The Fable of the King and the Medusa

Centuries ago, when all of Anhak was united under the rule of Good King Vyacheslav, there came a traveler to the land, a robed and veiled woman of great mystery and intelligence. The strange traveler — named Asra bint Nabil bin Zaahir al-Thaban in the style of the Kharha nomads — entertained in the court of King Vyacheslav for many days and nights. A skilled diplomat and storyteller, Asra soon won the King’s friendship and affection, and soon after won his love. To her surprise, Asra felt similarly about Vyacheslav.

However, King Vyacheslav soon wondered why he had never seen his paramour disrobed, or even with her face uncovered. She at first claimed it was the way of her people, but the King’s library suggested that the Kharha women went uncovered in their homes. For three nights he asked to see her face, and for three nights she rebuffed him.

Finally, on the fourth night, she revealed the truth — she was a medusa, and one glance would turn him to stone. For this reason, she would have to leave; they could not live together, lest an errant glance kill the King. That, he claimed, was a fate worse that death; if he should be turned to stone, at least he would die happy, with his love.

Seeing the dilemma, she agreed, and determined a solution, a way they could be together forever. They embraced, and kissed, and as the king gazed upon her, he turned to stone. And yet, Asra had placed a mirror behind the King, so that as he gazed at her, she gazed into the mirror.

The servants found them that way the next morning, locked in an eternal embrace, bound in timeless stone.

Scholar’s Note: Although the tale of Good King Vyacheslav is widely disseminated among the citizens of Anhak, and this particular myth is a relatively popular one, there is little to no historical evidence for his existence. For starters, Vyacheslav is usually portrayed as a human, and any ruler of Anhak at the time probably would have been a dwarf. Additionally, there is no evidence that Anhak was ever ruled by a single governing body, certainly not in recent memory.

Of course, records being as spotty as they are, absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

The Fable of the King and the Medusa

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