The Moon of Xxene

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


[Oghene (“Uh-geh-neh”) – God]* [Onóturode (“Oh-nuh-too-roh-day”) – Prime Minister]* [Orodje (“Oh-roh-jeh”) – “King”. Orodje is a title usually combined with a court name and can be used to refer to
any king, past and present.]* [Ovye ("Ohv-yeh") – “King.” Ovye is a stand-alone title used to address the reigning king.]

Chapter 10 (v.2) - Tenth Phase.2 (Continuation)

Submitted: July 21, 2019

Reads: 34

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Submitted: July 21, 2019

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The second exam was upon Emeravwe in a few short months. For the practical component, she and the other trainees conducted inspections of the Maidens’ and Eunuchs’ Quarters. As she went through rooms in the Maidens’ Quarters, confiscating inadequately hidden jewelry, perfumes, and powders, the Aye in charge of her group monitored and double-checked her work.

When they returned to the Compound of the Ministry of Justice upon the completion of their tasks, they encountered a train of Eunuchs, Maidens, and court officials exiting the Bureau of Court Affairs. Emeravwe could not see the head of this long procession, but at the front, towering over all, was a rich violet cloth umbrella embroidered around in gold and silver with the Heavenly Bodies, the sun and crescent moons design which symbolized Xxene. Her heart clenched as she realized only one person in the entire palace could be escorted by such a formidable entourage and shielded from the sun with so extravagant a canopy.

“The Orodje!” an Agaenaye in her group piped excitedly, confirming her suspicions and sending her heart beating in a frenzy.

Emeravwe’s mind screeched to a halt as she watched the procession with dazed amazement. That night, when she met Aslan in their garden, she spoke only of her near encounter with the king.

“If only we reached the bureau moments earlier! I would have come face to face with him!” She turned to Aslan, eyes beaming. “I almost met him, I tell you! I wish he did not bring about such a large retinue—I could have approached him today if not for them!”

Aslan laughed, watching her pace excitedly before the bench. “Approached him and what?” he asked amusedly. “‘Miguo, Your Majesty, I am Omote Emeravwe and I am going to marry you!’ Would you introduce yourself thusly?”

“Oho!” Emeravwe snapped her fingers, grinning, “He would surely not forget me if I introduced myself that way!” and they laughed, Aslan shaking his head.

Her close encounter with the king reassured Emeravwe that she could, indeed, meet him if she entered the Bureau of Court Affairs, and she anxiously awaited the results of her exam. A week passed before they were finally announced, and by Oghene’s grace both she and Akpokene were accepted into the Bureau of Court Affairs.

The day of their official appointment to the bureau coincided with the celebration of their becoming Agaenaye, and Emeravwe’s spirits soared throughout that day. That morning, when she and those who successfully completed the training assembled in the main hall of the Bureau of Court Affairs, it was all Emeravwe could do to keep from bursting in laughter like a crazed woman. And try as she might, she could not suppress the wide grin that overcame her as she was personally handed her scroll of appointment by the director of the bureau. Her heart beat so loudly in her ears she could hardly hear as they were congratulated by the director and officials, and the grin plastered her face well into the night.

The coming-of-age celebration for Omote becoming Agaenaye took place in the Maidens’ Compound. They received the blessings and prayers of the palace priests during a ceremony held on the Pavilion of Offerings, and the Rode Aye presented each Omote with the standard pink apparel of Agaenaye. After the ceremony, the celebration was moved to the Hall of Abundant Blessings and continued late into the night.

Emeravwe stayed only for the first bit of the celebration in the hall, spending her time with Akpokene as they partook of the feast and admired their Agaenaye attires. But more than anything, she wanted to show Aslan her official scroll of appointment to the Bureau of Court Affairs and her new Agaenaye garments. Her heart raced with excitement at the thought of presenting it all to him, and at the first chance she got, she excused herself from the festivities, grabbed her scroll and Agaenaye uniform, and sprinted to the Eunuchs’ Compound.

She burst into the garden to find Aslan standing serenely before the bench, gazing at the moon. Coming to an abrupt halt before him, she held out her folded Agaenaye attire with the scroll of appointment resting on top. She beamed up at him, her chest heaving as she struggled to catch her breath. Aslan gave her a knowing smile and her own broadened, her heart beating so fast it manifested in uncontrollable giggles.

