The air was damp, and the sand was as hot as one needs to cook lamb.
Dragons as common as thieves took to the sky as they hunted camel and cattle. The summer desert sand swooped and lumped like the curves of a woman.
To oversee this land of opulent superfluity there lived a sultan. Petar is what his friends and family called him. He was eighteen years old and nearing his expiration. The men of his land lived no longer than thirty years. Illness was ever present, and wars with men and beasts kept lives short.
Ancient Bosnia was where Petar had dominion as sultan. He was unlike the other men of nobility. He was kind. He had a smile, kiss, and hug for everyone who may need it.
In his palace he dressed himself, though his man servant insisted that Petar allow him to help.
“If the day should come when I need aid dressing, it is when they wrap linen around my remains!”
Petar said with a sly and handsome grin to his man servant as he kissed him on the cheek and tossed him a pouch of spice for gratuity.
“I shall take a stroll in the bazaar and mingle with our people,” said Petar as he waved back at his man servant and covered his head with a turban and his face with a silk scarf.
Petar was a healthy height of five feet and ten inches, and his skin was tan and smooth. This contrasted sensationally with his emerald eyes and black hair, which hung across his nose, cheekbones, and the top of his back.
He snapped his fingers toward the guard standing at the entrance to his chambers. This was to signal to them to stay alert but not overbearing, as he preferred not to make a fuss when enjoying time with his people. The guard nodded in solute to Petar as he marched off to relay the instruction.
Petar grabbed about a dozen pouches of assorted spices from the palace kitchen and placed them in a linen sack and tied it to a wooden walking staff that we would carry over his right shoulder. His aim was to return home having given the lot away to those in need.
He then left the palace through the dungeon exit. This provided him a faster path to the center of town, and also avoided the publicity of leaving through the front door.
As he reached the town’s bazaar, Petar began to mingle. People were pleased to see him as men, children, and women alike came running up to him to embrace him. His smile could be seen by the God Helios as his chariot circled the sun.
In the gleaming sunlight reflected a glare from a nearby table. Petar noticed a new vendor selling the most ornate and beautiful hand-crafted clay bottles. He was quick to make the acquaintance of the brave entrepreneur.
“Good day my friend, I am Petar. How long have you journeyed to come to Bosnia?”
An elderly man stood at the table with pain in his eyes and struggle in his voice.
“Many eons Petar,” replied the old frail man who wore a black linen cloak.
The man looked at his arm and lifted back the sleeve. Out crawled a scorpion. Petar jumped over the table to aid the man, for a bite from this black-shelled beast was a death sentence.
“Someone send for my court physician please!” Shouted Petar to the crowd that gathered.
Having the love and respect of his people showed true in moments like this. Everyone who gathered at the bazaar ran towards the palace. In but a flashing flee, the bazaar was utterly vacant. The only people left were Petar and the bitten vendor.
“I wished to live forever, and for no weapon of man to wield power against me. Tricky son-of-a-bitch. The scorpion’s bite is not a weapon of man.” The elderly man muttered to himself as to recount an error in his life. The elderly man then looked into the eyes of Petar and spoke clearly.
“Be ever so diligent when you wish! Make your words impervious to speculation or interpretation! Be clear my boy!” The man then pointed to his table of bottles. The one that glared was completely different than the rest.
The bottle was a glossy deep blue glass with a golden base and melted golden inlay that poured a design around the bottle. The base was big, and round and the neck narrowed to a pouting lip that allowed fluid to easily pour out.
Petar was greatly confused as his glance at the bottle seemed to hold him in a trance.
Petar looked back to the dying man in his arms who took one last breath and stiffened as his eyes closed one last time.
The citizens all came rushing back to the bazaar with the court physician.
“Petar!” shouted the physician.
“Endrid! I fear it is too late; the scorpion’s bite worked instantly on this man!” replied Petar with bewilderment and tears in his eyes.
“Well, let us get the body back to my study chambers to prepare him for burial,” stated Endrid the physician as he signaled for someone to help gather the necessities for transporting the recently deceased.
As the crowd grew sad, Petar looked back at the glare from the beautiful bottle and could not help but place it in his linen sack.
Petar walked with haste back to his chambers in the palace.
His man servant greeted him with a surprised face.
