My Blog List

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lumière des étoiles et Etienne - The Journey

Etienne and Marie had seen one another for a period of time, for walks in the park, picnics and strolls along the promenade, and for rowing on the Seine, dinner at a sidewalk cafe and just to talk.

One day Marie had asked Etienne, whom she had named Moonbeam in response to his naming her Starlight, for a special favor, "Moonbeam, sweet man, would you do me a very great favor? I have a quest to complete and I must travel overseas in dangerous lands. Would you take me there? I cannot reveal to you the nature of the quest until we arrive at the destination." "Starlight and Moonbeam on quest together, of course dear lady!" Etienne replied.

They began the journey shortly, after packing and selecting the hiking staffs they would take with them. They made their way through back by ways and trails until they came to the sea at Marseille. They obtained a berth on a ship and made their way to Bizerte on the coast of Tunisia and by the channel there to the Lake of Bizerte and disembarked at the city of Menzel Bourgiba.

That night under a beautiful North African sky they gazed upon the stars. Etienne turned and said to Marie, "tomorrow you will have to tell me the way we are going and where our destination is." Marie smiled and said, "tomorrow, sweet man, is soon enough. For now, stand here with me on this balcony and look upon the heavenly delight." Etienne said, "yes indeed and then to our rooms until early morn." They looked out serenely for a long time side by side as the stars and moon blazed down on them, and then retired each to their rooms.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lumière des étoiles et Etienne - deux

Starlight looked at Etienne and smiled gently, just barely, and said, "now I will sing you one."

"Etienne, the song on your lips is like the one in my heart,

Let me walk gaily at your side this night,

Night's radiance above, my heart's beat is soft,

My lips are sweet, but you may not try them,

Not yet, new met gentlemen,

But hope on one day my friend, who knows?"

Etienne laughed and said, "your wish Princess, is my command." Starlight walked by him cooly and at ease, thinking, 'he is pleasant, not bad.' Etienne was thinking, 'should I tell her I think she is a goddess? Hmm, not yet, probably tommorrow. Wait, how do I make sure to see her again.' It seemed as if his life hung on that question. Out loud he said, "Starlight, where do you live?" She replied without looking at him and with a bemused expression, "at home, of course."

Etienne and Starlight came to where they made their way at the Concorde near the Pont de la Concorde over to overlooking the abutting of the Port des Champs-Élysées and the Port de la Concorde at the River. Looking across to the Voi sur Berge Rive Gauche, Starlight remarked, "busy and lonely at the same time, lights and dark ... much like the lives of many people, do you think, Etienne?" He said, "well I think the St-Michel bridge and Notre-Dame is more scenic and that is the heart of the Latin Quarter of course, but you are right, you express it truly." She smiled and they stood side by side silently for a while. She thought to herself, 'he is calm, good.' Etienne said, "Starlight, shall we to the Blvd du Palais and there to the Pont St-Michel, it is not far." She nodded and said, "not far, we have all night, hmm, ha ha." She gave him her address as they walked. He was at ease. They strolled and once in a while their hands brushed ever so slightly. Neither minded, and the night was beautiful.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lumière des étoiles et Etienne

"Etienne Phillipe Duquesne, a rather vivid, but elegant name sir," she said supressing a smile. Does it have a meaning?

"I understand it means Crown - Lover of Horses - and the last is a name dating from either the Fronde and or a French Naval Officer, so I suppose it means a lover of crowned French Navy horses. She laughed, thinking 'at least he doesn't take himself too seriously.'

"Do they call you anything, simply," she asked.

He said, "You could call me 'Tienne.'" She laughed again, this time at the pun. "I hardly know you, sir. How do you say, "call me yours? How could I call you mine, we are strangers. I think Etienne is fine."

"And yours," he inquired?

"Marie Devereux," she replied with just a hink of coy in her voice, "just say Marie."

"And you will, when I just say...?"

"No silly, my name, call me 'Marie'"

"La lumière des étoiles est belle ce soir," he said. "Oui," she agreed.

"Maybe I will call you Starlight?" he said looking at her gently. She said, "um yes, why not? Marie Starlight Devereux." No princess, he said, "just 'Starlight'." "Oh, just say Starlight and what sir?" she teased.

"Then it is settled, Etienne and Starlight for a walk tonight, eh?" he said.

No she winked, "Starlight and Etienne. What are you Etienne?"

He smiled, "a troubador and poet and your servant, Mademoiselle."

They sauntered comfortably along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées...

He sang softly a poem to her as they walked,

"Starlight above, sweet and soft,

Light the path of Starlight here below,

Grant her heaven's blessings, and sing my heart

Of soft presence of her sweetness,

And radiance of joy and kind spirit...

Walk with me Starlight and tell me tales,

And I to you will sing songs of affection's gentle nuance."

[to be continued]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A short story - continued part 22

The war was won. The army of the saints broke camp in the morning and set out for Sippar.

When the army of the saints with Shafiq and Belle reached the gate of Sippar there was a joyous welcome for them all, especially the future King and Queen. The wounded were brought inside to be cared for with the utmost tenderness. The dead were given solemn funeral with all in attendance. The Prince and Princess were given the best quarters and many waited upon them. The rejoicing was nonstop. After two days, refreshed, they set out for Rapiqum and where at the Queen's palace the future King and Queen would be crowned and married and reign over the reunified kingdom of the 'Land of the Dawn and the Western Seashore', for it indeed now stretched from the Western Seashore to the Eastern arm of the sea and the dawn. The kingdom was restored to what it had been and the invaders and all evil doers had been dealt with. Asmodeus and Lilitu were vanquished. Ha'dad the half brother of Aêšmi had been skewered by three of the daughters of Astarte simultaneously, Aêšmi had been struck down by Shafiq. The evil was gone.

They approached the Queens palace. Kadeen with an honor guard met them with the people all gathered around and cheering to see their Queen and the Prince and Princess. Maysa' and Numair were close together always, even when not carrying the Prince and Princess.

The preparations for the coronation and wedding went on for three weeks and people from all over the kingdom gathered for the joyous and high celebration. On the day, Prince Shafiq and Princess Belle were lead in procession to the dais of Queen Sawsan where their wedding vows were given and received with gladness and all rejoicing and their coronation accomplished with all due solemnity. Abdul was there and rejoiced with them. The now, King and Queen, were acclaimed throughout the land and the people looked to them as the blessed leaders of a free and proud people redeemed from their oppressors.

That night in their royal quarters Belle looked at Shafiq and said soft and low, "my leige, my King, my love, my husband ... I love you with all of my heart and always will." Shafiq holding her gently, said most tenderly, "my life, my love, my heart, my soul, my blessed love ... I have always loved you and always will." There they embraced and held one another with the love that joined them sweetly and completely as one, forever.

There was still the work of rebuilding the Kingdom, the cleaning out of the foul garbage of the invaders and the repairing of the terrible damages done and most of all the healing of the people's deep wounds inflicted by the hordes and evil doers. The new King and Queen would set about that forthwith, and all support of the people accompanied them. That is the further story from that so very good, blessed and gentle beginning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A short story - continued part 21

The fateful morning came. Both camps stirred early and were readied for battle. There was an intervening group of small hills between the two plains upon which the opposing armies were encamped. During the night, Queen Sawsan and her personal guard of knights upon chargers fitted for war, had arrived to the camp of Shafiq and Belle. Abdul was with the Queen, together they were at the front. Belle and Shafiq were upon either side upon Maysa' and Numair. Ranging in the cow's horn formation around both sides in two tiers were the Daughters of Astarte in the back tier and forward were the men with their long pikes. Their ranks were staggered allowing their files alternating access to the enemy when they closed.

* * *

Asmodeus and Lilitu had come to Ha'dad's camp after the death of Aêšmi. Asmodeus was in horrible temper and assumed a most fearsome command of all there, with Lilitu at his side. Lilitu was in her true form and evil to behold. The horns of Asmodeus curled and his nostrils flared, smoke wisping from them. The demons of the north were on his right as he faced west to attack the camp of the saints, and those of the south on his left. The Habiru from the western sea mixed with the tax collectors were center and to the front, a sacrifice when the time came, to draw the army of Shafiq and Belle into a trap.

* * *

There was a pass that wound gently up through the small hills. The hillsides rose up from the pass on either side. The pass was a natural trap, but it had to be traversed.

Queen Sawsan, with Ra'idah in the center front and Abdul before them, lead the army of the saints forward. Rashida was mounted upon an Arabian desert horse, fast and nimble, light of foot and quick to turn. Falak was upon her arm. The falcon knew battle was in the air and stood on Rashida's forearm, head and chest thrust forward, wings back. Rashida rode on the outside flanks and kept watch. They moved forward with deadly purpose.

They moved fast and sure. They came to the pass and began the ascent. Nothing was in sight. Rashida gave Falak the command, "soar." Falak left her arm like lightning and was soon back. Rashida listened to Falak and rode immediately to Ra'idah and the Queen. She spoke to them, "Asmodeus and his army advance in two flanking columns through the Eastern ascent of the pass. There is a center formation." The Queen turned to Shafiq and said, "my son, Prince Shafiq, you lead and command now." Shafiq was quick and sure, saying, "double the horns back to protect the flanks and move quickly into the pass. My Lady Belle and my Queen Mother stay behind Abdul." Shafiq rode forward to lead the army of the saints. They were going into battle.

