Excerpt from Chapter 4 of For Love of Eden
It was circa AD 1450. In the Kingdom of Verité, ruled by King Francois and Queen Beatrice of the Valois, a caravan from distant Eastern lands made its way through the rolling hills of the scenic countryside. Princess Amara Ling of the Sun Moon Kingdom peered out of the imperial coach, understated in its décor for Her Highness’s security.
How different this land is, the princess thought, yet…how just as beautiful. It was not often a royal of her stature, much less a woman, was afforded the chance to explore faraway lands. She knew that being entrusted with this important affair between the two kingdoms spoke much about the high regard that the emperor, her father, placed in her abilities—not only to carry out the diplomatic mission but to ensure her own well-being. She also knew that in environs of high politics and intrigue, there were few others he could trust.
For to cross such distant lands to establish relations with a faraway kingdom was unheard of at the time. The risks, the costs, were too great and seemed to provide little practical benefit. Nevertheless, the emperor was a man of foresight. He often spoke of the need to reach beyond what they knew, beyond the scope of their world. For the world was unmistakably much more vast than a small kingdom could fathom within the shelter of its gates. To promote exchange beyond its safe confines was to bring forth a flourishing of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that could only benefit their people. So he had raised his daughter to speak different languages, to learn about other cultures, other histories, so that she could one day rule with great insight, wisdom, and compassion.
The caravan came to a halt. They had arrived at the palace gates.
It was a blistering hot day, with only a warm breeze offering a bit of solace. Prince Antoine stood with his entourage before the arriving caravan, waiting to greet the guests. He knew little of from whence they had come, only that it was far, far away, in what he had come to know as the Orient. It was an unknown land to him, a mystifying region, and he wondered what types of sights and sounds from a distant culture were to arrive at their palace gates.
The coach door opened. Surely, this must be their chief negotiator, a great lord from afar, the prince thought. He stood waiting in anticipation as the moments passed in silence. Then, a jeweled figure emerged from within the coach.
A woman, thought the prince. How rare that a woman would have traveled all this way. He approached as the woman, dressed in a flowing golden silk gown, her hair sculpted like that of an empress, her chin held upright and arched in regal dignity, descended from the coach.
A page announced, “Your Highness, may I present to you, Her Royal Highness Princess Amara Ling of the Sun Moon Kingdom.”
The prince bowed. “Your Highness, it is my honor to welcome you to our kingdom.”
“The honor is mine, Your Highness.”
He offered her his hand and proceeded to escort her to the throne room.
Lowering his voice, the prince said to the princess, “It is not every day my father receives delegations headed by a beautiful princess. I am at once enchanted and perplexed.”
The princess whispered back, “Do not underestimate the abilities of a young woman, Your Highness. There is much more to me than the appearance of a delicate beauty.”