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Jaaguzannama: the ultimate chessboard

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Jaaguzannama: the ultimate chessboard
The ultimate chessboard.jpg
Original title Jaaguzannama
Language Common Tongue
Author(s) Gustaaf Vermeylen
Genre Historical narratives
Location(s) Çakaristan
(main) characters List of characters
Timeframe 1709 AN and onwards

Jaaguzannama: the ultimate chessboard is the second part in the story series Jaaguzannama, which begins shortly after the wedding day of Jaaguzan and Zahra al-Osman. It is a sequel to Jaaguzannama: the rise of the Ducula Aenea.

Theme music

Roll of dice

It was shortly after their return from their honeymoon that there was a knock at the door of Zahra's chamber. "Come," Zahra answered. The doors opened, an agha entered and said, "Shahbanu, His Majesty wishes you in his chamber". She nodded and the agha left the chamber. She quickly got ready and walked to the Shahanshah's chamber. She was followed to the door of that room by two ladies of the court, which was customary. The door was opened by an agha, after which her arrival was announced. The Shahanshah responded with "come". Zahra entered and responded to her husband's open arms by embracing him. "My husband, have you sent for me to repeat this magical morning?" Jaaguzan smiled and thought of the passion he had with her. "Well," he stammered, "I certainly won't turn down that offer." Zahra began to laugh. Jaaguzan continued, "Unfortunately, the reason is not so romantic. More in the sense that I would like to hear what you think of the matter."

•••

From a balcony, she could oversee the city. She thought of Abu, her dear husband, whom she had been missing for five years now. Her heart ached and tears came from her eyes. "Oh, great Craitgod, what is left for me?" She did not know how to pray more. Aishwarya entered the balcony and saw her mother standing sadly. She said, "Mother?" Jodha looked up and at the sight of her daughter a smile appeared. She wiped away her tears, but she could not hide the fact that she had just cried.

"My mother," said Aishwarya, hugging her mother. "Would father have wanted you to continue mourning him for five years? I fully understand that you do not want to remarry. But try to rediscover the beautiful things in life. You can do that, without losing the good memories of father." Jodha stammered, "But...", after a while she looked up into her daughter's eyes. "Your father would say how much you are like me, your beauty." She sighed and took off the black veil from her head. Her daughter smiled and hugged her intensely.

•••

Emotionally, Atiya arrived at the Al-Hamra Palace along with her brother, Farhan, and her sister, Aisha. Their departure was surreal at the time. They did not know that they would flee from Arbor, their parents had only told them in the Crait temple in Craitabad. They did not return to Al-Hamra after that. During Mustafa Asada's reign of terror, the whole town had been emptied. Many of its inhabitants never returned. Slowly, life began to return to the town. The return of the Alsalam family is a boost for the inhabitants.

Atiya ordered that the town and the palace should be restored to their former glory. She knew that most of the residents were struggling to make ends meet, let alone pay for repairs to their houses, shops and public buildings. Giving a short speech in the town square, she announced that the costs would be paid from the treasury of the Alsalam family. The people cheered with joy and sang praises to the family.

•••

"Hrithik is sixteen years old, he wants to join the army next year. I have been asked if I would agree to it," Jaaguzan said. Zahra thought for a while and meanwhile she walked around. She stopped at the side table with a large chessboard on it. She picked up one of the pieces, a faras, and said, "Let him serve his Shahanshah, a young man like him should not be caged in a palace." Jaaguzan nodded in agreement and said, "Good."

Zahra put the piece back, as Jaaguzan approached. "You once said you could play chess," Jaaguzan said. Zahra nodded in agreement. "Are you familiar with Shatranj Al-Kabir (Great chess)?" asked Jaaguzan. Zahra replied and said, "Yes indeed, only we called it Tahmaseb chess" "Ah of course", Jaaguzan responded, "named after Tahmaseb Abakhtari" "Correct", Zahra said, "and as we are used to, the game starts with a roll of a dice".

