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|A fairy Prince and a human Princess find themselves in the matchmaking grasp of two kingdoms to bring the fairy kingdom of Fairrin into an alliance with the human kingdoms of Carmania and Aurania. Their responses put into motion events that bring about a change never expected..... ~A Story from the Land of Fairrin~||
The Plan Gone Awry
King Joshua of Carmania was walking arm and arm with Princess Amy, and was about to ask her to marry him, when her brother-in-law, Prince Regent Allen, stopped them. “Joshua? May I have a word with you, please?”
Joshua smiled ruefully at Amy, saying, “Of course, Allen.” He let go of Amy’s arm with reluctance. “I’ll talk to you later, Princess.”
Amy smiled back. “Of course, Your Highness.” She turned to Allen. “Don’t you dare hurt him, brother of mine,” she warned with a stern face before walking away.
Allen smiled and shook his head. “You are aware, of course, Josh, that you’ve made her fall in love with you.”
“Of course I am. That was my intent. Has been since she was about sixteen years old, though I do believe I didn’t have to work hard at it.” Josh watched as Amy disappeared around a corner of the hallway, then turned angrily back to Allen. “And I will have you know that you interrupted me at a very inopportune time. I hope this is important.”
Allen smiled. “Actually, it is. It’s about my brother, Derek.”
“Derek? Why is this important?” Josh looked confused.
“He’s been watching your daughter all evening long; quite closely, in fact. Given a chance, I do believe he’d quickly fall in love with her.”
Josh’s eyes widened. “Do you think so?” At Allen’s nod, he continued. “Then, this three-day festival didn’t go to waste after all!”
“That’s what I thought. For the past three days, I’ve been worried that we went to all this trouble for nothing, but tonight, I do believe that our efforts are to be rewarded.” Allen smiled. “It’s your turn now, you know.”
“Yes, I do know. At least the invitation was already given and accepted. I will announce my intentions for them day after tomorrow. That will give him time to see the castle before he runs off in a rush to escape our plans, if he does,” Josh laughed lightly as he spoke this last sentence.
Allen laughed a bit with him, but quickly sobered up. “You do understand what you are up against, right?”
“Yes. That, and more. I believe Jess is still against marriage.”
“You know, that’s your fault. Annette told me about her father’s warning to you. I agree. In Fairrin, it’s quite natural to teach females to fight; but, humans are a different story.”
“I know; I’ve heard it all before, from all of you. I stand firm, though. I believe a female should know how to defend herself, in case of a siege. As soon as Amy is with me, her training will begin. I will not have a weak, defenseless female in my castle any longer. I saw what happened in North Rumania, remember.”
Allen nodded sadly at the reminder of what had happened to the females of that land, when the Persians attacked twelve years before. He had not been there, but Annette’s father had, and had told him all about it on his return. All the females, young and old, raped and brutalized because they would not conform to their capturers wishes. “I understand in a way. However, I may never fully understand, because I was never there.” He walked over to a bench and sat down. “Now, let’s get back to the original subject. It’s a much happier one, anyways.”
Josh sat down beside Allen. “Yes, it is. I do know that Jess has noticed him. She mentioned to me that she believed Prince Derek had a fine figure, and must be a great warrior.”
“That’s a major compliment, coming from her!” Allen said in shock. “I never got a compliment from her like that.”
“I know. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll accept her fate, though.”
“I know. It would be wonderful if they would both just settle down with each other, and be happy in Fairrin.”
“Yes, it would.” Josh looked down at his hands. “I almost feel as though I’m breaking my vow to Ama, though.”
“Yes. I promised her I’d never let Jess know about her heritage.”
“But, you’re not! We decided it was best they never know that she was half-fairy. All we’re doing is finally uniting the three kingdoms, as they used to be, and should be once again. If Derek goes home with a human bride, maybe he can convince dragon-kind that you guys aren’t all that bad.”
Josh shook his head. “Allen, I don’t believe Sage will ever be convinced of that. Remember, you told me he was alive when the Auranian Prince was killed, and then I almost killed him.”
“I know that, Josh. However, Sage knew that Prince Luke was hated by even some humans, and also that what you almost did was in self defense. If he doesn’t forgive you, then he doesn’t have half the heart I thought he had.”
