Saturday, January 9, 2021

DWOA Princess Alliance: Chapter 12


Disney's World Of Adventures: Princess Alliance

Chapter 12 – A Whole New World

    Maria stirred from her slumber. She discovered herself surrounded in pitch blackness. So dark were her environs that she could not tell whether her eyes were open or not. Only when she blinked did she realize that she was, in fact, looking with eyes wide open. She was reclining upon what she assumed was the ground—it was so dark she could hardly tell!—when she sat up to survey the darkness around her.

    “So we meet again, niñita!” A haggard, croaking voice echoed from behind her.

    A great green flame erupted behind her. It snuffed out to reveal the glowing figure of—

    “Bruja Dama!” Maria scampered back, frightened, nearly jumping out of her skin. “You’re alive?”

    The elderly hag with ragged hair shook her head, smiled with a crooked grin, and breathed a “tsk-tsk-tsk” through her even more crooked teeth.

    “Not quite, niñita!” She waggled a bony figure. “I’m only appearing here in your dreams—or rather, your nightmare. I am quite deader than a doornail. No, you can see me now because a remnant of my dark magic still lingers in your mind from my sleeping curse. The spell may have been lifted, but a sliver of its magic remains. It will soon fade away, and I along with it; but until now, it has enough power for me to speak to you.”

    Warily, Maria kept her arm up to guard against a potential attack, yet peered curiously at her tormenter hovering before her.

    “What do you want with me?” She asked, hesitation audible in her voice. “You’re not here to—”

    “Harm you?” The witch’s apparition shook her head. “No. I do not have enough magic. If I did, I would have already done so. No, I am only here to warn you.”

    Maria lowered her arm, letting down her guard ever so slightly yet cautiously. “Of what?”

    “That warlock you encountered? Lucitor? I know that man, and I also know his master. For he was once my master.”

    “You’re talking about the Ancient Evil?”

    “Know this, niñita!” Bruja Dama pointed a bony finger at the cowering princess. “I once served this Ancient Evil you speak of. Back in ancient times, back when Elder Gods and Ancient Ones roamed the earth, back when I was a younger witch, mi hermanas and hermanos, my fellow witches and warlocks and creatures of the night, gathered once a year to honor him. In fact, it was the very hill your castle now rests where we congregated to worship our dark lord and master. It was on that bald mountain, during our Black Sabbath, where we would partake in our revelries and dance in the light of his fire and under the light of the full moon.

    “Of course, these celebrations ended once our master was sealed away into the Abyss by the Ten Kings. Once he and his loyal followers had been banished, only I remained, and thereupon that hill, I stayed for the remainder of my days upon this earth. There I lived my life, practiced my craft, and honored the old ways, honored my old master, until the fateful day when your great ancestor turned me to stone and stole my land.

    “But mark my words, niñita: my master shall return! To this mortal realm, he shall arrive most triumphantly, accompanied by his legion of demons, wraiths, and dark apparitions. He shall return once more and lay claim to this world.”

    “No. No!” Maria shook her head. “I will stop him. I will gather the princesses, and we shall cast the spell to keep him away.”

    Bruja Dama unleashed the most fearsome cackle, forcing Maria to recoil with a cold rush down her spine.

    “Try as you might, your efforts shall prove futile. My master shall return. He shall snuff out the light and claim his right to a world of darkness. And you shall know him by his name, that name that has been long lost to time. That name is—”

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    Maria jolted with a gasp. Susan reached over and tugged on her shoulder.

    “Boo, you okay?” she asked. “You were mumbling in your sleep.”

    The two princesses sat across from each other in the comfort of a palanquin. After a three-day voyage, their ship docked at a port along the Arabian Coast. They disembarked and were escorted into a howdah seated upon a dromedary, their luggage loaded onto the back of another camel. The two girls lay languidly upon satin cushions as they were carried along in a camel train for the past three hours. Both the gentle swaying of their litter and the gentle breeze blowing through the silk curtains lulled Maria to sleep.

    “I’m fine, I’m fine.” The princess rubbed her eyes open before stretching with a grunt. “I could have sworn I was having a bad dream, but I can’t for the life of me remember it.”

    “Well, there’s no need for dreaming now.” Her wife smiled as she caressed her cheek. “We’ve reached Agrabah, and we’ll be arriving at the palace shortly.”

