After the two Princes, Bahman and Perviz, and their sister, Princess Parizade, were reunited with their mother and father there was great rejoicing in the kingdom and the royal family lived in peace and great happiness for many months.

But, as was bound to happen, knowledge of Parizade's beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill quickly spilled beyond the borders of the kingdom and before long there was a long line of suitors coming to the palace to seek her hand in marriage.

This pleased the Sultan and the Sultana very much because, although they loved their daughter with all their heart and would never have suffered to see her unhappy, they were eager to make an alliance with some powerful kingdom and they knew that she would be a capable queen and were eager to see her achieve that potential.

However, Bahman and Perviz were jealous for their sister, who had been their treasured companion all their lives, so they declared that no man should wed her unless he could pass the tests of strength, skill, intelligence, courage, and fidelity that they would give to him and, if he failed, the penalty would be death.

At first, the brothers were praised in the streets for the care that they showered on their sister and no one was overly concerned because everyone assumed that the right man would eventually be found. However, as the months went by and the bodies of rich and powerful princes and grand vicars began to pile up in the streets outside the palace the Sultan became uneasy.

Would his sons cause a war with some powerful kingdom that had been deprived of their prince and would that lead his kingdom to ruin?

Likewise, Parizade was also distressed by her brothers' zeal because she wanted to achieve her destiny of becoming a wise and capable queen and the mother of many more wise and capable kings and queens.

"What am I to do?" she asked the Talking Bird, unable to keep tears from leaking down her cheeks, "My brothers, though they love me best, have doomed me to a life of solitude in my father's house!"

"Do not fear, dear princess," the Talking Bird answered, brushing away her tears with his wings, "Even now, there is a prince coming from a far distant land who can satisfy your brothers. I will come and tell you when he is close and then I will tell you what to do."

At this news, Parizade was overjoyed and she went about her duties as normal, being careful to not let her brothers know what the Talking Bird had said.

***0***

Some months before the Talking Bird's pronouncement, in a far distant kingdom, Prince Arazi was leaning out his bedroom window and overheard a trader in the street talking about the wondrous Princess Parizade, whose beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpassed all others women, and he was immediately struck with an insatiable desire to marry her. However, the empress, his mother, had heard about the terrible price that the princess' brothers had put on her hand and would not agree to let her son go. Thus, Arazi, being a good and pious son, consented to remain at home, even though he knew that he would die of grief.

At first, due to his great love for her, Arazi was able to hide his condition from his mother and he determined that if he could not see his beloved, he would at least be found obedient unto death. But the empress was not thick-headed and she soon saw through his facade and knowing that it would be better to lose him nobly, trying to win his wife, than wasting away in her own house she consented to his going.

Upon receiving her consent, the prince joyfully paid homage her and set out with a lighten heart. Then he travelled alone for many days, content to live off the land and dream of the day when he would be united with his beloved, until he came to a dry forsaken desert.

Seeing no other road, the prince determined to forge on and the strength in his heart and his longing for his beloved saw him through many days nearly depilating hunger and thirst, but eventually he sat down to accept his fate and might not have had the courage to rise again if he hadn't spied a beautiful oasis.

Thus, delighted with his great fortune, he rushed to refresh himself at the cold spring and did not notice a scrawny mangy lion hiding in the bushes, waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting prey.

"How did the great king of beasts come to such a wretched condition?" Arazi gasped, taking pity on the creature after suddenly finding himself flattened on the ground.

"Many days ago," the lion answered mournfully, "a band of hunters chased after my family and, knowing that I was the prize they sought most, I left my children and my wives to save them. Then, after escaping my pursuers, I went back to rejoin my family and discovered that rogue lions had taken my wives away and killed all my children and because I was weak from running they chased me away too. Now, I must eat so that I will have the strength to reclaim my family and you are the first creature to come to this oasis."

"If I help you obtain a meal," Arazi asked, "will you let me go free? I too am on a quest to win a bride and start my own family."

"I will," the lion answered, letting him sit up and watching closely as he chased and slaughtered a wildebeest.

