The Tale of The Rebel Chieftain
By Ellie Dauber (c) 1999
In a land far off to the East and in a long-ago time, there lived a ruler, a Sultan named Amahl. As rulers may be judged, he was hardly the best. Yet, it must be admitted that he was also far from the worst. He was a fair man, who tried as best he might to be a good and just leader of his people. And, for the most part, his people understood this and respected him.
Jafar did not.
Jafar was the chief of a small band of bedouin nomads who traveled the sands at the northern edge of Amahl's lands. Such a life may make a man hard. It had done so to Jafar. Because of some imagined wrong, Jafar scorned Amahl's leadership. He did all that he could to hinder the Sultan: raiding villages, stealing tax moneys, spreading lies, and causing all manner of dissention.
Amahl tried to reason with Jafar, to determine the cause for his actions. Jafar refused to even speak to the emissaries of Amahl. He ordered them away and told them not to try again. If Amahl sent others to speak to him, Jafar warned, then they and their heads would return to the capital on different days.
This was more than Amahl could accept. Thereafter, he did all that he could to capture Jafar. But, alas, the troops that Amahl sent were visitors to the northern sands from the city in the south. To Jafar and his men, those cruel sands were home. They knew of a thousand places where a band of men might safely hide. It was said that there were even times when Amahl's men rode directly past the place where Jafar and his men were hiding, coming so close that Jafar might count the hairs of a man's beard. Yet Jafar could not be found.
In desperation, Amahl consulted the wise men of his land. He also spoke to the men who were learned of magic -- both white and black. And he formed a plan.
A proclamation went out to all corners of the realm, but most especially to the villages and oasis of the northern sands. Amahl had tired of Jafar's anger. He wished to meet with him in person to make peace. Amahl swore by Allah, may His name be ever praised, that he wished to only meet in peace with Jafar at the Oasis of the Date Palms halfway between the city and the northern sand. Amahl's proclamation said that he hoped to see if they might resolve whatever complaints Jafar had. He also said in that same swearing that Jafar could bring some of his men, if he wished, and that, at the end of their meeting, Jafar would be free to leave, to go wherever he wished. Amahl also said that he was doing this because he was a reasonable man, a man of peace. If Jafar did not come, then all would know that the problem between them was Jafar's fault, and that Jafar was a fool or a coward who did not want peace in the land.
Jafar was many things, but he was not a fool. He let it be known that on a given date he would meet Amahl at the Oasis. He would bring five of his best men, and he challenged the Sultan to bring no more of his own soldiers. They would meet there and see what might be said.
The Sultan announced that he was most pleased with Jafar's answer and praised the man's wisdom and piety. A work party set out the same day from the city to construct a suitable pavilion for the meeting. Fifty men and more, the finest craftsmen of every sort, labored to build the small palace where the leaders would meet.
Jafar's men watched this work from hiding. More than once, they entered the Oasis under the cover of night to inspect the work. They found no secret traps nor hidden rooms. Every craftsman was watched, and each proved to be a master of his trade and not a hidden spy or soldier. At last, when the workmen left, Jafar's men counted them. Every man who had come from the city to build the palace left and returned to the city.
Amahl knew that Jafar was not a fool. He had expected his work men to be watched and counted. The palace was as it appeared for he had ordered no secret traps or places of concealment. He even waited three days after the workmen returned to the city before he left. This was to give Jafar's men all the time that they might wish to further search the building and its grounds. Amahl knew that they would find nothing amiss.
When Amahl finally did leave his city, it was with much pomp, a long procession of servants and slaves, several elephants laden with gifts for Jafar and his people, even a closed palanquin with Amahl's wife, Sindara, and some of her own female servants. The women were, of course, unseen. The men who went with Amahl were not. He wished them to be seen. Most were either young boys or elderly men, none of whom even a drunken man might mistake for a soldier. As Amahl promised, only five men of his personal guard rode in the procession to the north.
When the procession arrived at the Oasis, Amahl bade it wait. He rode alone to the pavilion and leapt from his camel. "Are you here, Jafar?" he called. "I will wait here alone for one hour. If you do not come, then I will know that you do not really wish peace. I will return to the city and tell that truth to the entire realm. So come and meet with me, Jafar. Come down and talk, or be branded as a man who would rather kill than let the land be at peace."
