Rahab Bk. 05 Ch. 02: The Rainbow

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One of the first results of Mellisa’s reorganisation of the Chancery was the discovery that some of the Amirs and local governors had been falsifying their returns to the Treasury. Mel’s predecessor had, as all Ottoman officials did, supplemented his meagre income by raking off money from the tax returns; but he had been greedy. This presented me with an opportunity – and a dilemma.

At one level the obvious answers were either to do nothing, in which case the status quo would have continued, or to have taken drastic action, in which case the status quo would have been destroyed: neither option seemed attractive.

Princess Damila was all for taking action against certain Amirs, who just happened, of course, to be opponents of the Al-Amadin clan. As some of them were, even by local standards, nasty pieces of work, this had its appeal. Mel also favoured firm action. But I hesitated.

Talking with the new Chief Rabbi, David, he had an interesting approach, which I decided to adopt.

‘Highness,’ he smiled when I told him that I needed a way forward that would both signal that I would not be robbed, but which would also not destroy the balance of power in the region, ‘you need a scapegoat, and your former Secretary would be ideal, as the Bashirs are not popular, and still meditate revolt.’

‘I need more than that,’ I told him, ‘and I am meditating the idea of using this to put pressure on Amir Dogu.’

‘Take care Highness, his is the province nearest the old Mongol khanate, and many of our people are just beyond the border.’

I smiled, and began to outline to him the plan that had been forming in my brain.

I had discussed it with Ana and with Mel, who both thought it daring; the latter was also worried about the strain any military campaign might put on the Exchequer.

‘In the end, Rahab, we cannot continue the Ottoman practice of simply taking money out of a province and relying on fresh conquests to replenish what has gone; the Empire is no longer expanding. And is it,’ she whispered, ‘in our interests that the forces of Islam continue to rule this region?’

I understood her line of thinking, but cautioned her that it was treason to utter such words and she should take care before whom she uttered them.

She and the Princess were Christians, I was a Jew, and it was, I said, not clear what would succeed the Ottomans; whilst that was the case, it was better to stick with the devil we knew.

Dogu came to see me, and was received not only with all the ceremony due to his position, but with a greater fuss than that required. I also granted him the rare honour of a private audience before a State banquet.

‘I am honoured, Your Excellency,’ he etimesgut escort said

‘And yet,’ I began, throwing him off-balance, ‘you have not been paying your taxes, and that would, with another, mean the bowstring for you.’

He flushed and began to protest.

‘Silent, my friend, had I wished to take that route this would have been your funeral, not a celebration of your position.’

I wanted him to know I could have taken another route; it would be good for his ego.

‘Highness,’ he said, finally acknowledging my title as the viceroy. Had he began with it, I would have taken a different opening gambit, but as he began with a calculated insult, so did I. He knew he was being played with – and that I would not be played with.

‘Now, my friend, it seems to me that there has been much unfairness in your direction.’

He smiled again, taken aback by the change in tack, as I had intended.

‘Highness, I make no complaints.’

Which, given the number of letters from him to the Mongols we had intercepted was, it had to be said, a joke, but not one at which I could laugh in his presence.

‘You know, Dogu, we are going to proceed against the Mongol khanate, but it seems to me that you and I need to discuss what happens next.’

As the intercepted letters had indicated that he was willing to ally with the Mongols against the Ottomans, I needed to drive a big wedge between them.

‘I had thought that he who takes the heavier burden should get the larger share, indeed, the Sultan has agreed with me that under certain conditions, the whole khanate should, once compensation has been given to our allies, be under your governance; you have, after all, provided such an example of it to the world.’

That last was true. Dogu was a byword for cruelty and treachery, but he kept a divided vilayet together in a way no-one else had. Time and chance would do for him, I was sure, but he had his uses, and if Satan had promised to help me free my people in old Armenia, then I should have signed an alliance with him. My spoon was long, as it needed to be for such suppers.

I have not often seen a man more taken aback.

He knew he deserved the bowstring, and must have suspected that I had some inkling of his treachery, and yet he was being offered great riches and power.

‘Conditions, Highness?’

‘Yes, Dogu, my friend, naught in this life comes without them, and for the reward promised, you will have to fulfil my wishes.’

Men, I thought! He had a look in his eye as though I was about to offer him my body.

‘Highness … if I can?’

Oh God, that smile. I had no idea how women who liked men put up with otele gelen escort that smile. It said: let me fuck you and you will finally see what a real man can do.

‘So, Dogu, here are my conditions.

