|Duty and Love
Author: moony2 PM
Torn between duty and love, Princess Kallista must make a choice between two men. The one her family wants and the one her heart wants.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,736 - Reviews: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 04-18-10 - Published: 04-16-10 - id: 2797570
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Duty and Love
There was a misty haze over Brennus the day the new king was crowned. Though the day was bleak the youngest princess of Melchor, Kallista was happy and bright. Today her brother would be king. Nothing could make her happier. She had never known her father well. She was the least favored of four sisters, and thus shunned from the court and her father. Queen Zofra had died giving birth to Kallista and the king blamed her for the loss of his beloved.
Crown Prince Alger, sixteen at the time however, adored his baby sister. He found her blond wispy hair a pleasant change from his other dark haired sisters. And when it was for sure her eyes would be green, like his, he decided she would be his if his father would not claim her. So when Kallista was a child and a storm would jerk her awake at night she would find her way to her big brother's room. She had pleasant memories of being carried on Alger's shoulders and being tickled until she couldn't breathe. Kallista was seven when Alger was made to marry a wealthy lord's daughter. Kallista was sure she would loose her dear brother, but princess Cadia adopted Kallista as her darling baby sister the moment she saw her hiding behind her big brother's leg.
In all aspects Alger and Cadia were more Kallista's parents then the king had ever been, so when she was told of his death she felt none of the pain her sisters did, though they had been married and moved away with their lordly husbands. Kallista, now seventeen, stood next to the archduke and his wife while the bishop placed the royal crown on Alger's head. The shimmering gold played wonderfully off of his mahogany locks and the emeralds embedded in the midpoint of each point caught his eyes beautifully. He was a tall man, with broad shoulders. He was stout, and it was evident he never missed a meal, but it only added to his nobility. His beard, the same russet color as his hair, was tied in a braid down his chest, a popular style in Melchor. His lovely Queen sat on her thrown beside him. Her auburn hair pulled back in a very elaborate braid. Her crown lay so loosely on top of her head, Kallista was sure if she moved too quickly it would fall off. The crown was a dainty match to the crown now resting on her brother's head. The emeralds did not have the same effect on Cadia's eyes, however.
The bishop stepped aside and Alger stood before his people, both his hand raised high in the air. The people began to cheer and shout; Kallista one of the loudest. They were pleased to have a ruler with peaceful intentions. They were tired of the wars and attempts to conquer other nations that his predecessor had found so necessary. He motioned for the crowd to quiet.
"Melchorians, today is the first day of peace for our country. I know many of you have wished for this very thing, and I intend on making it my mission as ruler to ensure our men and sons remain here to cultivate Melchor and bring us to a prosperity far beyond any have ever imagined!" Again the crowd cheered.
Alger looked at the people before him, pleased that they were as eager for peace as he was. But he couldn't help turning his eyes upon his little sister, her golden hair standing out dramatically against the black and brown of his subjects. Her wide toothy smile making him chuck despite himself. He loved her as dearly as if she had been his own daughter and the thought of what he had to do made his stomach turn. His face fell and as it did, Kallista's did as well. She knew something was wrong immediately. She looked over at the queen, but she seemed to show no signs of distress, staring at her husband in loving adoration.
The inauguration was followed by a large feast, which kept Kallista far away from her brother. She sat farther down the table, allowing the dukes and lords a chance to grunt and hoot with their new king. Kallista found she couldn't keep up any kind of appetite knowing something was wrong with her brother. She hated the thought that he might be upset with her somehow. She stood midway through the feast and left silently to her room. None of the guest noticed her leave. Mostly because it was rare for her to be seen in the court. Had Alger and Cadia not been so busy entertaining, they would have realized Kallista had gone.
Kallista threw herself on her bed, her long golden hair falling around her. She had pulled it out of the tight, uncomfortable braid on her way to her room. Shadowsplats meowed angrily at his bed being shaken underneath him. He stood and stretched his long front legs out, spreading his paws. Kallista grabbed him and plopped him down on her chest. He was a massive gray striped cat with a black belly. He allowed Kallista to roll him on his side and began to purr as she scratched his chest automatically.
