Previously on Lorius Midel

 

The Invitation

©Samuel Mogbolu

(Pg 5 in the series)

Lorius Midel 

Later in the afternoon, Lameer made a call on my house and asked to see me. I was in no mood for visitors as I was about to sneak into the forest and considered escaping through the back gate.

However, this would have lengthened the journey. Our compound was vast and going through the back, would have meant having to trek all the way round the surrounding wall, till I got to the forest path.

So I discarded this thought and decided to attend to him, hoping his visit won't take long. I met him pacing about; a habit I knew he got from his father who also disliked to be kept waiting.

“Lameer, sorry for the delay.” I said.

He turned to me, looking as irked as a mother hen.

“Finally the prince emerges.” he said and then his impatience wore off as he donned on the bothersome look of curiosity “were you about to leave the house?” he asked, noting that I wore my bag.

“Yea…I was on my way for a stroll.” I answered, inwardly cursing myself for failing to leave the bag inside.

“A stroll,” he said “but you just had one.” he insisted and then he raised his head, pointing a finger at me.

“You are going to train, isn’t it?” he announced, “I’ll bet you have some secret hideout deep in the woods or on the farthest hills.”

“If you say so,” I said.

 “Well I am up for a stroll too,” he said, “so I would come along with you.”

“Uh no, you don’t have to…I intend to be alone.” I answered, declining his offer.

“Aha…I knew it! No one could possibly throw a knife like you do, without training to death.”

This was going nowhere.

“Is there something you came to tell me?”

“As brusque as usual, Miletus, you will never change,” he answered affably.

He was just like his sister; discourtesy never seemed to get to him.

“Lameer, it is not that I am not happy to see you, but let’s face it; when last did you come to visit me? You should understand if I’m just a bit probing about the purpose of your coming.”

He sighed; “well actually, I wanted to know why you took no credit for the death of the panther. We both know you fought just as hard as I did.”     

“You came all this way to ask me that?” I answered, “Well maybe I did not find it important enough to go bragging about.”

“That’s silly talk; Miletus….this is a panther we are talking about! And besides I was not bragging… I only took the glory you threw away.”

 It was getting late and I was impatient to leave “all right then, I take it that is all?”

He smiled in a manner that immediately reminded me of Kasha “umm I’m embarking on a trading expedition in four days’ time.

My father has some things he would like me to oversee and I would like you to come along,”

Now this sounded like fun. You see, Kalahash was a highly commercial province; in fact, the empire was once in charge of the trans-Saharan trade.

Now Alini, Lameer’s father, was a man of means who owned so many stores in the market and had formed partnerships with the merchants.

If Lameer was going on a trading expedition, it meant that he had some business to run for his father in a foreign city.

His father usually sent him on these missions to prepare him for the future, since he was the heir apparent.

Naturally, I was interested, as I found the notion of travelling with a convoy of camels across the desert, and visiting other cities, quite appealing.

“Yea, now you are talking, of course I would like to come.” I said feeling gleeful.

He looked a little perplexed, as he had never seen me display much interest in anything.

“Huh… So you like to travel…have you ever ridden on a camel before?” he asked.

“Not a fully grown one.” I said.

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He smiled “well umm I’m sure a young camel can be gotten for you”. He made to walk out then turned.

“Your brother is coming along too….and umm Kasha insisted that I greet you on her behalf” this last part he added with a grin.

“Umm, well give my regards to her.” I said, fighting hard to look as nonchalant as possible.

His nod was solemn “all right then, let me go and see that the weapons and other things are in order.”

Excitement extinguished dedication and the forest lost its appeal. I went in search for my father to tell him of my plans to travel. I was certain such a thought would never have occurred to Traore.

I found my father in the east wing of the compound in his private chamber. He usually went there to relax, plan, or entertain highly important guests.

Two guards, clad in sable attire, stood in front of the massive iron bars that formed the entrance.

These guards were so dwarfing, even taller than my father was, and they donned their turbans in such a way as to almost completely mask their faces.

The sight of them had forever intimidated me and I never attempted to go in there before without summon.

As I approached, the guards regarded me with steely stares but I was resolved to see my father.

“Where are you headed, young one?” one of them asked with a gruff voice.

“I shall speak with my father.” I said.

“Does he know of your coming?” the other guard asked.

“He is no soothsayer.” I answered only because when questioned in this manner, my hackles always arose to take the place of common sense.

“And you likewise, or you would know that he accepts no visitors at this time.” One answered.

“Let me in right this moment!” I ordered, my voice rising.

Who did these guards think they were anyway? The heat of my displeasure was swift to evaporate whatever fear I had for them. A guard from upstairs looked down from the balcony.

“What is going on down there?” he asked and only warranted an insolent glare from me.

When he saw me, he smiled.

