Prince Cirroc was at home in the city of Rodas. He had recovered completely from the wounds he had received from the late Loftus in Dubchor.Now he was in his office in the citadel in Rodas.He was reading a dispatch from his brother King Conleach:
My marriage negotiations have been completed, it said. Aine, the youngest daughter of King Cracticus is coming from his kingdom through Cressil, where her sister Absallah is queen, through the pass of Niall. She will need to rest and recuperate in your city.Please extend her every courtesy.Her dowry will be coming with her.It will have to be kept in as safe a storage as you can provide. Take care of her for me. Matters of state keep me here.
That was not surprising.King Conleach needed a new Gran Visir since the last one had proved to be so treacherous.
He had to kill Lord Kierbhallen for conspiring against him. Rumor had it that he was going to promote his brother-in-law Lord Finn into the vacancy. That was Cathleen’s husband.
Well that was a very interesting message. And it made Cirroc wonder. Conleach’s wedding will likely be a matter of state too. But what Cirroc really wondered about was would the Princess Aine look like her father or her mother.Her mother he knew little about.But her father was famous for being one of the ugliest kings they knew.He was described as having a very large and bulbous nose.His hair was supposed to be red, like Cirroc’s but not so full.
“Jere,” Cirroc called to his valet. The man was also his major domo.Cirroc had a small household: a few servants, some slaves down in the scullery, and two security guards.
“Yes sir,” Jere responded.He was never far from Cirroc if he could help it.
“We are going to have royal company soon,” Cirroc told him. “My brother the King says that his intended will be journeying here on her way to her wedding.”
“When will she be arriving?” Jere asked.
“I don’t know Cirroc said.“She is supposed to be the youngest daughter of King Cracticus. She will be going to Cressil first, where her sister is Queen.Then she will be coming here.”
“Well I can see the reasoning behind that match,” Jere said. Even he had heard of the aggressive and rather ugly King Cracticus. He also mentioned another well known bit of information about Cracticus.“If your brother is married to one of his daughters, he’ll be less likely to attack us and try to get us as a kingdom for one of his sons.”
“Aye,” said Cirroc, “he has 5 sons and some say he has sworn to get crowns for all of them.” They thought on that for a few minutes. Then Cirroc said, “I’m going on my patrol now.Notify Avock and Grail.” “Yes, said Jere.He went to get Cirroc’s cloak.He notified the two body guards on the way.He returned in a moment with the cloak and the two black visaged body guards in tow.The taller, darker, Avock hung back.His language was rather rough and he still did not want to get too close the lords and ladies, especially members of the royal family like Prince Cirroc was.The smaller and brighter complected Grail, however, had been given fine manners and soft speech. This was courtesy of the master he’d freed himself from when he was a slave, years ago.
“We’re going on patrol,” Cirroc said. They had expected it. Cirroc always patrolled his city about this time of day.So they walked out of the pinkish citadel and on to the street. The name of the city was Rodas, meaning Rose garden.It looked like a rose garden at this time of day, just before the sun set.The walls that were always a sort of pinkish hew, were rose colored now.It usually also smelled like a rose garden that had been freshly fertilized, with the smell of man manure. The main manure was from both animal and human sources. Cirroc toured Citadel Street first. This was the street that ran right around the defensive wall of his citadel.Many people lived here, some of them right in the wall of the citadel.It was also the most natural route for him to take to the bazaar.Some craft masters lived on that street, fortunetellers, and the like.Then he went on to the bazaar.People were just closing up shop for the night. Cirroc checked out the stalls just before they were closed.He had no doubt that his cook had been there earlier in the day, making her purchases for his evening meal.
Then when he got to wall street, he took that around the city wall until he got to the street of Temples. He had an errant to do there, for with a royal visitor coming, he knew that the high priest and high priestess would want as much notice as possible. He entered the temple of the Mother of gods just before evening services started.“Tell the High Priestess that I have some news I believe she really wants to know about,” Cirroc said to the young priestess who attended on him. He waited while she ran to find the lady. As he waited he wondered if the young priestess would find that lady in the company of the High Priest of the Father of Gods. Cirroc knew that while there was officially no contact between them, they were in fact de facto husband and wife.
While the temples were on opposite sides of Temple Street, there was in fact a tunnel that connected them. Frequently this was where trysts between priests and priestess happened.For that reason the tunnel came equipped with side rooms so that the priests and priestesses could be as intimate as they wanted to be.And when the inevitable happened, the High Priestess would announce that another virgin birth was going to happen in the temple of the Mother of Gods. Cirroc thought they were hoping to replace some of the children of the Father of Gods and the Mother of Gods who had fallen out of favor.That would bring more sacrifices to the temples.
But it was only a few minutes before that lady arrived, so she must not have been there. “Yes, my Prince,” she said.“What can I do for you.” “We are going to have a royal guest here soon,” Prince Cirroc said.“She is the Princess Aine, the youngest daughter of King Cracticus.She is now promised to marry my brother King Conleach, and she will be traveling to the wedding by coming be way of Cressil.You know her sister Absallah is Queen there.After that she will come through the Pass of Niall.After that she will stop here for a few days rest before proceeding on to Dubchor and the wedding.”
“Oh how wonderful,” the high Priestess said. “We shall have a royal visitor.Oh we shall not let you down, my Prince.”She was very happy.And, through the corner of his eye, Prince Cirroc believed he saw the young priestess who had greeted him running through the temple.No doubt she was spreading the word.
Cirroc went through the bazaar and back along Wall street covering the left side of the city wall. Then on through some of the smaller side streets.Avock and Grail were two steps behind him the whole way. They even managed to go past the small temple of the river god.
By the time he got back to the citadel, Cirroc had straight in his mind what he wanted to say to the Lords and Ladies who were beholden to him. “Send the scribes to me,” Cirroc told Jere. Moments later, the two scribes attached to his household were there.In a moment they were set-up to take his dictation.“To My Lords and Ladies,” he said.“I have received word from my brother, His grace, King Conleach.We may expect a royal visitor soon.Her Highness, Princess Aine, will journey to Dubchor to be married to our great liege lord, the King.On her journey she will come to Rodas and rest and recover herself for a time.We shall do everything in our power to make her as welcomed and comfortable as we can, including a state dinner in her honor.All should prepare to attend.Sign it; Cirroc, Prince and brother to King Conleach.” The scribes scribbled for a few moments.Then Cirroc added instructions.“Make only enough copies for the Lords and Ladies closest to Rodas. No sense in bothering those who are further on with something that may be too much for them.”He was referring to the fact that the planting season was near at hand.
Then he turned again to Jere. “Send the cleanest of the kitchen wenches to my bed tonight,” he said. Jere knew very well what he liked and did not like and would send a comely girl.The Kitchen wenches knew very well that their master considered that he was not only entitled to their services, but to their bodies as well.