The beloved king and queen of the kingdom of Lirakin desired nothing more than guaranteed peace and prosperity for their beloved land. However, the two neighboring kingdoms of Severijan and Cadeweth made conflicting offers that the rulers could not deny.
Severijan was on the verge war upon Lirakin. Yet the powerful kingdom was willing to take back all threats if the king and queen married off their only daughter to the crown prince of Severijan .The king and queen agreed. What was more surprising was that the princess willingly agreed in a way that made her seem eager to the arrangement. The deal was struck for the princess to be sent off and married in a couple months.
Cadeweth, on the other hand, had no grudge against Lirakin. In fact they were the close allies. The king of Cadeweth had, what he thought to be, a brilliant idea. He believed that the alliance could be strengthened through the marriage of his son and Lirakin’s princess. News had not reached Cadeweth of the princess’s prior engagement.
The king and queen were bewildered, unsure of what to do. The friendship between Cadeweth and Lirakin was already well established and valued between the countries. The newfound strength from such a union would greatly improve trade and defense for both side but Lirakin could not risk its citizens to the wrath of Severijan. In one last desperate deliberation attempt, the leaders hatched a plan to train one of their servants to act as a princess and wed the prince of Cadeweth. And that is where our story begins.
Sophie was a lady-in-waiting to the princess of Lirakin. Her family had been serving the royal family for decades. She was envied for her grace and elegance which set her apart from the other servants. When the king and queen requested for Sophie to go in their daughter’s place and marry the prince of Cadeweth, Sophie was taken aback but remembered the oath her family has kept to the royal family. She reluctantly accepts and heads off to Cadeweth.
The story will begin on the day of Sophie’s arrival. Can Sophie pull off the princess act? Will the secret eventually be found out? What will happen when it is? Will the prince still agree to the union or was he against the idea from the beginning?
Your character will be the prince of Cadeweth and can be any specie you wish . I’ll leave the culture of your kingdom to you. Not looking for any specific personality.
This is the first role play I have constructed and will be a fantasy romance . What I’m looking for is a partner to play the prince and it is okay if you are a guy or girl playing the male role.
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Zander waited patiently for her to speak, wondering why her mood had shifted so suddenly when he asked. As she spoke he began to put it all together, that the other necklace was for Maia. He was hesitant, but he managed a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. He wasn’t ready for hope where his sister was concerned yet- he had played everything over and over in his head years ago and was certain he had missed nothing. He wasn’t angry though, not at Sophie. Her heart was so sweet and kind, he couldn’t diminish the hope in her eyes. “I… I appreciate it,” he told her, taking her hand. “Please don’t apologize for being kind-hearted, my love.” He placed a small kiss on her forehead.
Marilyn looked around the shop once more, to see if there was anything she could give to Grant as a present. She felt honored he had taken the time to pick such beautiful jewelry out for her, but nothing special caught her eye. She made a mental note to look for something as time passed, maybe purchase him a wedding present. While Sophie and Zander paid for their items, Marilyn went and stood at Grant’s side. “Thank you for the engagement present, Grant. You’re more than I could have ever hoped for,” she said, leaning into his side.
Zander smiled again at the idea of listening to the music. “Listening to a song sounds lovely,” he spoke with a smile. He kept his mind on Sophie as they listened to the musicians play. “Would you like to dance?” he asked Sophie, holding his hand out to her. His smile was wide as he waited for her answer.
Marilyn watched the musicians and was excited they got to listen to at least one song. She could tell some of the villagers were watching her with Grant and held his hand tightly. She reached one hand up to his cheek, being careful to avoid touching his scratch and brought her lips to his. She wanted the villagers to see how much she loved this man, and she wanted Grant to know she wasn’t afraid to show her affection to him in front of her people.
Grant shrugged. “Perhaps but it is the least I could do. It’s a tradition to present the bride-to-be with a small token of affection.” He smiled widely. “I am glad to hear that you do love it.” Grant paid for the necklace than wandered over towards the door to wait and watch the three still shopping. Grant smiled as he watched Marilyn. Even though the day got off to a rocky start, he was starting to enjoy himself and relax.
Sophie smiled at the glass flower. “It is beautiful. Maybe, I should get one for myself so I have something in my room in Cadeweth to remind me of home?” The princess watched the storekeeper carefully wrap the tea set up for purchase. She flinched when Zander mentioned the fact that she wanted two lockets. She didn’t want to make him sad by mentioning Maia but she also wanted to be honest. Sophie took the gold timidly.
