Blue book



The book is tattered and worn. What once must have been a rich, deep blue cover has now faded and cracked. The spine cracks as you open it and flip to a random page.

The Story of Asha and the Formless Garden

Long, long ago, before the Gourd cracked and the sky fell, there lived a boy named Asha in the city of Imir.

Asha was a tracer’s son, skilled in his trade and quick in his wits. By day he worked in his father’s shop, watching the bidairi come and go through the shop’s door, their golden chains glinting in the lamplight beneath their crimson robes. By night, he would sneak into his father’s workshop and whisper to the jinn jars that were delivered that day, coax out the minds held within and listen to their stories.

The boy heard many stories this way: the story of the mutalibun’s wife; of Zaybak and his Secret; of the Diamond Man. The story he loved best though was from an old jinn named Zuhayr, the story of the Formless Garden, where dreams and fantasies become true at a thought, where death is defeated, and mind comes over matter.

“Did you ever find it, M. Zuhayr?” Asha asked one night, after the story was done.

The jinn was silent a long time. “Yes,” he finally said, the proteomic nanobio compounds in the jar fluorescing briefly. “I did find it.”

Asha’s eyes grew wide and he pulled the jar closer. “Where is it? Can you take me there?” he asked eagerly.

“No, boy,” came the voice from the jar. “Do not want such things.” And with that the jar grew dim and silent.

Zuhayr grew cold with the boy after that, and from then on Asha could not coax any more stories from the old jinn. But the Formless Garden still echoed in his mind, like a desert mirage.

And so one night, Asha walked boldly out of the gate of Imir and into the sands. Seven nights passed, and seven days with them, but still Asha walked on, driven forward by the story. Finally on the eighth night, Asha collapsed from exhaustion, falling face first into the sand.

Just then he heard a voice on the wind. And when Asha looked up, it was there, suddenly, the Formless Garden, shining like a dream. Finding new strength, Asha leapt to his feet and ran through the Garden’s gates.

Inside he felt like a king. There were incredible machines that responded to his thoughts, mechanical shells once worn by jinn, whole worlds contained within grains of sand. They called to him, and Asha reached out to take them.

And then the Marid came, and Asha again felt very small.

Tell me a true story, boy, and perhaps I will let you remember who you were.

But Asha only knew one true story—

Long, long ago, before the Gourd cracked and the sky fell, there lived a boy named Asha in the city of Imir.


Blue book

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