"Should I accept his request? Should I not accept it and provoke his wrath? Or should I immediately rush toward the prince to ask him?" That was the three question turning in a circle inside the mind of Ahmad. He never thought that a ratman, something presumed dead, would knock on his door and humbly provide his services. But maybe it was a trap, they let him in and then the army of the ratmen will invade their empire. Every conspiracy possible was an option at this point for the brigadier general. But while his mind was in turmoil, the ratman kept looking at him. But he truly had no idea what to respond. And he even made a speech about how they already met, that they could talk easily.
In the end, he could only make him wait again. From the report he got, it has been two full days of wait for the walking legend since he reached the western wall. And he talked first to an officer then a commandant and finally him. He even began to think that the prince himself should just move to meet the ratman. Because from the point of view of the stranger, they looked really bad. Preventing to enter their empire, make him wait for a capable person only to find out the fact that that person was not qualified. And it was his turn. But he could only stall for time.
"I am, I am not, not qualified to talk to that level. Can we, can we humbly ask you to wait? A little more?"
Unfortunately, this time there was no answer from the small creature No movements at all, not even a sound was exiting his body. And that made the nearby soldiers fearful. Was he casting a spell to wipe out all of those incapables? And if the commandant was a human, he would have already sweat every single drop of water stored inside his body. Not even the proud and powerful Ahmad was able to meet the expectation of the ratman.
And theoretically, the superior of the brigadier general is the Marshal of the Empire. Or, commonly known, the emperor himself. So who was supposed to meet the stranger? The emperor can't really do that. The current ruler of the djinns can't just walk toward a gate to meet someone. It's that someone that should meet the emperor in his palace. But did they really want a walking disaster and the boogeyman of Astria inside the Sand Empire? No, someone had to take a decision and meet the ratman. So it was either the Eternal Guard or one of the princes.
For Ahmad, the choice was quickly done. Right after respectfully walking back in front of the stranger, he forgot every single protocol and personally rushed toward the residence of the second prince. He didn't know if the information had already been transmitted to the two other princes. Most likely, but even if it was the case, before one of the two took a decision, a long time will pass. First, they needed to be sure of what really means letting a ratman inside the empire. As for the second prince, the moment he came back, he immediately rushed toward the royal library. He is potentially the most informed subject of his emperor on that topic.
Once again, he forgot every convention that he should respect when meeting with the royalty and shouted the name of the prince.
"My prince, my prince! It's Ahmad, where are you, my prince? No time for that, SELIM!!! SELIM, COME QUICKLY!!!"
Under the shocked gaze of the servants and the maids. Someone has dared to call the prince by his name. Even if Ahmad is a notorious and respectable figure, that didn't mean he had the right to do such a thing. The entire house was looking for the inevitable punishment that the soldier will receive. But contrary to their expectation, the prince was not angry, he was even delighted.
"Ahmad, tell me did he finally arrived?"
"Yes, my prince, he is at the fourth gate. It is lucky that I am in charge of this portion of the wall. Your brothers will be powerless."
"But tell me, what accord did you reach for you to come so quickly?"
At this word, the previous confident and smiling Ahmad quickly remembered the real reason for his visit. His face could be seen crumbling if he didn't have a veil. In front of the sudden silence of his follower, Selim began to fear the worst.
"What did you do?"
No answer from the convicted.
"Where is he? You didn't make him wait outside?"
Capital punishment was required for the accused.
"And you didn't just leave him alone? Without even inquire if he needs something like food or drink?"
The condemned was brought in front of his rope, someone verified that it will not break and the executioner was ready to activate the lever. Miraculously, no one pulled it and the convicted was pardon. The reason was the judge could be seen exiting his house even more quickly than Ahmad had entered.
It was at that moment that Selim immensely regretted that he was closer of the military and had barely any contact with the scholars and sages. Any follower of either the first prince or the third would have at least managed to prevent the situation to reach this point. But his people just made it worse and worse. They left him, left him to wait in the heat of the desert and under the hot rays of the sun. Not even under the shadow of the wall.
And as he kept regretting to not have made them all follow a course about basic knowledge and courtesy, he arrived at the gate. He quickly saw every soldier bow before him and he didn't have the time to nod at each of them. Normally, on any occasion, he will try to please the army because of his position inside the empire. But this time, there is something more important than just a gate.
Even for the commandant, he just looked at him and when the former saw that, he quickly decided to retreat inside the gate, just lingering a bit to see how everything will work out. He already knew that he had failed beyond reparation with this. He will probably be demoted and will never get back to his current position.
When the second prince saw the ratman, he couldn't help but notice that his clothes were in the same state as when he saw them, even after ten days minimum in the desert and some assault from the undead. And that means one thing, he encountered no problem during his travel. As expected from the slayer of the western king.
"Honorable guest, my name is Selim ibn Affân, the second prince of the Sand Empire and first warrior of this country. My people and I extend our salutations toward you."
And at the same time he said that, he extended his hand. He found in the library that a lot of deals between nations and powers were concluded after shaking the hands of both parties. So he decided to use this tradition to make the ratman feel closer to him.
What he didn't expect is the previous commandant that was hiding in the biggest hole nearby. When the commandant saw his prince extending his hand, he remembered that it was the same hand where a fistful of sand was melted. And therefore, he immediately shouted.
"MY PRINCE, DON…"
"SAAD, YOU MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE! I had thought that seeing the current situation you will understand what should you do but apparently not! You are revoked of your rank of commandant; this takes action immediately. You will be judged for your failure."
"Yes, my prince but…"
"NO BUT! Do you still not realize the situation? Are you blind and deaf? Do you know how rude it is to interrupt a discussion between two people?"
"WHAT HAND? MINE? What in the name of the emperor are you talking about?"
"Sleek, sleek, I th-think he is talking about thisss."
And after the ratman began to talk, he grabbed again some sand in his hand. And the diabolic spell did its work again. The former beautiful yellow sand was nothing more than ash in the wind. And at the sight of this, the prince began to furiously curse at every single being in this world that conducted negotiations that way. And in addition, the commandant and the brigadier general too. "Why for the love of every god alive did they not told me that his hand can destroy sand? And what am I supposed to do now that I have extended mine? Should I retract it and appear fearful? Or let this bane of humanity touch me and possibly destroy me or my precious arm?"
And while he was thinking this, he could hear some strange noises coming from under the cloak. To him, it was the signal of a laughing demon ready to eat him. And the next words he heard were not to reassure him.
"Ssso you want to shake hands, sleek sleek. I will gl-gladly oblige."
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