I have crated a new country for this story. I hope you can endure it. Most of the names are Turkish, Serbian or Romani. If you'd like to know what they mean, I can post it if you let me know.
This is my first post here, please take care of me. :)
I have photos of my two main characters, not sure how to upload them yet though.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Bağlılık a small country towards the southeast extremity of the sovereign European States. Comfortably situated, it is bordered by Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. It hosts some of the most majestic peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, rolling hills and a part of the great Danube river. It offers a plethora of outdoor activities and epicurean delights enough to satisfy the strictest and most sundry of tastes and, of course, Putra.
It's capital city Putra is unlike any other capital in the world. Consisting of two sections, old town Putra maintains its old world flare, pace and atmosphere. From its cobblestone streets to its distinctive eighteenth and nineteenth century Bağlılık architecture (Byzantineuro). From its horticultural haven to its three dominant families, sentinels that continue to protect the "first fathers" within its borders. It is often likened to a secluded holy land.
The royal Vulpe family, the Öküz family - descendants of one of the the greatest generals in human history and the aristocratic Primul family estates encircle the the old town on three of its four hills. The fourth, an enormous scenic plot. The Öküz Vulpe Centre of the Arts sits on part of its land. Directly outside the old town is modern Putra with its political and business centers, universities, commercial and tourist havens.
Daniel read the intro on TripAdvisor for the twentieth time as she lounged on the park bench the homestay was trying to pass off as a single bed. She thought back to her conservative friend's enquiry.
"Aren't you a bit...well...old to be studying abroad?" She had leaned across the table and discretely whacked Daniel upside the head with her words. Daniel was now wondering if she hadn't been a bit hasty in defusing the counsel. At thirty-eight, Daniel rubbed her forehead and challenged herself with the thought again. She leaned across the bed, her legs dangling off one side, the whole top half of her body threatening to slide over the other.
Seriously! She had been on boogie boards wider than this.
She managed to squirm into a comfortable position. Where was she? Yes, at thirty-eight was she too old to be occupying an apartment with the twenty-something scantily clad shamelessly free spirit from Germany now across the way? Currently, she was redecorating her room to the wailing of someone by the name of Lord. Daniel was not impressed by this Lord woman, nor was she in any of the new wave of singers. To the contrary, she found that her interest in modern music waned with each passing season.
She watched her mate as she began to brush the most alarming shade of magenta down the wall. After an internal cringe she switched positions. It was true that many of her friends were married. Had been for thirteen years or more. It was also true that many of them had kids. Daniel had neither.
A point that her evil grams brought to her attention before she left.
"I really regret that you never married. But more so that you deprived your parents of the joy of having grandchildren. Me, I love my grandchildren, each and every one of them. I love my grandchildren and my great grandchildren," of which she has an untold amount on both the east and west coasts and probably points in Europe and the pacific due to a rather promiscuous cousin in the navy. "And I simply hate that your parents haven't known the love of a grandchild. There is no bond like that of..." It went on.
Her evil grams hated that Daniel liked to travel and had started doing so instead of investing in relationships, higher education and kids. The Dream Machine. Daniel had worked and traveled to Europe and parts of Asia then worked and traveled through South America. Later she started her path through the hallowed halls of higher education. She couldn't help it. She loved the human story. No matter where she went it was an intriguing variation of the same ingredients.
To be honest she did have experience with the male gender. There was one boy she lost absolutely everything to from West Point, Virginia. The guy was heavenly. A head full of curly strawberry blonde hair, callous deft hands, hungry to experience and eager to please. There was the dreamy eyed boy-next-door with a healthy desire for alcohol and heavy make out sessions. He was also her caramel skinned manipulator who put her off men for at least a year. Let's see, the guy that took her to her first live basketball game from upstate New York and the competitive racer that bought a house in Church Hill and talked about her meeting his parents.
The one thing they all had in common, except Mr. West Point, was they wanted to tie her down and she believed with all her heart that marriage should set one free.
So here she was, lying on a two by four in a homestay in Bağlılık with her scantily clad free spirited German roommate, ready to explore the rich heritage of Putra and earn some college credits. The wailing of Lord changed to Lady GaGa belting at the top of her lungs while banging on a piano and Daniel decided that it was as good a time as any to explore Putra.
