Excerpt for Nasir and Maarika Chronicles Episode IV by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Nasir and Maarika Chronicles

Episode IV

By James Mullins

First Edition March 5th, 2019

©2019 James Mullins

Published in association with Longinus Industries

All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.

August 17th, 636 Arabia Province, St. Catherine’s Monastery, Byzantium

Nasir awoke. He gasped as the full force of the throbbing pain in his abdomen struck him like a tidal wave crashing down upon him. Beyond the pain, he noticed that he was laying on a soft mattress. A bed. How did I get here? The last thing I remember was looking for Maarika in the sand storm. His eyes fluttered open and he beheld the blurry face of an angel. No wait, it wasn’t an angel it was, “Maarika?”

“Thank Bismillah, you’ve come back to us.” Maarika replied.

Nasir’s vision swam as he fought down the urge to vomit. He squeezed his eyes shut trying to resist the nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. Succeeding, he took a deep breath and opened his eyes again, “You stabbed me!”

“I’m so sorry love, it was an accident, I thought you were another damned.” Maarika replied sheepishly.

Nasir closed his eyes again as his mind filled with rage. His cheeks turned red and his nostrils flared as his adrenaline surged. Taking another deep breath, he put his feelings of anger aside, She was frightened and scared. Let it go. Nasir smiled faintly at Maarika, “Woman, if that’s what you do to your lovers, I would hate to see what you do to those that vex you. Remind me to never get on your bad side.”

Maarika smiled broadly, leaned over his bed, and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, “Offh! Careful girl, that hurts.”

Maarika began to uncoil her arms from around his shoulders and pull away. Before she could finish, Nasir reached up with his right hand and pulled her back into the hug, “Where do you think you are going?”

“I didn’t want to hurt you any further.” Maarika replied.

“Non-sense. It brings me joy to feel those soft breasts of yours pressing up against me.” Nasir replied.

Maarika slapped him lightly on the chest, “Nasir! We are in a monastery.”

“A monastery! How did we get here?” He replied.

“Yes, you know, one of those places you told me about where priests sit around and disagree with each other all day about what God said in that book you talked so reverently about. The name eludes me right now. I think it started with a bib sound.”

“The Bible?” Nasir asked.

Maarika shook her head enthusiastically, “Yes that one.”

“What’s the name of the monastery? Perhaps I’m familiar with it.” Nasir asked.

“It’s called St. Catherine’s.” Maarika replied.

“St. Catherine’s. Why that’s at the base of Mount Sinai. How the hell did we end up here?” Nasir replied.

Before Maarika could reply the couple was interrupted by the sound of a male clearing his through from somewhere behind Maarika, “I see that my patient is awake. I trust he will refrain from any further outbursts of an inappropriate nature in God’s house.” Said a man dressed in the faded brown robes of the monastic order.

“My apologies. Father?” Nasir replied.

“Father Quibilah my son. I’ve been seeing to your recovery. It’s good to see that you are awake.”

“I’m thirsty Father Quibilah, can I have some water?” Nasir asked.

“Of course, you have a cup and pitcher right next to you. Perhaps the young lady can help?”

Maarika blushed deeply, “Of course, I’m so sorry love.”

As Maarika picked up the pitcher and began pouring the water into the cup Nasir said, “For heaven’s sake girl, will you stop apologizing for everything.”

Father Quibilah once again cleared his throat loudly, “Apologies for my blasphemy Father. I shall ask the Lord our God for forgiveness in my prayers.” Nasir said.

Maarika finished pouring the cup of water and held it up to his lips. As she slowly tipped the cup, the water poured into his mouth. Nasir drank greedily. He finished in a few large gulps and said, “Can I have another?”

Maarika glanced up at Father Quibilah imploringly with her eyes, “Let the first cup settle for a short time. He’s probably feeling nauseous. If you give him too much too fast, he may spit it back up.”

Nasir’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared as the color came back into his cheeks, “I’m not a child Father.”

“Of course, you aren’t a child, but you’ve been stabbed. As a result of your injury, just like a child, you are very weak right now.” Father Quibilah snapped back.

Ignoring Father Quibilah’s statement, Nasir placed his elbows underneath himself and tried to sit up, “Ouch!” He exclaimed as a sharp pain erupted from his chest right below his heart.

“You mustn’t sit up yet. Give your body some time to heal.” Father Quibilah said.

Nasir turned to Maarika and asked, “How long have I been out?”

“Nearly a fortnight.” Maarika replied.

