Christmas is over and the trimmings are coming down. All the glitz and glamour is over and it's time to get back to normality, whatever that is. Silver's first Christmas is over - and he had a great time - so we're back with our Demon to continue his adventure with his sweet little prince.
Today, I used two prompts You just take it one day at a time. and One day after another
Time stretches too slowly. Voices from the next room indicate the Council has arrived and I doubt the king would be happy should we simply appear, especially not together. There is little choice but to remain secreted until we are summoned. My prince and I have said all there is to say and we cannot risk intimacy. Therefore we sit, our fingers entwined, and wait.
After an age, the door opened and the princess strides in, closing the door behind her. To her credit, she approaches my prince and takes his hands, an expression of concern upon her face.
“Have you made your peace?”
Castien nods, his face pale but resolute.
“Then we must do this thing quickly. The Council are nervous but more open than we would have dared hope. Come, let us face them together.”
When my prince rises to his feet, Jandra lays a hand on his shoulder. “It would be best if you remain here.”
“What? But why?”
“There would be questions why you were here with your sister’s intended. I would also be naïve to believe you would not reveal yourself. At the least the impression would be given you are interested in your sister’s betrothed, and that would raise questions about you. For now, it would be unsafe to do so.”
My prince is distressed and it is almost unbearable. From a diplomatic perspective I support the princess, but from a purely personal one I abhor the need to abandon him.
“It would, indeed, be for the best, my prince. I would feel more comfortable with the pretence if you were not there to witness my false affection. It would be hard to keep from betraying my true feelings for you.”
Although he remains distressed, my prince is strong. His demeanour becomes resolute.
“Whatever you think best. I will suffer now, to facilitate the future.”
“Your future will come,” Jandra says, her voice hoarse. “You just take it one day at a time. One day after another.”
Castien gazes up into her face and nods, then stalks to the far side of the room, where large windows give an excellent view of the garden. I would have liked to share this with my prince, but Jandra is waiting and nothing would be served by hesitation.
I cannot say I am comfortable with the eyes that regard me as I step into the room. Some are curious, and some are guarded, but some are downright hostile. I quickly mark those I deem to be my greatest threats. Am thankful they are, for the main part, the furthest from the door, leaving my escape route all but clear.
Jandra takes my arm and whispers in my ear. “Don’t be afraid. They seem intimidating, but they will not openly move against you in my father’s presence.”
“I am neither fearful nor intimidated,” I whisper back. “Merely cautious.”
“Ah, here they are,” the king says beaming. “May I introduce my daughter Jandra, and her betrothed, Prince Tian Tel–Maren of Bas’el.”
“It is a demon,” one of the men hissed. “Are you insane to bring one such as he into the heart of our lands? Who is to say there are not more of his kind waiting for him to bring them in?”
“I am neither a lunatic nor a fool. I have been in communication with Bas’el for some time. Lord Maren is a strong king and a good man. He is also a family man and would not risk his son and heir in a fooling attack, when he is well aware of our strengths and capabilities. He has shown a great deal of trust in us to send his son to personally request the hand of my daughter. It is my hope it will cement relations and bring an end to a pointless war.”
“War? There is no war. The demons have been driven out. What few numbers remained after the rout were driven into the swamps and if any remain they are savages who eke a pitiful existence among pestilence and decay.”
“If that is your true belief, you are sadly mistaken.”
A squeeze on my arm cautions me not to speak, but I will not allow these ignorant fools to continue in their ignorance.
“My people were, indeed, driven from their ancestral lands by your troops, but we bear you no malice for that. War is as war is.” Another, harder squeeze. I glance at Jandra and the warning in her eyes adequately portrays a message I had, almost disastrously, forgotten. I have almost been betrayed by my people’s inherent proclivity for honest and openness. It would not do to put all my cards on the table and allow these men to know the full extent of our numbers and resources. However, I cannot allow our honour to be tarnished.
“We have made a new home for ourselves in the swamps and are far from savages.”
Some of the advisors now have narrowed eyes, and although I sense a lessening of animosity, there is more suspicion.
“As you can see,” the king says, “Prince Tian is eloquent and well educated. He is a diplomat for a Kingdom which is now well established with resources that can be of benefit to our own. In my negotiations with Lord Meren, I have found him to be both honourable and an effective ruler of a well developed kingdom with enough resources for an alliance to be very much in our interests. An alliance cemented by the bonding of my daughter and Prince Tian would bring our kingdoms closer and increase our mutual benefit considerably.”
“It would seem to me, such benefits would be very much a one way street,” one of the councillors commented. His voice is scornful.
“Then you will soon discover you are a fool,” the king says. “A situation has arisen that makes an alliance not only beneficial but essential.”
The king’s words send an ice–cold shiver down my spine.
Next week we find out what the Queen thinks about all this and how Castien is holding up now he has a chance to take a breath and think.
Before that, check out the other amazing writers who have been flashing for your pleasure