Chapter 1 Amaris Dahia

Amaris Dahia lay motionless at the edge of the sea, under the sun-seared North African sky, her limbs scattered about her body like kelp. As the web-like skin between her fingers began to recede and the tiny gills on the sides of her neck slowly closed, she coughed herself awake, purging seawater from her lungs. With what little strength she could summon, she breathed in the comforting air and clawed her way beyond the pummeling waves.

Sand infiltrated every crevice of her dark brown body and speckled her tangled mane of black hair. Squinting through her emerald eyes at the glittering day, she looked out on the unforgiving landscape of dune and drift that had been the birthing ground and graveyard of untold numbers of lost civilizations. It was here that the mighty Arab armies had crossed the fourteen kilometers of Bahr al-Zulumat* , from the Maghreb* to Hispania, creating the great kingdom of Al-Andaluz.

And it was on this ground, beyond the mountains of Jezira el-Machreb* in the heart of the Zahara, that Amaris Dahia would at last confront the djinn that haunted her dreams and troubled her soul. The demon that had forced her, along with her father and mother, from Hispania to North Africa.

*Bahr al-Zulumat: The Dark Sea. The name given to the Atlantic Ocean by North Africans.

*Maghreb: North Africa.

*Jezira el-Machreb: Arabic name for the Atlas Mountains. It means, Island of the West, because it is an island of fertile grasslands surrounded by desert.