King to the Queen
1. The Royal Meet and Greet
It has been three days since the Persian Army had raided her city and Princess Tamina, daughter of Sarkander, passed king of Alamut, walked quickly through the corridors of her palace, heading towards the Great Hall, where the Persian King Sharaman would be welcomed.
She wore a quite simple dress, white linen silk. However, it suited her elegant appearance rather beneficially and emphasized her simple, elegant beauty which she had inherited from her mother- plus, her wisdom, of course. The strong, wilful, stubborn head on her shoulders, the strength to voice her opinion and to never show any fear was a quality, usually possessed by her father- but she had always been Daddy's little girl.
The servants bowed formally when they opened the doors of the Great Hall and she entered almost unnoticed. Only the glance of a particular Persian Prince found her shape and immediately his lips formed this well-known, in her opinion, far too intimate smile.
There had also passed three days since her acceptance to his quite clumsy and apparently unintentional proposal. The very thought of this memory made her blush and she forced herself to interrupt the eye contact. She headed to the throne but instead of placing herself in the soft pillow seat, she stopped in front of the Golden Throne and turned around to face the great hall doors. Her ears had already caught the voices from outside; applause, cheering shouts.
The arrival of a true king. Not like Prince Tus.
Driven by this thought, Tamina dared to take a look on the eldest son who stood next to his brothers in front of the doors, his hands shook nervously while his lips apparently moved in light speed to intonate another prayer. Tamina had to suppress a contemptuous snort. He was nothing like a king, she had seen how he needed the advise of his father, how he was longing for it. He was too weak for the right choices, he had not the stomach for things that had to be done.
The other brother, Prince Garsiv, was a completely different matter. He was like any common soldier she had met in her life, rough, brutal, greedy and without any drop of honour. Even the lowest butcher would not dare to call himself a prince, but this one here didn't seem to have any problems with that.
And the youngest son...
Tamina bit her lower lip in nervousness while she was shaking her head frantically to get rid of the thoughts about this Prince, other things were far too important today to be distracted by only one man, even or especially if this man was her husband-to-be.
A knock on the great doors of the Hall drew her out of her wild thoughts and she nodded in order to give the servants at the gate the sign to open the massive doors. She had insisted on this protocol, to let her subjects and beloved people know that the king was a guest, that he was coming as a friend, not as a conqueror.
King Sharaman, an old man wearing a royal crown on his now grey hair, entered slowly the Great Hall of Alamut, from outside the palace had already looked impossibly beautiful but this Hall was of a simply overwhelming regal elegance. He only needed a few moments until his eyes found the shape of his three sons and immediately a bright smile crossed his lips. He headed to his children who met him half way and surprisingly for Tamina they hugged each other as warmly as she had never seen or experienced it before.
Her eyes went wide for a second before she caught herself and regained the stern and silent face of the Princess and High Priestess of Alamut, even if she could not prevent herself from feeling a little pain rising in her heart while she observed this family image. Her own family was long gone. From her distance she could fairly easy overhear the talk between the father and his sons, even if she pretended not to listen.
"To invade a Holy City-
What were you thinking?" the king spat out, but he did not even let his eldest son try to explain his motives, while he continued to speak "You don't think, you can not think!".
Tamina fought against the impulse of pity, Prince Tus was a full grown man, responsible for his action and besides. She remembered her own childhood. After her parents died, she had been forced to be the head of her city, she had been criticised almost constantly, but she had understood that a ruler was always the target of critics and in time everyone had to learn to deal with it.
"And you, Son?
Let me guess, you supported every wish of your brother with a hand on your sword, right?" he asked or better he noted, for it was more like a reproach than a question while facing Prince Garsiv who was reducing his look shamefully to the ground.
"They only did what they fought was right, father." Tamina was not really surprised to hear Dastan defending his brothers, again, but unfortunately for him, his father was not yet finished with giving them a talking-to.
"And you, Dastan, the Lion of Persia-
I thought you were smarter and not just someone to follow everything your brothers say and do.
Alas, why did Allah gave me 3 sons instead of 1 obedient daughter!" he blasted, hectically gesturing with his hand while his sons dodged in defence and Tamina was faced with the almost impossible task to not burst out into a loud and heavy laugh. However that would be so not Princess-like and so she covered her amusement behind eloquence and diplomatic friendliness as the king caught her glance.
Immediately his slightly angry look turned into a wonderful, fatherly smile which was quite surprising and strange to her, but she did not notice it any longer and headed towards the king.
In front of him she paused in her walking abruptly and performed a deep and pretty ceremonial bow which was unusual to her and to most of the audience, for the Princess of Alamut was usually not bowing to anyone. When she caught his eyes again, she smiled with the lips of a diplomatic and started speaking in a way that Dastan had never heard her speaking before. She was actually capable of being polite and respectful!
The memory of her soft appearance standing in the middle of a Persian crowd and insulting them rushed through his mind, but he shook the image off. He had sworn to himself to live in the present, and not to think of a time which would never come to pass, again.
