The Bayangan people call those of Yosua’s community “Tawanan”, which means prisoner, or hostage, because they’d been taken to Maha as captives in the previous war. Sultan Simson specifically took the eldest child of each noble and/or rich merchant family in order to disrupt the social fabric of Bayangan’s society. He’d also taken Garett, the Raja Muda (crown prince) of Bayangan, leaving Garett’s seven-year-old sister, Layla, alive.
And so Yosua was born in Maha, the child of two Bayangan hostages.
“Really? Have you not heard of Hikayat Putera Tawanan?”
The tale of the hostage prince? “What?”
“They whisper of a pure-hearted prince brought up in the courts of his enemy. No matter what the enemy did to sway him, to lure his allegiances away, his heart stayed true. Even when the enemy prince sought to influence him using love, friendship, and family, the hostage prince resisted. He knew that his country would always be his first love, even if he had never set foot in it, even if he never would…”
I remember rather vividly visiting a museum while I was touring Europe in the summer of 2019, and there was this story of these two warring countries. The winning country took the young prince of their enemy as hostage (I keep thinking tribute, lol) to raise in their court (as you do) expecting that once he grew up he would be, uh, loyal towards them because they raised him or whatever. And, of course, they would have a hold over the existing king.
I cannot find any hard photo evidence of this story (I think we weren’t allowed to take photos in the museum), but I am pretty sure it was in this building, which Google tells me is the National History Museum in Tirana, Albania. (I know I should have blogged about this on the spot but eh, I don’t do much travel blogging.)
|National History Museum, Tirana, Albania|
Which means that I am maybe 90% sure that the story I’m remembering is about Skanderbeg.
The wiki says this:
“It was customary at the time that a local chieftain, who had been defeated by the Sultan, would send one of his children to the Sultan's court, where the child would be a hostage for an unspecified time; this way, the Sultan was able to exercise control in the area ruled by the hostage's father. The treatment of the hostages was not bad. Far from being held in a prison, the hostages were usually sent to the best military schools and trained to become future military leaders.”
At any rate, this set me to thinking about what the implications or impact that kind of upbringing would have on Yosua, even if the details of his circumstances were different. Or even the knowledge of this history would have on him, seeing that he doesn’t even find out about most of this until he’s about sixteen.
And that helped define the direction that The Tale of the Hostage Prince eventually took.
Ridiculous. I scoff, yet there is something about it that calls to me.
I harden my heart. “I’ve never heard this tale before.”
“No one would dare perform this in the city. Would you perform it amongst the people whom it villainises? But it’s gaining popularity in the rural kampungs.”
“You made it up.”
“All stories are made up,” she challenges.
“So how do they tell the ending?”
Suraya smiles. “There is no ending yet. None of the troupes have found one. They’re still asking the people for their answer. How would you like to end it? Would you return to save them?”
That's it for today!
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The Tale of the Hostage Prince (Book 1.5) – Releases 14 April 2022
But peace doesn’t come easily, not for a twenty-year-old servant playacting at being king.
With his parents brutally murdered and his uncle bent on revenge, Yosua must decide where his loyalties truly lie. With his only remaining relative and the kingdom he has claimed? Or with his best friend Mikal and the sultanate that raised him as a hostage?