"There is artistry and poetry in the movements of the queen -- even when she's deadly."
The old soothsayer mused aloud.
“If I didn’t know better, I would have been jealous at your observation of my wife.” The king drawled in amusement.
“Ha!”, The soothsayer muttered as he and the king continued to observe the queen, who was practising sword fighting, vigorously but gracefully.
“What lays on your mind about the queen?” The king asked, knowing the old soothsayer never says anything or observes anyone for naught.
“I?” The king turned and looked at the other man in astonishment.
“My king, you are the reason the Queen is restless, for she feels the need to protect you. If you will work with her more and listen to her more often, she will be more at peace.”
“I see.” The king narrowed his eyes slightly, “Has she told you anything?”
“My Queen, needs not to. Tis plain to see, for one such as I.”
“I see” The king repeated with a renewed understanding of his wife’s anxiety — the enemies within his kingdom.
“See that you do, sire” He scolded the king with fatherly concern.
“When you two have finished muttering about me, do join me for a picnic at the pavilion gardens.” Queen Indira said as she walked past them without looking at either of them.
“Aye, my Queen” the old man bowed slightly.
“She sounds…miffed,” the king said as he watched the queen walk towards her quarters.
The other man straightened, “That she is. And I believe we are about to hear how much, before the picnic is over.”
The King groaned.
“Do not despair.” He said a bit merrily and the king gave him a side eye at his choice of words. “The queen won’t eat you.”
He smiled at that. “I wish she would. In a romantic way.”
The old man refused to mention that the queen was feeling anything but romance. For anxiety over her husband.
“Well, shall we? We can’t keep the Queen waiting.”
“My king is wise.” The old man nodded as they began walking.
“Do not flatter me, old friend.”
“I do not, sire. You do know what to do. But your kind nature makes you hesitate, hoping your leniency will make the traitors repentant. But think of your Queen, sire. Your hesitation may put her in harm’s way.”
“I love her.”
“That you do sire — as a man and a king. But as a husband, you need to love her the way she needs to be loved, starting by putting out her fears, as far as her husband’s life is concerned.”
The King pondered on that.
“I’m sorry, Indira”, King Sergie said with remorse, as he exerted his muscles in trying to hold open the door his wife was trying to shut in his face.
Indira glowered at him. Of recent, her loving husband had capriciously shut her out!
“Unhand this door, your Highness“, Indira fumed.
“Pray, allow me explain, Indira.”
“Careful. Don’t catch feelings.” Iré cautioned her daughter.
Emira chuckled. “Feelings aren’t the virus, mama.”
“Don’t be absurd. You know darned well what I’m talking about.” Iré huffed.
“Remember, how important your faith is to you. That alone is a deal, marriage, and heart breaker. Unless he’s a Biblical Christian, what brought you together will not hold you together.”
The King watched with unveiled passion, the enchanting vista of his queen Indira, belly dancing for him to the music she made from shaking her bangles, anklets, hip belt…
Indira sat astride her window, as streaks of lightning pierced the night.
She recalled her plea to Queen Sapphire:
“Pray persuade your husband that no element of your affection lies with my husband.”
“Tis betwixt you and your husband. Our people deserve not to suffer for it.”
The nights have been stormy and on one of such stormy nights, Indira sneaked into an enemy kingdom.
Soundlessly skirting a gargantuan fountain with splashes of indigo, Indira slipped into the queen’s bedchamber.
Queen Sapphire opened her mouth to scream, when she saw Indira, but Indira covered her mouth.
“My apologies, your highness. I mean no harm, but time’s of the essence and I need your help.”
“Who are you?”
“I am Indira. Emperor Sergei’s wife. I need to talk to you — woman to woman, your highness.”
“In this manner?”
“Aye. To prevent bloodshed.”
“Seduce him”, Empress Indira told a wife, as she looked through clothes needed to seduce her own husband.
“What, my Queen?” The woman gasped in disbelief, as she blushed. “I cannot do that!” She exclaimed.
