The deliberations concluded with a difficult compromise. Governor Cläuveous was reluctant to repent for not sending his army to support Phëläniciä against the Tengu clan. He was adamant that it would not be in anyone’s best interest to exhaust resources and manpower. He also remained firm that it was not prudent to risk the lives of Bäussëll soldiers, who were mere mice compared to the likes of a War God.
Alëxios reprimanded Cläuveous for being in breach of Bäussëll’s obligation to fulfill every aspect of the ancient-old alliance with Phëläniciä. This meant their province could lose rights to royal protection from vandals and robbers at the ports, which would disrupt trading posts and cause a catastrophic financial loss.
The impasse was settled when Cläuveous agreed to dispatch Eleven-hundred Bäussëll soldiers, seventy medics, and thirty scouts to assist the Phëläniciäns with recovery. At dawn, the Phëläniciän caravan set out for a territory 900 kilometers east called Änkhöѐ. Byakko and seven well-abled dragons flew ahead to ensure a safe route of travel. It was a great relief that the remaining dragons did not succumb to any life-threatening injuries.
The area served as a refugee camp and had been abandoned for several decades. Phëläniciä had not been challenged, notably due to reluctance to battle the War God-King. Severe drought also plagued the land, which stark contrast with Governor Cläuveous’s effort to resurrect the royal tents. Unevenly plotted mauve-colored sheepskin tents flapped in the wind, on the brink of blowing away. A Phëläniciän soldier stepped on a large mound, which turned out to be the royal flag and banner. Several men had to excavate them from a sandpit. The air was hardly breathable from the thick aroma of wildlife carcasses. Every aspect of the scenery felt ominous, lifeless.
Alëxios commanded the troops to rally in the center of the camp. He was determined to keep his unit strong with encouragement and re-establish his position as their formidable king. He stood, appearing valiant and full of vigor, on a stone ledge to make his address in front of the masses.
“To wake from slumber out of the hellish nightmares that befell our beloved kingdom, we must rise to the dawn of a new day. Our homeland, once bountiful and full of promise, has been diminished to rumble. Our kinsmen were mercilessly slaughtered by the monstrous appetite for dominance of the Tengu clan. Yet, as brave Phëläniciäns, we held ourselves to the task of defending our territory. By no means was this a loss because we were able to retreat safely to Bäussëll. Though through arduous persuasion, Governor Cläuveous was gracious enough to remember and tactfully keep our treaty in place for such a time as this.” He held his katana firm in the air and continued. “I say to you now; it is alright to weep for the dismantled life we once knew. But once you have come to the end of your grief, the real work will begin. We, as Phëläniciäns, are known for resilience. The road to recovery will be a long, laborious haul. I have no doubt there will be plenty more obstacles assigned to deter our success. However, we mustn’t allow anything to block our way, and we certainly will not wallow in despair.”
Malaykah felt a stir in her soul as she watched his words resonate among the people. His fearless demeanor made it easy for her to understand why he was well-revered throughout the realm. At first, she assumed it was because of his status as both a God and king. But, slowly, she began to appreciate the balance of strength he harnessed and distributed to his kingdom. He had the character and convictions of a man who intended to use his power for good instead of evil.
Her heartbeat loudly through her body with a surge of boldness, which provoked her to speak.
“Now is the time! This moment right now is where you must find the resolve to pick yourselves up and move forward. This very place where we all stand is the first test of many trials meant to be endured. If we let it stay as it is, a disastrous gravesite, we would be allowing hopelessness and defeat to win. So, let’s change our circumstances, little by little. We may not be able to rebuild Phëläniciä today, but we can regain our dignity by fixing this plot of land up so that it can be a pleasant space for our living quarters,” she said.
Only the sound of muffled mumbles and gasps was heard. Not everyone had been informed that the king had taken a bride. The whispers were meant to respectfully deliver the news to the unknowing members of the audience. However, Alëxios took offense.
His emerald eyes glowed like a neon sign in the pitch-black night. His body began to radiate a shockwave that dispelled through the entire area. Everyone, except Malaykah, bowed with their faces low to the ground in fright. He looked at his queen, whose sunflower emblem beamed brightly on her forehead. She did not appear to be afraid, and her brown eyes blazed. She motioned her lips for him to stop.
Alëxios yielded his chaos but did not calm his rage.
“Hear me now, all of Phëläniciä and Bäussëll! You will address this divine goddess as your queen. From here on out, you will bow to her as you bow to me. Her word will be decreed as both royal law and testament written in the sacred scrolls,” he bellowed.
One by one, the crowd began to chant loudly, “All hail Divine Queen Malaykah, a long life may she live!”
