Author's Note: This is a short story by RKP Hunt, it will not be updated expect to correct errors. Please enjoy this journey with a young girl who has to learn to become a woman quickly.
The day arrived so quickly; it seemed it was not much past the day three years ago when she was betrothed to the King of Nardaria. As she stepped into her carriage; she looked back briefly at the large gray stone castle she had called home for sixteen years. Most importantly she looked at her mother, who stood on the steps weeping, knowing she would never again see her beloved daughter. Her brother, Nandin, held his mother to him with his right arm and gave a short wave to his sister. He would someday become king, he knew all to well that her wedding the king would settle the urges to war with them over the silly gold mine, that was spilt between the two countries. Though he knew how important it was, he still told her the night before he would miss her, and all that she was to him.
The princess took a deep breath, still standing in front of her carriage. She even wore her wedding dress, satin cloth dripping down her legs and arms, showing a slight bust. Her veil was held back by four pink roses that were made from silk, and more roses were sown into her thin gold rope belt that wrapped around her waist. This outfit told all that she would be a queen by sun down. Taking one last breath, and one more look at her home and family, she turned stepping into the carriage, never to set foot in Carmedus again.
Inside sat a chancellor to the king which she had come to know as Uden. He arrived two days earlier to make sure that the princess would be ready to leave on her sixteenth birthday. He was an older man, probably his late fourties. He had a short beard that at once had been completely dark brown, but now had the sprinkles of age cast throughout it. As for the hair on his head, there was none. Most of the time he wore a long light blue cloak and hood, it seemed strange to her. But when she asked about it, he told her that all royalty covered their heads in public.
She didn't like him, the first words that came from his mouth when he saw her, insulted her appearance. He told her father that her face was to thin, and her cheek bones to high, but what angered her the most was when he insulted her hair; her thick, long golden waves that she had cherished her whole life. It seemed he liked nothing about her, not her large blue eyes to her perfectly shaped lips, he also decided she would have to gain weight to please the king. After the hair offense she would have nothing to do with him or his ideas of beautification.
The evening before had been so long, knowing it would be her last night in her own bed. Her mother slept in the room with her, holding each other in their arms and crying. The King of Nardaria was not known for his generosity, instead for his filled dungeon and his belief that no bad deed should go unpunished or be shown any mercy. Any crime in the city was punishable by death. A bread thief was the same as a multi-murderer in his eyes. This all worried her mother as to how kind of a husband he would be.
Morning slipped into late afternoon and the city of Nardaria appeared over the horizon. As they past through the farmlands, she took notice to the servants who worked the fields. Happiness was not a known emotion here, she could see it as they worked fearfully for their master. Once inside the city, it was found to be no different. The streets were nearly empty, and everything was as quiet as death. This was an image of things to come as she was sure that the castle life would not differ from this.
The carriage turned going through another gate into the city, there she saw a white stone church. This would be the end of her life as a princess, it would be her last steps. When the carriage came to a stop, her muscles froze up on her for a moment. She hadn't been afraid until then, now it was time to look upon the face of the man she would have to wed. She took another deep breath, and as the door open she stepped out.
"Everyone awaits you inside." the servant who opened her door spoke, he kept his head lowered to not look directly at her.
Uden reached to her and pulled the veil over her face, "Let's not keep the king waiting any longer." He said and offered his arm to her.
Turning completely around she charged for the building, it was time to get this over with. The double doors were open when she reached the final stone step. Every eye from every pew turned to look upon their new queen. Again a deep breath, then she looked past everyone to the two men who stood at the front, one was the priest and the other the king.
Uden caught up with her and took her arm walking her slowly down the isle. The thought of stopping dead in her tracks and refusing to move crossed her mind, and left as soon as it came.
She could not make out the face of the king until she was halfway down the isle. She had been told he was older by eight years. His facial features were sharp and masculine, and his chin was shaven. He looked as frightening as she thought he would be, with black hair and dark scornful eyes.
Finally what seemed to be an eternity, they reached the front. The king took her hand from Uden, and the chancellor walked away. She missed him now, standing alone with the strange man. Her desire for wanting a familiar face vanished as they turned the priest, her body began to shake in fear. Crying, and calling out for her mother was the urge she felt, but she held back, she had to be strong like her brother had told her.
The king felt her hand shaking on his arm and placed his other hand over her own, she looked up at him and he gave a short grin. His face turned to the priest and gave a nod.