Josh shook his head. “Allen, I wouldn’t expect him to forgive me. If our positions had been reversed, I probably wouldn’t forgive him. I could have just knocked him down, or something, but I was thinking, ‘Wait ‘till I tell the others! I fought a real dragon, over a real lady! And won!’”
Allen smiled. “Yes, Amarine was a real lady, even if she was a commoner.”
Josh smiled, as well. “Well, Ama was raised to be a lady, whereas most commoners aren’t. It certainly helped that she knew how to be a lady. I was able to convince Mother and Father that she was one.” Josh shook his head again. “If those two will get over their hang-ups and comply with our wishes, Ama’s bloodline will be carried on in the Fairrinian Royal family, like it was meant to be.”
“Yes; but, they both have so many obstacles they’ve thrown in their own paths, it’ll take a miracle.”
“Let’s just pray for one major thing.”
“That Jess doesn’t catch wind of our plans and run away, like she always does when marriage comes up.”
Allen shook his head. “Agreed. We definitely don’t want that.”
Derek watched the young princess of Carmania making her way through the crowd towards him with curiosity. What did she want?
Jessica stopped before him and held out her hand with a smile, saying, “Hello, Prince Derek. I’ve been wanting to meet you, but Father and your brother wouldn’t ever introduce us. I’m Princess Jessica, of Carmania. What kingdom are you from? Allen never speaks of his home.”
Derek was shocked at this forward approach. What was she about, he wondered silently, as he accepted the proffered hand. “Um, I don’t believe you would have ever heard of it, so there is no use mentioning it.”
Jessica let go of his hand, pressed her lips together, and looked at him in anger. “Why is that? Is it because most girls aren’t educated? Well, I’ll have you know, I’m well educated! I know the names of all the major kingdoms and empires of the world, and most of the minor ones.”
Derek shook his head. “No, that’s not the reason. It’s because our kingdom is so little known that when mentioned, most people say, ‘No such place.’”
Jessica humphed. “I know of some places that many believe don’t exist. Such as Babylon. I know it exists, because Father has been there. However, many don’t believe there is a place with hanging gardens like that.”
Derek’s eyes widened. She was well informed. However, he couldn’t tell her of Fairrin. She’d laugh him in to the next year. There was no way he’d allow a beautiful girl do that. Then, he noticed her eyes with shock. They were violet! “You have very unusual eyes, princess.”
Jessica cocked her head in confusion. “My eyes?”
“Yes. They’re violet. That’s very unusual.”
Jessica gave a half smile. “Not that unusual. My mother’s eyes were violet, and so are yours and Allen’s.”
Derek stared at her. Her mother’s eyes had been violet? What was going on?
“By the way: you’re not going to change the subject that easily. I’ll consent, though. You don’t have to tell me where you’re from. You do have to tell me what your battle skills are, though.”
Derek’s eyes widened in disbelief. “Battle skills?”
“Yes, battle skills. You do have some, don’t you? Or, are you from one of those kingdoms that allow the princes to be lazy and indolent?”
Derek was saved from answering by his brother’s appearance. “Ah, Derek, there you are! I’ve been searching everywhere for you. Come on, I want to introduce you to a few more people.” Allen took Derek’s arm and led him away from the now angry princess. As soon as they were out of hearing, Allen whispered, “And to save you from the Princess Jessica inquisition. I should warn you - King Joshua gave her the training a knight receives, and she excelled in all areas. Especially sword-fighting and archery. She’s better than some of his best knights, even. When I first met her, she gave me what I learned is called the Inquisition. She quizzes you on all areas of battle skills, and your abilities in each area. Then she goes on to world knowledge, your history & homeland, and politics. She’s more informed than some human kings are.”
“Really?” Derek looked thoughtfully back at the princess, who was still glaring angrily at them. “Well, she started me out on my history and homeland.”
Allen laughed outright at that. “I always frustrate her on that subject, because I won’t speak of Fairrin with her, no matter how many tricks she tries; and, she is forever trying to wheedle it all out of me. She even tried to charm it out of me once, before Annette and I were married.”
Derek started at that. “But, she’d have just been a little child then!”
Allen nodded. “I know. She’s exceptional. You’ll get to know her better at Joshua’s castle, during your stay there, and probably be put through the whole inquisition, so be ready.”
Derek nodded. “Thanks for the warning.” He looked back again at her, wondering once again how she wound up with violet eyes and a fairy’s height. Then, he forgot all about it as he was introduced to many more of his brother’s loyal noblemen and women.
