I looked out over the gathered young hopefuls. The curious hearts. Some of the wickedest men had adjoined themselves to this quest, and though I raised my eyebrows, I knew that they viewed it only as a game.
And truthfully so, for it was.
I leaned back on the throne as eyes watched with ears perked. This competition they had set up was so amusing. One outdoing the other. Who could woo the fair lady? Who could win the heart of the most powerful individual in the world?
So caught up in this little bicker that they had forgotten whose game it was and the commander of the dangerous ground on which they trekked.
They took risks, and I commended them. For so they should. But I was not at all amused.
Back when I was considered a peasant, a girl too unworthy of any one of these men’s glances, I still built high walls. Walls no man viewed able to conquer, so they did not even dare approach. Everyone knew my battlefield was the most dangerous, so it did not bother me when the young men fled. It didn’t hurt that they had been too afraid to chase me because it only proved that they never had a chance anyway.
Now, I was ruler. Queen.
Or so I was in the eyes of these young men.
I wondered if it was their gold and power that brought them before me. Their vast pride which told them that they would be the one to impress me.
I narrowed my eyes and looked over each of them watching for which would look down or return my stare. It was time to set the rules straight. I was going to tell these fellows something they had most likely never thought to question or had possibly wondered about their entire lives.
Time would only tell who would remain, and I already knew that none of these would. Pride was such an easy defense to shatter, and the man in possession of such was the weakest of all my foes.
I smiled cheerfully, and the men immediately straightened. The fair lady had reached a decision.
“The labyrinth of a woman’s heart… Let me tell you a little secret. Men only view women as prizes and rightfully so.”
Some glanced at one another while others dared not move. Of course I was right, but what woman would ever admit to such?
“Now, I’m willing to forgive past mistakes, so long as that man’s going to change. Perfection is not my goal.”
The evil ones seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, but I nearly laughed because I was not so easily tricked. The wise brutes stared at me with glowering eyes because they knew I was only playing games.
“Do you want to know what I really want? I want a man who is going to chase me to the ends of the earth, regardless of whether or not I’m going to let him catch me.”
Widened eyes filled my view. What was this woman speaking of? What sort of game was this?
I smiled and sat up a bit straighter.
“Are you willing to take that risk? Do you value me as such a worthy prize?”
I smiled again only less cheerfully with one eyebrow cocked, prepared to receive a challenger, but there were no worthy foes.
But I had already known that.
I stood and walked from my from my throne with the men still stunned and unable to move. I passed under the curtain to depart from the judgement hall and nearly slowed my gait when a young man commented to himself.
“…And now we know why Adam fell.”
A very content smile emerged on my lips.
I was prepared for such. There had never been a fight. Never even the slightest draw of the blade, but it was all the better. They were too fearful. Too afraid of this woman whose heart was more guarded than her throne.
I knew the game was not over. With every suitor I turned down, more would come. Little boys with power hungry strides and high looks. In a way, it was exhausting to think about. On the other hand, it was such fun to put them in their place.
I tell them I deserve better. They give up the fight without even unsheathing their sword. “Too much work to win this lady.” Thus, they move on to what they deem an easier prize. Never, ever, ever daring to risk their pride.
I sighed and folded my hands over my skirts.
Perhaps if there were more women who refused to be caught, there would be more valiant warriors in the earth.
But despite what I could see, I knew a worthy opponent wandered this earth somewhere. I simply had to wait. I knew that one day he would come, and he would tear down my bulwarks and break down my walls. My defenses would prove worthless, and my challenges would be small.
There was a man out there somewhere who could win my heart. Until he at last ended his search at my door, I was content to wait.
And as for these little boys who call themselves men, who move from prize to prize, woman to woman, thinking they can conquer every battlefield, every heart, at them I laugh when they turn their backs to flee with tails tucked between their legs.
If I was too hard a challenge for them, they were too weak to play my game.