What happened next, When Rhoda woke up. about another third of the first chapter..
When she awoke, the afternoon sun was shining through the window. She asked the servant that waited by her bed “What’s your name?”
“My name is Mee, if your majesty pleases.” said Mee.
“And if that name does not please me? Do you have another name?” asked Rhoda, and thought it is clear that no one, ever, spoke to her in such a silly manner.
“If your majesty chooses to call me by another name, that will be the name that I will answer.” Said Mee, without blinking even once.
Rhoda figured that this direction of conversation will take her nowhere good, so she asked “And what is the name of this place?”
“Kedem, your majesty” said Mee.
“And who owns Kedem? Who is the king here?” asked Rhoda.
“What. Of course! You!” Mee Answered. “We don’t have a king here, only a queen. And that is you, your majesty.”
“How long have I been queen here?” asked Rhoda. She was not feeling so good in her stomach. It felt a little bit as if she had butterflies flying inside of her.
“Umm, since this palace has existed, your majesty.” answered Mee, and it looked as if she didn’t feel so great being asked these questions.
The butterflies in Rhoda’s stomach started to fly a little more hectically. She asked “And since when has this palace existed?”
“Umm” said Mee and it seemed as if she had butterflies in her stomach too, “Ever since you arrived, your majesty.”
“And since when have I been here?” persisted Rhoda.
Here it seemed that Mee became totally confused. “Umm” she said and went completely red in her face “since forever, from the day this palace was built, your majesty.”
Rhoda thought for a minute, and remembered seeing the palace come out of nowhere, right in front of her own eyes, not so long ago, so she asked “If this palace existed for such a long time, how is it that I have seen it appear here suddenly, not many hours ago?”
It seemed this question didn’t bother Mee, even for a second. “The palace existed your majesty; it just wasn’t here until you said you wanted it to be here.”
Rhoda thought about what Mee had said. It seemed to her that she can be sure there is something bewitched in her surroundings, because, as far as she knew, palaces were not something that can be moved from place to place on demand, even by a queen. She considered whether to get into a discussion with Mee regarding the question – what kind of witchcraft made this palace move from place to place – would that be a good course of action? but decided it would be better to focus on other kinds of questions since it was clear that no information was to be gathered from Mee in this way.
“How old are you?” she asked Mee, who looked fifteen to her.
Mee was thinking. It was clear that she was trying to find a good answer. “I am going to be four thousand years old in two days, your majesty.” she said, and it seemed she thought that this was an especially good answer.
Rhoda was frightened. She knew that it couldn’t be right. She herself was fourteen. And if she has been the queen of this place since forever, and Mee is so old, then she – Rhoda – should be at least four thousand years old. Something was completely wrong, and Mee didn’t help her at all, with her incomprehensible answers.
She needed to think a little by herself, so she told Mee with a commanding voice: “Tell the servants to prepare my flying elephant for me. It needs to be equipped with food and drink for a two day journey, and with whatever is needed for me to sleep outside.”
‘I can’t count on having everything working like magic for me everywhere I go like it does now.‘ she thought.
Before she got ready with her pink elephant, she decided that, when she comes back, she will make a little tour in the palace, because she thought that, since the palace was supposedly made according to her wishes, it would probably contain hints about things she liked, and maybe she will discover more about herself. In the meantime, she felt that she had heard enough, and she will see how far she can go with her elephant. It seemed that Mee felt that it was a good idea to send her out of the area as well, since she came back in less than a minute and said “The pink elephant is ready according to your royal wishes.”
Rhoda blushed. She felt very silly being so ‘royal’ all the time.
“How many servants are there in the palace?” she asked, as if it’s not so important to her.
“As many as you would like, your majesty.” blushed Mee.
“Can’t you count?” asked Rhoda with some severity. She got enough of these evasive answers, and wanted to know at least one thing for sure.
“Of course I know how to count, your majesty, but really there is exactly the same number of servants as you wish, because your wish is our command.” Mee tried to take these words back even before she finished saying them. Rhoda noticed it and tried to remember from where was this phrase familiar to her. She didn’t succeed, of course. She kept telling herself quietly the words “your wish is our command.” until she knew them by heart. She knew that, at night, when she goes to sleep, she will remember the words and where she had heard them before. This was the way she always behaved at home.