The Broken Doll: Prologue and Chapter One.

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“What of it Eeam? The Governor is a Muslim. The tree is of no interest to his kind.”

Prologue

Everything I am about to tell you is the truth Soraya-Jan. I can be sure of this as I witnessed every detail with my own eyes.

          My name is Shahid Hedayati, or should I say was, when this saga began. I knew I was destined to tell this story from the moment I was born. I no longer have a name, leaving it with my mortal remains and my last breath on this earth, one thousand two hundred years ago. Nothing could stand in the way of recording this for you, Soraya-Jan, for this is your story.

There is one thing I must tell you, however; this tale is not over. Events will continue beyond the end of this book, which terminates in the present day. As much as I can relate this to you within these pages, I cannot foretell the future. Therefore your fate and that of humanity still lie with you in your final incarnation. I know your journey has been long and hard and without consciousness, intangible. That is why I was commanded by our Lord to chronicle your quest. One day soon, you will pick up this volume and read your own story in my words.

As I write this, my time in Hamistagan is coming to an end. Soon, I will join our Lord and await your arrival with confidence that you have completed your task and saved humanity from the evil that is itself. You see, Soraya-Jan, the fight was never with an evil entity such as those fabricated by mortals to cover their own tracks of depravity. The war was with man himself, determined to destroy the planet that gave him life. Enough about the future, let us look at the past. Allow me to take you to a time in your life when things were simple, joyful, and free from the ties of your calling.

Chapter One

Shahid sat in the courtyard garden of the girl’s family home, enjoying the morning sun and the smell of new jasmine blossoms. She entered the garden from the house, turning it into a desert with her comparative beauty.

“Eeam Shahid, what is your news? Where is Baba? Will you tell me a story? Please, please, just one. Tell me about the giant grey beasts that live in the east. Will you?” Her enthusiasm was infectious, he was helpless to resist.

“Come and sit by me Soraya-Jan, I have something to tell you. Then we’ll talk about the elephants, I promise,” Shahid replied, his head filled with mixed thoughts. What he had to say would begin her undertaking. “Your father has just left to prepare for the Governor’s visit. He is coming to talk about the Cypress of Kashmar.”

“What of it Eeam? The Governor is a Muslim. The tree is of no interest to his kind.” As feisty as always, even at that age, she had no fear of the ruling classes.

“It is his cousin the Caliph who is interested. The talk is that he is building a new capital in Samarra and is looking for construction materials. The tree is vast and the timber is of the best quality.” His answer did nothing to quell her curiosity and, with it, her temper.

“Timber? How dare they, how dare you call it that, Eeam. You are as bad as they are. If my father heard you, he would have you cast out into the desert. They have an excuse, they are infidels. What is your justification for such words?” The elder winced at the directness of her reply and tried to explain. She was beautiful and intelligent like her mother but had the explosive disposition of her father.

“Forgive me, Soraya-Jan, I am the messenger in this sorry tale.” He tried to placate her.

“Messenger? Messenger? You know the Caliph and his cousin are ruthless men and can’t be trusted. Baba fought with them in the north” The paradox of her anger and its resulting symmetry burst upon her face like a firestorm.

“Yes, Azizam, to the point where non-believers in the Prophet are treated as second-class citizens their faiths are discouraged. What is sacred to us is merely so much timber to them.” Shahid’s concurrence did little to douse the flames.

“Curse them all. This was our land until they invaded with their new religion and in-fighting.” He knew he had to change the mood otherwise there would be no stopping her until she reached Samarra.

“I said I had something to tell you Azizam. It is connected to our conversation and you are at the centre of it.” This was his chance to calm the storm that was blowing through her mind, her curiosity would do the rest.

“Tell me, tell me Eeam. What am I to do? I am ready to fight to the death for our Lord and the Tree.” His words were successful and he began the process that would fulfil her destiny.

“When you were born, you were a very special baby. Your childhood was pre-ordained. Nothing in your life would prevent you from meeting me here today.” Her face transformed from tempest to calm as she concentrated on Shahid’s introduction, and any thoughts of elephants or infidels evaporated. He continued, “You say that you are ready to fight, and fight you will, for a long time. You will be given special powers in return for your allegiance to our Lord during this period. Soraya-Jan, you will witness wonders and horrors in equal measure, the likes of which have never been seen by mortals.”

“When, Eeam? When will all of this begin? Please tell me it is soon.” The dark clouds gathered again as her eyebrows formed a deep valley above her sapphire eyes.

“Tomorrow, Azizam,” He replied taking her hands in his.

“But tomorrow is the beginning of the festival. It is my first year joining the blessing of the Tree,” she said, gripping the old man’s fingers until they ached. He fought the waves of arthritic pain that shot up his arm and returned the grip.

“Yes, you will receive your first sign during the ceremony. Soon it will become clear to you what your destiny is. Until then you must rest and prepare for the occasion.” The relief was instant as she loosened her grip and he closed his eyes tightly, squeezing out the faintest trace of tears. Opening them wide, he turned away from her, allowing the soft breeze to dry the evidence of his sadness,.

At that moment, her mother entered the garden, her striking looks a sharper, more focussed version of the child before him. Shahid’s heart cried out at the thought that the younger woman’s soft features would not mature into those of her elder.

