Alexander s jewel - English version
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This Hellenic world with its culture, traditions and life, having accompanied to events more than two thousand-year prescription was absolutely another «Worship to Eros» is well told about customs in ancient Greece («Nezavisimaja gazeta» in article published last year by A. Arhipova. "Ng-religions" from 2007-03-07, http://religion.ng.ru/style/2007-03-07/8_eros.html). It’s known also that there was a law punishing citizens if they avoided public dispute, that the tsars have been elected on a kingdom, the army meeting confirmed decisions of command and plans of military operations, and the ships were built on donations of city and agricultural population. Only having got into a life of that ancient civilisation, you start to understand, how the world community nowadays – during an epoch of development of technologies, mass consumption and mass information – with its hypocritical, sanctimonious morals, and a universal cult of money at times looks more ignorantly...
Only ten years of continuous aggressive wars, insignificant term for history from 334 to 323 B.C., had to turn the life of mankind to other channel, make it another – quieter on character, tolerant in actual fact, and free from happened subsequently, occurring in the world until now severe shocks. However it has not occurred. Ever since the proud Carthago has fallen, the eternal Rome has crack down, the Christian unity has scattered, the original Islam became hardened. The new theories and the beliefs has arisen, having for an object to explain the world and to unite mankind, but they have been also sacrificed to marginal political interests, momentary benefit, invariable desire of the person to dominate over everything and everybody.
However, the moderation, the regaining presence of mind and the consciousness of the world's nonseparatedness were seldom welcomed in a long life of mankind. These qualities of society were faster penitential, they never admitted as the driving force of history development. On the contrary, the social studies, the statesmen and monarchs has always created the laws, defining by the progress generator being between people social, national and cultural disagreements. And, their management methods always were based on fear and allegiancy.
Alexander Macedonsky in the youth also did not differ from other autocrats. He inherited to the full from his father, tsar Phillip, and from the nearest environment willfulness, cruelty and the intolerance, accompanying in government of a stste to any sovereign. The establishment of democracy in Hellada and principles of independent interaction of countries in the Corinthian union only impeded the realization of of his ambitious purposes. The feeling of revenge to Persian tsar Dariy which predecessor has intruded to Macedonian heritables one and a half centuries before Alexander's birth became the basic message for the young tsar of the small state to conquest Asia. Besides, he was consumed with desire not only to surpass successes of the father in glory of the native land in the establishment of Macedonian hegemony among the Greek states, he wished to surpass the feats of legendary Greek heroes and to sit on the throne as the governor of God.
However Alexander did not become history as the blood-thirsty tyrant. Historians look through in his actions something more, than satisfaction of own imperious ambitions. Creation of a Macedonian kingdom seemes to Alexander not only in enslavement of the people, but also as attempt to unite different cultures and create on the earth one uniform nation. Probably, such conclusion arises because he assumed to base capital of the world, not in the Greek Athenes or Macedonian Pella, not based by him the Egyptian Alexandria, but the ancient Persian city of Babylon. Such conclusion follows and from the fact of sign historical event – weddings in Susa when for the first time in the history, apparently, political objectives was intruded to intimate sphere of a person, and some thousands incestuous marriages have been made simultaneously on the command of tsar.
Along with it Alexander, being by the nature the adherent of homosexual contacts, experienced serious difficulties with conception of the successor who was born only in four months after his death. Alexander's son was killed by persons aspiring to the power being absolutely a child.
As the author of this story, I represent here my own version of events occurring in those days, without applying at all for their absolute historical reliability, though, I has followed the chronology of historical events, and used in episodes some documents. There was another purpose before me: to show, what titanic efforts and victims freedom costs to people, meanwhile it is necessary to search for it not beyond, but inside oneself. For disclosing of it, it was necessary to me also to intrude the Alexander's and his close friend and the colleague Gefestion's intimate sphere. It's thought to me, at what times what high state posts, in whatever way any persons were reached, their internal promptings always remains invariable – every person aspires to own superiority over associates, it's appropriate to him to explain and justify own acts. The main principles of individual psychology developed by Alfred Adler last century, probably, also are invariable, as well as the universal gravitation law. But if it so , they can have the pernicious consequences for society as a whole, for the student smashing show-window in the self-expression is not less dangerous, than political, or the religious leader preaching intolerance ideas.
It was not succeed to Alexander to create a kingdom of justice and freedom. Should be, the will to live, aspiration to the planned purpose had left him. And, having reached everything, he hasn't wanted to aspire something more. Maybe, he has understood uselessness of attempts to change morality in the world. Whether so far we have left since that times in perfection of own morals? Whether long ago the mankind has built «socialist camps»? Has inspired by ideas of national socialism, class hatred, fascism, an absolute power of monarchs? At the heart of all historical dramas and tragedies underlies one method – division, into the best and the worst, the right and the left, guilty and innocent, invested and not invested with power, owners and workers, devoted and not devoted in ways of construction of "genuine democracies" etc. On this background Hellenic culture seems much more moral many ones present now where words "tolerance" and "leniency" the human society began to pronounce aloud only in the end of the twentieth – the beginning of the twenty first century, having risen before threats of nuclear war and global terror.
And what has occurred with the proprium during these two milleniums? Asking such question, I imagine the bifurcate person which one part acts to the given his idols, the embittered, crafty and greedy subject, rejoicing to troubles and sufferings of others, and his second part – is opened to perception of love, tolerance and world's entirety. However, it is the averaged person. And, if to look apon each separately, his mind is split also as well as a society by national, social, cultural and other contradictions, having saved in his subconsciousness along centuries. And these contradictions does not always induce him to tolerance at all. On the contrary, the rage and revenge will capture his consciousness before the love and tolerance. Thus he aspires to reach all in his life by more easiest ways, mainly, having adjoined to the powers, that be having absorbed their ideas instead of realising the own belief and the role given him by destiny and God. In the struggle for realisation his "self" the person of no character quite often loses, obeys harm, wishing to set up his arrogance, he breaks moral laws, becomes the murderer, robber and violator, or simply a liar, – and now he is not partially, but entirely in the power of a gloom.
It is seemes to me that private world of each person is not created to fill up oceans of harm. His consciousness is set up for love and creativity. And, if everyone, having read the story, will find forces to understand, accept and forgive my Alexander he will win, first of all, wicked powers within himself, so will secure a victory over the harm of the whole world.
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«You are grieving about, for what it is not necessary to grieve.
The wises do not grieve neither about the living, nor over the dead.
Never was so that there was no me, or you, or all these tsars;
And never will be so, that someone from us will stop the existence».
- This jewel is not present in generations of Israel, - foreteller said, getting from bosom a small leather bag strapped gold thread , - For it is red as ruby and is green as emerald. It happens blue, sometimes colour gives it to dark blue, and it seems that it is sapphire. It is firm as diamond and fragile, as if jasper. And, only I know about it: all properties of the world are ranked only to this jewel. Such is not present more in the desert. It keeps all traits inherent to each person, and to all people simultaneously.
He selected phrases, spelling with accent, in the Greek language. Should be thus cameleers expresses with dealers.
Alexander wished to take a gift, but the oracle was not hasten to transfer it. It turned out, as if the Tsar just selected God on a kingdom, costs with the stretched hand before the simple old man in black clothes and turban covered with a dust.
Gefestion kept silence, observing this scene – Alexander would not forgive such familiarity, and full curiosity of a sight to whom to another. Nobody else after all ceremonies of dedication of Ammon, the oracle of the desert's sun, would not get Tsar into this tent standing far from magnificent feasts to which they still skipped on horses in outer darkness, without protection, among sands - very long, while oasis fires have not disappeared at all behind horizon.
Now the Supreme priest of the oracle in the image of old man in black, undoubtedly, has recognized the Tsar in Alexander, however made no sign, as this visit was considered hidden from any strange eyes.
- Sit down, - he specified to young men on the pillows embroidered with the Egyptian pattern scattered on the carpet, - You still ask me what is the treason, and whence it can come. This jewel will answer you. It will be to the blessing if someone from you both will care it for as for the apple of eye. Or if someone from you, having made treachery, will lose the jewel, or will give it to dishonest hands by crooked means, it won't take one year as both of you will disappear off the face of the earth, and your affair will collapse. Because treason meaning the dishonourable act, and it is impossible to build something under construction of meanness, forgery, and deceit.
Having picked up furred gimaty*, Alexander sat down near the old man and, looking directly in his yellow passionless eyes, ordered:
- Show the jewel!
It had sparkled purple-red in Alexander's hand , and the jewel laid down on his palm. It was strange, rectangular facet, in the size of fully a third part of hand thumb, purple beams streamed along it's edges, and the smooth surface reflected light of the torch shining the tent, the jewel was put to simple gold chase to which yellow silk lace was fastened.
*Gimaty – cape (hereinafter notes of the author).
He looked at the jewel some time with acute fascination, and then asked:
- If it is not sapphire and an emerald,than what?
- I have sworn Ammon to name the jewel by name of the person who will take it in hand for the first time. That means, the jewel name is alexandrice, or alexandrite, - the oracle uttered.
- Really? I have knowingly asked you about the treason …
It seemed surprising to Alexander that the oracle as if knew, what question will be put him not during official celebrations, when sunshine reflected by symbolical omfallos* in the gold boat, started to flicker on the face of Macedonsky, pointing on his divine origin, but now, when Tsar himself agreed to visit the tent of Ammon together with his friend, far from the crowd. At the same time, intimacy of the meeting only confirmed having declared publicly; the fact that the oracle did not reject Gefestion, and Alexander's friend was at him, means to Alexander not subject to any doubt - it was the choice of God!
- I knew that you will come to me, - the oracle continued, echoing Alexander's thoughts, - Ammon is wise and perspicacious, he tells true. And the true consists that the new Pharaoh of Egypt should know the treason genesis, and what it consists, whence proceeds.
- Whether that the jewel so foully changes it’s colour?!
- No. You will understand it when will see alexandrite in the morning. It will be the same jewel, but another: the red colour in it gives way the green, blue and dark blue. It's the essence of jewel, it unites colours, but does not dissolve. Each colour in it remains itself. And, it should be the essence of different nations, occupying the earth, which you dream to rally in one state. The neighbourhood of races and creeds should unite, instead of separate. There are no strangers on the earth – all native, black and white, men and women, rich and poor, - they are people believing their gods and given their passions. The treason - is in another. Treason is covered in each person separately. Whoever he was, wherever he lives, he can succumb to temptation and do wrong only himself, because everyone lives for the sake of his own statement. Everyone aspires to the power. Meanwhile, it corrupts people. What is a power – it is peculiar them to love, thereby justifying themselfs! However such love is destructive, it enslaves people and limits spiritual freedom. The lie, envy and hatred grows on such love. Inability of humans to resist to these defects - here is the universal treason.
Alexander looked at the friend: nothing in his forceful and, at the same time, gentle figure could not excite a rage. Didn't he love Gefestion since childhood, with his childish spontaneity, justifying himself? However, he has immediately recollected that he was selected by God, and words about mere mortals do not relate to him, also to his friend.
- Verily I speak to you: people make infamies daily against themselfs, creating the treason everywhere, - the oracle continued meanwhile, - they express love by jealousy, surround advantage with prejudices, by laws they cover immorality. The revenge creeps to the life of each house when it's consider a debt to prove own superiority, blacking thus the neighbour. God has selected you for this purpose, Alexander, that you, your work, will move heaven and earth to unite peoples, having released them from this latent damnation and eternal evil...
* omfallos - fetish, symbolising "centre of the universe"
They came back moonlight in the silent night desert, and only horses, seemingly, knew where it is necessary to move. Bucephalus and Spartan silently hoofs the cooled down sand, occasionally sprouted by unpretentious vegetation. In the bottomless black sky, after the sandy storm, having passed by the days, the watchful calmness reigned.
- What do you think of it, Gefes? – Alexander has silently asked.
- It seems to me, the oracle tells the truth, - Gefestion responded moving at some distance , - And this truth quite explains your actions.
- What actions?
- The war for sake of the peace.
Gefestion has knew, as always, what it is necessary to answer. Possessing lucid mind and absolute adroitness, being almost constantly with Alexander, he knew well, what, hidden from public, can disturb his regal friend actually: by what violence can be justified? whence it is necessary to wait for possible treason? These themes made often the contents of their confabulations recently. Therefore in the afternoon, during celebrations of dedication of the new Pharaoh of Egypt while in a temple of Ammon Macedonsky has asked to the Supreme priest the open questions, Gefestion, being at some distance in the tsar's retinue, has agreed to the foreteller's agent to persuade Alexander on a secret meeting with him. And it was done. Inclined to adventures, Macedonsky had immediately agreed.
But that the Supreme priest will hand over Tsar, apparently, an invaluable and rare jewel, was also unexpected for Gefestion, as well as for Alexander. The young Tsar with his enthusiastic, passionate nature has been exactly admired by this gift – To save the jewel, gods demand from him, apparently, that - and the matter of the world union will be in his hands!
- And, what do you think concerning the jewel? Is it actually changes his colour?
- The oracle knows, should be, what to speak... Let us look in the morning…
- You are cautious in estimations, Gefes. The oracle cannot deceive me. – Alexander stopped a horse and turned back to the friend, – The truth in that this old man is devoted by Ammonom who has a kind feeling to me, like Zevs… and, whether probably to us to save this jewel as a symbol, not to lose and not to give to dishonest hands?
Spartan touched Bucephalus by side, began silently neigh.
Gefestion put his strong arm on Alexander's shoulder, embraced him. Whenever he did it, he felt not only tenderness to his friend, but also the pride because from all relatives of Tsar, he only one could express the feelings without conventionalities and highest permission. They did not see each other alone since Alexander has sent him to command the fleet for two months yet. Certainly, Gefestion understood, that it was not so much tactical, but more honourable mission, for Egyptians surrendered without putting up a fight, whether with pleasure having perceived the capture. However even such commission of Macedonsky in the opinion of his environment was worthy. The sensation of own exclusiveness formed a basis for Gefestion's especial love to Alexander which he was right to consider as disinterested. Along with this Gefestion should use the position of the favourite friend of Tsar for own promotion. Carrying out monarchical commissions with eagerness and boyish enthusiasm, all time he was afraid that sometime Alexander will go cold on him, and his career will fall. Therefore the prediction of the oracle of desert about the jewel which has been entrusted to protect to both of them, for Gefestion was some new and quite concrete acknowledgement of durability of their union.
Alexander forgot that he is Tsar feeling incarnate affinity of Gefestion, his friendly warmth, the sculptural power of his muscles hidden by clothes. He came off his horse, pulled off the cape, having remained only in chiton:
- Climb down!
- You become crazy! It is cold here! – Gefestion laughed, obeying.
- Here it is, do you feel?.. There is no such more in the desert … This gift of Ammon now is ours, do you hear, ours!.. – Alexander whispered, worrying, pressing the palm of his friend to the sacred jewel on his breast, under shirt, - I will give it to you, Gefes so you will save it … save it up to the end...
- To what the end, Alex?
- Until you and I will create the kingdom of universal justice where people will be tolerant to each other … and then I will decorate my crown with alexandrite.
Any support was necessary to Alexander constantly, it seemed to him that nobody shares his views. Despite of victorious procession of his army and an absolute power, fidelity to his soldiers and humility of the won people, - nobody understood his plans about future world reorganisation. Nobody, except Gefestion. Only in him he saw support, since the childhood, and he was always afraid to lose it. The flattery of many associates was opposed to him, he did not suffer in converse with them even a hint on falseness. But, gods gave him Gefestion in companions who has been deprived these flaws! Only to him Alexander could entrust, it seemed, more than to himself!
- Do you remember, Gefes, Phoenix, our teacher? He told the story about island, where people were deprived of dark feelings, lived happily, and created the prosperity state?
- This island was called Atlanta, - Gefestion has recollected.
- I wish to make our world the same.
- No, even better!
- Because, it will be our world as there will be you, and I! It won't collapse, as Atlanta!
- Remove a shirt! – Alexander ordered.
- But, it is cold here …
And then Alexander himself, having weakened a belt, removed his overclothes and chiton and appeared naked before the friend. His flexible correct forms strong body shone in the moonlight as a torch in desert haze.
Gefestion had to follow his example, he dumped gimaty and chiton, approached, pressed the friend to himself, touched by lips his forehead, eyebrows, nose, snuggled to his unshaven cheek. He wished to cling to lips, but Alexander put him aside, having pushed off his torso by palms, removed the leather sack with jewel and set it up on Gefestion's neck.
- It is cold here, let's go home …
After a while exclamations, laughter and neighing of horses resounded under the starry arch:
- Oh, gods! What for you sent me the tzar as a friend! Make him a commoner, a soldier, at the worst - a commander of ahema*, but only not the Pharaoh! Not that from his whims decreases sexual vigor!
- Talk at me!... Forward, Bucephalus! We will spend the night at home!..
When they have reached, at last, the residence of one local prince reminded to Alexander acropolis, were the imperial court was deployed, the sky in the East has already brightened.
He has been impressed by Egypt. Everything: and this green oasis arose as phantom of divine gardens among naked desert, and majestic pyramids-tombs of Pharaohs, and grandiose gates of fortresses, step constructions with columns, city squares rectangular and square forms surrounded with gear walls, ladders arising to temples, huge palm trees with wide leaves, growing everywhere free and sprawling, - all of this was quite fulfilled the free and imperious nature of young tsar, as well as his raised mood. Beauties of Egypt, the charm of Oasis, and actual events in this land drove away any doubts in success of his undertaken.
- Password! – the guard at the enter demanded.
- Pearl coast, – Gefestion answered.
- Open, Phillip, we are here, – Alexander responded , throwing back hood from his head. He knew the name almost each soldier of his guards. This one was remembered to him by the name of father; low growth, strong, years of forty, at the sight of tsar he has stood at attention and set aside a spear. The moon thawing in predawn twilight was reflected in his eyes.
- Tell me, Phillip, whom do you love above all?
- I love our tsar of Macedonians, - the soldier hesitated, - Pharaoh … of the Egyptians.
- Where are you from?
- From Pella, my tsar.
Alexander even shuddered – the native city flashed in his consciousness by light reminiscence – truly the destiny leads closely countrymen! He've got sight of the guard's eyes:
- Do you say the truth, that you love me? And, what about your wife, children, parents?
* Ahema – horse guards
- I love them too, but they also loves you, my tsar.
- And, can you cheat on your wife if I order you to do that?
- How? – Phillip did not understood.
- And, I will order to you to lay with one of those women that accompanied priests at the ceremony today.
- But, it will not be a treason, my tsar. I will do everything under your order with the great pleasure, but … it will not be a treason.
- Because all the same, I love my wife.
Gefestion, so far not uttering any words, uttered:
- Really, it is impossible to fool around by order. As it is impossible to stop loving you, Alexander.
- Let us go, Gefes! We should get enough sleep before departure to Memphis.
Horses were moved to the stall, and Alexander accompanied by the friend marched up the steps to the palace. Egyptians gave the imperial court their best apartments in the Oazise of Ammon. Day before Alexander saw over all of them, and remained satisfied, though was quiet surprised by luxury. The residence of two bulks divided by colonnade – official, intended for ceremonies, and apartment. Alexander attracted the apartment bulk, it was more modest, besides the premises were well heated. There was a spirit of centuries: interiors were decorated by frescos and bas-reliefs with scenes from the Egyptians life, timber floors everywhere were carpeted, in many rooms in painted vases different aromas were smoked. The daylight fell from above, from the windows arranged under the ceiling, shining in smallest details the furniture – upholstery of sofas and carved couches embroidered with gold or silver thread, inwrought smooth surface of marvellous trellises and folding-screens, lustre of tables and armchairs inlayed by wood. At such illumination any person here seemed unique and selected.
Alexander has chosen seven rooms from all this magnificence in the right wing of the building, surrounding a small internal yard with pool and statues of Egyptian gods, having charged to his butler, Hares, to place the retinue in the other part of the palace.
The page on duty, swarty boy of years of seventeen, in white chiton with distinctive galloon in the form of shield, met them before the door of the bedroom. Woken up early, he blinked frequently, but tried to look vigorous.
- And, we have a wine, Linkesipp? – Alexander asked.
- Yes, my tsar. From your stocks, my tsar. There is a Greek…
- We will not drink the Greek. Bring us the native, not diluted, - Alexander decided, clasped by palm the head of young man, tenderly pulled about his black curls and said thoughtfully: - Here you see, Gefes, all of them love me … Bring us, Linkesipp, the wine, and notify, not to disturb in the forenoon. Also say Hares to prepare the big reception on the occasion of our departure this evening.
Capes, shirts, loincloths, sandals fell to floor, and their bodies directed to alcove. Here, on imperial bed, Alexander, at last, could take pleasure by the friend! He crucified Gefestion, has clung to him with force, having compressed by palms his wrists, and kissed so long, as if wished to be dissolved in his significant other, become the single whole with him. Gefestion adored him such: more power, beauty and tenderness there were in this love impulse. And he was given up to Alexander so sincerely, passionately, as if for the first time.
When they, at last, broke apart from each other, light winter morning has already stared through white fabric of alcove.
Alexander spent his hand on the breast of beloved, groped the leather sack at the shoulder.
- Let us look?
Gefestion rose on elbows, and said with emotion:
- Let us… you, or I shall?
- I shall! – exclaimed Macedonsky, and by the hands shivering from nervous excitation , took out the jewel.
The crystal has shone by emerald greens, and only one red blink in its magic depth disappeared before their eyes!
There was no limit to Alexander's delight. He jumped to feet, became jump on pillows as a boy, and shout, choking with delight:
- Hurrah! Now it's ours! Ammon is kind to me! Now it's ours!
Amazingly that now when there were no clothes on him, and he rejoiced as child to the Foreteller's gift alone with the friend, - even now the aristocratic beginning, unshakable will were felt in all his shape. Gefestion did not cease to admire him, proportions of his body, flexibility of his movements, swarthiness of his fine skin, colour of his blond hair and sight of clear dark blue eyes looking cheerfully from under some surprised bent eyebrows.
- To what you so pleased? – Gefestion smiled, - it is our jewel now, but after all it should be saved carefully …
- To save the jewel, my dear, much easier, than to create the kingdom. I always trust you. And, as we by all means will save it up, our dream by all means will also come true!
- You think so?
Smile on Alexander's face dissolved, he sat down beside Gefestion, embraced him, looked into his eyes, wishing to find there the confirmation of own words :
- If to believe in nothing, Gefes, then nothing will become true. Have you any doubts?
- I am sure, that you will create the kingdom. It seems to me that it's more difficult to care it for as for the apple of eye, on prediction of the oracle. As you can imagine it, at our nomadic life?
- Simply it is necessary all the time to keep the jewel about yourself, and that's all! As if it has grown into your body!
Gefestion took the jewel from Alexander's hand, began to drive it on own torso, as though searching the most suitable place. Undoubtedly, alexandrite was worthy this handsome man! It would look nice as earring on the gentle lobe, or talisman on his suntanned, strong neck, and between breast muscles, or if it could be fixed on the navel. Alexander playfully smiled again:
- Listen, after all you can attach it here, - he took Gefestion by the phallus, and pulled for foreskin.
Gefestion burst out laughing, gently removed the friend.
- Don't invent! The jewel will lost faster on the body, than on the open place, besides, it can cause inconvenience.
- Don't be assailed by doubts, Gefes. Eventually, it is possible to make a finger-ring with it. Let us better praise Zeus, and drink to him a glass of good wine!
Flinging open alcove, Alexander came out into the bedroom where quick Linkesipp left on the marble table a jug of wine, cups and fruits. Alexander poured wine to the cups and directed to Ammon's statue, located left in the special niche, opposite to entrance.
- Wait a little, Alex! - Gefestion exclaimed, jumping from the bed, - I didn't tell you everything, - he took cups from hands of Macedonsky, and put them back on the table, - Before bring a victim to Zeus … or Ammon , I should tell you about it.
Alexander settled down on pillows at the marble table, having pulled up his legs. An irony arose in his shape.
- Is it? And what you should tell me?
- It seems to me that the old man that the Supreme priest here, I have already seen. Certainly, the east wisdom is free to dress up in different clothes, and even churchman's toga becoming him... However the sight of his yellow eyes you will not confuse with nothing. Now I recollect that I had seen him already at the time, in Jerushalaim. Proceeding Tir, I'm put ashore with detachment to pass by route march along the coast. We have stretched the camp near fishing settlement. It's very beautiful district. Abrupt hills there soar from coast upwards, to the East, towards the Sun. Anywhere, even in Hellas, I did not see such dawns and declines, such starry heaven, as there, among this hills! Heavenly bodies there majestic and alive. Such alive that it is possible to speak with them! To ask them of favour and indulgence. To repent of bad acts, to thank for the granted minute of life. Also they answer you with a stream of true, most gentle light every day and night!
Gefestion sat down beside tsar to the couch edge, lowering hands between knees.
- I searched there for you, Alex. As any new instructions from you did not come in, I started to worry, and thought good, without sheering, to entrust Klitt the command of fleet, and to head myself the investigation group. According to my calculations, your army should move along the seaboard in parallel of the fleet. But, we were late behind some days – you have already left forward, to Egypt.
Two nights we spent in tents near Judaic settlement of fishermen. The local people who have got tired of the Persian oppression not less, than from own infinite tribal enmity, seemed, were glad to our appearance. They saw in us more liberators, than conquerors. Having collected fishermen on meeting, I told them about you, Alex, and about our intentions. I explained people that you have come to their earth to grant liberty and release from unreasonable taxes imposed by Persian authorities, that we will establish such order, when nobody will feel himself slave, but, on the contrary, will become the owner of destiny.
Now I recollect that for the first time I've met his eyes … yellow eyes of the desert's oracle… for the first time I have felt them on myself there, in the crowd of fishermen coming to meeting.
Toward the evening crimson sunset captured all coast, and the deserted valley poured by red light and hills with fisherman's hovels on slopes silently saw off the cooled down circle of the Earth's shiner beyond the horizon of the sea. In this hour they, should be, prayed for you, Alexander in each of these pise-walled huts.
Next morning we were woken by strange music sounded by something, resembling to aulos*. It seemed to me at first that someone simply learns to play, because sounds were strained and halting. But, gradually they merged to the continuous melody, being heard along the coast. I sent Limn to find out.
- Who is this Limn? – Alexander interrupted the story.
- The boy on service at me, arrived recently. Very sensible lad, Macedonian,he knows many languages… of years seventeen to him only …
Having noticed, that tsar was going to listen further, Gefestion continued:
- Coming back, Limn reported me that they meet every morning in the settlement by this music, under these sounds fishermen leave to the sea on rafts. I've left my tent to look at the dawn. The sunrise was also extremely beautiful and grandiose, as well as the sunset. I stood ashore, no more than at stadia ** from the surf. Everything was as though true, earthly, and easy sea breeze, and smell of fish, dry networks, seaweeds reaching to us, and string of rafts and boats leaving to the sea, and fishermen's dialect, and rustling of pebble. But, as if I've got drunk with sounds of aulos: I was as if pulled to this sanctuary rising over hills, uncontrollably pulled there, to the east, to this mystical fire of the future day!
«And what is there, if to ascend mountains?» - I asked one of the locals through Limn.
«There? The eternal city of Jerushalaim» - he was as if surprised to my question.
«What far from?»
«Of the order of three hundred stadious on the east»
«And why this city is eternal?»
«Many times conquerors stamp it out of existence, but it arose again from ruins and ashes» - the answer had followed.
It seemed to me that I've gone mad of this simple dialogue! I was already there, in this fire of future, aspired to its dawn beams, to this eternal city, towards happiness and alarms! By the word, I ordered to saddle horses, and with attendant and protection we have gone there.
* aulos - In ancient Greece a musical instrument reminding a flute
** stadia – the Greek linear measure, about 180 metres
By noon we were already in Jerushalaim. Alex, I won't tell about this marvellous way, and its beauty because there are no words, to express feelings captured me then. Sounds of avlos pursued me all this road. It seems that not only me, but also everyone in the group tested this elation. Even Spartan under me, did not skip, but flew as if Pegas on the wings! And soon, this eternal beautiful city appeared before us under the shining Sun and clear sky! It is well strengthened and enclosed by defensive wall about what, of course, you already know…
Alexander not to interrupt the friend's story, having interested him, silently nodded and waved with the hands, allowing his friend a sign to continue. Tsar has loved Gefestion as himself, has trusted him as to himself, and also as to himself has forgave him much.
- All the city celebrated your coming to the power, Alexander. Ptolemey whom you have left the governor, having made the first orders, probably, feasted in imperial palace. Wishing to feel the mood in the city, I decided not to appear at the royal court. We were going step by step on Jerushalaim streets. Townspeople with pleasure involved us in the action having took us for representatives of the new power. There were infinite processions with singers, acrobats and dances directly on the street. Everyone carried a food from his house, distributed to anyone passing-by. In one place we were invited to wedding, I delivered a speech in honour of groom and bride, took part in dancings which – it seemed to me – were similar to our own.
I charged to horsemen of escort to conduct horses, and with Limn, having set up the flower wreaths on our heads presented on the holiday instead of helmets, were travelled on foot. We had fun as everybody.
… At the other place I was stopped by exclamation in Greek language:
«You have come with peace to this earth!»
And I looked, at last, to these light-brown, almost yellow eyes! Addressed to me was still the strong old man, years of seventy. Then he had sat at the roadside, on the stone bench by the side of àruk, having saved himself from scorching beams of the Sun in white clothes. Now I know: it was the Great oracle of the desert!
«You've come to this earth with peace, and the earth accepted you with pleasure and hope. Be worthy of such trust! This city as this world, is tired of wars and shocks. It got tired of conquerors arrogance, of Israel generations enmity and Assyrian attacks, of leaders whims, of the power insatiability and laws hypocrisy. It has got tired. It appeals to the prudence. It connects the beginning of love and tolerance era with your arrival!»
Alex, and then he opened me the dates!
«It will be given Macedonians ten years to create the kingdom of freedom and justice. If after this time they will not deliver this mission, the prophet will come to Jerushalaim down three ages to specify people again their way to eternal love and happiness. If people will not follow to his precepts then down five ages the winds of Arabian deserts will bring to this earth from the east spirits of arrogance and harm, and will separate people into correct and incorrect. The poor and the rich will live side by side, money and power will shape their destiny. And then the test of the soul of everyone will show, whether oikumena* is capable to create Universe laws»…
* oikumena – in representation of Greeks the occupied part of the Earth
I asked him in what the Universe laws consist?
He answered me:
«Look at the sky, it silently waits. It waits, when everyone would understand, what for he is necessary to God. The time waits for perfection from people. And, if will not be reached in time, then this world also will turn back»…
- And more of this, Alex, he told me nothing. The crowd involved me and my companions for new holiday, the old man in white clothes, sitting on the stone bench near aruk, got out of my sight.
Impressionable Alexander listened to the story of his friend with bated breath. When Gefestion stopped the story, some time he sat motionlessly, absolutely naked, having leant back on the couch. His look became motionless, dark blue eyes sparkled, his well groomed left hand fingered the cup full of wine on marble table.
- So that's what is my mission… that the time does not turn back! – he uttered absently, at last.
- Now you understand, Alex, that I should tell you about it… - Gefestion said insinuatingly to return tsar to conversation.
- Really are there some things you do not tell me?
- Why? There are no such things … – Gefestion was confused and smiled nicely, - it seems to me that the meeting with Foreteller explains much from your troubles lately, about infinite violence, streams of blood and innocent victims of our campaign.
- You consider, Gefes,it is possible to create the state of freedom and prosperity at the scene of a murder, blood and ashes? Really, is it the beginning of love and tolerance era?
- And whether Solomon's temple stands in the eternal city on the blood and ashes? Unless you do not shed blood for the sake of intended purpose, rushing the first to attack? – Gefestion convinced, pointed at the fresh scar on the friend's shoulder, - Isn't that why you are so loved in the army, Alex? Only force is capable to make people live under divine laws, for only the force they admit!
- It seems to me, Gefes, that in the history about Atlanta which Phoenix has affected us where people were deprived dark feelings and lived happily, something is hidden in this history. Why God punished Atlanta, destroying? God is not wrong - so, it was worth punishing for!
- Let Zevs will reveal you the secret of Atlanta, Alexander! It is not yet given to us to now. However if he has entrusted us this, - Gefestion showed the alexandrite on his breast, - we should execute the divine will!
Eloquence of the friend and logician of his reasonings seemed to Macedonsky indisputable. In the minutes when doubts came to tsar, Gefestion always hastened to banish them and return Alexander to confidence and optimism. Here and now it so happened.
- Look here, Gefes. Me and you should create the program, - Alexander said resolutely, - the first consists that we should create good from harm, operating by ways inherent in oikumena, local customs and morals. Nobody should know that we have together conceived. The Troic horse will be a guiding star to us – just as Spartans had searched into Troy invisibly, so and Zevs has sent us to this world in face of humans - imperceptibly! But, he allot the mission to us. Does leader is necessary to people? – He will be for them! The enlightened tsar, opinion shaper is necessary? - There will be also opinion shaper, and enlightened tsar! The great commander, the lord of peoples is necessary? There will be for them both the great commander, and the lord of peoples! Don't you hear? I am Pharaoh, Gefes! I am chosen by God, Gefes. And this fact grants me the right to operate at own discretion. Pharaoh of Egypt, the country with thousand-year culture, cannot suffer longer its status – the status of Persian province. We'll connect culture of Ellada to culture of Egypt, we will associate it with cultures of Judea, Persia, Arabia, India. We will open new territories and attach them to oikumena! And each nation will live in our kingdom at own discretion. Henceforth I fight with tsars not with peoples!
Alexander removed the cup, easily risen from his place and began to pace bedchamber, examining wall paintings.
- The second. You've heard, Gefes, what the oracle has told? That everyone should search for treason in himself. We must create new civilisation, where anyone might be saved from treachery in himself - might respect brotherhood freedom irrespective of his nationality, positions in society and gender accessory. Might become such strong that his spirituality, at last, would get the best of wordly dark feelings - the lie, envy, meanness and hoarding passion! And then not power and money will come with human life, but love and tolerance! And thirdly: to create this conditions, we should organise incest of peoples. It's necessary to encourage in every possible way marriages between peoples of different nationalities that subsequently nobody could tell in oikymena that he is hereditary Greek, either Egyptian or Persian. All peoples should be representatives of the uniform generality – the Macedonian Kingdom!
Gefestion, to whom it became flatter that his story guided tsar to such amplitudinous thoughts, seemed, was admired having heard speech. As if schoolboy successfully solved a problem, he begun to smile, extended on the couch, put hands for a head, and musefully stared to the ceiling.
- Unless it does not disperse from Aristotle's ideas about prevalence of Macedonian nation in the Kingdom? - he doubted meanwhile.
- Aristotle is scientist, instead of commander, - Alexander objected to him, - Any doctrine is worthy not only respect. It also deserves the development.
- And, all the same, Alex, there are many ambiguities in Foreteller's telling. For example, what means to give the jewel to dishonest hands by deceit? Or how the world can turn back? If we simply decide to sell a jewel, supposing, it will be by fair means, or not? – Gefestion began to argue, - If the world will turn back, it will be better, or more badly? Who is this prophet in case of our failure will come to Jerushalaim in three hundred years? And how peoples can be divided on correct and incorrect?
- I am surprised, Gefes, as children's naivety with husband judiciousness is combined in you! – Alexander got over from the wall and approached his friend, - Just you said, as if world's secrets are not accessible to us, but it's necessary to justify Zevs trust. And – dear heart! He blew to doubts!.. Remember: it will not be any dishonest hands, because except you and I, there is no more such applicants for this jewel, - He took knife from the table, released from fruits one plate, took the cup with wine, and, having threw on the move - Let's go! – turned steps to the statue of Ammon.
Alexander got down his knees before sculpture. Gefestion followed his lead.
- Repeat after me, Gefes: Father! Great Zevs and almighty Ammon! We address with this prayer to You. Thanks because you elected us to this feat. Let guiding star will be to us your blessing. Let it will give us forces to execute our mission and create the kingdom of freedom and justice in oikumena. And, let our blood of sacrifice will be our evidence to You!
With these words Alexander knifed own wrist, took Gefestion's hand, and gently cut it. Blood from two veins ran to the plate. Then both, having drained on a full cup of wine, they embraced.
Evmen had sat at the table filled up with rolls of parchment, servilely listening to the tsar. Deaf silence coming in huge space of the imperial tent where in distant dark corner a cricket had nastily gnashed, was suddenly broken with shout:
- Darius! Your ancestors intruded Macedonia and other Ellad, having caused much evil to us. We however did not cause you any offence!
Alexander kept silent for a second, his eyes madly sparkled.
- Write further , Evmen: I am the choice of God, leader of Ellines, wishing to punish Persia, has entered Asia, entailed to that through you.
- Not quite harmoniously turns out, my tsar … - Evmen casually fell a word.
- Write!! – Alexander demanded angrily from his secretary, his face filled in with youthful flush, - You helped Perifnus who offended my father Phillip. … Your Persian tsar, Oh, impudently has sent the army and hold the Thrace, which we owned then. When my father was killed, you boasted in the letters, as if it is a work of your hands! You, Darius, with help of Bagoy killed Arses and seized the power unfairly, contrary to Persian laws! None but you slandered about me in the hostile letters to Greeks! You have sent money to Sparta and other Greek cities. Neither of this cities did not accept them! Your ambassadors averted from me my friends and tried to destroy the peace installed by me in Ellada. After these your hostile actions I unleashed the war with you!
Now he did not mince words. Having received from Ammon the special patronizing sign - invaluable jewel, and understood for himself the sense and purposes of war started by him (henceforth the voice of Zevs was uttered by his lips) - now Alexander directed his look to the east. Future dawns, future winds seemed to him there; and, without waiting, when they will destroy oikumena, rejecting their shattering force, he put forward own will and army towards them, intended to state on the Earth the new world order!
- Darius! Nowadays I have won at first your commanders and satraps! And presently – you, and your army. I am the owner of this earth, because gods have given it to me!
Since Persian tsar shamefully had ran from battlefield at the Isse, he became nonentity in Alexander's opinion. Only the madman drunk with power can drag behind himself on blood road to the fighting campaign own family, harem with not guilty women and children, throwing them also to the battlefield! Now Alexander had often recollected this unfortunate transport near small mountain river overgrown by the bushes, founded by Macedonians. Lefted by this bastard, they were overcame by panic fear and sacrificial humility. Such nonentity, should be deprived the rights of rule over the world.
- Darius! Leave your claims! – Alexander continued to recite to his secretary , thinking that now it is time to break arrogance of of the East lord, - Come, Darius, to me as to the actual tsar of all Asia. If you are afraid that we will deal with you not quite honourably, send at first your own people so that you could be convinced of your safety.
Íå left Darius transport in Damascus, to the care of Parmenion who grasped there myriad treasures from Persian chest, and all imperial court, including cooks with cupbearers. Alexander was impressed by imperial wall tent, he took it with himself to Phoenicia; now, taking view of this refined east luxury where each fastening was decorated by carving of precious wood in gold moulding, and it was possible to go barefoot, feeling by stops gentle touch of silk carpets, now he thought that it is necessary to show an indulgence to the former Persia lord.
- Write there and then, Evmen … write this: if you, Dary, appear before me, you will receive your mother, spouse, children, everything you will wish. If you will ask me - it will be given to you! Your relatives who were not killed in battle, are under my protection, I constantly care of them. They are with me not against their will, but under kind consent.
It seemed to Alexander that everything should be clear to Persian tsar: the defeated should either to serve the winner, or to be killed. And, as Darius is coward he should obey; then to him, to this skunk, it would be possible to give him governance of the oikumena's east provinces, then the shift of power remained imperceptible, painless for people.
- That's all, my tsar? – Evmen asked after long pause.
- That's all … - Alexander said wearily. – However, add still here, - the secretary dipped reed brush into the ink with readiness and began diligently rustle on the parchment under his dictation, - Further, if you will write me, Darius, address me "the Tsar of Asia". Do not take into your head to address letters as to the equal to me. If you need something, address to me as to the mister. If you will not do that, I will punish you. If you wish to contravene the kingdom from me so stand and fight for it, instead of run away, because I swear, where you were – I will find you, Darius! That's all now. Give me, I will sign. Tell Gefestion to hand over this letter to ambassadors…
By evening when intolerable heat died down, and the Sun turned to the West, Alexander decided to take a walk along the camp and to look at the gymnastic competitions arranged every day by the camp commander Kratter among soldiers. Therefore he left the imperial wall tent where all day he was engaged in acts compilation, and went for a walk accompanied by bodyguards, Balakr and Phillip from Pella whom he has moved recently from guards to own service. The camp under Marafa, in Northern Phoenicia, was arranged on the usual way, with rectangular tents arrangement with wide, as city streets, lanes between them. The camp was unapproachable from the east stretched on the hillside, on the canyon's brink. The city of Marafa was seen behind of it, along twisting road, in blue haze of mountain ridge, of about forty stadious to the south. In front, as far as the eye can see, the road left to the north, deep into Persia.
