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Feodor Romanov was about as far removed from his namesake and cousin, the Tsar Feodor Ivanovich whom I had met in Moscow, as it was possible to be. Where the latter was gentle, diffident and uncertain, Romanov radiated energy. He was tall, handsome in a severe sort of way, and altogether an impressive figure. But the two men had something in common beyond their first names: they were both palpably holy men.
Ana asked me later what I meant, not because she could not feel it, but because, knowing my skill with words, she thought I might be able to pin it down. But I have a feeling that the charisma is one that only the language of feelings and imagery can capture.
Feodor Ivanovich had about his piety the air of one of those icons of the Blessed Virgin which emphasise her purity and mildness. With Feodor Romanov, it was the image of Christ Pantocrator, or ‘Ruler of All,’ which came to mind. I had seen it in Orthodox churches and homes, and knew they were copies of the Ur-image which had been painted over when the Ottomans seized the great Cathedral of Hagia Sophia. I could see, at once, why men like Fr. Vlad thought that he was the man to restore the old Eastern Roman Empire. Image matters and Feodor Romanov looked like an Emperor in exile.
He accepted my bow graciously. We retired to Ana’s quarters.
The situation in Russia was, on his account, quite as bad as I had reported to my master, the Sultan. He shared my view that whenever Feodor Ivanovich died, Russia would be plunged into crisis. His own family had a claim to the throne, but Godunov had made his own accession all but certain, which posed a threat to the Romanovs. Then came little facts like the ambitions of the Poles and Swedes to take the throne of Russia. This was all, he confessed frankly, enough to make him wonder whether he would not have been wiser to have pursued the vocation he felt to become a monk.
All of this was said with the air of a man discussing a historical problem. I watched his grey eyes, but they betrayed no fear. He had about him the air of a man who knew his path might lead to martyrdom, but whose faith would sustain him through whatever ordeals there were to come. The next twenty years would show that intuition of mine to have been correct; but I could see, and feel it then.
Of Romanov, historians will write, but I doubt they will know what to write. They like their heroes and villains, though as my beloved Homer shows, there are no such things. The greatest of his heroes, Achilles, is, literally, a man with an Achilles’ heel. He is proud, petulant and spoiled and causes divisions in the ranks of the Greeks which threaten the success of their campaign. Odysseus is a man you would trust as far as you can throw him. The best of the men is Hector, and he is the enemy and killed in a terrible way.
The mobil porno blood connection to Constantine IX was deliberately kept secret by Romanov, as it would otherwise have increased the pressure under which he already laboured.
It was clear from our first conversation that he felt threatened by Godunov. He was seen as a rival to the throne, and had it been known what his true claim was, then his fate might well have been sealed. Yet, withal, he was not a man who seemed afraid.
We sat in the great chamber hewn out of the living rock, and his skin seemed almost translucent – like marble. I was suddenly struck by the fact that we were only a few hundred feet from the tomb of the Marble King. As though he had read my thoughts, he started by staring at me and saying, ‘yes, you see it.’ I nodded. There was no need to confirm what it was we were speaking about.
‘The Jews must be returned to Jerusalem ‘ere the final trumpet sounds, and so if, Rahab, you can secure the release of those in the old Armenian kingdom, that will be a step on the road.’ His eyes shone with the intensity of the vision. I had heard and read of prophets and mystic visionaries; this was the first one I had ever met.
As Ana and I sat there in that strange but wonderful space, the veined rock ceiling arching above us, Romanov outlined his vision. The restoration of the Roman Empire would be, he told us, but the prelude to the Second Coming of Jesus as outlined in the Bible. There would be a great conflict between the restored Roman Empire and the Great Pretender, the whore of Babylon, the Pope of Rome. Then, on the plains of Mediggo, there would be one final great battle for Jerusalem. If the Jews had been returned to Israel, then the Roman Empire would emerge triumphant, and the clouds would open, and Christ would come again.
As he spoke, his eyes flashed, his voice, sonorous and deep, rose, and his words painted the picture in our minds. This, as I told Ana later, was a man who could make history. There was something compelling about him. His certainty created an aura of power which had captured us while he spoke; he could, I suspected, move multitudes.
He talked long into the evening before suddenly announcing that he had to retire to his prayers.
‘You,’ he intoned, looking at me, ‘ have a part of play in a greater story. You will be sustained.’
The intensity of his gaze made it feel as though he was looking into my very soul. As he swept out, there was a sense of loss, but also of relief.
Ana explained that because the time was coming for action, Romanov had felt it necessary to reveal himself to me. I had a feeling, as I told Ana, that he was not going to get his Second Coming in the way he expected; but what did I know? I was just a small sapphist struggling alman porno to sustain a position which might ultimately prove unsustainable. I felt a strange sense of relief when his escort came to take him back to his base of operations.
