On Wednesday evening, a loud boom could be heard from inside the Malcolm kitchen. The house fell silent for a few moments. Then, suddenly, muffled voices echoed into high-pitched shouts. Once the shouting picked up, Roxy and Roy could be heard trading insults with Shannon.
“That’s not fair, Shannon, you lazy cow! There’s no way in hell we’re picking up the slack for your share of chores,” Roxy barked.
Roy interjected, “Yeah, why should we have to take orders from you. I never see you do anything besides sit on your ass. The only time you get busy is to give mom grief.”
“Listen, guys, if it weren’t for me making this schedule, the whole house would turn into a sty. And, as far as me giving mom any grief, she can take the same medicine she dishes,” Shannon railed back at them.
Malaykah had been sitting in the bathtub all the while. She held her breath and submerged underwater. That seemed to be the only remedy to stop the head-to-toe aches, which came on more frequently. She shut her eyes and began to clearly hear her thoughts.
“There has always been an influx of dialogue surrounding identity. We’re often told not to derive our identity from the opinions of others. The truth is, that isn’t a realistic objective. From the time we’re born, we rely on someone else to tell us and the rest of the world who we are. A name is selected, the birth certificate details all the background information, and identity is created.
We go through adolescence acquiring nicknames, pet names, and the like thereof. By the time we reach the middle of adulthood, we’ve spent half of our lives believing who other people made us. It’s hard to break free from those conditions. Some are lucky enough to reinvent themselves. Others get trapped.
Liberty dictates that we have a choice in what we buy into. Some things can’t be changed, but if we allow ourselves the power to believe otherwise, we can change destiny. I believe that I am truly a descendant of the Goddess Oshun. Her divinity dwells within me. This is who I am, yet I don’t know how to change my life in the human realm.“
She emerged back to her upright position to catch some air. Two loud door slams in the outer rooms caused the house to go silent again. Roxy tapped softly on the bathroom door.
“Mama, I’m going to the Schnyder’s for my babysitting gig. Roy said he would be at Tyler’s bike shop, and I’m sure Shannon won’t be home until late,” she called through the door.
Malaykah did not stir as the pain from her headache held her jaw clenched.
Roxy lightly tapped twice and said, “Well, don’t stay in the tub so long that you turn into a prune. Dinner is in the fridge.”
Once Roxy went on her way, Malaykah slid underneath the water once again. This time when she closed her eyes, vivid images of the marital rituals in Phëläniciä came to mind. There she stood next to Alëxios in a valley of golden lilies next to a rainbow waterfall. They were hand in hand, with enchanted blue laces strapped up their arms. The binding was interlocked with peri dust and specs of dragon blood. The laces began to squeeze tight until they evaporated in the air. A gleam of diamond light shined bright from the sky. The ancient monk announced them anointed by the gods and bound to each other in every realm for all of eternity. With that, she opened her eyes. She sat on a riverbank with her feet dipped in the river within the borderlands of Phëläniciä.
Meikko sat patiently beside her without a word. When Malaykah gently patted her head, the dragon smiled and said, “My queen, it is an hour to greet your arrival. My father and King Alëxios are busy at the castle. I have been commanded to take you there promptly.”
Malaykah took heed and climbed aboard the young female dragon. They shot off into the air like a rocket. Though they were high above the ground, Malaykah could see that reconstruction efforts were heavily underway. The gates were reinforced with platinum-steel beams. All the cobblestone in the city was replaced with azure-toned marble, which gave the appearance of the ocean. Even the Palace structures changed into what Malaykah deemed as Moroccan architecture.
Meikko flew them to a landing strip on a high tower and allowed the queen to dismount. Trumpets with the announcement could be heard everywhere. The citizens gathered below to pay respect. Byakko and the king arrived in the area bearing gifts and flowers. Alëxios place a heavy crystal tiara on Malaykah’s head. Her beaded braids flowed down her shoulders and back with elegance.
Lady Rüvym was ushered to the gathering by her bodyguards. She kissed Malaykah’s hand and signaled for them all to go inside. A glorious feast had been prepared in the dining hall. Malaykah admired the sumptuous décor of furniture, tapestry, and artwork strategically positioned throughout the halls.
“These pieces were acquired from at least one hundred fifty thousand of the king’s conquered territories and have been stored in a neighboring city within the realm,” Lady Rüvym gushed.
Malaykah was led to the throne room before the meal was served, were rows of exotic flowers rested on a small marble stairway with two golden chairs. Alëxios seated Malaykah in the smaller chair cushioned with silk pillows. One of her ladies pulled the footrest out so she would sit more comfortably. The king’s chair was just as grand, only larger with no footrest.
A soldier entered the throne room and banged his staff to signal that court would be held in session. The eunuch Bässäm was escorted in and proceeded to bow before the king and queen.
“Your majesties, please forgive my intrusion. There is an urgent matter that must be decided upon,” he said.
Alëxios rested his hand under his chin with concern and said, “Eunuch Bässäm, you may rise and speak.”
Bässäm stood with his head down, as it was forbidden for a eunuch to look directly at anyone from the royal family.
“Sire, before the fall of our kingdom, an edict had been placed to disassemble your harem and send all the consorts back to their homelands. Only a portion of the proclamation has been carried out. With the untimely attack from the retched Tengu, all procedures were halted. If it would serve the king correctly, I see no reason to continue the measure. The remaining maidens should be left here under my guidance and protection.”
By then, the room was filled with royal knights, soldiers, and citizens alike. Each was moved with shock that the eunuch would dare demand to keep his position after the king clearly had dismissed him.
Alëxios look at Malaykah to study her thoughts. He could feel a weighty gate block the veil to her consciousness. To his dismay, she would not let him in. He chuckled, almost nervously to himself. The entire room awaited his decree.
He looked at Bässäm and said, “Our Divine Queen has returned to us. This should be a time of jovial celebration. Let us put minute matters to the side in favor of doing what is right in this instance.”
Bässäm began to tremble.
“I beg you, Divine King, please do not leave this matter for the birds to pluck till morning light. In this instance, many of your fold wonder what place they have in the new kingdom. Speculations will only become a maddening device.”
Malaykah rose from her chair to walk down to Bässäm. She lifted his face and replied, “Dear eunuch, the entire palace thanks you for your services. You have been a source of knowledge and delicately have cared for the king’s interests over centuries. Your dedication will always be held in high acclaim.”
The room fell in awe at the queen’s words. Even Alëxios was taken back.
She turned to walk away from Bässäm and continued, “However, I am certain there is a way to send all the remaining maidens back to their homelands in a safe manner.” She stood next to Alëxios and asked, “Is there not a way, my king?”
Alëxios sat quietly as Malaykah pulled back the veil to her thoughts. It was made clear she did not want to host any of the maidens in Phëläniciä, and she expected her husband to respect her wishes. He kissed her hand as a sign of agreement.
“The queen has made her decision. I will call upon my brethren, the Sea Pirates, to assist with relocating each and every maiden. After the voyage is completed, eunuch Bässäm will return to wherever country land sent you here,” the king stated.
~Ch. 18, The Realm Beyond the Stars and Sea~