Author – Moonlightgaze
Ch 1 – Destiny and stars
In the midnight, a bright full moon was hanging in the dark sky, it was a cold night and freezing winds were gently blowing and brushing the leaves on trees, producing a serene but mysterious music, composed of whistling air and dancing leaves. But, the people of Sloka Empire were not asleep rather all of them were gathered outside the emperor’s palace, forming a huge crowd.
At this time, there was an absolute silence spread among the crowd, consisting of around a hundred thousand people. Even on such a cold night, they were absolutely still, their eyes were closed, their hands joined near their chests, and it appeared as if they were praying.
The imperial soldiers were lined up at the entrance of emperor’s palace, but instead of having cautious look on their faces, even they had their eyes closed and were silently praying.
Suddenly, the sound of fast footsteps resounded and an old woman, dressed up in maid clothes, hastily walked through the formation of soldiers and arrived in front of the crowd. The people present hastily opened their eyes and looked towards her, eagerly waiting for her to say something.
“Empress has given birth to a healthy prince!” She said in a loud voice.
As her voice resounded, the crowd immediately rejoiced and started shouting and hugging each other. Even the soldiers started rejoicing among themselves and a wave of happiness seemed to have spread everywhere. Many of them ran towards the city to spread the good news.
“Mom, what is a prince?” A two-three year kid looked towards his mother and asked in a curious voice.
His mother gently patted his head and said with a smile on her face: “A prince is someone who is destined to become our savior, our emperor, and will become the protector of peace in our empire like his father, our current emperor.”
The little kid was confused and said: “I also want to become the savior and protect everyone.”
His mother laughed then gently pinched his cheek and said: “Oh what a brave child, then work hard and become a soldier when you grow up, maybe someday, you will become the personal bodyguard of the prince and protect our empire alongside him.”
The little kid smiled and said in an excited manner: “I will become strong, and when he grows up, I will become good friends with him, and protect him as well, together we will become the saviors of our empire.”
His mother hugged him: “Oh my, what a good child you are, I hope you achieve your dreams.”
“People of Sloka Empire, I thank you all for staying here and praying for the safety of the empress, there will a banquet tomorrow to celebrate the prince’s birth, I invite everyone!” The old maid said in a loud voice, but her voice was overshadowed by the loud cheers of the crowd.
The old maid looked at the rejoicing crowd for a moment then turned back, crossed through the formation of soldiers who respectfully stepped aside to make way for her, and she returned into the palace.
Inside the palace, in a spacious room, a middle aged man was standing near the window and was looking at the rejoicing crowd through the small gap between the curtains. There was a blank expression on his face, but a sad expression could be seen in his eyes.
“Sire, I have informed them about prince’s birth, as you see, they are very happy, but why did you hide….” At this time, a woman’s voice spread in the room, it was the old maid. There were traces of tears in her eyes, but she was an experienced woman and knew that she was standing in front of the emperor and must not give in to her emotions.
“They have been praying for hours, they deserve to rejoice as much as they want. For so long, we have waited for this day to come, and now it’s here, let them rejoice, people of Sloka Empire must celebrate that their savior has come into this world.” The emperor said then slowly walked outside the room. The old maid lowered her head and immediately followed him.
“But, they need to know that empress passed away after giving birth to the prince.” The old maid said in a grieving tone. It was not unusual for her to talk openly with the emperor, as she was the oldest maid in imperial palace and used to be his nanny when he was young. Emperor respected her and always consulted her regarding various matters.
“We will inform them later.” The emperor said in a low voice. After a while, they arrived in front a room, the two soldiers stationed outside the room bowed respectfully then opened the door.
The emperor and the old maid entered the room and the soldiers closed the door.
“But, sire, empress has passed away, we should not allow a banquet to take place, we all know that people of Sloka Empire loved her.” The old maid said in a serious voice, she knew what he was trying to say but she just couldn’t accept it.
“The birth of savior has always been celebrated in the entire history of Sloka Empire, and the good news of prince’s birth is much more important than the bad news of empress’s death.” The emperor said calmly and walked towards the huge bed. Several maids, gathered around the bed, immediately stepped aside and emperor slowly approached the bed. The lifeless body of empress was on the bed, while there was a baby snuggled next to her.
The old maid looked towards the other maids and asked in a strict tone: “Have you all taken care of the prince as I instructed?”
The maids replied in unison: “Yes ma’am!”
The emperor glanced at the lifeless face of empress for a moment then gently picked up the baby, and at this time, the baby was looking at him and smiling.
The emperor looked at his smiling face and said: “So, even you are not crying on her death? It seems her wish came true, she wanted for the prince to never be sad, and look at him, he is smiling like a little angel.”
The emperor closed his eyes and the scene from almost half an hour flashed in his mind.
After giving birth to the prince, the empress knew that she was going to die. So, she made him to promise her that he would never be sad and won’t cry on her death. Before dying, while she had time to convey her wishes to him, she told him that she wanted just one thing for the prince, to never feel lonely without his mother.
