Sinope, Pontus. Around 396 AC 
It was cloudless sky over Sinope, on a warm summer’s night when the great king of king Mithradates was born. While the seas that surround the city were unusually calm, the sky was lit by a fantastic comet. Seen from the shores of the Aegean into the heart of ancient Persia, many took it as a sign that a great saviour king who would bring peace, prosperity and justice was on his way. The child was born to the king Mithradates Euergetes of Pontos, and was given the name of his father as well as other ancestors before him. Mithradates.
For the first few years of his life, the young prince who would grow up to be the mighty king of an Empire to rival Alexander’s or Darius’ did not leave the environs of his father’s harem. This was largely due to the Ancient Persian custom in which a young boy was to be separated from his father, lest he die young and cause his father heartbreak. It was a closed existence, though to a young child such limited environs may seem as wide as the world does to an adult. To many of the women there, it would have been nothing more than a gilded cage, a luxurious prison they were sentenced to for no crime other than that of being beautiful.
However, for young Mithradates who was blind to the miseries that adult life brings, it was nothing more than a large area to discover. He would show off to his siblings by climbing the walls to the upper levels, which began to imbue him with a sense of pride. In the background, his mother watched, without anything resembling love in her eyes. Blessed as he was in physical prowess, the young Mithradates was starved of something that most of us would think as universal and essential, a mothers love. He was not hated by all in the harem any means, and some of the kings concubines had already taken a liking to him, but his mother saw only future possibilities with him.
“Laodice, you are the mistress of this place, and have more freedom and wealth than any of us. And yet for all the happiness that would give to another woman, I don’t think I have ever seen a smile on your face in all your years here”. Rescuturme, a junior concubine, said this with a broad grin in her face. She was a woman who grew fond of others easily, particularly the little Mithradates. However, while she approached the queen Laodice with the friendly appearance that she showed to the rest of the world, she was no fool and was aware that Laodice was more akin to a dangerous snake than a woman. One only dealt with her kind from a distance, be it physically or emotionally.
Laodice, who never appeared to show genuine emotion to anyone, returned a completely insincere smile to Rescuturme. “A dog wags its tail, and a cat purrs. I don’t believe we humans are so primitive that we need to display our pleasure so obviously”.
Rescuturme took the barely veiled insult in her stride. She held no power at all in the kingdom, and knew when to step aside. Upon acknowledging the queen’s point, she departed to her own room. It was usually here that Mithradates went to receive maternal affections that his own mother denied him. Rescuturme had even taught the young prince her native language, as she was a foreigner to Pontos. She had been born the daughter of a minor chieftain in a town beneath the great Carpates  Mountains, which rivalled those of Pontos in their size. However, she found much pleasure in spending time with the young prince, who seemed to learn languages quickly, and who was fascinated with her blonde hair.
“But what makes it that colour? Is it because there is no sun, so your hair acts as a kind of lamp?” Rescuturme chuckled at the interesting yet foolish theory that Mithradates had developed in his ignorance.
“We have sun in my homeland as strong as there is here”
“But there has to be reason for it being different. Do you use a powder?”
“I don’t think that there is a powder in the whole world that could change something like that. No, I am not quite sure why it is that colour. My father’s hair is brown, like the colour of a fallen leaf. My mother, the last time I saw her, had hair almost the same colour as mine though. It is rare in my homeland, but my mother is from a place North of the Pontos Euxine”
“The lands of the Savromátai?”
“I think that’s the name of it in Greek. She, like me, was an exile from home. Perhaps that is why my hair is the colour that it is”. Mithradates half-nodded, as if struggling to contemplate a totally foreign concept.
As his fifth birthday approached, his curiosity about the world outside of the walls of the harem increased, and Rescuturme answered them as best she could. She told him about the journey she had made, when she was given as a gift to the Pontic King. She told him of all the tales of her people, and about the gods that she worshipped.
Rescuturme was not the only friendly company that Mithradates enjoyed in the harem however. His siblings always kept him at arm’s length, unsure what to make of the boy who would most likely be king someday. The child who acted as his confident was a young boy named Dorylaus, who was near-enough the same age as Mithradates. The orphaned son of a local noble family, the king had taken the boy into his home to be raised as a prince. With his mind not corrupted at such a young age with burning ambition, Dorylaus was as easy as Rescuturme for Mithradates to keep company with. Although Dorylaus was just as likely to fall when the two competed in acts of physical achievement, the boys were able to spend much of their days together without a hint of malice between them. For children of such an age, it is hard to develop a deep enmity without good reason.
Thus it was that Mithradates lived the first five years of his life. It was not entirely free of danger, as even at a young age the wolves were stalking him in the form of his own mother, though it was not a dreadful existence by any means. It was physically comfortable and as intellectually stimulating as a young boy requires. As his fifth birthday approached, preparations were made for his introduction to his father. Mithradates himself was kept ignorant of the impending event, and continued his days talking with Rescuturme or playing with Dorylaus.
On the date of his fifth birthday, he watched from the upper levels as he saw a bearded man enter the harem. This was still an incredibly rare sight for him, as he had not seen a fully grown man more than three times in his life before. The magnificence of the man’s clothes was enough to impart on Mithradates that this was someone of great importance, though it was not until he bellowed out that Mithradates realised who the man was. The king called out in a voice that carried itself throughout the harem “Where is my boy Mithradates. Where is my son?” Upon the realisation that this man was his father, the young boy Mithradates without words, walked toward his father, who embraced him. A million different thoughts and emotions entered his head, but the most overriding emotion was the sense of loss. The world inside the walls of the harem was one almost unchanging, and he knew that the world outside was one which required intelligence, courage as well as the favour of the gods to survive in. This is how the first part of the young Mithradates’ life came to a close.
 - After Cyrus. This is based on a system which is introduced some years after the POD.
 - Carpathians. Rescuturme is a Dacian