Jhamiel is a popular folk dancer working hard and saving every coin for a fast approaching and special event. She never expected an invitation to dance for Awlbri, the wealthiest sheik in Arayna. She also never expected to become his prisoner. Would she be swayed by his riches and give in to his demands? Or would she sacrifice everything to save the life of the goat herder who came to her rescue?
Jhamiel found great joy in the dancing profession. Playing the crowd came naturally. She could always tell by their reactions if they got her jokes, historical references, and subtle innuendoes. Using masterful movements, Jhamiel knew just how to tease the men and make the women blush, all without being vulgar or degrading herself as some of her colleagues did. This gained her a wider fan base and respect, which was worth far more than the coins her audience threw at her feet.
She moved to the beat of the drums like silk on the air. Jhamiel rolled her hips in the shape of a figure eight, while lowering to one knee. Then her shoulders rolled back as she stood. After throwing her hips around in a large circle, Jhamiel leaned back and shook her shoulders. Her coin belts jingled loudly when she pranced across the stage.
Then with an unexpected and flamboyant turn, she bowed low and, dashed from the arena.
Never actually ending her performance until she was out-of-sight, a coin purse tossed in her direction seemed to magically disappear with a whirl of her skirts. In her tent, Jhamiel counted her earnings and smiled, thinking of what she intended to do with them. She had been giving twice as many performances in order to earn extra money. Her surplus had accumulated nicely, and there were still three months left. She soon drifted into a daydream of the coming events, her thoughts broken when someone handed her a scroll. Satin paper, an elaborate seal; Jhamiel's eyes widened in anticipation of
knowing who could afford such a thing. To her surprise, it was a request to dance for Awlbri, the wealthiest sheik in the Arayna.
Being a soloist had always been a highly competitive field. With little malicious intent, dancers were constantly working against each other to secure steady work; the most ambitious acquiring the patronage of a highborn or landowner. Not being the competitive type, Jhamiel had only dreamed of such an achievement, never even considering it could actually happen. Yet here she sat, holding a personal invitation from Awlbri, the most coveted patron among Jhamiel's peers. To her knowledge, only the most renowned performers were employed by him and only the most exemplary among them were offered a permanent position.
It would be the greatest challenge of her career, but a successful performance in the sheik's court could win a Jhamiel enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of her life. The invitation was for the following week. She had to make an especially good impression. News traveled quickly among her associates. A failure would almost assuredly ruin her career, just as a good one could advance it. There was so much to consider, so much to do. Costumes needed embellishments and routines needed polishing.
In her excitement, Jhamiel arrived two days early. She was directed to a tent designated for her use. The steward constantly mentioned that her early arrival meant the set up was still in progress.
"You'll have to tolerate our staff working around you," he informed her. "I assure you, they will be quick and discreet. Jahmiel looked around the space wondering what more could be done. There was a bed covered in fine linens and draped by jewel toned curtains. A vanity and a full-length mirror stood nearby. Bottles of scented oils lay next to an ivory handled comb and brush. Also, there were dried arrangements of jasmine and lavender. Their fragrances shifted lightly in the air. These things alone made her feel more like a dignitary than a simple folk dancer. It fascinated her to think of what else they would bring in. She graciously thanked the steward, and assured him that the workers would not be an intrusion.
Two days filled with such fineries left Jhamiel feeling a bit too proud of herself. It was a short lived haughtiness, though. Upon entering the venue, she quickly returned to her natural humility. An array of rich cloths made her feel like a dengy beggar in her home made costume. Sparkling draperies hung from the center post. Flecks of gold and silver embedded in the fabric blinked in the torchlight like stars. Finely woven rugs lay
in whimsical patterns across the floor. Not wanting to damage it, Jhamiel tiptoed across a gold colored carpet that led to the sheik's pedestal. Her eyes followed it right up to his face.
Awlbri was just as amazing as his surroundings, and much younger than expected.
Jhamiel stood momentarily doe-eyed; examining the shiek's every feature. Handsome, swarthy; his skin glowed against olive garments. Rare for a man of his station, Awlbri was clean-shaven. He raised his strong cleft chin with a superior air. Black tufts of hair peeked from beneath a fitted turban. He noticed how Jhamiel stared. It seemed to please him that she found his appearance so entrancing. A corner of his mouth rose into a half smile and honey-brown eyes were curtained by long lashes when he gave Jhamiel the nod to begin.
Shaking off her fascination, the dancer started simply. She moved fluidly around the room, in a greeting to her audience. She spiraled into the center of the room where there was a brief demonstration of her flexibility. Black locks fell into a pile as she bent backwards. Standing erect, everyone cooed and clapped when they realized her hair stopped at her midriff. Jhamiel's true skill showed in how easily her hips followed the drummers' rhythm. It was impossible to tell that the performer and the musicians had no previous knowledge of the other. They complemented each other seamlessly. Flickering torches washed Jhamiel's ornaments when she isolated different body parts, enhancing them. The dancer ended it all in a kneeling position before the sheik.