Chapter 15 - Consort and Queen
April 8, 1645
The Walled City of Arcadia, Capital of Ivaris
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
“Your highness! The princess! She fled towards the woods!” one of the footmen called out to me. I raised my head from the documents I was inspecting.
“Allow the poor girl some time to grieve.” I replied and waved my hand to dismiss him. He left with his mouth hanging open and disapproval stamped firmly on his face.
I went back to the letters and documents on my desk and bit out my replies for the scribe to write. “Send those quickly.” I said after hours of sitting there. The scribe stretched and bowed and gathered the scrolls in his arms.
I stood up and walked towards the dining hall. I asked the cook to prepare a feast for me and Adrienne tonight. I reached the hall and the smell that wafted towards me was mouth-watering. I glanced around the room but Adrienne was nowhere to be found.
“Fetch the princess.” I told the footman. It was the same one who called me earlier this afternoon.
“She is still in the woods, my lord.” He replied.
“WHAT?!?” I bellowed and everyone in the room flinched and bowed their heads. I looked out the window and realized that the sun has set more than a few hours ago. Mist has settled over the castle and I’m sure it was terribly cold outside.
I gritted my teeth, crossed the hall and flung the doors wide open. I grabbed a torch from the wall and headed for the woods. Soldiers immediately stood at attention and followed me. Malcolm jogged beside me and said, “Guards are surrounding the forest. She wasn’t left alone for a moment.” He said and I nodded.
We saw guards parading the woods and they all bowed as I passed. Malcolm pointed to me the direction where Adrienne was and I gladly followed him. The moment I saw her, something clenched inside my chest.
She seemed to be asleep, slumped against a tree. I walked towards her and saw that her eyes were swollen. There were dried tear tracks on her face and when I touched her, her skin was like ice beneath my fingertips.
I cursed under my breath and quickly removed my cloak and wrapped it around her shivering form. I handed Malcolm the torch and then picked her up and tucked the cloak more snugly around her.
“Put me down...” she croaked. Her voice was raspy as if she’s been shouting for hours. “Shh... Sleep now... I’ll return you to the castle...” I whispered and her tired and swollen eyes closed once more.
“My heart will always be yours, Duncan...” she whispered in her sleep. I stilled and the guard behind me bumped towards me. I glared at him and then continued walking. Why did it feel as if something was suddenly lodged inside my chest?
I know I’ll never be able to feel love for anyone yet why did the thought of her heart belonging to someone else made me feel like this?
April 22, 1645
The Village of Terrin
The Walled City of Arcadia, Capital of Ivaris
“Your highness, we should return to Ravenswood. The festivities would start soon.” The king’s appointed head of the guard for me reminded me. “Just a few more minutes, Alec.” I said and then sighed and urged my horse on a faster trot on the cobbled streets of the little village of Terrin.
Red and gold banners hung on every house, tavern and establishment and excitement was heavy in the air. People pranced around the streets wearing their best clothes and carrying with them a token to bring to the palace to give their king.
A small boy approached me and regarded me curiously. “Are you a traveller? You are a pretty lady.” He said and then lifted his hand and offered a loaf of bread wrapped in red for me. I smiled and graciously accepted the gift. “Thank you, you are most kind.” I replied and reached into my pouch for a gold coin and handed it to the boy.
His eyes widened in surprise. “No! Lady, I give this to you for free.” He said while shaking his head. “I give the coin to you not as payment but as a reward for your kindness.” I replied and the boy blushed and mumbled his thanks.
I spent a few more minutes roaming the village. The people looked happy and excited as they locked up their homes and headed over to Ravenswood Castle.
At least some people were happy regarding this wedding
For two weeks, my life has been a whirlwind of chaos. The King announced our betrothal and suddenly, my world was turned upside down. Letters of congratulations arrived for me from the nobles of both Ivaris and Amaranth. I was surprised to hear from familiar people and their letters contained news about my beloved kingdom. They also wrote to me about the beneficial union between me and the King of Ivaris.
Yes, they were right. This marriage would bring great things for Amaranth and that is one of the reasons I agreed to go through with this sham.
Over the last two weeks, a wedding was planned. And I am proud to say that I had nothing to do with it. If I was a normal bride and marrying the man I loved then I would want to plan a great wedding. A wedding that I would remember my whole life.
