Chapter 7: Deals

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Reads: 148
Comments: 1

 

Emissary Part 2

 

Chapter 7 Deals 

 

 

“I’m not wearing this!” 

 

When I handed him his uniform, Peter, the mountain, refused to put on the attire of a Fatimid soldier. 

 

“Men who wore this have tried to kill me,” he said.

 

As much as I understood his reluctance to put on the outfit of a state he once fought against, however when he signed up to become a guard at the Fatimid embassy in Rome, he knew what he was getting himself into. A mercenary does not question the motives or ideals of his employers. He just dies for their money.

 

“I understand,” I replied. “If you do not want to wear this then you can leave right now.”

 

A very straight forward answer. I did not have time to argue loyalties. I had a job to do and I needed my men to dress the part. It was that simple.

 

“Okay. Now comes the fun part,” I said. I opened the chest full of weapons that came from Cairo, and I started to take them out one piece at a time.

 

“Holyyyy!!!” Antonio exclaimed. “Are you planning on waging war on Tuscany? I bet you can occupy a small town with this hardware.”

 

“I have seen you practice swordsmanship with that rusty old scrap,” I told Antonio. “I bet this one balances much better.” I handed him a new shinny sword of damascene steel that could ransom a prince. The blade was sharper, it weighed much less and lasted much longer.

 

“Holyyyy!!!” he cursed again. “I bet I could kill a hundred men with this.”

 

“You could, if you knew how to use it.”

 

“You are saying I don’t know how to use a sword?” He chuckled.

 

“That is exactly what I’m saying,” I replied and he stopped laughing.

 

Next I handed Peter a double edged axe. It went well with his physic. He used to carry a long broad sword, however his brute strength and brashness were more suited for a much larger weapon. He loved it. 

 

“What about me?” Jaco interjected. “Don’t I get a sword like Antonio’s?” 

 

“No,” I replied. “But you could get a better bow than that piece of rotten wood you carry with you.” 

 

“What is wrong with my longbow?” 

 

“Well, for starters, the wood is cracked, the strings are dried and it is skewed a bit to the left.”

 

“How do you know all that?” Jaco was surprised. I had seen the men practice. They thought they were good. Now I understood why they had not landed a job as mercenaries. They sucked.

 

“I bet ten pieces of silver I could shoot an arrow with my cracked longbow further than mistress Joel could with her little crossbow.”

 

That’s when I cracked up. I chuckled out loud to the surprise of the three men standing in the yard. “That was really funny, Jaco,” I said. “It’s been a while since I heard a good joke.”

 

“I’m not joking... I can.”

 

“My dear Jaco. I hope you do not go on wasting your money so sparingly,” I said. “Mistress Joel can take your eye out from a thousand yards with that little crossbow of hers. I wouldn’t go challenging her if I were you.”

 

It took him a minute to understand what I just said and he stopped blabbering. Everyone could see Joel was a killer, from the way she looked at you, as well as those weapons she loved to carry. Only they had not seen the extent of her talents yet. I did. 

 

“Look boys,” I finally said. “I know you know that I know you’re not very good, however I think with some practice you could at least stay alive.” I turned to Jaco and added, “I’ll even ask mistress Joel to show you how it’s done. She has a few tricks up her sleeves she can teach you.”

 

I was really offering to help. Not for their own sakes but mainly for mine. I needed men to guard my new embassy and I was stuck with those three idiots. So I might as well make the best of what I got. I was hoping they were up to it.

 

“What about him?” Peter was pointing at Jabi. “What weapon is he going to get?”

 

“I told you, I’m not using any,” Jabi growled.

 

When I first hired those three men as embassy guards I put them under the command of Jabi-Ibn-Musa, the pacifist from Ghana. Unfortunately that had not worked out too well. Peter and his companions tried to stay away from their commander. They weren’t rude or insolent, however they simply did not think too highly of him. They did not believe a commander of the guards could do his duty without carrying a weapon.

 

“See what I mean?” Peter added. “A commander who doesn’t know how to use a weapon... this is bullshit.”

 

“I think you are wrong Peter.” I tried to correct him.

