Selim approached the gates of the city fearing a trap. But, when the ten thousand Janissaries of Bayazids Household Guard saw him mounted upon his famous Black Cloud, they rushed to his side, cheering and proclaiming him the Sultan. The soldiers surrounded his horse and fought to touch Selims stirrups. They threw their hats in the air, and celebrated his arrival. Within a few days, Bayazid surrendered to his youngest son the symbol of power of the Ottoman Empire. He handed over the emblem of the Ottomans, the jeweled Sword of the House of Osman. Selim was now truly the Emperor of the Ottomans.
The following day, Selim walked alongside his fathers litter as the old man was carried out through the gates of the city. He held his fathers hand, and there were tears in both mens eyes.
The crowds followed the two men silently behind the human wall of armed Janissaries and mounted Sipahis, the Sultans elite cavalry. After handing over his power to Selim, Bayazid wanted to return to his birthplace at Demotika, near Edirne, to spend his last days there away from the turmoil of Istanbul and the political intrigues in the Palace. As his father was carried away by the small retinue of servants and carts of personal effects, Selim and the Janissaries turned in silence and walked back to the imperial city.
Bayazid was never to have his final wish fulfilled. Three days after his departure, he died suddenly in a small village along the wayside. Some said that he died of a broken heart after being so cruelly deposed by his favorite child. But, rumors also spread that he had been poisoned on Selims orders. Few doubted that this might be so, for Selim was capable of great cruelty, and was totally insulated from remorse when it came to protecting his succession as Sultan.
No sooner was Bayazid laid to rest in his grave than Selim set about insuring the security of his reign. Bayazid had never carried out his own fathers Law of Fratricide. Selim still had older brothers with claims to the throne.
As soon as he was settled in Istanbul, Selim gathered his band of assassinssix deaf mutes, who had worked for him many times in the past. The mutes were summoned to the Palace. They gathered before the new Sultan and pressed their heads to the floor. A servant took each man by the arm and led him backwards toward the wall of the room. This way, they could not turn their backs upon the Sultan. When the six men sat kneeling against the walls and looking towards their master, Selim rose and moved toward the opposite side of the room. He took an archers bow from its rack on the wall, bringing it in front of the mutes. He stood before them, and with his powerful hands bent the stout wooden bow tighter in its recurved arc to loosen the silk string. That this act required immense physical strength was not lost on the mutes. He removed the string from the bow and walked toward the kneeling men. Slowly he moved before them, looking into each ones eyes. From them, he saw nothing. No emotion. No fear. No love. Nothing.
He came to the end of the line. With feline speed and precision, he stepped behind the first mute, quickly wrapping the silk bowstring around his neck. He crossed his powerful hands and tightened the garrote. The big mute clawed at the rope around his throat. His legs shot out in front of him as he tried to gain his feet to find a platform from which to resist. Selim barely moved. His hands continued to tighten the snare of silk.
The mutes fingers clawed at his own neck, trying to find purchase under the cord, anything to loosen the cord and escape the strangulation. His fingers tore at his skin. But the cord was buried deep into his own flesh, and his fingers could not find their way. As he struggled, his face grew scarlet, then crimson. The veins began to stand out upon his neck. His eyes were wide with fear, and his color slowly changed to a pale blue. Small dots of hemorrhage began to break out in the whites of his eyes. Then, as if it were the changes of color that controlled his body, the strength and the intensity of his resistance began to diminish. In less than three minutes, he stopped struggling altogether. His hands came away from his neck and he buckled limply to the floor. His knees sagged, and he appeared as a puppet held aloft by the strength of Selim, the puppeteer. His skin turned gray, and the luster left his protruding eyes.
Copyright 2002 by Anthony A Goodman. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form - except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews - without written permission in writing from its publisher, Source Books, Inc. www.sourcebooks.com.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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