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Helena and I rode in silence. My thoughts were back in the sacred space where Ana and I had loved so recently. I could still smell her, taste her. I wanted to be with her so badly that I ached.
But duty called.
My fate was not to be the concubine of the Padishah that those who picked me had planned; no, it was something far stranger, and more strenuous. I had become his ‘little Vizier.’ I had moved from being his amusing story-teller to his confidential adviser. There was much he needed to know.
As we approached Damascus, I heard a trumpet call from the ramparts. Flags were flying.
Passing through the great gate, we pulled up our horses, seeing a posse approach us.
‘Pixie Rahab! You are alive! The message was real!’
I saw the smiling face of Jess, accompanied by guards.
She threw her arms round me.
‘How, how? We were sure you were dead.’
‘It takes more than a few assassins to wipe me out, darling,’ I joked.
‘I can’t believe it. We got your message to the Padishah.’
She hugged me again. In truth, it was so good to see her, that I wept. She followed suite.
‘Silly goose,’ she giggled, tearfully, ‘it is just I was so, so sad.’
I introduced her to Helena, telling Jess that she was one of those who had saved me.
Jess smiled, and thanked her profusely.
I asked her the obvious question.
‘And how did His Highness take it?’
‘He was devastated. He sent soldiers back, but they reported only that there had been a fire and there were dead bodies. He was so relieved when he got your note, that is why the flags are flying.’
I was happy to hear that the Sultan had missed me, but my intuition was telling me that Jess was not the same. She was glad to see me, relieved I was alive, but somewhere there was a reservation. But as we entered the Palace there was a huge flurry of activity, and the thought was lost; for then.
Striding toward me was the Padishah himself.
‘Rahab! It was the will of Allah! A miracle!’
With that, he picked me up, whirled me round, and kissed me on the lips.
‘And who is this with you? A great warrior?’
As he said it, Helena unwrapped her turban, revealing her woman’s face.
‘What is this? An Amazon? My little Vizier, you never cease to surprise me. We shall order a celebration. She who was lost is found! But come, tell me how you did it?’
Still carrying me, he took us both to his private chamber, ordering food and drink. Setting me on the stool next to him, he bade me tell him all, while Helena sat by me.
I did, but not all.
I omitted to mention the tomb of the Emperor, confining myself to telling him that a group of warriors who opposed the fanatical Islamists had saved me, quietly giving the impression that Helena was their leader. I described the battle, telling him of the treachery Ankara Rus Escort of the Guard. He swore a great oath that they would all die, painfully; they did. He was a man of his word.
His pleasure in my survival was palpable. It filled me with joy.
He thanked Helena, telling her to choose her reward. I answered for her:
‘Highness, I think the best gift would be to let the warriors have support from your troops.’
I told him of the morning’s battle, and he listened with interest.
‘Helena, I am pleased with your valour, and what arms you need, and what ever treasure, I offer you. Rahab is right, you are of more use to me than my regular troops in this matter of the Assassins.’
She bowed. He asked one of the guards to take her to the armoury, promising to give her a place of honour at our celebration feast on the morrow.
When she had gone, we talked long into the evening, and he drew from me all that I cared to reveal.
The Sultan was pleased that I had the presence of mind to have destroyed the chancery papers, and we discussed the arrangements for tomorrow’s great ceremony of homage. All the local religious groups would pledge their allegiance, and the Al-Amadins and the Shihabs would declare that their old enmity was gone, while old Bashir would see that the spoils of office were distributed properly. Apart from the intimates of the old rebel Amir, everyone would, we hoped, be happy.
Revenge was swift and merciless.
The wrath of the Padishah was visited upon those who had sought to encompass my death. The Commander of the Guard was handed over to the torturers, whose expertise swiftly uncovered the names of other conspirators. Though the mountain fastness of the Assassins could not be directly assaulted without a siege, the neighbouring villages were destroyed, and the crops with them. Equipped and funded by the Padishah, with aid from his troops, the Bodyguard took on the weakened Assassins in their own fastness, driving them from it and slaughtering many; the remnant escaped into the bleak mountains; but for now, their power was broken, utterly broken.
All that lay in the future, but even as the Guards were being dealt with, the Sultan summoned the instigator of all of their treachery to the Palace. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem seemed unhappy to be called to the presence.
Mufti Hassoun would never have won a prize for the richness of his smile. A great, fat man with an untidy beard, his vicious, nasty face bore witness to his character. He was scowling when he entered, paid obeisance in a cursory fashion, and when he saw me, protested.
‘It is not fitting, Highness, that a mere woman should be present.’
Standing to his full height, the Sultan glared at the Mufti.
‘What is not fitting, you son of a whore, Yenimahalle Escort is that you drag your lard-like form in here and pay me no honour, and that you seek to kill my little Vizier.’
The Mufti spluttered, his face growing red with fury.
