The capital of Asturias was nothing of the sort, being rather unimpressive to the cities he’d seen before, either from his own people or the Romans and it was also rather small. But he felt no superiority. In the course of the journey north his new captors had relaxed enough around him to exchange some conversation through Lisina, and through himself. A quick study with languages, he’d been able to pick up a little of theirs and every once in a while a term clearly borrowed from Arabic would be used. It happened often enough that he thought he could learn it well in a few years. He’d also learned their stories and how they saw the struggle. On the one level it was religious of course, and that couldn’t be denied. But after what had happened to his own family he was no stranger to the bitterness of their losses. And they had persevered remaining independent--that argued well for them he thought.
Instead of being immediately taken to see the king as he’d though he was instead taken to a small room where he was able to clean himself up a little and sponge off the dust of the road. It wasn’t a true bath but more than he’d expected and perhaps a small sign that they respected him. There were other things too in the way they addressed him that spoke subtly of respect--maybe from confidence in their own power.
Allowed to rest and refresh himself, when he was taken to see the king in his private rooms it was in relatively good condition and with his mind sharp and concentrated on the issue at hand. His hands however, were tied. Alfonso of Asturias was a tall man, though slim much like himself. He had sharp eyes in a weathered face a testament to the long war he’d fought in the south.
Before he could say anything Alfonso spoke.
“He said I should leave” Lisina translated. Tagging along behind him she had been unobtrusive enough to be ignored. Now he made it clear with a gesture and waived her away.
“No,” ar-Rahman said shaking his head. “She is my translator and I require her services. She will be trustworthy on my honor.” Lisina turned rather scarlet translating that which gave him a perverse sense of satisfaction to see the young woman blush. The king studied them both for a moment.
“I speak your language,” he said quietly. “She is not required.”
“It’s all right then Lisina, wait for me outside,” he said. A gift for a gift. The girl waited fractionally a second longer than she should have then bent her head to him, and spread her skirts low to the king slowly backing out of the room.
“The rumors were true,” his Arabic was accented and his pronunciation was sometimes difficult but ar-Rahman had no trouble understanding him. “The hair, the way you carry yourself and your chosen words. Tell me, what do you want?”
“Revenge,” he answered at once. The king nodded.
“Then I will do the same. I can kill you,” here he paused to see what effect it had on him, and ar-Rahman successfully waited expressionless. The king nodded again as if he‘d passed a test. “I could send you back to al-Fihri. He would make some very worthwhile concessions for you. I could send YOU back with help, to raise rebellion and have you owe me later…” this was what ar-Rahman had been waiting for.
“I have no opposition to your people,” he said. “I’ve been treated fairly by them and that would continue.”
He was about to launch into his prepared remarks but the King cut him off.
“This is not a discussion. That is not what I am going to do.“
Ar-Rahman’s hands twitched and Alfonso noted it with a minute shift in stance.
“No,“ he went on, “Killing you would be a waste and al-Fihri is a treacherous dog--his promises are written on sand. If I send you back all you will do is die, I know for a fact you’ve been trying to raise rebellion for a year and all you’ve done is discredit yourself and then I would be his target.”
“So I remain a prisoner,” not the outcome he’d wished but better than some. As the King had pointed out, raising rebellion had not worked out well for him so far.
“That may be up to you. I have spoken with the man who led the patrol who captured you, he presented a favorable opinion.”
“A guard’s opinion?” A surprise.
“No,” Alfonso answered. “From the moment you escaped Cordoba I knew you would arrive sooner or later. I chose my patrols accordingly.”
“The berber was yours,” ar-Rahman said finally realizing but the king shook his head. He could not confirm it of course. “So what will you do with me?”
“Use you,” the king answered at once. “You have some talents, not the least of which is your survival. But whether I use you as a prisoner or an agent is up to you.”
An agent. Ar-Rahman was surprised by that. He’d not expected this offer from the Catholic king. Seeing his distress the King motioned to a chair and he sat down in it, putting his head down and deep in thought.
“What would be required of me?”
“What would be required of any of my knights. Though you need not convert as long as you remain loyal.”
“A wise man to present my only choice as not my only choice,” ar-Rahman responded. “For that little nicety I thank you.”
“And your response?”
“I have a condition. It is not onerous,” he added when the king looked dubious. “Let me keep the woman Lisina as my servant. She is not one of yours and she has proven herself to me. I do not believe she has any where else to go. If she did, I would release her.”
The next morning ar-Rahman stood in the presence of King Alfonso of Asturias and the nobility of the palace. All were wearing weapons save for the Umayyad prince. Honoring the king’s promise, the clergy were there to witness but not officiate. His clothes were clean and his hands no longer bound and his head was bare as he pledged his loyalty to King Alfonso the Catholic as a Knight of Asturias.
OOC: Comments! Thanks for taking the time to do so, much appreciated. This is the last section that really needed heavy "scripting" for a while.