CHAPTER 44

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"Princess, allow me to introduce Lady Mara, Quinn, Sarah, and May, four out of the ten women of King Stephan."

Saya bows her head immediately to accord respect. They all look older than her and they have obviously been the king's women longer than she.

"Oh please no need to bow to us," Mara, in the green dress says. "She's right, we only came to greet you and pay our respects," Quinn adds.

"Respects?" Why would they pay respects to her, you're only supposed to pay respects to the kings or to people older than you. She meets neither of those requirements, and even if she's older than any of them, the thought of them going around looking for people older than them just to pay respects is weird.

"Of course, princess. You are the first woman to ever get pregnant by any of the kings, and also the first to be betrothed, you are the talk of our kingdom. I am sure you are proud of your achievements," Mara explains. Again with this achievement, even women think of this as an award or a trophy.

"I think you are mistaken Lady Mara. I do not consider my pregnancy and my betrothal to the king an achievement. It seems people are so caught up on this as if it is a prize to be won, I do not see it that way, but if you do, kindly refrain from associating that with me. An achievement for me is starting a business, or helping women in need, or better still, embarking and finishing a project in the kingdom. Don't get me wrong, I am happy that I am betrothed and pregnant, but I don't consider that an achievement, especially in this situation whereby people think I have landed a gold mine," Saya explains with a smile.

Mara looks at her in annoyance, Quinn in envy, while Sarah and May in amazement. Saya is definitely different, she doesn't think like other women.

Mara quickly straightens her face, "I apologize princess, I didn't mean to offend you."

"Oh you didn't! Please don't feel bad about what I just said. They are just my personal feelings towards that subject, but it was nice meeting you ladies. 

 Shall we go Lady Laila?"

Laila nods, walking away with Saya while earning snickers from the women. "She thinks she has it all," Mara hisses. "She does have it all, I want mine too," Quinn says, eyeing her.

Saya and Laila sit down, both letting out a sigh.

"I easily saw through those fake smiles," Saya says a bit down. "It's okay princess, not all of them are that way. Besides, here it's every man for himself, they're just jealous you have King Xerxes all to yourself."

"I have to admit, I do feel special having him all to myself, but at the same time, that's not how it has always been. I can't blame them for feeling jealous, I know I would if I were in their shoes, especially if they're like you, that have already fallen for King Stephan."

Laila nods, but looks over Saya's shoulder bowing. Saya turns her head and sees Xerxes and Stephan are back, she bows as well.

Xerxes takes a seat by her, kissing her forehead, Stephan leaves his seat, in the middle of the table, and sits by Laila, kissing her forehead as well. Laila and Saya look at each other with wide eyes! Is Stephan doing this because he's with Xerxes or does he really have feelings for Laila and are making them obvious?

"You should eat," Xerxes says, picking up a piece of fish with his fork bringing it to her mouth. She shakes her head immediately,

"I brought that for you, you seem to be eating more fish now, and I'm still getting used to the smell."

"I hope you're finding the celebrations okay princess," Stephan says looking at Saya.

She nods in response, not wanting to tell him that she hates celebrations, and everything it comes with. "Congratulations on your betrothal, I see Xerxes has already given you the diamond necklace. I must say I am jealous, I haven't found the right person to give mine." Saya's eyes dart to Laila immediately, she looks like her heart has been crushed to a million pieces.

"She's probably right under your nose, you just need to look harder and closer," she says, giving Laila a small smile. Saya hasn't met all of the king's women and she has no say in his life, but from what she has seen, Laila looks like the best fit, in her opinion. The fact that she might consider giving up on her love for King Stephan and look somewhere else shows that she's definitely not in it for the money and title.

"STOP! IT'S BEEN POISONED!" a lady yells about to slap the fork out of King Xerxes hand, but his reflexes cause him to move his hand away from the woman, putting the fork down immediately, the lady falling to the floor, gaining attention in the hall. People turn around looking at the scene before them murmuring, some gasping. Saya, Laila, King Stephan, and King Xerxes are looking at this woman in shock. When she raises her head, Saya and Laila sigh...Oma.

"What is the meaning of this?" Stephan says angrily looking at Oma. She stands up immediately meeting Xerxes' glare before Stephan's frown. "I apologize to My Lords but the meal served to King Xerxes had been poisoned, and I had to stop it from happening," she says proud of what she did, stepping back till she's in front of the table.

"What proof do you have of all this?" Stephan asks, still frowning at her. Saya and Laila look at each other confused. How is this possible? It's probably one of her tricks.

Lady Oma brings out something from her dress, a small bottle. "This, My Lord, is Kadark." Everyone gasps, when they hear this. Kadark, name gotten from the man of poisons, Kadark. No one knows how he developed this poison, but once taken, kills within a minute. The victim starts coughing out blood, and finds it hard to breath, eventually dying from chest pain and loss of oxygen.

"Are you saying you poisoned the meal King Xerxes was about to eat?" Stephan asks.

"No, My Lord, not I, it was her, Princess Saya of Laine!" she says pointing her finger at Saya, making her gasp in shock. Xerxes slams his hand on the table making everyone, except King Stephan, flinch. Xerxes is glaring at Oma, clearly having enough from her, while Saya's breathing quickens, her heart pounding from all this attention. What is she doing?

"I was by the table when Lady Saya was choosing her meals. Anyone could've missed it because she had it in her pocket. When the maid had dished out some fish, she stopped her and took the plate to check if it was enough. But she put it down on the table, and acted like she got carried away in a conversation, using it as an opening to get a drop into the plate. She handed it back shortly after, leaving the bottle on the table, walking away. I thought it was suspicious, so I took the bottle and went to the kitchens begging for any small livestock they had, telling them that I believed the king was in trouble. I was given a chicken and I fed it some feed mixed with a drop of the contents of the bottle. Within a minute of eating the feed it started acting strange, blood emerging from its beak, and it was clear the chicken was struggling to breath, it died on the spot."

A maid walks in handing the chicken over Oma, blood dripping from its beak.

"She's lying," Saya whispers, but Xerxes doesn't answer, making her look at him. She sees him still glaring at Oma, his fists clenched so hard, that the veins might pop out any second.

"She's lying!" Laila says making people, including Stephan and Saya turn to her.

"I was with Lady Saya the whole time, and she never did such a thing," she defends her friend.

"Lying to the king is treason," Stephan warns Oma.

"Understood My Lord. You probably had a hand in it for you to back her up, Lady Laila, because I have a witness." The crowd's murmurs get louder, but Saya is sitting there, she had calmed herself down. Upon hearing her fake story, she knew it made no sense.

Saya touches Xerxes' hand gently, "It's okay my love," she says trying to calm him down, but the only thing it's doing now, is preventing him from standing up and ripping Oma apart.

A maid comes out, standing beside Lady Oma, her head to the floor. King Stephan asks her if what Lady Oma had said is indeed true. She looks up at the king saying, "Yes, My Lord. I saw it with my two eyes." 

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