The Tale of Princess Faye
Once upon a time, in a kingdom of favorable reputation, lived a lovely yet cold princess named Faye Amour. Princess Faye was a charming maiden, charismatic like a playful dolphin whilst also being mysterious and cold like a lone wolf. Although rumor would say she was a teasing woman, in truth she was simply a sorrowful soul who did not wish to love someone if she was doomed to lose them, a fear that took root after the fair Queen Alfreda passed away from an illness when Faye was only a mere child. Lost without her beloved mother to guide her and having witnessed the distress that came from the loss, Princess Faye vowed to never love lest she desired a life of misery and heartbreak. From this, she gained a reputation for being cold to her suitors and courting her was deemed by the men as a fate worse than being a prisoner for the cruel king of the East. Her father, King Wolfe, didn’t mind much as Faye was all he had left and he had no intentions in allowing an unworthy boy to marry his precious daughter.
When Princess Faye turned twenty, the king’s chancellor advised them that the Princess must wed to ensure the kingdom’s security. While they were financially secured, their political agenda needed work. Although it wasn’t something they preferred to do, it was necessary and so the King called to all eligible men from all four Kingdoms; Royalty, nobility, and gentry were welcomed so long as they met certain requirements. Many came to the kingdom in hopes that they might be able to woo the fair princess, eager to claim the title as king of the richest kingdom. A great festival was held to welcome the kingdom’s guests and the once calm cobble streets were bustling with ribbons and colorful fabrics.
“Quite the commotion.” The princess commented as she watched from her chamber windows with her handmaids. “Tell me, what were those restrictions my father set forth for these men?”
One of her maids took a seat beside her and began to list off the requirements that had to be met in order to appear before the court. “Your father asked that they be of certain physical characteristics as well as have an understanding of economics.”
“Oh?” the princess make a curt scoff before noticing that the villagers were becoming particularly excited. “Have they arrived?”
“oh yes, milady!” the maid squealed, the other girls too crowded by the window in an effort to see the men. “They’ve arrived earlier than expected.”
“There’s the prince of the northern lands!” one of the maids giggled, pointing at the man who wore a royal blue wardrobe and rode upon a golden horse. “Look at his smile, no maiden’s heart could withstand such charms.”
The princess observed the prince with cold analyzing eyes before stating that he smiled too much for her to find him sincere. “A man shouldn’t hide behind his good looks if he wishes to be taken seriously.”
The maids giggled in response, having already known that their lady would be the most difficult to please. They definitely pitied these poor men for what they were about to deal with as the princess was gifted in the art of evading those she did not wish to see.
“Look, look!” A girl pointed to the next man who followed closely behind the Northern Prince. “It’s the knight from Broughton, Sir. Reyner.”
“Who is that man riding beside him?”
The maid turned around and said, “That’s the Lord Westridge, he’s considered the greatest hunter in the Southern Kingdom. He’s a close friend to Sir. Reyner.”
“Too arrogant for me.” The princess stated with an emotionless laugh, “His Lordship carries his pride like the cloak draped across his shoulders and the knight may be a formidable foe in battle, however, I doubt there’s much more than that to him.”
The parade of eligible men continued and Princess Faye grew more and more withdrawn as each man was named by her ladies. Each of them was no different from the other, all handsome with great accomplishments to their name and women found themselves fallen for their devilish appearances. She couldn’t believe that there would be any joy to be found in this madness, she would have the chancellor punished for this foolish idea of his. As she silently plotted how she could inflict the proper amount of torture on the man responsible for this, the maids gasped in shock.
“He’s here?!” one cried in fear, “How horrible!”
“Who is here?” The princess asked as she glanced down at the final group to arrive. It was a group of three men who wore heavy armor and fur pelts, riding upon black stallions. The men themselves were unnaturally large, at least they seemed that way to Faye, and the man in the middle seemed unhappy to be there. “Who are they?”
“My lady.” her maid quickly forced the princess to move away from the window so that she may hastily close it. “That was the prince of the East Kingdom, Prince Bram, and his two knights.”
“East Kingdom?” The princess repeated in confusion, “My father invited them? I thought no one dealt with the East Kingdom anymore.”
