Chapter 2~•~ CONVALLIUM
"Where is he?" She said out loud with her echoing through every corner of the palace. "I should have gone by myself instead of sending you incompetent fools."
Her eyes were filled with an obvious rage as she took rapid breaths after exhausting so much on talking too loud. She wondered why he routinely left her with his own responsibilities. To her it was very draining to add to her duties as the leader of the second army.
"Accept our apologies, general. We have looked everywhere but we could not find him." One of the scouts said.
She turned to look at him with enough ferocity to mark a prey in darkness.
"You there... what is your name?" She asked the scout.
"Kwame," he said while tilting his head downwards to avoid eye contact with the general
"Kwame... How old are you?" She asked.
"Thirty five," he replied.
She leaned forward from her sitting position so that they could hear her more clearly. "Do you say mean to say that you cannot find a narcissist nineteen year old?"
The air was quiet between them as their feet and fingers trembled in fear.
"You useless creatures call yourselves scouts?" She asked. She leaned backwards completely relaxing her back in her chair and then she covered her face with her palm. "I should have gone with my guard instead," she said with a tone of despair.
Looking at the general like that made the scouts wonder what would happen after she dismisses them. She was a character that never gave room for incompetence in her ranks, she always got the best from her subjects.
"You should all just leave," she said quite calmly. Her voice expressed her deep exhaustion from the day's activities so much so any person could tell that she wanted to be alone at the moment.
The scouts who were grateful for being pardoned, scurried away and ran out of the palace before she changed her mine.
Amina was the older sister to Shaka. The two of them as well as Akin, were the children of the previous king. She was also one of the greatest warriors in the kingdom, who climbed her way up to becoming one of the three great generals despite being a woman. Many stories of her strength and beauty were told across several kingdoms.
She had finally found the strength to leave the central palace and go to her chambers. She wondered along the way, why Shaka who was so trained himself day and night to give himself a chance at the selection would suddenly act like he was not interested in any of his responsibilities. She sighed and chose not to bother herself with any of his problems and rest herself through the night.
She sat comfortably on her personal chair as soon as she got inside her room. She searched her memory to know if there was something she ought to do before she went to bed, but even if there was something, she had no current interest in doing it. She was hoping that something good would magically present itself when she had a knock on her door. As late as it was at night, there could have only been one person who would come to her room directly.
"Come inside, Nana," she said.
The door opened gently and Nana let herself in.
Nana was the beautiful and frail looking servant that was given to Amina when she was a child. Nana had served her well enough to gain her freedom, but she chose to remain loyal to Amina. She was always treated with high levels of respect and she felt no better honour to be in Amina's service.
"Do you have anything for me?" Amina asked.
"Yes, princess. I prepared you a bath," Nana replied.
"Is there anything else?"
"No your highness".
"Alright," Amina said. "Come, help me take off this stupid armor".
Nana came closer in order to unhook her breast plate. It was mostly made out of silver and leather. It had several designs engraved both at the front and at the back, the most prominent being that of wings at the back the head of a lion at the front. They respectively represented valour and strength.
Amina had designs unique to her armour. She designed it with coral beads and other jewels she thought would match it. She had one around her neck, another one around her waits and one very little one by her ankle.
Nana took off all of her armour and tried to take off the corset beneath it when Amina stopped her.
"That would be all, Nana," she said "you can leave".
"As you wish," Nana said. She took a bow and left the chambers.
Amina liked how she took orders without questions. To her it was Nana's most useful quality.
She went to the bath and used her hand to test the water, it was warm and bubbly. She took off her clothes and then she slowly walked into the pool. She felt more relax than she had ever been in a while.
Shaka and Akin made it back to the palace by noon of the following day. The palace was built on one of several mountains that formed a natural border around the city which made it almost impregnable against most attacks.
They came in through a secret passage built through a cave behind the central mountain. Within it was a cubicle shaped contraption and a torch that most likely ascended when a lever was pulled. Shaka used this contraption and the passage to escape the palace time and time again.
"I cannot believe things like this existed in these mountains," Akin said once the contraption started to move.
"Nobody reads the books," Shaka replied. "There are several information about things like this scattered over the kingdom. There were many more like this in the past powered by something called electricity. If only were not so focused on warfare.
His eyes were filled with too much flare when he spoke about topics like this, this gave Akin an idea on what he does during the times when they thought he was free.
They stopped moving and Shaka opened the cubicle and led the way through a passage that appeared in front of them. The passage led to a dusty old storage room that was used to store old weapons and prototypes that were never approved. There were a few books and papers lying around among the dust and spider webs that indicated that the room was once used to keep books before they were all forgotten.
"How did you discover this place? Akin asked.
Shaka looked at him with a smile and left him in dead silence with his curiosity. It was about time he stopped asking questions, he said to himself.
They made their way to the throne room which was at the heart of the central palace. It was a space that was connected to every part of the palace so that the king can see all that come in and out of the palace, and also listen to their conversations if there was a situation of a pending revolution.
Shaka turned towards Akin and gave him the signal to stay quiet in hopes that they could get past their sister who was standing right in front of the window getting a good view of the city. The window was very big and wide and was made out of glass, one could get a very clear view of the city by looking through it. It was also built opposite to the throne.
Amina saw their reflections on the glassas they crept quickly behind her
"Where do you two think you are going?" She asked
They stopped in their tracks for they knew they were caught this time.
Amina walked towards them, maintaining eye contact with Shaka. He narrowed his eyes like he was preparing to do battle. She stopped at an arms length in from of the two of them and looked at them both. Shaka who was significantly shorter than her raised his head up to look at her.
"I thought I was forgetting something when the scouts returned," she said. "Where were you?"
Akin who was to scared to utter a word tilted his head downwards and remained silent. She brought her lips closer to his ear in response, and whispered.
"Your life depends on it".
"Don't put pressure on him, sister." Shaka said. "He was with me on my orders."
"This is between me and a soldier within my ranks. Do you have a problem with that?" She asked.
Shaka took a step backwards in fear of her retaliation. He was only known to express this kind of emotion when he confronted her.
"Go to the training grounds and wait for me," she said.
"Yes, general," Akin said and then he quickly left the throne room.
"As for you," she said while giving him her undivided attention. "How much longer would you make me cover up for your laziness."
He remained silent. He could not risk telling her that she was very effective in taking care of his business when he was nowhere to be found, he would be giving up his cards to make her work for him.
"Just forget it, we have new issues at hand," she said with a sigh. "We have news that the hunt was successful, Mbah and his men will return in a few days time," he added.
"That is great news sister. We will make arrangements for a reward ceremony," he said with excitement.
"Yes, my king," she replied
"Is that why you had your scouts scour the forest, looking for me," he said with a smile.
"If I wasn't your sister I would have usurped your throne and hanged your skull on a pike," she replied very calmly.
"But you are my sister," he replied, trying his best to hold back his laughter.
"We will see," she said looking angrily before walking away.
He could finally breath. As terrifying as she was, she was a better support than he could ask for. She was the barrier standing between him and those that threatened to usurp his position, this made him feel at ease and also made him able to look forward without thinking of what was behind.