Kristietiba - Chapter One

Treason 1

The night fog was thick and blinding, almost suffocating.
Dampness filled the air, carried by the wild breeze, cherishing its last breath granted by the recent storm. Humidity caused everything to feel sticky, with a most irritable mood. It was a darkness to be avoided, for such an hour was given to mischief and the things most unbecoming of a noble.

Rasul lay resting in his bed of oak, with golden plated rods protruding upward from the floor at the four corners, draped overhead by a scarlet canopy with gold trimming and tassels. With droopy eyes, he rubbed his lightly graying brown beard, while laying his head on the soft fluffy pillow. The satin sheets gave him solemn comfort, as he awaited the return of his wife.

Memories filled Rasul’s mind, as he dozed in and out of shallow sleep. Thoughts of his young bride and her delicate features vibrantly raced before him. Her faintly pinkish lips held such a heartfelt smile, with eyes of green which sparkled in the moon light. He loved to run his fingers through her silky black hair, while holding her tightly next to his heart. He missed her soft breath and gentle voice beside him.

Suddenly, a loud pounding pulled Rasul from his dream, as the door to the bedchamber broke open. Men, dressed in shinny armor the color of night, swarmed the room like shadows. Swords drawn upon him, Rasul forced his mind to grasp reality. His breath was short and shallow, surprised to be surrounded by armed soldiers. Questions of how and why quickly faded to the rear of his mind, while concern for his love sprang forth as a dagger within him.

Rasul tried to lift himself from his bed, but was held down by two of the men who bound him. A dark figure swiftly moved behind the soldiers and caught his glance. The face of a ghost, deathly grey, gazed upon him. Rasul tried to fight his bonds, but could not against the strength of the men. Neither could he scream for the guards, for his vocal chords refused to give sound.

With beady eyes, the hunched back figure peered into the face of Rasul. Studying each other both refused to blink. The men looked wild-eyed and blood thirsty, while the cloaked individual appeared sadistically in charge of them. Rasul was frustrated that he could not move, and was unable to yell to his guards. He thought it odd his men were not already there at his room, and feared the worst for his wife.

“My dear Rasul, oh how you have found yourself in such a predicament,” the dark figure hissed, pointing his boney finger toward Rasul.

Rasul tried to speak, but could not.

The figure waved his hand over Rasul’s face, and Rasul could sense the movement in his vocal chords return.

“Who are you, and what do you want?”

“Do you not recognize me, Rasul?”

All of a sudden, the assailant’s image changed from the ghostly bones to the form of a younger fellow. Rasul’s eyes widen, it could not be. It was now the young Maldinat who stood before him, but how was such possible? Rasul’s mind found itself fighting against such trickery. One could not be the other, nor the other the one. Maldinat was to be his most vigilant trust, to one day take the place of his high guard, in such a weary time. Hope…like the wilting of a rose which has lost its source of nourishment…faded from Rasul’s essence.

“Before you taste what lieth at death’s door Rasul, I want you to know that all you have has been taken from you this day. Tonight you shall be stripped of your kingdom, for it shall be given unto the mighty Apostas, new ruler of Varjama. He shall take your wife Tanar unto himself, and claim your new born child his own heir. Your mighty and faithful knights have chosen to follow rather than die.

“I would offer you the same choice, but we both know that the new king cannot truly rule well while the old king yet liveth. Do not linger long at trying to understand how such has come about, dear Rasul. The light dwelleth with light and the darkness with darkness, till the time cometh when the shadows of the darkness overcome the light by gradual persistence, layer by layer, point by point, precept upon precept, while the light does sit prideful in its glory. The light must bow to the darkness, just as the day must give way to the night.”

Tears pressed against the edges of Rasul’s eyes, but refused to escape down his cheeks. His heart groaned within his chest, while his muscles did tense and push against the soldiers’ holds upon him. Rasul’s face reddened with anger and determination to free himself to slay such a devil before him. Irritation did tingle throughout his body, driving him insane. He wanted to scream. He wanted to scream out to Tanar, his love, and to his new born child, having yet to see her, being born this very night.

“I have waited so long to witness the torments I now see in your eyes Rasul. Oh the pain and sorrow you must feel, knowing all is lost to you this night, and there is nothing you may do about it.

