The caravan with captives and treasures had reached Babylon.
All the mages and priests captured in Egypt and other kingdoms were placed in the several rooms that had exits to the courtyard with a small pond, flower gardens and several orange trees. But everything was isolated from the outside world by walls and was well protected by the guards.
“However, our new dungeon is quite comfortable. I expected worse,” Pythagoras said in response to the indignant exclamations of those priests who were not too happy about this place.
Here many mages, diviners and healers taken captive previously were being held. Pythagoras was polite but terse with them.
He sometimes conducted long conversations about the movement of stars and planets with only one of them — the astronomer and mathematician — about the laws of the correlations expressed in numbers and formulas, about the geometric figures which can serve as the symbols of the Infinite One.
Hamilcar sometimes tried to delve into the subject of their conversations but soon realized that his knowledge in these areas was not enough to dive into a deep understanding of what they were discussing.
When he mentioned this with some chagrin to Pythagoras, he consoled Hamilcar:
“Now, it is not necessary for you to deeply understand the laws of movement of stars and the mathematical calculations. There is that main knowledge about the development of the soul and the Divine Laws of the Whole that you are comprehending. Concentrate your efforts on the main subject, and all other knowledge will easily open up in front of you when there is a need for it.”
…So their life went on peacefully in meditations and conversations. Meanwhile, external world events occurred one after another. The news from there, with some difficulty, was still able to reach the captives. And this news promised changes.
King Cambyses, having moved deeper into the African continent, suffered several serious military defeats. Many of his warriors died from hunger, thirst and diseases. Meanwhile, discontent was growing and revolts were taking place in his over expanded domain.
The Median priest, Gaumata, began to impersonate Cambyses’ brother, Bardiya, who was killed by Cambyses. First, he seized power in Media, and then he tried to subjugate other territories that were a part of the enormous kingdom conquered by the Persians which began to fall apart.
Cambyses hastily decided to terminate the invasion and come back to punish Gaumata.
But soon, the news about Cambyses’ sudden death had come.
There were various rumors about the 'wrath of the gods' who punished Cambyses for the destruction of some sacred places and temples in the conquered lands. There were also rumors about the magic of Gaumata and the spear that was poisoned by conspirators, which Cambyses accidentally wounded himself with when he was getting in the saddle.
…One young Persian nobleman by the name of Darius who had a kinship with Cyrus himself, Cambyses’ father and creator of the Persian Empire, began frequently to visit the captive priests and mages. He was obviously searching for ways to dethrone Gaumata and for this purpose he wanted to enlist the help of mages. He got bored with listening to the flattering predictions of the astrologers who promised him greatness and power over the whole world. And he proposed that all priests and mages show their skills.
Darius observed these demonstrations of magical power with interest.
For example, one of the priests easily made the slaves fall into a trance and caused them to follow any of his orders.
Observing this, Hamilcar remembered the black mage whom he had once met. That mage had possessed a tremendous brutal power of influence over others. By his willpower, he paralyzed and subjugated weaker souls, their will and ability to think. How easily they became slaves of his power!… To control other people by magical power and take any advantage from it – that was the 'skill' of that mage. At that time, Hamilcar spent a lot of energy in order to escape from that man's tenacious and persistent attention…
What this local priest was demonstrating here was only a pale comparison and more resembled a hypnosis.
Another priest was showing Darius how to cause pain to the slave without a weapon, who was at a distance.
Pythagoras was observing what was happening with silent disapproval, but not intervening, and that was kindling Darius’ interest more and more. He had already heard from Pythagoras' companions about many cases of the manifestation of his power during the journey of the convoy with the captives from Egypt.
A while after, Darius decided to get to know Hamilcar better:
“You are smart and understand that I need strong and loyal people! You could become my ally! Your strength and knowledge could help me to ascend the throne! You are admired by the warriors just because of your giant-athlete’s appearance! In addition, they say that you are also the master of magic! A person like you would be invaluable next to the ruler! And I will not remain in debt! Gaumata is the half-educated mage who fraudulently came into power, and he is not worthy of it!”
“You are right, Darius! Gaumata is not worthy to be a ruler! But there are different ways to win. Do you really want to come to power by means of murder? Or are you going to start using black magic against the same magic of evil?