There was a clatter of hooves. Jafar and his men rode down from a hill at the far end of the Oasis. As promised, he rode with only five men, but one could see armor beneath their robes. Swords, long and curved, hung from their belts and glistened in the Sun. Each man carried a bow over his shoulder and wore a quiver full of arrows. As they rode, the men's eyes searched right and left, looking for anything that might be a sign of trap or ambush.
When they neared the place where Amahl stood, only Jafar rode the last few feet and dismounted. Amahl walked to him, slowly so as not to seem in any way a threat. "My brother," Amahl said, "I offer you my hand in friendship, and I ask to show you and your men the hospitality of this Oasis."
Jafar was suspicious, but he tradition demanded that the greeting be returned. "If your hand is truly given in friendship," he said, "then I gladly offer mine in return." The two men shook hands. They smiled, but when they were done, each counted to make certain that he had all of his fingers.
"Come, my new brother," Amahl said. "My servants await with food and music. All that can bring a man joy. Have your men join you, and let us all go into this pavilion. We have, I think, much to talk about, and it is hot here in the Sun."
Jafar gave a single gesture. His men rode over to where he stood. "Dismount." He ordered.
The men did so. They then followed him as he walked into the shaded pavilion.
Amahl and his men were waiting inside. Jafar's men drew their swords and formed a circle around him. Amahl raised his hands so that all could see that he carried no weapon. Arms still raised, he walked into the center of the circle of men.
"You need not fear my men," Amahl laughed. " As ruler of this land, I am due a guard. That is all. We will keep our word and draw no weapon against you. Now, come join our feast"
Amahl walked over to a ring of pillows around a large, low brass table. He sat down and called for music. The strumming of several instruments could be heard from a corner of the room. Jafar and his men looked, but saw only a group of rather old men playing the music.
"Please, Jafar, join me." Amahl patted the pillow beside him. "And you men, Jafar's and mine, seat yourself as you will about the table."
Jafar joined Amahl at the head of the table. The warriors sat down, Jafar's on one side, Amahl's on the other. Each group watched the other for any sign of attack.
Amahl clapped his hands together. "Food!" he yelled. "Food for my honored guests." At this, a small door opened and three old men wearing the aprons of cooks entered. Each carried a large bowl of a different kind of sweetmeat. The bowls were laid upon the table near to Jafar's men, and the three cooks returned to the kitchen.
No one reached for any of the food. "Do you think now to poison us?" Jafar asked.
Amahl looked as if he might cry. "You still doubt me, friend Jafar?" He clapped again. "Sindara, come forth."
The men all looked about expectantly. Sindara was Amahl's most favored wife and said to be among the most beautiful of all women. There was a rustle of silk and the faint sound of tinkling bells. Jafar's men looked, and they saw that the tales of Sindara's beauty were not lies. A vision had entered. Sindara was dressed in fine brocaded green silk pantaloons. She wore a matching vest that could only make her figure more desirable by the way that it clung to her. Her skin was like almond milk, her hair long black rivers of curls. Her waist was narrow as a reed, but both her breasts and her hips swelled out in ample curves. She wore a light green veil over her lower face, but one could see that her eyes were of that same shimmering green. Bells hung from a low belt about her waist, so that there was a soft jingling sound as she strode into the room. She stopped and bowed low as she came near Amahl.
"You have called me, my husband?" Her voice was low, soft, and it promised much.
Amahl sighed. "Alas, my wife, our guests do not trust me. I ask that you and your maidens taste some of this food, so that our guests will not fear to eat."
"As my husband commands, my maidens and I shall obey." Jafar and his men then noted that there were several women who had come in with Sindara. Each was lovely in her own way. This one had the dark skin and eyes of a Nubian; another was fair with skin whiter than Sindara's and hair the color of spun gold. The women sat themselves among Jafar's men, while Sindara sat between her husband and Jafar. Each woman reached into one of the bowls. She took a sweetmeat at random, and, smiling, ate it. Then another was eaten.
"Now, are you satisfied, Jafar?"
