Hashim Khail and Keeper of the Gates

In an attempt to please his father, Hashim Khail, a young prince finds himself in a dilemma after a great tragedy struck him. He wakes up in a foreign land, enslaved and at the mercy of a new king.


4. Chapter Four: Veracity.


Hashim woke up in his cell. The excruciating pain from the back of his neck made him lay on the ground without flexing a muscle.
“Here!” Brutus said. His hand stretched across from his cell.
“What’s that?” Hashim asked.
“Loaf,” he replied. “They brought food while you were gone, asked them to keep your portion but they spat on me instead.”
“Actually I just dined with the king.” Hashim said.
“I see,” he responded. “It seem they served you a hot plate of delicious punches.”
“Ha-Ha-Ha! Very funny,” Hashim remarked, “And I thought nice people don’t throw jokes.”  He groaned, “Really, I am okay.”
“If you say so, brother.” Brutus said as he withdrew his hand from Hashim’s sight.
 “Brutus!” He yelled.
“Yes, Hashim.” He answered.
“You are a good man,” Hashim added. “Thanks for um…looking out for me.”
“Why? We are neighbours,” Brutus stated. “Besides, what are brothers for?”
“Yeah, thanks, brother.” Said Hashim.
“You’re welcome.” He responded, “So, how does the king’s meal tastes like?”
“Trust me,” Hashim replied, “My late grandmother cooked better.”
“You can’t be serious.” Brutus added as he laughed. “Come on.”  
“Actually it tasted nice,” Hashim said, “Reminded me of my family; my brother loved roasted turkey, and so does my father.”
“What about you?” Brutus asked.
“Well, I am more of a fried-fish person.” He said, “Oh, and I love fruits.” He cleared his throat, “So um…do you ever miss home?”
“Well, yes!” Brutus said, “Even though what I call home has been destroyed, and the ones I call family have been killed.”
They both went silent.
“It must be hard on you,” he said, “I’m so sorry for…”
“It’s okay.” Brutus interjected, “That reminds me; you never told me where you’re from.”
“Karan!” He said.
“The Tzurian capital?” Brutus asked.
“Yes, friend.” He answered.
They heard some guards approaching.
“Now what?” Hashim whispered.
 “You’re a stubborn man!”
Hashim raised his head only to see Nabil standing by the bars that caged him, there was a guard behind her.
“I was born that way, maybe.” Hashim said. “How do you do?”
“The king treats you like a friend and invites you to dine with him yet, you stood up to him in the presence of his royal guards?” She said, “You’re special kind of stupid.”
“Leave me alone.” He said.
“If I had left you alone from the start, you could’ve been killed the very day you stepped on the grounds of this kingdom.” She added, “I vouched for you before you even set foot on this land.”
“I never asked anyone to stand up for me.” He said as he managed to stand on his feet, and walked to the bar.
“You truly are a stubborn man.” She added, “I’ve never seen a…”
“What do you care?” He interposed.
“What do I care?” She giggled. Nabil then asked the guard to open the cell. Hashim gently took some steps back. She walked in and slapped Hashim on the face.
“Did you just hit me?” He said, “You lay those soft fingers on my delicate face again lady and I’d make sure…”
She slapped him once more.
“Oh boy!” Brutus’ voice echoed, “She’s a tough one!”
“Shut up!”  They both yelled in unison.
“You look more beautiful when you’re angry.” Hashim said.
She snorted.
“I know you like me,” he added. “Your heart emits a fragrance of…”
“My heart has no affection for a slave such as yourself.” She interjected as she turned her back and crossed her arms.
Hashim took a step forward.
“I’m sorry, I messed up.” He said, “King Yuri said something about my father that provoked me.”
“He spoke the truth.” Nabil said. She turned and faced Hm.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
“Your father was killed by…” she paused then looked around as if she sensed something. “I need to go, “King Yuri is on his way down here.” She quickly walked out of the cell and ordered the guard to lock it. They walked away.
Hashim lied down on the floor and pretended to be asleep. As soon as they left, King Yuri arrived with six guards.
“Wake him up!” Ordered the king.
A guard took a bucket of water and poured it on Hashim.
“Oh for the sakes of my ancestors!” Hashim yelled, “Can’t a man have peace?”
“That I’m afraid only your ancestor can brag of,” King Yuri said, “A great king once told me that anything  a man owns can be taken away from him, even his own life can be snatched from him.” He giggled, “Peace is for the dead, my friend. Because you cannot steal anything from them, or betray them or backstab them, I guess.”
“What do you want?” Hashim said.
“I came to give you a chance to apologise.” Said the king.
“I did nothing wrong.” He said.
“You rushed a king to the floor,” He snapped his finger, “I could have you hanged, just like that.”