“What will happen as a result? Do you really think that this can lead to good for yourself and all nations you dream of controlling?
“If we use the power of the soul on our own will in order to control other people we deprive ourselves of the right for Divine Protection! Because only the Gods have the right to determine the destinies of people to such an extent! In particular, They forbid people to make their own decisions about the disembodiment of others!”
… Then Darius addressed to Pythagoras:
“Why are you silent, Pythagoras, when others strive to please me and become my assistants, so obviously showing up their skills? Tell me why you do not reveal your power? I have heard a lot about your might! And about your ability to know the future…
“Tell me: Shall I rule over Persia?”
“Yes, it is very likely that you will ascend to the throne of the Persian kings… But it is not that important, but what is really important is what kind of ruler you will be!
“I would like to show you neither the miracles nor a magical power but the superiority of virtue over malevolence! I would also like to teach you how to become a great and wise ruler who is loved by his people and who is not a tyrant that keeps his people in fear!
“But how to teach someone who does not want to learn?
“Here is Cambyses who just died: the king who was afraid of his brother’s plot and ordered him to be killed. Cambyses had conquered so many kingdoms, having killed, maimed and deprived many people of their property! But he died devoid of power and did not even enjoy the fruits of his victories… Is this not a vivid example of how evil begets evil?! So, everything that person has done in life comes back to him, to his fate as a reward for all his deeds.
“But you came to me, hoping to find strength to defeat mage Gaumata! You gather the comrades-in-arms for plotting and murder!
“That’s why, in the meantime, I shall wait with the hope that maybe someday my turn will come to teach you about righteousness…”
… Darius was coming more often and was listening to Pythagoras, showing an obvious interest when Pythagoras was speaking about the strength and possibilities of a man.
But again and again, Darius was only inquiring about how to achieve power:
“I want to be a great ruler! The great ones know their goals and do not stop at anything! Even the lost lives of their people on this path is not an obstacle for them! The examples of all successful earthly rulers demonstrate this! It is impossible to control the nations only with peace and kindness. Great governors should possess great strength!”
“Those governors you talk about are not great, but just primitively self-centred and power-loving people! They could be more or less kind and fair — or, on the contrary, malicious and cruel. But all of them continue to be mistaken, not knowing the Truth! And their goals are not great at all, although they seem to be such for them! They only dream of possessing and commanding the people!…
“But who can actually be called Great One? Only the One who lives, coming out from the 'Heart of the Earth' and keeps on His Divine Hands all living things, feeling every creature on the fingertips of a myriad of Hands of the One Whole!
“Truly Great Ones have connected Their Greatness with the Boundlessness of the Whole, with the Force that rules the whole universe! They already possess everything — and they have no need for worship, glory or earthly wealth!
“And They govern the people wisely if the destiny sent by the Divine Source puts them at the head of the kingdoms!”
… But Darius did not accept what Pythagoras was trying to teach him, but he could if he wished:
“You are incorrigible in your naivety, oh Pythagoras! I don't understand how your knowledge is able to get along with unrealistic, utopian dreams?!
“Bless me, O Great One, for my small deeds, because I am only going to conquer that world which opens up in front of me here, on the earth!”
“That is what you are dreaming of, Darius, it is your strong power over people, worship to you, honors…
“But your power could become not only strong but wise as well!
“Divine Teachers of humanity are helping us to realise only the deeds of harmony and goodness! They are looking for those devotees who aspire to unite their own love with universal love! They gradually give such a Hero of the Spirit an opportunity to perceive the Divine Power and merge with It.
“You are familiar with the Teaching of the sage Zoroaster. In its foundation, it could unite many nations because it teaches about the One Divine Source — God the Creator of everything, God of Wisdom, God of Goodness, God perceived in the form of the Divine Fire. The need for observance of kindness, lawfulness, justice is also prescribed in this Teaching.
“Why do not you want yourself to follow the best parts about this Teaching?’’
… During several months, Hamilcar and Pythagoras were continuing their attempts to interest Darius with ideas of a spiritual transformation of society that only the two of them spoke about before. But Darius…one day ignited in delight about the dream of enlightenment and implementation of ideas of morality, then another day becoming gloomy from his own thoughts about the mismatch of what Pythagoras was teaching, — with what he, Darius, so passionately desired …