"I am most grateful to you," the lion continued, consenting to let the prince eat his fill beside him, "Tell me, where are you going? I may be able to help you."

"I am going to seek the hand of the wonderful Princess Parzade," Arazi answered, "whose beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpass all other women."

"I have heard of the princess," the lion replied gravely, "and I would advise you to turn around and go home if you would listen to me, for I know that her brothers jealously guard her and they will surely kill you if you fail."

"I must go on," Arazi answered sternly, "though I know my fate if I do not succeed. But, I would also surely die if I did not try to win her so I am not afraid."

"Very well," the lion said, "I will give you my magical sword, which will kill twenty men with every stroke, as a reward for helping me. I hope that it will be of use to you if you need it."

"Thank you, great king," the prince replied, bowing his head in reverence. Then he took the sword and went on his way.

Again, he traveled for many more days without meeting anyone, living off the land and comforting himself with thoughts of Parizade, until he arrived at a thick jungle. Walking cautiously, having learned from the lion's attack, he made his way into the very heart of the jungle without any trouble before hearing angry snarls coming from below his feet and, looking down, saw an enormous tiger captured in a deep mud-slick pit.

"Come down here, you foolish man," the tiger growled, glaring up at him, "and I will teach you to capture me! Come down here and fight me fairly if you have any of the honor that men claim!"

"Beautiful lord of the jungle," Arazi answered respectfully, "It is not I who have put you in this pit but if you would tell me where such vile men reside, I will go and avenge your shame."

"Your words mean nothing to me!" the tiger scoffed, "I was captured by twenty great and powerful men who would kill you on sight if you raise a hand against them. But if you are that big a fool, so be it. Your life is your own to waste. My captors are resting at the river, waiting for the sun's heat to slacken, before they return to skin my beautiful coat."

"I will avenge you; I swear it!" Arazi answered sternly, drawing the lion's sword, "See, with this sword, I will conquer your enemies in one swipe!"

The tiger's ears came forward with interest, "I see now that you are acquainted with my cousin, the lion, and he has found you worthy of his sword that will kill twenty men with one swipe. Very well, avenge me of this humiliation and then I will give you another gift."

So Arazi went to where the twenty men were resting and slew them all with the magical sword. Then he returned to the tiger and freed him.

"What brings you into my jungle," the tiger asked curiously, sitting down to clean the mud off his giant paws.

"I am going to seek the hand of Princess Parizade," Arazi replied, "because her beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpass all other women and I cannot get her out of my mind."

"Ah," the tiger nodded, "I too have heard of her. But do you not know the price you must pay if you fail?"

"I know the conditions that Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz have put on her hand and I accept it gladly. For, truly, to die for her is far better than to live without her."

"You have spoken well," the tiger commended, "and now to repay your kindness, I will give you this magical sack. If you ever need or want something, just think of it when you put your hand into the sack and you shall have it."

"Thank you, great lord," Arazi answered, taking the sack. Then he bowed down and went on his way.

As before, he walked for many days alone, living off the land and thinking about his future with Parizade, until he came to a wide steppe valley with a mighty river flowing through the center. Following the water, he went on until he came upon a massive brown bear with her foot caught in trap.

Hearing her loud wailing cries and seeing her terror and sorrow, Arazi threw his hand inside the magic sack and pulled out the strongest axe that was ever made broke the trap with one powerful swing.

"Thank you!" the bear sighed with relief, sitting down to lick her wounded paw, "You have saved my life and that of my dear cub! My cousin, the tiger, obviously judged your character correctly when he gave you his magical sack."

"How did you come to be captured in such a cruel trap, mother bear?" the prince asked.

"A powerful genii wanted to take my son away," she replied, "He said that he wanted to teach him the ways of man and then turn him into a human who has the temper of a bear." She shook her head angrily and growled menacingly, "But I know the ways of men! They would kill my precious cub if he was a man with the temper of a bear so I refused the genii and it is for that reason that I was imprisoned."

"And what became of your son?" Arazi blurted out, horrified.

