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SHÂHNÂMEH 

(The Epic of Kings)

STORY OF FOROUD


 

BUT a little while had Kay-Khosrow sat upon the throne of Iran, yet the world resounded with his fame, and all men bare upon their lips the praises of his wisdom. He cleansed the earth of the rust of care, and the power of Afrasiyab was chained up. And men from all parts of the earth came forth to do homage before him; and Rostam also, and Zal the aged, did obeisance at his footstool. And there came with them an army that made the plains black like to ebony, and the sounds of their war trumpets made the heart to tremble. Then Kay-Kavous made ready a great feast to do honour to his Pahlewan. And when they were seated thereat his mouth ran over with praises of Siawosh, and he lamented the evil that he had done, and he poured maledictions upon the head of Afrasiyab. And he spake unto Kay-Khosrow his son, and said-

"I demand of thee that thou swear before me a great oath, and that thou keep it carefully. Swear unto me that thy heart shall be ever filled with hatred of Afrasiyab, and that thou wilt not let this flame be quenched by the waters of forgetfulness, and that thou regard him not as the father of thy mother, and that thou think only of Siawosh thy sire, whom he hath slain. And swear unto me further that there shall be no other mediator between you save only the sword and the mace."

                Then Kay-Khosrow Turned him towards the fire and sware the oath demanded of his sire, and he vowed to keep it in the name of God the Most High. And Kay-Kavous caused the oath to be written on a royal scroll, and he confided it to the care of Rostam his Pahlewan. And when it was done they feasted seven days without ceasing, but on the eighth Kay-Khosrow mounted his throne. Then he called about him his nobles, and he said unto them that the time was ripe to avenge the death of his father, and he bade them make ready their armies, and he told them how on a certain day they should lead them out before him.

                Now when the day was come Kay-Khosrow descended into the plains to receive them. And he was seated upon an elephant of war, and on his head he wore the crown of might, and about his neck the chain of supremacy; and in his hand he bare a mace of might, and on his arms were bracelets of great worth, and precious stones were strewn about his garments. Now when he was come into the midst of the camp he threw a ball of silver into a cup of gold. And when the army heard the sound thereof they knew it to be the signal, and they arose and passed before the King. And the first to come forth was the army of Fariborz. And Fariborz was seated upon a horse of saffron hue, and he wore shoes of gold upon his feet, and in his hands were a sword and a mace; and around his saddle was rolled a cord of might, and over his head floated a banner the colour of the sun. And Kay-Khosrow, when he saw him, invoked blessings upon his head. And there came after Fariborz Goudarz the wise in counsel, and behind him was borne a standard whereon was broidered a lion. And at his right hand and his left marched his mighty sons, and a brave army followed after them. And they did homage before the King, and Kay-Khosrow regarded them kindly. Then there came after them yet many other noble knights, eager for battle as a bull whom no man hath put to flight, and the sounds of cymbals and the bells of war-elephants filled the air, and lances and targets gleamed in the sun, and banners of many hues streamed upon the breeze. And Kay-Khosrow blessed his heroes every one. Then he caused his treasurer to bring forth rich gifts of gold and jewels and slaves, and brocades of Roum, and cloth of gold, and skins of beaver. And they placed them before him, and he divided them into portions, and he said they should be owned of those who should do feats of valour in the war against Afrasiyab. Then he bade them to a great feast, and they made merry in the house of the King.

                But when the sun had unsheathed its sword of light and the sombre night was fled in fear, Kay-Khosrow commanded that the trumpets of deparTure sound. Then the army came before the King, and he gave into the keeping of Tous the standard of Kaaveh, and he bade him lead forth the hosts. And he said unto Tous-

"Be obedient unto my will and lead mine army aright. I desire of thee that thou avenge the death of my father, but I desire also that thou molest none but those that fight. Have mercy upon the labourer and spare the helpless. And furthermore, I charge thee that thou pass not through the land of Kelat, but that thou leave it on one side and take thy course through the desert. For in Kelat abideth Foroud my brother, who was born of the daughter of Piran, and he dwelleth in happiness, and I would not that sorrow come nigh unto him. And he knoweth no man in Iran, not even by name, and unto no man hath he done hurt, and I desire that no harm come to him."

                And Tous said,

"I will remember thy will and take the road that thou commandest."

                Then the army set forth towards Turan, and they marched many days until they came to a spot where the roads parted. And the one led unto the desert, arid and devoid of water, and the other led unto Kelat. Now when they were come to the parting of the roads the army halted until Tous should have told unto them which road they should follow. And when Tous came up he said unto Goudarz-

"The desert is void of water, and what shall we do deprived thereof, for the army sore needeth refreshment after its march of weariness? It is better, therefore, that we should take the road that leadeth to Kelat, and abide there a while that our men may be rested."

