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Old Jul 12th, 2014, 09:21 PM
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Trespasser Trespasser is offline
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The Princess and the Clockmaker

The Palace Na Afra, view taken from across the River Shar

The Princess and the Clockmaker

An Oriental Romance

Know ye the land where cypress and myrtle
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime,
Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,
Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime?
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine;
Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume,
Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gúl in her bloom;
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute;
Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky,
In colour though varied, in beauty may vie,
And the purple of Ocean is deepest in dye;
Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine,
And all, save the spirit of man, is divine?
'Tis the clime of the East; 'tis the land of the Sun -
Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done?
Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell
Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales which they tell.

Leagues across the broad Cassean, set as a jewel in the Ederran Coast, Eblis calls out. In slow lilting melodies of houris’ hymns she finds the ears of all adventurers and lures them to her sunbaked warrens of glistening daub, if only for a moment. Eccentrics of every nation crowd her narrow twisting streets and bazaars. One might imagine in some smoke-filled serdab insensate aesthetes and hedonists languidly gesture for one more dab of hashish while sharing slurred stories of women past. Perhaps outside on the veranda, caressed by a sirocco, some exiled nobleman silently listens to the distant wailing of a kambacheh. He carelessly leans against an alabaster arabesque and peels an orange picked from a bough encroaching the balustrade. In the moonlight he cuts a romantic figure and for a second forgets his lost fortune and love back home. One might imagine his balcony overlooks a fragrant garden of jasmine, oleander, citrus trees and gurgling fountains. And down one of those hidden garden paths, behind the veiling jade leaves and in a paper-screened oda a sorrowful philosopher and smiling concubine pick at pomegranate seeds and discuss some ancient riddle, or perhaps nothing at all. For many, it is a single night, a mere waypoint on a journey to here or there and destined for nothing more than some corner of a sailor’s logbook, for others it is an end unto itself. But to Eblis it matters not, and this intersection of places and times is exactly what it is. It is a place of the senses, of the past and the present where the orange blossom in a girl’s raven hair mixes memory with desire.
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