It came to be that Aladdin, the hero of Magrabah, the friend of a genie and the husband of the princess, celebrated his 25th birthday in a courtyard full of those that loved him and people that cheered his name. He had conquered the fiendish giant of Tomba, vanquished the sorcerer of Limtini and averted the flood from the Binibi Sea. Magrabah was now at peace and no one dared disturb the protected city; but Aladdin was not pleased.

Aladdin sat behind the banquet table next to his wife and his best friend, the freed genie. And as the crowd’s chants of his name turned into a song that would live on through the ages, he rested his cheek in his palm and sighed.

“Excuse me, Prince Aladdin,” a squeaky voice said from below the table.

Aladdin leaned forward to see the dusty face of a six-year-old boy who was no bigger than he was at that age. A white smile beamed across the cherub’s face.

“Yes, Caleb, isn’t it?”

“Oh yes, Prince Aladdin,” the boy grinned excited that Aladdin would remember his name. “I wanted to give you this. It isn’t much, but it was all that I had.”

The little boy stretched out his short fat brown arms and handed Aladdin a box. Aladdin turned the box around in his hand wondering where one of the kids that some used to refer to as ‘street rats,’ could have found a box. Remembering how he struggled to merely find bread during his toughest times, he marveled that his fellow ‘street rats’ were now so well off that they could afford a box.

“Open it please, Prince Aladdin.”

Aladdin looked down at the boy amazed that he could afford even more than just the box. So gently pulling at the colored string tied around it, he released the cover and removed it. Inside was an apple.

Aladdin stared at this apple. He had only seen pictures of it on scrolls.

“Where did you get this?” Aladdin asked in a rich surprised voice.

“I traded for it. But it was an adventure,” the little boy said proudly. “I wanted to get you something special for your birthday.”

Aladdin looked down at the boy in amazement. The boy could have been him at six years old. At that age there was nothing that Aladdin couldn’t imagine and nothing that he felt he couldn’t do.

“Thank you!” He said still bewildered. “This is the best gift that I have ever gotten, and I’m friends with a genie,” he said staring into the boy’s wide eyes.

With a huge smile on his face the boy ran off, but Aladdin continued to stare at the apple. Looking at it closely, he saw something that no one else would’ve. He saw the boy’s adventure. He saw the boy’s freedom. He saw his own future.

Just then the chanting of his name grew to a fevered pitch only to be interrupted by his ravishingly beautiful wife.

“Speech Aladdin. Speech!” She said staring at him.

With his mind still awash in flashes of adventure, he rose to his feet. The cheers poured out through the crowd. Aladdin looked over at his wife. She was even more beautiful than the girl he had married 5 years earlier, but she was different. The two of them, instead of growing madly in love during their time together had developed into friends. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it wasn’t love.

“Speech, speech!” The crowd chanted.

Aladdin, still awash in thought, grabbed his goblet allowing the words to gather before flooding out of his mouth.

“Thank you my friends, my loved ones,” he said turning to the genie and his wife. “And thank you my fellow people of Magrabah. It has been an amazing journey from when I first met my friend Genie, to where we are today. And as we stand here, no one threatens our city, no one goes hungry, and everybody is happy.”

The crowd cheered in acknowledgement. Aladdin looked on astonished. When the screams died down he spoke. He didn’t know what he would say next, so when he said it, it surprised him as well.

“And now that everyone is safe and happy, it’s time for me to leave.”

“What?” People in the crowd yelled out.

“Not forever,” Aladdin assured. “But I must go.”

The crowd murmured in distress.

Aladdin, who was feeling a lost excitement building within him again, turned to his wife who was shocked, and her father, the sultan, who looked at him with his mouth hanging open.

“I don’t understand. Where?” The princess asked.

The thought pooled in his consciousness before he unleashed it. “To the land of the dragon,” he said with a shine in his eyes.

“Where?” Members of the crowd repeated in disbelief.

“The land of the dragon!” Aladdin said leaping onto the banquet table. “There exists a land mentioned in scrolls whose people all cower in fear from a big, scary beast that flies;” Aladdin stuck his arms out and simulated flight causing the cape of his formal attire to flap behind him; “it snatches children in the middle of the night;” he jumped off the table and snapped his teeth at a little girl who clutched her mother in fear; “And who inhales, and breathes out fire.” 