                And Goudarz said,

"The King hath set thee at the head of his army, but I counsel thee choose the path that he hath named, lest sorrow come upon thee."

                But Tous laughed, and said,

"O noble hero, disquiet not thyself, for what I do is pleasing in. the sight of the King."

                Then he commanded the army that they march into Kelat, and he remembered not the desires of Kay-Khosrow.

                Now when Foroud saw that the sky was darkened with dust from the feet of dromedaries and elephants of battle, he called before him Tokhareh his counsellor, and questioned him concerning these things. And Tokhareh said-

"O young man, thou knowest not what is come to pass. This army pertaineth unto thy brother, and he hath sent it forth into Turan that the death of thy father be avenged; and it marcheth right upon Kelat, and I know not where the battle may take place."

                Now Foroud, who was void of exParience, was troubled when he learned this; and he made safe his castle that was upon a high hill, and he gathered in his flocks. Then he seated himself upon the ramparts and looked down over the sea of armour that approached him. And when he had done so he went in before his mother, who had never ceased from weeping for Siawosh her spouse. And he told her what was come about, and he asked of her how he should act. Then she said unto him-

"Listen, O my son I There is a new King in Iran, and he is brother unto thee, for ye are sprung from one father. Now, since thy brother sendeth forth an host to avenge his murder, it beseemeth thee not to remain aloof, but rather shouldst thou serve as vanguard unto the host. Wherefore call together thy knights, and then go forth and seek out the leader of this host, and make thyself known to him. For it behoveth not a stranger to reap this glory or usurp the place that is due unto thy rank."

                Then Foroud said, "Who shall be my stay in battle among the heroes who carry high their heads?"

                And his mother said,

"Seek out Bahram, for he was a friend unto thy father. And listen also to the words of Tokhareh, and go not out at once with thine army until thou hast made thyself known unto the men of Iran."

                Then Foroud said,

"O my mother, I will faithfully observe thy counsel."

                And he went forth unto a high place on the mountain, and he took with him Tokhareh, and they looked down upon the mighty army that was spread at their feet. Then Foroud questioned of the warriors, and Tokhareh answered him according to his knowledge. And he counted up the standards of the heroes, and he made Foroud acquainted with the names of might in Iran.

                Now, while they were so doing, Tous beheld them upon the heights, and he was angered at the sight of them, and said-

"Let a wary knight go forth unto those two seated aloft, and search out what manner of men they be. And if they be of the army, let them be lashed two hundred times about the head; but if they be Turks and spies, bind them, and bring them before me that I may destroy them."

                Then Bahram, the son of Goudarz, said,

"I will search into this matter."

                And he rode forth towards the mountain. Now Foroud, beholding him, said unto Tokhareh,

"Who is he that cometh out with so haughty an air? By his bearing it would seem that he holdeth me of light esteem, and that he would mount hither by force."

                Then Tokhareh said,

"O Prince, be not angered thus easily. I know not his name, but I seem to behold the device of Goudarz, and perchance this is one of his sons."

                Now Bahram, when he had neared the summit, lifted up his voice, that was like unto thunder, and cried, saying-

"Who art thou that seatest thyself upon the heights and lookest down upon the army? Fearest thou not Tous the Pahlewan? "

                Then Foroud answered and said-

"Speak not unto me thus haughtily, for I have given thee no cause. Thinkest thou, perchance, that I am but a wild ass of the desert, and that thou art a lion, great of might? It behoveth a man of sense to put a bridle on his tongue. For I say unto thee, that thou art in nowise my better, neither in courage nor in might. Look upon me, and judge whether I have not head and heart and brain, and when thou shalt have seen that I possess them, threaten me not with empty words. I counsel this unto thee in friendship. And if thou wilt listen to reason, I will put some questions unto thee."

                Then Bahram replied,

"Speak; thou art in the sky, and I am on the ground."

                Then Foroud asked of him who were the chiefs of this army, and wherefore they were come forth. And Bahram named unto him the names of might. Then Foroud said unto him-

"Why hast thou not spoken the name of Bahram? There is none among all the host of Iran that mine eyes would rather look upon."

                Then Bahram said,

"O youth, say unto me who hath spoken unto thee thus of Bahram, and who hath made thee acquainted with Goudarz and Giwe."

                Then Foroud said,

"My mother hath made them known unto me, and she bade me seek out Bahram from among this host, because that he was foster-brother unto my father."

                Then Bahram spake, and said,

"Verily thou are Foroud, of the seed of Siawosh."

