In a small hut across the town, a woman was solemnly waiting for her tea to steep. She was not young, yet wasn’t old yet either; over the past years her features have acquired solid and somehow timeless quality. On this night, the night of conquering, her grave face refaced the great tragedy that befell the city.
Deciding the tea was ready, Khadira took her cup to the window. The night was ablaze with fires– Merciful God, not the temple!!! – yet the distance at least spared her the screaming.
How many times has this town been burned to the ground? How many more, till men’s need for destruction is satiated? There were no answers to her questions. Worse yet, she knew of other things war brings about – as if deaths were not enough, pillage and rape followed close behind, to affirm victors’ triumph over the defeated.
So she used her skill to do the only thing she could: to prepare relief for bodies and souls of the victims, which will find their way to her in scores by the sunrise, needing her to distinguish their pain, obliterate fear, ease suffering. Comparatively safe in the isolation of her remote hut, she spent most of the night mixing and steeping and infusing; now she could only wait.
"Wonder how bad it’s going to be," she thought, slowly swishing around the tea in her cup. Over the past months, strange rumors have been arriving about the strange King on a rampage. It was said that he had lost his son and his soul. It was said he forbade the "weakening of the army’s strength" by ravaging of women. It was said that he burned temples and forbade worship. It was said that with one glance he can kill man’s will to live.
But there were other rumors too, a slow undercurrent. Gradual in arrival and scarce, those other rumors indicated that the Warrior, who just cut through her city like a blade through the summer wheat, has been cursed by his own power hunger; that he can not rest, nor know a moment’s peace but must forever keep battling. There were rumors that in his sorrow for his son, he had forgotten his wife and daughter, and that they – having long fallen behind his army and his victories, still wander the lands in the wake of his conquests.
"But who can tell the truth from the tale?" Khadira wondered. It will be known soon enough. With approaching daylight, the city will know it’s new master.
And so she sat by the window, awaiting daylight, waiting the long wait of the conquered.