The next morning, King Joshua, Princess Jessica, Prince Derek, and the Carmanian entourage left for Alexon. Derek was riding to the fore with Joshua, and Jessica seemed to be everywhere but at her place behind her father and Derek.
“Your daughter is very active, Sire.” Derek commented as the subject of his comment galloped past them on her white mare, and was soon out of sight over the hill.
Josh smiled ruefully. “Yes, that she is. It is a bane to my existence, in fact. She either scares off all her suitors with her inquisitive mind and constant activity, or rejects them outright. She wants to run wild, and feels that marriage will keep her from her pleasures in riding, sporting, and the joust. I fear I will never marry her off.”
Derek shook his head sadly. “That’s a shame. She’s a beautiful girl, and would make someone a wonderful wife, I’m sure.”
Joshua looked at Derek thoughtfully. “I believe so, as well. She has her mother’s spirit, and her mother was a wonderful wife, though she wasn’t one for long.”
Derek didn’t notice the scrutiny he was being given, and answered, “If I weren’t already promised through parental arrangement, I would be sorely tempted to ask for her myself. However, that can’t be.”
Joshua smiled. “Yes, Allen told me about that. Her name’s Fauna, right?”
Derek nodded. “Yes, and she’s beautiful. Not nearly as beautiful as your daughter, but I’d say she was a close second.” Derek then shook his head. “But, she doesn’t have half the mind of Princess Jessica. And, I don’t think she and I will ever love each other. If our parents had know this would happen, I’m sure they wouldn’t have made the arrangements they did. They are all for love in marriage.”
Josh nodded. “So am I. Do your families know that you and this girl don’t love each other?”
Derek shook his head. “No, they don’t. We’re scared to say anything. My parents and her father want this so much. His sister was to marry my father by prior arrangement, but was stolen away by another prince when she was a child. Her guard was almost killed by the abductor. They’re sure that my marrying his daughter will make all right again.”
Josh swallowed at the reminder of his part in all that had happened. “I have a suggestion, Prince Derek. Take my daughter as a bride with you to your home.”
Derek started and stared at Joshua. “What!? You must be joking!”
Josh smiled. “No, I’m not. It will break your prior arrangements, which are not as binding as a betrothal. Then, you can both be happy.” Josh frowned. “That is, of course, if Jess doesn’t refuse you. Which she might do. She admires you already, though, so I have a feeling it might be different this time. I don’t think she’ll shake her head and say, ‘No, Father, I won’t marry him. I’d rather be a knight, and never marry,’ like she usually does.”
Derek cursed himself inwardly. ‘I never should have stated my mind like I did. Now I’m stuck! I hope she says no to the arrangement. I pray she doesn’t say yes. I don’t want a human wife!’ “Sounds like a wonderful arrangement, Sire. When will you venture to propose it to your daughter?”
“We will do it tomorrow morning. That will give you a chance to see the castle, like I invited you to do, before any eruptions take place, if they do.”
Derek smiled, but it was a sad one. “Of course, Sire. Tomorrow, then.”
Jessica never got a chance to finish her conversation of the night before with Prince Derek after they returned to the castle. Then, early the next morning, she was summoned to the throne room. When she walked in, she saw her father and Prince Derek standing at the throne, talking in low voices. ‘Oh, no,’ she thought, ‘not again! I thought he’d be different, but he’s not! He’s just like the rest - he thinks women are for nothing but marriage and children!’ When she’d stood there for a minute or so without being noticed, she cleared her throat.
The two at the throne looked at her, and then her father smiled. “Jess, there you are! Please, come here.”
Jessica walked forward with heavy steps. “Did you need something, Father?”
Josh looked at Derek, then sat down with a smile. “I know you admired Derek, Jess, so this should make you happy.” His smile widened at her blush and mumbled, “Father!” “Derek has asked for your hand in marriage, and I have given him permission to...” The sentence never was finished, and Josh realized the blush was more because of anger than embarrassment, as Jessica stomped her foot and screamed out:
“I won’t Father, and that’s final!”
Josh watched his daughter storm from the throne room, then looked at Derek, standing beside him with an astonished look on his face.
“I’m sorry, Prince Derek, I was hoping...”
