The angel was some distance ahead on the road, as Belle and Shafiq rode, the horses trotting briskly for some reason not announced to their riders. The gait of the angel was long and quick, then suddenly he stopped and waited by a cliff edge on the side of the road, looking intently into the valley below. Numair was in the lead and with Maysa' came to the side of the angel and stood. Maysa' inquired, "sir what is it that you see with such interest?" The angel, Abdul-Alim said, "Good horse, below is the village of Sippar. We will rest there tonight and ask the gatekeeper for news of the East, the Daughters of Astarte, and even if there is any word of stirrings beyond that." Belle said to Maysa', "good question my good friend, I am particularly interested in the answer we will receive when we inquire therein." Abdul turned to Shafiq and said, "Prince we must make time and be there before nightfall." Shafiq nodded and said, "of course Abdul." They proceeded in quick pace and wound down the trail to the village below. After about an hour, they were at the gate at evening's twilight. Abdul walked to the gate and taking the wooden clapper there, rang the hardwood that hung there for announcing visitors. The gatekeeper emerged from his hut and bowed looking keenly at them and spoke, "who may I announce has come and for what purpose?" Abdul spoke, "say to your master that Prince Shafiq of Rapiqum and Princess Belle of Mari have come seeking shelter for the night and word of the East." "Ah my good sir," quickly replied the gatekeeper, "my cousin Kadeen of Rapiqum has sent a pigeon with word of this. Come in, come in and welcome!"
The gatekeeper led them to an Inn and sent word along the way to the Village Master that they had arrived.
Later, the horses in their stalls, Belle and Shafiq were reclining in their quarters for the night when the Village Master entered and and bowed and welcomed them. Shafiq said, "thank you good sir and we seek any knowledge you have of the East, especially the Daughters of Astarte and even beyond. It has been some time since I journeyed far to the East." The Village Master, his name was Mundhir and a cautious man he was indeed, said to them, "I have received word that Ra'idah and the Daughters of Astarte march from Susa to meet the Princess and you Prince Shafiq. Further, they have sent word that Aêšmi and Ha’dad, the demon half brother and sister, spawn of Asmodeus are gathering the armies of hell to battle. When Ra'idah and her Warriors arrive here, it will be safe for you to proceed." Abdul then spoke, "good master Mundhir, time is short and we need to take the Princess to see her people in these lands bordering the East. After that and the arrival of Ra'idah I shall take leave of all of you here and see for myself where Asmodeus' hordes are." Mundhir said, "good angel, for Kadeen has spoken to me of you sir, any service I can be, I will do." He then took his leave drawing the curtain as he left. Abdul bid the Princess and Prince good night as they prepared to retire each to their quarters to sleep. The angel went outside to stand watch. Belle looked at Shafiq for a moment of silence and then said, "dear Shafiq, I would speak to you more about my heart and yours." Shafiq replied gentle and soft, "my heart is yours my Princess, I am your willing servant in every way. For it is you that I have always loved and always will. When the time comes, marry me Belle and together as husband and wife shall we rule the lands rejoined." Belle looked steadily and long at him, her hands clasped before her, and then she said clear and soft, "Shafiq my love, it is you I have always waited for and it is you I shall give myself to when that time comes. Yes beloved, I betroth myself to you and with joy and gladness I give my heart to you, forever." They retired to their beds bidding one another the sweetest of nights and God's blessing upon their dreams and rest.
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