For a moment, Sophie was silent. “Just…just in case,” she started softly. “We don’t know when we will be able to make it back to Lirakin and I want to make sure I have a gift ready. You never know… I thought it would be good to have just in case.” She paid for her items then turned back to Zander. An embarrassed and slightly ashamed blush rose to Sophie’s cheeks as she looked at the ring. “Yeah… you are probably right.” She took the ring and slid it back on her finger where it belonged. “I am sorry, Zander. It won’t happen again.” Sophie leaned in to give Zander a quick soft kiss. “I love you.”
As they left the shop Sophie could hear the tune of distant music. “I think we can afford a few more minute in town,” chimed Sophie. “The main square has a fountain and sometimes musicians perform there. We could catch one song before we have to head back to the castle.”
Marilyn led Sophie through the shop, pointing out what may be good gifts for the Queen of Cadeweth. She turned to Sophie and said, “You probably know the Queen much better than I do, what do you think?” Marilyn stopped at the tea sets, seeing Grant stand by the door she offered him a smile and continued looking. Marilyn noticed a small glass flower, of the same kind pressed into the lockets she and Sophie shared, she pointed it out to Sophie with a smile. “Look at this Sophie,” she spoke with a wide smile. “It’s one of the blossoms.” Marilyn placed the small flower back on the shelf before going over to look at the tea set Sophie had found.
Zander let Sophie look around the shop, hanging back and watching. He stood near the door in case someone came into the shop that shouldn’t be there but was relatively relaxed. He could feel the peace in Lirakin and enjoyed the calm in the air. Cadeweth wasn’t a war nation like Severijan, but they certainly weren’t the type to always maintain peace. Zander’s father and grandfather had put years into conquering other nations and expanding Cadeweth while making allies with other countries. Zander wondered if a peace treaty would be enough for his father to end the war with Grath, especially since the elves rarely relied on paper to end wars. Zander figured that his father would make every attempt to conquer and control Grath, removing the king who betrayed his countries trust and placing a new noble family in charge of the territory. It wouldn’t be the first time a war ended in the Cadeweth King’s favor.
Zander smiled at Sophie and looked at the tea set, “I’ll think she’ll adore it my love,” he said softly. He looked at the flower’s painted on the set, “These are some of Lirakin’s flowers. She’ll treasure it, I’m sure.” Marilyn stayed near her friend, watching Sophie and Zander with a smile. There seemed to be a tension around them, but she figured it was because of the current battle in Cadeweth. Marilyn still felt a twinge of sadness when she saw Zander sometimes, though she would never say it. She could remember his sister and had met her in Cadeweth when she went there. Maia had been to Lirakin once, but she stayed in her room mostly- Marilyn couldn’t remember exactly why, but remembered Maia was practicing or training somehow. Cadeweth had written to Lirakin when Maia went missing and when the search stopped, and Marilyn’s mother and father had made her promise never to breathe a word of the other princess again, because of the sadness in Cadeweth- they had asked for it not to be brought up anymore. Marilyn did remember liking Maia, she was a kind Princess and was always fun to be around, but she also remembered there wasn’t anyone who didn’t like Maia.
Marilyn snapped out of her thoughts quickly when she heard Grant’s voice, “Oh, Grant! That’s absolutely beautiful. You certainly don’t have to make a purchase like that, but I do love it.” She thought for a minute about their engagement and smiled, looking up at him with joy in her eyes. “This will be one of my most treasured jewels, and it will go with all of my dresses. Thank you Grant.”
Zander watched Sophie pick out two locket and gave her a curious look. “Why two lockets?” he asked, kindness coating his voice. He pulled money out of his pocket and handed it to her to purchase her items. He smiled at her and pulled the ring he had given to her when he proposed out from his pocket. “I never gave this back to you,” he said holding it flat in his hand. “With the assassin dead, it’s probably safe for you to wear it again.”
Once they had made all their purchases and left the shop he looked to Sophie and Marilyn, “Are we headed back to the castle now? Or are their more stops on our journey?”
Sophie nodded excitedly. She had completely forgotten about the corner shop. The group headed over. Grant hung back by the door when they entered sensing the discomfort of the shopkeeper. His eyes watched Marilyn look around the shop excitedly. He cracked a smile, thrilled to see her so excited to look at the china and dishware. He’d have to note her favorite trinket down and purchase it for her when she wasn’t looking.
