Ancient tales have been passed down by word of mouth over the long
millennia of the Titans of old, the brothers of God, who were exiled from
heaven. Some sought refuge as pilgrims in homes of lesser folk. Others
sailed across the endless deep to find a home where they could find quiet.
Many, who were malicious and wicked, came as usurpers to the kingdoms and
empires of mankind. They carved from the very bones of the earth immortal
dynasties of marvelous and hideous strength.
Cairo, in the time of the Arabian sultan, Saladin, had only just
recovered from strong crusader assault. Many families had been affected by
this conflict and nearly every woman had lost either a son, husband, or
brother. Had it not been for Abdul's blindness in one eye, his wife would
have also been one of these women. The Sultan had never been interested in
having any soldiers with "difficulties" as the recruiters called Abdul's
right eye, so Abdul only continued to fish in the river during the long
drawn out siege of the city.
The fish in the Nile were particularly large this past year, since the
great deep-sea marlins were forced into the rivers by a cold winter in the
North Atlantic. The marlins came and fed on the lesser river fish under
the docks of Cairo.
Fish were the main staple of the city in those times since the French
and Normans had burnt all the farms and storehouses beyond, and the Templar
in Jerusalem captured all the caravans en route to Egypt from the East. So
the fisherman of the countryside were able to make a good living, while the
farmers replanted, and the Sultan made plans to liberate the trade routes.
But, the autumn arrived and went and winter came into Egypt. The winter
brought dry air in from the desert, and the crops of the farmers were again
"It is a good thing these great fish came up the river for us to eat
in this famine." Abdul told his family one night.
"And what will happen when they return to sea?" asked his wife, "They
have eaten all of the river fish."
"Do not worry over such things, my love," said Abdul, "Allah will
provide." Abdul thought over that question every day when passed families
coming home from the docks carrying large silvery fish. When January began
the Sultan left to retake Jerusalem, but he promised no food for Egypt.
He said, "The food is needed in the East where your sons fight."
"Our sons." Abdul worried about his sons, Ali and Mosul. They
were only boys, he knew this, of course, but soon Saladin would need
fresher troops and young boys can still hold a sword.
One evening during the time when sun has just gone down, and sky
reflects a sickly twilight over that part of the earth, Abdul was returning
home by way of the road that passes along the old wall. He passed the
children in the street, and saw a group of nomads at the end of the row,
coming into town from the desert. Abdul looked around him on the ground
and found a thick stick. One cannot trust these sand-folk for they often
rob people walking alone. But, by the time Abdul had reached the corner
they had passed ahead. He looked at them riding their camels and herding
their goats, and then he noticed something he hadn't seen before. They
were hurt. Some wore bloody bandages across their foreheads and all had
slashes in their arms and legs. Abdul dropped his stick and ran ahead to
where they were. They stopped and turned when he approached; Abdul saw
that they were carrying a young man whose face had been smashed in on one
"What happened?" inquired Abdul after a moment of hesitation. "You
All of them looked at him blankly; but then one, who had a cut
forehead, began to shake and only murmured, "Help." Abdul looked them
over, and then took the reigns of the front camel and started to walk down
"I will take you to my friend" he said to them as he walked. "He is a
doctor. He'll know what do about you. Follow me, he will know what to
do", and kept repeating that over and over again as he stammered blindly
forward through the darkening streets of Cairo holding the reigns of an
injured camel behind him. He turned now and again to see if the others
were following, and by and by he found the house of his friend, Solan the
physician. He treated patients right out of his own home, which was on the
western side of the city and in a tall building. Abdul took the nomads
around to the back of the home, and knocked loudly on Solan's door.
Solan's daughter came to the door.
"Go and fetch your father," said Abdul and he turned, and nodded to his
companions. They made small unblinking responses. In no time Solan came to
the door and laughed when he saw it was Abdul.
"How are you my friend?" said the tall, fat man with a long black
"I found these people here near the old wall," he said, "They are badly
hurt and won't talk."
"Hmm." thought Solan. "Better bring them in, no use standing outside in
this inconvenient cold."
They moved into the old brick house, and Solan's wife came in carrying
a tray of fine oriental tea. Solan's son had taken the nomads' camels, and
the nomads now were sitting on the floor. Solan gave the one with broken
face a cloth, and then began boiling water. Abdul sat down first on a
chair, then after a moment of silence he got down onto the floor himself.
There were seven nomads in all. Each had a swarthy complexion and all were
"Do you." he began to say, "Do you mind telling us what happened to
you?" They looked at each, but didn't say anything. "Do you understand
what I'm asking?" said Abdul, "Do you speak Arabic?"
"We do." said the tallest of them, who had a short black beard and had
a cut running across his chest. "We are Berbers from Libya."