    Maria peered through the translucent curtains. The passing scenery for the last several hours were wavering dunes, the unending tedium of which lulled her to sleep. Now their carriage passed through the giant gates of the walled desert kingdom. As they traveled onward, the marketplace energy surrounding them electrified their senses. They saw the colorful tapestry of the bazaar stalls, filled with trinkets of all shapes and sizes. They saw as people hurried by, cloaked head to toe in flowing garments, whether a gentlemen’s kaftan or a woman’s veil. They heard the clamor of the crowds as peasants begged, merchants advertised their wares, and customers haggled their prices. Over this daily din played the faint music of strumming auds, whistling nays, and clinking qanuns performed by street musicians. They could smell the aroma of incense and spices wafting into their litter, and they could nearly taste the savory meats roasting on kebabs from nearby food stalls.

    These sights and sounds of yet another Arabian day may have been commonplace for the denizens passing by, yet to these two princesses from the West Continent, such exotic sights and sounds tantalized their imaginations. If they did not have important matters awaiting them at their destination, neither of them would hesitate to stop the litter so they could explore the kingdom and its offerings. Yet the princesses pressed onward toward the palace, its golden domes atop the pearl-white spires shining brighter than the golden orb of the sun itself.

*****

    Once upon a time, there lived a princess named Jasmine. She ruled over the desert kingdom of Agrabah. In that city lived a street urchin named Aladdin. The lad was smitten with the princess, yet knew his lowly station prevented him from falling in love with her. An evil vizier offered to let him see the princess if he fetched a treasure hidden in the depths of a cavern.

    In that cave, Aladdin discovered a magic lamp. Trapped inside was a genie who offered to grant him three wishes. For his first wish, Aladdin asked to be rescued from the cave. For his second wish, he asked to become a prince so that he may impress the princess. Disguised as a prince, he offered to show her the world on his magic carpet, and the two fell in love.

    Before he could make his third wish, the evil vizier stole the lamp and used the genie to take over Agrabah. However, with his cunning wiles, Aladdin defeated the vizier and rescued the princess and the genie. He used his last wish to set the genie free, and he went on to marry the princess.

    And they all lived happily ever after.

*****

    Within the palace gardens, the Sultan sat upon a lawn chair as he constructed a tower of toy animals. He spent the past hour painstakingly stacking creature after creature, each one teetering atop the other. The occasional breeze brushed against it, yet the tower remained resolute, though its makeshift construction made it vulnerable to topple over. Nevertheless, with his last figurine, the leader of Agrabah was determined to complete his creation and place the very last piece on top. With a steady yet trembling hand, he carefully positioned it, standing on tiptoe so that he could reach. He was about to set the toy animal in place when—

    “Sire!” a royal guard yelled out.

    The sudden announcement forced him to drop the toy, collapsing the entire tower under its weight. What had once been a spire of every animal of every shape and size now lay scattered.

    A disheartened sigh passing from his lips, the Sultan glanced at the guard who approached him.

    “Yes, what is it?” His somber voice conveyed both disappointment and slight annoyance.

    The guard saluted. “Princesses Maria and Susan from Hermosa Vista have arrived.”

    Behind him followed the two princesses. The Sultan’s face lit up upon seeing them.

    “Oh, yes, visitors!” He gleefully clapped to himself.

    He leaped off his chair and scuttled to them upon his pudgy feet. Approaching the two, he clapped his hands and bowed before them.

    “Shalom, honored guests,” he greeted them as he rose from his bow. “I take it your journey was a safe one?”

    Maria and Susan both curtseyed at him.

    “Yes, it was,” Maria rose from her curtsey. “And Shalom to you, too. From what little we have seen so far, Agrabah is a beautiful kingdom, a scenic oasis amid an otherwise barren desert. We hope to see more of it, but we’d like to see Princess Jasmine first. We have important matters to attend to.”

    The Sultan once more bowed, chuckling. “Well, yes, our kingdom is quite magnificent. You’ll be sure to see more of it and Jasmine, too. Unfortunately, she and Aladdin are not here.”

    Susan raised an eyebrow. “Really? You know when they’ll be back.”

    “As a matter of fact,” the Sultan’s face immediately lit up as he pointed upward, “they’re here right now.”

    From out of the sky, descending to the ground like a purple leaf, soared the Magic Carpet with Aladdin and Jasmine atop it. The carpet spiraled downward and soon landed near a fountain several yards away. As Jasmine and Aladdin stepped off, the Sultan hurriedly scurried toward them with Maria and Susan following.

    “Jasmine, Aladdin, allow me to introduce you both to Princess Marianna and Susanna from the Kingdom of Hermosa Vista.”

