:::Hadima Meets Eutimio:::
Editor: A.M. Alecci
“Hadima, come with me.”
Eight-year-old Princess Wahida’s hands were still clasped onto those of her older sister, Princess Hadima, when the voice approached them from the palace walls. The two girls had been praying to Akia, the goddess of Water, in the Palace’s central garden. There was nothing more to break the silence outside of her own voice and the bubbling of the large fountain a few paces away. Thus, Wahida had been slightly startled to hear another sound. Towering behind Hadima was their mother, Alda, Queen of Iona.
Hadima spun around and smiled. “Yes, mother!”
As Hadima got up and rushed to their mother, Wahida stared in disbelief. “But--”
Mother and daughter walked toward the palace entrance, the Queen’s hands placed gently on Hadima’s back. “Let’s put you in some nicer clothes. You’re going to meet someone very important.”
Wahida scrambled to get up and ran after them. “But we’re not finished praying!”
Within the palace dressing room, Hadima stood as the palace tailor stitched last minute touches to the Princess’ ensemble: a dress of bright red--one of the colors of the Kingdom of Iona -- with white trimming. As the cloth reached the floor, it gradated to maroon. The sleeves were long enough to hide Hadima’s hands.
“My, Hadima, you look beautiful,” the tailor said as she gently placed a silver headpiece adorned with dangling pearls upon the girl’s head.
“Thank you,” Hadima replied.
Wahida had a similar dress fitted on her, albeit a less elaborate one, with white cloth and light-red trimming. The handmaid clasped on the young princess’ pearl earrings. Wahida folded her arms.
“Do you know who you’re going to meet, Hadima?” she said quietly, but loud enough for her sister to hear.
“I’m not sure!” Hadima said happily. “But mother said it’s a very important person!”
Wahida looked out the window, gazing at where the yellow sand met the teal sky. “Maybe they can help us pray to Akia,” she uttered quietly.
The tailor and the handmaid looked at each other and smiled. The handmaid giggled as she put Hadima’s large, pearl earrings on.
Hadima cocked an eyebrow at them. She then told her younger sister, “It’s possible!”
The girls were escorted down the halls to the palace foyer by two unarmed palace guards. Their red robes were duller than Hadima’s bright, red dress. Wahida stayed just behind Hadima, as if she were her older sister’s shadow.
As they emerged out of the hall and headed to the stairs, Wahida saw five figures standing in a near-circle. She recognized two of them: her mother, in her full formal attire, and her father, King Zahi VII, who she seldom saw outside of formal occasions like this. The other three, she didn’t recognize. Two were adults in equally formal attire, and the last was a boy that looked Hadima’s age. The strangers wore yellows, oranges, and blues, contrasting from her parents’ ensembles of red, white, and teal.
“Presenting their royal Highnesses, Princess Hadima and Princess Wahida of Iona,” an authoritative voice was heard from the foot of the stairs. It was a palace guard.
The figures then looked at Wahida and her sister. She grabbed Hadima’s dress as they descended the stairs.
The Queen quickly paced towards her oldest daughter, placing her hand on her back to lead her towards the group. She did not notice Wahida still latched onto the back of Hadima’s dress. “Your Majesties, I’d like for you to meet the daughter of Iona, Princess Hadima,” she said with a nervous smile.
The two strangers smiled at Hadima and bowed their heads. The boy stood still.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” the two strangers greeted. Hadima bowed as well, but the queen gently nudged her.
“Hadima, you don’t need to bow back,” the Queen whispered.
“Sorry, mother,” Hadima whispered back sheepishly.
The King stepped towards his daughter. “Hadima, I’d like to introduce you to their Majesties, King Ciro and Queen Eualia of Turi.”
“Keep a straight posture, Hadima,” Queen Alda whispered. Hadima lifted her head slightly.
“It’s an honor, your Majesties,” she said. Queen Alda smiled.
“We would like for you to meet King Ciro and Queen Eualia’s son.” King Zahi said, stretching out his arm towards the boy. The prince was stone-faced and rigid.
King Ciro put his hand on the prince’s back. “Your Highness, this is my youngest son, Prince Eutimio.”
Eutimio blinked with his mouth slightly parted. Hadima smiled at him quietly. Queen Alda looked at Hadima and said, “This is the important person we wanted you to meet.” Hadima and Wahida both became intrigued.
“Why is he important?” Wahida whispered to Hadima but she didn’t react. Hadima stared back at the boy.
Queen Eualia looked at the prince nervously. “Eutimio? Don’t you have anything to say to her Highness?” Eutimo continued to stare.
Wahida poked out and looked at her sister and the young prince. Although they hadn’t said a word, it looked to her as if they were already having a conversation.
“Eutimio.” King Ciro hissed. The boy jolted to life.
“M-m-my--I mean. I-i-it’s an honor t-to meet you,” Eutimio stuttered. Hadima held her hand over her mouth and giggled.
“Bow, Eutimio,” Queen Eualia said quietly.
Eutimio bowed, but kept his gaze fixed. King Ciro turned to King Zahi and nervously explained, “My deepest apologies, your Majesty. He’s normally not like this.”
