Pages of Akeem


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7. Chapter 7

The days following were filled with information. I went with Aahil everywhere, he always introduced me as Quadir Zaman, at times I began to think he had forgotten my real name. Every day it just seemed to be the same information from different mouths, until we were invited to the Sultans palace for a meeting.

As we approached the massive palace doors the guards let Aahil pass, but denied me entry.

“He is not a threat, he is my new personal bodyguard.” Aahil told the men.

With those words it was as if I was allowed anywhere with Aahil. I was still unsure of just how much political power he had.

As we entered the grand hall I was astonished by just how many people ran the city. In my village we only had one man to match the rules, but in Constantinople there were thousands of men. I often wondered how they got anything done in this place.

I accompanied Aahil to a small group of four men.

“Gentlemen, allow me to introduce Quadir Zaman my new bodyguard.” said Aahil

“A pleasure.” one of the men told me

“To you as well.” I replied

“I don’t think I will need protecting right now Quadir, go and take in  the sights.” Aahil said as he brushed me away with his hand.

“As you wish sir.”

I walked through the hall trying to get as much new information as possible. I would go from one group of men to the next. They mostly talked about how this new, well they used the word assassin, is striking down all of the citys most powerful men. It seemed like a lost cause until I came upon two men who used the word Janissary.

“I don’t like how the Janissaries are treating the city's people!” one man said.

“I know but what can we do? Only the Sultan can do anything about it and he would never go against his own brother.” the other replied


 

“I never did like that brother of his, he’s using the Janissaries like his own personal army. They are meant to keep the peace of the city not create chaos in it.”

“Did you hear about the man who attacked the Janissary Captain?”

“Well I’m glad that someone is doing something about this problem.”

“Did you also hear that we are supposed to vote tomorrow?”

“Let me guess the Janissaries want another grant for weapons?”

“They say it’s for food and supplies.”

“But we both know what it really goes to.”

“Well we best get back to the main hall, the Sultan is about to address us the court.”

I headed back to Aahil, by the time I got to him he was in a bowing position. I came closer and he pulled me to my knees. He told me we both must bow to the Sultan. I had never bowed before not even the Mentor made us bow to him, I had only kneeled in battle. At the far end of the hall two large doors opened and trumpets started to play, then four Janissary soldiers came out with spears. Followed by a large portly man in very lavish robes, followed by four more Janissaries. The man came up to Aahil and he rose. They embraced one another warmly and I could hear the word “son” come from the man's mouth. Then the man turned his attention to me. Aahil motioned to me to rise, I did so.

“Quadir let me introduce you to our lord Sultan and my father, Jalal Tawfeek.” Aahil said

“It is an honor sir.” I told him

“Indeed, so this is your new bodyguard?” he replied

“Yes father, he is the best so far.” Aahil told his father

 

I was about to coment on that, until a loud noise, that sounded like one of the earthquakes that would happen at my village filled the room. Just a short second later a projectile pierced a Janissaries head and he fell to the floor, with blood spilling from the hole left in the back of his head.

The room went into a panic and the other guards left to secure the exits and other diplomats. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a masked man with a sword run at the Sultan. I acted without thinking and drew my new knife from my belt and ran at the masked attacker. I forced him to the ground and pushed my blade through his chest, I could hear the a slight snapping sound of bones, which told me all I needed to know about just how strong my new weapons were.

Before I got up from the floor I could see the man’s eyes were still open, I closed them and told him the rest in peace, which was almost mandatory in the Mentors teachings, he taught us that all life deserves respect even if the life was a pitiful excuse for one. That was what the attacker was, he smelled of wine and his hygiene was clearly neglected, but he was still a man and he did deserved some form of respect.

I went to see if the Sultan was ok, as soon as I got close to him, three Janissary guards in closed around me.

“Lord Sultan, please stay back and we will take care of this man.” one of the guards yelled.

