Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 26 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for 2nd July is ‘Castles/Kingdoms’:
We’ve reached the halfway point of the year! As part of my participation in Camp NaNoWriMo, where I plan to finish my first draft of my work in progress, Tales from Dragonspire, all of my themes this month will be fantasy related, more specifically, related to my work in progress.
Tales from Dragonspire is a young adult fantasy adventure set in a world of five kingdoms, Quintilla. (Credit for the kingdom name goes to Jon, who suggested it on Twitter. He’s awesome, and you should follow him 🙂 ) The kingdom in book one has a castle in the capital: It is in this castle that this weeks prompt takes place!
Amelia worried at her bottom lip and gazed out to sea. Somewhere, across the water, her husband to be stalked the halls of his castle, warmed the seat of his throne.
She was to marry a king. Contrary to popular opinion, not all princesses did. Amelia’s tongue peeked out from between her lips in distaste as she leaned more heavily on the wall.
‘Stop pouting, Amelia. It is a great honour to marry such royalty.’
Amelia spun around to glare at her mother. ‘But he has 4 other wives already, mother!’
‘And now, he has one more.’ Her mother approached and cupped her cheek. ‘It is a good match.’
‘But I wanted to be loved…’ Amelia mumbled. ‘Special. The one and only.’
‘I know dear. But you have responsibilities. His hand is not an offer we can refuse.’
Amelia glanced back towards the land. Fields lay barren. Beside them, her people, skin and bone, spluttered choked. ‘Very well mother. I will do what is necessary.’
‘That you will,’ her mother insisted with a grim smile.
Amelia nodded and turned away. The last time she saw her home, it was a speck in the distance as her boat crossed the ocean, onward towards her future husbands castle. ‘I hope that it’s worth it.’
‘Where is our husband?’ Amelia grimaced around the ‘our’ and plonked into her seat as she joined the other wives at the table. Her head tilted towards the door, and she winced as she glanced at her husbands other wives. ‘I’ll never get used to sharing.’
‘It’s not so bad,’ Miriam, wife number two hushed.
‘I’m surprised you’d ask after him,’ wife number four, Vivian, remarked with a wince. ‘I didn’t want to see him for months after our first night together.’
‘He’s rougher each day at first,’ Abigail an older woman, wife number one, murmured. One hand came to rest on her stomach. ‘You will bear him many children.’
‘He never joins us for breakfast,’ Miriam huffed when Amelia raised an eyebrow. ‘Too busy running the kingdom.’
‘You don’t help? My mother taught me…’
‘Heavens no. Our job is to bear him sons and cater to his needs,’ Vivian grimaced. ‘We are nothing but trophy wives.’
‘Oh…’ Amelia dropped her gaze to her plate. Her long fringe covered the hurt in her eyes.
Miriam dropped her voice to a whisper. ‘With five of us, he won’t notice you much.’
‘Says you,’ Abigail complained. ‘You’re always off with the stable boy!’
‘He treats me like a princess,’ Miriam huffed and drank from her goblet. ‘Which is more than I can say for my husband.’
Amelia’s head shot up to stare at her. ‘He allows you to see other men?’
‘Ha! Allows…’ Vivian scoffed. ‘What he doesn’t know…’
‘Doesn’t hurt him…’ Amelia realised. ‘So there is a shot at happiness.’
‘If you don’t get caught,’ a voice complained from the doorway.
‘How many lashes this time, Lil?’ Abigail murmured with a hard stare.
‘Twenty. Dammit one day I’ll learn to be discreet.’
The others laughed. Amelia settled in her chair and a small smile crept onto her face. Perhaps things would be okay after all…
‘Again?’ Amelia complained under her breath a week later, as a guard arrived to take her to her husband after dinner.
‘Normal,’ Lil insisted. ‘He’s always infatuated at first. Gives the rest of us a break.’
Amelia huffed and got to her feet. Miriam took her arm and walked with her to the door. ‘Steven wanted to see me about my mare. I’ll walk with you.’
‘Right.’ Amelia rolled her eyes and dropped her voice to a whisper. ‘He has a brother, right? Introduce me?’
‘Of course,’ Miriam smiled. ‘Just as soon as the king tires of you.’
‘Ah, Amelia,’ King Christopher greeted from his throne.
Amelia blinked. Papers cluttered the grand table in front of him, and a tiny frown crinkled his forehead.
‘Your highness.’ Amelia dropped into a curtsy. ‘I expected to meet you in your bed chamber.’
‘Christopher, please,’ the king insisted. Still, his eyes did not lift from his paperwork. ‘I will be done in a moment.’
‘Christopher. Forgive me if you feel that I speak out of turn, but that does not appear to be an issue that can be resolved in a single moment.’ Amelia gave a curt nod towards the paperwork.
Christopher blinked up at her and shook his head. ‘You are right.’ He stood and pushed the papers aside. Amelia glimpsed the date. Last week.
