Back in the West
Across the border, there hung a painting in Sia’s room, which contained the figures of Sophie, Alex, Charles and Suffle with the backdrop of her old home. The painting had appeared a few days after Philip had seen Sia in the orchard.
“I want to show you something,” Sia told Philip.
Sia gave him a letter. “It had come with that painting.”
Philip read that letter.
Thank you for the championship. She seems very happy at the prospect. She loved the berries. The look on her face was divine. I won’t bore you with the details. Hope you like the thank you gift.
See you soon,
Philip laughed. “That was your great tip? Feed her berries?”
“In hindsight, it was not my best idea,” Sia said sheepishly. “But I got this painting.”
Philip observed that loved seemed like a stupid thing and Sia replied that she would not comment on something that she didn’t understand. The would-be parents then got lost in their future child and hopes & dreams about him/her. Neal and his stupid love were quite forgotten.
The weeks that came afterwards were full of celebrations in the kingdom and Philip’s father declared his willingness to give up the throne.
If anybody had asked Sia which prospect brought her more happiness, being a mother or being a queen, she could not have answered sincerely. Her responsibilities were going to increase, two at a time. At the moment she was afraid of both. She would have to take care of her subjects and her child.
Philip maintained that he knew that he would become a father and a king, sooner or later. But the news of one event had accelerated the other. So, when alone, he acknowledged himself to be more grateful for the child.
In company, he would say that he was grateful for his victory over King Suffle.
It was a small bandage on the gash that they were last in shooting. Weapon-less combat had made Suffle dance with joy. They had won the male race, but in the female race they had again secured third. They took solace in the fact that I ateast the humans had fared better than the starlites.
Two days after their return, Sia received a letter from Sophie.
Hope you all reached safely. I know you must not be expecting a letter this soon. Something weird and unexpected happened at the ball after you left.
I have told you that there are seven commanders in my team. One of them is a fellow named Wilson Williams. You may remember him as one of the boys Charles played with during his childhood.
He asked me to dance with him at the ball. I only accepted because the girl he was dancing with seemed creepy. I don’t think I have ever seen her before in my life. She was freakishly tall and had a really muscular neck. Her dance moves were also really awful, even worse than mine.
While I was only being a good Samaritan, the commander had other plans. During the five feet round about, he asked me to marry him. I said no straightaway. It was very awkward because we were right in the middle. Now I think I should have waited till the end.
He said that we are of the right age and equal in position and it would be a good match. It would have been logical but for the fact that he is a lousy worker. He is always late or absent at the weekly meetings and his reports are garbage (Colonel Hossier said that).
Do you think it was rude of me to say no straightway? Should I have taken some time before rejecting him? Do you think that it’ll affect our team-work? Will he think that I deem myself better than him? Because I do.
After that awkward conversation, I left the ball. You had left and Charles & Alex were enjoying their roles as hosts. I told them that I was not feeling well. I like Alex. She is a good person. And she told me that she had made the cake herself. Who does that? It was delicious. She even offered me a stay at the palace which I declined.
And I’m glad that I declined it because I had a surprise waiting for me at my house. It was late but the shop below my house was open. Rocus told me that they had a lot of work due to the foreigners’ orders. He gave me a packet which (he informed me) had arrived in the afternoon.
Guess what it contained? a mask, the dress that Vega made for me months ago and a note which read- ‘In urgent need of Anna. Please come.’
You had once told me that it is very hard to say no to him. I also find it impossible, even if he is not personally present to persuade you. I could not ready myself as well as you did, but the mask took care of it.
I have returned the dress but I think that I’ll hold on to the mask. The humans were nice enough, not that I could recognise any of them. I would not have even recognised the prince if he had not come to me himself.
I think I’ve gotten the hang of human dancing. It’s less exhausting than ours. I would do this when I get old and am unable to do our dance. I swear I dozed off for a while and nobody even noticed.
The prince told me that he had no plans to attend the ball without Anna and he knew that I would come to his rescue. I had wondered whose idea it was to have a masquerade ball. He told me that it was so that nobody misses him. But since he was there, the whole point seems moot.
He really does what he wants and nobody is any wiser. Whether we should be afraid of such a person or be glad that he is on our side? I’ll let you decide as you have known him longer.
I wish you could have seen the painting he made of me. Charlie liked it.
Be happy, be healthy.
P.S.- Give my regards to everyone.
Sia did not waste a single moment, and wrote an angry letter to Neal.
You are an idiot. What were you thinking? Who let you in? How many Annas do you aim to pull in one night? What twisted meaning did you get when I gave you the gown and told you to be your own Anna? Were you just waiting for me to leave, so that you could start your shenanigans? I’m sure you know about Wilson. It’s time to get your act together and confess. You seem so sure of yourself. What’s the catch then?
I won’t save you the next time you are in trouble. It’s not even good for her. The sooner the better. What are you waiting for?
Next time you do such a thing, I’ll come kick your ass. (I may send Philip if I’m otherwise occupied but your ass will be kicked, be sure of that.)
Fed up of your shenanigans,
P.S.-We reached here safely and hope everyone is well there. Philip sends his wishes.
A week later she received the reply.
I was not waiting for you to leave. You saw Anna and did not recognise her. If you didn’t who could? Wilson is a loser, he never had a chance.
I think that you are right. I’m taking too many unnecessary risks. Even Princess Marya guessed it. It’s just that I want to fill every second, oops, I’m boring you again.
The ball was a success. Human dancing is far superior than Starlite dancing. How else would a girl sleep on your shoulder without anybody noticing? Nobody missed me. The masks were mother’s idea. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The important thing is that I’ve decided to take firm actions now. I promise you that I’ll wrap up all this with a ribbon and bow soon.
Wait for my next letter.
Give my regards to Philip.
Stay healthy and have a beautiful baby.
Your problem for life,
P.S.- My plans will have to be deferred. There is news of turbulence in the water kingdom. Maya, (you must know her by name) has demanded the throne. Queen Crysta is not well I guess.
I will write again soon.