The gardens of the Sultana's Summer Palace, Granada - summer 1281
Efimia sits beside the rustling fountain under a purple-streaked evening sky. She regards her husband, pacing through the garden in long strides. He does not see the gardeners' pride, the resplendent lilac blossoms, nor does he smell the Arabian jasmin any more, so beloved of them both in their courtship.
Mansur is a powerful man. He wears his turban with the dignity expected of a Sultan and he wears it well. The scimitar at his side is not ornamental. He is without a doubt the authority of Al-Andalus, but there are forces outside even his control.
Efimia absent-mindedly cuts a fresh pink rose from its bush and strips it of its thorns. The dinner, fretted over by servants closely regarded by Efimia herself, sits untouched on the table. The strings of her fine brocade bodice remain fastened. Loosely, but it will require at least a modicum of the Sultan's touch to let them fall free. Efimia's heart swells at the sight of him, and her head despairs at her powerlessness over him. Her Russian blood, long since used to the Mediterraenean climate of her native Bari, boils at the thought of him, the thought of their nights together. Alexandra, the fruit of those nights, deserves a brother. Al-Andalus itself deserves that brother no less. It will not have been Efimia's fault.
What goes on in that fine Andalusian head of his? What worries are so puissant that they detract a man from the wiles of a beautiful, intelligent and funny woman? What, indeed, causes a king to forsake his duty of progeny? The affairs of state are in order, the vassals are calm, the people are grateful. If it not a worldly matter that upsets her husband enough to spurn her touches, it must be a matter of the soul.
Efimia is new to this Arabic god, having been raised a Catholic in Italy herself. She, of course, converted when she accepted the Sultan's offer of marriage but the details of the learning of Allah elude her. Is he so cruel as to demand a man to chastise himself like her husband does? Does Islam lack the love of Jesus? Surely, it is not all about submission to His higher power? If it is, her cause is hopeless.
Efimia sighs, gets up and kisses her distracted husband on his cheek, just long enough to promise that much more. He fails to grasp the rose she hands him and it falls to the ground, unappreciated. She casts her eyes downward and leaves him to his designs in the most beautiful garden West of Italy.
(Three months later, Mansur dies by his own hand, unable to cope with the realities of this existence.)
(Pictures taken 1279.)
[Game effect: my awesome king, Mansur Dhu'l Nun, after having been de-depressed two sessions ago, gives in to his nature and becomes, in sequence, stressed and depressed (and consequently impotent) and kills himself. In spite of being in love with his prodigal, romantic, lustful Russian wife with whom he is in love. The idiot.]