A P O K R U P​

From the Chronicles of Erda (Codex 1335) as translated by Jeph the Scribe​

In the last year of the reign of Darayan the Conqueror, he made a great banquet for all of his subjects. All his servants, all the nobles of his lands, and all the governors and provincial and district leaders under his sway, in the many regions from throughout his vast realm, were summoned. His was a large palace, with many rooms and furnishings, and all marveled at his wealth and power.​

The royal guests came to his Great Hall, and were cleanly bathed. They then ate and drank their fill, and enjoyed the best of foods, drink, music, and the many beautiful dancing females. Then King Darayan called for silence, and he spoke:​

“We thank all of you, Our good subjects, for your loyalty and service. We are happy to reward you with this lavish entertainment. But now We are getting old, and it is time for us to announce Our royal heir. We have no sons or nephews, as they have all been killed in the too many battles against our enemies. Thus We shall choose from among you the one who is wisest, and who can best prove his knowledge and wisdom. Tell to Us what is the most strong and best in life, and he who wins shall succeed Us. Now celebrate with Us this edict, and enjoy yourselves further to the fullest.”​

They continued the banquet long into the night, and when they were finally satisfied they went to their own lavish rooms. The King supplied each with a warm and wonderful young female for the night, or two or more females as suited their various tastes. Though some preferred to be alone, and a few even requested a young male for their nightly comfort. Darayan the King went to his own chamber, falling asleep with his wives, and did not awake until late in the next day, as was his custom. ​

He was not a kind or gentle ruler, but he was greatly generous to those who served him dutifully. But his need of a suitable heir was great, indeed. With this in mind three young males of his personal bodyguard, who were always fiercely loyal to him, met and spoke together: ​

“We have each served our mighty King long and well,” they agreed. “Let us each say what one thing is strongest, and Darayan our Ruler will give rich presents and great honors to the one whose words seem the wisest. He will have him dressed in the finest robes, eat from gold plates, drink from gold cups, and sleep on a soft bed with the most beautiful of females. He will give him a chariot with gold bridles, and a bejeweled headdress, and a necklace of gold around his neck. Because of his wisdom he shall sit next to the King himself, and will be called Darayan’s kin.” ​

So each had a scribe write his own answer, and then put his seal on it, and sent it to King Darayan, as they had agreed upon.  ​

“Our King will be given our writings, and the one whose choice the King judges to be the wisest, shall be considered the victor in what he has written.” ​

The first wrote, “Wine is strongest, as it nourishes all.” ​

The second wrote, “The King is strongest, as he rules over all.” ​

The third wrote, “Females are strongest, as Truth prevails over all.” ​

Darayan was given many parchments from his nobles and governors, but these were poorly done, and he was much disappointed with all of them. But when the King read the three writings given to him by his own bodyguards, he was much impressed. Then he again summoned all the nobles of his realm, and the governors and officers and magistrates and officials, and he took his high seat in the council chamber. What the three had each written was read to them, and the King commanded:​

“Summon those three young males, and let them further explain their reasonings.” ​

The three guards were duly summoned, and came into the Royal Hall. Their King said to them: ​

“Explain to Us about what each of you has written.” ​

So the first one, Esdras, who had written of the nourishment and strength of wine, began. He said: ​

“Sire. Nobles. How supremely good and strong wine is! It truly nourishes, but also leads the minds of all who drink it astray. It even makes the mind of our Great King, and the mind of the lowliest person alike, swoon. The mind of the menial, the free, the slave, of the poor and the rich, all numb. It turns every thought to mirth and merrymaking, and forgets all grief and debt. It makes all hearts rich, and forgets kings and governors, and makes everyone talk of every thought. When they drink, they forget to be friendly to friends and brothers, and very soon they draw their swords. And when they recover from their wine, they cannot remember what they have done. Sire. Nobles. Is not wine the most strong, since it forces them to act so?” ​

When Esdras had said this, he stopped. Then the second, Sharban, who had written of the King’s power and might, began to speak: ​

“Sire. Nobles. Are not males strongest, because they control land and sea, and all that is in these? But the King is supremely strong, and is lord and master of them all. Each and every command he gives us we always obey. If he orders us to make war on one another, we do so. If he sends us out against our enemies, we go, and we surmount mountains, walls, and towers. We kill and are killed, but we never disobey any of our King’s commands. If we are victorious, we bring everything to the King, of the plunder we take with all the rest.​

“Those who do not go to war or fight, but till the soil instead, as they sow and reap, always bring it to their King. They compel one another to pay taxes to their King, even though he is only one male. But if he commands them to kill, they kill. If he commands them to release, they release. If he commands them to strike down, they strike. If he commands them to lay waste, they lay waste. If he commands them to build, they build. If he commands them to cut down, they cut down. If he commands them to plant, they plant. So all his subjects and his troops obey him. Besides, he can recline at the royal table, he can eat and drink and sleep, and we always keep watch about him. We cannot any of us go away to look after our own affairs, or disobey him ever. Sire. Nobles. How can the King not be strongest, when he is so obeyed?” ​

Sharban stopped. Then the third guardsman, Zerub, who had written of Females and of Truth, began to speak: ​

“Sire. Nobles. Yes it is true that our King is great, and that males are many, and that wine is strong. But who is it that rules over them and masters them? Is it not females? Mothers have borne the King and all his subjects, who are lords of sea and land. From females we are all sprung. They brought us all up, to plant the vineyards, from which the wine comes. They make our clothes, they make our lives, and males cannot exist without females. We may amass gold and silver, and everything of beauty, and then see one female remarkable for her charm and beauty. We let all these things go, and just admire her. We will just stare at her with open mouths, and would all rather have her than gold or silver or any other thing of beauty. ​

“A male will leave his own father, who brought him up, and his own land, and be united to his wife. With his wife he ends his days, and remembers neither his father nor his mother nor his land. Hence you must recognize that females rule over males. Do you not toil and labor, and bring it all to give it to your wives? A male takes his sword and goes out on expeditions to rob and steal, and to sail the seas and the rivers. He faces the monsters and walks in the darkness. But when he steals and robs and plunders, he brings it back to the female he loves. So a male loves his wife better than his father or mother. ​

“Many males have lost their heads completely for the sake of female, and become slaves for their sakes. Many males have perished, or failed, or been destroyed for the sake of female. Now you should all believe me. Yes, our King is great in his power. Do not all lands fear even to touch him? Yet I have seen him with his concubines, and the daughters of the nobles, sitting around our King. Our Queen even took the crown from the King’s head, and put it on her own. Then she slapped him in front of everyone with her left hand. At this our King just stared at her open mouthed. If she smiles at him, he laughs If she grows angry at him, he flatters her, so that she might be reconciled to him again. Sire. Nobles. How can females not be the most mighty, when they act like this?” ​

Then the King and the nobles looked at one another, and Zerub began to speak about Truth: ​

“Sire. Nobles. Yes, females are mighty. Our planet is vast, and the heavens are high. The Solar Star is swift in its course, for it circles about the sky and hastens back to his own starting point in a single day. Is it not great when it does these things? So Truth is also great, and mightier than all other things. The whole planet calls upon Truth, and the heavens bless it. All its works quake and tremble, and there is no wrongdoing with it. ​

“Wine is not perfect, the King is not perfect, females are not perfect, and all our sons and daughters are not perfect. All their doings, all such things, are not perfect. Because there is no perfect Truth in them, and because of this we will all eventually perish. ​

“But Truth endures and is strong forever, and it lives and remains forever and ever. There is no partiality or preference with it, as it does only what is right, rather than what is wrong and wicked. All approve its doings, and there is no injustice in its judgment. To Truth belongs the ultimate power and  dignity, and the final authority and greatness for all time. Blessed be the most high sacredness of Truth!” ​

When Zerub stopped speaking, all those assembled shouted and said:​

“Truth is greatest and the most strong. Blessed be Truth.” ​

Then King Darayam said to him:​

“Ask whatever you please. Because of what you have written and said here, We will give it to you, since you have been found to be the wisest. You shall sit next to Us, and be called Our kin. Your name shall henceforth be glorified to Zerubab, and you shall be Our successor and heir.”​

All rejoiced, and when Darayam the Conqueror died, his was the largest funeral procession of all. Zerub succeeded him, and ruled faithfully and well over his vast domain. Many were his wives and offspring, and his reign was long and eventful. Females were awarded higher status and position, and much better was their lot, because of his high regard for them. They were able to be tutored, work for wages, own property, and seek divorce. His was a peaceful reign, and he was known as Zerubab the Wise, and his great and good memory lasted long after his demise.