Saturday, October 20, 2012

FUSTAT BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION.. TOMAS WALKS THE EGYPTIAN CAPITAL

Please excuse any minor inaccuracies. Time moves much differently for me. Centuries are as decades and years fly by like hours. But this is the truth, as far as I can recall.

The Egyptian Capital of Fustat was a splendid place, filled with wondrous ateliers producing all manner of coveted luxuries. Caravans funneled exotic commodities from all parts of the world. And though Trinitarian Crusaders held court in Jerusalem, the Egyptian citadel was safe... for a time. 

We wandered the souks at evening time, purchasing fine silks and lustrous satins from the Hindustani merchants. I even met a Han Chinese for the first time in my life. Wonderful fellow. Lydia was completely besotted with his porcelain. We bought service for twelve. And even I used it for certain spicy, hot toddies at times. Alcohol agrees with vampire stomachs. Don't ask me why. It just does. 

I made friends with a sexton at Ben Ezra, the venerable old synagogue even Trinatarian scholars know. And he helped us find a house. The Franks would have called it a petit palace. You see, vampires accrue wealth quite rapidly, especially when we prey on the wicked. Six moons after arriving I had two casks of precious stones and three hundred talents of gold. Needless to say, the capital was freed from many a ruthless soul. We bought servants too, Circassians, or remnants of the Radiant Alans when we could get them. So fine the features. So stately. So alluring. Our receptions grew famous. We hobb-nobbed with everyone, Muslims, Jews from the Iraqi congregation, even the Karaites. 

Life was good. Lydia asked me to set the burden upon her, but I refused, believing it to be not a capricious thing, but something brought on by calamity, or impending death. That's how it came to me, after all. But we made love on the roof. It was cool there, especially during the summer months. Few slept indoors, save the gnats and sharp-toothed rodents. Soft, fresh sheets draped thickly cushioned couches. And one or two discreet Berber slaves fanned us with large, intricately made, folding contraptions brought all the way from the cities of The Han.Like what Spanish ladies carry to this day, but much, much grander in scale. 

I made the acquaintance of the great Maimonidies, an Andalucian refugee, like myself. In his case, the great theologian fled from fundamentalist North African elements at court. Since Fustat had few like that, he soon rose to high estate advising The House of Saladin and treating their sundry ills. For he was also a learned physician and well versed in scientific arts.

The years ran passed. Lydia, though still well preserved by priceless unguents from realms quite far away, still managed to age. And she grew to hate me for allowing that to happen. Now most illustrious men of the city knew of my burden. Alchemy was a respected art in these parts. People were open minded. Needless to say, the occasional tiny blood gifts bestowed upon ailing nobles and poxed young sons made all things right. But the lower classes and certain members of the clergy (all strains being alike in this) did not. And Lydia planned to denounce  me. Did she say it? Well, not to me. But she made plans. Oh, I could have killed her. Few would have questioned her absence. That's how domestic problems were handled in those times. Kitchen fires you know. Gotta look out for them crazy braziers. But I promised her father, so I did not.

Though I drugged her wine (itself a form of semi-contraband) and she spent her time cloistered in the harem, attended by loyal servants and her three most trusted eunuchs.

But greater problems arose. For the Trinitarian armies in Judea-Palestina were on the march... and one city in Egypt had already been put to the sword. It's streets ran red with blood.

Some fled north to the Turks in Anatolia. Others made for Bedouin camps to the west. But we stayed. Who could leave such opulence? 

Ah, many a would-be refugee was slain for love of a rug...

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