The Trial Groom

Shards of daylight slitted across the regal bedroom. Crisp white linens and crushed velvet pillows littered the bed. Blade lifted her head to scrowl at the morning. The air was fresh and smelt of brisk wind, sea foam, and weirdly a touch of fish. Blade grimaced. She had argued with her grandmother, the Dowager Queen Evander, against the trial marriage. The idea of ceremonial temporary marriage between individuals from prominent families in warring countries made senses for policiticans, but not for the warrior caste. Blade had been ready to die for Crest but never to marry to stop a war.
Grandmother had had to order Blade to comply. She remembered seething the entire trip from her mountain clan home to the valley of Lanx. She remembered fighting her own BlackCoat soldiers to rend the ceremonial bridal mask. With shame she remembered crying herself to sleep in the ridiculous royal bed.
In a sudden fury, Blade lashed out at one of the velvet pillows. She kicked and tossed. A flurry of goose feathers showered the once sumptuous bedding. An unexpected sound made Blade whip around in surprise. A slim feature on a blush pink brocade chaise lounge was clapping. Blade reached for her waist knife and then realized the elders had disarmed her before her trip to meet her husband. Fluidly Blade took a barehanded fighting stance. The lanky young man laying on the small sofa smiled.
“Explain or die,” Blade hissed.
The man chuckled.
“Die it is.”
“Stop your highness.” The stranger sat upright, hiding his laughing mouth.
Blade leapt from the canopy bed, whipped a sharpen hairpin from her curly head, and seized the stranger by the throat. His eyes grew large with surprise and then he burst into laughter. Blade considered how difficult it was to stab someone who was laughing. She tighten her grip.
“I’m Zex, I mean Crown Prince Isaax from the royal house of LeVanell, your highness,” Zex squeaked. “Welcome you to Maryna.”
Blade continuing squeezing as his words seeped in. Zex pushed with all his might against the shapely warrior to no avail.
“Wait are you my husband?” Blade released him.
“What! you wish. You’re hideous,” Zex said coughing. “You’re bethored to my unfortunate lunkhead big brother. I’m your etiquette tutor.”
Blade lunged for him and Zex skittered out of reach. She gave chase and soon they were running around the canopy bed. She made a grab for him and Zex smacked her with a gold colored bolster pillow.
“Why am I in Maryna? I don’t need a damned teacher!”
“Of course not, you’re the model of congeniality. You’re too genteel for the intellectuals and highborns of Lanx so the elders of your country and mine thought they would ship you out to the summer home of the royal house of Maryna to make you more coarse and savage,” Zex shouted waving his pillow in his left hand and picking up a chamberpot with the right. They were both huffing and out of breath. Blade lowered her hairpin and cocked her head to the side. Fencing, hand to hand combat, advanced poisoning, Blade had trained her entire young life in fighting and war strategy. Her realm had gotten strong invading and cherry picking the riches of its neighbors but Lanx had risen to prominence by forming powerful alliances with all of the free lands. Blade could lead a battalion like the queens before her but she needed to learn diplomacy and how to use a salad fork. Blade narrowed her eyes.
“Who did you piss off to get the wonderful job of making me a lady?” Blade said and flung her hairpin to jab the Prince in the arm.
Lightning fast, Zex deflected the hairpin with the chamberpot. “Pretty much everyone, Queenie.”

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