This recap was awesomely submitted by Ophélie Mélodie. Thanks!
Find on twitter at @OphelieMelodie.
#2 Court of Lions (5/5/2020)
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Mirage?
On the small moon of Cadiz in a star system dominated by the Vathek empire lives sixteen-year-old Amani and her two brothers Aziz and Husnain. Aziz is the only one of the siblings to remember what life was like in the Andalan star system before the Vathek occupation. Since then, the people of Andala and its two moons Cadiz and Gibra have lived in poverty and fear. But Amani dreams of receiving a black feather from a tesleet bird – a sign from Dihya – sending her on her own adventures beyond her isolated moon. Her next big step in life, however, is her majority night, where she is to receive her daan, sharp geometric tattoos on her face signifying her passage into adulthood. To mark the occasion, Husnain gifts her with sheaves of paper of Massinite poetry. Massinia was the prophetess of their religion, and thus anything related to her is outlawed by the Vaths. Amani knows the value of such a gift, and takes her precious present with her, reluctant to part with it so soon.
At the majority ceremony, she is given her daan along with eleven other girls, and all rejoice throughout the night. But the party is interrupted by the arrival of Imperial droids looking for a particular girl between the age of fourteen and twenty. Amani and her best friend Khadija line up with the rest of the girls, and when Amani is identified as the one they are looking for, she refuses to go with them. As a mean of persuasion, the droid shoots Khadija in the arm. Chaos erupts within the building, providing Husnain with the opportunity to lead his sister to safety. But they are stopped by a droid and Husnain is thrown backward, crashing into a fountain where he remains motionless.
Amani is taken to the Ziyaana, once Andala’s Imperial Palace home to Andalaan kings and queens and now the seat of the Vathek king and his new court. There, she is brought before Nadine, the king’s stewardess and meets Princess Maram, the only child of the Vathek King Mathis and his Andalaan bride, and reputed to be as cruel as her father. Upon coming face to face with her, Amani realizes their facial features are incredibly similar, and that she is to become the Princess’ body double at public events as a precautionary measure against the threat posed by Andalaan rebels. Amani refuses to let herself be pushed around and speaks up, resulting in Maram punishing her by having her roc bird attack her. The following day, she is taken for surgery, and her face is reshaped into an identical copy of Maram’s, her daan removed, her cheekbones, jaw, and chin remodeled. The act is an ordeal for her to overcome. How could she keep herself if she had none of herself left?
This recap was awesomely submitted by Ophélie Mélodie. Thanks!
Find on twitter at @OphelieMelodie.
Her next few weeks in the palace are spent training to become Maram’s body double. She is given apartments and freedom to move as she pleases within the palace except beyond the Southern Gate. She’s also attended by a girl called Tala who secretly gets Amani’s majority gown cleaned and rescues the Massinite poetry. With her life on the line, Amani learns quickly but struggles with the Princess’ personality so greatly differing from her own. Eventually, she reaches her final test: impersonating the Princess at the Terminus Ball and impressing the king. In order for her to be familiar with Maram’s circle, Amani is taken to observe court from a safe distance. She sees for the first time Maram’s fiancé Idris ibn Salih, last surviving heir of the Banu Salih. The Banu Salih was the largest cousin tribe of the old Andalaan royal family and the first tribe to oppose the Vaths. But following the Purge which killed nearly all opposing tribes, the queen begged her cousins to capitulate, and Idris was pledged to Maram. Another person making her first appearance is Lady Furat of the Wattasi clan, last surviving heir and a member of the former queen’s extended family. Maram clearly despises her. Lady Furat was once exiled but has returned to the court without her daan as a sign of servitude. Following her observation of the court, Amani is put to an in-house test. Dressed as Maram, she is presented with a wardrobe fitting session. She imitates the Princess perfectly and is deemed ready.
The Terminus Ball is hosted in Atalasia, and Amani meets Idris for the very first time, the latter unaware of her true identity. They officially open the ball with a waltz, after which they speak to various members of the court, eat and dance some more. When faced with Lady Furat, Amani dismisses her and goes to leave but instead collides with a servant. Forgetting herself, she asks the servant if she is okay, which Idris overhears. He appears not to notice and instead invites her for another dance where he tells her the story of Massinia. Amani patiently listens, knowing Maram would be ignorant of such a tale, whereas she has learned it by heart. Idris’ translation is clumsy. As he finishes his story, the king calls upon Amani. He asks her about her plans for securing her confirmation and gets annoyed when Amani does not understand. Nadine intervenes and reminds the king he is not facing his daughter. Amani has successfully passed her final test. When she returns to the Ziyaana, Maram explains she needs to secure her inheritance as heir to the throne lest it passes to her half-sister Galene. Galene, though Mathis’ first child, does not qualify for the line of succession as she is pure Vathek. But this will not prevent her from trying to supplant Maram.
