The Emperor of Sorcerers Afrasiyab and the Tilism of Hoshruba
- Summarised from Hoshruba Volume 1
We are told that at the bottom of the untold past, a group of sorcerers met to create a tilism or magical world by using occult sciences2 to infuse inanimate matter with the spirits of planetary and cosmic forces.
In the tilism, the sorcerers exercised powers that defied the laws of God and the physical world. They created illusions, transferred spirits between bodies, transmuted matter, made talismans, and configured and exploited Earth’s inherent physical forces to create extraordinary marvels.
Once the tilism was created, the sorcerers named it Hoshruba. A sorcerer named Lachin ruled Hoshruba in its early years. Then one of his deputies, the cunning sorcerer Afrasiyab, deposed his master and usurped the throne. Afrasiyab became the Emperor of Hoshruba and Master of the Tilism.
Afrasiyab and his sorceress wife, Empress Heyrat, ruled over Hoshruba’s three regions: Zahir the Manifest, Batin the Hidden, and Zulmat the Dark. These regions were also tilisms and contained countless dominions and smaller tilisms filled with thousands of buildings, enclosures, gardens and palaces governed by sorcerer princes and sorceress princesses.
Ordinary citizens of Hoshruba lived in the region of Zahir the Manifest. Empress Heyrat and the emperor’s ministers, peers and confidants made their abode in Batin the Hidden. Zulmat the Dark was a secluded region of Hoshruba to which few had access. It was inhabited by two of Hoshruba’s most powerful sorceresses.
An enchanted river called the River of Flowing Blood divided the regions of Zahir and Batin. A bridge that was made of smoke and guarded by two smoke lions stretched over it. It was called the Bridge of the Magic Fairies and from it a three-tiered tower rose to the skies. On the lowest tier of this tower, magic fairies stood alert, holding trumpets and clarions to their lips. From the second tier, another group of magic fairies constantly tossed pearls into the river to the fish that swam, carrying them in their mouths. On the topmost tier, gigantic Abyssinians arrayed in double rows skirmished together with swords. The blood that flowed from their wounds poured into the water below and gave the River of Flowing Blood its name.
Emperor Afrasiyab moved freely between the three regions of Hoshruba. Whenever anyone called out his name in the tilism, Afrasiyab’s magic alerted him to the call. The emperor’s fortune revealed itself in the palms of his hands. His left hand warned him of inauspicious moments and the right hand revealed auspicious ones. He also possessed the Book of Sameri, which contained an account of every event inside and outside the tilism. And he had a magic mirror that projected his body into his court during his absence, and many magic doubles who replaced him when he was in imminent danger.
Besides sorcerers and sorceresses, Afrasiyab also commanded magic slaves and magic slave girls, who fought at his command and performed any and all tasks assigned them.
Emperor Afrasiyab was among the seven immortal sorcerers of Hoshruba who could not be killed while their doppelgangers lived.
But every tilism had a fixed lifespan and a tilism key that contained directions for its unravelling. The conqueror of a tilism was one who would use that key to unravel the tilism at the appointed time. Over the years, the whereabouts of Hoshruba’s tilism key was forgotten. As Hoshruba’s life neared its end, Emperor Afrasiyab resolved to defend his empire and tilism and foil the tilism’s conqueror when he appeared.
Unbeknown to Emperor Afrasiyab the Master of the Tilism events were already unfolding outside Hoshruba that would soon test his resolve.
The false god Laqa was in flight after suffering fresh defeats at the hands of Amir Hamza the Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction, whose armies and spies hotly pursued him.
Each day brought Laqa and Amir Hamza a little nearer to Hoshruba.