Chapter 14|4 mins read
X ander glanced over his shoulder to check on the princess as they walked along the long passage. Her aura, which shone brightest in the Royal Hall, had dimmed. Her head was bowed, her shoulders dropped, and her gait was slow and uneven.
The boy had wanted to say or do something to defend the honour of the princess of Behrouz, but could not gather the decisive will or courage to do so. With Hadiyeh’s chamber only a few steps away, Xander was still trying to find the right words that could comfort the princess. The harder he tried to think, the more he became distracted with the echo of Hadiyeh’s anklets, punctuating the near total silence.
Xander paused near the half open door of the chamber: His feet stood in the patch of light that spilt out from the chamber. The boy knew that this would be his final opportunity to say something, before Hadiyeh slipped into her room.
“Princess,” The boy said mustering all his courage, “King Cyrus is nothing but a fool. He has no right to reject your hand. In fact, you should be the one who rejects him,” Xander lowered his eyes after he spoke.
Hadiyeh stood at the half-open door with the soft yellow light washing over her visage. The faintest of smiles etched on her lips when she heard the boy speak. “Go back to the feast. Mother may need you there,” she replied.
Xander half bowed and turned away from the princess. He began walking towards the end of the passage.
Hadiyeh stepped into her chamber and closed the door behind her. The intimacy of the room provided a sense of comfort from the large, public Royal Hall. Hadiyeh felt her stiff posture relax, with her breathing less encumbered. The quiet solitude of her chamber allowed the young princess to just be herself. She stepped from the door towards an ornate table that displayed pearls, emeralds, diamonds, and gold jewellery. A small, compact mirror stood over the precious stones. Her shadow arched over the table as she sat on a cushioned chair. She carefully pulled out the golden pin, allowing the thick curls of hair to fall over her slender shoulders. Her fingers unclasped the gold brooch, allowing the delicate ivory robe to slip away from her body. Hadiyeh gazed at her reflection in the clear mirror. Why did the King of Kings reject the proposal of marriage? She wondered, Am I lacking in some aspect? She ran her finger tips over the contours of her visage. The mirror did not provide an answer.
“What is the matter, my child…You seem awfully quiet after returning from the feast.”
Hadiyeh turned slightly, “Your voice feels like warm comfort, Afsoon. My apologies, I did not notice your presence.”
A soft, fair hand reflected in the mirror. Hadiyeh took Afsoon’s hand and placed it on her shoulder, resting her head on it. A teardrop escaped Hadiyeh’s light grey eyes.
What is the matter Hadiyeh? Your tears are too precious to be wasted on Nowruz
Afsoon comforted the princess.
“It is nothing…I am just tired. But I did exactly as you told me to. I did not let the attention of the guests distract me.”
“Your mother must be proud to have such a beautiful girl grow up to be an elegant lady,” Afsoon leaned forward and softly kissed Hadiyeh’s forehead, “Now let me unburden you of your precious embellishments,” Afsoon brought her other hand over to the nape of the young lady’s neck and unclasped the gold necklace. She placed it on the table and moved her fingers towards the earrings. Gently, she plucked the gold buds from the tender ear lobes and kept it near the necklace. Afsoon placed her hand on Hadiyeh’s head, patting it softly, “Hadiyeh, my child, tell me the reason for your tears?”
The eyes of the princess followed the reflection of Afsoon’s charred fingers, as they massaged her thick curls. These fingers had taken care of Piruz when he was a mere boy. They had then held Hadiyeh when she was a new born. The same fingers had protected the girl when a fire broke out in the child’s room. Afsoon had lost more than just the skin on her hands in the bright blaze that fateful night.
Hadiyeh gazed at the face, marked by fine wrinkles, of a woman who had cared for her and comforted her more than her own mother. “Afsoon, tell me one thing…How are you able to see more even without sight?”
The ageing custodian smiled, “Precious child, you do not need the gift of sight to perceive what the soul can.”
To be continued...