Rahab Bk. 04 Ch. 03: The Tsar

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I had met many rulers, and have met even more since, but never one as obviously saintly as Feodor Ivanovich. He motioned me to sit in a chair placed for that purpose opposite him. He appeared more comfortable with that than with the formalities which surrounded our introduction. He deferred constantly to Godunov whenever we strayed to politics. The only thing on which he seemed to have a set view was not continuing the trade policy of his father, which had favoured England. The last ambassador had, he told me, in shocked tones, omitted two of his many titles. How, he asked, could he be expected to grant such people favours?

Godunov gave the weary smile of a father tolerating the eccentricities of a beloved, if rather simple, child.

Feodor questioned me closely about the Hagia Sophia, wanting every detail I could give him. He asked what had become of the icons and the wall-paintings. Sadly, I had to tell him that the latter had been painted over, while the former had been destroyed. He crossed himself piously, asking for God to forgive those ignorant enough to do such things. I suspected that would not have been the reaction of his late father.

Feodor was most at ease discussing ecclesiastical matters, and was interested in what I had to say about the league against the Catholic Empires. He professed himself most concerned about the actions of men who had added to the great Creed agreed at Nicea. How, he asked, could he be expected to deal with such people? He was, he stressed, a simple Christian who believed in what the Church had always taught. There were, he explained kindly to me, too many clever men who sought to make complicated what was simple. The Russian Church believed what had been believed everywhere from the beginning. That ought to be enough for men. I nodded; it seemed the right thing to do.

Godunov listened with patience. It was plain to me that while the Tsar was sympathetic, and would certainly not agree to any treaties with the Catholics, he was not going to go in the direction my master would have liked, and ally with us. Still, I thought, the Sultan would be pleased that my Mission would ensure that the Catholics would not be able to organise a Christian ‘Crusade’ against the Ottoman Empire. I would be garlanded with praise on my return. But that was, I now knew, but a means to a greater end.

An hour with the Tsar was a great honour, one owed to my Master, but in truth for any business done, five minutes with Godunov would have been a better use of all our time; but appearances had to be maintained. I bowed low when I left, just the right angle, which clearly pleased Feodor Ivanovich. He gave me an expensive gold necklace as a token of his regard, and a little note in his own hand saying: ‘God bless you, my child.’ I hear that the Orthodox have made him a saint. He will make a better saint than he did a Tsar; that is not setting the bar very high.

I have here a copy of the report I wrote to my Master, but not one of the dispatch I sent to Bess. In that I told her she should send an ambassador who understood the demands of protocol, and that I had secured from the Tsar a promise he would at least allow English traders back into Russia. To my own Master, knowing that I would deliver it in person, I was more frank.

There was, I wrote, an air of ending, of decay. The end of the House of Rurik was nigh, and while Godunov would succeed, I did not think he had the strength to hold it all together. Ivan the Great had created such tensions that Russia was like a giant pot about to escort bayan boil over; I doubted anyone could stop that happening. I take no pleasure in being proven correct. My verdict then stands now: ‘Russia has a big appetite and bad teeth.’

I did not mention my talk with Fr. Vlad and the Rabbi, but I did mention its subject. I told my Master that while the Russians coveted that region of the old Armenian kingdom, they would not stir to take it, adding that for us the presence of an Islamic puritan regime so close to our own borders was a clear threat. That would, I hope, pique his taste buds.

I saw Fr. Vlad one more time. He blessed me and gave me an icon. I have it with me now in Beirut. The Blessed Virgin seems, even in two dimensions, to smile at me; I feel calm in her presence. He wished me well. But he did not tell me the whole truth; that I only discovered later.

I saw the Rabbi once more too.

‘I know that you have not been able to tell me everything, Rabbi, and I understand the reasons.’

His eyes welled with tears. I saw a harrowing sadness in his gentle eyes.

‘My child, my child, when will all this exile end? When will be in Jerusalem once more? When will this vale of tears turn into the Promised Land once more? Have we not suffered enough? Good Lord, help us all.’