“Well, what stopped you?” Hashim asked.
“Because I know that you despise me, you’re clouded by a wrong notion of who I am.” King Yuri said, “I’ll tell you something very important but it won’t make any sense to you for now; the one who planned the attack on you that made you end up here is the very one who killed your father.”
“Don’t you dare speak such of my father!” He said.
“I know it’s something that doesn’t make sense to you.” King Yuri added, “I won’t blame you for being mad at me. You see, the day you were attacked, the ones who came against you weren’t my men. My men got there just when you were about to be slaughtered. You were unconscious, and my men confronted the ones who attacked you. They brought you back here, because it was dangerous for them to deliver my father’s message after what they witnessed.”
“What are you talking about?” Hashim asked, “Your words don’t even make any sense."
“Alright,” King Yuri said as he sighed. “My father was old and sick. He wrote to his friends that he would send gifts on a particular day. Your father, was among those friends of his. Now, the truth is, my father intended to hand over the kingdom to me while he was still alive and wanted his friends to be aware, so he sent invitations to those he considered friends. The gift he sent were actually some gold and silver, and a letter of invitation for my coronation. Unfortunately just after the gift bearers left, my father passed away. But all the men have delivered the invitation with the exception of your father’s, and by the time my men had arrived the port of Tashqbal, they encountered some masked men who were about to slaughter you. My men confronted and killed them but one escaped.” He sighed, “You were unconscious when they found you, and on recognising who you are, they decided to bring you here.”
“Hmm!” Hashim responded, “When I was a little boy, my grandfather used to tell me stories. And believe me, as old and shaky as he was, he told greater stories even in his sleep. You my friend, you sound like a parrot! Well, I’ve got news for you; my father would one day know I am here, you and your entire army won’t find it funny.”
“Nabil warned me about you,” said the king. “She said you’re stubborn spirited. Now listen, I also understand clearly that her heart has grown fond of you, know that she is more than just an adviser, she’s like a sister to me.”
“From what I’ve gathered she’s a seer, eh?” Hashim said, “Guess the future of your kingdom depends on her foresight too.”
“From one man to another man,” The king said “I’d say you do us a favour and keep your hands off of her for now.”
“What do you want from me anyway?” Hashim asked.
“Look, the one who reigns over your father’s throne demands your head on a platter of gold as proof in the next four days or he’d come for mine.” He said, “All I want is to help you regain your father’s throne.”
“That’s it?” Hashim asked.
“Well, yes!” He replied.
“You killed my brother and had me captured.” Hashim said, “Now you come to me about my father’s throne being ruled by a certain someone, and now wants to help me get it back?” He laughed. “And knowing that I am a prince from Tzuria, you had me chained and treated as a slave?”
“When you come before a king and a make a move for his life,” he answered, “What do you expect? You act like a cretin, you get treated like one!”  He smiled, “Couple with the fact that we had no idea what went down at Tashqbal, we had to put up with the only option left, and then the next day I received a letter from Tzuria, to deliver you dead or alive, or face the wrath of the new ruler of Tzuria.”  He giggled, “I replied to comply at the same time sent some spies and on their return, the news I received was not pleasing to my ears. I believe that we all make mistakes because when I made the deal, I didn’t know what I bargained for. Nabil tried to warn me but I didn’t listen. Now, she was the one that advised me to keep you alive and safe. She also suggested that I give you and army to go back and retake what’s rightfully yours.”
“Hmm!” Hashim remarked, “How am I sure you are saying the truth? Put your feet in my shoes.”
“Bring him along.” The king ordered, he quickly turned and walked away.
The guards chained him up and took him to the palace, and into the King’s inner chamber.
King Yuri brought out some scrolls from a shelf and threw them at Hashim’s feet. “You are royal,” he said, “I believe you can read. I also believe you know where that seal comes from!”
Hashim picked one of the scrolls and went through it, he threw it away and pick the next one. He lifted his head in disbelief and looked at King Yuri. Hashim’s knees kissed the floor.
“If you agree with me,” Said King Yuri, “I say we set out as soon as possible.”  




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