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The Story That Killed a Thousand Men
by Michael N Lovdal
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"The Story That Killed a Thousand Men"
By: Michael N Lovdal.

"The Sultan is both cunning and wise," wooed Batul. She gazed deeply into her husband's eyes, captivating him in enchantment. Taking a lock of his hair between her fingers, she curled and tugged playfully. Haidar kissed her deeply and brought her down upon him. He kissed her again and again and then – he froze.
"Wife! What is this?" he demanded. She felt a tug on the seam of her undergarment. Looking down, she found it slightly torn.
"The Sultan should not trouble himself. My undergarment must have torn as I put it on this morning. The harvest is full, and my stomach more-so of late." Haidar forced her off of him and examined the tear more closely.
"Do not lie to me, Batul. This was torn by a hand, grasping for your waist." Batul withdrew slightly and looked down and away. "Speak!"
"The Sultan should spare his servants, for they have served him faithfully for many years." She looked up, waiting. Watching. Shaking.
"My wife will tell me whom has violated the Sultan's domain!" He glared at her, probing her eyes with his own. Batul rose from the bed and stepped a few paces away, circling the bed slowly.
"It was nearly noon as I made usual rounds around the palace. The Sultan's wealth has brought him a sizable palace, and it takes many hours to inspect. I spoke with the Nazir, as is my routine, and made my way through the halls of the Sultan's Royal Guard." Haidar's eyes burned with jealous rage.
"Who betrayed the throne of Haidar?"
Batul turned away from him, slouching helplessly. "I did not see all of their faces, but they wore the uniform of the Sultan's Royal Guard." At this, the Sultan grabbed for his scimitar and charged through the doorway without another word. He could be heard yelling down the halls at the top of his lungs, "Summon the army! Summon the fighting men! A sea of traitor's blood flows from within the palace walls!"

Batul also ran through the palace – in the opposite direction. She made her way through the Grand Dome and the Hall of Pillars before turning off into the Barracks Wing of the Sultan's Royal Guard.
"Hasan!" she cried. "Hasan!" Tears streaked down her face as she entered the room. A man embraced her reflexively, their lips meeting for but a moment.
"He's gone mad," she whimpered.
"What is it, my love? Who has?"
"The Sultan!" She left his embrace and pleaded with her eyes, "You must leave here at once! He's on a mad hunt to find you and he won't stop until he knows he has the right man!" She was already pushing him towards the window. He needed no further encouragement – he leapt clear through the open window and landed a half-story below on a lower platform.
"Will you return for me?" Batul cried out as he ran. The heels of his feet and the conviction of his back was her answer.

A great chaos had erupted around the palace. Batul passed several dead Guardsmen on the way to the Grand Dome, where she walked into the middle of a battle between five soldiers and a Guardsman. The Guardsman fought courageously, slaying two soldiers before falling to the sword. Batul shrieked, terrified at the carnage taking place around her. She heard yelling and the clashing of swords from every direction. The world around her seemed to spin as she searched for a way out.
A soldier cried out and fell into the room, followed by three armed Guardsmen.
"Your highness! Your husband has gone mad!" They surrounded her, forming a defensive perimeter outward.
"Why is he hunting us? I don't understand it! He keeps cursing and yelling about traitors. Do you know what he's after?" Another soldier entered the fray and was promptly dispatched.
"Your highness?" One Guardsman turned to look at her, suspicious of her silence.
"I... I don't know what you're talking about..." she lied. And he knew it. He saw the guilt in her eyes.
"You did this to us!" he yelled as he lifted up his sword against her. His companions had not yet reached his conclusion, so they slew him before he could harm her.

Isolated skirmishes went on for nearly six hours before the last Guardsman was slain. Two soldiers dragged his body away from Batul's shaking form and dropped him in a pile. The Sultan entered the Dome now, his dark cape swaying as he walked.
"Wife – I slew the Nazir myself. There was no sin in his eyes." He glared down at her, his hand still gripping his scimitar.
"Please, husband, it might not have been him. It was his second–in–command! Yes! Now I remember! She smiled with false happiness at a false memory.
"Who was he?" demanded the Sultan. Batul stepped backwards slowly, like a gazelle before a lion.
"Sultan!" interrupted a soldier. "A final Guardsman has been found – he was caught riding hard towards a neighboring city." Silence.
"It was Hasan of the second line, my Sultan."
The fiery wrath of hades consumed Haidar, and he slew Batul under the golden ceiling of the Grand Dome. Consumed by remorse, the Sultan withdrew into his chambers and was found weeks later, fallen on his own sword.

All–told, ninety–nine Royal Guardsmen and nine–hundred soldiers fell to the sword that day. And one disgraced Sultan. And as the tale was passed down through generations from mother to daughter, and father to son, it became known as The Story That Killed a Thousand Men.

© 2008 Michael N Lovdal.

Guide to Names:
Batul means "Virgin" - the irony is that she sleeps around, and a "battle" ensues as a result
Haidar means "Lion" - who protects his wife's honor with the rage of a lion
Hasan means "Handsome" - the adulterer

Batul's name is in itself very ironic, in that she is an adulterous wife and not a virgin. Furthermore, her names resembles the word "battle," which her false story provokes.
This story was written with the intention that it would read harmoniously with ancient tales from Arabia.

Term of Use:
This work may only be used or reprinted with the explicit permission of the author, Michael N Lovdal. Please send your requests to michaelnlovdal(@)gmail.com. (Remove parentheses).

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