                And Foroud answered,

"Thou hast said. I am a branch of the cypress that was struck down."

                Then Bahram said,

"Uncover thine arm, that I may behold the mark of the Key’ianides."

                And Foroud did so, and Bahram beheld the mark. Then he knew that Foroud was of the race of Kay-Ghobad, and he did homage before him, and he drew nigh unto him on the mountain. Then Foroud laid bare before Bahram his desires, and he said how that he would make a great feast unto the army in his house, and how, when this was done, he desired to take the lead and march with it into Turan, and he craved Bahram to bear his words of greeting unto Tous. And Bahram said-

"O Prince, brave and young, I will bear thy message unto Tous, and I will implore of him that he listen to thy voice. Yet because he is a man easily angered, I fear the answer he may reTurn. For though he be valiant, yet is he also vain, and he cannot forget that he is sprung from the race of the Key’ianides, and he deemeth ever that the first place pertaineth unto him."

                Then Bahram told Foroud wherefore he had been sent forth by Tous, and he departed from him, saying-

"If Tous hearken unto my voice, I will return unto thee; but if thou beholdest another, confide not thyself to him."

                Then he departed, and came before Tous, and related to him all that he had heard. And Tous was beside himself with anger, and he cried out against this young man, and questioned wherefore he would usurp his place. And he upbraided Bahram for that which he had done, and he refused to give credit unto his words, and he sware that he would cause this youth to Parish. And he called upon his warriors, and bade them go forth and sever the head of this Turk. But Bahram said unto them-

"Ye know not that he sendeth you forth against Foroud, who is brother unto Kay-Khosrow, and sprung from the seed of Siawosh. I counsel you have the fear of the King before your eyes, and lift not your hands in injustice against his brother."

                When the warriors heard these words, they retreated back into the tents. But Tous was angered exceedingly, and he commanded yet again that one should go forth to do his behests. Then Rivniz, who was husband unto the daughter of Tous, said that he would do his desires. So he rode forth unto the mountain.

                Now when Foroud beheld a horseman, who brandished aloft his sword in enmity, he said unto Tokhareh-

"Tous despiseth my words, and since Bahram cometh not back, my heart is disquieted. Look, I pray thee, if thou canst tell unto me what noble this may be."

                And Tokhareh said,

"It is Rivniz, a knight of great cunning, son unto Tous, whose daughter he hath in marriage."

                Then Foroud asked, saying,

"Since he attacketh me, whom shall I slay-the steed or its rider?"

                And Tokhareh said,

"Direct thine arms against the man, then perchance, when Tous shall learn of his death, he will repent him that he listened not unto thy words of peace."

                So Foroud bent his bow and shot Rivniz through the breast. And he fell dead from off his saddle, and his horse Turned him back in terror unto the camp. Now when Tous beheld the horse that was come back without its rider, he knew what was come to pass, and his anger against Foroud burned yet the more. So he called unto him Zerasp his son, and bade him go forth and avenge the blood of Rivniz. And when Foroud saw him approach, he asked yet again the name of his foe, and he prepared his bow, that Tous might learn that he was a man that should not be treated with dishonour. And when Zerasp would have fought with him, he pinned him dead unto his saddle. And the horse sped back with him into the camp, so that Tous saw that which was come about. Then his fury knew no limit, and he sprang upon his charger, and he set forth himself against Foroud.

                Now when Tokhareh beheld it, he said unto Foroud-

"Tous himself is come forth to combat thee, and thou canst not stand against this crocodile.  Retreat, therefore, I counsel thee, into thy castle, and let us await the decrees of the stars."  But Foroud answered in anger, "Who is Tous, that I should fear him? I will not flee from his presence."  Then Tokhareh said, "If thou be resolved to do battle with this lion, I counsel thee that thou destroy him not, lest thy brother be angered if the leader of his host Parish by thy hand. Moreover, the army will come forth to avenge him, and how canst thou stand against an host? Direct thine arrows, therefore, against his charger, for a prince fighteth not on foot. if, therefore, thou kill his horse from Under him, thou wilt have shown unto him thy skill."

                Then Foroud did as Tokhareh counselled, and the arrow was faithful to its aim, and he shot the horse of Tous from under him, and laid the charger low upon the ground. And Tous had to Turn him back on foot unto his camp, and rage against Foroud burned in his spirit. And the nobles, when they beheld their Pahlewan treated thus with contempt,- were angry also, and Giwe said-

"Who is this young man, that he despiseth an army, and how may he treat us with disdain? 'Though he be of the race of the Key’ianides, and of the seed of Kay-Ghobad, he hath opened a door, and knoweth not whither it leadeth."

