By Vivian Leigh
Copyright 2013 - All Rights Reserved
A brown smudge on the otherwise green horizon marked the end of Laleh's hope. She trudged forward, watching first the mountains and then the great city of Persepolis grow out of the Persian plain. The sun sat a handspan above the horizon, making both mountains and city golden with early morning light.
“You'll like the palace, girl,” one of the guards told her. “And it will like you. The prince has a mighty appetite for your kind of sweets.”
Laleh tried to ignore him, but he kept at it over the course of the day.
“Many virgins have entered the western gates, but not one has ever left.”
“The prince takes three slaves to his rooms every night, each one untouched by a man.”
“If you please him enough, perhaps he’ll make you his queen.”
That last bit had extra sting. Slaves were never raised to the nobility, and especially not back to the nobility. Laleh kicked a stone from the road, sending it clattering into the thistles. Life just wasn’t fair, she thought, looking at her hands. The ropes still held her wrists together, though the guards had been kind enough to tie them in front of her for a while. Thank the flames that her people treated slaves better than the Greeks.
Onward she walked, the day slipping away and weariness settling on her shoulders.
The caravan's shadows stretched out before them, pointing down the road to the great city. It sat on the edge of two worlds. The plain and its verdant farmland before it, the harsh mountains behind. Laleh's feet ached from the walking, but she wished she could keep going forever. Cross the plain, pass over the mountains and disappear into the wilds beyond.