After the Battle
I was back in the minaret. Jaffar's ashes dusted the marble floor, and everything was silent. Carefully I swept up the ashes, being sure to get every one, and placed them in a small jar I found in one of the rooms. Then I climbed down and made my way to the palace.
Now, I had not known how faffar had used my identity to work so much evil, but the looks of fear and hatred the guards at the palace showed me were enough to let me guess that all had not been well in my absence. At least they did not attack.
I found the Princess, just arising from her bed. She was weak and pale, and shrank from me when I first appeared.
"It is I, Beloved. Your true Prince," told her.
She stared, suspiciously, then sat again at the edge of the mattress, clearly too debilitated by her illness to stand for long. Then she buried her face in her hands and began a great sobbing. I felt the tears well up in my eyes, too, Hamza. I'm not ashamed to say it.
I knew Jaffar could impersonate my looks, but never the power of my love for the Princess. She knew it, too, and did not resist when I put my arms around her and held her for the most precious moment of my life. Jaffar was dead and I was back where I belonged.
Suddenly I began to laugh, almost uncontrollably. I had faced death so many times, doubting whether I would ever be able to return to my Princess. And now, here I was. I swept her up in my arms and her sobbing stopped. Her eyes were wide with surprise as I laughed and held her to me. Finally, she smiled. Then she, too, began to laugh. And we rolled hysterically upon the bed, laughing until we were both exhausted. Then we slept.
"And that is my story, Hamza. I call it 'Into the Dark and Back'."
"It is a marvelous story, my Prince, but if you would accept a humble servant's suggestion?"
"Of course. Hamza. Tell me."
"I would suggest a more... compelling title for your story. I should like to call it 'The Shadow and the Flame'."
"You know, Hamza, in your way, you are a prince as well. 'The Shadow and the Flame' it shall be. Make it so, Hamza. Make it so."