She looked onto her land as she stood on her balcony with deep contemplation, staring at the unique flowers in her garden that her daughter pointed to her. The sight of the flowers sprouting did not grab her attention, as her inner thoughts held them. Her rule had come to her both by chance and by her own efforts. She was the rarest creature, ruling the lands, rivers and seas, which were mostly considered a man’s domain. She was not afraid of being a woman, she did not look down upon herself for being one. It was of great strength, endurance and perseverance. The power to control wealth and the ways of a kingdom was a lonely space even though one was constantly surrounded by company. Her husband had resigned much before he had died. In his sickness she would often make decisions in his name. When he was able to, he would second her and offer his opinion. However, as the sickness consumed him he gave his unconditional consent. At a later stage he ceased to even inquire about the affairs of the state. She was in command much before the title officially came to her. She would have been questioned and a successor would have been sought, but she had the sympathies of those close to her. She had earned their trust, and they looked at her not as a woman but as an advisor, leader and sometimes even a friend. The power that came with the authority was immense. While there was personal tragedy, the kingdom itself prospered. It had food, gold, architecture and was trading up. Her husband, as cunning as he was, had ended up benefiting the kingdom in his greed. He negotiated with the kingdoms close by building economic prosperity at both ends. Exchange of know-how and technology seemed more profitable than the loss that came with war. Kings, emperors and prince’s agreed, albeit for a while. She knew them all. Not being visually appealing, her husband would take her along on all his discussions. She was his jewel. He wore her with pride. Her astuteness, graciousness, and her social skills won her kingdom friends and her husband business partners. Her husband did not hesitate to acknowledge her contribution. He would celebrate. Great deals and agreements were often followed by entertainment. He not only sought his own pleasures, he kept in mind hers as well. What started out as a novelty became a practice. She graduated from being a jewel to a partner. He started to take her to all the deals. He started to value her opinion. She started to offer more value, and became more focussed in her discussions as she started understanding how business and politics went together. It was not a clean game, it was a dirty one. For one king that was benevolent and sincere to his kingdom, there were ninety nice that were greedy and corrupt. That’s why her husband’s ploy worked so well. They saw more benefit in trade, than war. If they didn’t, her husband made them see. The winning formula was the loyalty of the subjects and the good image it built. Although the subject’s of many a kingdom did not see the wealth, they experienced relief from tyranny and taxes. This was enough to earn their loyalty. Peace reigned, and the kings became famous. The kings were lauded by the lords and merchants alike, for they did see the wealth. Suddenly, there was fabric, food, entertainment that the kingdoms had ever seen. The spies prospered as well. They had more freedom, and there were less assassinations. The queen moved from being in the chambers, to being the only woman being invited in the discussion rooms. She loved it. For the first time, she could see a glint of respect and even admiration in her husband's eyes. Admiration that was reserved for fellow kings or someone who was equal in intelligence. She knew she had earned it and she never took it for granted. She had a delicate role to play. As the trust of her husband peaked, she started to notice her loneliness more and more.
Her husband made a good king, even a decent father. He had his flaws, but who didn’t. He was not the best looking or even attractive. She remained loyal out of gratitude, as he had married her when her family was doomed. Although the title of the queen was empty, it prevented her from falling into the life of a slave. She accepted him as he was and hoped that they would grow to love each other. That never happened. He had his women slaves who pleasured him. Certain things he did not share with her in bed. The intimacy shared between them was of duty, and from that duty there was an heir, her daughter. She never conceived after that, no matter how hard they tried. Her husband accepted the daughter as an heir to the kingdom as he saw his wife blossom. In a way, the daughter was blessed. She had a choice to rule, or take a husband who would rule. Beyond a point the king, husband and father did not worry.
Over the years, the duty of being a husband was not required. They became friends and even co-rulers. She started presiding in the court. As they came together as the most powerful rulers in the land, they separated in their personal lives. Recognizing her loneliness and her needs, her husband once asked her if she would like a slave. She denied it immediately, but her husband knew her well. Very respectfully he said that he could arrange the slave to go to her chambers. It would be discreet, he would ensure that. She was heart broken. The marriage was a sham. What example would she set for her daughter. The husband saw the confusion, and simply stated that it's important to be practical. He respected her, she was attractive, but they would never be compatible. He had tried over the years, and it was never the same. She was aware that he was partial to three of his slaves. While he was resigned to the ways of royalty, he would never be able to let them go. The queen had become the king's need in the court. She had become his friend, but she had ceased to be his wife. Although she knew it, it was a hard truth to accept. She did not agree to her husband, but around a month later, when she saw the slave again in the court she asked for him to be added to her entourage. Her husband did not seem to notice. However, she knew that this was his way of showing respect for her privacy. Her affair remained discreet. One man satisfied her, and he was at her beck and call. She was happy with that. For a while.
