Saturday, April 12, 2014

Royale, Orb's Year 945-948


 Orb's Year 945
Ennis Farmer fixed his young niece, Ingrid Farmer, with a severe frown.  "So, you're here to take Helga's place now that she's married?  You're not going to run off and get married unexpectedly, are you?"

"Oh no!" Ingrid said eagerly.  "I am so happy to be here!  This is so exciting!"

Ennis grinned, despite himself, "You'd be surprised at how little happens here," he said with a smirk.  "It can be very uneventful at the castle..."

 ***

"Your majesty, we have reviewed all the information we have collected and have no further information..." Cirdon Consul, King Barron's chief counsel, began to say.
Earnest Royale ran into the Throne Room at top speed.  "Your Majesty," he said with a slight bow.  "We've got the Prince of Thieves!" he said with a slight smirk.

"Bring him in!" King Barron commanded, leaping up.

The crowds that had gathered parted as the Royale Guard led the prisoner inside.
"A girl?" King Barron said, dropped to his Throne as Prince Earl leapt to his feet.  "You!" he breathed.
"Leave us!" Earl boomed, throwing his hands in the air.  "Everyone!" he said, turning an eye towards his family seated on their thrones.
The crowd in the Throne Room slowly crept away, hopeful that they might hear a piece of gossip about the female thief.

Prince Earl watched his pregnant wife walk away with her head held high.  He could tell that she was upset at being dismissed.  What a mess!

Earl gripped his neck, rubbing the throbbing muscle and then raking his hand across his face. 
He was determined to remain impersonal as he interrogated his Pixie.  There were many troubling questions he needed answered.  Did she do this to get back at him? Was it her all along? Had someone put her up to it?  Was she in trouble? 

But instead, he stepped forward and caressed her cheek, "Why?" he asked with anguish.
Henna Diebin wrenched her cheek from his touch as though he'd scalded her, glaring at him.

Earl pulled his hand back, angry with himself for caring.  "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" he demanded with steel in his voice.

Henna swallowed heavily and willed her voice not to crack.  "My children.." she said quietly.   "I need to get word to my children."

Earl paled and stepped closer.  "I told you that you should come to me if... anything... came up.  There was no need to put your life at risk stealing.  I would have freely given..."  For some reason, the thought that he'd had children with this woman caused his heart to start beating faster.   Quickly, his mind began sorting through possible actions.

"They're not yours!" Henna lied, forcing herself to scoff disdainfully.  "I need to get word to Stuart Forester... he is my... husband..."

"Did he put you up to this?" Earl demanded. "I can protect you if you need it..."

"No!" Henna replied quickly, not wanting to cast any suspicion on Stuart.  "He's... estranged... because of my actions..."
"Earnest!" Prince Earl called out, ignoring Henna as she jumped at his shouted summons.  "Take her to the Tower, then I want you to run an errand for me."

 ***

"Congratulations," King Barron said to his brother, Benedict Royale, chief of the Royale Guard.  "You've caught the thief!"

Benedict shook his head.  "I couldn't believe it when we caught the woman! No wonder we thought the thief had to be a young man!  She's so petite!"

"But I wonder why she picked up where the original Prince of Thieves had stopped," Bradshaw Knightley said.  "Did she say anything to you, Prince Earl?"

Earl shook his head.  "She said nothing in her defense.  Perhaps a week in the Tower will loosen her tongue."  Inside, he blanched at the thought of his pixie enclosed in the cell for any length of time.  He longed to let her go.  But, he knew that would send a message to other peasants that they were lenient with thieves...
"Prince Earl?" Earnest interrupted.  "I found him."

Prince Earl glanced up from the table at the peasant standing behind his cousin, Earnest.  "If you'll excuse me," he said to the men at the table as he got up.
"It seems that we need to discuss your wife," Earl said as he took a seat before the peasant.

Stuart Forester's eyes grew wide as he listened to the Prince.

 ***

Henna longed to be out in the open forest, among the trees.  Anywhere instead of locked up in this small, cold cell.  She'd only been behind these metal bars for a short time and she was already ready to scream and plead to be released.

She startled when the door crashed open and Stuart rushed in with a guard behind him.  "Stuart!" called out with a quavering voice.
Stuart rushed to her, slipping his hand between the bars and caressing her cheek.  "Oh, Henna, what have you done?" he whispered sadly.

Henna blinked the tears away.  "I need you to go to the children. Protect them," she urged him.

"Of course.  Anything," he feverishly pledged.  "But, Henna.. when you are free.. I will be your husband in truth."

 ***

Earl watched Forester stride away from the Tower, signaling Earnest to follow him home.  He would get some answers one way or another.

