I am the author of a novel called 'The Forgotten Tale of Larsa'; it is an epic story about love and war. I will need a front and back cover. I will send you a synopsis and biography, and all essential details.
Here's the blurb;
"The Forgotten Tale of Larsa” is an epic story love and war. In a conquest to be worshipped as a God, the almighty Assyrian Emperor Jaquzan, wages war against brothering Babylon and the sacred Kingdom of the ‘Garden of the Gods’. As war looms, Princess Larsa is forced to seek refuge beyond her Kingdom’s walls, unwillingly she leaves her homeland, only for the sake of the man she loves, the Gallant Warrior. As she makes her way through the barren desert, her Royal Caravan is captured and she is taken as a Slave to the Assyrian Emperor. False news of her death is sent back to her Kingdom crushing her people and the man she loves. The Tale of Larsa tells her struggle, as well as those around her, all of which are fighting for freedom when faced with certainty of death. Her story is dubbed 'The Battle of Larsa’ giving birth to the ancient province Larsa within modern day Iraq.
The Forgotten Tale
by Seja Majeed
My father once said that a man’s freedom is worth more than the price of gold. Freedom cannot be bought, sold or given, he explained, it can only be respected as a birthright. I didn’t understand what my father had meant by his words until this very moment; I was the Princess from the Garden of the Gods who had become the slave of an Emperor. As I sat on my enemy’s horse crying loudly, I remembered Marmicus, with each breath I took, I pictured his eyes that were as deep as an ocean and his lips that were as shapely as the hills of the desert. Although he had longed to shield me from the barbarity of war, it seemed that I had fallen victim to a far crueller fate. I had lost everything, all except for my memories….
Sitting silently upon a lavish throne made from pure gold was the Assyrian Emperor Jaquzan; within his palms lay life and death; and beneath his feet lay an Empire that stretched out as far as the horizon. Jaquzan had the body of a man but the power of a God, Kingdoms survived only by his permission and mortals lived only by his kindness.
‘The Dark Warrior has arrived Sire.’ said a guard nervously as he approached his master.
‘Allow him forth’
The Dark Warrior entered the chamber, his lips curling upwards with an arrogant smile.
‘I have brought you what you wanted, sire.’ he said bowing before his cousin, before commanding his servants to open a velvet sack he had brought as a gift. ‘I made sure it was specially crafted to your liking.’
Jaquzan’s expressionless face suddenly flickered with a trace of uncharacteristic human emotion; a careful observer would have seen his pupils dilate like a wild creature finding its prey.
‘Bring it to me.’ said the Assyrian Emperor, his voice jolted to life. The Servants rushed to him, bowing like the soulless slaves they were and timidly offered him the sack. The Emperor was an unpredictable creature of uncertain, and dangerous, moods. Jaquzan slowly unwrapped the white linen circular object, his cousin was right the gift was one of a kind, at last he possessed the jewels of Persia and they were far glorious then he had ever imagined.
‘You’ve done well’ said the Emperor.
‘Only well?’ laughed Nafridos adopting a playful tone as he watched his Cousin stare at his gift; his patience finally rewarded with the things he had desired for so long.
In Jaquzan’s hands was a powerful jewel that had once commanded the legions of the Eastern hemisphere. ‘I tried my best not to disfigure his face too much but his squirming made it an impossible challenge. You should have seen him beg for his life it would have made you laugh.’
The Emperor sneered; at last the centre of the world had finally fallen at his feet. Jaquzan glared at the dismembered head of the young King of Persia, his skin was covered in dry blood and had turned tough like leather. The face of a wealthy man always rotted in the same way as poor man’s; his black tongue hung off his thin lips like a dead animal that had succumbed to rotting. Jaquzan showed no sympathy for the King who had clearly been tortured before he was butchered and beheaded.
‘What were his final words to you?'
‘The same as every other King I have slaughtered for you. Kill me, but spare my family from death.’
‘Is that all?’
‘No, he said, I am Persia. I am the centre of the world. Today we both shall die free.’
The Dark Warrior grabbed a chalice and poured himself some red wine to celebrate, before settling down upon a luxurious divan, feeling comforted by the extravagance of the Assyrian Palace. War was a tiring game and the only pleasure Nafridos ever received while he played it was at night when his skin was bathed in cool water by his concubines. This was not to say he did not enjoy it: he enjoyed butchering men; it was his one purpose in life, something that he was very good at. Over time Nafridos had developed a reputation for ruthlessness, the people called him the Dark Warrior for good reason: whenever he left the battlefield every inch of his body would be dripping in so much blood that his skin appeared black. ‘When will your war against the world end?’ asked Nafridos, with playful curiosity.
