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In the aftermath of the bloodletting, Ruslan would scour the battlefield and strip corpses of their treasures. War booty to be divided and distributed: one in four parts to the royal household, two in four parts to the auxiliaries and retainers, and the balance as his payment rendered to The Peerless One, Defender of the Feeble and the Faithful, Sultan Mahmoud the Illustrious, the Magnificent, the First Servant of God.

Palm trees in desert, Ein Gedi, Israel

He would have preferred The Magnificent One to have given him charge of the gold and silver and precious stones taken from the fallen. But this was a much sought after task reserved for the most trusted of court retainers. Even taking charge of the livestock confiscated from the defeated was an honourable and respected office, and lucrative too. That too went to the favoured tribesmen of The Magnificent One’s clan—herdsmen who carefully selected the best breeders for the royal stables and herds, and kept the rest for themselves. For an empire that fought and ruled from the saddle, this was wealth indeed.

Ruslan was left to gather blunt and bent weapons, shattered shields, scarred leathers, smelly boots and torn and soiled fabrics. The dying emptied life, soul and more.

However, he soon realized that metals and leathers were not a drain on his resources as were horses, camels and goats. The animals had to be watered and fed, and corralled and protected from wolves, both of the four and two-legged varieties. When droughts hit, and it was common for the rains to hold back and test the mettle of man and beast, the value of herds diminished. A goat, which might once be worth more than a maiden with a ginger waist, could be had in return for one night with a novice not versed in the erotic arts.

And with every campaign—the heavens did favour The Magnificent One—Ruslan’s wealth flourished.

The scavenger’s profits are indeed nourished by blood.

### Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ###