The city of beauty, on a silvery moonlit night, witnesses its fading vistas as it lay crippled. Brimming with immense pain and impounding concern for Princess Ella, Matilda paces up and down. Carefree Ella sees her pendulous march and interrupts,

“Tensed gait of queens

Common in envy,

But incoherent

For a mother

Like you??”

Harking Ella’s sweet voice Matilda turns to her, with a deeply concerned look.

“What happened, mother?”

“So sweet, dear; I am only a maid of your mother, Queen Esther, fulfilling my duties”, clarifies Matilda embracing Ella tightly in her arms.

“Hmmm!!, But for a motherless, motherly affection is all”, says Ella kissing on her cheek.

“By the way, why are you marching like the infantrywoman?”

“I promised your mother to safeguard you always”, vocalizes Matilda.

“Pro…….tect me!”

“Protect me……. from what??”, exclaims Ella.

_._._._._._._._


Queen Esther reorganized King Austin’s Kingdom of beauty making everyone feel important. The potter’s pottery became our life quenching dip; the artisan’s work, antique of the kingdom. Satiate and humble reprogramming of the kingdom’s thought-process embellished under her shade. Despite her spellbound qualities, a jab of her barrenness vexed her.

On a winter day, when the queen was doing needlework, gazed through her ebony window at the newly fallen snow, pricked her finger. A drop of blood fell on the snow. As she looked at the blood on the snow, she wished, “If only I had a daughter who had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony; I would have felt myself most blessed.”

And there flew a swarm of white pigeons, singing in harmony,

“Blessed are you O Queen,

Who wished on this propitious day.

Blessed is your daughter you expect

Enrobed with mesmerizing beauty

And intelligence, just like you.”

Astonished, she stood at the ebony window pondering, “Did these pigeon swarm prophecy about the wish I made? ”.

In about a year’s time, the kingdom was jubilant, as she held her own daughter whose skin is as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hairs as black as ebony. Embracing her cozily, she kisses her and says, “Blessed be my daughter Ella just as it is prophesied”.

And we all choired, “So is it.”

But this happiness didn’t last long. The queen fell sick and never recovered. You were left all alone in the hands of King Austin. Your father loved your mother above all. This loss shook him deep down to his soul. On one side, laid the weeping kingdom over the loss of their beloved queen and on the other side were you with your innocence and elegance. The king just could not ignore either. Forgetting Queen Esther was impossible. Ignoring you in his grief was not his quality. So finally, he brought a beautiful woman, the Queen Elena, thinking that she will too spread the same message of love and care as Queen Esther.

Queen Elena, was exactly opposite to Queen Esther. Unlike Queen Esther, she is a master of dark magic and has a magic mirror, to whom she always asked,

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,

Who is the fairest of us all?”

And the mirror truly answered

“Thou, O queen, art the fairest of all.”

King Austin was happy that he brought Elena who is as beautiful as Queen Esther. We all thought the same. Queen Elena was indeed beautiful like Queen Esther.

As usual, on the next day of her marriage, queen Elena woke up, stood in front of the mirror and asked

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall

Who is the fairest of us all?”

And the mirror answered,

“You, my queen, no doubt is fair

But

The little princess is fairer than you.”

She gets bitter and bitter hearing the reply.

One day, it so happened that I was feeding you and the king came inquiring

“Where is my blessed angel?

Let me have a glimpse of her smile,

That my day may go fine.”

Lifting you up in his hand, he smiled and kissed you.

Instructing Queen Elena, “Take good care of my daughter, I will be back by evening”, he exits.

And here, milk was spilled, which the cat drank and stretched still.

Shocked!!!! I stood there analyzing, “How can it be?? I brought it myself.”

At three years of age, as usual, you were playing at the pond in our backyard. But that day, just behind you, I saw a crocodile with its wide open jaws. There was no crocodile in that pond. How, where….. did this big monster come there??? The infantry guards immediately killed it, but my quivering legs will not go.

I brought this to king’s notice and he said, “This seems someone wants Ella to die.”

“But why??”

“In my kingdom, everyone is satisfied, and no malice and rage is there then why will anyone want my daughter to die?”

