The Diamond in the Rough
Chapter Two: The Sultan's Dilemma
Disclaimer: I don't own D. Gray-man or Aladdin. Any dialogue you recognize was transcribed from Disney's Aladdin movie and as such is not mine.
Author's Note: Thanks very much to everybody who took the time to review, alert, or fave this story! Hope you're all enjoying so far!
It was a lovely afternoon and the occupants of the palace had adjourned from a light lunch to enjoy the day in the gardens.
Sultan Tiedoll was absorbed in the task of painting a portrait of the lovely Princess Lenalee and her beloved brother, King Komui. The exotic siblings with their porcelain skin and almond eyes were delighted to pose for him and were sitting beneath a large tree dressed in the traditional clothing of their kingdom chatting with each other as they admired the flowers and fountains of the palace grounds.
The siblings had originally come from their own kingdom to see if the pretty Lenalee and his heir, Kanda, might make a match but it seemed that it was not meant to be. Though Kanda and the young princess got along rather well, all things considered, both Kanda and the overprotective Komui had rejected the idea of a wedding.
Tiedoll sighed as he mixed his paints, trying to find the precise shade of black-green that would matche Lenalee's lovely hair. The list of eligible princesses was growing alarmingly thin. Kanda had driven them off one by one with his anti-social tendencies and enormously bad temper. Even the most determined had not come even close to tempting the crowned prince.
It wasn't for a lack of trying. Allah above knew that Tiedoll had walked in on a number of compromising situations involving some of the princesses. Princess Klaud walking naked through the menagerie while Kanda happened to be feeding the birds, Princess Lou Fa waiting in Kanda's chambers dressed in only her eyeglasses, Princess Fou challenging the palace guards to a duel and having all her clothes sliced off while Kanda was practicing his swordsmanship nearby. Kanda hadn't even shown a flicker of interest. Not that Tiedoll had ever really thought his youngest would be charmed by a pretty face or figure. His son Daisya was a different story, of course, but his second child disappeared to parts unknown at the very mention of the word marriage, and more was the pity.
Tiedoll sighed again. If only one of his sons was even the slightest bit marriage-minded. He wouldn't be in this mess still if Daisya or Marie had agreed to marry before their twentieth birthdays. Now there was only Kanda and he was being forced not only to take on the duties of the heir but also take a wife and ensure the continuation of their line and rule. Kanda was, like his brothers before him, determined to remain unwed, law be damned, and his youngest son was also the least tractable.
Still, he had high hopes for Princess Lulubell, the young lady who had arrived yesterday evening. She was beyond lovely, cultured, demure, intelligent, and perhaps most importantly she was serene.
There was a sudden crash and an enraged shriek.
The sultan winced at the sudden disturbance of the formerly peaceful scene glancing down the path to his right in the direction he knew that Lulubell and Kanda had gone. He turned back to his subjects.
"Perhaps we'll pick this up again tomorrow, Komui, Princess?"
The siblings waved at him in agreement but remained under the willow tree engrossed in the view and their conversation.
There was another crash followed by an angry snarl, though whether it belonged to human or tiger was as of yet unclear.
Tiedoll felt his hopes dying a painful death and set aside his paintbrush, ready to try and sooth Princess Lulubell's inevitably ruffled feathers and perhaps prevent a diplomatic incident.
The woman in question rounded the corner in a spitting rage, not unlike a cat who'd just had its tail trodden on. The skirts of her fine gown were in shreds revealing long toned legs and wickedly spiked heeled shoes her long nails bit into the palms of her hands as she clenched them into fists and her golden eyes flashed with rage.
"I have never been so insulted!" she hissed.
"Oh, Princess Lulubell, you're not leaving so soon are you?" asked Tiedoll, more for to formality of the thing since she was clearly making a beeline for the stables.
"Good luck marrying him off!"
Tiedoll sighed and rubbed his head, he could feel a headache coming on. Reluctantly he got up off his painting stool and went to go and have a chat with his son.
"Yuu?" he called, when he couldn't see his son immediately, "Yuu?"
"What have I told you about calling me by my first name old man," growled the prince.
