Chapter Nine: Smokescreen

King Lucas takes the chief's life right at that spot because he could not control his anger. He feels he has been betrayed by one of his chiefs who is supposed to lighten up his path whenever the path becomes dark. The fact that it was the most senior chief completely pissed him off.

"Rua let us bury this useless man. He should have given me this as a manual before I went on that unification journey. He did not even seek to confirm it when I came back. This old man was a big fool. You know that Rua! We will call for a prompt meeting as well and all chiefs must be present. We have to clean up this mess at one before it gets out of hand."

King Lucas sometimes easily loses his mind over anything and everything. But this is not to say he is less intelligent. He is a very smart King. He had the picture in his head. He knew the chief will pass the information to his other chiefs as soon as he departs the scene. His thinking was that he had to kill the chief to save his image. He wanted to keep the secret he has just seen and heard before it travels far and wide.

Commander Rua tells his king. "This is a problem. I understand why you had to do this but others will ask questions. It could sprawl a brawl. We have two options now. Which of these options are we to go with?"

King Lucas replies saying "The obvious one. Call for an emergency meeting with the Council Chiefs. We have to settle this once and for all. We have to play. Play the survival card reality game in which we must come out tops. I repeat. This has to go in the direction we want it to go unless we will be exposed."

The two friends pack up the dead body. They head to the thick forest through the tunnel to avoid being seen. They dug and buried the corpse of the Chief in quick fashion. On their way Commander Rua advises King Lucas. He says;

"Your Majesty, my friend I feel we should have the meeting on the ship and not in the meeting chamber. It will be an easier way to achieve our aim."

"That's a great idea my friend. That is the exact plan. We will stick to it. On the ship. That is it." King Lucas says.

They both proceed to the ship and await the arrival of all the Council Chiefs they had invited..

All the Council Chiefs of Hudem arrive quickly to honour their King's call.

An apartment on the ship is the venue for the meeting. The ship starts sailing and all chiefs are so comfortable. There is no wrong feeling among them because they sometimes hold their meetings on the ship especially the meetings they hold at nights. The question currently on their lips is why is there the need for another meeting when they had one in the early hours of the same day. One of the Chiefs asks; "Your Majesty. it is late in the night. Of what honour do we owe this special night meeting?"

King Lucas replies by saying; "We will get to know the reason we are here in a short time from now. We await the coming of the Head Chief. I do not know what is keeping him and I do not wish to begin the meeting without him sited here."

Commander Rua adds saying; "He will be here soon. I am sure. He had to go back home to get properly dressed for this special occasion." "In the mean time. Let us eat and drink while we await him. He has a special announcement to make. He is the reason we are here. He asked to surprise you all." The King says.

The chiefs ate their food and drank their wine as they await the Head Chief. They were so optimistic of what the surprise is all about.

None of the chiefs realized that they had been poisoned until they began to feel uncomfortable within their body systems. The Chiefs observed they have been poisoned when their body systems began to fail them. By this time, it was too late for them. They all died instantly. King Lucas and Commander Rua prepare all their bodies for burning on the ship. They start the fire from the meeting segment of the ship. The two of them run out of the segment and ask the guards to prepare the boats in which they will escape. They refuse to allow any guard into the room in which the meeting took place so as to ensure proper execution of their plan. They claim that the fire is out of control and none of the chiefs could make it.

"They are dead. There is nothing we can do. Do you want to die?" King Lucas tells a guard who seeks to assist the Chiefs. He does not know the chiefs are already dead.

Boats were prepared and all the guards, King Lucas and Commander Rua rush into the boats to escape the fire.

They watch the ship burn into ashes from their small boats and from a distance.

King Lucas and Commander Rua look so tense. They feel total guilt but to them, this had to be done to protect the truth about the unification puzzle. Leaving the chiefs alive would have raised questions about the head of Chiefs' whereabout.

Now they can confidently say that the chiefs died together in the ship.

Commander Rua asks his King; What is next?"

"Now we appoint new chiefs. We start all over. Thank you my friend for always standing with me. I appreciate you in all aspects. Out efforts will not be in vain. We should now be ready to embark on a secret journey to Alberom to capture the other piece of the unification puzzle." replies King Lucas.

"My King. I have another idea about this puzzle. Let us create a clone of this unification puzzle."

"Then what will happen. What do we seek to achieve? King Lucas asks Rua. Rua responds saying; "I plan a tricky exchange."