But no. I am not marrying the man I love and I could care less what the wedding looks like. One day, the king arranged for us to have lunch where we could plan our wedding. He discussed details while I tried to block his words out as much as I could and just simply enjoy my food. When he asked for my opinion, I replied with a standard, “Whatever you say.” Or “Do whatever you like.” After a long time, that seemed to piss him off enough and he threw his napkin and strode out the dining hall. I was glad at the chance to enjoy the delicious food in silence.
After that event, he never discussed the upcoming wedding with me again. He sent wedding planners to me but they got the same standard reply. A team of seamstresses came to me and had me fitted for my wedding gown. I just stood there when they took my measurements and shrugged when they asked me if I had any preference or if I had a specific design in mind.
They asked me what color I would like my wedding gown to be. I replied with “Red.” Shocked gasps were heard throughout the room. A woman simply didn’t wear red to her wedding. It’s the color of prostitutes, adulteresses and mistresses. I think it’s a lovely color and would suit an equally lovely wedding.
The seamstress laughed nervously and said, “Good joke your highness!” All the other seamstresses laughed too and then bolted out of the room as if they were being chased by a pack of hungry wolves.
During the past week, the entire castle was in an upheaval. Nobles and Monarchs from every kingdom came and every night there were festivities in their honor. Good thing Ivaris was a rich kingdom or else all the events and the wedding itself would have depleted the kingdom’s treasury.
I stood by the King of Ivaris’ side when he introduced me to royalty from other kingdoms but when the feasting, dancing and games started, I always snuck away with headache or some other illness as an excuse.
“Princess... I am sorry but we really have to return now.” Alec insisted and he reached out to grab the reins of my horse. I yanked the reins away and murmured, “Fine.” Then we travelled back to Ravenswood but at a very slow pace for there were a lot of people on the roads, all walking towards the castle.
This is the last day that I am to be a princess... For tomorrow, I will be a Queen. I will be a married woman, wife of the King of Ivaris. A queen to the united kingdom of Ivaris and Amaranth.
We arrived at the castle and a small army of maids immediately engulfed me. They were all chatting away excitedly as they ushered me back to my room. My room has been transformed and I glimpsed a gown that was laid out on the bed.
I averted looking at the bed for I did not want to see my gown. I scanned the room and saw that there were large bouquets of flowers everywhere. White rose petals also covered almost every inch of the floor and their sweet fragrance permeated the air.
The maids quickly led me towards the bathroom where a tub was filled with steaming water. They removed my clothes and soaped and scrubbed every inch of me. My hair was lathered with a lavender-scented shampoo and the women told me that the king himself requested it.
I ignored them and tried to block out all their conversations. I just endured all their ministrations and brooded in silence. The women dried my hair and then I felt them twist and tug on the strands as they placed it on a knot above my head. Then they made me wear my gown and this time I couldn’t help but look at it.
The gown was the color of the sky. It had a modestly cut neckline filled with diamonds and a tight fitting bodice. Its sleeves were long and on the middle of it was embroidered an intricate design which contained pearls and aquamarines. A silver girdle was placed low on my hips and this time it was designed with dark blue stones. A sheer material trimmed with lace placed over the sky blue gown made up the skirts and it was also filled with precious stones.
I’ve never worn anything so beautiful and expensive yet I found no joy in wearing the dress. Truth be told, right now, I felt nothing... It was as if I am hollow.
When they finished lacing up my gown, they asked me to sit once more and they applied some powder to my face and darkened my eyes with kohl. Red rose petals were crushed and used to tint my lips. A sheer veil was placed over my head.
“Would you like to take a look, your highness?” one of the maids asked and carried a mirror but I shook my head. The maids looked at me with sadness in their eyes and they shook their heads as they walked outside the room.
“Ring the bell if you need something, princess.” One of the maids said as she closed the door.
I sighed when everything was quiet once more. This is my last moment of being single. A few minutes from now, I’d stand beside the King of Ivaris and throw all my chance of happiness away...
-King Seth Liam Ivaris XV-
What’s taking her so long? She should’ve descended minutes ago! The sun was almost about to set and if the ceremony is delayed, it would be too dark for everyone.
This last two weeks, Adrienne made it a point to avoid me at all costs and irritate the hell out of me every moment she could. She excused herself both from planning the wedding and joining the feasts and parties prepared for our guests.
I paced on the red carpet in front of the altar repeatedly as I tried to drown out the conversations and giggles coming from the crowd seated in front of me. Then the crowd fell silent and I turned around to see what got their attention.
And there she was...
