Generation 1, Chapter 1 – The Snake Relic
Miriam sat back having rearranged her plum-feathered headdress for the third time. She could hear the expecting audience filing into their seats. Their excited energy filled her with a mix of nerves and happiness.
Miriam Romero was a total enigma to herself. She was a neurotic loner who, for some unknown reason, dreamed of being a vocal legend. She hadn’t always been that confusing, though.
As a child, Miriam was happy. She loved her siblings. She loved befriending the neighbors’ pets (or any animal she could find for that matter). She also loved to dance. She supposed that’s part of what inspired her goal of being a vocal legend. But that all changed when her mother had unexpectedly died during childbirth.
She had gained a new baby brother, but lost one of the most important people in her life.
As soon as she moved out, she joined a show at the local theater called Diamond Emerald and the Gems. She was a Gem. It wasn’t what she truly wanted, but she thought it was a good first step.
The other Gems talked and joked in the background, preparing to go on stage.
Miriam wished she could join them, but that was never going to happen. They weren’t mean or anything, she just wasn’t as happy or as go-lucky as they were. Their mother’s hadn’t suddenly died like hers had.
Miriam let out a sigh. The office door opened and Miriam heard her manager Jim approach.
“Flippin’, flappin’, llama!” Jim shouted to the ceiling. “That good for nothin’ flake Emerald Diamond’s late.”
Jim took a moment to breath. He wasn’t as fit as he used to be and strenuous activities, like yelling, were harder for him to do now.
“I’d like you to go on in her place,” he told Miriam, finally calming down.
Miriam immediately looked away and let out a feeble, “I can’t.”
It’s not that she didn’t want to, she just didn’t have the self confidence. She was too nervous, too much of a loner.
Jim was not having it, “Listen,” he said, “you’re the best singer and dancer we’ve got.”
“That’s not true,” Miriam squeaked, “beside, I’m the one that performs in the back. People don’t usually see me.”
“But I do.” Jim persisted. “From back stage, and from what I’ve seen, you’re the best.”
Miriam could sense that short of spontaneously combusting, she wasn’t getting out of this. Besides, that weird mix of feelings was starting to resurface again. She wanted this, she really did. So with that last thought in her mind, she let out a slightly panicked, “Ok.”
“Perfect,” Jim laughed, relieved, “that Emerald Diamond’ll be sorry.”
Jim went to leave then turned back around, remembering something.
“Here,” he said approaching Miriam with a gift. “This was supposed to be for Emerald Diamond. It’s a rare snake relic that was sent to her from a fan in some foreign country. Supposedly, if you touch it, your heart’s greatest desire will come true. Yeah, right!” he snorted. “Anyway, since Ms. Emerald isn’t here, you can have it.”
With a final, “Good luck,” Jim walked to the other side of the stage and took his normal seat right behind the curtains.
Miriam changed into Emerald Diamond’s costume. The lights flickered signaling the show was about to start. She went to leave then remembered the snake relic. With the show seconds away from starting, she ripped open the package and touched the golden snake. “I desire happiness,” she said. Nothing happened. “Of course nothing happened, she thought and ran off to her entrance.”
The snake may not have worked, but Miriam had. Although nervous at first, she quickly transformed into a woman worthy of being a true vocal legend. With every note sung and every move danced, she thought of whom she was performing for. Her siblings, her father, maybe even herself, but most importantly, her mother.
Meanwhile, the snake relic’s magic began to work. It filled the dressing room with a deep red light unknown to the people enjoying the show.
It happened as quick as flash. A bright golden light appeared directly behind Miriam. A great whirlwind whipped up around her and she could feel herself being pulled into the light. The other girls ran to help her, but the wind kept them from getting to close. The audience began to rise, scared.
The golden light flared and Miriam caught one last glimpse of the frightened audience before she was plum into the light. Everything turned dark and Miriam was gone, never to be seen in Sunset Valley again.
Generation 1, Chapter 2 – The Ruined Tomb
A warm breeze swayed the desert palm trees casting playful shadows on the ground below.
Miriam Romero lay in the sand. She was unconscious, her costume was tattered, and her shoes were lost to the rifts of time.
A colorful bird chirped as it flew overhead and Miriam woke. The light was bright, so she closed her eyes while they adjusted.
“What happened?” Miriam gargled as she slowly got to her feet. The last thing she could remember was performing as Emerald Diamond. She had reached the climax of the show when a bright light had appeared. Maybe one of the stage lights had fallen loose from its rig.
