next to Maahealani on the edge of the stream.
  13. Kadin squeezed the water skins under the stream, forcing the air out and effectively sucking up the water. When the last skin was filled he dipped his hands in the crystal clear stream. The wet and cold was like a godsend in this hellish desert, he cast a glance out past the boundaries of the oasis before cupping his hands and splashing water on his face. The water ran down his chin and soaked into his shirt. He was about to lower his head and drink when he heard Maahealani’s voice. The lone traveler stood, wiping his hands on the backs of his pants. Kadin had awoke with the intentions of leaving without speaking another word Maahealani , but when he heard her voice again, he was glad. Even before she displayed her awesome power, he was glad.

    Kadin watched with utter amazement. In the desert, or so the saying went, a camel was worth it’s weight in gold. Kadin had abandoned faith a long time ago, but he didn’t hesitate to let himself feel as if this meeting was meant to be. He clamped his hand under the camel’s chin and saw that it was very responsive. Camels, in Kadin’s experience, usually had stubborn dispositions, but this one almost seemed happy about the prospect of travel, as did Maahealani.
    Kadin narrowed his eyes, giving her a kind, knowing glance, the hint of a smile curling at the corners of his mouth.

    “My burden has been lightened, and something tells me the miles of sand and rock that lie ahead won’t be mine alone to bare.”

    He shifted his eyes out toward the sprawling desert again, his heart sank, but not nearly as far down as it had been.

    “Shall we get an early start then?”
  14. "Yes," she said patting the camels side then walking over to Kadin. Standing in front of him she came up to a bit below his chin. The expression on her face was perplexed for a moment, then resolute as she reached out with one hand and grabbed that which hung down onto his chest. She held up the pendant with two fingers as though to try to get a better look at it, a frown of concentration. She then sighed and let go of it.

    "Tell me Kadin, what do you know about it," using a hand signal she gestured for the camel to kneel down so that she could get up on it. She had gotten the chill again when she touched the pendant, as though it was a wind that pulled. There was no other way to explain it and it made no sense to her. All she knew was she was going with this sad human into the desert because of that pendant. It made no sense, and she could only hope Kadin knew the answer.

    Had she thought this was in fact some malicious act on his part, that he was somehow coercing her, she would be ensuring this journey seemed not a week but ten years in length. The djinn were not known for their vindictiveness for nothing.
  15. Kadin diverted his attention the the camel before answering her question. He regarded it as it regarded him, and for a moment Kadin couldn't help but notice a deep intelligence in it's glance. Like it was privy to more than just being a beast of burden for desert travelers.

    "I wish I could tell you more, but I am afraid that much of my fathers life was shrouded in secret. Before his life in Dumir, where he met my mother and fathered his only child...." Of course it was himself to whom Kadin was referring.

    "...he was a migratory trader who dabbled in treasure hunting, but according to him, never found any treasure worth mentioning. My mother used to tell me, when I was a boy, that he had spent a great deal of his life looking for something, an item that had magic properties, I can't possibly know if this is that item, although i have humored the idea."

    Kadin took her lead and also climbed on the camels strong back, it gave a small grunt at it's new passengers, but didn't at all hesitate when Kadin gave it a small kick, then continued talking.

    "His death was the first time I'd ever seen the Pendant. Since then I have come to the conclusion that whoever killed him was directly linked to it in one way or another."

    Kadin stopped, just now taking to account the way she had looked when she touched it.

    "It is a strange and unique stone, have you ever seen another like it?"
    he asked as they rode towards the border of the Oasis, and from there, to the vast Al Kazir that lay beyond.
  16. Though still early in the morning the desert was warming rapidly. The cool from the night would not linger for much longer. As they headed out, Maahealani was surprised with herself, she was squinting out at the horizon, not looking back at her garden, her hiding place. Had she just been waiting for a reason to leave?

    The reason though bothered her still. "I can honestly say I have never seen a stone similar to it." That answer wasn't enough though. She stared at Kadin's back for a moment, weighing the risk of full disclosure. He was from the sound of it clueless, and likely eager for anything that could clue him in to at least one of the mysteries of his life. It was ashame it was likely to create more questions then answers.

    "Yet," trusting humans was never considered the wise option. They were deceitful greedy creatures after all. "it's familiar. By all rights the oddness of it should make me be very fearful. I confess confussion. It's not intelligent and yet it wants me on your quest." One thing was for sure, speaking about her feelings didn't make her feel the least bit better about it.
  17. Kadin watched as the horizon distorted in the early morning heat. It was just slightly after dawn and already turning out to be a scorching day. His shirt stuck to his back, and the hot desert air did little to cool him. Despite this, he was in great spirits. Above all else he now had a comrade, and more than that, someone who didn't immediately cast him out upon hearing his tale. Most assumed the worst, but not Maahealani. Magical desert genie or not, she was kind.

