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 said. Her eyes watered. ‘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 and choked with sickness. ‘Very well mother. I will do what is necessary.’
‘That you will,’ her mother replied 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 this husband is worth it.’
‘Where is our husband?’ Amelia asked, with a grimace around the ‘our.’ She sank into her seat and 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 replied.
‘I’m surprised you’d ask after him,’ wife number four, Vivian, said. ‘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 said 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 said with a winced. ‘We’re 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!’
Miriam huffed and drank from her goblet. ‘He treats me like a princess. 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?’
Vivian scoffed. ‘Ha! Allows… 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 female voice complained from the doorway.
‘How many lashes this time, Lil?’ Abigail asked 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 muttered under her breath a week later, as a guard arrived to take her to her husband after dinner.
‘Normal,’ Lil said. ‘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 replied. Still, his eyes did not lift from his paperwork. ‘I will be done in a moment.’
Amelia gave a curt nod towards the paperwork. ‘Christopher. Forgive me if you feel I speak out of turn, but that does not appear to be an issue that can be resolved in a single moment.’
He blinked up at her and shook his head. ‘You’re 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,’ he said with a smile, 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 replied 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… I couldn’t-‘
Amelia waved her arms in protest. ‘You allowed it with our marriage!’
‘I accepted it because the arrangement came with many benefits,’ Christopher replied, but when he looked away, Amelia caught sadness in his eyes.
‘So does this one. I guarantee their terms will be more favourable if marriage is involved.’
Christopher glared at her. ‘That may be so, but I will not force my son to marry.’
‘You surprise me, my lord,’ Amelia whispered as she dropped her gaze to the floor.
‘And you me,’ Christopher replied. 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 asked as the guard appeared in the doorway.
Amelia ignored the woman’s hot glare and shrugged. ‘He likes to seek my counsel.’
‘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.’
Miriam smirked. ‘My son is Steven’s.’
‘Can’t believe he still doesn’t know about that,’ Abigail muttered. ‘Blind old fool.’
‘Our husband is no fool,’ Amelia replied with a smile. She waved and left to meet Christopher.
‘I don’t like where this is going,’ Vivian said with a glare towards the door. ‘She tells him everything, you know.’
‘What do you care?’ Lil replied. ‘Not as if any of us like him.’
‘If he favours her, he could cast us out…’ Abigail replied. ‘Have you learned nothing of palace politics in your time here?’
‘Politics is dull,’ Lil said. ‘I’d much rather find true love.’
‘It’s all right for you… You have no children by the king,’ Vivian replied 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 said with a sad glance at the door. ‘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, and he plucked a rose from the bush beside them.
Amelia took the rose he offered her with delicate hands. ‘I do. Our son will grow to take the throne.’
‘You think he will best his brothers?’
‘I believe he will have no such competition,’ Amelia replied with a smile. How she loved this man.
Christopher raised an eyebrow. ‘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 cast aside my other wives?’ Christopher released her and took a step back. ‘You know I can’t…’
‘If you love me as much as you say you do, it won’t 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 she loved after all.
Behind the bushes, Vivian’s son kicked the dirt and hurried away to tell his mother. Lose his own claim to the throne? Never. They needed a plan to stop this.
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 🙂