“Jim,” Miriam continued, “did something go wrong with the show? Is anyone hurt?” No one answered.
Miriam opened her eyes and realized she was no longer in Sunset Valley.
“AHHHHHHHHHH!!!” she screamed, louder than she had ever screamed before. She looked around in a panic. The sun was hot on her skin and there wasn’t a single person in sight.
Calm down Miriam. She thought. There must be a perfectly logical explanation for this. But she knew as soon as she thought it that there couldn’t possibly be one. People didn’t just up an teleport to the desert.
The sun’s heat was becoming unbearable now. The remnants of her black costume weren’t helping either. Spotting a crumbling structure in the distance, Miriam decided to check it out. At the very least, it could provide temporary shelter from the sun.
“Hello,” Miriam shouted as she reached a very large door, “is anyone there? I’m lost and I could really use some help.”
Again, there was no one to answer.
“Please,” Miriam said as she banged on the door, “open up, I need to speak with someone, anyone.”
Whether it was the banging or her words, Miriam didn’t know, but the ancient door began to creak open. Dust and sand fell from the ceiling and Miriam entered wondering if she was making the right move.
Miriam walked through the ancient building and came upon a large room. It was damp and musty, but at least it was cooler than it had been outside.
Miriam walked carefully, the floor was cracked and jungle plants snaked their way over it. As she wasn’t wearing shoes, she was careful not to step on anything she’d regret later.
At the end of the large room, Miriam found an old scroll and read it:
Here laid to rest are two cursed souls.
Who stole my sacred magic scrolls.
And so upon their cherished pet.
I cast a curse, my strongest yet.
For whom should touch their snake of gold.
A fate would fall, to them untold.
For if their heart was pure and true.
Their happiness would start anew.
But if their heart was dark with greed.
Their happiness they would secede.
For there is nothing to be done.
Once my foretold curse has begun.
So be forewarned, be ever smart.
With all your wishes and your heart.
Miriam finished and stared at the scroll in disbelief. It had mentioned a golden snake, a cursed golden snake. A snake that, from the sound of it, cursed anyone who touched it with greed in their heart. Miriam thought of her wish for happiness. Surely that couldn’t have been thought of as being greedy?
She thought in silence for a few moments until she accepted what she already knew. It had been considered greedy for her to wish for her own happiness. After all, she was the one stranded in some unknown desert. Miriam dissolved into tears and wished that she could just go back to being a simple background dancer.
The decorated sarcophagus creaked open behind her and two bandaged mummies began to limp towards Miriam.
Completely distraught with tears, she didn’t even notice their approach until they were right behind her. She spun around with great speed and let out an ear shattering scream.
“Nooooo!” she screamed again trying to block the mummies’ advances. She lost her balance and stumbled backwards, hitting the floor hard.
“Please, don’t kill me,” Miriam pleaded still crying and wondering if mummies were even capable of hearing. “I can’t die in some random tomb in the middle of who knows where. I can’t!”
He appeared faster than she could have hoped jumping from the balcony above and landing right in front of her.
“Quick, come with me,” the stranger said.
And even though she was awkwardly spread on the floor in some unknown desert being attacked by mummies, Miriam couldn’t help noticing how attractive her savior was.
“Now,” the man reiterated as he pulled her up off the floor.
“What’s your name?” Miriam panted as they ran from the mummies. She knew it wasn’t the time or the place, but there was a very real possibility that she might die here and if she was going to die, she at least wanted to know this strange man’s name.
“Aziz,” he said not missing a beat.
Miriam and Aziz escaped the ruined tomb and headed into a desert jungle.
“Thank you,” Miriam managed to say. She was still out of breath, which was surprising as she considered herself fairly fit from all of her dancing as a Gem.
“You are welcome,” Aziz replied.
“Could you tell me where we are?” Miriam asked tentatively. She could already feel herself reverting to her loner ways, “I’m not from around here.”
“I could tell from your strange clothing,” Aziz said smiling, “You are in El Sim’ha.”
“I’ve never heard of El Sim’ha,” Miriam said.
“You are most definitely from a foreign land,” the man said a little more curiously, “El Sim’ha is the largest Kingdom in this part of the world.”
“Kingdom?” Miriam asked surprised, “They still have unknown kingdoms in 2013?”
“What do you mean 2013?” the man said, now he was starting to look confused.
“The year,” Miriam said starting to feel uneasy.
“I do not know what you mean by year, but it is the 1000th Sun Cycle of El Sim’ha.”
And with that statement, Miriam fully understood her situation. She hadn’t just been sent to a desert. She had been sent through time. Everyone she had ever known was gone and she would probably never see them again.
