“Father is too old.” Jamil said naughtily as he rode his white horse, his shoulders spoke of his rugged feature; bold and robust. “The good thing is, when his reign is over, the kingdom will have a greater king. I just can’t wait to see you on that throne, brother.” He smirked, “I have no doubt you’ll make this realm an envy in the eyes of all the kingdoms, Hashim.”
“Yes, he’s old.” Hashim responded, a hunk long haired fellow. He rode on a black horse, “But it’ll be wise not to envisage how the kingdom would be in his absence.” He turned to his brother, “The walls have ears, they say.”
“Aah!” Jamil remarked, “We’re in the open field, no walls here.” He giggled and turned to the guards behind them, “Hey! You see any wall around here?”
“Uh…no Prince Jamil!” Answered one of the guards.
“See, no walls here.” Jamil said, “And there are lots of guards who’d stand as witnesses that there isn’t really any wall nearby!”
“You know exactly what I mean, Jamil.” Hashim said as he giggled, “Don’t play that game with me, brother.”
“My point exactly,” he said. “No games! There’s nothing wrong in talking about the future here, brother. Even the one who created us all know that. We’re given the right to plan; be hopeful and dream dreams. Which is why even as we aspire, the gods still bless and surprise us beyond our wildest imagination! Whether we conceive of it or not. It is every good parent’s wish to become one with the earth than watch their own offspring perish before their very own eyes.”
“That, you are right.” He said, “There are a great deal of things to learn from the king. Ruling a kingdom as great as Tzuria is no small task, brother.”
“The people in any kingdom are like women…” Jamil said.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Find out what stimulates them,” said Jamil, “Toss it over and let the thrills occupy their mind while you execute your existent ploy from behind.”
Hashim put his horse to a halt and sighed. “Just because a few lasses throw themselves helplessly at your feet don’t mean women are all the same, brother.” He said, “Your heart hums with too much misconception and ambition, Jamil. Everything has its time, be careful, for the evil one will give thee what does not belong to him with his left hand and snatch what belongs to you with his right.”
“Aaah! You and your pious ways, Hashim.” He said, “We’re kids no more, we are men now. When you rule, all I ask is you give me an army and in four days I can bring Azikania and the rest of the domains before you on their knees; and slaves their beautiful women we shall make.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” He said. “When the time avails itself we shall lift the torch and light up the way to peace.”
“You have to be hard on the world if you want to be respected.” Jamil said, “Be unpredictable and show no sign of weakness. Not like father.”
“He’s a peaceful man, a merciful king, you know better.” Hashim said, “Ever wonder why the people love him?”
“Trust me, brother.” Jamil said, “The world we’ll find ourselves tomorrow will not have room for love. Hate shall be adored and chaos bred.”
A guard arrived on a horse and saluted the princes. “His majesty, the king demands your presence in the castle, my lords.” He said.
“Oh father,” Jamil said, “When will he realise that we’re grown men? Every time a man goes out, he sends for you to come home. He worries too much.”
“That’s what fathers do, brother.” Hashim said, “It’s their worries that guarantee this very future of yesterday.” He turned to the guard, “Let the king know we’re on our way.”
“Yes, prince Hashim.” Said the guard, he then rode off.
“I can bet you it’s about marriage, again.” Jamil said, “He’s too keen to become a grandfather.”
Hashim climbed down his horse.
“Don’t tell me you’re walking home.” He added.
“Mmm hmm!” Hashim responded, “Need to stretch these legs, and the big girl need some weight off of her. Right girl?” He tapped his black horse.
“Suit yourself,” Jamil said, “See you when you see me.” He galloped his white horse away, “Yahoo!”
Hashim arrived in time to meet his brother Jamil flirting with some of the maids by the entrance to the king’s chamber.
“Mind if we go in now, brother?” Hashim said.
“Oh sure,” he answered as he turned to the young women, “Don’t forget, I’m getting a full sponge bath tonight, and you girls better be in your best behaviour.”
“Yes, prince Jamil.” They all said as they giggled.
“Hmm!” Hashim remarked, “You still do that?”
“And many more great things,” he said. “You’re missing a lot, it is our right as royals. Just because the oldest of the lions rejects free meal don’t mean the youngest should choose not to consume it.” He bowed to his brother.
“You should be a writer,” Hashim said, “Shall we?”
“Sure, brother.” He replied.
Hashim led the way. They both walked into the king’s chamber and greeted their father who was standing next to his throne in a purple floor-length robe. His crown was on his throne.
“I’ve been standing here ever since I sent for you to be fetched!” Said the king, “if only your mother was here.” He stroke the fringe of grey-white hair around his balding. “You boys better be fast about it!”
“About what, father?” Said Jamil, he giggled as he winked at Hashim, “We’re old enough to lead an army into battle. You worry too much, father.”
“That’s not what I meant,” the king added, “When are you getting married? Especially you, Hashim. Thekina is gone, you’ve got to move on, my boy.”
