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LaRosa Chronicles

by
 
K Spirito
This book is a work of fiction. Places, events and situations in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental. 

© 2006 by K Spirito
All Rights Reserved..

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted  by any means without the written permission of the author.


PROLOGUE

 

“Mohammad Achmed al Hadi is wise to recognize that a man in his position breathes precarious existence,” murmured Rashid al Sadun, lowering his head and eyes to confirm the utmost of respect. Their discourse, he knew, was low; still it seemed to rumble like distant thunder among the late-night shadows discarded by marble pillars. Even the lush, hand-woven carpet unfurled on the tiled floor and the blue and gold brocade pillows upon which Rashid and his master sat, failed to suppress their voices.

“I am prepared for the black day,” murmured al Hadi, gazing up at the gold leaf ceiling aglitter like the desert sky at midnight.

Rashid eyed his master. His heart thumped against his breastbone, resounding like a great gong. “My master is too resigned to fate.”

Fear of detachment had been Rashid’s since being taken from his parents as a child; although servitude to Mohammad Achmed al Hadi and the royal family had allayed that fear. Al Hadi had become a father to the protector, a protector of the protector; and therefore, worthy of protecting, worthy of dying for; and here laid Rashid’s complicated fear of detachment.

“A father’s need to protect his seed requires sacrifice,” murmured al Hadi. The sleeve of his white samite aba swayed as his left palm gestured to the rhythm of his words. His right hand lay flat upon the fine embroidery trim that cascaded down the breast of the garment. On his third finger the signet ring, which had been handed down through generations of rule, glistened in the low light as did the agal that held his keffiyeh in place. “Without trepidation I accept the forthcoming cloudburst of evil, for the ensuing flood cannot be outrun.”

Position stipulated that Rashid was not to question, so he fiddled with the signet ring on his left hand, a smaller version of al Hadi’s. At the first sign of trouble, he thought, I shall shed this white linen robe for the more practical outfit beneath. Occasion has called for me to do so before. But these sandals…. Despite the fact that they are made of the finest of camel hide—most certainly, not as fine as the goatskin sandals worn by my master—they limit mobility.

“Certain African countries offer safe harbors for those in my position,” continued al Hadi. “However, I do not underestimate the vulnerability that bribery begets.”

“Bribery is a useful tool,” whispered Rashid. “I myself use bribery as a means to an end.”

Al Hadi gave a light nod. “Sharp-wittedness and devotion have made Rashid my most trusted protector. Alas, all that Rashid is will be of no use when the black moment is at hand. Therefore, Rashid is no longer my protector.”

“Master?”

Al Hadi elevated his left palm. “Rashid must survive…at all costs…survive to protect my survivors.”

A tremor wracked Rashid’s five-foot-nine frame. Thankfully, my master is too busy with that map to notice my weakness.

Spreading a world map on the floor, al Hadi said, “Muted Middle Eastern features render Rashid ideal for the task at hand.”

“Mohammad Achmed al Hadi honors this humble servant,” murmured Rashid, again bowing head and eyes. Curiosity pricked him like thorns. My Master withholds the rage of a volcano nearing eruption, strangled by a higher power.

Al Hadi took a pocket-sized pointer from beneath his aba and unfolded it. “Rashid will smuggle my survivors along this route.” The pointer crept upon the map like slow-moving lava. “Across the great breast of Africa to Liberia, the bastard colony of the United States. At Robertsfield Airport, you are to board a plane.” The pointer arced across the Atlantic. “This is the destination.” As the pointer rapped on a spot on the North American Continent, Rashid gasped.

“I believe that capitalistic interests motivate my assassination,” murmured al Hadi.

“As do I,” agreed Rashid, much too hasty, much too loud for decorum, much too loud for this night.

Al Hadi’s left eye narrowed upon Rashid and then scanned the shadows. Once again, focus fell upon Rashid. An anxious moment passed. Al Hadi nodded. And relief sheeted over Rashid.

“No better spider hole exists,” said al Hadi, “in which to hide my survivors than beneath the bloated infidel’s nose.”

Pace response, Rashid admonished himself. He sucked in a breath then said, “I am in agreement.”

Al Hadi pulled a white folder from beneath his aba. “Memorize this information, now, in my presence.”

Rashid hesitated then took the folder, opened it, and removed the contents one piece at a time. “Assets. Diamonds. Gold. Precious commodities.” He looked up at al Hadi. “All untraceable.”

Al Hadi nodded. “As are the listed charities, which I created to provide additional funds should the need arise.”

Rashid tapped his right index finger on his bottom lip. “Mohammad Achmed al Hadi has cornered the market.”

“A bountiful life for those who survive me,” murmured al Hadi. “When Rashid is certain the information is forever his, I will destroy all trace of it. Rashid will begin at once to gather supplies into backpacks and bury them here.” He tapped the pointer on a spot at the border of his kingdom. “Rashid and the al Hadi dynasty must become skilled in the language of the infidels. Upon my death, ancestral robes will be cast off. Raven locks that make our kind pious will be cropped.” He handed Rashid a black leather briefcase with gold features, which included the name Aranea. “Keep this at your fingertips at all times. Necessary travel papers are in it. Rashid will become American Timothy Aranea, uncle to my survivors who will also carry the surname Aranea. I have given each an American first and middle name.”

And so the dawning of Mohammad Achmed al Hadi’s fiftieth year, the nineteenth day of the third month in 1972, the assassination came to pass, a carnage beyond measure, meant to send the Middle East the message: submit to the Great Eagle or else. Rashid eluded death by taking refuge behind a pillar. A blade to an assassin’s throat provided a sand-colored cloak, antelope hide trousers, and desert boots—and the means to escape the palace and the sandstone village.

Camouflaged within the worst sandstorm in decades, Rashid hastened to a boarding school in a far-off southern republic and retrieved his master’s only survivor, a son whose brazenness and insolence had made him less favored not only in his father’s eyes but also Rashid’s. Brazenness and insolence was the reason the boy had been sent away. Rashid was of the mind that the boy was inherently evil. Evil revealed itself in the boy’s eyes since first opening at birth. Whenever in the boy’s presence, unsettledness roiled in Rashid’s belly. All that must now be put aside, he commanded of himself.

The ceasing of the sandstorm plus a full moon forced night travel in the shade of dunes. At the border Rashid dug up the backpacks. After consolidating supplies into two packs, he reburied the surplus, including his and the boy’s signet rings. Nearing Liberia, he shaved his beard, cut his and the boy’s hair, and used a stripping agent to lighten their hair. Rashid traded desert attire for a button-down shirt, tie, and pleated pants. The boy donned jeans, light blue polo shirt, and loafers. Wearing glasses, though neither needed them, Timothy and Jonathan Aranea appeared to be Americans flying into Canada, purchasing a red Detroit economy car, and driving across the border into New Hampshire.

 

 


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