The Betrothal

Richard sat in his study by a large, arced window, facing out at the royal gardens. His tutor was mumbling something about Aldria and Farthdell, but he paid no mind to what the old man was blubbering on about. The man had been hired to teach Richard a little more about foreign countries, though he had outgrown a tutor long ago. His father had one of his episodes again, and this time the doctors were barely able to save him. If the king were to die soon, Richard would have to be ready to take the throne.

Drumming his fingers on the windowsill, Richard's thoughts began to wander again, this time a little closer to the subject the tutor was teaching him. He was worried about his upcoming marriage with the Princess of Aldria, Raissa. He didn't like the Aldrian. They were loud and had an extremely whiny accent, not to mention spoiled and lazy. He wasn't ready to live the rest of his life with somebody who, at every word, would drive him mad. He had been told of her incomparable beauty. He didn't care if she was the most beautiful and fair maiden in the land, he would still despise her.



Raissa watched as her arrow made a bulls-eye. Quickly she loaded her bow, ready for the last target in line. Whoosh. Again she hit the target with undefeatable precision. Her brother Ethan, the Crown Prince to the Aldrian throne, scowled as he watched, again losing a bet. His friends liked to bet him against odds on his sister. He had lost many pieces of silver on those bets. Raissa simply looked at him and left the target practice field. She was in no mood to tease her brother as usual for the loss of his bet.

Stupid Podeirans, she thought as she headed to her quarters. Raissa was not exactly happy about the arrangement her father had made with the king of Pondeira. She was to be married to some Richard by the end of the upcoming spring. The Pondeirans were so greedy and filthy. She wished to wash her hands clean of them, but to keep peace between the countries she had to go through with the marriage. She moaned, the heat of southern Aldria was unbearable in August. Grimacing, she reluctantly thought of the upside to moving to Pondeira: it was cooler.

Raissa arrived at her quarters and sat at her window seat, watching her brother take a turn about the gardens with his fiancé, the future queen of Aldria. She frowned, thinking of her own future title. Queen of Pondeira. Faugh!


Lessons over, Richard stole away to the gardens. He couldn't place a finger on it, but for some reason the gardens had an affect on him, so peaceful, quiet, and calming. Suddenly, a cry broke his reverie.


Isa, Richard's dearest childhood friend, ran up to him, and quickly curtsied. "I heard of the engagement!" She seemed more excited about this Aldrian woman coming to the palace than he was. "She's coming in a few weeks, right?"

"Yes, what's so special about it?" He was not in the mood to talk about the engagement.

She gaped at him. "You're kidding!" She paused and continued when he said nothing. "You're not excited about it." It wasn't a question, it was a fact. He nodded.

"I don't want to marry some whiny Aldrian woman."

"How do you know she's whiny?"

"All Aldrians have whiny accents. It annoys me. That butler, whatever his name is, is from Aldria. He has the most annoying accent. So did all the Aldrian ambassadors and magistrates." He kicked the gravel covering the path in the garden. "It's too early to be getting married."

Isa smiled sympathetically. "It's too much to deal with, isn't it? That's why."

"My father being sick does not help much, either," Richard said quietly. "I know it's necessary. Mother always said that the country is important. The subjects do not put their trust in a queen-less king. I can't believe they would put their trust in such a young, inexperienced king"

"You mother was a wise woman," Isa replied. "She knew what she was talking about. And do not doubt yourself, Richard. You are a great leader. I believe in you."

He fell silent, and Isa curtsied, saying, "I must go now, friend. Please, don't worry about your father, future bride, or future rule of Pondeira. Go for a ride, clear your mind."

He nodded. "I might take your advice."


Raissa sat in her coach. She was to arrive early for wedding preparations and dress fittings. She looked out, the Aldrian countryside familiarities gone, replaced with the harsh yet beautiful landscape of Pondeira. She glared at it, angry at the new country. She picked up the book that sat next to her and started to read.

Hours later, her mother spoke. Raissa, her mind a little muddled from suddenly being thrust out of her fictional world, looked at her mother, confused, because she missed what Ramona had said.

Ramona sighed and repeated, "We're almost there."

Raissa frowned. The anger was gone, replaced with sorrow and anxiety. She glanced out again, seeing a more smooth scenery. The rugged mountains were now more smooth. Still steep, tall, and menacing, but the factors had been lessened.

Farther on, she noticed a city and, ever farther on, a huge palace. The stone turrets rose high above the thatched roofs of the city's close-knit houses.

It was her future home.



I wrote this in a rush during one of my rare inspirational bursts. So, please review and I hope I get some feedback on this, both suggestions and encouragement. Please? Pretty please? I'll... um... give you a hug?

----Anja: Sandtrap Golfer, "Underground Railroad" Leader, "Vietnam" Solider, and not an old person----