“All eligible men were invited, my lady.” The maid reminded her, the other maids had distanced themselves from the window almost in fear. He could not see them as the wooden doors had been closed, but that didn’t seem to matter to them. “To not invite them would be akin to declaring war in the eyes of the Eastern King. However, I’m sure that your father didn’t expect to for him to send his son.”
Faye considered her maid’s words as she was then escorted to the throne room where she was permitted to watch from the shadows while her father welcomed the men. The Eastern Prince didn’t seem to keen on being here if the blank look she had spotted was anything to judge by, and surely his presence will add tension to the dull affair. As they continued to walk down the corridor to the throne room, Faye wondered if maybe this was more of a terrible idea than she originally thought or if perhaps, she might enjoy what was soon to come. Either way, she still intended to deal with the chancellor once things had settled down a bit.
Faye sat at the dinner table with her father as he and the chancellor spoke about their guests, particularly about the Eastern Prince. She had listened halfheartedly to them as they complained about the man’s manners and arrogance, his clear disinterest in the festival and the other upcoming activities were clear and quite insulting to her father.
“Just like his father!” The king spat in rage, “Even should he win, I will not allow him to marry my daughter.”
“Your highness.” The chancellor warned the furious king that by refusing the promised prize he would invoke a war and they were not at an advantage against the East. “Besides, I doubt he intends to participate much which give the other suitors a chance.”
The king grumbled a bit before Faye decided to voice her opinion. “I would rather disappointed if he didn’t put forth an effort.” The king and chancellor turned toward the fair princess as she continued. “The other suitors already believe they are destined to win and I would find it enjoyable to see them fight against such a formidable opponent.”
“I’m sure you would, my lady.” The chancellor sighed, “However, this isn’t for meager entertainment. We need to ensure our future beyond just our trade, the gold we’ve secured over the years will not last us forever, allegiances must be made for political reasons-”
Faye glared at the chancellor and demanded to know why she was to be the pawn in this political endeavor. “I am nothing more than a mere reminder of this contract? The moment I am pronounced some fool’s wife is just a signature to ensure my own misery?” With her mind spoken, Faye abruptly stood up and dismissed herself from the table. She didn’t wish to stay in the castle and listen to anyone else’s opinion on her new suitors so she instead headed out to the stables to ready her horse. When she had her horse ready, she took off for the forest that laid a mile away from the castle.
The guards weren’t bothered by her sudden trek as the princess was well known for her occasional fits with the chancellor. So when she had her horse racing toward the forest, no one thought much of it except for one man. The Eastern prince had been out practicing with his two knights when they spotted the princess fleeing the castle.
“She’s as temperamental as they said.” one of the knights chuckled as they watched her leave, “What might you suppose ticked her off?”
“She’s a princess.” The other laughed, “Princesses are always this way.”
The prince wasn’t too sure about that and ordered his men to wait for him while he went after the princess. “I’m not too familiar with the woodlands here but I doubt that she’ll be paying much attention to her surroundings like this.”
“You shouldn’t get involved.” His knights tried to warn him against interfering however, Bram refused to let the princess be a danger to herself when it could be prevented. So with that, he mounted his own horse and followed after the princess. It wouldn’t be too hard for him to follow her or track her if he had to, his biggest concern was that she might get hurt or a wild animal might make her its dinner if she wasn’t careful. And so he hurried after her if only to ease his mind of what could happen to the foolish girl.
The princess, on the other hand, had proven what a child she truly was when she finally came to halt in the middle of the forest. Having been so upset, Faye hadn’t thought about where she was going or if she had gone too far into the forest. Now that she had calmed herself down a bit, she realized that she hadn’t the slightest clue where she was or how far away she was from the castle. Faye was mostly familiar with the forest, seeing as she often came here when she was in distress but, she never ventured too far into it. Now she lost beneath thick patches of leaves with barely any moonlight to guide her back, she couldn’t even rely on her father or the knights to save her this time.
“Oh, what have I done now...?” she asked herself as she and her horse tried to figure out where they came from. “Is it this way?”
Her horse was just as confused and he grew more skittish the deeper they went, to the point that he began to whine. Faye was becoming just as unnerved and she silently wished for someone to save her from her own foolishness.
