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The King's Command

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Safiya Teliran
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm

Joined: 18 Jun 2018
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Can Be Found: The Palace of Pearls, Iska
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2018 2:29 am    Post subject: The King's Command Reply with quote

June, 1617

As Safiya left the king's apartments the next morning, she was met by Bulba, the Harem Mistress, and Fehd, the Queen-Mother's secretary. Nothing needed to be said - it was the custom that each visitor to the king's bed would report to his mother before returning to the harem proper, and would continue to do so until she fell pregnant. She followed them quietly, unable to keep from smiling a little as she recalled the evening before.

Lady Shahista looked up as the little group entered, her expression hopefully curious.

"Well?" she asked, as Safiya curtsied to her. "Did the king lie with you?"

Safiya shook her head. "No, queen-mother," she answered in her soft voice. "His majesty was very tired. He wished only for companionship."

"What did you do, then?" Shahista wanted to know.

"We talked, queen-mother," Safiya told her. "He wished to know more of the harem, and he told me of Carib and the lands beyond. He seemed ... he seemed sad, and weary of the crown already. His cares weigh upon him heavily."

"It is your responsibility to alleviate those cares," Shahista reminded her. "He showed no interest in furthering your relations?"

"Not explicitly, queen-mother." And oh, how it cost her to admit that aloud. Safiya knew it meant she would not be selected to return to the king's chambers for a long time; others would go, in the hope that he would bed one of them, unless he specifically requested her.

Lady Shahista nodded gravely, waving a hand to dismiss her as Fehd entered the rooms at her back. Stinging with the knowledge that her enjoyable evening was not likely to be repeated, Safiya curtsied and left the room. Shahista looked at her secretary wearily.

"It seems our king is not yet prepared to do his duty by the bloodline," she said with a sigh. "Send Aliyne to him tonight. Perhaps she will succeed where Safiya did not."

Fehd bowed in acknowledgement. "It shall be as you say, queen-mother," he said. "The king is speaking with the Harem Mistress at present, but has allowed me to tell you of the content of that discussion."

Shahista's brows rose, not entirely without suspicion. "Do so."

Her secretary raised his head as he spoke on. "The king requests that the harem be diminished in size," he told his lady. "He states that no man should hold so much beauty and skill imprisoned from the world. I believe it is his wish to have the unnecessary women offered as wives and consorts to loyal men within the court - a reward, if you will, for their loyalty."

"And a guarantee of future loyalty," Shahista added thoughtfully.

It was against custom, but she had known from the moment Nasir returned to Valentia that he would wish to change some of the customs of Valentia. She knew her son better than he might have wished; knew, too, that the freer ways of the women in Carib would have left an indelible impression on him. She nodded, considering this.

"Bring me the documentation on the harem, Fehd," she ordered her secretary. "We must be sure that no one remains who was brought here by those we suspect of treachery."

"Yes, queen-mother."

The documentation was brought as Bulba joined her, and for several long hours, the Queen-Mother and the Harem Mistress mulled over the diminishing of the harem. The king had declared a wish for no more than ten women from which to choose his companions, and that they be made aware that, even in remaining, they were not favored above the others until such time as he made his own decisions in that arena. Shahista had slightly altered that arrangement to suit her own purposes - there were forty women in the harem at present; she intended to choose ten to remain, and allow those ten to choose one companion each from the rejected grouping. That still left twenty young women who could be given as gifts in marriage to loyal men, and made that gift even more valuable by its scarcity.

All the women chosen to remain were of Shahista's own choosing, though not all of them had been brought to the harem by herself. Safiya and Teres, for example, had been chosen by the late Queen Maria when she had been merely Maria Teliran, one of several favorites; Tulin, Ester, and Meryem had been gifts to the royal harem following Clovis' execution of his queen four years ago. One thing all ten of the chosen held in common was a lack of political or personal affiliation with any of the king's enemies, an important thing to note in these dangerous times. The Queen-Mother could only hope her son would approve the selection, though she doubted he would reach his hand too far over the governance of the harem. This was her domain.

Together, the chosen girls were called in and asked to name one other whom they would like to remain with them in the harem. As awkward as it was for them, it was better that they should know who their allies were in advance of the announcement of betrothals and leavings that would soon follow, once the loyal men were decided upon. It was also decided that those chosen to remain would temporarily be housed in the teliran suites above the harem floor, to prevent any unfortunate "accidents" befalling them at the hands of jealous sisters who felt overlooked. Once the harem was clear again, they would return to the harem floor, there to wait until they were chosen to bear the name of "Teliran" by a fond king.

As word spread through the harem of what had been done and decided, Shahista watched from her screened window while half the population below her were moved into the joined suites opposite on this level. She sighed, shaking her head. Nasir was clearly intending to make some true changes to life in Valentia. She could only hope that this first attempt would go smoothly, and thus, smooth the way for whatever else the new king had in mind.
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