“Master Petar, you return with your spices?” asked the man servant.
“Dear Adid, how many times must I ask you to call me Petar. There’s no need for the ‘master’ bit”.
Petar replied paying no notice to Adid’s inquiry.
“I do need fresh bed linens if you please dear Adid,” Petar concluded.
Adid bowed his head and scurried off to perform his chores and gather the fresh bed linens.
Petar waited for Adid to leave the room, and he placed his linen sack on the tabletop to his right. His chambers were a royal suite complete with a writing desk, eating table, a bathing tub, and large bed.
Petar then closed the curtains to his landscape windows. He rushed over to the table and reached into his linen sack to feel the smooth perfect glass of the beautiful bottle. He placed the bottle ever so gently on the table.
The feelings that the bottle elicited were of infatuation and nervousness. A trance washed over him with tingles and chills brushing every inch of him.
Petar shook and closed his eyes in euphoria. That’s when he heard a voice. A clear voice of a young man.
“The gilded decor upon this bottle is not flamboyant decoration. It represents the eternal prison of damnation. In slumber I have remained since the years before dragons. The last I knew of freedom, I tasted grapes, and plums as I played in the open sand. Spices from the town bazaar filled the air that played around my linen tent. Who could ever predict that my gift would forsake me?”
“Show yourself friend!” commanded Petar as he looked around and stood to his feet.
“What gifts forsake you? Invisibility?” Asked Petar as he struggled to grasp the events as reality.
“The gift of everlasting love and joy through granted wish. I have known a time before men, a time when love had no price and my gift would flourish. It was a time of great innocence. Never did I think that I would be destined for sentence. Yet, here I am with cold shackles upon my wrists ankles and neck.”
Then a cloud of sapphire blue smoke came billowing out of the bottle.
Petar then shouted out of fear and ran to his window to hide behind the curtain.
The cloud cleared and there stood a young man. His hair was as brown as cinnamon, and his face was adorned with nutmeg colored freckles across his cheeks and nose. His skin was a light tan, and his eyes were sapphire blue with golden flakes. His hair was long enough to hang in his eyes, but short in the back and the sides giving him an elven look. His frame was slender and tall. His linen shirt was a creamy tan and was frayed at his midriff exposing his abdomen. His pants flowed to his ankles and matched the shirt in hue. True to his words he wore a golden collar that matched his wrist and ankle cuffs.
“What manner of man are you?” said Petar utterly smitten with the fascinatingly beautiful young man.
“I am what my master wishes me to be,” replied the magical man.
“You are a servant?” insisted Petar.
“I am a slave,” spoke the beautiful creature as he sat down on the floor and looked sadly to his cuffs.
“We have no slaves in Bosnia,” spoke Petar with concern and curiosity.
“Was that your master who died only just?” Asked Petar scratching his head.
“He still is my master, only if he wishes me free would that change,” the sapphire-eyed being now contemplated his status and tears filled his eyes.
“Do you have a name sir?” asked Petar.
“No one has asked me that question in eons,” the young slave then darted his eyes around the room almost looking for his name.
“Do you remember your name?” Asked Petar as he sat beside the sad being.
“I do not, alas,” replied the creature as he broke down in tears.
Petar out of his kind instinct grabbed a shawl from the chair next to him and draped it around the shoulders of the crying magical being. Petar then placed his arm around the young man and urged him closer.
The sad magical creature could only collapse down onto Petar’s lap. Petar could only feel the need to protect and comfort his new acquaintance. Petar ran his fingers through the brown hair of the beautiful young man whose soul appeared broken.
“Then perhaps I can give you a name. I am Sultan here and I could help you find your true identity,” offered Petar.
Through his soft sobs the young man replied,
“Why do you show me kindness?”
“Well you have not seemed interested in hurting me, and I believe kindness and love is my special power too.”
The young man snapped up to a standing position, and Petar startled, stood too.
“You are Genie?” asked the nameless beautiful young man.
“Is that what you are?” replied Petar in disbelief and continued,
“No I am not, I am but a sultan who loves to be kind.”
“I did not know such a manner of man existed,” replied the freckled creature.
Petar chuckled to himself,
“I had no idea that genies were real.”
