Life outside the village has been difficult. Families have been decimated by beheadings; others driven to destitution by the queen’s increasing taxes. The decrees have depleted the landscape of able hands. There is no blacksmith for the horses. There’s no one to tend to the cattle, or fields. The only farmers are elderly and infirmed who’ve been flocking to the churches and monasteries asking for shelter, food and solace. The fields and homes along the countryside have been abandoned. The young have fled. The monks on the hill are sharing their supplies from their small farm and orchid. Soon all will be living on grace and prayers.
There’s news from the castle; a change of heart from the queen. There is news she is singing and dancing and not screaming and cursing. It is said The Page of Wands brought the queen a flower from the misty forest. A flower he found while climbing the big tree. How can anyone find a flower on top of a tree. He is a known and trusted page who wouldn’t mislead. The flower must be; It is said to be beautiful. They hear the queen is happy, but they are starving. There is very little food to eat. They pray the news is true. Her subjects need respite. The queen has moments of caring, but they are short lived. The queen is distrustful and often feels slighted. She quickly changes her mind. She says she wants orchids now instead of heads, but the queen still believes she can order orchids to grow.
The news is good fortune. Even the tax collector is gratuitous. He is offering fair credit to those who want to move to the misty forest and farm orchids for the queen. While counting the coins he tells them about the queen’s joy and fascination with the parade and magnificent flower that made her so happy. “She especially enjoyed the colored tunics, ribbons and tambourines,” he says. “The queen was enraptured by her name in chants. She had been in a foul mood, out of control. She was a danger. She is now dancing and singing humming to her pages feeling pleasure and joy.”
The villagers are happy to take the loan and start heading towards the misty forest and farm orchids for the queen. They are not sure what they are going to eat, but they have work pleasing the queen and that ought to be enough.
This article first appeared here.