He was a good man. If it had been in his power he would have told me all he knew; but I doubt he knew the whole story either. Perhaps no one did? I do now.

That night Anna and I made love.

She was an utter delight. She sensed my proclivity towards being led, but was not obvious in how she took me there. This is a rare gift, and indeed, one I have found in short supply, which perhaps explains why my own sexual appetites have not been indulged as much latterly as they were when I was younger. My Ana, ah well, my Ana; but more of her in the right place.

There is a line, a fine one, for women such as myself, between submission being a delight and it being a cause for real shame. I cannot afford to indulge myself too much, and to fall too low might be to fall forever. But a lover who understands, whom I can trust to take me where I need to go, and draw me back again, such a one is rare as a fine diamond. I have been fortunate to have had such women; Russian Anna was one.

‘Your needs, my Lady, are my only concern, and therefore I am going to part my thighs and you are going eat me.’

She smiled. She knew. I was grateful for the way she put it. Ordering me to do it would have been exciting, at first, but the words would have galled, and either I would have gone in the direction I had with my English lover, Jess, which I knew now was dangerous for me, or I would have rebelled, as I had in the end with Jess. Her way, her understanding, drew me to the right place.

It was, no doubt, her Vangarian ancestry which gifted her with the blonde hair I parted to get to her wetness; and she was so wet for me. I loved her scent; but then perhaps I love all such scents?

My tongue forms a tube, which not all tongues can do, and so it slips easily between the folds of the nether lips of a woman, and the first dip into that nectar is a pleasure to be relished. When, as with Anna, her love juices are already thick and creamy, there is a special relish in it, like licking honey from the comb.

As my tongue reached the top of her slit, it pushed against her bud, just enough to move it from side to side; her low, throaty moans told me that I was giving her what she needed too. As her bud bursa vip escort emerged from her hood I touched it, feather-light, with the tip of my tongue, teasingly.

Her gasp grew louder, and grabbing my pig-tails, she pulled me into her wetness until my world was between her thighs. In the intensity of that moment I had my own minor climax; my cunt (a word I had read in Danegyth’s manuscript and liked for its earthiness) squirted onto my thighs, which felt wet and sticky. I longed to touch it, but denied myself. Her pleasure was mine.

My tongue worked faster the more pressure she applied to my pig-tails, it was as though she was using them to control me; that sent me into a frenzy. Intuiting the connection between the action of her hands and the pressure from my tongue, she pulled harder. Changing the pace, which caused her to scream with frustration, my lips fastened onto her unhooded bud. Wrapping my teeth in my lips, I pressed hard, pinching her there – simultaneously penetrating her with two fingers twisted together. She exploded into my face, splashing me with a jet of her love juice, then another one; I felt it drip down onto my tiny tits. I plunged my face into her, anxious to lap up every drop I could.

My tongue rode her as she climaxed. I stayed with her as she shook, my face pressed tightly into her wetness. As she calmed down, I rose, sliding my wet tongue up her belly, through her thatch of hair, licking around the undersides of her swelling breasts until my mouth found her engorged nipples. They were tight, erect yet pliable to my tongue, and I coated them with her love juices. I sucked them, one after the other, playing with my tongue, caressing them, loving them, losing myself in the warm scent of her aroused body. My fingers were on her backside, squeezing her cheeks. The feel of her soft sensuousness there, contrasted with the even softer pliability of her breasts, made me drip.

Straddling her thigh, I pressed myself on it as I sucked her nipples. She pressed upward, making me moan. I heard a voice, mine, shouting:

‘Fuck, Anna, fuck, I want you!’

I felt myself rub furiously, urgently, wanting my own orgasm suddenly, but still needing to service her. That being so, I pressed my own thigh into her, and then, with a flash of inspiration, I manoeuvred us so that our cunts rubbed together. When our engorged buds met we both exploded, shaking, flooding each other, gripped by a passion which seemed so intense it was like a little death; I seemed to drift out of time and space. I held her. She held me.

