(WP) The Lone Monarch

(WP) The Lone Monarch

               The
hero set out for the castle at the king’s behest; he was dying and was desperate
to find his only heir a bride.

               And
being a knight meant you didn’t get to say no, so he’d had no choice but to
take his provisions and set out for the journey.

               It had
taken him weeks to reach the castle, even with the kind townspeople who had
offered to give him a ride the rest of the way.

               The
castle’s windows were bright with golden light, as if aglow from the inside,
and not for the first time, the hero felt a flicker of apprehension. There was
no resistance when he walked up to the castle, and found its doors wide open.
He could hear faint music, and bright laughter.

               Whatever
this was, he found himself wondering if he’d just wasted all of his time.

               But his
curiosity got the better of him anyway. After all, he’d come all this way.

               What
was the harm in a little investigating?

               Of all
the things Sir Roland had expected to find, it definitely wasn’t this.

               **

               The
princess he’d been charged to bring to the king was already ruling the castle;
the throne beside her stood empty. She was clothed in a gown in such a dark
shade of purple that it looked black, even in the ample firelight. Beautiful
and proud, she stood up, staring at him.

               “Who
are you? I am ruler of this castle, and I demand to know why you’ve come!”

               “Well,
Princess, my name is Sir Roland, and I’m afraid I’ve been charged with bringing
you to my king. To marry his son, you see.”

               The girl
surprised him by laughing uproariously.

               “Why on
earth would I want to marry someone I don’t even know? Does it look as though I
need a husband to you, Sir Roland?”

               “Well,
no, princess… But I’m afraid I have my orders.”

               “You
can try taking me against my will,” The princess retorted, smirking, “but I don’t
think you’ll have much luck. My creatures and soldiers will be on you at a mere
word from me.”

               This
princess was a fierce, feisty little thing, in a way that threw Roland for a
loop.

               But how
could he take a girl against her will to be married?

               **