‘We shall meet again, Rahab,’ he said in parting.
Ana looked concerned.
‘My darling, are you all right? You have gone pale.’
Suddenly I felt faint, as though some power had been drained from the room, and with it the air.
I came to in Ana’s arms.
‘Rahab, you had me worried darling.’
Cradled in her lap, I felt as though the world was right again. I had been holding myself so tightly, concentrating so determinedly, that I had overdone it. Since returning to the Grand Serail I had been juggling a whole host of problems and congratulating myself on keeping all of the balls in play, but, as Ana pointed out, there was a price to be paid.
She stroked my hair, pulling me into her perfect breasts.
‘I promised to protect you always, my Rahab, and I shall do that.’
I found myself buried between her breasts. I could hear her heart beating, fast, as mine was. She slipped her tunic from her shoulders, leaving her breasts for me to explore. As by instinct, my mouth fastened on the right nipple, which I treated to a good licking, around and around the areola, before my lips fastened onto it. I could feel it swell as my lips fastened around it. The tip of my tongue flicked the swollen nub. She gasped.
I then transferred my attentions, equally instinctively, to the left nipple, allowing my index finger and thumb to play with the wet right one. She stroked my hair, telling me how much she loved what I was doing. It felt good. Of a sudden, my cares dropped away, and I was just a girl, loving her woman, giving and getting pleasure from physical and mental closeness.
With all my other lovers there had been what I had come to think of as the usual give and take. The getting to know each other, the sensing of what was, and was not wanted, especially in the sexual realm. Because I had always been the younger one in all my loving, and because of my size, I had always endeavoured to do what it was I thought my lover wanted; in that I had found my pleasure.
But the problem was knowing if I had gotten it right. Or I had thought that was the problem. But being with Ana was different and made me realise that there had been an underlying problem I had not seen until too late.
By nature, I sacrifice myself. I had done so to the Sultan’s mother, Calliope, and to my English slave, Jess. I had done so to Princess Damila, and to the great Queen Bess. Then, I had made the ultimate sacrifice. I had given up my comfortable life in the Seraglio for the political missions on which the Sultan had sent alexis texas porno me, only to find on my return that my old life was no longer possible. I had resigned myself to exile where I hoped to be useful, and had set to work with a vengeance. But great good fortune had sent me to where I could be with Ana.
I had been hesitant. I loved Ana beyond the power of words to tell. But I realised now, lying in her arms, that I had been frightened that my own feelings would get in the way of my work. What if the Mullahs or the Rabbis or the Bishops objected to my ‘sinful’ lifestyle? And yet, withal, Ana had simply been there, working with me, organising things so that in the spring we could open the campaign to free the Jews of old Armenia. She had respected the boundaries I had erected, but quietly surmounted them.
As she did me.
I found myself under her, naked.
Her sex was above my face, and her face in mine.
Her sucking motions made me quiver, and so I did the same to her. Little pleasure bolts shot through me. My breasts were small, but my nipples, always sensitive, ached as though they would burst. My tongue slid along her folds, my fingers parting her lips so that I could suck as her inner lips as I would at a ripe fig. Her moans, the thickness of her juices, and the tensing of her thighs told me that she was reaching a point where she would not be able to hold back. At least I hoped so, as I was at the same tipping point.
Then my world exploded into stars and moans and wetness. I felt my legs jerk, my cunt flood, as hers did. Shaking. I remember shaking as never before. She rode me as I licked her, and she did the same. We lapped, licked and sucked until we both finally stopped shaking.
She slid off and came next to me on our couch. We kissed. Our faces wet with our juices, flushed, warm and loving.
She looked at me. I could see the love light in her eyes, as she could in mine.
It came to me then, and has remained with me ever since. We simply knew what each other needed. Finally, I was able, without consciously doing so, to acknowledge that I had needs sexually. I was hardly aware of them, but Ana was. It seemed then, as it has seems to this day, as though we were one, wanting the same thing, and being two parts of the same picture.
‘I love you, Rahab,’ Ana said. She invested those simply, most welcome words with a world of feeling. I felt it in my soul. A calmness descended on me. It has never left me from that day.
‘I love you, my Ana, my lover, my life, my all.’
We held each other that whole sacred night. We talked. We kissed. We slept. We loved.
That night our love was consummated in the deepest and most sacred way. In that space, hallowed by the presence of the tomb of the Marble King, I found finally, as Ana did, the assurance that we were meant to be one, and that strength would be given. The sun was streaking across the distant horizon as we held each other.
‘A new dawn, my love,’ was all she said.
And so, I realised with a sigh, I was home. The exile was over.
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