Gymnasy* of the camp was arranged at waterfall on the extensive, covered by green grass terrace in the north side where surrounding rocks could serve as the improvised amphitheatre and moisture facilitated heat. It was possible to spend also army meeting here. The idea to place the camp in such heavenly position belonged not to Parmenion, or someone another in War Council, but to Alexander himself. Rightly he was proud of the made choice. Now he tried to send old and skilled Parmenion and his brothers far away from himself, giving them rather responsible and honourable commissions. "There should be one commander-in-chief in the army – it was thought to Alexander – having implicit authority".
It was included into Alexander's plans today not only to observe competitions. He intended to tell to the soldiers some words before East campaign. But, most of all he would like to meet Gefestion, catch his sight and feel his support.
Improbable noise reached from the stadium, audience loudly respond to occurring games. On Alexander's order, soldiers competed bared accordingly to the Greek traditions. This circumstance involved many curious from neighbouring settlements to whom everything was a novelty. On the auditorium seats there were much not only men, but also Phoenician women, they confusedly covered their faces with scarfs, however were all eyes, did not leave.
Having got a sight of Alexander in the white tunic embroidered with gold meander accompanied by the bodyguards chained in an armour, Kratter raised his hand upwards and stopped the action.
- We are greeting you, tzar Macedonian! – Kratter has shouted with all his might to be heard to everybody in gymnasy.
- Long live tsar Macedonian! Long live Alexander! Long live tsar Macedonian! - it swept three times through the stadium.
Gefestion was not visible in Kratter's company. Leonnat, Perdikka, Kallisfen, Lisimah and Garpal, Filota and Klitt - all familiar persons - and beautiful Barsina from the captivated transport of Darius insisted Alexander to take her with himself to the campaign - but there was no Gefestion among them! Being upset a little with this circumstance, Alexander took a place at Kratter and first of all welcomed soldiers on the arena, and then – audience around. He was beginning to give a sign to continue the competitions as, at last, on the right hand had sight of Gefestion making the way from below, through the crowd of fans.
- Gefestion judges runnings today, - Kratter politely commented.
- If so, let us wait for him, - Alexander offered.
Sunburnt, in the light blue chiton handsome Gefestion did not feel sorry for his magnificent sandals, clambered to imperial place directly over the rocks. The flower wreath has been interlaced into his bright dark hair, having shone under the sun, and the crystal of alexandrite played at his neck, under the chin with the mix of red-green short beams.
* Gimnasy - place for physical exercises, political and philosophical disputes.
But instead of welcoming tsar traditionally, in the accepted democratic style, with a palm on heart, looking to eyes, Gefestion unexpectedly threw himself at Alexander's feet and kissed his foot. The security guards compressed swords in their hands.
- I'm greeting you, the Great Tsar of oikumena, son of Zevs! - said Gefestion in public, looking at Alexander from below, as if both of them played any game.
Alexander lifted giant Gefestion from the ground, put the friend in front of himself, tenderly felt his shoulders and a neck. Then, having approached his face to himself, kissed on the lips.
- I'm greeting you, Gefestion, the successor of the nice Macedonian nobility! – Alexander joyfully exclaimed, without paying attention to looks of deprecation of separate figures from own environment that were stick in throat any hint of Elline’s dignity humiliation. A lot of people, including among soldiers, knew that exactly such greeting – bite the ground, or proskineza – was accepted at the Darius court; besides, it was believed that it is improper to Europeans to adopt half-wild barbarians ceremonies. Most of all Macedonians and Ellines appreciated the natural right of everyone to freedom, it has got so deeply into their culture and life that refusal of given values would mean refusal of own dignity. Now Alexander thought that he could present everybody elline's freedom with his power; and if they shall not accept – it's possible to break traditions and impose it to everybody in oikymena! For this purpose everyone should believe that Alexsander is the envoy of Zevs! Just as for the present in the eyes of Macedonian nobility Tsar is not godlike, but only the first among equals. Therefore Gefestion's unexpected trick suggested to him that proskineza ceremony should be institute in his environment and the army, it will become the first step to the recognition of divinity of his power, will serve confluence of different cultures.
- You aren't got dirty? – Filota bit when Gefestion took a place in tsar's retinue.
- Since when you are jealous me of Alexander? It's Very interesting! Well, I will note, – Gefestion laughed off, swept eyes over undersized Filota.
- You are necessary to him, Filota, as a drop of spring water to Aegean sea, - Klitt whispered from behind, - your father, Parmenion, was sent far away from tsar's eyes, and then will be coming for you too…
- Dry up! For what we struggle? To adopt Persian customs? I am afraid it will be unsweet to all of us soon …
- All the same: Alexander will not go against the council of war and army meeting, he will not be supported.
- Are you all right? You don't know the tsar ? He will convince anyone…
- So is nothing to contradict!
- What are you whispering about, whether about me? – Gefestion smiled.
- Yeah, right,right! Surely enough! – Filota checked himself, – Only about you we are discuss! What's the amulet you'd hung up around your neck? It's visible, by tsar's bounty?..
Meanwhile, Alexander appeared on the platform well visible from all points of gymnasy, and stretched his hand upwards. Total silence had came.
- Soldiers! My brothers! – that's how he begun the speech, - It will pass very few time, and we will go on to the East, deep into Persia. It will be difficult campaign, but Zevs is kind to me, my valorous army, heroically battling, gained historical victories at Granik, at Iss! Gods of Olympus will also be kind to us. Each of you will prove them the own high mission! If today it is competitions in force and dexterity at gymnacy stadium, tomorrow it will be deadly struggle on battlefield for the sake of creation the new state. Your children and grandsons will not forget you! Because they will live in the kingdom of the light, freedom, love and tolerance created by you now! We should win that evil concentrated presently behind the Euphrates and Tiger rivers. Darius, Persian tsar, is artful and cunning, his people lives in slavery, and his army kepts in awe and humility. But, except that, Darius is also coward! He is ready to give me half of Persian kingdom for his throne, up to river Euphrates. Just to continue create his odious laws on the other part of Asia! Of course, I refused this offer. We will release the ancient civilisation from tyranny! We are Macedonians, to whom Zevs has entrusted this high mission, we will enter into Babylon as liberators, we will present Persians, all peoples of the East the joy of life, our achievements, our ability! Eventually, we will share with women one bed, and with men - our sports passion!
Alexander's last words caused public activity in gymnasiy.
- Long live tsar Macedonian, Alexander! - Kratter shouted.
- Glory! Glory! Glory! Hur-r-r-a-ah! – it was swept around stadium.
Competitions were renewed. Having finished the speech, Alexander approached to Barsina. This Greek woman, widow of Memnon, the military leader employed by Persians, was pleasant to him. She still grieved for the husband having fallen during the campaign, Macedonsky placed her in the separate tent together with servants whom she was used to, and sometimes made a visits there, entertaining her by philosophical conversations.
- I'm greeting you, Barsina! As you see, not only marches and fields of battles accompany our soldiers!
Barsina put her hand on the magnificent breast covered with fine fabric of yellow Greek dress in which, probably, she felt more free, than in Persian one. She was brunette with beautiful face, absolutely not touched by cosmetics, with equal sunburn skin, expressive brown eyes under black eyebrows , curls were picked up by gold diadem... Alexander did not admit a love to women. Frequent scenes of jealousy and scandals arranged by his parents has promoted for this. His mother, Olympiada, were notable for intolerable character, even now she threw to him letters where imposed to the son own will. His father, Phillip, also did not suffer her character, wished to be free, was fell in love with one woman after another, and, getting drunk, quite often he beat the lawful spouse, losing not only man's, but also imperial advantage. Since childhood Alexander loved only boys, the contemporaries with whom it was simple and cheerful. It seemed to him in the childhood that gods have in vain thought up to people such life where women and men cannot understand each other. But now, when Zevs secretly egged him on the world transformation, Alexander should act obviously, not breaking the traditions. Hence, he should find approaches also to women. Barsina – as it seemed to him – was differed from others women not only by refined beauty, but also by quiet judiciousness.
- I'm greeting you, my tsar! – she said tenderly, looking to Alexander's eyes, - I am glad that you do not feel yourself alone!
- Is it possible, Barsina to feel lonely on this holiday? Don't you see how soldiers love me, how they support me?
Barsina looked at him whether reproachfully, whether with irony.
- Everybody cannot love. The only one can love … and this love is powerful above all.
It's seemed to Alexander, that Barsina makes advances to him, and he decided to accept this game.
- Really? So what for harem to Darius, if only single beloved it's enough?
- But, to surpass everyone by the loneliness of his soul!
He burst out laughing. It was pleasant to him, when he was understood.
- And who is this Gefestion? - Barsina took interest.
- He is my friend, and I love him very much. And why do you ask?
- What a handsome friends you have… all of them carry out the proskineza?
Suddenly it seemed to Alexander, that it is Zevs talking with him by Barsina's lips, he felt a temptation in the staring look of her dark eyes.
- I would like, Barsina, it to be, - he answered fairly, - I don't see in it something shameful, after all in the East it's consider a honour to bend a back before tsar for join the state greatness. At us it also should be. It should love and be afraid of tsar, for his power is divine. The son of God can be the tsar instead of a mere mortal.
- Darius is not considered as the son of God, - Barsina said, - however everybody bite the ground before him.
And again the shadow of enemy appeared before Alexander, guileful, odious, hated, pretentious.
- Darius is coward! – he exclaimed so loudly that public unknowingly paid attention, - Gods do not give birth to such cruds!
- Yes, my tsar! God's children are born in Ellada, - approached Kallisfen said, - They brought the world a sample of true democracy – Macedonia – the country where live proud and free people.
Alexander disliked Kallisfen, considered him as upstart, however because of Aristotle's insistent recommendations suffered him in the campaign as the adviser and biographer. Now, dressed in inconceivable faded toga which he pulled up all time that it was not dragged on the ground, balding and fattening academician looked a perfect fright, as if underlining every minute that he presents at the army only with scientific curiosity, and no more.
- Tell me, Kallisfen, by what external action people should express their respect to sons of gods?
- It seems to me, my tsar, that better and easier, than it has already done by Macedonians, you will not think up. But what Gefestion had shown to us today, trying to use barbarians custom, cannot be approved, for it humiliates human advantage.
- So means, Gefestion, was humiliated before me?
- Yes, my tsar, was humiliated. Though, it looked as an example …
- I hasten to disappoint you, academician. In my opinion, Gefestion has done courageous and frank public act. On the contrary, I began to respect him more.
Alexander looked at Barsina, searching for support in her eyes:
- Here is Barsina who knows the East better, than we, says also that proskineza means there the indication of respect of one person to himself as to the state citizen.
- Yes, Kallisfen, it is so! – Barsina confirmed.
- Strange these barbarous customs, - the scientist made a helpless gesture.
- Academician, you cannot mind to me that culture of Egypt and East countries is ancient, as well as Greek. Hence, it is impossible to consider this culture wild and barbarous, - Alexander said, hardly hiding irritation, - It's a pity, Kallisfen, that as the historian you do not see it!
- The development level of civilisation defines not its antiquity, but a condition of scientific and technical progress, - Kallisfen replied, - the Cultures of Ellada's areas arose before Macedonian, however exactly Macedonia united them to the Corinthian union. Otherwise, these countries would destroy themselves in internal wars. Also I offered you, my tsar, to accept the won Persian satrapies to the Corinthian's union structure to save them from barbarity…
- The culture is not defines by any certain level, Academician. Either it is present, or it is absent. And what is present in one culture, should complete what is not present in another. It is possible to reach that by the individual rule, instead of fruitless disputes in the political unions!
- My tsar, the true is born in disputes…
- In the same place it also dies. Now the politicians tell one, a minute later – another. Whether we practised in oratory at Aristotle when it was required to prove opposite with equal degree of persuasiveness?
- Oh, yes! In this art I have surpassed all his pupils!
- But you have not comprehended the true, Kallisfen. And members of the Sinedrion* also will not comprehend it, spending time in debates of peace while have a struggle in their souls for confirmation of personal advantage which seemes them in money and power. Greeks pay one, Persians – another. Only variation of amounts and can change their rhetoric.
- Tsar Phillip had another opinion …
- You are historian, Kallisfen, whether to you not to know? My father, tsar Phillip, and all My ancestors – Argeads – lead the generation from Gerakl, and Greeks declared it, they selected tsar of Macedonia as the predominant of the Corinth League forever. Therefore Zevs also is well disposed to me, considering as the son!
Macedonsky told it with the obvious purpose to direct academician thought to the channel of own reflexions about the historical role in given war. "Will not manage – it was thought to him – it will be necessary to appoint another biographer".
* Sinedrion – executive office of the Corinthian union
In the meantime, competitions proceeded. After celebration of runnings winners who were awarded a floral wreaths and with the crowd screaming charioted before fans, competitions of throwers of spear had begun. The stadium was full of beautiful suntanned man's bodies, each army division put forward to the competitions most dexterous, young and strong fighters. This show in marching conditions, on the eve of future battles where death did not spare even the best of the best, seemed to Alexander a hundred times more significant and more colourful, than it would be spent in time of peace somewhere in sleepy Athenes or haughty Sparta.
Having decided to leave gymnasy to stop never-ending dispute with Kallisfen while separate extreme followers of national Macedonian idea will not waded into it yet, he addressed to Barsina:
- I wait for you tonight, for supper.
Having chosen such unexpected way to prompt Alexander the possibility of proskineza introduction, Gefestion hoped to catch reaction of tsar's confidants to this innovation for only concrete relation to concrete act is capable to reveal true moods at the court. Nothing escaped from his attention. Malicious whisper of Filota and Klitt behind his back he even did not heard, but more likely felt. Then, pushed aside by crowd of court nobility, he was forced to supervise passively Alexander talking with Barsina and Kallisfen. As any impressionable person, Gefestion had often threw himself under the bus of minute imaginations. Even now, when the prediction of oracle gathered him with tsar, and jewel presented by Ammon served a reminder of it, it was seemed Gefestion that Macedonsky remained indifferent to proskineza. The vanity of young commander was touched, he was consumed by jealousy to Barsina, Ptolemey and Garpal, Kratter and Evmen, and even ordinary-looking and strange Kallisfen. As he suppressed this feeling in himself, it was busily thought to him that after meeting with Oracle of desert Alexander should be more familiar and to consult only with him - but with anyone else. At the same time, being quiet and affable externally, he was ready to any madness for the sake of Alexander, to destroy all valid and prospective enemies without deliberating!
With special mistrust he treated to Alexander's new attachment – Barsina. Being on the march in company of two Persian maids, Memnon's widow seemed to Gefestion the centre of guile and meanness; being in good grace of tsar, she could inform enemy the secrets of disposition and intentions of Macedonian army at any moment. Gefestion has come to such conclusion, being not based on concrete facts, but on the feeling of blind hostility to the woman who he, the young and strong man, has put a level to himself, doing her competitress to Alexander's heart. From comprehension of it he was angry even more, giving vent his latent anger to all opposite sex. Unlike Alexander Gefestion, thanks to natural beauty, was popular with the women, since sixteen years had experience of contact with them in bed in spite of the fact that the role of womens' adorer didn't always came easily to him. He willingly converged with young soldiers, and the boys who have took service at court after leaving school. In the camp near Marafa, as well as anywhere, Gefestion lived in separate tent located by the side of imperial one. In the pay of him, except protection of guardsmen, was only Limn, the quick young man from Macedonia, fulfilling also the duties of translater. Gefestion noticed him in Issa when prepared fleet for the campaign. It was necessary to reserve foodstuffs, and Limn helped him in the talks with local dealers. The young man was in unique memory, it was necessary to him just to communicate a little with representatives of other peoples, and his brain as a sponge absorbed any language. Every locals, and also Greeks, Egyptians, Israelis and Persians without analysis he named "phinicys", as though underlining a distance of the Macedonian from other nationalities. Gefestion has quickly converged with him - allocated with beauty, youth and power, intimate connection was given him easily and often, - every time when he wanted. Upon that he did not test any remorses, and did not consider that therefore he is untrue to Alexander. To be true in Macedonian geteira* meant another: to be correct the ideals of fellowship, to respect honour and advantage of everyone, to feel always friendly support and mutual aid. There was not given great value to question, who with whom and when has overslept.
Having returned after competitions to his tent, Gefestion found there Evmen with Alexander's letter to Persian tsar.
- You should receive today ambassadors and to hand over them this, - chief of tsar's office said, stretching him the parchment twisted by red band with Argead's arms.
- Well. Leave me it, I will read. – Gefestion expected, that Alexander will pass him the invitation to the supper tonight through Evmen, however it did not follow.
- That's all?
- Go away, Evmen. Thanks. I will receive ambassadors tomorrow.
- Good. Today …
Gefestion was disappointed by absence of tsar's attention. Certainly – he argued to himself - imperial rooms have never been closed for him, but in the present case Alexander could show especial attention to the friend and invite him to the supper, thereby to support him publicly.
Having passed the sleeping section, he found out there Limn sleeping securely on his bad.
- Uprise! Don't you hear, what Evmen has told? Go and call Persian ambassadors!
* geteira - circle of friends, companions
And, all the same, having won arrogance, he found forces to appear at tsar tonight! It became extremely boring at home while it was noisy and cheerful inside of the towering on doorstep magnificent Alexander's residence. Even charming Limn with his smooth temper and form to spend this night together could not break Gefestion's depression. At first the young man simply wriggled, imitating "phynicus" from Persian embassy who bowed out and left back homeward; and then – he came on a dance with sounds of drums and tambourines reaching from tsar's feast.
Having made with him some dancing movements, Gefestion suddenly thought that his absence during this supper can be interpreted by Alexander as weakness. Besides Filota and Klitt, using the opportunity, for certain will try to dissuade tsar from introduction Persian customs, and will meet with approval of drunk public. In a word, having suppressed momentary offences in a soul, he directed to the friend with help.
The supper, as well as always, was arranged in a big way inherent the imagination of the imperial master of ceremony, Khares who have provided this time the footpath to the tsar's tent covered with trophy carpets. There were guardsmen through each ten steps, at full regimentals in armours and helmets, and held poles with torches. Numerous guests had possibility to take fresh air here, and also on green lawns around.
Accompanied by loaded looks, Gefestion and Limn approached to the enter of Alexander's tent. Khares himself appeared at the portico in form of freakish Persian gates decorated with skilful bone carving.
- I'm greeting you, Gefestion! – the master of ceremony smiled, - Tsar had already asked about you, and I just wanted to send runners for you…
- Hi, Khares! It seems to me, we will not be here inopportunely? I invited also Limn who just explained to Persian ambassadors about their place in history. The best translator. Perhaps, in all army you wont find out better.
Khares, having served at the court of tsar Phillip - many of present commanders are young enough to be his sons - put his hand on Gefestion's shoulder and led away tsar's favourite aside:
- Two words, Gefestion. You have done today big noise in imperial environment … everybody argue only about proskineza! I support you. Correctly! It's necessary to bring up respect to the authority. Nothing shameful that this ceremony has been born not at us: it's visible Persians thinking more in this action. Not that … gods will again result us to the same misfortune … as with Phillip who gave many indulgences, and forfeited for it his own life … And also look here, Gefestion … I have an eye for tsar's ceremonies … you prompt him also that … let the sacred fire that has dawned upon him in Egypt will accompany him everywhere. It's possible to allocate for this purpose special servants who would bring in everywhere special silver bowl with this fire before tsar's appearance - we would fire it from the sun …
- Well done, Khares! You are perfect courtier! – Gefestion has expressed in derisive manner peculiar to him, - It seems to me, that such ceremony will take to Alexander too! - actually, the soul of the imperial favourite was exulted because he found himself not lonely in his plans. Now it will rely to whom to elevate the authority of imperial power!
They joined the feast. Alexander arranged at himself big gathering modestly called as "supper" for the first time during last march. That was promoted by rather quiet military conditions. It allowed artistic elit of Macedonia and some Greece areas to answer Alexander's invitation and arrive in imperceptible Marafa, to show their art. Under his order invited representatives of Phrigian and Phoenician nobility also have brought along more singers and dancers. Formally they celebrated the competitions winners, however toasts were sounded on other occasions.
Alexander in the company of Barsina, Kratter and Garpal was placed on imperial seat where recently Darius has still settled down, was brisk and gay that was much promoted by fair quantity of wine he have drunk.
- Gefestion! – tsar exclaimed, having caught sight of the friend from distant, he rose with cup in hand, approached to him a staggering gait, and got down on knees before him, having spilt wine on the clothes, - Here is person whom it is possible to name easily the winner today, for he could overcame arrogance in himself! – tsar embraced Gefestion for feet, then turned back to the retinue – I drink for him! Glory to Gefestion!
- Glory to Gefestion! Glory! Glory! – voices of confidants sounded everywhere in the imperial tent. It seemed that Filota and Klitt most loudly cried out this toast.
Just so, kneeling beside the friend, Alexander drained the cup. However, he did not hasten to rise, as if in expectation of some further events. Awkward silence had came in the imperial tent.
Gefestion decided not to express any emotions – having looked down modestly, he studied carpet pattern, and own sandals.
Khares standing behind had come to assistance.
- Let us lift cups in honour of our god, Zevs! Let us bow the knee before him! We will give praise his wisdom, as well as victories of his son, Macedonian tsar, Alexander! - he said with decision.
Linkesipp added wine to tsar's cup quickly and imperceptibly.
- My tsar, you should rise, - whispered Khares, kneeling.
Everybody in imperial tent followed the lead of master of ceremony and fell on the floor. Meanwhile Alexander had arisen, holdinging on the Gefestion's back, and reared the cup in his hand as if it was a torch.
- Zevs! You are almighty! – he proclaimed with pathos, - Let there will be the glory to you for ever and ever! – and he added right there calmly and distinctly, - Tomorrow I will sign the promulgation of proskineza in the army and at the court.
Supper ended at daybreak when it began to dawn in the valley, and cocks notified the camp about quick arrival of new day. Guests – who was not strongly drunk – have dispersed to their tents, tsar had left others, having take himself off to the housing part of imperial tent. Gefestion followed him.
- And what about Barsina? - Alexander asked by tone of seasoned easy-rider, - And what of her breast? What a magnificent forms, huh? Is she pleasant to you, Gefes? She is pleasant, huh?
- It seems to me that she spies on us, Alex.
- Bosh! Zevs talks to me sometimes by her lips … she cannot be a spy, I believe her …
- So, she inspired you this belief by means of her body?
Alexander seized the friend by shirt and pulled to himself:
- You've already somersaulted with her time and again, huh? – he whispered, having burrowed face into his neck, groping by mouth the jewel - Ammon's gift.
- Release, Alex, you will swallow inadvertently!
Alexander was gentle, drunk, and similar no more to tsar, but to one overweening boy.
- They have as little chance of seeing Macedonian hegemony as of seeing their own ears! – he blab in quick temper as if someone objected to him, - Each people will answer for itself in our kingdom, Gefestion. Did you saw Persian conjurers today? It's far to them to Macedonian and Greeks – they did not know such art! And East dances, songs … as they are dissolute, melodious, pleasant to ear! I will accustom everybody to obedience. The superiority of one nation over another, and one belief over another will be strictly punished by me! As well as bribery of government officials!
- You should have a sleep, Alex, though some hours. We will discuss it on a sober head, - Gefestion whom from the drunk wine and painful affects most relentlessly pulled to sleep had offered.
- You are right! – Alexander, without undressing, got into alcove, - Come here … you know Gefes, what a problem else … It's necessary to me the successor, do you understand? The successor to hand down everything, all that we will institute in oikumena … but I cannot … understand? I cannot with women … Barsina, sensible, charming, mild, does not intrude herself, - she is pleasant to me. I wish to marry her though she is Greek woman … generally after all you and I, we will marry off everybody and mix all nations to one, we will start to create one culture for all people … but the successor … Gefes, will you help me to conceive the successor?
- How it's possible?
- Simply – three together. I will caress and kiss you, but will finish – with Barsina.
- You become crazy?!
The offer of the friend has called the whole storm of contradictory feelings in Gefestion. With whom, and with Barsina he could not present himself in a bed! He did not especially liked before to participate in the orgies arranged Alexander with friends, but never to such entertainments women were supposed! On the other hand, rather flattered that Alexander still trusts him as to anybody from the confidants. Having refused to the tsar now, he was possible to lose such trust.
Having noticed friend's confusion, Alexander interpreted that in own way, attracted Gefestion to himself, tousled hair on the forehead and said with irony:
- If you will start to confuse, you will excite me even more, - then the child will be more hearty!
- And, if Barsina will refuse you?
- Then I will order Phillip, and he will deliver her to us by force!
- Well, if it will not turn out at me, then don't take it amiss …
- Not you should be afraid of it, - Alexander whispered, falling asleep.
War council has been convened every other day. Nobody expressed aloud àbout proskineza, though it seemed to Gefestion that there were more than usual underlined respect to him among commanders, and after recent indicative actions the distance between him and other tsar's team-mates increased considerably. However not this, and not policy with strategy employed imperial favourite, - now he was not left by thoughts on own participation in Alexander and Barsina marriage. No matter how he wished, he could not imagine woman in the bed beside himself and his regal friend.
Presiding over the War council, Alexander also did not mentioned a word about promulgation new ceremonies in the army. They were talking about food supply and forthcoming military campaign.
Kratter reported that by his calculations the foodstuffs grasped in Darius transport will suffice for one month, meanwhile still arrived nothing from satrapies, the local nobility – it's similar – breaks deliveries intentionally to detain Macedonian army on the march, having given a chance for Persians to restore forces.
- We do not hasten anywhere, - Alexander commented that, - Let them recover from last blow. And, of course, it's necessary to take care of the foodstuffs. It will be correct, if Gefestion will sort out in such important issue - directly today he will head the group of gipotoksotes *, and will pass on neighbouring settlements, including Marafa.
It was just right for Gefestion's anxious mind. He willingly accepted to carry out tsar's commission to distract and find composure. It was decided that the squadron of two hundred soldiers with twenty vehicles will quite cope with the task within several days.
Soon in the afternoon in the lead of horse squad, lifting clouds of road dust, Gefestion promptly crashed into Marafa. There was appreciable liveliness in the town. People were flowning down from all yards to centre where on the hill by the side of local satrap's manor there was a temple. Many women in celebratory clothes passed on the road with babies in their hands. Young men and girls in clothes hardly hiding nakedness, were embracing and kissing publicly hesitating of nobody. Other townsfolks people were stoking the fires at their houses. Streets were shrouded by smoke extending viscous luscious smell. The children's voices, deaf sounds of drums, shrill melodies of flutes were heard from everywhere. It seemed, all Marafa was filled with strange, raising, incomparable, mixed feeling of alarm, delight and sensuality.
Gefestion led the squadron to the central square, and surrounded people have gathered there from different directions. His estimation was simple: without butting into debates with the Persian governor, to show the force,
* hipotoksotes — light cavalry armed with bows and arrows
to demand the foodstuffs delivery. Accompanied by Limn, three guardsmen in full arms, he rode astride his Spartan under the purple tent where the local satrap – Phoenician prince Efvaal was sitting among rich dressed relatives and wives.
- In the name of Gods envoy, Macedonian tsar Alexander, I am greeting you, prince! – Gefestion said publicly.
Apparition of horse squadron during holiday was so unexpectedly that Efvaal had lost courage. For a time he remained motionless in the massive gilt armchair, only his black protruding eyes, leaving from alexander's favourite look, became ran wigwag as if he participated in something shameful. At last, Phoenician prince collected. Having picked up floors of the oriental robe embroidered in gold, he rose from the trone, and in own language with bow welcomed horsemen.
- I am greeting you, Gefestion! Also you with the soldiers please take part in the holiday of Astarta, goddess of love! - Limn carefully translated.
Gefestion silently agreed, having gave gipotiksots a signal to wait special command.
At the foot of Temple mountain the action proceeded. Young men and girls dressed in national suits consisting of light shirts, wide trousers, motley waistcoats, free skirts and headdresses decorated with flowers, beads, coins and headbands, have formed two narrowed round dances where the female circle was external and manlike – internal. Having joined hands, dancers raged under sounds of drums, lyres and flutes. Music really intoxicated. Its beat gradually increased, and when it reached the peak, raging danñers began to break their clothes in ecstasy. Procession of the priests dressed in white came down the stone steps from the hill top where one small Phoenician temple was seen in sun beams, they held filled with something vessels in their hands.
In the meantime the dancing crowd ejected from itself six bared young men who lined on the wooden scaffold at the ladder bottom. Having approached closely, priests lifted vessels upwards and emptied them over heads of the young men, who began immediately to kiss, caress and rub each other an oily liquid from what their swarthy bodies had found special relief and symmetry.
Having removed helmet, Gefestion watched the orgy, trying not to pass off the obvious interest to this event.
- What are they doing? – He addressed to Efvaal.
- He says that the ceremony of ordination to priests is committing now, - Limn said.
- Well enough ordination! - Gefestion murmured - It seemed to me, all of them are opponents of same-sex love… What do you think, does he really not understand in Greek, or pretends to be?
- From all appearances, my instructor, he does not understand. Otherwise his sight would be more intelligent …
- Ask him, Limn what for they rub themselves oil and kiss each other?
Evfvaal started to explain something extensively. Meanwhile, having left scaffold slippery from oil, the group of bared young men accompanied by priests began their ascension to the temple accompanied by common triumph of crowd.
- He repeats that today goddess Astarta will ordain to the sacrament six most beautiful young men, and they will become priests, - silently translated Limn, - Selection was made by council of priests not only among candidates will, but also under their outer appearance, and also quite how each of them was forward in parish school. Now they had washed with love juice of Astarta. Usually the sacrament occurs at night. Only an inner circle of priests knows what usually they do with young men behind temple walls. However they leave transfigured therefrom …
- What means transfigured?
- He does not explain for sure … says that all priests should be similar to goddess Astarta, more womanly … allocated by more female lineaments, than man's, for love – is feminine gender. Still, Gefestion, - Limn added almost in whisper, - one phyenik told me that actually in this temple they castrate young men … I wouldn't like to turn out on their place! But, it is so, for the comment …
Gefestion shuddered internally : surely all of them are barbarians, if their ceremonies barbarous! To Macedonian kingdom with such customs?!
- And tell me, Efvaal, why people, undressing, do not hesitate? Recently, in the camp at competitions, your women hardly hid their confusion at the sight of naked bodies, hid faces in scarves, and now the girls here are absolutely naked kissing, giving themselves publicly, without hesitating?
- He says that in the day of Astarta should only be loved, and it is forbidden to hesitate, - translated Limn, - Also it is forbidden to be sad, cry and despond. It's a terrible sin … goddess Astarta does not forgive it.
- How it can be forbidden!? – Gefestion was perplexed.
- Yes, my instructor … the wild country this Phoenicia …
Suddenly Gefestion understood from what, despite the universal merrymaking, feeling of alarm did not disappear: deaf sounding of drums from the top of temple mountain as if had increased, thus strained sounds of the trumpets became really intolerable. Women from all quarters of the square with chest babies on their hands pulled to the temple where the group of bared young men and priests was hidden. Children cried and shouted in full throat, and this shout went under flute's sounds.
- He speaks, - Limn shouted to his ear, - that today all respectable inhabitants of towns and villages will do a sacrifice of their babies to Astarta!
Gefestion watched the grimaces of happiness seized on many women's faces. Excited, with burning eyes, dressed in light festival dress they passed and passed by, bearing children on their hands, trying to calm them before killing.
At that moment the successful thought had flashed the tsar's favourite! He called up Orest, one of the guardsmen, and said:
- Take the group of six and appease these drums … On my behalf order Tit and Lagros also to protect properly Efvaal…
When sounds, at last, abated, together with Limn he rushed to the temple, having appeared on uppermost ground, before the gold gates in an instant. Astride his horse, Gefestion blocked a way to the crowd, raised upwards his hand and addressed the women:
- Go away with your children! Aststra will not accept such victims today! Go, and sacrifice to your goddess instead of them more foodstuffs, flour and grain, meat of animals and birds! Astarta will not forget your gifts in favour of god's ambassade, tsar Alexander and his valorous army! And raise your children in glory of the nation and its prosperity!
… - Alex, you can't imagine, as they were happy from my offers! This very day we could send to the camp eight vehicles with provisions, and the next day – more twenty seven vehicles, – Gefestion with enthusiasm reported tsar, having returned from Marafa.
Thus he resolutely kept quiet about arisen complications during the operation, how priests have resisted, it should be killed from them treesome, and blood of clerics spilled on the sacrificial stone; how Efvaal's personnel tried to make resistance, but the cavalry has crushed rebels directly on the square before temple mountain that set off a panic in the town; and how gipotoksots plundered some yards while inhabitants really understood, at last, extremely serious intentions of Macedonians. Only after all that Phoenicians became to hand over provisions.
- I've already arrested Efvaal for his default of my orders about products deliveries to the army, - Alexander interrupted the vigorous report of the friend , - and I think that it's necessary to make away him, and his offsprings. And now Balakr will govern over this area. I've awarded him a title of gipparkh – Now he becomes the tsar of Phoenicia. I have abolished also all this Persian satrapy.
Gefestion checked himself: it appears that everything was already solved without him!
- That is how … - he uttered absent-mindedly, regretting that having been frightened the imperial anger, he hasn't arrested Efvaal still then, under the red tent, - and I wished to advise you to make the same …
- Do not sorrow, Gefes, you had also made much!
Alexander rose from the table, approached closely thus that Gefestion felt him by all the body:
- You will also make even more for me, ain't that right?
- It's true … - Gefestion could not refrain from this tsar's charm - attached him, pressed his head to the breast, began to kiss the shock of rigid blond hair. If he wants with Barsina – was thought to him - it is his problems, so gods have specified to him, and it's senselessly to mind him, necessary to concede. He nestled to Alexander's lips, embraced him, and begun to caress.
- All right. It's not a time now, - Macedonsky whispered, pushing him aside, - Now you will be at me all the campaign. It seems, I have a lot of ill-wishers in the camp. I feel the latent resistance to our ideas. I want your eyes and ears will become mine now. For the sake of appearance you will command the cavalry on march.
… For the night Gefestion remained at his tent, deciding to rest. However, Limn did not allow him to sleep soundly - it was absolutely late, when they calmed down at last. Looking at his skinny body covered with thin hair, Gefestion suddenly thought that it's better to love that kind of boy, not too handsome to feel always more worthy with him. Besides, Limn, apparently, is deep in love with him, being proud before friends since he knows the imperial favourite intimately!
Never defore Alexander saw similar: wherever he turned the look – universally there were poppies. All around till horizon the most large equal and, apparently, more expensive Persian carpet from the green grass and never-ending set of scarlet flowers had stretched everywhere. He went forward on this carpet without caring at all, how much gentle petals die from his heavy sandals, as God granted the purpose to him.
Approximately in hundred pekises* from him one man in black sat on the ground and sorted plants in his hands, postponing some of them to the bag. When Alexander approached closely, this man lifted to him the light-brown, almost yellow eyes. It was oracle of Ammon, the Sun of desert's God!
- All blossoms now in Interfluve, - the oracle said, - But when you will go here with the army, it will not remain a spire. The valley will be burnt out by the sun. It is necessary to you exhaustible campaign to Gavgamel where you will battle with Darius.
- Tell, Father, how much more victims is necessary to us on the way to perfection? – Alexander asked, stopping.
The oracle was silent. He sat on the grass and sorted collected plants.
- It's strange … - he said at last, stretching to Alexander the small sprout uprooted from the ground, - strange that it was found hellebore among these poppies … , hellebore you know? It treats some, and others - kills … And where is your friend, Gefestion? Whether he keeps well Ammon's talisman?
- What do you mean - where Gefestion? Gefestion - is I myself. He is at me always, wherever I am, - Alexander answered, feeling, as the fear chill runs on his back from comprehension that actually there is no Gefestion already. He is not anywhere, and even in Alexander's soul he is not present! - Gefes! Where are you?! Gefestion! Gefes!.. – he shouts, alarmed, with all his might, waking up from own voice.
And only at dawn silence in the tent, broken by water's murmur in fountain.
- Phillip! Send for Gefestion! Where he disappears …
It happend as the oracle predicted. In the beginning of summer Alexander directed troops to the north-east – to Euphrates. And this way was not at all easy. Exhausting heat forced to move only at night, and in the afternoon – to erect tents and have a rest. A magnificent tent of Dariy, having disassembled, they carted in transport. For the rest stop they used simple tents which dense fabric did not rescue from the heat. The army was still in trouble with the foodstuffs, the soldier's ration continually grew scanty. Romantic multinational culturel figures and other visitors gradually began to leave the army. Barsina whom Alexander unsuccessfully was going to call for a straight talk about wedding and way of conception the successor had left one of the last.
*pekis - linear measure equal to an elbow
It was appreciable, that she is not inclined to fasten more familiarity with him – perhaps, Barsina understood that she is much older Alexander, probably, memory of the lost husband, Persian military leader Memnon, restrained her female nature. Macedonsky felt her coldness, and eventually he did not start to insist – released her home together with maids, to Greece.
Alexander again was seized with potos – aspiration, having won Persian kingdom, to create a new world order. Whatever they were tired, emaciated by heat, exhausted by thirst, but every morning, before down-lying, and every evening before night march – face to face - he and Gefestion got down before each other on knees, and Alexander prayed to the Ammon's precious amulet on the neck of his favourite for success of their campaign and preservation of the Army fighting capacity. Gefestion obediently repeated his words of ripped out of the heart daily prayer which always began as:
- Father! Zevs great, Ammon almighty! We address with this prayer to You. Thank You for choosing us to this feat. Let Your blessing will be the guiding star for us. Let it will allow us forces to execute our great mission and to start up empire of freedom and justice in oikumena...
It seemed, will be no number to those dark nights of campaign as to the stars in bottomless sky of the East which Alexander often admired, going round troops astride his Butsefal. It will be no the end to this incinerating day heat, capable to lift mirages of mountain tops above the valley. However when crescent has made the complete circle, and full disk of the Moon began to shine in the sky, the Army approached to Euphrates.
Garpal with scouting informed that enemy regiments* under command of Mazei stand on opposite bank, in number less than Macedonian army - in fifty thousand souls. Alexander as always decided to attack the first. They built bridges across the river, as channel turned out to be too stony, inconvenient for ford. Persians did not undertaken any military operations. At dawn it became visible that Mazei's army disappeared, as if a mirage.
- It's not seemed to you, Garpal? – Alexander asked as soon as they got out to the bank.
Neither rustle, nor wind, nor birds, - the ringing silence reigned around. The burnt plain was stretched in front, to redden horizon stripe.
- No, my tsar, - Garpal has thrown up a hand and show more right, - Do you see dust which does not gravitated yet? There there were horse regiments still yesterday. It was possible to crack one bather: there were five regiments, about five thousand souls. We lifted the captured to the bank and shown him our camp. And then we released him, that he will tell about arrival of Macedonian army.
- It was necessary to deliver him to me.
- You were late in rearguard, and we had no time to wait …
- So, Mazei was frightened of us?
- Perhaps it's some east cunning, they simply entice us? You, Garpal, be always ahead of army on forty – fifty stadies with group, and inform me conditions every morning. Now we set up the camp. And we will go forward in two days.
* hereinafter average divisions of Macedonian and Persian armies are meant
Some time he reflected what to tell the soldiers. He would not like to say that Mazey's regiments, without joint battle, had ran away. The frequent mention of Persians cowardice could relax his soldiers. Besides, there was nothing to be proud – as it was no a fight, also was no a victory.
After river crossing, by the night of next day he collected the army meeting at the torches lights.
He said his soldiers that only now they entered Persian territory because Darius has already given to Alexander half of the kingdom after battle at Iss, till the Euphrates river. It will be necessary to rise cities, systems of channels, to irrigate soil so that it bear fruit, to grow up bread here, to arrange gardens and kitchen gardens on this earth. But before Macedonian army should break the enemy and enter Persepolis, capital of Persia, with the victory as liberator. Then he will distribute Persian territories to soldiers in hand and inheritance, and everyone will be happy. They start to live in peace and quiet with many peoples of the East and who wants – will come back home, to Macedonia and tell the children and grandsons about their feats. Laying down their heads in battles will be grant the eternal life in heavens, and to their families - lifelong maintenance from the state. As always, when he delivered a speech, his thoughts ran forward the words, giving confidence that Zevs utters by his lips. Words of God as if arrows should stick into souls of the soldiers and remain there forever.
Army meeting supported Alexander's plan – he did not wait another answer. Certainly, he understood that far from everyone in his army, especially among commanders, share his outlook at the arrangement of governance in the won territories, their inclusion to the Macedonian's kingdom structure, at individual rule of Alexander. Parmenion's environment, his sons, Filota, in particular, were strongly against it. Clearly: the old commander, the Army founder, wished the own piece – absolute domination over whether Bactria, whether Phrygia, whether Mesopotamia, – all the same than under the covering of Macedonian hegemony. Parmenion will establish there the laws favourable to his only family! Balakr will not do that in Phoenicia entrusted to him, each step he will coordinate with Alexander, also as Garpal, Ptolemei, Perdikka, Cratter, and many others. But Parmenion – capricious and ambitious old man, favourite Army commander – together with sons and relatives is capable to organise the kingdom in the kingdom, having disorganised all conceived regarding the merge of peoples in oikumena and creation the community of free people with equal possibilities!
