The sun was high in the sky, and I was still in bed. My lady attendant came and opened the curtain. The sun shone right through my eyes. I groaned and covered my head with the comforter.
"Miss Elida…" I complained.
"Its time to wake up, your highness; your majesty ordered me to get you ready for your announcement."
"Aww, it was today; I want to sleep some more."
She pulled the comforter from me, and I had no choice but to get up. Ms. Elida had been my attendant since I was about two years old; she represented a second mother for me. When she started to work at the palace, she wasn married and had no children. Now her two children were ten and eight years old. She met her husband while working at the palace as a guard. She practically became part of the royal family.
I sat on the bed, still trying to wake up in my own way when I felt Ms. Elidas gentle hands tie my hair to get me ready for a bath. Of course, you would think that as a princess, someone must take care of my body for me. That was one of the rules I hated the most in the palace. After so many years, that was the reason why I only had one lady attendant. The bath was genuinely nice and warm; I had hoped that I could stay longer soaking my body, but it was already too late for me.
Elida came into the room and presented me with two beautiful dresses. "Which one would you like to wear, your highness?"
"None, Ms. Elida, I want to wear something more casual and manly. Please fetch me a trouser and a button shirt. And Ill wear my gray coat on top."
"Yes, your highness."
In the meantime, all ministers and officers were gathered at court, waiting for my father to start a session. My fathers throne was humongous. It was so big that I heard it could hold about five hundred people. That building was built separately from the residence of the royals. It was made just for the court and balls and banquets. The thrones chair was deep at the head of the building, and it was facing right at the hall to the door. It had six stairs; the top stair was where he and my mother sat to oversee the court. From the fifth stair, they placed six chairs—three on each side of the king; that was where all the kings children sat during an event. Right behind the chair, there were two stands where the most trusted guards of the king stood. Then the lower stair was where everyone else stayed.
My father had one hundred and fifty ministers and subordinates at court who reported to him. He worked the whole week doing reports and taking care of political affairs, and on Saturdays, he opened the court for commoners who had family affairs to make judgments. Women could be in the hall that day and present whatever cases to the king.
"Here comes the king, all court bows," announced the herald.
Every officer bowed in respect to the king and yelled, "Long live, the king."
"Rise," my father commanded with a gesture of his hand. "My officers, today, I have an important announcement on the choice of my successor, but before the declaration, I would like to know your thoughts on who you think can do the job."
"Long live, my king; I believe the first princess should be the crown princess," said one officer.
"My king, I second officer Lamberts motion," another officer said.
A few minutes later, all of them gave the king different suggestions.
"Even if we suggest these people, my king, we still trust that you make a wise choice," said the prime minister
"Indeed," responded the king.
"All rise for the kings edict."
Everyone got on their feet.
"Today, I, king Rudolf, choose my fifth daughter Mai Elandra Rodensburg to be my successor. From now on, she will be taking part in court every day, she will be treated with high respect, and all must listen to her like they listen to me. Her coronation as a queen will be held right after her sixteenth birthday. I present you Crown Princess Mai Elandra Rodensburg."
All the court was in shock just because they didn expect my father to choose me. I entered the court, and all eyes were fixed on me. Until I arrived at my chair, no one said a word to me or my father.
"Any objection, my officers?" my father said.
"Your majesty, we didn expect you to choose the youngest daughter; shes not yet married, and she is still young for political affairs."
"Hahaha," the king laughed. "Officers, you don know my daughters the way I do. Mai is the most qualified for political affairs of my other four daughters."
"My king, shes a female; aren you afraid the people will disagree with you?"
"Allow me, father," I said. "Officers, the reason for me dressing like this is because I knew what you would think the moment my father would announce me as the crown princess. Don I look prince enough for you in this wardrobe?" I said with sarcasm. "Officers, me being a female, have nothing to do with politics. Whatever you can do, I can too. What does a king need to lead a country? Intelligence, diplomacy, bravery, wisdom, and many more. If the king chose me, it means in his wisdom he sees something in me that others don have. A sense of leadership, someone that will lead the country with dignity and greatness. Someone who will not let him and the people down, someone with a sense of justice and righteousness. What Im trying to say is to give me a chance to prove my worth."
Everyone was looking at each other. Even with my speech, they all doubted. Suddenly, they all started complaining in lower voices.
"How could we let a little girl lead us?" said one of the officers.
"Yes, I don understand this phenomenon; she even dresses inappropriately at court."
While they were gossiping in lower voices, the three first generals and the general Of Nibu state entered the hall.
Nikko, the first in command, went to one knee and said, "Long live your majesty, your highness."
As he was talking, the other three generals also bent their knees.