    "I sense that you wish to know more than I can tell you, unfortunately it is the only thing I have to go on. My one hope rests in this charm stone and finding the men who killed my father"
    He paused, shifting his gaze to steadily approaching sand dune.

    He noted her childlike naivety, which was not at all a bad trait, then realized he shouldn't have failed to mention the painfully obvious fact to her.

    "I should not have neglected to tell you what I assumed you already knew, but I am also most likely being sought by those that killed my father. I don't wish you to befall any ill fate on my account." Kadin felt himself grow hot, and not just from the penetrating sun. Why hadn't he thought to say that earlier? There was a very possible chance that he would not live to see the end of his journey.
  18. The journey, truly only in it infancy still, continued in al Kizar for several more days or rather evening. By the time the sun had reached its zenith on the first day they were sitting under a few scrappy palms. As they had traveled, Maahealani suggested that Kadin allow the camel to amble along as long as he was going in the generally correct direction.

    "He is a sultan among camels," she explained, though it wasn't clear if she was being literal or metaphorical. None the less her advice proved itself as the camel found them water that day, and each morning that followed. As for food, Maahealani provided that without comment or spectacle. There was little doubt of what she was and yet she didn't behave much like the tales suggested.

    As they traveled at night, the sky stretched forth before them, the stars shining brightly and they eyes drawn to them, for in the darkness there was nothing else to see. Kadin's companion seemed quite stunned by them the first night, and confessed she had never traveled the desert in the manner they were doing now. She found the whole experience new and exciting.

    Thus for those days there were alone; the man, the camel, and the jinni.

    It was late in the midmorning when they spotted their first sign of the city. Traders! Not too far in the distance a small caravan traveled in the generally same direction as they were. "What do they call the place we are about to reach?" she asked sleepily. They had been traveling since sunset and it seemed that those of the djinn enjoyed their rest as much as humankind.
  19. Kaiden's eye's were heavy with sleep, and the gentle rocking of the camel, as it sauntered over sand and rock, was almost soothing. After so many hours, sleepless days and long nights Kadin thought he was hallucination when he saw the peaked roof of the capitol city reaching up towards the cloudless sky.

    "It is called Palmira, but I have never had the pleasure of seeing it myself. Isn't it amazing?"

    Parmira is the Capitol city, and Kingdom, on the Southern continent. While the out skirts of the marvelous stone carved Palace of Palmira are home to a variety of traders, rouge nomads and cutthroats, the inner sanctum is where the 'desert elite' reside. Lords. noblemen and royalty alike. Kadin had never seen it with his own eye's and even in his sand washed state he was awestruck by the architecture alone.

    His eye's were glued to the palace, absorbed by the sheer magnitude, and only when the camel began to jerk it's head in annoyance did Kadin Realize they had came up along side a caravan of traders. Many were on horse back pulling carts. Some walked alongside carrying a wide variety of goods. Bringing up the rear of the caravan were wood woven cages, pulled by mules, with people inside. Slave traders, Kadin cringed. The lowest of the low these types were never a respectable bunch, only buying themselves respect. Kadin knew better than to make it obvious and take off in the other direction, so they came up along side the caravan.

    It didn't take long for a group of three riders to approach them. The man in the lead had a thick beard that hung down and tied off in sections, resting on his equally thick belly. He spoke.

    "A camel jockey?" He leered, the tell tale glow of too much alcohol on his face. "How much for your mount. Camel master?" Kadin only continued riding until the two men came on either side of him, the fat bearded one rode up face to face. Not even an arms length away. Kadin put his hand to the camels neck.

    "I said, how much for your mount? And I don't mean that hairy beast you ride." Kadin met the man's eyes and knew it was too late to flee.

    It happened quick, but Kadin was ready. The man went for his sword, but Kadin was quicker, pulling a small dagger from his right sleeve. The blade caught the sun as it flew out and came to rest just under the man's adams apple.

    The air grew silent and from his seat on the camel's back, Kadin could smell sweat and fear from the fat man who was now literally inches away from death. His two cpmpanions also froze and Kadin prayed that none were faithful to this man.
  20. Maahealani had been studying the grandure of the city. It was impressive, but it did not cause her awe. Her own people were known for many a splendors below the sands, more then a few the young jinni had seen for her self. Thus when the men approached she was aware, but she did not want to do or say anything. These were Kadin's people and he would know best how to deal with them.

    That belief lasted as long as the insulting offer of purchase was made. She thought that being swallowed up by the desert would be suitable, but she wasn't blood thirsty and doing so that they were just imprisoned, and their monts were not involved would take time. Time that ran out when the man tried to go for his sword. Thankfully Kadin was quick, but there were still two others.

    "You came here hoping for a kiss?" she asked, looking back and forth at the other men. She then reached out with both arms, snakes coiled around each. And not just any snakes but cobras with their hoods up, hissing. "They would give you one. Your very last." An impish grin upon her lips.
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