Having ceased to doubt of the correctness of elected mission, Alexander could not presume his environment to ruin in a germ the ideas consecrated by God. The choice was made – Macedonian tsar should become the lord of oikumena, the guarantor of freedom, the guardian of culture, traditions, interests of all citizens, irrespective of their nationality and creed! He has already decided to himself that he will achieve these purposes, whatever victims of him it would not demand. And, even if though only one dissenter will find out in the Macedonian geteira, he also will be destroyed.
Exhausting days on march were pulled again. The Army had a rest in the afternoon heat wave; by the night, orienting by stars, - it departed to trek. Being alternately in avant-guard, then in rearguard of the army, Alexander rode round regiments every night, and displayed a paternal care of them. As never-ending stream, by fiery arrow at the light of torches the combat formation moved to the East from him, Macedonian tsar, executing the will of Ammon.
In the morning, for the thirtieth day of the way, the sun became dark.
Having held a session with commanders as usually, and sent Gefestion to ride round the camp, Alexander directed to his tent, with Argeadov's arms on the flagstaff.
Despite early hour, it was improbable stuffy heat aloft. It seemed, covered with brown veil, the orange Ammon's fetish is unable to rise above horizon.
Alexander would like to remove leather armour, spill water over himself and sleep even though forenoon to have time to give orders and to write letters. By the horses tent he has dismounted. However he never got a chance to take out his foot from the stirrup, he has been brought down by the strongest impulse of hot wind, and fell from the horse. Bucephalus scaredly neighed and started to incur, dragging the regal owner by the ground. Overheated dust stuck into the face, burnt hands, penetrated nostrils, dimmed eyes. During an instant all had mixed up, it was not visible neither earth, nor sky - no nothing in this dusty stream, - and Alexander entreat of only about the one: that Bucephalus will not touch him with the hoof!
After a while Butsefalus as if restrained by bridle, had stopped. Improbable effort Alexander managed to grab a harness and climb up on the saddle. The burning wind has not abated, but from above there was no dust, rushed a dense stream directly under knees, overthrowing all on it's way.
One more horseman has toiled beside, resisting howling wind. The horse under him, should be, was fixed, or had hooked casually, thereby the horseman managed to keep hold of himself and constrain Butsefalus.
- Who are you? – Alexander shouted with all his might.
- I am Limn, my tsar! Limn! – he hardly caught through continuous noise of the wind and a heart-rending horses neigh.
… And when, at last, storm abated, and together they disentangled the horse leash from under massive boulder, the horrific view appeared to Alexander's eye. Terrible wind swept tsar's tent together with implements. The camp was crumpled. The troops being shut down by squall had strove among the property filled up by sand, soldiers dug out each other, their horses and arms.
- Let you go with me, Limn! – Alexander ordered, without finding round himself any guardsman.
First of all, it was followed to find transport with provisions and goatskins with fresh water, having moved in the middle of a column. Glory of Zevs: goatskins with Euphrates water which by Hares calculations should suffice for all campaign to the Tiger river, was found to be safe and sound! Transport with dried meat also was damaged slightly, à part of provisions had to dug out from sand, and to collect not broken water-melons around the district.
All the day long under the scorching sun they arrange themselfs. Then, in the evening, they have spent the call-over and War council. It was found a little victims of unexpected storm among soldiers, only twelve ones were lost, fifteen were wounded, and twenty five fighters had gone missing.
Alexander took Limn to his bosom in this campaign, having appointed him as a page. He believed in the Divine foresight, that this boy appears a sign of Ammon's force rescuing him from every possible threats. Besides Limn seemed easy on the eye, was sensible, meticulous, and liked to philosophize. Sometimes, during daily duties, Limn served him, bringing up water for ablution. And he could not resist an impulse to cuddle the lad and to kiss. He did so with all pages in this campaign, with brothers Nikomah and Kebalin, and others, - Limn was not an exception. It was the sign of tsar's special trust - the young men even bragged among themselves how many times each of them had intimate affinity with Alexander.
Evenings, before the night march, in all divisions of the army fires were built in order to have supper. Alexander very much loved this hour: when in coming short gloaming awful day heat gave way to the night cool, and fires flashed all over the camp. It seemed to him that these fires – continuation of stars born directly before his very eyes, the embodiment of their heavenly force. The Cancer constellation was given by Zevs in aid of him to carry out his plans!
Alexander together with Gefestion whose tent always settled down at him, began to assembl near the fire on a spread his confidants - pages, guardsmen of protection, grooms, and even cooks. They were waiting Garpal with the investigation report, conducting unhurried conversations. After this report tsar ordered – to march off! The bugler made the lingering signal having time and again repeated in army parts, and the camp began to move. In less than an hour the huge bivouac again turned øòto the harmonous column on march.
In one of these evenings at fire the magic of coming night seemed unusual, and spoken words – more significant.
- What it will be with us in ten years! – Limn exclaimed suddenly. He sat on the ground, having thrown hands behind a head, turning pensively look to the starry sky.
Nobody has responded. Everyone thought of his own. It was difficult to look into the future when daily danger watched, and anyone in the campaign could suddenly lose the life, having entrusted the soul to gods.
- In ten years we will live in the country has not ever been, - Alexander said, at last, feeling that the response should be for him, - People of all nationalities in this country will love and respect each other, work freely and bring up the new generation.
- Even those who still now sacrifices children to gods, burning them on fires? – Limn asked.
- What a wildness! – Kebalin murmured.
- Whatever you say … our traditions can seemes to them also wild too, - Gefestion objected, correcting molder coals of the fire.
- What's the such Macedonian traditions can seem wild?
- For example, to engorge, to get drunk immoderately … to compete naked on arena, and dance under tambourines comp - many things what else can not be pleasant to someone!
- It is not comparable, Gefestion! – Alexander reproachfully looked at the friend, – It is necessary to be truly devoted his belief person to sacrifice the child to God!
- But it's not fidelity, it is fanaticism, or feeling of the sheep in herd frightened by wolf, - Limn has minded hotly.
Alexander was baffled a little by Limn's words – the boy, snotter, dared to contradict tsar! But, it's strange: to the surprise, he suddenly felt also tenderness to this lad, desire more to speak and argue with him. Basically, – he was also himself the uncompromising young man five years ago, being in ward of the father.
- What's wrong with that, Limn? If people, one and all, belief in their god and their tsar? The will of heavens also is shown just in it. And what do a gregarious feeling here?
- My tsar, it's bad nothing in it, of course, it is what it is. But then the individuality is removed on second plan, the person ceases to think independently, being guided by common notions and derogate authority behind them, as a rule.
- Then tell me, baby, what's the use of many sights and many opinions showing a number of individualities? If to give the chance to express all of them the general vector of development will tend to zero.
- Why! My tsar, really you wish to create the state of freedom! Freedom to everyone to express his opinion bravely – the first of human liberties. If someone does not wish to sacrifice his child, he should have possibility not to do that, despite the established traditions.
Acrid notes sounded in tone of his voice. Surprisingly! This boy, without hesitating, asked the questions to which Alexander himself at times cannot find answers. Limn as if sounded the former doubts dispelled by the oracle of Ammon.
- Calm down, Limn: we are also struggle for it, and spill now blood for nobody cannot sacrifice their children any more! – Alexander said, thinking the theme of conversation is settled.
- But it's very difficult to break traditions even if they are wild, - the young man did not let up, continuing to examine the starry sky.
- There is talk, - Nikomah responded on conversation, - that a lot of in Phoenicia hides their children, do not give them to schools - as they provide competitions for the best pupil whom sacrifice to local god. You will not envy! It's better to die in fight fairly, than to be killed like a sheep. It seems to me that only the whole nation can resist such wildness. Such as Macedonian.
- Leave your ideas, - Alexander objected angrily, - Nobody can be the best, be it Greek, or Phoenician. Also as we do not know: is the true here, or – in the sky! Only selected by God can be the bests, irrespective of where they were born, and what is they nationalities. Such as I am, Alexander, Macedonian's tsar, and also Herakles, Patroclus, Achilles, Odysseus – the Greek heroes … it is entirely a little us, to whom gods entrusted destinies of the world and struggle against harm. And they also will shape legends about me and my assistants, and also about all of you.
Was nobody to object. Everyone were filled of pride, and only Limn has uttered in that silence:
- Each considers as evil what contradicts his morality. So, phinicys, for example, think Macedonians as barbarians, and our gains – as invasion. And we all, on the contrary, see barbarians Persians. So the reason in the force - who is stronger - is right!
Alexander looked at Gefestion. It was impossible to get into his eyes, however light twitching flushing friend's cheekbones gave out extreme irritation of the favourite. Having decided to relieve the friend from jealousy attack, Alexander caddled him for mighty shoulder.
- Yes, Limn. Certainly we are stronger, - he answered the young page.
Ancient Babylon was beautiful in beams of morning sun as the stratiote-winner, whose feat of arms does not darkle in centuries! It seemed so to Gefestion following along Euphrates with investigation horse group. He was captivated by the view appeared his look. The road conducted to the gates of construction towering on river bank similar stair-step pyramid what they have already seen not one in Egypt, but here all foresides were tiled by light blue tiles with gold figures of animals and birds. The never-ending white wall tape stretched from the gates to the East, disappearing under the very horizon. Behind this wall, in a distance, over the whole set of constructions, one more wall was visible, with frequent turrets on it, and colossus of the palace, topped with azure portico. The majestic gold gate of internal city towered directly on the course, approximately in one and a half tens stadiums. And far off in stream of solar beams the Babel tower sung as far back by Gerodot was seen. Destroyed by Persians in wars against Sumerous this ziccurat* and now was incomparable in it's greatness! Here it is, the mysterious capital of the East, dreamt to tsar's favourite all the time, seemed to him so inaccessible and attracting only two years ago! Here it is, won in battles the world's centre, the city of peoples! Here it is – the future citadel of oikumena!
Meanwhile to general elation of Gefestion, who was sent by Alexander to avant-guard for preparing the solemn entrance of Macedonians army to the city, were added grief and doubts. Victorious campaign is finished. What waits for them behind these walls? How the way of their life will unfold? Whether he will save exclusive position of the tsar's favourite, or will be rejected?
Since Alexander has made Limn the new friend, tsar's favourite did not find a rest to himself. Of course, outwardly in Alexander and Gefestion relations had changed nothing. After bloody battle at Gavgamel where Darius army suffered shattering defeat, tsar still trusted the favourite own intentions, still gave him responsible missions. Still Gefestion stored on his breast the precious Ammon's amulet – Alexander’s jewel. In battle, and on march he didn't remove the amulet at no time; the crystal as if has grown into him, becoming a body part. But neither heavy fight, nor campaign hardships, could not muffle in Gefestion the jealous bitterness that now his former servant, interpreter Limn often advises to Alexander, and now the lad often rests at tsar's bed, appeasing him physical and spiritual. It began to seem to Gefestion, that in vain he always suppressed own pride, pleasing to tsar. And now he already feel painfully shame for the silly trick with the proskineza in Marafa stadium. If he behaved at times more rigidly in relation to Alexander,
* ziccurat – cult construction
it would be more chances to remain the first among tsar's favourites. On the other hand, Gefestion argued, knowing Alexander's independent obstinate character, to contradict tsar constantly was meant on the contrary – to become the first candidate to deprivation of tsar's trust.
Therefore after arrival to Babylon he solved two main problems for himself : how to place Alexander and find place himself without losing sight of tsar, and how to get rid of the arisen rivalry with Limn. On the way, except Perdikka whom Alexander gave him in aid of commanding the division, master of ceremony Khares and guardsmen of protection, he was accompanied by certain Usama, the envoy of Mazey – the commander who has abandoned the city to Macedonian army.
- The army will enter city through these northern gate, where you will be waited by ruler Mazey. He will hand over gifts to you also the symbolical keys from the fort, - Usama spoke, approaching gates. Prosy tone with which distinctly enough spoke Greek words this elderly longbear person in green turban and inconvenient for riding wide dress, in no way correspond the importance of this moment: as if it was necessary not to accept the army of liberators, but to hand over contents of any wine barn the new owner.
Gefestion with interest viewed fortifications. Deep ditch surrounded fort, the wide bridge was paved by flag-stones, an intricate monogram have shone on each of them. The same monogram, but in the bas-relief form, was possible to distinguish in the sated gold pattern of massive gate covered with blue glaze. The one who built this fortress, was surely reposed that the luxury of facade decors will not be incinerated by enemy.
The blue palace similar to Egyptian pyramid had towered on extensive high plateau instantly behind gate.
- What's the images on flag-stones? – Gefestion asked when, having left horses on the road, they walked upstairs to the palace.
- The arms of Navuhodonosor, the Sumer tsar, - Usama answered, - it is constructed during him. Darius changed nothing here, even the arms on the walls.
- You suggest to place here Alexander's imperial court?
- This northern palace served the summer residence as far back as Navuhodonosor ruled, - Usama methodically told, - Tsar Darius did not live here, but premises are ready for reception of the new owner.
It was dangerous to trust Mazey, the artful Persian could entice Macedonian army to the fortress as in trap. Gefestion did not share Alexander's euphoria from the victory at Gavgamel – Macedonians were too lucky in this campaign and battle. Mazey's behaviour who handed over a span after a span of Persian earth, the treason Darius, arouse suspicions : Persians could operate so as a blind, collecting forces for retaliation. Now Gefestion noted with satisfaction – nobody in Macedonian army knew for the present, and only before the most departure to avant-guard they came to an agreement with Alexander – that the large part of Macedonian army will not enter Babylon, but having separate into some parts, will stretch a camp all round the city. Only the regiment of gipaspists*, the regiment of gipotoksots and horse guards will enter the fortress together with Alexander, and at the beginning other armies will support combat readiness beyond its walls up to the special command.
* gipaspists – infantry groups
The reception of Macedonian tsar Alexander's ambassador was noted by great tactlessness of the defeated rival: Mazey with the environment stood at the far side of the extensive hall under malachite colonnade, having made no step towards him!
- Where is Darius, Mazey, why he does not meet us?! – Gefestion accompanied by guardsmen of protection exclaimed without greetings, rushing into the hall.
- Oh, sayyid! Darius had ran avay, we cannot find him! – Mazey's face disfigured by scar on cheek extended, an alarm emerged in the eyes.
- Really? We have absolutely another information. It's known to us that Darius disappears just within the walls of Babylon, - Gefestion pressed him, having decided for fidelity to test Persians, - If we find him here, you will lose your head, Mazey!
With these words he handed over to Babylon's vicar the roll with message from Alexander where the requirement to give out Darius to Macedonians also contained.
Having read the message, Mazei, at last, came forward to Gefestion, inclined the head before him, and started silently talking in Persian. Usama translated:
- You can execute me, sayyid, but I really do not know, where is Darius. But nobody knows it here, neither townsmen, nor garrison soldiers, neither his wifes in his harem, nor his mother – nobody. You can come into the harem and if you do not believe Darius mother, his daughter Roksana you will not believe to yourself … They inconsolable bewall the Great tsar, considering him dead. Your army can room in the city, on the yards … Nobody will touch you, for people consider the war lost, they are through with a set of mobilisations announced by Darius, they want changes.
Looking at Mazey's figure inclined before, his shaven skull, Gefestion suddenly felt that behaviour of Persian commander was sincere and worthy, however he made no sign.
- Well, Mazey. Show me the fort, but remember of your risk. In some days Alexander's army will enter here!
… Perdikka arrange troops on the square before palace – ahead infantry, behind it - cavalry. Squadron of guardsmen, sparkling by armour, was settled down separately, near the ladder. When Gefestion appeared on the palace porch together with Mazey, soldiers saluted them in a new way, greeting accepted at the army meeting: «Glory to Alexander, the tsar of all Asia!»
Each time before a public speech Gefestion tested strange excitement. He could not explain to himself, why this excitement comes to him not before fight, not in a campaign full unexpected dangers, but only before speech in front of the public, whether it be soldiers of the native army, or inhabitants of another's settlements. He always preferred to operate secretly, covertly, being Alexander's shadow, the executor of his will. Therefore only a acute need necessity to inform people at large the sense of ideas and orders he could explain the mobilization force of his always excited and short speeches.
- Soldiers! – he addressed to regiments – Persians surrender us the city. Now I order to commanders of divisions: to room all of you on the yards! Guardsmen will go to the fort with me. Be worthy the great victory of the glorious Macedonian army at Gavgamels! To you, soldiers, was given the great gift: to become participants of tsar's Alexander the Great and his valorous army triumphal entry to Babylon. Our dearest tsar selected this ancient fortress and rich city as the capital of his new state for it is great and unapproachable. The new life will begin from here! Many peace affairs will start from here! Perhaps, I do not need to tell you about it, but I will say …. Any marauding will be punished publicly at the army meeting! It will be better, if each of you will meet the victory over Persian tsar Darius in full possession of the spiritual and physical health, being ready to the new achievements and feats!
In the evening Gefestion wrote to Alexander: «… I did not see such magnificence anywhere, even in Egypt. Mazey opened me cellars where on the every pikis of area there are so much gold and jewels that they seemes a dust. Southern palace is more capacious and magnificent from the two ones, it located inside fortress behind the city gate. These gate named of goddess Ishtar, the goddess of fertility. Her image in gold bas-reliefs, gold and stone figurines – are everywhere, outwardly they remind phallus. Should be, it testifies to the liberty of local customs are similar to Macedonian. Located on the high plateau, the palace unites itself eight large yards. One of them is adjoined by the whole bulk with the great hall, and another – by apartments and Darius' harem, delivered at your order – the so-called Semiramid's gardens landed as though on the terraces along the Road of processions. Having walked on this gardens, I was much marvelled as trees and bushes grow overhanging, one above the other. Darius' mother threw herself at my feet as if I am Macedonian tsar, and asked to return her the son. I lifted her from the floor and explained that I am not the tsar. She and Darius' daughters since Parmenion has settled them to the Babylon palace, are still in alarm for the destiny of former sovereign. I doubt that each of them palters. Just in case I sent Perdikka with the group of five hundred guardsmen to search city back streets – without results. The population on it's structure is multinational, and Greeks are here too. Nobody raise any difficulties to us. If Darius also hids here, then he would be given. Hares selected the Southern palace for your placing, and prepares welcoming ceremony. You are only free to appoint the date».
He wanted to notice in the letter that himself had occupied the whole flank of Southern palace near the harem and great hall, but decided not to do that as Khares apprehended his desire as a due, and any conflict was not expected.
What was his surprise when Limn had suddenly arrived next day with the response message from Alexander !
- The dispatch to you, Gefestion, from Alexander.
It seemed to Gefestion, as if the young man has found an external lustre and importance from belonging to the great causes of the present, regal adorer. «The equal to the equal would speak so!» - was flashed in the head of tsar's favourite before he took the roll in his hands, - «Think of it: in less than two months has passed, as this milksop respectfully called him as the mentor!» It was guite heartbreaking to Gefestion – amazingly, but he suddenly felt more attachment to this young man, his thin and gentle shape, sincere and sharp mind, simplicity and naturalness of the communion with everybody, irrespective of ranks. And, because of he cannot get out of love networks of Limn in any way, Gefestion's mood deteriorated finally.
- Tell the tsar that in appointed day everything will be ready, - he said chilly, having read the message, - I will meet him with group of guardsmen on the way and escort to the city.
Limn respectfully inclined his head, turned out and gone away from the apartments. Alien and native simultaneously.
And Gefestion tested fierce hatred to himself, having called him:
- Stop! Return, Limn, there is more to come! - Gefestion should invent urgently, what a commission to give the former friend to justify the unexpected weakness. He took gold figurine of goddess Ishtar from the table, and stretched it to young man, - hand over this to the tsar.
He would like to embrace Limn, cuddle and kiss. But he didn't, and only thought that he will make the best efforts to remove the lad from Alexander's environment.
In a week the Macedonian army entered into the city.
Gefestion left towards the tsar on the magnificent gold chariot, which Khares has dug up in Darius palace; soldiers have put it in order, greased, cleared out from dust layer, and it brightly shone in the sun.
Alexander looked wearily.
- And it's what for? – he asked crossly, looking at the vehicle, - I will ride a horse. And this shandrydan is for you.
- Alex, the chariot is tooled by pure gold. It's a thousand quantas of what is stored in Dariu's treasury, - Gefestion tried to convince him, - And, Khares is right: people should see, on whose chariot the winner rides!
Alexander as if listened, began to examine the vehicle and correct horse harness. Then he rose on the platform, took reins to the hands.
- All right. If it's such important, we will ride together, - he solved, - but let them to conduct Bucephalus beside.
- Why are you so puzzled, my tsar, that even the eve of triumph and view of gold does not please you? – asked Gefestion, adding to the voice iconfidential-playful tone, when they remained alone.
- Wouldn't you know it, Gefes! – Alexander answered, - Last evening Kallisfen led to me one East geographer. Who unfolded before me the maps … and he asserts that the world is arranged in another way absolutely, not like we conceive it ourselves.
- What do you mean?
- Let's go.
They passed into the tent. Alexander took one roll lying atop from the box with documents - the map.
- This geographer asserts that the Indus river does not follow from the Girkanian* sea, but originates in the Tibet mountains. Also it does not merge with Nile, and runs into the ocean. Here it is denoted. You see? And beyond Indus there is large country, about which we did not suspect at all. This country a size of more than Persia, and it is not less peoples in it.
Gefestion looked at the map, trying to look attentive as more as possible.
- And what afflicts you so strongly, Alex?
- As you do not understand! – Macedonsky triggered, - Still yesterday we thought about the end of campaign. But now it turn out to be that it's early to think of it!
Only now Gefestion understood true reason of tsar's bad mood. The new trials for Macedonian army being ready to celebrate the victory and to begin a new life yet in Babylon, were coming , - whether it was told by Alexander to soldiers at each army meeting? Whether these promises were alive in the hearts of soldiers and commanders loving him? Whether these words were repeated with him by all tsar's comrades-in-arms? And he himself, tsar's favourite, declared recently the same to the avant-guard regiments! It turned out that all of them told soldiers a lie!
- Listen, Alex, perhaps, this geographer is sent from Darius specially to mislead us? – Gefestion tried to encourage himself and tsar.
Alexander looked at him derisively:
- It is good to be suspicious, Gefes, but not to that extent! I do not have bases to doubt truthfulness of statements of this geographer. He supplied Garpal with maps for investigation, and never let down us, never was mistaken. Talking with him, I felt myself awkwardly because of the lack of information in the East geography …
Macedonsky began to walk around the tent, inspecting baggage collected to departure, then he said:
- Zevs sends us the new travails, Gefestion! Let will be so. But we together will get over them after all, is it truth?
- Of course we will get over, my tsar! – tsar's favourite was glad to serve Alexander.
- Then, go and order to Kebalin from my name to bugle parade. You and I will move to avant-guard on the chariot. Let guardsmen of protection lead mine Bucephalus behind us. Tell Evmen to come here - I will give him the orders about evacuation of my transport.
Soon they got underway. The chariot as a gold arrow dashed along army formation, evoking delight and admiration in regiments. Amicable «hurrah!» slid on troops followed them. Gefestion again was happy beside Alexander, the belief to own necessity and importance returned to him again. All bad, dark, spiteful was forgotten by him: and recent excitement about loss of tsar's trust, and unpleasant feelings of jealousy, uselessness, abandonment, rising to throat as lump, - all of this was beaten out from his head by wind of this mad gallop!
They caught up to army avant-guard under the command of Ñratter not far of the Northern gate, in suburb. All magnificence power of Macedonian weapons, training of Macedonian regiments, statuary of Macedonian soldiers were appeared here, before inhabitants of the nearest settlements! Having overcome fear of this terrible force, people hastened to the road to welcome the Army with flovers and colourful tapes. Many of them executed proskineza ceremony, having caught sight from away tsar's vehicle harnessed with four horses.
Having outrun horse group of Ñratter, Gefestion stopped the chariot.
- Alex, Mazey waits for us there, at the gate of Ishtar, - he quietly informed tsar, - You will take the symbolical key to the city from him. After that we will pass through the Road of processions to Southern palace. Khares has prepared there the big reception on the occasion of your accession.
- Well, - Alexander answered, being quite happy , - Now let us spend, as we agreed, a short council with Cratter about disposition of troops in the city.
When, having handed over reins to guardsmen of protection, Gefestion the first stepped on land, one woman from crowd in light-coloured dress threw herself at his feet and started to wail in Greek:
- My tsar! I have lost my husband and two sons in this war! Darius appointed to me the grant. Satraps* stole it! Order them to pay!
Gefestion confused, as well as recently when Dariu's mother mistook him for the tsar. Now Alexander came to help him, lifted the woman from the earth, removed the dagger from belt, sheath and handle of which were made of gold and jewels.
- I am Alexander, the tsar of Macedonia. Here take it, woman. You will have enough here and for ten grants!
Then there was from ten intercessors right there to throw themselfs at tsar's feet. Guardsmen got the crowd to move on with shields.
- Limn! – Alexander called, having turned back to the environment, - What all of them want? Copy all their requests and give them to Evmen for report me later.
Then tsar touched Gefestion for a shoulder and took him aside.
- I ask you, Gefes, to do the following: describe to Aristotle this case in the letter, but as if ... it so happened that I had a presence when Darius' mother mixed up you with me. As it was happened now, but instead of my dagger as a gift – my unlimited magnanimity … do you understand? Give me to read, and l will send the letter send by hand of Kallisfen. I want, that the case will remain so in history…
Meanwhile Kratter appeared, to whom it was ordered to lead the Army through all the city on the Road of processions. It was planned to make disposition at the square before Southern palace, then regiments deployed outside the city, should leave it through the gate of Earth goddess – Urash, and to establish a camp along fortifications.
Everything was fine, and Alexander was pleased with meeting ceremony and good mood of inhabitants of Babylon joyfully welcoming the new souveren and his soldiers, and mainly, that, having seen personally grasped Darius' treasury, for the first time in three years of gains - the period of military good lucks - at last he has ceased to test financial difficulties. Treasures of Darius seemed dazzling, immense and incapable to
* here – officials
any calculation. Nevertheless, he has charged Garpal to take inventory of vaults contents – everything, to last coin. The sum turned out impressive, in one hundred times exceeding the native Macedonia treasury!
Abundance obtained by long three years of the campaign in difficulties and deprivations, by the cost of several bloody fights had turned Alexander's head. Magnificent reception in Southern palace on account of the entry troops in the city became some never-ending celebration where he was sworn by all former Darius' environment in the led of Mazei. This feast proceeded more than a week, one to another replaced commanders, conjurers, satraps, trainers of animals, wives of the former Persian lord – the beauties showed him the skill in singing, dances, embroidery and playing the musical instruments. In never-ending string of imperial duties and entertainments, being more often drunk than sober, Alexander understood mainly that now he is the personal lord of Asia, and his word is capable to change something in oikumena for by his affairs was gained the indisputable authority of Zevs-Ammon's son!
These days Alexander thought that all his environment also daily should realise their Asia sovereignty culpability, and now all of them are not simple of Macedonia descent, but representatives of uniform nation in the state creating by him. First up he ordered his courtiers to change clothes for Persian dress, as the peoples should gradually adopt each other customs; and himself, imitating Darius' grandees, has dressed in the east dressing gown embroidered with gold thread, and decorated fingers with rings, and wrists – with bracelets.
Mazey obviously tried for the new lord of Asia, carrying out each his wish, from changing rigid pillows on sofas to preparation report on the War council. Now the Persian military leader seemed to tsar as initiative, courageous and decent subordinate, and Macedonsky had done justice to him, having appointed the chief of Babylon. In general it seemed to Alexander, distributing posts in the won territories, as peoples accept his government with pleasure, it's not necessary to vail companions in arms often, but to leave in these areas the officials who have sworn him, or to favour any other state posts to local satraps.
Days and nights Alexander spent in magnificent Southern palace with the attendants – Gefestion, Limn, Garpal, Perdikka and Kratter. Imperial orders he delivered now directly from the bed, morning-after, realizing that all the same Evmen and Khares will decipher his scrappy statements, will add clumsy phrases and execute absurd commissions. But even in this narrow circle of persons who he supposed to himself out of the protocol, only Gefestion could know, why Alexander is strongly drunk and avoids the harem - simply he was afraid to find out man's weakness before busty beauties, which Mazey by all means imposed to him. It was more truthful for associates to look drunk. He let to the alcove only Limn or Gefestion, and even both together, and played with them till early morning. One love did not suffice him, it was necessary to love him more than usual for a self-trust.
- It cannot proceed further. You do not dry out from wine! Collect yourself! - Gefestion chid him once in the morning.
It was the truth. Alexander rose upward on elbows, became to look around bedchamber, peeping, hardly understanding, why it is not pup tent, but palace mansion. Gefestion was beside, and the red-green Ammon's fetish sparkled on his neck.
- Why are you angry, Gefes? - he wheezed in reply, - Unless we have not a rest, have a good time now, if gods give us this time?
- I'm not angry from this, but because you are showing before all of us your weakness to Dionis* who overcomes you. Zevs created you strong, not you were prematurely born as crip!
- What for all of you need me!? Leave me alone, at least, for a while …
Gefestion begun to shake him for shoulders, saying:
- Regain consciousness, Alex! You are selected by God, and you should bear this burden. After all more recently you told me that we should cope with the problems, which Zevs entrusted to us. So before cope with your drunkenness! Also stop lying me that you drink from idleness. That's not a reason of your drink!
- And what?
- You avoid Roksana, Darius' daughter, avoid his mother, and harem, - in general women. Meanwhile, you offered me in Marafa … you know what have you offered me …, what's happened with you? Why?
Gefestion as always knew, during what time what it is necessary to say. Childly hasteful speech showed genuine concern in him. «Which of us more courageous in alcove affairs? Really Gefestion?» - authoritative Alexander thought.
- Well. Call Roksana, we will try, - he suddenly solved, trying to fling off hang-over from himself.
- And now we will try! Cebalin! – he called the page, - Ivite Roksana, Darius' daughter to conversation, and bring any sobering!
After failure with Barsina it seemed to Alexander that all the same, in whose womb to conceive the successor. Any woman from relatives or harem of the former lord of Persia was suitable for this purpose. However in this akt he wished to find the symbolical meaning for achievement of his purpose – to creat the uniform nation, one people in the won territories.
Nothing special was in Roksana – no one streak which could attract tsar. Darus' oldest daughter was not observed neither sharp mind, nor harmonious rhetoric, neither simple ability to keep the conversation, nor abilities to seduce men by refined manners. Moreover she knew Greek language badly. But, from all women surrounding prostrate lord, only this twenty years old stoutish plain woman with aquiline nose and eyes burning from undercover desires, only she the one suited to him as a wife according to age and origin. He should select her the wife to set an example in incest of peoples.
Nothing turned out. Roksana, without any confusion, bared before young men her smooth bosom and amused, as she could. Sight of her amorphous body has substantially lost beside the man's build of Gefestion, invariably raising in Alexander passionate inclination. Nevertheless, having possessed Roksana for a long time as he tried he could not eject a seed into her. That, however, tsar's favourite got done with success. Observing from outside monotony of the bed pace where Gefestion acted as equestrian, Alexander, suddenly realised that this series of the convulsive movements looking like gymnastics, in his understanding never could be named as love. It's ridiculous to jealous somebody in such competitions. «Be that will be! – he thought, - The son of Gefestion – his, tsar's, son too, being conceived in one bed. He also becomes the successor!».
Persian tsarevna, apparently, understood nothing in mutual relations of the young men and left tsar's rooms satisfied, having asked permissions to return once again.
*Dionis – God of wine and fun in ancient Greece, on a legend was born prematurely
After magnificent celebrations and plentiful drunkenness Alexander liked to walk in Semiramida's gardens, to wander across spacious terraces, ascending to them by wide marches of stairs, to view the fantastic rock monsters crowning massive colonnades severely looking from their heights on the Etemenanki tower, the dwelling of Sumer god Marduk. There was a middle of autumn, and gardens scented ripe pears and apples, fallen down leaves rustled underfoot, and palm trees landed along avenues, hospitably welcomed winds from Euphrates by easy knock of their branches. And it seemed to him at times that generally neither heavy fights, nor dangerous campaigns have not taken place, but bright sunny days, nights under silent cover of twinkling stars - this fantastic magnificence of the East was created at all times and in all places.
Seldom whom he took along to such walks unless Limn for a dialogue made him often good thoughts, and he accepted successful decisions. Alexander wanted to be alone, to reflect of the company course, to muse on the future of oikumtna and urgent matters. There were more Persian cities ahead, on the southeast, - Susa and Persepolis. Mazey told that Darius never lived on one place longer a year in peace time, his court constantly wandered. According to Mazey, capital cities of Persian empire were one other more beautiful, and Babylon treasures were only a little part of the former Asia sovereign's treasures. Persians made a guess that Darus is hiding in Ekbatans, in the northwest, therefore it should to direct main forces of Macedonian army that way, and definitively do away with this center of evil. Besides, any day Alexander waited reinforcement from Macedonia led by Aminta, who went to Babylon with more fifteen thousand army which should be divide, having directed a part of regiments straight to Susa.
He intended to do sacrifice in Babylon, and good place was seemed to him – the Babel tower where Zevs-Ammon became the lord now. The tower has been dilapidated, so it followed to bring it to rights, to disassemble brick and clay blockages, to strengthen shabby slabs, and to put in extant hall on the third floor statue of Ammon which he carried in his transport. It would suffice about a month for all preparations – just by the end of autumn when he planned to set armies towards Susa and Persepolis. There should be one God Zevs-Ammon now in the state created by him, united various creeds, who had brought Alexander into the world and blessed to creation the oikumena. In this state everybody should admit the divine origin in Macedonsky, his regime should be indisputable, godlike. It should be undertake more persevering attempts of universal execution the proskineza ceremony, fall on the knees before tsar for there is nothing more effective for revision in consciousness of citizens the quivering respect to the higher will, than this simple movement of muscles.
- And do you know, my tsar and the instructor, what stories are around in the city about local constructions? – Limn addressed to him at once when they walked around palm avenue.
- No, I do not know. Why?
- Simply it's interesting, my tsar. For example, here about gardens of Semiramida, to tell? Assyrian goddess Derketo has got in touch with a commoner, and gave birth to daughter from him by the name of Semiramida. Having been ashamed of this act, the goddess killed the lover, and Semiramida with her baby Derketo threw out here, to this ravine. The pigeons living on these slopes have fed Semiramida. When Semiramida grew up, one tsar's military leader, Oansis, fell in love with her for the beauty, courage and ingenuity, who never left her at any time and even took with himself to campaigns. Battling on an equal footing with men, Semiramida was afraid of nothing. Once apon a time under scalade of fortress she had set up victory flag on the highest tower. And then she was noticed by Assyrian tsar Nin. He was amazed by Semiramida's courage and beauty, and took her to wife, having enthroned as tsarina. Military leader Oansis could not oppose to the lord began to be depressed and died of separation from the beloved. And after him tsar Nin also died, having left the kingdom to the bequest of Semiramida for his son was still juvenile. Possessing mind, courage and riches, tsarina Semiramida decided to increase greatly her kingdom. In memory of tsar Nin she based the city of Babylon to which building she involved the best architects, many palaces, temples, the bridge through Euphrates, and these hanging gardens have been raised on her order. Then she subdued Libya, Egypt, and began to prepare for campaign to Arabia. But, it was not meant to be this campaign: the oracle predicted her the very end. Really, having returned to Babylon, she got wise to a plot against her of her own son, Ninij! Then she had voluntary conceded him the throne and decided to commit suicide, having rushed from the top terrace of hanging gardens. She went to that terrace where now the rock sphinxes, jumped therefrom down, and passed into turtle-dove.
- However, local gods have a strange customs, at first time they do a deeds, and then are ashamed of them, - Alexander joked, having listened the story attentively.
- And as for me, goddess Derketo purposely has appointed Semiramida by such destiny to test her in life. And, she turned Semiramida to turtle-dove in acknowledgement of her merits.
- No, Limn. Gods do not transform the children into birds as a reward for hero activity, but give them authority and means for the world reformation, - Alexander objected.
- Opposite, my tsar and instructor, wealth enslaves regal persons. Authority is always burdensome. In this case the goddess released Semiramida, having presented her the freedom of flying bird! What can be perfectly than freedom? It is really genuine authority!
It was thought to Alexander again, as plain appearance of this young lad does not correspond his statements! Phrases, dropped by the way as if aphorisms, flew from lips of the puny young man walking besige him and sharing by revelations of deity! Really: Macedonian tsar received what he wanted, reached what he wished – total domination over Asia, but what further? Whether he has reached freedom? – No! On the contrary, plenty of the problems has emerged, and main of them - how to arrange the state, organise governance in it and to whom inherit the throne – remained unsettled. But, at first followed to finish with Darius, and then to be bent on conquest of India – the country about which he have heard a lot about from Persian geographer, Stilka.
- And do you know, my tsar and the instructor, what a talks in the city about Babel tower? – Limn continued in the meantime, jumping to one of the rock benches, plenty of them were put along palm avenue, - As if in ancient times all peoples on the Earth spoke in one language, and there was a full mutual understanding between them. And that was so after the Flood too. But Jewish tsar Nimrod, the descendant of Noah, began to convince everybody as if it does not God rescued mankind, but tsar Noah, who built the ark. Being based on this conclusion, Nimrod said that it is not necessary to entrust everything to God, but to rely on him, Nimrod, tsar's wisdom and valour. He promised people to protect them from a new flood if they will renounce God, and believe him. He has convinced all people that belief in God is shameful slavery, and it is necessary to undertake a construction of very tall tower which was not yet in the world that in case of flood to escape on this tower without divine help. Having renounced God, people put their hands to work. Two million people participated in tower building, and soon the unprecedented sizes building was ascended to heaven. God Yahve, angered such impudence, decided to give people a good lesson. He deprived them single language, sent conflicts between them and disseminated across the Earth. Since then people speak different languages, deprived mutual understanding, and constantly destroy the tower, despite durability of building materials from which it is created.
- Tell me, Limn, the word "Babylon" means something?
- In transfer with Sumer, it seems to me, something like mixture, or to mix …
- Yes … it should be, because the set of the nations has mixed up in Babylon...
Alexander set foot to the bench beside Limn – everything were well visible from here in decline beams. Babylon zikkurate as a clumsy colossus towered at the distance, dominating over the city, its palaces, houses, streets and gardens. Possibly, in the days of Gerodot this construction looked not like that, and Greek historian made almost amazing description, named it as miracle. But now the western slope of the tower from the top to basis was fell to pieces in many places, having bared cells of inter-floor coverings and it reminded from afar the huge sizes ruined nest of hornets. It should require some years, and even decades to restore the lost pride of the Babel tower, impossible to cope with it quickly by regiment of soldiers. «And, nevertheless, - he thought, - if this ruins are symbol of God, but not the best, and not so perfect as the crystal, presented him by Ammon in Thebes» …
- And when, pierced with the arrow, a mirage of my deserts will begin to tremble, you will flash as cold star, bitter as the Persian wormwood … - Limn began to recite in calm, peering into the evening sky.
- What is it the verses?
- Simply, my tzar, verses emerged …
And when, pierced by arrow,
Will tremble mirage of my desert.
You’ll flash as Cool Stars
Bitter as the Persian Wormwood.
Gods, over the seals being declined,
Counted them and I’ll die ...
Time hasn’t come, my prince, it isn’t end,
This is only a sparks on the wind ...
This is only raven’s cry --
In the early day of solemn escort
Your seal hasn’t laid down still
And the sealing wax is hard as stone.
The sight is brought down by nomadic horde
Oh, how I don’t have enough fire --
Sky would flash, and smoking star
In the air would fall on me.*
- And what seals are mentioned in your verses?
- I had a weird dream, Alexander, - Limn named tsar friendly, uncharacteristically to address him with respect, - As if there is a treatise, explaining all from the world beginning. But it sealed up by seven seals, and nobody can open them. Everybody are afraid, and I don't. I take this treatise and open the first of the seals. And the horseman on the white horse appears. The horseman is you, Alexander. And the wreath is on your head, and the onion loaded by arrow is in your hands. You appear obviously in order to win. I stretch to open the second seal, however any strange feeling detains me as if I am not me anymore, but small white lamb with cut throat put on the sacrificial altar … and there is not pain … and here is blood, and I have no more forces to open the second seal. And I woke up … and verses emerged to me suddenly, I noted them on parchment.
Limn got out of the bosom a roll and stretched it to Alexander with words:
- Perhaps it's not necessary, my tsar and instructor, to do sacrifices in the temple of sky and earth – Etemenanki tower? It's bad luck …
Perusal of Limn's verses excited the storm of anger in Macedonsky's soul: image of von Persian's tsar loomed again among pale lines. It is Darius soars over him, his environment, his army as a black shadow, putting sedition into lips of his cronies! Undoubtedly that's him, sneering, gives estimations of the company – «In the early day of solemn escort» … it is he aspires to shake his, tsar's will!
However Alexander restrained.
- Throw away these verses, - he said quietly, returning roll to the young man, - And I will think about sacrificial place.
