Unfortunately, just as Khalid was leading his friends into the building to search for the lamp, someone was exploring the basement. Raghib, who had seen Khalid's acquisition of the History of Agrabah, was not the average museum employee. He was ambitious and rather unscrupulous, and had been sneaking peeks at the History of Agrabah in Khalid's office (which the absent-minded Khalid often forgot to lock). If it pertained to "Agrabah," and Raghib didn't know it, odds were good it was known only by Khalid or by nobody. Of course, Raghib didn't believe in Agrabah.
Raghib had also begun suffering delusions, but he would never tell anyone that. He was a rational man and even the worst dream was just a dream. Anyone could have them after reading such compelling yet utterly nonsensical "history."
At the end of a shelf of Abbasid peculiarities Raghib kept downstairs so the grubby Englishmen wouldn't touch them, was an old black lamp.
"I don't remember you," Raghib said to the lamp. "What are you doing here?"
He thought he heard the lamp talking back.
"Oh no. Raghib, get ahold of yourself." Khalid wouldn't fire him. No, Khalid would do worse. Khalid would start spouting off all kinds of nonsense about destiny, like that Ardeth Bey fellow. Raghib suspected they had grown rather too close, and this despite Dr. Robinson's pronouncements against Ardeth. If Raghib wanted to, he could have had Khalid thrown out by telling Dr. Robinson that Khalid had said hello to Ardeth in passing, never mind that he had secretly maintained a friendship with him for nine years. But Raghib could never get rid of Khalid, because then there would be nobody to argue with. Well, there was Dr. Robinson, but Raghib saw a very large gap between "an argument" and being talked down to for having the impertinence to have been born Arab.
"The lamp isn't talking. It's just the echo in here. But I suppose I ought to catalogue you, lamp. What to say? Brass lamp, 9th century AD, Baghdadi...well, I only assume you're Baghdadi, there's no other reason for you to be on my shelf, is there?
No. You're not Agrabi. Agrabah never existed and I'm sure the book is an elaborate hoax, fiction disguised as history. A poor boy falls in love with the princess? The vizier is evil? Can we say cliché? For all his book learning the Director believes it. But not me, no sir.
Yes, I suppose you're right. You do need cleaning.
I really am listening to a lamp, aren't I? Well, no sense listening to a dirty lamp when you can listen to a clean one." Raghib took the lamp off the shelf and polished it with his shirt sleeve.
Standing, facing Raghib, was a tall man in black robes, wearing a turban.
"Where did you come from?" asked Raghib as if evil viziers (for that's what this fellow clearly was) appeared in the Cairo Museum basement all the time.
"The lamp. I am Jafar."
"Al-Barmaki? He...was not to the best of my knowledge turned into a genie." Nor, Raghib thought, was he quite this much of a walking stereotype.
"No, not him. The Medjai woman made the same mistake. I am not from Baghdad. I am in fact from Agrabah. The book you have dismissed for months is, in fact, true." Now that he thought about it, Raghib recognized Jafar; there was an illustration of him in the History. Not that an illustration really showed quite how sharp his teeth were, or quite how excessive his eyeliner was.
"Medjai woman? You mean Amira?" It was entirely possible that there were other women affiliated with the Medjai, but only Amira would make an impression on someone as the Medjai woman. "I've seen her around." He shuddered. "Actually I think that's her voice I hear upstairs. You, er, wouldn't mind going back in the lamp so I can put it in my rucksack? Ardeth and Amira are never here without the Director, and I don't want the Director to think something is amiss."
"Certainly. I wouldn't want to disappoint my own descendant, would I?" He winked at Raghib and enlamped himself, and Raghib put the lamp in his rucksack.
Descendant. Right. If it wasn't crazy Directors and crazy Medjai it was crazy genies. This just kept getting better. Raghib went upstairs, deciding to not say anything about Jafar.
That is, until he saw Ardeth, Khalid, and Amira reading the History of Agrabah.
"Khalid? I'm a little unclear on a point of the History. I know Aladdin had children and their dynasty was quite successful. But does the History say anything about Jafar's children? You know, sort of an academical query, no particular reason for it."
"Jafar was not married and hardly what one would call even in the same country as favor. Any children of his would have been swept under the magic carpet, so to speak, and certainly not mentioned in an official history. Completely impossible topic to research of course."
"Although now that I think about it, your beard has been looking a little twisted lately," Khalid said jokingly.
Raghib walked out of the museum, less than reassured. Crazy directors, crazy Medjai, crazy genies. Someone had to be sane, and it was going to have to be Raghib.
Author's Note: I'm not going to give detailed information about Jafar al-Barmaki here, because with the way I am the attempt would likely lead to an author's note as long as the chapter itself. Wikipedia has a decent if rather stubby article on him (incidentally, if TV Tropes is more your style, they do as well; search Grand Vizier Jafar or read the Historical Villain Upgrade article). Rest assured that all you need to know here is that he was a vizier in the Abbassid caliphate who's probably rolling in his grave every time someone names a new fictional evil vizier after him.