“And why not? Is he not your husband?”, Indira queried.
“Well yes, but…that is not proper!”
Indira arched her brow, “Not proper? Says who?”
When the woman kept stammering, trying to find a proper answer — Indira presumed, as she set aside a set tinkling breast net made of jewels. Finding it hard ignoring the ignorance of the young wife, she faced her.
“Look. If you don’t move fast someone who has no problem seducing your husband will get him. And not because he’s willing, but because his own wife is unwilling to love him, as he needs to be loved.”
She raised her freshly painted hand to silence the blustering wife.
“You came here seeking for the counsel of your queen, did you not?”
“Aye, your highness.” She replied a bit timidly.
“Now go to the market. Purchase the most scandalous dancer’s attire you can find in your husband’s favourite colours.”
Indira turned back to her chest of treasures and pulled out a glass-like anklet, “Prepare and serve him his favourite meals in the attires.”
Indira glanced up from admiring the anklet that had been part of her wedding gift from her husband, the king. “Surely, you can afford such luxury considering all you say your husband has provided?
“Yes, my lady”
“Ah. Before all that, have your maids prepare you as a girl about to wed.”
“If you really appreciate the love you say your husband has shown you, this should not be a problem. Can you dance?”
“Yes, my Queen.”
“Then do just that. Serve him yourself and dance for your husband in those attires for one week — starting today.”
She looked at the anxious looking wife and smiled in understanding empathy. “Just put your soul, spirit and body into it. Now off with you. Your assignment begins now.”
“Long live the Queen, beloved of the King.” She said in obeisance and Indira smiled fondly when she said “beloved of the King“.
She was indeed loved.
And she intended to reciprocate not just with words but with her actions.
Indira looked up and saw her lovely sister in law with some maids carrying covered trays behind.
“Well Tickles.” Indira smiled in warm welcome.
“Tickles” was the nickname she gave her sister in law. Because her laughter always sounded like someone was tickling her.
“What brings you to this side of town?” Indira teased referring to the sprawling palace as a “town”
Tickles giggled. “An errand of love and the palace is not that big.”
“My brother, the king has put together a celebration in your honour tomorrow evening.” Tickles gushed.
Indira was touched. “He need not do that. I am humbled by the honour he bestows me.” She whispered.
“He also sends you these”, she signalled to maids.
They came forward, bent before Indira and uncovered the trays at once with fanfare.
Indira gasped. And so did her people that came to her new home with her.
It’s because the trays contained the clothes, jewels and sandals made in colours and designs of a female monarch from her father’s empire.
He must have picked up the idea from how her mother dressed.
But, it was unique in how Indira liked to dress herself. It was like he composed a description of her in the details.
“Indira? Why are you crying? Don’t you like them? My brother says it can be re-designed as you wish—-“
“Nay Tickles. I love everything here. Tell your brother I thank him. From the depth of my heart” Indira sniffled and smiled.
“A warrior queen crying.” Tickles shook her head in mock disbelief, “Never thought I will see that day.” She teased.
Indira gave a watery laugh, “Blame it on your brother.”
“As for thanking my brother. You will have to do that yourself. I’m done running errands between you two.” Princess Tickles said cheerily on her way out, as the maids bowed again to Indira before hurrying after the Emperor’s sister.
Indira touched the attire reverently. So beautiful… She thought as her cousin said the same out loud.
All Indira could do was nod in agreement. Her eyes fell on a dazzling brown gem pendant.
She squeezed and it clicked open. What she saw in it brought a huge smile to her face.
In her mother tongue etched in platinum:
…to many sentimental celebrations in the flying future, my Indira. Yours alone, •Sergei•
Indira knew some elements where trying to beguile her husband into a trap.
Not on my watch, Indira thought.
“Respected chiefs of the realm. Allow the warlords discuss this with his majesty at length. I’m sure your king will let you know his verdict on the matter, soon enough.” Indira cajoled