Sunday, January 22nd, 2023
Shuruq, Daabab 4th, 412
Fuaad Yazahlii was old. He was one of the oldest people he knew, at 78, and even he had never seen the Qalb Alriimal Maktaba open. Nobody he knew had. While the building had once been a tremendous library, the heart of knowledge of the First Divine Republic, its glory had faded; Golden Oil had made it an administrative center and closed it off to the public, it being the only building big enough in the area to serve as such. It was in Hasa, the city of stone, so called because of the palace carved out of the face of the mountain centuries before, and the capital of Suleiman’s domain. But while some good had been done by the Mirhaimians, like the airport that now connected Hasa to the outside world without a long camel ride (or an ATV, if you were lucky enough to afford one), much of its splendor had been lost during the occupation - the vibrant colors muted, the sandstone parapets crumbling, the sounds of the children in the street silenced.
Like I said, Fuaad was old, and even still when he was growing up he was taught nothing about his culture or religion - what he knew was told to him by his grandfather in hushed whispers at the dead of night. While in school he learned algebra and “history,” his night lessons took him on adventures through our world and others. They taught him about the desert, about change, and about kindness. He took much more away from the legends of Suleiman and the myths of Mohamed than he ever did from school. So when he was 23 and a limping stranger knocked on his door with a bullet wound in their shoulder and a broken leg, he didn’t ask questions. He simply helped. Like all people do, without realizing it, his action affected real change, in his life and others.
The stranger’s name was Dua Isaawi, the leader of the main resistance group in Mukarras called Tawaabah, which fought against Golden Oil using a mixture of violent and nonviolent subversion. They were also not somebody WEGEC liked civilians to know about, although hope was a hard thing to suppress after nearly 50 years. But still, Yazahlii had never even considered fighting back, actually doing something. Dua gave him a card when she left, with only one thing on it; a set of coordinates. He had thought over it for a day, but he knew in his heart that following the Three Tenets as he tried to do asked him to enact change, and on the day after he went to the coordinates.
After making contact for the first time, Yazahlii became something of a smuggler; he was well respected within the community and could move while being seen, an even more beneficial trait than moving unseen. He picked up guns, medical supplies, and rations from dead drops at the airport - the irony of it didn’t elude him - and would deliver them in the middle of the night. And yet his adventures during this time are best left for another day. Let it suffice to say that he was a faithful and useful member of Tawaabah. And when Yufraan Faruuk’s revolution succeeded, Yazahlii was the first one to the old palace to celebrate as Golden Oil’s security was recalled from Hasa, an end he had worked his whole life for yet never thought he’d see.
Even more surprising was when he was approached by Anahid Terzian, the leader of the Amanshii herself, to become the Sahiikma of the Qalb Alriimal Maktaba. While certainly he had devoted himself to his spirituality, nothing had made him seem qualified for being the Sahiikma of the most important library-church in Aldaar. When he asked Terzian, she only said,
“These people do not know who they are. They need a true storyteller to remind them.” And so he, at the age of 78, would soon take on the same role that his own grandfather had taken - that of a protector, a guide, a teacher, dedicated to preserving the culture of the wastes. He would lead others in the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment just as he himself had been led. And while it had taken some time to reopen Qalb Alriimal, the Heart of the Sands, he would lead his first congregation in only 4 days.
Fuaad Yazahlii is old, one of the oldest people he knows. As his mind races across his past, his present and his future, his body sits silent and weary. He is at the same rough-hewn wooden table he has known his entire life, a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit in front of him. The bright light of the morning sun streams in through his window perfectly capturing the dust in the air. He thinks about everything he has done in his life - sitting up in bed at night as a child, watching the stars and listening to his grandfather. Running guns and medicine at twilight, desperate to make a change. Every birth, every death, every friend lost and gained, all would lead up to this week. Yazahlii gently lifts his tea to his mouth with a shaky hand and takes a sip.
“I suppose I should get to preparing, then,” he says, as he pulls out a notepad and begins to put his wisom to paper.