Over the sleeping city of Riyadh, the cold dark night settled in, stretching dark grey clouds across the bare sky. Save for the moon which illuminated the empty streets like a bright white bulb hanging freely, there was nothing else in the sky as it was bare of stars. The moon shone like an awakening call to the whisperers and men of the night, bringing within its dark clutches the greed of power and recognition and the ultimate secrecy of royalty; the lost Prince and son of King Faad, the outcast brother to His Highness King Jaan of Saudi Arabia and the man for whom these gatherings have been of top priority for the past years. The hidden man Aazim.
His place was at the head of the table and seated around were his faithful followers, his powerful men of loyalty who wouldn't hesitate to kill for his cause, and that was what they were to do - kill and eliminate every obstacle in the way of Prince Aazim ascending to the throne as the King of Saudi Arabia.
Jaan bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been King for way too long and Aazim was in no mood to play faithfully any longer. He had never been faithful, the reason why he had been sent out of the royal home and out of Jeddah to this place, his identity was to remain a secret for the rest of his life or he would face death. Death was something he no longer feared, it was no longer something that could keep him quiet and in place, he had wasted his youthful life within the confines of this fine hidden palace, addressed as Prince only by the people who knew of his connection to the throne. To the outside world, he was just another wealthy man who lived extravagantly and he had had just about enough of this rather humble living.
The meeting room under the palace was off-limits to every other person except these men here now, over the years they had met seldom to avoid any suspicions, sometimes once or a few times a month, they had met and conveyed, they had discussed and plotted King Jaan's dethronement and Prince Aazim's rise to the throne. For over seven years they had done this without a clean breakthrough and without ever having the right moment to strike successfully but now the perfect opportunity showcased itself, presenting itself on a golden platter in the disguise of the princess's marriage.
Princess Mariam was set to marry the first and only son of the Sheikh Khalid bin Aaban, Omar bin Khalid bin Aaban. The wedding would be a perfect bait to draw the King out to a social gathering and the distraction would be the perfect cover. Aazim looked around at the men as each one offered a different opinion, a new strategy, or an update, some which he felt was useful he took into consideration, others he ignored.
"...we have enough men now to overwhelm the palace guards, we can attack without waiting for the marriage as a distraction."
"There has been peace for way too long within the palace walls and without any threat from the outside, nobody will be expecting an attack."
"That is true but still they are not so defenseless. This is the palace of King Jaan bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, you think the guards will be allowed to slack?"
"They are already slacked. Most of the guards have been bought over, almost half of them."
"And you are sure of their loyalty?"
"What man would refuse what we offered? It is something even King Jaan hasn't been able to do as he is too comfortable in the peaceful palace."
"The stage is set even for us to attack now, true. But I say we wait just a little bit more."
"I agree with you, the marriage is set to happen in four days, we already have some people placed strategically within the palace itself, Jaan isn't all that carried away. We will wait."
"He may not be all that carried away but he would not be anticipating an attack."
"It has taken us so many years to get this close an opportunity, let us not waste this as it wouldn't present itself again. The King has just one daughter and just a few more days won't matter now that it is within our reach, we do not want anything that would jeopardize this now that we are so close."
"The young man, Omar, and the princess are they in consent with the marriage?"
"Do they have to be? It is an arranged marriage, their permission isn't needed. They are not some random Arabian, these are people with power. The King and Sheikh already gave their consent."
"I agree with you, and power is selective, given to those who earn it."
"Or deserve it."
"Or fight for it!"
"And we will fight for it, Glory to King Aazim bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia."
Prince Aazim leaned his forearm on the table and scanned the people seated round, they looked at him with admiration and he looked at them with respect and appreciation. His eyes went round before settling on one man, the one person on whom the majority of the success of this attack rested heavily, he waited for the discussion to die down then he asked.
"Are the preparations according to plan?"
"Yes Prince Aazim, anything that could cause a hindrance has been taken care of, be rest assured."
"And the marriage is set to happen when?"
"Two days after her twentieth birthday."
"And when is that? When is her birthday?"
"It is in two days."
Aazim smirked and looked around. "Should we send the princess a nice birthday present? What do you think it should be?"
The men around the table laughed lightly, looking from Prince Aazim to one another and then back to Aazim. He thought about it, should send his dear niece a birthday present and if he decided that he should what should he send to her?
"I think I should."
"Would that not throw in a spotlight of suspicion our way?"
"Would it?" He reasoned.
"If the sender is anonymous, it wouldn't. The princess would receive tons of gifts from across the country, one gift wouldn't matter."
"It would." Aazim spoke, a smile building up in the corner of his lips. "I want it to matter and still remain anonymous. What kind of uncle ignores his niece's birthday?"
"What do you have in mind Prince Aazim? What would you gift to her?"
"Something significant. Do you think perhaps, that she knows she has an uncle like me?"
"She wouldn't, King Jaan has gone great lengths to keep you a secret and to keep your identity hidden, you don't think he would tell Mariam about you."
"Yes, you may be right."
"Do you plan on revealing yourself to her?"
"I would not advice that Prince Aazim, it would sabotage us entirely!"
"She will know about me eventually."
"But not now." He smiled. "There will be a tight time for that, I will not jeopardize this plot for the hard work you men have put in it all these years."
"So what do you have in mind?"
"I have a whole day to think of that, back to the main matter of the night, the reason we are all gathered here."
"All things are set, all things are in place Prince Aazim."
Aazim smiled and reclined on the chair. "Then your son shall go ahead with the marriage to my dear niece."
Sheikh Khalid bin Aaban laughed heartily, things were falling in place piece by piece and it couldn't have been any more perfect, he was in a win-win situation; if the attack was a success, he would be placed in a higher seat of authority by Aazim who would end up becoming the king, but if the attack wasn't successful and it failed, he would still be related to the King by the marriage between his son and the princess, it would earn him even more power.
He laughed with the men around the table, there was absolutely no way he could lose. Prince Aazim lifted his glass and offered a toast.
"To Sheikh Khalid bin Aaban, he is the man here sacrificing the most and willing to use his son just so that I could attain my rightful position as the King of Saudi Arabia. To Sheikh Khalid who will be my right-hand man and second most powerful when this is all over!"
They all rose their glasses up to toast with a shout of approval and Sheikh Khalid couldn't have felt more honored, he got up from his seat and bowed in appreciation to Prince Aazim who nodded his head to him with a constant smile on his lips. When the toast was done, they continued discussing the plot. Everything would be perfectly laid out, the time was fast approaching.