Lady's will

"Your Majesty, the sultana wishes to see you," said an agha to the Shahanshah. Jaaguzan looked up from his reading with some surprise. He had not spoken to Jodha for a long time. He saw her occasionally, for she lived on the other side of the Red Fortress. "Let her come in," Jaaguzan replied. The agha walked back to the door and made an inviting gesture to Jodha. She entered the chamber and made a curtsy. Jaaguzan was surprised as she was no longer wearing the black clothes and veils. She was dressed in a beautiful green dress, traditional to Poorajangal. "Sultana, what a surprise that you want to meet me," opened Jaaguzan, "what can I do for you?"

"Your Majesty, first of all I would like to thank you for allowing my son, Hrithik, to join the army. He has been dreaming of becoming a jet fighter pilot for so long," Jodha began. Jaaguzan replied and said, "It was not an easy decision for me. Because of his position in relation to the constitution, I don't want to put him at unnecessary risk." Jodha nodded understandingly. "You started with 'first of all', therefore there is another issue you want to discuss with me," Jaaguzan continued.

•••

"Leylah Khatun," said Zahra. "Yes, my Shahbanu," she replied with a curtsy. "As you may know, since yesterday I have my period again. That saddens me because I would like to give His Majesty a child. Can you provide me with an ovulation test?" "Yes, my Shahbanu," Leylah Khatun replied, "I will arrange this immediately." "Good," said Zahra, "but keep this discreet. Arrange for a pregnancy test also." "Yes, my Shahbanu," Leylah Khatun replied with a curtsy.

•••

"Yes, your Majesty," said Jodha, "there is a second thing I wish to speak to you about. You have had a memorial built for your father and your mother, in blessed memory, in Tadmur. So you, your brother and sisters and your people can remember their former ruler by a tangible marker. My heart desires that a tangible marker be erected for my late husband, of whom I still think every day. Perhaps as a mausoleum, since his tomb cannot now be visited by the people." Jodha waited in suspense for the Shahanshah's response.

"You have spoken rightly, my parents can be remembered through a tangible marker. That is the least I could do for the great Akbar. To him we owe the unity of this nation," Jaaguzan replied. Jodha thanked him emotionally. Jaaguzan asked, "Did your husband have any ideas of his own for a mausoleum?" Jodha replied and said, "Your majesty, my husband certainly already had ideas and even sketches for a mausoleum." Jaaguzan said, "Very well, go and get that built. I will pay for everything."

•••

"Yaequb Bunduq, how nice to see you." "Likewise, your highness," said Yaequb as he bowed to Atiya. "Congratulations on your appointment as Nayib al'Amir (vice emir)." "Thank you, your highness," Yeaqub replied. "Can you inform me about the progress of the construction of the monument to my late father and mother," Atiya inquired. "Your Highness," Yeaqub replied, "as I wrote in a report to His Majesty the Shahanshah today, construction is progressing steadily. We expect completion in a few months. In the report I have also mentioned the local name for the structure, namely: Shrine on the Blood." Atiya nodded approvingly and said, "I would like to grandly inaugurate the monument." "Yes, your highness," Yeaqub replied. "And, one more thing," Atiya added, "take Farhan under your wing. I have in mind that he will succeed you". "Yes, your highness", Yeaqub replied with a bow.

Past and future

Shrine of the Blood

The entire Vinandy family and relatives had gathered at Tadmur's Apollonian Oriental Hotel. A reunion of the family that is spread all over Micras today. Except the family, there were no other guests in the hotel, the security measures were absurdly strict. Three heads of state, a senator, heirs to the throne and their children, they had come together. Behind closed doors, protocol had been lifted.

Outside, dignitaries had gathered, alongside selected and screened people. An extra wide green runner with a decorated edge modelled after the edge of the Çakari flag. When the time came, the arrival of the noble company was announced by the sound of trumpets. Then it became quiet, everyone fell silent. The doors of the hotel opened and the noble company came out. In front walked Jaaguzan with Zahra beside him. Followed by his twin sister and the other Fatima children. Behind them were Elisabeth Asara with her husband, Karel Kyle with his wife and Gustavus Nathan. Finally, Hendrik and his wife with their children. Following this, the Çakar family walked: Jodha, Aishwarya, Hrithik, Amir, Catherine, Manikarnika Tambe and Anand. They followed the green runner path from the hotel to the other side of the road. At the beginning of the park, there were foreign guests standing. Jaaguzan had complained beforehand that this was a family occasion, but the Ataliq had stated that a matter of the Shahanshah is always a matter of the state. That did not entirely remove his objection, but at this solemn moment it was not noticeable. The whole procession stopped when Jaaguzan personally greeted the foreign guests. Emperor Hiroto, the Sanpantul Emperor, his country being an unincorporated part of the Empire; Ichirō Ayreon-Kalirion of Waffle-Paine, Viscount Audon of Varmland and representative of the Ayreon-Kalirion family; Li Raion Naomiai Avon-El Ayreon-Kalirion, the Chancellor of the Order of the Holy Lakes, representative on behalf of that order. Jaaguzan continued along the path, followed by the family. The foreign guests followed in the direction of the Shrine of the Blood.

