BERNARD’S HOURS Part Two, Skin – Walker The story of a schismatic misanthrope, Leila Samarrai, Work in progress, inspired by my article “The Dark Mozart” (waiting for translated chapters!)


BERNARD’S HOURS, The story of a schismatic misanthrope, Leila Samarrai, Part Two, Skin – Walker (excerpt from the novel)

including my youtube classical playlist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td3vNCCMchg&list=PLloUSh-zjFDze6qB4QIWDHTdtoQJY8PUy&index=24

 

BERNARD’S HOURS PART ONE https://leilasamarrai.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/bernards-hours-the-story-of-a-schismatic-misanthrope-leila-samarrai/

‘A smuggler, and yet so knowledgeable of Mozart?’, she giggled.

I took one good look at her again… She took one of me as well, giggling, but confused now. Behind the deep confusion I detected that along her face, like a bugger in the night or a snake dragging her belly across the red-hot rocks, slithered and crept a shadow of disgust.

Am I so vile, so unbearable to everyone?

True, I hold nothing against whores. If I did, it would mean that I maintain a rage against civilization as a whole within me. Ever since culture existed, whores existed. And every single society has its whores. If it did not, it lacked culture. Does the word “cultus” nor remind one of coitus? Who am I to moralize or change anything? Who cares for the virgin Ishtar under the fertile crescent moon of Mesopotamia who goluptiously sucked Marduk’s dick in the hot Arabian nights? And thus it went by in history… an endless vastness of whoring – and the Japanese kind is somewhat dearest to me – I was unaware that I was saying all of this out loud.

And everything else, reduced to the point of being invisible. A fount of artistic fire, a poetic flame, a superspiritual beauty, no!

‘For you, madam, I have a book… A whore through the centuries. It might be of interest to you.’

***

excerpt from the novel

Sometimes one has to go mad to keep their sanity


The series “The Handmaid’s Tale” follows a woman (women) forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship in the near future in a totalitarian Gilead, formerly the United States, where women have no rights.
In a dystopian disturbing world in which women are the property of a state, and cutting a hand or some other part of the body, psychological torture, public hanging … as punishment for reading a book (by a woman)
The adaptation of the novel by Margaret Atwood, “The Mystery of the Story”, is a story of life in Gilead’s dystopia, a totalitarian society in the former United States. Gilead, faced with an ecological catastrophe and a sudden decline in birth rate, rules on fundamentalism and militarism that wants to “restore traditional values.”
Sometimes one has to go mad to keep their sanity.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5834204/

 

 

My favourite girl – Emily, Arya Stark of the Handmaid’s tale…I hope she will not be deported to Gilead… (+ she poisoned Commander’s wife in the colonies..)

 

in the last episode, Ofmathew is snapping .. The scene is very powerful.

The show’s protagonist, June, becomes less and less likeable or relatable …

It looks for the whole world, except for me. I respect her character even more than before. But do not listen to me, I’m in the Targaryen team. Bang!
In any case, the character development and dynamics are interesting. Given what she (June) has gone through and how much she has lost and sacrificed in the process, helping other maids, saving lives.. June seems to have nothing to lose. A passing phase or a dark side that will win. Point of her “change of course”: Offmathew ratted her to Aunt Lydia – why she can not see her daughter anymore. In the process, a person was killed, an old servant called Martha who, as a friend, helped her to reach her daughter. June attended her public hanging… Sounds familiar? 🙂

And I liked this one, too…

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

As someone has already said – Words cannot describe how am I disappointed in Serena.

As one of the few remaining fertile women, handmaid OfFred, now ofJoseph, real name – JUNE (Elizabeth Mos) is a servant in the Commander’s household and is part of the caste of women forced into sexual slavery, the last desperate attempt to restore the population. Emmy’s award-winning drama returns to the second season, which is characterized by June’s pregnancy and her persistent struggle for the release of her future child from the dystopian horror of Gilead. “Gilead is in you,” is the favourite sentence of Aunt Lydia. OfFred/OfJoseph and all characters will fight against this dark truth – or they will surrender.

‘You should have killed me first, then give a speech,’ Sleeping Mathilde, an excerpt


I am posting Daenerys’s tributes at FB https://www.facebook.com/leila.mehdi.12935 all they long… read this chapter. It was written in 2006… before the show and this is not The Game of Thrones. It is finished in 2014
But, my Mathilde is slightly different than Daenerys…

‘You should have killed me first, then give a speech,’ Sleeping Mathilde, an excerpt

Undead Mathilde takes over the Hasse Castle, north of Vasteras

***
‘I know all the guards Orian ever spoke to. You were not among them. You did not follow a single command I issued. I know what you did with the trenches. You buried them, and in them, you’ve buried the bodies of my many loyal guards. You brought your own men. Do you think I am unaware of the dagger at my throat and that the tower guards’ arrows aiming at me, or of the gate being unlocked? I wonder who dragged you here to begin with.’
‘Almric, Olof’s brother.’ He smiled and lunged at her with a dagger.

