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The Unknown Shahbanu

07/28/2012 12:58 PM 

Connections 3

CONNECTIONS Navaz || Adoptive Mother / Mentor Profile: Click to View! At eighteen years of age Maniya was freed from servitude by a wealthy but solitary Persian noblewoman named Navaz, who had long chosen to live away from court. She had isolated herself from her noble heritage and dedicated her life to learning and putting her inherited fortune in the service of common, disadvantage people and the improvement of vital sectors of the empire. Maniya remained to live with Navaz in one of the most lavishing villas of the rich district of Babylon, not too far from the royal palace. Navaz became her mentor and spiritual guide but also legally adopted her as a daughter so she could inherit all her properties after her passing and carry on her legacy. Maniya stayed with Navaz because she had nothing and no one in the world and also because she had to make sure no one who had known her before would find out she was alive. To the world she was dead and she had to remain that way, especially if she had to understand her new identity and mission in life. Navaz differed from most women because she had never married and unlike many other women she had dedicated her life to studying history, geography, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, religions and other such domains that helped one understand the world and one's purpose in life. The same as a dedicated scholar, Navaz had accumulated basic knowledge in the various sciences of the time and had gathered many books and manuscripts in her life, thus bringing some of the most important works ever written in one place. As Maniya's mentor and adoptive mother, Navaz began to pass her knowledge onto her, putting her through extensive study sessions from the first day her house became Maniya's as well. As a free young woman, the only tasks that Maniya now had to accomplish were the ones she set for herself or the ones that her mentor and adoptive mother, Navaz, set for her. In the beginning, these tasks involved only her education and unlike her previous tasks they were not a tiresome burden but a true delight. Later on, other of Maniya's duties included protecting the hidden Temple of the Goddess outside Babylon, helping the needy (often by stealing from some of the very wealthy nobles, mostly the greedy and vile ones) and encouraging people to have an open mind and constantly enrich their knowledge so as to understand more and more of the mysteries of life. Most knew Navaz to be one of the wealthiest women in Babylon but only few knew that she was not just any noblewoman but a descendant of royal blood, a cousin of the current Queen of the Persian Empire, Amāstrī, the first wife of King Sharaman. Also following a personal calling from a young age, Navaz chose to live a different life dedicated to learning and helping the less fortunate, not just by random charity acts but by trying to make lasting changes in society. With her large inheritance as a financial background, she acquired properties and started various businesses whose revenue she would donate or reinvest. Because of this she became well-known and respected in Babylon and throughout most of the major cities of the empire. It was not long however before Maniya found out (actually Navaz told her) that not all the wealth and repositories of knowledge had been acquired through law-abiding means. Having been a slave to many selfish, wealthy masters who thought themselves above the rest simply because they had been accidentally born into a noble family, Maniya was not repealed by Navaz's ways. In fact, she approved and embraced them because even though they were breaking the law, they were doing so in favor of the common, suppressed people. Navaz did not believe that the gods simply endowed some people with riches and deemed them superior to the rest and worthy to rule others, who had to obey blindly. A man of power, evidently one possessing great riches, had once told her: 'I have the greatest respect for thieves. Every man born to wealth has a good thief amongst his ancestors somewhere.' Although kind in spirit, like any dedicated parent or mentor, Navaz knew to be strict when it was required and she made sure to impose enough discipline on Maniya's daily schedule and education so she would not fall prey to idleness once she found herself a free young woman, living in wealth. Her methods proved very useful and Maniya would forever remain grateful to Navaz for shaping her into the strong-spirited, knowledgeable and resourceful woman she gradually became. Whenever in doubt, Maniya would seek Navaz's advice, knowing that she would always receive a practical solution, which was the correct path to take, even if occasionally it was not one that Maniya would have wanted to take. Such was the time when Navaz strongly advised young Maniya to put an end to her secret meetings with Prince Tus, offering solid reasons in favour of it. At first Maniya was too overwhelmed by her passions to accept Navaz's advice but later she understood that the right decision, one favourable for others, is not always one favourable for yourself, unless you learn to detach yourself from impossible desires. An even more well kept secret than Navaz's noble heritage was that she spoke from experience when advising Maniya to cease her juvenile affair with Tus. The coincidence was most bizarre, because the poor, orphan girl Navaz adopted as her own, just like King Sharaman had adopted Maniya's friend (yet another peculiar coincidence) became enamored with the future King of Kings, the same as Navaz had been when she was of Maniya's age. Yet, her situation had been different. Years before, when they were much younger, having only recently reached adulthood, it was Sharaman who attempted to win Navaz's hand in marriage. From a political perspective alone, Navaz would have been the best choice to occupy the position of first wife of the future King of Kings since she belonged to one of the oldest and most prominent families of that time, the House Kurush-Hakhāmanish (descendants of Kurush the Great of the Hakhāmanish dynasty, the founder of the First Persian Empire). Their lineage descended from the union of Artastūnā, a daughter of Kurush, and Dārayavahush the Great. Although none of the sons born by Artastūnā to Dārayavahush succeeded their father as King of Kings, the lineage from which Navaz claimed direct descent was perpetuated by the daughter of the two, also named Artastūnā. She married a descendant of Ariyāramna, great-grandfather of Dārayavahush and one of the first kings of Pārsa, the core region of what would later become the Persian Empire. Their descendants also married successors of this lineage and so their family continued to be renowned and