“A fortnight! No wonder my mouth tastes like the parched sands of the desert.” Nasir replied.

“I’m sorry, I did what I could to get water into your mouth while you were unconscious.” Maarika replied.

“Let this be the last time woman. Stop apologizing. I know not how you managed to get me, a man of nearly twice your weight, from the middle of the Arabian desert, all the way to the Sinai!” Nasir barked gruffly.

Maarika smiled down at him, “It wasn’t easy.”

“Care to tell me the story?” Nasir asked.

Father Quibilah broke into the conversation, “Perhaps later. You must rest for now and recover your strength.”

Nasir let out a deep sigh in frustration before saying, “Yes Father. Before you go, may I have another cup of water?” Nasir asked.

Maarika made eye contact with Father Quibilah. Quibilah smiled at her and slowly nodded as he said, “Of course my son.”

The raven haired beauty picked up the clay pitcher and poured water into the cup until it was filled nearly to the top. She held the back of Nasir’s head with her left hand and gently tipped the cup full of water into his mouth. He drank slower this time savoring the refreshing taste of the liquid. When he finished, he yawned, and closed his eyes. Father Quibilah and Maarika walked quietly out of the room trying not to disturb him.

Maarika gently shut the door to the chamber behind her cutting off the sound of Nasir’s snoring. She placed a hand on Father Quibilah’s shoulder and pulled gently. Getting the message, the father turned to face her and said, “Yes?”

Maarika asked in a low voice, “How did he do? Will he recover? He seemed so weak.”

“Do not worry my child. He is weak yes. That is to be expected considering the wound, and the long journey you endured to get him here. Now that he is awake and coherent, I think the danger is mostly past. If the fever was going to come, it would have done so already. As long as we keep him comfortable and he gets rest, he should make a full recovery.”

Maarika smiled and said, “Thank you Father.”

Father Quibilah placed his hand on the top of hers and squeezed gently in reassurance, “Do not fret my child. If you continue praying and it is God’s will he will make a full recovery. Speaking of God, aren’t you late for your class?”

“Yes, Father I am.” Maarika replied.

“Well then, I will walk with you to ensure you make haste to your lessons. You still have much to learn about the Lord our God, and his son Jesus Christ.” Father Quibilah said.

“Thank you Father I appreciate it. It’s so easy to get turned around here. I’m not used to being inside a building, much less one of this size. In the desert you can almost always see where you are going.” Maarika replied.

Father Quibilah led Maarika down a series of corridors. They walked in silence and turned every so often at seemingly random intervals. The pair emerged into a large courtyard. Maarika looked up into the pale blue sky beyond the two stories that loomed above and surrounded the lush green square. Walking through the garden was her favorite part of the walk. She took a deep breath and drew in the myriad of scents from the nearby plants. This is more greenery in one place than I think I would see in a week of wandering back home in the deep desert. She smiled as she thought, Each has its own unique fragrance, but when blended together the air itself smells like the perfume the chief’s wife used to wear.

Father Quibilah led her into a large corridor opposite the one they had departed from. They walked side by side for about fifty feet when the Father paused in front of a set of double doors. He gestured toward the door with his right hand and said, “Your lessons await.”

“Thank you, Father.” Maarika replied.

Maarika opened the door just enough so that she could slip inside the room. A dozen pairs of eyes looked up from their wax tablets. An older lady, dressed in black lose fitting robes, walked amongst the students. She was wearing a white linen dress with a shawl of red cloth wrapped around her midsection to conceal her figure. As Maarika closed the door gently behind her, the woman spun around and frowned, “You’re late.”

“I’m sorry Sister Nenet, Nasir awoke.” Maarika said.

“I see. Ensure that it doesn’t happen again. You are already behind the class and cannot afford to miss a single lesson.” Nenet said.

Maarika moved quickly across the room to her place in the class. Several pairs of disapproving six-year-old eyes stared at her as she stepped around the students. Others whispered to each other as she passed.

Sister Nenet drew herself up to her full, yet diminutive height and said, “Now children. Which of you can tell Maarika what she missed by disrespecting God and being late.” The sister threw Maarika another disapproving glare as she spoke.

A hand shot up from the child closest to Nenet. It belonged to a little girl with swarthy skin, “Go ahead Shani.” Sister Nenet said.

Shani stood up and pulled on her green cotton dress to straighten out the wrinkles in the fabric that came from sitting on the floor. She then turned to face Maarika and said, “Sister Nenet was telling us today about the story of Jonah. He was called on by God to be a pro.” Shani paused for a moment before starting the word again, “propet.”

