Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Royale, Orb's Year 937-940


 Orb's Year 937
"Come on, you yellow-livered lunk of scrap metal!  Do you know who I am?!" Prince Geoffrey L'Adventurer railed. 
"They know perfectly well who you are, brother," King Barron said as he entered the prison tower.  "And that is exactly why you will be staying where you are."
"You can't do this to me! How will your sister feel when she learns you've locked her husband away," Geoffrey snarled, already plotting his retribution.

Barron scoffed then.  "I think you over-estimate your wife's tender feelings towards you!"

Geoffrey glared, "Ungrateful wench!  She would have me sit in this prison cell until I died?!"

"Nay, you will not sit in this prison cell until you die..."

Geoffrey glanced sharply towards the king's retreating back.  "Then what?" he demanded.  "What are your plans?  A public execution?  You're not man enough for it!"
"No, not a public execution.  Not all think like you." Barron shrugged and turned from the snake, sickened by his crimes.  "You will just sit here until your Uncle collects you."

"My Uncle..." Geoffrey sputtered, "The usurper! You give me to my enemy?!"  Geoffrey sputtered a string of foul curses.  "Barron! Come back here!  Don't walk away from me!" he screamed.
Wretched family, Geoffrey thought, grinding his teeth.  He wished he'd never set foot in this cursed kingdom!

 ***

In the cover of darkness, skirts swished silently as the woman crept closer to the prison tower.  If her plan worked, then they would be free in moments... hopefully well before the alarm was sounded.

 ***

Her plan worked!

When the castle guards checked the prison tower some hours later, they discovered an empty cell and no clues.

***

King Barron slammed his hand on the table.  "I want to know how he managed to escape!  Has anyone heard anything?  The longer he remains free, the longer there remains a threat to my family!"  Barron glanced around the table and saw all the heads shaking, except...

"Dresden," he snapped, "What do you know?"

Dresden Consul looked highly uncomfortable and fidgeted in his seat.   Nervously he met the King's eye.  "I have recently discovered that my twin daughters are not of my blood," he began, ignoring his brother's startled gasp.  "I confronted Gwen about it and she revealed an affair with Geoffrey."  Now came the hardest thing to admit before these men he respected.  "She left and at first I did not care where she went, but the more I think on it, the more sure I am that she might have aided him."

Barron's gaze softened when confronted with Dresden's confession.  "Thank you for sharing your news with us.  I'm sorry it has grieved you so."

Dresden shrugged, "I should have seen it sooner."

"So, now we know who likely helped her.  Next we need to determine where they might have gone."
 
 ***

"Uncle Ennis!" Geo cried, smiling as he walked into the room. 
"Gia," he nodded.  "I trust you are prepared for your service position?"

"Of course! I should cook, clean and do anything asked of me," she recited.

"Very good, change your clothes and go see the Queen.  She's usually in the music room."  Ennis hurried away, moving on to his next task for the day.
Gia wasn't used to such beautiful clothing.  She'd checked the mirror and smiled at her reflection.  Just wait until Benji saw her!  He'd love it!

Hurrying to the music room, her eye was caught by the prince.  My, he was handsome, she thought, quickly averting her gaze.  Her father had made sure she knew the horrid tale of her Aunt Deanna's disgrace before she'd come.  She'd assured him that she wasn't interested in any man but her Benji and he had seemed greatly relieved.

There wasn't any harm in appreciating fine works of art, though, right?!
 Seeing the Queen in the music room, Gia smiled and introduced herself with a curtsy. 

Queen Diedre smiled at the young girl.  "Welcome Gia! I hope you'll be happy here.  We have missed our Emily ever so much."

Gia felt her stomach fluttering, "That's kind of you to say! She was my Great Aunt on my father's side!"

"Well that's wonderful! Right now I'd like you to start with the gardens.  King Barron designed them for me," she confided.  "Once you're finished with that, come find me and we'll chat more about your duties!"

 ***

Queen Deidre invited the ladies over tea and biscuits, then retired to the music room to discuss the recent events.

"I heard that his lover bailed him from the prison tower!" Princess Kea gossiped with flair as Princess Catherine shushed her. 