Sophie followed Marilyn around. Everything seemed wonderful but nothing screamed at her as having the personal touch. Sophie sighed. “I don’t think she needs a tapestry, Marilyn. She’s been working on one already. It was quite lovely and she even let me help her with it.” The princess moved over to look at the teapots. One really caught her attention. It was an elegant little tea set covered in painted flowers native to Lirakin. “Zander, I think this set is perfect for your mother.” Sophie smiled over her shoulder at the elven prince.
She explained her desire to purchase the tea set to the shop keeper then wandered off a ways to see if she could find anything for Molly. There was a glass case with jewelry displayed inside. Grant stood over it lost in thought as he gazed at the glittering jewels inside. Sophie smiled at the other prince before looking at the contents of the case. Her maroon eyes scanned around before coming to rest on a pair of silver lockets. “Perfect!” the princess exclaimed happily. She turned to Grant to explain. “Marilyn and I have identical lockets to those. Inside is a pressed flower petals from the national flower of Lirakin. I think it is a perfect present to get my lady-in-waiting back in Cadeweth.”
“Ahh,” Grant said, nodding his head in understanding. “It is kind of you to get something for your lady-in-waiting. You must be close.” Sophie nodded before motioning to the shopkeeper to come over. Quickly, she signaled two with her hands to indicate that she wished to purchase both necklaces. One, the girl hoped, would be saved for Maia who she prayed was still alive somewhere and would be found. Grant studied the jewelry some more before pointing out the shop keeper a few items he’d like to examine more closely. The prince walked over to Marilyn before holding up a pendant of fire opal. The black stone shone internally with brilliant flashes of red, blue and green. “What do you think my dear? A stone that shines with internal light for the light of my life. I regret not having brought you an engagement gift but I was in a hurry to rush to Lirakin and met you.”
Marilyn looked at Sophie, her eyes bright. "There's that cute little corner shop in the center of town," Marilyn said. "I think it would be a great place to get a gift for Zander's mother. The things they sell are all made here in Lirakin, I think it would be a nice gift of your home for the Queen of Cadeweth." Marilyn smiled at Grant, thinking of his father. If circumstances were different she would want to help Grant pick out a gift for his father as well, but she didn't think that would be the best idea.
Zander offered Sophie a warm smile, "My mother will love anything you get her, and I'm sure she'll be excited to add whatever you choose to her collection of things." He kissed her forehead as they walked to the shop. He held the door open for Sophie and Marilyn and then entered the shop himself with Grant.
The shop keeper immediately greeted them, seeming a little intimidated by Grant, but she didn't say anything rude or mean. She just seemed more nervous and unsure. Zander looked around the walls, looking at all the different options. He wanted Sophie to pick something out, knowing his mother would like it best if it came from Sophie. Queen Elizabeth was an unbelievably sweet women, especially when it came to daughters. The Queen absolutely adored Maia, and he thought Sophie probably reminded her of Maia in some ways. With the current war and no one at the castle, he was sure Queen Elizabeth was worried out of her mind and busy keeping everyone in the kingdom settled. Zander hoped if he could arrive to help end the war, then his father would return to his mother and help give her piece of mind.
Marilyn walked through the store with Sophie. Pointing out all the different tea pots, cups, and dishware. They had always been Marilyn's favorite to look at. Marilyn had also heard some chatter about the Queen's tea room in Cadeweth. "Do you think she would like any of these?" Marilyn asked. "Or are you looking for something like a tapestry or a decoration?"
Sophie took her seat. A smile graced her lips and she playfully tipped her head to the side. “I don’t think we could make a rude guest quickly head back to where he came from. Not with his entitled behavior. And we still have our secrets to keep.” She squeezed Zander’s hand. “I am happy though. I still get to show you my home kingdom. I get to spend time with Marilyn.” Sophie turned to watch the door waiting for Marilyn and Grant to appear.
A little while later the bell on the door rang causing Sophie’s ears to perk up towards the noise. She turned her head to see Grant and Marilyn come in. When they arrived at the table, Grant pulled out a chair for Marilyn then took his seat. Sophie smiled with relief. Whatever had happened earlier and whatever had kept the two away for a while didn’t seem to have dampened anyone’s mood. Sophie beamed giving Marilyn’s had a squeeze back.
