"THE BLACK CLOVER" is a gay story, with some parts containing graphic scenes of sex between males. So, if in your land, religion, family, opinion and so on this is not good for you, it will be better not to read this story. But if you really want, or because YOU don't care, or because you think you really want to read it, please be my welcomed guest.

THE BLACK CLOVER by Andrej Koymasky © 2018
written on 3rd of April, 1986
Translated by the Author
English text kindly revised by an Australian friend


IIn the Palace there was a real bustle: the Shaikh's second wife's family, going to the hajj to Mecca, stopped to call on their relative and were being hosted in the Palace, whereas the rest of the caravan was encamped outside the city walls. In the Palace, however, there were many guests: the wife's father, the influential Shaikh Mussa ibn Saleh, who reigned over a territory bordering ours in the north-east and who was one of the Dhimmi of the Khalifa; his five sons with their servants, slaves, officials and escort guards.

Everybody had been received with all honours. In the evening there had been a great banquet at which Prince Amin had also taken part. I was in the escort shift, therefore I was in the banquet hall for the whole evening, at my Prince's back, so I could watch all the guests and their guards. I had been struck by one thing: there were no women, no old men and no children. It is true that normally the women participating in the hajj are few, and that the large majority are men, but, especially in important people's caravans, there are at least the principal wives, even if at the last they must remain out of the Caaba temple.

At the end of the banquet we accompanied the Prince back to his quarters. I was on shift at the door of the Prince's bed-chamber with Abdul. The night was late and was rapidly advancing. All was silent. I did not dislike the night shift: there was time to reflect, to daydream, without being distracted or bothered.

Abdul seemed particularly tired and at times I had to touch him because I saw him start to slip into sleep. Then he would abruptly reopen his eyes and remain awake and tense, doing all in his power not to fall asleep again. I did not feel sleepy and felt that I could have resisted sleep without problems till dawn, when the new shift would take over from us. From the window of the anteroom, it was possible to catch a glimpse of one of the walls of the harem, lit by the setting moon: it was the external wall, the one without windows, onto which looked also the Prince's servant courtyard. At the bottom of a precipice there was the wide courtyard of the Shaikh's Guards, with the stables and the training field. Then another short precipice and, at the very bottom, outside the city walls, the countryside. Sometimes from the stables rose a neighing, the only noise breaking the night stillness. My comrades found the night shift longer and boring, on the contrary I, as I said, liked it.

"How is it that today you are so sleepy, Abdul?" I asked him.

"Last night I did not sleep..."

"But you were not on shift..."

"No, but Kamel neither. He kept me awake all the night long. He was on heat more than usual," sniggered my comrade.

"You mean that you and Kamel..." I asked looking at him, my eyes wide open, amazed by this candid acknowledgement.

"Of course. We enjoyed ourselves. He is really good at sex..." he answered with laughing eyes, then broke off, becoming serious again and whispered: "Shut up! Don't you hear a strange noise?"

I listened, but did not perceive anything unusual, anything new. I was about to answer him negatively when there were sounds like far away thuds: it seemed as if somebody was knocking insistently and with vigour on a door somewhere. It was impossible to understand from where the noise was coming. Everything was quiet again for a while, but then we heard muffled and far away shouts, a sound of excited voices brought to us at periods by the fitful breeze. Again we listened carefully.

"It seems... people quarrelling. Perhaps it comes from the servants quarters, or else from the harem..." Abdul suggested.

"No, from the servants quarters we would hear more strongly than that, and from the harem, I think we would hear nothing at all..."

"In night time noises can be heard from far away and also those close up seem different..."

We shut up. Again silence. This time there was no sound for a long while, and we were relaxing when we heard again thuds and shouts, now nearer and stronger.

"Something strange is happening."

"Yes, but not here: it does not concern us," I answered.

But now we both we were on the alert. We could not move from our place, therefore we remained still, but we were both tense in an attempt to decipher these unexpected and incomprehensible noises. They grew, strengthened, became nearer and more frequent: it seemed really a brawl or perhaps... people fighting! In the Palace? It seemed impossible to me.

Suddenly we heard a strong knocking at the door of the precinct of our wing. I heard immediately the voice of Amal, who was watching the only external door, asking something with a loud voice. Then from the open antechamber door I saw Karim running towards our quarters. After a short while he was back with El Ramad. Again excited voices, then the external door squealed open, to close again immediately with a thud. Moments later Karim was running again to our quarters, while El Ramad entered the antechamber followed by one of the Shaikh's Councillors, visibly shaken. El Ramad told us:

"A treasonous attack: Mussa's men are fighting in the Palace against ours. Be ready: we have to defend the Prince if they try to enter here."

