Chapter 14: Discoveries and Disasters
9 Sha'baan, 1663
Journal entry #01, Tariq ibn Sulayman
It is the ninth night of Sha’baan, 1663. My name is Tariq ibn Sulayman and I am but a simple botanist. Four months ago, I was called upon to join a team of men tasked with a mission of the utmost importance. Under the leadership of sea Captain Dhul-Kifl, I was joined by his apprentice, Ali ibn Nadeem, and my two cousins, Adam and Rayhaan, on a journey to the Southern Continent, seeking out a medicinal Cactus Rose. Though we initially encountered difficulty in locating our objective, by Allah’s Grace we eventually managed to discover something new altogether along with it.
By Dhul-Kifl’s orders, our team was split in two groups, with he and I remaining here to further explore our new discovery. Ali was declared as the interim Captain while he, Rayhaan, and Adam sailed back towards the mainland, taking with them the medicinal herb we’d collected for the Amir’s cure. Just over one month has passed since our companions departed from us, and in their absence, Captain Dhul-Kifl and I have continued to explore these strange lands.
Beyond one of the mountains, hidden deep within the thick forestry, there appear to be a region containing the ruins of a past civilization. We know not where these remains have come from, nor do we know what brought about the ruination of the peoples who once inhabited them. Our aim is to investigate them and discover the source of their demise; however, as of yet we’ve only determined that it whatever destroyed them was not a force of nature. My suspicion is that the answer lies within the history of the Great Wars, but for any definite conclusions we must continue our research.
That, however, has been made difficult by the inimical natives of the jungle. They have surfaced only twice since our initial contact with them, however both times there have been conflict. The first occurrence was the day after my cousins' departure. Captain Dhul-Kifl and I had been wandering along the mountainside where we first discovered the ruins, and from somewhere down below some men from among the natives began shooting arrows at us. We were able to escape with minimal injury; receiving only a few scrapes and bruises. The second time, however, they were more hostile and precise in their aiming. During this escapade, the Captain and I were below the mountain and were actually making an attempt to search through the old ruins. Not only were arrows shot at us, but spears and stones were thrown. They also deployed some sort of weaponry based on a chemical mixture from the poisonous plants here which caused us both an enduring illness.
We made our attempt to hide, determined not to flee the area just yet. Under fallen stone walls we hid, hoping to avoid their assault. Admittedly, that was a rather foolish move to make, as the men soon had us surrounded and were firing on us from all sides. We narrowly escaped death by the Mercy of our Lord, for it was at the very in which they had drawn nearer that a powerful earthquake happened to shake the land with a mighty force. We had heard the men screaming and shouting as they ran in fear; and the wished that we could join them. The walls above us were shaken with us inside, and we were forced to use every ounce of strength in our bodies to hold them up from crushing us. When the shaking had ceased, we escaped from the region and ascended the mountain where we camped out for the night.
After that last encounter, Captain Dhul-Kifl and I are both highly intrigued about the ruins, more so now than ever. The manner in which they are protected has led us to believe that the secrets within them are certainly of high value. Any information that we can uncover about the Great Wars and the nations before would perhaps provide some solution to gaining an edge over Kwaade and his people. It may be that by the Bounty of Allah, we have found a key to ending the ongoing wars throughout the world.
With that said, I am currently in my tent resting up for the night. We have continuously moved about the forest in order to avoid capture by the enemy. We've gone a long way from the ruins; however, tomorrow in the morning after Fajr we intend to return for another investigation. Our hope is that they will still be resting and it will be dark enough for us to move about unnoticed, with it yet being light enough for us to see our own path. Alas, we shall see what Allah wills for us in the morrow…
11 Sha’baan, 1663
The wooden sailboat rocked along the ocean waves in a slow, tame rhythm. The three large green and white sails barely fluttered in the gentle winds. It had been over a month since the ship had set sail for the mainland, and the crew aboard had begun to grow restless with the endless sailing. The journey from the mainland had been much faster, as the western winds carried them along swiftly. Returning from the Southern Continent, however, was a different case with a different route altogether.
Sitting aboard the modest ship, the three sailors drifted along in agonizing boredom. Ali ibn Nadeem crossed his arms as he stood at the ship’s helm, manning the wheel. Adam ibn Al-Sharif was across the way, reading some book he had brought along. Rayhaan ibn Khamisi lie in the middle of the ship, staring into the sky of blue, watching the white mounds of fluff pass by. "Ugh," he groaned loudly. "Even the clouds are going by faster than this stupid ship."
