Leopard's Moon

In the Medieval Spain of the Thirteenth Century, the time of the Reconquista is upon the now tottering Almohad kingdom. One of the many mercenaries of both opposing cultures, Sebastiano, a former knight of Navarre, is introduced, in the service of the Muslim ruler of a small city-state.



                                  Sebastiano of Jeurano yawned and stretched his nude body in his chamber, he shared along with one of the Rom dancers who had been brought to the Alhambra of the Caid Battur in celebration of the return of his daughter, Dihya from her doomed betrothal with his late enemy the Silver Panther and his sword slain son.   That young man’s head looked with death fogged eyes upon the hills of his birth from atop the north tower's spike.  

Sebastiano had been there when the life was swept from the young man, a steel wind wielded by the black swordsman, Sumunguru. To top that off, the Sudd warrior had slain some demon that had made a home for itself in the hill country,preying on a long line of the benighted according to both Dihya and the horror’s killer.  

 For awhile, previous to those two events, Sebastiano had measured his  chances against the warrior, but he now knew it would've been a sin against God to seek out such a certain death.

             The equally nude woman stretched her lithe form on the bed they shared in sleep and above all, passion.  She yawned cavernously, but the boorish habit did not deter from her enticing figure. Before he could show his appreciation for her beguiling form, there was a hard rap on the door of the chamber.  It was followed by the voice of one of his men summoning him to a meeting in the Court of Ivory.   The woman, sitting up, shrugged and smiled, arching one of  her legs, then the other towards the ceiling as if limbering them.  Sebastiano cursed softly and began to prepare himself for the audience and getting his wits on the other more appropriate thoughts of a mercenary. His last look at the dancer before leaving the room caused him to moan like a child being deprived of an expected dessert.      

                   Sumunguru had met the messenger summoning him to the audience with the Caid Batteur at the entrance to Circe's ancient manor house.  The man and his escort of six looked as if they were ready to touch their foreheads to the cobbled street as he stepped through the gate. Chuckling at the awe shown, for Sumunguru had been on his way to a swordsmith to see a blade that had teased his eye the day before.        Circe had felt that he should be dressed, not as some  gaudily attired sellsword, but as a high tier nobleman.    " What business do you wish with me," he said to them. The echos of command caused the escort to step back from the court official.  " Uh, uh, we, I, uh, well, I -I was sent here gracious Sumunguru to, if you are willing, that is, to escort you to the presence of my master, Allah's light be upon him, the Caid Batteur?,  who wishes to speak with you."  The look on his face said he had the courage and discipline not to whimper, " And please don't kill us!"   "Let us be on our way then. Have your men fall in behind us as we speak of matters not for their ears," Sumunguru snidely thought to add to the sauce of fear about these of the Caid.      The man didn't know whether to thank Sumunguru for his graciousness on being allowed to walk beside him, or plead for his life.      Sumunguru entered the room called the Court of Ivory that early afternoon.  Many were the figures and furnishings made of the tusk of the great elephant in this chamber.  On one oak and silver bound legged table, a small, finely carved, realistic figure depicting a mounted horseman, rearing his horse in triumph over a heap of fallen foes, briefly brought memories of  the days in which it was the sound of his voice shouting across the savanna, the rumble of his cavalry echoing through the ground, the cries of his infantry, chanting in triumph,  “ Sumunguru Ak Ghana! Sumunguru Ak Ghana! Shango Blessed!  Son of Kings! Warrior of the Nation! Sumunguru Ak Ghana!” spearing the sky with their bloodied weapons.   It was the Caid Batteur entering the room that brought him to this present. 

The End

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