* Dmitry Denisov's Poem (transl. by S.Malugin)
Darius who he hardly had time to distinguish among fight in blood streams, in the centre of human bloodbath, Darus who he wished to catch up and fall down in battle at Gavgamels, but it was necessary to return with horse group to help Parmenion surrounded by Persians; Darius owing to the cowardice (or cunnings!) left Ecbatans so unexpectedly, as well as the capitals, - Darius was elusive. Investigation brought very conflicting information: that transport of former tsar was seen somewhere between Susa and Persepolis – that it has moved from Ecbatana to the northeast of Media; as if Darius collects forces for new fight, and for this purpose he declared new mobilisation, or, opposite, his environment have apostatized him long ago, and he wanders on the northeast of Persia in loneliness, accepting vain efforts to collect the army from tribes of nomads. All these reports infuriated Alexander, as well as Darius himself looking there coward and rascal.
He understood only one, that while Darius is alive – the war is not finished. His personal authority will not be full in the East, so the divine mission assigned on him and Gefestion will not be performed, and all their dreams of revival fair and humane state existing on the Earth, should be, before Flood and Babel tower will left unrealizable!
In Susa Alexander organised some "publicity event" - he accepted ambassadors on the throne of ancient Ahemenids dynasty to which Darius belonged. The ceremony passed in the magnificent marble palace with majestic, white as snowy piks, throne-room covered with red carpets. Khares as always very tried in designing this hall, having placed everywhere bowls with Divine fire, hung out the arms of Argeads blood between columns, and the big portiere with Zevs head over throne. The dressing gown of the won tsar embroidered in gold in which Alexander climbed on the throne, also Egyptian medallion with the image of God Ammon, gold chain hanging on his neck, should testify about the unity of divine power of the East and West, and uncovered head of the new lord of Asia - about his peace intentions.
New appointed governors and ambassadors of Phrygia, Lydia, Karia, Egypt, Lebanon, Phoenicia, Bactria, Greece, Sparta, Midia were represented to Alexander by turns... Asians, one and all, approaching the throne, threw themselfs at tsar's feet; Europeans – welcomed him standing, entitling «the tsar of all Asia». The companion of youth Ptolemei, arrived from Memphis, looked comically in the Egyptian clothes, awkwardly shifted from one foot to the other and did not know where to hide eyes; having stumbled, he hardly stretched on the carpet before throne. Alexander offered to him the hand and suggested to stand beside, together with Gefestion, Limn, Roksana, Evmen and Hares. Mazey fell before his face downwards, and Alexander gave him his hand too, invited to stand among retinue. The heads of areas and ambassadors at first swore the new sovereign, then Alexander graciously accepted from everyone the citizenship declaration and spoke some words, then released rapporteur by easy nod of head, passing the roll to Evmen.
All this action allowed Macedonsky to distract from unresolved problems, and to feel himself the original sovereign of the created state. "Really – it was thought to him – nobody of imperial court members present at this ceremony should not resist his ideas, challenge all the reached. Satraps whom he has saved their post, still continuing to govern the entrusted areas, should satisfy with his favour. Besides, they knew better how to realise Alexander's power in entrusted territories because they have been brought up by local customs. As to Ptolemy and Balakr appointed from his environment, possessing diligence, fidelity to Tsar of all Asia and vivacity of their mind, they should set their hands to the new oikumena arrangement with enthusiasm. And then mixture of nations, merge of cultures in his state will be reached by all means! And now all of this was fixed in a written form, in the rolls of declarations, which Evmen stacked in special box, standing behind the throne.
But, nevertheless, something hindered Alexander to demonstrate publicly the power in full of trembling vassals white-marble hall. And suddenly he understood: the independent look of Kallisfen standing in crowd of courtiers at one of the columns, raised his ire. Having reclined against wall, the academician marked something all time on the plate for letter, holding it on the palm, and gnawed a tip of brush, constantly dipping it into inkwell hanging somewhere in the bosom. He, a philosopher-scientist, has got into politics, without understanding a thing in it; for certain he glorifies in his opuses the Ellinese idea and Macedonian hegemony, - would be engaged in frogs is better!
- Let's make a break, - Alexander addressed to Khares, rose from the throne and approached to Kallisfen.
That one even did not notice, continuing wrote on his tablet.
- Kallisfen, Gods are kind to you! By what you've gone so crasy, that do not notice them? – Alexander welcomed the scientist.
The academician caught himself and put a hand on heart, in the Makedonian way:
- I welcome you, my tsar! I am engage in research of the combustible liquid containing in Earth's interior betveen revers of Euphrates and Tiger. Very interesting work …
- Really?! But the politics has already ceased to interest you?
- By no means, my tsar. Simply, in my opinion, properties of this liquid in the future can strongly influence over politics, and, in particular, over the might of our army.
Alexander had seen such trick in Susa. Some brownish liquid was added to a small lake, it immediately spread on the water surface, and had set afire. The lake has flashed with very much smoking flame. The Persian boys began to dance at fire so closely that clothes on one of them also had burned up, - hardly had time to extinguish the poor fellow. But it was not come to Macedonsky's mind then, how to use properties of burning liquid in military arts! It followed to recognise that the academician's head cooks well. Nevertheless, he declared to Kallisfen:
- It will not be necessary to me weapons any more because the world will be in one hands, and there will be nothing to win. I wish to talk about another. What about one mine very responsible mission to you?
- Certainly, my tsar, I will concern to your mission as much as seriously as possible.
- I want you to take on the training of my pages, Nikomah and Kebalin. It's necessary to captivate them of military science, and give lessons of natural history and aesthetics. It is especially important to present them the culture of East in addition to Hellenic, and Macedonian. I hope, it will work for you too, Kallisfen.
Insult reflected in the eyes of scientist, however he said readily:
- Well, my tsar, I will execute also this your commission, having presented the curriculum for starters.
Alexander would like to be more exacting to the environment. Quickness and complaisance of his pages did not satisfy him any more, and their rural spontaneity evoked irritation at times. Meanwhile, he considered accessible for other courtiers the talent and abilities of Limn. It seemed to him that new education should change the young men, make them worthy All Asia sovereign, the new Tsar of oikumena. It would allow to further boys on military, and civil service. He sincerely would like Kallisfen, carrying out his commission, will obey and reconsider own beliefs about Macedonian hegemony and the superiority of Ellinian peoples.
- Listen, Gefestion, - Alexander whispered his friend, having returned to the throne, - Do something, at last, for initiation proskineza at my court. Asians, be proud, throw themselfs at my feet, but our's are overflowed by conceit, as if wineskins. Look though Parmenion – here will burst with own pride now! Kallisfen, seemingly, was not trained of Persian, but even Macedonian etiquette, though is the academician …
The campaign to Persepolis was hardly marked by failure - undoubtedly, the shadow of Darius pursued Alexander again. A certain false feeling suddenly prompted him, that it is necessary to come upon enemy as usuall. Having sent army to long, but safe road, round about Shiraz, he has decided to lead almost fifteen thousand soldiers straight through mountains. In addition he has not considered a winter bad weather, features of district, and entered the army into the high-mountainous gorge nicknamed by locals as «Persian gate». However their way was partitioned off by enemy ranks under the command of certain Ariobazan. Worse, Persians began to throw stones on Macedonians from height of mountains, having arranged from boulders the real avalanche under which was lost almost every third soldier.
Panic begun in regiments. It was nessesary for Alexander to recede with a shame for the first time. But, the way back also has been cut off to them. Macedonians proved to be in environment! Having understood the error, he feverishly began to search some exit from the created situation. They began to interrogate captured Persians. One of them under torture agreed to show imperceptible road through mountain pass. In the desperate situation, awfully risking, Alexander dared to believe to this captive. Never earlier he was not such worry: it seemed, the matter of all his life, all three-year campaign could be buried here, under an avalanche in these damned «Persian gate»!
Having seized Gefestion by a hand, he dragged the friend to the tent, with convulsive movements released collar on his breast:
- Father! Zevs the great, Ammon all-powerful! – began to repeat in a whisper, having nestled his cheek to the divine amulet, - To You we address with a prayer … thanks that You have selected us on this feat.... Let Your blessing … will be the guiding star for us…
- Everything will be all right, Alex … here you will see … the main thing – not to be afraid, - Gefestion repeated entirely, compressing him in embraces.
At night, in frost, at the small torches shining only on a step, trying not to rattle an armour, the army began to rise on rocks. The captured porter assured that it should be the equal plateau behind the spotted set of narrow gorges. It was possible to stretch camp on short rest there, and then, having gone down mountain gorges, strike Persian army to rearward.
Thanks to God, has got along! The captured porter did not deceive, this high-mountainous area of Persida - the primordial earth of the East did not become a tomb for Macedonians! Parmenion's group, whom Alexander in despair sent couriers to Susa, described in detail how to bypass this trap also helped them. The enemy was surrounded and beat head off in foothills.
Some days later Macedonian armies occupied ancient capital of the East. Here, in this own den of east beast, Dary did not appear more than a year. The palace was empty. Gold mountains in pantries - were thrown.
Alexander ordered Garpal to seal up treasures and bring them to Ecbatans, having left a little, only for most necessary. He did not intend to settle in Persepolis. The East beauties did not seduce him here, the century paintings of palace bas-reliefs also did not excite, he remained indifferent to precious utensils. The humiliation he tested in campaign called in him deep aversion for all things which hand of broken Persian lord had touch – all of this was unworthy Macedonian tsar's power. Feeling of sweep seized Alexander – for those five thousand soldiers, buried in gorge under stone blockage, for Darius' participation in murder of his father, Phillip, for Sparta which he wished to buy, - for all! For Darius - the descendant of family, dared to put in force at one time Persians intrusion into Greece and Macedonia! Not Persepolis, but the city of seven fortresses Ecbatanes, capital of Midia, seemed to him now the most suitable for treasury placing. There he was intend to make old Parmenion the governor there to satisfy his ambitions, having kept away from himself definitively. And to appoint Garpal the main treasurer of the new Kingdom.
Two winter months, preparing for campaign to Midia, Macedonian army was encamped at Persepolis walls. Alexander hesitated in expectation of authentic news about location of Darius from Parmenion, whom he has sent to Ecbatans. By spring groups of Persian mountaineers with peculiar east insidiousness dared to do impudent attack on the camp. One regiment was suffered, but Macedonians courageously turned this attack. Alexander was flown into rage. Having collected War council, he ordered Kratter to destroy bandits in mountains. It was sufficed a week for the skilled commander to execute his order.
Aspiring to pass away time and amuse himself, Alexander often left the camp and went round the city with group of guardsmen. At the head of retinue, surrounded with illa* of protection, with heart-rending shouts and daring whooping, destroying everything on the way, he interfered into peace streets, rushed through public squares, directing horror at inhabitants of the Persian capital. He found a pleasure to jump astride Bucephalus on wite-stone stairs to the palace and to caracole in the
* Illa – horse squadron
rooms of the former tsar, directly on magnificent carpets and sofas, leaving behind turned furniture, and dirt. Macedonians were delighted with their tsar when once in any of Darius' bedrooms Alexander suited a magnificent halt, having ordered to serve there wine and meal. For horses, without hesitation, he gave for a meal «hundred colomns» hall with the imperial throne.
- It seems to me, - he addressed to comrades-in-arms, climbing up in dusty regimentals on the tsar's bed, - that we should arrange in the city the grandiose feast on the occasion of gained victories!
- Vivat, my tsar! – Klitt responded the first , - You really came back to Macedonian's heart, at last, and the East is grow hateful to you now!
Would be, Klitt was not right – it's only seemed to him. The East for Alexander also was great, as well as the idea of peoples merge. «Well, and let it seems to them that I was disappointed in everything east! - he noted about himself, - Even, it is good. The main thing now – to win round all dissatisfied and prepare the army for one more campaign – to India».
- Remarkably, Klitt! - Alexander told aloud, - You'll be the first who will invite to the palace neighbouring beauties to participate in our festival. Those, whom it will be cheerful with my soldiers.
- Who knows, my tsar, if it will be a little local hunters to feast with us, - Filota uttered mistrustfully, who considered humiliating for Macedonians to taste food on a level with representatives of other peoples and snogging with them.
«He will wank off sooner, than go there!» - Alexander took himself at the thought that he've never before seen Filota's dingle-dangle, and it is quite good to upsell the fellow to do that.
- Do not hesitate, Filota. Everything is our, Macedonian, here - he answered Parmenion's son loudly for everybody can hear, - If who does not wish – drag them here by force! If it will not enough place for all in the palace – so let my soldiers will visit each house, and each yard! Remember only one: Persepolis is not necessary to us any more. It should be an equal place here after us. Use!
Actually Alexander already ripened some plan, having devastated the palace, to set fire to it. However he, without wishing to be known barbarian in the history, did not want to become initiator of the big fire, everything should be negligently. Recently at the special meeting about that plan with Gefestion and Hares it was decided to define some the most suitable places in Darius' halls where it would be possible to overturn bowls with the sacred fire, and also to trace evacuation ways.
The news from Parmenion came shortly, that Darius with not numerous army has gone from Ekbatanes to the northeast of Midia in hope to get support of local tribes of nomads. The detailed plan of deviation and disposition of Persian armies was given in dispatch brought by courier. Also courier arrived from Garpal with report about smooth delivery of the transport with gold. Having read both messages, Alexander decided that punishment hour has come. Then he gave his army the order: to occupy Persepolis!
All the next day from foothills he impatiently observed operation course. Troops has left the camp, only group of horse guards led by Filota stayed at him. Regiments, as dark weight similar to bristled up blood-thirsty dragons, joined city streets – it was given two days to soldiers for ruining Persian capital.
At last, arrived walker from Hares with message that palace is ready to the feast. They made a move to have fun on blood. No, it was not awakened in Alexander even a drop of sympathy to the citizens. All of them, including children, women and old men, were potential enemies of oikumena, representing half-civilised, embittered stratas of the Persida population – the cradle of east meanness. Their souls were impregnated by revenge to their liberators, their eyes were closed by inspired Darius' lie where happiness was named as privation. «It should not be a place in free and light state to such people!» - it was thought to him.
Abundance of bared female flesh in the palace slightly excited Alexander, but to the feeling of his usual phobia, a fear of inability to have close dialogue with women, now was not added. These heteras were ugly drunk and, without remembering themselves, were ready to any debauch.
- What do you gave them to drink, Klitt, that they are already beside themselves? – Alexander asked, observing as two prostitutes fidgeted together, trying to lift each other, on the stairs at the hall enter.
- No great, my tsar. Usual apple Macedonian home brew. There is a lot of it simply, - Klitt smiled self-centered.
Really, soldiers filled with alcohol the whole pool in the middle of hall and bathed there drunk women. On the spot they had done them by groups and alone at the edge laid out by tiles.
- Hares, it will be difficult for you to operate the feast! – Alexander grinned, without having paid attention that the master of ceremony is absent in his retinue.
- Everything is foresee, Alex, - Gefestion whispered to his ear, - Hares reported me alredy that he ordered the Sacred fire's guardsmen of protection to overturn bowls at your command.
- Guardsmen of protection do not drink today, my tsar, - Filota told , - but Hares is sober as always, he strives in the next hall. All tables are covered for tsar's meal there, and women are waiting - there are the best ellinians.
- And whence did you take them ?
- From the brothel of one local rich man …
Alexander burst out laughing:
- Filota, you will not be lost anywhere. Well done! I allow you to drink today. Gefestion will command the guards all this evening, - he looked eloquently at the disappointed friend.
Some heteras were brought to him at the supper. He noticed one of them, harmonous, strong Greek woman with hardly children's features, she had a beautiful name – Tais. The legend of Semiramida was recollected to Alexander, and he imagined this Greek woman in the similitude of Assyria's tsarina.
- How are you, Tais, here in Persida?
Tais begun to tell him her severe destiny on which she did not grumble. Her father, Athenian, mercenary of the Persian army, was killed at Iss. His wife and two daughters were sold into slavery to Babylon. Then the rich owner, wishing to have her in harem, took Tais to Persida. She endured hard separation with mother and younger sister, who were left by owner in the world capital to spin wool and weave carpets. Tais ran away from the harem, prefering to the comfortable imprisonment hard, but free life. It was profitable to be a prostitute. She found something similar to true purpose in trade of hetera for she used her natural beauty to dominate above men.
- Is it the truth? – Alexander has become interested in this circumstance, and, wishing to warm up in her jealous passion, noticed: - As for me, you are not pleasant to me, for example. You are not overbearing me.
Tais passed thin palm through bared breast, stomach and hips, as though inviting Alexander see the true value of smoothness skin and forms rotundity of her body decorated with rich necklaces.
- It cannot be at all ! – she declared.
- Why? I've seen a lot of such as you. There are more beautifull.
She pretended that did not caught.
- Women do not attract you, my tsar?
- The beauty of woman, Tais, is defined not only by beautiful body, but also by her mind, harpness at least.
- So how can I prove you, my lord, that I am also much clever?
- Do you see Filota, the commander of guardsmen? – Alexander asked, having thought a few, - Undersized one, in the red chiton,he has a good time now with two heteras in the outher side of the hall? However, he is very constraining. So, undress him publicly in the nude!
- My tsar, - Tais playfully smiled, - You wish to see Filota naked? To make it is very simply. I will go and seduce him, and you order to extinguish candelabrums. We will suit an attraction – everybody here will make love in the outer darkness. And then, when light suddenly will flash, you will see not only Filota, but also such about what you does not thought at all …
Being drunk a little, Alexander accepted such game with ease. Tais joined the love trinity of Filota, having won his arrangement quickly. But the commander of guardsmen was not in a hurry to liberated definitively, however as the other Macedonians, who were cajoled by bared maidens to the strains of flutes , rhythms of trombones, rings of tambourines.
Then he called up Khares:
- I will say some words, and after my toast you should turn off the light and close all doors too.
- Dangerously, my tsar …
- Do what I speak, - Alexander rose with the cup and addressed to his companions: - My dear! What's happened with you today? You are go to the fight more courageous, than to the meeting with women! I suggest you to remove covers and appear before them in all your's beauty! Lift your bowls and drink to our Macedonian brotherhood, our selflessness and bravery! To our big and small victories!
Public had quickened. There were heard exclamations, greetings, even vociferances «Glory to Macedonian geteira! Hurrah!»
- Well. If it's awkward to all of you, - Alexander said then, - I will facilitate your rest. To save your morals, we will make love under cloud of night - then nobody will not recognise each other. So, turn off the light!
Servants of Khares quickly executed what he ordered: candelabrums were out, all doors were closed, music was abated. Full darkness had come. And only silent phrases, fuss, puffing and love groans were heard. The black, velvety darkness captured Alexander, someone's hands began to feel impudently for his face and body, shamelessly caressing the most intimate places. Someone with a greedy osculum stuck into his lips. Aspiring to love back the unknown beauty, he rumpled her breasts and shoulders with nervous movements, simultaneously feeling, as under clothes he was grabbed for phallus and moved apart buttocks. Who is it? Ptolemy? Perdikka? One of prostitutes? Whether anybody realised with whom they acted so impudently? Someone's fingers cautiously felt for his throat, touched cheekbones and Adam's apple. Who is it? Nickomakh? Kebalin? Or it is Limn? Someone from security guards? And after all it is go for nothing to unknown malefactor to slash tsar's neck with knife! And it would be too shameful for him to be lost so, during a drunk orgy... He became intolerable afraid for the life, as it was not afraid for him in any fight.
- Gefestion! Give fire! – he shouted then, addressing to the only one who will not betray, - Fire, Gefestion!!
It was flashed, should be, in the other side of dining hall in the
doorway of southern stairs, therefrom smoke began quickly extend into the room. Heart-rending squeal and shouts for help were heard. Meanwhile, opposite doors was opened, having shined dining hall with fire of the northern ladder torches. Alexander had not a time to come round, as guardsmen of protection took him away on their hands through the open door.
- Leave me here, - he ordered at the exit, having seen standing there Gefestion.
Guests, being hardly dressed, pushing, got out from the hall. Semi undressed, malicious and semi drunk commanders Kratter, Aminta, Leonatt, Klitt, Ken and Perdikka dragged hetaeras behind themselves, helping them to make the way to doors. Naked Filota (attagirl, Tais!), shining by the bunch of own advantages, tried to put on his red chiton on the move. Alexander together with Gefestion, Limn, Khares and guardsmen of protection begun to help evacuate the public. It became more and more smoke in the palace, was necessary to gather into the breast more air to dive into burning fragments. Fire extended immediately,and heat became intolerable. Suddenly he recollected about roped in the «hundred colomn» hall his favored Bucephalus, left everything and, lugging away the retinue, rushed off on the stairs upwards to rescue horses.
God was kind – fire did not reach yet the «hundred colomn» hall! Horses worried, tore from leads, knocked hoofs on the stone floor, and disturbing neighed.
- Saddle up! – Alexander ordered, saddled himself Bucephalus and rushed off from the palace. And already it was not necessary torches, the way to the camp was shined with the glow of burning city to which he did not leave a hope of deliverance.
It was day or morning, reality or dream – it seemed unknown to Alexander. The pursuit was ended, the fury was passed – Darius was dead. All what remains from the great tsar – blood-stained medley in tattered clothes – was located now in unsightly vehicle which compassionate commoners, avoiding fast decay, rolled away on rural suburb, to the cool ravine. Companions in arms betrayed to Darius and disappeared, having made punishment over him. Only former Persian camp remained ruined by servants and the corpse covered by flies.
- It should be inhumed anywhere, - one peasant told.
Alexander did not answer, some catalepsy had captured him. There was no fury stimulated him into actions throughout the last years. There was only light, intolerable heat, and disfigured body of the von enemy. «And, that is all? It followed to struggle for that, carrying out Zevs-Ammon's mission?» - he asked himself, and did not believe – did not believe this is happening. «...Sight is brought down by nomadic horde» – was recollected fleetingly as if someone uttered over him the come true prophecy. And if that, as the result of treason, can wait also him,the new Tsar of all Asia? And when? Tomorrow? Or in a month? Or before some years will pass?
- Six years …
- Six years we dreamt of this day, - Gefestion said , - Since you were elected to the kingdom. Accept my congratulations, Alexander.
Macedonsky dismount from horse and, having covered face with palm, approached to the vehicle. It was stank all around.
- How slimpsy these phinicys! Not even an hour have laid, but already stinks! – Limn joked aloud.
- He is not phinicys, Limn. He is tsar. Though the former, - Alexander removed his raincoat and covered the corpse, - Ptolemy! I am charge you to take your Egyptians masters a little. Let them embalm this body and bury it in the imperial tomb near Persepolis rocks.
Daily Gefestion informed Alexander about moods in tsar's environment. Exclusively alone, whether it be in any study room, some bedchamber of the one local satrap's palace, or on the march where, as a rule, it was not possible to stretch magnificent trophy pavilion, being content with pup tent. They came to arrangement against each other, as if Gefestion becomes the adherent of Macedonian idea of hegemony, while Alexander, as advocate of the East, consistently promotes west-east globalisation, equality of all nations and arrangement of free oikumena with the absolute monarchy. Such role allowed tsar's favourite to make some interesting supervisions and open for himself about what he did not suspect earlier at all. For example, Kratter, whom he always considered loyal to the East innovations, did not approve them frankly, and only implicitly followed tsar's orders as the true soldier. And under son-in-law of Parmenion, Ken's underlined restraint, on the contrary, was disappeared hardly enthusiastic participation in the East. Companion of the youth Klitt and son of Parmenion Filota did not tolerate local traditions almost openly, considering them barbarous. And not only the nearest colleagues of tsar, commanders Aminta, Perdikka and Leonatt, if not be Alexander,could support them, but also some courtiers. In statements of Evmen and Khares Gefestion did not find any seditious though possibilities to call them to revelations were small. But Kallisfen who was engaged with pages under Alexander's instructions, did not sing any more of Macedonian hegemony at the absolute power of the God's favoured tsar, and glorified elline's freedom and Greek national advantage, there were no speeches at all about the idea of states merge in his studies.
Special place in the soul of tsar's favourite was occupied with egghead Limn whom he could not take coolly. The lad continued to fascinate him by unusual caress, easy relation to life, sharpness and infinite philosophising. Four heavy years passed in the campaign. Fortresses collapsed and cities were built, the tsar's anger was replaced by favour; love and friendship, selflessness and nobleness, - all the best feelings were fastened together by blood and hardships, but jealousy still intolerably burnt down Gefestion. Especially, when he happened in Alexander's bed together with Limn, because then he saw with his own eyes: there are two favourites at tsar, and the young man adores not him at all, but Macedonsky – such more gratitude for he had led the guy to the throne! At the same time, his formerly unconditional childly self-denying love to Alexander did not cease in him. But now, the more strongly he loved tsar and has been approached to throne, the more he was afraid to lost his exclusive position at the court … so, Gefestion's heart was torn to parts from the life three together.
At times he was inexpressibly glad, if tsar sent him with some responsible mission, or left to supervise the building of fortresses, for it allowed to distract and forget for a time the experiences. Numerous Alexandrias, cities based on a way of the Big campaign, were witnesses of that! He was glad also to promote any disgrace upon somebody of Macedonsky's team-mates. It happened with Filota who was sentenced to death for the partnership in attempt upon tsar's life by Army meeting near Frada* exclusively under Alexander's pressing. At that time Gefestion din into ears of his regal friend that cover-up by Filota this terrible servants plans – the first, if not the last, step on the way to treason and that exactly Parmenion's son supervised this cabal. Here, in Frada, the successful thought once came to his head – to set up also Limn somehow, remove him, at last, from tsar's court.
The plan, however, should be postponed for a while in connection with events in Sogdiana. Inhabitants of this province did not wish to recognise Alexander's governance and rose peoples revolt against intruded army, not giving to Macedonians neither dream, no rest of about two long years. Having forgotten for this time about disputes, tsar's environment was occupied only as to resist the leader of insurgents, local commander Spitamen showing in fights, in military alliance with hordes of nomads, improbable dexterity and training. Tsar, being in local capital, Marakanda, or in fortresses, Navtak and Horien, showed large military activity, was wound several times and had no any time for introduction the East and Persian customs; all the more so he was far from participation in intrigues of the own court. At the turn of the second year of popular outbreaks, following it seemed a never-ending string, laurels of the suppressor were fall to the modest Ken, who has ruthlessly destroyed local home guard in the battle, and their leader Spitamen himself. However, Gefestion decided to suggest Alexander do the last chord in this war – diplomatic.
* The Ancient city in east Iran
- See here, Alex, don't you wish to dilute our strictly man's company again? – he asked tsar one day during hunting, on a halt in Horien vicinities, - I am familiar with one young Sogdianian girl which beauty will give a head start to all her contemporaries …, and do you know what's her name? Roksana!
Having leant wearily to the boulder, and extended feet on warm stones with visible pleasure, Alexander looked at him indifferently.
- What for? As you a walker to maidens, Gefes. One Roksana we have got yet, it seems. To the sense – hardly. Neither children, nor any pleasures.
Gefestion swigged tincture from his flask that recently the Persian maidservant poured him, collecting to the road, and sat down by the friend.
- What do you drink? – Alexander asked, - Allow me to try.
- Helebore. It helps very much from hard eatings and drinkings.
Alexander took a sip and winced:
- What a muck!
- The East will be grateful to you, Alex, if you will take the wife among one of locals – Gefestion continued, - It is possible to play wedding in a big way, and children … we will acquire together.
Alexander picked a straw from bunches of grass sticking out between stones, began to gnaw, looking to the sky. Was reflected.
- What she is, your Roksana?
- Roksana of years of twenty … her father, Oksibazan, apparently, from the local nobility.
- I had another plan, that the successor should be start from Darius , - imperial Persian blood, as a word. When we will return to Babylon, will try again, - Alexander smiled, tickled Gefestion's shoulder by straw.
- You do not understand, Alex … Having chosen the tsarina from locals, we will put Sogdianians above all other nations in the East. They will become proud of it, become loyal to us, and this province will stop to be your headache for ever. If you won't dare at wedding we will continue to suffer from infinite attacks – from locals, and from nomads who are countless in this desert!
Alexander did not answer distinctly at that time, however Gefestion did not doubt that his idea will be supported. Since the mysterious East impetuously attracted tsar's favourite with the romanticism, a lot of time had passed. For these years he learned at Asians too much, began to imitate them in something. The Asian culture attracting him for a long time with riddles of the East soul where friendly feelings and kind relations quite often concealed big insidiousness, was included into his life now. He also well acquired that interests of local sorts could be appreciated here more, than money. Therefore the offer to take tsarina of the new state from Sogdianians was the gift not having an equal for the given nation.
Roksana caught Alexander's fancy. He played with her as with small child, being afraid to offend, galloped together, carrying out the grooming ceremony in which bride during the game should catch up to the groom. However, it was difficult to win tsar's Bucephalus in horse race, but Alexander imperceptibly gave in and under all way, laughing, had got it in his back from the future wife by lash. Gefestion almost always accompanied them on such walks among guardsmen of protection.
- You said me that she is twenty, but it is not yet seventeen to her, a girl absolutely, - Alexander noticed somehow, being in good mood.
- Not at all, while you will get going, twenty just will come, - the confidant encouraged him.
According to local customs, they decided not to arrange love games before wedding. It was ordered to Hares spare no expense to arrange the wedding ceremony. In a matter of some months was erected strange for Sogdianians, Greek style magnificent palace in Marakanda exclusively for the newly-married couple. It was decided to present nothing less than all the New oikumena as a wedding gift – to impress a design the map of won by Alexander territories on the enormous plate from pure gold, decorate it with jewels and put it to feet of the bride. Twenty perfect guardsmen in slow step under sounds of army bugles brought sparkling on the sun, gold monolith on the Palace Square and lowered it on white stones. Regiment of tsar's bodyguards, argiraspids, armed with silver boards and short spears was built on the perimetre of carpeted yard. The important guests from new areas of oikumena, army command and the local nobility was settled down on the steps of the enter with many-faced, colourful crowd.
There where brought in the bowls with sacred fire – the sign of sovereign appearing.
Gefestion – tsar, despite customs, did not entrust to anybody among Oksibazan's relatives – led Roksana covered with invaluable yashmak from the chamber.
- How are you? All right? – he whispered in Persian language when, having separated from the crowd of ceremony participants, they moved to the palace square centre.
- Oh, I am afraid, my lord! – the bride uttered under her breath.
- Do not worry, everything will be allright … do not step on the gold – will burn …. Stand on the carpet. See I am here, in ten steps … go forward …
Alexander in red-white gimatiy with gold wreath on his head appeared between palace colonnades, without excessive pomposity, astride a horse, accompanied by Limn and ten guardsmen. Having dismounted at entrance, came to Roksana, groped her hand under yashmak.
- Well, let's go?
Newly-married couple directed to relatives of the bride. Gefestion, being annoyed that tsar has broken the protocol co-ordinated with relatives – it was necessary to meet her with words «to your feet we put our state now», - had followed after them.
- Oksibazan! – Alexander addressed publicly to future father-in-law, - According the Great Zevs-Ammon's will I intend to take tî wife your daughter, Roksana, and make her the tsarina of New oikumena, the country uniting territories of the West and the East! About what I also ask your blessing.
Father of the bride, apparently weakling and elderly person, with obvious pleasure prostrated himself before tsar and begun to kiss the ground. All Persian retinue followed this example. Macedonian's army Command thus did not stir, but only Klitt with loathing on his face, having placed legs, made some obscene movements.
Fanfares blew up, under their strained sounds procession moved to the palace temple for sacrifice and praying. During building the palace they debated much what statue to place in the sanctuary – Sogdian goddess Nanaj, Sumer god Marduk, Ammon or Zevs. Eventually, Alexander disposed to create here sculptures of all Oikumena's gods, and to set on the great gold sculpture of Zevs-Ammon on the high pedestal in the middle. Locals much marvelled to the image of the new deity of two man's figures turned to each other by backs, with accrete heads of a man and a ram. Traditionally Sogdianes sacrificed young sheeps. At discussion of imperial wedding protocol Gefestion suggested to kill the bull for it was impossible to sacrifice the lamb to modeled in Aries image god Ammon. Relatives of the bride has agreed, as, however, they accepted everything if only to marry to tsar their Roksana. It seemed, ceremony of wedding for them is not celebration the cult, but some strange performance.
Having left guests to feast, they closed in Alexander's apartments. Gefestion provided everything for secret alcove affairs here too, but he was deeply disappointed with tsar 's refusal of pages services – instead of them Alexander wished Limn.
Roksana under pretext that it's necessary to change clothes, set off for her rooms and did not leave them for a long time. She obviously felt awkwardly in the company with three men. Gefestion was nervous: whatever happened trouble, he will be guilty, for all event from courtship till marriage night was exclusively his own initiative, without justify. Besides after the feast Alexander, unlike before, was fairly sober and gloomy , and tsar's favourite was afraid in earnest to fall into disgrace.
- Well? Go and call the bride, - Alexander said, having buried to the pillow.
- I see, you not in mood, Alex, and …
- What‘s the matter to you to my mood, Gefestion? Whether to you wearing the divine amulet not to remember, what Zevs entrust both to me and you? Go to Roksana and lead her here.
- Slower!! You can't talk about the amulet to all our geteira! And even to all army!– Gefestion hotly minded, being afraid, as though in booming halls Limn may hear their conversation, - Perhaps it'll be better if the more will learn about it! By the way, the rape of bride is not provided by local customs … if she does not want, it is necessary to wait, when she will wish.
It seems, Alexander burst out laughing for the first time in all the evening.
- Really? It can easily happen? – he turned to the friend, folding back playfully tail of his east dressing gown, - Until suddenly she will lose virginity herself? We will lose the war, Gefes, if will wait for it!
- With such tool as at you? We are doomed to a victory!
Limn appeared, he held a beautiful box in his hands.
- Perhaps we will play backgammon?
«Really he heard everything about the amulet?» - Gefestion thought, having caught an artless eye of the lad.
Alexander rose upward on elbows.
- What sort of game?
- A backgammon, ancient game. Phinicys say that it is more than two thousand years … - having opened the box, Limn scattered on the carpet gold and white bone round dies, and begun to explain the rules.
- Good, - Alexander told then, - Let's play. The one who will lose the first, will go to Roksana naked.
Destiny was not kind to Gefestion this day – he was the first who lost a game.
- O-o-oh! – Alexander exclaimed when his favourite pulled off chiton, – You can lose in backgammon, but in the other – never! By your appearance, Gefestion, you will bowl her over immediately!
Tsar's confidant knew very well that his eye-filling face and perfected body cannot move among entourage – especially among relatives – any other emotions, except delight; usually he did not test awkwardness from the public undressing. But now, when it was necessary to appear before young Roksana nude, Gefestion was suddenly captured by shame. Using as a cover removed chiton, he unwillingly directed across study and hall to tsar's half enter of the apartments given to newly married.
The door was closed with outer side. «They say truth that still waters deeply streams» - he thought of Roksana, in anger having knocked with fist the massive handle. Seems, it was impossible to wait such meanness from her! From rooms of the bride, as well as from apartments exit, they were separated by large hall with fountain and pool. It was possible to go out only through this hall, but doors of it, external and inside, was disguised and locked from within by special secret lock. Only tsar's favourite knew about it, and master of ceremony Khares warned that it shouldn't disturb the newly-married couple the whole week. On the opposite side, behind Alexander's bedroom, there were one more pool and dining room with kitchen, adjoining to Roksana's rooms by blank wall. That was a trap. Even if to lift a cry, nobody behind thick walls will not hear! Depressed by these circumstances, being afraid to draw upon himself tsar's disgrace, Gefestion returned to the friends.
- We are in the siege again, Alex.
- You are joking out of place as always?
- It seems that she closed us on the latch …
Disturbed, thinking of treason in everything Alexander rushed to the hall, begun to pull handles and to beat with fists on door shutters.
- What a tactician you are, Gefestion! Impossible to charge you something at all – you will spoil everything! Who advised the girl to do that? You? Perhaps it's you put into her hands a latch?! How's that for a change: we've took captive ourselfs!
- Nothing terrible, - Limn told soothingly, - it seems to me that she doomed to a siege herself, instead of us. She haven't kitchen and provisions at her. And will want to eat before, than into the bed with man. Not at all, she will come!
He was right, at long last even a day. She appeared at Alexander absolutely inopportunely, in the middle of love games. Having caught sight three naked men in tsar's bed, Roksana frightenedly screamed and escaped.
Gefestion found her in her room, she was sat on the sofa and cried, having burrowed her face into scarf.
- Well, what? Why you frightened? Do you wish to eat? What's with you … be more courageous … it is only such custom … soldiers often sleep with each other in a campaign … - he has started talking, embracing tsar's spouse for shuddering shoulders.
Roksana lifted on him tear-stained black eyes.
— Well? What did you afraid of? Do you want to eat? Whataya… be more courageous… we have so custom… soldiers often sleep with one another in campaign… — he started talk, embracing tzar's spouse for shuddering shoulders.
- And it will be always like now, my lord?
- Now you are the tsarina, Roksana, and I am not the lord to you … - and Gefestion immediately regretted that dropped these words – who knows, whether woman will take away a palm of superiority from him …
He lifted her from sofa, and carried to the bedroom.
- Let's go, I will show you of what you are so afraid. It does not terrible...
Almost two weeks they were in voluntary imprisonment. Limn treated the company with any liqueurs based on ancient Iranian recipes thereby the mood was festive, and fresh desires boiled in young blood. Being devoted for the first time to Gefestion, having cried for a former life, where she left parents, sisters and brothers, Roksana did not lock any more in her rooms. On the contrary, she not only bathed in fountain and dived in pool together with men, but also danced before them east dances to the accompaniment of avlos, which Gefestion and Alexander had whistled in their childhood. She proved to be in bed so courageous, as well as shameless. The confidant noticed that Alexander, nevertheless, could cast out his semen to her several times.
Days in Marakanda, where after tsar's wedding stayed his Army and court, were passed in a quick and easy way with doctrines, domesticities and feasts. Gefestion together with Klitt by order of Alexander was engaged with horse guards deserted since Filota's death, and rebuilt his own house a la Macedonian-style. In his opinion, as well as wedding, it was more political action for he spent the basic part of his time not at home, but in the apartments of tsar's palace. Indeed by decoration of own manor he would like to underline before colleagues his devotion to Macedonian hegemony, making a basis of his secret legend.
Many commanders and courtiers visited him in the rest-hour, drank wine, home brew, having snack with flat cakes. It was more likely to loose visitors' tongue among cob walls and fatherlike mattings. Klitt, of course, had come more often than others. This minion of fortune, whom at the very beginning of Big campaign one happy case helped to save tsar's life in the fight at Granik, inexpressibly was proud of this act till now, and showed everybody his scar from Persian pole-axe on the forearm, telling, how he saved once Commander-in-chief from the inevitable death.
- Alexander intends to appoint me the governor to Bactria, - Klitt mentioned somehow during one of such get-togethers, some sceptical smile played on his severe, ugly face.
- And you? – Gefestion added more wine to his cup.
- I did not answer him yet. Promised to think.
- Perhaps, it's better to you to remain in Bactria, really? Ptolemey is never look back about his nomination the Egypt governor...
- He appointed Ptolemy, without asking. In this case he asked. Incidentally, Egypt is not Bactria. What to do here with wild desert tribes? – It was felt that Klitt is upset by the tsar's offer. He was not very homely with commanders after Filota's execution. And now the aspiration of Granik's hero to revelations was quite imposed to Gefestion.
- Look yourself, geter*, it's up to you to decide. Parmenion governs in Ekbatans too, and, apparently, he is pleased. Has built up a palace to himself, lives royally … Look yorself… I would agree on your place, but Alexander will not release …
- You? Really, he is impossible without you … You inspire him, Gefestion. But you dream, he will release you?
- Tî tell the truth, I am tired and this mess has bothered me really, - Gefestion looked at the colleague to whom, apparently, such attitude toward the campaign and all east innovations now seemed natural, after all much Persian was stuck in gizzard – many a one whant to go home. However, the comrade of youth wasn't notable by insight, being excessively proud he considered that everyone in geteira should think in concordance with his, Klitt’s, principles.
- Wouldn't you know it, Gefestion? Recently I had to consult with Alexander about army affairs. So that to get to the tsar, it was necessary to bow Persian servants! And I was ready to chop on a place those darky that guarded his door! We not for that fought, geter, that he would shut out us from himself!
- I understand your insult very well, Klitt, and I most would not like this Eastern willfulness in Macedonian environment, time and again. Once his Limn stopped me the way in similar situation …
- But Limn himself though the Macedonian, but that is not killed Thracians! Or Sogdians, somehow? Who will recognize them, I've got confused! – Klitt exclaimed in extreme irritation.
Tsar's favourite would like to provoke him to treason and report tsar about it, or to persuade to remain in Bactria. In any case it was necessary to get rid of him as the potential competitor in Aleksaner's environment. Besides, Klitt was esteemed more among horse guards, and it's impossible for two commanders to hold one post. However the companion of youth was cautious and, except indignations, stated nothing. «Hardly any evil plans are ripen in him , – Gefestion has thought that evening – his own explosive, unbalanced behavior will ruin him sooner».
By the way, that's what happened. In three days Alexander arranged a supper in his palace, having invited as always not only fellows in arms, but also Iranians, Baktrians, Sogdians, and the big group of Greeks who have arrived to him with embassy from the League of Corinth. Roksana was in the flower of beauty in the Oriental dress made most gentle fabrics covered with pearls and sapphires. Her former modesty was vanished into thin air – now not a silent girl, but the majestic tsarina managed on the feast, was free in behaviour and welcomed all guests.
* here – the friend, old fellow
Her father, Oksibazan, was sitting among honourable Iranians, jealously watching and seeing off a deprecation look each her movement. Meanwhile, Alexander, supervising the action, as if did not notice the wife, paying attention to well-formed Persian young men from servants and Greeks performances with difirambes* to his address. So, it seemed that Macedonsky tsar's greatness, expressed in any form, being incomparable, does not pertain to doubt at all, and it is incommensurable even to the criticism that oversliped at times in sharp Greek couplets.
At first Gefestion stood at the colleagues, military leaders, but Limn having a rest from the Persian translatings captured him with conversation about Evripid's creativity, recollecting the stage directions of his plays in Pella.
The supper was in full swing. Public became quickened when the fried boar was served, then toasts and laughter were heard. Greeks showed satirical songs in the persons, they brought big bag filled by wool with the inscription "Freedom" and begun to drag it round the hall, simulating an unreasonable weight. Eventually, they whacked by this bag their clown sovereign, stretched him on the floor, shouting under total laughter: «Nations of the world, I grant you freedom!». Alexander laughed more than all. Gefestion recollected the trap in «Persian gates» where thousand soldiers died under rocks, and also feelings of confusion, humiliation and anger captured that time Alexander, and now he mentally had done justice to the friend self-control acting.
However, the joke was not conceived in geteira. Perdikka chewed, having fixed gloomily at the piece of meat, Kratter absent-mindedly fingered his silver cup, Aminta viewed painted ceiling, and noone not even smiled. Klitt was drunk and cocky, he stood up and told loudly, addressing to Alexander:
- Unworthily in the enemy country, among barbarians to point and laugh at Macedonians, who are above some Greek clowns in the trouble!
Limn quietly whistled: nobody yet dared to contradict publicly to tsar after Filota's execution. Gefestion thought that Klitt's career is finished at that, and now he has as little chance of seeing neither the guards commander, nor the Bactria vicegerency.
However Alexander was adjusted peacefully and only bited in reply:
- Before whom you are afraid, Klitt? Before those comedians? The one who names cowardice misfortune unmask himself!
Comrade of youth became embittered, and began talk through his hat that everyone in geteira have heard from him repeatedly:
- Whether to this cowardice, offspring of gods, you are obliged for the rescue per hour when you've already turned back to the Persian swords? Only Macedonian's blood, and these hems made you, Alexander, what you are now when you cry out for Ammon's sons and renounce your father Phillip!
Alexander burst out instantly, rushed over his place and threw to Klitt:
- You're villain! Do you think, it's pleasant to me, that you always conduct such speeches with impunity and call Macedonians to disobedience?
* difiramb – Genre of Ancient Greek choral lyrics
But, it was impossible to stop the comrade by now! Arrogance warmed up by wine had bore him further. It was visible that Klitt conceited himself to be leader of all dissatisfied:
- We are enough already punished by you for our efforts. Will envy dead who do not know how Macedonians are beat by Iranian birches and should address to Persian courtiers to come at you!
Then Alexander, as if apologising for the comrade-in-arms, addressed to Greek ambassadors whom was two behind him:
- Ellines should feel among Macedonians, as demigods among wild animals, isn't it?
Ambassadors looked down and nodded with appearance of guilty children.
- Of course, there is no need to tsar to hesitate, let him speak whatever he want! - Klitt shouted through the hall, getting peeved more and more.
- You become crazy, geter! Sit down and not demean yourself! – Ken scolded him, being by side.
But Klitt moved to Alexander, continuing:
- … But let tsar knows that it's not necessary to him to invite to his table free and being got into free speeches persons. It is better to him to live among barbarians and slaves who will bite the dust before his Persian belt and Persian clothes!
Alexander was in fury, his face was deformed by anger grimace, his hand was pulled to the dagger which someone from guardsmen of protection had time foreseeingly to remove from the sheath. Then he seized an apple from vase and threw it to the rebel.
- Shut up, Klitt! You can not visit my feasts any more!
Gefestion preferred to retire, for he knew that it's better not to show his face to tsar needlessly during attacks of anger. He left dining hall to the yard where fountain was silently babbled, and sparrows peacefully twittered. Within a short time commanders led here the companion of youth resisting and threatening a visitation to all.
- Cool down, Klitt. You are over the limit a little, – Ken calmed him, – When you will return, he will forget everything!
- That's nothing, you will sober up at the moment, and everything will be all right! – Aminta sentenced.
When they went out, Gefestion approached to Klitt, sat at him on the edge of fountain and sympathetically sighed.
- Yeah … you can say that again, «not those are glorified, who worked hard » …
Gefestion had hardly pronounced one occurred phrase from Evripid's "Andromaha" as Klitt rushed back to the dining hall.
- Stop, geter, where you running?! Leave him alone – it will be better! – tsar's favourite hastened after him, unsuccessfully trying to stop the comrade. But Klitt was already push aside guardsmen, making the way to Alexander.
- Not those are glorified, who worked hard, - pompous Klitt impudently uttered and, being unsteady, approached to Macedonsky, - but leader one himself will take a praise! And let the one of millions spears he shook himself and did that all have done, but only his name is on the tongues of men!*
* "Andromaha", russian translation from I.Annensky
Alexander's face covered by deathly pallor, something new sparkled in his eyes, that Gefestion never noticed before - the sad, light truth beyond the reach of associates was reflected in them:
- What do you want? To swim with the stream? You want a freedom, Klitt? – tsar whispered, - And I am too ! So receive it before! – he took away the spear from bodyguard and stuck it into the comrad's stomach.
Unlucky Klitt seized for shaft, trying to pull out arrowhead from his body, but in spasms fell on the floor.
Alexander wished to tell something to the guests became silent, however consciousness left him too.
He regained consciousness in half an hour in silks of his bed. A short dream have done well to him.
- What about Klitt, Gefestion? He is alive? Or he's been dead?
- Klitt died. - without knowing still what will be tsar's reaction to the death of the comrade, cautious Gefestion was hardly hid simplification, indeed all what happened was useful to him – tsar was healthy, the competitor was canceled, - Stay down, Alex do not rise. Doctor told that it's at you from big works and plentiful binges, plus have its effects your wounds …
- Trouble is that I fell publicly, Gefes, hereby I'd shown my physical weakness.
- You?! Had shown your weakness? I don't believe it!
- You don't believe, but others are ready to hide me alive. The heavy mission was assigned to us by gods. And, perhaps, at peace harder, than in fight … therefore I will organize soldiers to the India campaign. Do you remember Filota? After all he knew, knew that boys-pages are ready to poison me. But, did not report. That means, he thought secretly to destroy me. The fool! I would appoint him the governor to Babylon, instead of Mazey … and Klitt could accept Bactria too… - No, he did not complain, only commented facts with bitterness, dissembling the fact that exactly Gefestion convinced him of Filota's treason. - Who else, Gefestion? Who?? – Alexander sat up and, having clung to the amulet on favourite's breast, began to shake him for shoulders, - Do you think it's easy to kill friends?! I do not know, how Lanika* will endure Klitt's death, I do not know... But, it will be so with everyone! Do you hear? With everyone who will prevent us to execute the outline of Ammon's oracle! So, who else? Tell me! Who?
Fear captured Gefestion – so intense, expressional was the impulse of his regal friend. In this second with all evidence he realised that no affinity to Alexander's autocratic nature can't pull through punishment. Tsar will spare nobody, including himself, for the achievement of planned purpose. And, if not to state some suspicions aloud now, Gefestion is not insured from charges in the participation to treason!
- Who?! Parmenion! Kratter! Callisfen! Roksana! Nokomakh! Kebalin! Limn! – tsar's favourite exclamed, adding to the list of suspects his own protege, and those who daily communicated with tsar, - Alex,eventually, I can be one of this conspirators too …
* Alexander was very amicable with his teacher - Klitt's sister.
Alexander passed by palm over friend's cheek, embraced for the neck, and pressed with force to himself:
- You?! No! You cannot! Gefes, you cannot … I don't believe. Zevs will prevent it. You cannot! – he repeated all the time trembling and sobbing, - You cannot …
Then, having shaken a minute weakness, he left his bed and barefoot, in one's shirt, began to walk about in the bedroom.
- You are right, Gefestion, it's necessary to finish with Parmenion, he will the first spoil everything with his patriarchal Macedonianism. Wherever he is, also in Ekbatans too, there are twenty thousands armies at him... Only keep the silence: I will order Evmen to deliver to this graybeard some package as if special importance, and, besides, to the courier's hands, I will enclose one tempered dagger, and to his ears – the order to kill.
- And who will be the courier?
- Without a difference. Whom Evmen will send, that will be. I will order this courier secretly to do it, and will release him home … And you, Gefes, must gather the army meeting tomorrow. We will bury Klitt imperceptibly, among themselves, without honours. Tell Khares that I am smashed by this death, much nervous now, and intend to accept today nobody. And now I will order the guards myself.
Gefestion was upset, but in course of time realised that role prepared for him is not too bad. Thanks to properties of character – sociability, ability to ease into confidence of talker, he could manipulate not only Alexander, but also his environment, deriving from this benefit. «For example, – tsar's favourite thought – it would be a good idea to arrange Limn to remaine in Marakanda for help in the farmstead. Unexpectedly, let's say, by reason of wound or illness on the eve of withdrawal armies from the city». But how to arrange a trap to the boy, and make Alexander not to call him again to the court, Gefestion could not think up.
Once, in the palace, walking past Eastern colonnade where Kallisfen usually studied with pages, he paid attention to the following conversation.
- It seemed interesting to me, Limn, the phrase with which tsar killed Klitt.
- You don't say, Nikomah! And with what words upon the lips he was settled him ?
- As though he grants him freedom, as to it's true proponent. «Receive it before» - he whispered then. Nobody heard, only I am. And, maybe, Gefestion too.
- That's what he said? Then, probably, he is right … he sent Klitt to gods – to the most reasonable from the worlds …
- Do you believe, Lima, that there is another world, and everybody are happy there?
- Who knows, my darling. But, here, where we live, I am convinced, not the best place in the world.
- As it happens those who has fell on the field of battle, from ours or Persians, have found instantly a freedom ?
- It seems that so …
- And then what for the swords, enemies and hatred are necessary to us? Maybe it's better all together once to let out our spirits? Tsar the first would set an example …
- It seems to me, Niko, that God just waits, that everyone will be the tsar to himself, here under the sun, and could execute his mission properly. To send there ourselves – too easy way – as well as shamefully accept defeat.
It was seemed to Gefestion, it is unnatural performance around, but everything here in reality, and death of Klitt, and fury of tsar, and this secret conversation of two young men among lilac bushes, between Greek columns … among wild and sad foreign land.
- Kebalin and I are thinking in another way, - Nikomah continued to think aloud , - It seems to us that tsar betrayed us, and we should rescue him, having send him into eternity to glorify forever the Macedonian hegemony.
- But nothing best didn't visit your heads? – Limn asked with irony.
- What's can be more noble the desire to rescue tsar from the general shame?
- About what you speak, Niko?! The army meeting approved his action to Klitt, and there was no speech about shame. They dared to Indin campaign unanimously …
- But, Lima, after all you know yourself, that this impulse was not from the heart of each soldier.
- A stone's throw away to India, and ten thousands stadiys to Makedonia. One more jerk, and the world is in our hands, Niko! Whose heart will not to stomach so closely bait?
- In the very least, two from many other hearts – mine, and of my brother Kebalin.
- I am not colleague to you at this point, Niko … but before bring yourselves to tsarmurder, you should quite care of yourselves. And, think of it harder …
Trying not to rustle in bushes, noticed by nobody Gefestion did not wait when dispute will come to the end, and immediately went to Alexander's apartments.
- Immediately replace your pages, Alex, – he said with emotion, when Evmen with lots of rolls in basket left the study.
- What for?
- Nakomah and Kebalin conceived to kill you .
Alexander, apparently, did not apprehend saying.
- Why do you think so? – tsar asked easy as if the speech was not about his life rescue.
- You do not understand?! Replace pages, Alex. They should be arrested. I heard their conversation now at Kallisfen's seminar, in a break betveen lessons. Nicomah had opened their plans to Limn.
- And what's Limn?
- It seems, nobody will convince them to turn back, not only Limn. They wish to rescue you from the shame of forthcoming campaign by own foolery, having sent to gods before term. Wouldn't you know it??
Alexander rose from the working armchair and began to touch rolls on the table. He seemed still confused.
- And Kallisfen?
- But he was absent at the conversation!
- Last time were pages, and now they are too … As I knew, what the lessons he can teach there … – Alexander annoyingly murmured.
- I doubt. Our academician is assertor of Ellines' freedom, he is not that temper to risk so.
Tsar, at last, decided to operate.
- Go and arrest the both, Gefestion. I will interrogate them myself. Change all regiment of protection. Think up, so that each of guardsmen in a minute did not know about place of the post. Call me Khares, I will give him instructions of pages' duty.
Having taken ten guardsmen along, Gefestion hastened to execute tsar's order to the east ap wing.
Limn was sitting on the stairs alone, having leant against the column, and dreamed, looking through the sky. It followed to search brothers Nikomah and Kebalin in Corp of Pages which disposed over small distance from the palace, at the back of garden. It was easy job to arrest unsuspecting naive boys, in half an hour they already have been thrown to the cellar and were in the clink.
- It's not my work. I am not guilty! Not guilty! It is Niko! It's Niko! His idea! – Kebalin has cried while his mouth was shut with gag..
Nikomah resisted silently, angrily sparkling his eyes.
- It doesn't, doesn't matter, - tsar's favourite repeated again and again, - it will be special honour to you: tsar himself will send both of you to gods!
Coming back, he paid attention that Limn still sits in the same position, having leant against the column.
- Lima! Limn! – has called him Gefestion.
The young man did not move.
«He reflected? Sleeps? Dead?!» - he directed to the friend to dispel this awful guess.
But, already it was not Limn, but only his cool body forgotten carelessly on stones. Blood exuded from punctured wound on his breast through tunic.
He nestled to the lad in the hope to find though any signs of life.
- Lima! Who made it? Lima?! - Gefestion shouted beside himself, shuddering with horror and despair, - Who made it? Nikomah? The motherfucker! Fetid carrion! Lima, wake up! Lima! Come to yourself, Lima!!
Limn poorly stirred dried-up lips:
- Nobody is completely innocent, except … - he as if exhaled, and blood jetted from his throat.
- Bring Limn to tsar! Call doctor immediately! – the confidant ordered his protection.
Guardsmen carefully put wounded young man on the raincoat stretched over the earth, and went to tsar's rooms. Gefestion walk at their side.
«Don't worry, Lima, everything will be all right! – he mentally addressed to the friend, looking at his pale forehead waged in cloth pleats, - You will necessarily recover. We will cure you here, at my place, in Macedonian manor. We will necessarily cure you! And when the campaign will come to a close, I will ask for Alexander all Sogdiana to govern, and we will live with you together for spite of all local customs. And they will understand us! Will understand, because gods will take a pity over peoples, and clarify their mind. All of them, eventually, without translators, will start talking in one language! Men and women! Greeks and Phoenicians! Iranians and Egyptians, - all of them! And to nobody in a head will not come upon consider the displays of love immoral! Macedonians will cease to call Persians barbarians, and Persians us – aggressors. Everything will be good. But, I ask you – survive! Don't leave us, please survive, Lima!»
But, this internal monologue was vain , they have brought the lad to tsar having been dead.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Strange disturbing dream have come to Gefestion those days, as though in reality.
Oracle of Ammon in the likeness of old man in black appiared at him either on the southern road, or in the place of horse guards doctrines; or by the fountain where last time he conversed with Klitt; or directly behind the gates of his own Macedonian manor, or at Kallisfen's colonnad. But as soon as Oracle turned back and gazed at Gefestion by the light-brown, almost yellow eyes, everything about him had changed, wrinkles on his face were smoothed, and he became similar to young Limn.
- There now! - he spoke, smiling, - Everything is grant! You do not have more equal, Gefestion.
- Zevs is the witness, I didn't want it!
- You wanted …
- I didn't wish to kill Klitt. I was afraid to lose Limn!
- You wanted, Gefestion to get rid of contenders. You wanted even when inhibited this desire in youself. Because it's more lovable to you – yourself, – the tsar greatness is closer. Indeed you will not disown, Gefestion, neither yourself, nor Alexander. Your jealousy ruins you. For what the jewel to you? Return me the precious fetish …
And every time when such vision covered him, tsar's favourite woke up with disturbing feeling of loss, nervously groping Ammon's amulet on his breast. And more than ever now he was apprehensive for Alexander's life because he knew: anything'd happen to tsar, there will be no place to him in the State also, and his career will fail.
In the first days of month targelion* Alexander directed armies southward, to Balkh – the place, where from he intended to win one mysterious country, India. The fortress was well strengthened and quite suited for the short stay in connection with preparations for this campaign. All was in blossom in Oks's ** valley, fields, gardens dazzled from variety of local flora, fresh breeze reached from foothills smell of life and spring. Meanwhile, nothing was pleased the lord of all Asia. Cruel despot, thinking of treachery around, woke up in the romantic, wise, courageous and resolute leader of Macedonians. The set of followed after Filota's treason tragical events defined his acts mainly now. He was changed. He did not appreciate own life any more, as well as lives of his comrades-in-arms, especially simple soldiers. Capricious, furious potos *** overwhelmed him – by all means, by incredible victims to conquer India, and to reach, at last, the cherished goal, complete and fair world order in the oikumena, created by him! Dangers of march and novel earths attracted him more, than everyday state government, and it was more honourable to die in campaign, than with intrigues of own court.
* Middle of May.
** Nowadays Amu-Darya river.
*** Potos - motive, drive to feat
He still very much worried, when his companions in arms did not support divine ideas about merge of peoples; as before, he did not suffer any criticism to his address. Now someone's disagreement with the national policy, spent by him, Alexander called as weakness, and it has not been allowed to struggle to weaklings. The nearest associate Klitt amazed him with spiritual infirmity. It was immodest to recollect constantly how he saved tsar's life during one of battles, and especially inappropriate at the height of feast as if there is nothing to tell more about own heroism! Limn saved Alexander from death in sandy storm too, to the contrary he was never vain of it, and did not become laughing-stock in front of everyone. The caricature of himself, shown by Klitt publicly, was much like treason for contained national intolerance which subsequently could be support among Macedonian soldiers, and in the guards. But, even ten soldiers would not follow the Guards commander at that moment – he was too drunk, and silly!
At that moment Klitt seemed to Macedonsky exclusively weak-willed, unlike himself – the person, incapable to resist arrogance overcoming him . «What you do not suffice, geter? – Alexander suddenly thought, looking at the comrade, - You have everything! You are dared, strong and handsome. You are loved by soldiers. You don't have any problems with women. You shouldn't worry about successors because you have sons. You have governance and wealth – I give you Bactria. You would lead there your family and start to live there happily and calmly, in peace with local people! What more do you want? Why you put your nationality above any other? Your principles and predilections above any others? Really your proud compatriots behave so? Why you allowed to insult on Macedonian idea? You considered yourself as my contender. However the divine mission is not granted you, believe – it is not from easy ones. You confused, Klitt. You do not have a place on the earth, Klitt! Indeed the freedom doesn't triumph here yet – it must be reached! To reach, by all means, at a high price in blood and victims! But you confused, you are not capable to struggle and win. In Zevs name I send you where it is a lot of light, gajillion of freedom, and everything is given easily, without tragedies!»
Truly gods decided to punish Alexander for murder of the comrade. However, this punishment was too painful and cruel – they took away his favourite Limn! The lad died absurdly, having throw away own life, through stupidity of tsar's pages! Tzar was inconsolable in his grief. He congealed for a long time above youngster's body, refusing to accept what happened, and could not imagine, that this face will not light with nice smile no longer, lips will not utter neither clever ideas, nor jokes, and hands will not embrace and caress.
Everything, what Lima lived, breathed, to what rejoiced grieved and shared, now remained in history. The dream appiared the lad once in Babylon which he told there proved to be prophetic.
*** potos(greek) aspiration to a feat
“Gods, over the seals being declined,
Counted them and I’ll die ..”
The investigation organised by Alexander in connection with murder of Limn and preparing new cabal, was short. Overwhelmed by revenge, he himself interrogated the former pages in cellar, strung up them for feet on hooks. Both separately, and together they admitted that wished «to release tsar from earthly torments», having killed him nightly in bed, and that idea belonged to Nikomah as more resolute person. They did not share their plans with anybody, except Limn, and Nikomah was afraid to leave him as witness, and killed. They intended to burn the body, and to put about a rumour that Limn ran away. Both assured that Kallisfen was innocent, and that at the lessons he glorified more Ellines freedom at the divine power of tsar, condemned, however, tyranny, and did not teach culture of Asia peoples, but was very much doubtful of the nations merge idea. Brothers Nikomah and Kebalin were executed, they were beaten by stones publicly at the army meeting after solemn reading the sentence «about treason and treachery», supported by all, in Evmen's edition.
They buried Limn beside Klitt, in the Northern yard garden. Having knelt before tombs, Alexander sacrificed some Macedonian flat cakes and jug of wine…
In this sorrowful and disturbing spring Alexander calmed down only invariable presence of Gefestion. One only thought that his favourite himself can be caught in ranks of conspirators, horrified tsar. He drove away these fears, feeling that will conceive conceive of his friend as personal tragedy, will not live through such misfortune – will kill both him and himself by the same weapon! It will be necessary to admit defeat. He will not execute an outline of Zevs-Ammon, will not justify trust of gods. Therefore it seemed to him, that the heavier it will be in campaign, the less time and forces will remain at his surroundings for idle intrigues. It's more difficult to demoralise army on the move, than during billeting, in the camp. Besides, he wished to surpass Gerakl's feats, as for feats of Patroclus and Achilles, and then – it was imagined to him – Macedonians and Greeks in their own volition will bite the dust before greatness of God's son, tsar Alexander – the sovereign of all oikumena!
However, nobody at the court, especially in the army, did not guess what happened in tsar's soul, and what accounts for his gibris*. Meanwhile, in Balh, thanks to own eloquence, as always he convinced Army meeting in the necessity of conquest India, which still never before seen by Europeans!
- I want to divide army into two parts. You will command the two thirds of it in southern direction, Gefestion. You will move along by easier way. For the help I'll give you Perdikka. And I am, myself, with guardsmen and infantry regiments will move to the East, through the mountain ridge, Aorn mountain … We will meet approximately where the rivers Kabul and Indus merge.
Alexander diligently explained to the friend his plans, marking route on the map with piece of chalk. Gefestion obediently listened, having propped up chin by fists, but it was visible on his eyes that he does not approve such perspectives of the forthcoming campaign.
* Gibris (Greek) impudence, arrogance, excessive assuredness of success
- What for to you to climb up on the Aorn mountain nicknamed so by Greeks for it's inaccessibility even for birds? Close-in tops are easier for overcoming, they are not strengthened, mountain traces between them ... Perhaps it's better to surround Aorn's fortress, to isolate these Assacens – they will surrender themselves. And we will move further, to Indus where local rajahes have already sworn to you? And in general, it's not necessary to divide army on the mountain pass, huh?
- Do you remember, as our teacher Finix used to say ? «Modesty is a direct way into the unknown», - Alexander joked, - I wish to start up among soldiers a legend that the mountain of Aorn was not within Gerakl's power. But I will do it with ease. And each soldier will himself feel forces, will be inspired with success of the new campaign.
- You think, Alex, that soldiers of multinational army will believe you? Even Greeks?
- Why will not believe? They will believe! What a difference Greeks from others? People need an idea for struggle. This idea should be simple and clear for everyone. If they did not comprehended yet the course of Zevs-Ammon about merge of peoples and fair state, then possibility to outshine Gerakl should captivate them, isn't it?
- It seems to me that it's a shame to make free with the Greek heroes which acts are sacred.
- Another seems to you, Gefestion. But, for any reasons you are afraid to say a word about it.
The favourite looked at Alexander from under eyebrows not so interrogatively, as cautiously, but did not answer.
- You've still rejoiced recently, when I've sent you with special task? But now? What was changed now? Tell the truth, Gefes: Lima was killed – and now you are afraid for me?
- But, you admitted, Alex, yourself recently in the presence of Klitt that without you I mean nothing. If Alexander Macedonsky will not be, then Gefestion will also disappear … You do not need to spoil for a fight, my tsar.
If something will happen with you – not only I am, but also totally the army will be deserted.
Tenderness aroused in Alexander. He approached to the friend and tenderly tousled hard hair on the commander's top, then he sat down by side and embraced Gefestion hot.
- Your troubles are baseless. We are exorcised by Zevs-Ammon. If we'll remain courageous and brave, he will save our lives. Incidentally, Gefes – it's all the same to gods we are together, or in separation. If they'll wish to invite us, they will do it without any conditions, – Alexander made a pause to change the subject of conversation, - Tell me, my friend, what do you think about Kallisfen?
- What should I think of him? The same as you, Alex. Certainly, he is not involved directly to the plots and murders. But … it seems to me that it's not necessary to detain him more at the court and army, especially after one episode that took place in Navtak.
One case had painfully blew his self esteem, was strictly remembered to Alexander. When armies camped there, he charged to Gefestion to make one more attempt to put in tsar's court the ceremony of proskinesa. It was necessary. Macedonian tsar could not make up his mind to anonimity in which he vanished, being the son of Zevs-Ammon. It was necessary, so that not only his environment, but also his soldiers recognised in him the divine mission; his personal, absolute, from heavens proceeding authority! It seemed to him that otherwise it will not be possible to carry out the conceived. Therefore, instead of traditional sacrifices to Zevs on the occasion of beginning military campaign, it was decided to organise in Navtak another ceremony – the genuflection before a statue of Zevs-Ammon.
Everybody in the camp – commanders, governors of set up areas, satraps, the Iranian, Persian, Greek grandees, and also representatives of creative and scientific elite – were invited to the serf palace, shined torches, gloomy stone hall not enough suitable for the celebrations. Scenario of this action he developed as always together with Gefestion and Khares. In this time they tried to accustom compatriots to proskinesa as everebody tame dogs and cats to the yard. Having headed the ceremony, he the first prostrated before lighted up by torches of the sacred tsar's fire statue of Zevs-Ammon, and said a traditional prayer: «Father! Great Zevs and almighty Ammon!..». Certainly, he would not like to disclose the personal prayer for it was too intimate, concerned only him and Gefestion. Nevertheless, this circumstance he also considered as necessary victim to gods, that, however, extraordinary ennobled in his eyes special significance of the new ceremony. Having risen from knees, he kissed statue, took a cup of wine and stood up beside it. Then he started to tell toasts in honour of the attendees. Each of them should prostrate before statue – accordingly before tsar – then take the cup from his hands, and, having drained it, kiss Alexander on the lips.
Everyone – immediate circle, courtiers, Kratter, Perdikka, Aminta, Ptolemy, Garpal arrived from Ekbatan, Nearh – from Athenes, and even Klitt, following tsar'sl example, having listened toast in own address, carried out what was required – kneeled at the feet of statue, drank from the cup submitted by Alexander, and kissed on the lips. The Greek grandees also, bending a knee, did not shun to nestle to lips of the glorifying them sovereign. It was not more honourably to Iranians, Persians and Sogdianes to prostrate before tsar, and to try from his hands wine. Among others Alexander said some salutatory words to Kallisfen. The scientist was not as usually disseminated – he had enough mind to approach to a statue of Zevs-Ammon and to stand beside. However he did not bend knees, and addressed to Alexander with usual Macedonian greeting. Standing by side Limn said: «Do not give a kiss, oh my tsar, to the one who didn't recognize the God!» In in reply the academician dropped: «What's the big idea! It's less than only one kiss!». And then, in disarray and anger, aspiring to humiliate this upstart, Alexander poured out all cup of wine to Kallisfen's bald head, and stopped the ceremony.
- Why do you think, that it's better to Kallisfen not to be at the court now? – he asked Gefestion.
- Aristotel's neffy have a sense of grandeur about himself now, But really, as the person, he presents nothing. Recently he even agreed that you, Alex, is much obliged him, particularly the truthful promulgation of campaign purposes among soldiers. So, he himself is the main ideologist of the campaign! The most interesting that this thesis is supports in regiments, and consider, as if Kallisfen himself has shown boldness, resisting to initiation of proskinesa. As if, others were afraid to mind to tsar, only, the one, was able!
Alexander swore untidily.
- No matter! I will force the academician to discredit Macedonians before ours geteira, so he himself will not be happy! Let's will look, as quickly Ellines arrogance will disappear out of him!
In one of the evenings at supper with confidants, being remember that Kallisfen is strong in rhetoric, Alexander suggested him to show the skill and deliver a speech in glory of Macedonia.
All that was told by the academician was so pleasant to guests that last words sank in the thunderous:
- Glory the Macedonian geteira! Glory! Glory! Ura-h!!
- Ura-h! You are excellent orator, Kallisfen! – Alexander supported the attendees, - However not everyone knows that in general it is not present equal to you! As our respectable Aristotle speaks? The special art of speaker consists that he is capable both to defend, and to deny the same statement with identical pathos. You've said incomparable speech in the glory of Macedonia, it's people, and state policy. And now I ask you to say the contrary. Deliver to us also this pleasure to listen you!
As one would expect, Kallisfen melted with compliments, and responded to tsar's request with pleasure.
- Far in the west, - he addressed to attendees, - There is a small country mired in own arrogance - Macedonia. Its people is pitiful, poor and lazy, at the same time nobility is dissolute and severe. The gulf between them. And the only thing unites all estates in this country – is money. Local citizens put nothing above measure of value and means of payment. They consider gold and silver coins as the criterion of happiness, freedom, and even love. Money and power – here is a limit of dreams of each inhabitants of Macedonia who dream since childhood about considerable quantities of one and another! Any ashman from dirty suburbs of Pella or Ega in his desires is equal to tsar for the one and the other wishes to become richer. There is no limit of aspirations of both. And, if one aspires to save up for own residing, another – for capture other's territories. Therewith the first, in view of laziness of mind, trusts the second all his life, constantly complains about gaps, and worships of him as of god. And the second, using a shortage of ideas in minds of the fellow humans, their chronic fear to fall into disgrace, crews up legions of people and directs them to the war into nowhere to charm the most august vanity! It's considered, as if the proximity to the throne increases chances of individual liberty. Sovereigns of Macedonia have acquired it well. Using stamping coin and bags of gold, they favor and distance their vassals, creating the inner circle of favourites, who are capable to be good-for-anything if only to please their lord. On behalf of him they are pleased to any deceit, and any treachery…
Disapproving rumble spread around the hall. Exclamations were heard:
- About whom you are broadcasting, Kallisfen? Whether about youself? Where do you lost your honour? Tell us, how much you have received for your treatise about the campaign? Likely it is not enough? So we'll add some, that it is quite a thing!
- It's enough, Kallisfen, - Alexander break off the scientist, - Now all of us are convinced of your abilities. And also in authenticity of ideas, you grown!
A week later he arrested the rhetor, having accused him in participation of the pages plot. This time he decided not to apply the death penalty and enclosed the academician to the cage having ordered to drag in the vehicle everywhere behind army, not to refuse meal and drink. Now he charged to finish the history of the state creation to other biographer – Anaksarh, the follower of Demokrit who did not have any relation to Aristotle. It was easier to agree with him.
Kallisfen fell a victim to the Indian campaign, he sank in his cage during ford across one mountain river. Gods did not take pity over him as they, however, did not take pity over Macedonian army!
This campaign became really torture for Alexander. The first months, despite some difficulties, everything was on schedule. Aorn fortress fell after a long siege with application of latest engineering achievements – hinged bridges and long-range flame-throwers. Besieged citizens resisted furiously. Customs of opponent soldiers were uncompromising and obstinacy, they preferred to die at homeland defense, than surrender without putting up a fight. Local authorities did not wish to obey the new tsar too. Governors of areas adjoining with Persia, Sesikott and Taksil, were the last with whom Alexander accepted loyal readings and writings. Nevertheless, by the middle of summer the army forced Indus river. Gefestion rose to the occasion again, prepared not only pontoon bridges, but also three tens fleet's galleys, erected by the time of arrival the army troops under personal command of tsar. They located the camp around rajah’s residence. The city had the name of Taksila who, having sworn to Macedonsky, dreamt to attach to his earths neighboring ones, and finish, at last, permanent civil strife here. In this sense the local authoritiy was like-minded to Alexander, during impulses of tsar's favour he even contemplated whether to appoint subsequently this rajah the governor of subjugated Indian territories. However, Sesikott, should be, also nurtured similar plans, therefore it had to promise both of them the same in audiences.
However later fortune went back upon the tsar of all Asia. Neighbour of Taksila, capricious rajah Paurava by nickname of Por did not wish to surrender in any way! It is to him, having arranged armies on the opposite side of Gidasp river, heavens were kind. They ejected great water streams on Macedonians. Alexander and his soldiers have not ever seen such rains! Day after day, week after week storm downpours did not stop. There were not roads any more in the valley, underfoot ground turned to continuous dirty medley in which was bogged down everything that only moves. It was impossible to put up tents without a fear that at night gale-force wind will break them down again, frequently soldiers slept directly on the ground in dirty slops with full regimentals, covering by tent fabric. Blows of lightnings smashed some cannon vehicles, tens soldiers were died.
Understanding himself the hero, Alexander aspired to divide completely all these burdens with ordinary fighters and commanders. He was constantly at the army, rode round regiments, pulled out from water wheels of getting stuck carts, knitted from canes pontoons for water crossing, carried away wounded men on his shoulders, by own example supported many weakened and losing a hope soldiers. And he prayed heavens only the one: that Zevs would not take away his gibris, would not punish for luckiness, would not give him and Gefestion too easy exit as it was granted to Klitt, and allowed them to finish Indian campaign with honour!
It was possible to win the battle with Por despite of the most severe resistance. It was ordered to Kratter to organise active preparations and an indicative crossing in view of enemy army, meanwhile Alexander brought down the main blow from territories invisible to the opponent - from headwaters out of woody island. Por's son, his successor, was killed in this fight, – slow Indian chariots which he ordered sticked in mud, were crumpled by speedy attack of Macedonian cavalry. Enemy arrow pierced also tsar's Bucephalus. Having neigh plaintively the horse fell under him , being poured with bloody lather. It would be necessary to Alexander to battle against rajah already on another stallion. However, Por pressed by Ken's cavalry to rushing huge elephants , pressing at large friendlies and another's, has fought desperately and appeared before tsar wounded, tired to death, but not broken.
- What should you tell me? – Alexander asked him on Persian.
But, instead of recognition in defeat and faithful words, he heard in reply:
- Seems, both of us fought to the death very hard, fulfiling duty, and have got quite tired
In the dark strong rajah's face, wide from being old handsome Hindu, reflected neither anger, nor grief, nor regret. He was full of advantage, but, apparently, far from desire to continue the fight, as well as to revenge for his son. Alexander was fascinated by such self-control, and decided to accompany captivated rajah to the place of his home imprisonment. They rode unhurriedly.
It was stuffy, as in sweating-room. Black fetid haze stretched in the air. Fires burnt on all the way – locals cremated corpses of their soldiers. There were strange processions continually: woman with loose hair, richly dressed and decorated with jewelry surrounded by ten-two singing and dancing Hindus, followed to burning places.
- They execute the sati ceremony, - Por explained, - self-burning of widows.
- It'll be more vividly, than in Marafa! – Gefestion following nearby said in Greek with sarcasm, - do you remember, Alex, I've told you? As mothers sacrificed babies there?
- Why would those women make themselfs liable to so painful death? – Alexander asked rajah.
- Not at all. It is hard to live, but easily to die! - Por minded, still in no way addressing to Alexander, - They give farewell and generous present to their husbands. Having accepted this last torment, they get rid of the transitory body, and enheaven to the eternal life, becoming the Sati-magician!
- Whom-whom they become? – Gefestion did not understand.
- Sati-magician is a kind goddess...
- Yes, you are right, Gefestion, - Alexander agreed thoughtfully, - In these parts, as you expressed yourself, more vividly, than in Marafa. Here they are going voluntary to the spouse funeral fire and, seemingly, with pleasure. Look: there are flowers around and festivity as on wedding. Not only to widows – death is not so terrible to such people. On the contrary, they as though dreams of death. And after all no other force over themselves they do not allow, except the force of own soul! It's not the Persians running back, whom all the same, what tsar holds sway over them. Should be, Gefes, God separated too deeply all nations on the Earth. I do not know that will be further... , - suddenly it was seemed to him the very strange first victory in India when loser not only sees off his winner to the place of captivity, but, without hiding, offers him culture, convictions and belief of the people, do not perceived by European soldier's heart by no means.
Meditativeness, surrendering to fate, absolute unwillingness to change, to reach something, disregard for own life characterised Hindus. Local population, divided into set of beliefs, castes and estates, was more in the shadow of brahmans and magicians, than under the domination of Tsar of all Asia. Rajah Paurava was active and capable person unlike most of his countrymen. Alexander disclosed to him purposes of the undertaken campaign, and Por, apparently, understood advantage of joining own earths to oikumena, he started to help, having allocated thirty thousands soldiers and three hundred battle elephants. Then Alexander reached the final decision and appointed Por the governor of won territories. Taksila and Sesikott immediately took offence, the neighbouring princedoms became embittered, and one lord of the earths along Gidraot river, radjah's distant relative from Paurava family nicknamed by Macedonians «malicious Por», even decided to open hostilities. The army corps sent to the pacification under command of Gefestion had routed all these dissatisfied.
However movement of the army divided in some parts was not victorious. The campaign continued to become complicated by numerous raids of local rajahs from outside, aspiring to find individually the benefit in external circumstances. Torrential rains have continued again which make rivers spread, regimentals soaked, weapon rusted, foodstuffs spoilt. Soldiers suffered from stings of snakes and scorpions, quite often deadly. It was necessary to distract forces to cover army transports under Ken's and Kratter's command. Planned by Alexander the outlet of his army to the Ganges river was postponed until autumn.
To the middle of second tropical summer of the Indian campaign Macedonian army exhausted. When armies have reached, at last, Gefasis *, regiments did not more personify all-conquering power of Macedonian state, rather on the contrary, they resembled crowds of dirty ragamuffins.
* the river in a valley of Indus
The time to conclude hard and critical decision had come to Alexander – to continue the campaign, or declare to soldiers about returning home.
He was full of determination to fight to the end: to pass by fleet across Ganges in spite of any circumstances, and to reach, at last, the seacoast, east extremity of the world! This very mission – it was thought to tsar of all Asia – was entrusted by Zevs-Ammon to him and to Gefestion. They have dreamt of it since their youth. So the amulet which was presented them in Egypt by oracle of God, invariably confirmed that the way selected inseparables friends is correct, and the problem of peoples' association is still achievable. And now, staying months on a march in the Punjab* filled in with rains, peering into the broken by lightnings black sky above Himalayas foothills, or attentively observing flight of vultures over wet plain, listening to thunder peals in the dark stuffy East night, – he did not doubt of it at all. However neither earlier, nor now, neither himself, nor his comrades could not assume the sizes of unknown India and its distances, densely populated territories; neither variety of local customs and cultures, nor the whole set of whimsical politics and outrage of local rajahs. What decision it should to undertake him now to finish the Indian campaign with honour?
Zevs enclosed this decision to Ken's lips.
- I will follow you, Alexander, anywhere. And till the end of the world I will go too, – notable Ken said on the War council, – I will go, even if we remain with you together, and it will be nobody to be next. And certainly we will reach the Gange's mouth at all costs. Even at great cost of own life, but we will reach this purpose. I think, that any of ours geteira will follow our lead. Believe, my tsar, I tell it absolutely sincerely. Behind these words – big love and belief to you. However gods blessed us not to such death, and such final. They blessed us to the campaign for the gain and reorganisation of our world, instead of self-sacrifice in the name of these purposes. Macedonian army should return to Babylon with the victory, and finish the campaign – in native Pella where great Zevs inspired you to great feats, Alexander. I think that none of Greek heroes haven't made what you have done, my tsar, neither Herakles, nor Patroclus and Achilles. Nobody from them did not reach the Himalayas, did not gain victories in Punjab and did not float down Indus river to the southern seas. Therefore I offer such future. First of all, to save army for the further gains. Secondly, to complete fleet on the Gidasp river. And thirdly to march out to the sea, sailing not down the Ganges river, but down the Indus river. And to return to Babylon by sea, having entered ships into mouth of the Tiger river, and then – high drop of Euphrates...
Ken looked wearily, his black eyes shone unhealthy, yellowness appeared on the unshaven cheekbones, the heavy chin obstinately compressed lips. He stated the reasons on the War council sincerely and with merit. Commanders, including Hindus, silently approved his report. Alexander did not enter into details of this plan, he watched, how Ammon's crystal blaze red sparks on Gefestion's neck in the light of torches, and thought that Ken tell the true. If only to collect soldiers and to declare returning home, as forces will increase, and they will go to submit the earths downward Indus river with double zeal. Meanwhile, the only mention of the necessity to overcome distance to the East coast of Ganges river hardly have been passed the equal one, will evoke among them disobedience.
