King Piruz’ Dilemma

Chapter 13|5 mins read

K ing Piruz’ shadow streamed back and forth on the white walls of the corner room as he paced back and forth. The flames from the two candles that lit the room wavered and flickered in the soft breeze that flowed in through the window that was slightly ajar.

The request of King Cyrus for Behrouz’s Biriyani was a wish Piruz had least expected from a fearsome warrior. King Piruz could hear the faint echo of the laughter and the music from the Royal Hall that stood not too far away from the room. He came to the window and gazed at the hall.

When King Cyrus had made his request, the king of Behrouz did not know how to respond. He found himself at a loss of words. He gulped his wine and turned towards the queen, hoping that would provide some illumination. But the loud sounds that drenched the hall only served to heighten his nervousness. King Piruz felt an invisible deluge wash up on him. His breath became short and sharp; his face flushed red.

“King Piruz, what is the matter?” General Hateem had enquired.

Piruz nodded, then stood up from the table, mustering the words, “Please enjoy…the feast. I will be back…soon,” The king tumbled out of the table and hastily made his way out of the hall.

The queen could not understand why the king of Behrouz was leaving his royal guests behind. “Hadiyeh, I need to tend to your father. Ask the boy here if you need anything.”

Xander immediately moved towards the queen’s chair and pulled it out as she stood up. He cast a quick glance at the princess. Her visage expressed traces of her hurt. The boy felt a rush of anger fill inside him towards the King of Kings.

The queen took soft, quick steps so as to not attract the attention of the guests. She was prepared with her disarming smile if anyone did notice her leaving.

King Piruz gripped the window sill and took a deep breath to calm himself down. His mind was filled with a million thoughts. He began to pace back and forth in the room once again, thinking what would be an ideal response to King Cyrus’s request. Should I acquiesce, Piruz wondered. But the biriyani was not just a royal tradition, it was the very identity of Behrouz: a symbol of everything the kingdom stood for. Maybe I should just have Cyrus imprisoned for making such a request, Piruz deliberated. But then what of the tradition of Behrouz’s hospitality. The King of Kings was their guest after all. Or I could deny the request and allow him to wish for anything else except our sacred recipe.

With King Piruz lost in his thoughts, he did not notice the queen enter the room.

When she entered, she saw the candle flames flicker in the cool, night breeze. The queen walked to the window and gently closed it. The two flames steadied, casting a bright glow across the room.

“My king…”

Piruz woke up from his thoughts and fixed his gaze on the queen.

“Come, have a seat,” The queen motioned towards the short table in the room.

The king took slow, heavy steps and slumped in the lone cushioned chair at the table.

The queen ran her fingers gently over Piruz’ wavy hair, “My king, what is the matter?”

“The King of Kings,” Piruz began, trying to find the right words, “He wishes to have the very soul of our kingdom.”

“I do not understand your words…What do you mean by the soul of the kingdom?” The queen asked in a hushed tone.

Piruz rubbed his creased forehead,

Cyrus, our guest, wants the recipe of our Royal Biriyani.

The queen was silent for a moment. Then she leaned closer to Piruz, “Is that what is bothering you?” She cupped her hands around his face.

The king nodded, “How can I agree to such a request?”

The queen smiled, “And here I was wondering that Cyrus had declared war on Behrouz.”

King Piruz stared at his queen, “This is no easy matter. The recipe has been with my family from even before time was recorded. You may not understand it, but King Cyrus’ request is akin to asking for the kingdom itself.”

“I must apologize, my king,” The queen lowered her eyes, “It is not my intention to make light of your troubles. I am aware and understand the significance of our Royal Biriyani and what it means to you. But right now I want you to go back to the hall and be a part of the feast. We can think of Cyrus’ request later. The king seems to be a reasonable man. I am sure he will understand that we need time to think about it.”

King Piruz smiled and stood up. He extended his hand towards the queen, “Shall we?”

The queen took the king’s hand.

At the Royal Hall, the music and the festive cheer had reached a crescendo. But for Xander, the surrounding cacophony was but a distant sound. The boy’s eyes were fixed on the King of Kings. The rage that Xander felt earlier had not subsided. The tip of his thumb fiddled with the crescent-shaped dagger attached to his hip. The rising anger pushed the boy to take a couple of steps towards Cyrus.

“Could you please take me to my chamber?”

Xander halted. The boy slowly turned towards the voice of Princess Hadiyeh.

To be continued...

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