Another began to talk; this one was a woman with a scarf over her head
that had been bloodstained. "We were going to Aswan when our caravan was
attacked by.by." she stammered, and then started crying into the man's
"We were attacked by jinn," said another shorter man.
"By what?" asked Abdul.
"The jinn," he answered, "They were giants; giants that swung ten-foot
swords. They attacked us in the middle of the night, like a great storm
upon a seawall. They broke down our tents and ate our companions. There
were some of us that were able to reach our spears, but they broke them
like a child can snap a twig. They consumed our camels and drank our
water. Only seven of us on three camels escaped. We rode all night, and
then all day until we reached Cairo."
Abdul looked at each of their faces in horror. None of them showed
any sign of trickery. Now nearly all were weeping, Solan returned with hot
water and the man with the smashed face. Abdul and Solan made eye contact,
and Abdul knew that Solan had also been told.
"Now hold still." Said Solan as he wiped the blood and tears from a
woman's face. He turned around signaled for Abdul to help and together
they cleaned the wounds of the seven people.
* * *
"You don't think that they're crazy do you?" Abdul's wife asked him.
"The heat of the desert can do things to people."
"It can't give them bashes and bruises and cuts like that." Said
Abdul. He rubbed his forehead and paced across the room. "What's a person
to do about things like this?"
"Tell the authorities." Said his wife, "If they could deal with all
of those French and Nornams then they can deal with a few desert brutes."
"I think they were called Normans, dear." Abdul looked out the window.
"Well, the authorities wouldn't go looking for anybody out there in a
hurry. Not with there being so few soldiers left in the city. Everyone's
off in Jerusalem and Acre, no one cares for Egypt anymore."
"Well that's not true," said his wife, "the Lord Saladin is in defense
of Egypt, right now. He simply is securing our borders."
"They don't seem to be secure from the west." Said Abdul. "I just can't
think of what those Berbers meant when they said 'giants'."
"It is of no matter now," said his wife, "The night is old and you
In the morning, Abdul and his family were awakened by the sound of a
trumpet. He leaped out of bed and raced to the window. The sky was blue
and no cloud was in it. There were people walking about the streets trying
to find the cause of the trumpeting.
"What is it father?" asked Ali, "Has the Sultan come back from war?"
"I don't think so, son." Said Abdul "It's the tower on the west wall,
they must have." He stopped himself short "There is something on the
"Are you going to the docks, father? Can I come with you?"
"No, Ali, I'm going to Mr. Solan's house. I want you to stay with
your mother and brother." Abdul left his house and ran down the streets.
People were walking every which way and some seemed like they were in a
"It's the French!" some shouted, "They have come back, and we have
no one to defend us."
"No," said others, "It is Saladin. He has returned from Jerusalem!"
Abdul did not want to talk to anyone. He just ran through the traffic and
came to Solan's home. He rapped at the door until Solan answered.
"I know," Said Solan, "I haven't said anything to the bin Haros
"The Berbers, that is their name." Said Solan, "We have to see what
is happening. We can't jump to conclusions."
"Leave them here. We will travel ourselves." said Abdul. They ran
together to the tower on the west wall. There was a stair there that
anyone was allowed to climb to survey the countryside. They ran up the
stairs, but the wall was crowded. It seemed the whole of Cairo was on that
wall gazing into the distance. Abdul and Solan found an empty place and
gazed far beyond. They saw the Great Pyramids in the south, and the
mountains of the great Sahara. But then, they saw what everyone else was
gawking at: a black shape moving in the distance.
"You don't suppose?" Abdul hesitated.
"I'm trying not to." Said Solan.
Just then, soldiers appeared out of the crowd.
"Off the wall!" They shouted. The crowds moved slowly down the
stairs. People were jostling into each other; some were trying get back to
the wall's edge.
"We're all going to die!" one woman cried out loud. Others yelled
at her, and some of the men began to break into fistfights. Abdul and
Solan did not move from their place on the wall. They watched the soldiers
herding the people off the rampart. One of the soldiers saw them.
"What do you think you two are doing? Get off of here! Move!" And
the soldier gave them a shove that sent them into the crowd as it made its
way back through Cairo.
"Do you think those are giants?" asked Abdul
"By what the bin Haros said, it didn't sound as if there were that
"How many do you think were out there?"
"Thousands. Maybe ten thousand."
"How can you be so sure?" asked Abdul.
"You forget that I helped defend Cairo during the siege" said Solan.
"There were much more than ten thousand Crusaders then."
"What should we do?" asked Abdul.
"It is breakfast time," said Solan "And it is healthy to eat in the
They walked with the masses through the dirty streets of the town.
Some families had packed their belongings into baskets and were leaving the
city. Abdul and Solan reached Abdul's house where they found both of their
families, and the bin Haros eating breakfast.
"Our landowner left this morning for the coast," said Solan's wife,
"He said that we should go too."