Solemnly they walked towards the imposing building. A guard of honour had been set up along the entire path. In front of the building a square had been arranged, on flagpoles flying the flags of Arbor, Arcadia, Amokolia, Batavia, Beneluccas, Francia, Helderbourgh and Çakaristan. At the door of the building, Yaequb was waiting. He greeted the Shahanshah and nodded to the others. After a hand gesture, a servant stepped forward and offered the Shahanshah a large key. Jaaguzan nodded in agreement, after which the servant stepped back and put the key in the lock. The doors opened and Yaequb invited the Shahanshah to enter. In the main hall of the building, there were two large murals of Mahmud and Fatima. They were beautifully depicted, but not like saints. Jaaguzan became a bit emotional, he said, "This is how I recognise them, this is how I remember them." On an elevation, people could light a candle. And they all did. After they had all enjoyed a moment of reflection, they returned to the hotel. The Shrine of Blood was then open to the public.



A large family photo was taken in the hotel garden, together with the children who had not attended the ceremony. Afterwards, there was a reception in the hotel. State officials and foreign guests also were present. The Grand Vizier, Jayanti Sinha, consulted with Salah Ad-Din Al-Lusirni to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries. Karel Kyle and Elena de Aragon stood somewhat apart. Elena told him that her husband, who had left the reception to rest, was ill. Until now they had been able to hide this from the public, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. "His role and function are very difficult for him, the doctors think of a lung disease," Elena confided to Karel Kyle. Karel Kyle thought for a moment and replied: "There is a good clinic in Leyl, maybe he can get treatment there". Elena brightened and said, "That would be great." Zahra was talking to Li Naomiai. "Court life is a bit different from my life in Tirlar," Zahra answered Li Naomiai's question about how things are going. "The protocol is orderly though, only I am still struggling with my position towards my sister-in-law." Li Naomiai thought for a moment and said, "Would it help if I send an acquaintance to you so he can help you?" Zahra was surprised and thanked Li Naomiai.

Jaaguzan was talking to Hiroto, the two men were looking in the direction of Atiya and Astir. Atiya noticed this and said to Astir, "What do you think those two would be talking about?" Astir turned around and replied, "I don't know, but now look at Zahra." Atiya shifted her attention and looked for Zahra. "Over there in the corner with Elena," Astir helped. Atiya saw Zahra standing there and asked, "What about her?" "Well," said Astir, "she's with our brother almost every night, but is still not pregnant. More so, our brother has not had a concubine in his bed yet". Atiya said, "Although there are many of us here, that is worrying." Astir: "Indeed, perhaps you should go back to Agra, to help our brother confirm the throne there."

Building for the future

"My brother," said Atiya, "forgive me if what you are about to say offends you. But how can you expect your people to follow your qanun, when you ignore the ruling of the Majlis al-Shuwraa?" For a moment there was silence. Jaaguzan put the teacup on the table and stroked his beard. Finally he said, "Every qanun and every ruling has cause and purpose in its own context. When that context has lapsed, then that qanun and ruling must be evaluated." Atiya thought and responded, "I agree with you that a qanun or a ruling should be relevant. The context is no longer the same, that is true, but the situation is still there." Jaaguzan stared at the floor in thought. His sister leaned forward and put her hand on his shoulder. She said, "Forget the statement, have an eye for the urgency. Zahra gives you joy in your heart, but the Empire needs a future."

Atiya excused herself, stood up, made a curtsy and left her brother. Arriving at the Zenana, she sent for Ashna Agha. He arrived in Atiya's chamber and said, "Your Highness." "Ashna Agha, prepare Delara Khatun and send her to the Shahanshah tonight." "Yes, your highness," Ashna Agha replied.