She grabbed the sharp end with her hand, confusing him for a moment, then giving him a powerful knee kick to the crotch.
The guards pulled out their arrows and tightened their bows.
‘Stop…’ Tamson gurgled, but I could no longer hear him, for I went numb out of fear for our fates.
At that moment, from the highest point of a tower, an arrow pierced the rebel’s leg, and then the other went into his palm. The mistress grabbed him and blood covered her long, white fingers. ‘Almric, you say?’

Dark shadows were dancing on her face, while the guards were returning the arrows to their quivers.
‘Are they dead as well?’ Tamson asked. His confused look was aimed at the archers, many of which, as he knew, were hidden in the deepest parts of the tower. It was the last line of defence, therefore it had to have been heavily guarded. ‘Where are my men? Maybe in that trench, you mentioned?’
Mathilde burst out laughing.

‘Give me my sword back, you damn Norrbotten witch!’
The shivers that had overcome his body up until that point were gone completely, which she noticed and whispered ‘Almric…’ anew, adding ‘I can understand that. I would have done the same myself. Raise an army of monsters and crush Amerongen, bathe in his blood under the light of the pregnant moon. But where is the wretch now? There he is chanting to himself in the solars begging the serfs to ride him. There are no living here, not anymore.’ To this, I, Jonas Sverker, quivered in fear, but Mathilde had already sent away the guards that wanted to shackle Tamson. There was a tumult in the air from all the rage. Tamson looked at their faces, but they were cloaked. ‘This is your army?’ He laughed. ‘Yeomen whose blood you drank?’
‘How poignant.’ She laughed and tossed him a two-handed sword. ‘I like your courage. What else can you do besides being brave? Since you cannot fight, which we’ve established during regular training.’ She turned her back to him, giving him the chance to cut her down. ‘I can hear the trotting of feet moving to the gates. The monster is here, to lay the beast to rest.’ She spoke without rhyme or reason.
Tamson stood on his shaky feet, the sword in his hand equally as shaky.

‘You wear the robes of Amerongen, giving out the same commands he would, drink blood far more greedily and suck the life out of Norrbotten more rammishly and passionately than he ever could…You are Amerongen. Your soul is rotten, words vile, innocent blood rests on your hands!’ He shouted, swinging his sword to Mathilde. She swiftly turned and he landed on the sharp end of her blade, his heart pierced.
‘You should have killed me first, then give a speech,’ she said, wiping the sword on Abaddon’s back. She turned to the guards….

***

Copyright ©Leila Samarrai Mehdi 2014®

* No part of this novel may be used or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any way or form or by any means electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise without the written permission of the author.*

LANDLORDS, 30 novellas, an excerpt, one of my current projects, Serbian original included


LANDLORDS, 30 novellas

Story 1, Paragraph 1

for lack of an expert, be content with my translations, for the time being.

Author: Kalimachos, Καλλίμαχος of Alexandria

Dedicated to Stephen King who inspired me to turn the new leaf when it comes to storytelling, adopting a new approach to the same – hit the keyboard, use the harrowing perspective of a ploughman,  write everything down rapidly and absent-mindedly, use plough, axe and two owsen instead of pen… Suit yourself.

unknown interlocutor -Or was that Chekhov? Or was it both of you?

– But they were also cheating off each other’s novels!, so at least said the Old Kalimachos, Supreme Head of the Destroyed Library of Alexandria, de Borges,  323 B. C

unknown interlocutor -Egads! What are you talking about?!

-Tchah, nothing. I’m rambling on,  blabbing about the story that had long gone stale. Anyway, I’ve been commanded to tell it again. And I obey. I saw it…

unknown interlocutor – In a dream?

-How’ d you know that? Yes, YES, right there, right there! I saw it in the distorted, yet in a very relaxing dream. It was the extension of the long night captured by imagination and that is Book,  the Book of Books. Everything that is already in that book is going to be written over and over again, her letters burned into that paper,  by the Ptolemaic technique, so at least said the Old Kalimachos, the Great Pontiff… and his face.. so badly disfigured, melted down in the fire. His blind eyes see everything of the horrors to come.

***

GAZDE, 30 NOVELA

Autor: Kalimah od Aleksandrije

Posvećeno Stivenu Kingu koji me nagna da se okrenem novom načinu pripovedaštva: udri po tastaturi, drljaj kako ti drago, plugom kleši slova, ili je to bio Čehov, ili su to bila obojica pa su jedan od drugog prepisivali, kako reče Kalimah Stari, vrhovni poglavar aleksandrijske biblioteke, po Borhesu 323 p. N. E

Nepoznati sagovornik – O čemu ti to?

-Ma ni o čemu. Trućam već istrućano, nešto u zapoved dato.

Nepoznati sagovornik -U snu?

-Kako ste znali? Da baš u snu, u opuštenom snu, produžetku imaginacije noći, a to je knjiga, knjiga nad knjigama i u toj knjizi sve je napisano, sva slova su ugravirana posebnom tehnikom ptolomeja, kako reče Kalimah, upravnik aleksandrijske biblioteke, a lice mu je.. lice mu je sttrašno. Izgorelo u požaru. Oči slepe, a sve vide.

***

 

 

‘Open The Gates.’ Sleeping Mathilde, an excerpt


‘There are many wild animals roaming around.’ She had a bloodthirsty smile on her face. ‘But this is not reason enough to explain you. Amerongen never cared much for hunting.’

‘The deciding factor was me being Gol’s best friend. He was an excellent swordsman and had taught me skills few guards know.’

‘Gol’s friend…’

‘Yes, mistress Mathilde.’

‘Gol had no friends.’

She approached him very closely and never had I seen in this long life of mine, me, Jonas Sverker, such effort in anyone, man or woman, to keep at bay their desire to slit someone’s throat. Her gaze went wild with unbridled rage, and her chin was twitching. Still, she all but whispered the following.

‘I know all the guards Orian ever spoke to. You were not among them. You did not follow a single command I issued. I know what you did with the trenches. You buried them, and in them you’ve buried the bodies of my many loyal guards. You brought your own men. Do you think I am unaware of the dagger at my throat and that the tower guards’ arrows aiming at me, or of the gate being unlocked? I wonder who dragged you here to begin with.’

‘Almric, Olof’s brother.’ He smiled and lunged at her with a dagger.

She grabbed the sharp end with her hand, confusing him for a moment, then giving him a powerful knee kick to the crotch.

The guards pulled out their arrows and tightened their bows.

‘Stop…’ Tamson gurgled, but I could no longer hear him, for I went numb out of fear for our fates.

At that moment, from the highest point of a tower an arrow pierced the rebel’s leg, and then the other went into his palm. The mistress grabbed him and blood covered her long, white fingers. ‘Almric, you say?’

Dark shadows were dancing on her face, while the guards were returning the arrows to their quivers.

‘Are they dead as well?’ Tamson asked. His confused look was aimed at the archers, many of which, as he knew, were hidden in the deepest parts of the tower. It was the last line of defense, therefore it had to have been heavily guarded. ‘Where are my men? Maybe in that trench you mentioned?’

tumblr_mbqsq60FZm1rxzuceo2_500.gif

Mathilde burst out laughing.

‘Give me my sword back, you damn Norrbotten witch!’

The shivers that had overcome his body up until that point were gone completely, which she noticed and whispered ‘Almric…’ anew, adding ‘I can understand that. I would have done the same myself. Raise an army of monsters and crush Amerongen, bathe in his blood under the light of the pregnant moon. But where is the wretch now? There he is chanting to himself in the solars begging the serfs to ride him. There are no living here, not anymore.’ To this I, Jonas Sverker, quivered in fear, but Mathilde had already sent away the guards that wanted to shackle Tamson. There was a tumult in the air from all the rage. Tamson looked at their faces, but they were cloaked. ‘This is your army?’ He laughed. ‘Yeomen whose blood you drank?’

‘How poignant.’ She laughed and tossed him a two-handed sword. ‘I like your courage. What else can you do besides being brave? Since you cannot fight, which we’ve established during regular training.’ She turned her back to him, giving him the chance to cut her down. ‘I can hear the trotting of feet moving to the gates. The monster is here, to lay the beast to rest.’ She spoke without rhyme or reason.

Tamson stood on his shaky feet, the sword in his hand equally as shaky.

‘You wear the robes of Amerongen, giving out the same commands he would, drink blood far more greedily and suck the life out of Norrbotten more rammishly and passionately than he ever could…You are Amerongen. Your soul is rotten, words vile, innocent blood rests on your hands!’ He shouted, swinging his sword to Mathilde. She swiftly turned and he landed on the sharp end of her blade, his heart pierced.

‘You should have killed me first, then give a speech,’ she said, wiping the sword on Abaddon’s back. She turned to the guards.

‘Open the gates for Almric.’ She uttered this verdict under the flaming ball burning away in the open sky, for it no longer was the sun, but rather a burning monster, a flaming torch about to start a wildfire.

‘It’s as if lava is about to run from the sky, followed by blood. Then fire comes and swallows all,’ the Undead one concluded.

‘You are right, my love,’ none other than my undead daughter Laetitia added, dismounting Abaddon, and then, hand in hand the two moved through the garden, along a narrow alleyway to the castle gates which closed like a maw behind them…

The entry fortress was open for Almric’s army to enter on their lavishly clad horses. The infantry threw boulders at the defenseless towers of Hässe. Almric’s knights rode through the gates armed with spears, swords and maces. One part was made up of simple peasantry clad in animal hides, armed with axes and pitchforks.

This was how Amerongen was abandoned by his gods. Alfhild, goddess akin to our immortal mistress Mathilde, joined forces with Loki’s daughter Hel, ruler of Niflheim.[1]

The Road of Death, a bridge stretching over Hornavan, joining the isle of Naki with the surrounding mountains, was Amerongen’s concoction just like the Bifrost connecting Midgard to Asgard.[2] We decided that, if we were to survive the wrath of gods, we would ride out of Hässe, the realm of eternal cold, the miniature Niflheim of Amerongen’s tenebrous mind, which started burning under the swigs of flaming swords of Surtr, the god creator of stars and Bergelmir.[3]

wHZ.gif

Hässe was disappearing, under the rain of flaming arrows, in a fiery vortex. I saw a strange apparition at the tallest tower up which, along the ladder, the enraged villagers were climbing, howling wolfishly.

‘Amerongen is here!’ Taken by anger, they cursed his name, called on him to surrender the ‘bitch of Norrbotten’, while the great sven looked at them cold, tall in a long gown, cloaked.

A sword flashed which he held in his hand steadily, calmly, as if he were in a world of unnatural coldness. Too far for me to notice any other detail, it seemed to me that he stepped forward, as if he is about to dive into the fire at any moment. The curses and begging of the villagefolk were interrupted by a whip cracking in his other hand. Some fell from the ladder, pierced by arrows from the opposite tower, the ‘Eyes of Hässe’, fired by surviving guards of Orian. I listened in carefully. I heard his mumbling and a whisper to nobody in particular, except to one…the Sun!

‘Let me see you now.’ I was sure he was talking to the sun, for his entire body was turned to the flaming mass in the sky towards which he seemed an alabaster statue, solemn in his motionless stupor and lack of interest to the battle behind him. ‘Mock, shaman, keep on mocking. I will see you there…any second now!’

I could clearly see his skull grinning and his skeletal hand (‘Is he even alive?’) that he held up his sword with towards the sun. En garde, he started moving along an imaginary line along the edge of the tower, measuring up the opponent up in the heavens. I was certain then that he had lost it. ‘And now a lunge at the opponent!’ This he said, blessed Thor and jumped, laughing maniacally, into the fire.

After the master’s fall, the remaining guards charged and clashed blades with Almric’s army. Through the smoke, sword clinking and the all-devouring fire, I spotted a distraught Hilde with unkempt hair and torn garb, running towards me, so I took her into my arms and threw over one of Orian’s Arabian horses, defending myself along the way with an ax I took from the battleground, and I rode the horse to save us from certain demise in an insane trot.

The flames shivered around our heads, but by the grace of the gods, or some other miracle, we were unharmed, and what a miracle it was, I gave myself the task of finding it out after I had found myself on the other side of the Death Road, for I knew the shortcut that lead into the hills specked with muddy village huts that during the rebellion, I believed, were abandoned.

As if reading my thoughts, to the noted above Hilde said to me. ‘This Arabian horse was gifted to us by our mistress Mathilde. She is already in Valhalla with our daughter, Jonas – they dance with the Valkyries.’

No other option remained for me but to hold her words as true and that the mistress sent her this message from hell itself, for we rode the battleground filled with cries of those fallen from the towers, that dropped, with deafening noise, one after another, in a fateful battle and clash of two-handed swords with axes and iron bars. Not one bit of that touched us, nor were we seen – by either Almric’s troops or Tamson’s infantry made up of the Norrbotten village men – as we rode past them. At one point, the shaitan-horse passed through the body of a guard in armor. ‘See? Not a regular horse,’ my wife said triumphantly, the moment before the horse flew over the drawbridge and into the fire which we then left unharmed.

Hässe was convulsing and breathing its last breaths, while I prayed to Odin, begging him to send the Storm, to have at least a flower or a rock remain of the castle, to which Hilde bumped me on the head, and I thanked dear Odin that my head had never been filled by unsightly thoughts, to which my wife laughed heartily. ‘The mistress gifted me as well, not just you.’ I looked at her, spurred the horse far away onward, as far away as possible from the castle that the devil himself claimed.

Odin split the gut of the sky asunder with his thunder and smacked the ‘Eyes of Hässe’. A lively colorful fire burst over the decorated tower. Hässe was moaning amid its death rattle. Dying slowly and finally exhaling one last time, leaving no man alive, for Hässe belonged to no one other than Yambe-Akka.

I tell all of this in your mercy, chaplain Larsen, so that you could take pity on our fates and, considering our knowledge and fealty to the masters while they were alive, take us into Västerås to live in peace and pray to one god.

Captain Larsen coughed reading the scroll written by the unskilled hand of a simple serf.

–         He writes like a king or a monk would…There must be an explanation for this as well.

He scratched his head and started reading the stableboy’s writing in pure Latin.

–         ‘And mistress Mathilde, with our daughter Laetitia Sverker, came to our dreams these past days, forcing us to plead with you and explain what really happened in Hässe during your absence.

Wishing for her will to be done properly, she greets you, chaplain and Father, and she hopes not, for your sake, for an upcoming encounter.

Your humble servant,

Jonas Sverker.’

*

 

– I am Ishmael.

– Umar told me of you.

– Have you read the history of Hjalmar and what had happened?

[1] One of the Nine realms, the land of the dishonored dead who did not die heroically.

[2] Home of the gods.

[3] Giants living in the fire realm of Muspelheim.

 

Caligula and his comrade Adolf, an excerpt from the SF novel “There was once a republic”, Timeline: Caligula


Before he met Caligula, Adolf seemed the fairly ordinary young man who took delight in his job, painting walls, striving to meet a beautiful young woman, so that he could marry her, leading a quiet of a private life. He never had thoughts about conquering the world, inside his mind… The only brain activity that gave him a real bummer was that to recalculate the amount of paint needed for painting facades, because his employer, a Jew, cut Adolf’s pay every time he estimated Adolf wasn’t up to the task. As a result, young Adolf never loved Jews too much. The idea he was special, that he was destined to rule the world had been implanted in his mind by Caligula, by now in the advanced stage of the madness. At the thought of something like this, Adolf, already, sees flashes of light in front of his eyes, like small sparkles. Thus, Gitler has his mind set on the organization of the Party Troops modelled according to The Praetorian Guard. Sturm Abteilung Troop Leader, Ernest Roehm, saw the Praetorians and he got excited:
“Gitler”, Roehm said, “Urge Caligula for Sturm Abteilung to get the same helmets as Romans. He’s your comrade, he will listen… ”
Gitler flatly refused the proposal:
“Ernst, bitte, control yourself. We are a serious Party!”
Thus, he was giving parades through Berlin, building on the ancient Romans defiles, building Reichstag per the Roman Senate projects.

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Three, The Shaitan Horse (complete)


With this chapter, titled “The Shaitan Horse”, I will temporarily pause sharing the material from the book of Mathilde which is currently being translated. I hope that the introductory passages piqued your interest. Mathilde will soon be available on Amazon. You will be notified in due time. Thank you for reading.

PREVIOUS CHAPTERS:

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter One, A TALE OF ORIAN VON AMERONGEN

Sleeping Mathilde, Chapter Two, THE HÄSSE CASTLE

The Shaitan Horse

“It’s hard to maintain friendships under the steep mountains whose sklents they spread like Icarus spreads his wings towards the icy sun in an attempt to touch the gods. Sun-scorched tops delve deep into the soul of the locals of Norrbotten. It’s hard to maintain friendships, because the abyss is indestructible here. Sven Olof, on the other side of Norrbotten, did not fear the trip. His name was described with a wondrous strength of myth.

“As he was riding on his horse across the slope with no discernible fear of any kind, hoarfrost covered the sven’s eyelashes. Cold shades danced on his cheeks long ago burned by the Norrbotten sun. He got off his horse and observed with his beady eyes the eternal chill of Hornavan.

“When I saw him, I left the solar running, crossed bridges that connected the towers, all the way up to the watchtower where I could see him swing under the swipes of the winds. It appeared as if he were supported by the light piercing through his massive body. He turned his face towards me and gave a wide grin, exuding all of his beauty, to me unbearably all too familiar, a mixture of fear and impending doom. We were looking at each other like two misbehaving boys after a dangerous game which they weren’t caught for, sensing Lindworm’s tongue standing between us like a beast, and the Fjalar hill behind it as well as the abyss whose bottom was paved with the crystals of winter. I was looking at the cracked eternal darkness of ice and felt like Olof was included in my thoughts as well. He removed his gloves and looked at me, mouth agape like with a skinned fox.

“He wore a black silk shirt with a laced collar and sleeves covered in multicolor tapes, a velvet robe and a huge cloak which cast even darker shadows on his already darkened face.

“I had rough wool trousers on. Boots, with rolled up top edge, reached up to my knees. Beneath a fine leather tunic, with corduroy edges and embroidered crosses of silk, peeped a collarless linen shirt. I wore an earring made of darkened silver, and a signet ring with a lion paw engraved on it on my hand.”

Orian lifted his hand and had a good long look into the distance. He memorized every detail. He dipped the quill in the inkwell and continued:

“In the inner yard of the castle we were smitten by a gaze of a female eye. It was my beloved wife Mathilde. Beneath the fine smooth plush dress one could make out the cotton and silk edges embroidered with a silver wire. She had a leather hat adorned with pearls on her head. The see-through organdy scarf floated above her head like a halo, and fell back all the way down to her slim waist. A silver filigree earrings with dark river pearls shaped like tears gave her face a particular beauty.

“Mathilde and Olof’s eyes crossed paths. It was then that I felt all the weight of an unclear feeling smoldering within me like an unspoken suspicion and a secret unrest during every single visit of Olaf to the castle. That force of feelings can only be triggered by an injured self-love. Rage grew within me. A cold, suppressed rage. Why was I being silent? Did Olof rule over me with the shackles of friendship?

horse

“I pushed the servant away and took Olof’s horse to the stables. Sunlight was following me and casting hot flames onto the unlucky face of the one who neither loved nor was loved. I pulled the horse with one hand. The wind was an enemy to me, a fierce companion who scooped up lumps of earth and with its icy breath threw it in my face.

“I pulled on the reins. The horse revved and tried to pull away. I opened the stable door and drove him into the box stall.

“What exactlt did I see?

“A muffled, female laughter in the background. It was Mathilde thinking Olaf’s remark to be humorous.

“No, no doubt that he wants her! I am aware of the fact that this is the last time I’m talking about this, about the misunderstanding, about the kisses that didn’t happen. My gut feels wrinkled up… I heard a murmur and steps of serfs who started genuflecting to Olof. He, as if in his own castle, started walking up the paved trail bounded by oak trees with light steps towards the mistress of the castle, towards Mathilde.

“I made my way to the castle entrance. The vile suspicion burned in my heart threatening to crush me.

“A vast room of magical beauty stretched well into the castle. It had been an enormous chamber magically lighted by thickly arranged torches. Above the entrance there was a richly done façade with a big window shaped like a horseshoe (a gift from an Indian architect whom I had killed for a bad joke at the dinner table, or for the remark that we serve tasteless meals in Hässe, I’m not sure). Down the hall stretched a row of chambers which flowed one into another. The solar could be reached via stairs from each of them or via the porches and terraces built in the Oriental style, right into the lavish garden of Hässe.

“From a gelded, richly adorned throne, set at the bottom end of the hall, I would stare at the pane, resting my nude feet on the stone statue of a prostrate lion with a human head. Befitting my dark being’s tastes, the imposing ceiling, supported by a forest of columns, was adorned with complex, dark frescoes. Gigantic tapestries warmed the cruel stone walls. The castle floor, Greek style, was adorned with black and white pebblestone mosaics, and if the observer would take a good detailed look at the painting, he would notice the many-eyed Argus, the All-seeing, surrounded by wolves with their maws agape. My eye did not miss a single solitary detail. It was the temple of my curse, carved in the living flesh of Hässe. My inner being, my soul, whichever you prefer.

“I chiseled the sweet venom of battle into the walls. I invested a lot into paintings. The fresco above the very entrance of the Hall (this was my pet name for the enormous hall of Hässe, a rare architectural jewel in an eerie wasteland of the surrounding nature) was presenting a head of, one would say, a beautiful woman. Eyes full of fright and tears were chiseled into her visage. Opposite to her, at the very end of the Grand hall, the fresco above the throne was presenting the merciful eyes of a man, who bore a scepter in his hand. The fresco was hiding a secret passageway, and the passage hid – mortuary statues. I would often open the secret door as the nobles were engulfed in merriment during feasts, followed by the merry music of the manor minstrel.

“’Master Olof’– I nervously paced the Hall – ‘I do not recall ever taking you to see the castle. My servants have covered the floors with a new material’ – I grinned like a wolf, nonchalantly toying with the silver earring in my ear. I was tapping on the floor with my boot, giving the terror a beat. – ‘Approach the throne, master Olof’ – the boot tapping increased. Olof’s gaze paused with admiration on the walls which were adorned here and there with gelded carvings and unavoidable arabesques.

“’Come with me and see the castle, my friend. Delve into my soul, and then we feast’ – I approached him and put my arm around his shoulder. I caught Olof’s gaze directed at Mathilde’s cross which hung from the stained glass. – ‘You are impressed by the cameos of the pious Mathilde of Essen? I brought it from Cologne as a gift to my god-fearing lady.’

“’Fascinating…’ – Olof mumbled. – ‘Really… you built a shrine in the castle, master Orian. Your care for the proper upbringing of lady Mathilde is touching almost as the care for her soul. I thought you would corrupt her with your gods.’

“I looked at him with bloodlust in my eyes, but I did not erase the wolfish smile off my face, quite the contrary, I grinned all the harder.

“’You see, Olof… The architecture I am inclined to lately is a strict and monumental one. Vast wall structures are without a single opening. Soon I will wall off all those tiny light windows through which you’re looking.’

“He gave me a funny look. ‘By the by, where is thy lady? She was here a moment ago’ – he took a good long look around him. She was here all along, right next to the two of us, silent like a shadow, peaceful like a sword resting in the sheathe. She seemed as if she were suppressing laughter.

“A frightening silence suddenly fell upon the castle.

“’Approach, Olaf!’, I yelled for a serf. His shoulders shivered.

“’Here I come to my master to obey his command!’, he dared not look at me.

“’You see, Olof, how faithful my serf Olaf is to me? If the king would weep, he would weep along with him. If the king died, there Olaf would be howling for him, such is the love of serflings of Hässe to its ruler. Is this not so?’, I embraced my serf. His lips were quivering, and teeth aclatter. ‘I re-reckon it’s cuh-cold, Guard, let me get the fire going.’

“’I want you to take us through the secret door’, I gave off a bloodlust-laden grin and took a good long look at the hump under his tunic. ‘Look at him, Olof. Is he not like a statue which speaks? Good old Roman Pasquino , a damaged sculpture, of course, but well spoken, because when it hears the vile tongues say ‘Even Amerongen can’t reign forever’ – a prideful look on his face – Olaf would cuss and say ‘Let me find the coward in the shadows! And if I don’t find him, you, master, will blow into him the icy breath of death and the bastard will fall only because he wanted my master to die.’’

“Olof raised his eyebrows and said ‘Incredible.’

“’Brave lad’ – I patted the serf on the hump under the tunic which stuck out a bit crookedly. ‘You do not fear the secret door?’

