|Posted on June 20, 2014 at 7:35 PM|
The dress Mashti and her sister had made stayed in the corner of the Yurt, gathering dust. Mashti had decided to try and put her wedding off as much as she possibly could. She didn't want to marry Han-Kaleni at all. He may have been her father's most prized Gulakhan, but she still didn't like him one bit. At least her uncle Sul-Senipul sided with her on the marriage, but that was only because he wanted the rule of the tribe in his brother's place, and then pass the burden of leadership to her cousin, Matuul.
Leadership wasn't something Mashti wanted, let alone to be the leader's wife. Not here. Kaleni just wasn't right for her.
The door to her yurt was suddenly opened, and Mashti heard the sound of clinking beads and stones. It was her mother. Fedura. My poor mother. I don't want to suffer the same fate.
"Mashti," she began, "your father would like you to keep our visitors busy for awhile longer with Nibani and your sister."
"Visitors?" Mashti asked. "Busy?"
"Yes," Fedura said. "The traders from the Ahemmusa camp, and their ashkhan, Han-Sachael. And don't give me that look!"
'Entertaining' meant conversing with her fellow Ashlanders outside and exchanging a few words. Mashti decided to stay as far away from her sister and friends as possible. She saw her sister's best friend, Nibani Maesa, give her a look and Mashti turned away, feeling embarrassed. They all hated her, because she was going to be the wife of the new Ashkhan. When I marry Kaleni I'll make them sorry they ever doubted me. That they were ever jealous of me!
"Dance for me," A voice said behind her. Mashti turned to the person who had began talking and saw it was the Ashkhan from the Ahemmusa Camp. Han-Sachael...He was handsome.
"Excuse me?" Mashti asked.
"You're one of the dancing girls, aren't you?" Han-Sachael asked. He then made a twirling motion with one of his fingers. Mashti looked towards the crowd behind her nervously, before turning back to Han-Sachael and began dancing.
It was the next week when Han-Sachael proposed marriage. Mashti was surprised, and thought about refusing, despite how much she had grown to like him over the week. But Han-Sachael pleaded with her, saying how much he needed her. Mashti eventually gave in, but she would have to sneak away and make sure that neither her father nor her pledged fiance knew where she was going.
Her father did find out eventually, but did nothing to stop her from leaving, save banishing her from the tribe. Mashti didn't care, though. She never loved her father.
The trip to the Grazelands was a long one; the trip took a week to reach the camp. The nights the party of Ahemmusa and Mashti spent camping in the woods, or by the fires that they made. Han-Sachael and Mashti shared a yurt and spent several nights together.
Then, they arrived. The Ahemmusa tribe was much smaller than the Urshilaku tribe, but they seemed to be getting along fine. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the bright blue sky. To top it off, there was a beach nearby. I think I'm going to like the Grazelands, Mashti thought. It was better than living in the inhospitable Ashlands.
At least that's what Mashti thought until she saw the looks on all of their faces. The Ahemmusa hated her!
Then, the next thing that happened - the next thing that made Mashti cower away like a frightened guar - was the look on one of the women's faces. She stared at Mashti coldly, before taking a few steps towards Han-Sachael and embracing him in front of everyone.
"You never said you had a wife!" Mashti cried heatedly when she and Han-Sachael were alone on the beach. Han-Sachael gave her a sad smile.
"I was going to tell you, Mashti. Eventually."
Well 'eventually' isn't good enough! You lied to me! Mashti thought.
"My parents, " Han-Sachael began, "they never gave me the choice as to whether or not I wanted to marry Ahmabi."
That was when Mashti realized that was the first time she had ever heard his wife's name. Ahmabi.
"They wanted me to marry Ahmabi because she was religious," Han-Sachael continued, "a devoted servant of Boethiah. But what I want….I just want you."
They agreed to meet in secret then. Far from the prying eyes of the Ahemmusa. Their meetings were only once or twice a week at first, but then they grew more frequent. Han-Sachael set up a small camp a little way away from the camp, past an old, abandoned Daedric ruin. They met there every night.
During the day, Mashti studied the way of the Ahemmusa Wise Women. Most of the others hated her, but the lead Wise Woman, Sinnammu Mirpal, seemed kind enough.
The weeks passed by; the weather began to start growing cooler as Last Seed passed into Hearthfire, and Mashti began to grow more tired and used to life with the Ahemmusa. She thought everything would be fine.
Until she found out she was pregnant.
"Pregnant?" Han-Sachael echoed when Mashti told him. "But...but that's -"
"Not possible?" Mashti finished. "Well, it is. And I don't know what to do."
The questions hung in the air, unanswered. Mashti had known that Ahmabi and Han-Sachael had been struggling to have children for years. Now Mashti was carrying his child; Han-Sachael's only child.
When Ahmabi found out, she was furious. Mashti was banished. The child's presence would be tolerated at the camp, as long as Han-Sachael never named him son; never even spoke his name.
The baby was born a boy and Mashti named him Julan, and they moved from the Ahemmusa camp. As soon as Mashti held the baby in her arms the first time, she saw strong resemblances to Han-Sachael, so strong that she saw very little resemblance to herself.
Mashti relocated herself back to the camp she and Han-Sachael spent many of their evenings, and put up two more yurts. She would need the space.
The days went by. She watched the boy grow up. Soon Julan began to ask questions about where his father was and why they lived alone. Mashti found herself babbling about Nerevar; about the prophecies and the good her son would do. She told him that his real parents were gone, and felt ashamed afterwards. But she wasn't going to let her son know just how much of an outcast he was.
Julan kept growing. He became a teenager almost overnight. Much to Mashti's chagrin, he spent more and more time at the Ahemmusa camp, sneaking out at night and meeting with one of the girls from the camp, and disappearing into the Grazelands with her. The boy knew his destiny; why did he insist on defying her so?
Before she knew it, Julan was seventeen years old. Almost a man. Mashti knew she had to tell him the truth, but couldn't bring herself to. She knew she never would.
One day - one particularly sunny day - Julan came running home. He looked distraught.
"Is something wrong?" Mashti asked.
"It's the Ashkhan, Mom. He's dead."