THIRTY-THREE -- [The Amir pursues ‘Ifrit into the tilism, and has strange adventures there.]

The Amir had only advanced a little way when a voice came from the sky, “Oh Sahib-qiran, don’t go any further, don’t by any means take even a step--wait until I come, have this much patience!”  The Amir stopped, and saw that it was the virtuous *Salasil Parizad.  Salasil Parizad saluted the Amir, gave him an emerald tablet with the Names of God written on it, and said, “’Abdur Rahman sends you this tablet and says, ‘Do nothing without looking at this tablet.  Otherwise you will come to great harm and endure much hardship.’”  Salasil Parizad, having given him the tablet, took his leave, and went back to where he had came from.

When the Amir looked at the tablet, after “In the name of God” he found this written:  “Oh breaker of the tilism, God the Most Honorable and Glorious showed you much grace when this tablet came into your hands:  you won the key to triumph and victory.  Read the Name written on its margin, then blow toward the sky, and this darkness will be removed; all the blackness will be hidden, and the road will be full of light.”  The Sahib-qiran read that Name and blew toward the sky; the darkness completely disappeared.  The Amir humbly thanked God and, taking the tablet with him, set out ahead.

When he reached the vicinity of the fort, he saw that a serpent was sitting with its lower jaw on the earth and its upper jaw on the door-lintel, as though it had swallowed the gate of the fort.  The Amir, astonished, was regarding it, when suddenly the serpent called out, “Oh breaker of the tilism, enter my mouth, don’t feel the least fear or doubt!”  The Sahib-qiran looked at the tablet.  On it was written, “Breathe this #Name over yourself without fear, and leap into its mouth.  Don’t be at all afraid of this serpent--it’s only a trick to frighten you, it’s not a real serpent or a malevolent power.”  The Sahib-qiran had no sooner leaped into its mouth than a loud clamor was heard; utter turmoil and confusion broke out, as though Doomsday had come.

After a time, the Amir opened his eyes.  Neither serpent nor fort was to be seen, but a garden in full bloom, the envy of the gardens of Paradise.  In it the flowers of all the seasons bloomed at once, the flowering trees were ranged around with perfect elegance and grace; out-of-season fruit hung from the trees, every tree was loaded with fruit.  Birds made of jewels sat singing on the trees, creating a marvelous air with their sweet voices.  The Amir sat down beside a water-channel and began to look around.

Suddenly from the garden’s pavilion a sad voice could be heard, but no face was to be seen:  “Alas, there’s no servant of the Lord here who will free me from the bonds of misery, and find his fair reward before the Lord’s throne!”   The Amir, hearing this voice, entered the pavilion, and saw a charming girl, very young and most beautiful, sitting bound to a couch.  On her wrists and ankles were iron chains instead of jewelry, and in this harsh bondage she was utterly sad and downcast.

The Amir took pity on her condition; seeing her sweet face, he felt very sorry.  With the greatest compassion he asked her, “Oh fair one, who are you, and who has imprisoned you here?”  She replied, “First please inform me of your name and origin, and tell me about yourself--who you are and where you come from and how you have entered this tilism.”  The Amir said, “I am the Earthquake of Qaf, the Younger Solomon, the *World-conqueror, the Sahib-qiran, the destroyer of the treacherous ‘Ifrit; a servant of God, a member of the community of the chosen Prophet, a worshiper of truth, a follower of the right path.”

She said, “I am *Sosan Pari, daughter of Salim Kohi; how can I tell you of my wretched condition?  ‘Ifrit fell in love with me, and asked my father for me in marriage.  When he refused, ‘Ifrit brought his army and attacked.  When my father couldn’t withstand him in battle, he came and told me of his defeat.  I said, ‘Marry me to him, and don’t worry or delay.  I’ll catch him unawares and bind him, I’ll fool him completely.  Then you can send him to King Shahpal; King Shahpal will be very pleased with you.  He’ll be delighted at the subjugation of his enemy--he will surely exalt you more highly, he will give you some great estate.’

“Then my father married me to ‘Ifrit.  When ‘Ifrit drank too much wine, the wine acted like a knockout drug: he lost his senses, the intoxicating effects of the wine made him drunk and unconscious.  I at once bound his hands and feet, to imprison him and send him to Shahpal, in order to please the king with this service.  Someone told his mother Mal’unah the Magician about this.  She came and released him from bondage, confined me here, and went away.  Since then I’ve been imprisoned here.  This life is worse than death; I’d a thousand times rather die than live like this!  Now if you will release me from this bondage, and rescue me from this trouble, I’ll lead you easily to ‘Ifrit, and bless you all my life.”

