King Nureddin at sixteen years of age ascended the throne of

Syria. It was at the time when, as stated by Ariosto, the spirit of
chivalry has bent all nations to the laws of honor alone, and united
all the tribes of various faiths in a single worship of beauty.
King Nureddin has not vainly worn the royal crown; he surrounded
it with the shine of war and victories and spread the thunder of
Syrian arms far beyond the states borders. In battles and duels,
magnificent tournaments and lonely !ourneys, among "uslims and
infidels # everywhere Nureddins sword left deep mar$s of his luc$
and valor. %is name was often repeated behind the &ound 'able of
the 'welve (aliant, and many of )harlemagnes famous champions
carried on their fearless chests the story of Nureddins feats, carved
with clear scars through their hewn armor.
'hus through luc$ and valor has the Syrian $ing achieved both
power and honor for himself; but his heart, deafened by the
thunder of combat, understood only one beauty # danger, and $new
but one feeling # a thirst for glory, un*uenchable, limitless. Nor the
ringing of glasses, nor the songs of troubadours, nor the fair
maidens smiles could stop but for a moment the invariable course
of his thoughts; after a combat he prepared for a new combat; after
a victory he sought not rest, but considered new victories, planned
new struggles and con*uests.
+espite that, however, it happened once that Syria was at peace
with all its neighbors, when ,rigell, the $ing of )hina, gave a new
tas$ to Nureddins sword. Insignificant disputes between their
sub!ects have accidentally reached the rulers ears, resentment
grew mutually, and soon the death of one of the $ings became the
only honorable condition for peace.
"arching out, Nureddin swore with his head and honor before the
army and the people; not to see the walls of +amas$ until the
entire )hina submits to his scepter, and ,rigell himself answers
with his head for his offenses. Never yet has Nureddin swore in
A month later, all the provinces of )hina, one after another, bowed
to Nureddins sword. 'he defeated ,rigell with the remains of his
chosen forces loc$ed himself in his capital. 'he siege began.
-inding no way of reprieve, ,rigell started as$ing for peace,
ceding to the victor half of his $ingdom. Nureddin answered that
he shares not with his enemies # and the siege continues.
,rigells army is reduced daily in number and spirit; the food
supplies are running out; Nureddin does not agree to the most
humble re*uests.
+espair too$ the $ing of )hina; each day ,rigells condition grows
worse; each day Nureddin receives a new advantage. In despair,
the )hinese $ing offered Nureddin his entire $ingdom of )hina, all
the rights, all the titles, only to be permitted to leave with his
treasures, his wives, $ids and favorites. Nureddin remains
implacable # and the siege continues.
-inally, seeing the inevitability of his demise, ,rigell surrendered
everything, the treasures, the favorites, the children, the wives .
and begged for life alone. Nureddin, recalling his oath, re!ected
that offer as well.
'he siege continues, ever stronger, ever more irresistible. &eady
for anything, the )hinese $ing decided to use one last, desperate
resort for salvation . sorcery.
In his besieged capital stood a huge, ancient palace, which
remained empty over a hundred years already, because an evil deed
has once been committed there, so terrible that the very tale of it
has disappeared from the memory of people; for one who $new it,
dared not repeat it to another, and one who $new not, dared not
hear it out.
'herefore, the tale was only that some evil deed was committed,
and that the palace remained defiled ever since. 'here ,rigell
went, consoling himself with the thought that it wont be worse
that it will be.
Amid the palace, he found a pitch; amid the pitch was a tent with a
golden $nob; amid the tent was a stair with flowering rails; the
stair brought him to an underground passage; the passage brought
him to a clearing, surrounded by an impassable forest; amid the
clearing stood a hut; amid the hut sat a +ervish and read a /lac$
/oo$. ,rigell described to him his situation and as$ed for aid.
'he +ervish opened the /oo$ of the %eavens and found in it;
under which star was Nureddin born, and in what constellation the
star is, and how far it is from the mortal earth.