"He is well hidden in the river," the bear answered, satisfied, "but if you will go to my cave that lies over the hill and fetch the magic cordial that will heal any wound with one drop and bring it to me you shall meet him when you return."

"As you wish, noble bear," Arazi answered, "I would do that and more for such a worthy mother. But, before I go, tell me the fate of the vile genii? I would like to go and avenge the wrong that he has done to you and your son."

The bear shook her head, "Do not concern yourself with him. When he could not find my cub, he became so angry that he exploded with rage. He is no more."

"A just punishment!" Arazi proclaimed joyfully, hurrying to retrieve the cordial.

"Tell me, what has brought you to this land?" the bear asked later, as Arazi played with her cub, "Man is not a common sight here…"

"I am going to seek the hand of a woman whose beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpass all others."

"Ahh, you seek the Princess Parizade!" the bear replied, shaking her head sadly, "I wish that you were not, for no man has succeeded in that quest and I would be grieved to hear of your death."

"If I die," he replied, sternly, "I would die happy. It is better to die trying to win my beloved than to live without her."

"You are the most noble of men," the bear answered, "and the princess would benefit to have you by her side. But, now, as thanks for saving us, let me give you my magic cordial. I hope that it will help you in your quest."

"Thank you." Arazi replied, bowing his head before bidding them goodbye.

As before, he traveled many more days, living off the land and comforting himself with thoughts of the princess, until he came to a rocky coastline and, searching the sea for a passing ship on which to continue his journey, he spied a great flock of seagulls making a loud ruckus on the beach.

"What is the matter, my friends?" he asked, hastily running to them.

"Our king," they screamed, "Our king! We are in mourning because a boy threw a rock at our king and broke his wing. He will soon die! He will soon die!"

"Let it not be so!" Arazi cried, inflamed with rage, "Where is this boy? I would show him what happens to those who harm God's creation!" He pulled out the cordial, "But, let me see your king first. I have something in my possession that will heal him. Then I will go and avenge him."

""What is it? What is it?" the seagulls clattered excitedly, squawking in great surprise, "The bear's cordial! Our cousin's cordial! He will heal the king! He will heal the king!" They parted rapidly and Arazi saw a majestic bird lying on the sand, laboring to breathe.

"Thank you!" the gull-king sighed, standing up after a few minutes and clapping his wings together with gratitude, "I am forever in your debt! Master, how may I be of service to you?"

"I am glad to help all of God's creatures," Arazi humbly accepted the flock's praise as they gathered around his feet, squawking that their king's oath was theirs as well, "But if you would, please tell me, where is the boy who harmed you? I want to go and avenge you."

"Alas, alas, that I cannot do," the gull-king covered his head with his healed wing, "Leave that to us, dear master, leave that to us! My flock and I are strong and the boy will learn a stiff lesson; I swear it! Only tell us why you have journeyed to my seaside kingdom and we will find a way to serve you."

"I am going to try and win Princess Parizade," he answered, "because I heard that her beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpass all women. So, tell me, you who fly above the waters, have you seen a ship that can give me passage? If you have, tell me! I can think of no better way to repay me!"

"A few days ago," a young gull-prince answered, "I was flying above the waves many miles from here and saw a ship headed in this direction." Ruffling his feathers with disgust, he added, "I did not like the looks of her crew though!"

"No fear, young prince," Arazi answered, smiling as he pulled out the magic sword and sack to a great ruckus of elation, "These will help me overcome any foe that raises their hand against me!"

"Our cousins," the flock cried excitedly, "Our cousins! Praise to the lion! Praise to the tiger! Their gifts will save the man who saved our king! Praise them! Praise them!"

Raising his great wings for silence, the seagull king sadly bowed his head, "I had hoped that the wonderful princess was not the reason for your coming, though I feared that it was. We have hosted many rich and powerful men who were on their way to try themselves against the tests of Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz, but none have ever returned. I will be sorry to hear that you shared their fate."

"If I do die," Arazi answered sternly, "I will die happily. But, if I live and do not try, I shall never truly live."

