32: The Interrogation
gradually, his eyes by stages perceiving that all around him was pitch
blackness. He was hot, and shivering. A voice had spoken, but no word
remained, only an echo. Some command, dread and familiar. Where had he
been? Then memory returned at once, with a fierce sensation that jolted
down his spine, the utter release of sexual climax, and the smell of the
woman -- who was she? Where was she?
"Answer me," said
the voice, close by and yet echoing, far away.
"Who is here,
what do you want?" Saheris called out into the dark, his throat parched
and dry, and as he spoke, he coughed. "I can't see you!"
"I said who do
you serve? Answer me now!"
I remember this!
With a startling clarity, he remembered this voice, this interrogation,
and he remembered his answers, which made little more sense than they
had before. He spoke loudly into the darkness. "I serve Saheris El Maduc,
the Khan of All Asia. I am his regent!"
"You serve whom?"
The voice queried him. "Who is Saheris El Maduc?"
"He is the Khan
of the Unari and of the Sabiri, the son of the Khan Munduk El Beshan,
and governs the territories of Scythia, Thrakcia, Illyria, Syria, Dacia
and Moldova. Who asks now whom I serve?"
"Who speaks to
me in the dark and has no courage to show himself?" Saheris challenged,
and marvelled once again at the words that sprang to his lips, for even
now he did not know all of the nations held by Munduk and his allies;
nor had he knowledge that Munduk would name him heir, for he had not married
Munduk's daughter, though it might well happen in time.
"Who do you serve?"
the voice asked again.
"I serve only
myself and the god who sends me," Saheris shouted.
"And which god
sends you this time?" the voice grew imperious.
"Is there not
only one?" he countered rapidly, surprising himself with each reply. "Only
one god of power that has caused these nations to rise, and rise again
though they be dominated by foreign power like a plague upon our land?"
"Who are you to
demand of me?" he raged, seeking with his eyes and ears for the questioner,
whose voice grew at times whimsical, at times imperious. He was no longer
afraid, for he knew the questioner wanted something from him.
"I am your servant,
and teacher. You have come too recently from the land of the gods, and
into circumstances we could not have predicted. Therefore, you do not
recognize me. Tell us, who is your father?"
Words rushed to
his mouth, he could not understand them. "Kadmos. Kadmos is my father."
A murmuring beyond.
"And who your
"The very night.
If you are my teacher, you should know this answer!" Saheris challenged
the empty darkness surrounding him.
"Do you know your
"Tell me then."
"I am to destroy
the empire of the west, at all cost, and preserve the east, at all risk."
"And will you
accept your tutelage?"
without hesitation. "I am here. I answer your questions."
"Then you will
see us, and you will endure a punishment for the crimes you have committed.
If you are ready to pay for these, then we will serve you."
"Crimes?" a cold
hand of fear gripped him, but he did not have the moments to dwell upon
the meaning of the word before harsh torchlight filled the chamber. Before
him stood five hooded figures, in dark garb, of varying height. One stepped
forward, and opened the shroud enveloping it, letting the garment fall
to the stone floor. The woman! She stood before him in light and shadow,
naked. He could not recall her name.
"Do you recognize
this woman? How do you know her?"
"Yes," he replied.
"She came to me this night, and seduced me in my bed. This is the wife
of Munduk El Beshan."
"And what crime
did you commit with this woman?"
"I lay with her,
against the order of her husband."
"Why did you do
"Because she wished
it of me, and because I wanted her. Is this what you want to know?"
"And what other
crimes have you committed?"
"I have done this
with other women."
"Wives of men?
Wives of men in your command, unmarried girls who have lost their virtue
now, and women of low station?"
"And why have
you done this?"
"Because I desired
to. There is no other reason! Because I desired it, and could."
"Despite the rule
of order, despite the command of your betters."
it!" Saheris grew angry, his eyes fixed upon the nude, unmoving form of
the woman before him. His eyes were hungry despite his shame; and frustration
rose, enflaming him his anger further.
"And for this,
what punishment should be decreed, what payment, made?"
"That I do not
know. This is not my country."
"But it is your
country. For you are the Khan and regent of Scythia, and Illyria, Pannonia,
. Are you not?"
"You have said
so. The heir of Munduk El Beshan whom you have wronged in his own nation,
in his own home. How can this be?"
"So I said," Saheris
was confused. Did I say this?
"If you are the
sovereign of this nation, what punishment do you decree for the man who
takes another man's wife and uses her for himself?"
"And how will
you defeat the western empire if you are put to death?"
"I could not."
"Then the punishment
cannot be death. Can it?"
"Where shall the
sovereign of all these nations be banished to? And how could he rule?"
"He could not."
"Then the punishment
cannot be banishment."
"Who is this woman
who stands before you?" the querulous voice continued.
