Through the Palace

by Valley Fey/Pinprick
originally published at 02:55PM on Friday, April 25, 2008

I pass the day with trivialities, sewing and playing with Ishkar. As the skylights grow dim and the eunuchs begin lighting our heavy-scented oil lamps, he comes for me. The emperor’s highest eunuch of the brothel, his steps are watched by all in our garden, who is chosen tonight? He stops at my low sandstone wall, the symbol of my desert heritage. River rock for the river nations to the East, sandstone for the desert to the South, marble for the temples to the West, and brick for the cities to the North.

I emerge from my tent, heavily veiled for the walk to the emperor’s quarters. He takes my arm gently and leads me to the large doorway to our room. This is only my fourth time being called to the emperor’s quarters, and I am nervous. As I walk, I see Lilac out of the corner of my eye. Anger rolls across her face, at who I can’t tell. I walk, arm in arm with the eunuch, through the marble halls, and up the elegant stairs, and toward the immense golden door of the emperor.

The eunuch knocks, then leaves me.