Arzu

“The mountain was high if you looked up at the summit from the base you almost felt like you were falling backwards. The top remained, much of the time, steeped in a strange mist. The contrast between the green and white, with the reflected golden sunlight, made everything seem unreal.

Aslanı Dağ dominates the entire southeast region of these lands, a majestic almost female form in total control of the sky and the river. When the sun is sufficiently intense, the fog disappears, revealing a new jewel, a kind of broader star crowning the high mountain.

Tatlı Sarayi was known as the small castle embedded near the top of the mountain. Glowing like a precious ruby in the sunlight, enhancing the colour and meaning of the surrounding forests, valleys, and the mountainous area. There, overlooking the valleys, reigned Suheyl, Sis Krallığı’s monarch, a wise and kind man whose rule kept the land fertile, kept the people satisfied and kept the peace with his neighbours.

The king had a wife, Deniz, whom he loved very much, bright as the dawn, eyes, blue as the sky on a fresh spring day. Her sweet voice charmed the whole court whenever she began to sing beautiful songs that spoke of love, longing, and desire.

However, the queen’s heart ached day and night that she did not have a son, an heir to the kingdom, someone who could learn from the king and then become the ruler himself. When the shadow of this misfortune enveloped the queen, it also obscured the mountain, hiding the precious Tatlı Sarayi. The people then knew that the beautiful Deniz was weeping and praying in her room, looking out of the window towards a place that she may imagine her son being.

On such sorrowful days, Suheyl descended the mountain and rode through the valleys, desperate and frustrated because he could find no reason for his life, unable to provide Deniz with what she most wanted. During one of these rides, he saw a strange woman dressed in an almost transparent green robe, walking on the same road. No, not walking, she appeared to float on the path ahead of him. With a single gesture, she halted the king’s fiery horse. She said nothing, yet her eyes ordered the King to dismount. Suheyl did so, without any embarrassment or resentment.

He walked towards the woman and stopped in front of her. Their eyes met, she made not a single sound, yet he felt the heat building in his body. The trees around them were lost in shadows. He thought he could hear an old song from Anatolia, as ancient as the Earth itself, while his body was consumed by fire, ice, and pain. Seconds seemed like an eternity; he lost track of time. The woman held him captive with her black eyes in the midst of the green that surrounded her. Then, suddenly, birds’ songs took the air.

Suheyl raised his head; the woman had disappeared. Only his beloved forest was there, and the horse remained standing at his side. The king remounted and continued his ride, without, however, forgetting the mysterious encounter.

Upon returning to the palace, he went to meet little Deniz. She was lying in bed, staring at the window, as if looking into another world, another place. He touched her face lightly and put his lips to hers. The transfer of energy between Suheyl and Deniz was so intense that both lost their senses – at least that was what they imagined had happened when, the next morning, both woke on Deniz’s bed.

Forty weeks after that meeting in the forest, Deniz gave birth to a beautiful boy, with honey-coloured eyes, black hair, and skin as bright as the midday sun. The happiness he brought to his father was even more significant than his mother’s joy. Now, his beloved wife was smiling again, and he had an heir with whom to share all the beauty of his realm; someone who would, one day, love those lands the way he loved them.

The little prince was loved, cared for, and educated by his parents. He learned to respect the wisdom of his elders, to venture when the goal was worth the risk and, above all, to think of his people before himself. However, fate had something further in store for the young prince. One of the caravans crossing the desert in the south of the kingdom had been ambushed by thieves, so the prince decided to go there to get personally involved in eradicating the problem.

The fight was fierce. The bandits were well armed and strategically placed, and, for months, resisted the attacks of the royal guard. The struggle was incessant and merciless, but in the end, the prince managed to arrest or kill all the evil-doers. When preparing to return home, the prince becomes separated from his men, but a dust storm was approaching. The terrible storms that ravage the wilderness are just as, or even more inclement than avalanches in the mountains, or floods in the valleys irrigated by rivers. A man cannot survive in them on his own.

Caught by surprise, and believing that his time had come, Prince Adskhan prayed to his God, his sadness was not for his own sake, but for his mother’s. It was to her that his thoughts went as he was swallowed by the storm. In the rain the prince could not believe what he thought he could see: a woman, surrounded by green and whose dark eyes were the last thing he could make out before losing consciousness.

