Chapter 6: Behrouz

Twilight serenaded the sky with its melange of colours. Below lay Behrouz, sparkling with its own colours of festivities and celebration. Nowruz had seeped into its very soul. The people were dressed in their finest robes with sparkling jewellery punctuating their necks and wrists. The brick-layered homes were decorated with yellow, orange, and gold blossoms, providing a visual feast to the eyes.

Everyone had a warm smile on their face as they embraced friends and neighbours. The air was thick with joy. Behrouz was ripe with happiness and laughter.

Cyrus felt a tinge of jealousy.

Everywhere he looked, the King of Kings saw a land drenched in festivities. He had never witnessed the brotherhood and bonhomie he saw here. His kingdom had never experienced the lightness of spirit that draped this land.

“My King,” Ginger’s voice rose above the sound of the speeding chariot, “Do you think these people are on some kind of stimulant? They all look happy beyond measure.”

Cyrus did not reply immediately. He let his eyes wander, capturing every detail.

Ginger stood silent behind the king as the chariot rushed past in a straight line on the wide, cobbled street.

“There is something strange about this land, I must admit,” Cyrus voiced his thoughts, “I have never experienced this…this…,” The king searched for words, but could not find one that expressed what he felt.

“I understand what you are trying to say, my King,” Ginger replied.

“You do?” Cyrus turned to face his trusted aide.

“The land of Behrouz has imbibed people with a certain spirit that we can only feel; not touch, neither capture.”

“Ginger, you have said what I felt. I believe my kingdom lacks this spirit. The people of my land seem shackled by silence.”

“Perhaps it is not silence, but respect for you, my King.”

“Perhaps it is not respect, but fear,” Cyrus looked at the passing sights of festivities, “I want my people and my land to have what I have seen and felt here.”

“And they will, my King. I believe that.”

Cyrus smiled, then turned towards the rider.

The magnificent structure of the Royal Palace rose before the chariot in the near distance.

“We are near the Royal Palace, King of Kings” the rider said. He whipped the reins to slow the steeds. The chariot slowed down and eventually came to a halt.

Cyrus alighted and stood at the entrance. His eyes wandered around the wide, rectangular structure. Its body was composed of ancient sandstone that was near indestructible. Its pillars stood long and proud, bearing the weight with considerable ease. Its minarets were encrusted with precious stones, glittering brighter than the stars.

“Welcome to Behrouz, King of Kings,” A warm voice greeted Cyrus. He turned his gaze from the sandstone exterior of the palace to the loud, warm voice that greeted him. He saw a tall, portly figure clad in an ivory white robe with a slender gold headband wrapped around greying hair. The figure stepped forward from the palace interiors towards him.

“King Piruz?” Cyrus had a hint of hesitation in his voice.

“Yes. Your mind is as sharp as your sword,” Piruz embraced Cyrus at the entrance of the palace, “Welcome to Behrouz.”

The King of Kings froze for a moment. No man had ever hugged him, not even his father, and here he was, being embraced by a man — a king — whom he had never set sight on before. The hands of Cyrus did not what to do: whether to reach for the sword or pat the man’s back.

“King Cyrus, I wish to apologize for not receiving you at the shore,” King Piruz relaxed his arms and stepped away, “I hope you had a comfortable ride in my chariot?”

Cyrus nodded, “Allow me to introduce my trusted aide.”

Ginger stepped forward and bowed.

King Piruz reached out and shook Ginger’s hand, “A trusted aide of King Cyrus is indeed a special guest.”

Ginger was taken aback with the friendly nature of the king of Behrouz.

“Come, my guests are waiting for you inside,” Piruz motioned.

“King Piruz, you are the ruler of this land. You must take the first step and lead the way,” Cyrus said in his deep voice.

“That is gracious of you. Why not step side by side, as two equals? I would like that very much.”

“If you say so, King Piruz.”

The two kings entered the palace, followed by Ginger.

A column of women appeared, carrying candles. The woman in the centre, dressed in a plain white robe, carried a small bronze vessel.

“This is a ritual of Behrouz. We welcome people who are important to us with light and scented water that will be sprinkled on you,” King Piruz explained.

The women stopped a few feet away from Cyrus. The woman holding the bronze vessel dipped her hand and scattered a few drops of water on the king. The droplets shone like pearls when the candlelight reflected off them.

“King Cyrus, you have been blessed by the holy spirits of this land. Now it is time to feast,” Piruz pointed to a large, open door overflowing with light and laughter.

To be continued…