"Great King Sharaman, I welcome you to my City.
We all feel honoured by your presence.
And we are even more honoured to tie bounds with such a great and wise empire, exactly as wise and great as its ruler.". The king laughed lightly about her introduction, impressed by her skills as a politician it was his turn now to reply her greeting.
"Lovely and wise Princess of Alamut, in all corners of the Orient, I have never looked upon such beauty as your city, except you, of course, my dear.
I am deeply honoured and grateful to Allah that he blessed me with such a new daughter-in-law, I am certain that all of my sons are able to learn many things from a magnificent sovereign such as you are.". Tamina offered him a warm smile and surprisingly even for her, it was an honest smile. She had liked this kind, old man from the very beginning, a part of her was forced to think about her own father, but she forbid herself such thinking. Her father was long gone, and since the day of his burial she had never needed a father again.
The feast in the the Great Hall of Alamut had started in the early evening, but even now, far after midnight the crowd in the magnificent Hall was still sitting around the banquet which had been built up like a circle. Tamina sat at the middle of the circled table, on her right side were the Persian King and his Crown Prince Tus, on her left side were Dastan and the Soldier-Prince Garsiv.
Even though she pretended not to observe the Persians, it was almost impossible not to recognize their table manners, the Princes plundered the banquet as if they had never eaten in public before.
As the Princess and even more as the High Priestess she never ate any meat, every living creature possessed its soul and as a Guardian she was sworn to protect life, every life.
Sometimes she caught the eyes of the Persian King and a smile crossed her lips, Sharaman was an extraordinary respectful person, during the eating he had forbidden them any talking about the battle, in order not to offend you. And she was grateful for it, she never wanted anything more than to forget about that battle, all this blood, all these widows...
Tamina shook her head frantically to get rid of those feelings, this was a feast, all Alamut was celebrating that their city was still alive and that was something worth celebrating. Slowly she rose from her seat walked towards the middle of the table, before she rose her voice, warm, welcoming, friendly.
"I have a gift for you, King Sharaman.". The old, Persian King lifted his head and observed her curiously while she gave Asoka a sign through one, single hand movement and her most loyal soldier brought a long sword, veiled within a magnificent scabbard. She took the sword out of his hands and drew it with an elegant movement out of his protection, her eyes admiring the long and sharp blade for several seconds, before she let it fall into both hands. Sharaman rose up and took the sword carefully, letting it fill his hands with the power of long passed days while Tamina was explaining the sword in his hands.
"This is the Sword of Alamut.
Every ruler of my house wears it in battle and in times of danger, we take it to ride at the head of the army to defeat evil, just as my father did it, and his fathers before him.
Great stories have been written with this sword, within it lies the soul of Alamut and its three virtues." She spoke with a proud and bright smile on her lips, her eyes observing the Persian king who admired her sword speechless, but then he frowned his forehead and turned around to face her.
"What three virtues?".
Tamina offered him a challenging smile as a response to his question and immediately she began to walk slowly through the Hall, never losing eye contact with the Persians, while she said only three, simple words. "Wisdom, Patience and Purity.".
King Sharaman laughed lightly about her response and shared a little look with his youngest son.
Both of them thought of the City's virtues more as the virtues of a particular princess, but instead of sharing this thoughts loudly, the Persian King took a last look on that magnificent sword, before he gave it back to her.
"My dear Princess, as lovable as this gift is, I fear I can not accept it, for I feel that your heart and the story of your family- everything that's left from your family for you- is bound to this sword.
So keep it, with my blessing and the love of a father, for I do already see you as a daughter.".
Tamina's first reaction was a very lovable, very true smile, but then the expression on her face changed as if she wanted to cry. Her head sunk down and she pressed the sword on her chest almost violently, her wrists very heavily clenched, so much that they had gone white. Shocked by her illogical behaviour and reaction, Sharaman touched her shoulders and by doing so he forced her to lift her glance up to his concerned eyes.
"Did I say something wrong, my dear?" he said and the concern in his voice forced a new smile on her lips while she fought against the silly tears of an even sillier princess.
"No, forgive me, it's just...
It's been almost fifteen years since someone has called me a daughter.". Her response was saturated with tears. However, if it were tears of sorrow or of joy, no one could have said, but the smile on her lips seemed to be so happy and free. Dastan remembered that smile so well. Back in this time which could never come to pass, when they had reached the Secret Guardian Temple outside of Alamut, she had smile just the same sad and happy alike way- and the very memory touched his heart even more.
King Sharaman touched by her pure appearance and soft character, leaned forward and placed a soft and light kiss on her forehead, just as her father had always done it, so many years ago. Silence had been falling on everyone in the whole Great Hall and every possible pair of eyes was focused on the incident in the middle of the round table. Tamina laughed lightly at this gesture of friendliness, before she sank to the ground, kneeling at the feet of the Great Persian king and then she took his right hand and kissed it, before she put it on her head.
The image of an obedient daughter.