Aziz stopped and Miriam’s hand bumped into his. And Even though she was in a state of complete disarray, she felt a strange surge pulse through her arm and straight to her heart.
“This is my home.” Aziz said pointing just ahead.
As she starred at Aziz’s home, all thoughts of disarray and the hand bump left Miriam’s mind at once. “This is your home?” She asked in complete shock. “But it’s a, I mean you’re a,” she stammered, trying to find the right words.
“I am.” He said, and laughed at the shocked expression on her face. “Follow me.”
Generation 1, Chapter 3 – The Magic Lamp
Miriam walked beside Aziz as he led her to the living quarters of his palace. She was stunned with delight. Aziz turned out to be a prince of El Sim’ha and he had invited her to be a guest at his palace.
Miriam was no stranger to royalty. Her long lost uncle had married a member of the royal Torres family, but this was different. This time Miriam was at the center of the royal attention.
“Your palace is so beautiful,” Miriam said looking at the glittering water fountains and gold encrusted walls.
“Thank you,” Aziz said. “This palace has been home to the Amir family for centuries and now it welcomes you as well.”
Aziz led Miriam to one of the ornate doors off the hallway and introduced her to an older woman who was waiting in front of it.
“This is Nasira,” Aziz said as they approached the entrance to the bedroom across from his. “She will help you settle into your room.”
“Come with me child,” Nasira said. Her voice was warm and gentle.
Miriam must have flashed one of her automatic looks of neurotic worry because Aziz suddenly added, “Do not worry. Nasira practically raised me. She will take good care of you.”
“Ok,” Miriam said and followed Nasira into her room.
Aziz emerged from his room in freshly washed silk clothes and was astonished by what he saw across the hall.
Miriam stood in a flowing gown of lavender silk.
“Is it ok?” She asked tentatively.
“Yes, you look beautiful,” Aziz stuttered and Miriam blushed.
“I will leave you two alone,” Nasira said casting a knowing look and slipping away down the hall.
“Aziz,” Miriam started quickly, “thank you so much for saving me and having me as a guest in your palace. I really, really, appreciate it, but I need to find a way to get back home.”
“Then I shall make it my sole mission to help you return home,” Aziz said without hesitation.
“Well, thanks,” Miriam said, “but how will we do it? I mean, I’m from the future. How can I possibly go back there?”
“I have heard legends of a magical genie who lives in a lamp,” Aziz said.
Of course there’d be a magical genie in this strange land. Miriam thought.
“We will set off in search of this magic lamp at sunrise,” Aziz said.
“Thank you,” Miriam said, “it really means a lot to me.”
As promised, Miriam and Aziz started their long search for the magic lamp the next morning. The first place they searched was a forgotten temple in the densest green jungle in all of El Sim’ha. They found strange plant-like animals, but no sign of the magic lamp.
In between searches, Miriam found time to teach the local children how to sing with a stage presence that would make her old manager Jim proud.
Aziz would look on happily, enjoying the children’s laughter.
The next place Miriam and Aziz searched was the red hot volcano on the border of El Sim’ha. Nothing came of this trip except being covered in sweat and ash.
A month passed since the start of the search for the magic lamp and Miriam was beginning to feel at home in Aziz’s palace. There was something about Aziz that Miriam couldn’t ignore. He was a happy person, a fun person, someone who would find the joy in the simplest of things, like playing hide and seek in the palace cooling baths.
Miriam could feel herself changing too. She was much more confident than she had ever been in her old life. She also found it easier to talk to people. She supposed it was a result of her quests with Aziz for the magic lamp. Whatever it was, she was glad to be changing for the better.
The third temple they searched was submerged in turquoise blue water. Again, despite their best efforts, the magic lamp was nowhere to be found.
The day before they were to leave for the last temple, Aziz surprised Miriam with a dance lesson. He had seen her practicing what she called her “Emerald Diamond and the Gems Routine” and wanted to show her one of his own cultural dances.
Miriam’s heart fluttered with a familiar nervous feeling, but something was different this time. There was something extra and not entirely bad.
The last temple they searched was farther than any of the previous ones. It took a whole week to ascend the arid mountain the temple sat upon. At the top was an enchanted white mist that allowed them to glide above the surface of the yellow rocks for a few seconds at a time. Unfortunately, the enchanted wind did not yield a magic lamp and Miriam and Aziz returned to the palace empty handed.
