A Fairy Tale Retold
The mighty country of Eirt was at peace as it had not been for many, many years. Eirt had been at war with its neighbor, Leors, for longer than time itself. The dispute was so old that the original transgression had been long forgotten, even in the history books. But, as it usually goes with these types of rivalries, Eirt and Leors continued to battle mostly out of sheer habit; exhausting their military, their economies, and their citizens.
To many people, this brutish war for a forgotten cause may seem pointless, if not downright childish, but the ruling parties continued generation after generation. They fought the difference in political structures. They fought the disputed border amid the Northern Mountains. They fought over nothing in particular.
That was, at least, until Queen Idania came to power. Idania's mother, Queen Ithaca, had been a strong leader, but far too proud and war-mongering a Queen. On Ithaca's deathbed rule of Leors was sworn, as was tradition, to the eldest daughter. Idania, at the time, was married to an Eastern Noble and with her first child, but graciously she took on the position and began her rule from the Queen's City on the Northern Sea.
Where her mother had valued strength and courage, Idania had a greater value for power of a more supernatural sort. Shortly after her rule her love for sorcery was revealed. Unlike her mother, Idania was a powerful sorceress and quickly after her coronation she placed those with power in magic above all others in the kingdom. It had always been tradition in Leors, a country where such magic was scant, to favor the gifted but this type of partiality was at first unknown to the people.
When Idania's first child (a daughter rejoiced by the people) named Adel was in her third year, she was found to be talented in magic. With the knowledge that their next leader was to be a sorceress as well, the country now accepted Idania's discriminative rule with opened arms. It was after Idania's second child, the Princess Jereni was born that she had decided to officially end the war-mongering reign of her mother. She sent messengers bearing white flags to the King's Palace at City Main in Eirt, bearing peace treaties.
King Jonothan of Eirt was, at this time, also a fairly new king. He had three young sons and with them in mind began the negotiations. When Jonothan's parents had passed the rule to him and his wife Helena, the decisions of war were the most daunting, and the ones most widely debated and disputed. He did not wish for whichever of his sons that would take the throne to be forced into such decisions.
The drafting of treaties took many long years in which the fighting continued. So many years, in fact, that the children of the two rulers' were mostly grown and many more hundreds of men, including Idania's own husband, had fallen in battle. A simple peace, though, neither ruler found particularly promising; a fresh war could begin at any time. And so, King Jonothan and Queen Helena of Eirt and Idania, Queen of Leors, made a pact to marry their children, joining the kingdoms by the unbreakable tie of matrimony.
However one major flaw was found shortly after the agreement was written, signed, sealed, and done; the children in question had not been asked for their input.
Of King Jonothan's four sons Roland, the third, was chosen for the honour. The eldest, James, was in control of the army. Harmon, the second, had joined the clergy, and Briar was still too young to even consider.
But Roland was willful and opposed to this forced engagement. He had never met this princess and although he had heard rumors of her beauty he knew that countries often changed fashion to favor a vain princess; in some areas of the world boisterous, strong woman with thick necks and heavy muscles were considered attractive. In other, dainty pale creatures were the only true beauties. Roland was plagued with nightmares and visions of a horse-toothed, stringy-haired troll that was the "pinnacle of exquisiteness"
"I will not marry her," he said one evening to his father as the family dined on pheasant and roasted potatoes, and the subject of the leering matrimony had once more become the main topic for discussion.
"You have no choice in that matter," Jonothan responded heavily, "I have signed a contract. You know what this union means to our people"
"It means they will have to fight one hundred kingdoms instead of only one! This union will only make our countries more susceptible to the squabble of the smaller countries that surround us. I know you tell us that the wars of the Eastern lands are far beyond our concerns, but you may be wrong! We may be dragged into it. The choice may not be ours to make," Roland responded hotly. Jonothan glared openly at his young son. The one thing he despised was having his Royal infallibility questioned.
"I am not mistaken, Roland," he replied forcefully, "The other countries will not harm us. Eirt is far too strong in its rule and in its people to be trifled with. Even if a battle does occur, our soldiers are trained better than any force in the Eastern lands. They will triumph without question if we choose to enter the war." He stuffed a rather large piece of pheasant into his mouth, chewing vigorously while glaring at his third child. "They army is terrified at the prospect of fighting so far beyond their borders and concerns," Roland insisted, "Ask James; we were"
"Don't bring me into this," James replied, shaking his head, "I don't want any part of your dramatics." He was staring at his plate where potatoes and bits of bird were being pushed around by his knife, a look of great concentration on his handsome features.
"You surely won't abandon a brother in his time of need," Roland demanded, half jesting.
"Never," James replied, "But, as our beloved father has told you many of times, the Princess Sylvana is… quite a beauty." He smirked.
"You know she might be a horse. You haven't seen what he may be sentencing me to"
"It might not be a sentence, but a gift," Harmon commented from across the table, "This union may be what is best, Roland. God knows what he is doing"
"God might, but that doesn't mean that our father does!" Roland shot back. Harmon attempted not to smile in an effort to keep his dignified airs.
"Well, God also says that beauty comes from within, so her looks don't matter. Even if the only rival for her loveliness is a troll." James let out a great guffaw but Harmon, who chose to remain decorous even in his repartee, merely hid a grin behind his napkin.
"Now, boys," the Queen scolded from where she sat at the other end of the table, "Don't tease him." James went back to planning war tactics with bits of pheasant on his plate. "I have seen the child, Roland, and she is a lovely one, even by Eirt's high standards." She smiled gently at her husband.
"Thank you, Helena," Jonothan sighed gratefully with a slight nod. "You truly have nothing to worry about, my son." Roland sighed and stabbed angrily at his potatoes.