“Please...” she whimpered softly, “Someone please...”
The princess perked up and glanced around to see where the voice had come from. It called for her again and this time, she was able to tell where the person might be. “Who’s there?”
The sound of hooves stepping over roots, dirt, and grass was all she could hear for a moment before the Eastern Prince showed himself to her. “Princess, are you alright?”
Although surprised and a bit wary of the Eastern prince, Faye nodded, “I-I am...How did..?”
Bram looked away, “I happened to see you running away from the castle, I......I was worried that something might happen to you..”
Faye didn’t bother to hide her surprise, “You...were worried about me?”
The prince sighed, “Well....”
The prince didn’t get the chance to speak further as Faye threw herself onto him and wept in relief that he was there. Admittedly, he was taken by surprise and a part of him wanted to shove her away. However, he understood what distress she was in and decided to tough it out until she stopped by herself. She sobbed for a good moment, grateful for the fact that someone thought to chase after her, before realizing how improper her action was. With a squeal, she shoved herself off of him and apologized for the discomfort she might have caused him.
However, the expression on his face wasn’t one of disgust or even annoyance, it was rather gentle and understanding. “You were afraid, I don’t blame you for your reaction.” With that, he urged her to follow him back to the castle so that she could be home. She rode beside the prince, confused as to why he was acting so kind to her. Was it gain her favor? Certainly not as the rules of this month or so long event had been explained to him by her father. Was it truly out of concern for her well-being as he had said? She was inclined to believe him but, everything she had been told about this man urged her to think otherwise.
“You’re quiet,” he stated after a moment of unnerving silence. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“I am..” she answered, “I’m just...surprised? Shocked? Unsure?”
“About me?” Bram asked, turning slightly toward her with a sad smile on his face. “Not surprised, most wouldn’t have trusted me in this situation, or any situation for that matter.”
The princess turned her head toward him and saw the sad expression he wore. “Is that so...?”
“My father’s cruelty is widely acknowledged and feared, they all assume that I shall be the same.” He told her, his tone was solemn and his gaze was shadowed by dismay. “I am judged only by the actions of the man who sired me, not by my own choices.”
Faye immediately felt the urge to apologize for her own prejudice against him, however, she didn’t out of fear that he might become angry with her. Instead, she decided to try another approach, “How different are you from him then?”
He went quiet for a moment, she couldn’t tell if he was contemplating what to say or if she had offended him. He remained almost unresponsive to her question until she noticed that his shoulder slouched and he let out a ghost of a sigh. “He is an empty man, filled with anger and hatred that isn’t for anyone who is still alive. He lives for war and death; I almost believe that if death had a female personification, he would be romantically attached to her. My father has many mistresses and several children, I’m just the only one born of noble blood and therefore, I was named the heir.”
Faye’s stomach turned at the thought of that man having many women at his disposal. “Mistresses? No wives?”
“My mother was the only one he married, he hasn’t remarried since she died.” Bram left the topic at that, his body language told her that he would much rather talk about something else. “Why, if I may ask, did you run off?”
Faye blushed and turned away from him, “I-I...I had a small argument with my father and the chancellor.”
“About all of this?”
“...yes..” she answered in embarrassed shame, now realizing how foolish and even improper her actions were. She had agreed to this marriage affair unwillingly but, as the princess and only child of the king, it was her duty to her people. She was being selfish and a child about it.
“I don’t suppose that’s unfair,” he answered, surprising Faye with the honesty in his deep voice. “A forced marriage can’t be right, no matter how necessary it may be for a kingdom.”
Faye stared at him in shock, he understood her dismay to this madness. At least to some degree which was better than nothing.
“We must hurry back princess,” he told her as his horse began to walk faster. “Your father will not approve of us being out like this.”
“Y-Yes..” She urged her horse to follow him and silently prayed that she might get the opportunity to speak with the Eastern Prince again.
Faye and Bram found themselves at odds with their abnormal relationship. The princess, against the wishes of her father and her own cold heart, found herself drawn to the prince. He was rather kind and easy to get along with compared to his competitors, the other men made her skin crawl and nearly vomit at the sickeningly fake attraction they held for her. And she knew their affection was fake as she had already learned about her suitors seducing her chambermaids into intercourse. The prince did not do anything like that, none of the maidens dared to go near him.