Once refreshed, Aziz approached Miriam, a look of defeat on his face, “I am sorry Miriam,” he said, “We have been searching for the magic lamp for three months. We have searched through every ruined temple I know of and it was nowhere to be found. I am afraid I cannot help you return to your home.”
“Aziz,” Miriam said, “It’s ok.” She grabbed his hands.
“I’ve found something else these past few months, something worth staying for,” and abandoning all wisps of social awkwardness that she would have felt in her old life, Miriam caressed Aziz’s face and went in for a kiss.
Miriam stood in the palace a feeling of complete bliss overwhelming her. All thoughts of sadness, loneliness, and low self-esteem evaporated into the air.
“I love you,” Aziz said breaking the kiss and gazing into Miriam’s eyes.
“I love you too,” Miriam returned.
“Prince Aziz, Miriam,” Nasira said hurrying into the room slightly out of breath.
“Yes?” Aziz said.
“What is it?” Miriam asked.
“I have wonderful news,” Nasira said, “One of the royal scouts has found it. We have the magic lamp. Miriam,” she said turning to her, “You can finally return to your family.”
The news hit Miriam hard. She finally had a way to return home, but doing so would now mean losing Aziz… forever.
Generation 1, Chapter 4 – Miriam’s Choice
Miriam stood in her bedroom sobbing. The servants had packed her new outfits and she had said a tearful goodbye to Aziz. Miriam wished he could come with her, but she knew he had to stay and rule for his people. He had walked away slowly after their goodbye and Miriam had known that his heart was breaking as much as hers.
One rub of the magic lamp and Miriam would return home, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
“Is everything alright child?” Nasira asked, entering Miriam’s bedroom.
“Y-yes,” Miriam said, wiping her wet eyes.
“Tell me what is bothering you.” Nasira said noticing Miriam’s state of distress, “You should be happy. You are about to return to your family.”
“I am happy,” Miriam said trying to convince herself, “it’s just, I just…”
“You just want to be with him,” Nasira finished for her.
“Yes,” Miriam said, “but I can’t be with him. I have to return home.”
“Must you?” Nasira asked.
“Well, my family must be missing me and I always wanted to be a vocal legend,” Miriam said, realizing how trivial the later part sounded.
“But you are a vocal legend,” Nasira spoke in an unusually loud voice, “The local children love your performances.”
“You’re right,” Miriam said wondering why she hadn’t realized this before.
“And as for your family missing you, would they not want you to be happy, wherever life takes you?” She said.
“They would,” Miriam said in happier spirits, making up her mind.
I’m happy here, in El Sim’ha with Aziz,” Miriam said, hugging Nasira. “Thank you!”
“You are most welcome, child,” Nasira shouted after Miriam as she ran off to find Aziz.
“Aziz!” Miriam called, finding him in the hallway.
“Miriam?” He answered, “I thought you had returned to your home.”
“I couldn’t,” Miriam said, “I love you and I’d rather stay here with you than return home and lose you forever.”
“Miriam-” Aziz began, but before he could finish, Miriam pulled him in for a kiss.
Miriam and Aziz’s wedding was celebrated by the entire kingdom. People from all over El Sim’ha attended.
Miriam wore a beautiful wedding dress lovingly made for her by Nasira.
Miriam kissed Aziz and became his wife.
Miriam Amir, Princess of El Sim’ha. Miriam thought. It was ironic that after all this time of being a neurotic, loner that she would become a princess. Of course she didn’t really care about that. As long as she was with Aziz, she would be happy. And as for the neurotic and loner tendencies, those were in the past.
“Happy,” Miriam said gazing lovingly at Amir.
“Happy?” he repeated.
“The golden snake relic wasn’t cursed after all,” she said, “It led me to you and ultimately to my happiness.”
“Well, I am glad it did,” he said smiling.
Miriam and Aziz went to join their subjects and Miriam hoped that one day those whom she had left in the future would find the same happiness as she had.
Generation 2, Chapter 1 – Miriam’s Children
Soon after the wedding, Miriam discovered that she was pregnant. The entire kingdom celebrated the news of a new heir being born to the El Sim’ha throne.
No one was happier than Aziz who had always wanted children of his own.
As Miriam and Aziz left full of bliss, Nasira slipped into their bedroom and removed the magic lamp.
“For the time being, you are no longer required,” she whispered.
The pregnancy was easy and Miriam was comforted by the entire kingdom’s people.
A few years passed and the palace was full of Miriam’s and Aziz’s children. The oldest was Prince Zaide, heir to the throne. Next came Princess Mirah, who was just learning to walk. Finally, the youngest, was Princess Adelle, who was just learning to talk. The children grew up comfortably, adored by all in the kingdom.