As they moved forward, suddenly they saw Asmodeus upon a hill top, to the north and just before them, where he had climbed with the demons of the North. To the south was Lilitu upon another hill top with the demons of the South with her. The men were between them and ordered to charge Shafiq's army. As they charged, "Shafiq wheeled Numair and gave the order to break the horns into two and move the outlying tips forward and each to outflank on the outside, the forces of both Asmodeus on the North and Lilitu on the South. This kept those forces from crashing down from both sides and pinning the army of the saints between. But it put Queen Sawsan, Belle, Ra'idah and the Queen’s personal guard and the small fifteen warrior contingent of the Daughters of Astarte who guarded, them directly into harm's way from Asmodeus' center contingent of men who were charging. Rashida with Falak flying overhead flew to their side. She wheeled her steed and drove into the foul army of Asmodeus' men with her sword drawn and Falak screaming overhead and swooping with deadly accuracy upon the enemy. Abdul-Alim Nur al Din, the mighty malak of God strode forward into the army of foul men and with terrible deadly effect began their destruction aided by the Daughters of Astarte and the Queen’s personal guard. Rashida had gone before him and was now surrounded on all sides. Falak screamed and her claws tore eyes and throats from their hapless owners. Rashida cut heads off left and right. One particularly ugly foul beast of a Habiru stabbed Rashida in the throat with his dagger, at which she dropped to her knees. Shafiq upon Numair, descended out of the battle that was now raging upon the two hill tops and threw himself from Numair's back upon the Habiru and drove him through with his sword from neck to belly and then split him in half.

Ra'idah was there and caught Rashida as she fell crying, "Daughter," the tears were streaming as Ra'idah held her flesh and blood to her breast and wept. Suddenly Abdul appeared with Belle and Queen Sawsan. They all gathered around one of the bravest warriors that had ever lived. Queen Sawsan put forth her hands, for she had the gift of healing, and holding Rashida gently, commanded her to live. She would. Ra'idah wept profusely, as did Belle.

The battle raged on the hilltops where the cow's horns had enveloped both Asmodeus' and Lilitu's forces and were decimating them.

Asmodeus strode forth towards Shafiq, and Lilitu was advancing where Belle was. Abdul waited with Belle. Shafiq dismounted Numair and commanded him go to Maysa' and with her, protect Queen Sawsan and Princess Belle. Numair galloped immediately to his task.

Shafiq drew his sword and pointed it at Asmodeus' foul chest and promised him death, "I come to kill you and send you to hell from which you came, Asmodeus." Asmodeus spat on the ground, while sulphur belched from his flared nostrils and his horns curled forward, he charged hands out to rend Shafiq. Shafiq's aim was sure and he drove his sword point through Asmodeus' foul heart and the beast from hell died convulsing.

At full gallop, Numair arrived where Maysa' had engaged Lilitu, who had assumed the form of a giant serpent. Maysa' was rearing and slashing with her hooves with effect at the serpent. Numair joined with her and moving forward pressed the attack. Princess Belle upon her feet where she stood beside Queen Sawsan, having dismounted Maysa' before the valiant horse attacked Lilitu, was praying for victory with the Queen Mother. Belle held forth her amulet and while they were praying, when Sawsan commanded it, supernatural light shown forth and struck Lilitu and the serpent died shrieking in terror.

Victory was theirs. The hordes were destroyed.

The army of the saints returned to their camp with their honored dead and wounded.

They would return to Sippar first and then Prince Shafiq Nur al Din Taymullah bin Wajih of Rapiqum, son of the Lady of the Morning, the Queen of the Dawn, Sawsan, Lily of the valley, and Princess Belle of Mari, ضوء السماء la belle lumière la princesse de
Mésopotamie, would with the Queen and the angel of God and the army of the saints and the two faithful horses who had the power of speech, proceed to the Capital to be, of the reunified Kingdom, the City of Rapiqum. There was not only to be royal crowning of the future King and Queen, but a wedding.

That night at camp, Belle and Shafiq stood looking at the stars blazing brightly and whispered promises and sweet words to one another. They would begin the joyous journey tommorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A short story - continued part 20

Aêšmi dismounted the giant scorpion she had ridden to just outside of the camp of Shafiq and Belle. She prowled about the camp out of sight of the guards who would have killed her immediately if they had spotted her. She was in her seductress form and only wearing the gossamer. She exerted her mental power to call to Shafiq.

Shafiq stirred and uneasily, rising he walked to the outside of the camp. He was wearing his sword. Aêšmi was putting forth all her power to draw him. Shafiq started to walk past the last guard to go outside of the camp, when Belle, who had followed him called out to him, "Shafiq! don't, don't go there." Shafiq stopped and turned, but then he heard Belle say from the other direction, "Shafiq! don't, don't go to her, it isn't me." The marid succubus never told the truth. She, for she was indeed a shape changer, had changed her form into that of Belle as well. Shafiq looked in both directions, two Belles were there, one in each direction. The guard, one of the Daughters of Astarte, started towards one of the Belles. Shafiq remembering the warnings, said to the guard, "NO, don't do anything." Aêšmi-Belle said to him, "Shafiq I am wounded, the succubus attacked me, help me, help me please, Shafiq...." as her voice trailed off. Belle then knowing what she must do, said to the guard, "run me through with your spear and then run the other Belle through also." The guard was shocked and perplexed, no way could she do this. She was sworn to protect the Princess and this was unthinkable in any case. Aêšmi-Belle was provoked and moved towards Shafiq again saying even more, "Shafiq help me, ignore the false Belle." She betrayed herself, for the demon light showed in her eyes, but Shafiq did not see it! Suddenly, descending from heaven, the mighty malak of God, Abdul-Alim Nur al Din stood between the real Belle and Aêšmi-Belle, his back towards the real Belle in protection of her. His hand foward to warn Aêšmi not to approach her. The guard perceived what was happening and moved towards Aêšmi, her spear pointed to thrust and kill the succubus. Shafiq drew his sword, just in time, as the succubus reached out to rake him and make the blood spurt to the ground in what would be his death throws. The Prince struck the marid succubus in her demon heart with his sword and green blood flowed. A shriek was heard. Falak, on Rashida's arm screamed a warning scream of danger. Ra'idah called all the guards to battle. The men of the camp rose grabbing their weapons. Turmoil and tumult reigned briefly and all rushed to where Belle and Shafiq were. There on the ground lay the marid succubus, the green blood oozing from her demon heart. She died snarling. The whole camp had gathered and now watched as Asmodeus' and Lilitu's plot to kill Shafiq and break Belle, failed. Shafiq rushed to Belle and held her in his arms close and said, "dearest Belle, my sweetest of my heart, my love, are you safe?" Belle, a tear in her eye, said, "I am my love, I am." It was late evening but not full night yet. The guards found and dispatched the scorpion. Belle and Shafiq stood together for some time speaking with one another, for they knew tommorrow was the fateful day. They would turn in and rest, for battle would be joined in the morning.

Others were gathering, in the end it would be the two utterly opposed forces, one for good and one for evil, that would meet upon the battlefield.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A short story – continued part 19

Queen Sawsan was standing within her fenced in roof top garden and at once the malak of God, Abdul, appeared to her. “Greetings Abdul,” said Sawsan, “have you word?” Abdul standing before her said, “the succubus has fed, Shafiq is safe for a while. Belle is well prepared for the battle. The hordes of hell will arrive at the same time as the army of Belle and Shafiq and the phalange of Astarte. They will meet in battle the next morning. That night before the battle will be the most dangerous for Shafiq. It is up to Belle to do her part and Shafiq to remember the difference in the eyes. I go now to watch the hordes and protect the Princess.” “Thank you Abdul, for all that you do,” the Queen replied as he left.

* * *

After watching the beautiful night sky together, “Shafiq turned to Belle and said softly, “heart of my heart, sleep well and blessed tonight. I will greet your morning rising.” Belle looked gently at him and said simply, “good night dear Shafiq, until the morning.”
The camp of the Prince and Princess rested well and safely that night. The phalange guard of the fifteen were around the Princess’ and the Prince’s tents. The next day they set out for the final march and camp and the battle that would ensue the day after.

On the march they were in rank and suddenly the wind began, from the North and cold and unnatural for that place and time of year. Shafiq thought to himself, ‘Asmodeus is calling for the spirits of Reshteh-ye Alborz to stir the winds to assault us.’ They made their way against the wind and held formation. Maysa’ looked at Numair as they walked and said, “Numair, it is obvious we will be together during the battle on the morrow. What do you think of it?” Numair said calmly, “any creature comes near you and they feel my hooves, Maysa’.” Maysa’ said, “and if near you, then mine, Numair.” The two horses walked in silence, content in their task of bearing their cargo.