Shani smiled sheepishly as she failed to pronounce the word for a second time. Sister Nenet smiled, a lock of black hair speckled with gray slipped out of the head scarf she wore to cover her hair as she said, “Prophet. Go on Shani you’re doing well.”

Shani stood up a little straighter and beamed at the compliment. She very slowly sounded out the word, “Prophet” and then continued the story. Jonah refused God’s calling to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh and instead left on a voyage across the sea.”

Shani paused and threw Sister Nenet a nervous glance, “You’re doing well Shani, please continue.”

Shani nodded and said, “To punish Jonah for diso.” She paused for a moment and then tried the word again, “disobedience. God raised a mighty storm. The storm went on and on until finally the sailors threw Jonah in the sea.”

“Why did the sailors do that Shani?” Sister Nenet asked.

“To make God happy, so that he would end the storm.” Shani answered proudly.

“Correct. What happened next?” Sister Nenet asked.

“A big fish came up out of the sea and ate Jonah!” Another student, Vaclav blurted out without permission.

“Very good Vaclav, but you mustn’t speak when it isn’t your turn. Shani was talking.” Sister Nenet said.

Vaclav frowned and said under his breath, “Shani is always talking. It’s not fair.”

“What was that Vaclav?” Sister Nenet asked.

Vaclav lowered his eyes and said, “Nothing Sister Nenet.”

“See that it remains so.” Sister Nenet turned her gaze to another student and asked, “Dalilah what happened next?”

Shani glared at Dalilah as she stood and said, “The whale took Jonah to Nineveh and spat him out onto the shore!”

“Then what did Jonah do?” Sister Nenet asked. Another little boy raised his hand and she pointed at him before saying, “Yes Radames?”

Radames stood up and swallowed nervously before saying, “He preached to the Ninevites to repent.”

“What did the Ninevites do?” Sister Nenet looked over the students of her class. Only Shani had her hand raised. She frowned slightly as she pointed at Shani and said, “Yes Shani?”

Shani said, “The Ninevotes.”

“Ninevites.” Sister Nenet quickly corrected.

“The Nin-e-vites listened to Jonah and God did not smite them!” Shani said enthusiastically.

“Very good class. It seems that at least some of you were paying attention. Now Maarika what does the story of Jonah teach you?”

“Do not disobey God.” Maarika replied.

“That’s part of the lesson.” Sister Nenet replied, “What’s the other part.”

Maarika twirled a lock of her raven black hair in her right index finger nervously as she pondered the question, “Listen to God’s will.”

Sister Nenet smiled, “That’s it exactly. Very good.”

For Maarika, the lessons about God’s teachings in the Bible seemed to go on forever. Her mind would often drift away from what was being spoken to the same thought over and over, Nasir. Bismillah knows this old crone can talk.

Sister Nenet barked, “Maarika!”

Maarika’s mind returned to the class as she nervously glanced up at the old woman standing over her, “Yes Sister Nenet?”

“Your body is here but your mind is elsewhere, see that your focus improves.” Sister Nenet shifted her gaze to the younger students and said, “Class you are dismissed.” The children erupted into squeals of delight as they ran for the door. As Maarika stood to leave the Sister added, “Not you Maarika. Stay.”

“Yes Sister?” Maarika asked innocently.

“Maarika, you must pay attention in class. You are not setting a good example for the other students.”

“Yes Sister.” Maarika replied in a deadpan voice.

“Maarika, I know you grew up a heathen. That is why the priest asked you to take these lessons. We are just trying to save your soul. I don’t think that is too much to ask of you considering the treatment your friend Nasir is getting.”

“I know Sister and I am sorry. I’m just eager to get back to Nasir since he finally awoke today.”

Sister Nenet’s wrinkled face crinkled as she smiled down at Maarika, “You love him, don’t you?”

Maarika’s swarthy cheeks showed a hint of crimson as she replied, “Yes Sister.”

“Then you should marry him and make of thee an honest woman.” Sister Nenet said in an admonishing tone of voice.

“I will Sister, one day soon. We’ve just met, so I want to make sure before I make such a commitment. In accordance with God’s will marriage is forever.”

Sister Nenet smiled again, “Very good. I’m glad to see some of my teachings taking root in that heathen addled brain of yours. Go in peace my child. I will pray for your soul.”

“Thank you, Sister.” Maarika said as she turned to leave.