Zaide would often splash around in the cooling baths with his father.
While Mirah and Adelle had taken to playing in the palace gardens.
The children enjoyed their quiet palace life, but it would not always be that way.
Generation 2, Chapter 2 – Prince Zaide
Prince Zaide was raised with all of the comforts of being royal. However, he tired of people treating him like some fragile doll. When palace life became too much, Prince Zaide would find refuge in a nearby bamboo forest. It was quiet there and he could be whomever he wanted, even an ordinary person.
One day, he stumbled upon a girl his own age. He was hesitant at first because she had found his secret place.
“What is your name?” Zaide asked.
“My name is Vera,” the girl replied.
“That is a pretty name,” he replied, “my name is-”
“I know who you are,” Vera replied.
“Oh,” Zaide responded, visibly crestfallen. He had hoped he had found someone he could act freely around, not as a prince.
Vera looked at the saddened prince for a few seconds, burst out giggling, tagged him, and proceeded to run away.
Zaide was initially dumbstruck, but soon realized that Vera had no problem treating him ordinarily enough to play a simple game of tag.
Zaide and Vera continued to meet as often as they could from then on.
“Vera,” Zaide panted, “wait- for- me.” She obliged and he grabbed her hand. “Tag- you- are-”
But before he could finish, Zaide tripped over a fallen piece of bamboo and shared his first kiss with Vera.
Zaide was happy. He was in love. Now that he was grown, he decided to finally introduce Vera to his parents. He knew that they would accept her even though she was not royalty. After all, Zaide’s own mother Miriam had not been royalty.
Zaide went to his and Vera’s usual meeting spot, but she was not there. This concerned Zaide as Vera had never missed a meeting time before. He immediately ran to her home.
When he arrived, Vera’s mother Shanti was waiting at the door in distress.
She brought Zaide right to Vera’s bed.
“She has been like this for days,” Shanti cried. “I do not know what to do. She will not open her eyes.”
“Vera,” Zaide said, “Vera can you hear me?”
She didn’t reply.
“Shanti,” Zaide said,” Do not worry. I will find a way to cure Vera of her ailment.”
Shanti smiled, wiping away a tear, “Thank you,” she said.
“You are-“, but Zaide couldn’t finish his sentence because at that moment a horrible noise could be heard from outside Vera’s house.
Zaide ran outside and looked towards the sky.
Flocks of birds screeched as they abandoned the bamboo forest. The sky turned red and a loud rumbling noise could be heard getting closer with great speed.
Generation 2, Chapter 3 – Princess Mirah
From an early age, Princess Mirah was enthralled by books. She would stay up long after her sister Adelle had fallen asleep and listen to her mother Miriam read stories from far off lands.
This fascination lasted into her childhood. The palace library became Mirah’s favorite place to be. There were so many books to read, so many places to discover, and so many skills to learn.
Since childhood, Mirah would visit the kingdom’s book merchant Hakim. Hakim would always have a new book for Mirah, which he would give her free of charge. However, on the day of her sixteenth birthday, Mirah came to Hakim for a different reason.
“Hello, Princess Mirah,” Hakim said as she approached his storefront.
“Hello Hakim,” Mirah replied, “I have a question for you.”
“What is it?” Hakim asked.
“I have read so many books and gained so much knowledge, but I want to do more than just read. I want to do something with my knowledge. Can you help me?”
Hakim thought for a moment then said, “Of course I will help you.” He reached for a scroll and gave it to Mirah. “This is a plan for a model of the world. It will take hard work, but if you follow its instructions, you will be able to construct one for yourself.”
Mirah’s eyes lit up with excitement, “Thank you Hakim,” she said, “I will start building this at once!”
Mirah spent the entire day tinkering away at her model. When she was finished, she went back to Hakim for a new plan. She continued to build new contraptions and explore this new found talent of hers.
By young adulthood, Mirah had constructed everything that Hakim had plans for. She’d even written some of her own plans. Looking for something new to do with her skills of observation, she turned to art.
Mirah found a quiet beach at the edge of the bamboo forest that bordered the palace and started painting. The air was peaceful with nothing but the sounds of the sea to calm her. She had been painting for quite awhile when the sea suddenly changed.
Mirah looked up from her painting and slowly started to back away in shock.
The sea and sky turned red and great swirling waves started making their way towards her spot on the beach.
“No!” Mirah screamed as turned to run back into the bamboo forest. But it was already too late.