As they marched, Ra'idah spoke with Rashida, Falak was on her arm. “Rashida, send Falak to see what is to be seen of the enemy.” Rashida said to Falak, “soar and return.” Falak was gone in a moment. Two hours passed. Then Falak returned and was upon her arm. Rashida bent to her and listened and then turned and said to Ra'idah, “the enemy is closing. There is something hidden and furtive apart from the main camp, a hunter of some sort, an outrider upon a giant scorpion. I think it is the succubus, Aêšmi. Ha’dad leads the main force. They will be present for battle on the next morning.” Ra'idah said, “ be very sure of the guard tonight.” They made camp that evening. Something stood off at a distance. Shafiq was uneasy and Belle plainly worried. All were on their guard. Guards were posted around the camp and the campfires were large and many. They waited, but intense and watchful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A short story - continued part 18

The men that had rallied from throughout the land to Belle and Shafiq's cause at the counsel were assembled at the bottom of the walled hill of the standing stones, with Belle and Shafiq at their head upon Maysa' and Numair. Alongside their ranks were the phalange de Astarte lead by Ra'idah with Rashida at her side. Together the phalange and the army of men were most formidable. They had prepared and were now beginning their march to battle, on to the plain where the clash would take place. The Eastern inland arm of the sea was three full days march distant and the plain about half way. They planned on camping the second night in preparation to meet Aêšmi and Ha'dad and their forces the morning after in war.

Belle had turned to Shafiq as they rode and she said coyly, "Shafiq, when this is over and we are married and rule together, what do you think we might name our firstborn?" Shafiq, with almost a wink and certainly a bemused twinkle in his eye said, without any hesitation, " I am quite sure we will call our firstborn either Prince or Princess." Belle insisted and Shafiq turned a shade somber and said, "dear Belle, it is not like you to bring up a subject apart from the severe matter at hand while we march in rank. What troubles you my Princess? All I can do to protect you, will be done." Belle looked evenly at him and said, "Shafiq, it is for you I fear. The angel said that Aêšmi was a particular danger to you. She is a succubus and deadly to men. Please be very careful, my love." Shafiq was moved, as he always was at her direct and simple concern, and said, "I promise you dear Belle that I shall." They rode on, and the march continued.

* * *

Above the hordes of hell, silent and distant and invisible was the mighty malak of God, the watcher, Abdul. He saw the depraved hordes and their murderous cut throat assembly below, which had stopped for rest. The Habiru from the western sea were mortal, unlike the hordes from North and South.

Aêšmi was hungry. A tent had been set up for her. She was standing outside in her Scorpion dress over the gossamer. One of the mortal Habiru wandered close to her tent. He stopped when he saw her, for she was in her seductress form. "What is your name?" she said slyly. He replied, "Fahd," a well fitted name indeed, as his ears curled back at the tips and his eyes squinted like a cat with a bad temper on the prowl. He licked his lips and looked at her as if to devour her. She smiled and said, "are you hungry? Fahd, O handsome man that you are." The marid-succubus never told the truth. Fahd grinned a stupid grin and said, "what kind of hunger do you mean, attractive creature?" "Oh, mine of course dear man. Come into my tent for a while?" Aêšmi purred a low throaty growling purr. The fool did just as he was bid. A muffled groan and the succubus fed.

* * *

The first night camp for the army and the phalange was made. The stars were bright and the moon low in the East. A cloudless night. The slightest wind stirred. It was warm and inviting outside. Belle emerged from her tent and Shafiq was standing there. Shafiq, as he did from the time they left Sippar for the counsel, had his sword on. Kadeen had sent it to Latif for this purpose. When the angel would no longer be present, it was neccessary that the Prince protect his Princess, a task his heart fully embraced. Belle as always, had her cloak and amulet on. They stood side by side looking at the beautiful night sky and communing in spirit. Tommorrow would be the final march before battle the day after. But tonight they had time alone to share. After a while Shafiq said, "Belle, my beloved, I love you with all my heart and always have." Belle smiled and said, "beloved, all my heart is yours always. Hold my heart gently and know I love you." Shafiq simply said, "always, dearest Belle." They stood watching the glory of the night.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A short story - continued part 17

Lilitu in her cave by the Red Sea was incanting evil. As usual Lilitu was consumed and subsumed by serpents within and without her. This was the mother goddess in her true form and hideous to behold. She was the womb of poison that kills and never gives life. Her breasts with coiled serpents held not mother's milk but poisoned gall. She was the counterfeit to Eve that Satan had constructed as a female golem. This was the consort to Asmodeus. She was incanting for the servants of Aêšmi-daeva Síyáh-Chál, the maiden of the black pit, and her half brother Ha’dad al-Dagon, to come to them to assist them in the war upon Belle and Shafiq. It was Belle more than anyone that both Lilitu and Aêšmi hated the most. For Belle was love and beauty and decency and honor and mercy and truth telling and most of all, not one bit proud, but humble of heart. These qualities of Belle’s infuriated both Lilitu and Aêšmi. Lilitu wanted more than anything for Aêšmi to assume the shape of Belle, and in the presence of the real Belle, destroy Shafiq and thereby crush Belle’s heart.

* * *

Abdul-Alim Nur al Din, the mighty malak of God was invisible and distant in the sky above Aêšmi and Ha’dad and their hordes gathering to them on the forlorn desert place they encamped. Howls from demons were heard in that place. Mortal men dared not go near. Abdul the watcher of God, stood as sentinel to see all they did and to act to protect Princess Belle always.

* * *

Shafiq and Belle had conferred with Ra'idah and Rashida for many hours to prepare for the counsel they would attend together.

Ra'idah with Rashida by her side, was instructing the special guard of fifteen of the Daughters of Astarte that Rashida had picked on Ra'idah’s order. “You are to accompany Belle wherever she goes and always to protect her, but take special care to look out for Shafiq as well. It is to Shafiq that Aêšmi poses the special threat.” Abdul had privately counselled Ra'idah on this and many points. These warriors that Rashida had picked were the most stalwart and invincible in battle. The never asked nor gave quarter of their demonic foes. If faced with mortals, they could be forgiving, but only if it was deserved. They, with all of the Daughters of Astarte, had been instructed as to what they would face at the counsel, the need to raise men to the cause of Shafiq and Belle, to guard Belle, especially in her speech, and to keep an eye on the traitors which would be at the counsel.

When morning came they all were prepared and departed from Sippar for the counsel that would be held upon the walled hill of the standing stones.

When they arrived at the gate to the walled hill, Shafiq rode Numair forward and with Numair standing before the gate said, “It is Prince Shafiq and Princess Belle with guard and troops, open and grant us entry.” The gate, which was not well kept, creaked open and they entered. They rode straight to the counsel hill top and in the center of the courtyard dismounted, and Belle escorted by Shafiq went to the dais in the center to speak.

Then the lady, Belle an elegant lady, for she was pure of soul and gentle of heart, grieved and angered by the wrongs she saw, spoke out. She described in detail the wrongs she had seen. Speaking of this, she said, “… and house after house where I stopped and asked of the gentle people that lived there, what had happened, they relayed to me the same history: that the tax collectors, you who are gathered here among the rest of those attending this counsel, had stolen from them and opened all gates to the hordes from the North and South and West to invade and pillage this land. You tax collectors are the agents of the evil doers, and even more vile than they are.”

Terrible threats were levied against her by agents of the evil-doers. They were seen, with no turning back for them, as the traitors they were. She blanched not at all. She continued her speech declaring, “ Now it is time to go to battle against the hordes from hell and take back our land,” for she knew her crusade was just. She had a coterie of female athlete warriors to go with her into battle, the phalange de Astarte-Ishtar.

All men of good conscience and love of wisdom in support of the noble lady and her heroines and her noble consort, Prince Shafiq, pledged loyalty to go before them to battle the foe. Raising himself up, Shafiq commanded the traitors to be ejected and counted as enemies from that time on saying, “meet us in battle as honorable foes if you can, for as foes do we count you and nothing else.” The traitors were thrust out unceremoniously. They ran, just as unceremoniously.

A mighty archangel from God had been sent to help them in this holy war. He was standing watch over the hordes they would battle.

The forces for good were arrayed, as were those of evil also. Two opposing camps were gathered. Only one would emerge the victor.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A short story - continued part 16

The five set out in the morning after having broken camp.

Prince Shafiq Nur al Din Taymullah bin Wajih of Rapiqum, son of the Lady of the Morning, the Queen of the Dawn, Sawsan, Lily of the valley, upon Numair and Princess Belle of Mari, ضوء السماء la belle lumière la princesse de Mésopotamie upon Maysa’, led by the mighty malak, Abdul-Alim Nur al Din approached the gate of Sippar. Latif, cousin of Kadeen of Rapiqum, faithful gatekeeper of Sippar under the Village Master, Mundhir, bowed and opened to them.

Ra'idah assisted by Rashida with Falak on her arm and the Daughters of Astarte, the Warriors of Lady Ishtar of Susa, were waiting inside the gate.

* * *

The marid-succubus of Asmodeus of Reshteh-ye Alborz from under the dark of the mountain of the gods Qolleh-ye Damavand, Aêšmi-daeva Síyáh-Chál, the maiden of the black pit, and her half brother Ha’dad al-Dagon were gathering the hordes from North and South and West to attack the rightful Prince and Princess of the Kingdoms of the Two Rivers and the East.

