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We woke up, still snuggled up together. Anna was warm, and soft, and welcoming. I dozed a while, my face in her breasts. If this was Russian hospitality, then I could be a great Russophile. She stirred, sleepily, looking down at me.
‘I think you like my breasts.’
‘However did you get that idea?’
We both laughed.
She pulled me closer, and I inhaled her scent, my hands fondling her breasts. Anna squirmed with pleasure, rolling onto me. For a moment I was smothered beneath her weight, her soft, warm breasts pressing onto my face, as my mouth fastened onto her nipple. I sucked firmly. Settling onto her elbows, she moved her breasts across my face, my own wetness gifted back as they swayed across me. I looked up, smiling. Then I felt her knee pressing between my legs; I parted them. She pushed in; I moaned.
Moving swiftly, she straddled my body, moving her wetness up my belly, across my small breasts, and then she settled onto my face, gently circling her hips as she ground her cunt into my face. There was just something about early morning cunt which set me off, and as my tongue flicked her clit from side to side, her backside settled on my chin. She was wet, very wet.
The angle she settled at allowed me to push her clit up into the soft, spongey flesh behind it, and then to suck it out. I could not move my hands as she was pressing my arms down with her legs. She rode me face, first forward and backwards, and then grinding down on me. As her cunt opened as her legs spread, by tongue, tube-like, slipped inside her, causing her to gasp. As she bounced up and down on my tongue, I fucked her hard, her juices beginning to leak onto my face. I felt breathless when she pressed down, but continued to use my tongue to please her.
She gathered pace, and from the change in taste and pace, and from the tensing of her thighs, I could tell that my ministrations were having their effect until, sliding back and collapsing across me, Anna climaxed, her belly smothering my face utterly, as I grasped her breasts; she fell forward.
‘Oh my goodness,’ Anna whimpered, as she rolled over and pulled me tightly to her. ‘I don’t suppose you need a Russian helper in Istanbul? You are such a good lover, darling.’
‘Well darling, I have had a lot of practice, but you are fantastic, and if there was a vacancy, it would be a delight.’
‘But you, my Lady, what about your own pleasure?’
‘That, my darling,’ I smiled back, ‘lies in yours, and there will be time enough for that, in any event. I am betrothed forever to another, but fear I shall never see her again.’
She looked at me, she understood, but for tonight, she would be mine. For a while we simply cuddled together. I felt warm and safe, something I had not felt in a long time. But I knew the day would claim me, and then we needed food.
Throwing on some robes left out for us, we broke fast in the antechamber where food had been laid out for us. We both ate heartily, though often I had no idea what meat I was eating; this was not, I suspected, the place to ask for kosher food.
‘Would you like to talk with Father Vlad, my lady, he and Rabbi Samuels would like to meet with you.’
‘Now I am intrigued, what is all this about?’
She smiled sweetly.
‘Genuinely, I know no more than escort beşevler I told you last night. We Vangarians have a legend about a Rahab, and it is so rare a name that when they heard you were coming, they got very excited.’
By the time I had dressed, I was excited too. As I wandered with Anna down the twisting corridors of the Kremlin, I felt both a sense of dread, this place had seen some dark work, but also of anticipation.
We entered a book-lined room. It breathed an atmosphere of calm; it felt quite different from the rest of the place. Sitting at a table piled with books were two men, who Anna introduced as Fr. Vladimir and Rabbi Samuels.
Fr. Vladimir was a broad-chested man of medium height with a huge greying beard, wearing the conical hat of the Orthodox priest. He held out his hand and I kissed his ring; I know how to behave. The small, thin man with the wispy beard and the skull-cap was Rabbi Samuels. They both looked at me.
“Remarkable, quite remarkable, Rabbi, she matches the description to a tee.’
The Rabbi was gazing at me with something approaching awe.
‘You may leave us, Anna,’ Fr Vladimir’s words were a command, not a suggestion.