    Maria curtseyed and Susan bowed before the two Arabian royals.

    “Hola! I am Princess Marianna, but you may refer to me as Maria.”

    “Same. You can call me Susan.”

    Jasmine and Aladdin, in turn, returned a curtsey and bow to their humble guests.

    “Shalom! I am Princess Jasmine, and this here, is my husband, Aladdin.”

    “Please to meet you all. Genie told us you two would be arriving with something important to tell us?”

    “Yes,” Susan nodded. “We have very pertinent matters to discuss—”

    “O! M! Goodness!” Maria exclaimed, her eyes wide and sparkling like stars. She pointed to the Magic Carpet hovering behind the other two. “Is that carpet flying?”

    Aladdin looked back at the carpet.

    “Why, yes, yes it is!” He motioned for Maria to approach it. As she did, the carpet extended a tassel. “This is the Magic Carpet, and as you can see, he can fly.”

    Maria’s eyes sparkled brighter as she shook the carpet’s tassel. “So cool!”

    Susan cleared her throat. “That’s very interesting. Anyway, we arrived here to Agrabah to discuss—”

    “Can we fly it?” Maria asked with folded hands.

    Jasmine raised an eyebrow. “What?”

    “The magic carpet,” Maria began bouncing upon her heels. “I never rose one before. Can we fly on it? Please?!”

    Susan shook her head. “Boo, we’re on an important mission, and we don’t have time to—”

    “But it’s a magic carpet, Sue!” Maria pleaded. “It’s not every day you see a flying carpet, let along fly on one.”

    Jasmine chuckled. “Well, we were going to offer you a tour of Agrabah, and what better way to travel than by carpet?”

    “Of course,” Aladdin nodded and motioned to the carpet. “We’d love for you to take a ride with us, and we can talk about everything you want to talk about along the way.”

    Maria bounced upon her heels, clapped her hands together, and gave the most adorable squeal. As soon as the carpet lowered half of its body into the form of stairs, Maria climbed onto it with Susan following her. Aladdin and Jasmine were the last to step aboard when they all sat down cross-legged upon the rug.

    “Carpet,” Aladdin commanded, “let’s show our new friends the kingdom.”

    Magic Carpet gave a salute as it rose into the air and flew off the balcony into the city below. All the while, Maria squealed further in delight with her hands in the air, like someone riding a roller coaster, as the carpet made its descent.

*****

    Across the burning desert sand, scolding hot from the sun above, scurried Abis Mal. The pudgy thief raced as fast as he could with his two pudgy legs, his two henchmen trailing behind, as he hastily followed the golden dust trail of a magic flying beetle.

    “You know,” he said through heaving breath, “after all these years of trying to get my hands on Allie Boy’s genie, I finally got the smart idea to snatch myself my own magic lamp.”

    “Gee, boss,” one henchman said. “It was awfully lucky of yah to find that magic golden beetle.”

    “Sure was,” Abis Mal replied. “Sneaking into the palace past the royal guard was lucky enough, but even luckier, Aladdin and his precious princess were nowhere to be found. There was no one to stop me from sneaking into the old lair of that dead codger Jafar and purloining this here magic amulet. If we’re any luckier, this beetle will lead us directly to the same place Allie Boy found his magic lamp. Then all my wishes—er, all our wishes—will come true.”

    No sooner had he said that, the beetle reached an inconspicuous dune. It flew several times around the hill until the sand beneath began to quake. The hill rose higher and higher into the air until it revealed itself to be the giant head of a tiger.

    Abis Mal fell upon his hands and knees, huffing and puffing to catch his breath. He pointed to the giant sand sculpture rising before him as his wheezing quickly turned to laughter.

    “There it is!” he exclaimed. “The Cave of Wonders! Isn’t it just wonderful?”

    The giant tiger head roared, glaring down at the three thieves standing before it.

    “Who dares disturbs my slumber?”

    The two henchmen clung to each other in fear. Abis Mal stood and waved a hand at the sandy beast.

    “Ah, save your spiel! We’re here for the magic lamp and the treasure.”

    Once more the Cave of Wonders growled.

    “Enter at your own risk!” were its only words as it opened wide its maw.

    Abis Mal rubbed his hands together as he approached the entrance. His two henchmen remained cowering in place.

    “Eh, boss?” one of them asked. “Are you sure there’s going to be a magic lamp in there? What if Aladdin has the only one?”

    Abis Mal tapped his chin and thought for a second. He shrugged his shoulders.

