The Diamond Gate
The duke then cemented other political and trade alliances with the blood of his other children: Crown Prince Eric, Prince Ascendant Jonathan, Princesses Rose, Pearl, Celeste, Grace, Lily, and Hope. The two youngest princes, Roderick and Simon, were yet too young to be married off as benefited Nuygenie.
The passage beneath was blocked and sealed with iron. The sisters did not discuss all they had lost. No one ever asked them if they had even wanted to be rescued.
This is the story after the faerie tale.
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“I am not entirely certain,” she replied soberly, thoughtfully. “You see, she loved him, loves him still.”
“The faerie prince who held her in his arms every night. He was exceedingly handsome, wealthy, and witty. He made her laugh and paid her compliments.”
“And you? Did you love your faerie prince?”
The question was rudely bold and he had no leave to pry. However, she forgave the intrusion and favored him with a pained look and an honest reply. “I did, but now I am not so sure.”
He glanced at his fiancée and back at his dance partner. “I do not have fine, sweet words.”
“We may be princesses, but that does not mean we expect a soldier to speak like a courtier,” she replied with a little grin more genuine than anything that had crossed her face the entire evening. “Above all, remember that a princess is still a woman. Treat Aurora like a thinking, feeling woman and she may look favorably upon you.”
Did such emotional creatures really think, he wondered. Aloud, he asked, “Do you really believe so? I’d not cause her anguish, but neither will I let her fancies destroy my future.”
The princess looked him bravely and boldly in the eyes and he was startled to notice they were the deep, dark green of forest moss. She had not missed the glint of determination and ambition in his eyes, nor did she fault him for it. “I do not believe she will ever love you, but she may begin to like you and with that you must be content.”
Rose’s stark pragmatism shocked him. Were not all young, pretty aristocratic ladies silly with romantic fancies such as sung by balladeers? Did they not spend their idle hours embroidering fine tapestries and finer love stories of heroism and handsome princes? And was he not the subject of one of those very ballads, one of those very heroes, if not so young and handsome?
“We’re not as frivolous as we may seem,” she commented quietly, correctly interpreting his silence. “And we understand that our privileges and comforts cost us.”
The music drew to a close, but he continued the conversation as they walked slowly back to the sisters.
“And what price will you pay?” he inquired.