IT IS RELATED (began Shahrazad, as the moon waxed full and fat as an opal on that particular night) that in the time of Harun al-Raschid, Caliph of Baghdad, a terrible demon appeared from the East. Clutching the Caliph's beloved daughter in one mighty hand, the monster flew away, setting the desert ablaze in his wake so that none might pursue him.
There was a stranger then in Baghdad, one wise in the ways of riddles and enigmas. Resolving to find a way to cross the burning sands and rescue the princess, the stranger avoided the palace, a place of great lamentation, and instead explored the bazaar to see what might be found.
But morning overtook Shahrazad, and she lapsed into silence. Then Dinarzad said to her sister, "What a strange and entertaining story!" Shahrazad replied, "What is this compared with what I shall tell you tomorrow night if the king spares me and lets me live!"