The city of Ctesiphon was the heart of the Sassanian Empire and the centre of a vast trade network. Goods flowed along the Silk Road from China and India, through Arabia and into North Africa and Western Europe. But luxuries were not the only things to find passage with the caravans.
Katlego, my old friend! Please, sit, sit! Will you take some tea? I have this remarkable new blend, all the way from China. It is dark as pitch and most invigorating! And you must sample one of these dates, fresh in from Syria; the flesh is uncommonly soft and sweet. They tell me the palms there are thirstier than the usual variety which accounts for their luscious texture.
And tell me of your wives and children, at home in Dimmidi, do they thrive? May Spenta Mainyu grant them eternal health and wellbeing. My own are quite well, thank you, and why should they not be in these fecund times! Truly we are blessed men, for it is with many sons that our fortunes are sealed.
I was greatly pleased, Katlego, greatly pleased, to hear of the expansion of your trade networks. You must own the caravan routes from Mauretania to Aegyptus now? One might think you had ambitions of empire, hah! And it would be richly deserved. Your caravanners must be hardy men indeed, to cross the great Saharan wastes and emerge unscathed. And if not for our caravanners, where would we be, eh?
Now I know I have drawn you far from home old friend, but Ctesiphon has a great deal to offer, as you will see. My home is yours, and you must inform me of any needs or desires. Visit the bazaars and sample our goods; cloths and spices, hides and fruits, gold and jewels. All things flow into the city Katlego. Even weapons.
Ahhh. There now, I divine in your countenance an item of true worth. We all know of the troubles in Ravenna, the trials that face Constantinople, eh? Such times we live in… I’ve never known simple blades and spears to be in such demand! There are many that would see the old wolf shackled, and shackles are wrought of iron, are they not?
Yes, there is much we can offer you I think, Katlego – and your customers in Africa. Come now, let us meet some very good friends of mine…