Maarika, after several wrong turns, managed to find her way back to Nasir’s room. She quietly opened the door and slipped inside. Nasir was in the same position as he was when she left, on his back and snoring loudly. Maarika smiled at the scene and thought, I sure hope he doesn’t keep that habit up once we leave. He’ll bring every hungry in a ten-league radius down upon us.

She closed the door gently behind her, and removed her sandals. She tiptoed across the room and quietly sat down in the chair beside Nasir’s bed. She watched for a few hours as the light from the sun coming in the room’s window began to fade and become orange. Her stomach rumbled in protest at not having been filled since she broke her fast at first light earlier in the day.

Maarika stood and leaned over Nasir’s sleeping form. She gently kissed him on the forehead. As her lips touched his skin, he stopped snoring for a moment and said, “Maarika.” He then smiled briefly and resumed his snoring.

Leaving Nasir to his slumber, she tiptoed back across the small chamber and picked up her sandals. Reaching the door, she quietly opened it and then slipped out into the hallway. Taking one last glance at Nasir as she slipped out the doorway, she stepped back and closed the door behind her. Slipping the sandals onto her feet she followed her nose to the nearby kitchen and walked in. As she opened the door, a rotund lady with long gray hair looked up from stirring a cauldron of soup and said, “Hello dearie. You look famished. Care for a warm bowl of soup?”

Maarika nodded her head emphatically and said, “Yes please.”

The older woman smiled at Maarika and took a wooden bowl from a nearby table. She then dipped a ladle into the steaming and bubbling liquid and filled the ladle. She poured the soup into the bowl and then handed it to Maarika. The younger woman held the bowl under her nose for a moment and said, “This smells delightful. What’s in it?”

The lady smiled at the complement and said, “Oh, a little of this and a little of that.” As she handed Maarika a wooden spoon.

Maarika took the spoon, and eagerly scooped up some of the soup. She blew on the spoon’s steaming contents and slowly put her lips to it. Deciding it was cool enough to try, she tipped the spoon into her mouth. A myriad of flavors exploded onto her tongue. She tasted hints of onion, carrots, cabbage, and a taste that she had never experienced before, “I taste the vegetables but what else is in here? It seems like a blessing from heaven above!”

The old lady smiled broadly revealing several missing teeth, “It’s a spice called pepper dearie.”

“Where does it come from? I’ve never had it before. Is it commonly used in Roman meals?” Maarika asked.

“It comes from a far-off place across the sea called India. It’s very expensive, but a pious merchant that came to pray upon the mountain, donated one hundred pounds of it to St. Catherine’s!” The lady happily replied, “I’ve spent me whole life hearing people complain about my cooking. How it’s too bland. How it’s always the same thing every day. I do the best I can with the ingredients I have, but not much is available out here at the foot of Mount Sinai. Just what we can grow in this awful climate. Which isn’t much mind. Now that we have this pepper everyone loves my soup!”

Maarika quickly consumed the soup, savoring each spoonful. As she neared the bottom of the bowl the lady handed her a piece of bread, “Here use this to soak up the rest.”

Maarika took the bread from the old lady and said, “Thank you so much. You’ve been very kind to me.”

The old lady smiled and said, “What’s your name?” My name is Bella.”

“Nice to meet you Bella. My name is Maarika. I’ve never heard that name before. What does it mean?”

“It a Latin word. The old language of the Empire. It means beautiful. Long ago the name fit, now.” Bella’s voice faded away as she said the last word.

“Bella, beauty just isn’t about your outward appearance. True beauty comes from your heart. I believe the name is perfect for you.”

Bella smiled broadly and said, “Bless you child, for warming the heart of an old woman. Here, have another slice of bread.” Bella then whispered, “Don’t tell anyone you got two. You’re only supposed to get one.”

Maarika smiled, “Your secret is safe with me. Could I have a bowl of this delightful soup to take back to my friend Nasir? He’s recovering from a wound he received from a dagger.”

“Certainly Maarika. How did he get stabbed? Bandits?”

“Sadly no. It was a case of mistaken identity.” Maarika replied.

“Poor fellow. He’s lucky to have someone like you watching over him.” Bella said.

“I don’t know about that. It was I who stabbed him.”

Bella’s jaw fell as she dropped the ladle into the soup, “That must be quite the story. You did not jest about the mistaken identity.”

Maarika’s eyes lowered and her shoulders slumped as she said, “It was a very unfortunate accident. I thought he was another one of the hungry.”

