The courtyard of the royal palace teemed with a multitude of beings, including people, demons, and other mysterious creatures. It was a bewildering sight, as these entities seemed to symbolize monstrous creatures that had taken residence in every corner of the kingdom.

As I observed the strange spectacle, I noticed that the attention of the crowd had shifted towards something in the center of the courtyard. Curious, I made my way through the throng of people but was abruptly interrupted as an overwhelming sense of urgency overcame me. Unable to control my bodily functions, I began to urinate right there amidst the crowd, a reaction triggered by the bizarre sight that met my eyes.

What I beheld was nothing short of an idol, situated prominently in the midst of the courtyard. Its colossal size dwarfed everything around it. Amidst the chaos, I spotted a peculiar bird-like creature that had descended onto the courtyard, its beak upturned as it emitted mournful cries.

Suddenly, everyone in the vicinity collapsed, some falling unconscious, others curling into fetal positions. It was as though a mysterious force had deprived them of their ability to breathe, and I too succumbed to this enigmatic influence.

After three hours had passed, the crowd slowly began to regain consciousness. We all rose to our feet and paid obeisance to the idol before us. As if in response, a voice resounded, crying out, “Sanhu Sanhu, leader of the world’s gods, we have faced the pressures of life—hunger, thirst, and drought. The death of our animals has gripped us. In the city of Jawal, we are aware of the impending doom that approaches us, a fate that you, leader of the world’s gods, may be trying to avert. We are not blind to the signs of our impending fate.”

The voice’s cry was followed by a sound so deafening that it caused everyone to fall to the ground. We writhed upon the earth, unable to escape the torment.

The cessation of this deafening noise brought with it a strong gust of wind that lifted a small creature into the sky, ascending into the clouds. The wind subsided, and all of us stood in stillness, gazing upwards.

It took approximately half an hour before a distinctive sound reached our ears, growing louder as it approached the city’s center. All of us covered our ears and lowered our eyes in reverence. What followed was a miraculous event. Men, women, boys, and girls—all began to disrobe, standing there naked in a state of submission.

This ritual was known as the Jawaleey Festival, a traditional ceremony originating from the establishment of the Jawal Emirate nine hundred years ago. The festival was more than just a celebration for the city’s inhabitants; it was a marriage and love festival. Over seven days, the festivities included music, dancing, and marriages. Women adorned themselves with a red leaf on their breasts to signify readiness for marriage. A caravan of women would parade through the town, and if a leaf fell in front of a chosen man, he would cover the woman’s chest with a blanket, signifying their union.

However, if the leaf fell in a way that exposed the woman to all men present, it would lead to her rejection and sacrifice to Lord Harsan. This gruesome tradition involved her blood being drained by demons, her body roasted, and her flesh distributed among the people, except for her family.

This year’s festival was different, as Prince Isham, the kingdom’s sole heir and a warrior, made his first appearance outside the palace. Prince Isham, at twenty-seven years old, had never ventured beyond the kingdom’s borders, as it was the will of the god Harsan.

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