(WP) A Most Unlikely Pair
“Daughter of mine, what have you done? You’re an Elf princess, and now you would lower yourself to marry a commoner? And an orc, at that? Have you lost your mind?”
The Elven King, Caindathor, sat on his high throne, staring down at his only child and heir. Perhaps this was his own fault. He’d always been indulgent, obsessed with making his daughter happy, decorum and station be damned, but this was going too far. This could not stand. How could she rule with an orc at her side? True, their two races had been in a tremulous peace for the past decade, and as a gesture of good faith, he’d taken on several orcs, male and female, to be knights, squires, and handmaidens.
But the last thing he’d possibly expected was for his daughter to fall in love with one.
“It’s too late, Father,” Meerena replied, in a high, gentle voice. “I have made my choice. This is who I wish to marry.” Though she was obedient in most things, this was something that could not be negotiated.
“After all, was it not you who said that we needed to do something lasting to show that orcs and elves are at peace? What better way to show that than a marriage?”
“Don’t talk to me of politics, child, not when this is entirely personal!” Her father spat, feeling his cheeks heat in his frustration. “Your life is not your own, however often I indulged you when you were young. I forbid this. I am King, and will be until the gods see fit to take me to the next world, and you will obey me.”
“Would you really take her away from me? I love her, Father.” Meerena pleaded, kneeling in a quiet swish of silk, her forehead pressed to the fine velvet runner that ran the length of the room. “Can’t you understand that? You and Mother—”
“Your mother was an Elf,” The king said, speaking around a painful lump in his throat. Though elves were known for being extremely long-lived, she had contracted an illness from an outsider right after Meerena had been born, and had died as a result; it had been years, and he’d never gotten over it. In fact, he’d never remarried.
“Will you please just meet her? Give her a chance, Father. I love her, and my choice should matter!” Her voice rose, her cheeks flushed and her eyes flooding with tears. “Please! Talk to her. We’ll have dinner tonight and I know you’ll change your mind.” She stood up and walked up to his throne, kissing him lightly on the cheek; her long, brown hair brushed his face, and she left the throne room, leaving her father stunned.
But the least he could do, he supposed, was listen, and give this orc woman a chance.
“Are you sure about this, Rena?” Her orc paramour, Gasbog Borbum, frowned, sitting on her bed, smoothing the covers instinctively, swallowing hard. This Elven world that she now found herself in was completely different from her own culture, and to fall in love with its only princess…
She’d known what she was getting into, but she still trembled with fear at the thought of meeting its monarch.
“Surely your father does not approve of this match. You didn’t consult the astrologer, nor the matchmaker, and–” Despite herself, she’d picked up on the Elvish way of speaking, silvery and proper, and it sounded as though it were being shredded through her teeth and tusks.
“Will you stop worrying, Gasbog? He will love you once he meets you. He’s only blinded by his own prejudices, and he will leave it behind. I’m not giving you up.” She turned to her, fierce and bright as a distant star. “I don’t care what the stars or the matchmakers say. I love you, and you will become my wife, whether my kingdom permits it or not.” Gasbog knew that tone; Meerena was like a dog with a bone, once she got an idea in her head. But that was one of the many reasons that she’d fallen for her.
She would be proud to stand by her side, on the throne or otherwise. Of course, that was discounting the fact that the king may well send her away, back to the mountains and swampy bogs of her home.
It had been accidental, really: Meerena had happily taken her as a handmaiden upon the orcs’ arrival to the kingdom, and Gasbog found herself lingering, aching to take in some of the princess’s light. They’d shared meals and conversation, and soon it had blossomed into something more: secretive, shared glances, stolen kisses in dark alcoves and in front of the fireplaces. But her princess had wanted more, wanted to make their relationship public, wanted to show her people and the world that she had an orc on her arm, never mind that she was ten feet tall with massive tusks and hundreds of kills to her name, many of them Meerena’s own people. Shame, it seemed, would be Gasbog’s eternal companion, a shadow in comparison to the joy she’d found in loving the next elf queen.
How could she do this? This was insane, even by her life’s standards. She’d been in battles before she’d even reached adulthood, knew the languages of her forefathers, had been sent to the palace as a gesture of goodwill, an olive branch of sorts. But now, she was to prove her love in front of one of the most powerful rulers of all. Someone who hated her, more than likely, and had every right to do so.
She was dressed in her best tunic, adorned with bloody, crimson runes, and she flexed her fingers, wishing that she wasn’t quite so nervous. She’d even gone so far as to attempt to file down her tusks, and she’d asked one of her other orc handmaidens to help her dye them a pretty, rosy pink.
“You look lovely, by the way,” Meerena added, who was herself resplendent in a gown of deep plum, so dark it looked nearly black, her emerald tattoos seeming to glow, even in the dim light.
“Thank you. That’s a lovely color on you,” Gasbog replied, feeling her lips curve up in a smile at the compliment.
“Shall we go to the dining hall?”
This was it. There was no going back now. She’d made her choice, and she did not regret it. She would walk inside that hall of royals with her head held high and accept her fate.