Arthini was relaxing in her room, palm leaf manuscript in her hand, and a goblet of the finest red wine in the other. She tried to relax and let the wine take over, but her mind was wandering. Her estranged husband, Punyaraj, was possibly reading some moth-eaten treatise in the library. Or he could be wandering in the gardens with that strange apparatus he called an “alien receiver”. Or he could be lost somewhere. She couldn’t care less. She was a Pratihara princess by birth, a strong, passionate woman. And she had been tied down to a timid, reclusive rat of a man she had never come to respect.
Her eyes were reading the palm leaf manuscript, but her mind was on the issue on how badly she had been wronged in her life. It was an issue that bothered her to the point of obsession. She had never forgiven anyone related to the alliance. Her brother-in-law was more up to her taste, but that damned bad luck…
A sharp rap on the door broke her reverie.
“Come in!” she yelled, frowning.
One of her handmaids, Binita shuffled in.
“What have you heard this time?” Arthini asked.
“The Rushimuni has asked the Queen to declare another heir, my liege”
“He also added that it need not be a male”
Arthini reached out to her side table and flung a gold mohur at Binita’s direction. “Keep listening” she said.
Binita shuffled out, thanking the Princess and the Gods for her good fortune. Arthini smiled, and it wasn’t a sweet smile. All her life she had been laughed at for not producing a male heir. Her crazed husband meant she would never be queen. This was the greatest chance for her to realize her ambitions. Her older daughter Amritmayi had stayed true to her name and become a state doctor. But the younger one was available…