•••

"My Sultana, my builders have made a path for you. A construction site is often very dangerous." "Thank you, I would like to see the progress of the construction." "Certainly, my Sultana, may I invite you." Jodha had arrived with her eldest daughter just southeast of the Red Fortress, on the outskirts of Agra. Not far down the road, now a dusty road, was a gatehouse in scaffolding. This will be the main entrance to the gardens. From the gatehouse, the grounds descended, stairs would still be made here. A grand view of the large structure on the other side of the garden. "My Sultana, the builders call this garden, although it has yet to be laid out, already paradise. The Babhkan word for 'garden of the king'." Jodha nodded in agreement. They walked towards the large structure, which seemed to rise impressively as they approached it. An elongated pond lay between the gatehouse and the large structure. The large structure lay on a large platform, raised above the garden. The ladies were welcomed by the builders, who stood and bowed their heads in respect to the Sultana. The contours of the building were already becoming clear, although it was still under construction. The ladies were offered helmets, but Aishwarya had not anticipated this and had to remove her kerchief before putting on the helmet. They were shown around the building under construction. Jodha became emotional when she stood in the large central hall and realised that this was where her husband would be interred. She looked up and could still see the blue sky. That will soon be protected by a dome. She looked with satisfaction at the construction worker who had shown them around. "Keep up the good work!" she said.

•••

Leylah Khatun stormed into Zahra's room. Zahra looked up and was surprised at this break in protocol. She put down her coffee and wanted to hear what it meant. Leylah Khatun spoke, "Forgive me, my Shahbanu, I bring you disturbing news". She was silent for a moment. "Come on, tell me," said Zahra impatiently. "Ashna Agha have Delara Khatun prepared so that she goes to the Shahanshah tonight," Leylah Khatun told her. "Has the Shahanshah ordered this?" asked Zahra. "No, my Shahbanu, Her Highness Atiya ordered it," replied Leylah Khatun. Zahra became emotional and looked away from Leylah Khatun. A few moments later, Zahra said, "Bring me an ovulation test." "Yes, My Shahbanu," Leylah Khatun replied.

She ran barefoot through the corridors of the Red Fortress. She arrived at the Mutlaqa, to the aghas who were keeping watch over the Shahanshah's room, she asked, "Where is His Majesty?" "My Shahbanu," replied one of the aghas with a bowed head, "His Majesty, the Shahshah, is having a private meeting with the Ataliq in the courtyard." Thereupon Zahra ran on through the corridors again, to arrive at the entrance of the courtyard garden. The aghas bowed their heads as Zahra entered the courtyard. "Hakim!", Zahra called out. Jaaguzan turned around and was surprised to see Zahra. She ran towards Jaaguzan and embraced him. After a short moment, Jaaguzan loosened up slightly and said to the Ataliq, "We were ready, weren't we?" The Ataliq hesitated, but bowed his head and left. The aghas closed the doors. "What are you excited about?", Jaaguzan asked the woman who embraced him. "I was thinking of you and wanted nothing more than to have you in my arms", Zahra replied. They kissed passionately.

The game is on

Through the corridors walked a young woman. She was nervous, but beautifully dressed. Ashna Agha preceded her and they arrived at the entrance to the courtyard. Ashna Agha ordered the aghas to open the doors. But the aghas refused. Ashna Agha then became angry and again ordered the doors to be opened. The aghas again refused and one of them said, "It is improper to let you pass. The Shahbanu is with the Shahanshah." "What!", said Ashna Agha. Then he understood what was going on. He turned around and brought Delara Khatun back to the Zenana. Then he reported to Atiya what had happened.

•••

"Everything is ready to receive your husband. A room in the clinic, a medical team and security," Jaaguzan said on the phone. "Thank you very much, Hakim, I really appreciate this," Elena responded. "There is still one thing I am worried about", she continued, "that is the journey. It has been thought that Hendrik will be flown to Maulikpur, then taken in an ambulance to Leylpur." "That's right," confirmed Jaaguzan, "the airport at Leylpur is too small for a jumbo jet." "Ah, that's it," Elena responded, "isn't there any other option?"