“Do not apologize, your Highness, there is no need,” Derek said, bowing. “You told me how it might be. I wasn’t expecting,” ‘or hoping for,’ “less. I’ll take my leave of you now.”
As he walked out the door, Derek heard Josh mutter to himself: “I just hope she doesn’t try to run away again, like she did last time.”
Jessica ran straight to her room after her outburst in the throne room and began to pack a small saddlebag. “I’m going to run away again,” she said to the room at large. “This is the last straw: Father’s thinking that, just because I admire him, I’d think of marrying Prince Derek. I will not marry anyone! Especially not since I’ve now seen the only handsome man alive. If Father hadn’t said what he’d said, I might have been happy with Prince Derek! Instead, he had to make assumptions and embarrass me in front of the Prince!” She stuffed the last article she was going to take with her into the bag and shouldered it. “I’m leaving for good this time. I won’t let Father or anyone else find me like I did last time!”
She pushed the door open and ran straight into Prince Derek. “Oh!” Jessica was startled to find the Prince outside her room and herself in his arms. ‘I wonder if he heard me,’ she thought, trying to ignore the wonderful tingling sensation being in his arms gave her.
“Good evening, Princess.” The Prince stepped back, bowed, and walked away.
Jessica watched him go, then shrugged and headed for her secret way out of the castle. She waited until she heard no sound in the stables, then went in and saddled Wildfire. Then Jess gave her mare free rein, and later found herself in a land of legend -- Fairrin.
Allen, Annette, and Amy found Joshua pacing his throne-room in frustration.
Amy approached him slowly. “Sire?”
Joshua whirled at the sound of Amy’s voice, then quickly stepped forward and folded his arms around her. “Oh, Amy, I just can’t believe this. It’s been over a week! She’s never stayed in hiding this long!” He buried his face in her hair. “I’m so worried.”
Amy hugged him back. “I know you are.” Then she tried to pull away. “However, Allen and Annette are here. They want to talk to you.”
Joshua quickly let go of Amy and turned to see the other two in the doorway. “I’m sorry, Allen, Annette, I didn’t see you there. Please come in.”
Allen walked up to Joshua. “Josh, I am offering my services in searching for Jessica. This is my fault, as well. Besides that, I know something that you don’t. Jessica’s mare, Wildfire, was from Fairrin.”
“Fairrin!?” Josh looked at Allen in horror. “How can you be sure of that?”
“I would recognize a Fairrinian mount anywhere, with or without wings or horn. Wildfire’s eyes were violet, and she was pure white, not grey-skinned like our white horses are. I’ve already sent one of my Fairrinian-born men to Fairrin, to make inquiries. We should hear more in a day or so.”
Josh nodded. “Thank you, Allen. I was wondering about checking there, but too scared to send any of my people, or go my self.”
Amy took Josh’s hand in her own. “Allen and Annette are going straight home, to await the runners return, but I’ll stay here with you. Since we are betrothed now, it won’t be quite as improper.”
Annette started, and stared at her twin sister. “Betrothed?”
Josh nodded. “I asked her to marry me after the dance, and she accepted my proposal.”
Allen nodded, then smiled wickedly. “I’ll bet that’s what I interrupted, wasn’t it?”
Josh nodded. “You’d better go wait for that runner. We’ll be impatiently waiting for the word.”
Allen nodded his assent, and he and Annette took there leave of Josh and Amy.
One more week brought the sad news to Aurania.
Allen sat down wearily. “Sage, what have you done?”
Annette took his hands gently. “It’s not for you to worry about, Allen.”
“You don’t understand, Anne!” Allen shook off her hands. “If I hadn’t plotted to get Derek and her together, she’d have never run off!”
“She didn’t necessarily have to go to Fairrin, you know. She could have gone to the Uncharted Territories, or even come here to be with Amy. You know how much she adores Amy.”
“Yes, I know. She could have done all that. But, you forget: I know where Wildfire came from. You know Jessica treated that mare as if Wildfire could understand her every word. For all we know, Jessica could have told Wildfire to go anywhere. Where would you go, if you hadn’t been home since you were a baby?”
Anne looked down. “Home, I guess.”
Allen looked back at his guard. “You are positive that the Princess’ belongings were found in Sage’s cave.”
“Yes, Sire. It was the first cave I came to on the west side of the Forbidden Woods.”
