The Parni: a Europa Barbarorum After Action Report
Prologue: The Funeral
The four men stood around the funeral pyre, Arshak the new Sharhdar of the Parni following the death of his father, his son and heir, also named Arshak, his younger son, Tirdad, and finally his father's Captain of Horse, Harasp. All four men were lost in their thoughts as they watched the flame consume the great Sharhdar, Phrapates.
Arshak senior was contemplating his father's last words on his deathbed. "Son, show the Greek King the honour he deserves. Be true Parni." Honour and honesty had been the guiding principles of Phrapates life and his son wanted to continue that tradition. He had a different view on the relationship between the Greek Basileus to the west and his people from his father however, they had had many arguments on the subject and it had blighted their relationship in recent years. To Phrapates the Parni had been a bulwark against tribes hostile to civilization, he saw the Greek Empire as a continuation of the great Persian Empires, and the Parni as a loyal and trusted ally. Arshak saw the relationship as one between great Empire and useful servant, as soon as the usefulness was gone the Greeks would turn on them. He feared the recent Parni occupation of the lands of the rebellious Satrap of Parthyaia would bring hostility from the Basileus in Mesopotamia. His father had seen it as retaking lands in the name of the Empire, no doubt the Greeks would see it as a threat to their power. His father's last words had left him unable to act first however. He was broken from his thoughts by the sight of a group of horsemen approaching, it seemed the Basileus representatives had finally arrived.
Arshak junior's thoughts were similar to those of his father. He had marched with Harasp against the Parthyaian Satrap and watched the local Greeks as they welcomed their liberators into their cities. He had seen contempt and disgust in those faces, the Greeks had seen them as conquerors not liberators, a people beneath Greek culture and learning. He saw shame that a people like the Parni, and their Dahae allies, had come to the rescue of good Greeks. He knew his father's thoughts, his feelings on the Greek Basileus, how could he persuade him to "rescue" more Greeks?
Tirdad's eyes were not on his grandfather, rather they were on his brother. The heir to their father's crown. Tirdad was not a man to stand aside and allow fate to bypass him, he wasn't looking back to his grandfathers reign, or to the immediate future and his father's reign. His thoughts were solely occupied with how he could better his brother show their father the younger son would be a better Sharhdar. Or perhaps therer would be a way to take the decision out of his father's hands...
Harasp was the oldest man of the group, well past his fiftieth summer he still loved life in the saddle and vowed to stay alive so long as there was an enemy of the Parni yet to fight. He had led the Parni horsemen into the lands of the Satrap of Parthyaia after the rebellion and won battle after battle. Peace had reigned in the six months since the war had been won, already he was growing restless.
The horsemen reached the mourners and Arshak saw that it was Harasp's sons who had come to pay their respects, not the representative of the Greek Basileus. His eyebrows narrowed, messengers had been sent to every major Greek city informing them of the death of Phrapates, inviting representatives to pay their respects, an important part of Parni tradition. Representatives from the Saka and Sarmatian noble tribes had come, each bearing messages of condolence from their masters, and gifts for the new King. Even a messenger from the Indians, far to the south had come to show respect at the passing of a great leader.
The day went on and no Greek ambassador came. As he watched the dying embers flicker in the air, standing alone Arshak spoke to his father for the final time. "I will honour your last request father. I will show the Greeks the honour they deserve." He turned away to his horse and joined the rest of the group to return to Nisa.