“In those far-off days ere magic was extinct, indeed when most it flourished, there lived in the East a powerful enchanter, whose true and reverential name was Aboulhassan, but who, whether from his often assuming the form of a gigantic vulture, or from certain of his practices that were not very beneficent or unselfish, was more commonly called El Rakham.
Give human beings irresponsible power, and they are almost certain to abuse it. Aboulhassan was not immortal, and he could make obey him those who were so; therefore, like with other enchanters, there was more in him of evil than there was of good.
He lived, when at home, in a castle whose dimensions, though enormous, were very easily measurable by those who cared nothing about them ; but, when any one approached it with unfriendly or with inquisitive purpose, the owner raised about it a mist, or sunk its drawbridge, filled up its moat, and obliterated its gates, or otherwise tripled and quadrupled the obstructions to its entrance, just as suited him. Sometimes the walls were gloomy as the dungeons of Jehennum ; (Hell) at other times they glowed and dazzled almost like the sun at noon-day. Now they seemed of solid hell-stone; (Basalt) then they looked to be of burnished gold, or silver, or steel. It short, no one could see it rightly, far less enter it, save at the Enchanter’s pleasure. Among other contrivances, he had .certain mirrors which reflected every object he wished to see, and, it is said, gave, him insight at all hours into the interior of every household,—a faculty which, if he were a reasonable being, must have given El Rakham more disgust than pleasure, but, if he were the vulture he was called, must have often swelled his gorge with satisfaction.”
Jeff remembered that Aboulhassan had given a magic golden ring shaped collar to his bride Nefesa. The golden ring had, at first, encircled them both.
That fateful day, Aboulhassan allowed Nefesa to see the power of himself as El Rakham. He encircled himself and his bridee with a golden magical ring. He removed himself from the magic ring and it became smaller surrounding Nefesa’s neck.
Then – – – the magic ring-collar changed its appearance to that of golden lace. Nefesa was admiring it in a looking-glass when;
El Rakham-Aboulhassan announced “Should you betray me, and I be slain, the collar will then slay you!”
A day came when El Rakham, changed his appearance from Aboulhassan to a large vulture. He had need to attack an armed horseman. The horseman sank an arrow into the vulture which immediately changed into a dragon. The dragon was slain by the horseman.
Nefesa had given the horseman the secret of El Rakham’s vulnerability.
She died simultaneously with El Rakham, now The Dragon, as the Golden Ring-Collar tightened around her neck.
Jeff’s laboratory work that night was clouded by these thoughts. He decided, because of his lack of concentration, that it was time to go home. He made entries into his technical journal.
Due to his lack of concentration he decided to review his entries to ensure that he had written all the steps and results of his experiments correctly.
Once he was satisfied, he departed the lab.
TOMORROW: 9. The Prisoner