“That’s Sage’s cave, all right.” Allen shook his head sadly. “Sage would have probably killed her in an instant, her being a human. He hates humans.” He looked at the guard. “Take these things to Carmania, Devon, and hand them over to Sir Eric. Whatever you do, though, do not tell him that the dragon’s name was Sage. Joshua and Sage have a bad history with each other.”
King Joshua paced his throne room, unable to sleep. “She’s never stayed away this long before, Amy! She always lets us find her before now.”
Princess Amy watched her betrothed with worry. If he didn’t stop this constant worrying soon, he’d make himself sick. “I don’t know what to say, Josh. You know what I told you: she had decided that she never wanted to marry. Maybe she’s just staying away a little longer...” the thought was never finished as Eric burst into the throne-room.
“Your Highness! Look at this!” As Eric came to a halt before the throne, Josh and Amy saw that he held silk cloak and a hand-woven bridle in his hands. Amy gasped: she knew that bridle! She had helped Jess make it for Wildfire a couple of years back. But, where were Wildfire and Jess?
Josh gently took the bridle out of Eric’s hands. It was brittle, as if the leather had been out in the weather too long un-curried. As he stared at it, a lone tear began to trickle down his cheek: he, too, recognized the bridle. “Where did you find it?”
“That’s not a happy story, Sire. One of Prince Regent Allen’s men found it in a cave miles from here.”
“Where?” Josh said, more strongly.
Eric gulped. “Fairrin, Sire.”
Josh jumped up out of his seat. “FAIRRIN?!”
Amy stared at Eric. “Are you sure?”
“The Prince Regent’s man is positive. Also, it was a dragon’s cave.”
Amy’s hand went to her mouth. “A dragon?”
Josh bowed his head and sat down hard. “A dragon got my little girl.”
“That’s what is believed, Sire.” Eric put the pieces he had brought down. “The rest of her stuff is outside, as well as Wildfire’s saddle. The saddle is nearly destroyed, as if it was removed by getting torn off, and her sword and dagger are missing. I am sorry, Your Majesty.” Eric bowed out of the throne-room.
Amy went to Josh and put her arms around him. “I’m so sorry, Josh.”
Josh wrapped her in his arms as the tears rolled down his cheeks. “My little baby is dead,” he whispered to himself. “Jessica is dead.” Amy just held Josh as he cried his eyes dry.
Finally, Josh gently put Amy away from him. “I have to get over this trial and get on with life. I am to be married soon, and still have a kingdom to run: everything is not going to come to a halt because Jessica is dead.”
Amy took Josh’s hand. “The wedding can wait, Josh.”
Josh squeezed Amy’s hand and smiled sadly. “It could if I were not getting so old. Soon I will be unable to produce another heir. I need to start as soon as possible. Besides that, I love you. I need you to help me cope with this grief.”
Tears filled Amy’s eyes at his words: it was the first time Josh had told her that he loved her.
Two months later, the wedding went on as scheduled, and Amy married her first and only love after God. Josh was so engrossed with his new wife, whom he loved dearly, that he never noticed a certain woman who attended: a woman who bore an uncanny resemblance to his first wife, Amarine, and his daughter, Jessica.
The woman, who’s name was Dawn, watched the marriage with happiness. The King and his bride were so in love with each other, they didn’t notice when she left the feast early. Before she left, however, she over heard some snatches of gossip.
“You’d have thought that King Joshua would have waited for a few extra months, what with the death of his daughter.”
The other man shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t. He needs Princess - excuse me, Queen - Amy to help him through this grief. He’s happier when she’s about, if you haven’t noticed.”
“Oh, I notice a lot: such as how His Majesty hasn’t even noticed Sir Elias’ widow, Dawn. Have you noticed how much she resembles the old Queen, Amarine, and his own daughter, Princess Jessica?”
“Yes, I have noticed, but King Joshua is so in love with Queen Amy, why would he care to notice that? Those two are dead, Alan, and the King tries not to live in the past.” Dawn didn’t listen to any more, but went home contemplating all that she had heard.
Exactly nine months later, Amy gave Josh a wonderful gift: twins. The boy was named Darian and the girl was named Jessica Rose, in honor of her dead sister.
|5. Joshua's Older Brother||AErth - another dimension|
|4. Tom and Em||1. In the Beginning|
|NG03 - The Decision is Made|