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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 121: Slade 153
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The next day the ceremony was held. Slade had spent at least an hour in conference with the Caliph, not counting the time during which the Amir’s people presented their version of events, which was not really all that different. Slade’s explanations included how they figured out the mystery, Scheherazade’s involvement both in the plot and in the rescue, the motive for the kidnapping, the details of the rescue, and the killing of his cousin the Amir. That, he said, might have been avoidable, but his team was under attack and responded before knowing who was attacking them. The Caliph nodded, and said it was understandable, and his team should be commended for their courage and resourcefulness. He also said that the entire matter may have been his fault. His cousin Ahmed had approached him more than once to discuss betrothing Rathi to his son Amahl, and he had put him off for what he thought were good reasons. Amahl was only five, eleven years younger than Rathi, and wouldn’t be marriageable until she was considerably older. Further, he was not too old to take another wife and possibly father a son, so the throne might not pass to Rathi’s husband anyway. As it stood, Amahl was already in line for the throne, and if it changed, it changed; he was not old enough to rule anyway. Ultimately, he had hoped that Rathi would find a good man who would make a good ruler, and he would have an heir to the throne worthy and capable. He could not at that time really see it being Amahl.
The ceremony began with the Caliph explaining that indeed, the rumors were true, that his daughter the Calipha Rathi had been kidnapped. She had been rescued by the courage of a number of people, including Lord Slade’s team and her entourage of six brave and capable daughters of the nobles of the land. Slade and his team each received another chain, and chains were similarly given to the girls.
“Our cousin,” he continued, “Amir Ahmed, was killed in the rescue. His courage will be remembered.
“In honor of that courage, we are today announcing the betrothal of our daughter, Calipha Rathi, to his son, Amir Amahl. He will be brought to the palace to live, and to learn what he will need to know to succeed me as Caliph when the time comes. The death of his father reminds me that we are all mortal, and the Caliphate will be better served if it is clear who is to replace me upon my death.
“The lands and properties of Amir Ahmed will be given to the care of his daughter, Amira Scheherazade, who will oversee them until such time she, with our approval, chooses a husband for herself to become Amir in her father’s stead.
“The head of the kidnappers is dead, killed in the rescue. Others involved in the plot were all his subordinates, and have been pardoned in recognition of their obedience to their lord and their cooperation upon his death.
“This has been a trying time for all, and I again express my gratitude to Lord Slade and his people, who have again come to our aid in time of need and proved that our alliance with them is worth our commitment to them.
The Caliph rose, and all rose, and he left the dais through the side door. Slade looked at his companions. “Congratulations,” he said, and smiled.
“Congratulations,” Joe replied, and others echoed the word through the group.
“Well, I think it’s almost time for dinner,” Slade said. “I’m going to go get washed up and head to the dining hall. Coming?” This last was to Shella, to whom he offered his arm, gallantly he thought. She smiled and took it, and they, too, left the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #316: A Gather World. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: