Sweet Kiss -Part 1- Inspired by, well, nothing really. Just kinda came into my brain late one night! (Is in 2 parts as it is really quite long for one of my ‘short’ stories).
The sands of this land were not like the golden ones Ishaq had come from. This desert was the colour of umber, as though the once yellow grains had soaked up much blood from over years of conflict.
Ishaq glanced around him, his vision only piercing so far as a small flickering fire was the only thing to hold back the night’s deep shadow. The village he was in was sparsely populated with only a few ragged souls wandering about, eyeing him carefully and with no small amount of pity.
All of them were dressed in thread-bare robes of browns and creams and he would have given anything in that moment to have one thrown about his shoulders. All he was clothed in were a pair of loose cotton trousers with a bone pin to hold them up around his hips. His torso, arms and feet were all open to the cold night air but he stood stoutly as he could, clenching his jaw to stop from shivering. It wasn’t as if he could have much say in the matter. His hands were bound together by old rope making it impossible to implore to the lady that passed if she might lend him a throw. Instead, he remained as silent as he had been when he had been bought from the slaver in the far away market. He could see the lady swallow hard as she glanced at him over the dying flames. Her sad eyes locked with his for only a moment before she quickly turned away and hurried into a tent.
Ishaq stood out amongst the people of this tented village. Most were gaunt, of medium height with broad noses and thin lips. Their skin was olive and speckled with dark freckles, their hair the colour of hazelnuts. They looked so foreign. Ishaq was tall, with broad shoulders and a toned physique from years of labouring the fields of his home farm. His skin was dark brown and his eyes were bright if also of cocoa colour. He had no hair, as was the custom of any man who was over the age of twenty in his homeland, just a clean shaven head adding to the masculine shape of his face. Full lips and a long, strong nose had helped to adorn him with compliments such as ‘mighty handsome’ and ‘carved by the Gods’ by many in his village.
“It’s time.” A heavily accented voice came from his side but the man at least spoke in a language he could understand. Next to the tall, thin man that had bought Ishaq was stood an equally tall but much leaner figure. Ishaq guessed it was a father and son pair from the similar features of the wide nose and thin lips. Ishaq was pushed forward by the man who continued to avoid eye contact and they walked out of the camp and through a path trailed into the blood coloured sands.
It did not take long to reach the Palace which loomed over the entire desert, its shadow seeming even darker than the midnight blackness in the sky. Its walls were of pure white stone and gold glinted in the moonlight where it decorated window arches and the roof. Towers and spires jutted into the sky seeming to almost go on forever as they reached into the clouds that scarred the sky. Lit torches either side of a large wooden gate led their way and the small group continued on until they reached it. When they stopped a lightly armoured guard walked forwards and looked at them closely. The guard glanced between Ishaq and the son of his buyer, then again before finally glancing at the buyer with a pitying look.
Ishaq understood this look. He knew that it should have been the son in this position. It should have been the son that stood before the gates trying to gather every last breath of courage so as not to scream and run. But instead the father had spent every last gold coin in his savings to buy Ishaq as a slave and put him in his son’s place. For a moment Ishaq wished he had a father so willing to do such an act of love and understood the man‘s actions. It was only a moment though before hate returned to Ishaq’s heart and he scowled at the man.
“This is your offering?” The guard asked finally, his words seeming to barely break the heavy atmosphere that radiated from the building behind him. The father nodded before pushing Ishaq forwards again so as he stood completely in the guard’s view. “Come on, boy.” He said before turning and walking towards the gate. Ishaq was about to follow when he felt something being pushed into the top of his belt at his back. It was solid, long and cylindrical. Ishaq glanced to see the son giving him an encouraging smile before scurrying off to join his father in hasty retreat.
Inside the walls was a courtyard of such magnificence that it took Ishaq’s breath and he almost forgot his reason for being there at all. The floor looked as though it was paved in jewels. Lush green trees and thick leafed plants lined the walls and pathway and birds with wings with the sheen of pearls flitted past him. It was a true oasis amongst such a hostile, arid land. The guard hesitantly nudged Ishaq on, seeming to allow him to enjoy the splendour for a moment.
They walked up a small staircase, the floor cold against his bare feet, though incredibly smooth. The hallways were just as grand as the courtyard, with white washed walls that seemed to retain the heat of the day and gold edged tables lining them all decorated with priceless looking urns and trinkets.
Eventually they turned a corner and the guard rapped his knuckles on a solid, wood door. It opened to reveal only shadow and the guard stepped aside to allow Ishaq to enter. The darkness seemed to loom out of the room as if to suck him into it. He swallowed hard trying to ignore the urge to flee or plead to the guard.
The room behind the dark was surprisingly bright and Ishaq blinked his eyes a few times to adjust. It was smaller then he expected with a fire blazing to one side and giving much needed warmth to his now freezing skin. Yet still he shivered, only now not from the cold. A slim figure came from an open archway, her pale skin and wide eyes a contrast to the stern guard he had so far been led by. She bowed her head to him before walking forwards to untie the binds around his wrists. He rubbed the soreness that the rope had left before continuing onwards to follow the girl.
After a few more long, impressive corridors the girl stopped before a set of grand doors. They were not wooden like the others, instead they were made almost entirely of coloured glass. Ishaq had never seen such a marvel. Glass was almost unheard of where he came from and now to see so much of it in use was beyond anything he had ever dreamed. Light came from within the room making the panes of reds, purples, blues, greens and yellows glimmer invitingly. But Ishaq regained himself and realised nothing in this place would ever be enticing to him.
When the doors were opened a wash of warmth and freshness ran over Ishaq. The room was well lit by wall sconces making the mosaic floor glimmer in the light. His focus was instantly drawn to the large square pool that dominated the centre, the crystal clear water was deathly still inside it. Ishaq then noticed movement and he flinched when two men crossed his vision. Then the whole room seemed to be filled with men, all of them dressed in white linen cloths and bare torsos. Their foreheads and waists were decorated in gold headbands and belts that sometimes were enhanced by rubies or emeralds.
Though the men were obviously all attractive, in very good health and seemed to want for nothing by the amount of fruit laden tables and wine jugs placed about the room, they looked… hollow. Ishaq tensed visibly as he looked into the eyes of one man. There was nothing there, no colour and no life.
It was as though he had no soul.
Ishaq had heard of this place and although he knew where he was going he had not expected this. It was a harem. Her harem.
“This way.” The girl by his side whispered and he’d almost forgotten she’d been there. He obediently followed her no longer wanting to see those men or think that soon it could also be his fate.
Ishaq was led away into a small room to one side. Another pool of water dominated the space but this one was simple and obviously for bathing proper. The girl left hurriedly, closing the door behind her and Ishaq heard the familiar click of a lock though there seemed to be no keyhole. Now alone, he fell to his knees and his body shook with uncontrolled terror. He looked to his hands, barely able to see from behind the barrage of tears that streamed down his face.
(To be continued…)