Dangerous Game

Juliet's balcony

Photo credit: Rebecca Siegel

Naturally, Parata wanted Iano.  Half the noblewomen at court drooled over the foreign diplomat, and several noblemen too.  True, Iano’s policies were controversial—insulting to the taen, even—but after watching Iano dance, Parata was willing to overlook politics.

When Iano propositioned her, Parata was thrilled.  And perplexed.  She was low-ranked, and not considered prettiest.  Perhaps her pale hair and thick accent intrigued him.

He suggested sneaking into the taenar’s chambers, grinning, as though nobody played “ravish the royal” here.

She wrapped the taenar’s scarf around her head.  He pulled her toward the balcony.

She protested. “Someone will see!”

“The risk of being caught is exciting, no?”

Then she understood.  He thought her stupid.  That her homeland was too rustic for court intrigue.  She giggled, following him out.

Someone would be hiding outside, told they’d witness the taenar’s infidelity.  The taen himself, perhaps.

Parata allowed herself another passionate embrace before “accidentally” dropping the scarf.  She spoke loudly. “Iano, you animal!  Quick, let’s finish before the taenar returns!”

She grabbed his sleeve as he left, feigning confusion at his faded ardor.

Tomorrow, he’d be expelled.  Or worse.  Well, they’d send another diplomat.  Perhaps this one really would find her accent alluring.

Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction.  Thanks to Al Forbes for hosting, and for providing the original photo prompt, below.

For new readers: The title “taen” was used in Pyann and later in Medowin for a ruler approximately equivalent to a king, who could be male or female.  The taenar is the taen’s spouse.

By the way, the photo I’m using above is the “Juliet” balcony in the “rediscovered” “real” home of Juliet — yes, from Romeo and Juliet — in Verona, Italy.  Yeah.  Right.  It’s a great attraction to bring in the tourists, at least!  And I can vouch that the rest of Verona is absolutely lovely.

Extra points to anyone who noticed the Shakespeare reference in my story before I just pointed it out.  🙂


Photo © Al Forbes

22 thoughts on “Dangerous Game

  1. This was challenging. I had to read it twice to understand the dynamics and social structure, but once I had it all decoded, I came away satisfied. You packed a lot into 200 words! (Plus a reference to the Bard, apparently!) Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Carl! It probably made a lot more sense in the first draft, when the same amount of stuff was packed into 280 words. It was more clear then, for instance, that Parata is from a poorer section of the kingdom, and has an accent different from the others in court — so that once she speaks on the balcony, and lets her pale hair show, it would be clear to any onlooker that she’s really not the taenar, cheating on the taen. It was also more clear that they both dressed up – him in a hat like the locals wear, she in one of the taenar’s robes and scarves — to pretend to be the royal couple for their dalliance.

      And it actually refers to two Shakespeare plays, both his name and his plan. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent idea, Martin — it’s like you read my mind! As I implied before, a good casserole can soften a woman up so she’d be willing to do almost anything for the gent. Although in this case, maybe he would have been better off playing a round of “ravish the royals” *before* trying the balcony trick. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Smart girl to spot the fact she was being used before it was too late. I wonder what his country had to gain from undermining the taenar? Just hoping to destabilise the nation perhaps? Whichever, his plot was foiled and he sent packing, tail firmly between legs. Nice bit of courtly intrigue, Joy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I dropped a hint that his policies (and thus, his country’s) went counter to the taen’s, so I had this vague idea that he was trying to destabilize the taen, so that the foreign country’s policies had a better chance. And yes, she was smarter than he gave her credit for, luckily for her and her rulers. Thanks for the great comment, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guessed his plan was something along those lines. The private life o a ruler can have a huge impact on their public life too, as we found here ourselves during the 1930s and the abdication crisis of Edward VIII. Great writing and a believable scenario

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, good example. To be fair, I did crib the idea from Shakespeare a bit. Since nobody else is guessing, I’ll come out with it: his scheme was basically the same as in Much Ado About Nothing, but with a more sinister Iago (from Othello) vibe to it.


  3. Clever Paranta to see through and foil Iano’s scheme. I suspect that destroying the taen’s (and his people’s) belief in the taenar’s fidelity is part of a wider plot hatched by a rival kingdom. Future war could be a possibility here – or perhaps Iano’s scheme was just a means by which he could satisfy a personal grudge against the taen. A thought-provoking and nicely written scene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There were several possibilities for why Iano was doing this, and I decided they all worked for the plot so I didn’t have to commit to any one of them. The important parts were that he intended harm, and that he chose the wrong helper. But yes, war is definitely a possibility after he’s been caught! Thanks for your great comment!


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