"A worthy answer! A noble answer!" the flock screamed their praise, hopping around excitedly and clapping their wings until the king silenced them again.

"I know the ship that my son has spoken of; it is full of brutal pirates." he said, handing Arazi a small but extremely heavy satchel, "But I know that it is the only ship in the area so take this. It may help you obtain safe passage with them."

Opening the satchel, the prince's eyes gleamed with surprise when he saw that it was nearly overflowing with thousands of pieces of gold, silver, and every color of precious gemstone. Then, raising his eyes to the sea, he saw the pirate ship sitting at anchorage in the harbor and a small boat rowing quickly towards the shore.

"Thank you! Thank you!" He bowed reverently to the flock, then he hurriedly went on his way.

"My name is Arazi and I am a prince in a far distant land." he told the captain of the ship, breathless from sprinting down the beach, "Please sir, I am in great haste and will pay you well if you take me to my destination!"

"Where are you going?" the shifty man replied, greedily eying his guest's rich clothing.

"I am going to try and win the Princess Parizade," Arazi answered, regretfully catching his host's unsavory expression, "who's beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill surpass all other women."

"I have heard of her," the captain replied, stroking his long thin goatee, "though I am nothing but a poor sailor. You may indeed have passage on my ship and you need not pay me. I am always ready to render service to my masters."

"Fortune has indeed smiled upon me!" Arazi rejoiced.

"Take my cabin, most honored and noble prince," the captain bowed with exaggerated flourish, "While you are my guest, may you lack nothing that we can provide."

"Thank you, my worthy captain," Arazi answered, preparing to board, "May the seas speed us with haste to my destination!"

Though, he had praised the pirate captain to his face, Arazi cursed his foolish tongue for saying too much and once he was alone he set to work by pulling many useful and delightful gifts from the magic sack and delivering them to the crew with the promise of more if they remained loyal to him alone.

Meanwhile, as the ship set sail, the captain, who had been at sea for many years and was unaware of the conditions that Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz had made concerning their sister's marriage, thought that his guest was already engaged. Therefore, he set about making his own plans to kill Arazi and take his place at the wedding banquet.

"See," the evil man snarled upon seeing all the wonderful things that the prince had given his crew, "He is turning you against me!" Raising his sabre, he continued aggressively, "Well, don't forget your oath to me and beware for your families' sake if you fail to keep it! Now, hand over his gifts and once I am married to Princess Parizade, I will reward you handsomely."

"Once we are far from land," he continued, after collecting the gifts, "I will call Prince Arazi to share hospitable drinks with me and when he is quite drunk and out of his senses I will lock him inside his cabin with our two beautiful slaves. Hopefully, he will be too senseless to know what he is doing to them but if fate is against us and he does not touch them, he will still be thick-headed with drink and I will instruct the slaves to tell him lurid tales about his actions once his mind has returned."

"By the looks of our fair guest," the evil captain laughed, "I can tell that he is a good and pious man so either his drunken actions or the slaves' stories will certainly be enough to drive him to despair or it will be easy to kill him and steal his clothes and possessions. Then I will present myself at the Sultan's court to demand that my bride to given to me!"

With this vile plot against him, Prince Arazi was in great danger but fate was again on his side because the two beautiful slaves, who were actually fabulously wealthy princesses, happened to pass by the door while the captain was talking and they ran to tell him.

"I am forever in your debt!" Arazi exclaimed, gratefully kissing their hands, "but tell me, how did you come to be on this ship?"

"I am Cennet and this is my royal sister, Camile," Princess Cennet explained.

"We were sailing," Princess Camile went on, "on behalf of our fathers when the pirate ship overtook us, killed our crews, and sunk our ships. Then they took us onboard this dreadful ship and sent ransom letters to our families."

"Though we are both daughters of wealthy kings and we know that our fathers love us," Cennet finished, "they are afraid to pay the ransom because it will only invite more attacks on our cities. We fear also, that they that they think that we have been ruined and won't be able to provide them with a strong alliance through marriage."

