Revisions: From “The Assassination”

From “The Assassination”

by Johan Vladimir

 

Version 1 (December 2005)

Version 4.5 (April 2012)

I averted my eyes toward the boy. While I was going up the cliff, I would have passed along without recognizing him. His wanton tresses were wrapped in a colourful turban. His cheeks were sunken and in his eyes the fire of madness was burning. His slender body was covered with a grubby cloak with an embroided crescent. They have told me that his name was already Iskender.

– Obey, Holy Father – his voice was trembling. – And ask Cheleby’s forgiveness…

– I’m obedient, holy prince! I’m obedient to one master and every day in my prayers I ask his forgiveness. Everything what is going to happen is of his will.

– They are going to kill you! They won’t be ashamed to kill you! And then why all that was? Why did we surrender the town? Why did we reconcile us to it? Wasn’t it you who wanted we to reconcile and to accept God’s will…

– To put up with the lot in store for you is one thing. To obey to an earthly master, however, is completely different. It’s a pity that I haven’t thought you to make difference between these two things. Get away! It’s a shame for me to look at you!

I turned my eyes to the boy. While I was going up the cliff, I had passed by without recognizing him. His wanton black tresses were wrapped in a colorful turban. His cheeks were sunken and in his eyes the fire of madness was burning. His slender body was wrapped in a grubby cloak with an embroidered crescent. They had told me his name was already Iskender1.

“Obey, Holy Father.” His voice was trembling. “And ask Çelebi’s forgiveness.”

“I obey, most noble prince! I obey to one master and every day I ask his forgiveness in my prayers. Everything that shall happen is of his will.”

“They are going to kill you! They won’t shy away from killing you! And then why was all that? Why did we surrender the city? Why did we resign ourselves? Wasn’t it you who wanted us to resign ourselves and accept God’s will?”

“To resign oneself to Divine Predestination is one thing. To obey an earthly master is another. It is a pity I have not been able to teach you to discern between the two, Alexander. Go away. To look at you, fills me with shame.”

For a second the air satiated with hot, heavy moisture. Behind the barely visible clouds in the black sky a burning chariot with two orange-red horses dashed straight down. From my place I couldn’t make out Ilia from among the flames, or his bow shooting the lightning bolts. The chariot together with the horses unloaded itself on the main dome of the Residence. The glass glared, broke and fell with thunder.

Rain started to pour.

From all over the hill flew dragons like a covey of scared swallows. They attacked the chariot in pairs or made a living shield above the residence. Ilia was infuriated. He whizzed, adroitly gliding through them and shot as without any target. I knew he couldn’t hold their resistance long. It seemed that his targets were not the dragons, but some land objects visible only to him. I was like spell bound. People flocked on the alley. The young couple was shouting and clapping.

In seconds, the air thickened, hot and heavy with moisture. From behind the clouds, barely visible in the black sky, dashed down a burning chariot with a pair of horses flaming in vermilion. From my place I could not make out Elijah among the flames, or his bow shooting the lightning bolts. The chariot, together with the horses, crashed into the main dome of the Residence. The glass flared up, broke and fell with thunder.

Rain rushed down.

From all over the hill, zmeys flew like a skein of scared swallows. They attacked the chariot in pairs or made a live shield above the residence. Elijah was furious. He whizzed, adroitly gliding among them and shooting without taking aim. I knew he could not resist their assault long. It seemed that his targets were not the zmeys, but some land objects visible only to him. I stood there, watching bewitched. People flocked on the alley. The young couple nearby was shouting and clapping.

I bent over the icon. I didn’t have to struggle to speak lower; my voice stumbled as I began:

“Holy… Holy one… Holy Great-Martyr George,” I leaned closer. I felt a strong pull, then the invisible grip relaxed. I raised a hand to my forehead to open the passage. Then moved it lower, towards my heart, to give him a direction. Next my fingers slid from the left shoulder to the right, to give him consistency. “Appear in the name of God!”

I stepped backwards jerkily because the moment he appeared, he leaped. It was not even a leap: more like a flight. He crossed the distance between me and Shar flying and cut the closest of her slumped heads with a lightning blow. I covered my ears involuntarily with the pages of the book as if I could drown the piercing scream of a child that echoed in my mind…

My guard in the chambers was reduced to two viteks now. One of them rushed forward and the other scream frantically at his transmitter.

There was nothing they could do to help her. Still Shar lifted her enormous body and lashed her tail at George throwing him about ten feet away. He fell and rolled but in a moment was back on his feet. He swung and drove his sword to the hilt into the stomach of the swooping vitek. Then drew it out to receive with it the next blow of the tail. Black blood burst.

I bent over the icon. I did not have to struggle to speak lower: my voice broke again and again as I began, “Holy… Holy one… Holy Martyr George.” I leaned closer. I felt a strong pull, and then the invisible grip relaxed. I raised a hand to my forehead to open the gateway. Then moved it lower, towards my heart, to give it a direction. Next my fingers swept from the right shoulder to the left, to give it consistency. “Appear, in the name of God!”

I staggered backwards, because the moment he appeared, he leaped. It was not even a leap, it was a flight. He almost flew the distance from me to Shar and with a swift blow of his sword chopped the nearest of her slumped heads. I unconsciously buried my ears between the pages of the book as if I could drown the piercing scream of a child that echoed in my mind.

My guard in the chambers was reduced to two vitteks now. One of them rushed forward and the other screamed frantically into his transmitter.

There was nothing they could do to help her. Still Shar lifted her enormous body and lashed her tail at George, hurling him some ten feet away. He collapsed and rolled, but in a moment he was back on his feet. He swung and drove his sword to the hilt into the stomach of the swooping vittek. Then he drew it out to parry the next sweep of the tail. Black blood burst out.

 

 

Original: „Атентатът“, Йоан Владимир, 2005

Translated from the Bulgarian and revised by: Margarita Stoyancheva, Lora Petrova, Vladimir Poleganov, Kalin M. Nenov and Richard Freeborn, 2005-2012


1Iskender: Prince Alexander, son of Tsar Ivan Shishman, converted to Islam after the fall of the capital of Tarnovo in the spring of 1393.–author’s note

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