My bride stood there and she looked like a goddess with a gown the color of the sky and her veil flowing with the breeze. The veil was so sheer and I could see her lovely features. Her hair was secured in a knot atop her head but loose curls framed her face and the back of her neck. Her eyes were lined with kohl and when she met my gaze, I saw that her eyes looked bigger. A frown marred that perfect face when she saw me and she just stared at the carpet instead.
The music started and I saw her fingers clench the bouquet of flowers tightly before she took the first step towards me. I stopped breathing altogether as she glided down the red carpet. She was a vision and I wanted to close my eyes and open them again just to make sure that it was no dream. Her posture was straight and every step she took spoke of elegance. Glided, truly that was the word that described how she moved.
She came beside me and I remembered to breathe once more. I shook my head lightly and then offered her my arm. She took it and I could feel her icy fingers through the layers of my clothing. I placed my hand on top of hers to provide a bit of comfort and warmth. I was disappointed when she didn’t even look at me.
“We are gathered here today to witness the union of our beloved King and the Princess of Amaranth....” the priestess began and a loud cheer echoed from the privileged guests who were seated in front of us and the citizens of Ivaris who were flocked outside the castle.
The priest turned Adrienne and me until we were facing each other. “Do you, Princess Almira Adrienne Carthes-Amaranth take this man to be your husband?” the priest asked. His query was met with silence.
Adrienne was silent for a long time that I began sweating bullets. I narrowed my eyes at her signalling her to answer. The priest repeated his question and Adrienne said, “I do...” It was as if a huge weight was suddenly lifted off my chest and I smiled at her.
“Do you King Seth Liam Ivaris XV take this woman to be your wife?” the priest asked and I answered with a resounding, “I do.”
The priest then took my right hand and Adrienne’s left hand and brought our palms together. Then he tied a ribbon around our clasped hands and tied the knot. The priest looked at me and nodded. “I, Seth Liam Ivaris XV, take Princess Adrienne Almira Carthes-Amaranth to be my wife. You are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give you my Body, that we Two might be One. I give you my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be done.” I recited as I slipped the golden wedding band on her finger.
The ring belonged to my mother and all the queens of Ivaris before her. It was a simple gold wedding ring with a ruby surrounded my diamonds as its centrepiece. I think it looked perfect at Adrienne’s finger where it truly belongs.
The priest smiled and nodded towards Adrienne. She took a deep breath and then began to cry. Tears fell down her cheeks and I felt her hand, which was bound to mine, start to shake. “Adrienne...” I whispered softly because I wanted to comfort her but she must’ve took it as a threat for her head snapped up and her eyes flashed.
“I... Almira... Adrienne C-carthes Am-maranth t-t-take K-king... Seth Liam Iv-v.. Ivaris XV t-t-t- to b-be my h-h-hus-sband.” Her words were punctuated with sobbing and choking noises. I could barely understand any of her words for she was stammering too much. The priest patted her shoulder and she took another deep breath and waited a few moments so that she could compose herself.
When she looked up at me once more, there was determination in her eyes. Tears still fell from her cheeks but she was not shaking anymore. Nor was she stammering when she spoke. Instead, there was a hard edge to her voice. “You are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give you my Body, that we two might be One. I give you my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be done.” She repeated the ancient words and I felt something stir inside me.
I placed my free hand under her chin and tilted her head up. Tear-filled hazel eyes met my gaze. She tried to look as strong as she could but I saw the sadness in her eyes. I almost kissed her but two ladies approached and started draping a plaid made of blue and white which were Amaranth’s colors. The plaid bore the Amaranth family crest in the middle of it. Malcolm, the captain of my soldiers together with his second in command, approached me and pinned a plaid of red and gold which were the colors of Ivaris on my shoulders.
The priest walked around the altar and came to stand before us. He had with him some oil which he sprinkled at us as he chanted:
“Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East.
Communication of the heart, mind, and body
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun.
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.”
He replaced the oil on the altar and picked up a bowl filled with coals which were smoking. I felt the heat as the priest circled us while letting the smoke surround us.
“Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South.
Warmth of hearth and home
The heat of the heart’s passion
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.”
The priest finished his chant and placed the bowl of coals back on the altar where smoke drifted as the wind blew. He picked up another container filled with water and chanted while he sprinkled some on us.
“Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West.
The deep commitments of the lake, the swift excitement of the river
The refreshing cleansing of the rain
The all encompassing passion of the sea.”