 

“What do you mean?” Antonio asked. “You heard him. He does not want to use one.”

 

“Oh, he can use one all right. Trust me. He simply does not want to.”

 

“How do you know that?” Peter asked.

 

“From the way he stands, the way he walks, and sits...”

 

“You can know all that from the way he shits?” Jaco thought he was making a joke seeing how his two friends chuckled with him.

 

Throughout this conversation Jabi remained quiet. He just sat under the shade of a tree and listened to us talking about him. 

 

“Would you care to prove them wrong?” I addressed my personal bodyguard.

 

Jabi stood up and walked over to grab two wooden staffs lying on the ground. He threw one to me and stood in the middle of the yard waiting for me to join him.

 

I walked over and asked, “that’s your choice of weapon?” 

 

“Yes,” he replied. That is when I knew I was screwed. 

 

The first jab was mine, he moved, I missed. We danced around, striking each other’s poles a few times, trying to access our opponents speed and strength. I jabbed again and I felt the world go upside down. I did not see that coming. But that didn’t stop me from trying again. I jumped back up to resume my fighting stance. For the next minute or so we engage in a staff fight the speed of which Peter and his companions could hardly catch up. The wooden staves just blurred as they struck each other with lightning speed. I knew I could not maintain that pace for long. Eventually he was going to know my weakness and I was right. On the fifty-second strike he managed to break my defenses lifting my leg from underneath me, hurling my body up in the air, and flat on my back once again. I knew the fight was over. He extended his hand to help me up on my feet.

 

“Spear?” I asked. 

 

“Where I come from you use whatever you can find,” he replied. “But yes, I used a form of a spear,” he confirmed. “You’re not so bad yourself, John.”

 

“Well, it is not my choice of weapon,” I replied.

 

“As I told you I’m not going to use one,” he reiterated his stance. “As your personal bodyguard I will defend you, but I will not kill for you. It is not like you need my help anyway.”

 

“I’m not asking you to break your oath,” I reiterated my acceptance. When I hired Jabi to become a bodyguard he told me he made an oath never to kill a human being. However I needed his skills for a much more important matter. “Let’s make a deal,” I said. “How about you use this wooden staff of yours and help me whip those three boys into guards?! I hope you would not have to kill any of them in the process.”

 

He smiled for a second as he thought about what I just said then he replied, “Okay. It is a deal.” Jabi accepted.

 

From that day onward Sargent Peter, the mountain, became Jabi’s shadow, his second in command, and God helped anyone who did not obey his orders. In addition to that, Peter also agreed to wear the Fatimid uniform as well. It wasn’t a bad deal after all.

 

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

“NO… No, No… No, No…” I cried out. “What the hell are you doing?”

 

“What do you mean what are we doing?” Serena, Gilbert’s wife asked. “Can’t you see we are kneading the dough!” 

 

Serena, a cook, or so she thought she was, had moved with her husband into their room at the new embassy. She immediately took her place in the kitchen and proceeded to exercise her talents. Helena, her sister, which I recruited as my house keeper was trying to help her prepare dinner. The kitchen was a mess. Both ladies were covered in flower up to their elbows. Their hair was all white and their faces looked like ghosts who had escaped their funerals.

 

“ARE YOU  BOTH TRYING TO POISON US?!” I blurted out my anger.

 

They stopped what they were doing and looked at me with surprise. If they wanted to poison us they would have done it a long time ago. They were just trying their best to cook us food, unfortunately, they weren’t good at it. 

 

“What do you mean?” Selena asked.

 

“Can’t you see the dough is full of your hair,” I replied. “You are also sweating all over it, for heavens sake!”

 

“So?!” Helena was as confused as her sister. 

 

“According to al-Razi those who work in the kitchen must first wash their hands with soap before touching the food… They must put on a head scarf to prevent hair from falling into the food… They must also wear a head band to absorb their sweat so it doesn’t drop into the food… especially when they are kneading dough,” I explained why I was upset. 

 

“Who the hell is Razi?!”