respected as descendants of both Kurush and Ariyāramna, an even older descendant of Hakhāmanish, and the purest of the old Persian bloodlines. Their dominion over the region and the city of Pārsa (Greek: Persepolis) prevailed even after most of it was burnt to the ground by the invading Macedonians. The seat of power of the Pārsa satrapy then moved to the nearby city of Estakhr. Navaz's parents used to spend much time in their residence in Babylon, the one she inherited and which is her current dwelling. After marriage, Navaz's younger sister moved to Estakhr with her husband, the satrap of the Pārsa satrapy. Less than two decades later, after both of them passed away, she of illness and he in battle, the governship of Pārsa went to a descendant of Dārayavahush, from the House Dārayavahush-Hakhamanish. Navaz could have become Queen of Queens instead of Amāstrī, but she could not be swayed to accept, despite her feelings for Prince Sharaman. She was determined to follow her own path in life and giving it up for marriage was not something that appealed to her, even if it meant suppressing the true feelings of love she had for Sharaman. With her father dead and no other living, close male relative to force her into marriage and no financial pressures upon her to do so, Navaz followed her own path and desires, which also corresponded to her family's heritage. As proud descendants of Kurush, Navaz's family had always sought to continue the legacy of the Kings who ruled throughout the years the first Persian Empire, a legacy that came to an end with the Greek invasion and their subsequent dominance. Not even the Parthians, a north-eastern sister-nation of the Persians (both of Iranian descent) who drove out the Seleucid Greeks and Macedonians and regained control of the territory that had once formed the Persian Empire, managed to reinstall the prosperous form of government sustained by the Hakhāmanish dynasty when they had been in power. As such, Navaz's family saw it as their duty to continue the legacy of their forefathers and strived to ensure decent standards of living and education for all common people, as much as possible, as well as reduce slavery. They themselves held no slaves and only employed servants who were free men and women, who received payment for their services and could leave the employment if they so desired. Beginning with the reign of Mithradata II, grandfather of Sharaman, a Second Persian Empire began to take form, although it would be consolidated as such only later, during the reign of King Sharaman. Mithradata founded his own Persian-Parthian dynasty, the House Arshak-Hakhāmanish, to which all Persian families belonged from then on, including Navaz's, even if it had lost the fame it once held. Despite the reforms initiated by Mithradata, there was still much turmoil in the empire and much work to be done until the Second Persian Empire would reach the heights of the First and with the numerous bloody disputes that seemed to be a regular occurrence among noble Parthian families, Navaz's family continued to refuse becoming related to the current ruling family. Still, despite her choices, those who knew Navaz and her family closely, continued to recognize the importance of her heritage, since with the passing of her younger sister she remained the sole descendant of a very old and noble family, the only living, officially attested, direct descendant of the first King of Kings. This connection to a King that Maniya greatly admired, even if she was only an adopted daughter of Navaz's, together with the fact that she had been born in Pāsārgād, a city built by Kurush to serve as capital of the First Persian Empire, and which still held his eternal resting place, emphasized her belief that it was part of her destiny to help revive the glory of the Persian Empire. Yet, it was not a destiny born purely out of personal desire and choice, it was also born out of duty. When Navaz chose to dedicate her life to study and the service of the Goddess, she did so thinking the family would live on through her sister and her children. But when the younger sister died without leaving behind any living heirs and Navaz was already passed the age of bearing children, the once great dynasty was faced with the inevitability of living on in name only, though Maniya, an adopted child. Zoraideh || Employee / Confidant Profile: Click to View! In the house of lady Navaz, Zoraideh works both as a housekeeper, a supervisor of all the other servants and an administrator, making sure the house is well supplied with the basic necessities as well as anything else Navaz asks to be acquired. Aside from being in charge of all the purchases and the maintenance of the dwelling, on occasions Zoraideh also helps Navaz with the financial management of the estate. Now a woman in her mid forties, Zoraideh had come to live with Navaz's family since she was a child and served their house ever since, acquiring an education along the way. Zoraideh does not remember much about her family, who unexpectedly found their end as victims of war, only that they were Bedouin desert dwellers of Arabic descent. She retained their traditions and beliefs which held great meaning to her as sole reminder of her people and family. Zoraideh has a strong tendency of perceiving life from the point of view of her inherited believes and many times she gives Maniya advice accordingly, being able to bring her some comfort and at least some sort of explanation to things happening in Maniya's life that she could not otherwise explain. She helped Maniya find her path in life by leading her to believe that the things happening to her could only be part of her destiny. Whether this was true or not, Zoraideh's explanations proved to be a real support for Maniya and helper her move forward each time she found herself in seemingly impossible situations. Zoraideh is a gentle and kind-hearted woman who was always sympathetic towards Maniya's emotional pain and offered her comfort each time, unlike Navaz who sometimes adopted a severe attitude, fearing not to spoil Maniya or soften her personality. Aside from being Maniya's confidant and a good listener with whom she shares all her secrets and emotions, especially those which Navaz would disregard as being silly, Zoraideh is also a good adviser and the only person Maniya knows she can go to for help, no matter the problem. They share many secrets, even from Navaz, especially regarding the times Zoraideh helped Maniya in her more reckless escapades that she threw herself in without thinking and later had to bear the consequences, which sometimes extended to her friends as well, so by extension Zoraideh also keeps secrets of Dastan, Bis and a few other of Maniya's friends. Afari || Unofficial step-sister / Protegee Profile: Click to View! Coming Soon ...

