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[center [i Two men, One kingdom to fight for. One kingdom that both had been raised believing to be all theirs, but only after they win the fight. Ever since they could remember, their families had been at war, trying to keep what they thought was theirs but each could never gain it all. And now alduts themselves, they being as cruel, greedy, and power hungry as their family before them will stop at nothing until they have it all.
Or that was the original dual. Without their knowing, their parents came together. They had wanted all the control and since certain regions listened to and loved one over the other they thought joining together would be for the best. So the sisters to the two men were to marry into the opposite kingdom. Bring about alliances. The only trouble, none want to play nicely.
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[b "Do not do this or do not do that.. Tis hell and makes me wish to send them all to the devil. I may be a princess, but I am not content to this life. Nor do I wish to be the delicate little flower all wish to see me as. This gets old and it gets very boring. There are times I so envy Mal and his being born a male. At the very least he may learn the arts of sword fighting, take rides without having to always be watched, and so, so much more."] Came the hissed whispers from bright red lips as chocolate brown eyes watched her father, brother, and a few of the guard ride out.
A hand delicately came to rest on the cool glass of her window and she sighed. Her words may have been bitter, but she did know her place. She knew to act the part and she knew to keep the image all saw her as. But gods did the young woman hate it. She longed to be free and she longed to be herself. At least her elder brother had that. She had to be content with her lessons in reading, writing, sewing, and just all that annoyed her. It was not as if she could not do it and could not do it well, but Mirena hated it.
"Ah, I see that you are in one of your darker moods today, my love?" Came Queen Lilyanna's voice from the open door that Elara had not closed when she had left her. And so, Mina had not heard her mother at all. The woman had a way with soft steps that were feather light and one would not know her to be there until her delicate voice spoke whatever words would come from pretty red lips. Today, as so many others was one of those days where she had become startled from her thoughts and her brooding.
[b "Yes, lady mother... This..today is another of my more.."] But she could not find the will to finish her words. For as smart and sharp tongued as she could be, Mina always held a soft spot for her mother and could not bare to let the woman down. What was eerily funny was looking at her mother was as if she were looking at an older version of herself. Both were built fairly slender and delicate, had dark locks that loved to tumbled down their backs in soft waves, fair skin that hardly ever saw the sun lest they burn, and those bright red lips. The only things she seemed to get from her father were her temper and dark eyes. Both she could and did often damn to the devil and to hell.
A hand was held out to her and Mirena walked to her mother to take it. "A walk in the grounds and amongst the flowers sounds lovely, wouldn't you agree my little dove?" The woman asked softly as she led the young woman from the room. Two of each of their ladies in waiting were already waiting and following after them as they began the descent from the upper halls that the bedchambers rested within to the lower floors and out a backdoor that would lead straight into the gardens. Or rather to the gates.
[b "Mother, you typically bring me out here when you wish to speak.. So may I skip all the light talk and inquire as to what this is about?"] She always did love her talks with her mother. But something deep down told her this one she would very much hate.
"Your brother will be taking over his place as the new king..and you, my love will be married. It is for the sake of the kingdom and our people. I know just as all others know the tales of war and the enemy..But we are beyond those times. And now peace is what we need. We need one kingdom even if two rulers." The woman said, turning to gaze at her daughter.
The words spoken were as if ice cold water had been poured over her. She had been very much aware she could not get out of the marriage her parents had set for her. But to have it thrust upon her in such a manner was not fair. [b "I won't. There has to be another way."] She muttered, a spark in her eyes there that came with her temper.
"You will do as you are bid.. It is the place of a princess. Her duty and life is not her own but to her people and lands. I know it does not seem fair..But you haven't the choice anymore than I had. And in time...you may even come to love your husband. And if not love at least find a care of. Before you ask.. Mal also received this talk with your father. We thought it best I speak with you and he your brother."
Mina's eyes were filled with tears. Not because she was wanting to weep like a small girl, but because she was so very angry. Instead of let her mother know what she was thinking, the young woman lifted her skirts and dashed off from the woman. Very childish and not at all as a princess should behave, but she wished to be alone and she wanted to get away.
Dark eyes glanced out the window and upon the seemingly endless kingdom just beyond. Since a young age, Mallius had been taught it was his. He had been taught to be "proper" ruler and a king. But he had also been taught that there was another who also coveted the lands and all who were in it. Another kingdom that they had been at war with for only the gods knew how long. It was all that was ever spoken of and all but shoved down his throat.
