Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 21

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This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series Enemy Circles - Season Two

Jomo, a young nomadic man was betrothed to a fellow clan’s girl, Bonajo, and they were to be married during the merriment of reuniting at the designated reunion camp in mountains of central Africa. Unfortunately, a huge war campaign was to prevent that simple thing from happening until after more than three years.

NIGHTLY VISITORS

Agnes closed the curtain in her room after making sure that there wasn’t anybody close enough. “Haggar, I want you to listen very carefully. It is important that nobody knows about what I am going to tell you, that is why we need to have this discussion in absolute privacy.” She began.

Haggar nodded, wanting to do nothing more in this world than listen very carefully to what her lady was about to say.

“I know you are aware of the gossip in the palace. In fact it is no more a gossip; we all know that Moalama’s choice of the girl as the next king’s favourite concubine was inappropriate for tons of reason, which I am not going to start discussing with you now. The bottomline is, it is wrong for her to take a position that is supposed to be mine.” Agnes registered surprise on Haggar’s face.

She continued when the maid remained in her place, by not voicing the surprise, so as not to interrupt her. “I am sure the other concubines are as much distress as I am, but I decided not to wait until they act or some fate works in my favour. I want to do something about the situation.” Agnes went silent, apparently waiting for her maid to say something.

“But my lady I thought you liked the girl the way I saw you more than once being friendly to her. Haven’t you even given her your best dress?” Haggar was too curious to hide her bottled surprise.

Enemy Circles on Memorila
Enemy Circles on Memorila

Agnes smiled as she sat down on a dome-shaped chest placed at the midst of the spacious boudoir. She was expecting that surprise, which would only mean that her plans were going well. She, without doubt, wanted to be as friendly as she could, and she wanted that to be the presumption of everybody, including the black girl. Nobody would ever suspect her of what she was scheming.

“Listen, I don’t expect you to understand the games of politics. You are a plain person; you don’t know what happens within the circle of power. My father is a king and my mom, well, though not a queen was a highly respected concubine, with a considerable amount of power in her hands. I knew from birth that in order to get to where you want to be, you have to manipulate fate, and that is what I am doing.”

Haggar only nodded her head, even more confused at the latest elaboration that was supposed to clear her misunderstanding.

“Now…” Agnes continued her explanation, making her voice as powerful as she could. “I have to take this girl out of the picture. This is bound to cause enough chaos on the arrival of the king. I waited this long for this particular timing, when the king returns. Amidst this chaos I will open more opportunities with the advantage of my rivals’ limited options, I will put myself at the best position to get to where I intended, going right from the beginning. I have the additional advantage of having Moalama on my side to help me achieve that. The rest doesn’t concern you, of course.”

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“What does my lady has in mind, exactly?” Haggar asked, when she began to get the general wind of what was about to happen.

Agnes stood up and started pacing the length of the room. “I want the Queen’s crown to be found in her room.”

Haggar’s surprise took a different dimension; she could not hold the involuntary sound that escaped her lungs.

Agnes looked at the maid with a serious look. “What is it?” She asked her sternly. “I could rid the palace of the girl for good, and the heavens wouldn’t have shaken because she is a nonentity. I am only being fair framing her for theft. All she had to lose would be her hand.” Agnes thought, surely she was being fair and just. In Constantinople concubines arranged assassinations against their rivals, and here I am getting soft, framing a formidable rival for theft, God, that was too pathetic of me.

“How do you plan it happens so?” Haggar asked, when she could articulate words again.

“Simple, you will steal the crown from the Queen’s chambers, and I will plant it in Von Edge’s boudoir.” The plan came out of Agnes’s mouth with the precision that almost made it sound simple, and already a success.

Haggar let out another sound of nervousness, without meaning to. She is too smart to assume this was going to be simple. However she quickly straightened up, clearing her throat in pretence. “Yes of course, my lady.” Finally my doom, she thought, as a loud sound she feared Agnes must have heard came out of the grumbling in her stomach.

Agnes was closely scrutinizing the maid. “You can do this, right?”

Chill ran down Haggar’s spine. She knew that she had no choice, and could fail the dangerous task of stealing from the Queen’s chamber; otherwise she didn’t want to think about the consequences that would bring about. One thing she was sure of was that she would be in huge trouble if she failed, and her lady would not save her. But if she succeeded, who knows, maybe if she did this right she will win a favour or two with her. And with whatever good the plan is going to reward Haggar, her lady will be one of the highest beneficiaries, though it will be her head laying on the guillotine with the blade swinging overhead for now.

“Yes, yes of course.” Hagar said. “I am sorry for that display of nervousness, it is just that I don’t have any worked out plan of stealing the crown, but I am sure my lady has all that figured out.”

Agnes sat down on the chest again. “Yes I do. I gathered the Queen will be in her lonely bath in the next half an hour. I gathered she doesn’t like anybody’s company except Lataky’s, her personal maid. You hang around the door chambers and as Lataky makes her trips to fill the Queens’ bath tub, you will make use of the scanty minutes between the times Lataky delivers the pails of warm water, to enter the room and steal the crown.”

Haggar was not feeling any better with this. There seemed to be no genius in it.

“But my lady, if I have such a few minutes, then I should know precisely where to look for the crown. I mean I can’t start searching all over the place for it, when it is certain for me that someone will be coming in a few minutes’ time.”

She wants to create a complication which I don’t have time for, Agnes thought. “You are right.” Agnes said. “In your dumb mind you should have realized that a crown is not a piece of necklace to be stuffed in a chest. It will be on display in the chambers. All you have to do is briefly look around as you enter, and there it should on a mantle or cushion or whatever the wretched Queen keeps the damn thing on.”