The Unknown Shahbanu

07/28/2012 12:55 PM 

Connections 2

CONNECTIONS Prince Tus || Lover, Unofficial Husband / First Love Profile: Click to View! When Maniya worked as a servant in the royal palace of Babylon, between the ages of 15 and 18, she developed a nave, teenage crush on the king's second oldest son, Prince Garsiv. Of course it was something that she kept to herself and did not seek anything in return, knowing it was not possible. She only observed Garsiv from afar and avoided being in his presence, focusing on accomplishing her tasks swiftly and properly. The only time she came face to face with him was when she was appointed to bring a tray with wine goblets to the royal table during a banquet and she tripped, dropping the goblets and spilling the wine. Unlike Garsiv, Tus had an amiable reaction, despite having been the one stained with wine. To him the servant girl wasn't a complete stranger. They had crossed paths one time before in the palace and even exchanged a few words. Not long after Maniya had had the fortune of being freed from slavery and given the position of a servant in the royal palace her younger childhood friends, Dastan and Bis had a similar fate. Dastan's fortune was the most spectacular as he was taken in by the king himself, the King of Kings, supreme ruler of the Persian Empire, to be raised as his son. He of course could not abandon his best friend Bis and the king had no objection to offering the other boy as well a place at court. Bis became the Stable Master's apprentice and so Maniya was able to speak to him more frequently. Often after finishing her regular duties she would help in the stables as well, an environment she had worked in before. She could also blend in without suspicion as she dressed and looked like a boy, with her hair cut short and messy bangs almost falling over her eyes and a cap that helped her disguise. She had been dressing like this all her life, not only because trousers were more practical while laboring but also because passing for a boy sparred her much unwanted trouble and unpleasant circumstances. Maniya would usually strive to finish her chores earlier so she would have more time for the education that her mentor Dalasa was giving her. In these brief moments of spare time and sometimes even at night she would find a secluded place where she could focus on studying and the stables provided such places. When she first met Prince Tus she did not know who he was. Up until then she had only seen Prince Garsiv from far while Tus, already a young man of 24, had an overwhelming crowded schedule since he had to prepare day after day for his future as the next King of Kings. It was his birth right as the Crown Prince, the first born son of the King of Kings and he had been preparing for this role all his life. Maniya was in the stables one quiet afternoon, sitting in a secluded place where she usually sought refuge from the crowded palace environment and she was so focused on her reading that she did not hear someone approaching her. A male voice suddenly interrupted her thoughts and she looked up to see a young man dressed in common clothes. He expressed his amazement at what he thought to be a stable boy reading scrolls written in the Persian language. The Parthian language was the common tongue of the Empire since the Parthian dynasty had ruled the lands ever since they rebelled against Alexander's successors. Although King Sharaman was the third King of Kings belonging to a Persian-Parthian dynasty and he had made great progress in rebuilding a Second Persian Empire on the mold of the first, the Persian language was not yet used extensively by the common people throughout the empire. Not knowing who she was addressing, Maniya responded casually, encouraged by the young man's amiable attitude and friendly smile. She proudly confessed that Persian was her native tongue and made a few remarks regarding the importance of education for all people as a decisive factor in ensuring the superior position of the Persian Empire among the nations of the world. Maniya had formed such elevated opinions as a result of paying close attention to the world around her and to the discourses and actions of her masters and their interlocutors as well as by eagerly learning what Delasa was teaching her. The young man was impressed by the stable boy's answer but since he was pressed by time he could not linger in conversation and asked for assistance in saddling two horses. Another surprise came when the presumed stable boy stepped closer in better light to do what he had been asked and the young man remarked that the boy was in fact a girl. Upon being exposed, and being uncomfortable about it, Maniya managed to appease her worries, acknowledged her true identity and presented arguments in her favour, saying that there was no shame in honest work, regardless of the trade and that she had the experience to perform the necessary tasks correctly. Still, she hurried to finish the current task, worried that she had already become too exposed to someone she did not know. Having lived as a slave all her life and then being freed by a pure stroke of good fortune, Maniya thought it best to be careful in her new life and not do anything that might reverse the good fortune. She could not end up in slavery again. Now that she had had a taste of a better life she started having hopes of finding better employment later on, once she had completed her basic education. After the young man proceeded towards the exit with the two horses Maniya retreated to her secluded place but her focus was distracted once again a few moments later when she heard the young man calling out for Dastan. Looking out, she saw Dastan rushing towards the young man who had mounted one horse, and mounting the other. Then the two of them rode out of the stables. Driven by curiosity Maniya sought out Bis and inquired about the identity of the young man. She was perplexed to discover that he was none other than Prince Tus. That was the last time Maniya went to the stables to find a quiet place for her studies and from that day on she was always careful not to find herself anywhere near prince Tus. It was bad enough that she had to deal with an impossible crush on Prince Garsiv but to develop a crush on the Crown Prince himself was absolutely ridiculous. With him being gallant and handsome a crush would come naturally to a nave young girl who, as a simple commoner born a slave, had had such a pleasant encounter with the future King of Kings. Two years later Maniya came face to face with Tus once again when she spilled wine on him while serving at the king's table during a banquet. He recognized her and despite the circumstances he was no less amiable than he had been the first time they met and still smiling. The third time they met things became much more complicated. It was a year after the banquet incident, when Maniya was a free young woman with a promising future, having been adopted by Lady Navaz, a noble woman who had chosen to live away from court. She had escaped servitude at the palace after being presumed dead since she had fallen from a great height into a river bellow, to what seemed to have been her death, or so everyone assumed. The outcome was in fact most favorable since she had also been wrongfully accused of theft. As a free young woman the only tasks that Maniya now had to accomplish were the ones she set for herself or the ones that her mentor and adoptive mother, Navaz, set for her. In the beginning these tasks involved only her education and unlike her previous tasks they were not a tiresome burden but a true delight. For the first time in her life Maniya was free to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted. One of her favourite places that she began to visit frequently were the ruins of an old city situated on the outskirts of the city of Babylon. The architectural style of the now abandoned constructions resembled that of desert dwellings. The sand-coloured walls blended perfectly with the rocky desert surrounding it and were contrasted by the green shades of scarce vegetation. The more abundant plains were those close to the banks of the Ufrātu River that flowed in the vicinity. Although not a city in itself the ruins were still home to nomads or travelers who sought temporary shelter there. Farmers living in the region also brought their flocks of sheep or goats to graze on the river plains and some of the animals would sometimes wonder off and get lost in the maze-like structure of the ruins. Still, despite not being a completely abandoned place there were many chambers or courtyards where Maniya could spend an entire day without coming across another living soul and the noises of the outside world faded as well. In such a place Maniya would come to study or to dance, a newly found passion of hers. She would remove the long tunic she wore on the outside and reveal a dancing outfit of pure silk, whose soft texture that shifted delicately with each move from the breeze emulated the undulating moves that comprised the dances. One warm spring afternoon Maniya made her way to one of her favourite places among the ruins knowing that somewhere near a group of nomads had set a temporary camp and the sounds of the musical instruments they played could be heard quite well from Maniya's position to offer her the necessary accompaniment for her dances. This time she had chosen a red outfit and also made use of a separate red silk veil to accompany her dance. A veil was a common accessory for a dance and with two of its edges being held lightly between her fingertips it was either held in place while the body moved or swirled about to accompany the moves of the body. In a way it was an image of how the body should move in such dances, weightlessly and delicately, like silk in the wind or like the wind itself. In fact, certain types of dances were known as dances of the wind. That fateful day Maniya chose to dance one of these dances of the wind. She moved with focus and dedication concerned only with her moves and ignorant of her surroundings, being certain no one would venture to that place. At one point during the dance she threw the veil into the air then leaned slightly backwards and raised her arms. On its descent the veil