MemberMay 28, 2020 at 1:48 am
In our thread about The Betrayal series, Riva said she’s looking forward to see M Kenan lookalikes posted here. That got me thinking… Ever since I read The Dark Secrets I wondered what happened next? I brushed it away by telling myself I can decide what happens the same way the author can make it up. Still, the thought niggled in my mind…
When Riva mentioned her idea about M Kenan lookalikes, I thought OMG, I’m going to write an ending and post it on masterpiece.
It turned out to be more difficult than I imagined.
At first, I intended to write a short story, but the story became so big and complicated the only way it could properly be portrayed was with an entire book. Obviously, I don’t have the time or interest in doing such a thing (I’ll leave that to M Kenan, thank you very much.)
In the end, I decided to write the first scene and the last. I’m sure everyone here is imaginative enough to figure out the middle. (Okay fine, if you’re really curious what my ideas were, I’ll post it…)
So, without further ado… presenting….
KHAZAR – THE END OF THE STORY
Three years after “The Dark Secrets”
Rav Czernan already extinguished his lamp from his late night learning session and was about to recite krias shema when the summons came. The messenger’s urgent tones and the strange hour propelled him to hastily don his silver lined cloak and hurry his driver along Elkan’s streets. As he strode through the palace’s softly lit corridors, the courtiers’ long expressions confirmed his suspicions.
Crown Prince Pe’er stood outside his father’s door, his pale features ashen, “There’s not much time,” he motioned for the rav to enter.
Nodding respectfully, the rav stepped into the crowded room. He passed through the crowd of somber noblemen until he reached the sick man’s bed.
“Your majesty,” he whispered.
The king of New Khazar lay unmoving. Only the spasmic rise and fall of his chest indicated a fragile sign of life.
“Please, honored Rav,” Pe’er’s lips were compressed in a grim line.
Rav Czernan held the sick man’s hand and with deep emotion, recited viduy and shema, wondering if any of it was penetrating the dying man’s heart. When he completed the last words, the king’s icy finger touched his own.
“What… will the creator say…?” the words emerged labored combined with short spurts of breath.
The Rav dropped the dying king’s hand. The sharp scent of medicinal herbs hung heavy in the crowded room, muddling his thoughts.
What to say? Five years has passed, five long years of a troubled conscience and sleepless nights. But one moment couldn’t erase five years of submission, and those noble features that caused him to distort the dictates of his soul were still evident on the king’s gaunt face.
Rav Czernan grasped the king’s gray fingers, “Your Majesty,” his voice was no louder than a whisper. All present leaned forward to hear. “Thanks to your effort, this kingdom has been enveloped with great light, a light that has gladdened the hearts and minds of your loyal subjects. That light…” he faltered. “Will accompany you as you greet the creator.”
A flash of pain passed through the king’s regal eyes. His pale lips trembled. Then with one last puff of breath, the mighty ruler of New Khazar closed his eyes forever.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Five years after “The Dark Secrets”
“Shall we go, Your Majesty?”
Nothing but a slight quiver at the edge of Istrak’s lip revealed the emotions storming behind his ribs. He sat rigid in his saddle while his eyes focused on a single light in the distance. Only the clacking of Ula’s approaching horse dispelled the predawn stillness.
A muscle in the former king’s cheek tightened, “Call me Istrak.”
Ula nodded quietly and lowered his eyes.
Despite his brother-in-law’s distress, Istrak’s lips twisted into a small smile. True, he no longer ruled a mighty kingdom. True, thousands no longer heeded his command. But the creator in his bountiful kindness still granted him the ability to reign over one man – himself.
“Istrak,” it took considerable effort for Ula to articulate his brother-in-law’s name. “It’s getting late. Soon, the sun will rise.”
Istrak seemed not to hear, “Khazar,” he said. “What will remain of Khazar? Will our glory be forgotten in the mists of history?”
Ula’s face was cloaked in darkness, but a sliver of moonlight illuminated his shimmering eyes, “Khazar may be gone,” he said. “But our story will live on, I know.”
“They won’t believe it,” Istrak’s fair peyos fluttered with the breeze. “They will doubt a Jewish kingdom ever existed.” He gripped his horse’s reins, but that did not stop his arms from trembling.
He turned to face the darkened hills, to the earth that absorbed far too much of his people’s blood. A lone curl of smoke rose from a pagan temple in the valley.
“The Bais Hamikdash…” Istrak spoke in a whisper. “It was destroyed because of animosity between brothers. Yerushalayim’s beauty was devastated, the people were sold into slavery,” he inhaled, summoning a deep courage, “and Khazar…”
There was so much more he wished to say. The gentle clamor in his heart attested to that. But the twittering birds hinted at dawn’s upcoming light, and though the two were disguised as Kawaris, it was unwise to travel in broad daylight.
With a gentle nudge, Istrak spurred his horse onward. Ula followed suit, and the last remnants of the great Jewish Kingdom of Khazar disappeared into the inky night.
MemberMay 28, 2020 at 2:50 am
Wow. This was such a good read.
For the those of us who haven’t finished reading the trilogy, could you maybe provide a recap? Without spoilers? Um… is that even possible?
So, I never quite finished the Outcast ( I remember the twinge I felt leaving the library book on the couch so I could catch my flight to seminary,) but reading your writing I suddenly see why people love it. Your imagery is soo good. Especially the last chapter, Wow! Even though it’s a sad ending there’s a magic in the moment that makes it so satisfying. And that’s without having read the beginning! There is so much potential here. Yes, totally post your whole idea here, I will be very happy ?
