Reach for the Light


The Princess and Her Sultan, Chapter 5 part 1

The Princess and her Sultan

Two weeks ago

He smiled as he clutched the letter in hand, the precious words warming his heart and making him alternatively laugh aloud and frown in consternation.  

He decided to reply, moving towards his pavilion, the rest of the camp bustling around him and the courier bowing as he turned away with just a flick of his hand as dismissal. He strode to his pavilion and was about to rush in when his best friend’s voice stopped him in his tracks. “Oi, where are you off to in such a hurry, mate? We need you in the command tent, strategy needs to be addressed.” The voice was teasing and yet the undercurrent of command was clear. 

Hurriedly, he tucked the letter away in his inner pocket, and turning around to face his Sultan, he bowed, as was proper, and answered, “Yes, your majesty, I shall join you shortly, let me change into my court attire.” 

In this time, Mehmed swaggered up to him and threw his arm around his shoulder and clapped his bank genially. “There you go again, so bloody formal, we could starch the whole battalion with the amount of stiffness in your spine.” Grinning, his Sultan poked fun at him. 

“All the same, your highness, not everyone can be as lacking in decorum as our erstwhile Sultan, lest we all be affected by a plague of limp handkerchiefs, and other limp articles…” he gave a meaningful glance sideways, the corner of his mouth quirked in a smile, already anticipating the outrage his comment was sure to engender. 

As he knew, Mehmed immediately straightened out of his slouch and sputtered, “I’ll have you know that my articles are far from limp! My sword arm is steady, and I can knock any man here into the dirt! I’m the best swordsman of our generation and-” he was cut off by snickering from behind him, Qaiser, his imperial guard, Earl Cheshney’s third son, and a boy they had both grown up with was having difficulty holding in his amusement at the Sultan’s outrage.

“Oi, what are you laughing at? You know it’s true!” Turning on Qaiser he said, “Tell him Qaiser, I beat you in the yard just yesterday!” 

“Aye, your majesty, your high greatness, the unbeatable warrior king, we all know that the only thing limping about you is your manners,” teased Abdullah further, finally unable to hold back his grin. 

Mehmed’s chest puffed up, he opened his mouth to give a sharp retort to Abdullah, but before he could, a nasally voice called from behind them. “Your imperial highness! What an absolute pleasure to come upon you on this fine day. The heavens have blessed me,” before them, bowed Count Humza. 

Hearing the first of these words, Mehmed’s spine stiffened and all lightheartedness drained out of him; his face settling into studied indifference as he turned to face the owner of the greasy, ingratiating tone. He did not deign to say a single word, just raised his brow. 

Abdullah, who had also straightened up, immediately stepped back a step, and bowed his head to acknowledge the newcomer, “Count Humza, what brings you to join us on the field?”

“Ahh, my dear Duke, forgive me, I did not see you due to His Majesty’s radiance,” said the sly, weasly man bending into the correct half hand bow. The man was deliberately slighting the Sultan, speaking before he was given permission and performing the wrong bow to Mehmed, while acknowledging Abdullah properly, they were all subtle insults. 

“Let Us be of now to the Command,” decreed Mehmed, showing his back to the Count without a word, making a sharp wordless beckoning gesture. Without looking back, he strode ahead, Abdullah hurrying after him. As they marched through the camp, followed by the count, Abdullah signed a few subtle signals to Mehmed’s attendants. At the signal, a wave of acknowledgement went outwards, and soon courtiers and attendants started falling into line behind the Sultan as he walked. This had the double benefit of pushing Viscount Humza further and further down from His Majesty.

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