    “Oh, well, I guess we came out here for nothing. I mean it’s only the FREAKING CAVE OF WONDERS!”

    He grit his teeth, staring down—or rather, up at—his two cowering lackeys.

    “Do you bozos have any idea where we are? Even if there isn’t a lamp, unfathomable riches await us inside. Now come on! I need as many hands to grab as many shiny things we can get.”

    He motioned for them to follow him inside the giant tiger’s mouth.

    Unbeknownst to him, green wisps of smoke rose around the head. As it ascended higher, it reached the eyes and turned them green. Once more, the tiger growled.

    Having stepped halfway inside the mouth, Abis Mal turned to see his two lackeys shuddering even harder and faster in fear.

    “What’s the matter with you palookas?” he asked. “Stop standing there and come—”

    He fell onto his rump as the tiger’s mouth rose from off the ground, and quicker than he could yelp, it shut, swallowing him whole. The sand around the entrance to the cave began to quake as the head ascended higher and higher into the air, and as the sand fell away, it revealed that the giant tiger head was attached to a giant tiger body.

    The Cave of Wonders, now in its giant tiger form, stretched its body back as it let out a giant roar, echoing loudly as thunder. It then glared its green eyes at the two remaining thieves.

    Screaming, they turned heel and ran off, racing toward the horizon as the Cave of Wonders chased after them.

*****

    “So you two princesses are married to each other?” Aladdin asked. “Congratulations.”

    Maria and Susan spent the past half hour taking an aerial tour of Agrabah with Aladdin and Jasmine. The four of them soared over the city, skirting past towering buildings and citadels, skimming over the rooftops, and dipping down and through the tight alleys of the marketplace. When they weren’t breathless from the breathtaking view and sights, the two princesses were conversing about their personal lives with their two Arabian hosts and tour guide.

    “Thanks!” Maria replied. “So I take it you two are okay with that? The two of us being married, I mean?”

    Jasmine shrugged. “Well, Agrabah is a traditional kingdom with traditional values, but Aladdin and I couldn’t care less about who other people love.”

    “Yeah,” Aladdin added. “We’d prefer people live free to follow their hearts rather than blindly follow the rules.”

    Maria chuckled and nodded. “Well, it’s nice to know you two feel that way. I only wished mi papa was as lenient. He’s such a stickler for tradition. He insisted I marry a prince by my eighteenth birthday, even if it was someone I didn’t know or love.”

    “Oh, I know how that feels,” Jasmine replied.

    “Yeah,” Susan said. “I couldn’t stand seeing my best friend forced to marry someone she didn’t love, especially since I’ve loved her with my whole heart. Of course, I had to keep that love secret for so long, not only because I was another woman, but because I was a lady-in-waiting, a lowly servant. To think my love for someone else was confined for so long because of my low rank.”

    “Oh, I certainly know how that feels,” Aladdin replied.

    Jasmine reached over and touched her hand against Maria’s. “Well, it’s nice to know that you two managed to overcome the odds and satisfy your love for one another.”

    “Exactly!” Aladdin gave a thumbs up. “Feel free to buck tradition and follow your hearts. When you do, you’ll discover a whole new world ahead of you.”

    Maria blushed. “Thanks, you two. It’s certainly nice to know that a whole world of possibilities has opened up to us, especially this opportunity to see the world. I’ve never been outside my kingdom before, let alone to such an exotic locale as Agrabah.”

    Susan surveyed her surroundings as they all soared upon the magic carpet. “Couldn’t agree more, Boo. This place is tripping. The only downside are the sporadic sandstorms.”

    Jasmine raised an eyebrow. “What sandstorm?”

    Susan pointed to the horizon. “You know, like the one fast approaching the city.”

    Aladdin shielded his eyes with his hands as he gazed where Susan was pointing.

    “That doesn’t look like a sandstorm I’ve ever seen.”

    Jasmine also shielded her eyes and gazed in the same direction.

    “That looks serious. We should probably check it out.”

    With that, Aladdin commanded the carpet to fly toward the horizon where the sandstorm was rising. The carpet flew in that direction, flying out of the city and far across the desert sand.

    As they neared the rising cloud, they saw the sand being kicked into the air by a lumbering giant. At first, it appeared to be a large black mountain, but as their carpet neared it, its form appeared to be the shape of a giant cat. As they drew closer, they identified the head as that of a tiger.

    Aladdin gasped upon recognizing it. “The Cave of Wonders?”

    Maria turned to raise an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

    “Long story,” Aladdin replied. “All you need to know that it’s not supposed to be like this.”