“What are these hungry you speak about?” Bella asked.

“I hope you never have to find out. They are the dead, cursed to rise and walk the earth. They have only one thought in their putrid rotting minds, consume the flesh of the living.” Maarika replied.

Bella exhaled sharply and crossed herself, “Truly? You speak of demons girl! God would allow such a thing?”

Maarika nodded absently, “Yes.”

Bella quickly crossed herself a second time, “I do not want to hear another word. Here, take your soup, and go.”

As Maarika took the bowl of steaming soup from Bella she said. “Thank you,” and left the room.

She managed to find her way back to Nasir’s chamber with only one wrong turn. She opened the door to his chamber slowly, careful not to make any noise. As she turned to shut the door behind her Nasir said, “That smells delightful. I’m famished. Is that for me?”

Maarika turned and their eyes met. Seeing Nasir smiling up at her, she smiled back, “Yes love, I brought you some soup from the kitchen.”

Nasir attempted to pull himself into a sitting position. The moment he tried to move he let out a startled, “Ow.”

Maarika quickly crossed the room and set the soup down on a small table beside Nasir’s bed, “Here love. Let me help you up.” She grabbed a blanket that was folded up neatly at the foot of his bed and placed it underneath his pillow. She then slowly and gently helped Nasir to sit up.

“I’m dizzy.” Nasir said as he leaned back against his pillow.

“Father Quibilah said that you may feel dizzy when you sit up for the first time. How’s your stomach?”

“It feels fine why?” Nasir asked.

“He also said that you may feel nauseous. I don’t want to feed you any soup if your stomach was not up to it.” Maarika said.

“My stomach is fine woman. Other than the fact that it will devour me from the inside if you do not give me some of that soup.” Nasir barked gruffly.

Maarika picked up the bowl of soup and pulled out a wooden spoon she had been carrying using the goat leather belt she wore around her waist. While holding the steaming bowl with her left hand she dipped the spoon into the soup with her right. She then raised it to her lips and blew on it to cool it down, “Here you are.” She said as she placed the spoon in front of his lips.

Nasir extended his lips around the spoon and began slurping the contents into his mouth loudly, “That’s really good. I taste a hint of pepper in there. This monastery must be rich to afford such luxury for a simple bowl of soup.”

“They were given the pepper by a rich merchant.” Maarika replied.

“That is some demonstration of piety. Do you know how much pepper costs? It comes all the way from India.”

Maarika shook her head and said, “No. Nor do I care. Do you want another spoonful?”

Nasir nodded emphatically as he said, “Yes please!”

With Maarika help, Nasir was able to finish the entire bowl of soup. He leaned his head back and held his gut with his right hand. Looking over at Maarika he asked, “You were going to tell me the story of how you got me all the way from North West Arabia to St. Catherine’s, remember?”

Maarika nodded and Nasir smiled, “What happened after you stabbed me and I passed out?”

I laid atop you, and tried to stop your bleeding with my hands. It was an awful wound. You just bled and bled. You became pale and ghostly white. Finally, at about the time the sand storm blew itself out, you stopped leaking blood.”

“Then what happened?” Nasir asked.

“The occasional hungry would come lurching toward us, as soon as they spotted me.” Maarika said.

“You used your sling, right?” Nasir asked

Maarika nodded, “Yes, once the sandstorm ended, I was able to see them coming from a distance.”

“How many did you end up killing?” Nasir asked.

Maarika pursed her lips and her eyes looked up to the left. Her right hand came up and she rubbed her chin as she thought about the question, “Oh, I’d say six in total.”

“The hungry seemed to be wandering randomly all over that piece of the desert.” Nasir said.

Maarika nodded in agreement, “So it seemed. Fortune smiled upon us, as the sun began to get low in the sky they stopped appearing. By nightfall the temperature plummeted. You started shivering, so I wrapped my arms around you in an attempt to keep you warm. Before long you must have warmed up as you became still. Your breathing was very shallow. I was very worried. I must have fallen asleep as the next thing I remember is waking up in the sunlight. As I looked south down the road, I saw some camels approaching.”

“Who were on the camels?” Nasir asked.

Maarika frowned, “Patience, I was getting to that part.”

“Sorry.” Nasir said.

Maarika kissed him lightly on the top of his head and said, “No worries. You cannot help yourself.” She placed a hand between his legs and rubbed gently before continuing, “You have one of these after all. They addle your brains with thoughts of glory and sex.”