This day was just one of his more serious days. One of the days he as horrid as it must be longed for war. Longed for a chance to see what he could do. But most of all, a day that he longed to finally be able to dispose of the enemy he had always been hearing of. Silly and boyish dreams as he knew that a true king would not want war for his people. A true king would make the proper sacrifice and do what was best for all. But what if he didn't want to be a true king? And again he had to shake those thoughts away.
"My lord, your father requested you ride with him...He wished to speak with you over the matters that you began last night." Came the skittish words of one of his sister's ladies in waiting. A pretty little thing if he could say so. He had taken much joy over the years in flirting with Gwendolyn and she having been young then had returned the flirting. But now...now he had to put all that behind him and do as he were bid.
"Very well..tell the my lord that I will be to him shortly." Came the smooth words. Words he hated to use as his father and he when with the other were familiar and not at all like this. But again, image was indeed something that must be kept up.
And soon, Mal and King Wyatt were out with a few of the royal guard and taking their mounts through the hills and the wild flowers. The sun was high and the wind refreshing and freeing as it brushed through the young man's hair and over his face. These were the times he loved. The times he wished would never end. And these were the times he didn't have to worry about being a prince and had only to worry about being himself.
[b "Mallius, you do know the reason for my asking for this ride. You have come of proper age and I will not be living forever. It is time you took your place as king of the kingdom and time you made good on the marriage that was arranged when you were but a boy. I know that you have always been told they are the enemy... But there is a time for war and a time for peace. Now...it is a time for peace. Those times are behind us and you will do this for your mother and I. For this kingdom."] Came the words of the "old" king.
It was when his father spoke in such a way did Mal know that he could not get out of it. He KNEW that his father would stand his ground. And he knew his mother, the Queen Lilyanna would stand behind her husband just as she did these many years. "Yes, father...if that is your wish. Then I shall oblige.. But tell me, is my dear sister receiving this talk as well?" He asked, dark gaze locking upon the man at his side.
A chuckle slipped the man's lips as matching dark gaze locked with his son's. [b "Aye, she is. Your mother said she would speak with Mirena and I would be speaking with you. We thought it best for it to be this way. Now lets continue our ride."] And just like that, the king spurred his mount into a run and Mal, shaking his head spurred his own into a run to keep up. He only hoped his sister would be as level as he had been about all of this.
[pic https://i.imgur.com/mvt6CJs.jpg] Alexandria was a sheltered woman. The daughter of the rulers of a kingdom that never seemed to be enough for them. She was sheltered because she was a woman and sheltered because she was their daughter. It was perhaps because of her own sheltered life that she enjoyed watching the jousting tournaments. Her senses were always heightened when she watched the men take part in a battle to fight for their honour of their houses and in some ways it made her realise how boring her life had been. Those who were the happiest from her experience were those who had faced some element of danger at some point within their lives. For weeks she had been attending the same games to watch as the different men represented their houses. Today was different as her father would be upon a horse, ready to joust and defend his honour.
Alexandria felt the buzz of excitement and her mother was sat beside her, beaming with pride as he appeared in the distance in full armour, ready to mount his horse. A member of the house that would be defending against him approached one of the ladies amongst the crowd, asking permission to wear her favours upon his lance for luck. It was brave of her to accept to do so as he would be jousting against the ruler of the kingdom but it was tradition for women to show their support in their men by tying their ribbons around their lances. Alexandria had allowed her hair to flow freely and picked out a dress that would suit the conditions of the sky. When her father approached them she smiled. He smiled back before turning his attention to his wife.
[I “I fight for you, my dear wife. For the honour of our house so that our son might have a legacy to live up to.”]
Alexandria smiled once more, it was a most certainly intriguing opportunity for her to observe such affairs and at least attempt to absorb even the slightest bit of excitement for the gathering crowd. Jousting had not been an event in which she had been permitted to observe before now so perhaps it was the idea of something new that excited her, watching the charge of the horses and the battery of men. It hardly made sense at all. How exactly did knocking a man from his horse with an over-sized metal pole defend the honour of their house? In fact the very reflection upon this thought brought a smile to her lips and she continued to observe with her forever growing curiosity and confusion about the whole sport.
