Friday, 29 December 2017


Spring, Glyndwr
Nereus sat alone in the darkened room; he had liberated the small bedchamber of its previous occupants. One of the perks of being the crown prince was getting what he wanted, when he wanted it. But in truth this tryst would surely see him beheaded rather than crowned. His father, the High King Rylan, had been forced into another marriage after the loss of Nereus’s mother. It was some age old rule according to the brotherhood, which stated no king of Theyrn was allowed to die without a queen at his bedside. And while Rylan was not too far off his death, his willingness to remarry had been all but non-existent.
Nereus had found himself in the bed of his new mother. She was a princess, from the isle of Corraidhin. An island so small it barely deserved the title. Corraidhin was the last kingdom to be founded, fifty years previously. Once Ryker was named king and Lyle joined the ranks, there would be a whole of 5 kingdoms included in the empire of Glyndwr. An empire Nereus would inherit.

“Waiting for someone?”
Nereus looked up, she had appeared. Her hair was like the autumn leaves he remembered treading through as a child, with bright green eyes that stirred him inside, he was weak to her.
“Clio” Nereus said softly.
He watched as she smiled and came closer, her gaze dribbling down him like fresh running water. He wished he could blame her for their involvement, but the truth was far less obvious. Upon meeting her at her wedding to his father, Nereus had briefly complimented her beauty. Several nights after, she appeared to him in her nightgown. Ever since that night she had made a habit of appearing before him when he least expected.

“The Elder Nerio keeps pestering the king,” she told him, finally moving close enough to touch “Insisting that the king impregnates me, in case of your death.”
Nereus nodded, “Makes sense. I get badgered everyday about taking a wife.”
“Will you?” She sat beside him, peering at him with uncertain eyes.
“It’s not as if I can’t,” Nereus shrugged. “I need an heir, else let the crown fall to another.”
He leaned back to take a better look at her, she was so young, he wondered at her wanting of him.
“What if… I gave you an heir?” She asked tentatively.

Nereus groaned inwardly, “You’re my mother. It can’t be,” he told her solemnly as she took a seat beside him.
She looked unhappy, her lower lip pouting outward. Nereus smiled at her, reaching out to clear away a stray hair. In truth, he knew who is intended was – and he knew that he had no choice in the matter. Although the Brotherhood had not gone public with his betrothal, it was set like a stone beneath water. And in a way he preferred it that way, his marriage would be an agreement, a contract. He would save his heart for others, like Clio.
“I’ve heard your sister will be sent away soon,” Clio said, looking up into his eyes.
He gave stiff nod, “She should have been married a long time ago, but there wasn’t anyone particularly suitable.”

Nereus watched her as she nodded her understanding, looking away as she considered speaking what they were both thinking. His sister Neith was not married because for so long her unofficial betrothal to Ryker had gone on as a huge disagreement among the church. A great many hoped for a marriage between the Ryker and the princess – those great many who also believed that Nereus was not worthy of his father’s crown, being an unmarked son of Theyrn. Though it was not uncommon for the sons of Theyrn to be unmarked, Ryker’s birth had sowed the seeds of doubt in the kingdom.
“Well, I’m sure she will make a beautiful bride,” Clio said finally. “And you will make a fine husband.”
He simply nodded his agreement, his mind drifting from the conversation. It wouldn’t be long before everything changed, his sister would be gone and he would be forced into a marriage bed – he would have to have a marked son, in order to quell the rumbles of doubt about his worthiness. In the meantime, he hoped that Clio could continue to keep him warm during the cold nights – even if her position as Queen was hazardous to their health.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Interest Known

Spring, Glyndwr
A songbird fluttered outside the castle window, Neith could hear its song despite the wall between them. She stood away from her desk, where the letter lay. The letter which had informed her rather roughly of Ryker’s impending wedding. She of course would not be attending, as the church was deftly negotiating her own marriage. Neith was the princess of Glyndwr, and therefore a tool at the Brotherhood’s disposal. Her chest ached, as she stared off into nothing. Although she had known for some time, that Ryker would be married to another woman, she couldn’t help the burning sensation of loss. As children, they had been told they would wed, and spent many hours in supervised visits, ‘courting’ her father had called it.

Neith had always been a quiet child, but somehow Ryker had managed to break through her barrier with his mischievous smile. It was her brother Nereus who told her the reason she would not be his bride. Rumours had circulated, by the rebellious few in the church who had pushed for Ryker to be named her father’s heir – instead of her brother. Ryker bore the mark of Theyrn, whereas Nereus did not. If Neith was married to Ryker it would reinforce the bloodline – and those rumours against Nereus would no doubt spur an uprising. Instead, she would be shipped off to one of the other kingdoms. The Brotherhood was hoping for a bond with Maela; however the alternative was Ruadh – where she would most probably become a second or third wife for one of their princes.
The door creaked open but Neith knew who it was, so she did not move. She had summoned Sofia not long before, intent on finding out as much as she could about Ryker’s new bride. She wasn’t sure why it mattered; it wasn’t as if she had any power over the situation. She waited and listened as the door shut again, and heard the girl step forward and curtsy.

