The strange encounter of master Radovan

The strange encounter of master Radovan

A Story by Slaven Posavac
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It's a fictional account of the creation of master Radovan's portal in Trogir. http://www.split-excursions.com/attractions/radovans-portal/

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In 1240 in Trogir it was about 3 AM and the world was far away from waking up. One man, however, was staring at the nearly finished portal of the Trogir Cathedral like it was a sunny afternoon. Eyes filled with wonder and with a childlike smile he marveled at the perfect example of symbiosis between man and stone. “Alright”, he thought to himself, “I’ll give you this.”

Behind the corner of todays City Street, far from the wonderment of this early bird, a faint light appeared. It was growing, becoming stronger and was slowly moving from left to right, left to right, left to right like it was sending some secret message. After a while, crossing the square and leaving stone houses behind it, the light came to and revealed its owner. It was a man of short stature in his fifties, wrapped around his waist was a leather apron that said about its owner more than anything could. The apron has seen better days, it was furrowed, scarred, dirty, torn around the edges, filled with holes but the man wore it around his waist like a shield, like a glove, proudly tucking his left hand on it and gently fondling it. The man stopped, lifted his lantern to better see the stranger admiring the portal. He turned to the right where he was met by darkness. The same thing happened when he looked to the right and in that darkness he couldn’t see anything or anyone except the unfinished portal and the man in front of it. The moon dissolved its threads through the dark and everything had a slight silvery shine and be mindful that this was the time when witches and fey folk still roamed the night-colored roofs. The man stared indecisively and with a touch of fear in his heart at the stranger for a few moments trying to decide what to do. In the end he simply said: “Pardon me” as he hanged the lantern on a wedge protruding from the stone. “You are pardoned”, said the stranger.

The man took out a chisel and a wooden mallet that were tucked inside the apron, with a painful sigh he sat on a nearby chair and, with movements as light as a whisper, started to work the stone. The next half an hour, man and the stranger spent in silence. Busy in his work, the man forgot there was someone next to him. In fact, he forgot everything: the little people on fast horses rapidly advancing to his beloved sea, the crusaders that are trying to prove to the world that they are right and others are not. He forgot about his son, a son who would be twenty years of age in two months and to whom he would say: “Happy birthday my son, this piece of stone is for you. It’s not much, but it is forever.” In the nothingness of thoughts and emotions, in that comfort he was interrupted by the stranger.
“Lord Radovan…”
“Master, if you please, I am much too far from a lord. Lordship is reserved for those with an old last name and I’m just a master who happens to be named Radovan”, he corrected the stranger.
The stranger smiled at the humility of the master.
“Master Radovan, this is not a bad piece of work by all means, but I have to ask you something”, the stranger said.
“Ask away my lord, after all why would two strange men meet at this hour in front of a cathedral if they don’t have a couple questions for each other”, Radovan said jokingly.
“Well you see”, the stranger continued “what urges you to create this from the cold stone, to come here day after day when the world doesn’t even dream of dawn to… hit some rock?”
“A job is a job, and a man has got to do his job”, Radovan said indifferently.
“But your whole life you have been working stone, now you got a shop where seven people work for you. Kings of the Adriatic speak of your skill, you’ve got gold for three lives. You’ve done enough, haven’t you?” the stranger was persistent.
“You are right, my lord but all of my time under this blue sky there was stone and I. Now it really is just stone and I. There is nothing else.” he paused and after a thought or two continued “I promised myself to finish this job and that it will be the last thing I do.”
“Of course, of course… you have to go with a bang”, said the stranger.

Again they spent some time in silence. The stranger watched the details of the portal, especially the part containing the birth of Christ and the promise of salvation it offers. Here and there he would gently touch a detail and murmured something in his chin. Here and there he would smiled through his nose and then sigh. He was in a world of his own, standing beneath the apostles and the saints like waiting for them to answer him, but there was no answer of any sort, just the clatter of a mallet and the echo of steel. Radovan was getting used to the dark and being alone again but the stranger had different intentions.