Then he knocked at the Prince's door and entered, followed by the Councillor. I heard all three of them speaking animatedly, in discussion for a long while: at times their voices alternated, at times they were speaking all together. Then the Councillor and El Ramad came out again and our chief said to us:

"The Prince must remain in his room at all costs: it is the safest place in this building. From the windows, in fact, nobody can enter, thanks to the precipice that surrounds on three sides. You two don't move from here and don't let anybody enter, apart from myself and the Shaikh in person. Nobody else must enter, you understand? Not servants, not guards, not the Councillors or the Visir, for any reason, until new orders are given by the Shaikh or by me personally. Whoever tries to enter, kill him!"

We both nodded. In the mean time all our comrades had been awaked and El Ramad gave orders to defend the place. All the servants were locked in their rooms, all the doors barred and bolted and our comrades were put in strategic points to prevent any possible attack from wherever it could be attempted. When we were again alone, I whispered to Abdul:

"Mussa Shaikh betrayed the hospitality: it is incredible! But, why?"

Abdul shook his head: "I don't know... but perhaps... probably because our Shaikh preferred Prince Amin, son of the third wife, to Prince Hassem, son of the second, grandson of Mussa..."

"But Hassem, even if two years elder than Prince Amin, is a weak person, he would not be a good future Shaikh, everybody knows that. Everybody agreed about the succession..."

"I know. But if Hassem becomes Shaikh, our territory will practically be controlled by Mussa..."

Suddenly we shut up, tense and alarmed: now at the precinct door there were thumping strong rhythmic strokes. From outside they were trying to knock down the door, with a battering ram. We heard El Ramad's voice shouting orders. The strokes continued relentlessly, until we heard a loud crash: the door must have yielded. Shouting, screams, collisions of scimitars... Mussa's men, even if they were many, were definitely inferior in number to those of our Shaikh, but they had on their side the surprise factor; moreover they certainly must have had their men infiltrated amongst the Palace servants and soldiers. Probably for that reason El Ramad had all Prince Amin's servants locked in their rooms.

Behind the barred door of the antechamber we heard the rage of battle. It cost me a lot to remain there still, doing nothing, while my comrades were struggling, but orders had been clear. After a short time the door opened and we unsheathed our sabres. El Ramad entered with three of number, dirty with blood. They closed the door, bolted it and our chief ordered us to barricade it, pushing against it all the furniture. Then he looked at me closely, as if he was measuring me, and said:

"Yes, you Nadim are the most suitable. Enter the Prince's room, take him on your shoulders and try to go down the precipice and get him to safety. Can you accomplish this task I give to you?"

"I can try, but..."

"It is the last hope. Before you go, barricade the room door. We will stop them as long as possible, but out there they are all dying... Too many enemies and not a few traitors. Bring the Prince to the ruins of the khan on the old road to Damascus, you know where it is, right? You will wait hidden there for a full day. If none of us comes to look for you, flee with the Prince to the mountains. His life is now in your hands. You must save him at all costs. Go, straight away, there is no more time to waste!"

I had just time to nod and to enter the Prince's rooms before they were yet again trying to knock down the antechamber door. Prince Amin was standing in front of his bed, completely dressed in his banquet attire, a scimitar in his hands: it made me feel tenderness to see him so young and still so frail and yet so determined. I informed him of the situation and, with his help, I barricaded the door.

"Now, let's climb the windowsill: there you will cling to my shoulders and I will climb down the precipice: I'm skilled in this kind of thing, you can trust me..."

"No, we will wait here. I prefer dying while fighting than while fleeing."

"But my Prince, you have a duty to save yourself: from you depends the continuity of your family, of the legitimate power if something has happened to the Shaikh, be not Allah will! This decision has certainly been made by your father... you have to come with me!"

"I'm not a coward, I am not! I will wait here."

"All my comrades are dying for you to give you time to save yourself: is their sacrifice to be useless?" I asked, tense.

But the Prince didn't desist from his decision. On one hand, I admired this proud fourteen year old boy, determined and courageous, but on the other I had to obey my orders. What to do - even more because those orders seemed to me right and reasonable. I too would willingly die in battle for my Prince. I argued a little more and was almost resigned to put into action a desperate project: to stun my Prince with a blow, to tie him on my shoulders and bring him down that way, when Allah sent me an idea and, without thinking about, I said:

"I understand, Prince Amin, you are scared by the climb. That is why you do not want to come, to hide your fear!"

"What dare you say!?" my Prince answered, insulted, striking me down with his glance.

Undaunted I continued: "Your fear must be really great if you prefer to wait for a certain and useless death in this room, instead of risking it in the descent..."

The Prince was now really furious but, thanks be to Allah, reacted exactly as I hoped:

"I will show you who is scared!" he exclaimed and, fastening his scimitar to his side, climbed onto the windowsill.

