The Flower King’s deputy Michael approached.
“Sir, the lookout has spotted the entourage.”
The King did not need Michael’s confirmation. He could sense it in his petals. She was close. The year since he had seen the Queen Bee had seemed the longest ever and he yearned for her.
“Thank you, Michael. I see the uniforms are in order?”
Michael gestured to his vest. The intricately knotted gossamer piece sparkled in the light streaming through the window of the castle.
“Yes, sir, the seamstresses finished last night.”
“It’s beautiful. They obtained enough spider silk for the entire regiment?”
“Yes. And your robe is laid out in the royal chamber.”
“Thank you. Have the maidens gathered?”
“They await you, sir.”
The tug of the Queen Bee was strong this year. His petal crown ached, seeming to swell where the roots attached to his head. The Flower King nodded to Michael and strode to the balcony above the great hall.
The host of maidens turned to look up at him. Raising his muscular green arm, he waved, then blew a fond kiss towards the sea of faces. The multiplicity of green shades never ceased to delight him, especially when he had the opportunity to see them together in a virtual carpet of his people. The maidens beamed, some curtseying, others pretending to snatch his air kiss, each looking to outdo the other in her Pollination Day finery.
The Flower King descended the staircase, Michael close behind, and stepped out into the morning sunlight. He shaded his eyes to see the cloud of people hovering over the far end of the bridge.
The bee people flew in a cyclone formation. The Queen hadn’t spied him yet. The attendants closest to her zoomed in to smooth the golden fuzz covering her body. One flying female offered what looked like a pipe but emitted no smoke. He knew this was a honey draught.
The Flower King noted with distaste that one of her drones had expired on the far lawn.
“Michael, go see to that,” he directed. “You’d think she could refrain when she’s so close to the castle.”
Michael, his face as always a mask of discretion, made an aside to the captain of the guard.
The Queen spotted the King and alighted on the far end of the bridge with a dainty skip. Her entourage filed in behind her, taking her lead as she commenced the ritual dance toward the castle. They swayed and waggled their way past the regiment lining the edges of the bridge. Today being Pollination Day, the soldiers allowed themselves to break their stoic expressions with grins of appreciation for the long legged, buzzing parade.
When she finally arrived in front of him, the Flower King greeted the Queen Bee with a solemn bow. As she leaned over him he heard her long intake of breath over his crown. He lifted his head and caught her nod of appreciation, her sloe eyes still shut. The Flower King wasn’t the only one feeling the urgency of the day.
“Shall we?” He offered her his arm.
Out of nowhere, a female with the telltale long abdomen flew feet first into the Queen, knocking her down.
Plucking the Queen’s crown from her dazed head, the newcomer placed it on her own head at a jaunty angle.
“You’ve been superseded,” she said, signaling her drones to remove the felled monarch.
The new queen extended a golden hand to the King. “Shall we?”
Head pounding, the King swallowed. He took her hand, and together they entered the castle.