Princess Celeste slammed her keys down on the piano and squeezed her eyes shut.  For all the years that she was locked in her private hell with Geoffrey, it felt ten times worse to hear others discussing it.   "Enough!" she shouted, tears already forming in her eyes.
Queen Deidre hurried over to her sister-in-law.  "Kea didn't mean to upset you!" she said, pulling Celeste in for a hug.  "We always knew he was a horrid man, but for your sake, we put up with him, Celeste.  You should have told us long ago and your brother would have helped you!"
"It started out so small," she confided.  "Before long, I was just used to putting up with his deceit.  I thought that as long I protected the girls..." Celeste stopped suddenly and began weeping.  "I'm so scared he'll come back for us!"

Deidre hugged her tighter.  "It won't happen!" she said firmly.  "I'll send one of the Castle Guards with you for protection.  Geoffrey can't hurt you anymore, you're too strong!"

Celeste wiped her eyes.  "Strong?" she said with a scornful laugh.  "I feel weak as a baby!"

Deidre reached out and helped wipe the tears from Celeste's cheek.  "I see a fine, strong woman in front of me, ready to battle anyone that would harm her family!"

Celeste smiled slightly, "Truly? That is how you see me?"

"Truly," Deidre said firmly.

 Orb's Year 938
 "Do you think after I finish the chores, I can go see Benji?" Gia asked hopefully.  She had thought the King and Queen would be difficult task-masters, but they were nothing compared to her Uncle Ennis!

Frowning, he motioned towards her breakfast, "Eat! We can discuss an outing later."

Gia sighed.  She already knew what Uncle Ennis was going to say.  He'd already said it five times this week!  'A proper lady in service does not run loose with boys!'

She'd argued that she didn't run, wasn't loose and only wanted to see one boy, but none of it made a difference.  Uncle Ennis thought that servants should remain celibate and readily available for their patrons.

Good thing she didn't plan on staying in service forever like Uncle Ennis!  As soon as she was old enough, Benji would propose and she'd go live with the Potters!

 ***

Prince Earl was so happy to see Suzanne again.  In a few short years they would marry and begin a royal family.  She was a sweet, wonderful girl and he eagerly looked forward to it. 

But, there was also a part of him that thought back to the beautiful black-haired girl that he'd briefly held in his arms (Royale, Orb's Year 935).  It wasn't fair to compare them, but sometimes a part of him considered Suzanne's hair too long, too blonde and too curly, her figure too bountiful compared to the lithe peasant girl.

Shaking the traitorous thoughts from his head, Prince Earl hugged Suzanne in greeting and dropped a kiss on her cheek.
 Earl and his friends enjoyed a small dinner before heading to the parlor to play a game of cards. 
Princes Felicity hurried down the hall in hopes of joining her older brother and his friends, but by the time she'd reached the table, they were gone.  Drats! she thought.  Earl never included her in anything! she pouted as the new servant girl cleared the table.
 Sadly, she trudged up to her room and played with Angel, her only friend, it seemed!

 Orb's Year 939
Princess Felicity gazed at the royalty and nobility surrounding her.  There was quite a turnout!
And all for her birthday celebration!
Gazing across the gardens, she saw Prince Berjes playing a game with her brother's intended, Suzanne.  He was so handsome, she thought with a flutter.
Taking a breath, she stepped over towards him and began chatting with him.  Perhaps now that she was older, she could make him fall madly in love with her!

Prince Earl saw the stars in his sister's eyes and couldn't think of a worse person for her to become infatuated with!  Berjes was his best friend, but he wouldn't trust him with his sister!
Hurrying over, he played a harmless prank of his sister and nudged Berjes with his elbow.  Laughing, he herded Berjes away from Felicity.  He glanced over his shoulder and felt a prick of guilt at his sister's heart-broken expression.  It would all be worth it if she stopped fawning over Berjes!
Felicity hadn't had another chance to speak with Berjes since her brother tormented her and laughed at her.  After the celebration had ended, she'd quietly made her way back up to her room.  "Sweet, sweet, Angel," she sang as she entered, smiling when Angel whistled back. 

 ***

It had been Queen Deidre's idea to host a small dance for the young ones.  Only a handful of children were invited to join.
The girls all stood on one side as the boys lined up on the other. 
 Then, the music began and the couples danced around the room.
Gia peeked around the corner, entranced by the colorful gowns and beautiful music.  How she wished that she had been born to another class than the lowly peasant!  Scurrying away, she hurried to the kitchen to finish the dishes that waited from their feast.