* * *

Abdul greeted Ra'idah, who bowed low to him, and turned and took his leave of Belle and Shafiq, bidding them to be careful and to trust Ra'idah and the Daughters of Astarte. Belle recalled what Abdul had said to them days before, “The yearly counsel will be held some days hence. There is time to see what must be seen and then to speak at the counsel with words of redress. It will not be well thought of by the syncophants there. They will try harm if not stopped. When our tour is complete and the Daughters of Astarte have arrived, I will leave to keep watch over the connivings and movements of Aêšmi and Ha’dad and their hordes from hell.

Then, will the two armies be gathered against one another for battle. Two armies, each headed by a Monarch and a Consort, one is good and the other evil, will clash to determine who rules." Abdul was gone suddenly, not to be seen. It was time for Shafiq and Belle, assisted by the Daughters of Astarte to prepare and go to the yearly counsel and deal with the traitors and address the counsel and gather all men of good will to their cause. They began their preparations immediately and would be ready to depart on the morrow. That night all rested well for the journeys that lay ahead.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A short story - continued part 15

Shafiq and Belle with Abdul broke camp early in the morning. They were about their journey again.

Maysa' walked, carrying Belle, and the two were talking. "Maysa'," Belle was saying, "did you see all of the death we witnessed, the open graves and deserted houses and the overgrown fields growing nothing?" "Yes," Maysa' replied, "I did Belle, and it is unnatural and sad." "Maysa'," Belle continued, "You say sad, you are a horse. How do you perceive death?" Maysa' said, "Not as you do. My soul is not the same as yours. Your soul has the divine spark from God that makes your soul individual and eternal as an individual soul. My individuality is only here and now. I am sentient of it, as you are of your existence, and I am even aware of this sentience of mine. I do not perceive past existence as impinging on present and the present presaging a future existence necessarily. Also, I do not perceive death as being a gateway to further individual existence. Your sentience of sentience includes, since your divine spark makes you permanent as an individual, the consciousness of your acts which engrave a form to your soul, beyond the simple fitting of the form of your soul to your body. My soul is not the same. At death your soul goes to God to be judged and done with as He sees fit. My soul at death melts into the oversoul of all horses. I have no divine spark and you have no oversoul. Your divine spark ensures your individual eternity. The oversoul of all horses ensures the eternity of horse as a creation of God and my soul at death becomes part of that, but my individuality ceases. I am released from it forever, without suffering. For you to try to experience my end would be a grievous wrong, a sin. For me to be jealous of your gift from God is unthinkable." Belle paused and then said, "You explain well that which is your gift from God, but how do you know to explain that which you do not yourself possess?" Maysa' replied, "My gift of human speech carries with it the ability to repeat things not of my nature and which, therefore, I do not understand. This is so because the Queen asked this gift of speech for me and it was granted by the supernatural power of God himself. God is Supreme and Omnipotent alone by His nature possessing aseity, self existence. His singular and unlimited and transcendant nature, Tawhid, permeates His creation and touches all things. He can do with any creature anything he chooses."

"Another thing Maysa' I wonder," Belle went on, "is this, I have always known that the carrier pigeons flew between the Queen's castle and mine, but I didn't even think about that when I answered the call to follow with you to her. Why is that? Why didn't I think it better to have a simple communication sent to me to come to her?" Maysa' answered, "The Queen knew there might be interception of any message sent that way, and for your safety prayed that it be as it was. Also, it was her wisdom that you and Shafiq should meet privately so that the beginning of your commitment to each other would be pure and unfettered by other concerns. Her gentle gift to you both. Her power of prayer is very great." Maysa' turned her head and looked at Belle briefly for emphasis and continued, "Belle, you must always remember to pray and never to make the mistake of trying to conjure. Prayer invokes God's mercy and power. Conjuring incants the evil ones to perform diabolic magic and is utterly sinful. Your enemies are of this. You must never be like that. The difference is in your will and who you call on. Call on God and depend on His mercy and you are fine. Try to will control over His creation in disregard of Him and you invite disaster." Suddenly Abdul was between Maysa' and Numair and speaking to both Shafiq and Belle, "Tonight we camp not far from Sippar and tommorrow we return and should meet the daughters of Astarte there and with them proceed to counsel and the confrontation with the traitors. Then it is to battle."

The five went on in close companionship and camped for the night. That night the stars blazed as if to shed their warmth and radiant joy upon the camp. They rested well and blessed. The morning would come early and their journey would be short to Sippar.

A short story - continued part 14

Numair and Maysa' bore Shafiq and Belle, and followed Abdul, who was somewhat ahead of them.

As they rode, Belle turned to Shafiq and said, "my leige, do you see the houses we pass? Some look poor and destitute, yet this is fertile land, rich and capable of support for many more people than are here." Shafiq looked at the Princess and said, "I have indeed noticed Lady Belle, and also that there are even open graves and woodland cut down and many other signs of ravage and devastation." Looking ahead to Abdul, Shafiq called and said, "Abdul, good guide and friend, please spare a moment and speak with us." Abdul turned and, it seemed instantly, was there by their side. The angel spoke directly to both of them saying, "it is the land that you wonder about, both of you. Excellent! The Almighty Lord is pleased at your concern. You are not brought together just for your sakes but for the people that dwell here. They live on the land that you are to govern together. They are your responsibility. You will answer to Almighty God for what you do and don't perform in the way of your duties to Him and to them. You have seen the devastation wrought by hordes that invaded the once unified kingdom. Your grandparents each from their own palaces, ruled the kingdom jointly. The Western half, Belle, was given to the care of your grandparents. The Eastern half, Shafiq, to the care of yours. The hordes from the north and south and the worst, those from the western sea, came and sundered everything. Those from the north pretended friendship, but were secretly enemies and in league with the other two. Those from the south were open enemies and the powerful ruthless ones from the sea were the cruelest of all." Belle looked at Abdul and remembering the waifs and the destruction she had seen, spoke, "I have looked into the eyes of fear and hunger and death. This must be ended now for the sake of God's justice and mercy." Shafiq added, "and the evildoers of this must be brought to bay." Abdul anwered them both, "you Belle, must speak before the counsel, since it was the west that was hurt the most. You Shafiq, be ready to don your sword to protect her. Both of you, when we finish the tour and the Daughters of Astarte have arrived at Sippar, we will meet them there and proceed to the counsel. Remember always, courage, wisdom and forebearance." It was twilight and they rode on to camp that night.

At camp, under the stars, Shafiq and Belle were alone while Abdul watched and the horses rested. A fire burned brightly. Shafiq played his Oud for Belle and sang softly to her a poem of love and gentleness. She smiled warmly at him. They passed the evening in timeless reverie and communion with one another, until it was time for sleep. This night was gentle and blessed. They would start again tommorrow.

-to be continued-

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A short story - continued part 13

Aêšmi and Ha’dad were coming close to their meeting.

* * *

The gatekeeper, Latif was his name and indeed he was gentle, spoke at the door of the Village Master, "Honorable Mundhir, they are ready to depart." Abdul stood beyond the gate, outside. Belle and Shafiq were mounted upon Maysa' and Numair. Latif walked into view and proceeded toward them with Mundhir following behind him. Latif spoke to Shafiq, "Good Prince, Master Mundhir has prepared the packs on your horses, sparing no expense. Our hearts go with you. I will send word to Kadeen so that Queen Sawsan knows of your progress." Looking to Mundhir he said, "Master, they are ready before you," with a flourish toward Shafiq and Belle. Mundhir stepped forward and addressed them, "Honored Prince Shafiq and Princess Belle, we have taken precautions to see that the roads are clear as far as we have control. Your packs are full. Along the way, any house of the kingdom should be able to get word to us for whatever you need. We salute you, your highnesses," Mundhir said bowing and saluting with his hand, "and pray God's blessing, mercy and grace be on your Quest." Numair and Maysa' turned with one mind and began to follow Abdul on the road for their tour of the land.

* * *

Ra'idah marched in the fore, with Rashida on her flank turning and checking the order of the warriors at times. The Phalanx of the Warriors of Astarte wheeled in perfect unison wherever Ra'idah led them. Rashida checked her lieutenants and had them appoint the lookouts at camp and the scouts during march. Rashida, herself, was a falconer. Her falcon was upon her forearm. She spoke to her and said, "Falak, soar, see from the highest what there is and come back to me." The bird's flight was immediate and swift and precise. Gone for a space of half an hour, Falak returned to Rashida's arm, silent and sure and as if appearing out of nothing. Rashida, who could understand Falak, put her ear close to the bird and listened. Rashida went to Ra'idah and reported what Falak had seen, "The way appears clear and the land is quiet. Our march should be unimpeded and simple." Rashida, nevertheless said, "keep a watch. Much is in motion and we cannot be blind." They continued their march to the West and the Village of Sippar.

