Yitris had always been a very special place to leave. The few people that lived there, never left but they lived in one of the best places in the world because it was located in a remote area where no one would go bother them, whether they wanted it or not. Its location in the middle of the desert, made it only possible for the best explorers to reach the city and know its citizens and also, their queen.
Queen Alina was more than fifty years old and she had been working for her people for at least thirty years. She lived in the top house of the city but her home was not really different than other peoples home. It was only above all others house, all built on top of very high trees in the middle of the green valley, hidden in the desert. It was a very good place to hide but also a very good place to feel free from everything.
There were less than a thousand people living in Yitris but hey all had access to good doctors, to the only school that was directly handled by the Queen and also to food, that never really lacked in any of the people’s tables. Everyone had to have, at least, some bread and fruit to eat. Only half of the population actually ate animal meat and they were very good at using every single part of the animal’s body in order not to kill something and then waste it all because they only wanted some of the meat.
People were very trusting and, also, always seemed to be happy. No person of Yitris yelled, unless they were really angry and it was only for one second. The Queen, of course, set the example for the rest, always been gracious when she did her daily tour around her small kingdom. She went from her place, to the jungle floor. There, several people had settled, specially the ones that were hunters or farmers.
There was a small piece of the terrain that had almost no trees and that had been specially done by the people with the permission of the Queen, because they didn’t have anywhere to grow things like corn and wheat and they also needed land to build mills and kitchens where they would make the bread and so on. So she authorized a rather small piece of land to be used for that purpose. It was so small; it was always the first place to be hit by sandstorms, when they occurred.
The desert was mostly benevolent, protecting them from the outside. But it’s sand was sometimes the worst thing for them because it could almost destroy everything that they had build. But they endured because it was because of that sand, because of the endless desert, that they had always been protected from exterior influence. Only a handful of people had made it to Yitris and all of them had died there, whether from exhaustion or because they had chosen not to go back to their lands.
That was until Jack Freeman, a English explorer, and two of his men wondered into the desert and stumbled upon Yitris after a particularly strong sandstorm. The locals were cleaning their homes when they saw the men approach. It was the first time for many to see a foreigner and that’s why so many did not seem to remember that they always had to notify this to the Queen. She only knew about these knew visitors when they decided to ask for a leader and the people, shy but interested, indicated her home.
She didn’t like, at all, to have people enter her house without permission as they did. Alina knew nothing about manners in the exterior world, but she imagined England and all other lands must have been really awful places if all people did that to their neighbors. They communicated with hand gestures and body language because both of their languages were highly incompatible. Even so, the English sometimes yelled things in their language, as if the people of Yitris had to understand them.
The Queen, trying to be as generous as she could, decided to invite them for dinner. She had all the best food prepared for them and every single person in the small country, which only consisted of a deep valley, was able to come and greet the strangers in person. Those men ate differently and seemed to have a second skin that made them smell funny. That’s what most of the people thought of them.
The English, however, thought the people of Yitris were nice but also very strange. They thought it was very weird that a valley like that existed in the middle of the desert. They had been looking for another settlement, an oasis that they had to check thoroughly because it seemed to be located on top of an oil reserve. That’s the kind of explorers they were. Not adventurous men working in mankind’s behalf but just some guys working to get some money like many others.
When, after the party, they decided to leave, the Queen denied this and insisted on them sleeping on a house that they would give them to be alone and to rest. No one would be there, just them. They took them by a series of stairs and bridges to a lower level where a big house, normally used for storage, had been cleaned and three beds made of thick leaves had been set as well as some more food and water on a table in the middle of the circular home.
The locals left them alone and the foreigners decided to leave as soon as they could the next day. They agreed that the people of Yitris were very nice but they also thought that they had some work to do and that they couldn’t let down the company for which they worked. Oil was important.
When they attempted to leave the next day, a group of locals decided to take them, instead, to the mills and fields in the border between the valley and the desert. The men looked at the sand with insistence but the people did not realize that they wanted to leave. Even at the end of the tour, when the English did all signals for them to know they had to go back to the desert, the people appeared not to understand or at least it seemed like they had no answer for that.
The English had arrived with an exhausted horse and some bags of objects and they went straight to the Queen’s home and demanded their things to be brought to them immediately. Again, she was very bothered by them entering like if it was their home but she decided not to say anything. Instead, she told her aides to bring the objects and, as they did, she told the English with mimic that their horse did not existed anymore.
She imitated a four-legged animal and then passed a finger over her throat. They understood that immediately and one of the men launch itself at her in rage but two locals grabbed him and stopped his attack. He was yelling and crying and having all sorts of emotions that the people there did not really exhibit on a daily basis. Even for the men holding him, it was interesting to see how foreigners used their feelings.
They released him and the Queen then spoke in broken English. They were very surprised. She explained that the horse had been killed because in their land, animals were not used for work. Besides, the creature they had brought in was exhausted and wouldn’t have survived another trip. That’s why they had decided to kill it and use its meat and insides in different things in order not to waste anything.
The man crying didn’t really hear any of this but his leader did. He demanded her to explain what that meant and when they would be able to leave, as they had important matters to attend.
Queen Alina simply said that the horse was in all that they had eaten fast and happily the day before They had eaten all of his meat and the organs had been stored for further usage in soups for the people of the valley. They expect it to be very nutritious. As for the bones, they could use them to make weapons or instruments for working on the fields.
The second question was easier to answer: they couldn’t leave because no one left the valley. They couldn’t afford anyone leaving and telling the world of their existence. So, smiling, she insisted on them going back to their assigned home and settling in. They would soon learn their ways and will be integrated in no time, been able to enjoy all that life had to offer in Yitris.
The English men complied but not because they agreed but because they knew when to stop fighting. In their minds, Queen Alina was now an enemy and Yitris had to come out to the world and be destroyed. Only because of a horse and the secret of its existence.