was stopped by her palms and the rest of it fell over her body. Quickly she pushed it upwards again, as if wanting to throw it behind her but just as she straightened herself she caught the veil between her fingertips as it now hanged behind her back like a cape. The very next moment her fingers unclenched involuntarily and the veil fell to the ground. Her enthusiastic smile vanished as well, being replaced by a look of shock, rightfully so given the unexpected sight her eyes beheld. Standing not too far away, near one of the archway entrances to the chamber she was in was none other than Prince Tus, looking the same as she remembered him from the first time she had met him and once again dressed in common clothes. Maniya was so taken aback by this that she found herself speechless and frozen in place. Tus on the other hand greeted her with the smile she had received from him twice before but did not say anything. While Maniya was speechless because of the unexpected encounter he seemed to be speechless because of being mesmerized by the scene he had witnessed. When she suddenly regained her senses Maniya acted on her first impulse and sprung around, grabbed the bag and tunic she had left there and ran without looking back, disappearing through one of the archways into the shadowy corridors of the ruins. The moment he saw her sudden reaction Tus called after her, telling her not to run because he did not mean to scare her and only wanted to talk. He noticed she had forgotten her veil on the sandy ground and took it, then started running after her through the maze-like corridors, calling after her with the same words whenever he got close to her. After a long chase Tus was eventually able to corner her and Maniya had no choice but to confront him. When he stepped close to give her the veil her fears came true when he gazed at her from up close and suddenly realized she looked very familiar. His memory helped him further and he asked her on a tone of mixed bewilderment and excitement if she was not Maniya, Dastan's childhood friend whom everyone thought dead. After the incident Dastan confessed the truth about Maniya's identity and Tus then knew whom he had met that one time in the stables. Putting her deceiving skills to good use Maniya offered a convincing enough reply that denied his affirmations and chose to be mysterious instead, telling him that a name is of little importance and he could give her whatever name he wanted. She hoped that her lie would be convincing, after all she now looked quite different from before, having long, slightly curled hair with no bangs to cover her forehead and fall over her eyes and a cleaner skin and appearance since she now had access to the finest cosmetics like any noble woman. Her eyes were delicately framed by thin dark lines in an Egyptian fashion and she wore an outfit made of expensive materials. Despite this Tus found it difficult to believe her response but chose to play her game and said he would call her Maniya. When he asked what name she would give him she replied that she did not need one because anonymity was much more interesting. The conversation that followed was also mysterious in the senses that Maniya purposely offered vague or confusing answers in order to avoid becoming trapped in a situation where she would have no choice but to tell the truth, something she knew she had to avoid at all costs. Then she rapidly excused herself but Tus delayed her, expressing his desire to see her again. She offered another vague reply but judging by the way their encounter had played out Maniya was certain she would find Tus there the next time she came, waiting for her just in case she might show up. While she made her way out of the ruins and back to Babylon she was particularly careful not to be followed. Keeping her true identity secret as well as her new dwelling was crucial. The latter was not such an easy task given that Navaz's villa was in the center of Babylon, in the richest district, close to the royal palace and the Fire Temple. Only when she reached the confines of her chamber and escaped the euphoria state she had been absorbed into by the highly unexpected encounter, Maniya analyzed the matter from a more objective perspective. Unfortunately at that early stage of her life she was more influenced by nave emotions than by the clarity of reason. This, combined with the new social position she found herself in gave her hope and actually led her to believe she could somehow be with Tus, in an actual relationship. Her feelings for Garsiv had not vanished either, despite the banquet incident but she pushed them aside, dismissing them as silly ideas of her early teenage years. With this in mind Maniya decided to continue frequenting the ruins and meet with Prince Tus. Although a more rational side of her kept thinking all that could not be real she indeed found him waiting for her in the same place the following day. Their second conversation was a more scholastic one. Tus noticed the bag she carried with her and when he inquired about its content Maniya showed him the scrolls she was reading for their historical information and also to improve her knowledge of the Greek language. The scrolls contained information regarding the travels and conquests of Alexander of Macedonia as well as biographical accounts. Maniya shared with Tus her interest for the history of their nation, the First Persian Empire and also for Alexander of Macedonia, as a person, because of his grand goals and the determination with which he carried them out. She hoped to be able to travel as well, following Alexander's trail and then going even further to explore unknown lands and gain a better understanding of the world. Tus was amazed and intrigued to hear such desired coming from a young woman of only nineteen and also considered the possibility that he might have been wrong in thinking she could be Dastan's presumably deceased childhood friend. After all, for one to have such dreams and have hopes of fulfilling them one would have to be of noble ancestry in order to have the financial means for such journeys. The scrolls that Maniya had were also quite expensive and difficult to come across. For a commoner such treasures would have been off limits. For their third encounter Tus manifested his desire to see Maniya dance like he had seen her dance the first time. She did not abandon her mysterious ways and did not give a clear answer but the next time they met she danced for him the most appealing dance she knew. For almost two months these frequent encounters became a regular occurrence and halfway along the way they also became intimate. It was nothing too intense, only a few innocent kissed and comforting embraces but for young Maniya it was everything; her first kiss, her first real love. Beginning with the second month of their platonic affair things took a different turn. This time Tus began acting mysteriously, offering elusive explanations and many times failed to arrive at their meetings. When he explained his absence Maniya could tell that he was not speaking the truth but at the same time she perceived his remorse as being sincere and understood that something must be happening in his life to trigger such a change. She also could not press the matters further for fear of placing herself in a situation where she would be forced to reveal her true identity, which she had managed to keep shrouded in mystery despite their many encounters. In their very last meeting, although at the time neither of them knew it would be the last, Tus surprised Maniya with a peculiar gift, a string of glass prayer beads. It was neither a randomly chosen gift nor one with religious connotations. He chose to give her those prayer beads because of their sentimental value. The unique beads had been in his mother's family for several generations and she had given them to her oldest son to give as a gift to his future bride. Tus decided to give them to Maniya to show that in his heart at least she would always be his bride, although in real life she could never be his first wife. He did not share any of this with her when he gave her the gift but later Maniya discovered everything on her own. Curious to solve the mystery behind Tus' peculiar behavior and his absences, Maniya snuck inside the royal palace to visit her two best friends, Dastan and Bis. Soon after her apparent death she had gone in secret to see both of them again and let them know she was still alive, while also making them promise to keep her secret. Ever since her affair with Tus began she stopped visiting them and when she did visit them again she made no mention of her encounters with Tus. After all, two thirteen and twelve year old boys had other things on their minds. As it turned out there was no need for any tactful inquires because the answer she was looking for was the news of the hour in the palace. Prince Tus was to take as his first wife Princess Vira who would one day rule by his side as Queen of the Persian Empire. Their marriage had been arranged for a long time since it represented a needed political alliance, like most marriages. At first the news did not come as a great surprise to Maniya since she had imagined that such plans had to exist, given Tus' stature, and Navaz had also warned her against it when Maniya told her whom she was meeting in secret. It was only after she met Princess Vira in person that the fantasy world she had been living in was shattered. When sneaking inside the royal palace to speak with her childhood friends Maniya disguised herself as a servant and accidentally ended up among the retinue of the recently arrived princess. The opportunity to be so close to Princess Vira changed her views completely, despite how much emotional suffering it brought her. While before Maniya had cried and shouted when Navaz advised her to put an end to her affair with Tus and boldly swore to defeat all obstacles to be with him, she now understood that it was not right to build her happiness on other people's misfortunate. Princess Vira was nothing like Maniya had expected and she did not see her upcoming marriage simply as a duty. She was genuinely excited about it, she was concerned about not being to the Prince's liking and what was more, she seemed to have