The first thing she purchased upon settling into her homestay was a bicycle. Negotiating the various gradients in Putra made her long for her late teens early twenties, but Daniel was an active woman and adapted rather quickly. With her accommodations as the epicenter, she cycled the streets and parks of modern Putra. Chic cafes and trendy coffee houses where prolific. As were eclectic fashion boutiques and art galleries. Museums dedicated to art, both contemporary and traditional sat snug with those of history, culture, conflicts and natural science.
Population wise, Bağlılık was as diverse as any other wealthy nation and it was very wealthy. The Bağlılık Lyra was a kin to the Turkish Lira though in terms of strength frequently went head to head with the British Pound Sterling. It was not a member of the European Union and despite much wooing, was never likely to be. It was attractive to the wealthy and the poor because of its economic power however, both classes and everyone in between found themselves on a waiting list.
In a move the perplexed the world, it capped its populous in the mid eighties. Immigrations came to a grinding halt as preference was given to its citizen nascency followed by migrant university students and mandatory foreign workers. Foreign Offices were allowed, embassies were not. Foreign teachers who fit certain requirements to fill specific positions were allowed, international schools were not. Tourists could come and go as they pleased, but not stay perpetually.
These are the people Daniel found herself amongst as she maneuvered the streets of modern Putra. The Korean man who waited beside her in the bicycle lane at the light. The Ugandan students crowed at the small cafe table on the other side of the storefront glass. The Russian woman with her Turkish husband and two delightfully adorable children playing ball in the park. She watched them instead of reading her course textbook.
Of course, the Bağlıcau. That is what they called themselves. A complicated mixture of the nations around them. They came in every size and shape. The men ranged from muscular to athletic to lean. The women, petite to willowy to voluptuous. The race was golden biscuit in complexion mostly. Their hair plentiful, eyes striking in color and shape. She hadn't met one yet that seemed to have an inferiority complex. They were bright, brisk and beneficent. They also often referred to each other in third person as Bağlıca if female, Bağlıco if male and Bağlıcau if mixed in gender.
This Daniel learned from the proprietress of the Grab and Return near her homestay. At her store one could borrow books much like a library. This particular day Daniel was mulling over a book of drawings instead of finding her assigned book of Essays on European primitive culture and conflict. She found it more the muse for thought. It contained drawings of old town Putra as it was to the eye dating from the late seventeenth century to the 1940s.
"Love, there is no need for you to sit slumped on the floor in this store. This is not the store of that stingy Bağlıco. I have plush velvet sofas. Come, come and sit." The proprietress then physically pulled her off the floor and guided her to a sofa, which she walloped with much vigor before grabbing Daniel by the arm and assisting her in situ.
It was this book which she borrowed along with the intro to Bağlılık on TripAdvisor that strung along her interests in the old town.
Later when her schedule permitted, she borrowed a fellow alumni's Cannon D7 Mark II upon pain of death should something happen to it, and cycled through the modern city to the stone wall. Here she stopped. Large old trees towered over the high wall. Their branches reaching over it heavy with foliage as if there purpose was to keep the modern city out. Her heart picked up pace and she fumbled around with the camera and snapped some shots before straddling her bike and propelling it forward.
Slowly breaching the walls she was struck by their thickness and then the drop in temperature, the trees buffeting the sun. On either side of the cobblestone lane the land rose in turrets draped in ostrich ferns, wild ginger, woodland strawberry, sage, periwinkle and wild hyacinth. The noise and bustle behind couldn't penetrate and calm washed over her. She emerged from the forest and looked down upon the real Putra. Never had she seen anything more beautiful.
A family cycled by as she took photos, disappearing down the winding cobblestone along with all indications of their presence. She eventually followed riding through rolling fields with cows, sheep and goats. She passed orchards and over waterways. As she closed in on the old town she could see, just on the other side of it, a palatial estate half built into a hill, half rising out of it. The palace itself was very grand. Before it the town, a cluster of roofs. Two large buildings were discernible from the rest.
