by Hector of the Black Height
There was a great warrior who, in the course of his wanderings, uncovered an ancient trove of treasure, guarded by a wicked djinn. The djinn used its magic to fell and torment the warrior, but the warrior bore his pain in silence. Finally, the djinn tired of his efforts and decided to release the warrior if he would obey one command from the djinn, his tormentor. The warrior agreed, for he was afflicted sorely, on the condition that the command would be honourable and just.
The djinn reached deep within the treasure trove and drew forth a gleaming sword, sharp as the winter winds and worthy of a great Caliph, which he handed to the warrior. "You will bear this sword," the djinn commanded, "in service to the mighty Pasha both day and night." At this the djinn laughed, for he knew the warrior bore no love for the Pasha or his corrupt house. Still, the warrior had no cause to argue the honour or propriety of the command, and bore the sword off in the direction of the Pasha's palace.
The djinn guarded his treasure for many years thereafter in solitude. Finally, a caravan travelled by the site of the djinn's treasure and, disguised as a man, the djinn slipped into the caravan's night camp.
Sitting by the night fire, the djinn and the master of the caravan discussed every subject under the sun until, finally, the djinn asked after the warrior.
"Yes," the caravan master said, he had heard of the warrior. At this the djinn laughed, for he knew that there was only one way the warrior could have won fame in the Pasha's court. Surely the shining sword had been used to slay the Pasha and thus dishonour the proud warrior! The caravan master confirmed that the warrior's fame had been won with the gleaming sword, behind the Pasha's seat.
"How did he win this fame?" asked the djinn. "Is he renowned for the speed with which he slew the Pasha, or was the despot's end slow and merciless?"
The caravan master laughed as he replied, "Of whom do you speak? I speak of the one called Iron Hands, who has held the greatest of swords behind the Pasha's high seat lo these many years without a waver or twitch." And the djinn disappeared into the night with a shriek.
The next morning the warrior Iron Hands awoke and readied himself to stand behind the Pasha's seat again, but as he made to take up the great sword once more, he found the sword gone, and a great key in its place. Iron Hands took the key and made his way across the desert to the treasure trove. He opened the trove with the key and took away his fortune.
And what were the rewards for all? The warrior Iron Hands found his ultimate reward after his time of silent trial, the Pasha won the anonymity only scorn can give, and the djinn was felled by a sword held motionless.
The late Count Jafar al-Safa (KSCA OP), prior to his Knighting and his first of two Crown Tournament victories, was the unsuccessful finalist in the Middle Kingdom's Autumn AS XXVII Crown Tourney. The same day of that tournament, he was made King's Champion of the Middle Kingdom. This story first was published in The Ursus, newsletter of the Barony of Septentria, sometime later.
It's interesting to note that this story was circulated privately, and only published after Jafar's Coronation, and yet at his Coronation Jafar was cried into the hall as "Jafar al-Safa, Knight of the Society... called by some "Iron-Hands". Some images just work for people, it seems.
Copyright A. McLean 1994, 1998. All rights reserved.
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