 

“Oh Miletus, it is you,” he said. “Your father wishes to be left alone.”

Now my purpose for seeing my father may not have been all that important but I had to pass a message to these guards.

They had to understand that whether I was a young lad or not; I was the first son of the Saif and deserved their respect.

“Tell my father that I am the one asking for him.” I said.

The guard sighed, “As you wish, young master,” he said and bowed with false courtesy.

A few moments later, a guard from inside opened the great bars. I snorted at the big oafs at the gate and walked in.

Now what? I had forced my way in, so my father must assume that I had something of import to relay to him.

The thought made me nervous. It did not help that the towering sentries looked down upon me from all around the great hall.

“Go into the chambers lad, you have come to see the Saif, have you not?” a guard urged.

I knocked on the door and walked in. My father was standing at the window and looking out across the field and I realized that he must have seen me coming.

He wore a light, black, robe with a white shawl thrown across his shoulders. I could see that he had been reading as there was an open scroll on his mammoth wooden table.

Beside the scroll was a golden candle stand, a jar containing quill feathers and another jar containing grapes (his favourite fruits which he always required of the merchants when they passed through the city).

I liked this closet, with its brown curtains. He had had them raised up and tied for ventilation. Two great shelves lined the cream walls.

One shelf contained numerous scrolls while the other was full of small bottles of potions and various medical tools. 

“You remember your father today.” He said, “These days, you stay out a lot and no one knows of your whereabouts,”

“I am sorry father, I am usually occupied.” I replied.

“That much I gather, but tell me; what do you spend your time doing?” He said, taking his seat on a cushion chair at a corner of the chamber.

He motioned for me to do the same.

I realized that he was right. I kept to myself for long periods and paid little attention to members of the family even during periods of festivity.

“Uh well I spend most of my time in the forest,” I said.

“In the forest,” he echoed, “doing what if I may ask?”

“Training,” I answered simply.

“Training.” he echoed again.

“Yes father…I practice knife throwing.” I answered, beginning to doubt the sense in doing that.

“I see. So are you good at it?” he asked.

“Yes, very good in fact.” I enthused.

He smiled.

“Show me,” he said, rising up.

He went to the windows and pushed them wide open.

“Hit that pole over there” he said, pointing to a pole far across the compound.

“No problem.” I said. Now, the pole was several yards away; we used it for anchoring camels. There was a guard dozing against the pole.

“Father I would scare the guard to death!” I exclaimed, not yet thinking of the fact that he thought it impossible for me to throw that well.

“A hundred coins of gold says you cannot throw a knife that far; talk less of scare a well-trained guard.”

“He is dozing father, that does not say much for his training. But I shall hold you to your word; a hundred gold coins for me if I hit that pole”.

He chuckled.

“I would love to see you try.”

I drew my knife out of its pouch.

“Allow me to erase your doubt,” I said a little bit peeved.

“I do not doubt you son, I just doubt the power of your hands. Now throw.” he said, as he stepped away to give me more space.

I calmed myself and took aim. I had trained hard, this was going to be easy. I hurled the knife.

It moved like lightning and was accurate, but to my surprise, the dozing guard promptly became alert and drew his sword faster than a blink to intercept the knife just before it hit the pole.

I was speechless; how could a human move so fast!

He must have felt threatened by the knife, although I had aimed for a point above his head. He picked it up and glared at us, then hurled it back.

The knife whizzed and stuck into the windowpane. Now the windowpane was made of metal! Such force! I was astonished.

He then bowed to my father and returned to his post. It was in that moment I came to understand the reason why these men claimed the distinction and glory of the rank, Elite.

My father was visibly impressed “you are good Miletus, very good.”

“I do not think I am as good as that guard.” I answered.

 “He is a well-trained fighter and so is expected to be that strong” he paused then continued, “you on the other hand, have trained yourself. That really is impressive.”

My head swelled like a billowing vest. 

“I am glad you think so, father,” I said.

We walked back and sat down.

“So why have you come to see me?”

“Lameer has asked me to accompany him. He is going on a trading expedition and I believe he has some business to carry out for his father.”

“You’ve never shown any interest in travelling. You would have accompanied me on many of my trips.”

“So that means I am permitted to follow him?” I asked, quite eager.

“You are free to accompany him,” my father said.

He got up and walked to a cupboard close to his table. He opened a compartment, which concealed a safe, and brought out a sizable pouch. This purse he gave to me. It was full of golden coins.

“What shall I do with all this?” I exclaimed.

“Whatever you will.” he answered simply “but you are going on a journey. I would want you to be well prepared.”

“Father, only rich merchants or princes can carry this about.” I said feeling giddy.

He looked exasperated “You are my first son; of course you are a prince. Now don't embarrass me and go get ready for your journey. Be sure to take care of your brother Traore, I assume he is going with you.”

