Miriam was one of the most beautiful women I ever met. There is something about Ethiopian women, and whatever it was, the Princess had lashings of it. Tall, dignified and beautiful, her cheek-bones could have cut paper. I sensed a trace of Jewish ancestry which called to me, but it was when she spoke that you sensed how special she was. Her voice was unusually low for a woman, and husky with it. Both Ana and I were struck, something she noticed with amusement.
“We need help.”
It was a simple statement, pregnant with meaning.
“We have long fought, if you will forgive me, Viceroy, the Ottomans, but latterly we find ourselves threatened by Europeans. The King of Portugal has sent Missionaries – the insult! We followed the Lord Jesus when his people were worshipping trees. But my father will not resist them. He says they are too strong, too powerful. That was why I took St Mark’s hand to the Monastery.”
I looked puzzled, but Ana explained.
“My darling, in 1204 the Catholics stole from the Hagia Sophia, and they will do the same here by the sound of it.”
“Yes, you are right, that is,” she smiled, “exactly what we fear. But there is something else we need to get to St Catherine’s, but as it cannot be hidden as easily as the hand, we need skilled help. That was why we asked the Abbot for you. I had hardly expected this though. We were ambushed by the pirates, who seemed to know we were crossing. It is not a long journey, after all.”
I looked at Ana. Our unspoken thought was that someone somewhere was feeding the pirates information; it would have been too much of a coincidence for both of us to have been targets accidentally.
“Are you able to say what you want transporting?” Ana asked. Miriam shook her head and told us “not yet,” not least because she was not sure her father or the Bishops concerned would allow it.
Thus it was that Miriam and her plan entered out lives.
Her maid, the striking Nubian woman whom we had first met nude and shackled, was clearly more to her than a simple maid. Ana and I both recognised the signs. There was the hand on the thigh for just a moment too long for Mistress and servant, there were the stolen glances, and most of all there was the way Tania, the maid, looked at Miriam when she thought there was no one looking.
Our suspicions were confirmed that afternoon when we dined on deck. The Princess looked at us.
“Did I hear right,” she asked me, “that Ana is your wife? How can that be, is it allowed in your Empire for a woman to marry another woman? I had heard that Islam was opposed to such things, even as our own Church is.”
I smiled at her, willingly satisfying her curiosity.
“No, it is not allowed, but I am Viceroy and what I say goes,” I explained. Ana laughed.
“Yes, she is very forceful for such a small woman.”
Miriam’s raised eyebrows told a story of their own.
“I can see,” Ana joked, “that you are curious. Let me say that Rahab and I are soulmates, and we neither of us believe that God, who is love, objects.”
“But the Bishops say he does,” Tania, who was bringing desserts, interjected, “it’s so unfair, Miriam and I …” She stopped, realising what she had said. The Princess put her hand over hers.
“Do not worry my love, we are among like-minded souls here, for once we can speak freely of our love. You see,” she said, pulling Tania to her side and kissing her on the lips, “I love Tania, and she loves me. Oh, I wish we could be as you are, but my father the Emperor would never allow of it.”
I thought, not for the first or last time, of the favour that Fate had done me in taking me to the fleshpots of Constantinople. Though it seemed as though the Harem was purely for the delights of a man, it served its purpose for devotees of Sappho. My heart went out to the Princess.
“You must come to visit us Princess, you and Tania would be honoured guests,” I said. She smiled, a dazzling starburst of a smile: “That would be a pleasure.”
“I hope so,” I responded.
“Hey, you two, stop it, we have business to attend to,” Ana teased. Tania made a face of disappointment:
“Just as escort bayan we were hoping to find out more! You have no idea what a relief this is for us, we have only been able to talk to each other about female love – promise us you’ll tell us more.”
Ana laughed, looking Tania in the eyes: “I can promise that. But first, let’s plan!”
We decided to respond to Miriam’s appeal. After all, we should still end up at St Catherine’s, but we should also be helping the Faith, even if in ways we could not, at that moment be sure of.
Miriam explained to us that Ethiopia had received Christianity from the Apostle Philip who, as Acts tells us, converted an Ethiopian. He went back home and took the Faith with him. St Mark, the Apostle who wrote the first Gospel, send missioners southwards from Alexandria to continue the good work, and Ethiopia was one of the first kingdoms to become Christian. The Faith had been at work there ever since. In the great sundering after Chalcedon in 451, Ethiopia had followed the Alexandrian Patriarch, Dioscoros in rejecting the claims of Rome and Constantinople to be the arbiters of all doctrine. When Alexandria had gone down before the tide of Islam, Ethiopia had survived.
It was clear that Miriam was immensely proud of the history of her kingdom, and I could see why she was regretful about the attempts by the Catholics to press their form of Christianity onto a people who had received the one true Faith from the beginning. We had, as Ana said, a common cause.