The priest began, "We gather here today to join King Antavas of Nardaria to Princess Vanora of Carmedus before the eyes of God. With this union the two countries that have been torn by a coming war will be rejoined in peace and…"
She realized then that there was no getting this over, after she wed him, she could never return home. There would be no returning to normal for her, it was all about to change forever.
While the priest spoke her mind wandered over the farms, past the mountains to the city she called home. She wondered what her mother was doing at that moment, knowing her she would be speaking with a priest herself. Trying to find a reason as to why her baby had to be sent away. Though she was a good woman with a kind heart, she was selfish when it came to her daughter. Her entire life she dreamed of having a baby girl, and now she had to watch her dream being swept away and given to another.
She remembered watching her brother throwing a fit in the garden the day the chancellor arrived. Nothing was said of King Antavas that was kind to his image, which was why he hadn't been able to find a queen. He had become king at fourteen years old and began his search for a wife at seventeen. By that time his reputation had exceeded him, and no king was willing to give away their daughters to certain death or abuse. Except her own father, he had given her away for half of a gold mine, that was how much her life was worth.
The large muscular hand of the king turned her and pulled her veil up, drawing her thoughts back to the church. He gingerly kissed her lips, but she did not return the gesture. His head returned to tower over her own, the kind look that had been on his face vanished. It was replaced by his normal scorn, she had made him angry.
"May I know present the new queen of Nardaria, her majesty Vanora."
Antavas's hand shot up and four servant girls rushed to the front of the room to haul their new queen away. They quickly packed her into a carriage and headed for the castle. She never even got a chance to speak with him.
Shoving her out of the carriage they raced down the halls to her new room. Looking around the castle apparently was out of the question. When they arrived in the large room, the women began doing tasks. One unpacked the belongings she had brought with her, another prepared her bed, while the final two brushed her hair and tried to find clothing for her to sleep in.
The room was decorated in pinks, thin pink see through silk hung around her bed from the canopy. A basket of pink chrysanthemums laid on a small table next to the bed. Behind her was a bathing tub that had the same thin pink silk surrounding it as well. Her new room was strangely without the feeling that a man would be living in it with her.
"What is going on?" She asked, she felt uncomfortable that no one would look at her face.
"The king told us if you did not please him, that you would not be invited to the feast after the wedding. We are to prepare you for bed, and then arrange for activities for you tomorrow." The dark haired girl who brushed her hair told her.
"When can I speak with him?"
"I do not know, your highness, those are all the instructions we received."
"Can I at least have some bread? It was a long trip and I haven't eaten since this morning." She turned to look at the girl's face, but the girl quickly lowered her head more.
"I am sorry, the king told us that you would not be eating."
"I see." She said unhappily.
Moments later she found herself laying between the satin sheets, the events of the day ran through her mind. She held back tears, replaying her brother's words to be strong in her head, until her belly rumbled. Tears slowly dripped down her face into her pillow. Would he starve her every time she made him upset? She was scared and hungry, she thought she might die from it. She didn't know what made him upset. Before she thought of it any longer she closed her eyes, and decided to dream where none of this would be happening.
She awoke to the feeling of her feet being shaked gently, looking down she saw the dark haired servant girl. The sun was barely peering over the horizon, so she wondered what she could possibly want.
"We must prepare you for breakfast, the king requests a private meal with you."
All she figured out from that was that she needed to get up, so she tossed the blankets over her head.
"My queen, please. He will not take lightly to you rejecting his inventation." Still she hid under her sheets, "I will be punished if I don't bring you, please."
Vanora stood up and allowed herself to be dressed in a red dress with gold trim. They braided her hair then tied it like a crown around her head, finally her real crown was placed on top. The girls rushed her quickly to the dinning hall, where they left her alone at the table.
A loud yawn came from her and she checked the room once more for any signs of the king's entrance. A servant with a basket full of gardenias entered the room and placed them on the table in front of her.
"King Antavas asked me to give these to you, and tell you that he will be here shortly."
Shortly turned out to be an hour, and when he arrived he gave no apology. Instead he sat down and ordered food to be brought to them. He took the chair at the very end of the long table, furthest from her. When the servants brought the food, one of them moved the gardenias to the side. Antavas then noticed the basket of flowers.
"Throw those things away, she doesn't need any flowers. Who gave those to her?" He snapped.
The young servant boy stepped forward, "I did, milord. You asked me to bring her a gift."
"Don't ever bring flowers to her again." he said then filled his mouth full of food.
Briefly she brushed the white petal of the gardenia before it was whisked away from the table. A plate full of boiled potatoes and what looked to be meat from a pig was placed in front of her. Slowly she ate the food from her plate with her fingers, occasionally looking up at the king. He didn't speak to her or even look at her, she had so many questions but it looked like she would just have to discover the answers for herself.
