My parents were warriors. I can remember vaguely the face of a roaring lion on the shiny brass breastplate of my father and the long sharp curvy Spicala snake on the spear of my mother. We lived a good life, my twin brother and I because we were of the royal circle and distant blood relatives of the king.
In addition to being of royal blood, my ancestry for the past five generations formed the elite squad known as the Kiminag or the Kings Guard. My parents protected the king like my grandparents had done before them. History has it that our great kingdom was formed by one powerful family, our family. We were once a small unit of disjointed little clans frequently, harried by the Magars who were terrible night marauders who left death and destruction in their wake.
We were told our great ancestor Harid, the richest and most intelligent man amongst the clans devised a plan to repel the Magars which was carried out successfully with the sword skill of his younger brother Kiminag and his wife Cerio who was a skilled archer as well as the youngest of them, Porter who was a blacksmith and the inventor traps for hunting.
Harid has devised a plan which was brilliantly executed that left the Magars fleeing never to return in years. When word of the success of Harid reached the other clans, they submitted themselves to be under the protection of Harid and being a just man, he sheltered them.
The walls that previously covered the little settlement was extended to cover the 14 clans and soon, Harid was made king. His rule with made the kingdom great and at his death, the kingdom took the name of Hariding.
The twin cubs played with their mother in their jungle habitat. It was a hot sunny morning and they had just suckled greatly a tired lioness and now they wanted her to play. She shoved them aside gently as they tugged at her ears and pulled at her legs hoping for some action but she would not oblige them today. They soon lost interest and began to chase butterflies under the lioness’ watchful eyes.
She had nothing to fear especially as the Pride was nearby. The Alpha male was taking a lazy rest with his minions after the heavy feeding of last night. He had conducted the hunt of the Water-Buffalo last night and they had all fed heavily. He was a giant of a lion with an expansive mane and the loudest roar ever that sounded like the battle cry of a million lions. He ruled the Pride with an iron fist and none of the other males would dare him for fear of facing the fate of the last one who tried.
The cubs chased and chased and when they went too far for comfort, the lioness would carry them back gently with her mouth back into their secure confines but as is the case with young cubs unaware of the danger, they strayed quite too often.
On this day however, a human party wandered to their domain and all hell broke lose.
It was the 34 year old King Azarid and his entourage. Now Azarid was not the regular Harid. He was a flamboyant, notorious drunk who loved the pleasure of many women from which he gathered a growing army of illegitimate children.
His only legitimate son, Aza was no less fortunate as he would not teach him the true ways of the Harid to the disapproval of my parents. They had voiced their concern about this deviation from custom that had kept our position absolute for generations but Azarid would not listen. He never did since the mysterious circumstances that led to the loss of his queen a few years before.
Since the death of his queen, Azarid became a reckless and paranoid man and it was in his time that he enacted the abominable law that the king should not be touched. My parents were amazed by this as they were taught from birth to keep the king safe by all means necessary.
The fact that we were related to king by blood and were all sworn to loyalty till death made it even more confusing especially at the critical time in our history when the Harid no longer had monopoly to wealth. Strong families had grown over the years and had begun to question the right of the Harids to rule.
It wasn’t long before this new law was put to the test.
Azarid, in his quest to sample as many women on earth as possible entertained a party of 300 damsels across the nearby regions. He had been pressured over the years to take a new bride for his queen and many had heard of the wealth and prosperity of Hariding so they jostled for a place as allies as the surest way was by sending in their most beautiful women for Azarid’s sampling pleasure especially as word had got out about his love for women.
Azarid, a great talker in the midst of women entertained them greatly and told them great tales of valour. Azarid had never really seen action in the battle field; not because he was a coward but because he was barred by law. He was raised a true Harid and was a great swordsman. His father Barogo had waged wars and had expanded the kingdom greatly and my father was instrumental in this.
Barogo however, had an addiction. He loved to hunt lions which in my immediate family was viewed as abominable as it was our crest for generations. He killed several in his time and it was in that addiction that he lost his life a day to his 50th birthday.
Azarid continued to entertain his 300 damsels and in a bid to further impress them with his valour, he organized a lion hunt against the advice of my parents. The party arrived upon a pride and carefully skirted the males, focusing on the young lioness and her twin cubs. Azarid’s skill at archery was legendary and with one draw of his bow, the lioness was mortally wounded. She would not stop however as she struggled to take her cubs back to the Pride from where they strayed. Azarid was now focused on getting the cubs, suddenly convinced that lion skin that hung in the king’s chamber would no longer suffice.
My father advised against this as it was unheard of but Azarid would not listen. In a bid to impress, rather than deliver another shot to kill, he decided to strike with his sword. My parents remained at his side as he advanced towards the struggling lioness who was weakened by this time. However, as he drew nearer with my parents bringing in the rear, she abandoned the her cubs and launched one last attack at her assailant. The inebriated Azarid was stunned and could only stare in shock as the lioness leaped to rip him apart.
My father instinctively pulled a rooted Azarid out of the way and crumbled under the attack of the ferocious lioness. It was the spear of my mother that saved my father. Her vicious thrusts ensured that she was not widowed and we not orphaned at that moment. She did not stop until the lioness was dead. When the king came to, he was furious. He had just embarrassed himself before 300 hundred damsels and their chaperones. He ordered my father to go after the cubs who had by this time began to nudge their dead mother.
My father however grabbed the shaken king and took him back to the royal carriage and ordered the carriage back to Hariding. The king however warned him not return without the cubs so he had my mother accompany the king and went after the cubs. When he arrived Hariding, news of the tale preceded him and he was given a hero’s welcome by the commoners. He would not acknowledge this as he was only concerned about his duty to his king. The king was well but ordered that my parents be put to death for violating the law against touching the king.
This is how my twin brother and I became orphans.