Friday, November 5, 2010

I. The Pain of Ayda

The Queen Mother looked around from the window in the morning, as the first rays of Vetar kissed her kingdom. Perched at a small elevation, the nucleus of the kingdom was a perfect vantage point. She watched with contentment the numerous villages that surrounded the palace and the lush farmlands that stretched beyond them as far an hour’s flight for the strongest eagle in her aviary. In the distance she could see the foothills and the permanently snow-capped peaks of the Eastern ridge that marked the end of the Kshitidarr, the Great Mountains. It was said that Kshitidarr kept all the rainfall sent from the heavens from escaping the realm of Ayda. Beyond the ridge, lay lands of barrenness for distances obscene, where birds died of exhaustion before they found a trace of life, if the bards are to be believed.

There were signs of peace, and peace alone, all around. Peace, along with the years of prosperity brought boredom alongside. A little kid in a farm far outside the crown couldn't help notice that even the corn was bored by the constant iAydanaction, even when it swayed freely to the westerly breeze. The western winds picked up some speed toward noon and carried with them a wailing that was unnatural, nothing like the kid in the farmland had heard before.

The Princess had passed away, and the golden vibrance of the palace suddenly seemed to have peeled away to welcome shades of white, grey, and black. The Queen Mother, however, was not one to cry. Her watchful eyes carefully flitted from the eyes of one courtier to the other, whose sorrow knew no bounds. She was looking for a sign behind those tears and beneath those voices, for the princess died not a noble death. Moments after the spirit of the Princess of Ayda drifted away from the world of men that noon, her body had turned a ghastly blue. For strange as it may sound, poison was unheard of in Ayda, and not a snake ever hissed in anyone’s living memory.

A few moments passed and the Queen quietly made her way to the antechamber. Moving the linens from the windows, she saw the fluttering regalia of the dispatch riders, eight of them, on the best beasts in the kingdom move swiftly to the East. Leading the pack was Aniveh, her eldest son. They soon would pass the news to the King, the seer who dwelt in the highest foothills of the Kshitidarr. Much ahead of them riders, she saw Garde, the fiercest of her kind, with the mournful message tied to her talons. The Queen sensed discomfort, watching Garde flap her huge wings in the horizon, the span of which became a tad smaller with each passing moment, to her anxious eyes. She looked down at the fields, and found her anxiety heightened by the rays of Vetar that bounced off the polished shields tied to the backs of her dispatch riders.

The Queen Mother looked away.

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