0pon finding the stars place in heavens, the +ervish started
loo$ing for its place in the heavenly fates, and for that he opened
another boo$, the /oo$ of "agical Signs, where upon a blac$
page, a fiery circle was revealed to him1 many stars shone on the
circle, some inside, others on the edge. Nureddins star stood in the
very center of the fiery circle.
Seeing this, the sorcerer reflected, and then spo$e to ,rigell as
23oe to thee, o $ing of )hina, for invincible is thy foe and no
charms can defeat his luc$; his luc$ is contained within his heart,
and strongly is his soul built, and all his intentions must come true;
for he never wished for the impossible, never sought the
unfeasible, never loved the unreal, and thus can no sorcery affect
2%owever, . continued the +ervish, . I could have defeated his
luc$, I could have entangled him with charms and incantations, had
there been a maiden fair enough in the world to rouse inside him
such love that would have raised his heart above his star and would
have forced him to thin$ thoughts inexpressible, to see$ a feeling
intolerable and to spea$ the inconceivable; then I could have
destroyed him.5
2Also, I could have destroyed him, had there been an old man in
the world, one who would have sung to him such a song which
could have carried him beyond lands and seas to the edge of the
world, where the stars are setting.5
2I could have also destroyed him, had there been a place in nature,
with mountains, with hills, with vales, with rivers, with ravines,
such a place, that would have been so beautiful that Nureddin,
loo$ing upon it, would have forgotten but for a minute his daily
2'hen my charms could have affected him.5
2/ut there is no such maiden in the world, there is no such old man
on earth, there is no such song and no such place in nature.5
2'hus Nureddin cannot perish.5
2And thou, $ing of )hina, hast no salvation even in sorcery.5
At these words of the sorcerer, ,rigells despair reached the
ultimate degree, and he wanted to leave the +ervishs hut, when
the latter stopped him with the following words1
23ait, $ing of )hina4 'here is one more way to defeat thy foe.
6oo$, do thou see Nureddins star7 %igh, it seems, it stands in
heavens, but, should thou want to, my charms will go higher still. I
shall tear the star from heavens; I shall attract it to earth; I shall
s*uee8e it into a spar$; I shall loc$ it in a prison secure # and I
shall save thee; but for that, Sire, must thou bow to my master, and
deliver to him a sub!ects sacrifice.5
,rigell agreed to everything. 'he incense was burned, the sign was
drawn on the ground, the word was spo$en, and the ritual was
'hat night # the armies were resting both in the city and in the
camp # the sentries were silently wal$ing bac$ and forth and called
one to another slowly; silently some star came off its place in the
s$y and falls, falls # on the dar$ dome, behind a dar$ forest; the
sentries have stopped1 the star disappeared # where7 0n$nown;
only a bright trail was flowing where it has been falling; and that
but for a minute; again the s$y is dar$ and silent; the sentries went
on as scheduled.
At the morning, the sword.bearer entered Nureddins tent1 2Sire4
Some mon$ from the mountain of Ararat wants to see thy royal
face; he says he has important mysteries to tell thee5.
26et him in54
23hat do thou want of me, holy father75
2Sire4 -or sixty years I left not my cell, in the stars and boo$s have
I been learning the wisdom and mysteries of creation. I penetrated
the innermost secrets of nature; I see the insides of earth and sun;
the future is clear before my eyes; the destiny of men and nations
is revealed before me4..5
2"on$4 3hat do thou want of me75
2Sire4 I brought thee a ring, in which thy star is contained. 'a$e it,
and thy destiny will be in thy hands. Should thou put it on the little
finger of thy left hand and loo$ into the shine of this stone, thou
shalt see thy happiness there; but there thou shalt also see thy
demise, and on thee alone shall thy fate depend then, great $ing95
2,ld man # Nureddin interrupted him # If all the innermost secrets
are revealed before thee, then how come that which is $nown to all
the world is a secret to thee7 :erhaps thou alone dost not $now,
ancient hermit, that Nureddins destiny is in his hands without thy
ring, that his happiness is contained in his sword. I need no star
other than the one spar$ling on this blade # loo$ at how this iron
shines, and how it can punish deceivers4..5
At these words Nureddin too$ his sword; but when he drew it, the
old mon$ was far outside the $ings tent, on the way to the enemy
camp. A few minutes later the sword.bearer entered Nureddins
head*uarters again.
