The death of Kalimed meant that Urzenna, the younger of Haminids two sons was now the next in line to the throne.
But Haminid had never held any love for Urzenna.
“Urzenna”, he said, “Is frilly headed and foolish. He squanders his time and my money gambling and drinking, dancing and amusing himself with peasant girls and what he doesn’t spend, he gives away to beggars and storytellers. How can I trust such a son upon my throne”.
Yet Haminid had no choice, for our great archipelago was, in those distant days, surrounded by powerful enemies on every side; Lacandra to the west, Oxruss to the North and Silphan across the sea. All of them, slavering wolves baying for Haminids throne and Haminid was determined that he would never lose his kingdom to a foreign king.
“I’ll make a king out of Urzenna”, he decided, “I’ll beat his head to fit the crown. It will be like making iron out of dough but it will be done. He has spent too long suckling on his mothers breast and his father's purse, that’s his problem but it’s cudgels not cuddles he needs. I’ll put him through a whirlwind , I’ll cradle him in steel and feed him on the milk of fire. Then we’ll see how kingly he becomes”.
And so Urzenna was dragged from his bed and thrown into a tall pit and a bucket of water was thrown onto him to wake him then his father called down to him, “Now, my unworthy son. How do you like your muddy bed? It is a fitting bed for a fat worm, I think”.
“Great Goddess, Father!”, yelled Urzenna, dazed but enraged, “What has become of your senses? Why have I been thrown into this filthy pit?”.
“The whole world is a pit, Urzenna”, replied his Father, “And the weak languish upon its muddy floor while the strong breathe the sweet air above. A king must know how it feels to have the soles of stronger men trampling upon him, to be a rung for stronger men to climb up on. He must know it and loathe it and fear it as he loathes and fears a burning nail in his flesh, so that he fights with every ounce of his blood to keep his throne. God has taken away my first born but not my last hope. I will either make a king from you Urzenna, or a corpse. The decision is yours”.
But Urzenna had been a faithful child of the church and had learned all the verses of a loving bible with its visions of a more noble world and he said, “Father, you are blind. You have dug a pit for your own heart, while, even now, my heart sits upon the summit of heaven. It is you, father who is weak because fear and loathing have trampled upon your heart; filled you up, only to devour you from within, whilst every atom of my heart is a pearl of love and love is the strongest power in the world. The power to endure, even beyond hope”.
His father laughed, as the empty hearted and empty headed often do.
“Did you make a noise, Urzenna?”, asked his father, “I was not listening. Those at the bottom of the pit don’t have voices. They are like dumb animals squealing in a snare. The hunter cannot understand their cries and would not care even if he could. If you want to speak, Urzenna, then you first have to climb out of the pit. Fortunately for you, you are a prince and not a peasant and so I will give you an opportunity that peasants never get”.
Above his head, Urzenna saw a blood coloured glow pouring over the edge of the pit. It was a long, Iron chain that had been heated on a fire until red hot.
“Summon your manliness, my son. Wear the brand of courage. Grasp the crimson hot chain with your two hands. Cling to it and I shall have you pulled up”, said Haminid, “If you do not then you can stay at the bottom of your pit and turn to bones”.
But Urzenna refused the searing chain of his father, “You will call me a coward father but you have lost your mind and I would rather couple my hands in a painless prayer and forge a link between myself and the great mother, my redeemer. That is the way to strength, not your road of torture and humiliation”, he said, kneeling in the mud to pray.
“Hear me most beloved Mother Universe”, he prayed, repeating a childhood catechism, “Heart of all caring; soul of all reason, womb of all creation, root of all the living. Your will is peace and fairness; your will is kindness and love and I am an ever faithful servant of your will, a friend to nature and a lover of all humanity. Give me strength to endure and strength to overcome. God guard me and guide me towards hope and salvation”.
So King Haminid had the chain pulled up and, spitting upon his son, left Urzenna to spend a cold night in the pit, “Your mother's faith has made you womanly”, jeered the king, “Soiling your knees, hoping for some divine hand in a kid glove to scoop you up out of your prison. Heaven won’t help you, Urzenna and I’d rather have no son than a coward and a weakling. A king must be strong and a strong man never kneels or begs for help, from God or any other. A strong man helps himself. Kalimed knew that but your sacred Harridan ripped him from me. You can pray my son. No feathered deliverer will come to you but, hopefully, your senses will”.
“And did God send an angel to save Urzenna?”, you may wonder.
Not the wing’ed or the immortal kind but an angel nonetheless. One of Haminids own palace guards who was secretly a servant of Mother Church. His name was Mazjamoon and, just as Urzenna was about to lose all hope and heart, he appeared with a length of velvet rope which he lowered into the pit, tying his end round the waist of a marble goddess, “Let me be the answer to your prayers, my prince”, he said, “Your father has become a madman and a fervent enemy of the church but you, the next in line to the throne, might be its fervent friend”.
“The goddess has heard my prayer; now I hope that she will hear my pledge”, whispered Urzenna, “And you can tie a rope around these sturdy words. I have no father but god and no home but the church”.