                And as he spake he girded his armour about him, and made him ready to go out against Foroud.

                Now when Foroud beheld him he sighed, and said,

"This army is valiant, but it cannot distinguish good from evil. I fear me that by them will Siawosh not be avenged, for their leader is devoid of sense. Else could he not persist in enmity against me. Tell me now, I pray, who this new foe may be?"

                Then Tokhareh said,

"It is Giwe, the son of Goudarz, a knight of great renown, before whom even the lion trembleth unto his marrow. And he led forth thy brother into Iran, and he is girt with the armour of Siawosh, that no man can pierce with in arrow. Direct thy bow, therefore, yet again unto the charger, or thy strife will be vain."

                And Foroud the brave did as Tokhareh said, and he sent forth his arrow, and the horse of Giwe sank unto the earth. Now all the nobles rejoiced when Giwe returned unto them in safety; but Bidzan, his son, was wroth, and he upbraided his father, and he said-

"O thou who fearest not an army, how canst thou Turn thee back before a single knight?"

                Then he sware a great oath that he would not quit the saddle until the blood of Rivniz and of Zerasp should be avenged.

                Now Giwe was afraid for his son, who was young, and would have restrained him. But Bidzan suffered it not, and when his father saw that he was resolved, he gave unto him the armour of Siawosh, and sent him forth unto the mountain.

                Now when Foroud saw that yet another was come out against him, he questioned Tokhareh again of his name. And Tokhareh said-

"It is a youth who hath not his like in Iran. Bidzan is he called, and he is only son unto Giwe the brave. And because that he is clad in the armour of Siawosh, thy father, strike at his horse, or thy bow will avail thee nought."

                So Foroud shot his arrows at the horse, and he laid it low, as he had done the others. Then Bidzan cried, saying-

"O young man, who aimest thus surely, thou shalt behold how warriors fight on foot."

                And he ran up the side of the mountain, that he might come near unto Foroud. But Foroud Turned and entered in upon his gates, and he rained down stones from his walls upon the head of his adversary. Then Bidzan taunted him, and said-

"O hero of renown, thou fliest before a man on foot, thou who art brave! Alas! whither is vanished thy courage? "

                Then he returned unto the camp, and told unto Tous how that this scion of the Key’ianides was filled with valour, and how his bow was sure, and he said that he feared no man could stand against him. But Tous said,

"I will raze unto the dust his castle, I will destroy this Turk, and avenge the blood that he hath spilled."

                Now when the brilliant sun was vanished and the black night had invaded the earth with her army of stars, Foroud caused his castle to be strengthened. And while he did so, his mother dreamed a dream of evil portent, and she came forth weeping before her son. And she spake, saying-

"O my son, the stars are evil disposed towards us, and I am afraid for thee."

                Then Foroud answered her, saying,

"Woe unto thee, my mother, for I know it is not given unto thee to cease from shedding tears of sorrow. For verily I shall Parish like unto my father, in the flower of my youth. Yet will I not crave mercy of these Iranians."

                And he bade her go back unto the chamber of the women, and pray God for his soul.

                Now when the sun returned and lifted his glorious face above the vault of heaven, there was heard the sound of armour on all sides, and Foroud beheld that the host of Iran was come forth against him. So he went out beyond the gates, leading his warriors. And since there was no plain whereon they could give battle, they fought upon the mountain-side, and many were the Turkish heads that were felled. But Foroud made great havoc among his enemies, and they beheld that he was a lion in the fight. But the stars of the young hero were waning, for even a brave man cannot contend alone against an host. For when he would have ridden back unto his castle, Rehham and Bidzan lay in ambush against him, and they closed unto him the two ends of the path. But Foroud was not dismayed thereat. He fell upon the son of Giwe, and would have slain him; but Rehham came upon him from behind, and struck him down with a mighty club. Then Foroud knew that his hour was come, and he returned unto his mother. Now when she saw him she raised a great cry, but he bade her keep silence, and he spake, saying-

"Weep not, for the time suffereth it not. For the Iranians follow fast upon me, and they will enter and take this house, and do violence unto thee and to thy women. Go out, therefore, and cast you from off the walls into the abyss, that death may come upon you, and that Bidzan when he entereth find none alive. As for me, my moments are but few, for the heroes of Iran have murdered the days of my youth."

                And the women did as he commanded, save only his mother, who abode beside him until the breath was gone out from his body. Then she made a great fire, and threw therein all his treasures, and she went out into the stables and laid low the horses that were therein. And when she had made the place a desert unto the Iranians, she returned unto the feet of her son, and pierced her body with a sword.