‘When there is only one God on earth found in me...’
Nafridos laughed loudly,
‘I see your harshness grows by the day.’
‘You’re wrong again cousin, it grows at the same rate as my tolerance.’ replied the Assyrian Emperor. A cruel smile cracked his sculpted face as he imagined the world falling at his feet.
‘Then with the bones of your captives I shall build temples in devotion to you!’ the Dark Warrior roared as he lifted his chalice into the air to toast the ruthless Emperor of Assyria...
~ 2 ~
Princess Larsa could hear the birds singing outside the palace balcony as they always did in the morning; they were the first to wake her - just before her servants came to her bedroom. A new morning had arrived bringing with it a new duty, something for which she felt unprepared for; sunlight flooded through the open windows warming her youthful skin. She dug her face into the pillow wanting to hide from the bright light; her arms stretching out as she tried to rid herself of the haziness of sleep. Her hand unexpectedly hit something: someone was sleeping beside her. Princess Larsa woke up with a burst of happiness spilling through her; it was a joyous surprise.
‘You’re home, when did you arrive?’
‘In the early hours of the night, I didn’t want to wake you. You looked so peaceful sleeping.’
‘You should have woken me, next time I’ll command you too it’s the only way I can be certain you will.’
Marmicus laughed at her forceful though touching command; of course she was right, it was the only way the Gallant Warrior would uphold the request. He had been watching her sleeping, gazing at her beautiful oval face waiting for the moment when her almond eyes would open to see him lying beside her. The more he looked at her, the more he realised just how much he had missed her company, he brushed her fringe away from her face.
‘Your eyes become more beautiful with each new morning.’
‘Then stay here and I shall never let them wander over other men.’
Marmicus laughed aloud. He loved the childish things she would say sometimes, only he had the pleasure of seeing her like this; everyone else saw a façade of royalty.
‘Are you trying to make me jealous, Larsa?
‘Is it working?'
He leaned in and kissed her tenderly, his lips softly brushing against hers. The tight feeling of war disappeared altogether. Larsa put her hand to his chest feeling the intense beat of his heart against her palm as they kissed each other. But the thought of him leaving her again made her stop enjoying such a passionate moment.
‘What’s the matter?’
He could tell she was worried about something she had drawn away from him. Life had changed without warning for her, the inauguration ceremony turning her from a Princess into a Queen was fast approaching; the pressure of her new position had finally caught up with her. It was a title she did not want.
‘Whenever you leave this Kingdom I feel my heart sails away with you, today it has finally returned to me.'
'I'm here now you don't need to worry.'
'I know you are, but how am I supposed to lead my people if I know nothing of war or power, all I know is that I love my people and that’s all? It feels like everything my father taught me has been washed from my mind.’
‘A woman who understands love is far wiser than a man who understands only war. Believe me when I say this our Kingdom is blessed to have you as their ruler and I’m blessed to have you as my wife.’
‘But I’ve never seen war like you; I know nothing of it apart from the stories spoken from brave men. Is that really enough to be a Queen?’
‘Men would trade their lives not to experience battle; you’re blessed Larsa, not cursed. You must use this gift to your advantage; speak of peace as the friend it is, not as an enemy.’
‘I wish I understood the world as you do. There’s so much I don’t know.’ said the Princess, staring at the floor ashamed of her naivety. Marmicus knew everything about the ways of the world; he was once a foot soldier who had served in the Babylonian Army fighting tirelessly in battles. His wisdom and expertise in the craft of war had made him develop higher into the ranks, eventually he became known as the Gallant Warrior, a man called upon by endless Kings to lead their armies.
‘I have a meeting with the Counsel of Priests today, I’m certain they’ll attack me because I’m a woman who knows little about the affairs of men. I want you to come with me? What do you say?’
‘You don’t need me to come with you, you’re a strong woman Larsa; believe in yourself just as I believe in you.’
‘I’ll try,’ she said forcing a smile. ‘Why didn’t you return to the Kingdom when my father fell ill? I waited for you every day, praying you’d come before he died.’
‘No messenger was sent to me, I came as soon as I heard the news. You know I would have come if I had known.’
‘I thought something had happened to you, I feared that I had lost you altogether. The feeling killed me Marmicus.’
‘Nothing will happen to me, I promise.’
‘You can’t make a promise like that it’s like the sea promising not to touch the shore. We both know you’ll never be safe until men learn to live in peace and until then I shall have to carry on waiting for you here. Isn’t that the truth?’
‘Even if the earth was plagued by a thousand wars I will always return to you, Larsa. I love you.’
