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.

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3. Chapter Three: Dine with the King.

After sunset, they marched back to the slave quarters. While in the cell, four guards arrived and ordered Hashim to stand on his feet. A guard entered the cell and put on shackles around his ankles, they took him on a chariot to a house in the city.
On their arrival, two guards stood behind while the other two took Hashim inside the house. He was unchained and left standing in the middle of a large empty room, painted white. Moments later, the doors in front of him came open. Two young women walked in; one dressed in a blue hooded cape and the other in green, he recognised them. They were Nabil’s sisters, and behind them was their older sister in her usual red silk cape.
“Hashim Khail.” Nabil said as she approached him, “Is that what you are called?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Who wants to know?”
Nabil’s tone resembled the voice that sounded in his head the day he was brought before King Yuri. Her two sisters stood behind her.
 “Please be seated!” She said in a polite manner.
“Are you serious?” He said.
“Please,” she pled with him as she pointed at something behind him.
Hashim turned and saw a white wooden chair. He looked around and saw no one. He could not remember hearing any sound or footsteps earlier, and he was sure the chair wasn’t there when the guards brought him in.
“Ookay?” He emphasised, sighed and ignored her order, “How did you…”
“Please, sit!” She interposed.
Hashim crossed his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow.
“Alright, tough guy.” She said, “Shurriah!”
The one in blue dress came forward and stared at him. She raised her left arm and a vortex appeared behind him, and like the wind compelled Hashim to the chair.
“Vina!” Nabil Yelled.
The lady in green came forward and raised her left arm; roots from each handle sprouted and tied his hands. Two more roots pierced the floor and wrapped themselves around his ankles, and fastened his feet to the legs of the chair.
“Don’t fight it, warrior.” Nabil Whispered as she lowered her face and gazed into his eyes as though she wanted to read his mind, “It’ll get tighter. Stay calm.” She laid her hands on his forearm.
He was lost in her large green eyes as she was also ensnared by his. They stared into each other’s eyes. Nabil couldn’t talk anymore, she heaved as though he took her breath away; she held her lips together as best she could, then stood up right and took a step back without saying a word.
Shurriah and Vina looked at each other, then quietly left the room and shut the door behind them.
“How did they…do that?” He stuttered with a smirk, “And hey, did you just sneak into my…mind?”
She snorted and stared down at him as she suspired.
“Oh, I know.” He added, “You want to torture me, huh? I saw how you were staring me back at the farm.” He paused, “So uh…if I may ask, really, what are we doing here?”
The doors came open once more.
“Aha!” King Yuri yelled, “The great prince himself tied to our little magic chair.” He walked to them and shook his head.
Nabil bowed before the king and turned to walk away.
“Hey, beautiful eyes!” Hashim said, “How can three women tie me up to a chair and leave me with this…man?”
She looked at the king, then walked out of the room.
“Hey, I am talking to you!” Hashim yelled, “You didn’t tell me your name!”
“She’s a fine one, isn’t she?” Said the king, “Be careful with her eyes, and don’t say I didn’t warn you, my….”
“One day I’m going to have my hands wrapped around your neck!” Hashim interjected, “I’ll squeeze it and watch the life in you squeal out.”
“If I had a brother, I don’t think I’ll be this fond of him.” King Yuri said, “I have nothing to do with this zany accusations you lay.”
Hashim jerked his hands and tried to free himself from the roots that held him.
“Hmm!” King Yuri responded, “Anyway, I would’ve preferred a more, you know, gentlemen kind of meeting but the way you roared at me in the presence of my men the other day suggests caution be taken. Hence the magic chair.”
“What do you want from me?” He asked.
“Nothing, nothing really!” said the king, “I came to uh…well, it means I do really want something from you; I came to personally invite you to come dine with me and my queen later tonight!” He giggled, “That’s all.”
“That’s it?” Hashim said.
“Yes! That is all!” He answered, “However, you’ll need to get cleaned up. Some ladies are going to come back and give you a good warm bath. Mind you, my guards will come along with them just to make sure someone’s hand don’t reach out to any lass’ neck. You know what I mean, don’t you?” The king clapped.
Four young women walked in half naked, followed by six guards. Four of the men pushed in a big bathtub on small wheels filled with warm water.  Two of the ladies had with them soaps and sponges.
“Off I go then.” Said the king, “See you in a jiffy, my friend. Oh! And uh…Enjoy yourself!” He tapped Hashim on the chest and walked away humming. The women and the guards bowed as he walked pass them.
The men then stationed the bathtub right next to Hashim.
Moments later, two guards brought Hashim before the king. He was dressed in a fine gentleman’s attire. The king was at the dining table with his queen by his side.
“Please, join us!” The king said, he stood to his feet as he chomped on a big leg of succulent roasted turkey.
Hashim walked to the table and bowed to the queen. She smiled.
The guards stepped back and stood by the entrance.
“I love pork, it’s my favourite.” The king added as he sat down, “Please have a seat. I understand that you Tzurians find swine offensive especially when offered as a meal. So I made sure they prepared a nice roasted turkey, just for you.”
Hashim looked at the variety of food and exotic fruits displayed on the table, and almost drooled. He then turned to the king and queen.
“I insist,” the king said. “Please!”
Hashim sighed, then gently drew a chair out and sat down.
“Please, eat!” The king added, “You Tzurians are lovers of exotic fruits I am told, I also made sure they plugged the finest from the palace garden. Hope you like it.”
Hashim grabbed a purple fruit that looked like an apple and took a bite. He shook his head. “Mmm!” He responded, “This is very-very-good! Tastes like uh… assortment of fruits; a mixture of pineapple and uh…grape?”