    “And it’s heading towards Agrabah!” Jasmine exclaimed. “If it gets near the city, it could wreak untold damage.”

    Aladdin nodded. “Right. So we’ll need to lure it away.”

    He pointed to the Cave of Wonder racing toward them. The carpet soared toward it. As it neared, the carpet veered sharply past the giant stone beast.

    “Hey, you ugly lawn ornament,” Aladdin exclaimed, funneling his mouth. “Why don’t you come after us?”

    The Cave came to a screeching halt as it gazed back at the others flying away, making a sharp banking turn as it raced after them with a roar.

    As the others had flown to the horizon in pursuit of the lumbering animated cave, now they were flying in that direction being pursued by it. They sped along fast enough to keep their distance, but soon it caught up to them.

    “So what do we do now?” Jasmine asked Aladdin.

    “Honestly,” he replied. “I thought you might have a plan.”

    The carpet soared over several dunes. It dove down and weaved past them in an attempt to evade the giant stone tiger. Unfortunately, it kept in close pursuit.

    In mere minutes, the Cave of Wonders neared the flying carpet, and in a sudden pounce, it caught the edge of the carpet with its paw, flinging it and its passengers down to the sand below. As the carpet crashed, Maria and the others tumbled forward across the sand several times until they all came to a screeching halt.

    Sore and scathed from the crash landing, everyone slowly lifted themselves from off of the ground, only to find themselves under the glare of the towering feline above them.

    “Infidels!” it cried out. “Now you will no longer see the light of day.”

    The giant stone tiger raised its paw and prepared to throw it down upon the four humans below him. They all raised their hands to their face in a desperate attempt to shield themselves, even though their feeble defense would not protect them.

    Before it could attack, its paw was struck by a whip. Several more lashes forced the large stone cat several steps back.

    “Back, Sheeba! Back I say!”

    The voice cried out from behind the others. They turned to see, dressed as a lion tamer—

    “Genie!” Aladdin exclaimed, seeing his big blue friend.

    Maria lifted herself and dusted the sand from her dress. “Who’s this?”

    “Just a close personal friend,” Jasmine replied as she was lifted by Aladdin and Susan.

    In a puff of blue smoke, Genie changed out of the lion tamer’s outfit and into his normal garb.

    “Save the introductions for later.” In another puff of smoke, he transformed into a giant blue catnip mouse. “We have a large kitty cat to tame.”

    He floated in front of the Cave of Wonders and began shimmying in front of its face.

    “Here kitty, kitty, kitty!”

    The Cave swatted at him, only to miss every time.

    “Hurry!” Genie called out to the others. “While it’s distracted, try to constrain it.”

    In another poof of blue smoke, Aladdin and Jasmine found themselves wielding their weapons: Aladdin, a scimitar in one hand and a coil of rope in another; Jasmine, a quarterstaff.

    As Carpet flew toward them, having been released from the Cave’s grasps, the two of them hopped on top and rode it as it began circling the stone beast. As it reached the creature’s mouth, the entrance into the cave, Jasmine hopped off and into it. She landed on its tongue and propped the staff in between the top and bottom of its mouth, prying it open. She clenched onto her staff as the Cave shook its head in a vain attempt to fling her away.

    “Quickly!” she called out, holding onto dear life. “While I have it incapacitated!”

    By then, the carpet veered down towards the legs of the cave. Aladdin flung his rope at one leg, ensnaring it. Holding onto the rope, he circled the cave with the Carpet several times, wrapping the rest of its legs with the remainder of the rope.

    Its legs bound, its mouth propped open, the Cave toppled onto its side. Several times it writhed in the sand, kicking up a large cloud. Aladdin leaped off the Carpet, and Jasmine leaped from out of its mouth.

    “Well, we finally stopped it,” Aladdin remarked, “But how did the Cave of Wonders get this way?”

    The Genie, having transformed into his normal form, flew toward the head. As it roared and writhed about, he noticed its eyes were glowing an evil green. In another poof, he transformed into a doctor and held an ophthalmoscope to one of its green eyes.

    “Well, here’s your problem,” he said. “Something went and turned it evil with these green eyes.”

    In yet another poof, he took on the appearance of Ben Stein.

    “For evil green eyes,” he spoke in a monotone voice, holding up a large bottle of eye cleaner, “this magic potion is awesome.”

    He held the bottle over both green eyes and squeezed it.

    “It removes evil greenness and has ingredients to moisturize.”

    As the liquid was applied, each eye changed back to its normal color.