* * *

Queen Sawsan was in her garden tending her roses. Word from and to Sippar and the Daughters of Astarte and Belle's castle in Mari was maintained regularly. Kadeen walked to her and stopped and bowed, then said, "Your highness, they have begun the tour, all are in good spirits. The land is quiet and the Daughters of Astarte march to Sippar." "Thank you Kadeen," the queen said, "keep me informed." "Yes, your highness," replied Kadeen as he turned and left.

Night was falling.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A short story - continued part 12

Aêšmi and Ha’dad were close to meeting. They had been joined by Asmodeus and Lilitu by incantation, when they were born. That incantation was part of the sacrifice of the two half human children's birth mothers. The bloody sacrifice had been made by Asmodeus and Lilitu simultaneously. By blood and horror with souls of demons were they brought into the world and for inhuman purposes were they conceived by Asmodeus and the unfortunate women he went in to. The two knew only hatred. When other's souls would be torn apart with the kind of hatred they felt, theirs were at ease as with an old friend. Human children all had the Divine spark in the core of their being, at the very nadir of the base of their soul's existence from God. The two demon children had no such element to their very nature. They were fitted to hell and no other place. The creation of God in the light of the sun, groaned in their very presence to be released from their existence.

Aêšmi prowled, heading west. Ha’dad moved north toward their rendezvous, the hordes of hell following him. Time passed and they neared one another. Finally, as Aêšmi slunk through a wooded glen in a coastal secluded wild, she started, raising her snout, for she had assumed the guise of a pig. The scent, she would know it anywhere though they had never met, it was Ha’dad. Transforming herself into the beautiful seductress, she walked upright in human form, though far from ever human. The dress was rolled and not worn and she had on only the gossamer, deadly to human men, but not Ha’dad. She stopped in a dark dry glade full of nettles and stood immoveable. Then Ha’dad shuffled quietly into the glade, he was in the shape of Pan. The hordes that followed him were behind by a half day's journey. Appearing as half beast and half man, Ha’dad's soul was as inhuman as Aêšmi's. He stopped and his nostrils flared and his serpents tongue curled out and in. The red demon light inflamed his eyes. Aêšmi stepped forward and the gossamer fell and revealed the serpent mottled dark green yellow red of her torso, unlike the fair appearance of her limbs. Ha’dad was blue, but a hideous metallic glistening serpentine blue. The hairs of his beastial legs and arms were flaming dark scarlet scarab red. There were no betrothals for these two, no declarations of love. No poetry and no song did they sing. None of the beauty of a man and a woman in the world of men lit by the sun in God's creation. Their embrace was inhuman and holding nothing but terror for any unfortunate mortal that might behold it. A Medusa's turning a man to stone would be a mercy by comparision. Shear shrieking demonic insane terror could be the only reaction. When done they parted without a word, but continued west in each others proximity, for 'company' it could not be called. Now they hunted together.

* * *

"Ready yourself, Prince Shafiq," said the angel. "I am," replied Shafiq, "and await the Princess."

"Hello and good morning," said Belle to the maiden who had been sent to help her with her bath. "Ma'am, good morning and at your service," said the young lady. After her bath, Belle assisted by the maiden dressed and groomed herself, and yet still quite early in the morning, was ready for their journey. She stepped forward into the main tent and said to Shafiq and Abdul, "a blessed morning, good angel and a blessed morning Prince Shafiq, I am ready."

Abdul laid out the reason for their tour they were going to take. "There are many in the Western and Eastern kingdoms who have suffered greatly from the ravages of the incursions from the northern and southern diabolic hordes," the angel began. He continued, "The split between the two kingdoms is partly caused by that and also the feud between the two families. There are many who lay listless and still, unable to rouse themselves due to the spirits the Ashipu have brought into the lands. The Ashipu must be expelled, and the Habiru from the sea as well. Together they plague the lands. False friends abound and those who falsely claim to hold authority. The people suffer immensely.

The yearly counsel will be held some days hence. There is time to see what must be seen and then to speak at the counsel with words of redress. It will not be well thought of by the syncophants there. They will try harm if not stopped. When our tour is complete and the Daughters of Astarte have arrived, I will leave to keep watch over the connivings and movements of Aêšmi and Ha’dad and their hordes from hell.

Then, will the two armies be gathered against one another for battle. Two armies, each headed by a Monarch and a Consort, one is good and the other evil, will clash to determine who rules." The angel finished and they began their journey.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A short story - continued part 11

The angel was some distance ahead on the road, as Belle and Shafiq rode, the horses trotting briskly for some reason not announced to their riders. The gait of the angel was long and quick, then suddenly he stopped and waited by a cliff edge on the side of the road, looking intently into the valley below. Numair was in the lead and with Maysa' came to the side of the angel and stood. Maysa' inquired, "sir what is it that you see with such interest?" The angel, Abdul-Alim said, "Good horse, below is the village of Sippar. We will rest there tonight and ask the gatekeeper for news of the East, the Daughters of Astarte, and even if there is any word of stirrings beyond that." Belle said to Maysa', "good question my good friend, I am particularly interested in the answer we will receive when we inquire therein." Abdul turned to Shafiq and said, "Prince we must make time and be there before nightfall." Shafiq nodded and said, "of course Abdul." They proceeded in quick pace and wound down the trail to the village below. After about an hour, they were at the gate at evening's twilight. Abdul walked to the gate and taking the wooden clapper there, rang the hardwood that hung there for announcing visitors. The gatekeeper emerged from his hut and bowed looking keenly at them and spoke, "who may I announce has come and for what purpose?" Abdul spoke, "say to your master that Prince Shafiq of Rapiqum and Princess Belle of Mari have come seeking shelter for the night and word of the East." "Ah my good sir," quickly replied the gatekeeper, "my cousin Kadeen of Rapiqum has sent a pigeon with word of this. Come in, come in and welcome!"

The gatekeeper led them to an Inn and sent word along the way to the Village Master that they had arrived.

Later, the horses in their stalls, Belle and Shafiq were reclining in their quarters for the night when the Village Master entered and and bowed and welcomed them. Shafiq said, "thank you good sir and we seek any knowledge you have of the East, especially the Daughters of Astarte and even beyond. It has been some time since I journeyed far to the East." The Village Master, his name was Mundhir and a cautious man he was indeed, said to them, "I have received word that Ra'idah and the Daughters of Astarte march from Susa to meet the Princess and you Prince Shafiq. Further, they have sent word that Aêšmi and Ha’dad, the demon half brother and sister, spawn of Asmodeus are gathering the armies of hell to battle. When Ra'idah and her Warriors arrive here, it will be safe for you to proceed." Abdul then spoke, "good master Mundhir, time is short and we need to take the Princess to see her people in these lands bordering the East. After that and the arrival of Ra'idah I shall take leave of all of you here and see for myself where Asmodeus' hordes are." Mundhir said, "good angel, for Kadeen has spoken to me of you sir, any service I can be, I will do." He then took his leave drawing the curtain as he left. Abdul bid the Princess and Prince good night as they prepared to retire each to their quarters to sleep. The angel went outside to stand watch. Belle looked at Shafiq for a moment of silence and then said, "dear Shafiq, I would speak to you more about my heart and yours." Shafiq replied gentle and soft, "my heart is yours my Princess, I am your willing servant in every way. For it is you that I have always loved and always will. When the time comes, marry me Belle and together as husband and wife shall we rule the lands rejoined." Belle looked steadily and long at him, her hands clasped before her, and then she said clear and soft, "Shafiq my love, it is you I have always waited for and it is you I shall give myself to when that time comes. Yes beloved, I betroth myself to you and with joy and gladness I give my heart to you, forever." They retired to their beds bidding one another the sweetest of nights and God's blessing upon their dreams and rest.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A short story - continued part 10

The hordes were stirring. The evil foul spirit of Asmodeus was calling them to aid his daughter Aêšmi. Chief among them was Aêšmi's half brother Ha’dad al-Dagon. Ha’dad was drawing the hordes to himself as well. Ha’dad's power emanated from the cave of Lilitu by the Red Sea. That cave possessed the most evil shrine and altar and power of Lilitu as Queen of the Kaballah of the Na'asseni Hebiru.

* * *

Belle journeyed secure with Shafiq by her side. Numair and Maysa' walked carrying their cargos while speaking to one another and enjoying the sunlight. Belle turned to Shafiq and said, "Shafiq, I know there is an inscription on the ring embedded in my amulet, is there one on your ring as well?" Shafiq, looking warmly and gently at Belle said, "there is my Princess, there is." She thought for a moment and said quietly, "and what is that, Prince Shafiq?" He looked ahead and replied in a soft and pleasant voice, "When once quest is begun and heart speaks to heart, know that heaven's decree of resolve of the true, and love of two as one is announced and the delight of good will be theirs, forevermore." Princess Belle said almost inaudibly, "does your heart speak Shafiq?" He said, "It speaks, my Princess." She replied looking at him gently, almost moist, "As does mine, my ring says the same. Are you at rest?" He said, "Always in your presence, my Princess. I am your humble servant." She turned to him and looked into his eyes and said, "and my heart is yours." He replied, "A gift I shall always treasure more than life." They rode in silence the two horses close, side by side.