‘I don’t doubt your love Marmicus, I never have and I never will. But I can’t help but fear for you each time you step onto the battlefield and each time you draw your sword. With every war I wonder if your body will return to me safely or if it’s going to be buried somewhere in distant lands. Things have altered now, since my father has died, the responsibility of this Kingdom lies with me, but I feel weak when you’re gone. I lie to everyone, including myself, pretending to be something I’m not. I smile, when deep down my heart is lost somewhere with you.’
Marmicus clasped her hands together, trying to settle her down. He had not realised just how much his absence had affected her.
‘Do you remember the sacred words of our Kingdom?’
‘Of course I do, allegiance lies in the heart of the sword... ’
‘Then whenever you’re uncertain of yourself just remember the words of allegiance, every sword held by the hand is carried for the love of something. Remember these words, it will strengthen you with courage in the face of whatever tomorrow may bring.’ said Marmicus. He pressed his palm along her cheek, feeling her warmth against his skin.
‘Allegiance lies in the heart of the sword…’ the Princess whispered again to herself as she clasped onto Marmicus hand. His warmth comforted her from the deep loneliness she felt. ‘I still can’t believe my father is dead, he was so strong, so healthy.’
‘I know.’ said the Gallant Warrior as he moved in lovingly kissing her on her forehead. ‘He will never be forgotten…’
~ 3 ~
There was nothing on earth quite like the Temple of Ishtar, so beautiful was this monument that even the Gods had reason to wage war for possession of it. Like a living mountain the colossal Temple spiralled upwards, encircled with lofty pillars and overhanging lush terrace gardens fed by overflowing fountains. Even at night the Temple’s glory could still be seen, a gigantic torch of burning flames lit its top, guiding lost travellers towards the sacred Garden of the Gods. So bright were the Temple’s flames that the mighty hearth appeared like a star in the vast desert sky, lighting the path desert travellers, looking for the Garden of the Gods.
Hidden from view, inside the stone monument were spacious chambers that led worshippers to the main hollow belonging to the Goddess Ishtar. Once they entered the great chamber they would bow before Ishtar’s magnificent stone statute her body reaching as high as the lofty ceiling itself. With her long almond eyes and curvy body, she seemed to peer into the eyes of each worshipper, as if looking deep into their soul at what desperately desired. When all else had failed only Ishtar had the power to answer their prayers; but today the tranquillity of the magnificent Temple was overtaken by the quarrel of Grand Priests who sat agitatedly waiting for the Princess to arrive.
‘What an impertinent girl! What an outrage! Does she have no knowledge of who we are?!’ the Grand Priest of Ursar blasted furiously. His voice echoed across the main chamber of Ishtar. He rose from his stone chair in frustration, his reflection sparkling across the long pool of water that cut through the middle of the chamber. ‘This is the reason why women should never be made to rule, they have no consciousness of time. They should remain figures of beauty appreciated only by the eyes and never heard by the ears, it’s what the Gods had intended for them.’
‘I agree she’s shamed her father; he would have never kept us waiting like this.’
The Temple of Ishtar resounded with the complaints of unhappy Priests, their faces contorted with outrage with their words becoming drenched in anger, at least until they were put in their place.
‘Men quarrel like wolves hound!’ declared a strong voice from behind.
An uncomfortable silence took hold of the chamber; the most powerful woman in all the land had heard their insults and she was not impressed. Even so the Grand Priest of Ursar remained as he was, he would never consciously conceal his disgust from anyone, being polite was too much of a bother for him even if for royalty.
‘How dare you keep this Counsel waiting, your behaviour is nothing more than a symbol of your female impertinence!’ he declared furiously. His opulent robes flickered beneath the fiery torches, while his beard shimmered like strings of silver.
‘I would advise you to calm yourself oh Scholar of the Gods, I may be a woman but I can be as ruthless as a man. So don’t try me.’ replied the Princess. She walked forward with a long line of servants following behind her footsteps. One Servant placed a beautifully engraved wooden chair for her, positioning it in the same spot where her father once sat before the Counsel of Priests. ‘As for you all, the real obscenity lies not with me but with you, you speak lovingly of the Gods and yet you choose to quarrel amongst yourselves in their house, before our very protector Ishtar. This is where the real offence lies.’
‘You must forgive our words your Highness, we are all friends and allies of your Kingdom.’ interrupted the young Priest of Xidrica. His voice was soft and humble, unlike the Grand Priest of Ursar who possessed the arrogance of a King.
‘Then let us not quarrel, oh noble one.’
‘Thank you your highness, you have indeed taken your beauty from your Mother and your wisdom from your Father.’
Even though the Princess appreciated his words the compliment had not soothed her anger. ‘Then like my father you’ll know that I am wise in matters of the mind, we can all be certain that none of you here have journeyed through the scorching desert simply to pay me a weightless compliment like that. So tell me the real reason why you have come to see me?’
