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Ardashir knew that he had to leave the palace, and soon.

He was tired of being asked how to do everything and anything. They should know better. They didn’t need his advice or opinion on everything. Or maybe they did. He was the Shah, the King of Kings, after all. There was none higher than him. But even he had started to question this. From birth he had been groomed for the role, passed to him at 23 when his father left his body.

The Shah never dies. Only commoners died. Everybody knew that.

He’d been born in the palace, like the rest of his family. He had never been a commoner. H was told, and believed without question, that he was the human incarnation of God, God himself in human form. Everyone else was created from the Earth – basically dirt. He was entirely spirit, a quantum singularity, unique and holy. This is why he could never be touched, except by his wife. Alas, he didn’t have one – a suitable candidate having not yet been found.

Marriage for the Shah was never easy. He never got to pick who his mate was. That would be absurd. How could he have time to find her – and how could he leave the royal grounds? No, she had to be carefully selected, interviewed, groomed. Sometimes there were choices. Sometimes they were up to a dozen wives, so he could pick who suited his fancy that day.

Each wife was made holy, coequal in Divinity for as long as he lived. The moment he died they all (except the one who had been lucky enough to bear the male heir) were immediately de-consecrated and summarily kicked out of the palace, reduced to scrabbling commoner status again. Every other unlucky wife was sent penniless , with only the clothes she wore, to the street.

Some were savvy enough to sell their royal clothes to make enough money for food for a month. Some were vain enough to keep them, wanting to retain their former glory. Yet their family and neighbors remembered how they had treated them upon attaining divinity. Sometimes this didn’t go well.

Ardashir envied these women, his father’s and grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s widows in their cold anonymity. He wished he could disappear to the dusty streets. 

(Written around late August 2018)

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