“Lower your weapons, this man is no threat, in fact he his a hero.” the Sultan told them.

Without question the Janissaries lower their swords and spears. Then Aahil ran to us and looked at the man on the floor.

“I don’t believe it.” he said

“Son come here, are you ok?” asked the Sultan

“Yes father I am fine. What about you are you ok?”

“Yes thanks to your bodyguard. I think this one will do much better than your others.”

“So do I.”

The Sultan left to attend to the other people still shaking from what had happened. Aahil and I stayed by the body, to try and figure out just who would want the Sultan dead?

“I have been meaning to ask you, just how many bodyguards have you had before me?” I asked

“Six.” Aahil replied

“And what happened to them?”

“They, well let’s just say they did their “job” to protect me.”

“Well thats unsettling.”

“You have nothing to fear if you wield a sword just as good as today.”

We looked closely at the body to check for marks or tattoos, but we found nothing.

“It was probably just the Freedom Fighter, trying to free the city from my fathers rule, nonsense if you ask me.” Aahil said, as he kicked the man’s body.

“Don’t!  He deserves respect, even in death. I don’t think it was the Fighters, they do not wish do away with your father.” I said

“How do you know this? Please Akeem, please tell me you are not planing with them, with those terrorists.” he said with a bit of fear in his voice.

“They helped me with stopping the men on the council of five.” I explained

“I don’t believe this!”

“Look we can talk about this another time, but I think that the council is behind this.”

Aahil was about to respond when the Sultan called for us. We went to a large room with a table and lots of bookcases, the Sultan was sitting at the table looking over a book, most likely a report of the attack. He stopped reading when we came in. We talk for a bit about the events but I made an excuse to leave early. I decided it was time to find Junayd, the leading General of the city’s army. I went back to Husam for any help he could give.

“It is good to see you again Akeem, how can I help? he asked.

“I need to look for Junayd.” I told him

“I am sorry Akeem, but he is out of our hands.”

“What do you mean?”

“He is in his own war with a second group of fighters. They run their operation from an old slaughterhouse in the military district, the man in charge is, well we call him the Russian.”

I left and went to the west end of the city until I came to a slaughterhouse that matched Husam description. I walked up to a large steel door and knocked on it.

“Who is it?” a  voice said from the other side

“My name is Akeem, Husam sent me.” I yelled back

The door swung open and stood a man looked at me with a disgusted look in his eyes.

“What do you want?” he said in a hoarse voice

“I was told to ask for the Russian.” I replied

“In the back.” the man said and pointed me in the direction of a small room.

I walked into the room and a very large man with a small beard looked at me before shouting out.

“You are the one we were told about, you have come to help us with our little problem?”

A large welcoming smile appeared on the man’s face.

“I have, um Mr. um?”

“Call me Russian everybody does.”

“Very well, Russian, I have come to help.”

“Good so let’s get started.”

The mothers following were filled with lots of spying and sabitoshing and looting. It wasn’t until about two months that we were ready to make our final strike at Junayd. He was in a very fortified castle with hundreds of Janissaries protecting him.

I went to a small room with a table two chairs and a map in it. The Russian and I sat at the table and went over the map.

Then the Russian pulled out two small glasses and a clear bottle of a strange liquid.

“Here, drink.” he said

“What is it?” I asked

“Well it doesn’t have a name yet if thats what your asking, but it is an old family recipe made by my great grandfather, it is ten times stronger than any wine you will find.” he explained

He poured me a small glassful and raised his to mine and yelled “To the death of Junayd.”

“Why such tiney positions?” I asked

“Just drink and you will see.” he replied

I drank the liquid and it felt like fire was going down my throat. I quivered and gave a large exhale, the Russian laughed.

“You see this is powerful stuff, have too much at a time and you could end up like Lukea, over there.”

He pointed to a man hanging out a window with vomit dripping from his mouth. After two more drinks we went over the plan.