***

Princess Felicity was elated that her mother had arranged for her to dance with Prince Berjes.  When he placed his hand in her own, she thought she would swoon.  But, she'd only just learned the steps to the dance and had managed to step on Berje's foot. 

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" she said in horror when he'd limped in pain.
"Cursed Orb, Felicity! Where'd you learn to dance, anyway!" Berjes groused.  "You nearly flattened my foot!"

Flames of embarrassment flooded Felicity's cheeks.  She scrambled for some witty response, but couldn't come up with anything.
She was saved when her brother called out to the crowd gathered, "If I could have everyone's attention!"
Turning towards Suzanne, he smiled and held his hand out to her.  "I'm sure no one is surprised, but Suzanne has done me the honor of agreeing to marry me when we are both of an age!"

Cheers and gasps of pleasure sounded in the room.  Berjes shook his head and mumbled something under his breath.
Felicity left Berjes behind as she hurried over to congratulate the couple.  She knew that Earl's wedding had been planned for years, but it was so exciting that the time grew nearer!  "Soon we'll be sisters!" she said cheerfully.

***

Late that night, after most had gone home, Berjes pulled his old friend aside.  "Come on, Earl.  Let's live a little before you tighten that ball and chain around your foot."

Earl laughed sadly, "I don't know why I listen to you..." he said.

Berjes just laughed and clapped Earl on the back, "Because we have so much fun! Come on!"

Orb's Year 940
Earl nursed his drink at Taveryn's Kitchen as Berjes mad eyes at a pretty girl.  Earl rolled his eyes.  Berjes was so obvious, it was almost laughable.  "Do those lines work on anyone?" he asked, laughing.

Berjes glanced back over at his friend and saluted him with his drink.  "It only needs to work once, my friend," he said jovially.

Earl downed the rest of his drink as Berjes got up to make his play.
Earl tried not to laugh out loud when the beauty turned Berjes down flat. 
Berjes stumbled back over and threw his arm around Earl's shoulder.  "The girls here are duds," he said.  "We should go somewhere else to find some ladies.  Maybe that gypsy camp at the edge of the Kingdom!"

Earl laughed.  "I tend to think it's not the women here that are duds, but you!" he teased.  "And I think the only place we should head is home!"
Turning, he stopped and stared.  It was her.  The girl that had haunted his dreams!  "I'll catch up with you later," he said to Berjes, shooing him away. 
He hurried to the girl and caught her arm in his hand.  "It's you!" he said dumbly, the drink making his brain a little sluggish.

The girl stared up at him with wide-eyes.
Earl propelled the girl up the stairs, keeping a tight grip on her arm.  "We need to talk," he said. 

***

"You dog!" Berjes playfully punched Earl in the arm when Earl finally returned home.  

Earl smiled tightly when he realized that Berjes must have been waiting for him.  "I'm not sure what you mean," he said.

"Don't play coy with me!" Berjes laughed.  "I saw you head upstairs with someone!  Who was she?" Berjes asked.  "Perhaps she'd like to meet your friend?"

Earl pushed Berjes away from him.  "It was nothing! Just someone I needed to talk to!"

Berjes stumbled back and held his hands up in confusion. "Okay! Okay! No need to get all twisted up about it! I won't tell Suzanne!"

Earl groaned. 

Suzanne, his intended.
***

Prince Earl greeted Suzanne as she stepped down from her carriage.  "I trust your journey was uneventful," he said, holding her hand. 

Suzanne smiled and gazed up at the castle.  "It's all so beautiful," she said wistfully.  "I've waited for this day for years!"
Earl winced and led Suzanne inside where the family awaited their arrival.
Earl vowed to love, honor and protect Suzanne and exchanged rings with her as his family watched, smiling. 
The celebration was loud and boisterous. 
Soon it was time to retire upstairs.  Why did he feel like he was walking to his execution?  He cared for Suzanne... even thought he had loved her when he was a boy.
But as he pulled her into his arms, all he could think about was a short, lithe pixie with cat-shaped eyes.

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