deep and sincere feelings for him. Just like Maniya, Vira had also observed her future husband from afar on several occasions in the past and grew to love him. They had met on a few occasions when they were younger but because of the tumultuous conflicts throughout the empire Prince Tus had been rarely available to meet with the princess each time she visited. Maniya also understood that Vira's excitement about her upcoming marriage was not at all that of a silly girl with trivial concerns. Vira was nothing like that. She was a witty, intelligent, knowledgeable and strong-willed young woman, aside from being a beautiful, elegant and well-mannered lady. Since she had been brought up to one day be the Queen of Queens of the Persian Empire, Vira took her future role very seriously and was determined to be a strong queen, involved in political and military affairs as well and become her husband's most trusted aid. In all honesty the empire could not have hoped for a better future queen and such a strong figure was much needed in that point of the empire's history. Also, for an arranged marriage Prince Tus could not have hoped for a better wife. As much as it devastated her, Maniya had to accept these realities and find the strength to completely let go of Tus. Eventually she accepted that in the given circumstances the only way to make Tus happy was to disappear from his life and allow him to find peace, happiness and love alongside his future queen. Of course Maniya had envisioned other scenarios as well, since she had been aware of the complicated reality from the beginning. She knew she could only be a second wife or a mistress but she had been too overwhelmed by her feelings to consider the implications of such positions. For a start she would become tied to one place, which was the opposite of what she had always dreamed of and of what her new mission in life implied. Also, being aware that Tus' feelings for her were intense and genuine, she did not want to shatter Vira's dreams, which resembled her own, by coming between her and Tus. The Princess was undoubtedly aware that her husband would later on take other wives as well but Maniya concluded that since she was the first wife and future queen Vira deserved to have her husband's full attention at the beginning of their marriage to get to know each other better and solidify their important union. Maniya's presence and Tus' affections for her would have only been an obstacle and would have brought Princess Vira a kind of emotional suffering that Maniya was familiar with and did not wish it on anyone. There were metaphorical parallels to be drawn between the condition of a princess and that of a slave and since Maniya was well aware of what it meant to be a slave she swore to prevent anyone from living in such conditions as well as in conditions that just slightly resembled them. However, the emotional side of the situation, concerning Tus and Vira's happiness, was only a small part of the issue. There were much more important reasons that made Maniya understand her presence would only complicate things and possibly even be the cause of negative outcomes. Tus was not just a man with an important position but the man with the most important position in the empire, since preparing to be the future King of Kings was an even more difficult task than actually being the King of Kings. Maniya knew that he could not afford any unnecessary distractions and that he had to take his training very seriously and work very hard. The empire was also in a fragile state and could not afford any dissent within the central government that King Sharaman was trying to reinstate. Tus' affections for a freed slave could have given rise to unwanted circumstances and at that early stage of her life Maniya did not feel like she could bring any contributions. She did not want to be just a wife or a mistress, she wanted to help in improving the administration of the empire and the lives of its low class citizens and slaves but she was still young and had much to learn. After meeting Vira in the palace Maniya went once again to the ruins, not to meet Tus but only to leave the beads he had given her, thinking she did not deserve them and also as a message to Tus, letting him know that she would no longer be coming to meet him. Just as she was about to leave she heard Tus approaching and hid, watching from a distance how he picked up the beads with much sorrow in his eyes. Without making her presence known Maniya snuck away, leaving Tus there to search and wait for her in vain, hoping he would understand the message and that it was for the best. Then something intriguing occurred in the days following this event. While learning Sanskrit, a language for which she had developed a sudden liking, having a peculiar feeling about it as if she had some sort of connection to it, Maniya was completely baffled to discover that in Sanskrit her name translated as glass bead. Immediately she thought of the prayer beads that Tus had given her and began to wonder what was all supposed to mean. When she shared this information with her housekeeper, Zoraideh, a wise woman who was also her confidant and a good adviser, Maniya received a very peculiar but also intriguing response. Zoraideh told her that it could not be just a coincidence and her destiny must be tied to that string of beads. She told Maniya that according to the beliefs of her people the gods would write a person's destiny before they were born and then palace it around their necks at birth. Although Maniya would dismiss such ideas as superstitions it was still an interesting coincidence that the gift she received, which bore the meaning of her name, was also something she could hang around her neck. Thus, according to Zoraideh's beliefs she would literary have her destiny around her neck. But of all the beliefs that Zoraideh shared with her the one that had the deepest impact said that ever since birth every man and woman walk towards their written destiny and there is a time in their life when they come face to face with it. That is the moment which changes everything and you understand what you came to do in this world. Because of the circumstances in which Maniya received the prayer beads she believed that moment to be the one Zoraideh spoke of. Being profoundly marked by the possibility of such things being true, or at least needing to believe them in order to make her loss more bearable, Maniya returned to the ruins in a hurry and was relieved to discover that Tus had left the beads there. From that moment on she never parted with that string of glass prayer beads and always carried them with her, either wrapped around her right wrist like a bracelet or around her neck. She also vowed to dedicate her life to ensuring the happiness of the man she loved, even if it meant disappearing forever from his life and only helping him from afar, without him knowing. She believed this was part of her destiny. The day she went back to retrieve the beads was the last day that Maniya went to the ruins of the old city. Tus did return there several times hoping to meet her again but with no luck. He also noticed that the beads were no longer where he had left them but assumed someone else had taken them. Prince Garsiv || Husband / Teenage Crush Profile: Click to View! In her teenage years, although street-smart and with a good enough grasp on reality, Maniya was very much under the influence of her emotions and her simplistic view of life. Between the ages of 15 and 18, when she worked as a servant in the royal palace of Babylon, she developed a crush on the king's second born son, Prince Garsiv. He had never been aware of her existence, she was after all a lowly servant and she would not dare to ever come into his sight. Not because she was not allowed to but because her secret affections prevented her from having such a courage and she was a shy, naive young girl back then. From a distance she continued to love him in secret, with the innocent affections of a teenager, and from her position of a servant she secretly tended for him. Being aware that Garsiv had no interest in knowing about the servants and their duties as long as he received everything he needed, Maniya became the servant that prepared his meals the way he liked them, washed his clothing and other such tasks. The first and only time Garsiv became aware of Maniya's presence was the first and only time she served a tray at the royal table, during a banquet. To her utmost horror, her nervousness made her trip and drop the goblets of wine from the tray. The only one being stained by the flowing liquid was the oldest prince, Tus but he had a surprisingly kind reaction and told the shocked and trembling girl that she should not worry about it. Garsiv however reacted violently, scolding the girl viciously on a shouting tone and letting her know that for such an offense she should be whipped. The mercy of King Sharaman sparred Maniya of a severe punishment but just the following day she was falsely accused of theft by a noblewoman from the palace. In her rush to escape the guards sent to capture her she ended up on the ledge of a balcony from where she slipped and fell into the river below. Due to the great height from where she had fallen the general assumption was that she died. Only after the news of her death Garsiv learned from Dastan that Maniya had been his childhood friend, a secret she had asked him to keep. From that point on Maniya began a completely new life and her new residence became the house of Navaz, her mentor, who also legally adopted her. With all the unbelievable transformations that had taken place in her life, the things she now had to discover about herself and the mission she was entrusted, Maniya moved her thoughts away from her teenage crush. When she grew older she even laughed at herself for the way she used to think and feel and dismissed her innocent love for Garsiv as the nonsense of a silly and simple-minded girl. This perception prevailed even when she once again spotted from a distance an older Garsiv, now a man and a warrior. But although her conscious self would tell her not to linger on such thoughts, on a deeper level she could feel the lurking of familiar emotions from the past. And so yet another