by Olivia Moore
I heard that there once lived a woman called Amira, who was the most desired woman in her village. Her raven hair was darker than the night, and her even complexion was more beautiful than that of any other woman in the kingdom. When the king called the townspeople for their eldest daughters, Amira’s parents presented her. It was only after taking a frivolous glance through his selection of women, that he decided to take Amira as his wife, for she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
Their wedding was grand, with everyone waiting to meet their new queen. Amira’s long silk gown was handsome, resembling the color of a rose. She was excited, and her father was pleased to see his only daughter marry the king. The entire city witnessed the marriage of Amira and King Manuel. After the wedding, the king invited the entire town to the palace for food and dancing. They had food from every part of the world, laced with spices from far past the mountains. The women of the city dressed in their finest clothing and the men dressed to impress the king. The stars of the night lit up the palace, and Amira danced the night away with her new husband.
As the guests went home and the party ended, the king looked forward to his night with his wife. He had his maids prepare their quarters with sheets of the finest silks. He installed a beautiful chandelier in the center of the room, made with pearls from the Mediterranean. A pool in the far corner of the room, with hot water and rose petals, gave the room a wonderful scent that gave infants pleasant dreams. But when he went to kiss Amira goodnight, she wept.
“Why do you weep my love?” the king asked.
With tears dripping down her face, Amira explained, “I fear that I have been dishonest with you my love, for I am with child. A daughter of a peasant. She will be born next spring.”
When the king heard of her endeavors, he was extremely unhappy! What an embarrassment it was for a king to have married a pregnant woman. A dishonorable and un-pure woman. The child would bring bad luck to him and his people. He contemplated whether or not he should keep Amira as his wife, or if he should have her killed. Amira recognized that in telling her husband the truth, she risked her life as well as the life of her unborn child.
When morning came, the King banished Amira in solitude, only to return on the day after her child is born. He told the townspeople that she had obtained a horrible disease from the west, which gave her extreme hallucinations, and itchy black bumps on her skin. The townspeople were extremely devastated by her afflictions. Everyone felt bad for their queen’s suffering, yet no one visited her for fear of catching her disease. The king did his best to convince his servants of Amira’s infection but a few of them had their suspicions.
As spring arrived, Amira gave birth to her daughter. She was in love with her from the moment she heard her first weeps. As soon as the sun fell, the King told the entire city of his wife’s glorious recovery. He then was faced with a difficult task, of figuring out what to do with the child. Amira’s daughter had skin golden like the sand of the desert. The King knew that the child would be difficult to explain to his subjects, so he came up with the perfect plan.
Tahlia was just nine years old when she was forced to live with Kismet, one of the richest and most notorious men in the east. He lived in a palace with walls of gold and ceilings decorated with the finest jewels. There, Tahlia lived a seemingly luxurious life, with parties that lasted well into the next day, and foods from all over the world. For anyone else, this life would have brought great pleasure, but Tahlia never felt content. Although Kismet filled her life with exorbitant pleasures, she longed for love and a family. Kismet was cold to Tahlia. He treated her as if she was a complete stranger. During meals, he would occasionally make eye contact with her but look away as if he were ashamed of her behavior.
“Kismet,” Tahlia began, “why are you so cold to me?”
“Tahlia,” Kismet replied, “why must you ask questions you do not wish for me to answer?”
Tahlia knew then, that the conversation was over. She excused herself from the table to go to her chambers and sleep. Before she would rest, she said a prayer, “Dear God, bless me with love, bless me with a family, bless me with hope, bless me with life, bless me with salvation, bless me with freedom, bless me with wisdom, bless me with truth, bless me with happiness.” After she said her prayer, Tahlia went to sleep.
Tahlia opened her eyes, and she was in a field of roses. The smell comforted her. She began to cry because she knew that roses were the flower of love. As she wept, she heard a whistle drawing her nearer. The whistle took her to a cave. Tahlia was not afraid. The darkness comforted her. The whistle pulled her in more. She entered the cave. After she complained of not being able to see, a fire came flying towards her and illuminated the cave. A large reptile, with wings, appeared. It was red and fangs longer than Tahlia’s limbs. It was taller than Kismet’s palace and had nine heads. A beast that would bring fear to others, brought peace to Tahlia.
“Who are you?” Tahlia yelled.
“I am the dream dragon.” The dragon explained, “I am your multifaceted friend. Here to bring you a gift.” The dragon gave Tahlia a single rose from the field, and told her, “This is love, it never dies, and it shall stay with you always.”
Tahlia woke up from her dream in an instant. On the pillow next to her, there lay the single rose the dragon gave her. Its smell filled her head with wonder. Everywhere she went, she would take her rose, remembering what the dream dragon told her. Each night, she visited the dream dragon, and she was given gifts. It was as if her prayers were being answered. On the last night, the dream dragon gave her a name.
“Amira,” she said, “Amira will help you find your happiness.”
When Tahlia woke up the next morning, all she could think about what the name, Amira. Who was she and how could she be the key to finding Tahlia’s happiness? Finding out Amira’s identity was the first step. That was going to be a challenge because Kismet didn’t allow Tahlia past the palace gate. So, as night fell, Tahlia visited the dream dragon and asked her for help. The dream dragon gave her a special elixir that would make Kismet sleep for nine hours. Breakfast provided the perfect opportunity for Tahlia to slip some of her potions into Kismet’s drink. He fell asleep within seconds.
After Kismet fell asleep, Tahlia rushed to the city, in hopes of finding her happiness. She inquired each person she met, asking them if they knew of Amira. Everyone either disregarded her question or ignored her, but one woman chose to answer her.
“Amira is the Queen. The most beautiful woman in the state. She survived a terrible plague from the west. She has yet to produce an heir.”
Tahlia realized what she had to do; she began her journey to the king’s palace. She didn’t have much trouble finding it, as it is the grandest building in the state. When she was finally in the queen’s presence, she introduced herself.
“I am Tahlia, I’m in search of my happiness.”
Amira fell to her knees, stunned by the sight of her daughter. She didn’t wait a moment before she grasped Tahlia in her arms and held her. Amira smelled of roses, and her voice was soothing, similar to the dream dragon. Even though Tahlia didn’t know Amira, she felt an instant connection with the King’s wife. Tahlia had found everything she was searching for in Amira.
Her memories of misery went away the moment Amira finally said, “my daughter, you found me.”