For the next few weeks we’re sharing snippets of a new story, tentatively titled Something Amiss in Alerald, a LGBT Fairy Tale.
Princess Reanna is having a confrontation with her parents, King Reynard and Queen Amica, over her not wanting to marry any of the Prince’s that have come looking for her hand. To complicate matters, the Queen is suspicious about the closeness between the Princess and her serving girl, Nahla. To thwart the girls, Nahla’s duties have been switched to helping cook in the kitchen.
This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘beat’. Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read more snippets from several different genres.
As the pair left the room, Nahla trailed behind the Queen and turned to give Reanna one last beseeching look. Her large dark eyes simmered in tears and threatened to spill down her cheeks.
Reanna remained mutely in front of the window, knowing it was useless to protest. She pursed her lips and sent a silent kiss before Nahla turned back to follow the Queen. The silence of the room was overwhelming and an acute sense of loss and longing filled Reanna until she thought she’d burst. Pacing back and forth across the bed chamber, her mind was in a frenzy, trying to figure out how she’d slip around to the kitchen to spend some time with her beloved – without cook or any of the others finding out.
Margaret’s hacking cough announced her approach before she entered the chamber. Bustling into the room, she cleared her throat and proclaimed hoarsely, “Seems I’m to tend to you now, m’lady. Queen Amica directed that I’m to dress you in the new green gown.”
When Reanna stood still and silent, not moving, her new attendant clapped her hands together loudly. “Where is the garment? We must hurry. I’m not of a mind to fail at the first task Her Highness set before me.”
Reanna grudgingly pointed towards the alcove where an assorted rainbow of luxurious dresses hung on pegs. Without much cooperation, and amidst persistent and irritating coughs, Margaret finally had the Princess clad in the requested attire.
When a young page appeared shortly thereafter, requesting that Reanna follow him to the dining hall, she did – accompanied with a petulant pout and a stern resolve that she would be properly cold and icy to the Prince from afar. Her parents may rule the land, but they wouldn’t be able to rule her into a charming hostess for her unwanted suitor.
Flouncing into the dining hall, with a stomp apparent despite her soft soled slippers, she stopped abruptly when she saw only her mother at one end of the long table and her father at the other. “Where’s our guest? I’d heard that some willy-nilly was to see Father.”
“Not that it’s any of your business,” the King replied, “but I sent Prince Gerard back to Thoide.”
“Perchance why?” Reanna paused, then added in a rush. “Not that it matters. I really don’t care. Just curious.”
“The union he proposed was not as advantageous to Alerald as he made it seem. For Thoide, it would have been a magnificent boost to their assets. But he had nothing to offer us that would have benefited our kingdom. I sent the page for his horse before the lather had even cooled.”
“What?” Reanna sputtered as her ire came spilling forth. “That’s all I am? Chattel? The kingdom as my dowry is all that matters? And what my hand in marriage brings to us? What about love? Where is love in all of this?”
The King looked at his daughter with coldness in his face and ice in his reply. “Love? Love has nothing to do with it. Your marriage needs to benefit Alerald. It’s about joining two lands, two kingdoms, into a mutually advantageous pairing. Love,” he scoffed, “is for the peasants. Not for royalty.”
“But, Father…” Reanna glanced at the ire showing on the King’s face and clamped her lips shut. Speaking back to the King was an impetuous undertaking, even for his own daughter. Her face brightened when she looked up to see Nahla shuffling towards the King’s end of the table, bearing a monstrous tray laden with delicacies. Reanna stayed quiet, waiting until Nahla sidled up next to her with the meal’s offerings. “We must speak…soon.” Reanna whispered under her breath as lifted a turkey leg from the tray. She raised her eyes and caught her mother glaring at them from her place, bringing an end to any stealthy conversation.
When the three royal figures had filled their pewter plates with the bounty served, Nahla placed the tray on the table, bowed, and backed out of the dining hall.
The King raised his intricate wine goblet in the air and proclaimed, “A ball. We shall have a ball!”
The Queen squealed with delight. “Exquisite news, m’lord! Pray tell, for what occasion?”
“Why, to garner suitors for my daughter’s fair hand. I’ll send criers out on the early morn’s light. A fortnight from now the castle will be filled with eligible men wishing to curry the Princess’s favor. She shall have a bevy to choose from. If she doesn’t choose one…I shall choose one for her.”
Reanna’s blanched face bore testament to her true feelings about her father’s announcement. Thoughts flew frantically round her head in a flurry. I shall come up with a plan. I’ll not let him beat me at this game he plays with my life.