“You’re pleased by the sweetness of what I offer to you then.” The king said excitedly, “This is a good start, huh?”
Hashim shook his head as he mashed the juicy fruit with his Tzurian teeth.
“Good!” The king added, “I love the fact that you love it.”  He giggled, “I believe you’ve met Nabil?”
“I sure did,” he said, “She’s beautiful, but the way she stares and appears out of nowhere scares my soul.” He licked his lips, “Whence comes this peculiar fruit? It’s…juicy!”  He took another bite.
“My queen’s favourite,” said the king, “Jaspel, I call it. I actually named it after her beloved mother.”  He cleared his throat, “I don’t know what name your people shall call it, I can give you some samples to go back home with. It is a combination of the heart of a pineapple tree and some fruit tree from the western part of Africa.”
Hashim stretched his hand and grabbed a chunk of meat placed before him. He sank his teeth to it. “Hmm!” He remarked, “You live in a paradise oh great king.”
“Wait till you taste her own meal,” said the king referring to his queen. “She’ll make your tongue realise it has been denied its right from birth.” He smiled.
“Oh please, my king!”  The queen said. “Yet he doesn’t want me in the kitchen.” She smiled.
“No king in his right minds would allow a rare and beautiful gem such as yourself near anything that burns, my queen.” He responded, “As much as I’d do anything to eat your food, I’d rather die trying to protect your tender skin from being gouged by the wind itself.”
She smiled and shied away from his comment.
Hashim belched, “Pardon my manners.”  He said.
“The seer, Nabil.” Said the king, “She thinks you’re special, and should not be tampered with.”
“The beautiful lady in red?” Hashim said, “I think she’s in love with me. I can see it in her eyes.”
The king cleared his throat and turned towards his right.
Hashim turned and saw Nabil standing behind him. He gently turned his head back to the table and laid the meat on a platter, he reached for a cup filled with red wine. “Nabil, her name?” He asked, “She’s not from this kingdom, is she?”
“Hmm.” The queen remarked, “And, how did you know, might I ask?”
“Hashim is one of Thal Kalliman’s great student.” The king said.
“Thal Kalliman?” The queen asked, “The great old and grey scholar from the Ghanerk?”
Hashim shook his head, “and how did the great king know all these about me?” He asked.
“I know more than enough about you, Hashim.” Said the king, “I know that you’re the true heir to the throne of your father, King Xhafir Khail III. You’re a brilliant swordsman, and very generous to the people, even those not of your father’s kingdom. I also know that you lost your wife to the cold hands of death.”
“Oh dear,” said the queen, “So sorry for your great loss.”
Hashim smiled. He gently placed the wine cup back on the table.
“Please, come with me.” Said the king as he stood up, “There’s something I’d like to show you.” He wiped his mouth with a piece of cloth and led the way, Hashim stood up and walked with him. And so did Nabil and the two guards.
The king took him up to the roof of the palace, where ten more guards stood watch. He showed him a model of the vast land he ruled, laid on a big platform; it showed the great city of Nurok, the capital of Therakania. And many other cities and lands under the king.
“Not as big as thy father’s kingdom,” said the king. “But big enough to be my pride, as it was to my father.” He sighed, “You see, my father…your father’s chum built this great city, and during his reign he shifted the capital after every ten years. This way, he believed would bring development and spread prosperity throughout the kingdom.”
“Wise approach.” Hashim said.
“He was a wise king indeed.” He said, “We Therakanians attach value to loyalty. And the late king, my father, had told me a great deal about your father. He promised never to stand against his interests in any way, no matter what. My father had great respect for your father.” He nodded, “He always said that your father was more than just a king, but a man with a good and kind heart. I think there came a time when war knocked upon the gates of our kingdom. When Arrazaq, the Gruxian invaded our land and none among my father’s friends came to his rescue. He called for help but they turned their backs on him. The one king that my father didn’t call out to, was the only one that came to his aid. They joined forces and drove out the Gruxians, and fed them to the vultures in the plains.” He laughed, “My father told me that, after the war, this king even offered assistance to help raise the kingdom’s economy back on its feet. Do you know who this king was?”
“No!” Hashim responded, “But I’ve heard stories of King Arrazaq of Grux.”
“Come on, Hashim.” He said, “Don’t tell me your father never told you about how he assisted my father in defeating the Gruxians in the days of old.”
“No!” Hashim answered, “My father isn’t much of a talker. He is more of a thinker and adores his solitude. He did tell me he was expecting a gift from your father, and he sent us to collect it, we didn’t know your father’s son had other plans.”
“Things are not as they appear, Hashim.” King Yuri said, “You’ll find out at the right time, maybe. But your father…he was a great king.”
“No, he is a great king.” Hashim emphasised.
King Yuri walked to Hashim. “King Xhafir Khail III passed away weeks back, Hashim.” He said. “About the same time you were brought.”
“Really?” Hashim responded. “No, you must be talking about a different king entirely. My father…”
“Your father was assassinated, Hashim.” He interjected, “I’m sorry to say but it is the truth.”
“Don’t you dare stir the name of my father with the dead,” Hashim yelled in anger.
The guards made a move but King Yuri signalled them, and they remained calm.
“I did not invite you into my palace to make mockery of you.” He said, “The son of my father’s friend is also my friend.”
“Then what is this unthinkable thing you spat?” Hashim said.
“I have no reason to lie to you.” He said, “I’d gain nothing from it.”
Hashim wrestled the king to the ground. The guards grabbed hold of him and subdued him.

 

 

 

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