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“You are right, my lady.” Haggar knew that this wasn’t something you can vouch on against a hundred percent factor, but she decided it’s her funeral anyway, it couldn’t be any nicer.

Agnes said nothing.

“But what if the crown was missed before you could plant it in Bonajo’s room? They may start searching for it, what if it’s found here?” Haggar wished Agnes had a plan with a considerable amount of probability for success.

Perhaps this maid is not as dumb as I thought her to be.

“After you picked the crown find a place and hide it. Wait until it is dark before you bring it here. That way if it’s missed and was searched for it won’t be found here or anywhere. Until after I planted in the girl’s rooms. Either way the plan is not spoiled. Let’s hope that didn’t happen. Consider it one of the loose strands of the plan that would be gambled upon.” Agnes started pacing. “Even the most perfect of plans have such loose strands capable of spoiling it.”

That loose strand can easily grow into a thick hanging rope that would soon take my life, thought Haggar. And there were more than a dozen, as far as this plan was concerned.

“It is a perfect plan, I am sure it was well thought up by my lady.”  She said openly.

Agnes was a little bit relaxed. She looked at a pocket watch lying on her bed. “You have less than ten minutes to prepare. And remember; after you’ve stolen the crown don’t start coming here right after.”

Of course you wouldn’t want that resting on your evil head, you royal slut!

“Of course not, my lady!” Hagar said.

 

***

“Today would be the last market day before the king arrives next tomorrow; I wished you could stay that long to witness the grand arrival of the victorious King.” Moalama led Galah through the harem market that was ablaze in bazaar with merchandize of all origins and histories.

Galah shacked Najjah off at home. The old woman didn’t know that before they left the music event she promised Moalama that she would return today, to witness the bazaar that holds twice in a month, and he loved that. However she was not here for the bazaar, she came to meet the greedy guard she discovered by chance as she strolled about that day. She was quick to understand the guard that called himself Gassan would do anything for gold. It was a luck finding such person, and didn’t waste too much time to ask Gassan what he knew about the new weapon. At first the guard was alarmed, but when she spoke of gold and lied that she wanted to see if she could use the weapon on a woman that was after her fiancé, he bought the story and thought she was jealous, he quickly told her if she could pay he would see if he could get the weapon for her.

She could give everything she was carrying to have a sample of the weapon she came to seek information about; having it would be priceless. As soon as she left Gassan she knew that she had to find a reason to come back. She knew she could meet Gassan outside the palace, but what if he took her money and killed her? He was strong and greedy enough to do that. Within the palace, it was unlikely for him to do that. It would also not be a problem for her as Moalama’s guest to transport the weapon out. Or so she hoped.

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“What is your opinion on that black lady you saw at the music event?” Moalama asked.

“I have to admit that she was something. What is her story?” Galah was seriously interested; she wanted to know about the girl. That feeling that she was connected to the situation at the empire still tugging at the back of her consciousness.

Moalama fanned his face as people made way for them through the narrow aisle of the market. Replicas of Bonajo’s and Agnes’ music evening gowns were selling fast at different dressmakers stalls.

“If I told you that just a few months ago she was a mere slave from the Songhai war would you believe me?” He said, making a huge deal with his facial expression to properly suggest the gravity of what he was about to tell her, even though he has already done so.

I knew it!  “Could it be?” she asked. The connection between her mission and the mysterious girl began to surface.

“Yes! I know how scandalous that is, right?”  Moalama said, with exaggerated elation. He was a happy achiever, and he was not being modest enough to hide it.

“She was from Songhai?”

“She was a slave from the Songhai war. There are many brought here but most of them were divided out amongst the high ranking army officers for domestic chores, you know black slaves are only meant for doing chores”

Galah decided she could use the opportunity to scoop information from Moalama. She wanted to know what happened. It was not difficult to assume that there was some level of victory on the Maghreb side, yet needed to find out how far the victory went. “I heard the war was brief, with the aid of some weapons the mighty Maghreb has.”

“Yes. I am sure you know something about it; your lands shouldn’t be far away from the empire. I don’t know what this weapon is, but I heard about it, too. I must confess I have nothing to do with war and killing equipment.”

Galah had to be careful. War is not a princess’s thing. “I know there was a war but know nothing about it, too, except the rumour of the weapon.”

Moalama began to look bored. “War is not a girl thing, so tell me, why are we talking about it and not these beautiful dresses on display?”

Ugh! “You are right” Galah said, but truly wanted the war talk more than the stupid dresses that were not practical for usage.  “So this girl is now a concubine here or what?”

Moalama leaned closer, like sharing a treasured secret. “She is the next high concubine in this harem. All the flashy chicks in this harem would want to have me dead before that could happen. You can see how scandalous that is going to be? Tell me if you don’t think I am crazy or something.” And he laughed, his pot belly rocking with each sound.

You are the craziest human being on earth. Galah thought. “I admire your creativity and courage. Soon your stories will fill every harem in the world, and chief eunuchs would want to follow your steps.” That is, if those flashy chicks haven’t succeeded in finishing you up.

Moalama bowed in gratitude. “I am glad you appreciate art.” And went on with talks of how he would never be wrong about beauty and art. Galah’s mind already flew to other matters. Where is Gassan now?

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Bashir Kabir

Born, raised and studied in Kano State, Bashir Kabir has a degree in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Physics, all in Bayero University, Kano. He is married with a kid and currently works at Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Kano.

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