2Sire4 'he mon$ who exited thy tent recently, has been bac$. %e
told me to give thee this ring, and as$s that thou ascertain his
words with thy own eyes.5
23here is he7 /ring him here45
20pon leaving me the ring, he disappeared immediately in the
forest ad!oining our camp, saying only he shall come tomorrow.5
2(ery well. 6eave the ring here, and when he shall come, let him
into my room.5
'he ring was not impressing through masterwor$. A round opal, set
in gold simply, was dimly shooting the colors of rainbow.
2Is my destiny inside this stone7 # thought Nureddin. # 'omorrow
thou shalt learn thy destiny from me far more certainly, impudent
deceiver4..5 ;et meanwhile, the $ing was putting the ring on his
left hands little finger, and, loo$ing upon the tinted stone, tried to
discover anything unusual in it.
And indeed, in the cloudily.celestial color of this ring was some
special shine which Nureddin never noticed in other opals. As if a
spar$ of fire was hidden within, which was playing and moving,
now dimming, now igniting anew, and, with every movement of
his hand, burning brighter and brighter.
'he longer Nureddin loo$ed at the stone, the better he saw the
flame, and the brighter the stone grew. %ere the flame stopped; a
bright star deep inside the opal, the misty shine of which was
spreading inside it; li$e the air of the evening s$y, covered sparsely
with light clouds.
In this light mist, in this bright, distant star, there was something
irresistibly attractive for the $ing of Syria; not only could he not
ta$e his ga8e away from the wonderful ring, but, forgetting at that
time both war and ,rigell, focused he upon loo$ing at the
marvelous flame, which, now splitting into a rainbow, now
merging again into a little sun, grew bigger and closer all the time.
'he more Nureddin focused on loo$ing inside the opal, the deeper
and more bottomless it seemed to him. 6ittle by little, the golden
circle around the stone turned into a round window, through which
shone another s$y, brighter than ours, and another sun; as bright, as
radiant, but as if even merrier and not as blindingly.
'he new s$y grew more and more shiny and detailed; the sun
bigger and bigger; now it grew larger than that of earth, bigger and
grander, and although blinding, yet still irresistible and attractive;
fast it rolled closer and closer; or, rather, Nureddin $new not; is the
sun approaching him, or is he the one flying toward the sun.
Now another phenomenon stri$es his strained senses; from
underneath the rolling sun a muffled and indistinct rumble sounds,
li$e the roar of a distant wind, or the groan of bells falling silent;
and the closer the sun, the clearer the rumble. Now can Nureddin
clearly recogni8e different sounds in it1 li$e thousands of harps are
!oining with manystringed notes into a consonant song; li$e
thousands of voices are built into a single accord, some dying,
some being born, and all obeying a single, varying, flowing,
unbounded harmony.
'hese sounds, these songs, reached the depths of Nureddins soul.
-or the first time he $new what delight is. As if his heart, formerly
mute, struc$ with the voice of his star, suddenly ac*uired both
hearing and speech; so a ringing metal, brought to light for the first
time through art, upon meeting another metal sha$es to the depths
of its structure, and rings bac$ to it with its own sound. 6istening
hungrily to the music around him, Nureddin could not tell; what is
inside his heart, and what is outside.
