TheNemesisBird_CvrPDF-194x300Story blurb

One day the cruel, vain Caliph of Ishfahan spies a magical bird in a courtyard garden. He summons Sofia, one of his servant girls, to go there with a gilded cage and capture the bird for him. But when she sees the wondrous bird she tells her to fly away to safety. The Caliph is enraged and orders Sofia to be put into an iron cage and for his imperial guard to abuse her for forty days and forty nights. But what will befall when her forty day ordeal is complete, and she is summoned to the Caliph to be executed?

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Story extract

O auspicious Lord, long ago, there was once a proud and cruel Caliph who ruled over the city of Ishfahan, and his name was Harim-al-Rashid. One morning he emerged from his Hamman bath draped in his silk robe and, as was his wont, went out onto the balcony of his palace to look over his domain. Now, Caliph Harim was powerful and vain. It gave him pleasure to survey his dominions and indulge himself in the knowledge that he ruled with absolute power. No resident of this rich city, from humble porter to wealthy wazir, would dare question his command.

And what he saw from the balcony of his palace pleased him. He could see he ruled a city that was thriving and wealthy. He observed the caravans of camels entering the city gates laden with silks from the Orient. He looked out on the busy market place with its mounds of brightly coloured spices, exotic fruits, copper pans, and  . He could hear the sound of the imam’s call from Ishfahan’s minarets over the bartering of the merchants.

As he surveyed this scene, his eyes were drawn to one small courtyard garden below the palace balcony. It was a sight so beautiful and wondrous that it amazed the Caliph. Now, he possessed all manner of precious objects: rubies the size of rocks, luminous pearls from the depths of the Arabian seas, and exotic beasts from Barbary Africa, but he had never seen the like of this before.

It was a bird. But this was no ordinary bird. Its plumage was magnificent to behold. Its tail and wing feathers spread like an ornate canopy over the small courtyard. Around its neck was a huge tufted crest. But, even more wondrous than this fantastical display was the miraculous quality of the colouring of the bird’s feathers. For, as the Caliph gazed down in amazement, the creature constantly shifted its colours. His first view was of a bird with carnelian body, tail feathers of sapphire blue and a bright green crest, and before his very eyes, the hues of the feathers changed to violet, cerulean, and orange and again to aquamarine, copper, and stone grey. Harim-al-Rashid observed in astonishment as the colours of the bird’s feathers constantly changed their hue.

Even more miraculous was that the Caliph felt his emotions shifting with the changing colours, from great joy to fear and trepidation.

The Caliph resolved this magnificent beast should belong to him. How dare any of his subjects possess such a marvellous creature and not surrender it to him? Whatever he desired he was determined to possess, and nothing would stand in his way. And now, having been captivated by the magnificent colours of this fantastical bird, he knew it must be his.

Now, there was a servant girl serving in the Caliph’s household who had attracted his attention. He recalled her being taken into his service when she was a young girl after he had cause to execute her mother for blasphemy. She was a pretty girl all those years ago, and now she had blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Her name was Sofia-al-din Hasan, and she was most wondrously fair. Her cheeks were the colour of sun kissed peaches in the dawn  . Her lips were the colour of red coral glowing in the clear waters of the Arabian Sea. Her body was soft and voluptuous as if the delicate rippling sands of the desert had been brought to life.

 

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