She was right; the Counsel of Grand Priests had not assembled simply to flatter her, they had come for one purpose alone and it was of the greatest importance, though none of them appeared to possess the courage to say what actually troubled them.
Larsa stared at the Grand Priests who had suddenly fallen silent; she actually preferred them when they were squabbling, at least she knew what troubled them. Larsa’s heart pounded faster, a rush of uncertainty came over she tried her best to hide it, but something was wrong, she could feel it. There was fear in their eyes, and their behaviour had changed so peculiarly.
‘Well, is no one going to speak? Just a moment ago you were all so eager to tell me your thoughts.’
The Grand Priest of Ursar rose; the responsibility fell with him to tell her the disastrous news, he was after all the most powerful among them. Holding his long cane that amplified his grandeur, the frail priest stared deeply into the Princess’s eyes and quietly uttered the words. ‘War is coming…’
‘I forgot how beautiful the sun looks. Somehow the prospect of war makes everything seem more glorious than it already is.’ Larsa whispered to Marmicus. They were watching the evening sun dip lower into the horizon settling over the fertile Kingdom of the Garden of the Gods. The sky was painted with glorious shades of orange and pink blending together like a painting, the Kingdom was calm; it seemed that nothing could unsettle it, not even the rustling of the palm trees or the coming of war. ‘I feel as if the gods are displeased with me, I must have wronged them somehow for them to curse this Kingdom so soon with war.’
‘Nothing can curse a man other than his own deeds. The Gods have nothing to do with what’s happening here, only the desires of selfish men can set fires to peaceful lands.’
‘I know you don’t believe in the Gods Marmicus, but I feel they are watching over us, even you.’ She turned towards him wanting reassurance from him. Marmicus knew it was difficult to accept the prospect of war, but the first thing any ruler needed to do was to be strong in the face of the enemy. ‘Tell me the truth, have I done something to provoke this war I need to know.’
‘You already know my answer.’
He watched her walk away from the balcony, wanting to sit upon the divan; she needed a moment to collect herself. There was so much to think about. She didn’t want to watch Marmicus enter into battle, while she helplessly watched him from the sidelines.
‘The more you doubt yourself the more power you give to your enemies, you have to be strong, more so now than ever before in your life. Your people need you to be strong and so do I.’
‘You always think of the people before you think of what I need or how this will affect us. Think of me for a change.’ Desperation rang within her voice. She needed a husband who would comfort her, not a selfless warrior who comforted and thought of others.
‘I don’t want you to fight in this war. I won’t let you.’ she said. Larsa could not bear to watch him fight again, not in front of her, not when the enemy was so close. If he died, what would she do? She knew she couldn’t survive without him.
‘You know our homeland means everything to me I can’t neglect my duty just because you’re frightened that I may die.’
‘And yet it’s easy for you to neglect me without question? Is it wrong for me to ask my husband to be by my side? You make me sound as if I am acting selfish when all I’m asking is for you to be here with me? I’ve learnt to live half a life, I won’t do it anymore.’ Larsa declared. Her face scrunched up with resentment and anger. She would not be made to feel guilty for her suffering; he had sacrificed his own happiness for the sake of others, making her wait in the sidelines all the while. Marmicus may have acquired the love from the people, but it had come at the cost of her own happiness. ‘Why do you deny yourself the right to live your life? You’re entitled to smile just as I am entitled to love. After this war there will be a thousand other battles waged by Kings who will summon you to fight alongside them and if the cause is noble, you’ll go on to accept their challenge and leave me behind here. I can’t live my life on the thread of hope that you’ll return to me unharmed. I want us to be a family, I want to be a mother one day and I want you to be alive to see our children grow. Is it selfish of me to ask you to live for us?’
‘You want to be a mother?’
‘Yes.’ She replied, somewhat heatedly. ‘I feel I’m ready now I wasn’t before.’
A huge grin appeared on Marmicus’s face; one which he tried to hide away they were in the middle of an argument after all.
‘Why are you smiling? Don’t you want to be a father some day?’
‘Larsa, I have never been happier until this moment.’
The faint dimples on his cheek revealed themselves as he smiled with a huge grin. ‘There’s no other woman in the world who I’d want to carry my child. I love you so much.’
A voice interrupted them.
‘Forgive me my Lord, but shall I tell the Counsel that you will not be joining them?’
‘No, let them know that I will be joining them shortly.’
‘Yes my Lord.’ replied the Soldier.
‘We will discuss this later I must go now.’ he whispered as he gently kissed her, and strode out of the chamber in search of the Counsel of Grand Priests…
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