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Rousa in Szaleni by JJ van der Merwe
SUMMARY: A native at the court of his discoverers.
The native called Rousa was brought before Queen Clarenxa of the Thrice-Gracious Kingdom of Szaleni by the explorer Aisto Nabili four days after the triumphant return of his second voyage to the Southern Isles; now called Nabilia in his honour.
"Majesty..." Nabili had declaimed, spreading his arms to encompass the crowded hall in the summer palace where the reception took place. "I present to you Rousa, a Prince of the Nabilians." The great explorer had taken very well to his name being used in such a way. A fanfare of trumpets performed by members of his crew struck up, drowning out the hubbub of excitement from the assembled great and good of the Kingdom.
Clarenxa, seated upon the dais surveying her court, smiled. She was young then, just twenty-nine, and already worshipped not only by the faction who supported her in the Civil War but also those who hedged their bets. She had proved a capable ruler, overcoming the reservations some had over her sex.
The native was prodded forward by Jaquin Gasazao, Nabili's anthropologist. He stood hunched slightly in his native garb, though he had been wearing civilised clothes since joining Nabili's ship a year and a half ago. He shuffled slowly into the royal presence, and kneeled in devotion.
"Greetings, Rousa" the Queen said in her loudest voice.
"Majesty. I have come from afar, many miles from my home and... tribe, to pay tribute to your divine grace..." Mildly shocked applause rang out from the courtiers, who had not expected the savage to be so well-spoken. And yet Rousa continued. "But the Admiral did not tell me of your surpassing beauty. Truly, none of the Queens of my home can match you."
The Queen loved flattery, and she was sufficiently pleased by this to overlook the- obviously rehearsed- presumption of Nabili's rank (he was no Admiral, yet) "You are too kind. Are you truly a Prince of your people?"
Rousa glanced at Nabili, who nodded eagerly. "Indeed, majesty."
"Then I shall call you my cousin, Prince Rousa." She stood, and advanced down the dais towards him. He bowed his head to the ground, but Clarenxa, in the impulsive way she had, took his hand.
"Stand. A cousin does not kneel in my presence."
One of the priests let out a shocked noise which was stifled by his sense of self-preservation.
When this incident- the Queen offering her hand to a savage prince- was reported in the Ninuez Bulletin, the capital's foremost engraver, Hanes, produced an etching which became the rage of the civilised world's press. However, the scabrous elements of foreign and domestic society caused a deal of embarrassment to Szaleni with various erotic or satirical parodies of Hanes' work.
Though Clarenxa did little more than express her desire to safeguard the Nabilians in future interactions between peoples, the savage was heard to remark to Gasazao upon leaving the royal presence that she would make a fine Queen of Nabilia, and that she had his allegiance should she choose to pursue her claim to the islands.
The anthropologist offered to convey this wish to Her Majesty.
Between engagements with Ninuez society, Rousa lodged at Nabili's townhouse on the Rua Estradores.