The Story of the Veiled Prophet
'The Veiled Prophet' is the first tale that the poet Feramorz tells to the princess Lalla Rookh. A young woman named Zelica is inspired to follow the prophet Mokanna; Tenniel's image shows her giving enthusiastic testimony on his behalf. Leader of a very dissolute court, Mokanna enjoys parading his most valued concubine to emphasize his possession of her. The young warrior known as Azim joins Mokanna's cause, and is shown here paying his respects. A disturbed Zelica views this, recognizing in Azim her lover believed dead. Mokanna then charges Zelica to seduce Azim; to show willing, she sings the song of 'Bendemeer's Stream' to her former lover, who does not yet know her. Once the lovers discover themselves they make plans to flee, but are overheard by Mokanna. He reminds Zelica of her oath to him. He later reveals his terrible, decayed face to her. When his forces are eventually defeated, the prophet drowns himself with Zelica as witness. She (wearing the veil of her former master) is accidentally killed by Azim, who embraces her as she dies. Years later, Zelica as an angel appears to her true love as he lies dying. And so Zelica and Azim are finally joined in death.