Jaaguzan hummed for a moment as he thought about it and said, "Yes, Hendrik can also be flown to Manbai and brought into the clinic's garden with a rotor aircraft today." "What is a rotor aircraft?", Elena asked. "To put it simply, it's a plane that can also take off and land vertically," Jaaguzan replied. "Well, I don't have an idea about it yet, but if this is possible, then very much," Elena responded. "Good, then we'll do it like this," Jaaguzan concluded.

•••

"My Shahbanu, Her Highness wishes to speak to you," said Leylah Khatun. "Let her come in," replied Zahra. Atiya was let in and made a curtsy to Zahra. "From where do I have the pleasure?", Zahra asked. Atiya held back as Zahra had to know what was going on. "My Shahbanu, hopefully you had a nice evening and night with the Shahanshah." "Yes indeed", Zahra responded, "as befits a good wife, her job is to please her husband". Atiya struggled to respond. Finally, Atiya turned around and marched out of the room. But stopped while she stood in the open doors. Turned around and shouted, "You are playing a game! Do you even know what you are doing! You are putting the future of the State at stake!" Without waiting for a response, she stormed off.

•••

Jodha and Aishwarya walked through the corridors of the palace. They passed the Zenana, at which time Atiya's screams could be heard. They stopped and listened. They looked at each other in disbelief and horror. "Perhaps it is time for us to leave this palace," Jodha said softly to Aishwarya. They nodded in agreement and continued on their way.

Court of Ladies

"Your Majesty, the Sultana wishes to speak to you," said an agha to Jaaguzan. Jaaguzan was sitting in the garden with his brother, enjoying a cup of Arboric coffee together. Jaaguzan considered for a moment what to do and Farhan wanted to get up to leave. "Please stay," said Jaaguzan. Farhan nodded and remained seated. "Let her come," Jaaguzan said to the agha. Jodha came walking in a little later. "Sultana, what can you be of service to?" asked Jaaguzan. "I am sorry to disturb you," began Jodha, but Jaaguzan gestured to reassure her. "I don't know to what extent you have been informed about the recent irregularities in the Zenana, but it gives me the signal to distance myself from the palace. May I ask your majesty that my family and I move?" "What irregularities?" asked Jaaguzan. Jodha told of what she had observed. A silence fell while Jaaguzan pondered. "Nah," said Jaaguzan switching to Jodha's question, "Of course you and your family may move. I will order the Nawab ka Mahal to organise the move and provide security." Jodha thanked the Shahanshah with a curtsy and left the garden.

"Let Atiya come," Jaaguzan said to an agha. A little later, Atiya appeared in the garden. She pretended that nothing was wrong and greeted her brothers warmly. Jaaguzan invited her to take a seat and asked her, "What happened? I heard you shouting. What is going on?" Atiya acted as if these questions were unexpected and unnecessary. But Jaaguzan insisted and looked at her penetratingly. Atiya replied and said, "My concern is the welfare of the state. You have a commitment not only to your wife but also to the future of this nation. It does not help that this is being thwarted." Jaaguzan frowned his eyebrows and said, "Welfare of the state? What about me?". "My brother, you are the embodiment of the state. If it goes well with you, it goes well with the state." replied Atiya. Jaaguzan became averse to the play of words, he asked, "In what sense is the future of this nation thwarted according to you?" Atiya sighed and said, "The Majlis al-Shuwraa has made a clear decision. For that, I have organised the filling in. Thank the great Craitgod, that you have married a woman. That alone does not absolve you from the decision of the Majlis al-Shuwraa. You have not yet sent for a concubine. And just when I ordered to send a concubine, your wife was already with you. The timing was so striking that she deliberately wanted to block the arrival of the concubine." Jaaguzan smiled briefly as he took a sip of coffee.

Jaaguzan said, "If this is so, as you say, then my wife has played you into this. Good for her. But that does not give you the right to start shouting at her. It would be your honour to apologise to her." Atiya reacted agitatedly and protested. But Jaaguzan said, "It seems healthy for you to leave this palace. I cannot rule over a nation while in my own house there is strife. Let us keep our distance so that our relationship does not fall apart. I will also talk to Zahra, I order you to apologise." Atiya was shocked by this response and did not know how to react. Jaaguzan looked at his brother and sister, got up and left.