The Princess listened, fascinated, to what I had to say about Russia and the heir to the Marble King. Could it be, she asked pertinently, that we could forge an Orthodox alliance against the Catholics? I told her about the Great Queen and the Protestants, and for a moment, we dared dream that the old patriarchates could once more hold their own with Rome. It remains a dream for me, but not one that I shall see realised.
The following morning, after a restless night’s half-sleep, we reached Massawa on the west side of the Red Sea. An ancient port, officially under Ottoman control, in practice it was controlled by local grandees who owed allegiance to Emperor Susyenos, the father of Princess Miriam.
As we disembarked the senior official who had come to meet us lost his composure when he saw the Princess. I saw Tania say something to the Princess, and she then whispered to Ana.
“Selassie, you seem surprised to see me?” The Princess smiled at him; there was no warmth in the smile. “It is as though you had not expected to see me?”
“It, it is just that …”
Whatever he was going to say trailed away as two of the Amazons caught him by his arms.
“I think we both know who tipped the pirates off. Tell me, you wretch, what did they offer?”
For a moment, I thought he was going to try to brazen it out, but one look at the way the Princess was gazing at him caused his nerve to crumble.
“They promised to leave the port alone and give me a percentage of the ransom. It, it was never intended that you should come to harm Highness.”
“Take him to the gaol, we shall deal with him later,” Tania told the Amazons. showing them the way.
We travelled in comfort into the Ethiopian uplands. After the heat of the Red Sea, to be where the air was so clear and fresh was a relief. The mules carried our belongings. Abdul and the men stayed in port, but Ana and her Amazons accompanied me.
We rested at a fortified house that evening. Ana and I were struck by the way that Miriam and Tania enjoyed this last opportunity to be open about their love. I rehearsed my well-worn arguments about bishops being wrong to suppose that love like ours was in some way not part of God’s plan. Things were as they were. Seeing Tania smiling, Ana laughed, that wonderful throaty laugh which never ceased making me want her. Tania asked why she was laughing?
“Things are not always as they seem.”
“What do you mean, Ana?”
“Life made it, your highness, so that you are Tania’s Mistress, but unless I have lost my ability to read others, your love reverses that,” Ana smiled, knowingly. bursa vip escort Miriam seemed to have lost the power of speech; Tania grinned.
“Is it that obvious Ana?”
Ana cast a look in my direction, as quiet smile playing around her mouth.
“Probably as obvious as myself and Rahab,” she laughed, making me suddenly silent.
“How say you that we allow our Princess and Viceroy what they crave when they can finally relax and shrug off all responsibility?”
Ana looked straight at me, her eyes fixed mine. She was asking me to do what I had done from the start – to trust her. I nodded and, turning to Miriam said, “I hope that would please you, Miriam, I think we both need this.”
Her beautiful face relaxed, and so dry was her mouth that she actually licked her lips; she smiled, a sweet, shy and excited look on her face; it was as though she was simultaneously fearful and relieved.
“Rahab, undress the Princess,” Ana told me. My drawers flooded. I wanted to see her naked, those long, long legs which seemed as tall as I was, her tight, sexy arse, her perfect breasts, and now, thanks to Ana, I would.
My trembling hands gently pulled the linen strap from her shoulder, and as I peeled it away, her light coffee-coloured breasts were bared to our view. Her nipples were already crinkled and stiff. I heard Ana’s sudden intake of breath as Miriam’s dress pooled round her ankles, her nakedness covered now by a pair of tiny drawers.Miriam was passive as I pulled them off, her bush was dark and trimmed.
“Miriam, undress Rahab,” Tania ordered.
Making the Princess act, effectively as my maid, clearly sent a thrill through her to judge from the trembling of her hands as she slipped my shift from my shoulders.
Ana could see that being stripped in front of her and Tania was having the same effect on me. She grinned at Tania.
“She is so cute,” Tania said, as I stood naked before them.
“She is,” Ana laughed. “Do you and the Princess just use fingers and mouths?”
Tania looked puzzled.
“Of course, what else is there?”
Ana reached into our special sack, extracting the Sapphic stick we sometimes used.
Tania gasped at the sight.
“My goodness, really! You have a penis for women to use?”
“As it happens, Tania, I have two. Rahab, why don’t you fasten mine on and then show Tania how to do it?”
I smiled. I trusted Ana, and that being so, I went with the flow; and I was certainly flowing, as my upper thighs bore witness.
Ana’s backside was one of the wonders of the lesbian world. Her daily exercises had kept it firm and peach-like. As I slipped the straps up her equally firm thighs, I could not help kiss her cheeks. Tania noticed.
“Ana, I think that’s one of the sexiest things I have ever seen,” she whispered, as though not wanting to break the moment, but needing to talk.
Miriam was looking, transfixed. Tania nodded to me once I had fastened the straps.