Bowing down, I said, “Your majesty, I will be faithful, life-long.”

He said, “Keep a close look at everything”.

The work was difficult because everyone appeared good outside. A vigilant watch for a month was hopeless. As the days were passing by, the king’s collywobbles was touching the sky, his negligence was engulfing the kingdom. This was a serious issue. No-one knew what to do in these dark days of the kingdom? Finally, the court’s men approached Queen Elena to inquire about the situation. Hearing their words queen answered, “King is not your personal property and neither has he to be present in front of you always. Why do you bother the king for these small things?”

Startled court’s men bowed to her crown and exits.

Ella agog, “Then what happened?”.

Finding a quiet time I approached the king and expressed my concern about his changed behavior.

“Matilda,” he said, “I live for Ella in whom I see Queen Esther every day. Even a prick to her hurts me.”

With a sigh, he adds, “As of today, a sword of Damocles hangs over the apple of my eye. How can I rest in peace?”.

“I agree, your majesty, but your anxiety will apprise our enemy and we will never be able to safeguard her.”

I further added, “Your majesty, don’t you know any wise men who can help us in our search.”

Pondering for a while he replied, “In a far off place, there lives a learned man called O’Brien. He had helped me fight with all my enemies fervently, with his spectacular tracing devices. I hope, he might have an answer to this problem of mine.”

Next day, early in the morning I left.

As the king had directed me, I succeeded in locating this master gem. Presented him the king’s letter, I narrated the whole scene.

The glow of his face faded away, by the end of portrayal.

He inquired, “Who takes care of the little princess?”

“I myself.”

“That means I can entrust you with my remedies to help the king,” said he.

“Sure.”

He went in, and after a noisy rummage, came back.

“Then”, asked Ella.

I pulled out golden and silver glasses from my pocket, and laid them into her hands safely, saying, “He gave me these two round extramundane glasses, and mumbled into my ears.”

Ella interrupted inquisitively, “What did he mumble?”

“You need to speak it such that no one hears it or else the effectiveness of the glasses will be lost,” I added.

“And why did he give two similar glasses?” inquired Ella.

“Wait, my dear girl; I will tell you everything”.

“He said, with the silver glass you will be able to see the grayish blue aura around the people who have evil thoughts in their heart. With the golden glass, you will be able to see all the evils they are plotting in secret. But there is a restriction with the golden glass; you can only see from the back of the evil one. Nothing is visible if you face him through the glass.”

“Did you succeed, Mother?” pried Ella.

_._._._._._._._._._._

I came back and narrated the whole story with the O’Brien.

A little smile on the king’s face after so long gave me some relief.

He then said, “Matilda, protect my daughter.”

I began my search with the entire crowd within the palace. Screening the court’s men was fun. I saw a few court’s men with a grayish blue aura. Contended with my achievement, I gleefully uttered, “So these are the men who stab on king’s back. Let me look through their dirtiest crookedness, they can ever imagine.”

I was seeking for a chance when one day, they eloped.

Grappling through the steep terrains they climbed, I finally, reached their hideout, witnessing their auspicious ceremony. Gratifying from behind the walls of the cave, I dropped my glass down, when they all turned towards me.

Oops! It’s dark and still, like anything. Nothing is visible. No ceremony, no preparations, no one around. Where had everything vanished???

I slowly crept in the darkness, along the wall to the other side. At a point, I stumbled and found myself wet, completely drenched. Cleaning my eyes, I looked through the glass and all was visible as before. Now I see those men with their backs in the same ceremony.

Sheesh, this crooked plan was not for the king but for one of the ministers who mistreat them.

“Tsk-tsk, all my labor in vain.”

Flabbergasted with their immaculate image, I revere their loyalty. This is the secret of the unassailable kingdom.

I moved to the caregivers of the palace. I saw and resaw amidst them in the hope that I might have made a mistake in observing them work in the palace. But, to my astonishment, their cleanliness was beyond suspicion. They are ready to be killed but not to give up on your protection.

I was completely broken in my search.

One night I stood by the window and was about to through these glasses when a notion swept in.