"I am your father, I named you Yuu and that is what I will call you, and I wish you would call me father at the very least," Tiedoll answered moving to join his son who was sitting cross-legged on the lip of the fountain, meditating.
There was a sudden snarled and a large tiger sprung out of the bushes near the fountain a long strip of silky fabric clenched in his teeth.
"Confound it, Mugen!" cried Tiedoll in exasperation, "So, this is why Princess Lulubell stormed out."
Kanda made a derisive noise, not bothering to open his eyes, "I don't know why you're so surprised, old man."
"Yuu," sighed the sultan plaintively, "You have got to stop rejecting every suitor that comes to call. The law says—"
"I know damn well what the law says," snapped Kanda opening his eyes to glare accusatorially at his father, "The law can kiss my ass because there's no way in hell I'm marrying any of these idiot women."
"You have to marry by your twentieth birthday, Yuu, I'm sorry you've been put in this position but unless you can prove that you intend to carry on the line I will be forced to name yet another heir. One from outside the family."
"So do it, no one's stopping you," said Kanda.
"I know, and it's causing me no end of grief, neither you, nor any of your brothers have ever considered that I am not supporting the laws on this matter to torment you, or to force you, or to pick the appropriate successor," Tiedoll said, desperate to make his son understand his fears, "I'm not going to be around forever and I just want to make sure the three of you are looked after, provided for."
"Stupid old man, we can take care of ourselves," Kanda scoffed dismissively.
Tiedoll sighed yet again, his shoulders slumping a bit.
"Yuu, I know that you and Daisya and Marie are all fine sons and good men, you're strong, capable and reasonably intelligent about most matters…you have to understand that I have nothing to offer any off you after I've gone. The throne has been in my family for generations, our home and everything in it belong to the sultan, not to our family."
Kanda remained silent.
"You have three more days, please, at least consider it."
Tiedoll left Kanda to meditate by the fountain. Hopefully, his son would come to see reason. Kanda didn't like to think that he put stock in material objects or even people but Tiedoll had watched his son grow from the belligerently brave child who demanded to be allowed to keep a tiger cub from a foreign kingdom to the foul-mouthed but oddly reserved prince he was today and he could safely say that he knew the boy as well as anyone could. He didn't realize it but it would pain Kanda to be separated from the memories the palace walls held when all was said and done. It would eat at his stoic youngest to be so far removed from a place where he was safe and loved though he would never admit it. He would soldier on. Ignoring the feelings, cutting himself off from the world until he was truly alone, truly miserable and convinced that he was better off that way.
Tiedoll made it to the throne room before the tears began to fall. With those awful thoughts and images fresh in his mind he sat himself down at his worktable shuffling through the exhaustive notes he'd made on every eligible maiden he knew of and resolved to redouble his efforts to find Kanda a bride. He would go crawling to Princess Lenalee on his hands and knees if that's what it took. He already had the bare necessities for a legal wedding arranged so he had until the stroke of midnight on the third day to find someone, anyone, who was willing to bind themself to his son. If the match proved less than ideal, well, that was what second and third wives were for anyway.
Envoys had been sent to far off kingdoms piled with gifts and enticements for any Princess or lady of sufficiently noble birth. Hopefully more would come before the time ran out.
"I don't know where they get it from, any of them," sighed Tiedoll setting his turban to one side and running a hand through his frizzy grey hair, "Their mothers weren't nearly so picky."
Tiedoll looked up from his papers and smiled.
"Ah, Road, my most trusted advisor, I am in desperate need of your guidance."
"I will of course aid you in any way that I can, Majesty, I live only to serve you," said Road with a demure bow.
Members of the local nobility had called him mad when he'd appointed the young priestess of the royal temple to the lofty position of royal vizier but he'd never regretted it. Road was clever, shrewd, and wise beyond her years, unflinchingly loyal and she was god-touched, she knew many things she couldn't have known and she had proven herself worthy a hundred times over. If she was a little young it was all the better for his sons would have an experienced advisor with them for many years…provided he could get Kanda married in three days.