“So heres the plan, to make the fort a little less fortified I want your men to destroy the three gunpowder reserves down this street.” I told him pointing the the spots on the map.

“I see they will send guard out to see what is going on yes?” the Russian verified

“Exactly, now Russian I want your men on the buildings of the street, to make sure they don’t get back early.”

“Great’ we can try our new firearms, that we stole from the guards.”

“Good and I will try to destroy any gunpowder reserves in the fort making your job a bit easier after I leave.”

“Thank you Akeem for everything you have done. Tonight a tyrant dies!”



 

The night was cold and the moon was out I was on a rooftop right across from the fort, then I gave the signal. A few seconds later fire and screams filled the night sky, bells of warning started to ring and Janissaries ran to the street sword drawn.

I ran as fast as I could to the edge of the building, then with all my strength pushed myself off the ground and flew over the fort walls. I landed on the roof of another small building, the fort was bigger than it looked there were buildings everywhere, it was like a small town.

Luckily I did not have to search long, before I spotted Junayd. He was running tored a large tower where he was to take shelter. I scaled the west side of the tower, nearly falling to my death a number of times. I looked through a nearby window and saw that Junayd had sent his guards away. It was the perfect time to strike.

I climbed through the window and walked toward him slowly, he was pouring himself a glass of wine when he turned around and saw me standing in the room knife in hand.

“My god, no please don’t do this.” he cried

I said nothing as I approached him. Junayd tried to grab a sword on the nearby table. I grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back. He tried to fight back, but I pulled his arm up his back and he shouted out in pain. I knew this had gone on long enough and I pushed my knife through his neck.

I removed my blade and held his head up to hear his dying words.

“Why do you do this? I only wanted to help the people of the city, I only hurt them because they did not listen.” he said

“I am not here because of that, I am here because of what you did to my people and my village.” I replied

“No it is not what you think, we were asked to attack it.” he told me, he tried to say more before I cut him off.

“I have had enough of your lies!” I shouted pushing my blade into his neck once more killing him for good.

 

I went out a different window going down the north side of the tower and down to another rooftop. I went across that roof until I spotted a rifle on the far side of the court yard. I snuck across the roof past a pair of guards and made my way to the weapon.

Once I got to the rifle, I saw it was already loaded, then I spotted a gun powder shed in range of the rifle. I aimed, held my breath, and as I slowly exhaled, I pulled the trigger. I large blast of light and sparks flow from the gun. Then all I could hear was ringing, all I could see was a blur. Then the right side of my face felt cold and I raised my hand to my face a I could feel bone, muscle and bits of burnt skin. Then I could smell it, I could smell my skin burning and my flesh a flame. Then came the pain, it was worse than any stab or cut I could get in battle. The explosion from the shed drew the guards away from the entrances, so then I staggered out from the fort and down the street despite the pain in my face. I wandered the streets for hours yelling in pain.

It took many hours, but I eventually found my way back to the slaughterhouse, I did not wait for the door to open with all my strength I pushed past the man at the door.

“Russian, Russian, Russian!” I yelled

“My god man what has happened to you?” he asked

“No time!” I shouted back, with all the pain I couldn't form a complete thought.

“Right, get Luckea and Dimitri.” he shouted to a room in the back.

Then two men came out and placed me on a table and held my arms and feet back. Then the Russian came up to me and said “OK my friend this is going to hurt a lot, but it must be done.”

Then he placed a rag with a liquid on it. I felt a even worse pain, but then everything went dark, I came to the conclusion that I lost consciousness from the pain.

I awoke in a daze, I had no idea how long I had been out? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? Who's to say?I awoke in a bed, I could not feel the right side of my face, nor see or hear from it.

“Russian? Russian are you there?” I asked

“Yes, I am here my friend, as are Aahil, Dabir, and Husam.” he told me.

“How long have they been here?” I asked

“Three hours.” the Russian said.