inner conflict between the two sides of her personality was unleashed. Eventually she had to admit to herself that, for instance, her always taking the hallway overlooking the courtyard where Garsiv trained, whenever she sneaked into the palace to visit her friend Dastan, was not a coincidence. Suddenly she realized that she was back in the same situation she had been in her youth, secretly trying to get a glimpse of Garsiv whenever she could. Maniya never held a grudge against him for how he had reacted to her spilling the wine a few years before. She would not have expected him to behave differently towards an insignificant servant he had never seen before and she had always been aware of his personality, with his fits of fury, arrogance and superior attitude. Throughout the years those traits remained more or less the same, his involvement in war giving him only a stronger focus point in life, towards which he could direct his ambitions. The strange thing was that even though Garsiv's main personality traits were ones that Maniya usually preferred to avoid, with him it seemed that those very traits had drawn her to him. But now things were different. Maniya had more freedom than she could have ever imagined and also an important mission in life, so even though she would occasionally allow herself to check in on Garsiv from afar, most of her time was spent on her duties and travels. This helped her take her mind off personal feeling she could not or did not want to understand and avoid having to take a final decision. There was some strange feeling of hope in her soul, although she could not figure out for what exactly. The difference now, aside from Maniya viewing life through the eyes of a young woman and not those of a child, like before, was also that Maniya had acquired some personality traits that were the exact opposites of the ones she used to have. Now she was a bold, courageous, witty and independent woman who no longer waited for things to be given to her but who instead took whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. These new impulses eventually led to her voluntarily presenting herself to Garsiv, though under a made-up identity. Such thoughts had crossed her mind before. What if she would find a way to spend just one night with him and satisfy her desires? After all that was all she could hope for since becoming a constant presence in Garsiv's life would inevitably lead to her meeting Tus once again, who would recognize her immediately. Not to mention that she would have also had to be very careful in not revealing her true identity as Dastan's childhood friend. But even if she might have easily accomplish that she always ended up postponing it. Faith however made the decision for her and placed her in a situation that would determine Maniya to take a path leading to her much desired encounter. While returning from a very long journey of several years, the one that marked her the most, Maniya got word of a cavalry unit of the Persian army, led by Prince Garsiv himself, engaged in an armed conflict with a Dahae tribe from beyond the north-eastern border that had attacked a Dahae settlement within the empire. Conflicts between tribes who had submitted to Persian rule and those who chose to continue the fight were very common at all border regions of the empire. The only reason for which Maniya did not hesitate in taking a decision this time was the rumor about Garsiv having been greatly injured in battle. The Persian cavalry unit had crossed the border and captured a fortress occupied by the rebel tribe. The Kyrkmolla Fortress of Gurgānj, in the Uvārazmish region, was in fact a Persian construction, build there a few centuries back when that region had been within the borders of the First Persian Empire. After defeating the rebels the Persians seized the fortress, although by then it had been abandoned by its non-combatant inhabitants. Making use of her stealth and deceiving methods, as well as her superior agility, Maniya infiltrated the fortress and entered, through the window, a small chamber situated in the superior levels of the fortress. The door had been locked and bolted from the outside and when the Persian soldiers inspecting every corner of the conquered fortress broke in, Maniya presented herself as the daughter of the Dahae king allied with the Persians, whom the northern rebels had attacked. She told them she had been kidnapped and imprisoned in that chamber a few months before. Fortunately for Maniya's cover, the king had died in battle and there was no one around who could expose her. When brought in front of the captain, Garsiv's second in command, Maniya made sure to drive the conversation in such a way that the captain would bring up the issue of Garsiv's health so she could offer to mend his wounds. Once she did that the captain agreed to let her see Garsiv. Her credibility was due to the fact that the king whose daughter she was pretending to be had always been a reliable ally of the Persian monarchy and the healing methods of the Dahae were also renowned for their effectiveness. Of course, Maniya had chosen this cover precisely because of these reasons. Once in Garsiv's chamber Maniya discovered that he had not received many injuries, being a skillful fighter after all, but the reason for him being literally on his death bed was a poisonous arrow that had pierced the right side of his upper chest. For one whole week Maniya stood by his side, systematically applying to his wound the medicine she had prepared, using mostly herbs and other ingredients she had taken with her from the provisions she always carried on her travels. Most of the time she just stood next to him and held her hands over his wound, which was meant to stimulate the energy flow of the body in order for it to heal itself. As Garsiv's state of health was beginning to improve and the moment when he would wake up was approaching fast, Maniya's fears turned from Garsiv dying to him coming face to face with her. She knew there was almost no chance for him to recognize her since she was both older and quite different looking and he wouldn't have remembered a servant he had seen only once either, even if he did find out she had been Dastan's childhood friend. Still, almost the same feeling of nervousness as she used to have in her youth took over her senses. From a certain perspective it was understandable because she did find herself experiencing what she had only dreamed of. The first meeting was more pleasant than she had expected. Maniya had prepared to face Garsiv's rather temperamental self especially since, being wounded, he found himself in a more or less helpless position that he never enjoyed. Instead, after becoming aware of his situation and being told what had happened, including Maniya presenting herself, according to her cover, Garsiv became more relaxed. Undoubtedly, her cover as the daughter of a loyal Persian subject was very helpful in earning his trust in a short period of time. Maniya spent a few more days aiding in Garsiv's recovery, this time with him being awake for the most part of the day. As his health was getting better they no longer kept to the confinements of the chamber where his treatment had taken place but also had walks along the corridors of the fortress and through its courtyard. Although the time spent together was brief and Maniya was mostly trying to dodge questions connected to the life of the person she was pretending to be, which she might not respond correctly, she also became familiar with a different side of Garsiv's, that of the man behind the tough soldier. She had never purposely attempted to seduce him but often enough her behavior and way of being had a seductive air to it and the inevitable consequence of that was a very passionate night of intense bodily pleasure. It all came naturally and when she succumbed to his manifested desires none of her past doubts and fears were hunting her mind. The time they had spent together, just the two of them away from everything and everyone, as if they could actually be together, had completely suppressed those doubts and fears. Not long after they had both fallen asleep close to each other Maniya awoke abruptly, as if commanded to. That was the moment when she reverted to reality and understood that the critical point had been reached. She had done what she had wanted to do and all that she could ever do with Garsiv. The only thing left to do was leave. And in the middle of the night she did just that, sneaking out of the fortress as skillfully as she had gotten herself in. She made her way to the village where she had left her mare, Devi and recovered her from the family who had taken care of the animal. After that she continued her journey back to Babylon. Garsiv was surprised to find that the enigmatic woman he had spent half a month with was nowhere to be found and even more surprised, shocked even, when he found out that the Dahae king had no daughter but not as shocked as he had been when he finally understood why Maniya kept insisting that he did not remove the bandages even when he no longer felt any pain or discomfort. Upon removing the bandages he was amazed to discover that the poisonous wound that almost killed him, received only two weeks before, had fully healed, leaving behind only a small scar. The only people whom Maniya told about what had happened between her and Garsiv were Navaz and Zoraideh, her closest confidants, as well as her childhood friend, Dastan. If before she had avoided being seen by Garsiv because she was nervous about it, now she had to avoid being seen by him because she had no other choice. Before she had also entertained thoughts of becoming reacquainted with Tus, even if just to be an occasional lover, but with this new development such a thing was no longer possible. Her resolution was that she and Garsiv, as well as she and Tus, during their earlier encounters, had done everything they could ever do and there was nothing more that could happen between them, especially with the position of the two men and her adventurous way of life. Her resignation to this reality was sustained by the philosophy which stated that ''The secret to happiness in life is not doing what one likes to do but liking what one has to do''.