The emperor glanced at the smiling face of the little prince and said in a gentle voice: “Your mother has given you a name, and as the emperor of Sloka Empire and your father, I bestow upon you the name of a very famous star, from now on, the whole world will know you from the name of Dhruv Sloka, the first prince of Sloka Empire.”
The emperor looked towards the old maid and said in a low voice: “Make preparations for the funeral of empress.”
The old maid said: “As you command!”
Then the emperor handed over the prince to one of the maids and walked out of the room to head back to his own bedroom.
The old maid looked at the back profile of the emperor and mumbled: “Empress’s request is forcing him to hold back his tears, but he needs to let go of the grief and let it flow along with his tears. He cannot go on like this after all he is the emperor of the entire Sloka Empire.”
The emperor stopped outside his bedroom, but couldn’t dare to go inside, because if he did, all of the memories of his wife would resurface and hurt him even more. He went to the palace hall and sat down on his throne.
He was the emperor of a huge empire like Sloka Empire and he knew very well that he would not have much time for Dhruv. But, he had already promised the empress that he wouldn’t let Dhruv feel lonely. Although, there were many servants and maids in the palace, but Dhruv was the prince of Sloka Empire and his status was too high.
The emperor was confused and extreme grief was making him unable to think properly. At this time, the soldiers opened the palace hall’s gate and a very old and blind man entered the palace hall, along with a servant who was guiding him towards the emperor.
The blind old man sat on the seat near the throne and said: “Emperor Shan Sloka, I heard from the old maid, Kisala, about the empress and everything that happened, her death is so unfortunate but our Sloka Empire finally got its prince, our savior, she already knew that she won’t survive but she still gave birth to such a healthy prince, don’t grieve, she has done a holy job and died happy.”
The emperor nodded and said: “High priest Kamsa, I know all that and I have already convinced myself, but at this time, I am more worried about the request she made before dying.”
Kamsa paused for a moment and said: “If you are worried that prince Dhruv would be lonely, I may have a solution to that. What I am about to tell you is not something new, it has been done before in the Sloka Empire.”
The emperor looked towards Kamsa and said: “High priest, you are very wise, please guide me, but if you are here to tell me to remarry, forget about it.”
Kamsa said: “No, I know you loved empress and she will be the only one in your life. I have something else to say, I think we should give a guardian to the prince, a protector, someone who will stay with him for the rest of his life and protect him. While prince Dhruv will play the role of our savior, that person will protect him and will also be his closest friend, and that way, our prince would not feel lonely and stay safe.”
The emperor’s face suddenly brightened. Indeed, this was a brilliant idea! The prince would not feel lonely since he would have a close friend, who would also be his protector.
The emperor said: “We have many powerful knights, I will choose the strongest one.”
Kamsa smiled and said: “Emperor Shan, this is not the job of a grown up, we need someone of the same age as the prince.”
The emperor was perplexed and asked: “What do you mean?”
Kamsa replied: “Our prince Dhruv is born in a mysterious arrangement of stars, he is destined to be glorious and become a powerful ruler, but he would need someone, born in the same arrangement of stars, to support him along the way. Yes, his guardian should be someone who has taken birth on the same day as him. And, I have someone in mind so I came here to inform you.”
The emperor immediately asked: “High priest, you know that I have never believed in stars and destiny, but this time, I don’t have any other means so I will listen to you. Go ahead and speak, who are you talking about?”
Kamsa smiled and said: “Emperor Shan, if you knew how strangely destinies are interlinked with the stars, you would be surprised. In the morning, I got invitation from head of Kunia clan, one of your vassal clans. He requested me to decide a name for his just born girl child, but when I read her stars, I was surprised to see that she is destined to stay by the side of a supreme ruler. I named her Rohini. Later, in the late evening, I came to know that prince Dhruv has taken birth, I immediately read his stars and found out that his stars match perfectly with hers.”
The emperor pondered for a moment then said: “Kunia clan? It is indeed one of our best vassal clans. But she is a girl, how will she become Dhruv’s protector?
Kamsa said: “Emperor Shan, don’t tell me you have forgotten about Kunia clan? It is a clan of warriors, they practice secret arts and both men and women are trained to become strong warriors. I have already talked to the head of Kunia clan about this matter and he was very happy that his daughter is going to become the guardian of Sloka Empire’s prince. Tomorrow, I will tell him that you have agreed!”
The emperor was still confused and said: “But, is it alright to give such an important task to a girl?”
Kamsa smiled and said: “There are certain jobs that only a girl can do, I think she will be a good replacement for empress in Dhruv’s life, since he doesn’t have a mother anymore to teach him things, being a woman, she will teach him the importance of compassion and kindness, which are necessary traits for a wise emperor.”
The emperor closed his eyes then thought for a while then said in a stern voice: “Alright, inform Kunia clan about this, tell them to train that girl well, she is going to be our prince’s protector!”
Kamsa immediately said: “As you wish my lord!”
Kamsa thought in his heart: “I did my part and brought together these two people, who are destined by the stars, I wonder what will happen in the future. One of them is destined to be the savior of a great empire and other one is destined to always stay with this savior and protect him.”