She walks the corridor running from her rooms to the great steps that lead to the practice fields, a way she first took some forty years before and would continue to take until her body lay beneath the great tomb nearing completion outside. Today, her attendants walk before, behind, and beside her. She notices that the youngest occasionally struggle to keep their strides slowed to her pace. She doesn't blame them. She herself longs for the return of the days when her stride was longer, when it was faster. But the illness makes it hard to walk too far or too fast without gasping for breath, and she has slowed her steps to account for this. She refuses to gasp for breath when she reviews her troops.
As she and her entourage pass by, her husband glances up from where he is reviewing plans with one of the builders. He is taking her failing health hard, and focusing on the progress of the tomb is one of the ways he copes. They share a brief smile before returning to their separate tasks.
She remembers the first day she saw him, standing stoically before her father to, once again, pledge his loyalty and that of his city to Yuhknoom Ch'een, Yuhknoom the Great, Lord of the Kan, and his city, Ox Te' Tuun. He had, of course, known that her father would require his marriage to cement the pledge of the Wak to the Kan, of the Centipede to the Snake. Years later, he admitted that he hadn't been aware that the women of the house would have a say about which of them would accompany him back to Waka'. She simply laughed. She had liked what she had seen and liked K'inich Bahlam even better once she was introduced to him. Her father recognized that her marriage meant he would not have to send one of the younger men of the family to Waka' as well. She could serve the Kan as both bride and military governor. That K'inich Bahlam recognized and accepted this was why she had pressed her father to let her be the one to marry the king of Waka'.
As she starts down the steps, she looks out over the area surrounding Waka'. Her father may have brought many of the kings of the smaller cities to pledge loyalty to Ox Te' Tuun, and her brother may have played his own role in maintaining and expanding that power during the last years of their father's life, but Yuhknoom Yich'aak K'ahk' had underestimated the power once again accruing to the king of Yax Mutal, and some fifteen years past he had been defeated in battle. Her own son had died that day, and she and her husband had braced for the king of Yax Mutal to attack Waka'. They had survived then, but she never forgets that their city lies closer to Yax Mutal than Ox Te' Tuun. If Yax Mutal ever comes for them, she does not trust that Yuhknoom Took’ K’awiil will arrive in time to save them.
So she plans and prepares to withstand any such assault without aid. She had, after all, taken this responsibility on at the time of her marriage, and she will not relinquish it. More than once, she has wryly noted that she is Yuhknoom the Great's daughter, she is both Kan Ajaw, Snake Lord, and Kaloomte', Supreme Warrior, and her father had rejoiced at a daughter so interested in the military aspects of governance.
Later, as she retraces her steps after a morning spent reviewing her forces, she remembers her first days in this city. At first, she had only barely noticed the tension amongst the people. Getting up to the city had required exertion from bodies already tired from a long trip. But the second day started with her maid delivering an annoying, if not unexpected, message: the servants in the kitchens were gossiping, telling stories they had no doubt heard from those they served. Stories that said Yuhknoom Ch'een had foisted a younger daughter off on the king of the Wak, that he would not protect them, for he had sent troops without a commander. She sent her servants out to follow that gossip from the kitchens back to the personal servants, then from lower-ranking government officials to the source, a courtier who had held his position since K'inich Bahlam was a small boy and who, it seemed, wanted to insure that he would not lose the ear of the king to the king's new wife.
At the end of the day, she confronted him in front of the court, her troops at her back, her husband trusting her to fulfill her role. The courtier argued and denied, of course, and then appealed to K'inich Bahlam to ignore the ravings of his bride. But her husband simply addressed her with her other, military, title, and watched impassively as the courtier's face paled. Two of the guards who had accompanied her from Ox Te' Tuun dealt a swift and very public death to the man. With a nod in her direction, the king left the room. She met the eyes of the rest of the court, icily neutral to those who had spread the gossip, granting a small smile to those who had, according to the reports, rejected the stories.
Today, she smiles at many people, who smile back and hurry on about their tasks. She knows that K'inich Bahlam is not the only one in the city who worries that her death is near; the artisans of the Wak, for example, are practically climbing over each other to play a role in decorating the temple that rises about her tomb. For now, she returns to her rooms, where she knows her husband and a selection of her favorite foods await her. It has been a good morning, so perhaps she will accompany him to meetings this afternoon, as she often used to do, rather than taking a nap. Later, she will decide.