“Let me look for the last time through the glasses, the whole palace in the moonlit night, from my balcony.” So, for the last time, I looked all round through the glass.

As usual, everything was hushed and I was about to drop my glasses when I was shocked at what I saw?

Grayish blue aura at the room of Queen Elena.

I could not believe what I saw. Wiping my eyes, I again saw through the glass, and still, it’s there.

How is it possible? She is the queen of this kingdom, what else. She is the owner of everything, then why will she…….. ???

”No, no, it’s just an error. I am over-involving myself that everywhere I see a grayish blue aura.”

I threw both the glasses on the balcony and went to sleep on the floor, next to your bed.

A glimpse through the glass clogged my thoughts, “Is the queen, behind all these……??? No, no, no…….how can it be???? What if, really the queen is…………….no, no, no”.

_._._._._._._._

Gathering courage, I picked up the two glasses and headed towards her room. Approaching her room, I could hear whispers, at the second hour of glass. Peeping through the curtains, I found none inside, but still, whispers and laughs were louder.

With the O’Brien’s magical liquid, I took my new miniature look, explored throughout only to find it desolate with prevailing whispers. Sprinkling that magical liquid on those glasses, I reevaluated the queen’s room. Oooh! This is the secret path. I removed the glass and saw the concrete wall. Redonning glass visualizes the door.

Its close perusal ushers me to a small creek wherefrom I slipped-in. Sliding through its breadth; I found myself at the other end of the door which is pitch-dark. Conversation is now perspicuous.

Their laughter reverberated there.

Then I heard queen Elena say, “Thank you for this bonsai, black magic queen. You nurtured it with your own life. Your masterpiece enhanced my wizardry competence. Thank you black magic queen, for your cosset”.

“Rear it, with your tears, till the time it bears its maiden fruit of rage”, added the black magic queen.

“I will”, replied the queen.

“Sincerely foster it for fifteen years to see your fruit of rage.”

“Ensure she is in white and under moonlight before you give her the fruit”, said the black magic queen.

After a pause, she added, “But be careful, no one should see you doing this or else your magic will kill you only.”

“So this is the dubious drill. Yikes!” mumbles Matilda.

My head was rolling like a supernova. How, what,…… when, where……why? Taking a deep sigh and holding firmly to the wooden door-post, I stabilized myself. Regardless of tedious efforts, I failed to figure out the black magic queen but only could comprehend the darkness.

One-eighty- degrees consecutive swivels of books ajar the door. Through the glass, I saw the queen exit. Pacing my baby-steps, I supervened her, alighting next to a pillar there. I also saw the queen taking-out thin-transparent-peels from her eyes.

With shaking legs and jittering teeth, I couldn’t surmise what I saw. Regardless of a troubled heart and sudden gripped fear, I dragged to my room; took the antidote and restored to self. Still drenched in sweat and quivering feet, and jittering teeth, I sat wondering, what to do next? I was mitigated that for fifteen years the princess was unassailable, enshrined fifteen years to stratagem her skedaddle.

“Unfolding Queen’s physiognomy to King is nugatory, for the black magic queen alone is catastrophic”, broods Matilda.

So, the duos were under my close surveillance.

Meanwhile, you bloomed into a consummate conglomeration of beauty and intelligence as prophesied. On this full moon day, you turn fifteen.

In my surveillance sojourns, I saw the bonsai bear its most awaited fruit.

My impetrations O dear little princess! Please take these two glasses and head to the hill castle in your uncle’s province of Love. Salvation from enemies is possible but redemption from rage and malice is impossible. Charred as black soot are they, in their malice and rage.

_._._._._._._._._

“Agar, I never dreamt of this much dirt!” utters woebegone Ella.

“Like breath and beat of the heart,

I cherished you all in my life,

Mere the mention of desertion,

Tears me apart,

Oh! How I long to be with you all always,

That I regret why I insisted the truth be freed?” mumbles Ella with wet eyes.

“How can I live devoid…….”, bawls Ella with quivering voice.

Lamenting bitterly Matilda embraces Ella and says, “This is the only way, dear”.