"I will say that I am wrong about the food."
"My husband," Sindara said, "let my maidens and I stay. Our guests are still suspicious. Perhaps a smiling maiden feeding these men will make them feel more comfortable at this feast."
"Behold, Jafar," Amahl said, "my Sindara is as wise as she is beautiful. Do you mind if she and her ladies stay to attend to you and your men?"
Jafar looked across the table at his men. All were still suspicious, but how could a beautiful, smiling woman be a threat? "Very well," he said.
"I fear that you are still suspicious, Jafar. Let me send away my men." Amahl rose and clapped his hand. "My guardsmen, our guests are still suspicious. Since I know that I have nothing to fear from such noble guests, I do not feel so great a need of you. Go into the kitchen, and tell Da'ud, the Cook, that he is to feed you the next portion of the meal out there. By the time that you are finished, our guests should be more receptive, and you can rejoin us."
The guardsmen looked nervous. One was about to speak, when Amahl glared at him, "Would you have me dishonored before my guests? Go all of you and do as I have said!" The guardsmen rose without a word and left hurriedly.
The men all looked at Amahl who sank down into the cushions. He turned to Sindara. "My wife, I thank you for your words which flowed like oil on troubled waters. Pray, attend to the needs of Jafar as your maidens are attending to his men."
"As my husband commands," Sindara said. She took a large piece of sweetmeat from the nearest bowl and offered it to Jafar. Around the table, her maidens did likewise for Jafar's men. The musicians played softly, the maidens smiled and flirted with the men, and in very little time, the food was consumed. No one seemed to notice that Amahl did not eat.
Jafar turned to Amahl. "The tales of your kitchen are as hard to believe as those about the beauty of your wife. Yet, now I see that both are true. Perhaps, I have mistrusted you, Amahl."
Amahl only smiled. "Or perhaps not, Jafar."
Jafar sensed a trap, but he suddenly felt very weak. He tried to stand, but fell back into the cushions. "So there was poison, Amahl." Jafar tried to draw his sword, but his arm trembled, and his strength failed him. As he lay on the cushions, he looked to his men about the table. He could see that his men now all were suffering as he was. "Were you so eager to kill me that you would kill your wife as well?"
"My wife is fine, Jafar. Look at her if you doubt me."
Jafar looked. Sindara seemed to shimmer as he stared due to the dizziness that he felt, but she seemed to be in no discomfort. "There are other ways to deal with an enemy than to kill him," she said. "Look at your men once again, Jafar."
Jafar looked. The men seemed to be shrinking, and their beards! Their beards and body hair was falling out, as was his own. They seemed to be growing younger. "Is this your doing, Amahl? To turn me and my men into beardless boys, too young to fight you?"
Amahl could not help but laugh. "Not beardless boys, Jafar. Women!"
Jafar looked down at his body. He was smaller and far more slender than he had been in years. He felts things twisting inside of his belly. One hand went to his groin. Nothing! Or almost nothing, for he could feel his manhood shrink away even as he grasped for it. His other hand went to his chest. He could feel something here that had never been there before, two mounds growing, pushing out against his now oversized armor.
"No, no," he moaned. He shook his head, as if to try to wake from dream. But he did not awaken, and he could hear his voice growing higher and softer as he moaned.
It was the same for his men.
"Your food was cooked with water from the Well of the Enchanted Bride," Amahl explained. "Any who drinks from that well falls under its spell. Man or woman, whatever their age, the victim becomes a beauteous maiden. He, or now she, I should say, will fall in love with the first man who kisses her, and, thereafter, her only thoughts will be to please that man. The potion only works once upon any person, and its effects cannot be reversed."
"Know, she who was Jafar, that Sindara took her dose of the potion alone with me before we left the city. It made but a little change in her appearance, for she has always been among the loveliest of women." Amahl paused to smile at his wife, recalling the joy of that night together with her.
"Others among my guardsmen are the husbands to my wife's maidservants. They, too, gave their wives some of the water in private the night before we left to journey here." Amahl clapped his hands twice. The door opened. Sindara and the maidens left, and Amahl's guardsmen entered. "These guardsmen are at present unmarried, but your transformed brigands will soon remedy that."
