Minor Keys No. 8
I came across a minor character towards the end of the first book of Azimuth and realized I could have made him the first to occupy my pen since he appears early in the first chapter. He is Sabiya’s most loyal guard. You cannot imagine him turning on her like Indira Ghandi’s assassin or any hit man in history who has wormed his way into the confidence of a ruler. We first meet him in the section below:
The door swung open, an enormous armed guard peered at him and then stood aside to allow the Princess to enter. She was too slim to be beautiful to Kamil’s eye and too tall for all but a royal family member. Her black skin revealed her father’s predilection for Ethiopia. Her eyes were a glittering blue set wide apart above the family’s long shallow nose. Her rich plump red lips pouted at him.
Characters write themselves on to the page and once there create a tiny vortex which has minute but inevitable effects upon the storyline, the equivalent of the beat of a butterfly’s wing. They may take no greater part than opening doors and hanging around like any minder but the fact that they are there is always significjust ant. Why? Because, for example in this case, any jeopardy that envelops Sabiya must be written to take account of her faithful mastiff of a guard, having established his perpetual presence.
I like this fellow. It is deep seated and probably goes back to the playground years. Big, muscular boys who can crush you and your spirit are potent. If they are kindly then all and sundry love them because all and sundry realize that with the flip of a psychological coin the world could have gone dark.
He was such a boy, ragged robed and genial, doing extremes of manual labour long before he was a man. He was often seen pulling his plump child of a mother in a cart, shepherding his four sisters through the market or taking on all challengers in weightlifting sheep and calves. The Emperor Haidar saw him one day, with a sheep under each arm, laughing uproariously in his deep baritone and marked him as a likely guard for his baby daughter, Sabiya. He paid his mother for him and put him in his military training camp where early attempts to bully him were met with many ringing skulls. He could not be daunted by man or weapon and was soon installed on a pallet in a tiny chamber close to the little girl. He was her favourite after her doll Walidah, doubling as crawling mount and giant protector. As Kamil discovered, even as a precocious girl, Princess Sabiya had a maturity about sexual needs and she arranged a search party to bring her loyal defender the perfect young woman from a village on the lap of the sacred mountain. This robust creature was given a house near the outer palace walls and he was allowed to visit her when Sabiya was safe in her father’s company. Many children ensued, fast upon another.
In spite of his repetitive opening and closing of doors and general baleful, roving gaze for anything untoward in the vicinity of the Princess he remained a constant feature in her life, so much so he often seemed to disappear from view, despite his enormous frame. But even this consistency, as predictable as sun and moon, was to fracture in the flow of impassive Fate.
But for that you must read Azimuth.
(Azimuth by Jack Sanger also in Kindle books at Amazon)