* * *

Ra'idah looked at her troops assembled before her, in their full battle array, and turning, looked at Rashida and said, "give the command." Rashida did and the march began.

* * *

Shafiq and Belle continued on, they rounded a bend and there the angel of God stood before them. the horses slowed and stopped. The angel spoke to them, "I am Abdul-Alim Nur al Din, I am the angel who has always guarded you Princess Belle. I will be with you on this journey. Prince Shafiq, in all that your mother has counselled you and you are charged with to fulfill on this quest, I will assist you both." Princess Belle said, "Good angel, I recognize the gracious presence I have always sensed. I am glad you are here." Prince Shafiq spoke, "Welcome Abdul-Alim Nur al Din and we great your presence with us with rejoicing." The angel spoke looking at them both, "Fi Amanallah ... bless these two in all things in their lives and all they do, most high and most gracious God," and blessed them by the blessing of Almighty God. The angel turned and walked ahead of them as they went on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A short story - continued part 9

Shafiq and Belle rode comfortably upon and with the company of Numair and Maysa', who had struck up quite a conversation between them with Numair's new found speech. They discussed everything and it soon became plain that Numair rather fancied Maysa'. Her regal gait and winsome ways and witty conversation made her a very attractive mare. The stallion had noticed.

Shafiq turned toward Belle and inquired how she was. Her reply was courteous and warm as always, "Well and in good spirits, Shafiq. I see you have a ring upon your finger, new and not there before." Shafiq said, "My mother the Queen, gave it to me. It is the counterpart of the ring in the amulet you bear. It was brought to my mother at the same time your father received the amulet you wear always. I am to bear this ring for protection of us and the quest as you bear the amulet."

* * *

Aêšmi prowled looking for Shafiq and Belle, but as yet the maid of the black pit could find no scent nor sense of them anywhere and was in fact far away from them.

* * *

The Daughters of Astarte, the Warriors of Lady Ishtar, drilled, as they did every day. Ra'idah, aptly named, since it was foreseen from her birth that she was to be a leader of the Warriors of the Lady of the East, put them through their paces. Rashida, Ra'idah's second in command, relayed every order in smoothest unity of purpose to the phalanx. After the morning's exercise, the phalanx drank deeply of water and rested until mid afternoon while they ate. As they rested Ra'idah addressed them, "Sisters, you do well as always. But now I have seen in the high grove, last night in a vision, that soon we are to be called upon for a great battle. I sense that it is not a single battle alone, but the beginning of many in a great conflict. I know you are with me and I value you deeply. My love goes with you, for we go to war. You are the most valiant warriors there could be. The enemy is most evil and is strong and cunning. We go to strive against Asmodeus and Lilitu and their foul hordes." At that, the ladies jumped to their feet and cheering and grasping their shields and spears they shouted, "With you Sister, with you always. Asmodeus will learn to fear us mightily."

* * *

As Shafiq and Belle rode, the Lady of the Morning, the Queen of the Dawn, Sawsan, Lily of the valley, was upon her roof at night and praying for guidance and protection for Shafiq and Belle and the victory of their Quest. Suddenly the angel of God, Abdul-Alim Nur al Din appeared before the Queen. Queen Sawsan, bowing, said, "mighty malak of God, welcome and for what have you come?" He spoke, looking intently at her, "you know O Queen, of the danger that your son and the Princess are going into. It is theirs to face this. I will be there to help. You and I, now must make plans for the war which will soon be upon you." They walked and counselled together through the night. When dawn came, the angel bid her farewell with a promise of his return and departed.

The quest proceeded and the war was coming.

-to be continued-

Friday, May 1, 2009

A short story - continued part 8

Belle woke early, well before dawn. She arose and washed and dressed. Careful to bring the cloak given her by the Queen with her and wear the amulet from the angel, she went downstairs to the outer court room. There she was greeted by the courtiers of the Queen who surrounded her and wished her well effusively. Kadeen was outside in the back of the castle grounds with Shafiq at the stables. "Young Prince," said the chief aide of the Queen and prophet of the land, "I warn you most strictly, beware of the daughter of Asmodeus, I feel her presence in this. Were she to come to battle with the Daughters of Astarte, the Warriors of Lady Ishtar, she would have no chance. But singularly against Belle, the Princess would be in horrible peril. The maiden of the black pit is formidable. However, Belle has the cloak and amulet and the angel watches over her. You are the one who is in peril for the cruel maiden's wiles are set against men. She was set to her task years before. She was sent by command of the evil Lilitu in future sense, to go unknown at the exact time of her coming forth from hell, for Belle's destruction. She will know that she has to deal with you first. Know that she is a shape shifter. You may have to tell her apart from Belle. Belle, it is true, has the amulet and cloak, but more than these, Belle's sight is clear and pure. The maiden of the black pit has the gleam in her eye of the demon heart. By that red foul light you will know it is her. Go with carefulness, Prince Shafiq. Protect the Princess always."

Kadeen and Shafiq led the horses, which they had saddled, to the front of the castle. Going to the Princess, Shafiq bowed and said, "Good morning Princess Belle, are you rested and well for the journey?" Belle looked warmly at him and spoke gently, "goodly Shafiq, I thank you for asking and am quite ready and anxious to begin. How are you, my liege, this morning?" "Well and ready for us to begin, Princess," Shafiq replied offering his hand to help her up to Maysa's saddle. They sat the horses which stood facing the castle. The Queen emerged with her retinue and stood in front of the Prince and Princess. "I give you my blessing," she said raising her hand and asking for God's blessing and protection upon them in their journey, "... and my fondest wish that I see you both back here again together," looking especially at Belle when she said this, "and that you remember not to trust to suspicion but to your quest and in each other. Maysa' has asked of me a special request, that I give Numair the gift of human speech. I do so now." As she said this, Numair stirred and suddenly he spoke, "good Queen I thank you and am deeply in your debt for this. I thank you Maysa' for your asking." The Queen replied, "use it well good steed and both of you, Numair and Maysa', bear this cargo of yours safely. Maysa', continue my counsel to Belle as you journey." At that, they bid farewell and departed to seek the Daughters of Astarte.

As the horses walked the road before them, Numair spoke to Shafiq, "My Prince, it is good to be able to speak to you in human speech. You and I have lived far off for my whole life and part of yours. This homecoming has been good for you I trust? I certainly could not have asked for more. It is good to be able to speak to you in human speech." Shafiq, leaning forward and patting the horse's flank said, "I am glad for you Numair, and yes the homecoming was very good for me. My mother the Queen and I spoke of many things."

As the horses walked, Maysa' spoke to Belle, "Heed me Princess, the Queen has charged me last night, speaking to me privately about what she has seen in a dream concerning you. You will be tested. If you give in to suspicion and unfounded jealousy it is Shafiq who will suffer. The quest could even be lost. If we encounter the maiden of the black pit, you must remember that she is a shape shifter. She is deadly to men because of her wiles. She has never told the truth and it is certain that she never will. It is her very nature to lie. If Shafiq is cut by her he will be lost, for the Queeen has discerned that Aêšmi, for that is the maid of the black pit's name, is now a full succubus and feeds off blood to the death of her victims. If Shafiq needs your trust and assistance in his defeating the demon daughter of Asmodeus, you must do so with complete trust and without hesitation. Do you understand?" Belle did not hesitate at all but replied immediately, "When I first met Shafiq, I knew he was who I waited for my life. But we have not spoken of this. If any need arises, I will aid and support him without mistrust at all. I shall not hesitate, Maysa'. Thank you for relaying the Queen's counsel." Maysa' continued to walk as Numair caught up with her. Together in company they walked. The four went on their journey. The sun was smiling down on the four.

-to be continued-

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A short story - continued part 7

The Queen continued, "Prince Shafiq, you are entrusted with this quest and Princess Belle. Her safety is paramount. I, your mother and your Queen, am charging you before God and all, to bear this responsibility with your life. The King of the Land of the Two Rivers, Belle's father, and I conferred many years ago, before his death. I knew since then of the visit of the angel and the gift of the amulet and the warning from on high. The White Mare, Belle, serves me well, a gift from your father to me. I return her now, she is yours. Let her bear you to safety. Kadeen come forth. Kadeen is not just a gatekeeper, Belle, but a prophet. Hear him, both of you." Kadeen stepped forward and was dressed now in formal attire as a wise man and prophet. Kadeen began to speak, "Prince Shafiq and Princess Belle, you will reign one day as King and Queen of the joint kingdom of the Land of the Two Rivers and the East, the Land of the Dawn, if you complete your quest. Beware young Prince, obstacles lie before you. Princess Belle, always keep the amulet that the angel left you and trust the White Mare's counsel. On your journey, both of you help one another with unstinting love and trust, for things will at times test you. Your quest is to prepare for the great battle to uproot and throw down the evil King from under Mt. Damavand, Asmodeus and his consort Lilitu. The first part is before you, to recruit the Daughters of Astarte, the Warriors of Lady Ishtar, as the guard and phalanx of Princess Belle. Prince Shafiq you will lead, but always heed the voice and counsel of the Princess, for she is your equal and royal in her own domain. As you go, both of you, but you Shafiq, most of all, beware of of Aêšmi, nephil-demon daughter of Asmodeus. Numair and Maysa', for this is the White Mare's name, and well fitted to her proud gait to carry you safely Belle, will be waiting for you saddled and ready in the morning to leave on your road's journey. Now I give my blessing in the name of the Almighty God." Kadeen blessed them, having finished, and turned and sat behind the Queen. The Queen said to Belle and Shafiq, "Now you both have a long road and will start early. Go to the rooms prepared for you and rest well until before dawn. Tommorrow I will bid you goodbye at your quest's beginning." The courtiers led the Princess and Prince to their rooms for the night.

