A tale of Dominia
as told by Farouk ab Illah
I chose this story for inclusion in the encyclopedia because its style is distinctive to the legends of Rabiah. It is also an interesting tale of the creation (or re-creation, if you will) of two important peoples/beings: the Serendib efreets and the desert nomads.
Blessed are we who live in Rabiah, which is but one of infinite Rabiahs, for our gods smile upon us and grant us bounty of which other people can but dream. In this time of bounty it is difficult to believe that such a land could ever be endangered, yet there once existed on this very sand a Serendib efreet whose heart was so cold and jealous he could not stand the thought of other beings sharing the same earth as he. This efreet fumed for years, vowing to the winds that one day none but he would walk Rabiah's endless lands, and while he muttered to himself he searched for a way to make his vow complete.
One day, a foreign planeswalker called upon the efreet to aid him in battle. The efreet performed heroically, and when the battle was done the planeswalker agreed to grant the jealous creature a wish. One can only assume granting a wish to an efreet amused the young 'walker, for why else would the magic-wielder make such an offer? Seizing upon this opportunity for which he had waited years, the efreet declared that he wished to be the only creature able to walk the lands of Rabiah.
Taken aback by the efreet's brash desire, the planeswalker pondered the request. Finally, after much thought, he reached out and placed a jewel on the efreet's forehead. Working magic unknown to us in these modern times, the 'walker split the efreet's mouth in two. He then turned his will upon the efreet's left hand, changing it into a hooked knife sharper than a grandmother's tongue.
"With these changes, I grant your wish, efreet!" the 'walker declared. "Anything that you cut with your left hand shall shrink to the size of a sand bug. Any such creature you swallow with your left mouth will disappear from all Rabiahs for all eternity--as will all other creatures of its kind. With enough perseverance, you may soon walk the planes of Rabiah in perfect solitude."
Glorying in his newly granted power, the efreet turned to the first creature he saw and speared it with his left hand. No sooner had he done so than the poor creature shrunk to exactly the size of a sand bug, and the efreet popped it in his left mouth and swallowed it whole. Just what the efreet ate we do not know, for the creature and all its cousins no longer exist in our lands. Greatly pleased with his success, the efreet declared himself Eater of the Infinite. From that moment on, the Eater searched out all the creatures he could find and began casting them and their kin out of Rabiah.
For a fortnight the Eater's appetite ran unchecked. But then a young bird maiden, by the name of Fyhra, witnessed the Eater destroy a whole herd of beasts by merely shrinking and eating one. After quietly following him for a day and a night, Fyhra soon realized that the Eater was destroying untold numbers of creatures. Praying to the all the gods she knew, Fyhra landed on a rocky outcropping near the Eater just as dawn blessed Rabiah with her first blush.
"Why do you eat these beasts, efreet?"
Laughing, the Eater responded: "Why, because I can. And because with every creature I eat, I eat every one of its kin on all the Rabiahs. Soon I shall have Rabiah to myself. Come closer, little bird maiden, that your kind may join the Infinite inside me."
Shaking her head in fear, Fyhra flew off quickly into the morning sun. As he was in a lazy mood, and perhaps because he reveled in Fyhra's fear, the Eater did not pursue the terrified bird maiden.
Flying on the morning winds, Fyhra wondered how she could possibly stop the Eater from casting all creatures out of Rabiah. Although her fear carried her for the entire day, Fyhra finally grew too tired to continue. Alighting upon the cooling evening sands, she sobbed quietly to herself.
"Why do you cry to yourself, winged one?" a voice whispered from the shadows of a large dune.
"Who are you?" Fyhra exclaimed.
"I am but a Watcher, and I see you have met the Eater of the Infinite," the shadowy figure replied.
"Yes, I have, and I fear Rabiah will soon be his and no one else's," Fyhra responded.
"Perhaps. But, then again, perhaps not. Take the gift I leave you and wake the man you shall find asleep on the other side of this dune. The Eater may destroy with his left mouth, but there is balance in all things. There is a right for every left, a beginning for every end. Tell the young nomad you wake of the Eater, and of my words. Together you may yet save your home."
Fyhra was bursting with questions, but before she could ask even one, the shadowy figure shimmered and faded with the wind. Only a small but bulky carpet, neatly rolled, remained. Upon unrolling this, Fyhra immediately realized from its woven pattern of wings and swirls that the stranger's gift was a flying carpet.
Still pondering the stranger's words, Fyhra took up the carpet and flew over the large dune. Lo and behold, exactly where the stranger said he would lie, there rested a young nomad. Fyhra silently thanked the gods for bringing him to this dune. She landed beside the scruffy man and called out softly to him. When he awoke, she introduced herself and poured out the entire story to the solemn nomad.
The man, whose name was Pakhir, listened intently to the bird maiden's story. When she finished, he said, "Thank you for telling me this tale, maiden. When I left my family's camp this morning I went to find a place to die.
"For, you see, I am the last of the nomads. The others have died from a terrible plague. The world will grieve our loss. Yet, perhaps now I may end our family's saga in glory, instead of infamy," Pakhir finished.
"But who was the man who instructed us?"
"Does that matter? Either he tells the truth and we may save our land, or else he lies and all is lost. We can only try."
Nodding her head, Fyhra took to the air with Pakhir following on the flying carpet, and traveled back the way she had come only the previous day. The pair finally found the Eater nearing the city of Bassorah. Stretching her shimmering wings to their fullest, Fyhra swooped round and round the Eater, calling and taunting the would-be world-killer.
The Eater eagerly followed the darting maiden as she maneuvered him away from the city with its teeming multitudes. When the Eater was judged to be far enough removed from the city to ensure no one else was endangered, Pakhir screamed out his family's name and plunged directly at the efreet.
The Eater's two mouths opened wide with glee as he deftly speared Pakhir on his left hand, shrinking and twisting the young nomad. At that moment, Fyhra again swooped down and swiftly shoved the now-tiny Pakhir into the efreet's open right mouth. "A right for every left, a beginning for every end," she chanted as the Eater's eyes grew wide with horror. For when Pakhir's dying body entered the Eater's right mouth all of the nomad's direct ancestors appeared again across Rabiah, alive and well.
But Fyhra and Pakhir weren't finished with the Eater. As soon as the efreet's left hand touched the inside of his right mouth his enormous, unquenchable hunger grew even more immense. Swallowing and swallowing, the Eater's right mouth soon consumed first his hand and then his arm. In rapid order, the Eater of the Infinite swallowed himself piece by piece until only the echoes of his enraged screams were left upon the air. Yet, in the very moment that the Eater consumed himself and disappeared from Rabiah, dozens of other Serendib efreets were reborn upon the land. Each efreet was marked with the double mouth and hook of its progenitor. Yet, fortunately for us, the new efreets did not possess the Eater's dread power.
They do, however, possess a curse. For all Serendib are bitter with the legacy of defeat, and any who wish to summon or command one would do well to think twice on the matter. The Serendib curse those who would use them as did that long-ago planeswalker, causing suffering and pain to the magic-worker so long as they work in his or her service.
And what of Fyhra? She became a heroine of her people, as did Pakhir of his--for Fyhra told the desert nomads of his great sacrifice on their behalf.
And who was the man who told Fyhra how to defeat the Eater? That is something we shall never know. Perhaps it was a god who took pity upon our lands. Or perhaps a planeswalker ... even the very planeswalker who granted the Eater his fell power. We must be content with our knowledge of how the Serendib efreets came to possess two mouths, and how the nomads will walk forever upon our lands.