“Tonight is the end of an era Rasul. Tonight is the beginning of something much more powerful. Tonight you shall taste death, and tomorrow we shall taste new life.”

Maldinat slid his darkened dagger slowly through the ribs of Rasul, as if to linger his suffering unto death. The cold blade sliced through Rasul’s flesh, penetrating deep into his broken heart. Rasul gasped as he momentarily tensed, then released all resistance. His lips moved as though he were trying to speak.

Maldinat lowered his ear near Rasul’s mouth. He could feel his dry breath. At first, it was too quiet. Maldinat could not understand Rasul’s words. But then…faintly…he could hear them almost crystal clear.

“May God send the high prince of Himmel… the son of King Allmachtig… the mighty King Salvare… to save these people…” Rasul struggled for breath. “An unworthy servant have I been.”

Maldinat’s face twisted with fury. Such defiance in his moment of triumph was most distasteful. Maldinat drove his dragger deeper, with anger and malice, till Rasul’s life flowed freely from him. Tanar drifted slowly off Rasul’s lips, as his mind grew dark and his eyes glazed over in death.

§ § § §

Criada held delicately the first born daughter of Rasul and Tanar. The maid softly cleaned the little one with a damp warm cloth. She smiled at the child, thinking how beautiful new life was to behold. The babe’s light eyebrows and crystal blue eyes, rosy cheeks and long eyelashes made her so adorable. Criada hoped to have one of her own one day, but as a servant she knew her future may not hold such happiness.

“Criada, come help me child!” cried Parteira, the mid-wife. Parteira worked diligently to keep Tanar calm and breathing correctly, as she prepared to help deliver a second child. “I need your help over here, so place the baby in the bassinet,” she expressed hurriedly.

“Yes ‘em Parteira,” Criada submitted, as she gave the babe another smiling glance, before moving over to lay her down and return to Tanar.

“Please let me see her Criada,” Tanar whispered between contractions. “Please let me see my precious daughter.”

Criada brought the babe near Tanar. The child was now clean, wrapped in fine white linen. Her eyes were open so wide, as she looked around the room. Her little fingers interlaced with each other, while she gazed at her mother. Her tender face beamed, with a crooked grin.

“Oh, my precious Kristietiba,” Tanar smiled through her pain, gently touching her child’s cheek.

Tanar so longed to hold both her children near her heart. She could suffer the pain just a little while longer, for it would be worth it all in that moment of sweet embrace. She, her love Rasul, and their inheritances from heaven all together, oh what a marvelous day to behold.

“Ahhh…” Tanar jerked in pain, gritting her teeth and closing her eyes tightly, while grasping at her belly.

“Breathe my lady, breathe,” Parteira encouraged Tanar.

Criada rushed over to place the babe in the bassinet, returning quickly. Criada stood by Tanar’s side, caressing her hand and patting her forehead with a fresh damp cloth. Tanar was still exhausted from the birth of her first child, but would need to endure yet a little while longer for her second. She laid her head back on her pillow, for just a moment of relief, though she felt something was oddly different. It was like a peace, a disappearing of the pain, a loss of consciousness.

Suddenly, Criada noticed Tanar’s breathing weakened, while her fingers loosened within hers and went limp. She glanced at Tanar’s closing eyes, and noticed how pale she seemed. Criada twisted to face Parteira, with shock on her face. Parteira, stunned by the amount of blood which now covered the sheets, slowly returned a blank stare. Both knew such was not good, and Parteira knew she must rush to save the child.

Surprisingly, the door blew open abruptly. Parteira and Criada both jerked to see who would enter. Both knew that Rasul would not disturb them during the time of his children’s birth, and did know he had made declaration that the room was to be off limits to any and all persons but those of Parteira’s choosing. So, who was it that did barge in upon them in such a delicate hour?

A young man, dressed in a long beige tunic, overlain with a brown cloak, entered. He shut the door behind him, and faced the women.

“Fear not dear Parteira and Criada, for I have come in the name of Salvare.”

Although they somewhat knew the name he spoke, it did not comfort their anxious spirits. It did not explain his reason for being there, and already they were in panic as to the wellbeing of Tanar and her second child not yet born.