King Zahi made a half smile. “It’s quite alright.”
“It’s an honor to meet you, too, Prince Eutimio.” Hadima said, lowering her head slightly.
“Eutimio, what is the matter with you?” Queen Eualia whispered to him.
The hue of Eutimio’s face now nearly matched Hadima’s dress. “She is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen, mama.”
Several hours passed. The sun was high up in the sky. Prince Eutimio and the Ionian princesses were in the Palace garden while the Kings and Queens remained inside.
Eutimio managed to properly introduce himself and apologize for his behavior, which Hadima assured didn’t bother her.
“I thought it was funny,” Hadima told him.
“The good kind of funny or the bad kind of funny?” he shyly asked.
“The good kind, of course!” she said.
Hadima turned her head briefly to find her sister. She saw Wahida sitting a few paces away with a tense face.
Wahida noticed her gaze and glanced quickly at the fountain, pouting.
Hadima mouthed, “Later,” and returned her attention to Eutimio.
Eutimio turned around and looked at Wahida. “I know how she feels,” admitted the prince. “After my older sister met her husband, she wasn’t around as often. She’s all grown up now. I don’t see her at all anymore.”
A wave of guilt went over Hadima. She looked at Wahida again.
“What do you like to do together? Maybe I can join you,” Eutimio offered. “Is there a game you and Wahida would like to play?”
Hadima bit her lip.
Later, the Kings and Queens emerged from the coolness of the palace to see Eutimio leaned up against one of the columns in the garden, arms crossed before his face. Queen Eualia gasped quietly. “Eutimio?!” She walked up to him hastily.
As she came closer, she heard, “Nineteen… Twenty! I’M ON MY WAY!” he shouts. He suddenly bolted from the column and nearly bumped into his mother. “Oh! Hello, mama! Hello, papa!”
“Where are the princesses?” King Ciro asked.
“I don’t know, I have to find them.”
Queen Eualia made a sigh of relief. “They’re just playing!”
King Zahi’s face soured slightly. “I hope he realizes this isn’t a game,” he admitted quietly to the King of Turi.
“Oh, come now, your Majesty,” King Ciro began. “The greatest leaders know that having fun is an important part of governing.”
“He’s right, you know,” Queen Alda smiled at Zahi. He glanced away and frowned.
Queen Alda shouted into the garden. “Hadima, Wahida! Come out!”
Hadima poked her head from the bushes. “Come Wahida, we’re done playing.” Hadima skipped back to her mother with Wahida tottering behind.
“Did you have fun?” Queen Eualia asked.
“Yes, I did!” Eutimio replied enthusiastically. “Are we ever going to come back to Iona? Hadima is a lot of fun! Wahida, too!”
The King and Queen of Turi looked at each other and smiled.
King Zahi cleared his throat. “Princess Hadima, Prince Eutimio, you might be wondering why it was so important for you two to meet,” he said. Hadima and Eutimio nodded nearly in synchrony. Wahida simply stared at her father.
“As you both know, Kings and Queens can only rule for so long. When it is my time to return to the gods, Hadima will take my place”
Hadima looked at him soberingly.
“All rulers need a partner--to help rule and to help ensure the line of Kings and Queens continues,” King Zahi continued as he held Queen Alda’s hand. “The four of us have decided that Prince Eutimio would make a great husband for you one day, Hadima.”
Hadima, without skipping a beat, smiled at Eutimio and said, “I think so, too!”
King Zahi looked at him. “What do you think, Prince Eutimio?”
The Prince stared at the King. “I-I-I… I would be honored.”
Wahida stared at them blankly.
That night, when Hadima and Wahida were in their respective beds, they chatted about Eutimio.
“He said when his sister met her husband, she stopped paying attention to him,” Wahida said.
Hadima was taken slightly aback. “I’m not going to do that to you, Wahida, I promise.”
“I know,” Wahida looked to the side.
Hadima sat up. “Listen, when Eutimio and I get married, you’re not going to lose me,” she paused to look down and think. “Instead, it’ll be like getting a brother! Won’t that be great?”
“I guess,” Wahida replied thoughtfully. “Do you think he’ll pray to Akia with us, too?”
Hadima smiled nervously. “I don’t see why not.”
“I hope he does. That way when we go to Suihira, he can come with us,” Wahida said.
Hadima stared at the ceiling. She watched the curtains sway in the slight breeze into the room. Her forehead tensed. “Father said I have to take his place when his time is done,” she said blankly.
“Maybe Eutimio can take his place while you and I go to Suihira.”
Hadima felt uneasy. She rolled over and didn’t say a word.
“Although, I would like Eutimio to come with to Suihira,” Wahida said at length. “He’s nice. Akia would like him.”
Hadima sighed. “I think so, too.”
“Tomorrow, I can ask him if he would like to pray with us. Maybe we can get to Suihira faster that way,” Wahida pondered.
Hadima chuckled. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
Wahida rolled over and curled up into a ball. “I would hate it if I went to Suihira without you, Hadima.”
Hadima frowned and began to feel sick. “Wahida…”
Hadima exhaled through her nose.
“I would hate it, too.”
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September's Story: "Wahida Meets Nicolai"