The Sahib-qiran granted her release from captivity; it was as though he had bestowed on her a new life.  She took the Sahib-qiran with her into another garden, and showed him ‘Ifrit’s house, and told him all about where he was to be found.  The Sahib-qiran saw that there were twelve hundred Devs with weapons at the ready, alert to protect him.  Suddenly Sosan Pari threw herself to the ground before the Amir, recited a Name, and rose up into the sky.  She ignored such great kindness on the Amir’s part, and showed herself unfaithful.  When she had flown very high, she called out loudly to those Devs, “Oh Devs, don’t just sit there!  The destroyer of ‘Ifrit and the ruiner of tilisms stands before you--kill him however you can!”

The Sahib-qiran very much regretted having released her, he was anxious and stupefied at her faithlessness.  The Devs surrounded the Amir from all sides and prepared to attack, they drew their weapons to kill him.  The Amir, drawing the Scorpion of Solomon from its scabbard, cut every Dev who attacked in two, and sent him to Hell.  But all the drops of blood that fell from his body turned into Devs!  The Amir’s arm and hand grew weak from striking and striking; from dealing so many blows his strength was completely exhausted.

Then he remembered the tablet, and fixed his eyes on its words.  When he looked, he saw written, “Oh breaker of the tilism, don’t release Sosan the Magician from captivity, don’t fall into her trap!  She’s a great deceiver, she will trick and betray you.  And if it happens that you make a mistake and she escapes, then when she flies up as high as the stars and the Devs begin to attack you, breathe this Name over the tip of an arrow and shoot it at her, so that she’ll disappear and be seen no more.”  The Amir acted on the tablet’s order.  Instantly a tumult and confusion broke out:  “Beware, let him not escape!  The destroyer of ‘Ifrit has entered the tilism, let him be struck down quickly!”

After this tumult and confusion, when the Amir looked around, there was no Sosan Pari and no Devs, no noise and no turmoil.  From over the garden wall, Parizads’ voices could be heard, and voices like those of Qaf-dwellers.  The Amir went over that way and looked.  There was a beautifully arranged garden; in its pavilion a beautiful young girl, fairer than the full moon, was imprisoned, and near her was seated a venerable man who looked like a king of Qaf, with his head bowed in extreme sorrow.  And nearby were four hundred Jinns and Parizads with their feet in chains, all wrongfully imprisoned.

Seeing the Sahib-qiran, that fair one said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, for the Lord’s sake free us from this captivity; the Lord will reward you richly!”  The Sahib-qiran suspected that this might be a case like the former one:  that this girl too might be treacherous and deceive him.  It’s truly said, ‘Someone scalded by hot milk blows on buttermilk too before drinking it.’  Drawing his sword, the Sahib-qiran ran at her to kill her, so she’d have no chance to escape.  The old man said with tears and lamentations, “My friend, why do you kill us who are already half-dead?  Fear the Lord, and have pity on our wretchedness!  First listen to our story, then do as you will--kill us or deliver us!

“My name is *Junaid Shah the Green-robed, I am Shahpal’s older brother.  This is my daughter; *Raihan Pari is her name.  We are all Qaf-dwellers.  When ‘Ifrit defeated Shahpal, he required me, ‘Give me your daughter in marriage, and become my vassal, and fear my wrath.’  When I didn’t agree, he defeated me and imprisoned me here with Raihan Pari and four hundred companions, and assigned us this garden to live in.  Now it’s up to you--kill us or spare us, do whatever you wish.”  The Sahib-qiran looked at the tablet, and found that it confirmed his words.

Then the Amir took pity on his plight.  He at once released them all from bondage, and said to them, “After giving my greetings to Shahpal, tell him, ‘I have suffered very much on this journey, and endured great shocks.  Now by God’s grace I’ve come this far; if God wills I’ll succeed in killing ‘Ifrit also, and will have the honor of returning to serve you.  Please pray for victory for me, and don’t let worry and anxiety afflict your heart.’”  It is written that as soon as Junaid the Green-robed, overwhelmed with joy at his release, took leave of the Amir, the Amir set out onwards from there.

He saw a grand mansion, most elegantly adorned.  Its courtyard seemed to be full of water; this surprised the Amir.  Then he saw that an opened chest sat in the midst of the courtyard.  The Amir extended a foot, to see how deep the water was.  That step showed him that it was not water, but a floor of amazingly pure crystal clearer and brighter than water.  The Amir said to himself, “I ought to look at this box and see what’s in it; it must surely contain some marvels of magic and tilism!”  The moment he bent down to look at the box, a Dev who had been lying on his back inside it wrapped both arms around the Amir’s neck and clung to him; he clasped him with great force.

