"Get back here!"
Abdul, the head guard of Lachsten, was having a particularly trying week. First the monkey infestation and now this street rat.
"You men, go that way!" Abdul sent half of the guard down the busy streets of the Lachsten marketplace. "The rest follow me!"
Abdul saw the swish of a brown cloak out of the corner of his eyes and motioned for his men to follow him. The figure was now climbing on top of vendors' carts, easily jumping from one to the next.
"Follow him!" Abdul cried as his men clumsily tried to follow this street rat's path causing more mess than good. Jewels and fish alike went flying back and forth as the guard tripped over carts.
"Pull yourself together men!" Abdul rubbed his temple. He was not paid enough to do his job. "Where are you street rat?"
Suddenly something landed into his hands.
"A cabbage?" Abdul frowned at this gift from the sky.
"Looking for me?"
Abdul slowly raised his head. The street rat stood on a mountain of precariously stacked cabbages, holding a cabbage in one hand.
"Get down here this instant!" Abdul barked.
"As you wish." The figure shrugged and rocketed off of the mountain.
One by one the cabbages fell. One by one Abdul struggled to catch the falling mountain of cabbage. With little grace or coordination, Abdul ended up holding the mountain of cabbage with his back.
"Sir! The street rat was not- AH!"
The rest of the guard came sliding and tripping down the street in fish and fruit juice combined towards Abdul.
Dripping in cabbage and fish, Abdul stumbled to his feet. He was going to catch that street rat if it was the last thing he did!
"That's gonna take a while to clean up."
The cloaked figure sat on the awning of a vendor's cart grinning, obviously pleased with his work.
"Street rat!" Abdul growled, snatching up the figure by the cloak causing the hood to fall back.
"It's actually Aladdin." The boy grinned cheekily. "And you are?"
"Boy, you're going straight to the dungeon." Abdul hoisted Aladdin up higher.
Abdul froze. He reached a hand to the back of his head only to find a good chunk of camel manure. This day was not getting better.
"Who did this!?" He roared turning around, but there was no one. "Back to you, you're going straight to the-"
Abdul turned back to Aladdin, but found he was only holding a brown cloak. The street rat had gotten away! Abdul turned back around and saw a figure dart into an alley.
He went barreling after it. The figure was standing at the dead end of the alley.
Abdul snatched up the figure by the cloak once more.
"I've got you now Aladdin!"
"It's actually Amira."
The hood fell back to reveal Aladdin...but not.
"What!?" Abdul's mouth dropped open.
"I think you're looking for me!"
Abdul turned to see Aladdin standing at the opening of the alleyway.
"That's impossible, I've got you right here!" Abdul turned back to the figure he was holding, only to be met with a face full of camel manure. He dropped the other Aladdin who went running towards the opening.
Abdul wiped the manure from his face and looked up to see, not one, but two Aladdins. He blinked, convinced he was going crazy.
"There's two of you!?" Abdul cried.
"At your service." They both bowed together.
"That's impossible..." Abdul spluttered.
"As much as we'd like to keep your manure faced company, we have better things to do." Amira smirked crossing her arms.
"But thanks for the bread!" Aladdin held up a loaf of bread, the true cause of this mess.
"Did you see that guy's face?" Aladdin laughed, running into another alleyway. He leaned against a wall, out of breath. He tossed the bread casually between his hands. "Priceless."
"Al, we're not here to cause mischief!" said Amira stumbling into the alley after him. She promptly snatched the bread from him.
"That's a lie if ever I heard one." Aladdin snatched it back.
"Well, you could've at least followed through with the plan." Amira leaned over trying to catch her breath.
"Since when do I follow plans, Amira?" Aladdin ruffled his sister's hair.
"We would've at least avoided causing the marketplace to run with fish juice and manure." Amira exhaled and plopped down on a crate.
"Well, who got us food?" Aladdin waved the bread in her face earning a smack in the face. Aladdin sat down next to Amira. "Cheer up, Amira." He broke the bread in half handing one slice to her.
"Sometimes I think I'm the mature one," Amira muttered.
"We were born at the same time, which makes you just as mature as I am." Aladdin pointed out.
"Cheers!" They clacked the two pieces of bread together before digging in.
"Get outta here old man!"
Aladdin and Amira looked up from their meal, hearing a scuffling outside of the alley. Amira got up cautiously and went to look around the corner. A couple of boys had pushed an old man to the ground.
"Not a bite for a hungry old man?" the old man pleaded from the ground.
"No money, no food! That's what my father says." One of the boys spit on the ground.
"Now get outta here before we call the guards," the other threatened.
"I think they're a bit busy." Amira stepped out of the alleyway, glaring at the two boys. She could tell that they were the sons of a wealthy merchant. She stooped down to help the old man up. "Why are you disrespecting your elders?" she demanded of the two.
"He's no elder of ours." The eldest of the two stuck his nose in the air. "He's a daft, blind fool. That's what he is!"
She saw the blindfold on his eyes and his cane realizing that the man was indeed blind. She helped the man steady himself.
"Take that back!" Amira shouted.
"Or what?" The younger of the two stepped forward puffing out his chest.
"C'mon Sabek, there's no use fighting with a street rat," The older of the two said putting a hand on his brother's shoulder. Sabek exhaled.
"Yeah, and a girl no less."
They both sniggered.
"What did you say?" Amira's head snapped up at this.
"I don't fight girls," said Sabek. "It's not fair to them."
"Who are you calling weak?" Amira stood up straight with a dangerous glint in her eye. "You're just scared I'd beat you. I can take both of you on right now."
"Pfft," the older brother scoffed. "I'd like to see that."
Amira lunged at the older brother only to be pulled back.