The Dowager Sultana, Maram’s grandmother, has agreed to remain off-world in exchange for a yearly visit by her grand-daughter. As there is a strong rebel presence on the moon where the Dowager resides, Amani is sent instead. On her way to Ouzdad on Gibra, Idris recalls the tale of Massinia, pointing out he was testing Maram to see how much she remembered of the story and observes she hadn’t pronounced a word. Amani replies it is rude to interrupt a storyteller, no matter how poor the telling. When they arrive at their destination, Amani is left with some time on her own. She explores the catacombs and discovers a mural depicting Massinia’s story but is caught off-guard by Idris. He translates the episode of Massinia’s flight, which Amani describes as a ‘horrible’ translation, revealing her true identity in the process since Maram doesn’t speak Kushaila. Idris is not surprised and admits he had his doubt given Amani’s reaction to the servant at the Terminus Ball and her criticisms of his translations. He enquires as to her story which she reveals, Idris remarks their time in Ouzdad may just be a respite for the both of them.
Amani discovers Idris has a khitaam on his arm – a royal seal with recordings of ancestry, immediate descent, and a blessing. She points out it is a crime to ink a khitaam on royal skin under Vathek rule and highlights the love the person must have had for Idris to ensure he always remembered his roots. The following day, Idris asks Amani to reveal herself to both the Dowager and Lady Furat. He explains they are both victims of the Vaths and lost much. Amani agrees. She is summoned and proceeds with revealing her true identity. Lady Furat is taken aback, but the Dowager remains impassive, except for the weakening of her pain and grief. The conversation becomes more convivial. Throughout their stay in Ouzdad, both Amani and Idris relax into their selves. One afternoon, Lady Furat introduces Amani to Arinaas, leader of the rebels. She has a close physical resemblance to Massinia herself. Arinaas asks Amani to spy on the Ziyaana and Maram for the rebels and hands her a communicator to relay relevant information to the rebels. Amani accepts. The last few days in Ouzdad see Amani and Idris get closer. Idris takes Amani to the oasis Janat, where they sit by a pool. Idris loses his balance and falls in the water, taking Amani with him. They find a spot to dry and kiss.
A week after her return to the Ziyaan, Amani learns she is to attend a party thrown by Galene. On the way to the estate, Idris comes to visit Maram and rejoices when he realizes it’s Amani. The party unfolds smoothly, Amani deceiving Ofal – one of Maram’s favorite cousin – and enraging Galene. Later that night, Idris invites Amani to play a game of shatranj. They kiss, and Idris hints at his feelings for Amani and not wanting to marry Maram.
Amani’s next task is to attend a council meeting, where she learns that the rebels have taken Ghazlan, the biggest city on the coast, and Sidi Walid, a holy city where Massinia was last seen. To counter these attacks, King Mathis decides to bomb the coastal towns on the Eastern Reach. Amani is desperate to inform the rebels of the situation. She fiddles with a data packet plugged into her workstation containing military information but knows she needs to draw attention away from her hands. She uses her voice to support Mathis, pointing out destroying Sidi Walid will be a moral blow to the dissident, despite how much it hurts her to say it. The king is pleased with his daughter’s point. Amani returns to her room and contacts Arinaas with the information. Arinaas assures her the rebels will take care of Sidi Walid and will find a way to retrieve the data packet Amani stole. Once the information relayed, Amani decides to calm her nerves through cooking. Maram makes an appearance and stays for the meal. She thanks Amani for standing up to Galene and stepping in at the council. The outcome has been beneficial to her as her father believes she is more suited to the throne and requested she gives the opening speech of the library. Upon leaving, Maram asks Amani for help with writing the speech.
The day has come, and as Amani leaves for the library, Maram shows concern for her safety, asking her to ‘be safe.’ As Amani ponders what Maram must feel, she notices Idris sadder than ever. He tells her the few members left of his family are based in Al Hoceima, on the Eastern Reach. The king doesn’t target their city, but Amani understands his concern. She suggests he should go visit them. Idris takes on the suggestion, especially given it is his aunt’s one hundred and sixth’s birthday. Then, he invites Amani to join him. “I’ll try,” she replies. The speech goes without incident.