Petar then offered his new friend a chair. The genie sat and looked at his bottle in disgust and sadness.
“Safir!” shouted Petar with glee.
“Beg pardon?” replied the genie.
“The Bosnian word for the precious gem that matches your eyes, this is the name I shall give you. Do you like it?”
“I have had many names, and this one is my favorite.”
“Safir, please call me Petar,” said the sultan as he kissed his new friend on the cheek.
Safir then blushed and grew bashful and covered his mouth with his hand.
“Why did you kiss me?” asked Safir.
“I love to show my kindness to everyone who is also kind,” replied Petar as he placed one hand on Safir’s cheek gently.
Petar then walked over to his dresser and pulled out some clothes that had not yet been tailored to him and were too long in the sleeves and pants. As Safir was taller than he, Petar speculated that they may fit.
“Let’s draw you a bath and get you dressed in clean clothes; your shirt is ripped. It seems you have come along way without kindness showed to you.”
Petar then filled his tub with warm water, and placed drops of lavender and eucalyptus oils into the filling bath. A few sprigs of sage were always left by the tub on a table, and Petar lit them as the smoke serves to cleanse negative energy.
Safir undressed and covered himself bashfully. Out of respect Petar turned away to wait until Safir was in the tub.
“Do tell me about your life,” Petar requested to keep Safir feeling invited and safe.
“The life I have lived has required much of me. Most of all the requisite to shut out my dreams, forget my youth, and be in constant mercy at the behest of my master. This man gave me food, showed me the world, and made of my body what he desired. Though I thought this was purest love, a man of the same time I knew. It was not until you, my Bosnian stranger, smiled at me, that I began to feel that Master did not love me. I am reminded that he used me only to grant him one wish.”
“To live forever and not be slain by any weapon of man?” replied Petar recalling the dying words of the man in the bazaar.
“Indeed,” replied Safir.
Safir finished bathing and stood out of the water. Petar then watched in astonishment as the water trickled down the beautiful shapes, and perfect curves of the dashing Safir.
Petar than cleared his throat as for the first time in his memory, he became bashful. A feeling of anxiousness and giddiness grew in his belly and heart. In one glance, Petar knew he was in love.
Safir then smiled quite unexpectedly and reached for the towel by the end of the tub. He dried himself and stepped out.
Petar then with reddened cheeks handed Safir the folded clothes. Safir then placed a kiss on Petar’s cheek.
Petar out of a fit of passion then brought Safir against his body and kissed his lips.
Safir gasped at the suddenness but felt himself give into the kiss.
Petar then pulled away and wore an unshakable smile. Safir’s bright sapphire eyes were filled with excitement and joy. Safir then dressed and sat atop the sultan’s bed.
Petar sat next to him, his love-struck smile and kind eyes made but one wish. Though he needed not to speak, he chose to. He made a wish that no man ever before dared to make.
Petar took Safir by the hands. Safir sat and basked in the brilliance of the warmth of Petar’s love. Petar then spoke the forbidden words,
“Be free Genie, let your shackles fall, intelligence should live behind bars no more. I see who you are as a spirit of love, so fly away now with the wings of a dove. The weight of your gilded prison is such that you will likely weaken when relieved. Fall then, welcomed friend, onto my strengthen breast. Cry if you will, let my linen absorb your years of tears.”
Cried Safir did as he braced to inform the beautiful, selfless sultan.
“Friend, be thee stranger, my heart knows you from the spice bazaar a lifetime ago when Gods and Angles took the skies. Your wish is noble, though not my command. I am forever damned. Your hands I would take to the earth’s end, and across any sea. With a heart with the weight of gold, I can never be free. Say a prayer for me friend that upon my sentence end, I may return to you and thank you again and again.”
With his grief-filled words, Safir had to go. For his master would soon be reborn and thus necessitate the service of his genie. Safir looked back at the bottle.
Petar went to hold Safir’s face in his hands and to give him another kiss and insist that he stay.
However, Safir became a cloud of sapphire blue smoke, and returned to his bottle. Then in a blinding glare, the bottle vanished.
Petar then fell to his knees and cried.
Some say that the cries of the sultan can be heard in the Bosnian palace still. With a chill of a cold breeze all you can hear is,
“Safir, Safir, Safir!”