The crowd took a collective breath at the image painted in their minds.

“Its skin is as tough as the great wall of Magrabah and its wings are so huge that spreading them over us would block out the sun and immediately bring winter.”

The crowd ahhhed.

“Citizens of Magrabah, I can’t let these people continue to live in such fear. Not while I know how much they suffer.”

“How could such a beast exist?” Someone in the crowd yelled out.

“But we need you here,” a middle-aged woman screamed.

The princess stood behind the banquet table causing Aladdin to turn toward her. “But it does exist. I’ve read the stories too. It is a menacing beast with large yellow eyes and spikes that line from the top of its head to the tip of its long spear-like tale. And it is the nightmare of all of us that one day this creature might make its way to Magrabah and do to us what it now does to the people of the north.”

Aladdin looked at his wife feeling a spark that he hadn’t felt in years. He couldn’t be sure if what she said about fearing its arrival was true, but the way that she came to his defense was something that he couldn’t overlook.

“What will you do, Prince Aladdin?” The boy who gave him the apple yelled out.

“I will find the dragon and I will slay it.”

“But the city will be defenseless while you’re gone,” a man screamed.

“No. You will have Genie,” he said turning to the genie who was surprised that he wouldn’t be going. “And you will have Magrabah’s brave citizens,” he said turning to Caleb, “who will risk their lives to keep you safe. But as for me, I must go. But if Magrabah is ever in danger again, you can be assured that I will return.”

The crowd, in a wave of gratitude, chanted his name again. “Aladdin! Aladdin!” And returning to the banquet table he took the princess’ hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. She smiled back always knowing that this day would come. She always considered Aladdin too big of a hero for any one place and she lived every day feeling privileged to be with him, knowing that soon he would be gone.

Aladdin kissed his wife on the lips and then let go her hand. He then turned to the genie, who although sad, accepted the duty that Aladdin had bestowed on him as Magrabah’s protector as an honor. Then with a clap of his hands, the magic carpet flew out of a window of the castle and landed by his feet. So quickly collecting selections of food into a large cloth, he took his apple into his hand, stepped onto the carpet and rose into the air.

As the cheers of the crowd grew louder, Aladdin lifted the apple above his head and made the subtle shifts to turn the carpet around. Taking his last swoop between his adoring public, Aladdin brushed by one of the castle guards disarming him of his sheathed saber. The crowd cheered. And taking off just above the heads of those that lined the streets, he lifted into the air, over the thick wall surrounding Magrabah and into the clear blue sky.

Even as the cheers diminished he didn’t turn around. Aladdin knew that his future was in front of him and there was no looking back even if his departure would be forever.


When Aladdin was far out of sight from the eyes of Magrabah, he worked his way onto his knees and leaned forward. Bringing his lips to the threads of the magic carpet, he whispered to it.

“Take me to the land of the dragon.”

The carpet, gathering its magic, folded to cradle him and then increased its speed to an astounding degree. The clouds above Aladdin moved past him faster than he had ever seen, and the ground below him whipped by at a breathtaking rate.

Sitting up, Aladdin became comfortable. He didn’t know how long the trip would take, but he knew that the stories he had read about the dragon described fields of rolling green. Considering that in all of his travels he had only ever seen expands of desert, he knew that the trip to the magical land of the dragon would take many days.

As the hours passed there wasn’t much of a change below. But as the sun set and the cool air whipped across Aladdin’s thick cream colored silk garment, he laid forward allowing the carpet to wrap over him keeping him warm and safe.

As the sun broke over the horizon the next morning, nothing had changed below him. There was still more sand than he could count and no life in sight.

It wasn’t until late that evening that for the first time the landscape changed. The dry, dusty land suddenly gave way to dark stones unlike anything that Aladdin had ever seen. The stone cliff-faces before him stood high in the air and dropped off with a suddenness that sunk his heart. And when the air took on a scent reminiscent of salted fish, Aladdin kept his eyes peeled.