Princess Amira: Portrait of a Leader
Being a bit unfamiliar with the geography of the Lost Desert, we have agreed to meet the Princess Amira just outside the city of Sakhmet, close to the pyramids and nestled city of Qasala. Ironically, she has instructed us (by way of messenger) to wait for her at the shrine of her late father: King Coltzan the Third. While noshing on a piece of tchea fruit and cheese (we recommend the Desert pastries), we wonder if she is anything like her lion-hearted father. And as she strides towards us from the city gates, our questions are quickly answered—and we could not be more pleasantly surprised.
In person, Princess Amira is breathtaking. A tall, willowy Aisha, she wears a light, cotton robe decked with brilliant gold bands and bold turquoise jewelry. She has a tawny, golden pelt and rich, chocolate colored hair. It’s immediately clear to us why she is the center of so much attention—suitors’ attention, that is. Everything about her is perfect, from the kohl lining her honey-colored eyes to the neat print of her white robes. So perfect, in fact, we want to throw sand on her and stain her robes with chomato juice. But we won’t, because she’d likely have us arrested. A slight inconvenience, we imagine.
As she approaches, we note the unusual absence of any advisors, palace guards, or other entourage. A single assistant, a tired looking Chia, follows closely at her heels bearing an armful of royal scrolls. Immediately, she extends her arm in a firm handshake: “You’re the journalist? Terrific. I’m Amira, as you may know. I was hoping I could show you some of my projects in Sakhmet...” To be honest, we were caught off-guard. Her voice is huskier than we’d imagined—businesslike— with an almost amused, satirical tone. We quickly follow as she leads us back to the city, talking the entire time: “My father Coltzan—the late king—was passionate about his kingdom. He envisioned a beautiful desert horizon, winding rivers, expansive fields of fruit and lush gardens... To be truthful, he was a bit of a romantic. I’d like to perpetuate his vision, but incorporate it into an urban landscape with music and art. Those are my real passions: music, art, and now, my father’s kingdom.” For a moment, she pauses, musing: “Let’s stop here.” Looking around, we wonder where exactly “here” is, until we see a sign overhead that reads simply: “Osiri’s Pottery”.
Picking up a beautiful, black vase decorated with ornate hieroglyphics, the Princess Amira sighs. “My father used to commission Lady Osiri to make pieces for the Royal Palace all the time. Perhaps that’s what inspired my passion for art.” She holds out a gold bowl, shaped like a water lily, for us to examine: “They’re beautiful pieces, aren’t they?” They sure are—but for 18,500 NP, they’re an expensive habit to appease. Setting down the bowl, we leave Lady Osiri’s shop, continuing briskly to the Royal Palace.
Once Princess Amira settles into her suite at the palace, she beckons to her assistant, who hurriedly brings her the scrolls. She spreads them across a glass tabletop, then quickly, excitedly, begins explaining her plans for the city. She’ll renovate the old architecture, restore the crumbling buildings, and bring back the lush, fragrant gardens. Clearly, she has big, BIG plans. When we inquire after her age, she replies with a simple, mischievous smile. We figure she can’t be older than 24.
Slightly overwhelmed by all her talk of renovation and renewal, we crave to know something—anything—normal about this entirely impressive, cultured young princess. Groping for another subject, we ask her about the infamous Prince Jazan. She dismisses him with a wave of her well-manicured hand: “How silly, really. To force a young woman to marry—a daughter of Coltzan—no less! Quite ridiculous.” Clearly.
We then ask her about her diet, something we’re sure every Neopian is curious to know. She replies simply: “Fruit. I eat of a lot of fresh fruit, every day! Tchea fruit, bananas, pears, oranges... I’m lucky. There’s a wonderful market stall right outside the palace that vends fresh fruit every day. A solid diet will ensure good health, and health, more than any cosmetic, is the simplest and most beautiful thing a Neopet can do for itself. But on the occasion I do use cosmetics, I have the most amazing rose-scented soap and lotion. Generally, I despise flippancy, but it’s nice to pamper myself every once and a while.”
As we furiously scribble some notes onto a piece of parchment, the Princess Amira leads us into her personal garden—a veritable paradise of flowers, herbs, and the just plain strange. In fact, we’re surprised she’s managed to keep such variety alive at all in a desert environment like this. There are the regular desert types: some tchea fruit and a row of cheops plants, and then there are the rhubarb bushes, the cabbage, and the strawberry plants. There’s some starflower, some pebeanjay, and some blue fan flowers. And then there’s some scrambled eggplant, a single lesser bearded plantfruit, and a blossoming faerie bean vine. Evidently, the princess is passionate about gardening, as well. We’re continually surprised.
Strolling through the gardens of the Royal Palace, Princess Amira passes another princess: her sister, the princess Vyssa. Unlike Amira, Vyssa is smaller, bouncier, if possible. She’s a core of hard energy, speaking quickly and excitedly about slipping out of the palace at nighttime, unbeknownst to the palace advisors. When Amira gives her a sister a disapproving look, Vyssa merely shrieks with laughter and skitters away. We’re not entirely sure what to do. “I’m usually told I’m the calmer sister—will you believe it?” sighs Amira. “My younger sister will make a terrific ruler one day, don’t mistake me. But perhaps it’s best that she hasn’t been tossed into the political spectrum just yet—she has all the enthusiasm for change that I do, but little tolerance for diplomacy and debate. I suppose that’s difference between us two.”
As Princess Amira sees us to the palace gates, we get the sense she is still a very guarded individual, despite having opened her doors to us. As much as she is celebrated for her beauty and grace, we see that she sometimes finds her physical attributes a bit of an inconvenience. But as she is now, as we have observed her, Amira is a force to be reckoned with. So, if nothing else, don’t let those honey sweet eyes fool you; this daughter of Coltzan is going to be around for a long, long time.
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Parched and weary, I dragged myself into the city. Many shot me strange looks, but that was to be expected. After all, I was bone thin and covered in scars...