"That is Munduk's
"I am not Munduk's
wife," Atthis spoke then into the silence, her voice low yet strong.
"You are not?"
Saheris was shocked.
"No, I am not."
"Then who are
"I will ask the
questions," the man's voice resumed. "This woman is one of your teachers,
"But she said
"She said nothing
of a lie. She said her husband was abroad, which he is. Her husband is
abroad in the realm of the underworld."
"Nor did you truly
lay with her, for she performed somewhat of a trick upon you in your passion
that made you feel that you had entered her, but you had been drugged,
and were easy to trick. Do not be ashamed by this. Your other indiscretions
with other women were real enough. This deception was necessary, and you
should know that no harm has come to you, in fact, this physician has
most likely saved your life from assassination."
he gasped. His mind still reeled from revelations. Was this woman, indeed,
the one who sat at dinner, veiled? Who came to him in the night, in his
exhaustion, and would not let him touch, until
. Gradually, in stages,
his mind began to clear.
"We are here to
protect, restrain, and to heal you, and hope to cure you of the tendency
of whoredom before its diseases first disable and then destroy you. You
will remain with us until your cure is complete. The regicide is in our
hands, soon to be executed by Munduk."
"How long must
I remain here?"
"Long enough for
the cure to be complete. And you will not be released until then."
"Where is my brother?"
"Bring my brother
to me!" he shrieked. But the torch had been extinguished, and the only
afterimage that remained was that of the mysterious Greek woman who had
posed as Munduk's wife.
Saheris fell back
to the rough pallet on which he lay in the darkness. Gradually his eyes
grew accustomed to the near-black lightlessness and he perceived light
beneath the crack of the heavy door that had been closed upon him. He
tried to rise, and realized he was too weak to do so. He had been drugged!
How much time had passed? Had he drunk a draught? A pungent smell lingered
in the room, and he recognized an odor, a repulsive and overly familiar
odor: henbane. A purgative and hallucinogenic herb favored by the Greeks
for their oracles and prophets. Was this why he had uttered words he did
not know, and said things he had no awareness of before they were spoken?
A thousand questions competed for supremacy in his mind, and he realized
he was still dizzy, and put his hands to his face. Fever. There was a
fever on him; a fever he had had many times when plagued by dreams; but
this was no dream, and yet - it was, and he could not truly stir from
At length, he
drifted off and slept again, and no sound was heard in the dark chamber
but the sighing sound of the sleeping boy's breath.
at length from a deep study following the examination. "How is our prisoner?"
Heklitis and Atthis,
who had waited for well over an hour for their master to emerge from his
meditation, rose to their feet simultaneously when he had entered the
room. Attending them once again was Antipatros, and the young physician,
Tethys, who had been present for in the interrogation of Saheris. "Dazed,"
"Shall we then?
Or shall we speak together of what we now know?"
"I am not sure
his replies made sense. He seemed to be suggestible to the drug, but not
"You don't believe
he was coherent?" Spidios turned quickly to Heklitis and looked closely
"He said he was
the son of Kadmos, what significance is Kadmos to him? And of the night."
his hand at Heklitis, dismissively. "He speaks in a symbol that must be
interpreted, but it is as I said - Kadmos is the ancient line from which
he springs, and the night is from the legend of the goddess Nix who gave
birth to many of the Greek gods. Even so, quite plain, his purpose is
stated just as I had been taught it that he is the leader that is raised
up by the Olympians to cast off Rome's yoke upon the east. That is the
important thing. Whether he is sent by an Egyptian god or by Poseidon
or by Ares makes little difference to his purpose, for he will not recall
it to consciousness in any case. It matters what he becomes, and what
he does, and what he needs now in order to make that occur."
back a definite pace from the avid face of his teacher and stared at him.
"What are you saying? Are you saying that we are going to put him under
our instruction knowingly to raise up up as a conquerer of a foreign nation,
and abet him in so doing?"
"Is this not a
violation of our neutrality in matters concerning other states?"
"What is our state,
Heklitis? Is it Attica? Is it Boetia? Is it Thebes? Or even, Bithynia?
You are by blood a Bithynian. Atthis, of Attica, myself of Boetia, and
Tethys an orphan of Thebes. What is our state?"
This is treasonous to the empire of Rome we now serve in so many ways
"We do not serve
empires, we serve Truth!" he rasped, and withdrew, suddenly, without the
The young initiates
stared at one another, and Heklitis shook his head. "I do not understand.
I simply do not understand."
a hand on his arm. "Spidios will explain further in due course, I am sure.
But for now, we have other matters to attend to."
to the cell where Saheris once again slept, and watched over him, occasionally
raising his head and putting water to his lips. In his semi-conscious
state, he accepted the water without waking, and returned to deep slumber
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