Toi Kratistoi - A Prologue Part 3

  • Baron


    Dawn had scarcely arrived when the last of his brother’s bodies arrived in time for his father’s burial. A deep blue hue had engulfed the palace complex, rendering his vision to torchlight as his brothers lay draped in the silken sheets that had strangled them as not to spill their royal blood. He knelt upon the cold tiles, his fingers lingering on the colder flesh of the youngest of the four.

    “Agha Saka” a voice had emerged from behind him. The words came to him simultaneously as a surprise and relief to the young boy, barely a man. He should not be wrapped in a woolen blanket, kneeling here on the steps of the White Palace, his palace. He should be there amongst his younger and baby brothers, a silken sheet draped over him.

    He looked back at the man draped in his own blanket, wearing a plain blue tunic embroidered with red stripes at the edges of his sleeves and collar, a white soft cap on his head. A eunuch. In an unspoken response, he stood from where he knelt, and dozens of palace servants took his place to tend the bodies for embalming. Birds from the Garden of the Four Winds began to sing, dawn began to spread its rosy fingers upon dusk's darkness, and the palace roused to life at the four dead princes that lay on the palace courtyard.

    He climbed up the central steps and passed the ten double doors of the throne room where lions flanked a vacant throne. Inside, the room was aflame with the smoky floral scent of incense. The white and blue mosaics of the declined floor of the court had been cleaned thoroughly of the three pools of blood that had been left there on his first night. His ministers stood all around the slab-throne where his father laid. They looked at him as he entered, recognition in every one of their faces, and a prevailing sense of surprise in half of that.

    He approached the throne with measured steps, climbing upon the dais to stand before his ministers and his father. Artabat was dressed in full regalia: Saffron tunic lined with red embroidery at the edges and down the center. Gemmed rings, wrought arm bands, and earrings adorned his lifeless corpse. His closed eyes were marked with lapis blue kohl, his neck-wound clean and covered with a delicate blue shawl, and his face so used to the contempt he had reserved for him now fell content.

    Khoroush looked at him silently, unsure of what to make of the sight before him.

    A silken sheet

    He grabbed the winecup left beside him in libation, and began spilling drops of his father’s favourite wine upon the cold purple-lips. “In death as you lived” he uttered in prayer “For you have lived.”

    He had lived, he reflected inwardly. He had won the throne from his brothers and became Saka.

    He looked up to face his ministers and began to speak in the high lofty language of the court all kings before him had spoken in.

    “Many of you had expected Aspad to be here instead of me, as my father - our king - would have done so himself. Yet there he lay, and here I stand. And following the ways of tradition, my brothers have followed the ways of succession.”

    His green eyes lingered on each minister’s own. Some had served even in the court of his grandfather. Others, he had not seen since his departure. His eyes remained on the face of the Padidat Virosht at length before flickering back to rhetorical gaze.

    “It is in my hands and yours to maintain the stability of this realm. If any of you would rather still Aspad than I to take the crown - I give you leave from my court. To any that feels otherwise - swear upon my father’s body your allegiance unto me.”

    A breath passed. Virosht was first to unsheathe his sword and touch the tip of his blade upon his father’s body. Then, one by one, they held their blades upon the sacred body of Artabat.

    “With you we serve and follow, Saka”

    They paused, waiting for an answer. A name.

    ‘Saghazeb!’ he remembered his brothers mockingly giving him that name.

    “Saghazeb” he answered. Beautiful Lord.

    Continue to:
    Words left Unspoken -
    The Dream of Spring - of spring