Her Majesty knows that Storm Clouds and two other stories are … paused … at the moment. But what follows is where her muse took her this week. Being who she is, she wants to apologize. We, on the other hand, get a special treat, and know we will get something more, because that is just one of … well, read on.
–the poet laureate of the Realm
They were sitting at a small table—just large enough for three, at one particular place in the Realm—watching the world—or, rather, the citizens of the Realm—pass by. Neither of them were one of the succubi or incubi, however. They were a pair of scholars that had come to the Realm asking that they might have the opportunity to visit and observe.
They had seen the Portal: the Library, of course. A long visit to the shores of the Lake of Fire seemed to pass in moments, but was, in fact, days which they had barely noticed go by. There was also a tour of the Hall of Sate—but of course—to see the throne there, and to wonder why, so they were told, it was barely used. A reflective walk throughout the range of the AngelKitty Mountains was followed by a quiet, measured pace as they walked past Remembrance Park. A perking of their ears as they passed through the Halls of Learning, a quizzical look at the Place of Becoming.
The last place they saw, long after all of the rest of the Realm, was Tera’s own home, the Royal Palace. They had assumed that royalty, being royalty, would not bother with them; they were, quite obviously, only scholars, no one important really, and they expected to just pass by, having a look from the outside, to wonder about the home, and those that lived within, and so on.
Things did not quite turn out that way.
A warm voice greeted each of them by name, pronouncing their names in their own language, flawlessly. This, of course, caught their attention, and they found themselves in the presence of the Queen herself, Tera.
They had been told, many times, by many beings, that she wasn’t what they would expect her to be. They had expected the typical aloofness of royalty: the slightly bored expression, a meagre hand wave of dismissal, and nothing else. They never could quite explain what drew their attention next. It might have been the dazzling smile, one that seemed like she was seeing dear friends again. Or perhaps it was her oh-so green eyes. It might have been that she hadn’t put on “royal airs.” It could have been the long red jacket, with her bandeau top. Or just perhaps it was the swisch of her long, red tail waving at them.
Then again, it also could have been the small basket she carried with her, which had the aroma of freshly baked cookies.
Whatever the thing was that made them pause, in the next moment Tera had walked up to them both, embraced them, and then offered the basket to them, as a gift, asking if they would care to spend some time with her.
It wasn’t an order, or a request. It was … concern. They hadn’t been looking after themselves, not at all, since they had arrived, and it appeared that Tera was worried about them. This wouldn’t have been a surprise to citizens of the Realm, but it was to them, because in all of the places they had traveled, those that held power always seemed to only tolerate them, wanting them to leave as soon as they could.
Tera … just didn’t seem to have that attitude.
Having no real reason to say “no,” and seeing this as an opportunity to see the Queen of the Succubi, as well, they didn’t hesitate long. It wouldn’t have been proper. And so, moments later, they found themselves sitting on a heart shaped patio in front of Tera’s home. Tera had offered them both places to sit and then, again, shockingly—as it simply wasn’t done elsewhere—she had gone inside, come back out with refreshments, and served—again, something completely unexpected. What has more so was that, when Tera had poured the tea and unwrapped the cookies, she took a spot not on the other side of the table from them, but directly between them both.
The next moments were, they had to admit, awkward. They all partook of the offered repast, and then Tera smiled, placed her tea cup on the table, and asked, quite simply: “What would you like to know?” The visitors were dumbfounded.
Still, they recovered themselves, and what followed was possibly the most engaging, interesting, and challenging conversation they would ever have. Questions they expected could not be answered were, thoughts were posed that they had never thought of. It was clear, after several hours and several kettles of tea, that the Queen of the Succubi was more than she appeared to be. It was meant as a compliment, and taken as such by her, when they called her a theologian at one point. She demurred at the compliment, shrugging it off by insisting she was just being who she was and nothing more.
This, again, was something they did not expect.
When the sun started to go down and the light began to fade, they made to go, but Tera would not hear of them wandering off in the middle of the night and bid them both to stay. Her Eternal would be home soon, and they would be honoured to have them as guests for dinner. They told her that the honour was their’s, but, again, she waved that off, saying that her manners would never do well with that. To share in a meal was not doing honour, it was something more than that. They couldn’t find the fault in that, and at this point they were starting to see that their own views needed some adjusting.
