Once upon a time, there was a young girl cradled in gold and velvet below the eyes of the High Porte*. Her beauty and kindness were like none other, she was the pride of her parents, and wherever she went her name ran on every tongue like the most tasteful of meads.
Hakim Hiristiniye bint Teragani*, daughter of a rich couple of fabric merchants. Her father gave her the heritage of money and tricks, and from her mother she received beauty and courage. She was raised with the same regards as if she had been a princess and was educated by the the most illustrious scholars of the city. But like every girl of her age, Histi saw the day of her wedding approach faster than she knew. The young men’s eyes devored this damsel for whom they’d have sacrified the dowry without the shadow of a regret.
At the dawn of her fifteenth spring, Histi made a wish before her parents. She prayed they would let ler take the road once before she was bethroved. She would bring them a princely dawry and marry the man they judged worthy of her. In their blind trust, the parents agreed the project. The princess of a daughter joined a convoy of merchants, leaving behind her pretenders. If they were to wait for her return, they would have to wait for a lifetime, because Histi never intended to come back and roam again the land that saw her birth. Freedom was reaching out to her for the last time and she was ready to sacrifice everything to rejoin it.
Not long after her departure, the news came to her that Constantinople was being ravaged by an epidemy of plague. Sorrow clenched her heart, and for a while she let herself be carried by the convoy without worrying about where she was going anymore. Her knowledge of the seller’s craft made wonders, and no one had reasons to complain about her company.
One day she heard of Dürembroch, a reclused region of occidental christian Europe. It was told that snow reigned over for the half of the year and the matriarch was the most beautiful woman in the world. As to confort herself in her shaddy mood, Histi decided to go have a closer look at this ice country. She was warned, nonetheless. This land had never been caught, as a matter of fact, since it was encircled with woods full of thorns and sheltering deformed monsters. Chimeras who roamed the montains to devour anyone befell to their teeth.
Histi who had studied with the greatest knowers had always been taught chimeras were either legends or birth accidents. Since there was no one left to wait for her, she could take risk of finding out herself.
The damsel took leave of the merchants and set on a quest for a guide to take her to Dürembroch. She hit herself to the wall of langage a little but managed to make herself understood by the christians of occident. The word spread quickly that a pretty sarrasine* was looking for someone to take her through the hostile lands.
One evening she was having supper at an inn, the door opened on a man of imposing size. Heads turned casually, but the eating room suddenly became as silent as a monastery at pittance time. Histi too lifted the chin, and her mouth remained open under the effect of suprise.
The stranger was well tall of six feet*, and yet he had managed to find a cape his size. A huge beast skin in which he rolled himself and that was covered with small white plates. Histi had only seen some morning frost since her arrival in european land, and so she did not understand immediatly it was snow. The giant swipped the tables by look. His eyes stopped as soon as they met with the princess of a daughter. The wooden floor creeked under his feet as he walked toward her, unveiling his scarred face.
“Nostre reyne oye dir un fame sarrasine querit son encontre. Damoiselle me mande aler vos quérir por nos convoier a son castel. Alons sans respit, dame. La nuitée es encor douce.” (Our queen heard a sarrasine woman was looking to meet her. She sent me to get you so we could travel together to her castle. Let’s go at once. The night is still soft.)
He was talking in a hoarse but quiet voice. Histi remained silent for a moment and then nodded timidly as she understood it was her guide who had found her after all. She swallowed her quail broth and left some money on the table, keeping the stranger in the corner of her eye.
“Vostre nom, messire?” (Your name, my sir?) she inquired in an approxamative françois*.
“Este vos de damoiselle la suivance?” (Do you belong to matriarch’s followers?)
“Soy tête de chassers.” (I’m the head of her hunters.)
The damsel drapped herself in her pretty scarves. It was to keep herself from the cold outside, but at the sight og the rich fabrics, the hunter thought she was prepping to meet the matriarch. The princess of a daughter lifted her luggage and followed Sohonnai outside the inn under the good folk’s bewildered eyes.
*High Porte is another name for Constantinople.
*Hiristiniye daughter of (mister) Teragani, namely a merchant
*Sarrasin(e if feminine) is how the french referred to arabians during the middle-ages.
*People rarely exceeded 4,5 ft at the time.
*François means old french here
*Sohonnai is an hungarian last name of 16th century, it litterally means “from no place”