The Unknown Shahbanu

07/28/2012 12:54 PM 

Connections 1

            CONNECTIONS           Prince Dastan || Best Friend / Childhood Friend Profile: Click to View! At about seven years of age Maniya moved from Pāsārgād, her birthplace and once the capital of the First Persian Empire, to Babylon, the current capital of the reborn Persian Empire. The decision was not her own but that of her master, in whose service she found herself at that time in her life as a slave. Five years later, when she had turned twelve, faith had her meet two young boys, one six years old, Dastan, the other only five, Bis. She found them sneaking inside the back court of her master’s dwelling in an attempt to find some food and some less torn up cloths that could serve to replace at least some of their scant and barely wearable clothing. They were two street urchins, wondering the streets for as long as their young minds could remember and with no recollection of their parents or any other relative or guardian.      Being a slave herself, Maniya could not bring herself to deny the two children aid, although her act could have brought about punishment if discovered. Yet, fearful not to arise her master’s suspicion by giving away some of his possessions, however slight and insignificant, Maniya chose to give the two boys the little food and fabrics she had for herself, the insignificant possessions that a slave was allowed to keep, aside only her own worn out garment. She had seen many homeless children strive about on the streets, mostly begging and putting their lives in the hands of destiny, waiting and hoping for someone to show some compassion, but the two boys that Maniya came across were not like that. It surprised her to see that although of such young ages, they had understood that the only way to survive was by helping themselves, not begging or waiting for help to come. They were clever and resourceful and stubbornly claimed their right to live, no matter what others might say, an idea that Maniya had also long clung to. The oldest boy, Dastan, was the most resourceful and although Bis was not his blood-brother, but another homeless child he had bonded with while striving to survive in the streets, he had cared for the younger boy the same as a good older brother would. Maniya encouraged the two boys to return whenever they needed food or shelter and promised to find them a place to stay at least during the night, even if the chances for being discovered, especially by a loyal servant, were great. Still, she continued to help them whenever she could and the three children soon formed a strong brotherly bond, with their similar misfortunes and ill fated destinies serving as common ground to bring them closer.      Necessity often forced the two boys to steal for a living and Dastan had promised to become a skillful thief when he grew older and repay Maniya for her kindness and support, first of all by purchasing her freedom. Dastan and Bis might have been homeless orphans but at least they were free citizens of the empire, while Maniya had inherited her position as a slave through birth. She had never had a choice in the matter and had only known the life of a slave, deprived of personal choice or liberty of movement, outside the commands she received. Faith however turned out to be most ironic and later on Maniya was the one who would learn the ways of a thief and explore life in a way she would have never thought possible. She would not only be freed from servitude but would become a very different person from the quiet and submissive girl she once was. The first step towards this journey occurred when Maniya turned 15 and the unexpected death of her master brought upon herself a most unexpected fortune. A kind elderly woman, Delasa, a relative of the man, who inherited part of his fortune, bought Maniya’s freedom and took her to work as a servant in the royal palace of Babylon. The chores might have been similar but at least she was now a free citizen. As soon as Maniya found herself in this new privileged position, from the point of view of a slave, she made plans to ensure for Dastan and Bis similar opportunities, yet their fortunes, especially that of Dastan’s, proved to be far greater than her own. It was nothing less of a shock to discover that the street urchin she had cared for had seized the attention of the King of Kings himself who did not simply bestow upon him some impressive reward but took him out of the streets to raise him as his own son. Dastan’s shock at such an occurrence was of course greater but there were reasons to explain these unexpected gestures of great compassion. Those months of that particular year were ones that would forever remain in history, not only that of Persia but of the world. The day King Sharman galloped victorious through the streets of Babylon and was so impressed by an uncommonly clever orphan that he decided to adopt him right there and then, was also the day that marked the conclusion of a most impressive victory. The Persians and Parthians, both people of Iranian descent, after having united their forces to ensure the rebirth of the Persian Empire, following Greek occupation, had suppressed the expansionist ambitions of the Roman Republic and proved to them that beyond the River Ufrātu lay a great empire, a force to be reckoned with, not just some scattered, easily defeated barbaric tribes as the Romans had assumed. At the battle of Ḫarrānu (Carrhae) the Romans suffered a grave and decisive defeat, their forces practically annihilated. It was an unforgettable example of Persian-Parthian military tactics and skills, one that would impress the world at that point in history and also for centuries to come, remaining in the annals of military history to be studied by future generations. The euphoria that descended upon the citizens of the empire following this great victory, together with the peace and stability brought about by King Sharaman’s reforms, released the empire from the tension and insufficiencies they had lived with in previous years and the general mood was just right for unexpected miracles, such as a street urchin becoming a prince. When Maniya met the two boys once again at the palace, she as a servant, Dastan as a prince and Bis as the Stable Master’s apprentice, she asked them to keep their friendship a secret. Although Maniya had been brought to work at the palace before Dastan’s arrival, she did not want anyone thinking he was abusing his new position by bringing in other homeless orphans like himself. Bis was an exception because they had been like brothers since the first day they met and he was also the boy for whose safety Dastan endangered his own life, in the faithful day that Sharaman entered the city triumphantly but was halted in his march by the tumult the two street boys had unwillingly created. During their time at the palace Maniya spoke more frequently with Bis and met with prince Dastan only rarely, in secret, since he was constantly watched and she did not want her presence or their bond to be known. She also did not bother either of them with her silly crush on Prince Garsiv, which she kept to herself. The years passed relatively quick and the next turning point in their destiny came when Maniya was wrongly accused of theft and in her desperate attempt to escape the guards sent to capture her, fell from a great height into a small river flowing along one side of the palace. After that everyone presumed her dead and being unable to hide their grief, Dastan and Bis revealed Maniya’s identity as their childhood friend and protector, as well as the reasons for which she wanted her identity kept secret. Not long after Maniya began her new life in the house of Navaz, as her adopted daughter, and began to develop a different, thus far hidden side of her personality, Maniya snuck into the royal palace and shocked the two boys with her presence and the revelation of being alive. Due to the new circumstances, the three of them had even less time or opportunities to meet but from their different dwellings they focused each on their own learning and training. Once again she asked them to keep her secret, this time the need to be thought dead and removed from anyone’s concerns being much greater. Then, ever since her unexpected affair with Prince Tus began she stopped visiting her two friends and when she did visit them again she made no mention of her encounters with Tus. After all, two thirteen and twelve year old boys had other things on their minds. Once circumstances forced her to end her affair with Tus, Maniya met with her childhood friends one more time to let them know she would be taking a long journey to the land of Kemet, or Mudrāya as it was known in the Persian tongue and Egypt to the Greeks and Romans. Three years later she returned to the city she loved, her hometown, Babylon and with Dastan now being 17, he had more freedom to move about as he pleased, or he simply disregarded orders and snuck outside the palace and the three old friends now found more time to spend in each other’s company and share the experiences they each had while apart. For the most part they met in the house of lady Navaz, now Maniya’s home as well, a sumptuous villa situated in the rich district of Babylon, not too far from the royal palace. They had every reason to feel at home there since Navaz welcomed them as if they were her own children and they were family after all. Navaz was a cousin of Queen Amāstrī, the first wife of King Sharaman and mother of Prince Tus, but unlike Amāstrī she had chosen a completely different path. She isolated herself from her noble heritage and dedicated her life to learning and putting her inherited fortune in the service of common, disadvantage people and the improvement of vital sectors of the city. When they became reacquainted Maniya shared with Dastan and Bis much of her long kept secrets, including her teenage crush on Prince Garsiv and her brief platonic affair with Prince Tus. She unveiled her deepest feelings to her two trusted friends and explained her actions, letting them know why she had done what she had done and how she had learned to accept the impossibility of having her dreams fulfilled. As such, she decided to dedicate her life to aiding the men she loved from afar and in so doing also ensuring, as much as she could from her position, the safety and prosperity of the empire. Over the years, while studying the history of their people and becoming acquainted with the current state of things, Maniya had developed great admiration and respect for the nation she was a part of and the people who had elevated the empire to what it was at present. From what she had learned, also from foreign records throughout her travels, the Persians and their distant ancestors occupied a land that was thought to be the cradle of civilization, the place where humans first began to evolve and build societies and cities, then nations. The old city of