Sophie ate silently for a while listening to Marilyn chat happily. Let the stress and worry be put away for a while longer. “Marilyn, do you remember that year where the villages brought you all those flowers for your birthday festival? There must has been hundreds of bouquets. The entire carriage was pack to the brim with flowers by the time you returned to the castle. We all thought you would drown in the petals. There wasn’t enough vases for all of them so the servants used extra soup bowls and wine glasses.” Sophie was laughing as she turned to the princes and continued to tell the story. “We even had flowers sticking out or the helmets of the suits of armor around the castle. They were everywhere! It was so kind of the people though. I’ll never forget that.” Sophie gave a content sigh. These were the moments she would miss when her and Marilyn part ways and leave Lirakin.
The princess nodded at Zander. “Yes, I do. I’ll need your help though to find something for your mother. I still don’t know her all that well and I want to get her something she will love.” She stood up from the table. “Would you and Grant like to join us?” she asked her sister. Grant looked over at Marilyn and nodded. Maybe he could surprise her with a gift too. Sophie beamed. She then paused to think. “So… where should we go to find them their gifts? We have quite a few options.”
Zander kept pace with Sophie as they walked, her uneasiness making him worried. He wanted to offer any kind of consolation as she spoke, but he listened intently before responding. "He may be used to being defensive love," he spoke gently. "He is a kind Prince, in a very aggressive and brutal place." Zander was confused by Grant's outburst just as much as she was, but he wasn't planning on telling her that. He wanted to ease the anxiousness he saw, not make her anymore worried.
Zander smiled at Sophie when they reached the cafe. "We'll go inside and sit down," he said. He walked in and talked with one of the staff, asking to sit somewhere private and asking for Marilyn and Grant to be shown to where they were seated when they arrived. The hostess quickly led them into a back corner that was somewhat secluded. Zander took Sophie's hand again when they were seated, planting a gentle kiss on her forehead. "What can I do to make you feel more at ease?" he asked her.
Marilyn smiled as Grant told her exactly what he needed. "I can do that," she told him. "I would love to teach you more about my people," she told him. "After we get back, we could go to the library and I could show you some of my favorite books about Lirakin," her voice was bright and excited. She was excited he wanted to learn about her kingdom and the people in it.
She held his hand as she led him toward the cafe. The hostess told them that Zander and Sophie had already arrived and were seated before leading them to the table. Marilyn smiled at them before taking her seat. She reached across the table to squeeze Sophie's hand, making sure her best friend was alright, but not speaking the words. They could talk about it later if Sophie wanted.
Once they had ordered and their food had arrived, Marilyn tried to keep light and easy conversation. She left out talk of Grant's father, what had happened in the square, Cadeweth's war, and anything else that would cause upset.
Zander appreciated the lightness of conversation during lunch. He wasn't able to forget about everything else that was going on, but he was temporarily distracted from it. When lunch was finished, he turned to Sophie and smiled. "Did you still want to find gifts for my mother and Molly?" he asked, his voice gentle.
Sophie was hesitant when Marilyn walked away. She shifted her weight from foot to foot until Marilyn and Grant disappeared from their sight. “I guess we should head over to the café then. It’s this way.” She pointed down the street before stealing one last glance at the direction Marilyn and Grant had gone before turning back and heading off.
She tried to keep an easy pace when she walked but she was anxious to put the crowd behind her. Sophie took a shaky breathe when Zander examined the welt. “I am alright Zander. Just startled.” Sophie squirmed at Zander’s touch and tried to stiffen a small laugh. It tickled slightly but now wasn’t the time for laughter. “At least it is looking better. I am more confused by what happened. Grant stood up for himself in an attempt to defend us but it didn’t feel like it was an emotional response in the moment. It… It seemed like something he’s done before. Almost as if he is used to playing a defensive game.” Sophie shook her head. “It doesn’t make any sense to me but that’s all I can think of what to make of it.” She grew silent as they continued to walk on.
Sophie motioned to a little store front coming up on the right. “That’s the café right over there. Should we wait for them outside or go find a seat? And where would we want to seat? Umm… maybe towards the back?” Her ears twitched with an indecisive nervousness.
Grant’s gaze dropped to the ground after he took his seat. He pushed his black hair back and shook his head. “I was stupid. I thought… I knew there was eventually be a problem. That someone would try to lash out at me. I was expecting it. What I wasn’t expecting was for them to risk harm to you or your sister.” Grant sighed as his eyes wandered over to their interlaced hands. His amber eyes softened.
“I thought,” he continued softly, “If I gave them a chance to let out their anger out it would get two things out of the way on the road to earning their trust. They could let out their frustration and anger they hold towards me and I could show them that I would not and will not hurt them.” Grant shook his head. “My plan backfired. They are too scared of me and I only made it worse. I forgot that they are your people. They are not my people or at least the ones I am used to. They will be my people one day, if they will have me.”