The silence in the room was almost to loud to bare, as she was use to large meals with chatting servants, family, and almost anyone else who lived or worked within the palace walls. Though she sat in a room with her new husband and several servants who stood near the kitchen door, she felt alone. The quiet made the room lonely, as much as the gardenias that were probably nothing more then trash now. Once living beauties but now considered nothing but useless.
Uden walked into the room, this time wearing the hood of his cloak down. He quickly walked over to the king and kneeled down on one knee beside him to whisper in his ear. Antavas gave a short nod then waved him away to continue eating.
It was in those moments she realized that the king had never spoken directly to her. He had spoken to others around her, nor had he really looked at her other then at the church. A terrible feeling came over her heart as she wondered if this would be the typical breakfast she would have to get use to.
It didn't seem the servants would be allowed to be her friend, so who then would be? Who could she talk to, laugh with, and share her secrets? She wondered if this lonely existence would be all she would ever know. The feeling of being wrapped in her mother's arms was the only wish she had at that moment. She wanted to be in the safest place in the world, where everything was right, and where everything would be the way she had always been use to.
Antavas put the last bit of food in his mouth then stood from the table, he gave her a quick look and headed for the door.
"What should I do today?" She asked him when he vanished behind her, heading for the door.
He stopped in the doorway turning his head to look at her, she didn't even turn her own head. Instead she kept her eyes on her food, he stood there for a short moment before deciding to ignore her.
Looking at the door she saw he had left, she turned her eyes to the servants. They all looked down to the floor as soon as possible. "What am I going to do today?" she asked them.
None of them spoke, the heat of anger burned in her heart. Being ignored was to much for her, she was a princess… no she was a queen now. She deserved to be spoken to when she asked a question, "Answer me!" she ordered.
Still none of them even flinched, it was a loosing battle. The fear for their king far surpassed that of their new young queen who hadn't proven herself on any side. Vanora stood up from the table brushed down her dress and found her way back to her room.
In the private of her room she laid herself on the satin sheets. Pressing her face into the pillows, she cried in frustration and in fear for everything she didn't understand quiet yet.
A year had passed and still she found herself lonely without anyone that did not speak to her in fear. She had stopped eating meals with her husband and took them only in her room. The pink room was where a majority of her time was spent, other then to find books to read from the library. After she ran out of fiction, she started reading anything she could find from swordplay to battle tactics.
Reading had become her only escape from loneliness, finding that characters in the book kept her mind sane. Any touch of human contact was more then welcomed.
Antavas had never visited her room, and the only time he spoke to her was at public events. His sentences were short and to the point, she never gave him the courtesy of responding back. When they were in private again, he would vanish and she would be left to her room.
It was on the day of their anniversary that a stranger came to speak to the king. It was a knight from a far land, his skin was a dark tan color. His features were soft, yet he was tall and handsome. She sat in her seat next to Antavas when the stranger entered the room. He bowed in front of them, keeping his eyes to the floor.
"Oh great king of Nardaria. I have come to plead for your assistance in the name of Armagon. We are under attack from the barbarians, our army is not large nor strong enough. They are raping our women, and killing our children. We beg for your help."
Her heart went out to the man and dropped when she heard the words of her husband, "What will you give me for my assistance?"
"I am afraid we do not have much to offer, your greatness. Most of our valuables have been taken by…"
"Then I can not help you."
"But, your highness, my people are…"
"Silence, if you have nothing to offer then I can not…"
Vanora had heard enough, "Are you insane? Do you know nothing about politics? You must help this man and his people."
"Silence!" He shouted at her, throwing his hand up in the air as if it would stop her words from entering his ears.
"I will not be silenced!" Vanora stood from her throne to stare down at her husband, "His people are dying, and I am sure once they return to their feet they will give you offerings for your help. Not only that, but you will have an ally. Allies are something this country lacks…"
"If you do not stop speaking, I will…"
"You will what? Kill me? I do not care, you will hear me out before I die."
Antavas stood up from his seat and walked quickly to a guard standing near him. He pulled the sword from the guard's scabbard. Vanora took a stance of flight, while the strange Knight stood up, then placed his hand on his sword, ready to defend himself or the queen.
Antavas raised his sword, it seemed the only people that looked worried in the room where the dark knight and Vanora. The guards face stayed the same without fear as the king quickly chopped the guard's head from his body. Throwing the sword on the ground he turned back to Vanora, "His blood stains your hands today."