"We found them and the Berbers down near the docks and brought them
home." said Abdul's wife.
"Good," said Abdul, "we will all be safe here." Solan sat down and
rubbed his forehead.
"Abdul," said Abdul's wife, "The rivers are empty. The marlins swam
to sea in the night." Abdul looked at Solan and then at the bin Haros.
"Bin Haro," asked Abdul, "These 'giants'."
"Could you describe them too me? How many were there, and what did
they look like?"
"Well," said the tall man, "They came on boats out of the sky. These
boats flew like birds, but were shaped more like shields. The threw
lightning bolts at us then they came out of the boats."
"Yes, like a person comes out of a building. Only these giants
leaped from doors in the sides of their boats. They had huge swords the
size of a.of a.well they were bigger than the camels."
"How many were there?"
Bin Haro leaned foreword so that his elbows dug into his legs, and
then he lay back rested his head on the wall.
"I don't know how many there were because their boats caused the
sand to blow about wildly. But there were more than fifty to every man in
"How many were in your caravan?" asked Solan.
Bin Haro moved his eyes suddenly to Solan, revealing the deep clear
whites of his eyes.
"There were six hundred and twenty three that set out from Tunis,"
he said at long last.
Abdul sat down on the floor with the others. He took some fish
from the dish on the mat, and put it in his bowl. He crawled back to the
wall and leaned against it. He looked at the fish in his bowl, and then he
looked up and out the window.
"Bin Haro," he said without moving his eyes from the window. "On
your way here the other night, did you see any of the giants following
"Yes there were some that followed us at a distance. and we saw
flocks of their boats in the sky." Said bin Haro, "Why do you ask?"
"Look out the window."
Everyone stood and went to the window. In the sky, the sun's light
was reflected on hundreds of thousands of silvery shield-shaped things in
the sky. Abdul followed by Solan, and the bin Haros went out into the
street and gazed in awe at the clouds of shimmering metal. A thunder
ripped through the sky and the people flinched. They looked about them,
and saw that everyone had stopped what they were doing and were looking at
Shouts could be heard from down the street west of there and they
turned. A crowd had gathered near the old wall. They absent-mindedly
started to walk in that direction. Subconsciously putting one foot in
front of the other. They reached the end of the row, and forced their way
through the crowds. The land beyond the wall was covered with a great army
of beasts ten-times bigger than any man. Many silver ships had landed in
the dunes to the north, and legions of these monsters emerged roaring and
gnashing their tusk like teeth. Some of the brutes were made of flesh and
blood, but others were clearly made of iron.
"What evil is this," Abdul heard Solan mutter to himself, "that Hell
in all its vice unleashes on mankind?"
Abdul looked again over the fields beyond the city. The earth could
not be seen for miles away because there were so many of them. The crowd
was silent. Everyone only looked on in horror as the troops arranged
themselves in attack formations. Abdul knew that without fish in the river
and with few soldiers remaining, Cairo could not last a siege longer than a
month. All was indeed lost.
The women wept and the men prayed, and children both wept and
prayed. The brutes outside broke past the outer wall with no difficulty,
and the families retreated to the inner city. The flying boats threw
lightning at the buildings, and sent monuments crashing to the streets.
Some left the inner city to die defending the town, but most remained near
the docks where they hid in the river inlets and under the wharfs. But
Abdul, Solan, and bin Haro took their families to the south into Giza.
That way was safe, and they were able to hide in the ancient ruins of the
Days passed and the armies destroyed everything they found. The
entire western bank had been smashed, and everyone had given up hope until
it was discovered that Saladin had returned and indeed this was true.
Saladin was able to keep the giants from crossing the river for a two whole
days, but then more of the boats landed within the city on the east side.
Abdul, Solan, and bin Haro's sons all decided to help Saladin, and
crossed the river to the east bank. They had found swords in the ruins in
Giza held them close as they made there way through the wreckage of the
"Do they not need buildings after they capture Cairo?" asked bin
Haro's oldest son, whose name was Hur.
"They don't seem to. Do they?" said Solan as he climbed over a pile
of rubble. Abdul followed him and then stopped at the bottom of the rubble
heap. "What is wrong?" asked Solan.
"Where do you think Saladin is?" asked Abdul, "We've been walking
these ghastly streets since midday and we haven't seen a sign of them."
"We haven't seen any giants either." Said Solan.
"It is still strange, though isn't it?" Abdul started walking again,
but he grew tired and used his scimitar as a cane. They were all weak, of
course, for they had had no food for five or six days and the sun beat
strangely hot for March. But, things have always been hot in Egypt ever
since time began. Egypt was among one of the first places where mankind
learned to work together and do things for the common good of all. It was
one of the first places where farming appeared, and also it was the first
place to feel the manacles of slavery and oppression. It was first to see
conquerors and first to see the subjugated and justly so, it was the first
to see the end of the world.