"No, this cannot be!" Jafar shook his head in horror. He had been almost bald, but now he felt his scalp tickle as long strands of his hair grew out and down to brush against the back of his neck and across his shoulders. His voice was high and sweet.
Hussain, the strongest of Jafar's men, managed to stand. His armor fell to the ground, stripping him to the waist. Hussain had been a mass of muscles over than six feet tall. Now he was more than a foot shorter, slender as a young boy but with two pillowy breasts and lush hips that swelled out from a waist almost narrow enough that a man could put his hands around it. Hussain raised his slender hands before his -- no, her face -- stared at them a moment in disbelief and began to cry.
Amahl drew very close. "The potion transforms the mind as well as the body, Jafar. A man would have grown enraged at such a trap being laid for him. A woman would simply fear for her fate. I leave it to you as to how you and your troop are reacting." Jafar realized that he was still trembling. (Jafar still thought of himself as a "he".) The transformation was ended, but Jafar knew with all his being that something -- something important -- was yet to happen.
Amahl drew even closer. "The Law of the Prophet, may Allah's name be ever praised, hold that a man may have more than one wife if he can afford the cost. As I am Sultan, I can easily afford the cost of yet another wife. I can even pay the dowries for my guardsmen's new wives." He motioned towards those who had been Jafar's men. "My guardsmen, choose your wives from among these lovely new women."
Jafar watched in horror. His men were surrounded. Some were still so weak from their transformation that they could not even stand. Others were entangled in fallen clothing and armor. A guardsman advanced and took each new woman by the hand, standing or kneeling besides her. Jafar saw one guardsman, a tall fellow with the darkened skin of a desert nomad, take Hussain's hand. He/she tried to pull it free but could not. The guardsman pulled Hussain around and kissed that unfortunate. Hussain struggled for a moment, pounding at the guardsman's back with her free arm. Then she stopped and put her arm about the guardsman's neck. She swayed sensuously against his body, pushing her breasts into his hairy chest and grinding her groin against him like a cat in heat. The guardsman broke free of the kiss. He picked up the smiling Hussain in his arms and carried her out of the room, while she giggled and nibbled at his ear.
Jafar saw the same thing happening to all his men, each was selected and kissed by a guardsmen. All fought at first, then all surrendered eagerly to their new status as brides. Each new couple leaving to consummate their marriage. Jafar then saw that he was alone in the room with Amahl. He suddenly realized how close Amahl was standing and that Amahl was holding both his arms. "Now, my new wife-to-be, it is your turn." Jafar tried to pull free, but Amahl was far too strong now. He held both of Jafar's wrists within one hand and was pulling Jafar's head to his own with the other.
Jafar tried to concentrate, to focus his hatred on Amahl. Rage burned within his transformed body.
Then his lips touched Amahl's. His skin tingled. He felt his nipples grow hard. The rage became another kind of fire. It started in his groin but spread quickly through his body. It was a hunger, now. A hunger that only the man whose lips he was kissing -- no, that was wrong -- whose lips SHE was kissing could satisfy. She moaned and opened her mouth, allowing Amahl's tongue to enter and tease her own. Jafar felt something else, Amahl's erect member, pushing against her. It felt good, and she rubbed herself against his loins in anticipation.
Deep within her was the male Jafar, screaming in anger at this betrayal, but his voice was growing faint, drowning beneath the onrushing flood of womanhood. Jafar broke her kiss with Amahl. She looked about the room and smiled. It was empty save for Amahl and herself, for the others had all retired to their own chambers. She was alone with her man. Jafar smiled as she wriggled free of the now useless man's clothing and armor. She lay down slowly, sensuously upon the pillows of the long-forgotten feast. "You have won, Amahl. I ask only that you be gentle in your final conquest."
And it is thus recorded in the Book of History that the Sultan Amahl sought the Rebel Jafar in the wilderness. And he wrestled with Jafar, winning a great victory. The Rebel was never heard of again from that time. Yet the Sultan did return with a greater prize than a rebellious chieftain. For he returned with a young and beautiful wife who gave him five children, whom some say were sons and some say were daughters. But that, ah, that is another story.
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