* * *

Aêšmi was hungry, ravenous in fact. She prowled, menace in her every move. Like a demon cat that she was, she moved swift and silent. She was hunting in her cat form. She stopped for a smell was in the air, blood of a mortal man. Her hunger was intense, even painful. She did not notice the high presence of the angel of God watching her. It was for Shafiq to conquer this one, the angel's mission was to protect Princes Belle. It was for this reason that the angel followed the demon daughter, to prevent harm to the Princess. Aêšmi hunted all day and at early evening she found where the trail of scent led her to. A simple merchant upon the road, unsuspecting in his cart, his horse whinnied nervously at the unseen presence of Aêšmi, the merchant went on unknowing his danger.

Aêšmi stepped out on the road, in her form as a seductive woman, and beckoned to the merchant and said,"coin for an evening's pleasure, sir?" The merchant licked his lips and said, "woman, you are clothed well and I see not much to know your charms." Aêšmi cast aside her dress and the gossamer veil clung to her frame. The man sat forward with a start, seeing how alluring she was, and said, "how much?" She said, "you be the judge afterward." He replied, "come up to my cart and let me lift you up here inside." As she approached, the horse turned aside as far as he could. She stood at the bottom of the cart's step and the man grasped her with his hands to lift her up, not knowing beforehand the ripping of his hands the gossamer would cause and the excitement that would provoke of the succubus.

The horse had broken harness and ran. The succubus had fed.

* * *

Belle and Shafiq had adjoing rooms with balconies that were side by side. Neither being sleepy, both were outide looking at a beautiful full moon and gorgeous stars above. Belle turned on her balcony toward Shafiq on his and said, "my leige, you are indeed a Prince of this house, I know now, how do you think we will rule a joint kingdom?" Shafiq would only say, "when soft and gentle beauty of soul and heart which has held mine forever, is secure upon a throne, then shall be." "Good night sweet Shafiq, we must leave early tommorrow," the Princess said with a deep and solemn smile. She turned and went to her room and bed. Shafiq said, "tommorrow my Princess, and God bless your sleep." Shafiq turned to his room, entered and sat upon his bed stool and thought long and with reverent countenance, before laying his head upon his pillow to sleep.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A short story - continued part 6

The marid Aêšmi, or former half mortal-half marid, was now a full succubus. Her former powers of mental terror and possession were still hers. However her appearance had now changed to a most seductive and deadly beauty. She was still a shape shifter as well; a very deadly combination. Her demon sight to see at huge distances and read minds and plant thoughts were all hers. Her need for blood, like that of all succubi was very real. Her physical strength was great.

Aêšmi stood before a mirror, peering from inside her eyes was the faint glint of the red light of the demon heart, and she had clothed herself differently than ever before. Now she was clothed not in dark and grey formless cloth as she had always, but in gossamer. The gossamer hung like a thin veil clinging to her frame. The finest silver white gossamer, like a spider's. But this difference was most deadly, all of the fibers were razor sharp strands. Mortal flesh could not endure their touch. Only the inhuman flesh of the succubus was immune from the nettle like stinging lacerations it would bring on the slightest embrace. She engaged one of her powers and willed to see Shafiq and Belle and to her dismay could not. Unknown to her was the fact that the prince and princess were in the presence of the Lady of the Morning and that presence prevented the marid-succubus' powers from penetrating anywhere near them. Aêšmi put her dress over this frail looking most devastating inner garment. That dress was the dark irridescent grey green false-heliotrope blue scorpion dress. It was a demonic shade of the color of what in the world lit by the sun was the color of the animal called a green scorpion. It had a flaming rouge and black scorpion on the back and red scarabs on both sleeves.

It was Shafiq more than Belle, who was in danger.

Aêšmi began her ascent to the surface and when she came to the gate that let out on the world of light, she invoked the guard, a hell hound, by the names of Lilitu and Asmodeus to let her pass, and it did. Above the gate was the dreadful symbol of the worm Ouroborous, the worm that eats its own tail and emerges to deceive.

Aêšmi went forth into the world of sunlight and began a serpent like hiss that ended with a purr like a kitten, "come to me Shafiq my darling, ...come to me my love."

* * *

During the feast, the counsel of the Lady of the Morning had been going on for some time. The royal Lady, Queen of the Dawn, draped Belle with the outer golden cloak of the Lady's own protection and reminded Belle of the importance of always bearing the amulet she had been given by the angel.

The Queen was speaking, "...may you be worthy my son of this lady, the Princess Belle, and escort her well in the quest that is set before you." Belle thought to herself, ' "my son." He is a prince, that I know, but of this house?'

-to be continued-

Monday, April 27, 2009

A short story - continued part 5

The White Mare was slightly in the lead and together she and Numair rounded the last bend to where the gate house that led to the castle was. Slowing, the two horses came to rest in front of the gate.

Standing there was the gate keeper, he spoke bowing, "Welcome Princess Belle, your highness. The Lady waits inside." Shafiq replied, "Thank you Kadeen. It is a good morning, is it not?" Kadeen bowed and said, "yes, your highness," opening the gate to let them through. Belle turned and looked at Shafiq, thinking 'Oh, "your highness."' She only said, "It is a good morning Shafiq, ...your highness," with a nod of her head and a smile. He replied, "A blessed morning Princess, shall we proceed, Belle?" She said, "of course, Shafiq, thank you." They rode up the pathway, long and winding. On either side of the pathway were rose gardens with myrtle trees lining the path. The myrtles were in blossom with long luscious purple red clusters. The roses were blossoming as well, deep velvet burgundy red and golden yellow and dark tyrian blue and snow white. As the horses walked up the path, Belle was looking at the myrtles, and it came to her mind the words of the Prophet Isaiah - "Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. By this miracle the Lord shall be named for an everlasting sign of his power and love, that shall not be cut off." And she thought, 'but where is the Tamarisk tree?'

They approached the castle of the Lady of the morning. Outside was an even more beautiful garden of snow white roses and one deep red rose in the middle. 'Oh! thought Belle, the Rose.' The horses stopped in front. Belle and Shafiq dismounted the White Mare and Numair and left them to wait. They walked side by side up the walkway to the castle door where Shafiq moved to the front and raising his hand said, "I have returned. Open to us and greet the fairest princess." Belle looking ahead at both the door and Shafiq, was calm and waited. The door opened and there were the ladies of the court of the Lady of the Morning, who moving around Shafiq, drew Belle inside with them, greeting her warmly, "princess welcome, welcome! Welcome good lady!" They escorted her in to the outer court room. Shafiq then walked up to her side and said to Belle, "it is time to enter the court of the Lady of the Morning, the Queen of the Dawn, and hear her counsel." The large double door in front of them opened and they all, in procession, walked through.

There upon a golden dais sat enthroned the most regal Queen that Belle had ever imagined, the Lady of the Morning, Queen of the Dawn. She was resplendant and beautiful, yet with gentle and goodly countenance. Shafiq led the way and Belle walked to his side. Together they stood in front with the courtiers arraigned around the courtroom. Shafiq and Belle bowed and said, together with one mind and voice, "good morning, your highness, we are at your service." The Queen rose and spoke, "Welcome young prince and princess to my house. We will speak at length, but first the feast."

-to be continued-

A short story - continued part 4

Upon the earth blessed by God, sitting astride Numair, Shafiq and Belle looked, wondering, at the White Mare. The Mare spoke gently and said, “follow me and I will show you the way. First, Belle dismount from Numair and come ride upon my back.” Belle did as she was bid. On they rode together, side by side.

* * *

The marid, Aêšmi, stood alone in her cave. She was before the foul altar, a version of that which was to take much life in the future across Oceanus away beyond the pillars of Hercules. Fitting, Hercules or Melkart of Carthage, man-god of pagan North Africa to which was offered living infants to gain power from the fallen star - Saturn, Satan. The Chacmool altar is what it would be called in the future in that other, distant land. These altars the same, blood drenched in offering to Lilitu of human sacrifice, that she would curry favor thereby from Satan to grant power to the Devil's own. Aêšmi looked down to hell and invoking the triple goddess, emanations of Lilitu, Isis the horned celestial cow and Mene of the earth and Hecate of the abyss, began the ceremony of the black light.

The triple goddess, this was the same as, by other names the Arabian triple goddess cast down by Muhammad’s witness, “There is no God but only Allah.” Muhammad’s witness cast down the three foul sisters - al-Lat, al-Uzzat and al-Menat of al-ilah the moon god, born the moon god by the sun goddess.

