King Fez ruled Rubi Isle on planet Tellus – earth’s twin about 800 years behind but evolving. It was a prosperous country in many ways: The land was very fertiIe with two rivers flowing through it. It produced many crops besides vegetables and fruit. The fishing industry was teeming as there was an abundance of marine life to be had. Under King Fez’s rule citizens were prosperous, content and happy. Fez had a Chief Minister (CM) who was very clever and guided the king to rule wisely.
One day CM requested an audience with the king which was granted with Fez seated with his queen.
Fez said “CM I find our kingdom prosperous and people happy. Our laws are respected. When matters are stable I wondered what could’ve made you call for a meeting with me. Is there anything to worry about?”
CM said “Your Majesty what you’ve said is all true but there’re certain occurrences which are worrying. The eternal fountain here had gone dry for a week which is very unusual. We’ve had two major earthquakes in a month. The sea erupted and we witnessed a tsunami with sea covering a large area to descend heavily inland.”
Fez laughed and said “CM, the earthquakes damaged a few houses and based on your recommendation I had granted funds from the treasury for their repair. The fountain is back. Tsunami’s are natural phenomena and will keep happening like rain and flooding or drought.”
CM said “But the series of such events within a short period could be an evil omen.” He thought a bit and said “Your Majesty, I spoke to Whizma our official witch and she said ....... . I seek your permission to bring her here to speak.”
Fez ordered the witch to be brought which was immediately done as she lived near the king’s palace. Whizma was an old woman who was said to be very knowledgeable possessing inscribed scrolls, calendars, and so on.
CM said “Whizma I consulted you about certain natural occurrences and you suspected they were signs of evil to the kingdom. Tell His Majesty about it.”
The old woman said “Sire, I’ve some old parchment scrolls with inscriptions thereon left to me by my ancestors. When CM came and talked to me about certain natural events I consulted my scrolls and said these could foretell evil: There lives under the sea a great power named Juzbang. When he is awake once in a very long time, things happen like fountains drying up temporarily or the sea rising in tsunami besides ground shaking due to earthquakes. And worse could follow.”
Fez asked “Whizma, how can Juzbang be calmed?”
Whizma said “Sire, my scrolls say it happened once a long time before and as per an oracle’s advice a nubile female was placed on the shore. Juzbang it seems came ashore in human form and lifting the female went back to his abode under the sea when all natural disturbances were quelled.”
Fez asked “How did the woman return? What happened to the woman?
Whizma said “The scrolls are incomplete. They describe nothing about Juzbang who arrived by night. They only say the woman offered to Juzbang produced a child who became ruler of a land. There is also a prophecy that a child produced with Juzbang will become a ruler.”
Fez asked “Do you think we could offer Juzbang a female to calm him?”
Whizma said “It could be done.”
Fez said “Would a woman offered to Juzbang be safe.”
Whizma said “Yes sire.”
Fez said “Juzbang isn’t bloodthirsty and is satisfied with a woman. I’m sure I can find a woman to calm him.”
The queen said “Women will be scared of being dragged to the bottom of the sea even if Juzbang should approach in human form.”
Fez said “Since there’s no fear of life I’ll call for volunteers to consort with Juzbang. Of course I’ll hold out a lump sum in compensation to whosoever volunteers. Let us see what happens. If there are no other matters for discussion I’ll close this session for now.”
News of the possibility of a calamity, and the king’s call with reward for volunteers spread widely. Some women met informally and discussed. One said “I can’t withstand a giant like Juzbang. Not for me, no!”
Another said “Men and women were created in sizes to match. I don’t want to be handled by a giant.”
Yet another said “Childbirth is a big problem for us women. And if the baby is extra large I could lose my life. I won’t volunteer.”
“There is no possibility of our ever getting home if as is rumoured Juzbang takes us to his underground mansion” said another. However after a wait, there was only one volunteer- Qikma a very beautiful girl. Her father was dead but her mother a fishmonger consented.
Fez ordered “Pay her the reward in advance” and it was done.
Then came the problem: How to tell Juzbang that Qikma was ready? Whizma was consulted and she said she could do it by casting a spell on a piece of wood and setting it afloat in the sea. Whizma did her part and even got an answer: Juzbang would visit Qikma on the full moon night 2 days later. Qikma was put on a boat anchored to the wharf at 7 in the evening and was left alone that night.
Qikma waited. Then came a man swimming. She studied his strong fingers as they gripped the boat. He was young and was quite well-built. Qikma waved to him. She welcomed him and soon the boat shook with their united efforts. When Qikma’s mother and others came at midnight they were glad to find her daughter glowing and happy and was taken home.
The mother asked “Has Juzbang gone back? Did you have a difficult time?”
“He has. Me having a difficult time? No,no.!”
“Did he say anything about stopping these omens?”
“He didn’t speak a word. He went away very, very happy.”
“You’re a brave girl. The whole town was teetering on the edge of something dark happening and you have done well to save Rubi Isle.”
Next day Qikma was taken before king Fez and he praised her for her courage in calming Juzbang.
Fez asked “Did Juzbang have anything to say?”
“Yes. He said I would get married to a man with an extra thumb on his right hand.”
Fez said “Leave it to me to find the suitor.” He ordered his men “Find the man with the extra thumb on his right hand and get him whoever or wherever he is.”
The same day the king’s messengers found a man staying in an inn and took him before Fez. Fez said “You say you’ve come from afar. You’re lucky as you’ve been chosen to wed Qikma.” Fez told him about the happenings due to Juzbang stirring.
The wedding took place and Qikma was left alone with her husband. Speaking to him she said “We had met in secret and had vowed to get married though you’re a wanted pirate in your land. I had sent messages to you by pigeon and you complied with all my requests including swimming to my boat on full moon night. And you returned swimming. They say my son or daughter will become a ruler. Let us complete the task we started on the boat carpe diem.”
“Sure. Just a moment to say thanks to Juzbang: You assured me he doesn’t exist! I am also lucky about having the extra thumb on my right hand. But one thing: Was Juzbang really calmed? Will the omens again appear or will evil befall our land?”
She laughed and said “Be optimistic. Again I say carpe diem.”
He didn’t need one more reminder!