 

I had no idea why I was quoting al-Razi to the ladies. I wasn’t really trying to show off, well maybe a little, but I wasn’t too fond of hair-bread either.

 

“Mohamad-Ibn-Zakariya-al-Razi was a very important physician who lived a hundred years ago in Baghdad and Rayy. He was a philosopher, an astronomer, and he also wrote an important cookbook called; Choosing Good Food and Avoiding the Bad.” I tried to explain to the ladies who al-Razi was. “You both should read what he had to say.” I finally added.

 

“Is everything written in a book somewhere?” Helena curiously asked. 

 

“Yes. Well, You would be surprised what little hasn’t been written in a book.”

 

“Wow. I wish I knew how to read,” she sighed. “Maybe I could read what that Razi fellow had written.”

 

Why wasn’t I not surprised. Barely a handful of people in Rome knew how to read or write. How could they?! when most books in our time were written in Arabic. Latin or Greek was hardly ever used for anything other than religious texts. If you do not know Arabic you are basically left out from the knowledge of our world.

 

“Would you like to learn how to read, Helena?” 

 

“Of course I would, but my mother said we females aren’t created for such intellectual endeavors.” 

 

“Who told her so?”

 

“She heard it from a priest,” she explained. 

 

“Well, with all due respect to your mother, she shouldn’t be listening to stupid priests.”

 

“Oh, They’re both dead.”

 

“I’m sorry, then may God have mercy on their ignorant souls.” I said. “If you want, I can ask lady Lyla to teach you how to read,” I offered. 

 

“She can do that?”

 

“Of course she can,” I replied, “she knows Latin, as well as Arabic and she is an accomplished poet in both languages. You should read some of her work. It is beautiful.” 

 

“What about the dough?” Serena interjected. “Can this Razi of yours cook us dinner tonight?”

 

“No. But I’ll make you a deal,” I said, “I’ll ask Lady Mina to help you in the kitchen provided you learn from her all the culinary delights of the Mediterranean, as well as the Persian cuisines. You’ll be surprised how many different kinds of sweets that devil can whip up.”

 

She thought about it for a second before she said, “Okay. It is a deal.” Serena accepted.

 

From that day onward we finally ate without hair in our food. Mina and Selena worked very well together. Selena knew when she was out-whipped. She learnt a great many recipes from my friend. As for her sister, Helena, unfortunately, she couldn’t decipher an A from a B but her three kids eventually did. 

 

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

Helena ran to me as I was finishing practicing swordsmanship with the men. She was closely followed by her three little kids. I was surprised she brought them with her to work. I had never seen her children before. Ever since she knew about my past her whole attitude towards me had changed. Sex was out of the question. She tried her best to avoid me. She would come to work then go back home to her kids at the end of the day. I guess she was afraid of me. Maybe she was afraid I might harm her children somehow. She was a smart woman. 

 

I have never been good with children. I don’t like them and they don’t like me. That is why I will never have any of my own, and I don’t want to. At least I’m hoping I don’t have any… anywhere...

 

“Sir,” Helena said. Having a woman whom you had fucked before address you as Sir makes you a little edgy. 

 

“Your Excellency,” she added. That was even worse.

 

“Helena,” I stopped her. “Please call me John.”

 

“Okay. Sir. John, your excellency,” she was useless. “I brought my children to meet you today.” She explained. Then she immediately started introducing her offsprings to me one by one. “This here is Mark, my eldest… Donna my only daughter… And this little fellow is Rodriguez. He is only three years of age.”

 

As I said. I don’t like children so I wanted to finish with the pleasantries and get them on their way back home. I had more important business to attend to.

 

“Nice to meet you Mark,” I started with her eldest. “How old are you young man?” That was all I could come up with. As I said, I hate pleasantries.

 

“I’m twelve,” he replied.

 

“LIAR,” his sister Donna immediately corrected, “You’re not twelve. You’re barely ten.”

 

“I’M NOT… YOU’RE THE LIAR.”

 

“STOP IT YOU TWO,” Helena yelled at her kids. “I’m sorry Sir. They won’t misbehave again. I promise.”