Now the rolling sun covered the entire dome of its s$y; all burned
with the glow; the air became hot, and stifling, and blinding; the
music turned into a deafening thunder; and here # the flame
disappeared, the sounds fell silent, and the mute sun lost its rays,
and yet it grew closer and closer, shining with the cold glow of a
rising moon. %owever, constantly dimming, soon that glow was
gone as well; the sun too$ the appearance of earth, and now #
reached him9 struc$9 turned9 and # <arth7 &ing7 Nureddin,
not $nowing how, found himself on a new planet.
<verything here was strange and unseen1 mountains piled of cut
diamonds; enormous roc$s of pure silver, decorated with natural
reliefs; graceful statues and perfect columns, growing of gold and
marble. 'here be da88ling pavilions of colored crystals. 'here be a
grove, and its cool shade is filled with the most gentle, most
entrancing fragrance. 'here, a fountain spouts with wine spar$ling
and bright. 'here, a river is splashing *uietly against its green
shores; but in the splashing, in this voice of the waves there is
something sentient, something clear without words, some wise tale
about the impossible, yet real; some tale magical and alluring.
Instead of the wind, music was blowing here; instead of the sun;
the air itself was shining. Instead of clouds, clear images of men
and gods were flying; as if removed with a magical wand from the
painting of a great artist, they, light, rose to the s$y, and, floating in
their graceful movements, were swimming in the air.
-or a long time, the Syrian $ing was wal$ing in sweet reflections
upon the new world, and neither his sight nor his hearing ever
rested from constant rapture. And yet, among the beauty
surrounding him, another thought was forcing his way into his
soul1 with sighs, he recalled the music which his star played,
approaching; he fell in love with that music as if it was not a voice,
but a living being; the longing for it was mixed into his every
feeling, and hearing these charming sounds again became his sole,
painful desire.
"eanwhile, in the depth of a green forest, a shining palace was
revealed to him, cast wondrously from fro8en smo$e. 'he palace
seemed flowing, and ruffling, and playing colors, and yet, stood
strong and still. 'ransparent columns of pearly color were
decorated with garlands of pin$ clouds. 'he smo$y portico was
rising li$e a slender rainbow, showing grace of the strictest
proportions; the enormous dome seemed to be a round cascade,
falling in all directions as a bright arc, without river or splashes1
everything in the palace seemed alive, everything was playing, and
the entirety of it loo$ed li$e a floating cloud, and yet this cloud
always retained its strict shape. Nureddins heart beat strongly
when he approached the palace1 an expectation of some un$nown
happiness filled his spirit and tormented his chest. Suddenly, light
doors have opened, and, dressed in sunbeams, crowned with bright
stars, girdled with a rainbow, a maiden came out.
2'hats her45 # the Syrian $ing exclaimed. Nureddin has
recogni8ed her. Although a misty veil hid her face, from her lithe
figure, her graceful movements and her orderly steps, only a blind
man would have failed to recogni8e that this maiden was the very
"usic of the Sun which has so captured his heart.
As soon as the maiden saw the Syrian $ing, that very moment she
turned her bac$ to him, and, as if afraid, started running along the
wide alley covered with fine silver sand. 'he $ing follows.
'he closer he is, the faster the maiden runs, and the more the $ing
hastens his pace.
=race in all her movements; hair spread over her shoulders; fast
feet barely leave their narrow, slender prints on the silver sand; but
here is the $ing close to her; now he reached her, want to embrace
her slender figure, . she escapes, fast, fast9 as if =race turned into
/olt; lightly, beautifully9 as if /olt turned into =race.
'he maiden has disappeared; the $ing remained alone, tired,
displeased. In vain he sought her in the palace and over the
gardens; there were no traces of the maiden anywhere. Suddenly,
from behind a bush, music blew at him, as if a *uestion1 why hast
thou come here?
2I swear by the beauty of this world,5 # replied Nureddin, . 2that I
have not come here to harm thee, and I shall not do anything
against thy will, fair maiden, if only thou shalt come out to me and
shalt but for a minute reveal thy face5.