… At the day of triumphant fleet departure from Bukefalia – the town based in memory of the favourite horse Buñephalus killed there in battle – Alexander asked Gefestion the gift of Ammon's oracle for a while.
* Punjab on Persian – «five rivers»
- Seven years you didn't separate the jewel, Gefes. Give it to me for today, - Alexander asked after their traditional prayer, - it seems to me, it should bring us good luck.
Tenderly clasping friend for neck, he cautiously removed from him divine amulet. Crystal was bluish-green befitting the silent warm day in the valley, where Gidasp river at full waters quickly carried Macedonian galleys by the town constructions, new shipyards, motley crowds of Hindus who have gathered out of curiosity on the banks, and further through thickets of emerald jungle to unknown, unknown areas, to infinite open spaces of the sea...
Soon about nightfall next day, when ships stood on overnight accommodation, and Alexander accompanied by confidants, having passed the command of fleet to Nearh, left flagman galley, the courier from Ptolemey, moved with cavalry by the left river bank, had arrived. Having unfolded a roll he did not believe his eyes: Ptolemey informed that Ken suddenly died at night from fever heat. Alexander clutched his head in impulse of grief and despair: the set of death of his colleagues, the closest comrades, cherished persons, still pursued him! What did it all mean? The end of good luck? Unrealizability of his dream? Or, it was payment for increased the gybris which he considered now necessary for success of his enterprise? And, the more will be victims in geteira, the result of all campaign will be happier? Who will be the following? He did not know. He thought only about not to do to himself any indulgences, to lead soldiers the way, to fight like any other, – the victory by all means concealed in such his uncontrollable aspiration!
With big regret Alexander was called upon to send Gefestion to command the left flank.
- Go there. Give a bow to Ken from me, – he said, handing over the diagram* to the friend, – Such devoted comrades, as him, is too little. Here you are, and also Ptolemey and his brother, Garpal... Ken was the talented commander rather betrayed to our idea... Bow... And, Be safe, Gefes! I ask you: look after yourself!
Gefestion embraced him strongly and kissed on the lips:
- Keep yourself too, - he whispered, pressing Alexander's head to the breast, - and we will sustain, whatever the cost to us! We will sustain!
The ñampaign was continued. In three weeks fleet, following army parts, took the river Akesin mouth. The woody district was gradually replaced by monotonous hilly plain with frequent poor Hindu settlements, and occasionally masonry fortresses with high walls, loopholes and circular towers decorated by colour ornament. Hindus attitude toward conquerors was also exchanged – local Mallysiys showed extreme unfriendliness, their horse groups continually attacked Macedonians from front. Being afraid of attacks to flanks, Alexander ordered regiments to move on the distance from each other not less than stadia, then he disseminated troops along Gidraot river bank like a fan, suddenly surrounded and destroyed the enemy. However next day, as Malliy's warrior host, nonchalantly, appeared on horizon again, it was necessary to repeat this military operation. Ease, from which enemy fighters went to doom, amazed. But, displays of military skill and soldier's training at Hindus seemed comical and awkward. Alexander was amused with this manner to engage fight, as to children's game, aimless and artless: to fly as a cloud to the Macedonian envelopment at full speed, and with the same daring haste, sustaining a loss several times big, than at the attack, to rush back, rearward.
*Diagram – the written order
Alexander, by council of Por, decided to seize one of fortresses hasty crossing, as it represented some stronghold in Malliy's territory. They said, as if there are more than ten thousand cavalry and chariots, also incalculably infantry. Having fallen for playful mood of the enemy, he the first led the army to assault, seized one of few available ladders and, closing by board from enemy arrows, begun to climb up the wall. He was followed by Leonnat, the commander of the cavalry and bodyguards, Pevkesta and Arbey. Having looked back, Alexander noticed that they too came off the army, infantry groups did not keep up with them.
And then there was a vision to him: old man oracle in white clothes sits on adust earth bank under the ladder, and looks, looks at him upwards with the light-brown, almost yellow eyes! Alexander inspired with this sign of the deity, with shiver in soul, ignoring obvious danger, continued to fight furiously. He jumped on the town wall, having smote by sword several Malliy's archers, and, visible from everywhere in sparkling metal armour, helmet decorated with red feather, himself became a good target for enemy. Arrows showered on him with ominous whistle from different directions. But, the main thing was that Macedonians approached with assault technics to the walls of fortress could watch Alexander, thereby he inspires soldiers to victory. It was recollected to him during these instants the history told by Limn in Babylon as the future tsarina Semiramida with the victorious flag on tower was noticed by Assyrian tsar. But he himself, Tsar of all Asia, was noted now by God!
The bodyguards appeared in time closed Alexander by boards, however Arbey was struck by arrow to the neck and fall from wall to fortress yard. Leonnat, Kratter's cousin, came to help:
- Jump, jump, my tsar! – he exclaimed, and, having seized Alexander by hand, lead him to the ground.
They fell on heap of dust. The stream of enemy arrows also fell down from height of the next tower. Alexander, hardly having jumped on feet, noticed, how the second bodyguard, Pevkesta, wounded, falls from the wall. He has directed to help his guardsman, but this moment the sharp pain in the right party of breast suddenly forced him to stop – having punched an armour, Malliy's arrow deeply stuck between edges. Clothes became soaked with blood instantly, began to stick to the body, preventing to move. And, nevertheless he, growing heavy as if his feet were poured by lead, made some steps to the wall, but, growing weak, fell on the ground. The last that Alexander caught sight of this battle – as Leonnat rushed on him, closing by the board, and as under pressure of Macedonian armies, fort gates, at last, trembled. Then consciousness left him.
Really it was positive miracle, that Alexander did not fall in battle and die of the wound. It seemed, only by the will of Zevs-Ammon he was left in this world for continuation of his mission! Recovery was hard and long, he've lost a lot of blood for the arrow pierced the lung, and it was necessary to take it from his body in improbable torments.
Disturbed Gefestion came tearing along and, sobbing, childly cryed at his shoulder:
- Rumour has passed in troops that you'd died …
Having hardly recovered, Alexander ordered his pages to set him up on the horse, and appeared in all his tsar's greatness before Guards regiments accompanied by joyful and long military «hur-r-a-ah!».
- Soldiers! My darling! You see: I am alive! I am alive, and we will continue the campaign as soon as I will definitively pull round!
The old man-oracle did not appear any more, however the forced trimonthly inactivity suddenly turned out for the success. The joyful message had come one of these days: Malliys together with their neighbours, Oksidraks, are ready to vote his authority upon condition that their territories will not be included into submission of Por. On this occasion Alexander, lying in bed, himself received ambassadors, and accept presents from them – two chests with gold. For the first time Hindu's civil strife was play into thir hands. Having thought a little, on the calculation that all of them will be happy, he signed decrees about nomination Leonnat rescued him from death the governor of local territories, and about transfer to submission of Por almost all northeast part of Punjab. In imperious euphoria it seemed to Macedonsky again that problem of people's association could be realized by one tsar's will immediately, hardly he blest with his signature administrative decrees for they have been dictated by the most noble of all purposes!
Thoughts of successor began to overcome him again here, in the camp on Akesin river bank. Ken, deceased, was right: the state created in eight years of fights and campaigns had no analogues in history. But, to become settled basis of the new world order oikumena nourished by him must be viable monarchy not for a year – another, but for many and many centuries. Therefore, with returning to Babylon where he intended to settle new capital, the propagation of Argead's family took on particular importance. However nothing varied. Alexander, as he tried, could not break his relation to women. As before they seemed him weaklings from other world, inclined to intrigues and treason. Letters from mother, Olimpiada, seldom reaching now, in which she alerted him from the imaginary intrigues proceeding whether from Orestids, whether from Linkestids* only stoked in him mistrust and hostility to opposite sex. One letter from Barsina whereat she lied that gave birth to the son from him, had sent him into a rage. Memoirs about silly Dariy's daughter aroused loathing.
The matrimony with Roksana in Marakanda seemed some deliberate farce. Alexander in his heart dreamt of love to woman, capable to overcome in him the dislike to amorphous female flesh, but Zevs did not send him such passion. In a word, unlike military front the situation on personal one developed in no way.
*Antiquity Macedonian's generations to which the nearest Alexander's environment belonged
And, as if in reply to his gloomy thoughts, tsarina Roksana appeared in the camp! Her father, Oksibazan, governor of Sogdiana, headed now by tsar's order army replenishment of two thousands horsemen, was also much disturbed by Alexander's state of health, and impressed by rumors of his death. However he caught alienation in wife's shape, and accepted her coldly, understanding, however, that she has overcome distance of several thousands stadies for meeting with him hardly that in comfortable conditions. They've parted in Taksila city. Expecting complexities on the march and proximity of fights, Alexander allowed her to stay in rajah's palace till the end of the Indian campaign. Now she faced to him here, having blinked defiantly slanting eyes, while her father reported.
- I am pregnant, - Roksana declared as soon as they remained alone.
It's visible, God tested Macedonsky again! Or God felt, at last, to the prayers, accepted innumerable victims of the campaign! Last time Alexander was in one bed together with wife and Gefestion more than half a year back.
- From whom this child? – momentary lapsed at him.
- But I know? You, bohunks the whole harem at me! – she answered with mockingly, - From you, likely, my tsar.
Having been angry, Alexander seized her by the garland of beads twisted around the neck, and pulled on to himself.
- You, the east bitch! Say thanks that I've done you the tsarina! Gefestion in hundred times more worthy than you unless cannot give birth. Heavens did not allow men ability to give birth …, – he hissed on the native dialect.
Roksana understood nothing, apparently, but was very frightened of unexpectedly hot-tempered impulse of the spouse, and it reflected in her eyes fill of horror.
A moment – and he cooled down. It was thought to him that it's unduly to be angry now, but it it should be to pray Zevs-Ammon about the son. About successor! The successor whom he could bring up himself! The brother-in-arms to whom he could trust as to himself and Gefestion! The same Alexander Macedonsky, but better, more fair, persistent and honest, than he himself! Tsar was very much inspired by thoughts of fast becoming of the son. Macedonian army's home-coming to Babylon with great victory seemed to him now not so far, almost unrealizable dream, but the festal occasion coming soon day by day.
He crudely spifflicated with all who tried to prevent his armies to reach ocean coast. The Hindu mutinies called by treachery of rajahs earlier swearing him, were ended with death penalties of instigators. Alexander ordered to devastate local capital, Pattala, to turn inhabitants into the slavery and to kill brahmans. «Zevs-Ammon will forgive me this atrocity! – he thought – After all if they preach true in the sky, without wishing to change anything on the earth, - let them go there, to their gods, and there is nothing to do here!»
But, God did not hear his aspirations! Heavens submitted to him the omen of misfortune: Roksana gave birth to the dead child, girl. It seems, for the first time in this campaign he was such despaired.
- Gefestion, Gefestion! What for, what for I am necessary to God? – he repeated sadly, without finding a rest, - What for Zevs so tests us? It would be better if I'll go there, where now Lima and Klitt! And you should, with me together!
The friend was well oiled, however, it did not prevent him to concern quite seriously to Alexander's announce.
- Don't say, Alex that does not intrinsic to you. Hundred thousand soldiers you have led behind yourself through all India to the ocean, are not expecting from you such speeches. They are dreaming to come back home with a victory.
- Whether it's you, Gefes? Should be you've drank too much wine. To whom else except you to know the true nature about your regal friend, huh? The lord of all Asia, huh? Who hardly fell a victim of own pages, and cannot normally conceive the successor?. – Alexander noticed venomously, – I doubt very much that everybody in the army are solid obsess with idea of the new true state. As well as in our geteira.
Worry reflected on Gefestion's face kind since childhood, and it was more precious to Alexander, than ten pomposity words uttered by mate earlier, though in a state of drunkenness.
- Don't mope, Alex, - Gefestion said, - , they believe those who is stronger in our state, as well as in any another. Glory to gods that you show your weakness only to me.
- It is not weakness, my dear. It's the truth. And, it should be perceived as courageously, as well as each forthcoming fight …
Gefestion seemed crushed, he sat, picking up legs under himself, deep in the armchair and nervously fingered brushes on armrests. Worry in his eyes increased.
- Listen, I do not want there, where Lima and Klitt now …
- And what do you want, Gefestion? To be my shadow forever?
Suddenly friend took the offensive.
- By no means! Do not drop your problems on me! – he shouted violently, - You are holding me as talisman, being afraid to leave! Whatever gave you the idea, Alex, that Zevs gave up on us?! You must turn to him, really, if you consider yourself his son! And you will see, how many people, according to your unfulfilled plans, you would leave to get stuck in local bogs! What a problem! The child didn't turn out – we will plane another, easy task! They don't believe to the idea – we will force to believe! Will get used!
Oh! It was crucial attack. Gefestion was forward in tactics since school years; he could hide in game, seemed suppressed, hardly won, and in the moment when his contender was quite assured of it – strike him the crushing blow! And, every time he neatly beat on Alexander's depressions. It seemed to tsar at such minutes that his friend speaks a voice of God.
- You really think, that we can carry out the task set by Zevs? - Alexander asked, having calmed down a little.
- I do not doubt of it at all. Our amulet is the evidence of it! – Gefestion confidently declared, dipped hand into tunic neck, showing the divine crystal as password.
- You are drunk, Gefes.
- Well, and what? It does not prevent mee to think soberly …
Alexander wished to kiss.
- Gefes, Gefes! I want back home! – he said, having nestled his cheek on the friend's cheek as if they were not in a heavy and far campaign, but simple, as if still boys came to the neighboring wood for berries, and in a moment their teacher Phoenix, or help-mate Lanika will surely find them, and call to dinner, - I want original Macedonian wine, Gefes. I want lentil flat cakes, ripe grapes and baked mutton! As it become repulsive this rice, and all this Hindu rotten stuff! I wish to see wattled fences and patterns on the eaves! The moon over my native home, instead of here, at rajah's palaces!
The friend brushed him aside and looked in the eyes:
- If you want back home, what a problem? Let's go!
- It's impossible for me to Pella, Gefes. It's impossible for me back to home …, I am the tsar of all Asia, I should remain in Babylon. The capital of oikumena's people – the World centre will be there. At the same time Macedonia becomes only a part of our state. Didn't Zevs ordered us so? Ain't that right?
- That's right … do you remember, I've started to build one manor on Macedonian style in Marakanda?
- And, what?
- Perhaps will be better to us to settle in Marakanda …
It became funny to Alexander: his friend is the talented commander, remarkable administrator, but arguing as the child.
- Don't be silly. You've become an obsession with this house! Now we have so much money, Gefes, that it's possible to erect copy of Pella in the middle of Babylon. I have some other plans concerning you. I wish to constitute post of the chiliarch and appoint you the right-hand man in our state. Just in case what can happen with me … Then I will pass throne under the will to you – to finish all initiate.
At the back of his mind Alexander decided to accept the challenge of Zevs-Ammon, to assay army a new test, to go the vole, making way toward Persia overland to the northwest by two army streams, and on the sea by fleet – along ocean coast and Persian gulf to the Euphrates and Tiger's mouth. He assigned the command of flotilla to the true friend Nearh, northern part of army was entrusted to Gefestion and Kratter, and himself, having sent fleet, he decided to head on march along ocean coast the average part of army, infantry, hopefully to help Nearh with foodstuffs deliveries in the beginning. And, if it will be allowed by God to meet them all in Susa, means, they will execute the mission assigned to him and to Gefestion – to unite peoples in the state. If not – everything in the world will happen according the Ammon's oracle prediction!
Before departure to the campaign Alexander ordered to do big sacrifices for Poseidon. Blood of ten bulls empurpled ocean waters near based by him in Punjab new port – already traditional by name, Alexandria. «Subsequently – it was thought to him – for the purposes of perpetuation the history of Great campaign it would be a fine to rename into Alexandrias and capitals of all areas in oikumena. But, it is not necessary to fix upon. It is later, in case of returning to Babylon with victory!»
Two hundred galleys and the sailing ships, ready to take aboard massive technics, cavalry and infantry regiments of hoplits *, at last, were floated. Kratter supervised over loading, it was necessary to him and Gefestion upon completion to depart first to the campaign with the northern part of army.
* Hoplit - hard armed soldier
Night on the eve of march Alexander spent with friends, drinking and having fun. Hindus performed conjuring tricks: laid, went barefoot on the heated coals, threw their legs on shoulders and moved with hands on the floor, being absorbed in own butt. One brahman swallowed fire, another – daggers. Nearh arranged Greek round dances. Everybody were cheerful and drunk, as if soon it wouldn't take place a long parting.
In the morning he was woken up by Hindu boy–servant. Being goggle-eyed, the boy spluttered something with emotion in his own way and pointed toward tent exit. It was clear that happened something awful. Having flung on the coast in his birthday suit, Alexander did not see ocean. Commands in confusion fussed round the grounded vessels in the dark, smelly silt, on boulders covered with seaweed, trying to rescue that was escaped from the provisions loading started last night.
Out of pique Alexander threw the servant to this dirt, and, having returned to his tent, immediately demanded to himself local rajah Tusin and geographer Stilka.
- Why you, a mangy goat, didn't report me about terms and scales of ocean flowings! – he raged, dragging rajah for beard, - wish to terminate your life on scaffold? Or, it's all the same to you?!
Humiliated Tusin continually repeated some Hindu phrases, similar to spells.
- He says that there were not yet such huge tidal falls in his lifetime, - Persian scientist Stilka explained, having assumed the role of translator, - and that people of his province also had suffered a big damage.
- He lies!
- It's similar to truth, oh mighty tsar! I spent many years in Indus delta, studying nature, and also did not see something similar, - geographer supported Tusin, - We should expect the same huge and destructive inflow soon. We need to make all possible to rescue people and property immediately.
Alexander collected War council and declared evacuation. But it was too little time to pull out of ooze sea-crafts loaded by military equipment. Impetuous ocean stream followed this very day, injured badly Macedonian fleet and army, seventy five galleys and eighty ships were staved to splinters. Poseydon did not hear tsar of all Asia, did not accept his sacrifices. Meanwhile, Alexander became more hardened from this circumstance: «I will turn back your den, the sea lord! And yourself you will choke in own waves! But I will achieve that's entrusted to us by Zevs!»
It was needed half a year to liquidate consequences of this act of nature and to rebuild fleet. Half a year Macedonian soldiers, prisoners of war, slaves and hired Hindus tirelessly worked on the shipyards and tree fellings. Wood was floated down rivers to Alexandria from all quarters of Punjab; transports with foodstuffs, raw materials and labour forse were stretched. It seemed, it was enthusiasm of the doomed. Many of them were ill and died from excessive works and intolerable hot climate. But, to the middle of summer Macedonian fleet, nevertheless, was built up anew, and only then Alexander could start again the closing stage of Indian campaign - the backtracking to Babylon.
Forgetfulness, atrophy of feelings was peculiar to Gefestion, however, to all humans. And with what trembling imperial favourite apprehended for the first time Ammon's sign on his breast in memorable Egyptian night, drastically stood out from ordinary sensations with what he wore the magic crystal now. At times, he simply forgot about the amulet, and didn't pay special attention to it, as to own heart-beat …
Having heard about tsar's intention to start post of hiliarh for the friend, Gefestion had encouraged in the success of own career, and decided that not in vain he was so promoted the destruction of his competitors in Alexander's environment.
Now, whether commanding an engineering brigade in the recovery of Macedonian fleet, whether discussing problems of last trip to the West, whether advising Alexander in intimate affairs, he thought every minute how, without lose face, to pass forthcoming burdens and to see out the end of military campaign by all means. He would like very much to take a pleasure in power and wealth in Babylon.
Forthcoming appointment to the high post did not change jealous nature of tsar's favourite at all. Now the commander of fleet whom Alexander also adored since early days seemed to him a dangerous competitor. This companion of youth was, apparently, the unique Greek accepted to Macedonian geteira from the highest permission. Unlike dead Klitt, Nearh was not credulous, talkativeness and irascibility, but was judicious, sensible, and had many useful abilities. Besides, he enjoyed remarkable appearance, was harmonious and flexible, wide white-toothed smile decorated his face, and eyes shone by lucid mind. Gefestion could only be level with Nearh, but it was impossible to dump him from pedestal by any slander. He would never convince tsar in sea captain's treachery as they dreamt of creation the oikumena state still three together, being teenagers at Aristotle's school in Mieza, and swore to devote their lives for the achievement of this dream with their youthful maximalism. Then Nearh went Athenes to the parents, and appeared again only after Alexander's crowning. Tsar's court at that time stayed in fear, for Macedonsky without distinction despatched with everyone who could be involved somehow to murder of his father, tsar Phillip. Linkestids, relatives of the new wife of Phillip, aspiring to the power, were most suffered, almost all men of this family were arrested and put to death.
In spite of the fact that Gefestion on behalf of his notable clan, risking himself, the first took charge of public approval Phillip's son, twenty-years-old Alexander, on the throne, the love of new sovereign shone with new glory then not over the tsar's confidant, but over Nearh. Alexander was fascinated by him, and, preparing for campaign to the East, creating Macedonian fleet, did not leave him neither in day nor at night. Meanwhile, young tsar's contacts with Gefestion at that time were weekday and routine, as though self-evident, it was seemed, only in pursuance youthful oaths of eternal love and fidelity. Nobody did not notice this changes in their relations on public.
Gefestion was discriminated and very angry. For confirmation his own arrogance, apparently, he squeezed in every corner all young guardsmen, domestic boys and girls who did not timid, or couldn't resiste the might of masculine charm of tsar's elect. Just during this period he also acquainted with Limn, modest and sensible young man, having liked to him. He carefully hid this contact from tsar – unlike all others which he purposely braved – until he took command of Macedonian fleet himself, and Nearh remained the governor in Lycia. It was difficult to assume what induced Alexander to such decision. Probably, after victories at Isse, and then at Tir where tsar himself commanded fleet, he decided to discharge for a while both favourites, and then to replace their roles in military-political campaign. However, subsequently Gefestion without a shadow of a doubt estimated his appointment as commander of Tir's flotilla as a victory on personal front and added this fact to number of own merits.
Right now, in Punjab, there was no time for love intrigues. The fleet was built up by extreme efforts, at last, and Nearh was appointed the commander. Gefestion and Kratter had to leave the first to the campaign from Pattala by northern road to Gedrosija*.
On the occasion of campaign beginning, with a view to forthcoming separation, Alexander arranged the big reception in rajah's palace.
And then violent night followed. Taking leave seemed to Gefestion mystical and strange. Abundance of drunk during that evening could not dull contradictory feelings of passion, jealousy and alarm overmastered him then. His mind refused to perceive this love, three together in tsar's alcove. Nearh was at his best in the bed too, he was so beautiful, so energetic, dissolute and tender that it was difficult to resist his drive. After all Alexander embraced both of them and pushed off foreheads:
- You are very precious to me, - he whispered, - I love you very much. And we will achieve what we have dreamed for a long time!
* Nowadays – Beluchistan – the Pakistan province
There were three big partitions in structure of thirty thousands corps, commanded by Gefestion, each was separate, well armed group of forces moving with interval of ten stadiys. The first group was headed by him, Aminta commanded the second one, and Kratter followed in rearguard. Unit transport with women and children was entrusted to Aminta for he, with manners of the great Macedonian ancient family representative in which even tsars also have been, dragged behind himself concubines from all over the world, dreaming to return home with such harem. However, this fact entirely responded Alexander's plans about merging world nations, and he graciously allowed Aminta to do that.
Having struck camp in Pattala, troops persistently moved to the West. They overcame no more than seventy stadiys a day. Weather did not favour, the rains, just began in mountains, threatening with impassability and collapses, had stopped, but suffocating heat gave place to them. High hills backed the town with twisting rocky tracks and rare vegetation, they fell downwards – to a sad boundless valley, where – it seemed - it was possible to move infinitely long, and to come nowhere. They moved at night by light of torches because of terrible heat and had a rest in the afternoon, pitching tents directly under the strong sun. Aminta daily pestered the Command with written requests about allocation for his army divisions additional quantity of horses, vehicles and provisions, in the name of necessity to feed and contain women with children. Many times on the way Gefestion thanked the sky that gods advised him to take considerable reserve of fresh water!
Gefestion entirely trusted Osana, special guide from geographer Stilka who was allocated to him by Alexander. This Hindu knew district, spoke persian well and actively helped investigation group led by skilled guardsman Fedosius. It's strange that the guide, despite dark skin, not only by name, but also in appearance reminded him Persian Osama one day led tsar's confidant to Babylon.
On the thirtieth day of moving, in the morning, avant-guard approached to the small stream which pushed through withered valley covered by sand-drifts. Water was salt and muddy. Nevertheless Gefestion ordered regiments to fill started wineskins.
- It's no good, oh my lord, to take water from this stream, - Osana silently advised.
- It's better this, than nothing at all, - tsar's favourite replied, - not to drink, so it will be possible though to wash.
- There is an itch from it, irritation of skin …
- Tell me better, Osana what's visible there, on horizon? - As if there are hills … or, it is clouds?
- A ridge of hills, oh my lord. Then there is desert. Iran behind of them.
This very day, when Aminta and Kratter armies were tightened, Gefestion collected War council.
- ... Valley five hundred stadiys in size from north to south, - Fedosius reported investigation material, intently drawing a piece of coal on the parchment, - and hardly more than four hundred stadiys from east to west. The stream begins in the northeast, almost at foot of mountains, and proceeds a twiddly course to the south where disappears in sandy dunes. Right-hand downstream bank is more abrupt, than left one. It is not dangerous to wait, as there are no settlements in the district, all the more fortresses where Hindus could hide.
- Of course! – Kratter grinned, - Nothing grows on such land. What a settlements can be here!
- We are here, in thirty stadiys from east uplands, - Fedosius continued, - and it's three days way to western hills … There are water sources, bushes, other vegetation, and lives, visible, any wild animals. Our guide, Osana who passed this way to Iran twice, but little northward, can confirm all of it.
Gefestion invited commanders to speak before decide something.
- There are those who capable to separate salt from ground water among my concubines. But, it's necessary three or four days for this purpose. Besides, soldiers are tired. Horses need of care. Therefore I suggest to set up camp on the stream bank, have a rest and fill up fresh water reserves. And then - to move further, - Aminta, offspring of tsar's family, said.
- It seems to me that we will quite sustain three nights else on the march. And we will set up camp there, in foothills. But then we will be protected against sun and wind, - Kratter, skilled commander, declared shortly.
Having listened ambitious Aminta and anxious Kratter, Gefestion thought that it will be better to leave Aminta's army and his transport on the four-day quarters, and together with Kratter move further, to foothills. In this way he will give troops more full rest, and for a while though it'll be possible to get rid of the superfluous cares associated with moving on the desert concubines of tsar's family offspring, their children and various implements.
- Well, Aminta, - he said, - I command your army to start here a camp, and to fill up fresh water wineskins. The term – four days. I am, together with Kratter, we will continue our march and depart today at night. For the fifth day we wait your divisions at the western foothills. I will direct you riders.
Having left third part of the army led by Aminta on quarters at the stream, they continued difficult way among desert. There were more and more sand around. Its extensive coverings on the withered, chapped ground turned to the deep sandy dunes which were ready, seemed, to rise momentary to the sky with burdensome impulses of hot wind, and to cover again Macedonian army – the regiments of goplits carried arms with their peaks and boards, numerous cavalry of gipotoksots with bows, double set of arrows atilt in leather cases, and chariots with heavy load of potable water, provisions and weapons. Formation was broken, wheels bogged down in sand, horses neighed, and did not wish to move. Gefestion commanded not to help along soldiers who lost the way and became weaker, he ordered to seize from them only weapon and water if it was present in soldier's flasks and wineskins. Nevertheless, Macedonian army, losing hundreds of people and horses, moved forward to uplands. And only at the end of fourth days moving troops approached closely to desirable rocky slopes turning green at the tops.
All this moving Gefestion stressed out his certain Spartan, however, the horse sustained difficult march in spite of mature age. Probably, as the owner, it was filled with aspiration to return to Babylon alive and healthy at all costs, it suffered obediently muzzle against dust, persistently stuck hoofs into the viscous scattering cooled down at night and heated in daytime. And, nobody knows what natural blessings of mountain oasis among desert where Macedonians set up the new camp, should be, seemed to the horse too the best of all possible!
Messengers sent to Aminta the next day after army arrival and quartering, did not come back. The offspring of tsar's family with his regiments did not appear in camp a week later. Gefestion was perplexed, for on rested, fresh horses messengers could fully turn back for two days, but very seven days Aminta, or at least his army part, could come quite nearer to the place of new disposition independently. Kratter was especially exñited, as he had young wife in this transport, beautiful Hindus, he took her in Taksila, and she waited the child from him.
- Allow me, Gefestion, with horse illa to go there to search them, - Kratter addressed him on outcome of the eighth day of expectation.
The old comrade-in-arms was obviously out of his mind, severe trouble, usually not peculiar to such zealous career-minded fighter, reflected in his aged face, and strong shiver felt in the voice.
It was dangerous to send so skilled commander to search missing regiments, was fraught with risk to lose qualified command of the rearguard. On the flipside – Gefestion thought – even though can happen with Alexander, and if he will die Aminta by all means will declare the rights to the throne. And, in case of success, will precisely remember Gefestion all his acts what was and what was not... Rescued Aminta, will answer him with gratitude, will save him life and career.
- Kratter, I will not release you. Fedosius will go tomorrow, - he answered shortly the old comrade-in-arms.
It has passed some more days in expectation of the intelligence data. The time as if was hidden in these strange mountains surrounded with desert. It disappeared in mysterious whisper of heather covered dry slopes, faded in rock crevices, dissolved in silent whistlings of wind among quicksand, and in strange clicking sounds, full of insidiousness, it was erased by concealed hissing of ubiquitous snakes.
It wasn't slept at night. Being in painful expectation, Gefestion continually left his tent and peered into the desert, hoping to notice torch fires of Fedosius' horse squadron somewhere in it's boiling muddy haze. But, illa did not appear. Then he went down and, having sat down on one of the huge rock boulders, scattered at uplands bottom, waited too long as if it could bring him to the true. At the back of mind he decided that if the scouts group will also disappear in desert it would not be sensibly to send one more to search Aminta's army. They'll have to strike camp, and in compliance with indications of Osana, continue the way further, without Fedosius' squadron.
However the commander of scouts arrived to the camp next morning. There were twenty tired to death, crippled horsemen at him.
- There is no more desert, my commander. There is sea now, - Fedosius reported tsar's confidant, who didn't believe own ears, - Apparently, Gefestion, a water stream fell from mountain tops, having transformed it into the storming river, which poured out in the valley and dared Aminta's camp on it's way. All the left bank is entirely water now, and the right bank in hundred seventy stadiys from here is flooded also, but it covered in places by washes of sand, stones, foam and dirt. I divided illa down the middle, we surveyed the formed flood from stream's right bank, and also from East side foothills. It is impossible to pass on the right bank, for horses get bogged down in dirt. It's visible here and there from foothills that the camp place in valley though swept away by stream, but, probably, there are people alive. We vainly searched possible approaches from below, having spent two days. It is only one possible: to fell available wood from heights, make pontoons and then begin the rescue operation for Aminta's army.
Information of reconnoiter boggled Gefestion's mind. It was difficult even to assume, as army hardly burnt by the sun of desert, recently suffered from heat and lack of water, is now in a bog.
- How many soldiers you've lost? – he asked guardsman mistrustfully.
- Fifty. Two thirds of the group. A part from them, having dove, bogged in flood and could not make it back to land. Other part – fell down from rock slopes in the process of following on mountain part of the way. Yet one part – was exhausted on the way…
Yes, it was really so, Gefestion the own eyes observed what's remained from investigation illa. Hence, it was groundlessly to suspect Fedosius in unauthenticity of the report.
- And what about Aminta?
- We didn't found neither him, nor transport with women and children. However someone is alive, probably, remained among flood, escaping on covers of stones and dirt formed by nature …
Having faced now whis a decision, whether to prepare the rescue operation, or to consider Aminta's army lost, first of all Gefestion was guided by personal reasons. Certainly, it was not in traditions of Macedonian geteira to leave comrade in trouble. However to gain Aminta, risking himself and thinned but generated again regiments, was unreasonable too. All the more, practically there were no chances that the offspring of tsar's family, nevertheless, will get out of the desert independently and start to work against future state hiliarh.
- Aminta's army is lost, – Gefestion declared on the War council, avoiding to meet eyes of Kratter, - The power given to me by tsar Alexander, I command the Army: to stand up on march tomorrow morning at seven o'clock , and to start to the West at the eight!
… Tsar's favourite coudn't sleep at night again. At the fourth o'clock in the morning, he saddled Spartan and left alone to desert. He would like to be convinced of truthfulness of the Fedosius information. He was tormented with doubts: is Aminta alive, or he was lost? Whether the offspring of tsar's family present now some threat to his, Gefestion's, personal exclusiveness?
He expected to cover a distance of hundred seventy stadiys to flood edge in an hour and return by the morning, still before they will sound "stand up" … The Moon graciously shined his way. There were dead grey sand around with balls of dry bushes similar any illusive spirits-hedgehogs sliding between dunes. Gradually sand became level, wet and started remind an extensive silent sea beach with moon glade glimmering at horizon. And water, at last, sloped under hoofs. The horse turned obstinate and stopped, having knee stuck in mud.
And one wounded horseman on white horse stand before him.
The horseman was weak, hardly kept in saddle, having nestled to horse withers. Dazzling-white Moon disk behind him was intolerably bright, and it was difficult to recognize his face looks. «Who is it? Aminta? Disobeyed Kratter had gone to rescue his wife?» – flashed in head of tsar's favourite.
- Who are you?
But the horseman, endeavouring to rise, did not answer.
Gefestion approached closely. And suddenly the baleful yellow eye of Desert oracle sparkled under black cape replaced the military helmet!
- Do not rescue me. I am all right. Save yourself, Gefestion, first of all.
And, he rushed away from this vision, hearing after: «Save yourself, Gefestion!»
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gefestion lead, at last, remnants of his army to Persian fortress Shiraz, not far from Persepolis, which was burnt six years ago, only to the middle of month memakterion*, after half a year from the beginning of this difficult campaign. Ibrahim, local governor appointed by Alexander shortly before the start of Indian campaign, was more pleased than surprised by appearance of Macedonians, for considered them died. Nevertheless, he quartered in the fortress area five thousand soldiers and one thousand horses, gave them to drink, fed, and accommodated them for rest. The first ten days Gefestion recovered himself. Having fell from horse he dislocated left foot. The bone set by doctor proximate to ankle caused intolerable pain which became especially aggravated in rock rooms. As it was agreed, for the eleventh day he sent couriers to Susa guvernor with the report to tsar about his new location. This diagramma had to wait Alexander's appiarance and should be hand over to him personally, otherwise it should delete.
În the twelfth day he begun to inspect troops. Kratter set up camp on the plain, at town's Western walls to secure it from east winds active this season. Like some powerful licking wound leopard happily escaped in deadly fight, Army restored its forces. Infirmary gradually became empty, four survived Indian doctors quickly put snake bitten, injured, exhausted by long absence of water and food soldiers on their legs. Life has prevailed. It has been total drunkenness in tents on the occasion of the end of march's difficults, and in connection with fortnight holiday given by Ñommand.
Sometimes he took a seat near fires and participated in conversations with commanders and soldiers. Their mood was high not only from drunk wine, but because that they have sustained, survived against the tide, and now desirable returning home, the most remarkable in their destiny, began to dawn in nearest future. For the sake of this hope it was worth to struggle! Having fell for these moods, Gefestion lifted cups together with soldiers for Alexander's victory, and he also was filled up with dreams of happy life in the new state, where he will play the exclusive leading part under the command of his regal friend. He will be fantastically rich, no end of mighty, and will glorify his old family for ever and ever! With such magnificent thoughts, having ordered Kratter to collect the War council next day, he returned to fortress.
* Memakterion – November on an attic calendar
However one trouble waited him in the castle. Drying himself after bathing in pool, Gefestion casually found out absence of his magic jewel. Crystal simply disappeared from it's frame attached to the gold chain! Excited, Gefestion could not believe in any way what happened. Contrary to logic, he wished to return by all means that wonderful time, when Zevs-Ammon's amulet still shone on his neck. In search of the jewel he begun to dive in pool, and surveyed all corners there. Then he shook up all his regimentals, Persian clothes, examined each corner of the rooms, went to stable and searched the harness. But it was all in vain. Ammon's sign has gone missing, disappeared. It was not also saved in memory the instant when valuable crystal left body of tsar's favourite.
« ... If someone from you, having made treachery, will lose the jewel, or will give it to dishonest hands by crooked means, it won't take one year as both of you will disappear off the face of the earth, and your affair will collapse », – Gefestion recollected words of the oracle and as in cold Egyptian night Alexander confidentially, gently assign on him Ammon's amulet. The prediction came true … «That cannot be admitted! – it was thought to tsar's favourite, – Alexander will not forgive the loss of Zevs-Ammon's sign, will give up hope on his friendly fidelity, will deprive him all his ranks, and even can kill him in anger, as he did to Klitt!» He began feverishly search ways to solve the situation: whether it is necessary to hold tsar in ignorance for the good of a common cause, or it's better to tell him – all the same he lost amulet not on some holiday, but in the difficult, dangerous campaign where he also could be died!
Eventually, he called Ibragim:
- I've dropped the jewel from my amulet. I need jeweller to select new to this frame. You will pay from the state treasury.
Persian jeweller brought him two full chests precious gems at choice. Jewels were mostly round, rarely oblong faceting – red rubies, dark blue, blue, yellow sapphires, various color and sizes emeralds, motley jaspers, dazzling white pearls, – but among all of this sparkling magnificence there were no look anything like precious jewel similar Alexander's one. Nevertheless,Gefestion chosed two oblong crystals – one crimson ruby, another greenish, quieter color emerald, understanding that he never will find something applicable.
- Make them rectangular. - he ordered jeweller, - Then insert emerald into the same frame that it'll be possible to replace jewels quickly, - Besides, make separate fastening on chain for emerald to wear on the neck also, but only behind.
He decided that he will shown to tsar in the evening – by the light of torches – with ruby, and in the afternoon – with emerald. And, Alexander will get the impression as if his confidant wears the same jewel in amulet.
- Oh, my lord! It's impossible to make such facetting, – jeweller complained, – I can only straighten corners.
- Well. Make this. Or else … you'll get your head blown off! – Gefestion threatened.
And soon the renew amulet of Zevs-Ammon, not differ from former by sight, begun to shine on confidant's breast as before. Having hook it on the neck, he decided that gods will forgive him forfeit the original sign for it happened in heavy campaign, comparable to feat for the sake of the future of their new harmonious oikumena!
Alexander stayed in staff tent over the fresh map of the East presented him by Stilka completely days and nights. The seventh month of the hardest campaign along deserted ocean coast has gone, but he had no authentic news about position of Macedonian armies and fleet neither from Gefestion nor from Nearh. It was came that, having overcome the desert and lost there two-thirds of his army, he assumed too sharp deep into continent, and landed up approximately in two hundred twenty stadiys to the north-east of Persepolis. There were only ruins from former capital of Persia, and now he regretted that had burnt and ruined this city where it would be possible to stay more comfortable with camp, having quartered a part of regiments. There was Shiraz in five hundred stadiys to the South, however Alexander didn't want to move back, for one convenient road to Susa tended straight to the West. Besides, the camp near settlement Mervdesh was well victualed, supplied with medicines and it would be extremely inexpedient to break camp in the conditions of weakened contingent. Several times with interval of five days he sent scouting toward the sea hopefully to find friendlies. They should not die. For a long time tsar of all Asia promised himself that he will be entrusted in this campaign entirely to the wisdom of God, Zevs-Ammon, his great and powerful patron who never left and leave him during the noble cause of creation the state of freedom and justice! And now he infinitely believed in that dream, that its embodiment is within his forces, and his favourite Gefestion will be to him a reliable support in this way.
"On arrival to Babylon – Alexander reflected – It would be well to engage not only army strengthening, but, first of all, the individual tsar's rule; otherwise – worthless to all his gains. It is necessary to enter a cult of new God in every ways, to captivate peoples of oikumena by the idea of nations merge and initiation the strong human community for without belief, without impulse to shared sense of purpose peoples cannot resist to universal evil, to the humiliations, poverty, continuous fears, mutual hatred!"
The really happy day, when scouting illa brought him one group of exhausted, tired to death wanderers has come, at last. Alexander recognized Nearh in one of them! Alive with emotion he rushed to the friend with kisses :
- Alive, geter! You are alive! I've knew, that it will be so … alive …, - he repeated with tears in his face, squeezing friend in embraces, - How are you? Are not wounded? Where is fleet?
Nearh, it seemed, was extremely confused by such tender reception, or he hesitated of own appearance unseemly to status of the commander of Macedonian flotilla: his clothes were torn, worn sandals hardly kept on calves, unshaven face was covered by dust, black curls were felted with mud.
- Everything is all right, my tsar! – he only could utter, happily smiling, – Your fleet at the coast of Persia!
Alexander himself led the friend to marching baths, washed and put to bed.
