Chapter 1

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      Slowly her gaze scanned the horizon, her bright violet eyes studying the crooks and crevices of the ragged grey rocks that jutted from the hillsides in the distance. They emanated a sublime glow now, as the rays of the waning sun bathed them with its last warmth of the day. They almost shone like citrines and rubies as she fixated her gaze, reflections of yellow and deep red hues shimmering as the sun made its descent to slumber. Oh, how she relished in the rays of the sun and felt a pang of sadness with the ending of each day. But too, the moon held its own mysteries and fascinations deep within her heart and she appreciated that it symbolized rest and escape; escape from the turmoils and vexations created by her life at court. She would do anything to spend her days wandering through the immense gardens of wildflowers and rugged spruce trees within the palace courtyards. Or playing her harp or her lute by the shimmering expanse of a private lake. But alas her days were preoccupied with her duties as princess of the royal household of her cousin Mursili, exalted and grand king of all Hattusa.

      The smoothness of her milky olive skin wrinkled into a frown as she thought of her displeasure towards her cousin, regardless of his exalted status well above her own. Twitching her petite, rounded nose, she pushed the ebony ringlets of her hair back behind her round shoulders as the chilling breath of Autumn swept through her private balcony. Her slim frame shivered slightly from its cool kiss, and she pulled her shroud evermore so over her shoulders. Flicking her long lashes upwards, she caught the cry of a hawk as it circled far above. How she longed for such freedom.

    "Your highness, Malawashina?" A small voice called from the heavy mahogany doors leading to her terrace. Yet her ears could hear naught but the cries of the hawk, for it beckoned her to join it in its flight. "Your highness...?" Came that voice again, but now more desperate.

    Blinking hard, Malawashina turned to face the petite servant girl in her doorway. "Oh, my little Utati, apologies I did not hear you enter."

    Utati, a small girl of eleven, but mature far beyond her years, did well to hide her displeased frown. She was often in trouble for apparently allowing her mistress to daydream and wander off too often. "Her royal lady Puduhepa, your exalted mother seeks your presence currently."

    Malawashina smiled to mask her inner displeasure. She wanted nothing more than to be left alone. "I wonder what it is now?" she mused.

    "Who knows?" The young servant shrugged, her dark ash curls bouncing on her shoulders as she did so. "It most likely has something to do with your irritable cousin."

    Malawashina glanced sideways at the girl, her expression becoming blank. "That is treason, to speak such words Utati." She warned.

    Utati huffed and pouted her round lips. "You know it to be true," she protested. "Now please your highness. Your esteemed mother awaits. If you continue to dally surely I will be the one in trouble... again."

    Malawashina looked into the girl's obsidian gaze then with remorse. "And so we best not tarry here, little one." And without another word, she whisked herself almost teasingly past her servant.

    "Do not call me 'little!'" Utati called out as she gathered her skirts to run after her mistress.

    Puduhepa had passed down her beauty to her eldest daughter who now stood patiently and in all her regal finery to be announced before her mother. Puduhepa, her chestnut locks flecked with strands of silver, stood tall and poised like a lily stalk fresh in bloom. Her bejewelled hands were folded calmly before her as she spoke to one of the many royal scribes, their faces aglow from the brazier fires nearby. Malawashina pertained that it was something important for the expressions on their faces were rather serious.

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