Summary: When he finds out that his father has died, Valdemar must marry soon or be married off. He must also find his family's signet ring, or the mysterious Thorns will snatch his throne. Through deceit and lies, he must find a bride and ring in a week.

Author's Note: I don't know how far I'll take this story. It's just an idea that popped into my head, so I'll see long it will write! I hope you like it, because I don't really like this chapter. But it gets better 8]

Blood and Roses
Chapter One: The King is Dead

An extensive line of creatures filled the pathway, all respectfully silent. Red banners flapped in the slight breeze, matching the vermilion wore by all the creatures filling the road.

A fifteen-year-old young man came out of the castle before them. His eyes held the clarity and tint of a lake. Soft russet curls covered his head, ending at the nape of his neck. He had the infallible, fair skin of an elf. His subjects fondly called him a "pretty boy."

But for his looks, this man was no more effeminate than any other. In fact, he was the most skilled fighter in the country of Lasearen. The last creature that could compare with him had lived five generations ago, an ancestor of this boy.

This was the young Valdemar, crown prince of Lasearen, called Demar by those that knew him best.

Everybody dropped to his or her knees, head bowed.

"Good day," Demar said, unable to keep the curiosity and slight apprehension from his voice.

Red clothing and banners signaled death. It was the funeral color. But who had died?

"What is all this, General Cathaoir?" questioned, addressing the evident leader of the group.

"The war is over," Cathaoir said somberly. He paused, evidently unwilling to say anymore.

"Should that not be celebrated?" Demar wanted to know.

Cathaoir sighed. "We have lost our king - your father."

"What?" Demar asked stupidly. The words did not register.

"The king is dead," he repeated, bowing his head.

Demar kept staring at him. What was that supposed to mean? King Huldrych was fine. This funeral march was probably planned by the king. He was probably going to pop out of that casket to startle and overjoy Demar. High Chancellor Raedwulf came up behind Demar.

"Do you know what that means?" he inquired softly.

Demar didn't reply. His father was dead. The only remaining family the prince had was dead. Actually that wasn't completely true, but his father was dead, damn it!

Demar felt tears spring to his eyes. Never again would his father laugh that deep laugh or sing in his husky voice. He was gone. Gone forever.

"You are now king," Raedwulf said, answering his own question.

The prince stared at the High Chancellor, horrified. This was too much to bear. This day was happening so quickly! So much bad news at once!

"Long live, Future King Valdemar!" the creatures chanted in unison, bowing.

A sickness filled the pit of Demar's stomach. He turned and practically fled.

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