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King Yasir's palace in Ardala
The words stung her senses as the king's guards invaded the inner sanctum of the royal harem. The others scattered fearing for their lives as they cowered and looked away.
She stood between the four women and a tall, intimidating officer.
"What is the meaning of this? The sheik..."
"...Will not care. He'll be dead soon enough, so you can save your breath."
Hearing this, the others gasped. What had she brought into the life they enjoyed? What had their sheik done to them by bringing a Westerner into the palace?
"What about them?" she asked.
"What do you care? You came here to find out who was undermining the sheik's government. You found me and I thank you for allowing me to finally come out in the open. Now, I need to know how you found out."
"Found out what?" she asked. "I know nothing."
"Liar, you are American Intelligence and you..."
"I don't know what you're talking about. Where's King Yasir?"
"Don't worry about him. He's beyond your reach."
"I want to see him."
"No, he'll be with Allah soon and needs to purify his traitorous soul. He wants nothing more to do with you."
"I want to hear it from him."
"Then allow them to live. Please, they know nothing more than I do."
"Shut up, infidel. Take her away!" he ordered.
"No," she begged as one of the guards grabbed her and roughly dragged her from the private quarters specifically designed for the king of Ardala's harem. She fought him until the sound of rapidly fired gunshots caused her to freeze. She closed her eyes seeing the image of KingYasir's wives.
"No!" she screamed, overwhelmed by Kedar's cruelty. She felt faint, her legs weak. The guard dragged her down the hallway, then out of the private royal quarters and outside to a waiting car.
Forced onto the floor of it, the guard held her at gunpoint. She closed her eyes, grieving for the women she'd befriended since her arrival at the palace of Ardala's ruling sheik, King Yasir Tarek. She wept over their needless slaughter and she mourned losing the king, a man she'd grown to love more than life.
Moments after the driver stopped, the guard yanked her from the car and dragged her to a building she had not noticed before, but then again, she had no reason to. She heard some commotion to the side and saw the king being hustled into another car. She tried to yell to him but a huge hand clamped over her mouth. Once inside, she gasped.
"Come now. If I intend to rule Ardala as it should be ruled, I can't have any of the king's supporters or his regime alive now, can I?"
She looked at Hashim, Ardala's Prime Minister. Horror overtook her as she looked at the obvious results of Kedar's methods.
"Tell me what I want to know."
"But I know nothing."
"Liar," Kedar stated emphatically. "Maybe Hashim can convince you to talk." He shoved her across the floor to where the king's trusted advisor lay dying.
Kedar and his men left them, the lock on the door loudly engaged.
"Hashim, my god, what have they done to you?"
"Don't tell him anything. I know everything about you and anything you say will endanger our king."
"You know about me?"
Hashim weakly nodded.
"Where is he?"
"I don't know. I heard Kedar order his men to bring you both here."
"I saw someone who looked like him being put into a car..."
"We must protect him. Kedar cannot be allowed to take over Ardala. You may be the king's only hope."
"I'm done in this life. I go to Allah but you still have a chance."
"Is there anything else..."
"Tell Yasir he made the right choice. You've been good for him in every way."
"What do you mean?"
"As his true wife."
"But the others?"
"He never married them. His father decreed it but Yasir never went through with the marriage ceremonies."
"But his father had to know."
"He didn't. His death confirmed everything in the people's minds. His will left Yasir the throne and it will go to his child by any one of his wives."
"But why did they remain with him if..."
"He gave them a good life in exchange for their silence."
"His secret's safe. Kedar had them murdered."
Hashim closed his eyes.
"I am truly sorry."
The door burst open. She cradled Hashim's head in her lap to help make him more comfortable.
"Come here, woman!"
She ignored the general's command, refusing to leave the Prime Minister's side. She cried out when Kedar grabbed her by her hair and pulled her away from the dying man.
"Obviously, Hashim didn't convince you to talk."
"I ... know ... nothing ... Ow!" she cried out.