I arrived at the palatial home, just outside Baghdad, of Prince Al-addin, known to us as the commoner Alyan Chi. Amidst the sumptuous surroundings in a place of honor next to Alyan was a simple slightly tarnished lamp. Alyan sat across from me dressed all in white looking somewhat nervous and unsure.
STELA: Prince Al-addin, thank you for spending some time with us.
ALYAN: Please, call me Alyan.
ST: Alyan. As you know we are not from your time and we know so much about you already. There is still more to know.
AL: (Glances at the lamp.) I have seen many unbelievable things. Please continue.
ST: Wonderful. So first off, what’s it like to go from simple means to absolute wealth?
AL: Oh, uh, yes, you know about my beginnings. It feels…words escape me. It feels so good, so liberating.
ST: Even despite the Jinling’s misgivings?
AL: I’m sorry, what?
ST: Nothing. Let’s move on to your humble beginnings. Your grandparents on your father’s side came from China, to escape a devastating war.
AL: Yes, they fled across the desert. My grandmother…died just before they arrived in Baghdad.
ST: Tragic. Yet you and your family had a good life after settling in Baghdad.
AL: Yes, for the most part.
ST: Are you talking about the House of Wisdom?
AL: (Nodding.) It was a disappointment. To say the least.
ST: How so?
AL: It was a dream of mine, since I was a child, to attend the House of Wisdom. My grandfather loved knowledge. I spent hours listening to him tell me stories and history about China. He passed on his love to me. I…let him down.
ST: But you ended up gaining even more knowledge and experience?
AL: I did. With the help of (he glanced at the lamp), y’know.
ST: He changed your life didn’t he?
AL: He saved me.
ST: What Zafar did to you must have been traumatic.
AL: It was. If it hadn’t been for the jinling I would be dead. I-I owe him everything.
ST: Tell me more about Raessa.
AL: (Laughs) Raessa, she’s my oldest friend. My closest friend.
ST: And future wife?
AL: Yes, I, uh, guess. I mean it just makes sense.
ST: Does it?
AL: (Nodding) It…does.
ST: There’s no one else in your life?
AL: Not really, no.
ST: Who knows what the future will bring. Well, we do but let me ask you, has it all been worth it? Or would you rather go back to traveling with the jinling?