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At first, the people of Ariana were little more than nomads with a few tricks for continuing their survival. Eventually, however, they developed agriculture and began to settle down, advancing as a society. As they progressed from small farming communities into a thriving civilization, they evolved in other ways as well. They developed a military composed of professional soldiers and a written language to act as a medium for complex messages. In this predecessor of ancient Persia, three generations of rulers ...
At first, the people of Ariana were little more than nomads with a few tricks for continuing their survival. Eventually, however, they developed agriculture and began to settle down, advancing as a society. As they progressed from small farming communities into a thriving civilization, they evolved in other ways as well. They developed a military composed of professional soldiers and a written language to act as a medium for complex messages. In this predecessor of ancient Persia, three generations of rulers fostered this change, beginning with a man called Hooman.
Despite being a son of an influential family, Hooman started at the bottom and rose to greatness, advancing to the rank of general at a surprising rate. Even so, he is surprised to find himself crowned successor to the throne of Ariana. A man of genuine character and remarkable kindness, he seemed the best choice. But can he handle this much responsibility?
A young man, Hooman is only learning the ways of the world. He must navigate love, hate, tradition and deceit all within the boundaries of his culture. He must embrace tragedy and hold happiness at bay in order to become the man who can lead and protect a fledgling nation.
It was early in the morning; the sun was not out yet. They could feel the cool damp breeze of the dawn on their faces. They were both looking toward the end of the meadow where the sun and the earth met ... then, there was a shadow coming out of the horizon and soon they realized a man on horseback was approaching at a very fast pace. Even at that distance, "Kavous" and "Harood" could see the tired dusty face of their commander "Hooman" whom they were waiting for.
Finally, Hooman reached them. Both Hooman and his horse looked exhausted—to the point they were both falling over. They had traveled and rode for two nights and two days hardly stopping to rest. Hooman knew if the problem wasn't important, his friends, who happened to be two of the bravest young high-ranking officers of his legion, would not have asked that he be present in "Arat" (one of the largest cities in "Ariana").
They met outside the city because they wanted to speak with Hooman in absolute privacy since they could not even trust the Governor! ... After allowing Hooman only a few minutes of rest, Kavous and Harood started to tell Hooman of the danger their beloved city was facing. If their brave and capable commander did not do whatever was necessary to save Arat from these wild and crazy enemies—who were multiplying every day—the entire country may be in jeopardy!
Hooman had just settled one war and dismantled several tribes that started uprisings in the north every year or two, for no reason other than to steal or destroy people's belongings and take over their villages. Hooman put an end to this annoying problem and was in the process of appointing new leaders and securing the entire area by putting several of his officers in charge of all activities when he received the message from his friends.
Hooman said them, "What are the people in Arat doing? Are they preparing for the enemy's attack? And, what do they know of the enemy? Their numbers? Their strengths? ..."
Kavous and Harood looked at each other. Harood started by saying the stupid Governor only thought about making himself rich. He was stealing the people's wealth by taxing them to "death" behind King "Hervat's" back. He was also so busy surrounding himself with young women, he had not even made the people aware of any imminent danger. He had not started building any "lines of defense." Hooman raised his hand to make Harood stop talking and said, "My friends, we must hurry to Arat and intervene for the benefit of our people. As soon as we are in the city, you two contact the officers and all the people who have served in our army in the past, and tell them to meet me in the "Hall of People" for an important meeting that will affect their lives and the future of their country, Ariana."
The sun of the last days of Spring was shining in the horizon when they reached the huge gates of Arat. As soon as the gate-keeper recognized Hooman who was the most famous and loved commander of Arat and the surrounding areas, he ordered the soldiers to open the gates and all to stand at attention until the three riders passed.
Hooman sent his two officers to do their pre-ordered duties while he slowly rode to his luxurious house that was, in reality, a huge compound. The instant the guard at his door saw him; he started running through the building crying "The commander is home! The greatest Army General of our time is back!" Shortly, Hooman's mother appeared in front of the interior gate with open arms.
* * *
Hooman's lavish home has been spoken of, but we will also speak of palaces, Governors' mansions, great walls, gates and roads. It is necessary to explain that in this part of the world, its people, whom we shall talk about later, made permanent homes rather than moving every season to the mountain and coming back to their farms near a body of water. Often, upon return, those who had left found their farms ruined by wild animals or thieves, etc. Slowly, they began building their cities close to waters (rivers/seas) and then expanding to central land. By this time they could use mud, stones, wood, hay, etc. to build and in fact, make beautiful gardens, two-story buildings and great arches. The people began to have and use vocabulary inclusive of many new words. By the order of King Hervat Shah, some of the so called "scholars" were even assigned the task of coming up with a "written language" so the people would not have to rely on the memories of messengers to communicate long distances.
* * *
Mother and son hugged for a long time. Hooman's mother said how happy and lucky she was feeling to see her beloved son back and in good health. She proceeded to ask about the war he was involved with and if General "Footan" was alive and well. Hooman had left home to help the General in the war against some very defiant tribes. After hearing why he had rushed back, she said: "My son, I am not aware of what news you gathered from your friends about our enemies on the east side of the "Big River" ... all I know is that there are wild nomads there and some say their numbers exceed twenty-five thousand. There is a tribe, "Monda," that is headed by the most terrible and wild man named "Amzeh" who is instigating this uprising and trying to convince other neighboring tribes to join him against Arat, promising uncountable wealth and fortune once they conquer Arat." She then asked, "Tell me my son, what is your plan? Or, maybe you need more information before making any plans ... but, I have learned from a good source that Amzeh is getting ready to attack!"
Hooman interrupted his mother, "In all honesty mother, I cannot even stand on my feet and need to get some sleep after having traveled for two days straight. I have a big day tomorrow and have to attend a military meeting at the "Hall of People" early in the morning. But, mother, please tell me that "Nazin" is alright and let her know that I am back and will see her in the morning before I leave for my meeting." (Nazin was the love of Hooman's life and his fiancé as well as General Footan's daughter.) After his mother assured him Nazin was doing well and had just been waiting for his safe return, Hooman went to his chambers and without taking his clothes off, fell on his bed.
In the morning, the people of Arat found out their hero and the commander of their army had returned. Because they knew of his wisdom and bravery, they felt secure. However, as they slowly began to learn of their enemy, they began to worry. They had no choice but to wait for "official" instructions from the Governor, whom no one respected. Better yet, they wished for instructions from their beloved Commander Hooman.
The sun was not up yet when Hooman got out of bed. After he washed up, he put on his uniform and came out of his room to find Nazin, his lovely fiancé, at his door waiting for him. They held each other for a few minutes while telling each other how much they loved and missed one another. Hooman explained to Nazin what he had to do, where he now had to go and he was sorry he couldn't spend more time with her.
Nazin was known to half the country for her beauty, knowledge of battles and use of weaponry (the sword, javelin and bow and arrow). In fact, she was a big help to her father with some of his battle strategies. She understood Hooman perfectly and asked if she could be of any help. Hooman kissed her again and asked if she would ask his mother and her mother to help with the many messengers and city criers they would need to inform the city and adjoining villages of a possible attack. He directed they secure their homes and gather any and all weapons to protect their families. Then, Hooman left.
On his way to the "Hall of People," Hooman thought of Nazin and how they saw their dreams and wishes in each other and how much love they felt. In fact, if it had not been for this Godforsaken war, they would be preparing for their wedding and other great celebrations they contemplated.
Hooman remembered when he was a young officer of 18 or 19 and was serving under Commander Footan, Nazin's father. One day, while practicing the art of swordsmanship, he saw, or at least he thought he saw, a young man, beating everyone in most of the "Arts of Battle." He later found out that young boy was actually the daughter of his commander and not a boy at all.
That day, they spoke ... and fell in love. Their love grew deeper and greater each day until they became engaged. It was the cause of much happiness, not only for their parents, but the entire city and area. His mother needed the joy because two years prior to their engagement, Hooman's father had been killed in battle while protecting King Hervat Shah. Suddenly, Hooman found himself at the door to the "Hall of People."
In the huge auditorium stood Governor Ardin, who was hated by all due to his injustices, thievery and lack of ability to govern. There were also several military commanders, many local elders and about seven or eight hundred officers, soldiers, farmers and merchants. As soon as the people saw Hooman, they started to chant his name and shout out great adjectives in compliment. They had that same love, respect and admiration for his father. Hooman could not stop the cheers.
Ardin and Hooman spoke. Hooman knew Ardin was only appointed the governor because of his blood relation to the King's family. He would not stop at anything to steal the people's land and homes and then tax them so high on their crops that in most instances, they had to leave their fields and give everything to Ardin's collectors. On top of it all, he had no military experience or "know-how" to protect the citizens of Arat and the surrounding areas or their property. So, as Ardin spoke, he tried very hard to befriend Commander Hooman. With lies, he tried to put himself on Hooman's good side and gain his trust. He repeatedly told Hooman: "I am ready to give my life for my country. I will give all my material wealth for the preparation of the army for this war." But, Hooman was much smarter than Ardin realized. Hooman knew this terrible man more than he cared to.
Commander Hooman spoke strongly to Ardin: "Listen Ardin, we shall have this conversation at a later date. Now, I want you to release enough silver and gold coins to fund the army I am about to create and promise me that under no circumstances will you interfere with the operation of war, army personnel or army affairs!" In the back of his mind, Hooman knew there was really no value to Ardin's promises. Ardin started to swear to the gods and on his honor he would do exactly as Hooman requested and Hooman had all authority to conduct the war and make all decisions in connection with the war as he saw fit.
After their conversation, with cheering still filling the hall, Ardin asked if his presence was necessary for the meeting. Hooman in a loud voice replied "NO!" Quickly, Ardin left the hall for the Governor's mansion.
To be seen by all, Hooman stood on a large wooden box. He opened the meeting by asking for all to be quiet. In one brief moment, you could hear a pin drop.
* * *
At this time, we must go back to four years ago. Hervat Shah, the king, was coming to Arat for a routine check as he would often do in different cities and parts of the country. It was the first time the King had come to Arat since he had appointed Ardin as governor and Ardin wanted to make a good impression. Ardin had the entire city cleaned and decorated. Of course the people cooperated willingly and with love because it was for the King. Ardin had many trees and flowers brought in and had them planted all over the city, along the streets and alleys and especially around the Governor's mansion where the King would be staying. Ardin ordered the people to wash their clothes or wear new ones on the day of the King's arrival. He also ordered the people to go several thousands of paces past the city's gates to greet the King upon his arrival. Ardin was so focused on impressing the King. He had no idea the King was aware of Ardin's terrible conduct, despicable acts and inability to govern.
Thousands of people were outside the city's gates to greet their beloved King. The sound of the drums, "zorna" (flute) and "senj" (brass cymbals) was deafening. People could hear the sound of happiness from far away. Upon hearing the roar, an older official, who was in charge of the events at the Governor's mansion, began running throughout the mansion, in and out of rooms, ordering flowers and food and arranging the entertainment (dancers, magicians, etc.).
At last the King, his usual entourage, some high ranking officers, and about two hundred (200) of his personal guards reached the crowd. At that moment, Ardin went on his knees and started to welcome the King with such "flowery" language that is was almost revolting to the King. As was customary, musicians and dancers started to play and dance as everybody slowly started to pass through the gate while listening to the music and watching the dancers. Another group offered fruits, drinks and the King's favorite food. Usually at this time, the King was supposed to choose several dancers to spend the night with him, but, King Hervat never liked or followed this old custom.
The sun was ready to say "good-bye" to the day, when they were at the great gates of Arat. The way Ardin ordered the gates and the immediate walls on both sides of the gate to be decorated put the King's men in awe. But the King thought the huge amount of money used for the decorations on the gates, walls and streets could have been used to take care of so many necessary things the city and its people needed! This put the King in an even worse mood.
They entered the Governor's mansion and after the King chose his sleeping quarters and the place in which he would conduct his affairs, he turned to Ardin (who was standing right behind him because had been following him) and said: "Ardin, you leave us and go attend to your business, but make sure my officers, guards, and others are comfortable with their facilities. And, send my representative to me as soon as possible. Now go!" Ardin left the King's chamber in a hurry.
The King started asking himself why he had given in to his mother's request to choose Ardin (a cousin on his mother's side) for the governorship of Arat. He said to himself he would take care of this problem later. At that moment, a huge, but nice looking man, with some gray hair walked in and bowed to the King. (This was the man that King Hervat chose and sent to Arat to keep an eye on Ardin and report "everything" to him. In fact, that is why Hervat Shah was aware of Ardin's incompetency and thievery. No one really knew his name—they only referred to him as the King's representative, but, everyone in the government, the entire city and surrounding villages and areas loved him because of his vast knowledge of civil law and social rules and his special kindness and helpfulness to others.) As soon as the King saw him, he walked up to "Bafarid" and hugged him. The King inquired as to how Bafarid's life was in Arat and the amount of respect he was given by the people. If he was dissatisfied with living in the same area as stupid and evil Ardin, Hervat Shah was willing to send him to "Padan" (the capital city of Ariana) instead. He offered Bafarid anything he might desire as gratitude for all he had done for the country.
The King's representative was overwhelmed with the King's kindness and compliments and could barely speak, but was happy for the opportunity to do something for his King and his country. After the pleasant words between them, Bafarid then reported to the King on some important events and on the conduct of the Governor and a few of his men.
Bafarid spoke of all the injustices, bribes, stealing of people's land and crops and even the killing of innocent farmers when they could not pay their unfair and exorbitant taxes! The King told Bafarid he was aware of most of these evil doings by this terrible man and thanked him for being the government liaison. Had his mother known what kind of evil man Ardin was, she would never have made the request for him to be Governor—no matter how much the 'Queen Mother's' sister (the King's Aunt) would have begged! But, it is done and as soon as he could find the proper excuse, the King would replace him and send him to the Capital as a 'retired' person so he could never hold a government position again! The King then inquired who these tribes were from the other side of the Big River that have started making problems even when they had previously asked for help with their animals, farms and even with their illnesses. They were now trying to steal from Arat and challenge Arat to war!
Bafarid believed every disagreement or problem could be solved by negotiation and the use of the elders' wisdom, but, certain people offered no choice but a strong hand and the force of war to bring justice about. Some problems between people, cities and countries are due to different religious beliefs, customs and culture that sometimes cause war; however, these problems with the neighboring tribes are because of the desires of one crazy man who is the leader of the largest tribe on the other side of the river by the name of 'Haras.' He thought if the other tribes joined him he would be successful. He tried to obtain their support by promising endless amounts of gold, jewels and the most beautiful women if they were successful in taking over Arat." (Continues...)
Excerpted from HOOMAN by Fereidoun "Farley" Gharagozlou Copyright © 2012 by Fereidoun "Farley" Gharagozlou. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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