•••

"Behold, the Shahanshah!" it sounded as the doors of Zahra's private room swung open. Jaaguzan entered, with a hand gesture ordering everyone out of the room. Zahra quickly stood up and made a curtsy to the Shahanshah. After the doors closed she looked at her husband, but saw that he was not going to embrace her. "My husband," Zahra said in anticipation of what Jaaguzan would say. "Is it true that you seduced me in the courtyard to prevent a concubine from joining me?" asked Jaaguzan. Zahra looked down and replied, "My husband, it is true that I seduced you. My great desire is to give you a son, for which that night was very appro..." Suddenly she felt a violent nausea coming on and cringed. She was still able to bend away from her husband while vomiting. Jaaguzan was startled and tried to help. When Zahra could speak again, she apologised. But Jaaguzan calmed her down. He called Leylah Khatun.

Quickly Zahra was helped. Jaaguzan asked, "Are you all right again?" Zahra still felt nauseous, but she was doing better. "I'm sorry this happened," Zahra apologised. But Jaaguzan waved it away as unimportant. "Do you have this more often?" he asked. Zahra explained that she had never experienced it like this before. As she said that, she looked at Leylah Khatun, who was beaming. Zahra frowned and suddenly knew why Leylah Khatun would be shining. "Perhaps," Zahra began, "this is an omen to why I have seduced you". Jaaguzan needed a few moments to grasp this and looked up. "Oh great Craitgod, may this be so!"

Change of tides

"Thank you for coming," Jodha said to her brother-in-law. Amir greeted his sister-in-law with a bow. "I have heard that you are moving out," Amir said to Jodha. "That's right," Jodha replied. "May I ask where you are planning to move to," Amir continued. Jodha nodded and said, "I would like to move to Keruliya and raise my children there. I hope they will have more room for real life there than here in this palace. Besides, Hrithik is going to start his training with the Air Force." "Good," Amir said, "For our position as a royal family, it is good to keep ties with the capital. I had thought that it would be better for you and the children to leave this palace. It's a strange image to have two royal families living in one palace. That is why I have planned to build a new residence in the capital. This residence is already called the 'Çakar Bhavan'. It will be built a stone's throw away from the mausoleum." "That sounds wonderful!", Jodha responded. Amir was pleased with the enthusiastic response and pulled out the building plans. On them, Jodha saw the large suite on the second floor, where it was written 'Jodha's suite'. She looked at Amir and said, "Is that for me?" "Yes," Amir responded, "you can stay there if you want to be in the capital." "Thank you", Jodha replied. "The nice thing is, from the balcony you can see the mausoleum," Amir continued. "Oh, how nice! Thank you!", said Jodha with visible emotion.

•••

"My friend! Welcome to Agra!" greeted Jaaguzan's guest, Emperor Hiroto. In turn, Hiroto paid his respects by bowing and accepted with an embrace the warm reception by the Shahanshah. After exchanging pleasantries, the men discussed the agreement. "Very well," Jaaguzan concluded, "I have had my twin sister prepare tea in the garden. May I invite you to taste her tea?" "Yes indeed, your majesty, thank you" replied Hiroto. Hiroto was escorted to the garden by an agha and found Atiya there. Atiya was surprised by Hiroto's arrival; she had expected her brother to come for tea. But Hiroto was alone and bowed respectfully to her. She made a curtsy and invited the Emperor to tea. Hiroto took a seat and let Atiya pour the tea. He complimented her on the delicate way she poured the tea. She thanked him and asked him about the tea ceremony in Sanpantul. Hiroto modestly told about the tea ceremony, emphasising that her way of handling it approached the perfection of the tea ceremony. Atiya realised what Hiroto was doing. The fact that her brother had made the appointment but Hiroto showed up made her suspect that this was a conspiracy. A conspiracy to match her with Hiroto. She did not show any signs of this realisation. She had to note that Hiroto was trying very hard to court her. She was charmed by it.