                Now when the Iranians had broken down the bars of the gates and entered into the castle, they came unto the chamber and beheld the bodies of Foroud and of his mother. And when they saw them, they could not withhold their tears, and they sorrowed for the anger of Tous, and the fear of Kay-Khosrow came upon them. And Goudarz said unto Tous-

"Thou hast sown hatred, and thou wilt reap war. It beseemeth not a leader to be quick to ire. Thy haste hath brought to death a youth of the race of the Key’ianides, and hath caused the blood of thy sons to be spilled."

                When Tous heard these words he wept in his sorrow, and said-

                                "Evil fortune is come upon me."

                Then he caused a royal tomb to be made, and seated Foroud therein upon a throne of gold, and he decked him with all the signs of kingship. And when he had so done he returned with his army unto the plains, and three days they halted in their grief. But on the fourth the trumpets were sounded for deparTure, and Tous led forth the army towards Turan.

                Now when Afrasiyab learned that a host was come forth against him from out of Iran, he bade Piran make ready his army. For he said-

"Kay-Khosrow hath unveiled unto us the secrets of his heart, and we know now that forgiveness is not hidden in his soul."

                Now while they made them in order, there came a great storm of snow that covered the earth like to a carpet, and the water became hard, and for many days no man beheld the earth or the sun. And food was lacking unto the Iranians, and they were fain to devour their steeds of battle. And when at last the sun came back, the earth was changed into a lake, and the Iranians suffered yet again. Then Tous said-

                                "Let us reTurn whence we came forth."

                But his army said,

"Not so. Shall we flee before the face of Afrasiyab?"

                So they made them ready to meet their foes. And they fought right valiantly, and many were the heads of Turan that were laid in the dust by their hands, and the victory inclined towards them. Then Tous was glad, and made a great feast and invited thereto his warriors. And he darkened their heads with wine, so that they laid aside their armour, neither did they set watches in the camp. Now Piran, when he learned of this, saw that the time served him, and when the night was fallen he went out against the camp of Iran. And all the nobles were drunk save only Goudarz the wise. Now when he heard that the Turanians were come into the camp, he ran to the tents of Tous and cried, saying-

                                "Is this the hour to hold the wine-cup?"

                 Then he called together his sons, and he set his army in order; but the Turanians routed them utterly, for the men of Iran were heavy with wine, and they knew not whither they sent their blows. And the carnage was great, and when the sun had brought back the day the ground was strewn thick with the bodies of the Iranians. And cries of agony were heard around, and there were none to heal the hurts, for those that were whole were captive. And Tous was beside himself for sorrow, and Goudarz alone was not defraught of reason. So the old man sent forth a messenger to bear the tidings of woe unto the King. Now he was a messenger that made the earth disappear beneath his feet, and speedily did he stand within the courts of the King. And Kay Khosrow, when he had listened to his words, was angered, and his tongue called down curses on the head of Tous. Then he pondered all night how he should act, but when the cock crew he wrote a letter unto Fariborz the son of Kay-Kavous. And he bade him take unto him the flag of Kaaveh and the golden boots, and lead the army in the place of Tous. And he bade him in all things be obedient to the counsels of Goudarz the wise, and he recalled how Tous had disobeyed his commandments, and he said-

                                "I know no longer who is my friend or my foe."

                Then he put his seal to the letter and gave it unto the messenger. And the man sped forth and brought it into the camp. Then Fariborz read it out before the army. And when he had heard it Tous did that which the King desired, and when he had given over unto Fariborz the command he Turned him to go back unto Iran.

                Now when he was come before Kay-Khosrow, he fell upon the earth before his throne, and the King raised him not, neither did he give him words of greeting. And when he parted his lips, it was to let forth words of anger. And he made known to him his sore displeasure, and he reproached him with the death of Foroud, and he said-

"But that thou art sprung from Manouchehr, and that thy beard is white, I would sever thy head from off thy body for this deed. Yet, as it is, a dungeon shall be thy dwelling, and thine evil nature thy gaoler."

                And when he had thus spoken he drove him from his presence, and gave orders that he should be put into chains.

                Now while these things passed in Iran, Fariborz craved of Piran that he would grant unto him a truce. And Piran said-

"It is ye who have broken into our land; yet I will listen unto your desires and grant unto you this truce, and it shall be of the length of one moon. But I counsel unto you that ye quit the land of Turan in its course."   

But Fariborz would not Lead back the army thus discomfited, and he spent the time accorded to him in preparation, and when it was at an end he offered battle again to the Turanians. And there was waged a combat s sun hath not looked upon its like, and the army of the Iranians was overthrown. And the slaughter was terrible, neither did the men of Turan escape, and many were the great ones of the land that Parished. And the men of Iran fought till that their strength was departed. They had sought the conflict and found defeat. And they that were not slain fled from the battlefield, and it is they that saved their lives in this manner whom thou must bewail.

