Some time had passed since the 1001st night, when Scheherazade had finished her last story. So touched by the wisdom of her tales, King Shahryar renounced his daily executions and took Scheherazade as his wife.
As we know, they were to live happily, until the day that the destroyer of delights and severer of societies came to claim them as he does all, and returned them to the Kingdom of the glorious Allah.
But there were many normal days for the royals to spend before then. On one such evening, Scheherazade’s sister, Dunyazade, spoke thus: “My dear sister, I hope you won’t think it a macabre notion, but there is a part of me that misses the days when you would while away the hours regaling us with one of your tales until dawn.”
At this notion, the King Shahryar raised his eyebrows with keen interest, and Scheherazade heaved a sigh. “Well sister,” she said. “I have used up all the good ones that I knew. But I have heard a new story since then, one that seems more like gossip than a proper tale.”
Shahryar and Dunyazade both asserted there was nothing better for them to do, so once drawing forth assurance that she wouldn’t be executed if the story displeased them, Scheherazade began.
“I have heard, o happy king,” she began, “that in the West, there reside great flocks of iron-fashioned rukhs. Painted with the flags of their home countries, these birds carry great masses of travelers, who enter its stomach through a hole in its throat, like that of those men who over-indulge in smoke. After being fed oil through a giant tube, it carries the people into the sky with a piercing shriek. Seeing all the wondrous sights of the land and sky through the rukh’s many eyes that adorn its sides, the travelers are afflicted with great boredom. The great height casts the people into an intoxicated stupor, but they reside on thrones so designed that they cannot relax. They are served by maids and eunuchs, often of great beauty; of a banquet that pleases none of them.
“The rukh is manipulated by riders who reside in its head, and take hold of the strings of its brain. It is of such great speed that it can bridge anywhere in the world to furthest China in a day.
“When it arrives, the bird expels the travelers in a mass birth. Despite sitting still the entire time, most of them are exhausted to fainting by this process.”
The dawn had not yet come, as it was only a short story, but Scheherazade still lapsed into silence.
“That wasn’t much of a story,” said Dunyazade. “More like an ethnographical piece.”
“I don’t think I have over-promised. If I’d had forewarning, I’d have prepared a different one,” said Scheherazade.
“Something for tomorrow, perhaps,” said the king. “But as for the uncomfortable seats and the displeasing banquet, could this not be circumvented with gold?”
“Your majesty is wise in the ways of the world,” said Scheherazade.