“I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time.” I said

“There is nothing to apologize for Akeem, Junayd is dead and the people of this district and the city are forever in your debt, as am I.” Husam piped up.

“As are we.” the Russian corrected

Just then I could faintly hear a door being opened and then shut.

“Who is it?” I asked with what little words I could say.

“It is Abd-Allah.” Aahil told me

The rest of the group could tell from my one eye that was not covered in bandages, that I was startled by his arrival, I was unaware how Husam would react.

“It is fine Akeem, Husam and I have a understanding for now at least.” Abd-Allah said

“So now what?” I asked

“Now rest, later war, your injuries must heal.” The Russian said.

I spent three weeks in a bed, waiting for my hearing and eyesight to return. When it did, I went to Aahil to get an audience with his father. I returned to the palace where the man tried to assassinate the Sultan. The place was empty, and even the slightest noise would eco like thunder in the grand hall.

I was meet by two Janissaries who escorted me to the Sultan. I entered the same small room. It was nearly sundown and the room was filled with red, orange, and pink. The Sultan sat at the desk, his face seemed worried, his words even more so.

Quadir, I need to ask a large favor from you.” he said sparing no time.

“What is it you need from me Lord Sultan?” I replied

“I need you to follow someone, take notes on what he does and then report back to me.”

“Who is it you need me to follow?”

“Uqbah, my brother and leader of the Janissaries.” he told me

This was just what I needed, the opportunity to get close to the Janissaries, then I could put an end to this Janissary involvement, with my mission.

“It will be done Lord Sultan.” I told him.

The Sultan told me of his brothers whereabouts, he would go to dockes every day, so I started there. I sat at a lone bench and waited for two and a half hours. The sun had left the sky by then and was replaced by the moon. It’s light reflected off the dark black water. The city did have a sort of hypnotic beauty to it when the sun was gone and the lights of thousands of lamps and candles burned in the doorways and down the streets. My gaze was then taken from the city to the wooden docks, two men meet at the edge. One had a ship behind him the other a squad of Janissaries. They talked for awhile and then exchanged a piece of paper for a coin purses, the man with the Janissaries, took the money and left. The other took the paper and boarded the ship. I was too far and it was too dark to see what was on the paper, but that was not my concern.

I followed them to a small tavern. I entered behind them and went to the bar.

“What can I get you Scarface?” asked the bartender

I did not respond, I was not about to blow my cover over a drunken slob. I waited for the Janissaries to site at a booth, then made my way to the booth next to it. The Janissaries talked for a bit, but nothing I could use. They eat then left the tavern.

I followed them down a small alleyway, then they came out from behind me and forced me up against the wall.

“Why are you following us?” one asked.

“He is trying to pickpocket us.” another added.

“We should take him to the gallows.” one spoke up.

“Or maybe just show this bottomfeeder, what we do to lowlifes.” the man from the docks said appearing from the shadows.

Then one of them pulled a knife out of his belt and started walking toward me. They placed my hand on a table in the alleyway and then rammed the knife through it. As blood spilled from my hand I cried out in pain.

“Let this be a warning to you thief.” said the man from the docks.

They started to walk off, but I yelled to the man.

“Are you Uqbah Tawfeek?”

The man turned to me and with a smile and a slight laugh said.

“Yes, I am”

Then he vanished, with his Janissaries close behind. I went to Husam for help, he gave me medical aid and a place to sleep. The next morning I went to the Sultan. I told him of what happened.

“This is very bad.” he told me

“What should we do Lord Sultan?” I asked

“I will need more evidence than this. I am going to need your help one more time.” he said

“What is it you need?”

“I need you to go to prison.”

“What?!”

“My brother is the warden of the prison, if we are going to get more information, that is where you will find it.”

“I don’t know Lord Sultan, this is asking a lot more than following some Janissaries .”

“If you do this for me I will never forget it, if you help me bring an end to this conspiracy, I will owe you more than I could ever repay.”

“Fine what do you want me to do?”

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