Within an hour, the camp took on the task of cleaning up their area. All the quarters were sectioned off properly for soldier squads, medics, and citizens. The kitchen staff helped assemble the meal by gathering a hog, game hens, and all the assorted herbs the queen asked for. Malaykah assisted with the cooking to formulate a broth boiled with healing herbs and pain-reducing spices.
It was no later than sunset when the area beautification project was completed, and the evening meal was served. Everyone made a toast to the king and queen after he placed a sapphire bangled earring in her left ear to officially signify their union. After that, the mood became light-hearted and festive as everyone ate their meal. Malaykah made bottles of wine from a specific fruit known for its high potency levels.
Some of the Phëläniciän musicians found the old instruments left behind decades ago and cleaned them off. They brought out large bronze goblet drums, bongos, harps, and maracas. A thunderous melodic beat vibrated through the ground. It reminded Malaykah of the Caribbean soul music she listened to both as a child and dance instructor.
The Phëläniciän musicians certainly had their own distinct style, but the flow of each instrument made Malaykah’s hips sway side to side in rhythm. Her dance became more flamboyant with high kicks, dizzying twirls, and flailed arms. She was the center of attention, with all eyes entranced.
None dared to blink, watching their new queen work herself into a tantric sweat. The air, which was once dank with the rot of death, had a sweet mist. The light sprinkle turned into a downpour of warm raindrops. Malaykah did not stop her dance, nor did the musicians stop playing. The people merrily lapped in the rain while Alëxios held his gaze on Malaykah.
He stepped over to her without lifting his eyes. He took her hand and led her away to their sleeping quarters. The king’s massive tent was a sight to behold. In the middle of the space was a golden silk-pillowed lounge chair set at the foot of a cushioned mattress. The covers were made of the finest linens. They walked across a fur-skinned rug holding hands.
Alëxios silently sat on the lounge chair with his arms spread across the backboard. His eyes commanded for her to undress. Malaykah slowly removed her dress but remained in her velvet bodice and briefs. She straddled his lap with a kiss. Their passionate kiss made the ground gently tremble.
Lady Rüvym and Sӧlitha’s shared quarters were in the tent directly across from the king’s Lady Rüvym giggled when she felt the tremors, but Sӧlitha blinked with wrath.
“See now how they carry on?” she asked. “My brother had just barely been revived from the brink, only to have our kingdom fall. Where the devil was there any time to marry a soul?
Lady Rüvym finished rubbing her moisturizing creams on her hand and face in silence. Then, she turned to Sӧlitha and said, “I assure you, child, every traditional practice was performed during their marital rituals. The ceremony was upheld by Őrapäm, the elder monk who trained Alëxios and Byakko,” she answered.
Sӧlitha glared at her with a malicious smirk.
“I suppose you are pleased with how well this fiasco is going,” she said.
Lady Rüvym removed her headdress and fluffed the pillows on their mattress, then coyly asked, “My dear, whatever do you mean?”
Sӧlitha snatched the linen covers and plopped on the bed.
“Don’t play like a shy fox now. You know what I meant,” she said.
Lady Rüvym peeled the covers back and slid next to her.
“If you mean that I am pleased that my beloved grandson has finally found his lifemate, then yes, I am ecstatic. Her divine lineage is merely fate. He discovered a descendant of the goddess, Oshun, on his own merit,” she said.
To that, Sӧlitha rolled over and pulled the covers overhead.
“Do not revel in triumph just yet, ancient one. This futile union will provide no heir to the throne. Have you forgotten she is half-human and well past her fertile years?” she asked.
Lady Rüvym scoffed. “You make our queen sound like a dried-up old mapleberry Malaykah is hardly past her prime, and her maidenhood needn’t be in question. She still yet receives her courses in the human realm. There, she has produced three healthy offspring. Here, we just witnessed that her divinity is her dominant trait. The fall she took out of the tunnel would have killed any other from her realm. Her limitations as a human could very well be overridden.”
Back in the king’s tent, the pair intensified their passion by clawing to rip away the remainder of their clothes. Alëxios paused for a moment to assess the situation. He had never considered himself a brute during love-making. Nevertheless, it was apparent that they would send the entire camp into a terror frenzy if they could not control themselves.
He led her off the lounge chair onto the mattress. She sat perched on her knees as he came around back and began to kiss her neck. The energy surges between the two lit the tent. He grabbed her hand and eased it down between her legs. She moaned loudly with exertion.
Without moving his lips, he said, “Calm yourself, love. Let go and take control all at once.”
Malaykah heard his words like a sensual whisper in her soul. He guided her hand back and forth with such care that her thighs became weak.
His voice echoed, “Know yourself so that you will know me.” Then he moved her hand and placed his own inside her.
They both felt the catch and release of each with the force of ecstasy. The shifts and exchanges of celestial power made them float above the bed. Hour after hour kept them engulfed in flames of lust and love.
~Ch. 15, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~