“So, you were given an official appointment to the Bureau of Court Affairs,” he said smoothly, glancing at the scroll in her arms.

Emeravwe nodded, grinning inanely.

“And you are now an Agaenaye.”

She giggled, her joy making her giddy.

Aslan stepped forward and, to her surprise, gently framed her face in his hands and placed a tender kiss on her brow. He looked at her, her face still framed, and said affectionately, “You have worked hard, Eme. I am very proud of you.”

Her heart swelled at Aslan’s praise even as her face heated at his tender touch. She had no words to express her elation, which Aslan made complete, and felt sure in that moment that he was the blessing Oghene sent her in place of a guardian angel, for none of her achievements would have been possible without him. 

“I brought you a congratulatory gift,” he said, indicating the stone bench where a small black velvet box sat dandily beneath the light of the moon. He lifted it, settling on the bench, and Emeravwe sat beside him, setting her Agaenaye uniform and scroll to one side.

“What is it?” she questioned as he presented her with the box. She opened it to reveal a shimmering purple silk cloth, its soft folds nestling a necklace. It had a delicate silver chain and large pearl pendant set in a ring of tiny white moonstones whose lights glimmered like stars. Emeravwe gasped. “The moon!”

Aslan smiled at her reaction. “A fitting gift, I thought, considering your name.”

She stared wide-eyed at the necklace, then at Aslan. She could not possibly accept such an extravagant gift—she should not, as a palace Maiden. “Oh, Aslan! It is lovely!” She delicately fingered the dainty chain, the round pendant. “I suppose you truly are the Onóturode’s son if you can gift so lavishly!”

His smile grew warm, the look in his amber eyes softening to a gaze that made her heart flutter. “Perhaps now you will consider me instead of Ovye. I can lavish you with many more jewels if you like.”

Emeravwe laughed nervously, avoiding his eyes. “Oh, I like.” She gently fingered the large pearl, teasing, “Please, do feel free. I am sure more jewels like this one will come handy in attracting the Orodje!”

Glancing back at him, she saw he still gazed at her, but the look in his eyes had deepened, the sweet smile pursed on his lips turned solemn. The gaze gripped her. She found herself unable to look away, and Aslan’s stare only intensified. It was the heat of the night crowding around her that finally jolted Emeravwe, and she stood abruptly, her body wrapped with warmth. Aslan grasped her hand, rising as well. The sudden contact startled her and, with a sense of panic, she tried to wrest her hand away. Aslan gripped her tighter.

“Eme, look at me.”

She kept her eyes locked on the moon’s reflection in the pond, struggling to rein in her pounding heart.

“Emeravwe.”

The gravity in his voice finally made her turn to him, and she saw deep shadows shrouded his features. “Aslan,” she called quietly, the dark change in his mood unsettling her.

Relaxing his grip, he reached forward and took her other hand, holding both tenderly in his. When he looked at her again, anxiety filled his eyes.

He regarded her a long time, then began haltingly, “Eme, you are an adult now. You will begin to see and understand things—things you may wish were not true, or that you never learned…”

She stepped back, attempting to slide her hands from his grip once more; the warmth of his hands around hers was strangely nerve-racking.

He stepped forward, never losing his hold on her. “No matter what you learn, Eme, I want you to remember that my affections for you have always been the same. I will forever be on your side. Do you understand?”

Her stomach quivered with butterflies, her mind stalling at his expectant melancholic regard. She tilted her head, questioning saucily to dispel his dour mood and calm her own tension, “But Aslan, have you ever not been on my side?”

He smiled faintly now, squeezing her hands. “Exactly.” Emeravwe sucked in a breath, releasing it slowly when he finally let go of her. He gathered her things from the bench and placed them in her arms. “You must not leave Akpokene alone at the festivities tonight.”

She bent her knees quickly in a butu. “Miguo for the gift, Aslan, I shall cherish it.”

He nodded, and she dashed for the exit. As she left the garden, she wondered only briefly what his grave words and sullen attitude meant, then her mind turned to how his eyes seized her. She had always thought Aslan handsome, but never realized how compelling his gaze could be. The intensity had been different from his usual soft stare. She would have to be on guard against him from now on—she could not afford to be enchanted by him.

 


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