CHAPTER 46

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The old woman laughs out loud at this woman's request. "I gave you something stronger but you rejected it, Lady Oma."

Oma shivers at the words of this woman. "I hate Princess Saya, but I am no murderer, especially when it comes to harming a baby," she says, looking at the woman.

"Is that so? When the king made a move to feed her the fish, you didn't try to stop her." Oma is silent; the witch is right. She saw Xerxes bring the fish to her mouth, yet she didn't do anything, almost as if she wanted it to happen.

"There is a dark side to us all Oma, you are no different," she informs, looking inside the pot of boiling liquid. The old woman has moles all over her body, almost as if she gets a scar for every favour she grants to people. You can smell her before you enter the hut, like she has never had a bath. No, after she became the Witch of the West she has never taken a bath because it will make her lose her utmost divine powers.

"Please I need something stronger but...less violent," she pleads looking at her.

"You're no longer a lady, so it will cost you something," she says with a wicked grin.

"You won't do that to your own daughter," she replies with a glare.

***

It's early, three mornings later, Saya had fallen asleep in the carriage a few hours ago. Xerxes brought her up to their chambers laying her down on the bed. He gets in beside her after taking his top off, his hand around her waist, secured. He cannot help but think about what she told him. Abolish a tradition that has been there long before his great grandfathers. She, however, has a point. There is so much a woman can do with knowledge. If men can do a lot with it, having literate women will do nothing but boost their growth. He had never thought about this before. The king looks at his betrothed sleeping soundly, she really is something else. He kisses her cheek and shoulder before closing his eyes as well.

Saya wakes up and sees she's back in the king's chambers, but Xerxes is not there. She gets up from the bed and grabs her chewing stick. After a few minutes, there's a knock on the door. Saya grants permission and Nabir comes through the door.

"My Lady are you okay? I was so worried! I heard the news about Lady Oma!" Saya looks at her surprised, how does news travel this fast?

"People even saw her after she was punished. I would have been so embarrassed! They laughed and mocked her till she was out of sight. I don't blame them though, she always used her power as a 'king's woman' to have her way."

Saya finishes with her chewing stick throwing it away. "Where did she disappear to?"

"No one knows My Lady. Hurry up and prepare! It's afternoon and the king wants to see you." She looks at Nabir raising an eyebrow. What is going on that she does not know about?

"You don't need to make breakfast for him as well. He just wants you to be in his study soon."

Saya freshens up wearing a grey dress with golden flowers on it. "My Lady, I learnt a few hairstyles when you were away... may I try one?" Nabir asks with a smile.

The princess is taken aback but nods, sitting down on the chair in front of the mirror. Nabir takes a deep breath before she gets to work. Saya carefully watches her and is surprised to see her twisting her hair. When she's done, she ties the twists up in a ponytail leaving two braids hanging down in front.

"By the heavens Nabir! Where did you learn to do this?" Saya asks, looking at her. "You'll know soon," she says, signaling for her to head over to the king's study. "I love it! Thank you!" Nabir blushes, and bows her head in thanks.

Saya heads over to the king's study, the guards making way for her immediately. She knocks at the door, waiting for a response, but does not get one.

"Is he not in?" she asks the guards who affirm that he is in his study. Saya knocks again but gets no reply. She then opens the door and sees Xerxes sitting there looking through some papers.

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