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Chapter 2 Attack

  • Roksolana dodged the sword waving itself at her. Before she could balance herself, another sword slashed her arm. She had forgotten that Asleem used two swords in fighting. When she looked at the cut he had made, she noticed it was a very light cut. It was like he hadn't wanted to hurt her more than he needed to.
  • "Told you I wouldn't go easy on you," Asleem told her.
  • And then, it was a matter of dodging and attacking for both of them. About 20 minutes into the fight, Roksolana realized she wouldn't be able to defeat the man. Nevertheless, she wasn't willing to give in to him that easily. She saw an opening and slashed his arm. Asleem looked surprised that she was able to get a cut on him, she smiled. He threw a sword at her and she waved it away with her swords. He was in her face before she knew it and stamping her hard on her foot, she fell. She felt the cold steel of the blade on her neck and knew she had lost.
  • "You cheated," Roksolana told him.
  • "You mean I did good planning? Sometimes, being the best is not a guarantee of winning. You need a strategy, Roksolana." He told her, holding out his hand for her. She shook it away and got up on her own, which made him smile at her.
  • After Asleem had been crowned the winner, they all moved to the shooting ground. Roksolana could hear gasps all around her when two ladies stepped forward as contestants. Roksolana smiled and wondered in her mind how much more surprise the men were in before the competition ended.
  • One of the ladies came sixth while the other came third. Roksolana could see it was a huge achievement for them as they kept smiling. It was gradually becoming the age of revolution. Who knows? Maybe ladies could hold high positions in the future or even become Sultans.
  • Next, they were at the seaside for boat racing and fish hunting. Four more ladies joined in the competition. And that was when the men began to murmur. Roksolana could understand that they felt apprehensive about being beaten at what they have done their entire lives by some women who never had formal training. However, they had training. Roksolana had trained them all for a year at every chance they could get.
  • "Women aren't allowed to participate in anything. All they are good for is cleaning the house and bearing children. Roksolana, we have tolerated your errors enough." Janissary Abdulaziz spoke up.
  • "The Sultan gave his permission to allow the women to take part in the competitions. Are you questioning his authority?" Roksolana asked the man, who swallowed loudly.
  • Roksolana smiled to herself. Her words had the impacts she wanted them to. Everyone present there knew that questioning the Sultan was counted as treason, and it was an unforgivable crime no matter your bloodlines or position. You can earn a death sentence for it if care is not taken. From there on, no one else so much as breaths or even made his disagreement known.
  • The ladies did excellently in the race. One of them came first, while her husband was second, another woman came third. The other two were ahead of their competitors in the fish hunt. Roksolana and the others were surprised when the husband of the woman who came first hugged her.
  • "You did very well. My efforts and your late-night practice paid off." The man told his wife, smiling.
  • Roksolana grinned at the scene unfolding in their presence. Here was a man who didn't follow the rules and was showing affection for his wife in public. If Roksolana was to guess, she would say the man had trained his wife personally too. The age of change she envisioned wasn't so far away again.
  • They all moved back to the Hall of Fame for the celebration that follows the competitions, where Roksolana would dance to entertain the people. She was excited knowing that this year, she wouldn't be doing it alone.
  • As the women wearing flowing gowns and their nikobs surrounded her, she felt alive more than she ever had. The light tapping of the drums propelled her to move her hips gracefully to the beats. Hands below their hips swayed lightly, the women circled her round and round. Roksolana danced to the music of the drum which had picked up by now using her hands as gestures, her legs moving in the direction she wanted her body to take. Everyone cheered for them, encouraging them to do more.
  • By the time the dance was over, half of the men were drunk. Roksolana moved to her father's side and sat down beside Abaan who looked like he already had too much to eat but was still not willing to stop.
  • "Abu. You promised to let me know who you chose for me." She accused her father.
  • "And I did. Didn't you find out today?" Her father countered.
  • "From the man himself. Not from you, Abu." She countered back.
  • "So, you don't like him? I'll cancel the marriage then." The Sultan informed her.
  • "No, no, no. Don't cancel it, Abu." She said with a bit of enthusiasm.
  • The truth was she preferred marrying Asleem compared to going out of her tribe to a foreign land. Here, she was given the freedom to choose her path. That was a lot compared to how the Islamic religion worked. She was thankful her father had chosen a friend as her husband, instead of a total stranger.
  • "You see Roksolana, I have something to tell you..." Her father was cut off by the sound of something chiming loudly.
  • Everyone stood up and was alerted immediately. It was the sound of the war gong. If they were to go by that sound, then they were under attack. The fear was confirmed to be true when a soldier with an arrow stuck to his chest came in looking half dead.
  • "Attack...." He didn't finish the statement before collapsing and life was snuffed out of him. But the message had been passed.