The Broken Doll: Chapters Seven and Eight.

by | Jul 1, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Looking ahead, she noticed a tiny yellow glow in the distance.

Chapter Seven

Shahid arrived at the Denjan home and let himself in. He closed the door to the din of the crowd and leaned back on it, hands behind his back. Breathing heavily, he closed his eyes and visited the departing carriage.

***

Soraya followed the two young women into the adjacent room. There was something strange about them, she thought. Their movements were identical as if attached by invisible cords. The chamber, half the size of the other, was equally adorned and had a bath sunken into the floor which emitted a sweet and aromatic steam.

“Welcome Soraya Hamin, we have been waiting for you,” they uttered in exact unison. Soraya gasped at the identical young women. They appeared akin to one, looking in a mirror. Their raven hair was straight and shone like pitch, surrounding their oval faces. Thick, black eyebrows nearly met above their squat, almost oriental noses. Their smiles were enhanced by their full, plump lips. However, it was the eyes that gripped the young woman, the colour of which she had never witnessed. She recalled the melting snow on the mountains in spring and how it mixed with the particles of grit trapped within it; concentrating the greyness. The intensity of the stare was doubled by the Doppelgängers.

They turned to each other, emphasising the mirror perception and, with synchronicity, spoke.

“Yes, we are twins,” they laughed, with perfect timing. The only departure from this duplicity was when they introduced each other.

“Caria,” said one

“Ceyda,” said the other.

“May I ask where you originate? I have never heard the term Han..” Soraya stuttered, still stunned at her new companions.

“Hanim!” Came the reply, in unison followed by another  synchronised giggle. “ We are Oghuz, like Mustafa Bey. We were all captured by the Governor and your father during the war. Hussein Bey set us free but the Governor went back on his word.”

“So you’re slaves? What about the big man? He has the trust of the Governor.” Soraya replied.

“Oh yes. Mustafa Bey has saved His Excellency’s life many times, even though he detests him,” the girls returned.

“Interesting.” Soraya stroked her hair and pondered on their words, the twins observing her movement.

“It is as they say, Soraya Hamin. Your hair is like the ripe wheat in autumn.” They descended on the young woman, running their fingers through her golden locks.

“Yes, my mother is from the north, over the great ocean. Her family were traders through the carved city of Petra as was my paternal grandfather. My father was smitten by her in the beautiful stone city of the Nabateans.” Soraya had warmed to the two beautiful duplicates.

“Ah Petra! We were there as children. Our father had a stall there, before the great flood,” the girls declared. “Come, we must get you away from here. Mustafa Bey is waiting,” they added, taking Soraya by each hand.

“ Wait, no! I am here for His Excellency, to save the tree. It has been ordained,” Soraya returned, trying to pull away from the girls.

“No, you must go, Hanim, leave here. The tree is doomed anyway, we overheard the infidel telling the head of the felling party. He was to wait until you were out of Kashmar. The Governor is ruthless but the Caliph makes him look like your aunt,” the twins declared with their usual chorus.

***

Shahid entered the library without knocking, and approached Hussein, who was staring out of the window at the commotion below.

“They are leaving Master, all of them. The tree is safe,” he said.

“What do you mean, Safe? Where’s my baby? Where’s Soraya? Shahid, no!” Hussein turned to the old man and gripped his robe. He lifted him like a bag of bones and shook hard.

Shahid didn’t resist, his old joints creaking at his own physical agitation and the mental agitation of his Master. His inertia shocked Hussein and he let go of the old man, straightening his robe. A calmness descended over his puce features. He looked into Shahid’s opaque eyes with a sudden resignation.

“It’s over. It’s done. The tree is safe. Our faith lives on. I hope everyone is happy.” He closed his eyes, the five thrusts of a knife to the old man’s heart.

***

A knock sounded at the door of the small chamber and the colossal Turk entered, filling the doorway with his bulk.

“Is Soraya Hamin ready?” The room vibrated with his growling whisper.

“Yes, Mustafa Bey, she’s ready,” the twins replied.

“Come with me Azizam,” he said softly, smiling at the young woman. The combination of his address, in her tongue and the alien smile that cracked his rock-like features, froze Soraya on the spot.

Mustafa swept the girl up in one massive arm and carried her inert body from the room. Outside, he placed her on a small Arab mare and slapped its rump with a giant hand.

The Arab shot off in a seemingly random direction, Soraya clinging to the mane. She recovered her composure and found the reins and stirrups of the Arab, settling into a steady gallop. The horse seemed to be able to see in the black-out, where earth met sky and were indistinguishable.

Presently, as Soraya was gathering her thoughts and contemplating turning the Arab back, it changed direction of its own accord. Looking ahead, she noticed a tiny yellow glow in the distance. The light grew as they neared, and took shape. It was a fire.

Chapter Eight

The tiny horse slowed down to a trot and Soraya relaxed in the saddle. She was ready for every eventuality now, no longer the gentle teenager of the Denjan home.

Her sensory deprivation came to an abrupt end. She heard the crackling of the flames above the steady pounding of hooves in the sand. This was followed by the heady aroma of fresh coffee. The steed came to a gentle halt near the fire which illuminated a large black tent. Within the awning, sat two men in brightly coloured robes interwoven with gold and silver thread which glistened in the firelight.

“Soraya Hanim, you are just in time for coffee,” the older man called, as she dismounted. She bowed at the couple and greeted them without fear. For a second or two, neither man moved. Then the older of the pair held out an arm towards the mat beside him.

Soraya sat immediately, cross legged, and examined the men. They had the same eyes as the twins, like the tempered steel of a sword. The younger was identical to his companion in every way other than his youth. Obviously father and son, she thought. As if reading her mind the young man spoke.

“Your assumption, although logical, is incorrect. We are in effect the same person.”

“Yes Soraya Hanim. He, or rather, I am correct. One from the present and one from long in the future. A time when our people occupy these lands, which have been left in the vacuum of conflict,” added the elder.

“Conflict? I don’t understand! There is no war and there has not been for many years,” Soraya said, her face taking on a puzzled expression. Once again the sandstorm began in her mind she tried to take in events, but they were lost in the clouds of dust that swirled around in her head.

“Settle your mind Hanim. Let me explain to you,” the old man uttered, as if he was in the storm with her leading her to safety. “I, the twins and Mustafa Bey are from the Oghuz speaking Qashqai people. We travel through lands and time, clearing the mess the rest of humanity creates.”

These words stretched Soraya’s already taught consciousness and her head was bursting.

“This is incredible. So you are the same person but from different times? Shahid said I would witness wonders but I was never prepared for such magic,” Soraya gasped, as the old man poured coffee into a tiny China cup. She took the vessel from him and inhaled the aroma. It was like nothing she had experienced. Taking a sip, her senses were lifted to the next level as the spicy, sweet, bitter liquid filled her mouth. Everything took on a new intensity. The flames seemed to leap out of the fire and enclose her. The metallic threads on the men’s robes danced like tiny snakes and the eyes of her hosts sparkled like perfectly cut diamonds.

She never took coffee this late for fear of insomnia, but now she felt drowsy.

“There is no magic here, Hanim. Sleep now my child. We have prepared a bed for you in the tent. Everything will become clearer in the morning,” the older man said, to the nodding agreement of his younger self.

Soraya obeyed without protest, the mountains of questions disappearing with the settling sands. Soon a deep sleep enveloped her, where she was visited by the spirit of the tree.

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