"Oh, what a cruel fate!" Arazi anguished, "But how are you not defiled...living amongst such brutes for so long?"

"By our wiles," Camile answered, smiling softly.

"The crew is more than a match for us in size and strength," Cennet explained, sharing a crafty look with her friend, "but they are little more than the boorish uneducated street rats that they were before they went to sea. And as for the captain, we have kept him at bay with false promises that our fathers will eventually pay our ransom if we are left untainted."

"Fear nothing now, dear princesses," Arazi said sternly, "I swear to you that I will deliver you back to your fathers once I have completed my errand. Surely, they will take you back once they have seen you and heard your story."

"And now," he continued, humbly bowing to them, "I will go and avenge the wrong that our hosts have done to both you and I and then we will be on our way."

"Oh no!" the princesses' cried, terror filling their faces, "They will kill you! Then what will become of us?"

"Do not fear," Arazi laughed good-naturally, revealing the magic sword, "This sword will kill twenty foes with every stroke."

Revealing the magic sack, he continued, "While I am gone, use this sack to restore to yourselves your royal status. All you need to do is think about the thing you want when you put your hand inside and you will be able to pull it out."

"You have been more kind to us than we could have dared to hope," Cennet answered, as they returned graceful bows, "and, wealthy as our families are, we can never repay you."

"My payment will be to see you safely home," Arazi answered, "after I have completed the task for which I left home many months ago."

"What is this task?" Camile asked, intrigued.

"I am going to seek the hand of Princess Parizade," Arazi answered.

"Oh!" the ladies cried together, clapping their hands in delight, "We have heard of her and the cruel fate of her many suitors! But we are confident that you are the best of them and you will succeed!"

***0***

"Dear Princess," the Talking Bird said, alighting on her bedroom window at the country home where the she and her brothers had grown up a few weeks later, speaking in a whisper, "Your husband is near the city gate."

Parizade sat up instantly, "What must I do?"

"Go to your brothers and tell them that you have just heard about a great white stag that will grant wishes of anyone who catches it. Tell them that you heard that it is resting in their favorite hunting grounds this morning and you want them to catch it for you."

"Then," he continued, "go to your mother and ask her to host a grand feast for the prince and entertain him as her guest until your brothers have returned. Then return to this house to await news of your engagement."

Dressing quickly, Parizade banished all questions from her mind and raced down the hall to her brothers' bedroom and, with great excitement, pounced on the sleeping men.

"And will you be coming with us?" Bahman asked, after recovering from the shock of being awoken in such a matter, "Since you want to make a wish…"

"Not today," she answered, patting his cheek with an amused laugh, "I must go to the palace and talk with mother."

"If we catch this stag," Perviz asked, a crooked smile twisting his mouth as he stretched his long arms over his head, "are we allowed to ask for a wish made by someone who isn't even on the hunt?"

"Well, you'd better be able too!" she shot back, tossing a pillow at him.

"And what will this wish be?" he returned, catching the pillow and tossing it back at her.

Parizade's heart skipped a beat and, catching the pillow with both hands, her voice squeaked, "To have a husband!"

Bahman snatched the pillow out of her hands, arching an eyebrow at her, "We shall see. Now leave us to get ready!"

Not long afterward Parizade finished her daily household duties and went hastily to her mother to explain everything that had taken place since the Talking Bird had first spoken to her.

The Sultana eagerly agreed to host the prince and ordered that a messenger be sent to tell the Sultan the good news. However, the messenger double-crossed his mistress and instead rode out like the wind to tell Bahman and Perviz that their sister and mother had betrayed them by agreeing to wed the princess to a man by sunset. Therefore, just as Prince Arazi arrived and was paying homage to the Sultana, her sons stormed into the throne room with scimitars drawn.

"What is this, dear mother?" Bahman asked, grief-stricken.

"You know the stipulation that we have placed on Parizade's hand!" Perviz cried, "Why have you given her away without our consent?"

"My brothers," Arazi broke in, seeing the Sultana's face grow pale, "do nothing to this woman! She has not done this horrible thing that you have accused her of!"

