Friday, August 1, 2014

What is a King Worth? - Chapter 1

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Here is my first chapter from our book. Which happens to be the first chapter. It was more dramatic than where Adrian's half of the story started.

Chapter 1

“Milady, please, put down the book, I need to do your hair.”
Princess Obsidia of Dialcia sighed and slid an embroidered bookmark between the pages of the book she was reading. “I don’t know why you can’t do my hair while I read, Julie. I don’t move as much.”
“You move more than you think,” said Julie, as she began running a brush through Obsidia’s thick black hair. “And King Ossian wants you downstairs at once.”
Obsidia pressed her lips together to control her jumbled nerves. “It’s today at last. The day I’ve been dreading and looking forward to since I learned its importance.”
“It is an important day for all of Dialcia as well,” said Julie.
Obsidia winced as her maid tugged on a stubborn tangle. “It’s next week that’s important for them. My birthday.” She gave a small smile.
“Aye, a grand occasion,” said Julie. “You’ll be sixteen.”
“When I was little, I always looked forward to the day I’d find out who I was going to marry. The day that I’d know,” the princess mused. “But now … Elvor, Zirro, Henrick, Geoffrey …all of them, they’re just strangers.”
“You’ll have six months to get to know him.”
Obsidia frowned. “I know.”
Silence fell as Julie wove her princess’s hair into a simple braid down her back. A simple white lily was placed behind her ear, and her hair was declared done.
“It is time for you to go downstairs,” said Julie. “King Ossian and your suitors are waiting.”
Obsidia sighed and stood up. “It won’t do to keep them waiting, I suppose.” Yet, out of reluctance, she lingered a moment longer before the mirror. She looked so calm and perfect, so innocent – but that was how she was supposed to look. Dressed in a simple silken white dress, and with a chain of diamonds around her neck for her only ornamentation, the only bit of color about her was her lips and hazel-green eyes.
“Milady?” questioned Julie, “are you coming?”
Obsidia snapped out of her reverie and turned to her maid. “Yes, I am,” she said, lifting her chin. “There is no reason for me to delay the inevitable. It will only make people impatient.”
The walk downstairs seemed to take forever. Why did the Choosing have to take place during the heaviest part of the day? The weight of the her future was already crushing, without the effects of noon.
Oh, she knew why – the heaviest part of the day was also the brightest, and such an important affair as the choosing of a future husband must always be done in the light, so that any deceit might be avoided, but still. Walking down halls was torture at noon, even if you were wearing the lightest dress in your closet.
“Ah, there you are dear.”
Obsidia looked up from her hands to see her mother, Queen Adelaide, standing at the end of the hall, her hands outstretched. A broad grin spread across her face, and she quickened her step until her hands met with her mother’s. “I’m ready,” she said, taking a deep breath.
“Ah, but I’m not,” said Queen Adelaide, giving her Obsidia’s hands a squeeze. “Ah, you’ve grown up far too quickly. If only your father were here to see what a beautiful young woman his daughter grew up to be.”
“But King Ossian will serve sufficiently as my foster father,” said Obsidia. She had never known her father, since he had died the day she was born, so she didn’t have the regret that her mother did.
“I suppose so,” said Queen Adelaide, letting go of one hand and turning so that they could resume Obsidia’s journey. “But, I’m sure he would have been so proud of you.”
“He would have preferred a son who could inherit his kingdom,” Obsidia pointed out. “Perhaps it is better that he didn’t live to see the disappointment of a daughter.”
“Perhaps …” said Queen Adelaide, slowly. “But, perhaps, had he lived, I could have had a son later.”
The rest of their walk was done in silence.
The maze of halls and corridors seemed endless, but at last King Ossian’s smiling face appeared at the end of a hall. Obsidia felt her mother stiffen, but thought nothing of it. Queen Adelaide’s resentment for her husband’s successor was no secret.
Frankly, Obsidia didn’t blame her. Few people thought well of their husband’s killer. Sometimes, Obsidia wondered at the old Dialcian law that, if a king is assassinated without male heir, the assassinator is made king … but it was one of those little quirks of her dearly beloved kingdom.
It was common knowledge that her father had not been a particularly good king, and since King Ossian had always been so kind, and had filled the role of ruler and father so well, she didn’t resent him. There were days she wondered what it would have been like to have her own father alive and well, but that wasn’t something she routinely thought about.
“Well, here she is,” Queen Adelaide said, stiffly, as she placed her daughter’s hand in the one that King Ossian held out. “Go make your show about choosing her husband.” With those words, she spun on her heel and walked as quickly away as her queenly dignity would allow.
“Well, Princess Obsidia,” said King Ossian, holding her out to arm’s length and smiling approvingly. “Has it come to this day already? My, but how beautiful you have become.”
“Thank-you, sir,” said Obsidia, glancing down.
“Well, shall we talk about your suitors before you give them your flower? I must make sure you chose the most expedient. Has any of the young men caught your eye? Young Zirro was flirting with you yesterday, though I’m sure such a match would set better with me if I only knew what secrets lay behind his mask. Those Zovordians are simply too secretive.”
Obsidia timidly lifted her eyes. “I … I really don’t know any of my suitors all that well, they’ve spent the last three weeks trying to impress me with their games and bragging, but … none of them really stands out. I know that Geoffrey is the strongest, and Zirro the quickest, and Elvor the best with the arrow, but … most of the others, I can’t remember their names half of the time.”
“Ah, then you are uninterested in the surface means that princes like to impress the ladies with?” questioned Ossian. “I suppose it comes of letting you read far to many impractical books, no?”
“Oh, but you yourself says to never judge a person by his words alone,” said Obsidia, “and three weeks is too short a time to ascertain the character of one person, let alone ten.”
“Well my dear, I think I have a solution to your difficulty.” He leaned over and whispered something in her ear, causing her eyes to go wide, and then a smile curl across her lips. Straightening, he asked, “Will you find that young man of suitable character?”
Obsidia nodded, slowly at first, but then more eagerly. “I think so, sir.”
“Well, then,” said King Ossian, taking a long stemmed nali lily from a maid who had just appeared a doorway. “It is time for you to make your choice.” He placed the lily in her hands, then pushed open the door behind him, stepping out of her way.
Drawing in a deep breath, she walked though the door and found herself in a circular room. Ten seats were set at regular intervals along the walls, and in each chair sat one of her suitors. Between a few of the seats stood a few witnesses, Lord Ilnor, the chief advisor, Sir Nortan, the captain of the guard, Lady Miriam, King Ossian’s sister-in-law … and Prince Delaney, King Ossian’s son.
Obsidia circled the room once, twice, appearing hesitant to make her selection. She hovered first on one, then another, and the princes all watched with bated breath, wondering which of them she would choose.
At last she stopped for good and held out the nali lily – but not to one of the seated princes.
“Prince Delaney,” she said, carefully and clearly. “I have known you since your father brought you to the castle. You share my love of books, and I know you as a brother. I know that, as your wife, my future would not be uncertain. Do you agree.”
Delaney stared at her, stunned, for several seconds, apparently unaware of his father’s intentions. Obsidia bit the inside of her lip, hoping that she had not made herself – and him – look stupid.

At last he took the flower and answered. “I would be honored to accept your hand.”

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, that was really cool. I like all the world building that snuck into just the first chapter. So interesting.


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