"Al, what are you doing?" Amira struggled against her brother's strong grip.
"Now's not the time to pick a fight with them," Aladdin said calmly before releasing Amira.
"Fine." Amira frowned,
"That's right, run to big brother little girl." The older brother laughed mockingly. "Worthless street rats."
In a flash, there was a fist followed by blood.
"Al, what happened to no fighting?" Amira stared blankly at the spot where the two brothers had been standing.
"That kid had it coming," Al said shaking out his hand.
There was a coughing behind them which reminded Amira of her original purpose for leaving the alley.
"Oh. I'm really sorry you had to see that." said Amira. She paused realizing what she just said. "Oh wait! That's not what I meant. Sometimes I say really stupid thin-"
The blind man laughed.
"It's quite alright young lady," the man said.
"You were hungry, right?" Amira asked. "You can have some of Al and my bread. It's not much, but it's enough."
Aladdin handed over his half of the bread to the blind man.
"That's very kind of you both." the blind man took the bread.
"My name is Amira," Amira introduced herself, "and this is my brother, Aladdin."
"I am Phasir," the blind man said. "I thank you both for your kindness, but I do not truly need your bread."
Phasir smiled and placed the bread back into Aladdin's hands.
"We don't have any money to give you," said Aladdin.
"Who said anything about money?" Phasir asked. "Just because I dress simply, I am a beggar?" he chuckled. "Looks can be deceiving."
He then placed a hand on Amira and Aladdin's arms.
"I must depart now. I wish you both luck. We will see each other again." With a final nod, he went walking off.
"What just happened?" Aladdin asked, confused.
"No idea." Amira shrugged.
They retreated to their alleyway where what little belongings they had were tied up in a blanket.
"So, how much longer?" Amira asked, taking a bite out of her bread.
"Agrabah is a couple days from here still." said Aladdin thoughtfully.
"What if it's not there?" Amira asked quietly.
"It's gotta be there, Amira," Aladdin said confidently. He patted her back gently. "Besides, Mom's last wish was for us to get it. We have to go."
"I don't understand where she got it though," said Amira pensively. "If it was there all the time, why couldn't we get it earlier? We were starving, Al."
"She said she was saving part of it for your dowry. You heard her," Aladdin said softly.
"I don't need a dowry. I'm not going to marry any time soon," Amira frowned. "Mom would've lived longer if we had it then. We could've paid for the doctor and food and medicine."
"I know." Aladdin's sighed. "But Mom wouldn't want us dwelling on what could've been. She saved it for our well being." Aladdin pointed out. "Besides, think of what we could do with that fortune!"
"We'd have food whenever we wanted," Amira said started to smile.
"We'd get a palace." Aladdin laughed standing up.
"We'd get a thousand servants too." Amira added.
"Imagine, not having to do anything!" Aladdin grinned.
"We'd get away from here," Amira said happily.
"We wouldn't be the street rats anymore," said Aladdin wistfully.
The twins laughed, embracing each other. They had lost so much already: money, home, their father, and their mother. Yet, they still had each other as family and that was good enough.
"Are you sure we can go? The vendors are all talking about a sandstorm."
Aladdin and Amira stood at the exit of Lachsten. The marketplace was unusually quiet that day.
"It looks fine, Amira." Aladdin shrugged. "Besides, if we start walking today we'll be in the next city by sun down."
"Alright." Amira bit her lip, not liking the twisting feeling in her gut.
With their possessions on their backs, Aladdin and Amira set out into the unforgiving desert.
The beginning of their journey was a pleasant one. The wind was barely noticeable and rather pleasant against the heat of the sun.
"What do you suppose Agrabah's like?" Amira asked.
"Well, Mom always told us those stories about it," Aladdin said as they walked. "That's where she and Dad met. She always said there was something magical about that city."
"D'you think it's as wonderful as it seems? I heard the poverty there was few and far between. The justice system is supposed to be actually just! What an idea!" Amira laughed bitterly.
"It is the Great White City." Aladdin smiled before suddenly stumbling backwards.
"Al!" Amira ran back to her brother. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm not sure what that was..." Aladdin shook his head.
As soon as he spoke, realization dawned upon him. He watched as the sand began rising from the ground, creating patterns in the ground.
"Al?" Amira grabbed on to his arm, feeling the wind pick up even more. She squinted against the harshness of the wind.
Aladdin got up unsteadily, but was immediately knocked down by the wind.
"Al!" Amira scrambled to grab hold of Aladdin's arm again. The wind was getting stronger every second. It wasn't the wind that concerned Aladdin, but the massive fortress of sand that was building up in the distance.
"Amira, we need to get out of here!" Aladdin got up, grabbing Amira's hand.
"We're in the middle of a desert, Al!" Amira yelled over the road of the wind. "There's nowhere to go!"
Aladdin continued to drag Amira through the wind. Aladdin shielded his eyes, unsure of what direction they were going. The sand was everywhere. It was inescapable, surrounding them on every side and blocking out the sun. Aladdin held tightly to his sister's hand which was the only reassurance that she was still there.
Determined, Aladdin dragged his feet through the sand trying to find stable ground. However, that was impossible as the ground kept shifting and flying about them. A gust a wind knocked Aladdin right off his feet, sending him sprawling.
"Amira?" Aladdin stretched his arm out blindly, searching for his sister. "Amira!"
The wind was now howling with such ferocity that it was all that could be heard. Amira cried out for her brother as soon as she felt the absence of his hand. She crawled forward trying to find him, but fell into the sand.
Amira curled into herself trying to shield herself. She buried her head in her arms, the sand whipping her skin unmercifully.
All she could do now was wait for the end.