However one more joyful event happened towards evening. Courier, who came back from Shiraz, brought a small roll, having unpacked it, Alexander recognized handwriting of Gefestion! His favourite, being near in two days ride, wrote that had reached Persia with the big losses, Aminta dead, and now together with Kratter he realize the reorganisation of regiments, hold exercises, and they are waiting for tsar's orders. Gefestion sent more detailed report with courier to Susa. It was the nice, light sign of divine intent for Alexander. Gods did not left him alone and saved him friends! He felt sorry only for Aminta, harmless, but proud of his of noble birth, who though playing supporting roles, was much helpful in campaigns; and also could serve to the idea of nations merge, as prolific – in a strict sense – person, from the former tsar's family. It seemed to Alexander that minute that after unending long and intolerable difficult three years of the Indian campaign, he was in a roll, at last!
On the occasion of the arrival fleet's commander he arranged from sheer joy the review of troops and hosted a party for army commanders, as happened, in Darius magnificent trophy tent, saving diligently all this time by his faithful Hares.
- We left New Alexandria port in Punjab for a month before planned, - Nearh told at the supper to present company, - Radzha Tusin run away from Pattala, and it's followed to us to be afraid of Hindus uproars arisen suddenly, they prepared an attack on our fleet. Eventually, when our scout informed that hordes dissatisfied moved from Pattala to the port, I decided not to check into the reasons of next Hindu revolt, and ordered to raise anchors. Approximately five days fleet floated along coast without incident while bad weather forced us to stop movement. Strong winds, torrential rains came from the East as if banished, took it out on us. Macedonian ships escaped in harbour the whole month with terrible anticipation that storm again will reach exclusive force and destroy them. Fortunately it did not happen and fleet escaped. We moved further, following your instructions, my tsar, to navigate not so far and not to lose waterside. I tried to hold course of five – ten stadiys from the coast, however falling tides constantly disturbed us, compelling to sail of about twenty – thirty stadiys from land. It seemes to me, nevertheless, that it is possible to open navigation there, between India and Egypt, if not get hold of Persian land, but directly, through the open sea and Arabia; should be, it's near at hand to Egypt there...
Listening Nearh's story Alexander was filled with pride of the friend. Abundance of drunk, intimacy of the friend, comfort of the atmosphere, sensation of fast and happy changes in his life turned tsar's head: it seemed to him doubtless, if Zevs appointed to him as comrades such true, talented and loyal friends he was born by God under a lucky star! «Who is Stilka! – it was thought to him – This Persian geographer who could not even assume possibility of navigable way to Arabia! This Stilka is infirm by the side of Nearh!» Alexander was really happy now, only disappointed that Gefestion was absent beside to rejoice together!
- And then, problems with foodstuffs began, - Nearh continued meanwhile, - Stored food was ended. Delivered one by Leonnat right after compelled monthly stop in harbour, was sufficed only on the second third part of the way. Daily we observed coast on the right board, it was deserted and mostly barren. We ate fish and crabs, seldom it was possible to us to obtain coconuts and some meat at wild inhabitants. There's a lot more various food when we reached Garmozius*, we reserved even grain, flour and beer. Portside in the strait at Garmozus, we saw mountain chain. It followed from maps available for us , that it is extremity of Arabia. However I did not fall to temptation to move your fleet there and investigate that coast, having in mind your order, Alexander, to keep exclusively Persian lands... My companions Indian geographers assert that it's possible to reach Egypt by rounding Arabia… In a word, I did not risk to be late, and we continued former course. Having proceeded Garmozus, the fleet appeared at the coast of Karmania, southern province of Iran. Coast became deserted and wild again. Day after day we observed, it seemes, the same, growing occasionally by palm trees and some vegetation, plain capes. Only once by night I noticed burning fires on the land. Any feeling prompted me that it's necessary by all means to touch base with people ashore. And I've done it. À number of local fishermen heated at fire. Surprisingly: there were two having miss way gipaspists among them, from the scout regiment of Macedonian army! They said that overcame the way from camp to sea coast only in five days. It seemed to me, that it is insignificant small term to meet you, my tsar! Having left fleet on anchors, on commanders hands, I decided to make this anabasis* on foot with small group.
Alexander embraced Nearh sitting beside and publicly kissed him on the mouth.
- I drink to our naval commander! – he exclaimed – For this outstanding person without whom we would not gain so many victories! Glory to Nearh! To our valorous fleet glory! To Macedonian geteira glory!
- Glory! Glory! Glory! Ur-r-a-ah!! – it was blew through the tent.
- Maybe you shouldn't come back, ah? I will appoint somebody else to command fleet? – Alexander offered next morning, hardly opening eyes. He felt sick of big drunk at the supper, but it had to get up and undertake affairs.
Nearh did not move at all and continued to sleep, having turned away, embraced his pillow. Alexander passed palm over friend's muscular back; suntanned, with easy nap his dark skin was smooth, youthfully gentle, not touched neither by years of violent fights and exhaustible campaigns, nor by salted moisture of sea and dusty winds of desert …
- Wake up, Nera! It's harmful to sleep much after big drunk. It'll be headache. Taste with me some hellebore potion – you'll get better!
- I will return to fleet, Alex. Don’t argue!, – Nearh droned to the pillow, – Whom you will appoint? Kratter? So he didn't navigate ships at all. Leonnat? So he is far. Gefestion? He fucks better, than navigate fleet …
Alexander suddenly caught venomous notes in ironic phrase of his friend, seized him by shoulder, turned to himself:
- What? You jealous!?
- Not at all! Simply it is inexpedient…
* Garmozius – city at the present now Ormuz strait
** Anabasis – campaign deep into continent, aside from the sea
- What's inexpedient? To have a good time three together?
- To change the commander of fleet.
- No, Nera, you're jealous! I feel, you're jealous! You're jealous! – laughing, Alexander exclaimed, bothering the friend, wishing to tease him.
- Very well. Well, - Nearh agreed conceding tsar's pressure, - It's good. Certainly, I am jealous … I am jealous a little. In general it's difficult to resist Gefestion's ñharm and beauty…
«Yes, he is right – It was thought to Alexander – It's impossible to find all over the world such brilliant charm, inexhaustible cheerfulness, perfect man's character, all-conquering perseverance and outstanding bravery as at Gefestion! And feeling of jealousy, unlike with Nearh, seemingly, is absolutely unknown to him!».
- You know, Nera, I wish to keep the event in memory of Aminta, one indicative action in Susa. We will arrange wedding. I've already had wedding with Persian girl, but you, my friends in geteira – hadn't. Therefore, when we will meet in Susa in early spring, we will arrange the general wedding for all of us.
- And, why it will be in memory of Aminta?
- So, our Aminta was the big fan of women. Doesn't he dragged everywhere the harem with wives of different nationalities? He had children almost from each of them. But it has happened tragically …. We should fill up unseized opportunities. Everyone will choose the wife among one or several beauties from every corner of my state, that way we will begin mixture of nations.
- What's up with you? Seriously, Alex?
- Of course! – Alexander smiled, – We must accept Persepolis experience unsuccessful. And now we let everything must take a place.
Nearh was in confusion, he rose on the bed, twisted legs under himself in Hindus way, and shook his head in aspiration to get rid of hang-over.
- But, I already have wife in Athenes, - he said perplexedly.
- And you didn't provide yourself with the wife in Lycia?
- No. And what for? Wife should be the one lifelong …
- Seriously? Perhaps two? Or three? And more one lad in addition, for a change! – Alexander burst out laughing, precipitating his friend on back, - You are thirty years old, geter. Count please, how much persons have passed through your heart and through your body during this time. I assure you: it will be them even more. Indeed you should refuse everybody, having gave preference to your only Greek wife?!
- Oh, but there is also you, my tsar, among these persons, - Nearh whispered, obeying.
- You are not glad to it?
- I am glad very much … I adore you, geter … but, only you, Alex, have such big heart to love together several with no issues.
- Maybe …
On the morrow of love mystery they sat down to have breakfast. Having washed down stewed rabbit with cup of warmed-up Greek wine delivered to the camp from Susa, Alexander was filled with condition of serene calmness. After deprivations tested on march through mountain ranges, saline soils and deserts where he endangered himself time and again, could die of snake sting or scorpion, get weaker of thirst and food-deficiency, could fall and break, catch strongly cold and take ill, he received now special pleasure from everything that became accessible in the relative comfort of tsar's tent. In general, everything was going under plans mapped out in Pattala, and if heavy losses it would be possible to consider Indian campaign successful. Almost twenty thousands soldiers has laid in a way from Pattala to Persepolis. No, he did not grieve on these victims, he was sure that they are necessary. Glory to gods that everything had took a place so. And now never equal in the history multinational empire were at his feet!
- Look here, Nearh. You are rather right, - he said thoughtfully, - There is nobody to turn over fleet now. Therefore let you come back to the ships and continue course along coast to the mouth of Euphrates. You will set up port there, the Alexandria. I will hand over you all orders to the governor in my diagramme about rendering you the due assistance. But, as soon as I will meet Gefestion in Susa, I will send for you the horse squadron to bring you to us quickly. You will stay with us a month, and then will be back. Next summer when I will proclaim Babylon the state capital, you will pass parade of Macedonian fleet from Alexandria upwards Euphrates river.
- Is it true that you wish to arrange grandiose wedding there?
- Yes. As soon as I will be in Susa, I will be engaged in it with Gefestion.
Nearh blinked his long eyelashes:
- My wife will be jealous of me, won't forgive this change… And children won't understand …
- Jealousy, Nera, is not the best from all feelings peculiar to humans, - then Alexander said him, - It's better to be above. I assure you, your wife will exult getting to know that you've led a new girlfriend to her. Let she does not consider that you cheated on her. Cause of serving to the world, geter, does not named a treason.
Well, my tsar, I will take you to family arbitrators, - Nearh joked.
- I will be the arbitrator to all peoples of oikumena, Nera. Not only to you and your spouse.
- What do you intend to undertake further, my tsar, after declaration of the state capital?
Alexander wrapped up Persian dressing gown, conveniently sat on the sofa, and begun argue, having thrown hands on the nape.
- You've told me something about Arabia, Nera. So, it's visible, we will go there for campaign to inherit the helm of tsarina Semiramida. We will reunite with local peoples. And then – we will turn to the West, to Apennines, to Europe. Though, that's not the issue. We will involve to the campaigns only part of armies and fleet. The main thing – to get under control won territories, to initiate in these areas capable, rigid government, to strengthen army power, and to introduce in souls of the citizens one untouchable belief in Zevs-Ammon, their new powerful Father – the great God of the one nation.
Alexander peered at the gold figure behind alcove and recollected that it should begin a day with the prayer. He entailed Nearh to statue. Having knelt friends put the full cup of wine before sculpture:
- Father! Zevs great, Ammon almighty! We address with this prayer to You. Thank You for choosing us to this feat. Let Your blessing will be the guiding star for us. Let it will allow us forces to execute our great mission and to start up empire of freedom and justice in oikumena. And, let this sacrificial wine will be our evidence to You!
- To be sure, Alex, I can't imagine, how you will set up the cult of new God, - Nearh said when they have returned to meal, - Especially in India. Hindus are too original to drive into something new.
- Yes, I've understood it. Thhey need the whole ideological engine, and we will create it. Eventually, Nera, I think that Hindus, will threw themselves at my feet more likely than Macedonians and Greeks. They are hypnotizable, their mind is opened for new purposes. Otherwise, they wouldn't torn between delightful adoration to angry revolts in Penzhdab. We will send them whole Troyan horse in the form of new caste of my supporters!
- It's not so easy to break the world view in which spirit is eternal, and body is simply means…
Alexander suddenly sensed again comprehended him at murder of Klitt's the moment of truth, and he felt awful.
- Tell me, Nearh, what for?! – he rushed to the friend and jerked tunic on him with frenzy, - What for this hairy body to you? These tenacious hands? This ball-shaped head which you so risk in fight? What for these sinewy legs? – he seized friend by heel and rised the leg upwards – The prime this instrument, by which you tried up your children? Only to grow up all this useless, thirsty concessions and entertainments, vain meat and then throw it to putrefy to the tomb? And for your children, full of the same qualities, what for all of this? Wherefore?! To grow stupid and stupid day by day, like Klitt, asserting self vanity in whole peace?! – having felt shocked eyes of the friend, Alexander softened his tone. - We should oppose to nonsenses – reason, to hatred – love, to revenge – tolerance, to will to power – the will to perfection! That's what we must do, Nera. And let peoples faith before in me, than in God, until each of them begin believe in the own will!
Being bisy all the time with training regiments for accelerated march to Susa, now Alexander, nevertheless, considered necessary to take up the history of the Great campaign and own biography closely. Therefore almost every camp evening he spent reading sketchs made by historian Anaksarh, and then instructed him how it's better to pen various episodes. This Greek intellectual who considered himself as Demokrit's school follower was recommended him by the chief of his office after Kallisfen's death. Evmen was unmissable in the protege. This young scientist afflicted with idea of negation of everything and everybody, was pleasant to Alexander. Unlike the late academician, Anaksarh behaved modestly, he was extremely unpretentious in everyday life, took out all burdens of campaign with firmness, and did not demand for himself more comfortable conditions under quarterage, than it is prescribed to him on the status.
- You write in your compositions about the divine power of tsar on the earth, meanwhile you deny everything yourself. So, all what you've wrote, you are deny also? – Alexander took an interest in one of such conversations with the historian.
- The divine power cannot be denied, my tsar, because it's divine, - answered Anaksarh, covering himself for shoulders with thin, gentle hands, and (all – attention) obligingly bending to the roll in Macedonsky's hands, - However it's forced to recognise such power, oh, my tsar, for you will not find something best in oikumena.
- Well, perhaps, I will agree with you in it. At large your eposes I've read, are pleasant to me, but there are remarks also. For example, you describe the camp in Marafa, gymnastic competitions, and how the ceremony of proskineza was carried out at tsar's reception. It seems to me that Gefestion's role in this case should be reduced and should be transfered from tsar's tent to stadium. But, that not only Gefestion felt down at my feet, but everyone, who were present at competitions, including visitors and commands of athletes, - Eventually, what a difference where they executed the ceremony – here, at the reception in tsar's tent, or at the gymnastic games. The sheer fact sounded more convincingly is important!
- Very nice, I will make so, oh, my lord.
- And now about Klitt. – Alexander frowned, he wouldn't like to name happened in Marakanda as the murder in standard sense of this word, - Now about the tragedy of Klitt... You have correctly stated, as I, defending, stuck spear into him. However it's not necessary to write that I lost consciousness and felt folloving Klitt. You write better that I've tried to commit suicide by the same spear, but security guards took it from me in time. It will be more correctly and clearly for readers.
- Allright, I will correct, my tsar.
- You should underline the Gefestion's role in many places, Anaksarh, to arise analogy in everyone reading your lines that me and him are heroes, like Patrokl and Ahill, however we have considerably surpassed them in the achievements …
- As to tsarina Roksana you should notice that I married her exclusively for love, and there was no policy in this act. And to the proof of Roksana's love for me, please, notice the fact that, being pregnant, nevertheless she came to me to give birth across the whole world, to Indus river bank.
- Allright, my tsar.
- Tell, my darling, why do you agree with me in everything?
- You are – the primary source, oh, my lord. The revelation of God is known only to you, therefore I am agree.
Thebes, and the Egyptian night spent among desert with Gefestion in the oracle tent were recollected to Alexander. Divine foresight apparently let them know of their life role for the first time so obviously. Almost ten years had passed, but fire lighted by Ammon's jewel did not disappear in his consciousness. The Divine purpose was proceed. It didn't take long – to settle army in Babylon, and to start realise the state reforms.
The white-marble hall of tsar's palace in Susa obviously would not contain such quantity inviteds to universal wedding .
- How much them total, as you say? – Alexander asked again Hares following after with roll and quill in hands.
- Three thousand Macedonians in two armies totally, my tsar, and one and a half thousand more – mainly Greeks, and also Thracians, Iranians and others.
- Three parts from five we've lost in that campaign, and do not know yet how to collect army remains ! – Gefestion complained joking, - It's so much brides should be placed here after all!
- Total nine thousands. To add to them ninety commanders from geteira, and seven hundreds servants, it turns out ten thousands in total. You are right, Hares … - Alexander argued aloud, - Let's behave so: we will betroth our commanders in the throne-room, and place all others on the area before palace, having stretch one big tent there. They will pass to the throne-hall, then swear and make sacrifices to Zevs-Ammon, and then come back to the seats.
- But there is no such big tent, my tsar, - Hares replyed cautiously, - It should be sewed.
- Well, so you must sew!
- My tsar, slaves won't do the same, to order large tent in Persian manufactory should be expensively.
- Not more expensively, than life of soldier in fight? Isn't it? Do not grudge money, Hares. It's a lot of them to be grudge!
- Yes, my tsar …
- However this quantity of invited is not compile three parts of five, having took part in the campaign as you affirm, Gefes. It's much less. You are selected only on age?
- Not only. We took into account also fertility.
- Like this?
The confidant lipped tsar's ear:
- I will tell you after…
Alexander burst out laughing, having imagined, how Gefestion could define soldiers fertility. Having met the friend after almost one year separation, he blazed, seemed, with more passion to his favourite here, in Susa. On following day he signed the decree of nomination Gefestion as the state hiliarh. Besides, having dared at official marriage with Darius daughter, Roksana, Alexander suggested Gefestion to marry another daughter of former Persian tsar – Kamila, thus to become related. Together they should head wedding ceremony in Susa. He did not call tsarina Roksana from Pattala on purpose, intending to make it later, to pin down her to fact of the bygamy. «However, - he reflected, - Roksana will not be offended, will not be surprised and glad, she is sold on everything. If she will jealous and row, she'll follow to her father to Marakanda, forever».
— Do you selected brides too, Gefestion? I hope, you did not take into account their fertility at that?
— All four and a half thousands brides does not kiss, Alex, not once! Never half-once! I checked it myself.
Amicable laughter shook Persian halls.
— Let us be sensible, Gefestion. We must show respect to Hares … Also it's necessary to do following … to make in a number of the invitee couples four and a half thousands gold cups and present such cup to each married commander and soldier. Hares! Do you hear?
The skilled master of ceremony was admired and puzzled.
— You will excel all tsars in the world at wastefulness, Alexander! — he goggled with horror having made some arithmetic actions by feather on parchment . — My tsar, it's required seventy seven and seven tenth talants* of gold for this purpose!
— What a happy number! I will dispose. Garpal will allocate this gold to you, which, however, is available here, in Susa's cellars, —Alexander decided to surprise Hares once again. — Look here! And make so that they'll cast cups in the view of gold phalluses and it'll be possible to drink from balanus of such cup. It will refresh the ceremony and entertain the guests. Everything else in our action should be exclusively chaste, not as it happened in Persepolis.
Never before old capital of the East, nice city Susa did not see such grandiose, many-sided, multi-coloured, storming congestion of rejoicing people! The road of processions, where numerous relatives saw off brides on wedding, bore on itself never-ending, colourful procession. Persons of different nationalities participated in it. Fathers of Persian and Iranian families surrounded by their wives, children and grandsons, brothers and sisters, worthily strode ahead of the relatives, showing off rich dowry and bright clothes of married daughters. Baktrians, not even walked, but danced to the accompaniment of tambourines and flutes, involving crowds of passers-by to their round dance. Violent Sogdianes staged on the move traditional wedding ceremonies with abduction of future wives. Cheerful Greeks carted phallic modelings decorated with flowers and poured themselves by wine. Wise Jews and hardworking Egyptians sang ritual songs on the move. There were even Hindus bearing seminude women in inconceivable poses on bamboo stretchers!
Having ascended to the palace terrace in the midst of retinue , Alexander was impressed by show opened him. He was rather happy at that moment. Strong, deep feeling of the discharge duty seized him. It seemed to him, that it's all over, these improbable victims were not vainly, also blood were spilt and cruelty was shown; and all what he dreamt in his youth with comrades – here it is, in reality: happy faces of such different peoples are now here in one sheaf, in one impulse to the association, to human perfection! Should they build needless Babel towers? On the contrary to them – to go step for step together toward general happiness under blessing of Zevs-Ammon!
*talant – the weight corresponding of 26 kg.
He passed to decorated with gold trellis white-marble hall where grooms settled down along walls on carved wooden benches on the right, and brides - on the left.
— My dears! Brothers and sisters! — he addressed to the public. — We enter the new world. Henceforth there will be no more holocaustic wars and heavy battles. Mostly they are behind. And if, despite of nationalities, all peoples in our oikumena will be honest and truthful before God, will cease to concern cautiously, with vigilance to each other, every battles, tragedies and troubles will disappear at all. Gradually not fear and humility to destiny, but courage and determination to modify the world will begin a guiding star in the life of each person. The peoples will cease to boast before each other, they only will be proud of their cultures and will create united multinational civilisation, where each nation will find own place of honour. And not only to each nation, each person in our state, whether they are man or woman, soldier or workman, young or old, surrounded with relatives or alone, there will be a place of honour! Gradually all peoples will merge in the united nation worshipping to the one god and one tsar. Zevs-Ammon is this god for us! I am, the son of god Alexander Macedonsky, this tsar for you! We will enrich human culture and create the new one, different from all last cultures. There will be no place to hatred, violence, harm and envy in this civilisation. There will be free relations in each family. One man will be able to connect his life with women and men of any nationalities, take to wife as many women as he will be in forces to provide. Each person can choose to himself the partner of every nationality and every sex. Mankind is entering Era of love and tolerance!
Then, with the words: «I am, Alexander Macedonsky, the son of Zevs, take the second wife, daughter of Darius, great tsar of Persia, in marriage», he approached to Roksana, took her by hand, and they directed to Zevs-Ammon statue, standing on opposite side of the hall.
- Father! Zevs great, Ammon almighty! Thanks for You connect us with marriage bonds, – he said, falling on knees before the sculpture, lugging away the wife, – Let Your blessing will be our guiding star. Let it will help us to give birth and bring up healthy, strong children, not knowing evil, hatred and revenge, capable to understand, accept and forgive the neighbour. And, there will be this smart retsina* as the evidence to You!
He poured out wine from jug on the altar, and together with Darius' daughter stood next to the right side of statue. Gefestion with Kamila followed him. Then ninety commanders together with the brides elect executed proskineza, read tablet with a prayer in the Greek and Persian languages exposed closely, and spilt sacrificial wine on the altar. The wedding of commanders was proceed more than three hours. Despite of marked greatness and colorfulness of wedding ceremony, the mood in geteira, it seems, was not festive, awkwardness prevailed and confusion was felt. But, Alexander tried not to notice it. «Marry first, and love will come follow» - it was thought to him.
* retsina – the kind of Greek wine
… After thirty days of wedding celebrations during which never-ending carnivals, processions and drunk orgies in Susa continued, Alexander undertook a trip to Ekbatanes. There were some reasons for that. Firstly, he did not see Garpal more than three years, since he appointed him the state treasurer just after capture of Persepolis. Secondly, he received some anonymous reports that the geter is guilty in embezzlements. Alexander did not trust these messages, however he decided to be convinced personally of his protege fidelity. Besides, he wished to make sure of the east residence walls' fortress for did not favour yet Ecbatanes by own long presence. He should be defined, whether this city is worthy to fulfil functions of the east capital in the following. Alexander decided not to advertise this trip and to leave incognito. He thought that is better to cover head with white Persian aba*, to hide blond hair under kefja** and to depart with small group of guardsmen under the pretext of the Egyptian horses seller — in this commodity he understood more than in any other.
Alexander, astride new stallion with old name of Bucephalus, left Susa in the shape of Persian bedouin early in the morning at the tenth day of month skiroforion ***; having entrusted the army and tsar's court to Gefestion he took along couple dozen perfect Egyptian stallions, accompanied by group of disguised guardsmen of protection, and also groom Leonidas and boy-servant Bagoj. The way to the most northern city among four Persian capitals, probably, was blazed in tsarist days of Ahemenidov's dynasty, loving escorted by harem and servants often to come to see their residences. The road represented a big trading tract in length almost of three thousand stadiums with numerous nomadic settlements and markets arising spontaneously, hardly demand in goods found the necessary offer.
It was no chance to get rid of buyers, and in the first week of the way their herd of strong and hardy Egyptian racers appointed to sale was thinned almost on half.
- It should to bump up prices, Leonidas. What do you think? – Alexander argued at the supper, – If not, we will reach Ekbatanes without horses, and will cease to resemble simple dealers.
- But purses will be full, and cares will be less, my … lord, - the young groom minded, who did not quite get used to communicate with the sovereign without ceremony, for it was ordered strictly not to say word "tsar" in conversations among themselves.
Suddenly somewere from hill three horsemen blew in to the fire place on the glade.
— Salam! Who are you? — one of them on the red mare shouted impatiently, nearly poked down the commander of guardsmen of protection sitting at fire.
Visitors had unfriendly appearance.
— Salam, good joe, — Alexander said , compressing dagger under the cape. Aren’t you see that I am selling racers Egyptian breed.
— Selling costs expensively. You had paid nothing!
— And who are you, good joe? Talukdar?
Horsemen began to guffaw in a boorish way.
— Of course! Everyone reach us here, maybe except you. How much horses at you, owner? Take out one thousand dariks for a horse!
They are bandits, — Bagoj whispered . — It should to call for help, my lord.
* aba - Persian clothes in the form of raincoat
* * kefja - the cape which straps on head with cord
*** skiroforion - June
— Sit still, and don’t give a sign that you are afraid, — Alexander muttered. — Whether you, tax-collectors, do not know, that dariks are retired and replaced with drachmas by the decree of the tsar of all Asia, Alexander, four years ago? — He asked.
- Tsar is not decree to us. Give us gold!
- Moment, moment, good joe… Bagoj, where is our gold? Bring me please … - Alexander fussed, aspiring to lull attackers' vigilance. It was impossible to hesitate – or it should to be sorry about missed advantage. He gave a wink Pevkesta sitting opposite, the guardsmen of protection commander.
Daily soldier's training helped: security guards arose out of the blue in a split second, having saddled horses of gangsters from back, and put knifes to throat of the uninvited visitors.
- Do not kill the one, who spoke with me! – Alexander had time to shout before two breathless corpses fell down on the ground.
The captive was led to him.
- Yeh, let us talk now. What's your name?
- Jawdat, - gangster croaked, trying to release from the tsar's bodyguard grip of steel. Pevkest approached and tightened by rough cord robber's hands behind back, and feet at ankles.
— And, I am Phillip, I am Macedonian, — Alexander continued undisturbed, having named of father's name. — So, you are trade a robbery? Is it profitable to you?
— It is more worthy, than to vegetate an army recruit!
— Are you recruit?
The captured fell down on the ground, and began to wriggle, crying out:
— You, carrion! Kill me now! Kill! I don't want more! Kill!
Pevkesta lifted, shook him and sattled on the log.
— I asked you, Jawdat, about profitableness of your gangster works, not about your existence worthy, — Alexander continued conversation calmly.
The captured sparkled right and left by reddish whites of dark eyes as if trying to hook a sight something round himself.
— And what is profitable — is worthy! — he uttered at last, having zero in on Macedonsky.
— Really? So, any means to an end and there are no norms of moral for the purpose to grow rich?
— But what a moral here! Kill me, owner. I do not wish to live more! — the captive repeated with adroop voice.
It was felt that this young Persian — there were no more than thirty by sight to him — had enough troubles in his years, if life is not become lovely to him.
— Why so?.... And to serve the tsar, state, nation, army does not involve you?
— And what's the moral to serve tsar! I've served Darius – his satraps taxed me and drained dry my family; I've served Alexander – he burnt my house, deprived me of the wife and children. What for I should serve these criminals? To do their criminal will? To rely on them, not on myself? To blame them for own sins, to dump on them my own errors? It's not for my liking;. I should be responsible for what I am doing, and for robbery on the road too for nobody, except me didn't choose this way. Kill me, owner, I wish to ask freedom from Marduk…
And again one exclusive moment of the sad and light truth captured Alexander. But this time, he didn't vent his spleen, compressing the dagger under his kefja.
- I won't kill you, Jawdat. Get tired little more: it's visible, this should be destined to you, another - to tsar… So you consider indeed, that all tsars are criminals, as well as you?
- And what's a difference, owner? Unless the tsar forces to kill and plunder not for the sake of his purposes?
- Gods govern the world only by means of elite, Jawdat, - it was recollected to Alexander, how the crystal shone brightly on Gefestion's breast at their latest tryst, and in this fact he saw again the sign of the Divine foresight, - Gods does not set up everyone to tsar, Jawdat.
- Yes. But, they set up everyone to human! – the captured minded, inspiring, - And the Divine code does not point us that tsar should force the fellow citizens. It tells that everyone is responsible for himself. And, if this being so, do I plunder by myself, or by the tsar's order?
— The murder of enemy by tsar's order is sacred, for his purpose — purpose of the state.
— So, that's all — from the laziness of soul, owner!
— What's from the laziness of soul? — Alexander didn't understand.
— Need not to nourish people with ideas. One governor sets these goals, another — some others, and both of them explain obviously about their righteousness and nobleness. But mortal souls laziness prevents to understand what's good, what's bad. If the soul works tirelessly for the sake of everyone it wouldn't require any off-site ideas. And then the shadow of one tsar wouldn't soar above each person, and fear wouldn't move the progress. All the best starts from the beginning in every saul — the streams of truth are flowing there. Dams of harm, barriers of hatred, blockages of fear prevents them to spread in landless ocean of happiness — another world would be before the humans if it would happen. But we are in fetters. Everyone is having dreams in own fear to be more mighty than the sovereign, however not more mighty than he himself, for it is difficult to do by reason of natural laziness.
— Wow! You are a poet! — Alexander grinned, recollecting about Limn. — So, having overcome that fear, you decided to be engaged in robbery?
— I think, that only this is blessing in the gangland, where we live. And tsar involved in it, and also all his henchmen.
— And whom you have in mind?
— And here is Garpal for example — the Ekbatan's governor and sovereign's treasurer. What is he different from others? Nothing! And the same conceit, and also larceny.
— What made you think?
— My brother, whom you've killed a while ago, served in the rooms of Garpal's mistress Pifonika. He told me often how this governor built for her the halls, many times over magnificent the tsar's ones, with the money for military team strengthening and fortresses renewal.
— You don't say so! — Alexander exclaimed beside himself. — It is the tales of haters!
He couldn't believe that younger brother of Ken deceased, the good fella, very cautious and sensuous Garpal, whose life seemed the sample of unselfishness; Garpal, who command the army scout more than once, who were though not the friend, but very correct person, - always faithful to him Garpal was engaged in waste. No, he could not comprehend it, he was ready to saddle his stallion and to rush to Ekbatanes immediately! However coldness of head prompted him another: to use the captive for accusation the treasurer.
- You will go with me, dear Jawdat, and will show me that palace, but up to a certain time I won't open you who I am actually.
The captured turned obstinate:
- I will not help you, owner, until you won't help me to bury the two – my brother, and who was with him, according to our Sumer tradition.
They buried after midnight. The next day, having sold cheaply two more tens horses remaining in the herd, Alexander and his companions hastened to Ekbatanes. And soon they reached, at last, the city of seven fortresses picturesquely stretched among exuberant green, streams and small lakes on rocky hills – the northern stronghold of defeated Persian empire.
- Here is the halls of Pifonika, - Jawdat told during halt, having gave a wave of the hand towards magnificent facade, going down with terraces to the storage of water among large breach in fortification.
— Well, you can be free. Now you can dispose your destiny yourself, — Alexander declared. However, seeing that his captive hesitates in indecision, he added: — But not be as bird in cage with opened door. You may be free — go away!
— I am ready to serve you, owner, if so happened …
— So, if you are ready, go and report Garpal that courier arrived incognito from the tsar.
Three men in regimentals of acontists* appeared an hour later.
— Governor is busy, he waits for nobody.
— I am authorised to hand over the urgent dispatch from the tsar of all Asia! — Alexander flyed into a tantrum and stared at the officer from under cape, closing his forehead.
Has worked. Never before never one soldier did not disobey his will! Garpal's agennts, conceding, took Alexander and his companions under protection led to the palace. Bagoj and Javdat walked alongside of him, Pevkest with two guardsmen of tsar's protection changed bedouin clothes — behind. Leonidas and more two guardsmen remained to watch over horses. They scaled on malachite porch through steps covered with rock crystal to the central entrance with gold columns and entered extensive lobby ornated with precious mosaic. «Should be, it costs considerable money to build so magnificent apartments in the central fortress in only three years! And precisely, it does not to keep within the sum allocated by tsar's decree for fortification works in the fortresses! — Alexander thought. — It's doubtless, Garpal steals and steals in a large, without hesitating!»
* acontists — soldiers armed with short spears.
They had to wait for a long time before one young Greek woman of years of twenty, wearing long white tunic, in the family way simply, but with taste, appeared from deep of rooms. The big pearl comb shone in woman's hair underlining the arrogance of look her mulatto-dark eyes. Having seen a group of bedouines in the hall, she asked:
— Which one of you have the dispatch from tsar of all Asia? Give it!
«Who would have ever expected it? — Alexander perplexed. — And how much arrogance in the girl spoiled by destiny? Just from mother and — bang! — she aims to the tsarina by all means!»
— I am authorised, mistress, to hand in this document to Garpal, — he answered, showing prepared in advance pure roll of parchment, — and I have confidential password for this purpose.
— Garpal is busy now. I am Pifonika, his wife …
— Tell the password! You do not know? Then call Garpal here!
And suddenly one thought struck Alexander to play a comedy right now.
— But, however, take it! — he opened the seal and handed parchment to Pifonika. — Read now!
She jast delved into the roll, but immediately threw up her eyes in surprise and said:
— But there is nothing here!
— Why there is nothing? — Alexander, having glanced to the unfolded roll, pretended that he is surprised not less,— It cannot be so! Well, mistress, but we will correct it now. Bagoj, give me some ink and feather.
— Garpal! Protection! — Pifonika exclaimed frightenedly, having divined the deception.
Tsar's treasurer appeared immediately onto her shouts. He looked pessimally, has grown fat and become swell, his eyes did not shine with nimble thought and mind as before.
— Arrest them! – Garpal ordered to the protection.
Soldiers braided Alexander's hands behind back and also of his companions, however Pevkest threw off two akontists and rushed to help tsar.
— Spare yourself the trouble, geter, to arrest me, - Alexander said loudly in the heat of this struggle, and took off kefja from his head, - Or you'll invite disaster to yourself, as Filota!
— Belay!! – Garpal ordered his desperadoes. This order swept as a fear cry along booming halls.
Having released, everyone stood in waiting. Garpal, probably, thought about himself how to get out of scape. Undoubtedly, he was much depressed.
— Give me some ink and feather, Bagoj, - Alexander continued, as it was possible more calmly having recovered breath.
He put the clean roll on balustrade, dipped brush into inkpot and began to make comments aloud.
— With this I rule: to dismiss Garpal from post of the State treasurer, and from post of the Ekbatan's governor. To commit Garpal to the court of the Army meeting. To appoint Gefestion, the State hiliarh, as the keeper of oikumena's treasures …
Alexander had hardly finished the diagramme before Garpal crashed down to his feet.
— My tsar! Forgive, I am guilty! I will explain you, Alexander, everything …
— For what I ordered you to spend without stinting as much as nesessary? For strengthening fortresses and army equipment. And what you've made?! You erected a cutglass mansion among ruins! Who is the author of this idea, geter? Pifonika? – Alexander glanced at Garpal's girlfriend, being hung in confusion, – Before, it should to bath in luxury to her, or, maybe, to protect from enemy encroachments her own life and also life of children? The war is not over. Who knows what'll happen next, and who will dare to contradict my will!
— My tsar, not for me and for Pifonika I built this mansion — it's only for you ! — Garpal exclaimed, worrying and trembling in every limb. — I beg you, listen to me, Alexander! There are no palaces in Ekbatans, worthy the sovereign. And I include that money first of all to the building of tsar's residence, preparing for your arrival. But meet you here so unexpectedly … I did not know … though it was possible to assume a surprise of such audience… Believe me, Alexander, I didn't know … Believe me and forgive! And if you want, let's go, I'll show you the gardens more beautiful than Babylons, pools in terms of gold ladles with fountains where freakish birds are swimming, and bedrooms full of flowers and silk. All personnel is eastern, up your alley: and never present more beautiful bondmaids and servants in the whole world. Truly, believe!
"What to do with this embezzler? – Alexander solved – To forget about merits and put to death for waste? To throw into dungeon? To grind in cage shamefully as Kallisfen, and drag everywhere along? However, Garpal did not show contempt for tsar's power, like Kallisfen, and did not learn pages the sedition. He has made how has made. Perhaps, for tsar's sake. Besides, geter introduced him to the beginning of fortification works in fortresses where it was also enclosed a part of public resources. It was quite possible to arrange the Ekbatans as northern stronghold of empire, if the city might to be closer to northern borders, as earlier. Now it was placed in the middle of oikumena, and could defend unless from Baktrianes, Sogdianes and the other friendly nations, but now it is not followed as per the principle of merge of peoples. Persepolis was destroyed. And, if Susa, Babylon with putting by Nearh new port in the south, still could serve to progress, then Ecbatans city became to nothing". Therefore Alexander arrived at the decision: to strengthen in Ekbatans only one of fortresses, with already built palace, and disregard other six ones; to save the governor functions of Garpal, and to pass the state treasury to Gefestion, for the avoidance of the embarrassed geter's temptation.
Those days he wrote to the friend: «I cancelled my initial decision to commit Garpal to the court of Army meeting, and desided to leave him here as the governor in reward for his last merits. I give the State treasury to your operation, Gefestion. Come immediately to Ekbatans, and we will engage with audit. Then you will ship gold on transports, and under protection we will move it to Babylon. I apply two decrees here: about transition the State treasury to your operetion, and about proclamation the Babylon city as the imperial capital. We should to prepare for celebrating soon».
However, Alexander, without waiting for Gefestion's arrival, received express report from commander of troops in Opis where formation of new regiments from recruits proceeded. Proteus with restrained alarm wrote about mutiny in military divisions. It made Alexander, having postponed all affairs, to leave urgently for suppression. Proteus' garrison defined as base in the formation of new army, was situated four hundred eighty stadiys from Ekbatans. It would be required to reach there at full gallop incomplete one day. But, there was intolerable heat, and tsar, accompanied by horse squadron of protection, was forced to stop three times, giving horses to drink. Only toward the evening, lifting clouds of road dust, tsar's illa had flew to fortress gate of Opis.
Proteus, the relative of kind old Lanika, seemed quiet, and only occasionally the long thin brushes of his hands nervously fingered command medallion on the breast, giving away excitement.
— Day before last, in the morning, everything was silently and peacefully, — he reported. — The replenishment — two new Iranian regiments, total four thousands persons to which we've prepared tents, expanded camp to the south — had come in the afternoon. Quite good place, tell the truth: the meadow on opposite bank of stream, actually dividing the camp on halves. You will see, my tsar, it's not far, directly behind the town wall. Next morning in the divisions, formed from amongst Macedonians, some grumble has begun. Two of three regiments refused to show up to formation and began to hold a mass-meeting. I convened commanders without understanding, what's the matter. Also two thirds of Macedonians did not appear to the War council. Also the others were not present their full complement at the War council — Persians, Baktrians and Iranians. Having ordered commanders to continue army exercises according to schedules, I stopped the council and left to rebellious troops. There were not calmness in that part of the camp. Soldiers spontaneously gathered everywhere and went to the parade-ground without regimentals, in chitons. And as if neither me, nor staff officers accompanying me did not exist for them, they did not call any attention to me, their commander! Having gathered on the parade-ground, soldiers though separately began to talk about the only one that Iranians and Persians received in the camp better place, than Macedonians. Supposedly there is more cool and calm in the water meadow, meanwhile it's not their merit in the great campaign. I rose on a butte and, addressed to rebels, tried to calm them, having told that we did not choose zone specially on the meadow for recruits and if soldiers want, it is possible to replace the disposition. However it was not a principal cause of their discontent. It was only the occasion. They have answered me that a suitable place to enslaved barbarians among slaves, instead of among commanders! They declared that won't suffer in the army command neither Persians nor Iranians and Greeks — nobody, except compatriots, Macedonians. They told that tsar Alexander promised to give them will and to send home, but did not keep his word. They does not know, whether the tsar alive, or he dead. They are assured that Army command in your face deceives them, therefore they consider themselves free from any obligations …
- Let's go! – Alexander interrupted Proteus. It seemed to him that once his tsar's greatness emerge before soldiers, those will immediately rejoice, restrain the ardour and all problems will be solved. They should see in him their favourite hero of battles at Iss and Granik, the subjugator of Persia, Egypt and India, the hero, who have surpassed Herakles by the feats! – Move forward, Proteus, blow army meeting! – He shouted, sticking foot into stirrup.
From the top of fortress hill equal space in the camp's southeast suburb, used as a parade-ground, was visible clearly. But now review of troops, doctrines or breakdown to phalanx there were not hold here, but a huge shapeless stain the crowd of many thousands soldiers excited with their arrogance was gaped. Having prick horse, Alexander directed to rebels. He knew, what it is necessary to tell them.
— Soldiers! — he hurled through shouts and noise over dense ring of agema's horsemen surrounded him. — Not that true which you talk here! But this, about which I am, the tsar of Macedonia Alexander, will tell you! — he moved to the small height serving as command post of doctrines. — One of these days I have signed the decree on dismissal of soldiers and commanders who were in the service for seven and more years. Veterans! You've well served me, your sovereign, and native land! Now you may be free, you can come back home! Alongside this, I will pay debts of everyone in my army, those which you have collected during this time, irrespective of the service duration, from the state treasury. Great Zevs-Ammon granted us new, peaceful life of equal citizens, people of different nationalities for on the new lands opened by you, in new oikumena we will do this life even more rich and happy. However the world still demands a protection, therefore we should not only to save, but also to strengthen our nice state army! Soldiers and commanders! The state power and it's protection are in your hands! In this great cause I am, the son of Zevs-Ammon, Macedonian tsar, Alexander, relying only on you, and putting your trust!
Seconds of silent attention followed upon the final of his speech, it was seemed, testified to pacification of rebels. But, suddenly someone shouted from the crowd:
- We will not believe you, Macedonian tsar, that you are the son of Zevs-Ammon, if smelly Persians will command us!
And the crowd raged again:
- We'll not believe! Let barbarians get out from here! We'll not tolerate Iranian despotism!
- Indeed whether you, tsar Alexander, repay our debts by far with interest to send us again to India and Ganges?
- We will follow you nowhere more!
- Come back to your Ammon, and splash now two together to the campaign, though until the end of the Earth!
Rebels begun to guffaw unitedly, and during this instant thousands and thousands Klitts, having gone gaga from own arrogance, seemed to Alexander among them! Having noticed the most active provokers in the crowd, he turned back to standing at him Pevkest:
- Deliver here those two.
- Soldiers! – meanwhile Alexander addressed to rebels – All of us are living under one sky, and under one God! And there is no edge at our Earth! You know firsthand about it. We will open more new and new territories, where peoples are already living, and those, which we have to populate. Henceforth we should be respectful to all nations showing good will to us, including Persians and Iranians representing the most ancient civilisations! Most ancient the Greek one! You must study under them in the hard work and fidelity to tsar! We should make this world happy, it will be hundredfold better, than now! Without wars and convulsions! Without hunger, illnesses and pestilence! Without eternal struggle against everything and everybody! And then there will be no enmity between peoples, there will be no barriers between them, neither national, nor social – none of them! And, then the verity will open to peoples! It will open! Will necessarily open! Well, and for those who took into the head to lay down conditions to the tsar and who dreames about the end of the earth... — He looked at two goplits delivered him, whose guardsmen of protection threw to Bucephalus' feet. - What is your name? – He has asked elder soldier, with rugged features.
- Andreas is my name.
- Have you ever seen the edge of the earth, Andreas? Rise from your knees and show me the edge of the earth.
Soldier with hands fixed behind his back stood up and, feeling awkward, began to look back around.
- Well, I see it's inconveniently to you. It's necessary a little higher, - Alexander said, suppressing the excitement, - I will help you now.
He snatched out the sword and in one instant movement knocked off Andreas' head. Being covered with blood, the breathless corpse failed on the ground. The head rolled to the grass, it's motionless declining look rested to horse harness.
- Give it to me, - Alexander ordered horsemen of agema. Then, having lifted the head by hair highly over himself, he uttered: - There is, Andreas, the end of the earth. I hope, you've beheld your edge, at last! Not? Well, go and study! – and he threw the stump of ex-goplit to the becoming hush rebels.- You wish to look too? – Alexander asked the second frozed from fear soldier, and without waiting answer, spifflicated the same over him.
The dead silence became.
- And now you can go away! – he shouted to the crowd of former soldiers, - Don't you hear?! Macedonians, I release you from army service. All of you are weaklings, you are not in forces even to recover yourselves! Come back to Macedonia, in homes! Go, and tell your families as, having renounced the oath and military valour, you left your tsar! I think that it will be the worthy end of the world discoverer's campaign. There's no more worthy act! Farewell! I am not a fellow man to you.
Having turned horse, accompanied by Proteus, group of ten military commanders and squadron of tsar's protection Alexander rushed off at a gallop to the fortress.
Shame disturbed his heart tormented with happened. Never, never before Macedonian tsar punished soldiers so terribly! Punishments considered shameful at the army, and he did not want to take any part of that. But now … now he, personally tsar, he was forced to make it, to apply violence, and assume role of executioner for the first time! He personalized a part of this dishonour for he was engaged himself too little to education of soldiers , and always only advised commanders whose now he also didn't exculpate. It seemed to him, and it should be clear to everyone: here is God, Zevs-Ammon personifying all gods in heavens, here are peoples of different nationalities living on the Earth, and here is the son of God, the tsar, demonstrated through deeds the nobleness of his plan to unite mankind. What's wrong here? Why not to Macedonian soldiers as representatives of commonality, to follow immutable tactical rules in the struggle for suppression own national arrogance under personally protection of their tsar? Why not to the nice winners tempered in fights to win temselfs at this struggle too, forgiving the enemy, transforming him into the friend and ally in this, maybe, the most important fight in their life? He found own fault that could not cram commanders this idea and its practical embodiment – the merge of peoples in his state. Two-bit to such tsar! – Alexander scrupled – And place to him with his aspirations not at the head of oikumena, but among ragged Indian brahmins!
Three disturbing days and three sleepless nights he spent alone in the environment of Opis fortifications. Treachery of the whole army painfully wounded his self-esteem. Cannot find any peace, he rushed about among stones in gloomy rooms, rolled on floor, sobbed and appealed to God to comprehend him, give him a hope of success, or take him on heavens as frustrated and useless leader, whose ideas are impracticable, no more than a fancy of his mad imagination! Here, in the rock bag, he felt that he slips slowly to the captivity of own absolute power, and, becoming its hostage, indulges to fear, revenge, cruelty, profiteering, – to everything that only is dark, malicious and bad in the world; as it is ever less forces to resist that. Naturally he missed there Gefestion with his unrestrained energy and artless view of life!
At the third night the oracle was appeared. He was sitting on the floor in the distant corner of the big hall shined by torches, which served to Alexander as study and bedroom simultaneously.
- Why do you so heartsore, tsar from the tsars? – old man tenderly addressed to him, having sparkled by the light-brown, almost yellow eyes from darkness.
- It's not working at me, father. I will not be able... - Alexander said sadly, looking over the rolls of military schemes and orders scattered on the table.
- So, you are the weakling too!
- So, yes, I am …
- Or, can you take one more chance, one more hope? Will you get through it?
It became calmly to Alexander, whether because Gefestion's notes were felt in the voice of the oracle, or the wise oldman's face inspired the trust. He cept silent in indecision.
- Will you get through it? – having stared at him, the old man persistently repeated.
- I will try …
- Will you get through it?! – God's oracle invoked, and disappeared.
In the morning of the fourth day Alexander invited Proteus, collected Persian, Iranian and Baktrian commanders and ordered them to form phalanges of compatriots. He ordered not to include Macedonians. On top of this, having dressed armour and helmet with red feather, he went to doctrines himself. Young, taut "phunicys" – as Limn would name them – showed good training, were sensible, dexterous and disciplined. It was possible with them though to Europe, though to Arabia – everywhere! Makedonians, herding together by isolated small groups, silently observed this maneuvers, but only from afar. Toward the evening the crowd of them, several hundred persons, gathered at fortress gates.
Alexander decided to show respect and appeared before former soldiers. Evseus, deserved commander enjoying authority in the army, whom he remembered during the last campaign through desert when Evseus shared with soldiers the last drops of water from own flask, addressed to him.
— We came to ask pardons at you, sovereign, — Evseus said, bowing. — I've collected in ten representatives from each syntagmes *, and we came to ask pardons. The jealousy to Persians … to our Persian relatives induced us to mutiny. Forgive us magnanimously, my tsar! It's heavily without you. Command again to serve you!
Having melt into tears, Alexander publicly embraced and kissed the commander. That very he wished to hear from the Macedonian warriors!
— Soldiers, I appoint all of you the my relatives!
On the morrow of military doctrines decade Alexander held at the Opis a wappenshaw among recreated military units. He made a real feast from this. At the beginning two pedestrian regiments, representing small phalanxes each of five thousand persons, had passed at the march before built in the parade-ground centre commander's point, and along four parties around it, sading step to the right from the place of fixed stop. Cavalry theatricalized indicative battle. There were showed also manoeuvrability and hitting range capability of several throwing machines. Then the big phalanx, stayed front before the tribune, soldiers declaimed the prayer and swore the tsar: «Father! Great Zevs and almighty Ammon! We address with this prayer to You. Thanks that You've sent us Your son, Great tsar of all oikumena, Alexander! You've inspired us the world association! Let Your blessing will be the guiding star. Let it will give us forces, careless of our life, to do this mission and create freedom and justice on the Earth. We are swearing to you, tsar Alexander, for the sake of this purpose!»
Sports took place at the evening in camp's gymnasia. He watched competitions with pleasure, as always. Recruits, beautiful swarthy Persian lads, were the best in archery, Iranians won in wrestling, Macedonians and Greeks were not equal in races. Alexander watched, and his heart was filled with pleasure from comprehension that these beautiful young bodies won't become a sacrificial meat in exhaustible campaigns and dreadful battles!
* Syntagma – the lowest military division from 256 persons.
In high spirits he returned to Ecbatanes where Gefestion waited him. It had to be engaged in treasury. However, tsar's favourite has already fulfill a part of his assignments, concerning moving the gold to Babylon. Cellars of one of the old Ecbatanes fortresses, unknown to all, were blocked from top to bottom with big and small leather chests, and each was hanged the clay tablet.
— These I've prepared, you'll seale them up by tsar's press as it followed from your directive, — Gefestion explained. — And these are empty for a while. I've ordered the melting of all gold darics to drachmas. I'll bring them one of these days. We will also collect them here.
— How mach darics there were?
— Two millions three hundreds fifty thousands.
— And what quantity you've ordered?
— The same amount.
— There is a silver too?
— As mach as you want! — Gefestion grinned. — Here both silver ware, and sorts of stuff...
— So, do more half-million silver didrachms.
— I can more.
— Then do one million silver didrachms...
Alexander was never greedy to money, and seldom cared about their quantity. In the childhood he played soldiers much – own armies he always made from silver, and his opponents played with gold ones. As he often won, he thought that silver is more valuable than gold. He was very much surprised, having learnt the contrary, and decided, becoming the tsar, by all means he will issue special decree that silver must be more valuable. Meanwhile, neither before, nor now he did not test any avidity before treasures. He was ready to accept for the main thing not financial advantage, but the meaning of any coin or object. As for him, the meaning of rare jevel in Ammon's amulet shining on the breast of his friend, was incomparably above jevel's value.
- And where is our Garpal, Gefestion? I called him … – he asked, sweeping eyes over numbers of leather trunks which should be sealed up.
- He fakes sickness. Why you're so tenderly about him?
- What do you mean - tenderly? And now I must miscall a pong pig everyone from delinquent? Garpal could not cross out the fact of ten years his excellent service.
Gefestion looked at him fixedly.
- Simply I thought that Filota's and Klitt's punishment was seemed more convincingly to everyone...
- Yes, it is so. And after all fear rules our world as you are speaking always. However, unlike them, Garpal did not think to undermine autocracy foundations, he did not revolt and didn't pride himself of merits sufficed at each of us.
- And as edification to everybody you've left him to rule in Ekbatans for the embezzlement of public funds.
- Yes, I had left. He will remember my favour for ever.
- Still such as him, I know little more who considering us dead without having waited army back from Indus, not only gold, but they were ready to take in hands full garrisons. You are going to forgive them too?
- So, why did you keep a silent!
Gefestion compressed lips in half-smile peculiar to him:
- Really I should write you everything, my tsar, to whom another it will be pleasant to know this message? From mouth to mouth more safely.
- So, tell me who is it! – Alexander exclaimed impatiently. Suddenly he wished that it would not happen, it wouldn't take place a delation, and charges would not be frequent, and latent enemies woud not become in geteira, and Gefestion would declare that he jokes.
But, the favourite said:
- I have information about Kleomen, the financial manager in Egypt. And, it would be strange, that Ptolemey did not hear about it … To be sure in Egypt – here at us, in Susa, governor Abulit publicly called Iranians for disobedience shortly before wedding celebrations. And Beatriks, serviceman from Midia, arranged all of dissatisfied, proclaimed himself as some tsar and called people into struggle against Macedonian contagion.
- It did not suffice for me new spitamens! I hope, you've arrested them?
- Both are in dungeon in Susa. Kleomen is in Egypt while now, builts Alexandria, and still in charge of deliveries for your army.
- Well, let him to serve for a while. We will see … however, don't lose sight of him. Neither of him, nor of Ptolemey. Understand? And who remained in Susa instead of Abulit?
- Nobody. I removed all his command, having loaded charge the govern on myself. I am absent now, so Kratter is in control.
Following month, transport with state treasury, protected by horse regiment of tsar's guardsmen, approached Babylon. The future capital of Empire met Alexander unfriendly. Strong winds rushed about the earth burnt by summer heat, dispersing heavy clouds above city walls. The bright, cold sun was torn through them as if aspiring to find the terminal home in this world …
Tsar's mood was changeable. He was alternately depressed, irritable when his angry look concerned something in hot blood; and suddenly became inspired, energized, joyful, unrestrained energy boiled in him, and it seemed that youthful potos* still conducts him to the planned purpose.
* Potos – Prompting, aspiration to a feat
Alexander, remembering that fear rules the world, spifflicated by the most cruelest way with everyone about whom Gefestion reported. On one of the city squares in outskirts he ordered to build special hill from which death sentences were publicly reading and carried out immediately. Blood of more than one ten higher and average state ranks empurpled stones of this sad place, the road to which Alexander ordered to fill with bodies of rebellious goplits and any oter instigators crucified by Persian custom, irrespective of their nationality. Once visited there and having looked, as flights of carrion crows dabbers corpses on this crosses, he was terrified by this show sickening his ellines, romantic nature. He even pinned up the spear one crucified, to relieve him suffer. Nevertheless, the effect from public executions was considerable, it was enough a few days to discourage any discontent in the area.
He was rather afraid at times, because of he would not justify before heavens for the cruelty. However he very much hoped for the protection of God who did not leave him now as in depressing Opise crisis too, all the same gave him the hope of success, having sent the oracle! Without wishing to pass for despot at all, Alexander, nevertheless, wanted, that everybody at the court were afraid of him, and held in honour the special, divine accessory of the Oikumena's lord. And, if he could not quite succeed to introduce the Persian tradition of proskineza, he ordered Khares to obey very strictly all other formalities inherent to tsar's authority. Now not only during his stay in the palace, but wherever he appeared – whether it was armies review, or own study – he was always accompanied by sacred fire, having kept in the big bowls by guardsmen specially trained for this purpose, and they always blew special solemn melody at the tsar's appearance. Alexander settled in different wings of the large Southern palace his own two wives, two Roksanas, avoid possible conflicts, having ordered them to be shown only at official ceremonies, and himself in environment of the whole staff of selected Persian boys appointed tsar's pages, occupied magnificent Darius' mansion being found side by side from the east with gardens of Semiramida. Northern palace entirely he presented Gefestion with the spouse Kamila. However, Alexander did not release the friend far from himself being in need constantly of his support. They were at work now together quite often in tsar's study apon the plans of strengthening Oikumena's government, inviting there Evmen, Khares, Stilka, Anaksarh, army and naval commanders — depending of necessity. It was pleasent to Alexander to pose away the hours for sculptor Lisipp modelling in marble tsar's bust, by the way it did not prevent him to dictate Evmen numerous decrees, and it promoted also his thought's soar. Along with strengthening the individual rule, his nearest plans included assimilation of Arabia — cherished, but and not carried out dream of tsarina Semiramida who, having learnt about treachery of the son, jumped from abrupt cliff. It seemed to Alexander, as gods have favor to him, the matter depends on him now. In this operation he planned to use fleet under command of Nearh, and to entrust land forces to Kratter.
He vanished on hunting quite often in the afternoon, and evenings he usually preferred to spend at supper. It was either solemn action devoted to the next presentation of credentials, or simply companionable tableful where he invited priceless persons from geteira, military commanders, people of art, poets, actors and painters representing their national creativity. He drank much and had fun with friends, considering that Dionis helps to have a rest and relax better. And then, being besoted by wine, he felt himself to the full the sovereign of the world, severe, but virtuous father of nations.
Celebrations on the occasion blazon Babylon as empire capital took place during first decade of month memacterion. It was the feast of the feasts – Alexander did not grudge money to arrange the triumph again. The night before two hundred galleys of the new fleet floated upstream Euphrates from Alexandria-the-Persian. Tere were great fiery figures on every second of them, and it seemed, as if dark waters of ancient river disgorge fairy animals and birds, mythologic goats and lions, bears and centaurs. All gods of the Olympus made from colour fires followed them. Then, in the middle of water procession, on the flagship, Alexander Macedonsky's huge head in helmet with the red feather had emerged, it was accompanied by large tail of galleys bearing the whole set images of different weapons laid out in the same way by colour torches. Alexander followed with eyes this marvellous manifestation with great pleasure very long, till the time, when its fires disappeared at all, as if having dissolved in the night sky as in eternity, having merged with stars.
Gymnastic games begun next day by tradition, he delivered a speech in glory of Zevs-Ammon before the opening, and big sacrifices have been made. It was planned to spend Games in three days and to finish them with grandiose multinational athletes procession.
Having left the competings, Alexander hastened to the big feast in tsar's palace, arranged in the celebrations. All gypparhs were present there – governors of the created again Oikumena's areas, which political card he – at the sixth, or the seventh time – has remaked anew. He also forced guests to compete at the supper, but not in their force and dexterity, but in the wit and rhetoric. Leonnat, governor of Punjab, came in top place, he made unsurpassed speech in glory of tsar of all Oikumena, at that he found such way to pick on Alexander for his negligent relation to own life, that native mother Olympiada wouldn't make it.
Alive with emotion, excited with wine Alexander begun to embrace and kiss at first with Leonnat, and then with everybody without discrimination — commanders, their wives, pages and heteras invited for visitors pleasure.
— I've knew … I've knew that it will be so, — he whispered, embracing Gefestion and Nearh standing at him. — I've knew that gods are on our side and we will win!
In one of days of these magnificent festivals Alexander used opportunity of the army, naval commanders and gypparhs presence, and appointed public conference of the War council where he conceived to listen opinions about current line of policy and to proclaim firmness of government principles in the borders of Oikumena, and also to share his plans of forthcoming campaigns.
The conference proceed without participation of Gefestion.
Being quite surprised with this circumstance, Alexander sent guardsmen from tsar's protection to the Northern palace, to see what happened.
- Gefestion is ill, and cannot arrive, - the commander of agema reported him.
- What's the matter with him?
- It's a fever. Should be, he has caught a cold …
Having skeletonized the state debates, disturbed Alexander rushed to his favourite, for he knew: it was impossible to refer simply to illness and to pass the important conference, for active and mighty Gefestion it was meant to be so sick, that to lose any movement abilities.
Really, he found out his friend in the bed almost in unconsciousness. Gefestion was mortally pale; he shook as from cold in hot heated room, being wrapped up with warm sheepskin, meanwhile his face was moist from sweat.
— What's the matter with you, geter?! — Alexander dashed to him, still not believing in the event.
— Alex, — Gefestion hardly whispered , — I feel bad … absolutely …
Alexander sat down on the bed edge, clasped him for shoulders and lift slightly.
— None of that. Everything will be all right, my boy … You've been over the limit yesterday, is all … My doctor will arrive now, he will put you on legs quickly… — he nodded to Pevkesta:
— Gallop to Sinkh immediately …
Not leaving friend's bed for a second, Alexander continually rubbed off face of his favourite by scarf and gave him to drink tincture of hellebore from small vessel. Gefestion was getting worse, his pale eyelids trembled, lips turned blue, he panted, trying to gather air a half-open mouth, and Alexander observed in despair, how the soul just ready to leave once strong body of his friend. In hope to inhale life to the hardly trembling heart, he nestled to his breast.
— Alex … Alex … — Gefestion called weakly, having opened eyes with anxiety. — Amulet is not … not the same jevel … I've lost the original in Shiraz …
And then Alexander would not understand any more whereof and what for Gefestion speaks about some amulet. Nothing will mean to Macedonsky from this moment, the jewel which he'll remove mechanically from the neck of his confidant, the own title of the All Ojkumena' Tsar received quite deservedly, and even destiny of the state given him by such troubles and such blood, – nothing! His despaired consciousness will wish the only one, for the favourite dying on his hands won't leave him at all. Now he will feel his own mission only in this purpose, he will wish to comprehend the absolute, all-conquering truth merely in this!
- Gefestion is dead, oh, my lord. - doctor Sinh, Hindu cured the wounded tsar in Punjab, declares, having examined the patient.
- It cannot be, Sinh! It can't be true. He should not die! – Alexander will exclaim in a voice not his own, - Look better!
- Gefestion is dead! – Sinh will declare again, as if a verdict.
Being beside himself, Alexander will rush to the growing cold body of his friend and start to lift and shake it, saying:
- Gefes, Gefestion! Get up! You should not die! Should not! Wake up, my dear! You should be alive! By all means – you should live!
But, seeing, as Gefestion's eyes stay motionless, as his hands fall weakly, Alexander will stop the attempts, it will dawn to him, at last, that it's impossible to return his favourite. In spasms of grief he will fall prone at the body of his companion, will grasp with madness for bed hand-rails and fiercely stick a teeth into pillow edge, the despair cry will break off his breast.
Then he will discharge his anger upon Sinh, Pevkesta, Kamila and other ones, quietly, as shadows wandering around the bedchamber.
- Get out of here! – Alexander will roar, throwing heavy vase at Sinh, - You are not worthy even his bit! You are ready to poison everyone! All of you will die on the scaffold – I promise!
Remaining alone in the room, Alexander will sit down on Gefestion's headboard, close him eyelids, fold hands on the breast, then he will touch with lips the dear cold face.
- Everything is good, geter. Everything will be nice…
- He will grope the divine amulet in the pocket and slip it on the neck. - It's not important that you lost the jevel, but that you found forces admit to it. After all, truth always better than lie. Everything will be all right, Gefes …
Improbably light calmness suddenly will seize him. Clearness is always better than unknowing: if Zevs-Ammon took Gefestion, so the following, undoubtedly, he will take also Alexander. So, God considers that the mission assigned to him is almost over.
He'll decide to organise grandiose funeral his favourite to be remembering forever, for, many people have a property to remember and appreciate only rich and pompouse. The best Egyptian doctors will embalm Gefestion's body, put it into coffinette sculpted from the rare stone by talented Greek sculptors, will cover it with magnificent fabric patterned by unsurpassed Iranian mistress. The coffin will be put on catafalque cast in gold by excellent Persian handymen, and in environment of gypaspist's regiments of the Macedonian tsar's Guards, carrying gold boards, they will bear it to Euphrates, whence it'll be deliver on the flagship to the western mooring. An enormous tomb similar to pyramid will be erect in city centre, at the Etemenanki tower having been for a long time a symbol of peoples unity, but then destroyed by human arrogance and named now as Babylon one. Alexander himself under solemn sounds of kettledrums and flutes, among hundred selected guardsmen, through long, dark corridor will bring coffin to the underground chamber shined from above by narrow beam of light, and there, before casted from gold statue of Zevs-Ammon modeled by Lisipp, he will leave it forever.
Now Alexander will cease to notice time. It will pass day both two, and week both month, and a monotonous caravan of events will absorb him, he will not more encroach apon any purposes and terms as they already won't conceive any value for him. Meanwhile, realising the last plans, he will work as before, and nobody at the court, and in the army won't dare to contradict tsar's irrepressible tsar's nature. He will charge Nearh, Ptolemy and Kratter to start preparations the fleet and troops for campaign to Arabia. He'll continue to strengthen his army. He will deploy true war to the corruption. He will take all measures to absolutize monarchy in new oikumena. However he will be far from aspiration to finish all these affairs, opposite – he'll begin to proceed with indifference to own acts.
Hunting will be one of his favourite entertainments now. Sogdians huntsmen will train him in extremely engrossing hunting with the application of tame birds. It will indulge him special pleasure to observe enormous golden eagle soaring in the sky in search of prey, having spread strong wings, and then falls downwards on the victim as stone, — whether it is gazelle or saiga — and, having strangled it, does not release, jealously saves it before owner appearance. Following the tradition of Macedonian hospitality, as before Alexander will suit magnificent feasts, where they would dish up viands prepared from his own recipes. And he invested by tsar's power, free to punish and pardon, generous for friends, terrible for foes, will take quite pleasure now in the speeches told in his honour, and to solve, who from his courts is more succeeded in feats, and who in flattery.
And now not tens, but hundreds perfect boys-pages will serve tsar's rooms, heat lakonikum *, light fires in fixtures, serve meal, make bed, take care of Alexander in everyday life. As before, he will not miss a possibility to flirt, and with especially attracted to get into bed. But now he will search in each young man lineaments of Gefestion, his shapely, eye and smile. Alexander's soul will start to catch characteristics of his favourite friend everywhere, even in own body, in own movements, in the manner of own behaviour.
Once, walking in the palace, he will look into Roksana's rooms.
- You, my tsar? – of unexpectedness she will throw up big dark eyes, and drop handiwork on her knees.
- What are you making, Roksana? – Alexander will ask, sitting at her.
- I want to create the greek tunic for myself with a pearl Persian pattern…
- It's turns out dexterously at you, - he will say, watching, as wife's gentle hands attach beads to fabric.
- Gefestion taught.
- Gefestion? – Alexander will be surprised, noticing that he even did not suspect about this friend's talent.
- Alex … He taught me this skill in Marakanda … since before wedding. However, there was Macedonian pattern … - Roksana will start as if to justify, unintentionally baring beautiful swarthy bust in the cut-out of her clothes.
«Should be, Gefestion also admired her for the first time …» – Alexander will think then.
- You'll sew all beads, but one – cannot, - he will say, smiling.
- Why? don't tell me!. I will sew all of them!
- And also this one? - he will slip under her collar with left hand, and gently pinch for nipple, - and this too?
She'll burst out laughing playfully as it happened in Marakanda at first days of the marriage, stretch hands upwards having left sewing on her lap, and will embrace head of the husband and expose him lips.
* lakonikum – the Greek bath
- You are joking, my tsar…
Suddenly Alexander will fall for pinching guilt before his friend. The guilt that he is still here, still tastes all these terrestrial delights among which – it is doubtless – the possibility to be together with Roksana. While they seemes to the friend in heavens, probably, poor, imperfect, incomparable with true perception of the world… Suddenly he will wish, that it take place right now, in the wife's room for Gefestion's soul thirsts it immediately. And then, in the image of his favourite, he will seize Roksana, as if himself. He will kiss, caress her such passionate and gentle, as if his friend have done, and they will dissolve as uniform couple in fine infinite space which – it happens – only seems on the earth!
In the spring when warmth will come and the sun will warm slopes of the nearest hills, he will become again go out frequently to the terraces of Semiramida's gardens, will ascend on their top by wide marches of ladders to the stone monsters, and, indulging to memoirs, will wander there in loneliness among sprawling palm trees and furious blossoming olives. Everything there will be also as eight years ago, but now the pyramid of Gefestion will ascend to the sky by the side of Babel tower, and morning dawn will rise along of its colossus. Flights of turtledoves, as well as tens, and thousands years ago, will break from abrupt cliffs downwards, to the filled in by the pink light, blossoming gorge, and then soar into the blue open space, into the immense, impassive-tender heavens.
Having step on the marble bench at the end of palm avenue, he will recollect Limn and read by him verses:
Gods, over the seals being declined,
Counted them and I’ll die ...
Time hasn’t come, my prince, it isn’t end,
This is only a sparks on the wind ...
He will often recollect also that treatise dreamt to the lad, explaining all from the world beginning where Alexander appears in image of horseman on the white stallion; and the story about tsarina Semiramida told by Limn where she swooped down from these terraces and, having turned to dove, soar upwards into the sky. Such minutes he will hardly constrain himself from similar act for everything about what Lima told then, seemingly, had already come true, and it's necessary to finish logically these prophetic plots. However, obeying a divine foresight, he won't find out weakness, having swooped down from the cliff, but with impatience he'll wait for verification of the will his great Father, almighty Zevs-Ammon.
At the last decade of targelion Nearh arrived from Alexandria Persian will celebrate his thirty second birthday. In the morning Alexander will show him the course of irrigational works along banks of Euphrates undertaken for the purpose to increase areas under crops. Then they'll return to the city and make sacrifices before the tomb of Gefestion.
- I would give back much for his revival, and he would return to us now, - Nearh will say suddenly, looking at the enter into the pyramid closed by granite monolith.
- What is it “much”? – Alexander will ask, recollecting at that Gefestion dreamt to settle in Marakanda, in the estate arranged by him in terms of Macedonians, - What would you give back, Nera, for Gefestion's returning?
- Much, Alex. Lycia. Palaces. Fleet. But I would rise the new one for the sake of it…
And again, obeying to sudden inclination, going as if from heavens, Alexander will embrace and kiss the friend:
- You won't believe, Nera – I would give all empire for it …
In the evening Alexander will arrange supper for the fleet commander and all naval commanders. It will be cheerful, as always, with singers, dancings and comedians. He won't become to limit himself. Having drunk a lot of wine, but won't get drunk at all, uncharacteristically he will join the ranks of dancings sirtos, and in doing so he will force all visitors, representatives of absolutely different nationalities, to start into the Greek round dance.
— You are dancing fine, tsar of the tsars! — Alexander will hear suddenly, feeling the sight of Ammon's oracle yellow eyes at himself.
His voice will sound in ears while the old man in dark clothes and black turban on his head will quickly work pas among dancings on the opposite side of the hall.
— Gefestion did it better than me, father. He danced pirrikha* remarkably, and sirtos turned out not bad at us too, with him and with Limn …
— Why do you speak about it in the past tense, Alexander?
— Gefestion died, it's impossible to return him…
— Really? But you said recently that all empire would give for it!
— If I could, father, I would give. But it's impossible to return Gefestion…
— Well, as you wish... By the way, he is dancing now sirtos together with us …
— Where?! — Alexander will exclaim with hope.
— Not far, on the terrace. Don't you believe? Go and see!
Having left everybody, he will rush to the gardens. There, on palm avenue, in soft twilight of warm evening, among blossoming implantations and marble vases he will really find out Gefestion! Dressed in celebratory yellow tunic, in light silvery sandals, the friend will be moving to rhythm of sirtos, as though in the round dance, feeling obvious pleasure from the movements.
— Gefes! Gefestion! — Alexandr will ask him.
— Alex? What a remarkable evening today! Come to me, it is more space here! Call everybody!
Having looked back, Alexander will see the hall full of visitors and, disconcertingly, himself spreadeagle on the floor among motley crowd! Someone will enclose pillow under his head, someone will bring water to his mouth, someone will howl: «Tsar is sick!» Guardsmen of protection will push back the crowd. Disturbed Pevkesta will carry his body on hands somewhere …
— Gefes, wait for me here, I'll return soon … They are carring me away, but I am here, with you together, and I am healthy and joyful! What a cranks! Wait for me, Gefes, I'll return soon!
*pirrikha - military dance
Gefestion will smile so gently and tenderly as nobody smiled never before:
— Well, Alex, I am waiting for you. Surely, I am waiting.
Old man oracle, appiaring immediately, will block him the way:
- It's impossible for you to go there, Alexander! They are doomed to the treason! They will ruin all your deed!
- I need to go there, father. It is necessary! They carry me somewhere as if I'm wounded, meanwhile I am healthy! Here I am! Hey, stop immediately! I am healthy! What for you are carry me!…
… Having regained consciousness in the bed, Alexander will rather regret about it: inexpressible lightness will disappear and his body, as if poured by lead, will hardly possible to move. Bagoi will bring him hellebore tincture, and this bitterness will seem to him as sweetest elixir.
When it'll be a bit better, Alexander will order to take him out from stuffy bedroom to the terraces, under the canopy of leaves. Inexpressible melancholy feeling of the died friend, here in the blossoming garden, will capture him with new force. He will recollect the childhood and how they learnt together at Aristotle's school, all their mischiefs and tricks, and wrestling, horse-breaking passion, and youthful disputes of the world arrangement, and their first loyalty oath both first caresses, and feeling of love to his friend, arose abruptly and for ever. And all thirteen years of the great campaign passed side by side, will roll by caravan in his unexpectedly cleared up, easy consciousness. And Alexander will fall into despair because of Gefestion still waits him there, at the end of palm avenue, at the rock sphinxes, meanwhile he being held down by own body, in noways, noways cannot return there again!
— Do you want to him? — oracle's voice will be heard in his ears. The old man in dark clothes will walk around the garden, inclining at-times blossoming branches to his hooke nose.
— I want very much! — Alexander will exclaim with inspiration.
— You want to the man who was loved by everyone, but he love nobody, except himself? Do you want to him?! He loved you, Alexander, only because you are the tsar.
— I don't believe it, father. He loved me also when I haven't been the tsar. He loves me now. Let me to Gefestion, he are waiting me!
— It has lost the amulet of God and hidden it, having given original jewel for forgery!
— It is lie! He confessed of it to me and he is pure before God. Let me to him, he are waiting!
Oracle will look at Alexander in the hope of searching in his soul sometihg that never been at all, ever, - the false or held back. Then his sight will slip over Aleksandrov's forehead:
— Tsar of the tsars! Nearh hastens to you on a visit. Talk with him, and I will wait.
Geter will come, sit down beside, at the foot of the bed, will take monarch's hand in his one.
- It's already better to you, my tsar! Glory to gods!
Feeling depressing weakness in all body, Alexander will try to answer him by hand shake.
- When you will recover, Alex, will you arrive to the sea to look fleet? – Nearh will ask, wishing to encourage the friend.
Alexander won't dare to say him that the fleet means nothing now, but he will only nod affirmatively:
— I will arrive …
— Well. So I am preparing? It would be necessary to complete fifty high-speed galleys, but it's no money… Will you permit me this additional charges from treasury? I think, it would quite suffice two or three talents of gold.
— Take what needful, Nera. Tell Evmen: I've resolved.
— Your Evmen trusts only your's written directions. Sign here, please, — Nearh will show him the roll and enclose feather into his palm.
Lines will blur before Alexander's eyes.
— What is it here?
— Here it is, what you just promised me…
Alexander will sign the roll by weakening hand. Nothing will have any sence for him. But, nevertheless, he will support the favourite brainchild – fleet. One happy year of the run-up to the campaign will recollect him, when for days on end he vanished with Nearh on shipyards, and as the carpenter himself participated in the ships assemblage. Realising the experience of his father, Nera not only supervised the assemblage, but also participated in it, learnt tsar seafaring engagement. Dropping from tiredness, they slept, at times, together in an embrace on the odorous chipped boards, without any hesitating of their youthful inclinations. Since the fleet became for Alexander not simply the army part, symbol of authority and power, Macedonian fleet was for him the embodiment of man's force and friendly fidelity.
- Nera, listen to me … – he will address to the comrade, almost choking, – Should be, that's all. Gods calls me … take care of … increase greatly the fleet … return to Macedonia … tell everybody about us …
And, consciousness will leave Alexander again.
He will be up in tender beams of dawn, feeling himself inexplicable ease. One and all will be already behind, and ahead the long-awaited, happy meeting with Gefestion.
— Well? Let's go? — oracle grown tired of waiting will say, rising from the grass.— Let us go, Alexander, I will see you off to your favourite!
Alexander will raise without effort and barefoot will step on the land. To the surprise, again he will find out own body left on the bed amid garden.
— Do not look at this collection of bones and flesh, — oracle will say annoyingly, piercing Alexander with the stare of yellow eyes, — if not you will return there again. However neither to you, nor to your friend nothing to do in that world. Moth and rust will annihilate there all. Certainly, people will keep the rituals peculiar to their culture, they will arrange tsar's funeral to your body. They will do justice to your feats, they will grieve and kiss the earth where you has walked, they will fill up with flowers all this palm avenue, descending by ladder to the East, and kiss these slabs that here under feet … Not to the East, we are going to the West, to the rock sphinxes — it is more air and freedom yonder! And the sun heats graciously as warmed you in the childhood, is that true?
— Yes, father. It is marvellously beautiful here! — Alexander will agree, admiring the rainbow thrown across the coomb.
— But it is short-lived. Time will pass, and sands will cover all this beauty. Nowadays beautiful terraces will crash down on the hill slopes and turn to ruin, and then only rocks will be able to tell about Sumer, Babylon, and all subsequent kingdoms which has prospered here! It's peculiar to humans in general to transform everything into rocks. They also will turn you too to the stone, Alexander – don't doubt. They will hide coffinette with your body and then forget, where it was mislaid …, they will start to pass off your images as fetish and create about you some great works of art, they will canonize your image and extol to each other own abilities and recollect you in chance, celebrating or damning. Then also it will pass…
- Not too important, father, where my sarcophagus will be bury. That I've created in glory of God would be most principal. After all, in actual fact – it comes that nothing, – Alexander will note bitterly.
- Why? From what was ready at hand – from thousands unlimited ambitions? This colossus, stuck together by fear? The country where they think one thing, but tell another and lie was nicknamed a policy? You have created where many men would not create in general!
- At a high price in blood and victims …
- You are pining for them?
- Yes. I wished to start the state for people, but as a result – all victims for new tsars …
- But all the same to them there! And you've been pushed by revenge to tsar of Persia. But if the love would push you there, such victims wouldn't be so needful.
- I could not love a tyrant.
- Oh, yes! It's given not to everyone to love the enemy. Though, hardly who another, at times, could restrain in the tsar's situation.
- Klitt, Filota could not …
- It wasn't given to them. To love – is not to hate, it is more difficult. Indeed it isn't given to everyone there! They will dispart all in the world in order to please their idols: governance into money, love into hatred, and friendship into enemies; the whole belief into gods, and all believers – into kuffar; each of the laws – into morality, and all the truth – into the lie, half-and-half! By the way, whether it's you succeeded in this, dictating history to Anaksarh? I know: you wanted crack on them in their language, so as it'll become then attractive and accustomed... But you, though are called by God, but made from the same dough, Alexander. It's handy to you to dispart, and to the citizen, whose laziness of souls becomes indisputable, is handier to obey their tsar, or governors, or groups – all the same. However I thought that, nevertheless, it will be behalf, and every single will understand that easy ways, depending on the tsar, it is impossible to set oneself on a pedestal – the soul should work. They are lazy, they didn't understand, considered: it's easier to live under the fear, more custumal. And they will not understand, should be, while everyone, before, will not win power over himself.
And then Alexander will be surprised to these familiar thoughts. Expressed by the oracle, they will seem to him especially simple and clear.
- Father! I've heard it somehow from one bandit, Dzhavdat, it seems …
- I pontificated to you, tsar of the tsars, by lips of captured bandit! By Ken’s and Limn’s lips – too! I've prompted, as could, to you and to Gefestion, knowing: friend without friend you means nothing. However, here he comes, speak of the angel!
To the joy of Alexander, he will see again Gefestion walking around rock sphinxes at the end of avenue!
- Gefes! Have tired of waiting? I am going!
And ten two steps to the friend, will seem to him excessive,– and now they are already together, having embraced, as didn’t leave at all!
- Forgive me, Gefes, I stayed too long.
- So, I can wait you century – it’s easy! – Gefestion will smile, - I should to be sorry about you too, Alex, for that deceit …
- Oh, it did not happen!
Suddenly the flight of doves will break downwards from the terrace, and noisy will soar skyward.
- Well, it's the time to you both! – oracle will say, admiring birds hovering in the sky, – Maybe, fly together with them! After all full power is where freedom, instead of here, among the host of worthy persons sleeping on well-meaning declarations. You havn't been understood here and won’t be understand. But there – exactly – you won't turn to tyrants and lap-dogs of the harm have spread in this local world. The other time and other place to you will be appointed now.
And during that instant the friends will feel, as from outer darkness at last they recovered liberty.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Oracle didn't notice time. Kingdoms were arose and disappeared, cities were built and fell, peoples were born and died, – he invariably sat under the tent among desert and devoutly prayed for his wards. His clothes decayed, his skin withered, his thin face was hairy, and only his light-brown, almost yellow eyes still burnt with alive, unsufferable shine. Having revived, he rose from knees and left his shelter.
There was not a soul around, he was alone in desert. The ringing silence fell upon his shoulders. Sirius burnt on horizon of night sky – the strange star, harbinger of changes, shining brightly and not long. It seemed, sands was closed just now, having hidden traces and sounds of two young horsemen carried far away …
But, it was heard to him in this silence:
- Take this crystal, the incomparable sample of my perfection, and return it to desert. And let, who will lift it again, will try to turn the world beforehand.
Oracle removed leather bag from the neck and dropped it in sandy dunes.
2005 – 2008 Moscow – Paris - Nice
Ñâèäåòåëüñòâî î ïóáëèêàöèè ¹217022200067
Íà÷àë ÷èòàòü è ñðàçó íàòêíóëñÿ íà îïèñêó: "But it is possible to reed now".
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