‘Perhaps a night with my new wife will clear my head.’ Christopher smiled, but it did not reach his eyes even as he offered Amelia his hand.
‘You’ve had me every night since I arrived, and it’s hardly helped.’ Amelia huffed and rolled her eyes as she approached the table. ‘How about I look over your trade agreements instead?’
‘You’re a woman! What do you know of trade?’
‘My father let me oversee his affairs,’ Amelia retorted with a hand on her hip and a gesture towards the papers. ‘He was under the impression that, once I married, I would be more than a pretty face.’
Christopher raised a hand to his chin and regarded her carefully. ‘What do you think, then?’
Amelia bent over the table and grabbed the papers. Quick eyes scanned the lines of text, and she scoffed. ‘Awful. All give and no take.’
Christopher began to pace. ‘Exactly. But I can’t think of a way to renegotiate without breaking our alliance.’
‘You have a son of age, and he a daughter. Propose a marriage.’
‘But to offer my son in that way… as a commodity…’
‘You allowed it with our marriage!’ Amelia protested.
‘I accepted it because the arrangement came with many benefits,’ Christopher retorted.
‘So does this one. I guarantee their terms will be more favourable if marriage is involved.’
‘That may be so, but I will not force my son to marry,’ Christopher insisted with a glare towards Amelia. Amelia deflated.
‘You surprise me, my lord,’ Amelia murmured as she dropped her gaze to the floor.
‘And you me,’ Christopher admitted. He cupped her cheek and angled her face upwards. Something sparked between them then, and Christopher smiled. ‘How about you help me run the kingdom more often?’
After that, Amelia greeted the guards with less disdain, and Christopher continued to surprise her.
‘He’s calling you again?’ Vivian snarked as the guard appeared in the doorway.
‘He likes to seek my counsel,’ Amelia shrugged and ignored the woman’s hot glare.
‘Thought he’d get bored once you were with child,’ Lil muttered. Abigail placed a hand on her shoulder as Lil sniffled. ‘He did with me.’
‘My son is Steven’s,’ Miriam smirked.
‘Can’t believe he still doesn’t know about that,’ Abigail muttered. ‘Blind old fool.’
‘Our husband is no fool,’ Amelia smirked. She threw a parting wave behind her as she left to meet Christopher.
‘I don’t like where this is going,’ Vivian glared towards the door. ‘She tells him everything, you know.’
‘What do you care?’ Lil shrugged. ‘Not as if any of us like him.’
‘If he favours her, he could cast us out…’ Abigail muttered. ‘Have you learned nothing of palace politics in your time here?’
‘Politics is dull,’ Lil complained. ‘I’d much rather find true love.’
‘It’s all right for you… you have no children by the king,’ Vivian grumbled as a teenager slunk in behind her and kicked at the cobblestones.
Lil’s bottom lip trembled, and her eyes watered. ‘Only because I lost her!’ she yelled. Her long hair flew behind her as she stormed from the room.
‘We need to keep an eye on Amelia,’ Abigail murmured when Lil had left. ‘For the sake of our children.’
‘Follow them, Greg,’ Vivian urged her boy, ‘Tell me what you hear.’
‘Do you think it will be a boy?’ Christopher asked. Warm arms snaked around Amelia’s waist and she leaned into the touch, whispered into his ear.
Christopher smiled and plucked a rose from their garden. Amelia took it with delicate hands. ‘Our son will grow to take the throne.’
‘You believe he will best his brothers?’
‘I believe he will have no such competition,’ Amelia smiled at him. How she loved this man.
Christopher raised an eyebrow at her. ‘What are you saying?’
‘My kingdom has prospered since our union, but my father will not renegotiate the terms of our marriage, increase trade, without some sacrifice on your part.’
‘You want me to disavow my other wives?’ Christopher released her and took a step back. ‘You know that I can’t…’
‘If you love me as much as you claim you do, this will not be an issue,’ Amelia replied, tone cool and even.
‘It would mean civil war!’ Christopher protested. He began to pace. Amelia grabbed his arm.
‘Not if you pay them off. My father is willing to help with that, for the price of my happiness, and his grandson’s place on the throne.’
Christopher sucked in a breath and stared at her. Eyes roamed her body, her chest, her belly, but settled as always on her eyes. He smiled. ‘Very well. I will make arrangements. Our children will be the only ones with claim to my throne.’
‘Thank you, my lord,’ Amelia curtsied and dipped her head to cover her grin. She would have the sole attention of a man that she loved after all.
Behind the bushes, Vivian’s son yawned and kicked the dirt. Disavowed sounded boring, but he dutifully hurried away to tell his mother. Perhaps the word would mean more to her.
Thanks for reading! This attempt is prequel material/back story for Tales from Dragonspire. It hints how the civil war which Arckia becomes involved in begins.
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 9th July is ‘Quest.’
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 9th July, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