The season change usually known for bringing good news packed on bitterness this year. Today there is no laughter at the palace and it as as silent as a graveyard. I can see the staff huddled in groups outside the council rooms as the ministers leave. Baba has just finished his 3rd emergency council meeting in a week.
“I have to fight in the battle too!” I tell him as he makes preparations with his right hand man Ibrahim, on the arrangement of the arena in preparation for the selection of soldiers. Ibrahim makes note of some names and requests for permission to leave.
“What will it look like to the rest of the kingdom, to the chiefs especially, If I am the crown princess and I hide in the shades like a coward?” I move closer to where he is sitting. “Let me fix this Baba, please. I brought this war to our door step.”
“This is not the battle for you to take part in.” I move to speak and give a rebuttal but he waves his hand in front of me, “This conversation ends now. Leave!”
Shocked by his response, I walked out of the council room.
The day of the selection I enlisted Aidah’s help to put a plan in motion. She stood behind me and put the final touches to tighten my armour.
“My head is going to be on the chopping blocks after this! I might as kill myself now.” I laugh and kiss her on the cheeks before collecting my sword to enter the arena through a secret entrance.
By the time Baba is seated on throne, it will be too late for him to send for me. Even if he does, Aidah will be on hand to give him an excuse on my behalf.
I feel my heart thump faster as I walk into the corridors before the arena in my disguise. Aidah dressed me specifically so no one including Baba and the warriors would know I was under the helmet. We also made sure, Ali fell sick at the last minute. Since everyone saw him enter the arena, they would be none the wiser.
I felt his breath on my shoulder before he stood next to me. “May the best fighter win,” he smirks before walking ahead.
I can’t wait to wipe that smirk off his face by the time the fight is over.
Hamza might be a brute off court, an inconsiderate jerk but he is one of the best fighters our kingdom has. And he likes to play dirty. We’ve faced each other in training five times, three of which I won but the last fight when he drove a sword through my leg, Baba banned me from fighting him ever again.
We both walk into the arena to the sounds of cheering and noise. I make sure to imitate the movement of Ali, I had to sell this if I wanted to make it through the first minute. That was all I needed. Once the fight starts Baba will know its me. But by the time he realises, it will be too late. The rule of the kingdom states that once the sword is picked up, the fight must be finished. Dead or alive.
Hamza’s strategy is obvious. He thinks he’s fighting Ali so his plan is to attack me with brute strength. My plan is different. I close my eyes for a second to bring myself into my training moments with Baba.
As Hamza tries to attack me from above, I lunge forward and I twist just in time for the sword to hit the floor missing my shoulder by an inch. He’s right where I need him, but my aim isn’t to injure him. We need him on the battlefield. Instead I pick up sand from where I was spray it just in time to twist his body and slam him to the ground. I hold my sword over his throat, and I look over to where Baba is staring at me with disbelief.