Alexandria’s mind had wondered to many a place, but today it was focused upon the white horse that acting as her father’s stallion, mesmerised by the beauty of her. The coat was clearly well groomed and the King’s coat of arms sat comfortably across the body of the horse, almost as though it was indeed a part of her. Her stance was almost as proud as her rider’s and has he began to ready himself to meet his opponent, the stallion began to move forward as if to parade herself to the crowd before the festivities began and as she strode past Alexandria she had to control herself well not to reach out and touch the horse in admiration. She couldn’t remember ever being this close to such a beautiful beast as a child but then, there was not much that she could remember about being a child, yet she had an deeply set longing to be the rider of such a horse but in a completely different setting; leisurely parading down the river bank, taking in the sights of beauty that surrounded them. Alexandria would not be permitted to do so by her father, nor would he acquire a horse for her to call her own out of fear that she might take herself away from life for a moment too long and never return. It was all rather unnecessary but that was the way and she could always visit the stables to tend to the horses if she so longed to do so.
The event neared its start and the crowd began to display their support for her father. She looked over towards his opponent and felt almost as though the tournament itself was rather pointless. Her father would win as he always did and the opponent’s pride and perhaps parts of his body would end up becoming damaged from entering into the duel but men did not allow such things to deter them from proving themselves. Sometimes it was about the fight, not the outcome.
As predictable as the tournament had become, the excitement was not void, nor was the support and all eyes were upon her father as he climbed down from his horse and made his way towards his beaten opponent. He showed his respect for his participation and agreed with many that he was a well suited match, regardless of the fact that his skill was flawless. Their stalls where they remained seated until dismissed, were close to the exit of the arena and it was no surprise that he began to walk towards them and she noted how he looked towards his wife.
[I “My dear Alexandria, your father and I have to discuss something with you. We have found you a suitor.”]
[pic https://i.imgur.com/B4QybPC.jpg] To rule a kingdom was something Edward had been prepared for since birth. He was the first born son and it was his duty to take control of the kingdom the moment he came of age. His parents had decided that now was that time, that he was now prepared enough and mature enough to take on the responsibility that he had been preparing for. It has taken him years to prepare and he was ready to take on the obligations to the kingdom, as well as the fight for power his parents had been contesting with a family who believed that they had the right to power just as much as they did. It had been a back and forth fight between them, each family taking power for a time. It just so happened that on this occasion, the power lay with Edward’s family.
What once had been one kingdom was now split into to, each family fighting to bring the kingdom’s back together to rule over it as one kingdom like it had been decades ago. Edward was confident that he would be able to unite the kingdoms under him and maintain the control that he needed. However, it was apparent that his parents had wanted to speak to him about something. His sister would have a very similar conversation shortly after and neither one of them would be too happy to have their futures mapped out for them in the way that they had planned. First he needed to clear his mind and the best way to do that was to go to the stables.
The stables that resided upon the grounds of his home were abnormally large. Most stables could perhaps hold up to five horses but this was big enough to house the stallions of everyone who resided within the walls. Most of the men of the court had their own horse and they were all looked after well here. There was hired help that groomed and fed the horses daily least. He wondered how different his life would have been if he were born into a family without status. He hardly wanted to think about it. As he entered the stables he noticed that only one horse had noticed his presence, looking up from the evening meal that had been prepared for them. He made his way towards that particular horse to pay his recognition with his kindness. His hand moved towards the snout and allowed him to take in the scent of him and make a decision about whether he could trust him or not first before nudging at his hand as if he craved his attention and he found himself smiling as he allowed his hand to run along well-groomed coat of the horse.
There was movement behind him and the sound of feet upon dried hay but he thought perhaps it was a stallion shifting their weight but as he turned he noticed the figure of a man who was petting another horse over the other side of the stables. He recognised the man almost instantly as his mother’s lackey. Edward looked away, wondering if he had noticed him at all.
[I “My liege, your mother has asked for your presence in the common room.”] So he had noticed him. He looked up from the horse and nodded. [I “I’m sorry to have disrupted your…private time but she said that it is of must upmost importance.”]
Edward didn’t stay to chat, instead he made his way to the common room as instructed, finding his mother and father waiting in there for him as he expected. [I “My son, come…sit. We have much to discuss.”]
[b “What else could you want to discuss, we have already decided that I will take over ruling next week?”]
[I “Yes but we wish to discuss matters of your marriage.”]
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