“Soraya-Jan. It is time for you to retire. We have a long day ahead tomorrow. Hello Eeam” The older woman smiled at her daughter but her expression changed as she greeted him.

“Good morning Fatma-Jan,” Shahid replied, conscious of her suspicious glare.

“Is there something I should know?” Fatma addressed them both, pulling in her chin in an inquisitory manner.

“No, nothing Mama. Eeam Shahid was just telling me about the el – ele.” The girl’s face crumpled with concentration and he came to her aid as she had the old man’s.

“Elephants, Fatima-Jan. Your daughter has a huge thirst for knowledge,” he interrupted.

“Yes. Yes. Elephants Mama,” Soraya cried, as she gripped his hand with renewed vigour.

“Really? Elephants, Eeam?” Fatma returned, her look was far from satisfied as she glanced down at her daughter’s hands. Immediately, the young woman snatched them away.

“Thank you Eeam.” Soraya leaped up, clutched her mother’s hand, and dragged her off to the house. As she did so, she waved her other arm in front of her and made a screeching sound. “I’m an elephant, Mama. Eeeeeaaagh!”

This outward display of childhood from his protégé released the floodgates and Shahid allowed the tears to fall, with only the jasmine to witness them.

***

The following morning, Shahid sat at his desk awaiting the arrival of Soraya for her first lesson. As the sunlight struck the painting of Zoroaster on the opposite wall, she appeared. His stomach clenched with anticipation and admiration at the vision before him. She wore her full ceremonial costume of white linnen and her blonde hair flowed down her back like liquid gold.

          “Shahid Eeam. I am here for my lesson. Now tell me about the el-e-phants.” Her face erupted as she carefully said the three syllables. It took all of his self-control to avoid succumbing to his swirling emotions.

          “No elephants today, Azizam, and no lesson. At least not of the kind you are expecting. Remember yesterday?”  He waited for the flash of annoyance to disappear, to be replaced by serious concentration, and continued. “There is something I want you to see.

          “Show me Eeam. Show me now…please.” She hesitated before the last word, her bottom lip pushing out in an act of apology. This action only fuelled the fires in his heart and he turned away to reach for the two identical heavy books he had taken out in preparation.

          “Sit down Azizam and we’ll begin,” Shahid replied, recovering his composure. He opened both volumes on the same page and handed one to the young woman.

          “Will you read it to me Eeam?” She pleaded, staring at the page.

The old man proceeded to recite the words and she followed them with her tiny finger. As he completed the page he looked up to see her face gurning in a state of confusion.

He took a deep breath and began. “Can you understand Azizam? It is important that you grasp this before you attend the ceremony.”

“Do such beings exist Eeam?” She asked pointing at a word on the page.

“Yes, not only do they exist but you are one such entity,” Shahid replied.

“I am a Sa…sa-osh.” She nodded at each attempted syllable, as she had with the elephant the day before. It was a mesmerising sight.

“SA-OH-SHE-ANT,” he chanted as he attempted to correct her faltering diction. She didn’t repeat his pronunciation but tilted her head to one side, closed one eye, and puckered her lips.

“Yesterday, you said all of the things that happened to me, in the past were meant to be. Yes, Eeam?” Her face was that of a comedic doll and it gave the old man shivers.

“This is so, Soraya, and your time has come to realise it,” he replied, slowly closing his book.

“Tell me about the past Shahid. My past,” She asked, slamming the book shut in a cloud of dust. He closed his eyes to the billow of particles that surrounded them. Coughing and clearing his throat, Shahid played for time before recalling the child’s former years.

“Remember your first solo horse ride with your brother?” He breathed, clearing his throat. Her eyes lit up in shimmering blue at the recognition of the incident. They narrowed and she pursed her lips tight.

“Yes, he struck the flank of the pony with his reins and she bolted. I clung on for an age until the caravan then fell into its path.” Her eyes were pieces of cut diamond beneath her furrowed brow.

“Then what happened, Azizam?” He was fighting her gaze like the stare of a cobra about to strike.

“I thought I was sure to be trampled to death Eeam. The Camels were over me as I fell.” She closed her eyes tightly as if the dromedaries were bearing down on her at that moment.

“Then?” Shahid gasped.

“Eeam! No, it can’t be true! It is true! They stopped as if shot by an arrow and dropped to their knees in front of me. Oh Eeam, is it true? Was something else at work that day?” Tears welled up in her eyes, magnifying the azure display. Shahid nodded and closed his eyes to avert her glassy, cobalt stare.

“It is, Soraya-Jan. Just as the fallen tree saved you from the flood when you were six. Just as the dog chased off the wolves when you were lost on the plain, three summers ago.” Her look confirmed that he need not continue.

Shahid got up from his chair and moved around the table to Soraya’s side. He knelt down beside her and stroked her golden tresses.

“Tell me old man, what is my fate, I can take it, I promise,” Soraya said, gazing down at Shahid. Her countenance took on an appearance of maturity beyond her years.

Shahid placed his hand on the girl’s head and got to his feet.

“There will be time for that . Now, Azizam, finish your studies. I have business with your father,” he said wearily.

“But Shahid-Jan. What am I to do?” Soraya replied, placing her head on the giant volume.

“Soon Soraya-Jan, soon. Wait for my signal. Remember the plate, wait for it to drop.” With that, Shahid left the room, head bowed, one hand on his forehead.

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