Fey World Ch. 03bymadam_noe©
Barnarct was an ancient city founded by the empire that had come before the last empire. It was huge with buildings as tall as ten stories of stone, and a great wall surrounding the city with a moat and sewer outside. There was only one gate and I grew nervous as we approached it.
The wedding feast was close and it seemed like everyone was there. A bottleneck arose at the gate and Bornagold was sent ahead to investigate. I took Pietyr by the hand and whispered the plan as we watched Elfgwyven peer over the shorter crowd to see what was holding things up.
His attention locked on something and we took our chance. I dashed my brother to the side of the road towards the secret gate. With everyone's attention scattered we entered the door and found a lit torch and a guard.
"Your highnesses!" He seemed so glad to see us we knew the news of our guards' murders had been spread. "You're home!"
"We must see our parents, right away."
He nodded and scooped Pietyr up into his arms and started to walk. I glanced back at the door and wondered if my husband would be anything like Elfgwyven. I hoped so.
He'd lost her. He cursed in seventeen languages making people stare until Bornagold came back. "We can make it through, if you have your papers."
"Where are the others?"
"They've run off and I don't see her."
"At such great height with that hair, she cannot hide easily." And yet she was nowhere to be found.
Elfgwyven cursed again.
"What is it?" Bornagold asked. "She is only a woman."
"She is my sensschat," Elfgwyven grumbled.
Bornagold stood struck. A sensschat was a soul mate, the perfect other half. Elfgwyven had lived five hundred years without finding his, he'd given up and agreed to marry the human princess to form a desired alliance.
"I must find her. The king must know I will offer him the same alliance for her hand. I do not care if she is the lowliest pauper."
"Hold on, how hard can she be to find? All these people are short and dark. You there, woman!" He caught a middle aged woman with plump features and a wary smile.
"Ah, fey men here for the wedding of your king. What can I do for you?"
"Do you know of a woman, very tall, red gold hair?"
She looked at Elfgwyven as if he'd grown an extra head. "You're a kidder, right?" She threw her head back and laughed while they patiently waited. She saw they were staring at her and she cleared her throat. "Oh, well, you must mean Queen Anni."
Elfgwyven felt panic in his breast. Queen Anni? The woman he had held was a virgin, no man's wife. "Queen Anni?"
"Her official title is Princess Hannah, but by the laws of the Norselund, as the last remaining member of a royal house, she is queen of all the north lands. Queen Anni is her nickname. She's going to be married to your king tomorrow."
Elfgwyven felt his knees tremble and sat down in the road with a loud laugh.
The woman scurried away, sure that all the fairies were mad.
My father was a booming man of loud voice, broad shoulders, and black hair. He was nothing like my birth father in terms of stature or appearance, but in bearing they were very much the same. We hugged after Pietyr had his turn and he ruffled my hair.
The reunion with my "mother" (who had never officially adopted me) was much cooler. After all, it had been her elder sister who had poisoned my mother. I had killed the woman in my grief and my father covered it all up for my protection. Darnal had never forgiven me.
We told our tale of the strange wolf men again and again until it was committed to memory of all those who mattered. At long last we retired.
I marched to my room, ignored my ladies in waiting, and fell face first on the bed into a deep sleep.
When I woke a bath was waiting and the fussiness began. Tonight was a banquet for the entire court and tonight I was to meet my future husband. I was primped over and over, softened, moisturized, scrubbed, perfumed, powdered. My hair was washed and dried carefully, brushed until it shone and then braided in the most complicated manner the court now dictated was fashionable.
I was forced to unbind my breasts and squeeze into a dress that was somewhere between blue and green, reminding me of the sea. It was cut low and scooping and I felt, guiltily, that Elfgwyven would have approved. There was boning in the dress so that when it was tied my stomach was sucked as tiny and flat as it was ever going to be.
I wore my mother's jewels, lapis lazuli interwoven with gold wire and amber. Wearing them was an acceptance to the world that yes, I was queen of the now destroyed Norselund. Yes, I was a fit choice for a fairy King who had lowered himself to marry a mortal.
He was king of the Seelie court, all that was shining and beautiful. There were tensions with the Unseelie court, all that was dark and tempting. He needed human allies to tip the scales of his cold war, just as we needed fey allies to dispel the growing empire to the east.
It was my duty to stop two wars by giving my body and life to a man I'd never met. Such was the fate of a royal, but that didn't mean I had to like it.
When at last I was pronounced beautiful Pietyr arrived as my escort. He was dressed in velvets and lion's furs, a miniature version of our father and looking every square inch an impish prince.
"I cut a fine figure, don't I?" he asked as a last minute flower was tucked behind my ear.
"You certainly do. And I?"
"You'll do." He took my hand and followed four guards into the hall where four more waited to fall in behind my ladies in waiting and their escorts, who snapped to attention.
"Are you nervous?" he asked. Some ladies giggled.
"I'll ask you the same thing the day you meet your wife."
"I'll be sure to pick her myself."
"If you're smart you'll start finding out about eligible young princesses from the eastern empire. With a marriage between us and them there would never be any war."
He frowned. "I like girls from here, they're so much prettier."
We made it to the dais as they finished announcing my father's titles and we knew we had to wait, for Pietyr and I had many.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you Prince Pietyr Alexekov Michael Anders Luxberg du Castille Windmer, Crown Prince of Andorland, Prince of Marxus, Marquis of Waterston, Earl of Ravenswood, Viscount of Torm, Marquis of Essent, Prince of Aucklund. May I present to you Princess Hannah Freyja the Fifth Janusdotti of Jarlsburg Windmer, Princess of Angorland, Queen of Norselund, Baroness of Loikiti, Princess of Aucklund."
After that mouthful we stepped into the light as the court rose and bowed. Pietyr and I walked to our parents where Pietyr sat at my mother's left, I two chairs to my father's right. Between us would be my future husband.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you King Elfgwyven Marcusius Seelie, King of the Seelie court, Prince of all Fairydom, wielder of the hands of flesh and and light."
Okay, that sounded ominous.
I rose like everyone else and my great height let me see over my father's chair. My heart stopped. Elfgwyven. Elfgwyven was the king!