 ***

"I'm sure you're letting your imagination get away with you!" Queen Deidre attempted to reassure her daughter-in-law.
"I saw it, Mother!" Princess Suzanne said as she paced the room with little Prince Gentry in her arms.  "I saw the look in his eyes!  Something happened between them!  He knew her!"

"As Prince of Celestia, Barron knows a good many people.  I will admit that it looked odd..." Queen Deidre said.
Suzanne scoffed.  It looked suspicious!  With a queasy stomach, she snuggled her cheek against the top of Gentry's head and squeezed her eyes shut.  She just couldn't go through that again!  The beginning of her marriage had been so terrible and lonely!  She had known her husband was keeping some deep, dark secret from her!  Another woman!

"Suzanne..." Queen Deidre attempted to reason with her over-wrought daughter-in-law, but Suzanne shook her head.

"Not now," she said tiredly.  "I just can't..." she said helplessly.  "I'm going to take Gentry out in the sunshine."
Suzanne played with Gentry outside by the gardens, desperately trying to thrust her husband's behavior to the back of her mind.
"My puppy, mama! Pup! Pup!" Gentry called out, squeezing the little puppy.

"Gently, Gentry!" Suzanne admonished him, pulling the puppy from his grasping fingers.
Rex Royale nuzzled Cesar Royale's, tummy, checking to make sure his off-spring was okay after the rough handling by the future prince.

 Orb's Year 946
Prince Earl hung his head in hands in misery.

Time in the cell had not loosened the Pixie's tongue.  She wouldn't tell them what her name was, if she worked alone, where her camp was, how old her children were, or why she was stealing from them!  It was infuriating!

He spent endless hours obsessing over her, trying to come to some sort of understanding.  Wondering if he'd missed something important... a glance.. or a gesture..

She'd gotten under his skin and some nights he thought of releasing her just so that he would be free of her once and for all!

***

"Hit me again," Earl slurred to Connor Taveryn. 
"I thought I'd find you here," Prince Earl's best friend, Berjes Furst, said with a slight chide in his voice as he walked up.

"So you found me!" Prince Earl muttered, gripping his drink.

"One might wonder what you have to be so miserable about.  A beautiful wife.  A charming young heir.  Good health.  A strikingly handsome friend..." Berjes chattered merrily.  "The Prince of Thieves behind bars..."
"Oh, bugger off," Earl said as he tossed back the ale he'd just been served.  "What do you know about anything."

"I know that you're obsessing over that girl again.  You nearly wrecked your marriage the first time.  Why would you do it again?" Berjes had seen the way his friend had agonized over the comely peasant girl.  "Cursed Orb, she's a thief, Earl!"
"Oh, what do you know about it anyways?" Earl slurred angrily.  "You've never loved anyone but yourself! One girl is the same as another to you!"

Berjes scoffed and shook his head ruefully.  "Yes, what would a rouge like me know about love anyways," he said bitterly.

***

"Watch your step, Earl!" Berjes said as his friend stumbled on the stones.
Reaching out, he grabbed Earl's shoulders, only to have Earl shake his hands off.  "I can walk by myself!" Earl said childishly.

"Of course you can," Berjes said cheerfully.  "I'm just making sure you continue to walk upright instead of face-down on the stones."

"Oh, bugger off," Earl said churlishly.

"You know, that's the 10th time you've told me that tonight, friend!" Berjes retorted.  "I might begin to think you have no wish for my company!"
Berjes managed to get Earl up the stairs and to his bedroom.  Knocking, he helped prop Earl up.

With all the noise, Suzanne woke up and scrambled from the bed.  "What is it? Is he okay?" she asked with concern.
Berjes sent Suzanne an apologetic smile as he bowed low.  "It would seem that the royal Prince is a bit inebriated," he said in a mock whisper.  They both turned to watch as Earl hopped on one foot, stumbling, as he attempted to pull his pants off over his boots.

"Thank you for your assistance," she said quietly as Berjes quickly retreated.
With a tear in her eye, she looked at her swaying husband, "Oh Earl, what are we going to do?" she said with a catch in her voice.
"Don't worry," Earl promised her with a slur.  "I have a plan..."
With a watery sigh, Suzanne helped ease Earl under the covers.  She prayed that sleep would come soon...

Orb's Year 946
Castle Guard stopped in his tracks as he walked through the Tower door.  Dropping the tray prepared for the prisoner's breakfast, he hurried away.
"Your Majesty," he announced as he hurried into the Throne Room.   "She's escaped!"
King Barron shot up from his throne and bellowed, "Find her!"

 ***

"Pardon the intrusion, Prince Earl, but the King requests your presence."