‘This is an outrage,’
‘You are the outrage, you traitor, and one more word from you and you will be eating your testicles before I have you flayed alive.’
The Padishah spoke with the voice of Othman, the founder of the dynasty. For a moment raw power stood forth. Here, indeed, was the Lord of all the world.
The Mufti went to speak … and thought better of it,
‘As I speak, my soldiers are decimating your men. One in every ten is being killed. Treason has its rewards. And, you tub of lard, if you think that being the Mufti will save you, let me tell you that if necessary I will lay every stone of Jerusalem low, and have you crucified naked in a pig pen. Try not my patience, old man. You will find it is at an end. I am the Caliph, and if you want me to call the world of Islam to destroy you and your fanatics, you can have the martyrdom you would thereby seek. Do you understand me, you worn out shoe?’
As he stood there, tall in his righteousness anger, I could feel the Mufti’s fear; the redness of anger on his face replaced by a pallor. If the man feared he was moments from death, he was correct.
‘Now, begone you shit heap, and let me see and smell you no more.’
The Sultan waved his hand, and the Mufti backed out.
I clapped my hand with delight.
‘Highness, in you is the power of Othman reborn.’
He smiled down from his great height.
‘Now for your idea, little one.’
The next person to enter was Rabbi Judah ben Samuel, the leader of the Jewish community in the region. Tall, slim, his old face deeply lined, his beard long and white, he was a famous scholar and a man of peace. He had led the Jews for nearly forty years. He bowed low, kissing the ring of the Padishah.
Looking across to me, he said:
‘I see you have one of our daughters with you Highness, I am happy to see you practice what your Prophet preached, that all peoples of the Book are to be respected. I thank you with all my heart, and assure you of the loyalty of my community.’
The Sultan beamed, motioning the Rabbi to sit.
‘She is my little Vizier, and she has advised that we speak, Teacher. I am disposed to grant to your people the right to pray at the Wall of the great temple of Solomon; she says that is a great desire of yours.’
The Rabbi was speechless for a moment.
He prostrated himself at the Sultan’s feet. I could hear the sobs.
‘Arise, Teacher, you have deserved well of the Padishah, and for that sake, and the sake of my little Jewess, I shall give you your heart’s desire.’
Rabbi Judah openly wept as he stood.
‘For this, you shall be blessed by the One God we all worship, Highness. You will have no more loyal people outside your own faith than the Jews.’
The Sultan laughed.
‘You are a good deal more loyal than some who claim to love the Prophet. Go, my friend, and I shall make the announcement. The Jews can once more worship on the site of their ancestors, I have spoken!’
The Rabbi smiled at me, and I smiled back.
Once he had gone, I was profuse on my thanks.
‘It is typical of you my little one that when I asked you to name your reward, you asked for nothing for yourself.’
I thanked him.
The audiences were at an end, and I could, finally, seek out Jess, who had not been there during the night, a fact that puzzled me.
Back at our quarters I discovered the reason.
As I entered her apartments I heard a noise and stopped.
Through the curtains I could see her, naked, with another, also naked. They were on the couch, each had her sex above the face of the other. I could see Jess dipping her face between the thighs of the other woman, and, to judge from her sighs, she was giving full satisfaction. The same seemed true of the other woman, whose face was hidden between Jess’s thighs. I could see only that she was shapely. They lapped hungrily at each other.
Jess rose, gyrating her hips on the face of the other woman, whose breasts were full, with brown nipples swollen, her open sex glistening.
‘Eat me out you whore, eat me.’
Jess was squeezing her nipples, her face in ecstasies of passion.
She then dived back to eat the sex of the other woman, devouring it as though she had not tasted anything like it for an age. I could see her fingers buried deep, moving in and out, wet with her juices.
Their bodies moved, the other woman turned the tables, Jess on the couch, straddling her face. As she rose I recognised Ayesha, the companion of the Princess, to whom Jess had shown the delights of Sapphic love. She was clearly a neophyte of great enthusiasm.
As I watched I was aware of two feelings: jealousy, and a wetness between my thighs. The one was more reasonable than the other.
She was my Jess, my mind screamed, I had bought her, I had made her what she was, she was mine. How dare she cavort with that whore? But then I stopped myself. What had I spent yesterday doing? I had hardly been faithful. Indeed I had told her that our relationship was not monogamous, so how could I protest when she took me at my word?
And then, oh my goodness, the sight of their two naked bodies entwining, giving pleasure each to the other, made me damp between my thighs. I wanted to touch myself, but reflected that most likely, Jess would not give me permission where I to ask; she liked to deny me, as much as I liked being denied.
So I stood, in silence, watching, getting wetter as they pleasured each other to a shuddering joint climax.
After, they rested in each others arms. It was a touching sight, so to say.
Silently, I withdrew back to my own quarters; my mind in a whirl.
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