2How did thou come here?” # 'he same music blew at him.
Nureddin has told how he came by the ring, and as soon as he
finished, from a shadowed pavilion came out that maiden; and the
same moment the $ing wo$e up in his tent.
'he ring was on his hand, and before him stood Khan Arbaa8, the
bravest of his generals and the wisest of his advisors. 2Sire45 # he
told Nureddin, . 2while thou slept, the enemy bro$e into our camp.
None of the courtiers have dared wa$e thee, but I did, afraid that
the victory might be in doubt without thy presence.5
A harsh, angry stare was the answer to the minister; reluctantly
Nureddin put on his sword and exited the tent.
'he battle was over. 'he )hinese armies have again loc$ed
themselves inside their walls; Nureddin, returning to his tent, again
stared at the ring. Again the star, again the sun and music, and the
new world, and the cloud palace, and the maiden. Now she was
more open with him, but still raised not her veil.
'he )hinese have attac$ed again. 'he Syrians have again driven
them off; but Nureddin lost the best of his forces, who were not
aided much in combat by his hand, once invincible. ,ften in the
heat of battle the Syrian $ing reflected upon his ring, and in the
middle of the battle remained its indifferent spectator, and, being a
spectator, as if saw something different.
A few days have passed thus. -inally, the $ing grew tired of the
worries of the war camp. <very minute not spent inside the opal
was intolerable for him. %e forgot both the glory and the oath1 he
was the first to send ,rigell the offer of peace, and, ma$ing it upon
shameful conditions, returned to +amas$; entrusted to his vi8iers
the governing of his realm, loc$ed himself in his palace and upon
the penalty of death forbade his courtiers to enter the royal
chambers without a special order.
Nureddin spent nearly all the time on his star, at maidens side, but
was yet to see her face. ,nce, touched by his re*uests, she agreed
to raise the veil; and the beauty which was revealed before his eyes
could not be described by words, even magical ones, and the
feeling which too$ over him at her loo$, cannot be imagined even
in a dream. If the Syrian $ing did not die that very minute, it
wasnt, of course, because people die not from delight, but, most
li$ely, simply because that star had no death.
"eanwhile the ministers of Nureddin cared more about their profit
than the good of the state. Syria was growing weary from
mismanagement and lawlessness. 'he servants of the ministers
servants oppressed the people; the rich were showered with
honors; the poor suffered; the people despaired, and the neighbors
Nureddins life upon the star was the middle between a dream and
reality. 'he clarity of thoughts, the freshness of experiences could
only belong to a life while awa$e; but the charms of the ob!ects,
the constant rapture of his senses, the music of the feelings of his
heart and the dreaminess of all around him made his life more li$e
a dream than reality. 'he "usic "aiden seemed also a blending of
two words. 'he expression of her face, constantly changing, was
always in consent with Nureddins thoughts, so that her beauty
seemed to him as much a reflection of his heart as a reflection of
her soul, %er voice was between a sound and a feeling; listening to
it, Nureddin $new not, whether he hears the music, or is everything
silent and he merely imagines it7 In every word of hers he found
something new for the soul, and everything together was for him
some happy recollection of something from before life. %er speech
always went where his thoughts went, !ust as the expression of her
face always followed his feelings, and yet, everything she said
constantly elevated his former understanding, !ust as her beauty
constantly ama8ed his imagination. ,ften, hand in hand, they
wal$ed silently over the wondrous world; or, seating near the
wondrous river, listened to its wondrous tales; or they loo$ed at the
blue shine of the s$ies; or, resting upon the wavy sofas of the cloud
palace, tried to gather into definite words all that was dispersed in
their lives; or, spreading her veil, the maiden made it into a flying
carpet, and together they flew into the air, and swam among the
beautiful clouds; or, rising high, they left matters to the winds, and
flew fast over the boundless spaces, and went where the sight
reaches not, and the thought gets not, and flew, and flew so that
their breath stopped9
/ut the position of Syria was constantly growing worse, and all the
more dangerous because all over Asia, terrible overturns occurred.
