Chapter 1|6 mins read
A tinge of red streaked the blue horizon as the new sun emerged from the ocean. The warm light swept over the flat roofs of the brick-layered homes arranged in neat rows and columns: Not a thing stirred. The early morning silence seeped the very soil of the land as the crystal clear sea mirrored the fiery colours of the sky.
Silhouetted in the sunlight, the man’s cold but keen eyes were fixed in the distance. A spot of land stood on the very edge of the horizon. He stretched his thick arm; it lay just beyond his fingertips.
Cyrus, the King of Kings, had won everything his eyes could see, and no one could deny him the legacy he had built so far. A legacy forged from a sheer will to be known as the greatest. A legacy achieved by commanding an army that could crush any enemy. A legacy born from the knowledge that it is better to rule than be ruled.
The king rode out to battle when he desired a new land. But war was not his only strategy. He first approached with a white flag carrying a message of peace: An opportunity to be a part of, perhaps, the greatest kingdom anyone had seen. But blood would flow if one didn’t accept the sombre whites. He wasn’t used to rejection.
The King of Kings had conquered everything he saw before him, but the spot of land that lay just beyond his reach – Behrouz.
Cyrus knew Behrouz to be another great kingdom; an empire to rival his own. And yet, there was never any intimation of attack or hostility. Instead, Cyrus had been invited by the generous King Piruz of Behrouz to attend the new year celebrations. Could it be a trap? Sheer goodwill? Could it be a possible hint of surrender? Or could it be an expansion of kingdom?
The king held the invitation, a leaf embossed in gold, as his eyes stared in the distance.
A svelte, slender shadow approached him,
My King, what do you reach out for now?
Cyrus smiled, and turned to face the familiar voice, “My Queen, you.”
“I have been your wife and your soulmate for many a moon. Do not flatter me,” Queen Ethera embraced Cyrus, “Why are you awake?”
Cyrus softly kissed his queen’s forehead and showed her the gold leaf, “Behrouz welcomes me for their new year.”
Ethera took the leaf in her hand and read the inscription printed in blue, “I’ve heard about this feast. They say that the food tempts even the Gods in heaven.”
Cyrus turned his attention back to the distant land and remained silent.
“When do you leave, my King?” Ethera’s voice broke the silence.
“Soon…It is half a day’s row across the sea to Behrouz from the southern tip of our kingdom. I will ride out when the sun sits on its throne at noon.”
Ethera carelessly picked up a bunch of cherries and fiddled with them in her fingers. "My King", she ushered mockingly, "If you were not a great warrior, you certainly would have been a great poet,” and helped Cyrus to one of his favourite fruits. Cherries have always been Cyrus' favorite, she thought. Her thoughts momentarily traveled to the first time they ever met. Her emotions ran wild but to be overcome by feelings is not a queenly thing to do.
A dark red drop fell from his careless lips, as he chewed on the taste, to the milky white muslin, spreading like fire, mimicking the scarlet that Cyrus was soaking all dawn. Strangely though, the only thing that really burned was Ethera's heart. She knew King Piruz had beautiful daughters.
To be continued...