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
    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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