Chapter 7: (v.3) Seventh Phase.3 (Continuation)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 91


One evening in October, as the Maidens had supper in the Hall of Abundant Blessings where they took their meals in the Maidens’ Quarters, Omote Oluchi and Ngozi made an announcement at the tables where the Omote dined. They declared they would soon be made Aya of the Department of Court Ladies, Maidens of the Inner Palace who were ladies-in-waiting to the royal family and noble guests. They boasted of how they would no longer spend their days cleaning halls, offices, and chambers, but would have the opportunity to serve Princess Ada, the king’s younger sister, and would even be able to see the king in the Inner Palace.

Many of the Omote shot Omote Oluchi and Ngozi hateful glares, Emeravwe and Akpokene included, for they all knew life in the Inner Palace was far more luxurious than in the Outer Palace, even for Maidens. Still, Omote Oluchi and Ngozi continued to put on airs, lamenting what a shame it was that the rest of them would have to go on scrubbing floors and doing other menial tasks in the Outer Palace for the rest of their lives.

“We shall surely remember you when we become Honored Petals,” Omote Oluchi said to the Omote at the tables, using the title, Honored Lunar Petal, bestowed on a king’s concubine.

One of the Omote scoffed, “An Honored Petal? Ha! You will be lucky if you end up a Eunuch’s plaything with your looks!”

The Omote at the tables snickered and Emeravwe exchanged amused looks with Akpokene.

Omote Oluchi and Ngozi were unfazed, however, and Omote Oluchi ambled up to the Omote who had spoken, swaying her tiny hips as though she were already an Honored Petal. “Do not compare us with the likes of you. You are more likely to end up a Eunuch’s trifle, forever stuck in the Outer Palace as you are.” She said, “As palace Maidens we can never marry and will never know what else the world might have to offer us. We are bound to these walls which surround us. Ngozi and I, however, have the great fortune to be called to the Inner Palace. Being able to serve Princess Ada is already an immense blessing, but we would be fools if we allowed Oghene’s merciful favor to go to waste, would we not?” Omote Oluchi looked to Omote Ngozi.

“Indeed,” Omote Ngozi nodded. “Oghene shows us the way, but man must clear his own path. Even a fool knows to accept offered gold.”

“But gold is precious, and not offered to just anyone.” Omote Oluchi sneered at the Omote who insulted them, “And even if a fool is offered gold, I am afraid she would not know what to do with it and would still die a wretched Maiden!”

That night, Omote Oluchi’s words stuck with Emeravwe. The more she thought on them, the more she felt palace Maidens were little more than noble captives in the palace. She had felt the restrictions for a long time, but it sunk in now that their lives and futures were bound to the walls surrounding them and determined by those above them. She wanted to speak with Aslan about this, but he did not come to the garden that night, and Emeravwe did not want to return to the chamber she shared with Omote Oluchi and Ngozi.

She wondered if this was truly how she would spend the rest of her life; laboring from dawn to dusk in the Outer Palace, her only reward the pay she would spend on a twice-a-year outing to the marketplace, a trip on which she may or may not be chosen to go. The seven years she had already spent in the palace would have been intolerable if it had not been for Aslan, but even with Aslan, the thought of spending the rest of her life as a palace Maiden was becoming even more unbearable.

Why was she a palace Maiden? She wondered as despondent tears pricked her eyes. She remembered the jeweled girls she had seen roaming freely in the marketplace and her chest constricted with bitterness. She was jeweled, too! The ruby in her forehead proved she was not meant to be a Maiden, so why had her family left her in the palace? Why had no one come looking for her all these years? When they were younger Aslan assured her that no children were abandoned in the palace, but if that was the case, then did she really have no family?

She had purposely avoided thinking of her family and background as she grew up, but the questions always lingered in her mind. She had hoped that someone would come searching for her one day. But she had waited seven years already and was afraid no matter how much longer she waited, no one would rescue her from the life of a palace Maiden.

Emeravwe sat a long time crying in the garden that night. She cried for the family she could not remember, for the long, lonely days she had spent in the palace. And as she cried, she decided she would no longer wait for someone to appear and make her life better. Because Aslan appeared when she most needed him, making her life in the palace less lonely, she foolishly hoped that such a miracle would happen again, and she would be taken from the palace. She knew, though, that even if someone did appear, it would change nothing. She was already a palace Maiden whether or not she was meant to be, and no one could change that.

Emeravwe stared boldly into the night through her tears. I will.

Akpokene had said years before that if she could find her way in the palace, even a valued child could become someone great. Though she could do little as a Maiden in the Bureau of Halls and Chambers, if she could climb up the ranks—attain a position many Maidens could only dream about—then she would be in more control of her life and gain recognition. Even if she did not have a family, the ruby in her forehead was proof of her noble origins, so if Omote Oluchi and Ngozi could become the king’s Honored Lunar Petals, then why not her?

When Emeravwe left the garden that night her tears had dried, and her mind was filled solely with thoughts of the king.

Submitted: July 16, 2019

© Copyright 2020 OE. All rights reserved.


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