Manasa sat upon her throne, turned to look at the carved stone seat beside her own. She smiled and reached to touch the lion carved into the armrest; her people had taken Siris’ heritage into consideration when they’d made their new King’s throne to accompany her own. She sighed, and looked to the scrolls that had been brought to her by the couriers. Messages from far-flung outposts of her people, stories of strange tribes moving in the mountains, and in one of the seaside cities there was some sort of gathering.
The former was of some curiosity for the Serpent Queen, for she herself had come from the mountains in her youth, but it was the latter that drew her concern most of all. There were old stories of the people of another kingdom, stories passed on to her from the Queen who had died to give her the crown, that told of them stealing ophidae children and enslaving them. Of course there was no indication now of any non-ophidae races living anywhere close to current settlements. The leonide were the nearest, and even they were several days travel from her clutch. Her ophidae kept themselves remote from other cultures, save for the few traders who ventured to their underground river.
“Royal Highness.” The voice was that of Desiran, one of her council. She was the representative of the craftsfolk living in her clutch. Manasa lifted her gaze to her and smiled, beckoning the woman closer. Desiran stepped closer, gathering the flowing silk that she wore around her waist and bowing low to her Queen. “Highness, I heard from Velash that you have word from the mountain clutch.”
Manasa nodded, putting aside the scrolls she’s been reading over. “I have a few tales, yes. You are from the mountains as well, are you not?” asked the Queen kindly. Some of the clutch in the foothills were from the mountain clutches like she herself was, though most had lived here in the main territory of the ophidae. The craftswoman nodded lightly, and the queen smiled. “They send word that there are strange tribes moving in the high mountains. Tribes not seen in almost a hundred years, perhaps more.”
Desiran frowned in thought. “I remember some of the stories, told by my ancestors, of a people from a land beyond the mountains.”
The queen touched a bangle on her wrist as she considered the message from her mountain subjects. “I heard some of them as well.” She too had come from the mountains. “I do not yet know what to make of this news. It could be nothing at all, or it could be the return of an ancient enemy.”
“And if that is true, Your Highness? If one of the ancient tribes is rising again?” asked Desiran.
Manasa inhaled slowly, tracing her fingers over the arm of her husband’s throne. “If they threaten our people, Desiran, I will put them down. We will put them down,” she said, her voice clear and firm. “The ophidae and the leonide will not allow our enemies to endanger our futures.”
The woman standing before her smiled warmly. “Our King is a good man, Highness. We are most pleased that you allowed him to live, that he became your husband, and father to your son.”
The queen smiled just as warmly, glancing to the passage which led to the royal chambers from the throne room. “I am as well. Allowing him to live was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” she said, laughing at the irony in her words.