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 Title: A Book Behind a Door
Author: Tyrror
Universe: Aladdin!Verse
Pairing: Damian Wayne/Colin Wilkes
Rating: Eventual PG-13
Summary: Every story has a beginning, and this is no exception. It just so happens that this story begins with a story, one that is hidden in a book, in a language unreadable, behind a certain door.

The door to the Magic Lamp Emporium of Oddities swung open as silently as it was always want to do. An inch thick slab of oak and bronze moving through the dark, a dusty breeze in the cool London air, and the faint reaction of a small tin bell where it hovered precariously on a bronze catch the only signs that it had ever been moved. Moving inward, the space is old and filled with the musty scent of aged wood, exotic spices, and the telltale aroma that only comes from dusty tomes or aged texts. The room is dark, more so than normal for a shop on such a dim street so late on an autumn evening, but more pressing matters await you, though you do not know what quite yet.

“Ah! Hello and good evening my friend.”

The words, like the room, are old and carry the air of secrets. Soft yet startling. Aged yet nimble. a series of counter arguments that may never see a solution, like a light somehow wrapped in darkness.

“Is there something I can help you find?”

An elderly man steps with the practiced grace of decades from behind what appears to be an ancient dressing table, oval mirror taller than the average woman perched precariously atop it between two massive, wooden arms in the shape of claws. He gently wipes the object with a cleaning cloth you had failed to notice him carrying and gives you a kind smile that speaks of patience to the quiet room.

His hair is trimmed short, which is only logical considering how it is almost gone as it is. Gray and thin, only a small half moon to cup the back of his aged head. Somewhat formal garb, pressed and creased to perfection composes the rest of his look; white, button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbows, a simple black vest with matching slacks, and a loosened black bowtie revealing that his top button has been undone.

“Or perhaps you have come seeking something you did not know you needed?”

Walking as if there were nothing but air beneath his feet, the man whose name you’ve forgotten to ask makes his way behind a small and almost unnoticeable counter which holds an old-fashioned cash register made of steel and bronze, a single copper doorman’s bell, and a tattered book the title of which appears to have been stitched into its leather cover with golden thread in a language you’ve never seen before.

You don’t know when you reached for it, your hand gliding smoothly across the deep green of its cover, but the shock of cool is enough to alert you that you’ve done so. The elderly man smiles as you examine it, content it would seem to let you explore before he speaks again.

The leather is warped in several places, frayed along the edges and turned up at the corners. Deep green in color and mottled with the passing of time, but the golden threads still shimmer in the light in a way that does not entirely make sense.

“I see you have an eye for the exceptionally rare.” He finally speaks up, his voice tinted with amusement at the thought. “It is a sparse few who notice what I keep hidden in plain sight.”

Gently pulling the text from beneath your fingers, the man brushes the cover carefully with hands almost as worn as the leather before he folds the pages back to reveal pale, faded ink on browning pages. Symbols and letters you cannot read flow from line to line in a direction you can’t fully surmise and you find yourself glancing up at him as he speaks again.

“I am told it is one of a kind, made even more unique by the fact that the language it is written in is all but lost to time. However, it has been read, and I know the story as it was told to me...”

He pauses, his fingers tracing what appears to be a triangle on a stick that has been inserted into a rather large apple...or maybe it’s a very strange arrow.

“Would you like to hear it?”

Without truly waiting for your reply, he bends to retrieve something from beneath the counter, emerging moments later with an elegant teapot and a bronze stand upon which it sits. Carefully placing a small candle beneath the device, he lights the wick and fills the pot from a nearby carafe, replacing it where it might come to a boil.

“Please,” he motions with one hand at the awkward variety of furniture and whatnot scattered about the room, “Have a seat. The tale is long but, I assure you, a fine one to hear.”

“It starts long ago, in a faraway land, where city and culture were built from sand and stone beneath an unbearable sun. There, it would seem, lived a woman as unbearable as the sun, the Sultan’s mistress who had yet to become his wife for he had long ago travelled to a distant land but had yet to return. With her was her father, who cared only for power and glory, and her only child, a boy on the cusp of manhood caught between the right he could feel in his heart and the wrong his family so willingly taught.”

“But that,” he continued as the tea kettle began to whistle on its perch, “is not where this story begins for that story is too easily told. This story begins not too very far from that palace, in the streets of a desert city, with a child who no one looked twice at lest it was to curse at him while he did them no harm. This story begins with a rarity no one ever bothers to seek...”

“A diamond in the rough...”


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December 2012

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