The Forest of Queens

Kiara Maharaj September 12, 2019
Fable, Magic
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There was a fine prince
Rattled with despair and woe
So sad was he that flowers nearby
Failed to grow.

His breath was poison gas
His thoughts were ashes
But never was there doubt
That he was fine lass.

No matter the shine of the dawn
Or the crisp warmth of dusk
This prince wept rivers of tears
As if to mourn.

He strolled through the gardens
Seeing nothing but gloom
Not the princesses who swooned
Nor the buds that bloomed.

Then came a day when the king said in rage:
“Enough of this sadness, this isn’t a stage!
For your dull songs and those locks of beige!
Lock him in a cage,
Or leave this instant
To a place so distant
That I’ll never see your sad face again,
And in this stance I remain!”

There was a fine prince
Rattled with despair and woe
So sad was he, that even his father
Became a foe.

In his sad state
The prince left the gate
Wondering why everything dark,
Imprinted only him like a mark.
Alone with every breath
He wandered the streets
He thought about death
And slept with no sheets.

He walked in a daze,
Feeling amazed
Phased
But sadly,
Not erased.

Long past the dawn
And long gone his crown,
He trespassed unfamiliar lands
Playing into thievery’s hands.

Those bandits were cruel
And robbed him to the teeth
Until there was a foul
And he landed on his feet.

Horribly hurt, lying on the ground
It was fate that intervened
When a golden door
He found.

Peeking from under the grass
The door sparkled like brass
And the prince didn’t think twice
Before escaping from the thieves’ game of dice.

The world shifted and swirled
The prince in mid-air twirled
Then landed firm and kneeling
In a place that sent his mind reeling.

So blinding was the light
He had to shield his face
From the divine sight
Before observing the place.
There was a fine prince
Rattled with despair and woe
But the beauty of a forest
Caused his heart to flow.

The forest was like any other
Leaves and tall trees they gather
To share secrets and tales
Until the sky pales.

The exception were the statues so fierce
Armed with weapons to pierce
Some unknown enemy
Moulded in the female anatomy.

Heart beating like lightning
The prince approached the nearest, a frightening
Scowl upon her stone lips
A sword that slim fingers grip.

He turned to each one in awe
Having a hard time finding a flaw
Such precise and intricate garments
They hardly seemed to be garden ornaments.

Finally in fair curiousness
He lifted an arm to touch
The stone woman
Who trembled and morphed –
The prince’s palm touched flesh.

There was a fine prince
Rattled with nothing but fear
When the silver sword of a Queen
His throat threatened to tear.

“Foolish male!
You shall never live to tell the tale!”
High her sword went into the air
The prince tumbled
Before a voice yelled “Beware!”

His palms brought another to life
One who rescued him from his strife
Gave him a chance,
And spoke in a calm voice:

“This is the Forest of Queens
Where we once lived in flesh
But after a tragic war that means
We were forced to transform into stone
To preserve our lives
To escape our horrors.
Never did we think a male would stumble by,
Find the door and come to die.”

The was a fine prince
Who always desired death
But upon facing his end
He didn’t want it to be his last breath.

“I beg your forgiveness, it was a mistake
I’ll leave your forest, o queen,
And from my mind erase
The memory of ever entering.”

The pair of queens together judged his plea
While the prince trembled
Wondering whether to flee.

Then they rolled the dice
And spoke to him like sour lime
“If you step out of line,
You will pay the price
But for the time, remain
And see what else you can do.”

The prince had never felt relief greater
Than knowing he had another day of life so sweeter
He bowed to the two dames
And stated his name:

“I am Vihaan
Once a prince of plenty riches
Before I was banished by father
Now I am a visitor of many ditches.”

“Visitor of many ditches
These stone sculptures are my sisters,
I go by the name Parvati,
And the first statue you brought to flesh is Mamlambo.
Heal a third Queen, perhaps a fourth and fifth too,
And together, we’ll narrate our story to you.”

So the prince did as per their wish.
He strolled through the forest of stone Queens
Touching each sculpture with a gentle kiss
Of his palm, they breathed life.

When the Forest of stone Queens
Pulsed with beating hearts
The Queen called Sif whispered
“There’s one more left.”

They all moved aside to reveal
A single statue with the might of steel
She rode a horse on its hindquarters,
Paused in mid-battle.

The Queens all held their breath
And gazed serenely as the prince
Placed his palm on the last Queen
Waiting for her fierce form to take flesh.

Nothing happened, stone stayed stone
The prince frowned questioningly
Before the others explained
The befallen tragedy.

The Queen called Amunet said:
“It is as we have thought
She had chosen the wrong side
Of the battle we had fought.”

“Centuries ago, our land lived in peace
Men and women together did their duties
To accomplish little tasks for their homes.”
Began Queen Gaia.

“We had no ruler,
No king to make our laws fuller
There was ultimate balance among the genders
And never did we think
We would be left separated to fender.”

“Then came a day when a man thought too much
He wanted to rule, and throw equality
Into imbalance –”

“He thought too much, treated women
As if we were lesser,” said Queen Al-lat.
“Spread lies about how we were cursed,
Poisoned, evil, and sinners,
He spread lies among the men to turn against us.
And it worked.”

Queen Atua-anua said with a cry:
“Soon we weren’t safe in our homes,
Our husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers became
Different beings and regarded their
Queens as cleaners.”

“We fought a great battle
We weren’t going to stay silent
But the violence grew out of control
And we were forced to flee one night.”

“The new King’s army charged after us,
Millions against us,
Thousands of our sisters died fighting
Until the only women left were the ones you see now.”

“We were saved after four more sacrificed
To carry a piece of Earth on their giant shoulders, their own lives
One for each corner
And raised high above the men’s
Kingdom, far from their reach.”

“Our raised land held for years,
But the King was vengeful.
He never gave up the quest to
Conquer the Queens who escaped.”

“He never gave up the quest,”
Queen Izanami said with a tear,
“He climbed and climbed until he reached
The sanctuary of Queens.”

At this point, the Queens became silent
As if remembering the sounds of the
Battle that ensued,
As if recalling their unruly fate.
Yet when the Prince saw smiles of victory
Amidst their tears,
He wondered aloud: “The King failed his quest.”

“Indeed he did,” said Queen Epona.
“We felt obliged to teach him a lesson,
Hence you found us here today
Bound by stone where nothing could snatch
Our dignity away.”

“When the King reached the peak of his climb
The sight of us, still in stone, drove him insane,
We stood right before him,
But there was nothing he could do.”

“It drove him insane
He banged his mind
At our unbelievable audacity
To sacrifice ourselves simply so he couldn’t control us.”

“It drove him insane,” said Parvati.
“He slipped over the edge, falling from the height of clouds.
To this day, he still falls, to insanity
Crumpled to his knees.
It drove him insane
And in a way, that is a better punishment than death.”

There was a fine prince
Rattled with despair and shame
Ashamed of this King
Ashamed to be a male.

With a pit so hollow
All other eyes followed
The prince’s gaze to the last Queen
Who never returned from stone.

“Turning to stone was blessing
And a curse, for we defeated Man
But only by a Man’s touch could we ever
Be restored to flesh again.”

“She was unique, she fought a different battle alone.
While it was man against woman,
She fought the battle of Man and Woman,
She kept in her belief of balance
And thus is she bound forever by stone.”

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