The Tale of Shir Shaheen and the Caravanserai - Chapter 12: All Thy Tears

Glitch

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caravanserai_k12.png


“So it was, sweet friend, that––”

“Thy brother?”

“Ah, dear friend, greatest and dearest of friends, I have distressed thee. Folly it was, folly and worse, for me to tell a story of such darkness. Thy physician’s stern looks rightly rebuke me, and thy grandchildren’s whisperings show clearly how heedless I have been. Let us call in the young ones again and I shall tell tales of happier times for Shir Shaheen and Roshan, such as the day the vintner came and how the sampling of his wares caused such commotion in Paridiz.”

But the old man in the bed, the dying man, will not be turned from his question. He leans forward from the many pillows that support him, determination in his voice, thin and frail as it is. “It was Safar, thy brother, and thou didst kill him?”

His friend, who has been his friend for more than the lifetime of an ordinary mortal, gives way. “Safar was his name,” says Shaheen. “And once he was my brother. But it was evil I destroyed that night, and glad I am I did so.”

The old man, grandfather and great-grandfather, but still in his heart the boy Roshan, falls back against the pillows. “So many hidden things hast thou revealed in thy tales today, all kept so many long years, weighing upon thy soul. Yet they are but trifles compared to this most bitter secret. How it must have pained thee.” He puts his hand, his aged, wizened hand, upon his friend’s. “Thou shouldst have told me this ere now, so I could have shared thy burden.”

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The Judge

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Back in June I confirmed that I'd taken the chapter titles for this serial from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and this month's is from one of his most quoted quatrains (which I'm convinced was quoted in a Star Trek OS episode, though I'm damned if I can find it):

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,​
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit​
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,​
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.​
Which, as it confirms that the past is gone and can't be changed, no matter how much we might wish it, is rather an apposite thought for the ending of a story.

My thanks to Glitch for letting me hog the serial space again and for finding such incredible images!
 

Cat's Cradle

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Congratulations to all concerned - in this serial you will find terrific editing and artwork, and a magnificent story from The Judge!

I really loved this year's stories, TJ. I've enjoyed the tales of the djinn I've read before, and this is a worthy addition to the genre.
And what a closing! So poignant at start and finish, and then the excitement in the middle. I teared up, I near-whooped once, and throughout was thrilled to be spending a final spell of time with Shir Shaheen and Roshan. This is a great closing chapter.

And congratulations, TJ, on your very successful three-year run as Kraxon serialist. It's almost unimaginable that the first instalment of your first serial was published three years ago next month. What an entertaining ride, with Akiowa, Dorje/Girl et al. Well done. And now you can rest! ;)

(But I do think it would be very fine to hear more of Shir Shaheen and Roshan's great grandchildren, maybe in another year or two. It's a wonderful world you've created there.)

Looking forward to next year's serial, CC
 

HareBrain

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Very clever and moving close to this series. I echo everything CC said.

this month's is from one of his most quoted quatrains (which I'm convinced was quoted in a Star Trek OS episode, though I'm damned if I can find it):

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

What TJ hasn't said, through modesty, is that in faithfulness to the quatrain she did actually write this episode with her finger, in the sand of her local beach. Only on the fifteenth attempt did she manage to complete it before the tide came in and washed out all Words of it. I for one salute her dedication.
 

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