The Queen's Pearls Book 2 of The Prince Cirroc Series

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Chapter 3

Right on time the next day, the city guard reported that they saw an entourage coming out of the pass of Niall. They saw two lines of armored mounted men.When they saw a carriage with them, they were sure. Behind it followed baggage wagons and supply wagons.This was expected. No Princess would travel without proper clothing. There were also tents, and food and water for the people and animals.They had had to camp out on their way to Cressil and they would have to camp one more night on their way here. That night could be a miserable night as the rainy season was beginning.But if the rains did start, that would mean that the river would rise and they could take boats from here down to the capitol. That would make their travel much easier.

The captain of the guard got Prince Cirroc and brought him to the watchstanders post. He too could just make them out through the hillocks and trees.It was clearly the Princess’s party.He went down into what passed for his office and called the scribes to him.“The Princess’s party has been seen coming through the Pass of Niall,” he dictated.“They should arrive in Rodas tomorrow. The official state dinner to welcome her shall be two days after that.”The scribes made copies of that.Those would be posted in the bazaar and sent to all the Lords and Ladies who were expected to attend.The new gowns, doublets and finery would have to be finished by then.

Each household became a flurry of activity. Each Lord and Lady was fitted into their new finery. Harnesses were cleaned and polished. Carriages had the final touches put on, Everything was made in readiness as quickly as possible.Even the city guard had to be ready for the Princess to inspect them.Even in the citadel, there was a push of last minute preparations. The Prince saw everything that Jere had done to make the citadel ready and get the Prince looking at his best. He approved.

That night was a sleepless night for a lot of people. Prince Cirroc did not take one of the maids to his bed that night.He didn’t want anyone to note her leaving his bed in the morning. In the morning things were beginning to shape up, and by noon all was ready.

At noon, Cirroc was in his second best outfit, on his destrier waiting to ride out to meet the princess. The gate guard blew a blast on the trumpet as she approached the city gate in her carriage.The leather window covers were pulled down.The gate to the citadel was opened and Cirroc spured his horse forward to meet the carriage before it had completely passed through the gate.Cirroc pulled his horse to a stop right infront of the carriage, and spoke, “ Welcome to my city, Princess Aine. I am Cirroc, youngest brother to King Conleach. I am honored to be your host for the next several days.” One of the leather flaps was pulled back, but it was not Princess Aine he saw. It was her chaperone. The woman’s hair was gray and she had a face full of wrinkles.

“I am the princess’s chaperone,“ was the only introduction she gave. “Do you know how to behave like a gentleman?” Her age gave her the right to ask such an audacious question, that and the importance of her office. Princess Aine had to reach her husband still in the flower of youth and innocence.“I do, madam,” Cirroc said.He did not have to speak to her like that, after all he was a prince and she was a servant. But he chose to .“Then take us right on to the palace,” she said. “Forgive me,” the Prince said, “but there is no palace here.There is only the citadel where we have made arrangements for yourself and the Princess to stay so long as you are here.”“Very well,” she said.“Take us directly there.”“Yes, madame,” Cirroc said.He turned his horse and returned the way he’d come.

When they got to the citadel, and the second wagon with the luggage had cleared the gate, he ordered the gates closed behind them. The carriage, which was actually little more than a wagon with a leather roof and leather window hangings, came to a stop.The women inside began to disembark. First came the grandmotherly chaperone. Then came the maid, who was a somewhat comely lass.Then came the Princess herself. Cirroc could not help but draw a deep breath, almost a gasp when he saw her.

Princess Aine was beautiful. She had long black hair that was braided in tiny braids hanging down her back. Her brow was as white as snow and neither too broad nor too narrow. The proportions of her face were perfect in every way.Her ears were small and round and set in the perfect place on her head.Her eyes were dark and flashing.Her figure was all that could be dreamed of. She wore a simple cream-colored traveling gown, comfortable and loose. She also wore a simple tiara on her head.Her feet were small and dainty.She stepped with a firm step. She was, infact, one of the most amazing women Cirroc had ever seen.

“My Lady, Princess Aine,” the chaperone said, “the daughter of King Cracticus.” Cirroc managed to breath again.“My Lady,” the chaperone went on, taking up the slack, “this is Prince Cirroc, the brother of your promised husband.” Princess Aine extended her hand. Prince Cirroc managed to take it and kiss it like a gentlemen without falling over.“Charmed,” he got out of his mouth.“And I,” said the Princess, and thereby revealed another of her charms.Her voice was soft and lilting. For a moment, Cirroc only stared at her.Then he came to himself again.“Your rooms are prepared for you here in the Citadel. I would be honored to escort you to them.”For a lady so fine and delicate as a princess, no less an escort then a prince would do.

He took her hand gently and held both hands out in front of them so that they went side by side up the steps and into the citadel and then up to the room that had been prepared. The Chaperone was right behind them, assisted as necessary by Jere.The young maid was in the back managing with the things that Aine would require the most.

Cirroc gazed on Aine as much as he could during their assent, only glancing around from time to time to make sure he had not lost his way. Soon enough he reached the Princess’s chambers.“Her you are, my Lady,” he said.“These are the best we have to offer.”He bent to kiss her hand.“They will do, they will do,” the chaperone said, pushing between them. She urged Aine further into the room, away from Prince Cirroc.

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