The Most Precious Gift

Chapter 10|4 mins read

T he cheerful visage of King Piruz reflected on the gold cup brimming with red wine. The king had stood up and was about to address the gathering. The queen felt her left hand twitch. She quickly placed her right hand over it to conceal her nervous disposition. The queen always felt a sense of anxiety when the king was in this sort of a mood. His exuberance would spill over to his words, which were often humorous and sometimes silly. The gathering would lap it up with loud laughter, but the queen’s instinct told her this was no way for a king and emperor of a land like Behrouz to behave. She hoped that tonight, in the presence of a guest like Cyrus, the king would restrain his words.

“Before we truly begin the Royal Feast and the accompanying celebrations,” King Piruz began; the words in the hall faded to whispers, “I would to extend my sincere appreciation to all those of you who are gathered here. I am truly a blessed man tonight because I have everything that a man could want. Our empire of Behrouz has expanded beyond what the eye can see and for this I would like to thank the kings at my table,” The five kings raised the golden cups and placed it down, “All the guests who have gathered here have been outstanding citizens, guiding our kingdom towards prosperity and happiness,” King Piruz raised his cup towards the gathering.

Hear, hear…echoed from the gathering.

Cyrus sat silent. The King of Kings was itching to have another spoonful of the steaming biriyani. However, he had to wait for Piruz to finish his toast.

“I am also extremely proud to not just be a king but also a father,” King Piruz turned towards Princess Hadiyeh, “My daughter has come of age and matured into a fine, young woman, ready to take bold steps towards her future. And that has happened because of my queen.”

The princess looked at the queen, but she did not see a mother. Perhaps only Hadiyeh knew who it was that had mothered her and guided her: A lady who was not present at the feast.

King Piruz continued with the toast, “She has been more than just a wife. She has walked with me every step of the way in ruling the vast empire that is Behrouz. Here is to you, my wife, my queen, and my companion for life.”

Hear, hear…the Royal Hall echoed.

General Hateem cast a glance at the queen while raising his gold cup. Perhaps only he knew that it was the queen, more than the king, who was involved in looking after the people of the kingdom and their concerns. She applied her powers of persuasion on the king, even manipulating him at times, so that he would arrive at the correct decision.

The queen’s nervous disposition had ebbed. She leaned back in her seat and relaxed. The king seemed in control of his words and his exuberance. She shifted her eyes from Piruz to the most important guest in the room.

Cyrus was running out of patience. He wanted to have another morsel of the biriyani before his tongue forgot its taste. The King of Kings kept his hands on the table, in anticipation of Piruz finishing his toast soon.

“But above all, there is one person in this room for whom I would like to reserve my deepest gratitude,” The king of Behrouz was looking at the kings assembled at the long table, “A king who has made this feast and the occasion of Nowruz more special by accepting my invitation and being a part of the festivities tonight. And, I would like to honour him.”

King Danush had a smile on his face. He assumed that Piruz was referring to him. Danush had a good enough reason to think so. The king had assisted General Hateem in fortifying borders of Behrouz by providing warriors from his own army. Piruz’ acknowledgement would be just reward for his efforts, Danush thought. The king half rose from his seat to humbly accept his name being announced in the Royal Hall.

“King of Kings,” Piruz announced.

Cyrus turned his gaze away from the Royal Biriyani on his plate to King Piruz who stood at the table, beaming a wide smile. His visage had turned a shade of pink under the soft lights of the Royal Hall.

“On this holy occasion, I offer you something that is most precious to me in this world,” He turned towards Hadiyeh, “King Cyrus, I offer you the hand of my beautiful daughter. She will make for a beautiful, talented, and courageous queen, if you will have her.”

King Danush’s smile evaporated from his face. He slumped back into his seat, disappointed.

Piruz paused for a moment to let the words sink in,

“What say, King Cyrus? Do you accept my most precious gift?”

The King of Kings looked at the biriyani, then at Piruz:

“No.”

To be continued...

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