Again, Adrienne was silently crying as she endured the blessing. Maybe she was thinking about her soldier. At the thought of that, my entire body clenched and I wanted to rush towards the dungeons and kill that man. But I promised. I gritted my teeth and willed my emotions to remain under control.
The priest returned with a bowl of grain and again sprinkled it towards us.
“Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North
Firm foundation on which to build
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives
A stable home to which you may always return...”
When the priest was finished with the blessings, he closed his eyes and raised his arms to the heavens as he murmured. Then he opened his eyes and went towards us. With a tug, he released the knot that bound our hands together and removed the ribbon. He handed the ribbon to Adrienne which she clutched in her hand.
Then the priest turned towards the crowd and said, “With the power vested in me by the goddess, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
Everyone stood up and started clapping. Cheers resounded from every corner of the palace. I looked up and confetti, grain and salt were showered upon us. Some of the nobles threw gold coins and I nodded to them as thanks. The gold coins signified luck and a fruitful and rich marriage.
Everyone was happy... Everyone except my bride...
She stood there, her spine straight but with her head lowered. Her lashes clumped together because of her tears. Her hazel eyes filled with defeat. I wrapped my arm around her as the cheers echoed around us and the congratulations were shouted by everyone.
She still stood there with her head bowed, lost deep in thought or sadness until the crowd’s excitement died down a bit. I held up my hand and silence reigned once more. I took Adrienne’s hand and led her towards the thrones behind the altar.
I urged her to stand in front of the throne beside mine while my valet, Hodge, approached bearing a wooden box gilded with gold.
“Now, we unite the two kingdoms.” I whispered to her and she nodded.
She cleared her throat and then took a deep breath.
“I, Princess Almira Adrienne Carthes-Amaranth, the only heir of King Andrew and Queen Irina, rightful ruler to the throne of Amaranth, hereby swear fealty to the King of Ivaris. Through this marriage, I give my loyalty and that of my people to the King of Ivaris.” She said and then turned to face me. I saw the slight hesitation in her face before she continued.
She removed the pins on her blue plaid and held it out to me. “With this gesture, I acknowledge you as my consort and hereby give you the same power and right afforded to me to rule over Amaranth.” She said and folded the plaid and held it out to me. I accepted it and she placed her hands above mine.
“I now name you, Seth Liam Ivaris XV, my consort and King of Amaranth.” She said and I felt my chest fill with pride. A round of applause went around and I saw the people bow to me.
I put the plaid of Amaranth down on my throne and removed the pins on the Ivaris plaid draped around my shoulders. “I now pronounce the kingdom of Ivaris and Amaranth as one!” I said while facing the people.
Then, I turned and faced my bride. I slowly placed the Ivaris plaid around her shoulders. “You are now under the protection of the King of Ivaris. What is mine is yours. My people will extend the same loyalty towards you as they do to me.” I declared.
Then, I slowly removed her veil and heard the crowds gasp as they glimpsed her beautiful face. I opened the wooden box and retrieved the golden circlet that matched mine. She kneeled in front of the throne and I slowly placed the circlet on her head.
I think it was just my imagination or a trick of the light but I think I saw the moonstone on her circlet gleam as it was placed on her head. I saw her eyes widen and she looked at me questioningly.
“I now name you, Adrienne Almira Ivaris, my consort and hereby crown you Queen of Amaranth and Ivaris.”
The crowd cheered once more and I heard the sound of the trumpets and the drums. “Long live the new King and Queen!” the people chanted in time with the beat of the drums. More confetti, grains and coins rained down.
The trumpets rose in a resounding chorus and I saw a flash of color from the corner of my eye as the new banners of Amaranth and Ivaris, standing side by side, were unfurled. The lion, which was the symbol of Ivaris stood side by side with Amaranth’s eagle.
“Let the feast begin!” I shouted. Adrienne and I both sat down in our thrones as the chairs and altar were cleared away. Servants brought tables and torches were lit. Plates and silverware were arranged.
Outside the palace walls, citizens also started rejoicing. I saw a line of servants bearing trays laden with food walk outside the gates and give the food to the people. On the other hand, guards stood on top of the castle walls and they were showering the people with coins. Children ran back and forth as they tried to pick as much gold as they could.
I sighed when I saw my bride sitting stiffly and staring at her feet. I reached towards her throne and engulfed her hand with mine. Then, I lifted it to my lips and kissed it. She didn’t even flinch nor look at me. She just sat there staring at the floor as tears were still falling from her eyes.