“He is.” I answered.

"Thank you, father." I said and walked out.

As I drifted down the path to the main building, I saw Traore sitting on a well at the end of the compound. He was sharpening his arrows and had arranged so many of his sandals to dry.

Drogba offered the only assistance he had to render; his gibberish rants. I thought of ignoring them as I was close to the main house but the desire to flash my pouch of gold took pre-eminence.

On getting to them, Drogba pounced on me.

“Brother carry me!” he yelled.

His whole apparel was dusty from playing in the dirt.  I was in a bright mood, however, and picked him up, causing Traore to consider me with a raised brow.

“You look really happy Miletus; did a goddess kiss you in your dreams?”

“No,” I answered “but she stoned me with this pouch” I said, shaking the pouch so that the gold jingled and I had the pleasure of seeing his eyes widen.

“What is in there, shells?” he asked dryly.

“No, you mule…” I said.

I brought out a piece so that it twinkled in the sunlight.

“Where did you get that?” he asked, accusation tinting his voice.

“Father gave it to me…I told him about the journey.”

He looked somewhat confused by my answer.

“Journey…what journey,” and then his eyes widened “you agreed to come on the trip? You realize that we would travel through the desert?”

I was exasperated “and so what?” I asked and he shrugged.

“Well, okay… and that gold is for the both of us.” he said wagging his fingers at me.

“Whatever you say,” I answered in a sing-song voice.

“Where is mother?” I asked.

“She went to the cotton fields,” he said.

I sat down on the well beside him, thinking about the impending journey.

………

“But Traore is only a little boy; I do not know whether he can stand the desert” my mother said to my father the night before the trip as we sat in the yard for the night was yet hot.

This had Traore stand up from his chair with the firelight casting a funny shape on his face.

“Mama please I am not a little boy oo, if Miletus can go then I must go too.”

“Speaking of Miletus…look, this is the desert we are talking about, he has never had to go through that,” mother continued, ignoring Traore.

I did not say a word but held my breath, as I really wanted to go on this trip.

My father cleared his throat “they are strong lads and besides I have assigned four elites to follow them.”

My parents argued for a long time and even went inside their room still debating on the matter. My mother’s reservations had dampened Traore’s mood for the night as he went on grumbling

“This is the thing about mama oo. Why does she always have to ruin a good show? Papa had already consented to the trip oo. All I know is that I must go- nothing is going to stop me oo. I have said my own oo….”

He went on and on, buzzing like a little bee in my ears. When I could bear no more, I got up and left for my room.

As I left, he kept his cold eyes fixed on me. I could not help but wonder why he directed some of his bitterness in my direction as if I had anything to do with mother's reservations.

I awoke at the break of dawn the next day, partly because I never slept. I quickly rushed outside to the well and drew water for my bath- this was insane since the temperature was still freezing low, as is common to our region during nightfall.

When I got to the bath place, Traore was already there, pouring the chilly water on his body. Clearly, we both had a rather sleepless night.

The servants had begun to wake as I could see a moving light through one of the windows of their quarters.

My brother and I quickly rushed inside to dry ourselves while our teeth chattered like crumbling glass. The muezzin soon called out, and then the sun rose and then finally, my mother walked out of her room.

“Bless you today mama.” We greeted with gusto on seeing her.

“So eager to run off into the desert huh?” she said, heading for the kitchen.

Of course, if we had our way, then we could just have done without the food. The wait seemed to take forever until finally, a few hours before noon, Lameer came into the compound in the company of a group of men.

“Miletus…it is time, I hope you are both ready.” He said, not bothering to climb up the veranda.

He looked dandy in a white turban, slightly raised at the front to cover his nose. He also wore a flowing white tunic with gold embroidered on his sleeve ends and collar lapels.

His slacks were matching white and were bogus at the hips but snugly fit his calves. To complete it, he wore a slim long black jacket that reached his ankles.

He wore no sword unlike his companions.

My mother quickly came to inspect us one last time, checking all the provisions; especially fretting over the amount of ointments we carried and how suitable our clothing was.

I was dressed quite like Lameer except that everything on me from turban to slacks was black and I wore no jacket and I had my knife pouch with me.

Traore just tossed on a white turban, and a long brown robe that reached his ankle and covered his slacks. He carried his long sword with him and slung his crossbow across his shoulders.

We walked out with Lameer while the servants carried our provisions after us.

1/1
 

About

I’m just Samuel, bony faced, laidback, absentminded Samuel. I don’t like to say much, I try to stay out of trouble. Some might say otherwise but that's some for you. Point is we don’t care, let’s just be chill and have fun. So come by whenever and ask me whatever.  It’s our party now and it won't start until your arrival.