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“Is my death assured then, is there no way to avoid being murdered?” I looked at the young man before me, his face hard with the certainty that he was speaking with the voice of God. He stared at me.
Commander Kunt’s men had responded at once to my call to arms. Ana and Tania had thrown on their robes and were ready for a different sort of action. But it transpired it was just the three men, one of whom was dead, and the other in pain from my dagger. That left us with the man who was half way up the rope when his fellows were taken out.
Kunt brought him to me. It was clear that he had tried to escape, and had suffered the consequences. He looked at me with disdain, spitting on the floor when I spoke; that earned him another punch from Kunt.
“Show some respect scum! She is the representative of the Padishah!”
The man spat at the Commander, who side-swiped him a second time.
“The Padishah is a renegade whose time will come!”
“Highness,” Kunt intervened, “this is treason, let us execute the cowardly murderer.”
I saw the young man start at the last epithet.
“It is not,” I said quietly, “the most warrior-like way, murdering me as I slept.”
He looked uncomfortable with that.
He proceeded to launch into a tirade about how it was unIslamic to have female rulers, adding that the Ottomans were not good Muslims. I signalled to the Commander to let him rant on. Behind the curtain Ana was watching. An idea came to me as he rambled on, citing text after text from the hadith.
“Commander, will you leave us, I do not believe that he will harm me at the moment.”
Kunt looked puzzled, but good soldier that he was, he left us alone.
That was when I asked the young fanatic whether my murder was inevitable.
Startled, he looked carefully at me.
“You are an infidel and your manner of living a scandal, there is no hope for you!”
“None?” I said, “in which case what motive have I for listening to you? Indeed, why are you trying to teach me the error of my ways if there is no hope? Are you a vain babbler of words?”
“I am Karim,” he said, “son of the Imam Abdullah, and sometimes I go further than I should, it is something my father has condemned in me. There is hope, but you will not seize it.”
“How can you be sure? I have not heard the word of Allah proclaimed with such vigour. You must remember I am not a Muslim, but your words stir my heart.”
“In which case, there is hope for you woman. You must convert and become a good Muslim wife.”
“But how can that be, for I know not a man?”
His smiled broadened.
“There is always hope for a virgin. If you were to convert there would be a husband waiting to show you the right way.”
I pondered his words.
“I have heard but the echo of the great preacher in you, if I could hear him, it might be that I should have no doubts; you have begun, but should he not finish what you have begun? Would it not be more fitting?”
“I see the spirit of wisdom at work already. If you would come with me, I could take you to my father.”
“Let us talk more of this, Karim. For now, it is between us, but I shall ensure your confinement is comfortable.”
He thanked me.
I summoned the Commander in, and Karim was taken away.
Ana came in to join the Commander. They both looked at me. I laughed.
“He is a fanatic, he believes in his own legend, which makes him an easy mark,” I told them, unfolding my plan.
It was clear, I told them, that the Islamic puritans, the Wahahbites, were bent on my destruction as part of their campaign against the Empire. I could go home, but they would follow, I could ignore them, but they would grow; or, and this was my intention, I could strike at the snake in its lair.
The Commander let out a huge laugh:
“Highness, you could be an player on the stage, sincan escort you had me doubting you!”
Ana hugged me.
“My darling, I doubted you not at all; your mind is a labyrinth wherein that fanatic will meet his end.”
The plan, I told them, was to establish where I should go to convert. The problem would be that I would need to go by myself, with one servant at most. But, I added, if we took the Ark with us, we could smuggle a few warriors in. Ana suggested that she could come with me, but it was, I told her, no use, she was well known. She nodded and suggested Tania go with me. The Wahhabites would assume she was my Ethiopian slave and pay her no mind. So it was that we set the plan.
By then the sun was up. As we broke our fast, Ana and I spoke about what was ahead.
“I think I know the answer my love, but I will ask. Are you truly comfortable with me and Tania?”
Her blue eyes sparkled, and I looked deep into them, seeing there reflected the love emanating from me:
“Ana, my Ana, you and I are ONE, and that being so, if you need your woman from time to time, indeed, if you need a lover, I am fine with that.”
“My darling, I extend the same to you.”
I looked at her tenderly.
“My darling, my precious darling, how, having you could I want another. From the first, I have known I was yours. Until I returned to the Grand Serail, it was not clear I could have what I desired with all my heart, and I had been open to Bess and others, but the deeper we fell in love, the less I desired others; our darling Melody was the one exception, but she is part of us.”