                Now when another day was risen upon the world, Piran sent for his guards to bring him news of the Iranians. And when they told him that their tents were vanished from off the plains, he sent the news of victory to Afrasiyab. And the King rejoiced thereat, and all the land prepared a great feast unto the army. And when Piran entered into the city the terraces thereof were decked with carpets of gay hue, and the houses were clothed with arras of Roum, and pieces of silver rained down upon the warriors. And the King poured upon Piran gifts of such number that you would not have patience to hear me recount them. And he sent him back unto Khoten with much honour and many counsels. And he said-

"Let not thine army slumber, and trust not thy foe because he is drawn back. I charge thee keep thine eyes fixed upon the land of Rostam, for if thy vigilance slumber he will surely come forth and destroy thee, for he alone is to be feared of the men of Iran. Therefore be brave and watchful, and may Heaven preserve thee unto my throne."

                And Piran listened unto the words spoken of Afrasiyab, as it beseemed him. And when he was returned unto his kingdom, he set watchers upon all sides, that they might acquaint him concerning Rostam the Pahlewan.

 

 

 

 

THE VENGEANCE OF KAY-KHOSROW

 

                DIRE was the wailing among the army of Iran at their sore defeat, and they Turned them back discomfited. And they came before the King, their hearts torn with anguish. And their hands were crossed upon their breasts, and they were humble as slaves. And Kay-Khosrow was angry when he beheld them, and he remembered Foroud, and he railed against Tous, from whom was sprung this evil. And he said-

"Cursed be he and his elephants and his cymbals."

And the King withdrew from his courts, and he withheld his countenance from the land. So the nobles went out unto Rostam, and entreated of him that he would intercede for them with the King. And Rostam did as they desired, and he pleaded for the army and its leaders, and he spake good even of Tous. And Kay-Khosrow inclined his ear unto his Pahlewan, and he let the light of his countenance shine again upon his army, and he confided unto Tous once more the standard of Kaaveh, but he made Giwe march beside him and restrain his haste.

                So they set forth again unto Turan, and Afrasiyab, when he learned of their approach, made ready his army also. And there were joined unto him the hosts of the Khakan of China, and of the Kamous of Kushan, men mighty in the battlefield. And from Ind and all the highlands of Asia there came forth troops unto the aid of Afrasiyab, King of Turan. And he rejoiced thereat, for he was assured that if Rostam came not forth to aid them, the men of Iran could not stand against his host.

                Now when the two armies met, many and fierce were the combats waged between them, and blows were given and received, and swords flashed and showers of arrows descended on all sides. And the blood of brave men was shed like unto the shedding of rain from a black cloud. And day by day were the Iranians weakened, for they were smitten with great slaughter, and the number of their dead was past the counting. But Afrasiyab rejoiced in his victory, and his heart shouted within him when he learned after many days that the Iranians were drawn back into the mountains. But Kay-Khosrow, when he learned it, was afflicted, and wept sore. Then he sent greeting unto Rostam, his Pahlewan, and he craved of him that he would come forth to aid the army, for in him alone could he put his trust. And Rostam said-

"O King, since the day that mine arm could wield a mace, I have ever fought the battles of Iran, and it would seem that rest may never come nigh unto me. Yet since I am thy slave, it behoveth me to obey. I am ready to do thy desires."    

So he made ready an host to go unto the succour of Iran. And while he did so the army was defeated yet again, and all heart went from the Iranians, and they would have given them over unto their foes. But while they pondered it, there came tidings unto Goudarz that Rostam was drawing nigh. Yet they feared to give way unto belief. But Piran when he heard it was sore discomfited, for he remembered of old the might of Rostam, and he knew that none could stand before it. But the Khakan and the Kamous scoffed at his fears, and they made loud boastings that Rostam should fall by their hands.

                Now when some days had passed in this disquietude, it came about one night that, when the moon showed her face above the mountains, like unto a victorious king seated upon a throne of Turquoise, a watchman of Iran set up a great cry. And he said-

"The plain is filled with dust, and the night resoundeth with noise. And I behold a mighty army drawing nigh, and they bear torches, and in their midst rideth Rostam the mighty."

                 When the men of Iran heard this, they set up a great shout, and their hearts seemed to come back into their bodies, and their courage, that had been as dead, returned. And glad was the greeting that they gave unto Rostam the Pahlewan. And Rostam mustered them and put them into battle order, and when the sun had wearied of the black veil, and had torn the night asunder, and reappeared unto the world, the men of Iran called upon the host of Turan to come forth in combat. And they defied them unto battle, and they fought with new valour, and they made great havoc in their ranks. And when the evening was come, the day belonged unto Iran.