A while after, Ella pronounces, “Mother, how far can I run from them? Someday they will trace me with the magical mirror or the black magic queen’s tricks.”

“Runaway is not the solution it’s just a temporary postponement of my death.”

Treading up and down, Ella adds, “Malice and rage, the fons et origo, is the linchpin to this hassle.”

“We need to fix this …..Mother”, adds Ella with a pause.

“Idea is not bad, but I cannot risk it with your life. That is final”, sternly proclaims Matilda.

Pulling Ella into her room, Matilda declares, “Let’s pack up, you’re leaving tonight”.

“But Mother……please listen…….”, pleads Ella as she lugs to her room.

“Like a mother, you always helped me in all my adventures despite father’s stern nos.”

“Hunting, ….. Swordsmanship, ….. strategic planner, ……..were all because of you.”

“Father wouldn’t have allowed. Your confidence shaped me. And today………you only doubt”, mentions Ella with a broken heart.

“True Ella, I allowed, because I wanted to see you such magnificent. But today is different!!!”

“I just can’t risk your life…. No, no, just no”, ends Matilda.

“Let’s break the magic mirror”, suggests Ella.

“Not possible because it’s magical. Suppose you broke also, what about the black magic queen?” reminds Matilda.

“Ok fine, let’s switch to Plan B. At least listen to my plan, then decide whether to execute or not” pleads Ella.

With a deep sigh, Matilda finally says, “Okay brief”.

_._._._._._._._._._

The clock struck twelve, and Queen Elena arrives at Ella’s room……

“Happy birthday to you… O, little angel.”

“Awake late-night??” adds Elena.

Shocked Ella remains speechless.

The king too comes and wishes his princess.

Opportunistically Queen Elena proposes, “Long live the king. As a father and king you always surprised your daughter, let me have the privilege this time”.

Elated King says, “Oh! How I longed to see you accept Ella, as your own! Today I am very happy. Please go ahead” and exits.

With a big smile, queen bows down and says, “Thank you”.

These sequels upsurges and protrude Matilda’s eyes out of the socket and her heart says, “Grr, Why didn’t I update the king beforehand?”

Pulling back Ella and slowly slipping those two glasses into her hands, Matilda purrs, “Missed my boat, dear, you don’t. I believe in you. Be careful. And magic words are….”

_._._._._._._._._

Holding her soft hands, the Queen strolls through the solitaire corridor until they reach a lonely place, where she masks her saying, “It’s a surprise”.

After a little saunter, I heard some incomprehensible whispers. A few more steps and then finally the Queen said, “Tan-ta-na-tan here we go”.

She unmasks me and I find myself rubbing my eyes in a dimly lit, dusty room in front of an old chest. I can hear whispers all around but no actual figure.

“An old chest for surprise??”, uttered I skeptically gazing through her glowing eyes.

“Yep, open it”, exclaims queen.

I was taken aback, as I opened it, “Oh! A dazzling white gown enlightening throughout.”.

My heart wished to be in it, but my mind reminded the real deal.

“War within me is grueling, but I have to overcome it”, consoles Ella to herself.

Sweeping into a side room, I explored through a chink on the door, with silver glass. I saw the grayish blue aura around the queen. A dull bluish atmosphere hovered all around.

I quickly donned the golden glass. Eep! I saw Queen Elena lifting the bonsai, with its only fruit, to the adjacent shelf close to the window from where the moonlight is peeping in. An espy of the freely suspended, eagerly awaiting black magic queen behind the curtains, was devastating. I looked for the magic mirror but couldn’t find.

“Bang! Bang! Dear Ella come fast, I’m waiting”, says Queen Elena.

[Angrily utters Ella, “You moron…”]

“Just a minute, I’ll be there.”

At last, slipping into the mesmerizing gown, I closed my eyes for a second, took a deep breath, and opened the door. Queen’s eyes were stuck at my sight. I can see her immense anguish on her face over my beauty, but still, she approached me and said politely “Come, dear this way. Let me have the best look of you”. She brings me right at the place, where I saw the moonlight peeping in, in front of the window and says, “I will be back in a moment”.