Once the storm had subsided Adskhan awoke, unsure whether he was alive or dead. He got up and started to walk through the desert. The sun was overhead, its rays striking him like whiplashes, burning his body, sucking out the precious water needed to keep him alive. Walking, thinking, desperate to find a little water and a place to rest, the prince smiled at his destiny. He would not die in the storm, like his beautiful black stallion, but here, dry as the autumn leaves in his homeland.

A few more steps and he gave in, to fatigue, to despair, his hope fading. The sun was his nemesis, the sand was the instrument of his torture and sadness, the cloak that would cover him, as it stretched to another land, far away. A gentle hand became part of his dream; then some eyes, black eyes, like those he had seen in the storm, but now framed by a blue robe, diaphanous, but mysterious. Stars shone from that face; he wanted to touch it, to remove the veil, to discover who was hiding beyond it.

A soft voice, a mix of ingenuity and wisdom, intonation from whom want to know, began singing a song he didn’t know, something mysteriously, but sweet. Tatlı, that voice reminded him of his house; the music felt ‘green’, within it he could picture a river, a waterfall, a balanced mix of sounds of the things he loved so much. Adskhan raised his arm, he wanted to touch her hand, although he knew he should not.

Unexpectedly, the woman approached and reached out to him; her hand was covered in intricate designs, swirls, arabesques, flowers, drawings in black. The touch of the woman’s soft skin made his body relax, and the music carried him to sleep; a dreamless sleep; a peaceful sleep.

Arzu observed a man, so beautiful, strong, and yet, fragile. His skin was the colour of dawn, eyes of almost liquid honey, his black hair, covered by sand before, was now lustrous with the care she had bestowed on it. She had pacified the anger of his skin, once full of burning blisters by bathing it in the soft milk from the village goats. And her eyes, her eyes shed pure honey, giving them the power to heal the wounds that insisted on remaining on him. She could now see the results of rest and her two months of caring for the man, night, and day. She could never be far from him; the pain was so intense that it made her return to his side immediately.

Arzu’s father understood what was happening and accepted it. Even if others did not approve her behaviour, rejecting her company, avoiding looking at her and even forbidding her to be close to the children she loved. It was the price she had been charged with the prophecy, the cost of finding this mysterious, handsome man, dying in the desert and bring him home. He, who was destined for her; she, intended for him.

The next time Adskhan awoke, he could see more clearly the tent around him. Comfortable, almost luxurious, acquitted with many rugs and small coloured lights. Her perfume reigned there, somewhere between the forest and the sea, this mixture, so sweet to smell, stimulated the soul. Her movement in the bed brought her closer to him; the touch of her skin on him brought a surge of desire to Adskhan ‘s young body. He rejected this feeling, he could never disgrace the young woman who had looked after him with such care and responsiveness.

Day by day he grew stronger, managing to feed himself, to sit up on the bed…his first steps were taken inside the tent with great care. Four months after being found by Arzu, Adskhan had regained all his energy, brightness, and clarity. The time for him to return home was approaching.

The day he left Arzu’s village was more painful and sad than other he could ever remember. However, he promised to return soon. Arzu, as always, nodded and smiled with her eyes.

I took Adskhan two weeks to cross the desert, and then through the increasingly lush woodlands beyond until he reached his beloved homeland. His parents, who were still mourning his reported death, could hardly believe the gift that God had given them. For a second time, Deniz had received her son.

Adskhan told his parents what had happened and how he was cared for in that little village in the middle of an oasis. He spoke of the gorgeous woman who had looked after him, the commitment, dedication, and patience that she had for him to help him regain his health.

The king then decided to visit the village to meet such an exceptional woman. He set up a caravan and, accompanied by the queen and prince, began his two-week journey to Arzu’s village. As the royal caravan entered, the villagers were astonished, but quickly organised a ceremonial reception for such prominent dignitaries. Soon, they recognised the prince as the man who Arzu had cared for. Stunned silence spread throughout the village.

