She stood there, staring at her gloomy reflection in the glass sheet on her table. The crimson cut on her cheek still hurt like it was only yesterday. And yet, it hadn’t managed to scar her beauty. The smile of a child. The eyes of a dreamer. And her father’s jaw. Her father. She could almost remember the first time she heard him speak. They say faces are easier to remember. Voices fade away. That’s why we associate a face to every voice. But his voice was the one thing they couldn’t take away from her. Deep. Husky. Assertive. Mira’s mother died while giving birth to her brother- Rohan. Rohan too died in his third month. Mira was three. Ever since then, Mira meant the world to her father. Every free second was spent with Mira. Training her, talking to her teachers, her chefs, her maids. She was an outstanding student. Disciplined, restrained and inquisitive. But she was also short tempered, impulsive and proud. But he did not want to hear any of it. His daughter was growing up beautifully and she’d be a magnificent woman.

Everyone knew she’d be the most beautiful in the family. They weren’t wrong. She was the most beautiful- even the thin crimson scar gave her an enigmatic air. But they weren’t here to see it. No one was.

Mira stared into the void. Her hollow eyes betraying a lifetime of privilege. She wasn’t the one to pass the buck or stay quiet. But today, even she was beaten down.

Jon sat next to her. Quietly. He had always admired her. Not just for her breath taking beauty, but for her mind numbing strength. She refused to put the sword down. Fight. That’s all she knew. But today, Mira was helpless, drifting in a nebula of lost dreams. And Jon could do nothing to pull her out of the abyss of isolation and misery she was determined to drown into. Figments of memories drifted in and out. She remembered the time she started her training. Rather young, she was determined to outdo the boys. They started with self-defense, then archery and finally sword fighting. Mira was the most celebrated and feared sword fighter in all the land. She remembered how she could never defeat her father. But he was getting old. And Mira took pompous satisfaction in knowing that even he wasn’t a match anymore.

There wasn’t a soul alive who hadn’t heard of Mira. Her generosity. Her compassion. Her business acumen. Her sense of justice.

And why shouldn’t have they? She was the queen. And the best one they had seen in a thousand years. When she had taken the crown, there seemed to be nothing but misery blanketing the skies. The rich were poor. The poor were starving. New diseases were being discovered everyday. Traders were pulling their money out- they had none left. The only way of having a meal was by stealing someone else’s.

And then the crown came to her.

If the skeptic didn’t believe in miracles, then he was about to revise his ideology. She started with relieving all the royal doctors, then the gardeners and then half the domestic staff. Every expense of the Royal family was cut to the bone. While they set up their clinics outside, she invested whatever little money was left into research. In the next three years, while everyone thought she’d be the first head of an impecunious royal family, Mira came up with a vaccine- a vaccine for smallpox. In an age where the disease was the most natural form of death, the vaccine was nothing short of divine blessing. But instead of selling it, she laid condition. Everyone who wanted to get vaccinated was to come to the palace. While the town was submerged in poverty, news began to spread. Every man, who had some gold to his name, made his way to the forgotten kingdom. The hotel fares were hiked to astronomical rates, but no one cared. The town was bubbling with deep-pocketed strangers. Whoever was in need of employment found a place in a guesthouse. Things were starting to look up. The stream of money was finally broadening. At first, food was imported. Then they started cultivating the once barren lands. And it was as if the Gods themselves were smiling at Mira. The coffee grown in the royal plantations was the best in the land. It sold for double the amount and no one seemed to be getting enough of it. The economy was booming. As the money came in, so did the good times. The kingdom was steadily prospering. Her people were happy. They loved and revered their beautiful queen. And Mira was immersed in decadence. She was the best and she knew it. With her feet buried to the ground, she was reaching for the skies and they were descending for her. There was nothing that Mira couldn’t do. She was called the ‘Golden Lioness’.

And the last piece of the puzzle was set in when Rian came into her life. He was first handled by the Minister of External Trade. Later he expressed the desire to deal with the Lioness herself and as business grew, Mira agreed to meet with him personally. A trader by profession, he was the largest coffee importer from the richest neighboring kingdom. He wasn’t the most handsome or powerful man to have propositioned Mira. But he was earnest. He had a sharp sense of business, self belief and most of all, tremendous compassion. What started with few business lunches became a torrid affair- full of heat, passion and love.

For the first time in her life, Mira wasn’t in control and she couldn’t be happier. Everything, from making love to silent walks, was a quiet celebration. A celebration of her love for Rian and she couldn’t wait to tell the world! Even though he wasn’t royal blood, Rian was met with little opposition. His formidable wealth and status in his kingdom made him nothing less than blue blood and Mira’s father was delighted to welcome his would be son-in-law. She was so happy that it felt surreal. Her status as the monarch was iron strong. Her kingdom was thriving. And she was in love.

What seemed to be going endlessly was put to an abrupt halt. Three weeks before the wedding, Mira’s health took a turn. In the middle of a meeting to sanction a proposal for a new textile mill, Mira collapsed. There was a shooting pain in her gut and that all she remembered before losing consciousness. The royal doctor was ushered. When Mira woke up, she was lying on her bed, surrounded by two doctors, a nurse and her father. There was an undertone of enthusiasm and excitement in the dull atmosphere. Mira was with child!

But the doctors suspected ectopic pregnancy. The survival of her child was at risk but with a booming health sector, they were positive that their queen would have a healthy child. Her monarchial duties were taken over by her father. The news was kept under wraps till the doctors were certain of the future course of action. But Mira couldn’t wait to tell Rian.

Her fast approaching nuptials, a risky pregnancy.

She needed him by her side more than ever. And that day was perhaps the last time she felt a shred of happiness. She was getting ready for dinner when Nisa, her maid, walked in. She looked horrified. Her ash white face startled Mira. She was clutching a paper in hand. Mira insisted she tell her fast. Without a word, Nisa handed her a parchment. It was a marriage certificate.

…Till death do us apart.

Rian and Zoela.

It was a two-year-old certificate.

Mira was numb. A sinking feeling settled in her chest. It was moving towards her gut. She was getting nauseous. Her head was dizzy. The crystal vase in her hand smashed into a thousand shards, cutting through her arms and a jagged piece tore her cheek. She knew what was coming.

Her father sat next to her as she wept. She clutched onto her father’s arm like life support. He was muttering something. But in futility. Mira was too bereft to even listen. In a matter of hours she had lost her unborn child and the most important man in her life.

Mira sat there, clutching it as tightly as she could, her bloodshot eyes showing no sign of remorse. She had fought battles before but, for the first time, the profound feeling of tearing into someone flesh gave her a grim sense of satisfaction. Rian stared at her. His face crumpled in pain. Blood gushing from his chest.

Mira was sitting in her study, trying to concentrate on the new taxation plans Jon was explaining, when her father walked in. The marriage certificate was a forgery. Nisa was nowhere to be found. She wasn’t just her maid. She was an Eastern assassin sent to eliminate Rian. Tears rolled down her eyes. The nausea was coming back.

Mira was the first queen to have sentenced herself to death.

 

Featured Image Credits: http://www.gettyimages.in/detail/photo/young-woman-with-closed-eyes-royalty-free-image/501983531 (Jessica Lia)

About The Author

Raghav Chopra

Work in progress. Between the luminosity of lost dreams and the nebula of nightmares

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