After her husband passed away, her interest in her sexual endeavors grew. She started seeking luxury. Wanting to feel like a woman she would demand for flowers. She started to mix business with pleasure. Rumors of her appetite spread slowly through the kingdom. What was once discreet, became a well known secret in the kingdom. Her power and wealth being greater than her indiscretions, control remained. Nobody dared question her. Her want of pleasure was great and there were many enamored with her beauty, who took discrete steps to share her bed. They were in for a surprise. Such was the plight of the merchant who sought her company. He did not say or do anything overtly, but made himself visible. She noticed him and invited him to her chambers for tea. She was casual and it looked as though there may be a special trade deal in it for him. Although disappointed he did not show it.
He entered the chambers at dusk. She came to meet him herself, dressed formally. As they chatted about various trade routes, commodities, people and culture, she had him seated at the tea table. She rang a bell. The merchant almost lost his composure when he saw a barely clothed male specimen bringing brews to serve them. A woman was also arranged, and it appeared that she would be willing to serve him, in any way that he would want. The queen looked non-pulsed. If she was trying to gauge his response, he could not tell. Not being able to stand it after a while, he asked her intent in inviting him to her chambers, as the discussion seemed to be going nowhere. She took his hand and led him into her bed chambers. Barely clothed slaves, men and women were everywhere. Some even pleasured each other while passing by. It seemed that she liked to watch. The merchant made his move and she gave in. He had never had anyone quite so passionate. Women slaves were everywhere, and he made a move on a slave, the queen did not seem to mind. A slight smile played on her lips and she watched him. The slave girl took the hint, and pleasured the merchant as the queen watched. She called on a male slave who pleasured her as she watched the merchant. Her slave seemed to know what to do like a well trained pet.
Those who knew of the queens chambers, never spoke of it openly. She took care of them, nicely. However, the word slipped now and then and internationally kings came to know of her activities. While she did not have any moral notions, she thought best to stay discrete. As the stories got confirmed from known sources, she could no longer shrug them off. Powerful associates insinuated private interactions. She was unable to feign ignorance after a point and decided to take care of it another way. The spy networks were upgraded and so was the military. To avoid suspicions, stories were released. The neighbouring countries started to notice the change in the military and intelligence and became guarded. This created distance, it started to affect the trust levels. Long relationships were no longer as transparent. Infiltration became part of the game. The queen had to make tough decisions.
She could never forget the day where she made a decision to assassinate someone. The person was not of any consequence really, but he was going to be if he got trustworthy news to a neighbouring king. He would then become important. This was not a decision for defence, or protection of people. It was a selfish decision and a deliberate one. She ordered the kill. Although her heart did not agree, she talked herself into doing it. She was a ruler, and she convinced her self that this was needed. Her daughter saw her change. A mother that was liberated, carefree and loving, was now reticent, closed, private and inattentive. She did check in once in a while but was absent. She retreated into her own privacy and only certain members of the court had her ear. It appeared that she had grown in power, till one day everything caught up with her. She was attacked. She did not die of the injuries, but the infection that caught hold of it. The attack was warranted and she chose not to hit back.
On her last day she lay on her bed, and her daughter had come to visit her. Lying on the bed, the queen, could see her daughter at the door. She was not worried about the kingdom. There were people who would take care of it. She realized that everything that she had given importance to, in her life, was not important at all. She had pursued pleasure and power. A woman who valued life, killing had become an answer to escape dealing with her reality and her choices. What she anticipated would be a sweet release, was bondage. For in that moment it dawned on her that she had neglected the most important treasure in her life. She had neglected her daughter. Regret swamped in. Her body could not hold her anymore. She wanted to reach out to her daughter. Talk to her. Suddenly she had so many things to say. Her voice did not come. She lay there seeing her daughter. Her daughter seemed to sense her. She came closer and looked at her. The moment offered no connection or solace. It was a moment where the chasm was visible. The queen knew that she wanted to be a better person. She wanted to be a good human being first. The rest was the rest. She promised her self… for when she got a gift of life again, she would honor her loved one’s. She would not rule with power, fear, control but find another way. A more compassionate and a humane way. She prayed to get another chance with her daughter, to give her what she had failed to give in this life. To empower her. With that hope she drew her last breath.