RAGUN stormed out of the majestic imperial palace; his militant feet thudding heavy steps through the ornate stone floor.
Here was the great and prosperous city-state, Jaiye.
And the vast palace of the sovereign ruler sat as grand and imposing as nothing else around, over mountains and rivers far away.
Ragun had had enough of the gibberish spluttered out all day at the palace assembly.
And he certainly wouldn’t hear anymore of all the foolish talk. Not when he was still the war chief of the Jaiye kingdom.
‘I will not sit still and take this, never!’ he fumed; throwing the assembly hall gates open on his way out of the palace complex.
The gates slammed closed behind him with a metallic clang.
‘I always say it… greed runs in that household!’ he scoffed.
‘Now what? Our white horses aren’t enough for that senile chief priest anymore? That is something I will never permit…
‘Unless I am no longer Ragun Slayer of the Dead!’
Ragun’s pace hopped to the rhythm of his agitated spirit, as he walked through the long, wide hallways.
His retainer had been waiting around for him at the third gate. And Chief Ragun soon met up with him on the way.
But then, Ragun’s steps were so fast that the young lad could barely catch up with him as the two men headed out in a haste.
The royal chiefs of Jaiye were being briefed at the central palace assembly that evening at sunset, on a new decree. Prior to when the announcement would be made public at the arena by sunrise the next day.
But Ragun wasn’t the only chief in the assembly to be baffled by the weird sounding announcement.
Yet the old man’s shock had the loudest voice. For the war chief was a man of flammable temper.
If the choicest wines were kept in the choicest wineskins, then the affluent Jaiye kingdom would be the wineskins and the Jaiye people would be the crimson.
Of the many other nations round about them, the people of Jaiye were thought to be the most excellent.
An award given to the Jaiye people by their own selves.
When men still made homes of earth and hay, the entirety of Jaiye dwelt in great houses made of stonework.
Except only its outpost township at Koje.
When men still battled with clubs and stones, the men of Jaiye swung two edged blades and shot poisoned arrows.
Except only its Koje outpost.
And when men still stuttered with fables and tales, the people of Jaiye were already scribbling down their own histories.
And with ink of battlefield blood!
What more could earn a kingdom some dreadful greatness, when even its hearsays oozed with grace and grandeur?
Yet… of all the best kind of urbane people in the entire Jaiye kingdom, Chief Ragun – along with the many other nobles, were the best of the best.
Ragun exited the seventh gate which led outside, while his retainer still found catching up with the war chief much of a hassle.
Ragun kept talking to himself as he dashed along.
He scoffed. ‘If Jaiye has been sacrificing a white horse per clan every year, and that old priest is now suggesting that can’t be enough… then, what on earth can ever be, huh?’
‘I guess what this sick dispensation now wants is all of Jaiye’s stables!’ Ragun burst out in a raucous laughter.
In a moment, his demeanour went a little more serious.
‘I will not permit that on this soil. Not when I’m still alive!’ he blurted out and spat on the ground.
And with that, the brazen old man flung his woolen ọja muffler around his neck with a deft sweep of a hand; and hopped towards his horse carriage waiting obediently at the palace cart park.
Yet Ragun’s steps were still rather too fast for his humble servant to catch up with. And it was only then the older man took notice that the youngster hadn’t been able to keep up pace with him.
The elderly chief halted in a jiffy. He glanced back at the lad, who was already panting in his jugging steps.
He squinted his eyes at him.
‘Do I have to cut off one of your legs for you to know why you have two?’
The old man’s voice was a cold, bitter snarl.
The young servant needn’t hear anything more. And he couldn’t tell where a surge of energy came from all of a sudden.
For the lad rushed up to his master with the flight of a frightened arrow.
Those words, those little words. They’d sounded in that slave boy’s ears like the growl of a hunter’s hound.
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