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Thread: Who Can Be Touched?

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Who Can Be Touched?

    Who Can Be Touched?

    Two Sudanese bodyguards stood like immense ironwood sentinels on either side of their general’s tent. In the cold morning light you could see one had his arms folded across his chest, while the other’s free hand played with the ivory handle of this scimitar and his other hand clutched at his kaftan, wrapping it tightly about him, trying to keep warm.

    “The coffee bearer is late again. Where could he be?”

    “I have an idea he’s close by,” said the other, flaring his already magnificent nostrils. “My nose tells me so. He’s new, and doesn’t know the routine.”

    The top of a silver urn appeared, then a turban, accompanied by the clanking of cups and a voice.

    “I’m sorry I’m tardy, but the caravan from Cairo was late, and I had to help unload the camels.”

    “Never mind the excuses, just give us our coffee.”

    While pouring the coffee the boy looked at the two burly black men and a puzzled expression came over his face. “Why is it the Sultan requires two body-guards while he sleeps surrounded by an entire army?”

    One of the Sudanese smiled grandly, his teeth like precious pearls in the dark setting of his face. As cold as the night had been, now the sun was up and bars of amber light were illuminating the ground mist like in a fairy tale. But in no time at all it would be scorching hot.

    “It’s that way ever since he found an assassin’s note one morning sitting next to a dagger on his pillow. The duplicate tent didn’t fool them one bit.”

    The other took a sip and chimed in. “If an assassin isn’t afraid of dying, there’s isn’t much a statesman or general can do. Anyone can be touched.”

    The boy looked left and right, and shifted his weight uneasily. “Even in camp?”

    “For a man such as Saladin? Twice over, I tell you, twice over. One death for the statesman, and another for the general, even when surrounded by an army of loyal soldiers.”

    The boy took the empty cups and left, more in a hurry than ever. Now the sun was more prominent and illuminated details within the tent. As Morpheus had his way with Saladin, he dreamt restlessly tossing and turning. He made a sound, and the two bodyguards looked in, but saw no motion besides the hunting falcons upon their perch, preening and ruffling their feathers. One feather flew across the room and landed upon a table piled with dispatches and papers.

    Behind the falcons stood the general’s map, drawn on a lambskin, suspended by leather strings, stretched on a wooden portable frame. Pins were everywhere. Ones with pearl buttons marked the positions of caravans from Cairo and Damascus. Ones with carnelian buttons were his troops. Amber buttons signified the enemy, both troops and ships, while lapis-buttoned pins showed the position of significant crusader castles and strongholds like Kerak de Chevaliers, Belvoir, and the Tower of David.

    “Thy neck is like the Tower of David, built with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armor of the mighty men.”

    The body guards drew solace from this Song of Songs, knowing that due to the man sleeping inside the tent, a man secure in their safekeeping, the Tower of David was firmly in Moslem hands. Certainly it was their shields, and they were the mighty men. To the left was the general’s sword, his dagger, chain mail, and armor hung on a dummy, and his helmet was placed upon that. In the corner was a rosewood table where a chess-board waited. The players were carved ironwood and ivory.

    When Saladin awoke later he strode forth, rubbing his uncomfortable bottom. The physician had been harsh in his treatment, and a snake, he decided, had more bedside manners.

    “You must understand,” he said to a servant. “If I were not such a pious man, I would curse this affliction. Now bring me breakfast.”

    He broke his fast with yoghurt and honey. Then, before he finished, and was about to talk to his uncle, his closest advisor, a servant came in carrying a covered dish. Inside were shaved ice and melon slices. The advisor was pleased when he saw the look on his nephew’s face, but being humble, took no credit. Saladin ate a few ice-covered slices and was ready for work, now feeling refreshed, free of the after-effects of the narcotic.

    ©Steven Hunley 2013 Kingdom Of Heaven - Saladin last scene
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 08-05-2019 at 05:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Hi Buddy

    I see you have done your research. Nice down to earth touches re Saladin's backside. Not often dealt with in the contemporary history of that august individual. I was whilst reading, getting into the "who done it" futuristic mode. Raymond Chandler always had the sudden appearance of a man with a gun walking in. I was half expecting an another assassination attempt, albeit with sword or dagger.

    Best wishes

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