Earl sat up slightly, feeling his stomach pitch.  Groggily he got up, gingerly cradling his head. 
"Earl? What is it?" Suzanne asked sleepily as she stirred under the covers.

"Nothing, love.  Sleep," he told her softly.  With a sigh, she let her head fall back and drifted back to sleep.
Earl hurriedly dressed and strode from the room.  What could his father want this early?

***
"Escaped?!" Prince Earl asked incredulously.  "How?!"

King Barron watched his son's reaction.  "The cell had been unlocked for her... the key still in the lock."

"But how?" Earl asked.

King Barron met his son's eye somberly, "Perhaps you would like to explain it to me..."

"Me?!" Earl said with surprise.  "You think I had something to do with this?!"

***

Queen Deidre hurried into the nursery and found her daughter-in-law with Prince Gentry.  She beckoned Suzanne over.  "She's escaped," she whispered.

"Who?" Suzanne asked.

Deidre shot Suzanne an impatient look.  "The Thief!"

***

"We've looked everywhere.  She's just vanished," Finn Consul, one of the newest of Royale Guard's, said as he tossed a chip in the pile.

Prince Earl scowled.  "She couldn't just disappear.  She's somewhere."

Berjes glanced at his friend wryly.  "Perhaps it's best if we don't find her..."  Three sets of eyes turned on him in outrage.  Berjes held his hands up. "Okay! Okay! Then by all means, find the little Thief! What do I know? I'm just a rake and a scoundrel!"
"What are you boys doing?" Princess Felicity asked as she came up behind her brother and his friends.  "You all have such frowns for such a fun game!"

Berjes jaw tightened.  "Nothing to bother your pretty little head with," he said tightly.  "Run along now and play," he said before anyone else could entice her to stay.
A gleam appeared in Felicity's eye. "Perhaps you're right.  This game is ever so confusing.  Are all those Queen's in your hand a good thing?" she asked innocently.

Quickly, everyone laid down their cards and folded.

"Oh for Orb's sake!" Berjes said, throwing his cards down on the table.  He fixed Felicity with a stern glare.  "You did that on purpose!"

"I don't know what you mean!" Felicity said coyly. "My pretty little head doesn't have anything but a bunch of fluff! Have a good night!" she said brightly, leaning down to kiss Berjes on the cheek before flouncing upstairs.

Berjes watched her go with his jaw clenched and his eyes burning.  "I'm going out," he announced as he stood up.  With a few long strides, he'd already left the room before anyone could say anything.
"Guess the game is over," Prince Earl announced as he walked his cousins to the door.

 ***

"Oh, Phillipe! I'm so glad you came!" Princess Felicity said when she looked up from her sewing. 
Phillipe sat down next to her and pulled her into his lap. "Only a few short months and we'll be married," he said with a grin.  "I, for one, can't wait!"

Felicity wrapped her arms around his neck and attempted to show Phillipe how very eager she was, as well.

***
Dinner was a quiet affair, with a thick tension between husband and wife.  Suzanne couldn't eat a bite.  "If you'll excuse me, I believe I'm going to retire for the night," Suzanne said quietly.

Prince Earl glanced at Suzanne's pale face.  "Is everything okay?" he asked with concern.

His wife nodded quickly.  "I'm just feeling tired," she mumbled before hurrying away.
However, a short time later, Princess Suzanne was awakened by the contractions.
After her laboring was through, she held a sweet little girl, Helena, in her arms.

 Orb's Year 947
"Perhaps I might sweep you away," Wren said playfully as he stepped a little closer to Ingrid Farmer.  "The King would never find us!"
"Oh Wren!" Ingrid said with a laugh.  She'd just put up her hand to push him away when Uncle Ennis stalked inside.

 "OUT!" he shouted at young man.  
Wren blanched and hurried away as Ennis fixed a stern look at his niece.
"As a Royal servant, there will be no boys... no flirting... no kissing!" Ennis said sternly.  "Your job is to serve the Royals in any capacity they require.  Do you understand?"

"Yes, Uncle Ennis.  But..."

"No ifs, ands, or buts about it, young lady.  I would think you have enough to do preparing for the royal wedding!"

 ***

"...I'm just saying that you shouldn't rush into the marriage if you don't want to," Prince Berjes Furst said irately.  "Your father can't force you to marry someone!"

Felicity stomped her foot.  "Why are you being so aggravating today, Berjes?"

Berjes crossed his arms.  "You're too young," he snapped.  "Someone has to look out for your best interests!"

Felicity laughed and kissed Berjes' cheek.  "You grumpy bear! I love Phillipe!"
Berjes grit his teeth and bowed lightly.  "Then I wish you all the happiness..."