“Olaf rose the steel chin to me, grinned and revealed a severe lack of dentures: ‘I am loyal, milord. My name is Olaf and all live long day I eat and drink profusely and in the name of my prince I would…’ He was deep in thought for a while. I waited patiently enjoying the whole thing. Something almost like a thought sparked in his pupil. ‘I can do this. I can go through the secret door. I will be the guide. I have heard that master Olof is going sightseeing.’

“’And if the doors are sealed?’, I laughed.

“’I will knock them down with my head.’

“’Is he an idiot?’ Olof giggled pointing to the wee hunchback. Olaf laughed with him, and his whole face went dark. He clenched his fists. ‘I will crush the door, here…with these hands!’

“’I actually believe you…’ – I paid no heed to Olof’s jab – ‘Peace be upon the kingdom, Olaf.’

”’Long live my prince’, Olaf lowered his gaze and knelt before me.

“Olof coughed uninterestedly, while strength raged within me.

“’Come with me…’, I took a few large steps and stood in front of the secret door

“’I don’t see how we can pass.’ – Olof wondered. – ‘Perhaps…’

“’Quiet,’ I frowned. ‘I wanted to show you this.’

“I stood on a precisely marked spot, which was the Eye of Argus on the mosaic, and used my weight to start up the secret mechanism. The door squeaked creepily, rising upward, while Olof stood in tense expectation – what is on the other side?

“His astounded facial expression amused me. He hesitated for a moment or two, and then carefully came after me along the tight pass. He was in the state of complete horror, while we crawled by grotesque gravestones. Soon we arrived at a big room whose stone walls were adorned with a low, narrative relief, similar to Assyrian ones.

“There was little to no furniture in the room. Two chairs and an oaken table colored red took up the middle of the room. The table was covered in a pile of parchments and unusual object, one of which was my fancy – shaped by the hands of Mathilde – a miniature replica of the Kraken. The rest of the furniture was colored green, with a figure of a three-headed dragon Buné engraved onto it, as were many other pagan symbols. A fresco was on the wall above the fireplace, a fresco which, according to my instructions, was made by Mathilde. It was an all-black monstrosity, a smirk on her face gnawed to the bone, my protector Yambe-Akka, the angel of death.

“Not paying attention to an astonished and terrified Olof, in a knightly stance I knelt before her horrific visage.
Heed my prayer, Yambe-Akka

Habituate my eyes to the blade of vengeance

Let me hold it in my hand

Let my hand not quiver when vengeance recognizes the cause!

Let the bowels howl in fear, bowels of all those

Who wanted you unmade from your way!

 

“I got up unladen, breaking the silence reinforced by Olof being quiet.

“’Impressive, no?’, I said self-lovingly.

Olof shook from unease, and his face wrinkled.

“’I come here to enjoy myself… The room is full of objects which bring me peace’ – I paused – ‘There are all sorts of things here, from Iram, Ubar[1]…’- as I was saying this, I picked up a crooked J-shaped sword from the table, “a cursed Arabian knife”, a gift from Ubar. ‘Whomsoever has it in his hand, he must…’, I looked at Olof, and his eyes were aflame bloody-red.

“’My friend, I see that my dark humor upsets your soul. I’m afraid that I must stop doing that. You’ll lose your appetite,’ I mercifully added and pointed to the direction of the spiral staircase.

“’They lead all the way to the balcony, and from there on…you’ll see…’

“’You surprise me in a horrific way, Orian…Let’s go…’, Olof added nervously. And so, over the balcony, we found ourselves in a hallway, adorned with numerous columns. The end of the hallway was crowned by an arch, made in an Arabic style.

“’Down the hallway, keep going straight, you will reach Mathilde’s solar’, I said wickedly.

“’Let’s go back’, Olof felt uncomfortable.

“’My solar is on the opposite side. We can visit it as well?’

“Our conversation was suddenly cut off by a female voice. ‘Hässe, including the secret passageways, has at least fifty-two rooms. It is a monumental complex, master Olof…’

“When he looked at her, light jolted in his eyes. I was looking at him grimly.

entrance

“‘Come along, with the second staircase, Master Olof. Orian has shown you his favorite spot in the wall. And now we dine.’ Olof obediently followed Mathilde.

“We were back in the Main hall. Mathilde moved away from us, decisively walking towards my throne, and sat on it!”

“Orian set aside his quill, stood from his table and walked along the solar, trying to gather his thoughts. – No, that’s not how it happened, it really wasn’t! Mathilde’s throne was right next to mine. The Evesham craftsmen made a throne for the queen… – He roamed around the room like a ghoul, distraught – I must say it all the way it was. I will glue the truth to this parchment like sweat…But – he looked over his shoulder – if I pour my soul into a horrific description, I swear… – Orian returned to the table and wrote this sentence, saying it out loud.