I crawled over to her and Miriam. Smiling at Miriam, who crouched down to join me, I showed her how to fasten the Sapphic stick.
Tania’s legs were not as long or as elegant as Ana’s, but never had I seen a backside like hers. As Miriam and I fastened the straps, she imitated me and kissed Tania’s arse.
“It seems our ladies like similar things,” Ana said, with a laugh. “Now, Rahab, Miriam, present yourselves!”
Miriam looked at me, I could see her eyes were glazed with excitement, I nodded, and we crawled together. I showed her what to do. We put our heads down, raising our backsides so that Ana and Tania could access our cunts.
The look on Miriam’s face as Tania entered her made me all the wetter for Ana.
Miriam was pushed forward, as I was, as Tania and Ana exercised their lust on us. I whispered:
“If you use your muscles to grip the stick, it pushes it up to touch Tania’s pearl.”
Through the lust clouding her eyes, Miriam nodded; from the groans Tania was making, I could hear that Miriam had taken my advice.
As Anna ploughed deep into me, I could feel myself yielding to the feelings bursa elit escort that were building and spreading out from my loins to my whole body, then, with a great groan, Tania came, which sparked Miriam off; Ana gave a huge sigh and, as I felt her juices squirt against my backside, so did I.
“What was that?” Tania’s voice was husky with lust. “I have never felt that intensely before.”
I felt Ana move inside me. I heard a kiss.
“That, Tania, was what happens when two lovers trust each other entirely. I am Rahab’s as much as she is mine, and her gift to me is to be treasured, as is her love.”
I felt a tear start and spoke:
“Yes, Tania, Miriam, this is our love, and I sense yours too. We are honoured to have introduced you to this love and its mystery.”
Ana eased herself out, Tania followed suite, and Miriam and I cuddled up to our lovers.
“I loved that, and loved, too, that you showed me how I could be who I needed to be with Tania. You had no shame yielding to Ana.”
Miriam was smiling sweetly. I smiled back.
“Wherein is the shame Miriam. It is Ana’s way to lead in these matters, as it is mine to lead elsewhere, and so we fit together so easily.”
Tania’s smile was like a sunbeam.
“It can be so with us too, My Princess knows I love her.”
The tenderness with which Tania stroked her hair spoke volumes, and as Miriam turned to begin sucking her breasts, I felt the urge to do the same with Ana. That night we lay together separately, not parting until the dawn’s early light.
As Miriam and I bathed, we talked of the night.
“That was special Rahab, I was so uncertain, it felt somehow both so good and yet I felt badly about it.”
Her breasts, streaked with water, looked luscious compared to mine, but looking at Ana and Tania I smiled; there, I thought, there were real breasts, the sort which made one hungry for one’s lover. I told Miriam my thoughts, adding:
“There is too much secrecy, Princess, as what we women do is thought wrong, we are silent and we learn by chance.”
“Yes,” she nodded, her small but perfect breasts moving as she dried herself. “You and Ana have opened our eyes and, in return, I will show you before the day is over the sight I have wanted you to see.”
We breakfasted and travelled in the cool of the early morning. Ana smiled, and we spoke much of our love as we journeyed on. Just before noon we came to the outskirts of a settlement.
“This,” Miriam said, “is the holy city of Aksum.”
We passed down what seemed a mere dirt track until, rounding a corner, we came to a walled church. Tania went to the door and spoke some words. With a great creak, the ancient door opened.
As we stepped inside we were met by an old priest. He wore the hood of the Ethiopian monks, and I could not even begin to guess his age. He bowed low to the Princess.
“Is this she of whom the prophecy spoke?”
His eyes were fixed on me with interest.
“This is Rahab,” Miriam spoke softly.
“That my eyes should have lived to see her. This is she who brought our people to safety from the slaves of Allah?”
“Yes, this is she. We were captured by pirates and she rescued us, we did not need to travel to the land of the great cedars.”
He rubbed his eyes.
“So, at last. I shall do as the legend says.”
He beckoned me to follow him, Ana, Miriam and Tania followed.
“You are now a follower of the Living God, Rahab?”
Crossing myself, I told him that I was, and that I was on my way to St Catharine’s to seek healing.
His smile was so tender, unexpected in such an austere face.
He took a key from his pocket and turned the ancient lock. Stepping inside he lit a candle. By its flickering light, I could see the outline of something large, it seemed to be a big box. Then, as a second and third candle shed their flickering flame onto it, I saw gold, golden wings, two angels I thought. In its presence I crossed myself, so did the others.
I heard Ana speak the words that were forming in my brain:
“Is this, is it …?”
“Yes,” the priest said, “this is the Ark of Moses which was rescued from the Great Temple before the Babylonians could profane it. One of the great Sheba’s sons brought it, and here it will stay until the Christ comes again in glory.”
And there it was, the Ark of the Covenant. But what had I to do with it, or it with me?