“I just need some time, father,” Hashim responded. “Time to uh…”
“You think I don’t miss your mother?” The king interjected, “I’m just too old for that, would’ve remarried. Come on, when I was your age I was as strong as a panther both on the battlefield and in bed.”
“Father, you could have a concubine.” Jamil said, “It wouldn’t be bad to have a young woman…taking care of you.”
“The maids are doing a great job.” He said, “I do not have that strength anymore. How much time do I have left?” He coughed, “And all you boys do is throw yourselves out there every now and then.”
“Sorry about that, father,” Hashim said, “you shouldn’t worry much whenever we are out of sight, oh great king. We went deer hunting.”
“I’m not worried, nooo!” Said the King, “I am just wondering what’s so great out there that you two would abandon your father every little chance you get.”
“Father, Hashim is twenty nine, and I, just three years younger. We’re perfectly safe; besides, the guards are always around.”
“That’s the least of my problems.” Said the king, “Anyway that is a matter we shall discuss some other time. There is a package coming in from an old friend, King Zaffariah of Therakania, I’ll want you to go fetch it for me.”
“Did he send a messenger?” Hashim asked.
The king took the crown from his throne and wore it. He then gently sat down. His eyes were fatigued as he was very old, “No,” he said, “He wrote some days back, they should be by the port of Tashqbal before dusk.”
“You know how to read, father?” Hashim asked as he smiled.
“Mmm!” He remarked, “Your brother read the letter.”
“Oh, figures!” Hashim remarked, “Have you had anything yet, father?”
“Uh! Yes,” he said. “Boiled potatoes and some grapes. It seems I’m going to have to go down the garden by myself, and pick the right ones. What am I saying, huh?” He cleared his throat, “Maybe it is old age. My tongue is losing it. See?” He threw a tongue out.
“Oooh! Father.” Jamil responded.
“Ha-Ha! Father,” Hashim remarked, “You’re doing just fine old man!”
“Is it his daughter he sends?” Jamil asked. “I’ll go! Here I am, send me to go fetch the gift.”
“He has only but a son...” The King replied, “…And about two….or is it three adopted daughters, I think?”
“What is your will oh great king?” Hashim asked.
“I had wanted you to go alone,” he said. “With some of the guards of course but maybe uh…” he coughed, “Your brother should follow you so he’d learn how we welcome our guest in a civilised way.”
“Your wish is my command, father.” Hashim said as he bowed.
“You boys can leave right after lunch.” Said the king.
“In that case I’d only reveal my handsome face after we meet them!” Jamil said. “By the way, brother, from this moment henceforth, call me prince Weird; I will only talk once we see the girls. Need to save this princely tone.”
“What exactly do you have in mind?” Hashim asked.
“I know just the right thing to put on for this mission.” He said, “Let me go get my Barbute!” He quickly departed from their presence.
“A mission indeed.” Hashim laughed.
“Here we go again!” said the King as he shook his head, “I warn you Hashim; never dare a blacksnake in the game of hide-and-seek in the dark.”
They burst into laughter. Hashim and his father engaged into a conversation about the king’s plan to extend the western side of the castle.
By the time Hashim and the ten guards were ready to go, it took a while before Jamil was able join them at the city gate; he appeared riding on his white horse, royally dressed and wearing a Barbute.
“You can’t be serious!” Hashim said. Jamil only lifted his hand and cleared his throat.
“Oh, I forgot,” Hashim added, “You’re in your weird-prince-mode.”
The two princes along with the guards left for the port of Tashqbal.
“The Therakanian King has no daughter.” Hashim said as they rode to the port, “Just so you’d know. You don’t need to pick a girl that’s royal in order to make a queen out of her anyway, you know. Every woman is royal. For in the eyes of every man, his woman is queen.”
Jamil uttered no word throughout their journey. They later arrived at the small village of Tashqbal that appeared deserted.
The guards were on alert.
“Where did all the fishermen go?” Said one of the guards.
Hashim turned and gestured to Jamil to halt his horse. “Go look around, just to be sure.” Hashim ordered the guards. “Maybe they have all gone for…”
“Fire!” a voice yelled from nowhere as arrows sprang out and hit the guards. Some masked men all dressed in black from head to toe, charged toward them on black horses. Hashim jumped off his horse and drew his sword, he swung his blade swiftly and took the lives of four men who attacked him, as he turned to warn Jamil, his eyes caught his brother’s body falling off his white horse and unto the ground. Jamil did not flex a muscle; two arrows pieced through his chest and one through his throat. He was dead. Hashim was outraged by the sight of Jamil’s lifeless body. He ignored the attackers and rushed to where his brother’s body lied.
“Jamil!” He cried, “No, Jamil!”
The attackers surrounded him, all the guards were dead and he was outnumbered. As he wept, one of the attackers rode off his horse, rushed towards him and with the hilt of his sword, delivered a sharp blow to Hashim on the back of the head. Hashim fainted.
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