The Amir grasped the edge of the chest with one hand and, collecting his strength, used the other hand to bring the tablet before his eyes.  He saw written on it, “Traveler in the tilism, beware, beware--don’t go near that box, save yourself from such a calamity!  If you do go near it, you’ll never escape from this tilism as long as you live, you’ll die and stay inside it!  On that Dev’s breast is a single hair like a stinking piece of rope.  It is not a rope, but a snare.  A tablet is tied to it.  Pull out the tablet and the hair together from his breast, to save yourself from that Dev’s attack and to achieve your purpose.  Then breathe the Great Name of God over the first tablet and hit him on the head with it.  You will see the wonderful power of the Lord, and by the Lord’s grace and favor will be freed of all disasters.”

The Amir pulled the tablet, together with the hair, out of the Dev’s breast, and gave thanks to the Lord when the hair broke.  Then he read the Great Name of God over the first tablet, and hit the Dev over the head with it.  At once the Dev went off to Hell.  At the touch of the tablet a whirling flame came out of his head; the chest began to burn fiercely, a blazing fire arose from it.  Voices called out, “Seize him, kill him!” with a tumult and commotion that rose to the skies and reached as far as the mountains:  “Be careful, don’t let the destroyer of Zarraq/1/ the Magician escape!  Let him be killed quickly in any way possible!”

When the tumult and commotion ceased, the Amir saw neither crystal floor nor Dev nor palace--only a desolate plain.  In the plain was a pool brimful of blood, and in the middle of the pool stood a wheel.  The blood flowed through the wheel and into a well.  But he could not get a clear impression of what kind of marvel it was, or what sort of magic.  The Amir, seeing it, was astonished, and went on.

After going a little way, he saw a garden, and there too he found a new marvel.  A boy stood at the gate as though he were firmly guarding it.  The Amir asked him a number of times, “Who are you?  Inform me of your identity, and tell me about yourself.”  The boy gave the Amir no answer, and absolutely didn’t speak to the Amir at all.  When the Amir entered the garden, the boy called out, “Oh Devs, be on the alert, the breaker of the tilism has entered the garden, all your magic is now nullified!”  The Amir, turning, struck one blow with his sword that sent the boy’s head flying fifty paces away like a scythed corn-ear.  But as the Amir went on, what sight did he see but the boy’s head leaping up and rejoining his body!  The boy rose up living, as though he had drunk the Water of Life.

The Amir, stupefied, looked at the tablet, and saw written there, “Oh breaker of the tilism, don’t by any means kill the Magic Gatekeeper, for he won’t die till Doomsday, no blow will affect him.  If you breathe this Name of God over the tip of an arrow and shoot him in the breast, then he’ll surely die from the effects of the Name, and will not come back to life.  And you deserve congratulations, for you have reached ‘Ifrit, and arrived near his house!”

When the Amir breathed the Great Name of God on an arrowhead and shot it into the boy’s breast, a dense black whirlwind came, darkness spread over the whole world.  Thunder and lightning began striking all around, bolts of lightning began falling everywhere.  There was even more tumult and confusion than there was thunder--birds and beasts began to lose their senses.  The Amir covered his eyes with the tablet and sat still, for fear that some shock would affect his eyes and his vision would be quite lost.

After the tumult and confusion subsided and the whirlwind vanished, he saw that there were poppies blossoming for miles around; wherever he looked were fields of roses and sweet basil in full flower.  And marigolds were blooming, in large beds so elegantly designed and beautifully decorated as to be beyond description; the tongue is incapable of sufficiently praising them.  In the gardens some Parizads with well-tuned instruments were singing and playing, enjoying each other’s company in thousands of ways.

When the Amir approached the garden-house and the Parizads saw him, one Parizad girl came running with a cup of wine:  “Oh Sahib-qiran, you are thoroughly tired out.  Here, drink this, it will take away your weariness and enliven your spirits.  Then sit and listen for a few hours to our singing and playing--it will comfort your heart, and remove all the fatigue of the journey, and put you entirely at your ease.”

The Amir, having looked at the tablet, took the cup of wine from her hand, recited the Great Name over it, and poured it over her head.  He did exactly what the tablet said to do.  At once a tongue of flame emerged from her body, and in barely an instant she burned to death; her whole body and all her bones melted in a moment like wax.  A tumult and confusion arose:  “The breaker of the tilism has killed Asrar/2/ the Magician too, and scattered all her companions!”

/1/ Zarraq [zarraaq] means “deceiver.”
/2/ Asrar [asraar] means “secrets.”

== on to Chapter 34 ==

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