‘I outlined them.

First, the other Amirs must get a share of the treasure of the khanate, that would be in proportion to their contribution. He could not but agree. Secondly, he would secure the governance of the khanate in his own person. It would not be added to his area of formal rule as a right; that would only come if he behaved himself. He was a great dynast and greedy for his progeny, so it was wise to offer him some skin in the game for the future. Thirdly, for his lifetime, the future revenues of the khanate would be split 70:30 between him and the Sultan. The usual split was 60:40, although allowing for bribery and corruption, it was usually closer to 70:30, so he was being offered a good deal.

‘Highness, these things are all acceptable, more than that, so I feel there is something coming that would warrant such terms.’

He was right, and then I outlined it to him.

In the fertile south of the country around the town of Yeghergis, I wanted, I told him, a Jewish enclave to be established, it would be governed by a Jewish official responsible to me. It would not pay taxes to him, but it would be protected by him. That, I told him, was why he was getting the deal – and not, I reminded him, the bowstring.

‘I agree, of course, Highness. I will work with you to do this great thing.’

It was not, in truth, something that should have given him a moment’s thought, and the fact he saw that boded well for the future. He needed me, not one else would have given him such a deal, but then no one else wanted to help the Jews.

At that moment I looked out of the palace window, and out there across the horizon there appeared a great rainbow. I knew, in my soul, the deal was sealed and that God Himself smiled on it.

Ana, who had been watching in the wings, embraced me as soon as I left.

‘My little Rahab will be the Moses to her people! That, my love, was magnificent, you played with him as a child does with a wanton mayfly.’

I smiled. I needed her praise. The effort had been a great one, and it was good to know that she thought well of it. I went with her to lie down for an hour or so before we had to prepare for the banquet in Dogu’s honour.

I snuggled into her breasts, feeling warm and safe and protected. I knew whence the feeling came, and was content. So much of my world was an environment in which I had to keep my wits about me, and sexually, I had grown into a natural habit of wanting to please my lover, kızılay escort probably as a way of being accepted despite my petite stature, and that, too, meant a different sort of keeping my wits about me. What was it my lover wanted, what signals was she sending me, what nuance and inferences could be drawn from her actions and the noises she made?

But with Ana, it was otherwise.

She was my safe place.

She had come into my life in the most dramatic of circumstances, when the Sultan’s convoy had been attacked. She had saved my life. We had been close, instinctively from the start, and now I had accepted a simple truth. She loved me as I was, and she wanted to please me as much as I wanted to please her.

Instinctively, as I got comfortable, I began to suck her nipple; it felt good. I moved to her other breast, letting my fingers tease her other, wet nipple. She began to stir, and the sighs she uttered emboldened me. I sucked a little more urgently, letting my tongue tease the ends of her nipples, before closing my lips around them and pulling them, one after the other, as far as I could. That made her give out little moans.

‘You were supposed to be resting, little one,’ she whispered.

‘I am,’ I giggled, ‘nothing relaxes me more than making love with you.’

As I said that, my fingers curled into her wetness. I was suddenly aflame with longing. As my lips caressed and kissed her breasts, my fingers worked urgently inside her, my thumb curling upwards to connect and rub her swelling bud. I pressed my body against hers, inhaling her scent, excited and aroused by her arousal; my urgency returning to me through her responses to me. It was as though we were one. I no longer knew where I began and she ended, and it did not matter. Not at all did it matter.

I pressed into her; her cunt squelched as my fingers pressed in and out, a sound which, by itself, aroused me. As my fingers took her, deeper, harder and faster, so her moans increased in volume and intensity.

‘My Rahab …’

‘Not this time my love, I need you, want you, have to take you, my woman.’

‘I am yours,’ she moaned, ‘your Ana.’

‘And I am your Rahab,’ I whispered back, but in truth I want to shout it from the top of the Palace tower. We were one.

And so she came. It was a long, shuddering climax, initiated by a sudden spasm, in which her juices cascaded over my fingers and into my palm, and followed by a long, slow, shaking as the aftershocks were absorbed. And as she came, I did too. It surprised us both. But it was so. I gasped.

‘Ana, Ana!’

I screamed and shook, and came as my lover shivered through her long subterranean climax. We lay together. At one.

She looked at me as she tilted my face upwards, gazing down at me.

‘Was that what I thought it was my darling?’

‘Yes,’ I blushed.

‘Were you playing?’

‘No, no,’ I told her, ‘I came because you came – that is how at one we are my love.’

And so it was, and is.

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