As she turned, I put my golden glass on and followed her into a room where she uncovers the magic mirror in a golden frame.

“Mirror, mirror, today is your day,

Enslave the one in white, bathing in the moonlight with the fruit”, instructs the queen.

“As you wish my queen”, replied the mirror.

“Hahaha! There sets the dawn of Ella and arises the dusk of Elena. Hahaha!!!!”

I was like, uh-oh, What to do next?????

“Death is at my door, and I wish to run-away”.

“But how far and how long can I escape her?” stopped me.

Donning the golden glass, I saw how far the moonlight fell. It was ten foot. I marked it with my feet on the dusty floor and stood just out of its range.

Smiling, the queen comes with the mirror and says, “Admire your beauty.”

She directs pointing, “Come stand here”.

I bent and crawled across the marked area to this end.

“Ah! Ella, you are spoiling the dress. Get up, get up. What are you doing down?” yells the queen approaching and lifting me up.

“Ah! I got my earring that fell”, said I showing her the earring.

Pushing her towards the mirror, I said, “Mother I want to see your glowing beauty first.”

Struggling to release herself, she said …

And I just put her on mirror focus but she bent.

Then she pulled me in focus and I slipped on the floor purposefully crossing the mark.

The black magic queen lifted me up in front of the mirror but I held Elena, making myself heavier such that I was suspended just beneath the mirror.

Her loosened grip struck the mirror, tumbling us down and the complete moonlight was focused on the mirror. The light struck the glass, reflected straight to the roof on a metal beam, filling with effulgence. A part of it got reflected on the bonsai tree.

The moment the light fell on the bonsai, it danced, flipping every leaf at the beat of merriment and flapping every branch on the music of joy. As they flipped and flopped, I saw her spirit being released there as smoke and descending black magic queen on the floor here. There bonsai crumples, here stood another mesmerizing beauty.

In merriment, she refuses to halt. Bowing down she says, “Thank you, Ella, for deliverance from my stepmother’s century-old spell; one like she was about to do on you.”

With hoarseness in voice and redness on the face, she says, “You will never know what it feels, every time someone admires your beauty more than me”.

“But the outward beauty is fragile. People admire our beauty for the good deeds we do”, said both of us in one accord.

“Apart from external beauty, there is something known as internal beauty that never fades. My mother said, ‘Everyone has this internal beauty which they should reflect and admire. Never compare one’s beauty with others, that envy. You are not copycats but UNIQUE, so how can you match?’” explains Ella.

“Break down the bondage of rage and malice, Elena. They yield nothing but destruction. I fell much good being freed”, said black magic queen.

“No, no…that just can’t be”, cries Elena.

“Your real beauty is architecture behind walls. This is one of the best and unique qualities which only you have. And it is a boon to our kingdom. You can be the mastermind behind all successful battles father is hereafter planning”, said Ella.

Admiring herself in her new beauty, queen feels important and free, and says, “Do you think this is going to happen?”

“Father loves uniques, only that he hasn’t known yours. I will show him your qualities”, said Ella.

The queen pulls the three books and door opens.

Oh gosh! The King, Matilda, and everyone were standing on the other end.

Rushing in, the King enfolds Ella in his arms, close to his chest, “Are you, okay dear.”

“Yep father, I am.”

“Imprison these two ladies”, ordered the king.

“No, no father.”

“Have you ever discovered such hidden doors behind a concrete wall? Where you able to figure out that there was a room on this side of the wall?” I asked.

“No, but…”, said the king.

“But she constructed this right under your nose. Were you aware of this? ”

After a pause, I added, “You are the richest king on earth, just detail the queen and she will make a way wherever you want. She is the most precious gems of your kingdom”.

“Isn’t it, father?”

Holding Ella’s face in his hands he kissed her forehead and with wet eyes utters, “You are just like your mother enlightening the beauties of my kingdom. My kingdom’s beauty is all because of her and now you. Love you, my daughter.”

Looking at the queen he smiles and says, “I never knew the masterpiece was all these times with me and I was chasing it amidst the bushes. Welcome to my kingdom of diversity”.

_______________________

Thanks for reading.

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