•••

Zahra walked through the palace. She wanted to be alone and had ordered her entourage to stay in her private room. She still felt nauseous, but happy to be carrying a child in her womb. She heard people walking in the corridor around the corner. As she approached the corner, she also heard their conversation. It was Astīr and Farhan who felt alone. "Really, that old woman said, 'this one will make peace a faint memory,'" Astīr said. "And that was referring to Zahra?", asked her brother. "Yes, really!" replied Astīr. Zahra quickly hid in a niche, expecting the two speakers to pass her by. But she still heard Farhan say, "You don't believe that yourself!" And then the voices hushed, without passing Zahra. Zahra waited a moment, but it remained silent. She came out and crept to the corner of the corridor. There she saw no trace of the twins. She wondered if they had walked the other way, but they couldn't have. That door was closed, and besides, that door always squeaked, and she hadn't heard it. Where had they gone? She walked back and forth again, but nothing. Finally, she walked back to her private room.

Great memory

Zahra entered her private room, lost in thought. The khatuns were still cleaning up and were shocked by the Shahbanu's imminent return. Leylah Khatun asked Zahra, "My Shahbanu, what is it?" Zahra looked up, but did not reply. "My Shahbanu," Leylah Khatun said with an invitation to come to the balcony. Zahra meekly followed and allowed herself to be parked on the bench. Leylah Khatun looked at her questioningly as the khatuns quickly finished the room. Zahra told Leylah Khatun what she had heard and the mysterious disappearance of the speakers. Leylah Khatun forgot the protocol and said she already suspected that there must be secret passageways.

•••

"Your Majesty, your sister wishes to speak to you," said an agha. "Let her come in," said Jaaguzan as he was busy behind his desk. Atiya stormed in and stood in front of the desk. Jaaguzan looked up in surprise at this attitude. "My sister, what can I do for you?" "Are you planning to pair me up with Hiroto?", said Atiya. "A chessboard has no more than two queens and the chessboard of Sanpantul lacks a queen." replied Jaaguzan. Atiya became angry and stammered, "You are marrying me off! Maybe I don't want to marry Hiroto at all. You haven't asked me anything!" Angry, Jaaguzan stood up and said, "Know your place before me." Atiya stepped back embarrassed and bowed her head. Jaaguzan calmed down. "Well," he said in a calm tone, "you spoke to me the other day about the importance of the state. I have been thinking about this. But it is not only me who carries the weight of this state on my shoulders. You are part of it too. In chess terms, the king is not the scary piece on the board. Therefore, I have decided that you will marry Hiroto. The agreement is already in place." Atiya looked up in surprise.

"My brother, why did you not ask me what I want?" she wailed. "Look, for Sanpantul to be permanently tied to the Empire, a bond between the royal houses is necessary. A perfect means is marriage. If you want me to sacrifice myself for the state, you cannot stay on the sidelines. And that is the end of the matter." Jaaguzan concluded.

•••

Jaaguzan walked on the walls of the Red Fortress. The fact that he had to speak firmly to his twin sister, and actually to the whole thing, did something to him. He understood that his twin sister had no choice, but he felt that this was best for the state, the peace and quiet in the palace and ultimately more distance is better for the relationship. While he was thinking like this, he suddenly saw Aishwarya Çakar standing on the wall. She was looking through an optical telescope. Jaaguzan walked towards her. Carefully he coughed so as not to startle her too much. Aishwarya was a bit shocked and quickly made a curtsy to the Shahanshah. "Oh, I didn't mean to startle you," Jaaguzan apologised. "Your Majesty," Aishwarya greeted him. "May I ask what you are looking at", he asked pointing at optical telescope. "Your Majesty, with this telescope you can see the construction site of my father's mausoleum." replied Aishwarya. "May I?", asked Jaaguzan. Aishwarya nodded in agreement and stepped aside. Jaaguzan looked through the viewer and indeed saw the construction site. The structure was clearly not yet finished, but judging by the ratio of the construction workers to the structure, it had to be huge. Jaaguzan looked up and turned to Aishwarya. He said "That's a huge structure." "Yes indeed, your majesty. It lives up to my father's titular name." Aishwarya responded and continued, "May I take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to build this and for allowing my mother to move out." "You're welcome," Jaaguzan replied, "I have no authority over your mother and her children, but I do feel responsibility for their safety and well-being." "By Craitgod, may the Shahanshah reign forever," Aishwarya concluded.