The Sultan and the Shah

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

A story set in Medieval Asia

 

The Sultan and the Shah

 

Forty years fought young Ali, Prince of Turkmenistan, with his brave men to free their country from the yoke of the Persian Empire. The war raged across the hills and ravines stretching through the country, and finally, the forces of the young Prince were victorious.

However, as the Turk vanguard elite unit charged forward, Ali slipped on a trap and fell. All of a sudden, their fortunes changed. The Persian forces struck fiercely ahead, and pushed the Prince's forces back.

"Leave me here and retreat!" shouted the Prince to his comrades. "Notify my father!"

 

Ten days and nights rode the messenger, from the hills of Turkmenistan to the Sultan's Palace. When the Sultan heard of his son's capture, he was enraged. "We shall teach those Persians!"

"War is not the answer," counselled his Vizier. "What if they kill their hostage?"

The King fell silent.

After a while, he said: "Send a small ceremonial group of soldiers, all attired in white garments and bearing a white banner. They shall go to Ispahan and invite the Shah to negotiate."

 

* * *

 

The Sultan himself rode ahead of a small ceremonial troop to meet the Shah at the borders, and their chariots rode side-by-side all the way to the Istanbul. The Shah was given a Royal Reception, and a banquet was ordered for his entourage. No talks were held that night, except some remarks on the quality of the food and (non-alcoholic) beverages.

 

"I am honoured to have such an esteemed guest in our halls. How can we serve your majesty?" said the Sultan to the Shah, when the two were seated across a table, in the audience hall. Their viziers and aides stood at a respectable distance.

"You have asked me to come here, my esteemed colleague," replied the Shah. "It is only appropriate that you state your reasons."

"I will not beat around the bush," said the Sultan. "You are holding my son captive."

"Aye, that is unfortunate," replied the Shah. "He was foolish enough to fight our brave men, and to lead the battle himself."

"I demand his release," said the Sultan quietly.

 

"I will pay a handsome ransom," added the Sultan, after an awkward silence.

"I have a better idea," said the Shah.

"No idea can be better than having my son return."

"Wait till you hear this. I have an offer you will not resist."

The great clock interrupted their talks with twelve strikes.

The Sultan's Vizier said: "Your Royal Majesty, we have spent too much time talking, and our throats have dried. It is time for a recess."

 

* * *

 

After the recess, the Sultan invited his Royal guest to his Hamam, the famous Turkish Bath. "There we can discuss confidential matters in private," agreed the Shah.

 

* * *

 

The two Supreme Rulers left the Hamam quarters, looking relaxed and content. "We have reached an agreement but have vowed to keep it secret until the Shah returns to his Palace," announced the Sultan. Tomorrow, the Persian Royal Entourage left for their homeland, while the Sultan started instructing his butlers and trusted servants about an expected trip abroad. The Sultan travelling? Where to? What for? Nobody knew.

 

Meanwhile, back at the Palace of the Shah…

"You know, my daughter, you should start preparing for your wedding."

"I'm to be married? And to whom, if I may ask?"  Remarked the Princess,  Shahine,  sarcastically.

"It's still a secret," said her mom. "All I can say is, your groom is a royal prince who currently resides in the Palace."

"Shouldn't I meet him first and decide if I will marry him?"

"The marriage has already been agreed upon."

"And what if I refuse?"

A look of horror passed upon the Queen's face. "Then the Turks will wage war against us and besiege the palace."

The Princess fell silent. After a while she said, "At least let us two meet and adjust to each other first."

"I can arrange that," said her mom, "as long as you two keep discreet about it and chaste."

"Oh, mom! It's not as if…"

"Hush, child. We need to prepare for bed."

 

* * *

 

"They want us to marry," said the Princess to Ali. The meeting was held in the small walled garden within the palace.

"Oh," said the Prince. "Do you want to marry?"

"Please, Ali, don't be offended. You are handsome and of the royal blood, but my heart belongs to another."

"Why should I be offended? I'll tell you the truth, my lady—my heart is given to another maiden as well."

"Who is she?" inquired the young bride.

"My stable boy has an older unmarried sister. When our eyes fell on each other, it was love at first sight. And your love?"

"I used to play as a child with the farm-boy delivering dairy products to the Palace," she replied. "I promised him we would marry one day."

"Oh. How do you intend to keep that promise?"

"There is a hole in the wall near the southeastern corner…"

 

* * *

 

One day, when the Queen went to wake up Shahin, she found her bed empty. On her side desk, there was a sealed envelope, address to "Her Majesty the Queen, my beloved Mom." She opened it.

"Dear Mom," it read, "I had to run away from this marriage. Ali had arranged for his horsemen to take both of us and our chosen mates far away from here, to be married each couple separately. We will let you know as soon as we are arrived and married safely.

"Please don't try to pursue us. Our horses are swift; but, should my father's army overtake us, we pledged to kill ourselves rather than return alive.

Abdul-basha, the page, and Maha, my old nurse's daughter, secretly love each other but their families are too poor to marry them. Here is my plan: Dress Abdul-basha as the Prince and Maha as myself and give them a royal wedding. None of the crowd need be the wiser.

Send my regards and utmost respect to my father.

Love and kisses,

Your daughter,

Shahin"

 

The Queen finished reading and collapsed on the bed. "My lady," asked her maid, "are you alright?" She poured the old lady cold water from a pitcher. The Queen drank deeply. Then she said: "Alright. Perhaps it's all for the best. My Shahin is a sensible girl."

And so it was. The weddings went ahead as planned, and all three couples lived happily ever after.

 


Submitted: January 15, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Nahum W.. All rights reserved.

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