                Then Piran called before him Humaan the brave, and said unto him-

"The nobles of Iran have found again their courage, since an army is come to their aid. Yet I would know if Rostam be their leader, for him alone do I fear."

                And when he learned it his spirit was troubled. But the Kamousmocked him, and sware a great oath that, ere the sun should be set once more, he would have broken the might of Rostam. For he said-

"There is none, not even a mad elephant, that is mine equal in the fight."

                So when the day was come, the Kamous challenged Rostam unto single combat. And Rostam strode forth from the camp, and the Kamous met him upon the plain. Then they struggled sore, and wrestled one with another, but in the end Rostam caught the Kamous in the meshes of his cord. And he showed him unto the army, and he asked of them, saying-

"What death desire ye that the Kamous should die, for his hour is come?"

                Then he threw him among the nobles, and they made an end of him with their spears, and they flung his body to the vulTures.

                Now when the Khakan heard of the death of the Kamous, he sware that he would avenge him, and he sent forth a messenger to defy Rostam. But Rostam said unto the messenger-

"I seek no quarrel with the Khakan, and in all your army I desire only to look upon the face of Piran. And I beg of him that he will come forth to greet me, for my heart burneth towards him, because he was afflicted for the death of Siawosh, my foster son, and because of the good he did unto Kay-Khosrow and unto his mother."

                So the messenger bare these words unto Piran. And Piran, when he had taken counsel, listened unto the desires of Rostam, and came into his tents. And he said-

                                "I am Piran, leader of the hosts of Turan. Speak unto me thy name."

                And Rostam said,

"I am Rostam of Zabolestan, and I am armed with a mace and a sword of Cabul."

                Then he gave him greeting from Kay-Khosrow, and he lauded him for the good deeds that he had done unto Siawosh and to his son, and he entreated him that he would Turn away from Afrasiyab, and go with him unto Kay-Khosrow. And he said-

"Iran desireth not to destroy the innocent. Therefore deliver over unto me the men upon whose head resteth the blood of Siawosh, and we will withdraw our hosts, and there shall be peace in the land."

                Then Piran said,

"That which thou askest, verily it can never be, for the slayers of Siawosh are near kinsfolk unto Afrasiyab. And because he hath named me the leader of his hosts, it may not be that I abandon them. But I say unto thee, that it would be sweeter unto me to die than to conduct this warfare, and that my heart is torn because I must lift up the sword of enmity against Kay-Khosrow, my son."

                And Rostam saw that the words that Piran spake were true, and he sorrowed for him. And when they parted it was in friendship, although they knew that battle must rage between them. Then they drew up their armies, and for forty days there was waged a battle, mighty and terrible. And great ravages were committed, and Rostam did deeds of valour, and the strong and the weak were alike impotent before him. And the plains were strewn with the bodies of the slain, until that an ant could not have found a road to pass between them, and the blood of the wounded streamed on all sides, and heads without bodies and bodies without heads covered the ground. For neither the claw of the leopard nor the trunk of the elephant, neither the high mountains nor the waters of the earth, could prevail against Rostam when he fought at the head of his hosts. And he slew the mightiest among the Turanians, and only Piran was he mindful to spare. And the Khakan of China was enmeshed in his cord, and he sent him bound unto Kay-Khosrow with news of the victory. And when the

Turanians fled before his face, he followed after them and pursued them unto the mountains.

                Then Piran made haste to come before Afrasiyab, and he spake to him and said-

"The land is changed into a sea of blood, for Rostam is come forth, and who can stand against him? And he followeth after me close. Wherefore I counsel thee, flee; for how canst thou stand alone against him? Alas for the woe that thou hast brought upon Turan! Thou hast wounded our hearts with the iron of the arrow wherewith thou didst slay Siawosh the noble."

                Then he urged upon him that he tarry not. So Afrasiyab fled from before the face of Rostam and hid himself in the mountains. And when Rostam came into his courts and found that the King was fled, he seized upon much booty and divided it among his men, and he feasted them many days in the house of Afrasiyab, and he suffered them to enjoy repose. Then he destroyed with fire the palace, and when he had done so he Turned him to go back unto Kay-Khosrow.

