Gather, O sons and daughters of man, gather and hear my tale. It is a tale of caution, a tale of evil, a tale of fire.
There was a king, many years ago, whose kingdom was so vast that it stretched from sea to desert. He was a wise king, a kind king, loved by all of his people. But the king had a secret, as all kings do. He’d made a deal with the Smokeless Fire. He’d promised them children, one each year, to leave his people be and protect his kingdom from aggressors crossing the desert. They’d agreed on one condition: the forfeit of every female member of the king’s own bloodline should he fail to deliver payment in full.
For more than half a century, the children were delivered and the kingdom thrived and prospered. The people knew peace.
But the king was growing old and frail and it fell upon his son to ascend to the throne. The prince was outraged when his father told him of the deal with fire.
‘Father, our armies are the mightiest in the land. We do not need to deal with demons to protect us,’ the prince said. The king told him of the forfeit and made the prince swear to Allah that he would continue to honour the pact. The prince did so grudgingly.
The king soon assumed his place in paradise. The prince took his throne.
For many years, the prince obeyed his father’s orders and delivered the children to the Smokeless Fire. His guilt was heavy and he resolved to end this tithe.
The next year, the prince failed to surrender a child and, knowing they would take the women, positioned the best of his guards at their chambers with a single order: protect them or die.
The Children of Fire were furious, but they were also cunning. They knew that patience was all they required.
Three years passed without incident and the prince, confident that he’d outsmarted the Smokeless Fire, dismissed the guards.
They struck in the night and by morning every female within the palace had disappeared. No trace of them remained, no explanation could be found…nothing but the lingering scent of burning.
The prince raged. He rode out into the harsh desert intent on battle, intent on retrieving those who belonged to him. But his armies refused to follow. They all knew of the demons, knew of the fate that would befall them.
The Prince set out alone and that’s what drew them out. The want you to be alone.
Shadows circled above him.
‘They’re ours,’ they hissed. ‘Promised to us in forfeit.’
The prince drew his sword.
Their attack came fast.
Their fire burned through his veins. It consumed him from the inside and yet, it did not kill him. The fire reshaped him. The fire recruited him.
I tell you this tale by way of a lesson: Never venture into the desert alone and never, ever, take from the Ifrit.
I is for Ifrit
An ifrit is an enormous winged creature of fire from Arabian and Islamic folklore, who lives underground and frequents ruins. They are a classification of the infernal Djinn known for their strength and cunning.