War and Despair

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Chapter 33

“What did that man tell you?” Marisindin’s mother hissed as she walked by.

"He was just delivering a message from the tailor." Marisindin lied.

"About your wedding gown? No delays, I hope. We're going to have to move the wedding forward. The situation to the south is getting worse, and we may not have time if our supply routes are cut off." the queen said.

Marisindin and Peterrin sat back down. A moment later, Dacia and Durazno reentered the room and took their places. Marisindin hadn’t realized that either of them had attempted to follow them.

"So neither of you have any problem with the wedding being moved up?" the queen said. They were sitting in her private parlor.

"No. As long as it can be put together in time." Marisindin shrugged.

“I assure you that it can. I am excellent at planning things like this.” Her mother said, smiling kindly at them. “The tailor probably won’t be able to get the original dress ready in time, but I’m sure we can make some adjustments.”

“That would be fine. I’m sure we can do without most of the pearl embroidery. Lace would be faster and have the same elegance.” Marisindin said.

“Wonderful! I’ll let the cooks and the tailors know! I’ll send for fresh flowers to decorate the place!” The queen chirped enthusiastically.

“Mother? Could you also have the healers notified that wedding has been moved up?” Marisindin asked.

“Of course, darling! She said. “Oh, I am so happy for you!”

“We have to do this.” Peterrin said. She pulled open her bedroom door and they went inside. Marisindin dug her second dagger out of the binding of one of her books and strapped it to her leg while Peterrin fetched his men.

With the comforting weight of her knives, Marisindin, Peterrin, and Peterrin’s five men walked to the red tower’s staircase. She squeezed Peterrin’s hand and walked up the staircase. The stairs were dark and musty, the torches flickering far below her giving it an eerie cast.

The red tower did not have a good history, Marisindin recalled. One of her ancestors had had a bad habit of killing his wives and had built the tower to have more fun doing it. It had been a maze of traps and hiding places for six years. That particular king, King Urlthdor, had enjoyed setting the current wife loose in the tower and chasing her until either he, or one of the traps caught her.

This had lasted until his younger brother Kelsed fell in love with the woman he was courting. The woman, Laisse had not taken Kelsed’s advice to leave while she still could and married Urlthdor. Kelsed had agreed to help her, and they had shoved Urlthdor off of the top of the red tower.

Kelsed hadn’t married Laisse. He’d seen her for the traitorous and cold woman she was. He had had her executed publicly a few days later. Kelsed had never married but passed the throne on to his nephew and died peacefully in his sleep.

Marisindin reached the top of the staircase and found the man from the banquet waiting for her.

"I wasn't sure if you would come. I guess you were stupid enough to actually believe that." The man said.

"It was a bluff?" Marisindin asked.

"Yeah. So I could lure you up here and kill you."

“And that is why you die tonight.” Marisindin said, right on cue, one of Peterrin’s men leapt onto the balcony and slit the man’s throat.

“Dispose of him.” Marisindin ordered. “We shall never speak of this again.”

Over the next few days, the palace underwent tremendous changes. The servants swept and polished every inch of it until the old stones shone.

The day of the wedding, before Marisindin was hauled away to be dressed, she could see thousands of flowers being carted in and hung along the walls of the feasting halls. Then Lady Elsanna and Dacia grabbed her and hauled her to her dressing room.

They practically tossed her into the bath and went to work scrubbing her spotless. Then they patted her dry and helped her into her underclothes. It took quite a bit more time to get her laced into her wedding gown.

The gown was made of ivory silk and satin and flowed down her body like water. A generous amount of lace had been used to make her long train. Pieces of shining crystal had been sewn into the train to make it glitter whenever she moved. Pearls had been sewn onto the bodice in a crisscrossing pattern.

When Elsanna and Dacia were done with the dress, they sat her down in front of a glass and started twisting her hair into an elaborate braid. When they were finished with her an hour later, her long hair hung in a long braid over one shoulder. A wreath of jasmine crowned her head, woven in place with several strands of her dark hair.

“Are you excited?” Elsanna asked her.

“Bordering on terrified.” Marisindin admitted. Elsanna laughed.

“I was the same way, and I’d known Terrence for a lot longer than you’ve known Peterrin!” Elsanna told her. “You’ll be fine!” She turned to Dacia. “Make yourself presentable, you’ll be helping carry Marisindin’s train.”

Dacia saluted and ran off to change into a fresh dress. She returned wearing a pale blue dress, with her curly hair pulled back into a braid. Senna, John’s wife, and Harry’s sister arrived a few minutes later dressed in similar blue frocks.

Marisindin’s father walked her into the chapel, with Dacia, Senna and Harry’s sister carrying her train. Peterrin stood with the priest at the altar. Her mother stood wearing a fine pale pink gown, holding Leo’s hand. Even the man Durazno was there, standing between one of the healers and Aileron.

Peterrin and Marisindin said their marriage vows before the priest, and then proceeded onward to the feasting hall. They sat at the head of the high table, where the king and queen usually sat. The musicians struck up a lively dance tune, and Marisindin watched Senna drag her husband out onto the dance floor.

They feasted on roast pheasant and eel pie and all manner of delicacies as the musicians played. All the food was delicious, but the cake was the masterpiece. It towered five layers tall and had been iced to look like the ocean was lapping up the layers.

The musicians began to play the song ‘Sana’s Tears’. It was a beautiful and haunting tune, and one that she had never really cared for.

Next, they played ‘Sweet Robin’. That had been one that she loved. She found herself pulling Peterrin out onto the dancefloor.

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