Thou Shalt Not
the story of Mallow's birth and Valentina's one desire

Part I

~*~

Valentina sat in her cushioned purple office chair, as comfortable as could be, with her head resting in her hand, just thinking. Thinking of her high status, her wealth, her expensive everything~ and everything that was still not right at her fingertips. As is the case with many royal advisors, she was completely unsatisfied. Her greedy thoughts turned to the Nimbian King.

"That twerp," she muttered, leaning her head back and looking out the window upside-down. "It's not as if he really has the brains to figure out--"

The door burst open, and Queen Nimbus stood, smiling, at the entrance to Valentina's office. She quickly removed her feet from the desktop. With a bow that was really more of a nod, she politely asked her, "Can I help you, Your Majesty?"

"Oh, Valentina!" The Queen had never seemed so happy, so excited. "We're going to have a child!"

It was all she could do to keep her mouth from hanging wide open. Ever since she had started her work in the palace, she had dreamed and daydreamed of one day inheriting all that the royal family owned. Now the kingdom would belong to another fluff-faced, dopey Nimbian prince or princess. Valentina had a real urge to hit something, someone... hard. But she expressed only happiness to Her Majesty, and as soon as she left the room:

"DODO!!!"

An enormous black bird rushed into the room, dropping a small feather on the blue and gold carpet in his hurry. Angered, Valentina hit him with it and then threw it away. "Now listen up!" she told him, and the poor bird did so. "We have a problem." She paced back and forth, stressed. "The Queen is going to have a kid-- an heir to the throne." Being mute, Dodo could not quite express his feelings on that or any matter, but it was clear he didn't fully understand what all the fuss was about. "That heir will not be me!" she raged, "and you," she continued, pointing her finger in his face, "will be just another office bird for the rest of your life!" Dodo cocked his head to one side, his facial expression conveying one simple thought: ? Mildly disgusted, Valentina sighed, turned away, and began to plot. Then, slowly, as she watched the King and Queen hurrying around outside her window, a smile slipped across her wide, white face as her path to glory became clear.

~*~

King Nimbus stood outside the palace, where the entire population of Nimbus Land stood gathered, waiting. "People of Nimbus Land!" he called out over the noise of the general Nimbian gossip. "Today is a great day in our proud history," he announced, "for I and my wife..." Valentina braced herself-- "...now have a son!" The crowd cheered and cheered as Queen Nimbus stepped into view, holding a small, snow-white little cloudling wrapped in baby blue robes. He was held up before the people, who oohed and aahed over him-- little Mallow.

Valentina couldn't stand more than a few minutes of the ceremony. As the little prince was cuddled and kissed, she stormed away into the palace and poured herself some coffee. Sipping it slowly, she closed her eyes, clenched her jaw, and slid down into her favorite chair. Not bothering to call Dodo for whatever small need she might come up with, she thought carefully of any way possible to get rid of the baby Mallow. After some slow moments of pondering, she had come up with nothing but a slight headache. Groaning and popping a couple of pills into her froggish mouth, she took a deep breath and...

"Dodo!!!"

He hurried into the room as before, so many times before, but more slowly, so as not to leave any feathers on the carpet. He approached her desk a bit uneasily. Letting her neck go limp, she sighed, and Dodo was fascinated by the lazy rolling of her head. Finally she sat upright, and looking off to the side somewhere, told him:

"I need to talk to the Shy Away."

Dodo nodded and left the room, while Valentina played around with a metallic purple pen, her very favorite. 2 hours and 48 shiny purple drawings later, the doors opened, and the Shy Away fluttered toward her. "You called?"

"Yes..." she nodded slowly, and proceeded to fill him in. After he understood, he blinked his round black eyes a few times and began to think.

"Hmmm..." He bobbed up and down in midair, thinking his little thoughts, then he started twirling around at a peaceful speed, thinking larger thoughts, and then he started to speed up and really enjoy himself, not thinking much of anything at all. This became obvious as a quiet "Wheee..." escaped his lips. Valentina slammed her fist on the desk, and the Shy Away, screeching to halt, suddenly realized that he was quite disoriented, and floated in odd loopy patterns in front of the desk. He managed to utter a semi-intelligent "...Uh?"

Valentina shook her head. You just can't find good help anymore, she thought, disappointedly. Turning her attention to the recovering Shy Away, she raised one eyebrow and inquired, "So? What do you think I should do?"

"The room is spinning..." the Shy Away noticed.

"What..." she repeated dangerously, her eyes narrow and her voice quiet, "do you think... I should do?" He looked absolutely blank. "About the kid!" she screamed. Somewhat startled, the Shy Away allowed her time to calm down and count to 10 before he answered. This was a good idea.

He leaned forward and hovered over her desk, the rapid fluttering of his white wings blowing away some Post-It notes. "Well..." he told her quietly, "...I have one suggestion."

Valentina nodded in a questioning way. He continued, "If you were to..."

A great and selfish plan was talked over that day. And as the Shy Away whispered these awful ideas into Valentina's waiting ear, she decided the baby prince Mallow's fate, that his future would be sacrificed for the sake of her fame, that the day would dawn when she would rule in the place of the Queen's own child. That day would come soon, she told herself... as swift as a river.