Xerxes waits for his drink to arrive. He looks at the scene in this remote corner of Asia. He hears footsteps now. A man appears and holds his cup of wine. Xerxes nods at him and takes the drink. The man leaves. He steps inside the draped interior and then glances at his reflection. He feels the king's movements now. Firm and precise movements happening nowhere and everywhere. Xerxes sips the wine. He wonders about the life he momentarily left behind. "When will the king return?" Xerxes imagines his people saying. "When will the mighty Xerxes return?" He laughs at these words, letting himself enjoy what remains of the wine. The wine flows through him, consuming him. The scene before him becomes blank. Xerxes sees that the glass is empty. He laughs as he feels the last of the wine swirling inside his throat. He looks at the scene before him again. A certainty reaches him from afar. Xerxes feels his people's unwavering concern about his return to duty. Then, as before, he laughs at their words. "I will not return," he imagines himself telling them. "I will not return."