"Stop complaining," Ali replied as he turned to face his companions. "We’ve already established that this is boring. Even as a naval officer, I am bored of this endless journey. Nonetheless, this is our mission and this is what we all signed on for.”
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know; but this is just so excessively tedious. There’s nothing around but a depressing ocean blue for miles and miles. I signed on expecting to take part in a grand adventure and an exciting journey across the seas into new lands. I was hoping that there would be some exploration and some action for us; not nauseating sailing in the middle of nowhere for months. And we didn’t even get to explore anything when we arrived at our destination; we just looked around for a stupid flower and got sent back while Tariq and the Captain got to stay with those old ruins.”
“Well, look at it this way,” Adam piped up. “At least we are safe from those native savages here.”
“Safe? I wanted to meet with them! We all have swords for a reason; I wanted to fight those cowards.”
“I will never understand your fascination with fighting,” Adam sighed.
“That is because you have no sense of honor, my dear brother. At least, not as a warrior.”
“You’re not a warrior either,” Ali spoke up. “Is it not true that before this job you worked as a mere sheep guard?”
“That may be so, but at least I have trained to fight! This slacker would rather laze about than test his might in combat or work to make a name for himself.”
“Life isn’t about making names for ourselves; we have an important mission on our hands. Our duty is to protect the interests of the Muslim Ummah, and in this case we must do so by providing the means for a cure to the Amir’s illness. ‘Politics,’ as you so crudely put it.”
"Besides,” Adam added. “I do not think our mother would be so pleased to learn that either of us was slain seeking out a fight with some jungle savages on the Southern Continent.”
"Yes well, that’s no concern of mine,” Rayhaan shrugged. “I would have been more than capable of facing those jungle cowards. All that she would hear would be tales of my bravery and skill in saving her lily-livered son who refused to fight.”
“Right, right. Hey, look out for that lizard,” Ali said, pointing beside the spot where Rayhaan had been resting. On impulse, he leapt up from his seat and nearly crashed into one of the flagstaffs.
“That’s not funny,” Rayhaan spat as his brother and captain both laughed at him.
“It was entertaining for us,” Adam chuckled.
“Yeah,” Ali added. “There goes your excitement. Just imagine the ship is crawling with little lizards and insects.”
“Or maybe I’ll imagine a wave snatching the two of you away and leading me off to a real adventure,” Rayhaan muttered. “I'm going to sleep, wake me up when it’s time to pray.” With that, the impatient man walked his way to the back end of the ship and promptly laid down there. Adam and Ali remained up front, looking into the distance. Just as Rayhaan had said, there was nothing in sight but miles and miles of ocean blue. Rayhaan sighed as he closed his eyes. It was going to be a long journey home...
13 Sha’baan, 1663
Journal entry #03, Tariq ibn Sulayman
Alhamdulillah, today has been a successful endeavor. The Captain and I managed to sneak into the city of ruins and explore them more in depth. There were no disturbances from the jungle natives; and better still, we have made an amazing discovery of what appears to be an old library. While mostly burned and destroyed, there seems to be a collection of old writings from the past peoples here. Unfortunately, we are not able to understand or even recognize the language in which they are written. Nonetheless, I am certain that these writings will be an important key to understanding what happened to this past nation and in turn give us a possible edge over Kwaadi. Only time will tell, In Shaa Allah I look forward to future discoveries with The Captain...
- As-Salaamu Alaikum
16 Sha’baan, 1663
Days had passed and much distance had been covered. The winds had picked up a strong current and the ship was sailing at a great speed, at times threatening to flip over a wave. The clouds above were gray and ominous. The crew all knew what was coming; soon there would be a storm.
Preparations were made in advance. Using some old cattle skins they’d brought along, the men covered up all of their important items that they could not afford to let get wet. Their books, their food stock, their maps, clothing, and everything else best left dry was wrapped in the skins. Furthermore, they balanced out all of their heavy items on the two opposite ends of the ship so as to keep it from tipping one way or another from the strong winds. Adam and Rayhaan were kept awake in case of an emergency whilst Ali kept a close guard over the ship’s wheel.
All of the preparations were soon put to the test as the night settled in and the dark clouds began to stir. The waves of black water grew larger and larger, thrashing the boat every which way. The crew had all been sitting together, as they had only finished their Maghrib prayer moments before. They scrambled to hold down all of their items and more importantly to remain in the ship themselves. Water splashed all about, soaking them in salty wetness. The fierce winds blew in as a powerful bolt of lightning jolted from the sky. The deafening boom of thunder followed soon after, resonating in the ears of the awestruck crew.
