After his death, three further prophecies were found among al-Botros’ personal effects. Written in his own flowing calligraphy, they ran thus:

1. An empire crumbles; all that remains is ash. Thus shall the humble make the mighty.
2. A revolutionary rises, but wants for arms. Thus shall the mighty be made humble.
3. A miracle is born; all it is missing is a heart. Thus shall the mighty and the humble serve.

As al-Botros had predicted the death of the Caliph and the defeat of his armies at Hormuz, his words were carefully pondered by the finest scholars from throughout the land. The first was believed to refer to a great war or a rebellion by a subjugated nation of dhimmi, the second to a popular uprising within the caliphate itself, and the third a possible messianic figure. The later Caliphs prepared accordingly, preparing a large and sophisticated standing army and creating the first Mukhabarat or secret police.

As is so often the case, the scholars were wrong.

The capital of the Caliphate burned in a large conflagration one hundred years after al-Botros died, and the Caliph was reported to have rescued his harem and his menagerie by monopolizing the soldiers and fire brigades for his own use while thousands burned for want of help. A rebellion began in the streets of the capital soon afterward and the Caliph was killed by his own people, leading to a dynastic struggle that split the Caliphate into rival petty empires and sheikhdoms.

Centuries later, in a minor kingdom with a notoriously brutal sheikh, a man was wrongly accused of theft and had both his arms amputated near the shoulders. That event awoke a secret fire in the man, who proved to be a gifted strategist and leader of men. The petty and brutal sheikh’s life ended at the point of a rebellious spear, and the amputee, Ibn Khaldun, reunited the Caliphate. His son became the first of the modern Caliph-Emperors.

In time, though, the line of Caliph-Emperors failed and they became as decadent and corrupt as those they had supplanted. But the third prophecy of al-Botros was ever on their minds, and even as more centuries passed and technology wildly changed the lives of Caliphate citizens, the revived Mukhabarat kept a close watch on all recorded births.

In the fourteenth year of the Caliph-Emperor Saleh IV’s reign, a woman named Amatullah gave birth to a child that presented a major medical curiosity. Somehow, the child had been carried to term without a functioning heart–a development which prompted an emergency surgery. Cutting-edge medical technology, along with a fortuitous stillbirth with a compatible blood type, allowed the child to survive.

When the news reached the Caliph-Emperor, he decreed the newborn girl’s immediate execution. But through the efforts of the girl’s mother and the hospital staff, she vanished into the Al-Quds megalopolis. In an unheard-of act of caprice, Saleh IV had the surgical team and maternity ward staff executed and gibbeted instead.

The search for the “heartless” child continues to this day.