WHEN WE LEFT OUR STORY (continued Shahrazad, as the moon curved sleek and fine as an archer's bow on a night some time later), a clever hero had set out to vanquish a foul demon from the most stygian depths of the underworld, and had ultimately released a genie who would doubtless provide invaluable assistance on this quest.

The hero tricked the genie into proving its power by transporting them both to the catacombs beneath the demon's impenetrable palace. But the genie was not to be fooled in such a way again. Three wishes he offered the hero, no more nor less. That, and a dire warning:

"O Master of the Lamp, while my powers are vast, I fear that those of this black fiend are even greater. There is only one way to destroy him. You must inscribe the Seal of Solomon about him as he sleeps, and when he is thus bound, you must utter a command that will be his undoing. But alas, such a thing is easier said than done! The demon's inner sanctum lies beyond three enchanted chambers: a Chamber of Fire, a Chamber of Ice, and a Chamber of Blades. To so much as set foot in any one of these is certain death!"

All was not lost, however. The very room in which the hero stood contained an enchanted mosaic capable of transporting one in an instant to people and places far and wide. Surely by doing so, the hero reflected, the wisdom might be found to puzzle one's way through this dilemma ....

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!"




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