Wrath of the Caid is the second book in the award-winning series, Red Hand Adventures.
Suddenly separated, Tariq and his friends find they must be more daring and clever than ever to escape the wrath of the Caid. In a continuation of Rebels of the Kasbah, this fast-paced epic adventure transports you into the depths of Morocco, down to the lawless outback of Australia, through the streets of London, and into the French countryside. The powerful Caid Ali Tamzali, ruler of the Rif Mountains, is blind with revenge against any and all who defy him. Tariq, Aseem, Fez and Margaret get tested, time and again, in their exhilarating tale of adventure, daring, danger and friendship.
A full moon hovered over the Sahara Desert.
A gypsy woman stared at it for an eternity, unable to move her eyes from the pale orb.
She was rumored to be over eighty years old and the wrinkles on her face showed her age. They were deep and craggy, and gave her face the appearance of a dark raisin. Her prominent cheek bones stuck out from her skinny face, and her magnificent green eyes were full of passion and mystery.
To stare into her eyes was like staring into the eyes of a wild cat.
She was stooped over, and her bony hands held a wooden cane made of cherry and walnut. A silk scarf covered her gray hair and a burgundy shawl covered her shoulders. She walked slowly, but deliberately. Somehow, her feet never left a trail in the sand. Staring up at the full moon, she couldn’t keep her eyes off of it.
She was worried.
Some said she was a witch and could foresee the future.
"You seem concerned, Mother," her eldest son remarked.
She looked at him, feeling the smooth handle of the cane in her hand.
"There are dark times ahead, son. There is blood on the moon," she slowly answered.
Hearing this, her son felt a tingle go down his spine. When his mother spoke of dark times, it usually meant hardships that few could survive. He stared at the moon but could not see what his mother saw. He did not inherit her gifts for the supernatural.
"I am going to put my grandson to bed. I am tired," she told him and made her way to the tent her favorite grandson called home.
The tent smelled of jasmine and myrrh and the floor was covered in fine Moroccan rugs. He was a boy of ten and was already being groomed by his grandmother to be a leader in the tribe.
A solitary candle burned next to the bed.
"Can you tell me a scary story?" he asked, always pleased when his grandmother told him a bedtime story.
"I shall tell you a true story. The story of a monster," she replied, sitting down next to the boy and stroking his brown hair, worry in her eyes.
"A monster by the name of The Black Mamba. A man so evil that even Hell would not have him."
"Is he a real man?" he asked.
She swallowed hard and took a deep breath.
"Oh yes, child, he is very real," she answered.
The Black Mamba was, indeed, a monster.
And he was very real.
The tears from Margaret’s brown eyes rolled down her cheeks and soaked her blouse. Some of them landed on her lips, tasted salty and made her swallow hard. The bitter taste made its way down her throat.
Tariq, Fez, and Aseem were crying as well. Tariq looked solemnly at the ground, trying to hold back his sorrow, but watched as his tears hit the dirt below.
"Okay then, I guess this is it," Margaret said, trying her best to be stoic and strong as a good English girl should be.
All three boys nodded their heads in agreement.
Fez looked up and met Margaret’s eyes.
"I will never forget you, Margaret Owen. You are my friend for life," he said.
Margaret smiled as best she could and wiped the tears from Fez’s cheeks.
"And you will always be in my heart, Fez."
They hugged for a long time. Finally Fez let go, and then Aseem stepped forward.
"You are the only white person I have ever known. But, if all English people are like you, then I would very much like to visit your country someday."
Margaret laughed a little at this.
"You will always be welcome as my guest, Aseem."
The two hugged as Tariq stepped forward, tears streaming from his eyelids.
The two stared at one another for a few seconds, unable to find any words to say their goodbyes.
"You saved my life, Tariq. If not for you, I would still be a slave in the Caid’s kasbah. I can never repay you."
"You already have, Margaret. You are my family, and I shall never forget you."
He stepped forward and gave her a long embrace, which made her cry even more.
Malik, not wanting to disrupt the final goodbyes, finally stepped forward.
"Margaret, you belong with your people and your family. Besides, it is too dangerous for you in Morocco. The Caid’s spies are everywhere, and you make an easy target. We must deliver you back to your family in England."
She nodded in acknowledgement, as she knew this was true. A pale girl in Morocco stood out like a red grape in a bunch of green ones – especially in the countryside.
Sanaa brought two horses, one for her and one for Margaret.
Pulling herself onto her horse, she promised, "I will deliver her to the ship in Tangier. Do not worry, she will be safe." Looking down at her friends, she drew back the reigns, still a little uncomfortable at such a display of emotion.
"Stick to the countryside, as the Caid will have patrols at every road and town," Malik ordered.
"Of course, I’m not an idiot!" she answered, and this made Malik smile a bit.
Margaret mounted her horse, wiped the tears from her eyes, and waved at the boys, who waved back. The two women descended down the mountainside, eventually disappearing into the thicket and trees.
Tariq stepped forward to Malik.
"Will they be safe, just two girls?" he asked.
"I hope so. It is a very dangerous journey, but two women present a much less interesting target than a posse of men. Remember, Sanaa is equal to the force of twenty of the Caid’s soldiers," Malik said.
Tariq watched and worried for Margaret. The Caid and his men were everywhere, and would be on the lookout for any fair-skinned girls.
Margaret was being hunted, and she was now heading right into the belly of the Caid’s nest.
Caid Ali Tamzali sent for the one person in the world he could trust, his only son, Abd-El-Kadar.
Abd-El-Kadar’s name meant "servant of the powerful" in Arabic, and most certainly described his son’s position in his father’s kingdom.
"I want you to release him," the Caid instructed.
"It will take a king’s ransom," his son replied.
"The ransom is in this chest. You are the only person I trust with such a fortune."
His son, a man of twenty, went to the table and opened the chest to discover it filled with gold coins. Shoving his hands deep into the bounty of gold, he slowly brought them up again, enjoying the weight of the coins sifting through his fingers. Abd-El-Kadar was tall and slender, but had the face of a rat. Most felt he was weak, not knowing he inherited his father’s ruthlessness toward all of humanity.
"I will leave immediately, Father. And what are my instructions to him?"
The Caid walked to a window and stared out at his desert. Placing his hands behind his back, he slowly turned and walked back to face his son.
"Instruct him to hunt down Malik, the one called Sanaa, and the four who led the escape – Tariq, Fez, Aseem, and the white girl named Margaret. Hunt them down like dogs, and then crush Malik’s entire tribe. Make an example of them, so that no one dares to defy me again. Take a small protection of soldiers with you, along with that boy Jawad."
His son bowed and quickly left the room.
There was no time to waste.