The two friends start laughing. The laugh is so loud that it could wake up the dead. The game is on. They both know what they have gotten themselves into. The laugh continues till it fades off.

The whole of Hudem was shocked with the news of the death of the Chiefs. They were so flabbergasted. A two week mourning period was set aside by the King to mourn the dead chiefs. "We must find a way within this two weeks to get a solution to this puzzle problem. We will have to go to Alberom to get the other part and replace it with the fake one to be created by us." says King Lucas to Commander Rua.

King Lucas and Commander Rua approaches Shuzie the artist. Shuzie is a sculpture and a creative artist that could make any project like what the King and Commander Rua want to achieve possible. She is the daughter of the Great warlord called Grimpu. Warlord Grimpu was King Lua's right hand man who fought so many wars with King Lua. An attempt to bind the families of King Lua and Warlord Grimpu by blood failed when Lucas and Shuzie decided to marry their desired partners. They do not love themselves. They both chose different life partners. Shuzie was responsible for the carving of different works in the Hudem museum. Shuzie built a magnificent figure of her father, Warlord Grimpu right in front of their village. The village was renamed Grimpu by then King Lua to immortalize his most loyal subject who died a natural death during his sleep.

At the death of King Lua, Shuzie built a majestic figure at the palace frontage. This figure was so large that it featured three characters of which were; King Lua, his wife and King Lucas. In a nutshell, she is a professional in this line and King Lucas trusts his good friend to do a perfect work.

"Your Majesty. It has been a long while. You refuse to check on me even after my husband passed away. It is not too good." says Shuzie who spots the King and Commander Rua.

"I am sorry my friend. I was in that journey. You know the journey. I sent you a message from Bora when I got the sad news of your husband's passing away. It was a trying time for you and myself. Please do accept my condolences." King Lucas says.

"Go ahead with your request my King. I am sure you are here for a favour."

"Let us see in camera." the King requests.

"That is ok." Shuzie replies. She takes them into the house where they could have their secret discussion.

In the room. Shuzie becomes couscous of Commander Rua but King Lucas signals her not to worry. He whispers to her saying; "He is just like what your father was to my father. He is my confidant."

"If you say so." Shuzie says.

The three of them sit comfortably on the available chairs. They start conversing.

"Do you remember when we used to play?" King Lucas says.

"Yes, I do. When I used to beat the hell out of you. You will tell me not to say a word of it to anyone." Shuzie says. They both laugh over the statement.

"Shuz. You are not being fair with your assertion. How many times did you defeat me? Only once. Come on."

"Once is just enough. It meant a lot to me to defeat you in practice combat. It is the dream of everyone you know. It was had to beat a great fighter like you at anything especially not in combat." says Shuzie.

"It is not the defeat I am even talking about. It is the manner which it came. You cheated." says King Lucas.

"I did what I had to do to prove my point. To my surprise, it worked. You did not observe you had a weak sword and shield." Still you fail to admit I was smart." says Shuzie.

"I was very angry. You disgraced me. I literarily buried myself. My father was so critical of my performance. He said "You coward. You got beat by a female. Do not come close to me ever. Is this how you want to rule this kingdom". King Lucas says mimicking his old man.

The three start laughing. The laugh becomes loud and uncontrollable.

"Wow! What a turn of events. My father was so happy for me that he had to reward me with this jewelry. Take a look at it." Shuzie says as she shows King Lucas the jewelry.

"Do you still brew wine? The King asks Shuzie who replies him saying; "Yes I do my King."

Shuzie calls out one of her maids and orders her. "Bring some wine for us. The new one please."

King Lucas says "You can not expect me to come pay you a visit without tasting your wine. It is the best throughout the whole Hudem Empire. Especially when it is raw and fresh."

The three start enjoying the wine. Commander Rua who sits mute all day is forced to acknowledge the sweet and perfect taste of the wine. " This is the best wine I have tasted all my life. The taste is so special and different. Do you sell?"

Shuzie responds saying; "Yes I do. I sell in small and large quantities."

"I will need some for myself and my household." Commander Rua says.

"No problem." Shuzie assures him.

"Wine brewing, drawing, painting and carving. I give it up for her. She is the best I have known since I was a kid." says King Lucas.

"It is the family business. My Kids are learning fast as well. I hope they return before you take your leave my King." says Shuzie.

"I would love to see them. Now it is time for me to disclose why we are here." The King says.

"Why are you here?" she asks.

King Lucas stays mute for a while.

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