In their horror, all they could think to do was call out to their Lord for protection. "Ya Allah," Ali said to himself while he held tightly to a stack of crates of bread and beans. "Keep us steady and keep us straight by Your Guidance. We are but servants in Your path, doing only what we can to please You and serve the Ummah. Protect our ship from being overthrown by the rowdiness of the waves or struck down by the bolts of lightning from the sky. O Lord of the East and the West, there is no might or power but You, keep us safe and fulfill our mission!"
Across the way, the ever frightful Adam was busied in glorification of God while he held tightly to the central mast of the ship. His eyes were shut tight as he continuously repeated to himself, "Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi*, Subhaan Allah Al-Atheem*." His words were drowned out under the crushing sound of the waves as they brutally beat at the sides of the ship. "Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi, Subhaan Allah Al-Atheem. Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi, Subhaan Allah Al-Atheem."
On the front end of the ship Rayhaan stood, mesmerized by the sheer awe of it all. His hands subconsciously gripped the ship's wooden edge as his unblinking eyes looked on in fear and amazement. The red and violet hues of the sunset sky had given way to the black clouds of destruction which poured down rain, pummeling the wooden boat and ocean surface alike. The whirling winds howled like a beast as a crackling bolt of lightning flashed in the distance. The echoing boom of the thunder nearly blew the ship back all on its own. Just as another bolt of lightning snatched away the sight of the crew members, so too did the wind steal away the waves beneath the boat.
The boat flew through the air, soaring heights above the surface down below. Rayhaan's eyes grew wide as he watched the boat fly higher and higher above water, with him at the very front, ready to flip out into the ocean the moment the boat crashed back down. For a moment, time stood still. The heavy bullets of rain slowed to a stop. The sky was white with a spark of lightning. There was silence. Nothingness. All that he could think about was the end.
Regret flooded his mind as he recalled his days of complaints. His final days had been spent griping about no excitement, and now it seemed that he was to meet his Maker. He wasn’t ready; he couldn’t face his Lord as a self-centered, glory seeking, belligerent slacker. He felt that he hadn’t done enough in life yet; there was nothing good or beneficial to himself or the Ummah in anything that he had yet done. But he had had a chance. Only then did he realize that perhaps even without fighting, his mission was important. It wasn’t likely to have earned him any recognition or personal honor, but it would have been an accomplishment and some contribution to the Ummah.
In that moment, he felt that if he only had one last deed to do before facing his Lord, his mission would have been more than worthy. Just one more chance, Ya Allah, he thought deep in his mind and more importantly in his fast beating heart. He closed his eyes and the desperate prayer just barely escaped his mouth. “I will do it with no complaints Ya Allah, just give me one more chance...”
In the same manner that it had ceased, time came to an abrupt continuation. The boat crashed down atop another rising wave and descended along with it to the surface. It eased into a gentle rocking as the waves began a more relaxed swaying. A collective sigh escaped the mouths of the crew even as the storm continued. Though still in a cold, wet storm, they had been saved from a tragic drowning or being turned over. Now all they had to do was bear the cold winds and the pouring rain. Compared to the huge Mercy God had just shown them, this was nothing but a slight inconveniencing...
17 Sha’baan, 1663
Journal entry #05, Tariq ibn Sulayman
Alhamdulillah we have remained undisturbed during our stay in this library. The Captain and I have managed to travel in and out of the ruins with ease, and have now set up camp within the library. We've seen no sign of the natives in the past few days and The Captain is worrying the may be plotting something. My guess is that this library has some meaning to them and they don't want it harmed, so as long as we respect it they will not attack, lest they destroy it themselves. I have determined to attempt communicating with them the next time we encounter them, In Shaa Allah that goes well. As for now, The Captain and I have begun trying to decipher the strange language in which this library books are written. There are bizarre inscriptions on the library walls, and we have noted a pattern of similar symbols on some of the books. One such symbol is that of a figure holding what appears to be a branch of leaves and a branch of thorns. Allahu ‘Alam what this all means. In Shaa Allah soon we will have our answers. Until then, just as the information of these books, we will remain hidden within the darkness of the lost library...
-As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
Subhaan Allah wa bihamdihi: Glory be to Allah and I praise Him
Subhaan Allah Al-Atheem: Glory be to Allah, the Most Supreme