‘Sit. I am sorry if we appeared a little abrupt, what do you know about your ancestry, Rahab?’
Fr Vlad, as he insisted I call him, had before him a small bound volume.
‘Only that my ancestors have lived in Chilia, near the Black Sea, for time beyond mind, at least on my poppa’s side. My mother’s family came more recently, fleeing the Catholic persecution in Spain a century or so ago. Why do you ask?’
Fr Vlad explained that the book in front of him had been left with the Royal Archives before the time of the invasions of the 1130s which had destroyed the Kingdom of Rus.
‘It was deposited by a woman called Rahab, who was the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, in turn, was friend to the mother of Queen Gytha of beloved memory, the wife of the great Tsar Vladimir II. It tells a strange story of exile and prophecy. Until recently we knew only that Rahab had fled south with other Jews when the troubles came upon Kiev. There, our records end.’
‘Which is where, my dear, I come in. I have been in touch with your old mentor Rabbi Glickstein, and together we have compiled the genealogy, and there is now, seeing you, no doubt, you are the Rahab of the prophecy.’
I was shaking.
‘But I am just a little Jewess from a provincial village near a port where my father deals in goods, and farms in a small way, what have I to do with Vangarians?’
The Rabbi explained that fearing persecution, many Jews had fled south after 1130. Rahab had three children, the youngest, also called Rahab, was married to a Rabbi, and they had left to join his kin who lived in Wallachia. There they lived under the protection of a Grand Duke who, recognising the talents of the Jews, had made them welcome. Rahab had, according to the records of the Rabbinate, three sons, the youngest of whom, Aaron, had also been a rabbi. For the next hundred years, each generation had produced a rabbi, but there had been no female children. There was a tradition that if there was a female child, she should be called Rahab.
Rabbi Samuels unrolled the great scroll, showing me each generation, leading back to someone called escort balgat Rahabdanegythsdottir, and forward to my father, Isaac. To see it, stretched across nearly five centuries amazed me. Suddenly I felt joined to something much greater than my small, insignificant self.
‘It seemed irrelevant,’ the Rabbi said, ‘except for the usual purpose of establishing who is and who is not Jewish, until Fr Vlad and I spoke recently. Now it isn’t.’
Quick on the uptake as I was, this was a puzzle with too many pieces missing for me to make sense of it all.
‘We think you are the woman named in the prophecy in the book.’
The Rabbi looked at me.
‘It fits. The name, the history, everything.’
Fr. Vlad nodded.
‘The prophecy was in a vision of the Blessed Virgin which Danegyth had, it is recorded in the book, and that is why it interests me. It interests my Masters for other reasons, and the Rabbi for his own.’
A translation had been made of the book, and they gave it to me, asking me to read it.
‘We are sure. You are so like her, Danegyth. Small, wise, and you share her taste for women and not men. Tell me, have you had visions?’
Fr Vlad looked pointedly at me.
There was no use denying it, so I nodded, feeling all the while overwhelmed. It was as though the past was reaching out to claim me. Maybe, as Will had said, stories have no ending, all that ends is our part in them. Now, it seemed, I was but a part of a larger story.
‘Was it at the tomb of the Marble King?’ Fr. Vlad’s voice pulled me from my reveries.
Now I was amazed. Although Anna had probed me about it, I thought I had said nothing, and yet Fr. Vlad seemed to know what I thought was unknowable, except by Anastasia and the Bodyguard.
‘It is alright, my child, we know that the last Emperor did not die as the history record has it, and we have long had contact with the heir. There is no doubt you are the Rahab in the prophecy, all the signs point to it. Read the book, and we shall talk later.’
I kissed his ring, the Rabbi looked at me.
‘My daughter, if it is so, I give thanks that you are here. It is God who brings you.’
And with that, they were gone.
A maid brought me something to drink, and I sat and read ‘Swan’s Neck.’