Babylon and its surroundings had been from the beginning in the center of this starting point of development. Later on came the birth and expansion of the First Persian Empire, thought by many to be the largest empire of the known world to that day, an empire unparalleled in both territory expansion and wealth. Yet the greatest feat of all was the wisdom and tolerance with which the old Kings ruled the land, showing mercy to their enemies and allowing many freedoms to newly conquered people. Despite inevitable wars and periods of great unrest, the general state of things was a peaceful and prosperous one and the empire flourished, not only in riches but also in culture and science. Throughout centuries, many libraries were built in the largest cities and filled with countless manuscripts containing works of literature, philosophy, religion, history, geography, politics, astronomy, medicine, architecture, engineering and many other sciences. The empire they called home was truly unique in the knowledge it possessed and it had been the intention of many rulers to see this knowledge made available to all citizens and not just some privileged few. A strong, unified nation could only be sustained as such by the common will of the people, not by force and fear as others believed, and a well educated people could only help in the development of the nation. Many times before the greatest minds of history had sprung from the lowest of social classes and their ideas would have never been born if they had not first managed to acquire some level of education and then find a way to make their ideas known. Still, it was not only her admiration for the past that dictated Maniya’s decisions. Although having an inherit disdain for the nobility, due to the unfounded superior attitude of most of them, she came to see that King Sharaman, as a man, was someone who truly understood what it meant to be a ruler and who had sacrificed much in order to see a second Persian Empire being born, as well as to ensure the peace and prosperity that people had enjoyed in the distant past. Maniya’s change of heart regarding the King of Kings was not influenced by his adoption of Dastan. In fact, she continued to have the same feelings regarding nobility until she discovered herself that King Sharman was indeed a dedicated ruler and a honorable man. However there were still many nobles under his command who fitted perfectly the view that Maniya had of nobility in general and she would have no remorse in depriving them of their possessions and redistributing them to the needy, in her new thieving profession. Dastan and Maniya would often debate on whether there was an already made destiny for each individual or if one made one’s destiny throughout life, but one thing was certain, there had been many peculiar coincidences in Maniya’s life that had led her to believe there could be a destiny she had to fulfill. For one, she was born in Pāsārgād, also the birth city of King Sharman, she was born in the same year and day that King Sharaman was crowned King of Kings, she had been almost like a mother for the boy who would one day be taken by the King to be raised as his own son, she was adopted herself by a noble woman belonging to the Royal House and she swore to dedicate her life to ensuring the happiness of the man she loved but whom she could never have, a man who was none other than the King’s oldest son, himself the future King of Kings. All these put together led to the obvious conclusion that her supreme goal in life, her destiny, could only be ensuring the prosperity of the empire and its people. She had once been one of the common people, of the lowest class even, and now that she had been bestowed with much fortune it was only natural to see it as her duty to help those whose faith she had once shared. With this in mind she had unwillingly developed an almost annoying habit of reminding Dastan and Bis that it was their duty to not forget where they came from and use their new position to do the good they would have otherwise been unable to do. Yet, as much as she wanted to put her life in the service of the empire, Maniya also wanted to travel, even further than she had already traveled, to see and understand more of the known world, and perhaps even uncover new lands. With this in mind she set on a very long journey that took her as far as Britannia to the far west, then northwards across Germania and the vast Sakai plains, finally reaching the Han Empire of the far east. Four years later she returned a much different person, one who had suffered physical torture, mostly at the hands of the Romans, but who also embraced it, found the strength to move forward and accepted the transformation she was undergoing with each new experience, turning her into someone very different from the girl she once was. Whether she had a written destiny or not, there were many moments when such ideas were a comfort and provided a much needed, though simple and vague explanation to the turns her life kept taking. On a more personal side, upon returning from the far east, destiny granted her a more pleasing surprise, that of satisfying her long desire of sharing a few moments of physical pleasure with Garsiv, even though it meant that from then on, more than ever she would have to make sure she never crossed paths with either of the King’s two oldest sons, while in Babylon. When she returned to the capital and was once again reunited with Dastan and Bis she shared with them all her secrets and adventures and burdened them even more with secrets they had to swear to keep.   Each time Maniya returned to Babylon from a long journey she seemed to have lost a part of her old self somewhere along the way and the two young men had to constantly accustom themselves with her new attitude and mentality. At first she appeared only bolder and more self-confident than in her young years, but still possessing much enthusiasm and positive energy that she enjoyed spreading around, trying to get others as well to find more excitement in being alive. She had managed to accept the difficulties and sorrows that life threw her way and understood the benefits of a positive state of mind. Yet, as the years went by and she was forced to experience more of the horrors that life and human existence had to offer, especially after her long voyage to the far west, Maniya’s smile and positive, enthusiastic attitude gradually faded. What replaced them was a cold, emotionless stare marked only occasionally by sarcastic grimaces and ironic smiles. Her general attitude often extended towards indifference and bitterness but she considered this a positive change, arguing that she now had a more realistic grasp on life and had more clarity of mind, unlike her old self, whom she grew to despise for being weak and taking hasty decisions based on emotions, which brought misfortune both to herself and to others.      Maniya no longer had a pure pacifistic view on life. She stated that she now understood the complexities of social structures and human behavior and that what people had named evil, vile or immoral were only such depending on circumstance. What is more, such things are often needed in order to bring about their opposites, so in simpler terms, good can sometimes be brought about only by means of evil, or what people subjectively consider to be evil. As such, Maniya was no longer repulsed by the necessity of murder and could offer many justifications in its favour, depending on the case. Still, this new attitude of hers did not spoil the brotherly bond she had with the two younger men. From many points of view it made it stronger. The many life experiences she had both at home and in her travels forced Maniya to mature rapidly and slightly beyond her years, which only served to increase the protective attitude she always displayed towards Dastan and Bis. Now that she was more prone to irony and mischievousness, she seldom teased them by saying she was like a mother to them and enjoyed pretending to display the attitude of a much older person. Then there were the times when she was the complete opposite and even had moments of irrational behavior, perhaps an inevitable consequence of the burdensome emotional pain she did great efforts to hide.     From the years they lived on the streets when they were young, Dastan and Bis developed their capability of rapidly adapting to new situations so they managed to put up with Maniya’s constantly changing personality and shifting moods. Dastan in particular shared Maniya’s newly developed taste for irony so much of their interactions ended up revolving around playfully teasing each other back and forth on various subjects. Making fun of the difficulties, problems and misfortunes they had to face seemed to be an efficient way of moving forward with much ease and learning to accept what they could not change. Aside from the adventures they went on separately, Maniya, Dastan and Bis also shared common adventures in the few months that Maniya spent in Babylon in between her travels. When they were children, their adventures were limited by Maniya’s bond of servitude that did not permit her to venture outside her master’s dwelling without permission. When they were teenagers they still had little freedom with Maniya being a servant at the palace and Dastan being constantly supervised and attended, since he had become the King’s son. But once they came of age and entered adulthood, the freedoms of all three widened considerably and with almost nothing holding them back, on numerous occasions they ventured into unknown places and situations without a second thought. Their ingenuity helped them through on many occasion but a considerable amount of times they got themselves in trouble and their actions did not pass unnoticed. Maniya’s necessity to keep her identity a secret proved many times to be a difficult obstacle to pass whenever she and her two best friends got themselves in trouble. However, Dastan never backed away from helping his childhood friend, even if it meant taking the blame upon himself. Maniya was not comfortable with this, even if it was a useful solution and the only way of avoiding exposing herself and she would afterwards strive to make it up to Dastan, often by ending up putting herself in harm’s way in the process, the same as Dastan had done for her.               Bis || Best Friend / Childhood Friend Profile: Click to View!    Maniya’s relationship with Bis is similar to that between her and Dastan. They share the same secrets and shared most of their experiences together.                    

Frankie

07/26/2012 07:59 PM 

Kaz

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07/25/2012 10:48 PM 

Table of Contents - Season 2 OLD

Chapter 1-- Misbehavin' --Blog 1 - Dorian, PrideBlog 2 - Lucretia, DesiBlog 3 - Rebecca, Ben, SlothBlog 4 - Chastity, Wendi, LustBlog 5 - Greed, Valerie, Envy




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