 ***

"King Barron," Prince Phillipe Patron said loudly before the crowd, "I humbly ask for your daughter's hand in marriage!"

King Barron smiled down at the young man before him.  "You have it."
Phillipe turned to Felicity and dropped to one knee.  "Princess Felicity Royale, will you consent to be my wedded wife?" he asked, presenting her with the ring he had chosen.

Felicity felt tears prick her eyes.  "I do!"
Nothing could spoil this happy day! she thought as Phillipe slipped the ring onto her finger.
Berjes felt sick as he watched the courtship ritual.  Quietly, he slipped from the Throne room.  He couldn't watch...
Phillipe slid the wedding ring on Felicity's finger.  "With this ring, I thee wed," he said nervously.

King Barron smiled down at the newly married couple.   "And now - we feast!" he called out merrily.
Tables had been set up for the celebration and a buffet was set up for all the guests...
...along with ale and the most renowned entertainer in Celestia.
It was a wedding feast to remember!

 ***

"Is it over now?" Prince Gentry Royale asked excitedly when his mother came into the room.

"Yes, your Aunt Felicity is married now."

"I wish I could've been there," Gentry grumbled.
Suzanne dropped to her knee and kissed Gentry's cheek.  "I know, sweetheart.  When you're older you'll be allowed to come to the festivities."

"I wish I was older right now!" he grumbled again as he got ready for bed.
"You'll be older soon enough," Suzanne said, pressing a kiss on her son's forehead.  "Sleep well, sweetheart."

 ***

Felicity led her husband to their room and eagerly showed him the changes she had made for him.  "See?" she asked with a smile.

Phillip grinned as he pulled Felicity down onto the bed with him.  "Blessed Orb, anything was better than all that dainty pink!" he said with laugh.

 Orb's Year 948
Princess Suzanne was at her vanity, brushing her hair when her husband walked in.  She stopped and lifted her gaze to his in the mirror.
"Your hair is so beautiful," Earl said. "You're so beautiful..."

Suzanne turned and got up slowly, as if in a dream. 
Earl clasped his wife's hands in his own.  "I'm sorry," he said thickly.  "For being so distracted and distant lately.  I'd like to make it up to you..."

Suzanne squeezed his hands.  "I'd like that."

 ***

Queen Deidre slowly walked down the steps.  As a dizzy spell hit her again, she reached out to grab the banister. 

 Rest in Peace Queen Deidre Royale, Orb's Years 904-927

King Barron was beside himself after the Queen's passing. 
With a heavy heart, he called close friends and family over as they laid her body to rest. 
Suzanne held her daughter close as her father-in-law spoke about what a kind, loving woman Queen Deidre was.  Tears wet her eyes.  She would be missed...

 ***

"...And how does your marriage agree with you?" Danica Knightley asked Felicity when the ladies had gathered together.

Felicity grinned and rubbed her pregnant belly tenderly.  "As you can see, marriage agrees with me quite well," she joked.  "Phillip is a wonderful husband!"

Her cousin, Elyssa L'Adventurer, blanched beside her.  "If you'll excuse me," she said softly.
Elyssa had to get out of the room!  It hurt so badly to hear about Phillip and his happy marriage.  She doubted he even remembered that he'd sworn to love her forever before he'd met Felicity...
"What was wrong with her?" Francine asked as Elyssa swept stiffly from the room.

All the other ladies shrugged. 

 ***

"May I be excuse please?" Prince Gentry asked politely after he'd finished his kasha.

His grandfather, King Barron, nodded distractedly.

Without waiting for his mother to confirm grandfather's permission, Gentry scurried from the room.  "Come on Cesar!" he called out cheerfully.
"Fetch!" Prince Gentry yelled as he threw the stick once again.  He watched Cesar lope off after the stick, carrying it back in his slobbery mouth.   "Drop it..."
"Playing fetch?" his father, Prince Earl, asked with a grin as he returned from town.  With a smile, Prince Earl bent down and scratched Cesar's belly.

"Do you want to play, too?" Gentry asked hopefully.

Of course!" Earl said, ruffling his son's hair.  He was determined to devote more time to his family.

 ***

Felicity gripped her belly as the contractions began.  She wished Phillip was home with him!
All the pain was worth it when she held sweet baby girl Princess Gillie Patron in her arms.

 ***

Phillip cradled his newborn daughter in his arms.  "Beautiful," he said with wonder in his voice. 
Carefully he handed her to the servant.  "See that you feed her and put her to bed," he told her before striding from the room.
Ingrid glanced over at Prince Earl who had been playing with his daughter.  "Would you like for me to get Princess Helena ready for bed, as well?" she asked.

Prince Earl stood with a sigh.  "Yes, that would be nice."

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