'Why did he look at me like that?' Kallista thought. 'What a day to make such a face. I was so happy and he had to ruin it for me!' she leaned up and pushed Shadowsplats aside. Frustrated, the feline leaped off the bed and began grooming himself on the rug. Kallista rolled over onto her stomach and crossed her arms, resting her chin on them.
"I just don't understand!" she whispered. She turned her head to a more comfortable position on her arms and soon fell asleep. She woke up at a gentle knock on her door. She leaned up, but found it a little more difficult then usual because Shadowsplats had made her back his current bed. He again fell off of her, and was again annoyed, but was quick to make himself comfortable on the other side of the bed.
"Come in!" Kallista called. The door opened and both Cadia and Alger strode into her room. Kallista pushed herself up into a sitting position on the side of her bed. Shadowsplats quickly darted under the bed.
"You left the celebration early," Cadia said. "We wanted to make sure you are well."
"I am," Kallista replied. "I just got tired is all."
"The girl who can stay up for days just to finish her embroidery?" Alger teased. "I think it was something more the tiredness."
Kallista sighed. He could always tell when she was lying. "It was the look you gave me," she said. "At the crowning."
"Ah," Alger nodded. "That. I'm sorry it ruined your evening. That was not my intention, and I had not planed on tell you why I looked like that at so soon, but it seems you will not be able to be happy until you know." He took a deep breath before continuing. "As you know, it is custom for the king to choose the husbands for the princesses, well I have chosen your husband."
"You want to get rid of me!" Kallista cried. Alger had always joked that the king had married her sisters off so young because he found them annoying, but Kallista had never realized he was merely teasing.
"No!" Cadia cried. "We'd never want that!"
Alger tried to explain, "I had intended on finding you a husband here in Brennus, but I found no man worthy of you, so I looked throughout all of Melchor, and still no man had merit enough. As you know Zerton plans to declare war on the country to the North, Naldon. In the past we were unwavering allies to Zerton, but I don't plan to help them in this battle. Naldon is a very powerful country and I don't want to see their wraith fall on our people. That is why I'm sending you there. The crown prince has no bride and it will ensure our alignment with them."
"But Alger!" Kallista cried. "I can't be so far away from you!"
"We must do what is best for Melchior now, Kallista, and Prince Roland is a very good man. He is the only man I've met who I can consider giving you up to." Kallista hung her head, tears welling up in her eyes. She knew Alger did not make decisions lightly and once he decided on something he never wavered.
"I understand," she whispered. Alger stepped forward and took his sister in a loving embrace. She wept on his chest.
"There is no one, save Cadia, who I love more," he said. "And no one who could be a better queen to any kingdom."
* * * *
"There is no way I'm marring a princess from that barbarous nation," Roland said firmly to his father. He sat across from his father in the war room. The letter sent by King Alger sat on the table between them. "I've seen those women. They are crude and unladylike. They gave no thought to showing vulgar intentions to any man near them."
"You know I have no intention of forcing you to," King Ulric said and folded his hands together at his chin as his elbows rested on the table. He was once a tall and regal man, but time had turned most of his hair grey and his brown eyes were dull. He had a deteriorating disease and knew his time was very limited. His arms, which at one time where large and led armies into battle, were now shriveled and he could barely lift a sword. He needed a cane to walk and whenever possible he stayed in one spot for most the day. As he stared across at his eldest son, he found a near mirror image of himself when he was young, except Roland's hair was jet black, where his had been a mousy brown in his youth. Roland had Ulric's brown eyes and serious disposition.
"I didn't think I needed to remind you that it was I who instated the law that all in Naldon have the right to choose their partners and you, my son, are not excluded."
"Then what do you plan to do when she arrives? They've already sent her," Roland said, his tone returning to its calm monotone.
"The letter says that Alger sends us his sister to wed the prince. He fails to state which prince," Ulric said calmly. "You know I wish to have a Naldonian woman as queen after I die, but we cannot insult Melchor when it is obvious they desire peace."
"You intend on Odin marrying her then?" Roland said.
"It is Odin's choice of course, but he too has his royal duties," Ulric smiled slyly. Roland smiled back and leaned back in his seat, glad to be freed of such a dreadful obligation.