    “Wow!”

    When both eyes had changed back to normal, the Cave of Wonders ceased moving, opening its maw wide as it had before. Its body sank into the sand. First, its feet and legs disappeared, and then the rest of its body until only its head remained above the desert sand. Then it, too, disappeared underneath.

    The only thing remaining was a person huddled in a fetal position, quaking and quivering in fear. Aladdin and the others recognized him as—

    “Abis Mal!”

    Upon hearing his name, he jolted up and frantically surveyed his surroundings. Seeing that he was no longer trapped in the beast, he wiped his brow and breathed a sigh of relief. His relief was short-lived, as Aladdin grabbed him by the collar.

    “What did you do to the Cave of Wonders?” he demanded.

    The petty thief could only shiver in Aladdin’s grasps. “It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me! I only summoned it. I didn’t make it turn all evil and everything. I swear!”

    Aladdin tossed him to the ground and pointed to the horizon. Abis Mal took the hint and scuttled away as far as his pudgy feet could carry him.

*****

    “So any idea what happened with the Cave of Wonders?” Aladdin asked Genie.

    “Must have been some wicked dark magic.” Genie plucked open both eyes with his fingers, his eyes glowing green. “I saw it in those green glowing eyes—and they weren’t green with envy, I can tell you that!”

    “But what or who could have cast that dark magic?” Jasmine asked.

    Genie scratched his chin. “Not sure, but if I had to go out on a limb—” He grasped a tree limb that magically appeared over his head. “I’d say it’s the same thing causing all sorts of evil magical creatures to appear throughout the other kingdoms.”

    Aladdin raised an eyebrow. “How do you know about that?”

    Genie transformed into a bunch of grapes. “Oh, I heard it through the grapevine from the other members of the Spellcasters Guild.”

    Jasmine likewise raised an eyebrow. “Spellcasters Guild?”

    Maria pushed passed both Arabian royals to approach Genie. “Wait! You know about the Spellcasters Guild?”

    Genie transformed into his regular self and flashed a card at her. “I don’t just know about it. I’m also a proud-card carrying member.” He placed the card into his wallet, which he then pocketed. “Don’t leave home without it!”

    Susan casually crossed her arms. “So you’re also with the Spellcaster’s Guild?”

    Genie transformed into a midget wearing colorful lederhosen with a brightly-colored wig and a matching giant lollipop.

    “Oh yes, I represent the Spellcasters Guild, the Spellcasters Guild, the Spellcasters Guild,” he sung before transforming back. “Ever since I became a free genie, I’ve been finding ways to preoccupy my free time. So I decided to put my magic to good use by joining the guild. It’s great. We play bridge on Thursday and have a potluck every month. The only downside is that the other members smell like mothballs.”

    “That’s why we’re here,” Maria said.

    “Y’all need some mothballs?” Genie asked, transforming into a box.

    Maria shook her head. “No, we’re here because of the guild. All the weird things happening in our kingdoms are being caused by an Ancient Evil trying to enter our world. The only thing keeping it back is an ancient magical seal of protection, but its magic is quickly wearing away. We need to find ten princesses to create a new magic seal.”

    Susan nodded. “That’s why we’re here: to recruit Jasmine to our cause.”

    Jasmine placed a finger to her lip as she contemplated in momentary silence.

    “If that Ancient Evil caused the Cave of Wonders to go bad, who knows what other havoc it could wreak upon Agrabah.” She extended a hand to Maria and Susan. “I’ll gladly join your cause.”

    Aladdin placed his hand upon her shoulder and nodded. “Count me in, too! We’ll help out however we can.”

    The four royals huddled together and reached forward to cover each other’s hands.

    “Thanks!” Maria reached back. “As far as help goes, we certainly need it to get to our next destination: The Dragon Empire. It’s so far away from here, and crossing the hot desert to Agrabah was tiring enough.

    Aladdin smiled and pointed to himself with his thumb. “Not a problem! Magic Carpet can take us anywhere we want in no time.”

    Maria leaped in the air as she squealed in joy. “Yay! We get to ride the flying carpet again.”

    “We certainly need it,” Susan added. “We haven’t time to lose.”

    “Then let’s get going,” Jasmine replied.

    The carpet landed in front of them, allowing each of them to climb aboard. Once everyone was seated, Genie transformed into a female flight attendant.

    “In the case of an emergency, your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.”

    With that, the carpet lifted off the ground and flew into the horizon.

    “The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. You may now unfasten your seatbelts.”

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