"What troubles you, your majesty?" asked Road gliding across the room her jewelled staff in hand and her beautiful bird, Lero, perched on her shoulder.
"It's this suitor business, of course, what else would it be? Kanda still refuses to choose or even entertain the notion of choosing a bride. I'm at my wit's-end!"
"Wit's-end, Lero!" squawked the parrot.
Tiedoll grinned and reached into his pockets for the crackers he kept on hand especially for the darling Lero.
"Have a cracker pretty darling, there you are!" he said with a delighted smile as Lero was forced to take the cracker and attempt to choke it down.
"Your majesty certainly has a way with him," said Road graciously a soft smile touching her lips, "Say thank you Lero."
"Thank you. Lero," parroted Lero with a murderous gleam in his eye.
"Now perhaps it is simply that Prince Kanda has not yet found a lady for whom his affections could be engaged. I could, if your majesty wishes it, perhaps divine a solution to this thorny problem."
Tiedoll blinked a bit startled at Road's straightforwardness. They never directly mentioned her gifts when discussing matters of state and it was always an unspoken understanding that if there was something that Road could glean using her unique abilities then she would report it to him and he would, likewise, not inquire as to how she had come by the information.
"You mean to say you can find a suitable Princess, one that would, as you say, engage his affections?" he asked cautiously.
Road gave him a serious look, "It will not be a simple matter. Matters of the heart are, as you are aware, never simple."
"If it can be done safely, please Road, I beg of you, do it."
The young priestess nodded.
"I knew that you would want me to do this which it why I have come to beg the use of the mystic blue diamond to aid me in my search."
"My ring?" queried Tiedoll uncertainly, twisting the ring around his finger, it had been a gift from his mother and he was inordinately fond of the little gem, "It has been in the family for generations…I just…"
Tiedoll broke off glancing up automatically as Road rapped her staff on the marble of the floor with a harsh clack. Immediately he was entranced by the glow of the orange gem at its top, hypnotised by the flicker of non-existent candlelight.
"It is necessary if I am to find the prince a suitor. Do not worry. Everything will be fine."
"Everything…will…be…fine," agreed Tiedoll slowly his eyes still fixed on the glow of the staff.
The sultan twisted the ring off of his little finger and without tearing his gaze away from the staff handed Road the ring.
"You are most gracious my liege," said Road tucking the ring away in her robes as the flickering light of her hypnotization spell faded from the room.
Tiedoll's eyes were still dazed and unfocused and he moved as if in a dream, but that would soon pass.
"Why don't you take a rest now, your majesty, and paint something lovely."
"Yes…" agreed the sultan sitting down at his work bench and taking out a small set of paints, "That would be…pretty good…candles…maybe."
Road left him to it a triumphant grin crossing her features as she strode from the room the skirts of her robes billowing out behind her.
"That was almost too easy," she commented to Lero as soon as they were out of earshot, "The old fool's mind is becoming more vulnerable to my enchantments."
"I can't take it anymore! Lero! If I have to choke down one more of those stale, disgusting crackers I'm gonna—"
"Calm yourself Lero. Soon I will be queen, not that addlepated twit," Road said and with a wave of her hand a full wall of the palace shifted aside to reveal a hidden cobblestone staircase leading up to the hidden tower.
"Very soon, the ultimate power will be mine."
AN: And there you have it. Kanda makes a brief but poignant appearence and we hear Tiedoll's thoughts on the matter.
To try and clarify where this is going, since I've had some comments in reviews, I'm going to stick to the skeleton stucture of the Aladdin movie for a number of the chapters (those will probably be the fastest updates) but there will also be a number of chapters that diverge from the original plotline (like the next one if all goes well). Also the romance is, necessarily given the time crunch involved, going to be pretty fast paced. I'm going to try and create believably intense feelings within the alotted time frame. There will almost certainly be smut (note the rating not for the kiddies!).
Hope that helps clear things up!
Please feel free to review or PM and let me know what you guys think. Love hearing from you, and love concrit even more, especially at the level of characterization since this is my first time playing in D. Gray-man's sandbox.
Til next time!