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What happens when you leave everything you know behind for the man you love?
Nefari, an African princess, discovers this for herself when she falls in love with a foreign king, Raja Tanji Ranjit Singh of Sharavati, India and leaves her family behind in West Africa to become India's first black rani or queen. She has a tough time with the language and the people, who are angry with the king for making this foreign woman their queen. The biggest threat she faces is from the king's younger brother, Sanji, who secretly plots against them. Will he succeed in his plans against them?
As her dark brown skin baked in the noonday sun, her lovely dark eyes concentrating, she stood knee deep in the waters of the Ivory Coast. She had been out all morning, it being her day to do the fishing. Her mudcloth skirt tied just above her knees, her chest bare as the sweat dripped down her neck and in between her breasts. Her muscles tensed as she patiently watched the fish in the clear water beneath her, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Though not her usual fishing spot, something told her the fish were gathering in this place and relying heavily on instinct, she distanced herself from the other tribal women to this remote spot. Much to her delight, she found many fish and skillfully used her spear to capture about eight or so and thanked them for their sacrifice. Suddenly, she heard a commotion that broke her concentration.
The sound of an elephant, men yelling in a language that Nefari had never heard before. She turned around and walked back toward the shore. She placed the caught fish on her spear among the rocks and ran up from the shore to the road. She marveled at the sight of a rather large elephant weighted down with a white and golden howdah with canopy and rails embedded with jewels and pearls. Beneath the howdah was a large golden fabric decorated with various jewels that hung on the elephant to its knees. Around the elephant’s legs were large gold rings. Its tusks adorned with jewels and it wore a large headpiece that made Nefari wondered if the poor creature could even see in front of him. Riding in the howdah was a man who wore a small blue and white turban wrapped tightly around his head with a peacock shaped brooch at the center. His clothing was luxurious, blue silk embroidered with silver and gold, but what intrigued Nefari the most were his piercing dark brown eyes that caught sight of her and smiled. Nefari froze where she stood, slightly shaking from head to toe.
Four men also dressed in turbans and silk garments, though not as lavish as the man who rode the elephant, were guiding the elephant. The elephant was now stalling and the men began to beat it with the narrow rods they carried. The elephant cried out again and raised its trunk in protest. Nefari’s eyes drew away from the man on the elephant to the elephant who cried out in pain.
I cannot bear this anymore! I must eat and rest, my rider is too heavy and my swollen belly is too much in this heat! Why do they beat me? Can’t they see that I must stop?
Nefari heard the elephant’s thoughts, a gift she had since birth, speaking to and understanding animals, and felt pity for her. It is a silent exchange that most humans cannot hear, but Nefari read their thoughts and in turn, the animals could hear hers. Don’t worry, I won’t let them beat you anymore. The elephant slowly turned to Nefari. You can understand me?
Yes, I can and I will help you.
Oh, a thousand blessings to you!
Nefari yelled at the men to stop beating the poor elephant, but the men did not understand her as she spoke in English. However, the man riding the elephant understood her and ordered the men to stop. The foreign king looked sternly at the sweaty, brave young woman who dared to give his men an order. “Who are you and why have you ordered my men to stop beating this beast?” The king demanded.
“I am Princess Nefari of the Cote d’Ivoire, daughter of the tribal chief, Muammer Al-Gaith and I will not standby and watching such cruelty to an elephant who has slowed because the calf she carries has made her weary and hungry!” Nefari shouted back defiantly.
“I see, well I am His Highness Raja Tanji Ranjit Singh of Sharavati, Rajasthan, India. You may call me King Tanji if you like. So why do you trouble yourself for such a stupid beast?” said the king as gave Nefari the once over, stopping briefly at her bare breasts with its dark pointed nipples.
“She is not a stupid beast, your highness!”
“I see, and how is it that you know all of this about her?”
“I can sense these things, about animals, it’s a gift, or so my father told me”, Nefari smiled.
She was beautiful to the king, the rarest of gems and the most exotic of flowers with her dark braided hair that hung just past her shoulders, deeply bronzed skin and golden eyes. The tribal markings, beads and shells she wore around her neck and head only enhanced that beauty and told the king that she was indeed the daughter of a chief.
He knew Africa was a country of beauty and precious gems. He knew of the various tribes of peoples here in West Africa, but he had never spoken to one directly. The British referred to them as savage natives, but then had they not also referred to his own people the same way? The king had been educated at Oxford in England and spoke English quite well and he attended classes at the London College of Africa and Asia Studies.
Nefari had never been ashamed of her body and though she was accustomed to the passing glances of the village warriors, she blushed under the bold scrutiny of the man riding the elephant. However, she never looked away from the king, staring boldly back at him.
One of the king’s servants whispered to the other something about Nefari’s breasts in Hindi and the king’s instant jealousy darkened his face. He shouted at them in Hindi and forced them to look in the other direction. When he turned back to face Nefari, his face immediately softened though his thick mustache still twitched angrily.
“Is it your custom to run around half naked? Cover yourself immediately!” He growled.
Nefari laughed, “Yes, it is, but I am not yet a married woman and in my tribe, only married women cover their breasts”.
The king’s anger subsided as he listened to her melodious laugh and smiled at her once again before turning to bark orders to the four men below."
Will it be love or duty?
Annika, an Indian princess in the small province of Sharavati, India is living a wonderful life full of adventure and riches. That is until a declaration of war from a neighboring province with a vast army causes her father, King Tanji, to seek support from the High King, the Maharaja of Rajasthan. The Maharaja, having heard of the exotic looking princess Annika, asks for her hand in marriage in exchange for lending his support to the king. The king agrees since no other offers of marriage have come for his daughter, who is part African, and feels this would be in their kingdom’s best interest as well as Annika’s, who could become India’s first Black Maharini. However, Annika is in love with her childhood playmate, Ramai, who is now captain of her father’s palace guards. Will she defy her father, risking treason for Ramai and herself or will she marry the Maharaja to save her father’s kingdom?
Like a bird in a gilded cage, she sat solemnly staring out the shielded window of her palace bedroom overlooking her formal courtyard garden. Despite the beauty and opulence of her surroundings, her spun silk garments, ornately carved furnishings, plush pillows in colors of rust and gold, and marble tiled floors, she cared nothing for them.
“You refuse to eat or even leave your room. How long will sit and stare out the window?” Her mother, Queen Nefari, gently patted her head.
“Until my father changes his mind!” she groaned as she pulled away from her mother.
“Annika, your father has made his decision, you must accept it. You are a princess and must do what he commands. It is your duty to marry the Maharaja.”
Annika sighed heavily as she turned back to face her mother in defiance. “It’s not fair! I’m not ready to be a bride and I want my husband to be someone of my choosing! You were not forced to marry my father, you loved each other!”
“It is not the same, things are different now! The Maharaja is a powerful ally to us, we need his support, and his only request was that the Maharaja marries you to seal the agreement.”
“Don’t you want me to be happy mama?” Annika pleaded, her eyes brimming with tears.
Queen Nefari gently rubbed away an escaped tear that spilled down her lovely daughter’s cheek. She wanted nothing more than her daughter’s happiness, but there was nothing she could do ease her pain. She knew all too well about the duties of a royal wife and Annika had been raised as such, but she had also been indulged by her parents. She had a literary education, taught to hunt along with martial arts training, and allowed to play with the children of the servants, learn dance, and learn craft working and the arts, including the erotic arts or “love lessons” of the Kamasutra in order to please her future husband."