“I see here that you have Adam and Eve here and the whole ‘first sin’ incident. Also there are saints, Christ and his birth, but there’s this empty part. What will that be if it is not too big of a secret?” curious was the stranger.
“Same as always, The Last Judgment. You know, once you have seen one portal, you have seen them all”, Radovan said.
“That was your intention or…?”
“No, that was the order: an entrance to the cathedral, a portal that is, Adam and Eve, Christ, some Saints, a couple of apostles. Pretty standard deal.”
“I see… Let’s say you put something else on that last part. How will that work?”
“Well I guess fine. Nobody’s crazy enough to destroy an entrance to a cathedral, especially after that much gold was spent.”
“What ever is here will live forever”, the stranger said keenly.
Radovan agreed: “Yes, that is how it goes with stone. It lives forever.”
“Too bad your son wasn’t made of stone”, said the stranger.
Radovan turned white as the stone he was working: “What do you know about my son?” he said with tears wetting his brown eyes.
“Trogir is a small town, I know what everyone knows " he loved hunting and that love killed him”, the stranger answered compassionately.
“Yes, that love killed him. Thank you for your kind words”, Radovan said. Somehow he saw the goodness in what the stranger said and for the first time after his son’s death, he looked at it through a prism of something other than sorrow. He found himself with a light smile on his face and a vague hope.
“You promised this portal to him, did you not? In two month’s time you would have given it to him as a present for his birthday”, the stranger said.
Radovan looked at the stranger suspiciously, he tried to get a better view of his face by getting his lantern near it, but light and shadow played a mysterious game around the strangers face and Radovan saw nothing but the glow in the strangers eyes. Finally he asked: “How did you…”
The stranger jumped in: “Like I said, Trogir is a small town.
“Too small”, Radovan continued “he was going hunting, he sad he is going to meet his true love. A snake slithered its way on the road and scared his horse. He fell and hit his head on an unfortunately placed rock. I keep telling myself that these thing happen, but why do they not happen to someone else?” Radovan asked filled with sorrow.
“My sweet master”, stranger sad seriously, “God has enough monuments and temples built in His name on the bones of men. Your son will die a second death when you die and if you were so dedicated to this job, you would at least make a sketch on this empty part. But you didn’t, and we both know why. Let man and free will take precedent for once.”
“My lord, you blaspheme! And in front of a cathedral no less!” nervously shouted Radovan.
“Let me tell you one thing my dear master”, the stranger go closer to Radovan, “nobody’s listening.”

The stranger continued: “Once there was a, let us say man. He wanted to give people fire, common sense, knowledge, free will be cause he believed that was the only thing that mattered " to be free, deprived of predetermination. His plan went poorly, of course. Perhaps you heard some versions of that story?” Radovan nodded in agreement. “Well, the stories took their tribute over the years and that man has gone. That is, he did not exist in the form he was born anymore, no… the stories changed him. Stories are like this rock of yours, they are eternal, but you have to be a bit more careful with them. They can’t be chiseled, but they can be set in stone. Which should be a rule because stories have that nasty habit to change themselves over time. A hero becomes a villain, a villain becomes a hero, and some of us walk that thin line in the middle.” He stopped talking and left Radovan in silence for a few moments. Radovan was never overtly religious person, but he feared God and was dedicated in his christian duties because that was the world he lived in and he never heard these kind of words and the ideas behind them. From sailors and soldiers he heard of infidels from all corners of the world that give God a different name. He heard of men who have hundreds of gods, of men who worship Eostre under whose feet flowers grow. He heard of Chernobog who cracks skulls with a hammer, but never was such blasphemy so close to him.

“You think I should put the memory of my son in this stone instead of God?” he asked the stranger.
“More than anything, after all, who do you love more " your son or your god?” the stranger answered.
For the first time in his life, Radovan wasn’t afraid of the god he didn’t believe in. “Stone is eternal, perhaps more than you”, he said and got up, moved his chair to the empty part of the stone portal and started to emboss what would later become the hunting scene on master Radovans portal in Trogir.

“Happy birthday, my son”, he said with a smile on his face.


© 2014 Slaven Posavac



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Author's Note

Slaven Posavac
ignore grammar problems, english is not my first language

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Featured Review

“You think I should put the memory of my son in this stone instead of God?” he asked the stranger.
“More than anything, after all, who do you love more " your son or your god?” the stranger answered.

You are a amazing storyteller. The story came alive with your great description. I like the way you set-up the scene and the conversation. The above lines were my favorite. Sometime we must question our will and purpose. Thank you for sharing the amazing tale.
Coyote

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Slaven Posavac

3 Years Ago

Yes we must question it, and choose the less popular choice.



Reviews

captivating, and grabs attention. You cast and write great imagery here for readers as well as casting off feeling.
(Personally for me, it was a bit difficult to read because it is not my style of writing, nor genre), but other than that I think you did a great job.

Posted 3 Years Ago


Well, I must said that I am was so in this story, so inspiring, full of imagination, and real things we all need to ask ourselfs.

You are awesome, keep going, I have hope to hear some bigger work from you :)

Greetings!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Slaven Posavac

3 Years Ago

Thank you very much :)
“You think I should put the memory of my son in this stone instead of God?” he asked the stranger.
“More than anything, after all, who do you love more " your son or your god?” the stranger answered.

You are a amazing storyteller. The story came alive with your great description. I like the way you set-up the scene and the conversation. The above lines were my favorite. Sometime we must question our will and purpose. Thank you for sharing the amazing tale.
Coyote

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Slaven Posavac

3 Years Ago

Yes we must question it, and choose the less popular choice.

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Added on October 13, 2014
Last Updated on October 13, 2014
Tags: religion, devil, free will, family, love