Grant leaned his head on Marilyn as he considered her offer to help him. “I… I do want your help. I need your help.” He pulled back, his other hand reaching to cup her check so she would meet his eyes. “One, I need you to watch my emotions. If I get too overwhelmed, too hothead, point it out to me. I don’t want to lose control and slip into rage. Two, teach me more about your people. If I can understand them I can show them that I have their best interests at heart. Lastly and always; my dear, continue to love me as much as I love you.” Grant leaned forward and pressed his lips gently to hers. He pulled away smiling. “Now, why don’t we join your sister and Zander unless you want to sit here a little while longer and talk some more?”
Zander smiled at her suggestion to get his mother and Molly something from Lirakin, “I’m sure they both would love that.” His mother loved culture and had a collection of small trinkets from the places she had travelled with the King. He didn’t know if she had anything from Lirakin in her collection since she stopped traveling with her husband as frequently after her children were born. He listened to her tell him about Lirakin and the village, walking calmly beside her as they passed through the center of town.
Marilyn saw Zander’s head turn quickly at Sophie’s flick of pain. Sophie turned around and Marilyn approached her, “Are you alright Sophie? What happened?” she asked quietly. Marilyn watched Zander push her hair out of the way so he could examine the back of her neck. “You’re not bleeding,” he told Sophie, “It’s just red.” Marilyn turned when Grant spoke up, holding the stone in his hand. She instantly looked horrified about why someone would be throwing stones, at any of them. Marilyn paled at what Grant did next, speaking up so the town’s people could hear him. She stepped back toward Sophie and Zander, unsure of what he was going to do.
Zander watched the gray-skinned prince walk to the center of the square and speak up more. Zander closed his eyes for a minute, letting out a deep breath. He was shocked at Prince Grant, thinking that acting like this would work to solve anything. He looked between Sophie and Marilyn and then back to Grant.
Marilyn watched Grant, unsure of what his plan was with this behavior. There had to be a better way to handle something like this, perhaps just ignoring it would’ve done what they needed. She saw her people’s discomfort grow, she saw they didn’t know how to react and was beginning to feel protective. Just as she started to take a step forward to pull Grant out of the square if she had to, he put his arms down and walked in their direction. Marilyn breathed a sigh of relief that no one had stepped forward, nor had there been a fight between anyone in the center of town.
Zander was calm as Grant walked back, but was clearly unimpressed. He didn’t approve of Grant’s actions, though he kept his mouth shut about it. It was not his place to express an opinion about that. It would be Marilyn’s position to do so, and hopefully she would talk with Grant about how she felt if she didn’t like his actions. Zander squeezed Sophie’s hand and kissed her cheek, “Of course we can love. Let’s go to the café.”
Marilyn looked between Sophie and Zander, “You two go ahead and we’ll meet you there.” She smiled and took Grant’s hand, walking to a more secluded area of the town before either Sophie or Zander could question them. She sat down on a bench behind one of the buildings, keeping a tight hold on Grant’s hand. “I want my people to like you, and to trust you like I do,” she told him. “I want them to know you won’t hurt them. I don’t see how that’s going to happen if you stand in the square trying to initiate confrontations with my people. They will soon be your people too.” She took his other hand, her voice getting softer and the kindness returning to it, “I know you’re on edge with everything that happened with your father this morning, and I understand. Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”
Zander continued to walk with Sophie, his hand still tightly holding hers. He assumed she knew how he felt about Grant’s actions, but he didn’t bring it up and wasn’t going to in a place like this. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked her gently. He checked her neck again, kissing it this time. “It seems to be getting a little less red,” he told her.
Sophie cracked a wide smile. “We are going to this little café that Marilyn love so much. They do have tasty food. Father and mother would sometimes bring something back for us. We always had to hide it so not to insult the royal chefs.” Sophie let out sting of laughter. He heart felt light. Away from the castle and amongst the common people put her into her element. She once again could just be Sophie, no strings, duties or tittles attached. “If we can we should try to get something for your mother and Molly. I want them to have a bit of the Lirakin I love since they have been so kind to me.” She gave a quick nod to Marilyn before taking the lead through town.
She chatted on to Zander about the history of this village and pointed out the various shops and businesses along the way. Sophie even explained how the Lirakin architecture used on the building in the village had taken influence from several other lands that the many inhabitants had come from once long ago at the foundation of Lirakin. They had just about passed completely though the center of town before Sophie flicked in pain. Quickly her hand reach up to rub the back of her head. She turned around to find only Marilyn and Grant behind them. Grant was glaring off at the crowd that was still watching them. He released Marilyn’s hand before stepping forward and kneeling down. When he stood back up he had a smooth stone in between his fingers. “I believe this is the culprit, Sophie.”
