Santala kingdom has never been this vulnerable. The king is sick and weak. Jealous eyes are casted on the throne. The king is resting his hopes on his daughter - Shanmala to master her powers, find a Tanti and ascend the throne. Meanwhile, the sun refuses to set the night her date, a prince from Fananala visits. After that, several anomalies hit the kingdom accompanied by a series of attacks. Shamala finds herself struggling to save her kingdom. In the process she learns about shocking revelations. Everything seems to be weighing her down and in that moment, she falls in love.
“Your Highness, you’re still by the river?”
A small voice rose from behind, piercing through the music of the sea waves.
“Yes, Amsah, I feel like staying here to gaze at the river forever,” Shanmala replied.
“But your highness, you know the tradition. You should be resting in your chamber now,” Amsah added.
“Forget the tradition, come, sit with me,” Shanmala requested. Amsah obliged and sat beside Shanmala.
“The traditions do not matter to me, I’m a good for nothing princess”.
“Come on Shanmala, don’t say that, your powers will come to you soon,” Amsah replied patting her shoulders.
They became quiet, staring at the river as it flowed forward. Two young women, sitting by the sea side admiring the quiet torrents of Mata river. Shanmala all dressed up in a flowery garment heavily laced with glittery attachments. And Amsah was wearing a simple blue gown that had endings like heavy eye bags.
Santala Kingdom has always been known as a reservoir of nature’s gifts. Bounded by tall purple headed mountains, mangroves and calming waters. The people had more than enough to keep their body and soul together. They had abundant grapes, dates, crops and silk. Every pair of animal lived in Santala.
It’s been ten years since King Meldin ascended the throne. After the loss of Reewa – his father, he took the full responsibility of the kingdom on his shoulders. King Meldin’s reign has been successful and joyful except for the death of Elvia – the late queen. He was depressed for years after Elvia passed away. Everyone in the kingdom felt her demise. She was such an inspiration to Santala. King Meldin never executed any move without consulting Elvia.
Her death was a strange one, no one could understand the circumstances that led to her death. Several stories filled the village and deciding which to believe was an endless road. Some said she was eaten by wild animals, others said she got drowned in Lake Tanla. Every household in the kingdom had its own version of the story.
Each time Shanmala asked her Father about what killed her Mother, he would say, “her lifetime elapsed so she had to leave us.” Then, his eyes would get heavy and form balls of tears that eventually dropped one after the other. Shanmala was only a month old when Elvia passed away. King Meldin could not give her a satisfactory answer nor could the Royal workers. Like everyone else in the kingdom, she decided to make peace with her mother’s death. Yet, she could not bring herself to take her mind off the mystery of everyone’s silence.
“Your Highness, the sun is not having plans of resting,” said Amsah. ”Uhh, it must be one of those seasons when the day is longer than the nights,” Shanmala said still gazing at the sea. “I don’t think so, your highness,” Amsah added. “Relax Amsah, the sun will set. By the way, I’m getting tired. I want to go see father.” Shanmala said ending the conversation.
She got up straightening the full ends of her Royal blue gown while Amsah helped her with it. “You should wear casual clothings your highness, like Princess Taladi. This gown looks like its going to swallow you someday,” Amsah teased. “Oh come on, enough with the teasing,” Shanmala protested. They both laughed softly showing the upper parts of their canines. They kept talking as they walked towards the King’s chamber.
The architecture of the palace was beyond beautiful. All the chambers intelligently erected side by side. It was difficult to pass by the palace and not gaze in awe. Elegance and style had their signatures on every part of the palace.
The flickering gold light at the top of King Meldin’s chamber had the key to everyone’s heart. To the left of his chamber was the Queen’s chamber with diamond sprinkles on the walls. The chambers of the other royalties were by the right, the name of each chamber written in silver to differentiate. Then, all the other chambers surrounded them layer after layer in rank. Shanmala and Amsah were now standing at the main door. Amsah turned the bolt and opened the door.
“Thank you,” Shanmala said stepping in and Amsah walked behind her. As they walked down the hallway, the maids tilted their heads down as they passed by Shanmala to show respect. They were ten rooms away from the Queen’s chamber when Shanmala stopped to pull off her shoes. “Uhhh, I will rather walk bare footed,” she said and Amsah busted out laughing. Shanmala raised her head up, her brows curved downwards, looking displeased. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, really, pardon me. But your Highness, you are highly amusing, ”Amsah said still laughing. “I’m I?” Shanmala replied, a bit offended. “Hey! Don’t be so upset now, we are approaching the King, but you should consider simpler clothings,” Amsah added. “Enough!” Shanmala retorted and Amsah became quiet. She could not understand why Shanmala became so upset.
Four guards were at the door to the King’s chamber. They all looked the same in their protective vests except for the slight differences in the shapes of their eyes which was the only visible part of their body. Shanmala had to wait for one of them to go inform the King of her arrival. He had an intimidating aura, walking with his head up and wings high. In a second, he returned. Guards selected to stay by the door to the King’s chamber had the superpower of speed. They can do and undo things in milliseconds. He gestured that the Princess could go in. Amsah waited behind as Shanmala proceeded to go see her father.
The Princess walked through the first door and closed it quietly behind her. She moved for the stairs climbing up till she got to the throne where King Meldin was seated. In his midst were two elderly citizens dressed in the usual white regalia for formal meetings. Shanmala tilted her head and stretched out the ends of her gown to show respect. The two citizens got up as she climbed the stage and they remained standing till she sat down before they took their seats. She knew she had to remain quiet till the meeting was over. For the first time in her life, this gave her some relief. Shanmala had been a girl of many words, talking about virtually everything. She would fidget at the thought of keeping shut for a minute. As the years passed by, she did less of the talking and more of the listening. Now, the thought of having to stay active in conversations scares her. The bars of expectation have been raised and every word has a unique weight.
“Your Highness, the sun is yet to set,” one of the men said standing up. “I’m sure it will set,” the King replied. The other man got up too, adjusting his garment. They both bowed and took their leave. Shanmala watched them as they walked out of the palace closing the front door behind them. Then, she felt air closing up on her again. She was anxious. The king noticed her unease so he decided to start the conversation.
“Princess Shan, are you okay?” He said with eyes fixated upon her. King Meldin was concerned but his gaze only aggravated her anxiety. “I’m fine Father,” she said still looking at her feets with her arms locked in each other. “What do you want to talk about?” King Meldin asked folding the skin around his forehead. He was wondering why she had come to see him at such an odd hour when she should be resting in her chamber.
“The priest. I want to talk about the priest and the letter I was sent yester night,” she finally opened up. “What did the letter contain?” King Meldin questioned folding his wings. He became curious. “Your Highness, the priest is here,” a masculine voice said from beneath the palace. It was the one of the guards. The sound of the priest sent shivers down Shanmala’s spine. “What’s he doing here? What does he want? Even worse, why does he have to interrupt this conversation?” She thought to herself.
“Let him in,” King Meldin replied. Hmmm, she sighed wondering when she would get another opportunity to talk to the King alone. She had to wait for 17 hours and now this.
“It’s a good thing the priest is here. Since you wanted to talk about him. I was about to summon him too. We can all talk things out,” King Meldin said. “Yes Father,” Shanmala replied cursing under her breath. The priest was a few steps from the throne. They both watched him climb up. He was now sitting in their midst wearing a long face with his brows carved downwards.