Before coming to the place where he was to
receive the final rites that would make him an Adept in The Society of the
Thirteen, Abdul-Azim Mujib went to his knees and bowed in prayer at his mosque.
He felt he needed all of Allah's help to see him through the ordeal. The first
twelve steps to achieve this singular honor were difficult, painful and
frightening, each higher rite being worse than the last. The first few were not
all that bad; he was only required to memorize and repeat long passages from a
book, swear to never reveal any of the societies secrets, swear to absolute
loyalty and obedience even unto death, endure long stretches in awkward
positions and fast for days. After the fifth rite, excruciating pain was also
involved. In addition, he needed to solve puzzles within a given time period;
failure to do meant expulsion from the cult and perhaps execution. More
disturbing than the pain and the possibility of death were the frightening
occult images during the initiations. Whether they were real or induced by a
drug that had been given to him in the wine he was always given to drink, he
was not absolutely certain. They included visions of phantoms, demons, jinn and
unthinkable horrors. Nonetheless, the final result would be worth the pain and
terror. Once he proved himself by doing whatever the thirteenth step required,
he would be one of the elect, would learn all the society's occult secrets and
be assured a place in
The building where he reported for the
thirteenth step was daunting in itself. It was an ancient mansion overlooking
The foyer's walls were of dark wood paneling. Since the only lighting was from a few candles, the gloom prevented Mujib from seeing much and added to his nervousness. Although the house was chilly, sweat rolled down his back. He made a fist to keep his hands from trembling. In his mind, he said, Courage. This is what you've been waiting for. Blessed be Allah. Allah will protect.
He was taken to a room at the end of the hall. The figure in the dark robe opened the door and indicated that Mujib should enter. He stepped through into absolute blackness and silence, as though he were entering a tomb. The door quietly closed behind him. He waited impatiently and fearfully for something more to happen. Sweat ran in rivulets down the small of his back and dripped from his forehead into his eyes. He stiffened his knees to keep them from buckling. He prayed to Allah to give him courage.
After several minutes, a hollow voice, as though from one of the dead, said, "Abdul-Azim Mujib, remove your garments. Strip everything until you appear before us as naked as the moment of your birth." The voice did not come from a single source, but seemed to surround him.
This is going to be very bad, he thought as he removed his clothing. He envisioned torture involved with his private parts.
When he finished undressing, someone touched his arm and handed him a goblet. The strange sounding voice said, "Drink the bitter brew. As an Adept you will need to swallow many bitter things."
He drank from the vessel. As promised, it was extremely bitter. It took him a while to get the goblets contents down without gagging. When he was finished, the cup was taken from him. Suddenly the room was ablaze with light. Acrid smoke came from braziers on stanchions in each corner. Mujib thought that it smelled of hashish.
Otherwise the room was empty except for a small altar upon which rested a crystal. The walls were covered with murals that depicted scenes of torture and of debauchery involving humans and unspeakable creatures. No person other than himself was in the room. The only exit was the one from which he had entered.
The strange disembodied voice said, "Yes, look around at the scenes painted on the walls, Abdul. That will be your fate should you reveal our secrets, disobey the thirteen masters, or fail in the tasks we assign you. On the other hand, if you are loyal servant of The Thirteen, you will be rewarded handsomely, not only in this short life, but in the afterlife. Do you understand and swear your loyalty and fealty, even unto death, should we ask it of you?"
"I do. I swear on all that is sacred to me."
"Very well. Go to the altar and pick up the crystal."
He did as he was told, wiping his sweating palms on thighs before taking the object in his hands.
"If you look closely, you will see that the crystal has many five sided facets. Bring the crystal up to your eyes and gaze into one of the facets. What do you see?"
Mujib stared into the crystal as ordered. Within its interior was a scene, a beautiful garden with stone paths, many different flowering plants, and trees. Scattered about were intricately designed sculptures. To his utter amazement, tiny people moved about the garden, specifically, three naked women. "I-I see a beautiful garden with naked women strolling along its pathways."
"You are viewing the paradise that await
you when you have finished the thirteenth step of your initiation. Once you
have completed the task we will assign, we will teach you how to enter
Mujib nodded. "You will allow me to
"That is correct. Now enjoy
The next moment, Mujib found himself in the garden he had viewed through crystal. It was not at all dreamlike. Everything about him seemed solid and real at though he had been teleported there. As he stood on one of the paths, the three naked women approached him. They were young and beautiful with heavenly bodies. One had long flowing blonde hair and carried an ud (a stringed instrument something like a mandolin). The second had red hair and played a mizmar (a double-reed wind instrument), while the third, who had olive skin and dark hair danced in an erotic manner.
They came up to him and laid down their instruments on the path. The blonde said, "I am Sheila. These are my friends Lucinda ..." She pointed to the one with red hair. "... and Esmeralda." She indicated the darker woman. "We are here to serve you. Would you like us to sing and dance for you?"
"Or perhaps you would like something to eat," said Esmeralda. She plucked a fruit from a nearby tree and put it to Mujib's lips. He took a bite into his mouth. It was the most delicious fruit he had ever tasted. "Do you like it?" she asked.
"Very much." He smiled at her.
"Perhaps it is wine you crave," said Lucinda. Somehow she had a goblet in her hand. Like Esmeralda, she place the cup to his mouth. He took a sip. It was ambrosia.
Not to be outdone, Sheila trust herself forward, took his hand and placed it on her naked breast. "It may be love that you want."
Mujib was dumb struck by the attention of
these beautiful women. This was indeed
"Very well. Then you shall have them."
She took up her instrument and began to play. Lucinda sang a heart-rending love song. Esmeralda danced an erotic belly dance. When the song was finished, they had Mujib lay in the grass where they fed him various fruits of the garden, gave him more of the tasty wine to drink and one at a time each of them lay with him. The sex with these women was like being in heaven with Allah. To his own amazement, he was able to perform with all three, one right after the other, with no rest and was randy again afterwards.
Nonetheless, as he was about to have sex with
Esmeralda a second time, a voice said, "Your time in
As swiftly as he had arrived, he was no longer in the garden, but again in the strange room staring at the crystal. Although he peered into it, he no longer saw the garden or the women. Upon the altar lay an envelope. He realized that it must contain his orders and whatever information he needed to fulfill them. He replaced the crystal on the altar, picked up his clothes, dressed, placed the envelope in his jacket pocket and left the house. He felt pleased, not only did he not have to endure torture but had a wonderful experience. He wondered what his orders were. He knew that whatever it was he would complete it quickly in order to return to the lovely garden and the three gorgeous women.