Keith, Tera’s Eternal, came home soon after. They expected a gruff, protective, overbearing King. A mirror image of the Queen, for there had to be a balance. Again, they did not expect that he was as forthright, pleasant, and accommodating as Tera was. Being that the two were the rulers of the Realm, again, the scholars expected they would not show anything but the proper image of a Queen and King. What they saw was a couple in love, that had been for ages, too many to count, and it was quite obvious that their love had not faded, not changed, but was strong, vibrant, and that, more than anything, it made them who they were.
The evening passed with conversation, a meal prepared by their hosts, and more discussion on topics and subjects that showed that they were much more than just the faces of the Realm, they were its soul, as well. The night came fully, the scholars finding themselves in the kitchen with their hosts, laughing and talking over some cheesecake and apple pie. They found it quaint when Tera would poke her fork into some of the cheesecake and then thrust it at her Eternal to make her point. His response was to touch her hand lightly, pop the offered, so he said, “delicacy” into his mouth, and then chew on it, which always brought a bemused smile to Tera.
It became quite late, and they expressed they should leave, but again, their hosts would not hear of this, and the visitors found themselves in a guest room off in one of the wings of the palace. They looked on the walls of the room and saw several pictures of their hosts with all kinds of beings, all of them smiling, waving at the camera, sometimes the guests putting horns with their fingers on the sides of their heads, sometimes holding bunny ears with their fingers over the heads of their hosts.
The night passed peacefully for them both—again something they did not expect, being that, as the stories told, succubi and incubi could visit in one’s dreams. It was quite clear the following morning when they awoke that they needed to have a long discussion over something very central to their understanding of this place. Long before their hosts awoke, the two scholars were back at the patio table, looking at the Realm passing by and talking about what they had experienced. But it wasn’t the Realm, with its many sights and sounds, they discussed.
The question was just what the traits of Tera, the Queen of the Succubi, were.
They had each written down a series of words to try and describe her on a sheet of paper. That took quite some time, but the real problem was trying to focus the traits into a short series of words—six of them, to be precise.
What were the traits of the Queen of the Succubi?
The most obvious one was that she was sensual. She did not flaunt her sexuality, press it upon others, drive them to their knees to see that she was. Being sensual to her was like breathing; it simply was part of her. It was not all she was; it never would be. It did not, could not, be the label that one could use to define her completely.
Poised, as well, was just as plain to see. She was composed and self-assured, but she did not lord that over others. She offered that poise, that ability within her, to others, and, in doing so, brought her poise into sharper relief. She was elegant even when she was at her most casual. Poise was not, for her, what she wore, or was seen to be, but was, again, part of her.
To call her gracious would be an understatement. Courteous, kind to a fault perhaps, with impeccable manners, but not because she had to be; because it was who she was. Her thoughts were always of the other, not of herself, and giving was, in itself, one of her most cherished joys. Again it could not define her fully, but only a sliver of her.
She was always loving. There was a place for anyone and everyone in her life. When she smiled and offered her love, it was unconditionally so. There were no strings attached or price to pay. She loved fully and completely without asking for anything in return. A promise of love from her was for always. This told much of her, but, again, not all of the story.
Caring went hand-in-hand with all that she was. One felt like the only one in the universe when she looked at, spoke with, or was simply with one. She offered hope, promise, the belief not in herself, but in whoever she was with. Kindness and concern were in her eyes always. She was, they found when they thought about this point, a caring and invaluable friend. This was also a large part of her, but not the single thing that could say it all.
Self-Effacing to a fault: her demeanour was gracious, polite, retiring and, most amazing of all, modest. She did not look for attention for herself, but was more happy to give that attention to others, to be off to the side, a smile on her lips and the knowledge that she had done well by them. Possibly her greatest asset—or her largest fault, according to her own admission—but then that was not a surprise. It told much about her, but the story was still not complete.
They both looked at the list for quite some time before they heard her voice. They looked up, and Tera greeted them both once more. Ever the hostess, she had some fresh muffins and coffee for them both and asked how their night was. The conversation went on for some time and then, just before she went back inside of the palace to finish up breakfast for them, the two looked to Tera to solve their dilemma.
“Ma’am, we have a question …”
“Please, Tera, if you would …”
Tera paused and turned around to look at them both, a playful smile on her lips: “How can I help you?”
The two looked at each other, then one asked: “How would you describe your traits?”
Tera didn’t hesitate: “All I am, ever will be, is succubi.”
She winked, and then the pair were left alone with their now-single list, and they examined it once more. The list was folded up and a single word was written on the top of the folded paper which held the six traits, a single word which they thought explained Tera well, on top of the dozens and dozens more they had thought of. A single word was written on the paper, to seal the list within the folded page: