In order to arrive in time for his friend's beheading, Ashyr had to hasten. His throat was quite dry and it was a particularly heated day, as well.
Nonetheless, he moved on, stumblingly walking in the sand with his stolen boots. He would have gladly taken them off, but the sand would turn his bare feet into ashes, no doubt.
The boots slowed him down tremendously, though, and he wondered whether he could make it to the beheading in time. He walked without resting for hours, or so it seemed.
Sometimes it seemed that he had been walking in the desert for days but Ashyr knew that was not the case for the sun had not yet set since he began his journey.
At one point he imagined that this was the very way lakes were made: from men such as him, walking in the desert until they melted and died forgotten.
But it could not be so, for there were many lakes in the worlds and yet he was the only man walking in the sand. Everyone had told Ashyr not to go, to take the road instead.
But if he had taken the common road, he would never have made it in time for the beheading.
It had all seemed so simple to him at first: all he had to do was walk straight and eventually, he would get to the other side.
But now that he was truly lost in hell, he thought that perhaps taking the road would not have been such a bad idea after all.
Finally, the sun began to set and the sky began to darken.
Ashyr was freezing cold now, since he had taken off all of his clothing save for his trousers and his boots (he removed the latter since the sand had cooled).
Soon, though, he saw light and smoke and even stone structures. It was the town where the criminals were to be beheaded.
Its mysterious towers were lit by the motherly moon which watched over the dark cobblestone streets. The view sent chills down Ashyr's spine.
Ashyr spotted with his purple eyes the town square where his friend's head was to be chopped off. The entire town had gathered around a bonfire, awaiting the executioner.
Ashyr, however, needed some clothes, so he went to the first house, broke the first window, opened the first drawer and grabbed the first vest he saw before putting it on.
He admired himself in the mirror and thought he looked quite elegant, which put a smile on his face. He looked around for a brush and used it to arrange his long curly hair.
He was now ready to attend his friend's beheading so he jumped out the broken window and ran back to the crowd.
Unfortunately, his friend's head was already rolling on the wooden planks. Tears ran down Ashyr's cheeks.
An attractive woman noticed, smiled, and when he woke up the following day, she lay naked next to him, in a comfortable bed.
Ashyr shook the sleeping beauty until she opened her eyes and asked her hurriedly what was done with the bodies of the men who were publicly executed in the town of Masherah.
"Their bodies are sent back to their homes so they can be buried," the woman explained with an angelic voice.
Ashyr knew what he needed to do: he had to return to his home town and attend his friend's funeral, since he had missed the beheading.
He dressed himself in the clothes he had stolen the previous night and kissed the woman on the cheek, promising to return so he could marry her.
He also asked if he could borrow a pair of boots so he could walk through the sand again (he knew how hard it had been the first time but he needed to attend his friend's funeral in time at
all costs). The woman gave him a pair of boots and put on some clothes of her own, much to Ashyr's disappointment.
"I wish to come with you, gentle traveler," she exclaimed, her eyes burning with passion.
Ashyr could not refuse such a beauty so he bought a mule from the mule store and they took the common road together.
When they arrived at Ashyr's town, the funeral was already taking place.
However, the woman was hungry, so Ashyr took her out to the fanciest restaurant to eat the fanciest food and drink the fanciest drinks.
Again, he promised he would marry her once he attended the funeral. She winked at him, stood up, took his hand and hurried him over to the funeral.
Much to their dismay, Ashyr's friend had already been buried. Thankfully, the woman had a brilliant plan: she would seduce the mayor and convince him to dig up the corpse.
She went to the mayor, smiled at him, and within a minute, he was taking her to spend the night at the palace (during this time, Ashyr had said he would begin planning the wedding).
When the woman returned alongside the mayor, she gave Ashyr a shovel and he started digging the grave of his late friend.
Ashyr and the mayor both carried the corpse outside of its tomb to place it on the grass. The mayor and the woman could not take their eyes away from Ashyr.
Himself could not take his eyes away from the body of his friend. Finally, after crossing the dangerous sands and nearly melting under the heat of the sun, he had achieved his goal.
With all of his strength, Ashyr spat on his friend's corpse.
When he saw the puzzled looks on his two companion's faces,
he explained that he drunkenly swore to his friend that he would spit on his dead body after they had had an argument over a card game. "You did all of this for a spit.
" Ashyr laughed and shook his head.
The woman's eyes were aflame once more, until Ashyr explained how he did all of this to prove that he was a man of honor, despite his thieving past (which he promised was all behind him now).
He added, after kneeling down and showing the woman a modest silver ring, that he wanted to prove that he was worthy of her trust.
She looked him straight in the eyes then turned to the mayor who had knelt as well, and like Ashyr, showed the woman a ring, but this one was made of the shiniest sapphires in the country.
She said yes to the mayor. Ashyr, angry, swore that he would not marry her if ever the mayor died.
A year later, the mayor died. The following day, the town had to vote for a new leader. Ashyr, having inspired many due to the rarity of honor these days was expected to win.
When the woman heard of this, she asked to talk in private. Ashyr knew what her intentions were, but he decided to listen nonetheless, just to see how desperate she truly was.
"The mayor forced me to leave you, Ashyr, I swear it! If I had to choose between your honor and the mayor's riches, I would choose your honor without hesitation".
She was lying, Ashyr knew, but the dress she wore made Ashyr want to believe her.
He asked her why she had ignored him the day before,
since the mayor was already dead and she answered without hesitation that it would have been indecent to speak to her true love while her husband's body was still warm.
Ashyr thought it made sense and when he woke up in her bed and saw her naked body next to him, he decided he would marry her as soon as he was elected.
Unfortunately, he lost the election because his rival who had been a good friend of his had told everyone that Ashyr had sworn he would never marry this woman.
Ashyr was sad but it made no matter because he had found true love, at last. And Ashyr would rather be rich in the heart than in the purse.
But his betrothed had hurried off to marry the new mayor.
The following day, Ashyr disappeared without leaving a trace. It is said that his ghost roams around the desert to this day.