“You have broken into the room of Tanar, wife of King Rasul, have you gone mad?” Parteira questioned. “Get out! Get out! You are not permitted to be here! Do you not see that my lady is in the middle of childbirth?”

“My name is Ziener, seer of the mighty Salvare. I have been sent here this day to protect the child known as Kristietiba. The darkness is upon this place, and the workers of iniquity do now come to take heir to the throne. She must not be given unto them, nor shall they be allowed to take her.”

“Sir, you must leave, my lady is sick and the baby is not yet born,” declared Criada. She prayed the man would not notice the child in the bassinet, that the babe would remain silent.

Ziener moved close to Tanar, but was filled with restlessness. He placed his hand upon her brow and closed his eyes. The ladies watched him. His lips moved, but they heard no voice. Ziener could feel her life quickly leaving her, and sensed the child still within her womb. He pulled his hand back from her forehead, and turned to face them.

“If I do not let her go in peace, she will be slain by those men who come to take the babe already born. The daughter, yet within her womb, is not the one I seek.”

Shocked filled Parteira and Criada, leaving them to consider what they should do. No, you are crazy! They wanted to shout. Tanar would soon die, bleeding the way she was. So too would the child, if she could not deliver soon. And this crazy drunkard was already pronouncing her dead, desired to take the king’s child, while claiming the kingdom itself was under attack. What were they to do?

Just then, the child whimpered. Ziener turned toward her. There in the bassinet where Criada had laid her, smiling with her tender eyes, seemingly pointing at him. Ziener’s face lit up, as he went to her.

“The blessed Kristietiba,” he stared and whispered, reaching down to pull her to himself. “Oh my precious child, may the God of heaven grant you safety this night.”

As the ladies were about to move toward Ziener, the door to the room was forced open once more. Ziener drew the babe close to his chest, and twisted away from those who entered. Maldinat’s face expressed surprise to see the man before him. Everything was happening so fast, the ladies merely froze in place near Tanar.

Softly, as if all other sounds vanished away, they could hear a still small voice within their minds.

You must not tell them of Kristietiba, for this night have they come for her as they have for the whole realm of Varjama. Your king Rasul has been slain, and your queen Tanar does now fade away. Varjama shall be cast into dark times, for its lasciviousness and discontentment.But keep hope, for your time of struggle will not be more than you can endure. Salvare shall send you witnesses and comforters of himself, and shall one day come to set you free.You shall see her again when the time of reconciliation is at hand.“Seize him!” Maldinat shouted to his men, to grab hold of Ziener.

They rushed toward him, but the seer was no more. He had vanished.

Angered by Ziener’s disappearance, Maldinat turned to the mid-wife. “Tend to the birth of the heir to Varjama woman, and mind not the business of men!”

Parteira shuttered and tried to focus her attention back on Tanar. Criada slowly made her way by Tanar’s side, glancing at Maldinat and his men through the corner of her gaze. There was so much blood loss now, a tear escaped Parteira’s tender eyes. Criada continued to pat Tanar’s brow with a damp cloth, and Parteira worked to bring forth the child.

Much had transpired so quickly, the minds of the servants were constricted with what to do. Were they to believe the words of the man who called himself Ziener, or trust the entrance of Maldinat with his soldiers? The queen lay there dying, while Maldinat did not even appear to care, and the unknown man who called himself a seer of Salvare had just taken the king’s first born. Parteira and Criada met each other’s sights; their hearts did agree to keep what they knew a secret, for the sake of their own lives as well.

“You two,” Maldinat called out, pointing to two of his servants. “Stand guard here and watch. Bring me the child upon its birth, and deliver the mother to the flames of MuAlah. May she burn in torment with the fallen king, and their remembrance be no more.”

Parteira and Criada’s hearts pounded heavy with such words, but would not dare look upon Maldinat. They found themselves barely breathing, not wanting to do anything to draw his attention. They had grown to love the sweet, friendly company of Tanar, and it grieved their souls to hear one speak so ill of her. An acknowledgement of that which the seer had spoken to be reality, namely the fall of Varjama and her rulers, made their stomachs twist sickly.

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