"My Prince, forgive me, but it will be better if you fasten your sabre at your shoulders as I am doing now, that way it will not hamper us in the descent. Moreover, to climb down is very difficult and you are not trained to do it, while I am the best climber amongst all your guards, that is why El Ramad chose me."

"I will never climb down on your shoulders as an unweaned baby or an invalid old man. I will climb down with my own skills!" he replied.

I nodded and said: "Then we will do so: we will tie each other with a rope by the waist, then I will start to climb down looking for points to cling to and then you will follow me. Look very carefully where I will place my hands and my feet and cling on those points, but never look all the way to the bottom, dizziness is the worst enemy. And may Allah protect us."

The descent of those sixty five feet of vertical rock was extremely slow, endless and several times my Prince risked sliding and falling, and once very nearly he dragged me along. We were a little over half way when from the window several soldiers leaned out. Thanks to the darkness of the night they could not see us: we were still hard against the rock. We also could barely distinguish them. We heard their voices, somebody said we had escaped from there, but someone else objected that it was impossible, asserting that even a spider could not go down there and affirmed that the Prince Amin was likely hidden in some other place, perhaps amongst the servants.

When at last from the window no more voices came, we restarted our slow descent. Reaching the bottom, we squatted amongst the bushes of the horseyard: now we had to cross it, pass over the low parapet and descend the rock for some thirty five feet more. But the last part was the one that worried me least, in fact was completely stone wall and the holds would have been better.

The court seemed empty. Horses were neighing irritably in the stables. It would have been convenient to take a couple of them to go away from this place, but the only way out with horses was toward the part of the Palace where the battle was raging, therefore there was not possible. Running, we crossed the courtyard and passed over the parapet. Turning around to descend, we saw tall flames rising from various points of the Palace and far away shouts made us understand that the battle was still taking place. We descended the last stretch and we were finally at the true bottom of the precipice, in the countryside. We ran. Arriving on the old way to Damascus, I stopped and said:

"My Prince, I have at any price to find two horses. It would take too much time on foot. Moreover, you cannot to be seen dressed in that way: if our enemies are looking for you, they would recognize you at once. Hide in those bushes and wait for me."

"Where do you think to go?"

"Towards the city, probably. Pray Allah that He will bestow upon me his protection, my Prince."

I removed my uniform, put down my weapons, took a handful of soil and dirtied my arms, legs, face and the undergarments I still had on. I now resembled more a faqir, a ragamuffin, a country boy than a guard. I quickly headed towards the city walls. From the Palace were rising thick, black smoke spirals reddened by the flames, and saw also that Prince Amin's quarters were burning. Arriving under the walls, I heard a clamour coming from inside. I ran alongside the walls until I arrived at the door that said "Of the Greengrocer". It was wide open and people were coming out with bundles and parcels, walking or on donkeys.

"What is happening?" I asked feigning surprise.

"The Palace is burning, it is in the hands of enemies."

"But... the Palace Guards? And the soldiers watching the city walls?"

"Mussa had accomplices both outside and inside and someone opened the gates to them..."

"All is in their hands and they are plundering, raping, killing..."

"Take flight, boy, do not enter!"

I did not listen to them and, walking against the flow, I resolutely entered the city. I wandered in the streets until I reached the Bazaar. Here for the first time I saw Mussa's men. They were sacking, breaking and burning everything. I joined the confusion of people in flight who were trying to save something. I succeeded in stealing some clothes from the burning small workshop of a tailor. I put some on and went out from the bazaar. I was looking all over the streets asking myself where could I find at least one horse, when suddenly I saw three Mussa's soldiers coming quickly on their horses. I threw myself down on the ground, just avoiding a sabre stroke from one of them. Horses had passed me at gallop, but I heard them stop. I feared they were coming back to kill me. I looked, ready to stand up and to flee. But the three men had stopped in front of a house door, had tied their horses to an iron ring on the wall and with their sabres they were knocking down the door. After a while they succeeded in their intentions and entered the house. >From inside I heard women's shouts and yells. At that point I sprung up and ran forward, jumped on one of the horses and, freeing the reins of the two others, flew at full gallop toward the "Beautiful Gate" hoping it also was open. Twice someone tried to stop me, but the only result was that one of the spare horses was injured and I had to leave it. Downtown the confusion was incredible.

When I saw that the "Beautiful Gate" was wide open, I spurred on the horse I was riding and crossed it at full speed, sweeping away some people. At last I was again out of the city! I left the road and cut through the fields heading for the old Damascus road. Often I turned and looked back, afraid I was being followed, but I saw no-one and carried on with my crazy gallop toward the point where I had hidden my Prince.


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