|"The Banner of Kaviyan" |
Set in OTL
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Date of Birth:||c. 680 CE|
|Parents:||Pakor the Dihqan|
|Relatives:||Pakor the Elder (great-grandfather)|
On reaching his manhood, Shahin was given command of a troop of soldiers and sent to raid a force of Arabs who had entered Tabaristan without leave. The Persians succeeded in surprising the camped Arabs at daybreak. They skillfully managed to approach by stealth through the underbrush and then charged under the Gomishan banner of orange with black stripes. They inflicted heavy casualties (about 40 killed) while taking few (only 3 killed) and scattered the rest so they fled back over the border.
Shahin and his troop returned to Gomishan and he reported his success to his father who was pleased and praised him. Pakor the Elder also attended this private meeting and he too commended the youth. However, Shahin grew boastful and claimed this was one of the greatest victories the Persians ever had. While the Dihqan indulgently agreed, the Elder grew somber and commented that this was little more than a cattle raid. He then launched into tales of his experiences as a young man in the army of Marshall Shahr Baraz and what were major victories. Unlike previous tellings, he attributed their successes to the banner of Kaviyan and their subsequent losses to the banner being removed from the army for safe-keeping. He also explained that the banner had been hidden in Ctesiphon never to be seen again, despite the capital being sacked by the Arabs.
Shahin was deeply affected by this story and after brooding on it for several weeks, set out on a quest to find the banner despite his father's misgivings. He soon crossed into Arab held lands, who proved hospitable giving him shelter and meals as he traveled. The first castle he visited was the keep of the dihqan Yaqut, an Arab. Yaqut recognized Shahin as the son of the dihqan of Gomishan. Shahin claimed that he and his father had quaralled, and that was why he was traveling on his own. While Yaqut openly doubted this story, as Shahin was his guest, he did not press the issue further, espeically after Shahin concluded that no one would pay a ransom for him.
Shahin's night as Yaqut's guest was eye-opening. He was initially furious at the way the Arab ordered his Persian servants about. That night Shain lay with Shiren, a Persian servant in Yaqut's employ. Afterwards, Shahin asked Shiren if she wouldn't prefer to be under Persian rule rather than the Arabs. She expressed bewilderment, stating that her place in the household was more comfortable than that of the peasant's hut she had grown up in and that she ate better. She found Yaqut to be a more considerate master than most and was ultimately indifferent to whether he was an Arab or Persian. Shahin didn't understand this at the time, but as he continued on his journey, living rough at times, he developed some sympathy to preferring creature comforts to political distinctions.
Not all the former Persian castles were occupied, some were burnt out shells that were never rebuild. The fire temples were also neglected and going to ruin. Shahin travelled through the Zagros mountains and eventually reached Shahpur Khwast. He was hosted by ibn Kathir, the local lord, who questioned him extensively on his ancestry. However, this was due to the dihqan's interest in genealogy rather than suspicion. After going to bed, he was awakened by the lord's steward who took him to a secret meeting with the lord's wife. She was a descendant of one of Khusro's treasure-keepers and provided him with information where the banner maybe hidden.
As Shahin continued his quest, he crossed into the Mesopotamian plain and followed the Tigris River south towards Ctesiphon. As he passed the small village of Baghdad, he encountered a Christian priest who gave him directions to the former imperial city. Shahin came to the outskirts of the ruins at sunset so camped outside. At daybreak, he viewed the ruins with approaching despair. They were almost a mile across and it was impossible to discern the wreckage of the palace from the other disorder. Shahin reasoned that the King of Kings would not allow anyone else to build higher than he so climbed a hill to find the tallest wreck. He then set off on foot to it while leading his horse. This did indeed prove to be the Imperial Palace and Shahin made his way to the throne-room.
Based on the clues he had been provided in Shapur Khwast, he found the banner hidden in a compartment in the floor. He held the banner and studied with reverence and awe. He under how the armies of the King of Kings could feel invincible while marching under the banner. He left the ruins of Ctesiphon and rode hard. That night, he made camp and used the banner as a pillow. The moon on the banner glowed, and filled his head with visions of the Persia's great victories as he slept, visions from the point of view of the banner. He Shapur I sack Antioch and capture the Roman Emperor Valerian. He saw the first Khusro sack Antioch again.
He traveled another day, making good time, and passing past an Arab encampment. That night, he again used the banner as his pillow, and received visions. He saw the second Khusro's armies march, taking Jerusalem and capturing the Patriarch, and then drive to the Nile. But then the vision darkened as he saw Khusro's decision to bring the banner back to Ctesiphon rather than carry it to Constantinople; the banner plainly preferred not to remember those days. The sadness of the visions shocked Shahin awake, just in time to discover a nomad moving to seize the banner. The robber struck Shahin in the head, knocking back into unconciousness.
When he woke the next day, Shahin tracked the robber, coming back to the camp he'd passed the day before. He waited until nightfall, and made his way towards the camp, frustrated by the comparative lack of shelter. However, he managed to get close enough see the women of the camp. Upon seeing the various vibrant colors in their veils, he realized that the band had cut the banner to pieces. Enraged but helpless, Shahin resolved to go hom and keep Gomishan free of Arab rule. He avoided Shapur Khwast on this way home.
- Arabesques: More Tales of the Arabian Nights, pgs. 214-215, mmpb.
- Ibid. pgs. 215-217.
- Ibid., pg. 218.
- Ibid, pgs. 218-220.
- Ibid. pg. 220-221, mmpb.
- Ibid. pgs. 221-224.
- Ibid. pgs. 224-225.
- Ibid., pgs. 226-228.
- Ibid., pgs. 228-229.
- Ibid., pgs. 229-230.
- Ibid., pgs. 230-232.