[CHAPTER 2?]: There was a soft knock on the door of the royal chambers. Queen Sunayna of Videha nodded to the guards, who pulled the door open. Her personal servant, Maya, entered. “Your highness, the Asura has arrived,” she whispered, her brown eyes wide. The young girl had heard the stories, but she had never actually seen an Asura. And today, she had seen two up close. It was all tremendously exciting. “He brought a boy with him. A demon boy.”
“Maya, please don’t call them demons,” Sunayna admonished her, trying to hide her surprise at the announcement. She stood up and walked towards the girl. “They are our guests.”
“I’m sorry, my lady,” Maya looked down, properly chastened. She shifted awkwardly from one foot to another, unsure of what to say next.
Queen Sunayna smiled slightly. The girl meant no harm. Sunayna gently brushed a strand of hair from Maya’s cheek and wrapped it around her ear. “Thank you. Now, please tell me more of our guests.”
“Oh, my lady,” Maya gushed, relieved that she could reveal everything that she learned. “The grown demon,” at the queen’s raised eyebrow, Maya halted. “Er, Asura,” she corrected herself. “The grown Asura is so dark and handsome. He looks like a prince.” Maya exhaled a long breathe, and rolled her eyes upward.
Sunaya laughed at Maya’s deep sigh of contentment. “Well, he is the King of Mahishuru. So, he is more than a prince.” Her large brown eyes filled with mirth.
“Yes, my lady,” Maya grinned, heady from the queen’s obvious delight. “And he looks the part. He is the largest man that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“The largest man, you say?” Sunayna chuckled at Maya’s vigorous nod. She tried to turn the girl’s attention to the other guest. “And what of the child?”
“The boy is large too. For his age. And handsome,” Maya continued to chatter. Her eyes lit up at a new thought. “Maybe he’s the Asura’s son. They share a resemblance.”
“Do they?” The queen’s interest piqued. Did Mahish have a son? The great Seer of Mahishuru had taken a vow of celibacy. She kept her tone casual. “In what way do they resemble one another?”
“They’re both dem, er, Asuras,” Maya said. It would take some effort to undo her impulse to call them demons.
“How can you tell?,” Sunayna asked, ignoring the slip.
“The boy has the same golden eyes as the man,” Maya replied.
“And?” Sunayna prompted.
Maya scrunched up her face in deep thought. After a moment, she said, “They are both dark-skinned.”
Sunayna relaxed. The girl hadn’t mentioned any other shared physical traits. “Shared eye color and dark skin doesn’t necessarily mean that they are related,” Sunayna said gently. “All Asuras have golden eyes and dark skin.” She thought for a moment. “Did anyone else accompany the man and the boy?”
Maya shook her head. “No.”
Sunayna nodded. “They will likely stay for at least one fortnight. I believe we have only prepared the guest quarters for King Mahish. Please tell Ayah to ready the nursery. It will suffice for the boy on such short notice.”
“Yes, my lady,” Maya nodded. She turned to walk out of the chambers.
It occurred to Sunayna that the Asura boy may feel slightly uneasy in the strange Deva palace. “Maya,” Sunayna called, just as the girl approached the door.
Maya turned. “Yes, my lady.”
“Please bring the boy to me after he leaves the King’s presence. I would like to welcome him to Videha,” Sunayna said. She tilted her head in the direction of her balcony. “Perhaps I can show him our gardens. It may amuse him to play outside.”
Maya smiled. The queen had a soft heart. Her kindness to the Asura boy wasn’t a surprise. “Yes, my lady. I’ll bring him to you as soon as possible.”