At this point she met an outer ring road. After crossing, she headed down into the town. Cars were not allowed. Time was quiescent. The homes were freshly painted and well maintained. Flowers burst from window plant boxes like hanging gardens. Light curtains billowed in the breeze waving down at the visiting pedestrians. The smell of coffee and bread, garlic, cumin and sumac mingled with the whiff of fresh mint and fragrant flowers. Her stomach growled, but a small building The Human Story captured her attention.
"Come in my dear, come in," a burly man with a thick white mane called after the jingle of the entranceway. "Welcome, welcome! You must not be shy. Ask anything you like. I am guaranteed to have the answer."
Looking up, Daniel was arrested by the gaze coming from a portrait on the wall above her welcomer's head. He wore a type of armor. His sword was unsheathed and clutched in his fist. His look was challenging eyes ablaze, brow low. His hair as dark as night. He and the owner bore resemblance.
"You are captivated!" He pointed up, "this Bağlıco is a great several generations back of mine. He fought along side General Öküz himself. A loyal servant to the three families until his death."
"The three families?"
"Vulpe, Öküz and Primul." He regarded her with a sparkle in his eye. "Have you seen the three estates?"
"I definitely saw the palace."
"No doubt, most see that on entering old town, come feast your eyes on this! Not every Bağlıcau boasts such a vista." He waved her after him but didn't wait for her to follow. This of course she did. They climbed four sets of stares and at the top was a small nook, not big enough but for a chair table and lamp. The chair was well worn. The table, intricately ornamented and well aged was adorned with a laptop and mug, coffee stained its rim. Following her gaze he erupted, "I come up here for peace and to do a bit of writing."
"You're an author?"
"Of historical works yes. I also collect them." He looked at her with unmasked interest. "You are my dear?"
"A student. My name is Daniel. I happen to be infinitely interested in the human story. Hence my entry."
He smiled broadly revealing a healthy set of eggshell teeth. "I knew it. I have good instincts about these things." His look more serious, "Daniel, you are American, from which part?"
"Virginia. Are you familiar with it?"
"Indeed I am. The early settlement Jamestown is there as well as Williamsburg. One of your founding fathers has a nice house in Charlottesville. Gettysburg the sight of a harsh battle between your people." He shook his head. "Parish the thought! Bağlıcau killing Bağlıcau!"
"Yeah well, we can't all be blessed to live in a country establish around the fall of Roma."
"Not quite, but I see your point." He smiled.
"Not to mention economically grounded by the time the Bubonic Plague reached London."
"That's true yes, but then the Black Death didn't effect Bağlılık due greatly to the efforts of Lord Primul Byson." He conceded with a nod of approval.
"Not withstanding being roughly the size of Switzerland." She shrugged, "and, you know, being completely devoid of slavery." This whole repartee taking place as she devoured the 360 degree view of the old town.
"You are well informed." He said from somewhere off to the side of her.
"It's all part of the human story," she said absently. With the palace behind her, she met with a wonderful view of the other two estates. One, though no rival to the palace, was grand in stature. It's ornamentation was pompous, but well situated amongst the vegetation that stood in the roll of the hill as if the great house was erected within it instead of its being planted ensuingly. The second was more humble in its lines and appearance, yet gave the impression of loosing nothing in square footage. It had more hints of Turkish influence than the other two. "And the cluster of buildings there?" She pointed to those sitting between the Vulpe and Öküz estates.
"Yes, the Centre of the Arts jointly erected by the Vulpe and Öküz families on part of the land given to the General's children by King Vulpe Dejan himself upon his death." He stood beside her.
Daniel turned to him a bit ashamed. "I'm sorry, I didn't get your name."
"That's because I never offered it." His imposing forehead creased as he lifted his brow. "You may call me Faza." His name reverberated around the tight space as he extended a large had. "I see you have a very nice camera Daniel." His eyes sparkled with amusement, "the estates are a cameraman's wonder and since they do not allow postcards, each shot is a personal treasure."
Daniel's eyes flicked to the Öküz estate, "I think I may have to follow your advice."
"And I will recommend one of my books." Again he motioned her to follow and charged off down the steps leaving her behind.
Thank you for reading!