“…I swear that I will pull the rust out of its roots. Mathilde did not sit on my throne, but her own. And I did not managed to show the damned man the corpses behind the secret wall. Actually, those were no longer even corpses, but bones that are swarming in worms in the honor of the gods for a long time…too long. And maybe this is all just make-believe, maybe I killed no man. And if this is too tight of a space to pour my pathetic spirit onto it, may the readers of upcoming centuries forgive me, I am not well versed in the quill, eh, what can you do…“

The story became too hard for Orian for a moment so he took one more stroll around the solar. – I am a walker along the dungeon, tomb, megaron[2] of the pitiful…

tumblr_inline_mpj30ytbwv1qz4rgp

And he wrote:

“I feel like describing Mathilde’s solar. I knew how it looked down to the last detail, thanks to the network of spies which I crafted in secrecy. It was her membrane, her hiding place from the rot which she would shut herself in for months in order to avoid my demonic advances. This pathetic fool Olof could not understand such a concession to a woman.

“The solar ceiling was reinforced with wooden beams, while the floor was made of red polished marble. Stone walls were covered with lavish tapestries adorned with horizontal geometric and herbal ornaments, encircled with a green Viking braid and the warrior woman Atalanta[3] as its central composition. Silk pillows were carelessly tossed all over the floor.

“A fine carved wooden writing table with legs made of minted iron, next to which was the statue of Bastet[4], was placed under the painting with a gelded wooden frame. Next to the inkwell, on the table, were also a short sword, a pile of parchments and a silver candelabra. A simple chair with a green and white back reminded one of the chair in the chapel of chaplain Larsen. In the corner of the solar in a chest reinforced by minted iron wedges she kept her private-most things. Above the chest was a tilted whole length mirror, where she could look at herself from every angle.

“On the wall across the canopy bed Mathilde brought her frescos over from her solar in Regenstein – it was a sea of body, of female flesh where her gaze would most often lose itself. The solar also contained a dining room (with wooden cupboards containing cups, pots and teapots), a wooden chair with a kitchen scale, a turquoise salt shaker and silverware, a fireplace, before which there stood a wooden chair with a skin-sheeted back where she performed her morning dress-up.

“Once while resting from my presence, she would go back to her solar more wonderful and adorable than ever, saying ‘Oh, how good the solitude feels.’ This is how I courted her heart, because my absence made her happy. As a return favor, she would grant me two nights with her as compensation. Those nights would drain her like a serious disease. Still, she would remain with me in the castle, in my solar, until the latest escape.”

– I am not pleased with this. I’m tired, like a dry log, weak. But the fog is slowly sliding away from my mind and the veil parts from my all too tired eyes. I remember every detail, in spite of insanity and oblivion – Orian Amerongen said out loud and continued his tale with in tune, confident swings of the quill.

“We spent the afternoon in light conversation. The hall was bathed in sunrays. A tall table, akin to a stand with legs, covered in linen cloth was packed with food served in dishes of silver. I sat next to Olof, on a wooden bench, while Mathilde cozied herself into the chair sheeted in deer hide, adorned with lion heads on its arms. She was of cold bearing and an icy smile. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself during the dull prattle of Olof which lasted for several hours of his namesake grandfather’s heroics. He spun the dislocated version of the legend of Jerusalem, of my ancestor Hjalmar the Bloody, which was, simply put due to Hjalmar’s illiteracy, written down by the chaplain Larsen.

“’Chaplain’s fancies’, I waved it off, using the opportunity and said: ‘Impressive, master Olof, but I would rather dash towards the throne in order to have some fun.’

“‘Fun? Are you bored in the company of your lovely lady, my friend? Does the tale of our ancestor’s wars and their unending friendship not make you happy?’, he looked me dully and asked how will I entertain myself to which I mercifully replied: ‘I will stare into the pane.’

“I got up from the table, sat at my throne and…fell asleep on the spot. I have no idea how long I was napping on it, but when I awoke, I jumped from it horrified, staring at the darkness filled with candlelight. They were burning with strength, passion. I slept of the next few hours.

“I lifted the chainmail collar, wanting to cover the redness of my cheeks which pointed to tumultuous feelings, because I had found my wife and my friend in an intimate conversation.

“Icy suffering covered my face.

“’Enjoying yourself, Olof?’, I sat back at the table. Olaf the serf brought the candles, approached the fireplace and reignited the fire. I observed the hump under his tunic.

“’Indeed! Do divulge the secret of this mead’, Olof said, turning to Mathilde, ‘We do not have wine like this on the south!’

“’If I am not mistaken, during your last visit you said that you have land in Toulouse as well, right?’, Mathilde spoke coquettishly.

“’You can come to the south as well…the south of Norland, I mean…’ his words were ringing in my ears. It was a confusing scene. During the conversation he cursorly followed my game. His eyes glistened. He barely took his eyes away from the sword which, had I unsheathed it, would have cast a bright light all around.

“’What do you do when boredom assails you, my lord?’, she continued. I reproachfully looked at her. She did not look back.

“A horse revved in the distance. A howl of wind broke out. I waved my hand off wishing to drive off the howl. Both looked at me in surprise.

“’What is this foolishness you exhibit?’, it was her turn to be reproachful, signaling this with her eyes.”

[1] Historical lost cities

[2] Hallways in Greek temples

[3] A Greek heroine

[4] Bastet, a cat-goddess of Ancient Egypt, solar deity and goddess of war