                Now when he was come within the city of the King, glad cries rang through all the air, and the sound of drums filled the land of Iran, and there was joy throughout its breadth because the destroyer of Turan was returned. And the heart of Kay-Khosrow rejoiced like a paradise, and he came out to meet his Pahlewan mounted upon an elephant gaily caparisoned, and music and singers went before him. And he invited him to a great feast, and he poured rich gifts upon him. And for a month Rostam abode in the presence of his King, making merry with wine. And the singers chanted of his great deeds, and the sounds of flutes and stringed instruments went with their words. But when that time was over Rostam asked of Kay-Khosrow that he would suffer him to reTurn unto Zal his father, for his heart yearned to look upon his face. And Kay-Khosrow suffered it.

                Now Rostam was not returned long unto Zabolestan before there came into the courts of the King a shepherd who desired to speak with Kay-Khosrow. And the King granted his request, and the man opened his mouth before him, and he said-

"A wild ass is broken in among my horses, and he doeth great mischief, for his breath is like unto a lion. Send forth, therefore, I entreat of thee, O King of Kings, a warrior of thine host that he may slay him."

                Now Kay-Khosrow, when he had listened, knew that this was not a wild ass but the Deev Akwan, who had taken this disguise upon him. So he cast about whom he should send forth to meet him, and he knew there was none other but Rostam, the son of Zal, to whom he could Turn in this strait. So he sent a messenger swift as a cloud before a storm to summon him forth yet again. And Rostam obeyed the voice of his King, and he set forth in search of the Deev, and he was mounted upon Rakhsh his steed. And in his hand was a mighty mace, and round his wrist was rolled a cord of length. And he went in search of the wild ass, and when he had found him he threw his cord about him. But the ass vanished under his hands. Then Rostam knew that it was a Deev, and that he fought against the arts of magic. Yet was he not dismayed. And after a while the ass came forth again, and Rostam threw his cord once more about him. And yet again the Deev vanished under his hand. And thus did the Deev three days and three nights without ceasing, so that weariness came upon Rostam and he was heavy with slumber. So he sought out a spot of safety and he laid him down to rest, and he bade Rakhsh browse beside him.

                Now when the Deev saw that Rostam was sleeping, he drew nigh and loosened the earth whereon he lay, and lifted it and placed it upon his head, that he might cast it away and destroy Rostam. But as he carried him Rostam awoke, and when he saw what was come to pass he feared that his hour was come. And the Deev, when he beheld that Rostam was awakened, spake, and said unto him-

"O hero, which death dost thou covet? Shall I fling thee down upon the mountain or cast thee into the sea?"

                Now Rostam knew that the Deev questioned him in wile, and he bethought him that he would of a surety do that which Rostam desired not, so he said-

"I have heard it said that it is not given to those that Parish in the waters to look upon the face of the Soroush or to find rest in the life that is beyond."

                Then the Deev said, "I desire that thou know not repose."

                 And he flung him into the sea at a spot where hungry crocodiles would devour him.

                Now Rostam, when he felt the water beneath him, forthwith drew out his sword and combated the crocodiles with his right hand, and with his left he swam towards the shore. And long did he struggle and sore, but when the night was fallen he put his foot upon the dry land. Then, when he had given thanks unto God and rested him, he returned unto the spot where he had found the Deev. And he sought after Rakhsh his steed, and his eye beheld him not. Then fear filled his spirit, and he roamed around to seek him. And he found him at last among the horses of Afrasiyab, that grazed in a spot hard by, for the keepers had ensnared him. But when Rakhsh heard the voice of Rostam he neighed aloud, and brake from the keepers and ran towards his master. And Rostam put the saddle upon him and mounted him. Then he slew the keepers and took their herds unto himself.

                Now while he was so doing Afrasiyab came forth from his hiding-place, for his heart yearned to look upon his horses. And when he beheld Rostam in their midst he was dismayed, and knew not whither he should Turn, for he deemed that the Pahlewan had discovered his hiding-place and was come forth against him. So he offered battle unto him with the men that were with him. And Rostam accepted the challenge, although he was alone; and he fought with might and overcame the men, and slew sixty of them with his sword and forty with his mace. And Afrasiyab fled once more from before him.

                Now when it was done the Deev came forth again, for he thought he could quell Rostam now that he was weary. But Rostam sprang on him and crushed him, and he was slain at his hands. Then the Pahlewan returned unto Kay-Khosrow. And when the King had learned of all his deeds, and beheld the booty that he had brought back, his mouth could not cease from praising the prowess of Rostam, and he would have kept his Pahlewan beside him for ever. But Rostam said-

"Suffer thy servant to go forth. For I would make ready an host, since it behoveth us not to cease from the vengeance that is due unto Siawosh, for his murderers yet cumber the ground."

 

    Wherefore Rostam departed yet again from out the courts of the King.

 [ Continue: Bižan & Manižeh ]

 

 

 

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