Night came at last, after an entire day of deceiving the tired king. Just when he had thought that he was done for the day and sat for a little conversation with the young girl
At last, at last, the king’s warm bed did invite him. As he cast of his royal doublets to don his silk bed robes, his thoughts wandered to the young ‘princess’. An old woman’s wisdom from a cheerful young girl’s mouth.
He picked up the ukulele that lay near his bed and plucked at a string here and there, carefully imitating what Miraea had thought him. Even her veil couldn’t snatch her beauty completely. A girl to suite his handsome, valiant son.
Placing the instrument back over his bedpost, he let the match run in his mind for a while, letting loose his reigns of imagination. He could already see in his mind’s eye his son clad in the king’s royal doublet with Miraea trailing behind him in the Queen’s gown, holding his sword as was custom. If only that could be though…
No one knew the kings far south, let alone this King Wyman who had fathered this little Princess. For all it mattered, she was a princess with a shadow for a crown. As much as he wanted her for his son, marriage was as much a duty to a prince as it was a union. Even if she was a real princess, the state required blood bonds with their neighboring state, and that could have been only through a marriage alliance with princess Eira.
A sharp rap sounded on the door. At this hour too? Does a king deserve no respite?
“ Father, it’s me,” echoed Drykar’s voice.
“ Come in, Drykar.”
The boy entered, cheeks flustered, hands clicking nervously by his side. He can’t look me in the eyes, the king noticed. This was unusual.
“Is anything amiss, Drykar?”
The prince exhaled quickly. “ No…father, it’s just…” he closed his eyes and opened them, “ I don’t want to marry princess Eira.”
The king blinked in surprise. “ What happened to you?”
“This might probably upset you, but… but I love
The king laughed despairingly. Would that I could let you marry Miraea. Isn’t that what I want for my son too?
But out loud he only barked, “Drykar, it shames to hear you say so. You are a prince and you have a duty. Everything we do, we do for the people; be it marriage or whatever else.”
“Father, I have thought about the people. Miraea would make the most ideal queen for this state. Much better than Eira- all she can do is boast of herself and think of herself alone. You know me, father; I won’t just fall in love with anyone. This girl… she’s worth all the lands and bonds you get from Eira’s state and more.”
The king sighed. “Drykar, you don’t seem to understand, do you? She may be a princess in some distant state, but that doesn’t help us in any way. In fact, for all I care, she is not even any real king’s daughter.” his voice came away sharper than he had meant it and echoed across the chamber like ten other wroth phantom kings following his words.
Silence. The leaves rustled outside, crickets sang, and night whispered into the king’s tired eyes. Drykar studied the ground intently far a long while. Then he looked into his father’s eyes uncertain, yet determined.
. “ Father… about this entire prophecy… it’s not real. It was I who had invited Miraea to our kingdom an year ago. The astrologer foretold the waves and the state of the moon when she was scheduled to come. And it was I who appealed to the crone to make up a prophecy of the coming of a woman who would be my great grandmother reborn, hoping that would make you accept her. The prophetess always liked me, and so she agreed. Then Synnefro spread the prophecy among the commons, ignited the rumours. I told Miraea about it all.” He paused a moment, letting his words sink in.
“But father, I did it all because she is the best queen for this state and the best wife for me, but I knew you wouldn’t agree unless you saw the benefit of bonds in this,” he sighed. “ She is witty, valiant, charming, skilled…and most of all, I love her. I know she’ll make the perfect queen.”
The boy edged closer to his dad and sunk down to hold the king’s knees. “ Father, you know me, you’ve always trusted me. Just this one more time, father, this one more time. Trust me and make her my queen.”
The king glared at his son with owl eyes. Trust him? After all that he has set up without my knowing!
“You won’t be the first prince to forsake love for the state… and neither would you be the last. It’s a crown bearers duty to put the state above him, and right now, the state needs Eira for you.”
Beyond the window an owl hooted once, somewhere in the desolate folds of darkness.
The prince opened his mouth to argue, but the king declared vociferously, “that’s the end of this talk
“Now leave me be, night is at it’s high and come morning the court will await our presence. Put that girl out of your mind.”
Prince Drykar’s eyes almost welled up, but if tears fought beneath his eyes, he held them back well enough. Instead his chest heaved hotly and his nose flared.
“ Fine,” he retorted and stormed out the door, letting it thunder close behind him.
The ghost of his last words hung mutely over the air. Leaves rustled in the wide open beyond and the wind was tinged with sweet peaches.
All at once it fell upon the king that he had forgotten to ask the boy how he had known this veiled girl from far south.
To be continued…
© 2019 Sahana Narendran