It was a strange and moving story, and as I read I remembered how I had told the Sultan the tale of King Harold, and how I had felt a pull as I left England, as well as that strange sense of familiarity in Elsinore. Could it be, I found myself wondering? And what was all this about ‘freeing your people?’
I finished it within an hour, skim reading. It sent shivers down my spine. Opening the actual manuscript made me shake. It was written in a cursive hand, the lines regular and neat – just as I wrote. The ink was not faded, and though I could not make it out – the writing was in a form of English with which I was unfamiliar – the story, as I followed it in the translation moved me. It was a love story. The final page was smeared; tear stains. The whole thing made me shake. I ran my hands through my hair and rubbed my eyes. Could this really have been written by my ancestress? Was this whence I came? Even why I came? Could there be a purpose to my life beyond its mere existence?
Then I pulled myself together. Even if it was, escort batıkent then what of it? Fascinating on a personal level, even moving, I could not see how, or why, the Russians and the Rabbi were interested in it. Men, I thought, always dramatising things. It was a wonderful, even moving, story, but I could not see it was mine. The problem was that was not what my feelings, which I had learned to trust, were telling me. Even touching the pages made me tingle; especially touching the pages.
A young priest came into the room, inviting me to lunch with Fr. Vlad and the Rabbi.
They looked at me intently as food was served.
‘Well?’ They said, simultaneously.
I told them my thoughts. I then looked at both of them.
‘What are you not telling me? You must have some idea what this prophecy is, or else it would not have occupied you so. I am taking it that you do not simply think that it can work itself out? But is it safe to meddle in such matters my Lords?’
Fr. Vlad looked at me with new respect.
‘That, my lady, we cannot tell, but it is a good question.’
‘So was my one asking you to what you thought it applied, but you side-stepped it.’
‘It is a matter of State my lady.’
‘And as you know, Fr. Vlad, I am the little Vizier, and I have much experience of such, which may be useful in terms of the prophecy. So it makes sense to share it, unless, of course, as I suspect, you are not quite sure.’
As my eyes fixed on him, I could see that I was correct. He was looking at the Rabbi.
‘I cannot be sure, but you need to know. Perhaps you will be able to intuit whether our theories are correct?’
He unfolded a story which triggered thoughts of what had happened in Damascus, or at least on the road there.
The ancient kingdom of Armenia, like so many others, including Kiev, had been attacked and in the end, conquered by the Mongol hordes. As that tide had receded, local warlords had come to terms with their overlords, and in one part of Armenia, the one closest to Russia, the ruling Khan kept close links with the Mongols, and was seen as a possible threat. His mistreatment of his Christian subjects had led them to appeal to the Tsar, but Feodor, while lavish with gifts of icons and prayers, had declined to intervene. The Khanate’s southern border was partly coterminous with that of the Ottoman Empire. Was it possible that the Sultan would intervene?
‘You want us to be those fools who rush in where wise angels fear to tread?’
They looked at me.
Smiling, I reassured them.
‘It is no more in our interests than it is yours to have an ally of the Mongols on our doorstep. I shall investigate when I am back, but I take it, my Lords, that you both have what my Master lacks, which is agents there?’
Relieved, they assured me that they had men there who could help, if I could bring some force to bear in the region.
‘But in what sense,’ I asked, ‘are these my people?’
‘Ah,’ said the Rabbi, ‘well there is a group of Jews there who went when the old Kingdom was there, and are now, in effect, trapped there. The Khan is demanding that all the Jews pay increased taxes or risk being decimated. If this continues, I fear they will all be lost.’
That, to me, seemed a cause worthy of my talents, although I could not, at that juncture, see how I would be able to bring my Master to same way of thinking. But as I had an audience with Tsar Feodor, perhaps I could yet prevail on him to help? As lunch ended, the time was coming to meet this son of the Great Ivan, and to see what, if anything, could be done with the last of the House of Rurik.
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