Bowing down to pay homage to the princes, he continued, "I know not what has caused you to believe that your mother would turn her back on you and give your wondrous sister to someone who you have not approved, but I assure you that I am ready and willing to submit to whatever tests that you devise. And, if I fail, I am also prepared to die." He held out both hands, "My life is in your hands; command me as you will."

Upon hearing this, the brothers' anger began to cool and they were about to take Arazi away for his first test when the Sultana stopped them.

"Wait, my sons," she called, "It is nearly time for the noon meal. Come, therefore, and let us all dine together and hear the prince's tale. He has journeyed a long way and I see a great adventure in his face."

Bahman and Perviz were not interested in allowing their sister's latest suitor to refresh himself before they tested him and they were certainly weren't interested in hearing his story, but they did not wish to cause their mother farther embarrassment so they bit their words and settled onto cushions to eat.

"Now, Prince Arazi," the Sultana continued, after the first course was eaten, "Will you tell us your story?"

"Many months ago," he began, "I was leaning out my bedroom window when I overheard a trader in the street espousing the beauty, grace, intelligence, and skill of Princess Parizade and I was instantly struck with a desire to marry her."

"But my mother had heard of your tests," he nodded at Bahman and Perviz, "and that you killed anyone who failed so she would not consent to my leaving her for many months. But my love for the princess was so great and she soon saw that I would die if I did not try to win her so, although it grieved her greatly because I am her only child, she gave me her blessing to make the journey."

"I have traveled for many months over land and sea," he went on, suddenly anxious to pass the tests and meet his beloved, "and many amazing things have happened to me, but now I am here and ready to submit myself to the princes tests."

"Tell us about your adventures?" the Sultana pressed, "I am anxious to hear them!"

"First, after walking many days alone in a dry forsaken desert, I came upon a beautiful oasis," Arazi explained, "but when I stopped to slacken my thirst, I was nearly killed by a mangy lion. When I asked him how the great king of beast had come to be in such a state, he explained that hunters had chased him away from his family and when he found them again, he found that rogues had stolen his wives and killed his children and it was his intention to eat me so that he might recover his strength and win them back. However, I killed a wildebeest for him and afterward we became friends."

"I told him that I was going to seek the hand of the Princess Parizade," Arazi continued "and, though he was loathed to hear it because of the terrible price of failure, he gave me a sword that would kill twenty men with every stroke as a reward for helping him and I went on my way."

He laid the magic sword at the Sultana's feet to show her what he had won and, though they hid it from him, Bahman and Perviz greatly admired him for having such a prize.

"Next," Arazi went on, "after many more days, I was traveling through a thick jungle when I came upon a tiger who was trapped in a muddy pit. He was furious when he saw me because he supposed that I was one of the twenty men who had imprisoned him. But after I slew his captors with one stroke of the magic sword and set him free, we also became friends." He held up the magical sack, "See, this magical sack is my second gift. I have but to think of something when I stick my hand into it and the prize is mine."

Nodding at the Sultana, he asked, "Dear lady, what is it that you would like to have? Name anything, and it will be yours, I swear!"

"I have a wonderful husband, two worthy sons, and a beautiful intelligent daughter," the Sultana answered, "I need nothing for myself...I would only ask to see my daughter married well and happy before I die."

"I wish the sack could give me the right to grant that wish," Arazi answered, bowing his head, "but I know that only her brothers can give me her hand."

"That is well said," Bahman and Perviz spoke up, almost smiling at him.

"Continue your story," the Sultana encouraged, her heart rising with hope as she watched her sons' expressions.

"Next, I ventured many days across steppe country until I came to a wide valley with a great river running through its center and found a mother bear trapped by her paw in a large cruel trap. She told me that her imprisonment was on account of refusing the order of an evil genius who wanted to steal her only cub and turn him into a man with the temper of a bear. I freed her with a strong axe from the magical sack and she rewarded me with this cordial which will heal any wound with one drop."

"Have you," he asked his hostess, passing the precious bottle to her for inspection, "anyone who needs such a medicine?"