Ancient cities collapsed; enormous $ingdoms shoo$ and fell; new
appeared by force; peoples moved away from their places;
un$nown tribes raided from places un$nown; there were no
borders anymore between realms; no one believed tomorrow;
everyone prayed for the current moment; Nureddin alone cared for
nothing. 'he internal mismanagement from all sides have opened
Syria before external foes, province was brea$ing off after
province, and even the most shortsighted minds started predicting
its near demise.
2"aiden45 . said Nureddin once to the "usic "aiden . 2Kiss me45
2I cannot,5 # the maiden replied, . 2should I $iss thee, I will lose
all the distinction of my charm and will e*ual with my beauty the
normal beauties of the mortal earth. 'here is, however, a way to
fulfill thy wish without losing my beauty9 it depends on thee9
listen1 if thou love me, give me thy ring; shining upon my hand, it
will destroy the harmful effect of thy $iss.5
2/ut how shall I come to thee without the ring75
2As thou see my earth in this ring, so shall I see thy earth in it, as
thou come to me now, so shall I come to thee,5 # said the "usic
"aiden, and, removing his ring with one hand, she embraced him
with the other. And as soon as her lips touched Nureddins lips, and
the ring from his hand passed onto the maidens, that very moment,
which lasted, probably, no more than a minute, the new word
suddenly disappeared along with the maiden, and Nureddin, still
weary with delight, found himself alone of a soft sofa in his palace.
-or a long time he awaited the promised coming of the "usic
"aiden, but she came not in that day; nor in two; nor in a month;
nor in a year. In vain he sent people to all the ends of the earth,
loo$ing for the hermit of Ararat; already the last of them returned
without success. In vain he exhausted his treasures, buying round
opals from everywhere; in none of them did he find his star.
2'here is but one star for each man5 #sages told him, . 2thou, sire,
hast lost thy, another thou shalt not find anymore45
Anguish too$ over the $ing of Syria, and he, of course, would not
have hesitated to drown it in the cold waves of his golden sanded
/arada, had he not only feared to lose along with his life the last
shadow of the former delights # a sad, dar$ delight1 remembering
his sun.
"eanwhile, the same ,rigell who not long ago trembled before
Nureddins sword, was now besieging his capital himself. Soon the
walls of +amas$ were destroyed, the )hinese army bro$e into the
royal palace, and all of Syria along with its $ing fell under the rule
of the )hinese emperor.
2%ere is an example of the vicissitude of luc$,5 # said ,rigell,
pointing at the chained Nureddin before his generals # 2now he is a
slave, and along with the freedom has lost all the shine of his old
name. 'hou deserve thy death,5 # he continued, spea$ing to the
$ing of Syria # 2/ut I cannot refuse thee mercy, seeing in thy
misery the power of fate even more than my own fault. I want to,
as much as possible, reward thee for losing thy throne. 'ell me,
3hat do thou want of me7 3hat among the lost do thou miss
most7 3hich of the palaces would thou li$e to $eep7 3hich
slaves7 )hoose the best of my treasures, and if thou want, I shall
allow thee to be my deputy on thy former throne45
2I than$ thee, sire45 Answered Nureddin, . 2/ut of all thou too$
away from me, I miss nothing. 3hile I valued power, wealth and
glory, I $new how to be both wealthy and powerful. I lost all these
goods only after I stopped desiring them, and unworthy of my care
I consider that which the people envy. (anity is all the goods of
earth4 (anity is all that charms the desires of man, and the more
captivating; the less truthful, the more vanity4 A deception is all the
beautiful, and the more beautiful, the more deceptive; because the
best there is in the world is # a dream5.
December the 30

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful