Three kittens, called the Nekos (Oreo, Milkshake and Marshmallow), wandered onto Earth to find out more about its history. They used a special incantation to travel back in time and found themselves further than expected.
Oreo: “MEO-OUCH! Hey! Get off my back you two!”
Without warning, a loud, piercing sound resonated through the air. The ground vibrated vigorously and the three kittens huddled together, supported each other for fear of their lives. When the land stopped moving, a colossal creature appeared in front of them.
Creature: “We are in preparation for war! This is no place for little ones like you!”
With that, they were lifted from the ground and the kittens squirmed. The creature’s grip was so strong that even biting and clawing didn’t help.
Arsames: “Getting bolder now are we? I knew you are not from here. My name is Arsames, the leader of the Great Persian Elephants. I was named after the mighty King. Welcome to Persia!”
With wonderment in their eyes, the eldest of the three kittens, Marshmallow, gulped and asked: “Thank you for sparing us! Earlier...you mentioned war…With whom?”
Arsames: “The Battle of Gaugamela is looming before us. We must defend our land against that notorious Alexander and his cunning army. We, the Great War Elephants, are special assets to our mighty King Darius III. We will intimidate our foes! My brothers and sisters will charge and cause a great stampede, killing every last troop formation and ranks! Consider this, having even one of us charging towards you at 20 mph will be terrifying!”
Milkshake: “Wow, no thanks! Wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.”
Marshmallow: “Are there any other animals involved in this war?”
Arsames: “This here is the base camp. As you can see, the elephants are not the only animals that are trained for war. There are the horses and the dogs. Horses are specially-bred to fight with dedication and honour. These Median and Scythian breeds have great stamina and are assets in battle. Dogs are also used by the Persians. Legends have said that the Great King, Xerxes I, was accompanied by monumental packs of Indian hounds when he was invading Greece. They have other uses too. Oh yes! I have heard rumours of Rhinoceroses being involved in wars. They were used by the Archaemenid Persians at Thermopylae.”
The three kittens savoured the information enthusiastically and thanked Arsames for bringing them to safety within the Persian village.
The kittens decided to explore the village. They discovered that the animals and humans are living peacefully alongside each other. Stumbling upon one of the alleys, they were lost. In that instant, a white-feathered bird approached the alley. It was a gorgeous creature.
Buttercup: “My name is Buttercup and I am friends with Arsames. He asked me to give you three a tour of this place!”
Oreo: “Great to see you! We were getting lost…” (sheepishly)
Buttercup: “Come, follow me!”
Milkshake: “What animal is that?”
Buttercup: “Asses, otherwise known as donkeys, are owned by the lower classes of Persians. They are often used to transport goods and a mode of travel. Sadly, donkeys are considered unintelligent. They are always seen as the butt of jokes, although some associate them with humility.”
Buttercup brought the three Nekos back to the heart of the village. They marveled at the sight and washed down the fresh Persian milk offered to them by their feathered-friend. While drinking their milk, Milkshake noticed a few places of worship.
Milkshake: “Could you share more about the animals’ spiritual significance here?”
Buttercup: “Sure thing! Are you aware of the practice of Zoroastrianism by the Persians?”
Oreo: “Something to do with Dualism right? Between the Good and Evil, Light and Dark, etc.”
Buttercup: “Indeed! As humans are open to accept and willing to adapt to changes, there are clear distinctions between the factions of Good and Evil. Based on the existence, all good comes from the creativity of Ohrmazd, the Beneficient Spirit, while all evil emerges from Ahriman, the hostile spirit.”
Buttercup: “Legend has it that a serpent-demon killed the first mortal man, Yima, and subsequently, stories tell of heroes fighting serpent-demons.”
Marshmallow: “What about yourself? What do humans see you as?”
Buttercup: “Doves are well-liked by the Persians because we are symbols of the holy aid of heroes in conquests. Further, we are romanticized as messengers of love.”
Milkshake: “Why are peacocks then locked up in cages? Are they evil?”
Buttercup: “Not necessarily. They symbolise the monarchy of the Persians. Funnily, humans love to capture peacocks and make a delicacy out of it - roasted or barbecued!”
The three Nekos laughed and thanked Buttercup for showing them around. They then headed back to their time.