MemberMay 28, 2020 at 4:50 pm
I just realized there was a slight error. The year was supposed to be based on The Dark Secrets not The Outcast. I just edited it.
It’s a bit hard to explain in a nutshell everything that happened until now. I’m not sure where you left off. After The Betrayal, a bitter civil war ensues between Diaber and Istrak. During The Outcast a cease fire is signed. During The Dark Secrets, Diaber loses much of his charm. The kingdom is still divided but many on Diaber’s side of the border are growing disillusioned…
I hope this is clear enough.
For this “sequel”, I didn’t want to make a sad ending. But the direction things were heading and in order to be true to history, this was the only logical conclusion.
My basic idea was as follows: Yosef Diaber dies but still many in “New Khazar” aren’t interested in subjugating themselves to Istrak’s more religious rule. Yosef’s son, Pe’er, takes over the power. New struggles begin between the two sides (including a plot that kills Bastian Makan).
Meanwhile, Khazar’s neighbors decide to take advantage of the infighting.
Khazar doesn’t stand a chance against their neighbors because they’re battle weary, lack experienced military commanders (Matrias, Diaber’s minister of war committed suicide after he tried planning against Diaber and Diaber caught wind of it…) and most significantly, because both sides can’t get along.
The war goes on for many difficult months during which a large portion of Khazar is slaughtered. Many are sold into slavery. Some on Diaber’s side of the border embrace idol worship in order to save their lives.
Istrak is wounded in battle. Everyone thinks he was killed. A non Jew finds him and nurses him back to health. Ula taken captive. He manages to escape by stealing Kawari clothes. He somehow meets up with Istrak. By then it’s too late…
The last scene shows them standing at the edge of Khazar gazing at their beloved land for the last time.
If you want, you can write some scenes 😉 LOL, maybe we can make a masterpiece version 🙂
AdministratorMay 30, 2020 at 10:01 pm
HappiWriter, what a phenomenal idea!! This is great! I have never read Maya Keinan’s books. My kids are all devoted fans–they read them in the original hebrew. I am not so into historical fiction, so it’s not really my thing, but I know that they are gripping and wonderful. Kudos to you for this great project! 🙂
MemberMay 31, 2020 at 1:49 pm
Riva, if you can write 600+ pages books, you can read them ;-D
AdministratorJuly 8, 2020 at 12:50 pm
🙂 Hey–I saw that! 🙂
MemberJuly 8, 2020 at 3:11 am
Incredible! Your imagery is fantastic, your word choice accurate!
There must have been a reason why M. Kenan ended the book where she did. The dismal demise of the Khazar kingdom is sad! By leaving the story without a definite conclusion you give the reader an opportunity to contemplate and enjoy an ending in their minds – however they’d like to imagine it. Don’t you think?
How about if we simply continue the story with how life was in Khazar, rather than how it ended? Maybe they made peace?
AdministratorJuly 8, 2020 at 12:52 pm
Happi, this is absolutely incredible! It was so alive and vivid–I was THERE, right with the horse and the king and…wow! I don’t know how I missed this the first time around. Thanks for referring back here in your post today!
MemberJuly 8, 2020 at 7:17 pm
For sure, Red Writing Hood. You’re totally right. The only way to be historically accurate is to end the story with Khazar disappearing. That’s probably the reason why the author doesn’t tie up every loose string at the end.
Anyways, you can still imagine the story ending peacefully. This is just where my imagination took me… 🙂
Maybe I should do another one on a more positive note — if I get in the mood… or maybe someone else wants to try… 😉
Thanks Riva 🙂
MemberJuly 12, 2020 at 3:55 am
Wow. This really felt like reading an extension of the series! It feels good to have closure to it. Reading the part about Istrak, I would not have been able to distinguish it from the original author. My apologies to her, but this was seriously good. I have a hard time imagining Diaber trying to achieve some level of teshuva at the end of his life, as his cruelty seemed unbreakable to me-I believed him incapable of regret for his actions. That was a nice touch, and I like how the Rav’s response was true to the situation and not sugarcoating it for his benefit. Seeing him stripped of his power was another interesting angle.
My sister is a Khazar ‘expert’ on the series-ask her any question on the slightest detail, and she will explain. We’ve enjoyed discussing the series together, and wondered whether there would be a 4th book. Can I share this conclusion with her? She would really enjoy it. I definitely did!
In 2011, my former school performed The Betrayal. I remember how it started off with a narration of the Lost Khazar.
MemberJuly 12, 2020 at 7:42 pm
Ellie, your welcome to share this with whomever you want. 🙂
I’m contemplating humoring Red Writing Hood and writing another version with a happier ending… Whaddya say?
MemberJuly 13, 2020 at 3:27 am
Can’t wait to see it!
MemberJuly 14, 2020 at 1:21 am
Thanks:) My sister will be very excited to see it.
Happy endings are always nice, but from the series so far, it seems more true to the story to leave off like this…it is sad though.
Maybe you can insert an additional paragraph with a positive update/flashback on one of the original characters (Rina maybe? She’s tough and resilient.) Was anyone born to the royal family named after Istrak’s father? Just a thought.
MemberJuly 14, 2020 at 4:32 pm
Ok, this is encouraging!
The truth is, I started working on something then lost patience a little… I have an idea, but I’m still looking for the best way to portray it. Also, it’s a little annoying to have to use M. Kenan’s voice.
With everyone’s encouragement, I’ll try some more…
(BTW, in The Outcast, Istrak and Bastian Makan name their sons Reuel.)
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