"Not at present," the Sultana shook her head, admiring the bottle then passing it to her sons, "but do go on."

"After leaving the bear and her cub, I traveled until I reached the ocean and, seeing no ship in which to continue my journey, I despaired of ever seeing Princess Parizade. Then I heard a flock of seagulls in mourning and, going to them, discovered that their king had been fatally injured by a boy who had thrown a rock at him."

"Happily, with my cordial I was able to heal their king and, afterward, they rewarded me with knowledge of a ship that was coming towards their land. They also gave me a satchel that was nearly overflowing with of gold, silver, and every color of gemstone."

"And where is this satchel of gems?" Bahman asked, perplexed when their guest did not show it to them, as he had done with his other gifts.

"I spent it all upon entering your fair capitol." Arazi answered, "The ship in which I obtained passage was manned by villainous pirates who were holding two beautiful princesses for ransom and they might have slaughtered me as well but I slew them and, upon reaching your capitol, I spent my remaining wealth on reinstating to the princesses every trapping that their status requires."

"Why did they try to kill you?" Bahman asked, a hard glint in his eyes as his fingers curled around his scimitar

"The captain, who had been at sea for a long time," Arazi answered, "was apparently ignorant of the terms of Parizade's marriage and thought that she and I were already engaged. His intention was to murder me and take my place in the bridal chamber. But the fair ladies, Princess Cennet and Princess Camile, heard their plotting and warned me."

Bahman and Perviz leapt to their feet in fury, scimitars in hand, but their mother raised her hands, holding them back, "Peace, my sons, peace! The villains are not here! Lay down your weapons!" She turned to Arazi, glaring sternly, "You said that you brought the princesses to the capitol?"

"Yes, it is my intention to restore them to their fathers' houses once I have completed your sons' tests."

"Well, I demand that they be presented here today!" the Sultana snapped, suddenly furious, "I will not suffer for royalty to be visiting this kingdom without being presented here at the palace! No, they must be presented here within the hour and we will not sit down until they arrive!"

Accordingly, a messenger was dispatched to bring Cennet and Camile to the palace and when they appeared in the throne room, Bahman and Perviz were completely captivated by their great beauty. The princesses were also intrigued by their hosts, but they were also determined to help Arazi in any way they could so when they relayed their stories, they lavished all praise on their rescuer.

However, it was not enough and after the last tale was told, Bahman and Perviz began to make preparations to take Arazi into the woods for his first test. But, suddenly, the doors swung open and the Sultan himself marched in.

"My sons, why do you need to test this man any farther? I myself have been listening to his story in the hall and have been thoroughly impressed. Was his story truly not enough to convince you of his strength, skill, intelligence, courage, and fidelity?"

"Are you so blinded by your desire to horde your sister for yourselves," the Sultan continued, crossing his thick arms, "that you did not see his strength and skill to live off the land, surviving desert, jungle, and prairie. Is it not enough that he slay a wildebeest for a desperate lion, freed a tiger from his captors and a bear from her prison, healed the seagull-king, and kill an entire crew of pirates?"

"Did you not notice the courage he showed when he spoke to such ferocious beasts and help them, even though they could have killed him before they knew he would help them? And what about the intelligence that he displayed when he tricked the villainous pirates?"

"And, lastly, is there any man but this one who could treat these two fair princesses so nobly and remain true to the woman that he loves?"

"I beseech you now, my sons, consent to your sister's marriage to this worthy man and, because I see the love in your eyes, I will send messengers to the princesses' fathers to seek their hands for you."

And so it was that Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz relented in their objections and the three couples were married the very next month at the country home where Parizade and her brothers had grown up.


Author's Notes: So far, "The Story of Two Sisters who were Jealous of Their Younger Sister" is my favorite in 1001 Nights so I had to write a sequel!

"Arazi" is a Turkish name meaning "domain, land, or terrain" I chose it because, not only do I think that it sounds cool, but it also happens to be the name of a talented racehorse who won the 1991 Breeder's Cup Juvenile Race.

I put in four small references to other books and movies. Can you pick them out?