Last week we met an amazing lady wrestler and her totally unimpressed supervisor Dhat al-Dawahi. They’re getting ready to battle it out. As night forty seven gets underway, the girl challenges, “Then come and do it, if you have the strength,” and the old lady one-ups her, insisting they do it naked. Unknown to both of them, the king’s son Sharkan is watching, passionately backing the girl. She goes straight for her opponent’s windpipe, lifting Dhat al-Dawahi right off the ground. The old lady hits the ground hard. In retaliation, she…farts. Well, that’s mature.
Sharkan, at least, finds this amusing. He creeps closer while the two women are distracted. The girl shows excellent sportsmanship by helping Dhat al-Dawahi dress and apologising for the force of the fall. The old lady stalks off without a word. All the other girls are still there, by the way, the ones that our champion defeated first and tied up by the stream.
Sharkan proves he’s a truly foul person by charging towards the unarmed women, hoping to capture and enslave them. My princess responds by leaping across the stream and demanding an explanation for his terrible behaviour. I have to quote absolutely everything she says next. “Who are you, fellow? You have interrupted our pleasures and have brandished your sword as though you were charging against an army. Where do you come from and where are you going? Don’t try to lie, for lying is one of the qualities of base men, but tell the truth, for this will do you more good. No doubt you have lost your way in the night and that is why you have come to a place where the most you can hope for is to escape unscathed. You are now in a meadow where, were I to give a single cry, four thousand knights would come to my aid. Tell me what you want. If you need to be directed to your road, I shall guide you and if you want help, I shall help you.”
THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR HOW MUCH I LOVE HER.
Sharkan tells her that he’s a ‘Muslim stranger’ (oh thanks, could you be a bit vaguer? Are you also human and male?) who came alone looking for plunder, which he shall claim in the form of the girl and her companions. “You have found no booty at all,” the girl scoffs, “for by God, these girls are no prey of yours. Didn’t I tell you that it is a disgrace to lie?” WILD FANGIRLING. “By the truth of the Messiah,” she continues, “were I not afraid that your blood would be on my hands, you would find to your cost that my shout would fill this meadow with horse and foot. But I have pity on strangers, and if it is booty you want, then dismount and swear to me by your religion that you will use no weapons against me. Then you and I can wrestle together, and if you throw me, then put me on your horse and and take us all, but if I throw you, you will be at my command. Swear to that, as I am afraid of treachery on your part.”
Sharkan is confident in his manly warrior skills and agrees to the challenge. She makes him swear the most serious oath she can think of, then tells him to cross the stream to fight her. He says he can’t. In response, she leaps across the water and even someone as awful as Sharkan is a little bit stunned by her general awesomeness. She has no patience with his gaping, briskly encouraging him to get on with it.
They start wrestling. The girl twists in his hold, throws him to the ground and sits calmly on his chest. “Muslim,” she remarks, “you think that you are permitted to kill Christians, so what do you say about my killing you?…No one loses by acting generously,” she adds, and lets him up. He is a sore loser, insisting he only failed because he was overcome by her extraordinary beauty, and he deserves another chance at beating her. She laughs at him and says she’ll untie her friends first. “Go off to a safe place,” she tells them, “so that this Muslim may stop coveting you.”
In the second bout she knocks him over even faster and lets him get up again, “because of your own weakness, your youth and the fact you are a stranger.” She knows about the king’s army and suggests Sharkan send his better warriors to her for instruction. He grinds out that he’s been befuddled by her amazing thighs, so they have to fight to best of three. “Why do you want to try again, loser?” she laughs. YES, REALLY. “But come on if you must, although I’m sure this bout will be enough.”
Sharkan puts up a better show this time. The girl notices and approves. She then grabs him by the thigh and flips him onto his back. “What an unfortunate man you are!” she mocks. “Go back to your Muslim army, and send someone else, for you are not capable of exertion.” With that she leaps back across the stream and taunts lightly, “It is hard for me to part from you, master, but you should go back to your companions before dawn, lest the knights come and take you at lance point. As you don’t have the strength to defend yourself against women, how could you cope with them?”
Pleading in the most melodramatic terms that he is the slave of love and cannot do without her, Sharkan asks to accompany her, pointing out that by the terms of their agreement he is now hers. She lets him follow her to the convent. The girls from the stream are waiting there, watching him. Sharkan wishes he could show off these ladies to Dandan, and tries to convince the champion to accompany him back to his army’s encampment.
She is not fooled for a second. “How can you say something that shows you to be so deceitful,” she snaps, “and how could I do what you suggest? I know that if I fell into the hands of your king, ‘Umar ibn al-Nu’man, I would never be freed…Were I in his power, he would not be held back by any fear of me since, according to your creed, I would be lawfully yours…How is it, then, that you can talk to me like this? As for what you say about looking at the Muslim heroes, by the truth of the Messiah, that is a silly point. I watched your army when you came to our lands two days ago, and when they advanced, I saw no signs that they had been trained by kings.” She says he could not speak to her this way if he were Prince Sharkan himself. That seems to be the only thing about him she doesn’t know. She wants to ride out against the invading army and kill Dandan and Sharkan in battle.
“I am not going to describe myself to you as brave,” she tells Sharkan, “as you have already seen my trained skill and strength…Had Sharkan been in your place tonight and had he been told to jump the stream, he could not have done it…I could come out against him, dressed as a man, capture him and put him in chains.”
Night forty seven ends there and so does this week’s segment. This girl may have outshone even the glorious Sitt al-Husn; if I don’t get her name soon I’ll be very annoyed, and if Sharkan gets a single finger on her, I will be incandescent with rage.