Shah Nameh/The Death of Afrásiyáb


Melancholy and afflicted, Afrásiyáb penetrated through wood and desert, and entered the province of Mikrán, whither he was followed by Kai-khosráu and his army. He then quitted Mikrán, but his followers had fallen off to a small number and to whatever country or region he repaired for rest and protection, none was given, lest the vengeance of Kai-khosráu should be hurled upon the offender. Still pursued and hunted like a wild beast, and still flying from his enemies, the small retinue which remained with him at last left him, and he was left alone, dejected, destitute, and truly forlorn. In this state of desertion he retired into a cave, where he hoped to continue undiscovered and unseen.

It chanced, however, that a man named Húm, of the race of Feridún, dwelt hard by. He was remarkable for his strength and bravery, but had peacefully taken up his abode upon the neighboring mountain, and was passing a religious life without any communication with the busy world. His dwelling was a little way above the cave of Afrásiyáb. One night he heard a voice of lamentation below, and anxious to ascertain from whom and whence it proceeded, he stole down to the spot and listened. The mourner spoke in the Turkish language, and said:--"O king of Túrán and Chín, where is now thy pomp and power! How has Fortune cast away thy throne and thy treasure to the winds?" Hearing these words Húm conjectured that this must be Afrásiyáb; and as he had suffered severely from the tyranny of that monarch, his feelings of vengeance were awakened, and he approached nearer to be certain that it was he. The same lamentations were repeated, and he felt assured that it was Afrásiyáb himself. He waited patiently, however, till morning dawned, and then he called out at the mouth of the cave:--"O, king of the world! come out of thy cave, and obtain thy desires! I have left the invisible sphere to accomplish thy wishes. Appear!" Afrásiyáb thinking this a spiritual call, went out of the cave and was instantly recognized by Húm, who at the same moment struck him a severe blow on the forehead, which felled him to the earth, and then secured his hands behind his back. When the monarch found himself in fetters and powerless, he complained of the cruelty inflicted upon him, and asked Húm why he had treated a stranger in that manner. Húm replied: "How many a prince of the race of Feridún hast thou sacrificed to thy ambition? How many a heart hast thou broken? I, too, am one who was compelled to fly from thy persecutions, and take refuge here on this desert mountain, and constantly have I prayed for thy ruin that I might be released from this miserable mode of existence, and be permitted to return to my paternal home. My prayer has been heard at last, and God has delivered thee into my hands. But how earnest thou hither, and by what strange vicissitudes art thou thus placed before me?" Afrásiyáb communicated to him the story of his misfortunes, and begged of him rather to put him to death on the spot than convey him to Kai-khosráu. But Húm was too much delighted with having the tyrant under his feet to consider either his safety or his feelings, and was not long in bringing him to the Persian king. Kai-khosráu received the prisoner with exultation, and made Húm a magnificent present. He well recollected the basin and the dagger used in the murder of Saiáwush, and commanded the presence of the treacherous Gersíwaz, that he and Afrásiyáb might suffer, in every respect, the same fate together. The basin was brought, and the two victims were put to death, like two goats, their heads being chopped off from their bodies.

After this sanguinary catastrophe, Kai-khosráu returned to Irán, leaving Rustem to proceed to his own principality. Kai-káús quitted his palace, according to his established custom, to welcome back the conqueror. He kissed his head and face, and showered upon him praises and blessings for the valor he had displayed, and the deeds he had done, and especially for having so signally revenged the cruel murder of his father Saiáwush.