 

I chuckled. They reminded me of me when I was me. I missed the time when I was their age. It was a terrible time for me. Yet I still miss it. Maybe because I missed the people who where in it. I guess that was why I hate kids. They remind me so much of that time.

 

“Sir,” Helena jogged me out of my memories. “Can I ask you a favor?”

 

Helena had never asked me for anything before. I hoped I wouldn’t have to let her down.

 

“As you know, lady Lyla is teaching me Arabic, and I was wondering if she can teach my kids the same.”

 

I was surprised with her request. Her eyes betrayed her love for her children and the dreams she had for them. Every mother has those. They all want their children to grow and prosper, to be better than they are. I remember mine when she gave me up to become a Mamluk, a slave, in master Badr’s household. She had that same look in her eyes. 

 

“It’s not for me to say Yes or No,” I said, “you have to take this up with lady Layla. If she is okay with this, then I don’t mind.”

 

Suddenly Mark objected, “I don’t want to learn Arabic.” 

 

I was surprised to hear this from a ten year old. Being offered a chance to read or write was an opportunity of a life time. You could become a scribe, a scholar, or have a chance to work for a duke or a prince. There was no limit to what you can achieve with such knowledge.

 

“Why don’t you want to learn Arabic?” I asked. I was curious to know the reason.

 

“I want to become a soldier just like you and fight those Arab speaking Saracen,” he said.

 

“MARK!” Helena yelled at her son. “Master John is a Saracen. Apologize to him at once! Sorry Sir. He won’t say that again. Please forgive him.”

 

I chuckled again after seeing Mark’s eyes when he knew I was one of the bad guys. Technically Helena was right. I was a Saracen. A very bad Saracen at that. A Saracen who believed in the same old God both Muslims and Christians worship. I wondered if we weren’t all Saracens in our own way?!

 

“Sorry.” Mark tried to apologize. “But I still want to fight them Saracens.”

 

Well that made sense. Every Roman wants to fight them Saracens. I did my fair share of it myself. That was the most honest young man I had met in a long time. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t afraid to say it. Unfortunately most people who fight don’t know why or what they are fighting for. They just follow their leaders and die so that those idiots could sit on a thrown basking in the blood of their ignorant subjects. 

 

“Don’t you want to know the reason WHY you will be fighting those Arab speaking Saracens?” I asked Mark.

 

“Yes. I guess.”

 

“And how do you think you can accomplish that?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“A good way might be to learn their language,” I explained. “Don’t you agree?!”

 

“Yes, maybe, I guess.”

 

“Let’s make a deal you and I,” I said. “How about you learn Arabic so you can know everything there is to know about those Arab speaking Saracens. After you do all that, and you still want to fight them, then I will personally teach you how to kill them myself. Do we have a deal?”

 

Mark looked at me trying to figure out if there was a trick to what I had just offered him. I must have triggered his curiosity a little. There was no harm learning about those saracens. Maybe if he did then he could find a better way to fight them, so he finally said, “Okay. It is a deal.” Mark accepted.

 

From that day onward Helena’s children started learning Arabic. Eventually all three would excel at it. Little Rodriguez would become an important scholar in the courts of the Norman kings of Palermo. Donna would marry a rich merchant who wanted a wife who could write his letters for him. As for Mark, he fought and died on the side of them Arabic speaking Saracens. 

 

As I said I hate children.


Submitted: May 19, 2021

© Copyright 2022 samnash. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DampKitten

Where is Husam and his 20 men in all this? Are they going to hang around as well and protect the embassy?

Just so you know, Sam, I don't wear a KFC bonnet when I'm cooking, nor a bandana to catch the sweat. If I work up a sweat while I'm kneading something, I just rain all over it.

Jabi sounds more skilled than John when it comes to fighting. Maybe he has specialty interests. You don't have to kill to be an effective body guard. All this artillery that John has received certainly makes it seem as if he is planning to go on the offensive rather than just defend an embassy.

He makes a great point with Mark. Knowing everything you can about your enemy (language included) makes you all the more effective at fighting them...and sometimes you switch sides.

Fri, May 21st, 2021 3:50am

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