We kissed. I tasted her. I sighed.
At that moment Tania entered.
“You two are so sweet,” she said, “and Rahab, let me say how much I love what you have done in allowing Ana and myself to be lovers.”
As she sat to join us, we filled her in on what had happened with Karim.
“I’d be happy to accompany you,” she said, “I would not leave you alone with these devils.”
“It does worry me,” Ana admitted, “but if you have Tania with you,” she smiled, “I would be less anxious, but I hope the other part of the plan works.”
“We are in God’s hands,” I replied, “and if we use the gifts He has given us, we can help Him to help us.”
Of a sudden, I felt weary. Lack of sleep and the stress suddenly overwhelmed me. Ana and Tania helped me to my couch.
“Rest awhile my darling.” I felt Ana’s kiss on my forehead as sleep came.
I slept uneasily, hovering between sleep and the world, and gradually the latter intruded.
As consciousness returned, I could hear noises and see shapes. I looked across, blinking. Ana and Tania had resumed their loving.
Tania was on all fours on the bed Ana and I shared, her head was down and her arse was raised. Ana’s blonde hair was sweeping her ebony skin, creating a frisson in me, her hands gripping Tania’s broad hips as she thrust the Sapphic stick deep into her.
It felt like a waking dream.
So wet was Tania that I could both hear and smell her cunt responding to Ana’s thrusting. It was like watching an erotic sculpture. I wished that I had the skills to capture it in stone or on canvas. Tania was pushing back, moaning; it was the moaning which had begun to wake me. Her arse gyrated as Ana took her harder. Ana was bending over, her left hand caressing Tania’s breast as her mound pounded into her arse. I could see Tania was caressing her cunt. From the angle, it was clear that the Sapphic stick was rubbing against Ana’s clit, a suspicion confirmed by the groans from Ana’s lips.
“Oh, oh Tania, I want you cum for me!”
“Ana, Ana, yes, yes!”
And she let go. I watched her jerk back, taking Ana as deeply as possible into her. Ana’s orgasm was stimulated by her lover’s ecstasy, and she, too, came noisily.
They collapsed together, as the stick slipped from Tania’s wetness. çankaya escort Ana covered her; the effect aroused me.
“Are you awake, little one?” Ana smiled.
“I woke to an erotic dream rather than from one,” I laughed.
“You are welcome to join us,” Ana replied.
“Thank you my lover,” I smiled, “but I am exhausted still, and just watching is sufficient joy.”
And it was, as I watched them both rise and go the bath. They were the most perfectly beautiful women. Tania’s breasts were heavier, her backside fuller, but to see the two of them together was a pleasure.
As the two of them bathed, I dressed and went down to the courtyard.
Jacob and his men was placed the Ark on its carrier.
“We need to speak,” he said.
Jacob was concerned at my plan. His task was to keep the Ark safe, not send it into danger. He all but asked me what I was thinking.
Well, I reflected, keeping my temper as he began to lose his, he would not be the first man to fail to understand long-term planning; what was it with some of them, I wondered? Wisely, I kept that thought to myself.
I explained to him that the main threat to the Ark was the same one that threatened us all, not the Ottoman Empire but the Wahhabite, puritan Islam of the Arabian peninsular. I could get the Ark, with his help, to St Catharine’s, but how safe would it be if the Wahhabites swept out of the desert? How safe would any of us be if it gained the upper hand? The Ottoman Empire was a far better option.
Stroking his blond beard, Jacob listened carefully.
“You think that this idiot assassin will lead us to the hidden lair of his father?”
“Well,” I replied, “if the prize he brings is big enough, yes. If he can bring me and the Ark to his father than his reward will be great.”
Jacob smiled ruefully.
“Ana said not to underestimate you. She also warned me that I would need to think round corners to keep up with you.”
Accepting the compliment, I reassured him that the risks were worth it.
Before we left I had another appointment with a man.
Entering his cell, I knelt to Karim:
“As-Salam-u-Alaikum,” I said.
“Wa-Alaikumussalam wa-Rahmatullah,” he said solemnly. “I am told that you have abstained from your customary sin.”
As I had suspected, there were those who sympathised with him and who fed him information, ever here.
Bowing low and keeping my eyes downcast, I whispered:
“Now you have enlightened me sir, I am trying to prepare myself for my new role.”
“Good girl,” he smiled complacently, ” and what do you suppose that will be?”