Sophie blinked in disbelief, first at the stone then at Grant’s stoic expression. The grey skinned prince lifted the stone over his head and raised his voice as he continued. “I don’t believe it was intended for you, princess. I also would recommend that the one with such poor aim would not try that again if they truly loved their princesses so much.” He turn to face the crowd. Sophie could see the expression of annoyance fighting its way to surface of Grant’s face. He was already emotionally drained and it looked like he could not take much anymore.
Grant cracked a wide toothy grin. It was quite terrifying with the sarcastic look in his eyes and the fact that all his teeth were pointed. “Would anyone like to fess up for their action? I know it was intended for me. You have nothing to fear I’m not mad but I would like to look you in the eye.” A hushed nervous whisper swept its way through the crowd. Grant shook his head and dropped the stone to his feet. He gave Marilyn an apologetic look before breaking away from her to stand in the center of the square. The crowd parted for him and backed away. Many scarred eyes watched silently. “What is he doing?” Sophie asked Zander.
When he reached the center of the square, Grant stopped and held his arms out wide. “To those who think they are brave enough to want to strike at me before, I invite you to do so now. I would much rather you do so at this moment when the princesses are out of harm’s way. I swear to you, I will not fight back but this is your only chance.” Grant turned back and forth, amber eyes scanning the crowd that had fallen into silent disbelief. “Anyone? No? I didn’t think so.” He lower his arms then headed back toward Zander, Sophie and Marilyn. He flashed on last threatening look over his shoulder before wrapping his arm protectively around Marilyn and planting a kiss to her cheek.
“Are you alright, Sophie?” Grant questioned softly. He seemed to have gotten most of the frustration out of his system. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have tried to initiate anything. I just prefer to see my opponent instead of them doing things behind my back.” Sophie squeezed Zander’s hand tightly hoping to keep him calm. “I am fine, I swear. Yes, it hurt but I’m not bleeding or badly harmed. I’m alright, I promise.” She was trying to reassure Zander more than provide an answer for Grant. She scanned her three companion’s faces. “Can… can we just go to the café. Please.”
Sophie's pose made Zander smirk and his eyes show with his love for her. He dismounted and met her, kissing her cheek before heading inside the village. He was quiet and comfortable in the eyes of others, and could feel their appreciation but their fear of Grant. He instantly felt horrible that Grant was faced with fear and discomfort like he was. Although, Zander understood the people's fear of Grant and Severijan. It was a threat they felt, and it would take time for them to accept the alliance and not have so much fear in their hearts.
Marilyn looked at Sophie and smiled, nodding because she knew Sophie was right. Marilyn would have to show her people that they could trust and accept Grant. She put a strong and encouraging smile as she went over to Grant and took his hand. She could feel how her people were afraid of the man she loved, and it tore at her heart. She wanted them to know what a kind person he was, and to know they had no reason to fear him. She didn't know how to settle the fear in their hearts but knew it would take time.
Zander smiled at Sophie when she reached his side, wrapping an arm around her waste. "The village seems quaint, and very nice. I can see why you like it here," he told her. "Where are we going to lunch?" he asked her quietly. He couldn't help but think about his sister here, and how she would be talking to everyone in the village. He kept his brief thought quiet before bringing his attention back to Sophie.
Marilyn smiled at Grant, squeezing his hand. "It will take time for them to adjust to having you around and to trust you. They don't know you, but they know your nation and it scares them. Once they know who you are, they will be happy to be around you. They just have to get past the initial fear first." She hoped to ease his discomfort, but also be honest and respectful to her people. It was difficult, but she tried her hardest.
Grant chuckled. Grant could tell that Marilyn and Sophie wanted the same thing for each other and was happy that the other had found someone to love. “They both have a lot of spirit. I’ll give you that,” he said as he urged his horse to pick up the pace without leaving Marilyn in the dust. He saw Sophie fall and how quickly Zander was by her side. He slowed his horse down when they approached. “Everyone alright?”
Sophie got to her feet nodding at Grant. “I didn’t mean to worry you, Zander. I just wasn’t expecting that turn to be that sharp. I have to remember to go slower.” Sophie rubbed her side. She was sore but otherwise uninjured. Sophie carefully climbed back onto Luna. She adjusted her weight to check her balance before telling the horse to walk on. “All good so let’s get going so we can have some lunch.”
