Che Carla Tuah has a minor appearance in Amok, but it’s her family that becomes a little more prominent in the Tale of the Hostage Prince.
Her grandnephew, Azman Tuah, is Yosua’s new best friend in Bayangan, someone who he gets into trouble with, but who also acts as his bodyguard.
Chapter 1 excerpt
I am halfway across the hall when Azman intercepts me.
“You know, of all your Mahan ideas, Yosua, I think this one is the best,” he says, waving his glass in a circle.
“Dinner entertainment! Do you know how boring it is to just sit and talk politics all the time? At least this way, you bring some culture to the nobility. Some of them are such boors.”
I grin. “That’s not a nice thing to say about your peers, Az.”
He pretends to be solemn. “Ampun, Tuanku.”
For a moment, Azman’s apology sounds almost jeering. Ayah’s mood is setting me on edge. I look over to where he’s back to looking at his papers, Ibu clucking her tongue in exasperation.
Stop taking offense where there is none.
“They’re still calling you the Mahan Raja behind your back, you know,” Azman lowers his voice, “but maybe we can build you up to be a patron of the arts. ‘The Cultured Raja.’ Do you think that sounds good?”
“How do you plan on doing that?” It’s an interesting idea—if it works. If it ends up improving instead of worsening my public image.
Mikal used to be irked at not being officially recognised as the Raja Muda of Terang because he hadn’t received the Mahan gift of the Amok Strength. Yet here I am, officially crowned as Raja of Bayangan—and I still have to worry about how the people perceive me. Right before Mikal left, he acknowledged my bloodline, addressed me by my title, as uncertain as it was then—shaky as it still is now. He addressed me as an equal for the first time: Raja of Bayangan. It feels strange, this title, like I’m wearing a skin not mine, jubah tailored to another’s measurements.
Still, it’s not those last words that echo in my thoughts. It’s what he said before that that loops in my head: I hope you discover who you need to be.
Who do I need to be?
I miss what Azman is saying. He looks a bit disgruntled when he realises I haven’t registered a word he said.
“I’m sorry, Az,” I say, faking a yawn. “I think our little adventure this afternoon has tired me out. I haven’t been able to concentrate.”
“I hope I didn’t make you ill by letting you ride in the rain,” he says with immediate concern.
“You? Letting me? If anything, I should apologise for dragging you out in the rain.”
“We’re lucky we didn’t get separated, like those frogs.” Azman laughs and I laugh along with him, ignoring the tension that’s coursing through my body.
The thing is…for all they are friends (and they really are!) Azman is also something of a rival—as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, if anything were to happen to Yosua, Azman could very well be the next Raja.
The Tuahs are so named for dual reasons: first, because it means good luck, and second because of Hang Tuah.
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The Tale of the Hostage Prince (Absolution 1.5)
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?