The Waters of Eternity

Desert of Souls

Howard Andrew Jones

Thomas Dunne Books


In Bygone Days

When I was a young man, I took pride in relating my adventures in great part because I enjoyed bringing wonder and delight to my listeners. Only someone who has held an audience spellbound with naught but words can truly understand the satisfaction. As I aged, though, another purpose grew. When I told these stories, Dabir and I stood vividly before my listeners as we were in the prime of our lives. It came to me that I would not always be here to tell these tales, and I feared that with my death Dabir and the others would be well and truly gone. I knew then it was time at last to commit these stories to paper, as had long ago been foretold.

In bygone days a sword was always at my hip, and at my side was my friend and brother in all but blood, Dabir Hashim ibn Khalil. May you be as fortunate as I to have so loyal a companion, though it be unlikely. Some of you may be familiar with our longer and more famous exploits, but we were not always racing to the world's far corners to save the caliphate. Sometimes we solved smaller problems closer to home, though they were no less challenging in their way. I have recorded a number of them here.

No one who knew Dabir could fail to notice his intellect, but to my mind it was his judgment and compassion that made him great; few understood this, for he never promoted his own accomplishments. Aye, it is true he made mistakes, but he always sought the truth, and the caliphate retains its current shape today due in no small part to his skills, risks, and sacrifices.

For all that I celebrate our adventures it is the pleasure of Dabir's company I miss the most; watching him ponder a move on the checkered shatranj board on a rainy afternoon, sharing a simple meal in some dingy caravaserai, hearing his laughter at a jest from his wife. I would give much to experience any of these simple moments once more.

But now is not the time to dwell on the end that Allah wills all men, but to remember when Dabir and I worked in service to the great caliph Harun al-Rashid, may peace be his, and strove to be worthy of the honors he had given us. May it be that you take pleasure from my recollections.

THE WATERS OF ETERNITY. Copyright 2011 by Howard Andrew Jones.