Grant waited patiently to get underway again. “I am doing fine. So long as I don’t let my fears and worries run away with my imagination. It is wonderful to get out of the castle and see Lirakin together for the first time.” Grant looked down at his hands clutching the reins. There was so much he wanted to tell her but he knew his worries would only ruin her day. “Marilyn… what would you say if I choice to remain here in Lirakin, just until I take the throne in Severijan? That way you can be happy, father can’t take over Lirakin and then we can work on fixing the relations between the kingdoms. It might sound like a cowardice move but I think it is the best option we have for the future. Just… think about it, please.”
Sophie guided her horse to the hitching post. She dismounted slowly and did a victory pose and bow when she safely had both feet on the ground. Sophie then took Zander’s arm and gave him a kiss. They walked into the village, Grant hanging back a bit. The village was similar to the one in Cadeweth in that the villagers were a wide mix of different people. The majority of the people were nekos though. The villagers watched the royal couples make their way through the village. There was much pride and love in their eyes when they looked at Sophie and Marilyn and innumerous amount of gratefulness that they gave Zander. However, Grant was met with stares of worry, fear, uncertainty and disgust. Sophie let go of Zander and went over to Marilyn. She pulled her sister in close before whispering, “Go to him. Our people need to see the love and trust you have for Grant. It will still their fears and I don’t think Grant is willing to get close to you on his own with other watching.” Sophie looked over her shoulder at Grant who was becoming visibly uncomfortable from the stares. Sophie let go of Marilyn and ran back over to Zander, wrapping him up in a hug. “How do you like the village, dear?”
Zander stuck close by Sophie as they rode along the trail. He kept his mind on good thoughts, not letting it wander off to the war. He didn't want to ruin their fun with a sour mood, although it took effort from time to time. He kept his mind on Sophie, knowing how much she loved her country and having the opportunity to explore at least part of it kept a smile on the elven prince's face. He smirked when she wanted to race and took off behind her, he kept pace at her flank. The horse he rode now was nothing like Zander's stallion in Cadeweth. Frost seemed to love a challenge more than Zander did sometimes and Zander would never describe Frost as obedient. The gelding Zander rode now was much more complacent and took to Zander's command very well, it made Zander miss Frost's feisty attitude.
Marilyn watched Sophie and Zander take off toward the other side of the meadow and gaped at them. "Sophie! Zander!" she shouted after them, but they were already far ahead. "They can be wild, can't they?" she said to Grant, a smile crossing her face. "He makes her happy, that's all I care about," she told him. She nudged her horse--Bella--forward to catch up with them. She was about halfway across the meadow when Zander and Sophie reached the other side. She saw Sophie turn and was grateful that they were waiting, but next thing Marilyn knew--Sophie had fallen
Zander watched Sophie's fall like it was slow motion as he turned back to face the meadow. His heart was instantly in his throat and he was off the horse so fast his individual movements were hardly visible. He sprinted over to Sophie, kneeling down and sighing in relief that she was alright. "Be careful love," Zander told her. Despite her having said she was alright, he couldn't help but look her up and down to check for injuries. He kissed her cheek, "You scared me," he whispered into her ear. He waited until she was back up on Luna before mounting his horse again.
Marilyn smiled, knowing her best friend was alright. "We're not too far from the village," she said once Sophie was astride her mount once again. She let Sophie and Zander continue to lead them toward the village. She noted that Zander was much more watchful of Sophie now, which made her smile. She looked over at Grant with a smile, "Still doing alright?" she asked. "We haven't really left the castle since you arrived in Lirakin, have we?" she said to him. "I've seen thoughts behind your eyes that you haven't shared with me," she told him. "You don't have to, I'm not pushing, but you can always talk to me." Her smile widened, she didn't know what was in their future, but she knew that she always wanted to be with Grant and by his side.
When they reached the town Zander heard Marilyn say, "We should leave the horses outside of the village. We'll be able to see more if we walk around on foot." Zander looked at Sophie and smiled, "Be careful," he warned her. He slid off of his horse but made sure that Sophie got to the ground safely.
Sophie jumped back at Zander’s splash. She splashed the water again, kicking up a bit of the water with no actual intention of direction the water went. Sophie squealed in delight as she tried to avoid Zander’s splashes. She was laughing so hard she was doubled over. They hadn’t had this much fun in Lirakin until this point making Sophie all the more happy. This was the fun they had come here for.