I swear I saw the white stone glow on the King’s circlet as he placed the matching piece on my head. Was it just a reflection of the light? Or was it my imagination? Or then again, maybe I am going crazy. This has been the craziest day of my entire life and maybe I’m cracking under all the stress.
I heard the sounds of laughter, joy, cheers and congratulations but I still felt hollow. I felt no joy... I felt only sadness...
Today is my wedding day. I should be happy. Hell, I am even married to a King! Who wouldn’t want that, right? My wedding looked beautiful. The large courtyard was transformed into a beautiful meadow filled with flowers. It even looked like the meadow I always dreamed about!
Flowers were placed everywhere. A long, red carpet led from the castle towards the altar and on each side of them were rows and rows of chairs where men and women of every title sat. They looked like a treasure chest of jewels for they were so bright and colourful with the way they were dressed.
On the foot of the thrones stood a large pile of gifts. Who wouldn’t be happy with receiving gifts, right? No... Not me. I still felt nothing.
My dress was beautiful and whoever made it even chose the colors of my kingdom: blue and white. The man I married looked handsome wearing his traditional jacket which was red with gold buttons and numerous medals. He looked like a God and everyone would want to be married to him.
Again... No, not me.
I clutched the plaid and wrapped it closer around me to ward of the chill. I inhaled and smelled the King’s clean, masculine scent. I tilted my head and felt the circlet move. Right, I am a queen now. I should be happy! I am a not only a hundred times richer, I am also a queen! I shoud be ecstatic, right?
Yet I find that I am far from being happy...
“Princess... If ever you get married, what kind of wedding would you like?” a brown haired man with the most vivid green eyes I’ve ever seen asked me.
“Duncan... You know that I am my father’s only heir. If ever I get married, I am sure it would be to someone my father chose. Maybe a king or a prince. And it will be for the sake of an alliance or something that the kingdom gains... I don’t think I’ll ever marry for love. If that’s the case then I guess the wedding won’t matter.” I replied.
“But what if you get to choose the groom? What if it was a love match?” he asked and I felt excitement bubble inside me.
“Well... Hmm... I think I’d like a simple wedding. I want it to be held inside the castle and only family and close friends will be invited. I’d fill the room with flowers! Flowers everywhere!” I said and giggled excitedly.
“And then?” Duncan prompted.
“I’d make my wedding gown myself. I’d want an ivory-colored gown embroidered with golden stitches. I’d sew it myself and pay attention to every little detail I could. The designs wil be intricate and I would do it so that my husband will know that I have prepared very much for our wedding. I will make the most beautiful gown ever and the man I am about to marry will think himself the luckiest man alive.” I said and then laughed.
“The man you would marry will be the luckiest man on earth even if you wore rags to your wedding.” Duncan said and I felt myself blush.
“Stop saying those things!” I chided.
Then I sighed and looked at Duncan once more. “But I guess if I truly did love the man I would marry, everything else won’t matter too for all I would care about is being with him. We could be married anywhere! We could have a lavish feast or none at all and still I would be content because I got to marry the man I loved.” I said with a dreamy sigh.
Duncan smiled. “Close your mouth, fool. The flies will go in.” I joked and Duncan replied by splashing me cold water on the face.
“Why you--!” I said and gathered my skirts and chased him down.
I smiled to myself as I recalled the memory. It happened years ago. I think I was only thirteen or fourteen years of age then. Duncan still hasn’t proposed to me that time and I still had no idea that I was in love with him...
It was only years after that event that he told me he fell in love with me the moment he first set eyes on me. And that happened when he was still a boy and I, a little girl. He told me he fell in love with me the day he saw me at the kitchen and I got off my stool, walked on my chubby little legs and handed him a few tarts. He told me he wanted me then and worked hard to become Captain of The King’s Guard just so he could become worthy of a princess.
When I grew up, I always wished he’d notice me. I didn’t know that he was in love with me for a long time already... When he proposed, my world turned upside down. After that moment, I knew we would end up together. I already planned our wedding, thought of names for our children and dreamt constantly about our future together.
I never knew a thing like this would happen.
I never knew Amaranth would be invaded and I would be captured and sold as a slave. I never knew the King of Ivaris would be my master. I never knew I’d be throwing away all my plans with Duncan...
I never even imagined I’d be married to the King of Ivaris and become his Queen...
Note: the Priest’s blessing is actually an old Celtic Wedding Blessing. Also their vows. :)
I kinda mixed the different cultures together to form their wedding ceremony. I also added some of my own things. Haha. I hope you liked it! :D