Adskhan went to Arzu’s father, to ask for her. The man with his head covered by a black scarf had red eyes, wrinkled skin and seemed to be stuck in a dark and cold world, full of an almost palpable sadness. The old man looked up and said that after the departure of the prince, the village had revolted against the lewd and lascivious behaviour suspected of his daughter. However, he argued that it was envisaged by the prophecy, they would not listen. Arzu had been burned alive and buried under the big tree that stood in the centre of the village. The intention was to make her an example for other women.

Shocked, and enraged, Adskhan wanted to destroy the village. However, his anger was contained by Arzu’s father, who said that even in the last minutes of agony his daughter had begun to sing the song which she had sung to him. His heart stopped, as if he had ceased to exist, the prince sat on the floor, next to where Arzu was buried. His tears watered the earth, his sighs moved the leaves. Time stopped, and at this moment, the black-eyed woman wrapped in green appeared.

She took Adskhan’s hand and led him into the cold stillness of the underworld. There, in the depths of Gaia, he saw his beloved, sitting in a corner, stitching a white fabric. In it, diamonds sparkled. She sang the same song. He approached, and Arzu reached out her hand to him. Adskhan helped her to stand and face him. Her eyes were prisoners of his eyes, their hands touched… In a gesture, Adskhan removed the blue veil covering her face. And the smile, oh, that smile he could never have imagined, ultimately bringing to his lips the only words that could describe what Arzu meant to him: “My Love.”

Arzu’s open smile was a seductive smile. Adskhan approached and kissed her, shamelessly, without fear or even thinking. Their surroundings began to be warmed by a slow and beautiful fire, the ceiling was the starriest sky that he had ever seen, and the moon smiled down upon them. He led her to the bed that seemed to sparkle, soft and surrounded by the sound of the river that passed close by.

He kissed Arzu with desire, now, without any thought to curb what he felt. He wanted her, not only as his wife, what she already is in his heart but as his lover. And each began to explore the other’s flesh, both with sensual delicacy, and limitless lustful pleasure. What had surfaced in both was the primal desire of a man for his woman and hers for him. As they rolled and coiled around each other tears of happiness roll down her face. Arzu’s hands pressed and traversed Adskhan’s body like a sculptor shaping fragile clay. Their surrender was final, happy, and complete as he broke all the barriers that had kept him from within her. Two bodies, as one, they were now floating in pain and pleasure, desire, and ultimate knowledge. They spent the night making love, garnished by the stars, sharing the Moon silvered light, flowing with the turbulent River, building ecstasy upon ecstasy.

When the sun rose, they returned to the same room where they met. The woman who had to bring the prince to meet his beloved pointed to a green passage, indicating the path they should follow. With the white wedding veil again covering her face, Arzu accompanied Adskhan.

In the middle of the village, the king, in despair, had been leading the search for his beloved son. Deniz, sitting beneath a leafy tree, eyes downcast, and praying that he was still alive and well somewhere. Then she was overcome with a sudden urge that made her look up she saw Adskhan and Arzu emerge from the lake that fed the oasis. Arzu in her wedding dress, Adskhan in the most beautiful clothes ever to adorn a prince.

Diamonds sparkled in Arzu’s veil. An exquisite sapphire with the colour of the night was the centre of a crown on Arby’s head. The prince shows to all his wife. The girl who sustained his life force within her and whose life was now in him. The astounded villagers marvelled at the miracle and could only bow before them. Women touched Arzu’s mantle, and with every touch, a small shower of diamonds was released, eagerly gathered by those same women who had condemned her. The children who thronged around her were received with love, a love that transformed; healing the sick, gifting them all with hope.

Arzu and Adskhan mounted their horses and accompanied by the royal caravan, headed back to the palace. There, Arzu and Adskhan reigned for centuries, without ageing and in full health. Two wise and benevolent monarchs, where people life was valued, and each live thing was precious. Justice, fairness, and love were the rules in their reign.

In the end, they had a son of their own, Serhan, that after the mysterious departure of his parents to an unknown place in a sunny and cold day after they had left to a walk in the palace gardens, became the new ruler. One of the wisest, benevolent, and happy rulers ever seen. Serhan used his parent’s guidance and transform even more the reign, Equality, respect, the opportunity came together to justice, fairness, and love to build a place for every people in Sis Krallığı.

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