Grant smiled weakly down at Marilyn. He didn’t want her to worry. He kissed her temple trying to reassure her and keep his crazy worried thoughts from rushing through his head. Most revolved around how the others would respond to Marilyn. If his brothers approved; which did feel likely, could they convince their father she was perfect for Grant? What would happen if they couldn’t? Grant internally squirmed. The King of Severijan wanted Lirakin under his domain at any cost. It is possible the couple would arrive in Severijan to find out their engagement was called off. Marilyn might then be stuck there as a political prisoner. Grant shook his head before pushing his black hair back. He couldn’t let his mind run wild with worry. As long as Marilyn was with him, he was certain they could handle what came their way.
Grant turned his head to follow Marilyn’s gaze over to Sophie and Zander. He grinned down at Marilyn before rising to his feet and then helping her up. As much as he would like to sit at the creek a bit longer, they still had so much left to see. When Marilyn went over to Sophie Grant went over to the horses to fetch Marilyn and his.
Sophie paused her game with Zander when Marilyn came over. “That sounds lovely. I guess we should get going now.” Sophie scanned the sky, trying to gauge how much time had passed since they started out. She caught Zander’s expression turning to one of deep internal though and she smiled understandingly. Vladimir’s return would be on their minds until nightfall. Hopefully he brought back some good news. Sophie climbed onto Luna’s back and gathered the reins. She waited till everyone was settled in their saddles before taking the lead. They rode across the creek and Sophie couldn’t help but laugh at how much water the horses kicked up. On the other side Sophie led them to the trail. She and Zander took the lead while Grant hung back to follow beside Marilyn. It wasn’t long until the tree line opened up to reveal the grassy meadow abundant with wildflowers. Sophie turned to Zander. “Race you to the other side,” she sang before nudging Luna into a gallop.
Sophie’s hair whipped behind her and the meadow became a blurry sea of green dotted with various yellows, pinks, purples and oranges. She felt like she was flying. Her heartbeat matched the thundering hooves. She thought she could hear Grant shouting for them to wait up. Sophie didn’t stop until she reached the opposite end of the field. She slowed down to make a quick turnaround. However when she did she could feel herself losing her balance. “Woah!” Sophie slipped from the saddle. She sat up quickly after hitting the ground. “I’m okay! I’m okay.” Sophie rubbed her side. “Maybe I still don’t have ridding down yet.” The dapple grey horse came over to nuzzle the fallen princess. “Thank you for the concern Luna,” Sophie said as she stumbled to her feet. Sophie looked over her shoulder and pointed. “You can see the village from here. We’re not that far. Just give me a second.”
Marilyn jerked her hand away. “I’m sorry,” she spoke, her ears and eyes dropping to the ground. He pulled her hand down, but she didn’t let go of his, keeping their fingers laced. “I shouldn’t have asked,” she said, her voice was quiet but she had perked up a little more, “I’m sorry.” She leaned against him, feeling safe and warm in his arms. She wanted him to talk to her about what was going on in his mind, and she could tell something was off, but she didn’t want to push him. Maybe once he had more time to think and process she could talk to him more. She took one of his hands in both of hers, running her fingers over the back of his.
Zander smiled at her kiss, “I’ll take you,” he told her as they moved closer to the creek, “I don’t think Will would want to, and I don’t want to make him.” Zander didn’t want to see any more pain on his best friend’s face. Will had lost his mother, then his father the next year, it wasn’t even a full year before they lost Maia, and just recently he had lost his brother. Zander was snapped out of his reverie by a splash of crisp water. He laughed and bent down, lightly splashing her back. A mischievous smile crossed his face. Zander was thrilled to have opened up to her more, he was still shut off about the painful memories, but he was willing to share happy memories.
Marilyn smiled when she saw Sophie and Zander. They seemed so happy together, and she had wanted nothing more for her best friend. The love between them was almost palpable. She didn’t want to interrupt them, but if they wanted to visit the meadow and the village and be back before sundown then they needed to get going soon. “Grant,” she said, kissing his uninjured cheek. “We should probably start heading out soon, that way we’re back by sundown.” She stood up and turned, walking toward Sophie and Zander. “Sophie,” she called, “Do you want to have lunch in the village? We could go to that cute little café.”
Zander turned and looked at Marilyn, letting Sophie answer her friends question. She mentioned sundown and his mind went momentarily to the birds, and wanting to be back when Vladimir returned. He kissed Sophie’s hand as they went back to the horses and mounted. Taking off once again.
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