Aêšmi began the invocation holding the intaglio in front and slightly raised to her side, “come to me and unify heaven and earth in me all spirits of the Celestial goddess and Hecate of the depths, in me by the blood of the mystical palm of Karnak in the Mother of all goddesses of earth between, Mene, by Isis Queen of terror, and by our mother Lilitu grant me total surrender to the power of the black light.” The ka attached to her ba began a wail from deep within her as the unseen kabbalah serpent began to circle within her. The black light began to radiate from her eyes and she began to shake violently. Then suddenly it ceased and her appearance had changed completely. Before she had been plain and given to a grayish passible appearance as if haunted. Now this creature was radiant and sensuous and even beautiful and terrifying, but seductive in the extreme.

“Shafiq my darling,” the succubus purred, “come to me. . .be mine alone, what care you for that creature, Belle?”

* * *

Numair and the White Mare cantered down the road carrying their human cargoes. The White Mare turned her head to Numair and said, “would you like the gift of human speech?” Numair shook his head and neighed, as if to say, ‘of course!’ The Mare, simply said, “in the future.”

The four went on in silence for some time. Belle and Shafiq exchanged glances and smiles from time to time.

Suddenly startled, Belle looked quickly at him and said, “A chill just went through me Shafiq.” Unknown to Belle, that was the moment of the full possession of Aêšmi and her ceasing to be human at all.

Smiling, Shafiq said gently to Belle, “Do not fear, I will let no harm come your way, princess.”

“It is not myself for which I fear, but you brave knight. Do be very careful of perilous beauty, Shafiq.” She said very somberly.

He marveled at her and said, “I shall my princess, I shall.” And on they went, the midday sun beaming down on them in a soft and kindly light.

-to be continued-

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A short story - continued part 3

Shafiq and Belle rode Numair in search of the White Mare for several days, making camp at night where Shafiq set up a small tent from a roll he packed on Numair. He stood guard outside while the Princess slept safe and undisturbed within.

* * *

Under Mt. Damavand, in the dark cave lurked the marid, Aêšmi, the daughter of Asmodeus. She plotted against Princess Belle night and day. One midnight, her father entered and spoke to her, "Aêšmi, come and make obeisance to me," he commanded. She bowing low stood mute. Continuing he said, "since the day that I came in to your mortal mother and begat you, Lilitu my consort the Queen mother and I, have had great plans for you one day. Since the unnameable Anointed one came and threw our power down we have been hard put to cause harm in the world. We thought we had kept a large portion of the Arab sons of Ishmael and many others under our dominion, but the fierce One over all, whom we have sworn enmity against, sent the Prophet, His messenger, and freed them from us by the word he announced to them."

A serving demon stirred from behind the prince of hell.

"The time has come." Asmodeus announced, "Lilitu sends her greetings and this charmed intaglio for you to use against Belle, the sweet and innocent Muslimah princess and her knight Shafiq." The demon serving Asmodeus came forward and read from Queen Lilitu's scroll, "Daughter of the black light, by the power of the sacrifice of your mortal mother upon your birth couch, to our King the fallen star, were you consecrated to me. Now arise and take the Intaglio of Hecate and proceed to the destruction of the Princess, Belle Lumière, and the Kingdom of the Two Rivers." Aêšmi took the Intaglio and scroll and stood silent. Asmodeus and his train of demons turned and left.

* * *

Upon the world blessed by God and lit by the great lights He put in the heavens, Shafiq and Belle rode on. One day as they rode they came to a well. Shafiq dismounted and retrieved water for Numair. Taking a cup he filled first, he offered it to Belle still upon Numair's back and said, "blessed Princess, you ride most gracefully and so quiet, please take this for your thirst." She replied, "gracious and polite knight, I thank you." Drinking deeply, she handed him the cup back. He took it from her hand gently and then drank from it himself, looking up and smiling at her. He mounted again and they rode on. Suddenly a voice deep, gentle and calm said, "is it I you look for?" Standing in the road was the White Mare, light of heaven radiating about her in the cool early morning.

- to be continued -

Friday, April 24, 2009

A short story - continued

The princess had been asleep.

Gradually Belle woke with a slightly quizzical but warm feeling. A gentle Mare had been in a dream and it spoke! "Belle, find me and I will take you where your and the young gentleman's quest awaits you both."

Rising, Belle dressed and warmly, as it was only spring and chill was oft in the air. She dressed in a blue long clinging thick silk lined linen tunic and long warm riding pantaloons. Her warm white and blue embroidered cloak was around her and a long thick winter hijab and she decided to put on her riding boots, the soft golden chamois, just in case she met the white Mare. And 'must not forget my gloves,' she thought of the gloves, also golden chamois, and she put them in her cloak pocket. She did not forget to take her riding whip.

Belle packed a backsack and she opened her door and stepped into the hall and walked to the foyer in the front of her home. Taking a hiking staff, she opened the front door and down the curved walk to her garden she walked with resolve. She opened the gate that yesterday she had greeted the young gentleman at and without stopping went out on to the road.

The young gentleman, who was actually a prince, had dreamed as well, a dream he had many times before. He dreamed of Princess Belle riding her horse during summer very early in the morning while dawn's first light barely touched upon her visage. It was always as if she were far off and he couldn't get to her.

But through day and night the radiant vision of her face demurely behind her veil brought peaceful contemplation to his soul.

Inspired as he always was by the vision of her serene countenance he leaped from his couch where he had been asleep and grabbed his coat and cap and ran to his horse, Numair, and saddled him and began to ride.

They rode for some time. Then the prince saw Princess Belle up ahead. The Prince's horse cantered up to where Princess Belle was walking and slowed to a stop, gently neighing. The Prince doffed his cap and said, "Peace and a most blessed and good morning to you Princess Belle."

She answered him, "Good sir, it is you, Peace and a good morning to you. You have me at a disadvantage, though, as I know not your name."

"At your sevice noble Princess, I am, 'Shafiq Nur al Din Taymullah bin Wajih' your humble servant, Princess Belle Light of Heaven." said the prince, smiling.

"Shafiq, I need your help, do you guide me now if you can. I must find the White Mare, the Lady of the Morning's gentle steed and omen of good." the princess asked him with trusting smile.

Extending his arm Shafiq said, "take my arm and mount behind me upon Numair, who is honored to carry you." Numair neighed and shook his head in agreement. She clasped Shafiq firmly and they rode off in search of Abir, the White Mare of the Lady of the Morning.

-to be continued-

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A short story

There was a lady, an elegant lady. She was pure of soul and gentle of heart. Grieved and angered by the wrongs she saw, she spoke out.

Terrible threats were levied against her by agents of the evil-doers. She blanched not at all. She continued her crusade. She had a coterie of female athlete warriors to go with her into battle. One of their number of the phalange de Astarte-Ishtar here shows their resolve against the enemy.

All men of good conscience and love of wisdom supported the noble lady and her heroines and even went before them to battle the foe. A mighty archangel from God was sent to help them in this holy war.

And now the scene is set.

The story...

"Daddy,daddy, do you see the light!" exclaimed the King's daughter.

"Yes dear," said the King, "it is God's angel come to talk with us."

"Greetings and peace to you," the angel saluted them.

"Welcome and it is good that you are here," the King, bowing, greeted the angel of God.

"I have come to warn you," the angel went on to say, "that the evil Queen of Hell, the consort of Asmodeus father of demons, Lilitu, has sent one of her children the most diabolic Persian female marid from the tall peaks of Reshteh-ye Alborz from under the dark of the mountain of the gods Qolleh-ye Damavand, Aêšmi-daeva Síyáh-Chál, the maiden of the black pit, to abduct your beautiful daughter ضوء السماء la belle lumière la princesse de Mésopotamie. The maiden Aêšmi would then take her place."

"What can I do?" exclaimed the King.

"Fear not said the angel, for I have brought the golden ring of protection, the amulet of the morning star on golden chain, for the safeguarding of your daughter." Giving it to the King the angel concluded his message for which he had been sent, "Keep it with her and she will be safe." Saluting the King, the angel ascended back to heaven.

The King said to his daughter, "Belle, keep this chain around your neck always to bear this amulet from the Lady of the Morning for your protection. Promise me dear."

"I will daddy," she said.

Many years passed and Belle grew into the lovliest and most gentle and soft flower of the two rivers there had ever been. Truly a Queen of Mésopotamie when her time should come.

One day she was picking roses in her garden and a stranger rode up on horseback and doffed his cap and said, "most fair maid, grant me but a short vision of you and I have seen paradise."

She replied, a bit, but not too much disturbed, "Good sir, you are bold enow and what should I say to your flattery?"

He, dismounting his steed with a bow and a flourish looking steadily with eyes of clear light into her beautiful eyes, breathed in the morning mist, "grant me to but know you and my life's quest is sure."

She suddenly, recognizing the good heart she had dreamed of from afar, caught her hand around the amulet about her neck and reassured that this meeting was most blessed, said, "I must go now, but do come again to my garden's gate and wish me good day, as I do you now, fair gentleman, welcome and well met."

-to be continued-