Nasir moaned softly as his manhood stirred from Maarika’s touch. He almost allowed himself to be consumed by the feeling Maarika was engendering within him before saying through clenched teeth, “This is a house of the Lord. We mustn’t.”

Maarika slipped her hand into his trousers and began rubbing him directly. Nasir reached out with his left hand and grabbed her wrist, “Please no.”

Maarika, disappointed, gave Nasir her pouting looking and then said, “Suit yourself.”

“The story, quickly before I change my mind.” Nasir said.

“Very well. The camels turned out to belong to a Nabatean merchant by the name of Imran. Luckily for us, he was traveling with a healer who used much of their precious water to clean your wounds. The healer was unsure if you would survive or not, so Imran suggested we load you onto one of his camels and take you to St. Catherine’s.” Maarika said.

“It sounds like this Imran was a spice merchant transporting a supply of spices from Arabia Felix, to Petra. Why did he agree to bring us all the way to St. Catherine’s?” Nasir asked.

“You’re right. He was transporting something called pepper. The pepper was being carried in tins, placed in boxes that were strapped to the backs of his camels. We did stop in Petra, where Imran sold much of the pepper. I told him that you were a soldier of the Empire. Since he was heading here to St. Catherine’s regardless, and several of his camels were without cargo, he offered to transport you here.” Maarika said.

“Why didn’t we stay in Petra? It’s closer to Aqaba. Perhaps I could have sent word to the garrison there about the hungry.” Nasir said.

“We lost all of our money, and most of our gear in the storm. I asked around but no one was willing to take us in without payment. Though several of them offered us lodging in exchange for me laying with them. I refused. Imran had treated me honorably and his personal physician had kept you alive. I thought it was best to stay with them while you recovered. They offered to bring us here, so I accepted.” Maarika replied.

“That is mighty generous of him. Are you sure he did it out of the goodness of his heart, and not for the opportunity to lay with you? Perhaps he was hoping that you would eventually feel indebted if he kept up the generosity.” Nasir asked.

Maarika’s face flushed a deep crimson and she slapped Nasir in the face, “How dare you. I’m not a whore. Imran has been nothing but honorable towards myself and you.”

Nasir, rubbing his face with his right hand, held up his left in supplication and said, “Peace woman. That came out wrong.”

“By Bismillah you are right it did. I’ll forgive you. This time. Apology accepted. Imran has been nothing but a perfect gentleman. In the desert, he had many opportunities to simply slit your throat and force me to lay with him. He is a devout man of your God who did no such thing. He came here on a pilgrimage to pray from atop Mount Sinai. He wanted to speak to God and feel his presence in the same spot that he revealed the commandments to Moses.” Maarika said.

“A pious man indeed. I will ask for God’s forgiveness for speaking ill of him.” Nasir said.

Nasir opened his mouth widely and yawned, “Get some sleep. I must retire for the evening to my chamber. Father Quibilah will look in on you tomorrow morning.” Maarika said.

“I hope his examination yields good news. We must get back out on the road and warn Aqaba of the hungry.” Nasir said.

“There is no need for that. We stopped in Aqaba on the way here. I tried to tell the guards at the gate of the hungry, but they would not listen.” Maarika replied.

“I’m a soldier of the Empire, they’ll listen to me. We must try.” Nasir said.

Maarika let out a sigh, “Very well then. I would like to leave this place sooner rather than later. They are forcing me to take lessons with children about God.”

Nasir chuckled, “I feel sorry for the poor bastard that has to deal with your wit.”

“You should feel sorrier for me. Sister Nenet has no sense of humor what so ever.” Maarika said.

Before Nasir could open his mouth to reply Maarika placed a single finger against his lips and said, “Enough for tonight. Rest.”

Nasir nodded without protest. The sounds of his snoring reverberated through the room, before Maarika could cross to the door and shut it behind her.

Thank you for reading the fourth episode of the Nasir and Maarika Chronicles. I hope you are enjoying the story and continue the story when I write and publish Episode V.

The Nasir and Maarika Chronicles are based in the Byzantium Infected Universe which also includes the short story Jibreel’s Curse and the full-length novels Scourge of Byzantium, Damascus of the Damned, and Emperor’s Errand Part I.

If you enjoy my writing style and are interested in historical fiction. Check out my free short story The Winter Sniper. Winter Sniper is set on November 30th 1939 and follows a Finnish sniper by the name of Hale, as he tries to buy his people precious time to prepare their defense against an overwhelming Soviet invasion force.

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Thanks for reading!

James Mullins

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