Her eyes shot down to the beheaded body, blood flowed out of the open wound like a creek of water. A pool of blood began to form around the kings feet as he stared at his queen.
"I give you all that you need, how dare you disrespect me in front of my chancellors, our guest, and the people."
"How dare you disrespect me!" Vanora snapped.
"Disrespect you?" he laughed loudly, his voice boomed throughout the hall.
"Treat me like I do not exist when we are in private. Act as if I am ignorant of the world." She walked down to stand in the pool of blood with him, "You are a horrible ruler, unless you can hold profit in your hands it is worthless to you. Alliances are fair greater then any gold!" She walked towards the door leaving a trail of bloody foot prints, before leaving the room she turned back to him, "And that man's blood is on your hands, you swung the sword not I."
Hiding herself in the library she sat in the large chair, tears dropped down her cheeks as she read a book. She had never acted out like that in front of the king before she wondered what would happen. An unknown voice and a strange strength had stepped forward for a moment, though she felt an odd since of pride for her actions, she also felt fear for the repercussions that were sure to come. She questioned herself over and over on why she had done that and where it had come from. Someone else entered the room, her eyes fell upon Uden in the hallway.
"Am I going to be executed?" she asked before he spoke.
"No, I doubt that. You caused nothing but trouble, if a queen wants to pursued a king's descision it should be done in private, in the bedroom. Not in front of an audience, you were out of line and you owe the king an apology. He is in the west wing library now."
For a moment she did not speak, "There is another library?"
As she walked with Uden down the thin, cool halls; she thought back to the throne room and what she had done set into her mind. She had watched a man die, she had caused the anger that killed the man. Most importantly not only did she converse with the king, but she argued with him. It had been the only time he had ever paid any attention to her, not knowing him had caused her fear for him to vanquish itself.
Uden opened the door of the second library and pushed her in then shut the door behind her. Antavas sat in a chair reading his book, for a moment he looked up then back down to his book.
"You embarrassed yourself, and more importantly you embarrassed me. You made me look like an idiot who knew nothing about ruling his country. You insulted my ruling abilities as well, if I recall." he spoke very slowly, seeming to surpress his anger. When he finished the last sentence he closed the book and laid it on the small table next to him. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Are you going to help that man?"
His frown deepened, "You are an ungrateful child, you serve no purpose here. You eat my food, and waste my servants time."
"You give me no purpose."
"And what purpose should you have?"
"My mother helps advise my father, she does small political tasks, she is a beacon for the army. She speaks to the people, and she produces heirs to the throne."
"You only know me, do not insult my brothers."
He laughed yet again, "Two brothers who rule two sad, weak countries."
"Only one brother rules a country." She corrected.
"No, I was correct. Your father died a couple months ago, I guess no one told you."
She took a deep swallow, and holding back her tears she spoke with a cracked voice, "That is because you do not allow anyone to speak to me. It seems no one is happy with the way things are, not even you."
"I have heard enough!" He shot out of his seat, "You want something to do? Then fine, you can produce heirs, I think that is the only thing you will be any good for."
For a moment she forgot to breath, slowly she took on step back as the king charged her. "Wait!"
He stopped in front of her, pinning her against the large door with his chest, "What is it, Vanora? It was your suggestion, was it not?"
"Forgive me, I overstepped my boundaries today both here and in the hall. It will not happen again." She felt like a coward, someone who had given up their true self. Like the king had said before, she was now useless.
He smiled and ran the back of his finger slowly down her cheek, "If we could only be like this, then maybe we could get along."
"May I be excused?"
He nodded, as she turned to leave the room he spoke one last time, "Vanora?"
"Yes, your highness?"
"Sleep in my room tonight, understand?"
"Yes, my king." she spoke as the door shut.
The long walk down the halls took away the sense of pride she had been carrying earlier, as she thought about her cowardly attempt to save herself. For a moment, she thought she had found her place within these walls, only to find that she already had a place. It was to be silent and please the king at all times. She was to be agreeable, submissive, and quiet, as well as give in to any demand he had.
As she past a window she heard horses stomping about, looking out she saw a group of knights gathering about in the court. At the front was the dark stranger, Vanora smiled. The king would be assisting the people, her thoughts just prior vanished as she realized she had pursuded the king. Before they rode off the stranger looked up to the queen in the window, and gave a quick bow upon his horse. He was grateful to her for her help, and she was sure that the kingdom would never forget her actions.
The sense of pride returned, she had not just killed a guard but saved the lives of thousands. Her actions had helped, of course she would have to come up with a better way to pursade the king's decision.
