The Soul Of Behrouz

Chapter 9|5 mins read

T he gold-encrusted chair waited, like a blade of grass waiting for the morning dew to form on its tip. Xander had pulled out the chair for Princess Hadiyeh to take her seat. The boy held his breath, hoping that it would slow down the march of time, and allow him to linger in this moment. His eyes lowered, the only thing that he could see was her feet, encased in an open sandal with slender gold threads.

This brought back his first memory of Hadiyeh at the feast of Nowruz a year ago.

The boy was helping his father serve the biryani at the long table where the King and Queen sat with the ministers and the General. Hadiyeh sat between her parents, at the centre of the table. When the boy served the succulent mixture of rice and meat to the princess, her slender, fair feet arrested his attention. Xander had served the biryani, but his eyes did not move from the floor. Only when Bahrayni cleared his throat did the boy realize that his mind had drifted. Xander bumbled forward, which brought a silent laugh from Hadiyeh. The boy saw this from the corner of his eye.

“Hadiyeh, my child, please take your seat. The guests are waiting.”

The queen’s words brought Xander back to the present. The boy realized that the princess was standing at the table. Wondering why she was shying away from her seat, Xander cast a quick, furtive glance at the princess. Her cold stare reminded him of his place and he immediately lowered his eyes again, with an expression of apology.

Hadiyeh had wanted to prolong his discomfort, but she felt her mother’s gaze linger on her. He is but only a boy, she reminded herself and took her seat at the table. Xander stepped back and stood facing the hall once again.

The princess turned her attention from the boy to the guests gathered in the Royal Hall. She cast a casual glance at the long table that was to her right. Her father was standing with a cup of wine, ready to make his toast. Next to him sat Cyrus, who was perhaps the most important guest of the feast.

The King of Kings did not see, hear, or feel anything around him. His entire being was focused on the morsel of perfectly cooked rice and tender meat that rested on his tongue. Cyrus had not heard King Piruz whisper, I would like to give you something that is very precious to me on this holy occasion of Nowruz. Cyrus did not see the princess enter and the guests stand up. He did not feel the stares of General Hateem and King Danush.

“This King seems to be insolent. Look at how he disrespects our princess by not standing up.”

General Hateem simply nodded to the quiet words of King Danush. The general wondered why Cyrus had not stood up. Hateem’s gaze stayed on the King of Kings. The face seemed expressionless, the eyes looked lost, somewhere far removed from the present. “What is he thinking?” The general asked himself.

Hateem had felt surprise when he heard that one of the most fearsome warriors was arriving with only his trusted aide. He had never known any other king to arrive in a foreign land without an armed escort. Except for King Piruz, who probably would go all alone as a measure of good faith. The general had been thinking whether Cyrus arriving only with Ginger was a ploy to distract them as a hidden group of soldiers launched a surprise attack on Behrouz. The general did not trust anyone.

Ginger, who was standing next to the still-seated Cyrus, caught sight of the general’s gaze. He looked at his king, who seemed distant from the reality of the present. “My King,” Ginger whispered into the Cyrus’ ear. The words were met with silence. “My King,” Ginger whispered again and waited.

The King of Kings felt a distant voice enter his consciousness. The voice rippled at the very periphery of his mind. When Cyrus heard it again, he began to trace its source. It took a while for him to realize that it was Ginger who was asking for his attention. Slowly, his focus returned to the present, and to the table.

“My King, the queen of Behrouz and the princess have arrived at the gathering,” Ginger’s words were as soft as they could be.

“Ginger,” Cyrus said in his low, deep voice,

I know now what my heart desires.

“What is that, my King?”

“The soul of Behrouz,” the King of Kings replied.

To be continued...

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