Maram comes into Amani’s apartments, hungry. She helps with the food preparation but is unsettled as Idris has asked her to join him on his trip to Al Hoceima. She is perfectly aware his family hates her for who she is and what she represents. Amani replies that she is the trueborn daughter of the last queen of Andala and that no one can take this title away from her. Maram confides she is glad Amani is here and is the kind and understanding person she is. Amani offers to go to Al Hoceima in Maram’s place, and the Princess agrees.
Amani and Idris arrive at Al Hoceima and join in the festivities of Idris’ aunt Khaltou Naimah’s birthday. Amani is asked to sit with her. Given her hidden fluency in Khushaila, she listens in on conversations regarding Maram and realizes Idris’ family does not hate her as much as pity her and mourn what she could have been. Later that night, she goes to find Idris who has returned from the mausoleum. He gifts her with a poetry book that had once belonged to his mother, gifted by his father. Amani knows the value of such a gift. The following day, as Amani recites poetry with Idris close to her, Idris professes his love to Amani. She returns it.
In the middle of the night, Amani heads out to meet with a rebel agent to give him the small data packet she took from the council meeting. It contains the position of all the Vathek munitions deports on the Eastern Reach, as well as base location and strike units. She is shocked to find he is only a boy of fourteen or fifteen, as shocked as he is by her resemblance to Maram.
Back at the Ziyaana, Mathis has officially named his daughter the sole Imperial Inheritor of the Ouamalich System and its ancillaries. Maram is pleased but also worried about the responsibilities such a title entail. She talks to Amani about her mother, how she never forgave her for dying but also how the queen might never forgive Maram for the things she has done. She asks Amani how to rule over people who hate her. Amani replies that she is not responsible for the actions of her father and that she can choose to act now. Maram apologizes for the way she treated Amani when she first arrived, prompting Amani to reply ‘sisters fight.’ This brings a real smile out of Maram.
Later that evening, Amani gets a message from the rebels. They have sent an assassin to kill Maram and Mathis at the inheritance ceremony the following day. Amani is against it and reveals to Arinaas that she will be taking Maram’s place at the ceremony, despite it not being true. Arinaas cannot guarantee the attempt will be called off in time as the assassin is already on his way, and the message to abort the operation may not reach him in time.
How does Mirage end?
The day of the inheritance ceremony, Maram is very nervous about appearing in public, giving Amani the perfect opening to suggest taking her place. Maram agrees. Amani goes through the motions of the ritual, and as she is proclaimed Imperial Heir and rises, a shout in the crowd is heard. Chaos erupts, allowing the assassin to come within range of Amani. She recognizes him as being the rebel boy she handed the data packet to back on Al Hoceima. To let him know her identity, she murmurs a short farewell in Kushaina. Taken aback, the assassin hesitates, leaving enough time for the guards to wrestle him to the floor. Nadine finds Amani and drags her away. As they prepare to shoot the assassin, Amani frees herself from Nadine’s grasp and throws herself between the guards and the assassin. She reasons that killing him would only result in riots. The guard takes the prisoner to the dungeon.
Following the events, Maram confronts Amani: did she know an attempt on her life was in the works? Amani cannot deny it. Maram, feeling betrayed, closes in back on herself. When Nadine enters, she has reverted to her old ways. She orders Amani to be confined to her quarters and Nadine to punish her as she sees fit but withholds the information regarding Amani knowing about the assassination attempt. Nadine brings Amani to an underground rotunda where a large screen shows a live feed of Amani’s family. They are all on their knees with the Imperial Guards behind them. Her two brothers have been heavily beaten. Nadine gives orders, and one of the guards places a knife at Husnain’s throat. Amani begs her to let them go, swearing on her brother’s life that she will never commit such an act again. Nadine is satisfied and condemns Amani to watch replays of the feed from beginning to end.
A week later, Idris takes a chance, and with Tala’s help enters Amani’s apartments. Seeing him brings great relief to Amani. Idris asks her to run away with him, but they both know they would never be able to abandon their families, nor would they be who they are if they run away. Idris understands. They part, reiterating their love as they do so.
Later that afternoon, Amani hears a sound coming from the queen’s chambers. She discovers the sound is from a tesleet bird. It comes down, eyes her, then flies off, and Amani knows it’s a sign. A sign of hope, a sign that she cannot and will not give up no matter the cost.
There you go! That’s what happened in Mirage. Hope you enjoyed this recap of Mirage with spoilers.
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