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The Caliph's Duty: a Tale of Moral Justice.

Popular with: The Emirate of Rahaal; Caliphate of Dusk
Unpopular with: NA
Less known by: Everyone else.
Archtypes, if any: NA
Variations, if any: The Caliphate and the Sultanate had their own versions of this tale; sometimes Khadija is accused of other crimes.

There are numerous stories in Akathia for where the tradition of the Marriage Contract begins; The Emirate gives us this story of moral justice:

The army of the Molten Shiek was encamped on campaign, when one of the chieftains found that a friend of the Sheik was coming into his black-hair tent at night, and taking liberties with his spouse. The Chieftan suspected that the seducer was an Emir--that is, a prince, of the Molten Sheik's own blood--and perhaps more; there was no telling; perhaps it was one of the Sheik's closest friends; perhaps it was the Shiek himself!--and thus, he did not dare to kill the intruder. And yet something had to be done. The crime could not be condoned. He pondered, and at last went to complain to the Shiek . . . for the Sheik's virtue was well-known.

The Sheik hearing this, closed his eyes in pain and sat for a long time, thinking. Who could tell what went through his mind? Finally he asked, "When does the criminal make their visits?"

"At one hour after midnight," replied the chieftain, ashamed.

"Then take this guard of mine with you tonight," the Sheik said, "and when your tent is entered, do not make a light. But rest assured justice will be dealt out: give the word to this man, and he will go to me. The rest, is my affair."

Just as upon the nights before, the marauder came after midnight. The chief had laid awake, listening; when he heard the tent-wall rustle, he rose silently and trod outside, alerting the guard. The guard sped to the Sheik's tent, and the Sheik (who had also laid awake all night) took up his spear, walked through the silent encampment with his guards following in ranks, and entered the chieftain's tent. When he was sure that an intruder was in the portion of the tent belonging to the chieftain's spouse, he ran this intruder through with his lance; all this was done without a single torch being lit.

"Bring him forth!" the Sheik commanded, striding out of the tent, shouldering the bloody spear. His guards ran in and dragged the corpse out, flinging it down at the Emperor's feet.

But it was one of their own, an officer of the caliph's guard, called Khadija.

When the Sheik saw this, he trembled all over. He prostrated himself in the dust of the camp, and prayed for many hours, while his courtiers and dervishes gathered round and wondered. At last he rose, leaning on his spear. "I feared," he told the chieftain, "that no one but a royal would have dared to commit this breach of hospitality; therefore I slew her in the dark, lest upon discovering it to be kin, my resolve might be weakened by affection. But I fell down and prayed when I saw her face, thanking the Thousand Suns a thousand times--that in doing my duty, I had not killed my own kin!"

After this, the Sheik called his Scribe to him, and the chieftain, and the chieftain's unfaithful spouse; and made them bind themselves in a Contract of Marriage, that chieftains could sleep soundly in the evening, and Caliphs not have to wait in the dark outside the tents of adulterers.