Keeping my eyes down I whispered:
“Oh sir, that is not for me to say, I am but a woman. I need a man like you to guide me.”
“That is well said, little one,” he said, “and maybe that will be my role or that of another. Are you truly a virgin?”
“Oh yes, sir,” I said, “I have never lain with a man, and now I know what I was taught to do by the Sultan was wrong, I am eager to learn.”
I could see his eyes light up. It never does any harm to let his libido distract a man whom you wish to fool. It was clear, as I told Ana and Tania, that between that and his ego and his fanaticism, he believed he was on the verge of a great coup — the delivery of Ottoman Syria to his bogus Caliphate.
The ship was ready to sail by mid morning, and we left the African side of the Red Sea behind us swiftly. Tania was pensive, and she held on to Ana. I could see that Karim, who had been brought onto deck for some exercise, was looking at them. It was not hard to decipher his thoughts, which were a mixture of disdain and excitement.
The plan was to sail up the Red Sea until we reached Ras Abu, where we could begin the long land journey to the Monastery, but it was essential that we got from Karim the location of the lair of the Wahabites.
Jacob eryaman escort and Ana were discussing tactics with the Commander, so the best thing I could do was to go to see Karim. I told his jailer to let me through and give me some time.
Karim grinned as I knelt, bowed and gave the correct salutation. I kept my eyes down and waited for him.
“You learn fast little one. What can I guide you with?”
“Sir,” I whispered, “if we are to gain for you the victory, I need to know where we need to harbour.”
“Good girl,” he said, “we need to put in down the coast from Mecca, there is an old Infidel castle there where we have a secure base.”
“You have the making of a good woman, little one, you may go!”
Bowing, I went.
The Commander talked to the Captain, who said he knew the small harbour. There were, he said, rumours of an old Crusader castle inland, but he did not know the way, and few, he said, talked of it.
In sharp contrast to our journey out, we had a peaceful voyage back, and several times I met Karim and confirmed my submission to his will. It said much for the nature of fanaticism that not once did he question the narrative which he had sold himself.
On the late afternoon of the third day of our journey we reached harbour. It was the only sea voyage I ever essayed where sickness did not overcome me, but the sea was so clam and placid that the water seemed scarcely to move.
As we dined that evening, we planned the next few days. As we went on, yet again I felt ill. Ana noticed:
“Darling, this is folly, we need to get you to the Monastery where, hopefully, some healing will come.”
I knew, intellectually, she was right, but some instinct urged me on.
“I can’t explain, darling Ana, you will have to trust my instinct, but this is meant to be.”
That settled it, and so we slept.
As I woke in the cool of the early pre-dawn, I saw Ana and Tania wrapped in each other’s arms; they looked so peaceful and loving. It did my heart good.
I went on deck, the sea was lapping gently against the side of the boat and I could hear the warbling of the gulls as they searched for food. It suddenly seemed a long time since I had felt properly well. I could feel my strength ebbing. I prayed quietly for strength.
As the sun’s rays broke the morning cloud apart, a breeze caught the sail, which fluttered, causing the boat to rock. I knew, of a sudden, that the day ahead would be critical. For the first time I ever, I could not see beyond it. Would it mark an ending? My strength ebbed and flowed. That I could not even join Ana and Tania was, as the former knew, a bad sign. That took us back to the reason we had come on this journey. Throwing off the feeling, I went to see Karim.
I paid my usual act of submission and waited for him to speak. I could feel his smugness.
“Girl, you do well, you are learning, little one, and we shall make sure that you are taught how to be a good Muslim wife.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said, submissively.
“I will lead, you understand?”
“I do, sir,” I said, keeping my eyes downcast, “but please, I beg you, if they notice that you are leading they will suspect a plot, so please only take charge when we get there.”
“That makes sense. So, let us go.”
It took a little time to get our small convoy ready, Karim, myself, bearers for the Ark, and Tania. I had seen the way Karim looked at her, and he clearly wanted her. The lust he felt would further cloud what little judgement he possessed.
It was as well we had set off early, it meant that before noon we came into sight of the old Crusader fortress.
We saw the gates open and a small force emerged to meet us.
“Now, bitch,” Karim said, turning to me, “kneel and acknowledge my mastery!”
“You too, black slave.”
Karim glared at her as she stood her ground.
“You will have your fat ass whipped, bitch!”
“I think,” Tania smiled, “it is your ass which is about to be whipped!”
From where we stood, the was a cloud of activity, and the force which had emerged from the fortress was about meet an unexpected challenge.
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