Prologue

Relena felt like a Christmas gift.

Or maybe a goose, all trussed up and waiting to be devoured by the hungry knights who milled about below like a pack of surly wolfs. They were all full of wine and ale and food and eager for a prize. One would think the wedding day was already upon them, the way the men feasted here at Treize's court.

Frowning in disgust at her thoughts, Relena saw her ward approach her and turned away. Unwilling to have Alyce see her unhappiness, and her powerlessness.

But Alyce must have sensed Relena feelings. "Are you all right my lady?"

"All right?" She asked. "All right?" Relena's normally calming voice harsh with anger. "I feel like a tournament prize. All wrapped up--" she said with a wave of her hand over her fine new dress and ermine-lined cape "--and ready to be bestowed."

"Please Lady Relena." Alyce whispered, her tone urging caution. "If King Treize should happen to hear you."

Relena looked sadly at Alyce. Poor thing. Relena thought. She was so afraid of her half brother, Treize. "I'm sorry Alyce. But I have kept my Father lands safe and sound for two month since his death, yet instead of receiving a reward for my efforts, it seems I am to become a reward given to money-grubbing foul-smelling wretch, simply because that I'm a woman and have to be kept safe." Relena said with a sneer.

"Well, my lady. At least you can choose your husband. Some women don't get to have that Honor."

"Ha." Relena scoffed. "That honor come to me only because I had money to pay for the privilege. You think the king gave me that honor because his love for me?"

"My lady please." Alyce warned again.

"Well." Relena said with a smile. "I have a plan on how to get out of this mess. And come out unmarried."

"How?"

"I'm going to choose someone the king will never let me marry."

"Who?"

"The Red Knight." Relena said with a smile

Alyce's mouth dropped open and she stepped back a pace in horror. "Oh, heaven help us." She whispered. "Lady Relena, please, reconsider."

Relena smiled, this time more sweetly "Oh, don't worry, I know what I'm doing. The king told me that I must select one of his knights, did he not?" Without waiting for a reply, she continued, "he said any of his knights. That includes all in his realm, does it not?"

"My lady"... Alyce tried to say

"So I have made up my mind."

"My brother isn't going to like this."

"Well too bad, he give me a choice and I choose Trowa Barton."

*****

Later, Relena didn't feel so confident. But Relena squared her shoulders as she stepped into the hall, empty now, but for King Treize and his Queen Une, and a few of his retainers. The king had the grace to give her a private audience, but Relena wasn't sure if it was a blessing or a curse. He was more intimidating in private, but Relena would not let herself think of defeat. This just had to work.

"Good day, Relena" Treize said. "So nice to see you again."

"You too, my king." Relena said with a curtsy. "Thank you for the audience." She looked at king Treize. She could see why some of the woman at court thought he was a handsome man. He was tall and long legged, with golden brown hair and bright blues eyes, and he was still young. Relena didn't think he was that handsome, but that was just her.

"I hope you have spent your time well, looking for your new Husband among my knights here, Lady Relena."

"My lord did not limit my choices to those at court," she said as calmly as she could. "I may take any knight of yours to have as my husband, may I not?"

Treize and Une, surprised, nodded yes.

"Than I have chosen as my new husband, Trowa Barton of DarkCastle."

The room exploded in commotion, the knights in the room gasped, shocked that a woman would willingly take the Red Knight to wed. "The Red Knight?....." Relena heard them say. ".....a sorcerer..... A follower of the devil?..." Relena had heard the Red Knight's legend before, it never frighten her though, till now. For some reason it sent shivers up her spine. Everyone look at her in horror. Everyone that is, except the King and his Queen. The King's face showed anger, the Queen's showed nothing. Relena tried not to smile, thinking she had won and would be going home soon. The King jump up and was about to speak, but was stopped by Queen Une, who stood up and whispered in his ear.

Maybe the queen will tell the king to have me go home. Relena thought happily.

But then the king turned and said the most horrible thing Relena had heard in her life. "All right."

"I'm sorry, My Lord?" Relena said, too surprised to say anything else

The King smiled at her shock. "I Said: All right, Lady Relena. I will admit, I expected you to choose one of the barons you met here, or Christopher Anderson he has been asking me for your hand in marriage for some time now. But as you pointed out so succinctly, I did say all of my knights." He said with a laugh. "You have made an unusual choice, one that I would not have made for you. But I see no reason to deny you your heart's desire." He said with a smile "I think you will make a good mate for Barton. A bright angel for a dark devil. Our Red Knight, maybe you will tame him, ha? What do you think my love?" The king said to his Queen .

"I think she and Lord Trowa will make a lovely pair." The Queen said with a smug smile.

"Well than," the King said with a clap of his hands. "I bid you good journey. You may leave on the morrow, and you will be at DarkCastle in a week." He nodded in curt dismissal. Relena stared, aghast. It didn't work. I'm going to be married she thought. She recovered enough to curtsy, mutter her thanks and leave quietly, unable to believe it. She was to marry a man she knew nothing about, except by dark rumors.