illustration by Gustaf Tengrren

[Webshaykh’s Note: This last semester I taught an Honors Seminar on the Arabian Nights. The last assignment asked students to write the 8th voyage of Sindbad, drawing on what happened in earlier voyages. I will post several of these here for your enjoyment. The first is by Taryn Teurfs…]

The 8th Voyage of Sindbad

by Taryn Teurfs

Sindbad began to recall his eighth voyage, his most truly remarkable voyage that was kept clandestine. He began:

I was visiting the palace of King Haffwadar because he spoke of a sword he needed me to capture in turn for a great reward. The Sword of Harun al-Rashid, as legend has it, belonged to the caliph himself and possesses a mystical element: If the true descendant of Harun al-Rashid obtains that sword, with one touch the sword lights on fire and can cut through 1000 enemies with one lash. King Haffwadar had no evidence that he was a descendant of Harun al-Rashid, but one of his magicians had a vision of Haffwadar holding the sword so Haffwadar felt that fate was telling him he was its rightful owner.

The sword was located in the Isla de los Monos, comprised of apes of all different shapes and sizes, but a thousand times more powerful that the island I visited on my third voyage. The journey to this island is so dangerous King Haffwadar couldn’t risk his life to obtain the sword but knew the type of journeys I would go on to try and recover valuables or ensure the safety of a kingdom.

“Sindbad”, said King Haffwadar, “Before you go to the island you must obtain a mirrored box, an ice crystal, and the secret potion of Ashwayar. It is said in the legend you must use these items to defeat the evil jinn Shahidi who controls the island. You must seek the enchantress Ashwayar and ask her for these pieces. I am giving you this compass presented by the magician as guidance. It shall bring you to the sword in haste.” I came upon Ashwayar at the great lake. She had long beautiful black hair like the starless sky. She sat amidst a rose bush undraped, likened as the great Almighty had created her.

“Ashwayar,” I began. “I am called Sindbad. I have sailed here from afar to —“

“It is I who knows who you are and of your need,” said the sorceress. “Sacrifice must be made by every hero to gain virtue. Break through this thorn bush and embrace me with your body; then the claim of the items is yours”

She was consumedly beautiful and I was left powerless. I was pulled into her favors; with every move I made the thorns cut deeper into my flesh. When we were finished, she presented the items to me kneeling by my side. “Tell me more about these items,” I asked.

“I only speak of my potion” she replied. It holds the power to heal wounds. When you entered the rose bush you were cut deep by the thorns. Heed, for you must not waste the potion. You must endure pain; the potion will be needed for a more trying time. Understand, however that every action you make has a sacrifice.”

I gathered up my crew and set sail for the Isla de los Monos, my body covered in blood. I felt weak but I had enough energy to make it to the island while my crew steered.

Suddenly a storm grew in the sky. The wind started to rip against my ship, spiraling the water around her.

“Sindbad, we must head back. The water is too dangerous!” My crew shouted anxiously.

But this was not a sea storm. All of a sudden from the bottom of the sea rose Shahidi. He bore hideously the head of a snake and the body of a lion.

I reached for my sword and thrust it, stabbing him in his eye.

“Sss-sindbad” He hissed. “I can still smell you.”

“Sindbad, he smells your blood!” screamed my crew, throwing sea water at my skin.

The cuts from Ashwayar were so deep that they bled through the salted water. I remembered the potion Ashwayar had given me. Then I remembered her words: every action you make has a sacrifice.

The jinn was destroying my ship and biting the heads off of my men. I drank the potion. My wounds immediately sealed up and the jinn couldn’t find me at the moment. My wounds immediately sealed up; at that moment the jinn no longer find me. Frustrated, he clawed my ship holding it above his hideous head and thrashed it into the sea.

I called for my crew members only to find surrounding me was a pool of blood. All but I had disappeared. Feeling almost dead, I was, as the Almighty allowed, able to grab onto a piece of broken wood from the hull and float to land.

When I reached the shore a beautiful flaxen haired woman was awaiting me.

“Stranger,” she began, “I have been sitting here on this rock for three long years, awaiting your arrival. You have finally come. You must follow me now” She led me over the rocky hills to the center of her island where the townspeople were awaiting me as well, greeting me and cheering.

“My name is Rihizarad. I am the queen of the Isla de Muñecas Muertas. It is our custom that the first man that comes to this island, we honor him as king. You are our king.”

Her beauty was astounding; her features bejeweled her face. She was captivating; I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make love to her. I accepted the role as King of the Isla de Muñecas Muertas and decided for now I would spend the night and tomorrow continue on to my voyage. Then I would return to my subjects and my queen.

I slept the peace of a thousand glorious dreams that night. I awoke the next day to find myself with my hands tied behind my back. The villagers were standing around me and I saw the queen’s dead body laying six feet deep into the sand.

“What has happened?” I asked the stranger next to me.

“The queen passed away last night” He responded. “As our custom requires, we will burn your ashes and spread them across her.”

I started to panic. I just married her last night and already she was dead. and now I was to die too?

“Today we mourn the loss of our dear beloved Queen Rihizarad and her husband Sindbad —”

Before the villager could continue I slipped my tied hands through a log and pulled hard so that the rope broke. The villagers ran to restrain me, but I fought them off hard, escaping to the other side of the island. Hidden in a cave, I was able to fashion a raft from the shipwrecked planks.

A few hours later, I continued my journey to the Isla de los Monos. When I got to the island, Shahidi was waiting for me.

“Ah, you’ve come back!” With a snap of his fingers he sent 300 apes after me. Like a swarm of loci they descended. They were covered in hair like thick black felt with fire eyes. They tried to bite me gnashing their teeth but I recoiled. I thought of the items Ashwayar had given me.

I reached for the mirrored box and opened it up. Instantly, the box produced 300 mirror images of me, turning into soldiers, each taking up his own battle. I turned for the jinn, but he had disappeared.

The compass King Haffwadar had given me started to glow guiding me direction. All of a sudden the sand I was standing on turned into flames. Shahidi appeared bearing a head of a cougar.

“So Sindbad. You seek the sword that lights afire? Let’s see if you can handle walking in flames.”

With a flick of his finger the whole ground was ablaze, taunting me to draw closer to him, knowing that I would perish.

I remembered the last item of Ashwayar. I threw the ice crystal to the ground. The flames instantly froze, creating a path of ice that engulfed the jinn. He was frozen and rendered powerless.

I walked up the frozen steps and found the compartment where the sword would be stashed. Smashing my fist against the ice, the sword was revealed. Rewrapping the sword in its velvet encasing, I tucked it away safely to return it to the king.

The Almighty granted me safe passage back to the palace of King Haffwadar where I presented him with the sword. The king took the sword out of its enclosing and swiped his hand across the side of it. Nothing happened.

“I don’t understand,” The king began. “My magician had a vision of me holding this sword. Perhaps this sword is a fraud. Take it away.”

He handed me back the sword and as my hand passed over the hilt, it became ablazed.

“Alas!” cried the king. “You are the true descendant of Harun al-Rashid! Sindbad, I understand now why you are the true owner of the sword. You are the only man I have ever known who possesses true valor to take on the feat and virtue not to covet it for yourself. I understand why you are the true descendant of Harun al-Rashid. Fate is on your side. You are virtuous and so deserve this honor. I wish to appoint you as my vizier, a most prosperous and venerated office.”

That is why this eighth voyage is the most important journey I have ever embarked on. It was the most dangerous and the most frightening, but I also gained a powerful position as the King’s right hand man and more importantly, I learned I was a descendant of Harun al-Rashid.