‘I love you, Rahab,’ was all Anna said.

‘I love you too,’ was all I could say as I struggled for breath.

Exhausted, too tired even to clean up, we collapsed into a deep dreamful sleep. My mind was full of the pleasures we had shared, and she came to me in dreams, and I felt myself tensing, only to find that it was no dream. She was between my thighs, licking, sucking, feeling around my backside, teasing my dark hole. I surrendered. I let her take me. Dream and wakefulness were one state as I was carried along on a tide of passion. Her wanting me so aroused me that, despite my exhaustion, I responded. Somehow we ended up head to toe with each other, me licking her wetness and she did mine.

If was as though we knew this would be our last time together, and we wanted to squeeze everything we could from the pomegranate, to distil its juices into a flask of memory would far outlast that moment. It was the first time I had rubbed bursa elit escort like that with another woman, and to this day I am thankful to Anna for the inspiration.

We loved on and off that whole night, and when the morning sun’s weak rays penetrated our chamber, we cuddled and we wept. But not all tears are bad.

Somehow we knew. Instinct told us that whatever the official timetable, our time was almost at an end.

As we washed, I gazed at her body, longing for her; oh the lust was strong, even after a night’s passion.

We dressed, we kissed, we loved.

The maid came to call us to break our fast.

The great Godunov himself was there. He smiled.

‘I hope that Anna has made your stay with us more pleasant, little Vizier?’

If he expected me to blush, he was mistaken. I had long ago lost any sense that just because the way I loved was not condoned by religion that it was something to hide.

‘She is the most wonderful lover, and of all the gifts you have given me, she is the one I value most.’

He smiled.

‘I am glad, Rahab. We understand one another. I will ensure,’ he said, now talking to Anna, ‘that you get the match you want; your father will not pursue the match you do not want, I will ensure that. I reward good service.’

Anna looked delighted, clasping her hands to her mouth in delight. She hugged me.

There was always a deal with Godunov, but I was delighted that our pleasure would have lasting results for my beloved Anna. She died, I was told, giving birth to her third child, a daughter whom she called Rahab. It was a bitter-sweet thing to be told. She will remain with me, one of those passing meteors who have marked the passage of my life.

Godunov could not have known that, because of Danegyth, his next comment would add a moment of supreme bathos.

‘Your escort has come, my Lady, and your Master wants you to leave at once.’

I looked at Anna, my mouth downturned, a little tear forming.

‘We knew, beloved,’ was all she said. I nodded. We had known.

‘Where is the escort Highness, and who is he?’

Godunov’s answer had Anna and I spluttering.

‘In the antechamber, a man called Mustapha Kunt.’

I exploded with a fit of the giggles.

‘We’ve all felt like that,’ I gasped, ‘it takes a Turk to admit it so openly!’

Anna was also convulsed.

Godunov looked, as well he might, totally puzzled as to what was causing our mirth. I do hope Anna enlightened him.

The maids had already packed my trunk.

Godunov was tactful enough to give us a last moment alone.

We kissed, oh how we kissed. That last kiss was special.

I gave her the gold necklace, telling her it was something by which to remember me. She swore to do so.

And so we parted, never to meet again, except in some vivid dreams which recur from time to time. They have become more frequent recently, as have my dreams of Bess. It may be my illness, which requires me to sleep more; the physicians could not explain it. The Magus whom I consult tells me that it is a sign, but she will not tell me of what. There is no need. I know.

And so I left on a note of pathos, entering into the bathetic company of Mustapha Kunt and his guard, who were my escort back to my Master the Sultan.

Master Kunt was a harmless soul. A man of few words, but a fine soldier, he and his men guarded me through the perilous journey. We were, he told me, going to take ship for Istanbul at Chilea. A thrill went through me. I asked if, when we got close, we could spend a night at an inn on the road to the coastal port.

‘Do you know the area, my Lady?’

‘I was born there,’ I told him. ‘It will be the first time I have been home since I went to Court.’

He nodded and agreed.

I was going home.

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