* * * *
Odin had been practicing his archery atop his favorite mare when a servant sent word his father required his presents. He was surprised. Never had his father called for him. Roland had always been Ulric's favorite and the king made no effort to hide his favoritism. Odin had tried everything when he was a teenager to get his father's attention. He won championship after championship in archery, horsemanship, swordplay, and hand to hand combat, but he still received no recognition from his father. Had it not been for Odin's mother, Queen Cordella, Odin would have left the royal family and set out on the adventures he dreamed of as a boy.
Cordella favored Odin to her older son. She had always found Odin's light hearted and gentle manner more appealing than Roland's stoic nature. Roland was a spitting image of his father. His hair was black and wavy. His eyes were dark brown. The slightly hawkish nose and high cheekbones of the royal family endeared him all the more to his father. He was naturally lean, though not very athletic. He had many admirers who were just as enamored with his looks as his crown.
Odin was taller than his brother with large bright grey eyes and thick, dark eyelashes and straight hair. He shared the royal nose (though his nose twisted to the right due to multiple breaks) and cheekbones as well as his lean build, but because of Odin's extensive training, he was far more muscular. His charming and easy personality along with his wild air made him the beloved prince of Naldon's middle and lower classes.
He was also Cordella darling miracle baby. She had Roland not ten months after her marriage to Ulric, but after him she lost four children; two at birth, one while still in infancy and the last to an illness as a toddler. She had given up all hope of having a second child when she found herself pregnant a month after loosing the toddler. In truth it was her desire to see Odin live that built her love for him. He was a strong baby from the time he was born, and when he could firmly grasp, he always had to swing something around. She felt Ulric's dismissal of Odin as strongly as Odin himself, and begged Ulric to show some favor on his younger son, but he did not see himself in Odin as he did in Roland and Roland would be king. Ulric found no use in a second son, and therefore Odin wasn't worth his time.
Odin gave up his mare to a servant to take back to the stables. He pushed his dark black hair off his forehead and began removing his archery gloves as he made his way into the castle. Ulric was in the war room as usual. The man never left it except to sleep it seemed, not that Odin really cared. It made it that much easier to avoid his father anyway.
When he entered the room he was not at all surprised to fine Roland sitting with Ulric.
"You called for me, your majesty?" Odin said. He stopped calling Ulric father years ago.
"Yes," Ulric said. "Come and have a seat." After Odin had sat in the chair Ulric had motioned to next to Roland, he waited for Ulric to explain what had been so important to interrupt his practice. Odin made no attempt to hide his aggravation with his lips turned down and his brows low, though his grey eyes did not have as effective of a glare as Ulric's dark eyes.
"I'm sure you are curious why I have called you here," Ulric said. When Odin made no reply, he continued. "It seems your mother's desire to have another child has proven worthwhile after all. You are needed to correct a little political problem."
"I'm glad to know my life has some meaning after all," Odin said in a sarcastic tone.
"Don't use that tone with father!" Roland growled. Ulric raised his hand to silence Roland. Odin smirked at Roland. He was not at all threatened by his older brother. He wished the man would just try to hit him. It would be the invitation Odin had been waiting for to give Roland the beating he deserved.
" Melchior is sending us a peace offering, but the offering is a little unorthodox, at least by our customs. King Alger is sending one of his sisters to wed our prince," Ulric explained.
"Great," Odin said. "Don't tell me you want me to be the best man."
"I don't think that will be necessary, considering you will be the groom," Ulric said triumphantly.
"That's not possible!" Odin yelled and stood. He banged his fists on the table. "The law, your law, says no one can be forced to marry, not even by the king."
"I know my own laws, boy," Ulric said, unaffected by Odin's outburst. "I expected you to be a little more patriotic. Marriage will not bind you from any pleasures you enjoy now."
"I'm sorry, but I take vows a little more seriously than you do. Everyone in this castle knows how unfaithful you've been to mother."
"Hold your tongue!" Ulric yelled, wishing he was strong enough to slap the man across from him. He did not expect Odin to be so rebellious. He thought Odin would jump at the opportunity to try to gain his favor, apparently Odin had replaced his longing with bitterness. A different approach would be necessary. "I am a fair man. I will give you time to think on the matter, but in the meantime, when the princess arrives you will be personally responsible for keeping her entertained. There is no law against that." Odin's teeth were grinding. He really hated that man, but he was still king and duty was duty.
"Yes, your majesty," he mumbled and bowed slightly before storming out of the room, very aware of the grin plastered on Roland's face.