“Princess,” Sofia chimed musically.
The two of them had grown reasonably close since Sofia’s arrival. She had been sent to wait on Neith while seeking a husband; it was obvious she was not able to gain one on her own. Neith finally turned to acknowledge the girl; she walked to her and smiled gently.
“How do you fair?” She asked Sofia plainly.
Sofia was of Maelan descent, on her father’s side. Her mother was Ruadhian, and she had spent her childhood in the kingdom of Ruadh. Neith had heard that Sofia’s father was not inclined to his ancestral custom of a matriarchal society. He had fled Maela in exchange for Ruadh, where he’d married a noblewoman and gone on to father several children. Unfortunately, Sofia was not exactly an appealing young girl and she did not make up for her lack of beauty with personality, so far as Neith had gathered.

“I am very well,” Sofia answered. “What of you, Princess?”
Upon further inspection, Neith could see she was nervous. It was understandable, being summoned by the princess without prior awareness of such a meeting. Neith smiled a little, she did not need the girl to be at unease.
“Let us sit,” she said, extending her arm. “Have you any news to share, any men to tell me of?”
Sofia followed her toward the table, “I’m afraid I’m only a little more desirable than before I came here – not that your highness hasn’t aided me immensely.”
Neith smiled again, giving a nod to acknowledge the truth in her statement. Neith had tried every trick in the book with Sofia, such as donning her in the latest fashions and having her attend every gathering alongside her. Sofia simply had very little to offer, she was timid with herself and yet forward with her politeness, when she spoke it was almost as if she was reciting a chapter from a book. She had also shown little interest in any man she had been presented to, or at least she had not made any interest known.

Neith sat down first, with Sofia waiting politely. It was a wonder that the girl hadn’t been forced into a marriage by her father already.
“Would you like a drink?” Neith offered, gesturing to the cups available.
Sofia looked horrified, “Princess I would not mean to impose –”
“I’m not thirsty either,” Neith interrupted.
She was growing impatient, eager to get to the point of the conversation. It seemed Sofia too was curious to learn the reason for her presence, as she had begun to fidget in her seat.
“Princess,” she began delicately. “If I have caused you offence in some way –”
“You haven’t of course, I doubt you ever could.” Neith said, “I’ve been told negotiations with Maela are going as expected.”

“Regarding your marriage?” The girl’s eyes lit up, “I have heard the prince is very handsome.”
“You have never met him?”
Sofia looked taken aback, “I haven’t been to Maela.”
Neith continued as if Sofia hadn’t spoken, “Your family in Maela is very connected I’m told, in fact your aunt is set to be married to Ryker.”
As she said the words, she felt her voice crack. Something welled up from her chest and into her throat, she gulped it back.
“My aunt?” Sofia seemed surprised, “I have two aunts –”
“Leda, her name is.”
Neith watched as recognition washed over the girl’s face, she flushed a little before speaking.
“My aunt Leda,” she said. “That is surprising, although I guess it does make some sense.”

“She has ties to the Brotherhood?” Neith asked eagerly.
“Well,” Sofia continued. “Sort of, she was sent to a house in Maela to be raised under the church – or at least an unofficial branch.”
“The Sisterhood,” Neith nodded knowingly.
The unofficial branch Sofia spoke of was known as the Sisterhood, not officially sanctioned by the church but somewhat supported. Neith knew it had been started by one of the previous Maelan queens – with the intention of providing Maelan born wives for the noble folk in other kingdoms. Beforehand, Maelan women had struggled with adjusting to life outside the matriarch.
“But,” Sofia added. “My father has implied that she was past her marriageable years – and that she would go on to act as a carer for new girls sent to the Sisterhood.”

Neith did not speak for a moment, her mind ticking over the new information. Sofia was suggesting that her aunt was too old – or at least beyond the regular years of a new wife. It was puzzling that the Brotherhood would choose a woman potentially unable to provide an heir for Ryker – although she supposed that she too was on the further end of the scale in regards to marriageable age. Her troubles had been due to the question of Ryker, whether or not he would be her husband had remained uncertain among the Brothers for a long time – and now that he was to be married, she was free to as well. Neith smiled broadly with the thought that perhaps Sofia took after her aunt – perhaps Ryker would be dissatisfied with his new bride, although unlikely, this thought made her feel a lot better.