He continued, "Pardon our sudden appearance at court, your majesty. We rode a long way just because we heard that today was the announcement for the crown princess; therefore, we didn want to miss it. Officers, we witnessed the princess put her life in danger to save our country from our enemy Bilo a couple of days ago. Where were you when all that happened? As we entered the hall, we heard you all whisper about her being our leader like it was something terrible. All the princess asks is just a chance to prove her worth. I and the other generals here present, the army, and Nibu state pledge loyalty to the king and the crown princess and promise to be present on the day of coronation to protect the Royal family."
"Generals, I appreciate your kindness," I said.
"Gentlemen, like the prime minister said earlier, I have made a choice based on the potentiality and capability of the person. Its okay if you have a different opinion about the choice I make, but do not use an excuse about gender. I was like you before; I thought that a woman doesn have the ability to do what a man can do. Today I act against what I believed before, Im getting older, and a new generation is rising. And, if we want our country to grow, we should think differently. We need to let go of our old way and give this new era a chance to prove their worth. As a king, I can go back on my word; knowing our countrys rule, a king declaration becomes the law. From now on, Mai Elandra Rodensburg is the crown princess of our Country. You are all dismissed," my father said.
The king walked out of the room, and as I got up to dismiss myself, three officers came to congratulate me. They were sincere and humble. While we were talking, two other officers came to do the same thing. As soon as they drew near me, I could smell their anger, but still, they were trying to show me that they were supportive of me. We lingered in the hall for the next thirty minutes; I scanned the room and saw who I could trust or not.
"Your highness," said Kamil, the Nibu state general. "I have brought you a surprise; please, follow me."
"Thank you, general."
I followed him to a hut not too far from the capitols barrack. There were twenty men on their knees waiting for me. Amongst them were the guys I had fought with before.
"Long live, the crown princess," they said together.
"What a surprise, general! Why are they here before recovering?"
Quickly, one of them replied, "Your highness, we didn want to miss the announcement of the heroine who saved our country. Although we couldn be at court, we are here in the capitol to show our support."
"You, being here is enough; you have no idea how happy that makes me. Thank you for not looking down on me and putting faith in me. As this countrys princess, I promise to fight for whats right and bring justice to our people."
"Long live the crown princess; we pledge loyalty to you and the king."
"Thank you for your kindness. Wait, I don remember there were that many. You were about fifteen."
"They were twelve, your highness, but after hearing your bravery, eight more asked to come. I hope you don mind."
"Not at all, general; thank you all for coming."
In the evening of that morning, we were all gathering to celebrate the announcement. Id never seen my parents smile this much in a long time. We ate, joked, laughed about everything, and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest.
Days passed, and I had been collaborating diligently with my father to get our country back together. In the younger years of my fathers reign, there were so many wars that left the country half broken; therefore, the neighboring kingdom looked down on us. I had vowed to my father to give him a glorious country when I succeeded him, and that was what I intended to do.
Our country Zakiskta was a small kingdom with twelve states found in the east right on the foot of the Zakiskta mountain. We named the country after the mountain. This mountain had been protecting us from a lot of war. We had one of the biggest rivers in the region. We were about fifteen miles from the gray sea and five miles from the Zubia forest that separated us from our fifth state Zubia. Our country might be small, but it had a beautiful view. People would come to visit just because of its scenery. The temperature was warm during summertime; it was neither too cold nor too hot. During the winter, it was colder than in any other country. Our privileges were that the mountain covered most parts of the country. Therefore, it was not as hot as every other place across the region, for the mountain blocked the sun. Our treasury was bad after all these wars. Wealthy officers would not be fair to the common people. Most of the country fell into misery; we didn have many merchants coming our way. Most of the countries we could trade with wanted our country. We had lost that country many times, and we didn want to lose it again. When my father came into power, he didn want to stay at the mercy of others; therefore, he fought so many wars to get us where we were. One thing that I didn understand was why my father would give me the country when it was in that state. I started to pay attention to him as we worked together. I realized that something must have happened with him, so I investigated him and decided to confront him about it.
"Father, what has happened to you? I know you, papa, you are always hiding things from us; whats really going on?
"My beautiful daughter, I understand your concern, but your father has been working a lot these past couple of weeks; Im just exhausted, thats why."
"I don believe you, father; I know you better than anyone. Please don forget Ive been on the street a lot and know many things. I know youve been seeing a doctor outside the palace very often. I know that something is not right with you. If you can trust me with the country, why can you trust me with your health?"
"Honey, I don know what to tell you."
"Tell me the truth, father; I promise I won tell anybody."
He sighed and spoke, "The doctor thinks someone has been slowly poisoning me."
I gasped in shock.
"Thats the reason why I was forced to choose you to succeed me. I know among all my girls; you are the best choice for the throne. I am sorry, my child. I didn want to do that to you, you are so young, but I can only trust you?"
"Oh, father!" I hugged him tighter than any other day. "What are the chances?" I asked.
"Its fifty-fifty percent; thats why I wanted to retire to spend more time with the people I love."
"No worries, father, you take care of yourself, leave the country to me."
"Thank you, honey; Im so proud of you."
We hugged each other, and he comforted me.