Thinking it was mostly her self importance making things look happier, but she felt that everyone gave her a little more respect. As if in the hall she had proved herself to be the queen and not just the cowardly princess the king had married. Her lonely existence was no longer an unbeatable plague, instead she wished to be left alone in the days that had passed. Every gathering the king would call her to his side though he rarely asked her opinion on anything, and she seldom wanted to give it.
She had decided that day the guard was killed in front of her that she would not assist the king in any decision unless it was critical. As she knew his temper now, and no one was meant to die unless it would save or help hundreds. Though one question did haunt her mind, why hadn't the king hurt her? It seemed that she had become untouchable in his eyes, whenever she made him upset it was always someone else's punishment. She concluded after a great deal of thought on the matter that it was hard enough for him to find his first wife, let alone get a second.
No more then a two months after the army left to help the invaded city did they come back with the news of victory. The barbarian forces had been pushed back and retreated to where ever it was they had come from. To show gratitude the king of Armagon sent his son and the dark knight back with gifts and a words of thanks. Antavas's eyes lit up when he heard they had brought gifts, they were aglow when seven chests were brought into the room.
Vanora rolled her eyes at the disgusting display of greed the king was showing the guests, but curiously she sat waiting to see what was in the chests. The dark knight opened the first chest to reveal exotic dresses made more for extremely hot weather, something that wouldn't be seen as proper for a woman to wear in this country. But still she grinned and smiled as the dress was laid over her lap.
In the rest of the chests were hair brouches, mirrors, more clothing, and colorful cloths. There was nothing in any of the chests that were of any use to the king, they were all gifts for the queen, who had persuades her husbands decision. However the king did not walk away empty handed, the prince gave his official thanks by offering his father's country as an ally to Nardaria for any deed they would ever need help with.
He was unpleased with the gift, but pretended to be grateful, offering them a meal and beds to sleep in until they were ready to travel back.
As everyone was escorted to their room, the king looked at his queen and frowned, "Are you happy?"
"You got all the gifts, was this your plan all along?"
Vanora stood from her chair, holding the bright orange dress that had been laid on her lap in her hands, "How dare you accuse me of such gluttonous actions!" Her voice raised turning the heads of those in the room, "What I did was for the sake of Nardaria, not to fill my room with anything!" Flipping around she stormed out of the room, from the hallway she heard the kings scream, and knew another guard had died.
Sitting on a marble bench in the flower garden, she stroked the cloth of the orange dress. She never had the intent of receiving goods for helping the man and his country. She didn't want them to go on suffering until the barbarians destroyed every last one of them.
"Your majesty?" a deep familiar voice spoke, turning her head she looked upon the dark knight.
He walked over to her, and kneeled down on one knee in front of her. He wore a leather tunic that had small plates of iron sown through out it, covering his more sensitive areas. He also wore leather pants and boots, his hair was black, and his eyes dark. His features were soft and friendly, he was a handsome man. She had thought so from the moment she had met him. "I wanted to thank you personally for helping my people. I could of never brought the army that helped defeated them without your help."
She grinned, "I did nothing."
"You did everything." He paused for a moment, "My king wished for me to tell you something privately, and I believe this is the best time as any. We are not allies of the king of Nardaria, only the queen. If you ever need us, we will give everything to assist you."
"Why would I ever need you without the king's desire?"
He swallowed, "You need not think of anything now, just know the people of Armagon are your humble servants, to do as you bid them to." He stood up to leave the garden.
A great sense of pride boiled within her heart once again. At least someone had recognized her hope for peace and not her desire for material things. A thought entered her mind then and she shot up from her seat.
He stopped to look at her, "Yes?"
"What is your name?"
Giving a short grin he answered, "Stian, milady."
"Thank you, Sir Stian."
A quick bow of his head and he vanished into the castle, she soon followed up to the library to find another book to read. The king would not be pleased with her, and therefore she was sure that she should be alone for some time. In return leaving him alone to rule his country as he sees fit.
It was in that moment that she realized she had become more then the scared princess she had been nearly a year ago. Not only had she made the king, who may not liked her, respect her for her bravery and her ability to give in when she lost. She also made a people praise her for how she had waivered the powerful king. Life would be this way for her always she decided, and perhaps it wouldn't be as bad as she had thought. Though she would probably have more downs then ups with Antavas as her husband, she knew that she could make a small difference. In those moments she know she was no longer Princess Vanora of Carmedus, but Queen Vanora of Nardaria. Marriage hadn't made her that, a few words and moments of bravery had, and she wanted to be respect for the queen she knew she would become.