Bram was rather comfortable with her company, it was nice to finally have someone who wanted to learn about him as a man. His knights disapproved of his friendship, reminding him that her father had every right to disqualify him from the tournaments and force them to return empty-handed. Despite the potential consequences of befriending the princess, Bram was undeterred. He also was disgusted with the other men who participated in the tournaments as they rather disrespectful to the princess, how many ladies of the court or female servants did those men already bed? It was appalling and he was grateful for the bad rumors that followed him as the same ladies knew better than to try their luck with him.
“Why do you scare away all the women?” Faye teased as they rode together at the edge of the forest. “You’ll never find a wife that way.”
The Prince laughed, “I don’t recall ever searching for a wife, I already told you I was forced to accept your father’s invitation.”
“True,” she giggled as they stopped their horses, they had agreed to venture out to collect flowers. Or rather she wanted to gather flowers and he refused to let her go alone. “And I must say, I’m grateful no woman has managed to seduce you.”
The Prince laughed again but more sheepishly than before, something she took notice of but made no comment toward. She rather liked it, it was a gesture that hardly suited the warrior prince and yet, it felt right. She wondered if maybe he might take the same enjoyment from her timid moments.
“This field of yours is rather far from the castle.” The prince noted aloud, “And you’re allowed to venture this far out by yourself?”
The princess smiled, “Of course not. At least, not always.”
They dismounted their horses and wandered into the field of flowers, it was a scene that wasn’t overly colorful but still beautiful. Most of the flowers were white with a few that were only tinted pink or purple. The grass was an amazingly healthy green color with butterflies and dragonflies drifting about.
“Quite a sight.” Faye smiled as she wandered into the field, “My mother used to always bring me here, we would pick flowers for my father.”
The Prince smiled and nodded his head, “I can imagine that. My mother used to do the same before she married my father.”
“Oh?” Faye turned to face the Prince, shocked to find that he was staring past her with a nostalgic expression. “You don’t talk about your mother much....”
“Neither do you.” He teasingly shot back, “And we can both guess why.”
Faye nodded and resumed her trek through the flowers. “I would love to hear more about her.”
“Your mother.” She turned toward the Prince again, giving him a warm and gentle smile. “You’ve only spoken about her twice, each time with great care and affection. I’m curious about her now.”
The Prince was unsure if he wanted to tell the princess about his beloved mother, her memory was only preserved by him and he was very protective of his memories with her. However, the princess had proven over the few weeks they’ve been together that she would not judge him like his father would. “I’ll tell you, for a price.”
“Yes, if I tell you about my mother, you must me about yours.”
Faye scoffed a bit before considering his proposal, it was a fair case as she was asking for personal information. He was willing to speak about the woman who meant the world to him at her request, she should be willing to do the same. “Alright, you first.”
“So you agreed?” He asked with a surprised laugh, “I expected more of a fight than this.”
“It’s only fair.” She shrugged before adding, “You can skip over any parts that you’re not comfortable talking about and I can do the same. Deal?”
The Prince agreed with her and began to describe the once kind maiden that was his mother. The late Queen Marie Annabelle was once the daughter of a nobleman and lived with her father just outside of the Eastern Kingdom. She was a spirited woman, behaving more like a spirit than a human and there was a soul who wasn’t entranced by her. She had dark eyes that didn’t seem human; no one could see her pupil and she always wore a strange smile, it almost appeared as if she could see through a person right down to their soul. Her hair was long and as black as ink, it swayed in the wind almost like a cat’s tail. She was regarded as the most beautiful woman in the kingdom and, with such a reputation, the king took notice and vowed to marry her.
“My mother wasn’t interested in him but, as is typical of a nobleman, her father agreed to the marriage. Her wedding was the last she ever saw or spoke to him.”
“Was she angry with him?”
“She believed she had the right to marry a man she loved and her father ripped that away from her.” He answered, “She knew from the moment she met my father that she couldn’t ever love him nor did he truly love her.”
Marie spent her days wandering the castle, trying to find something that gave her comfort as she was forbidden from leaving. For a woman who was spiritually bound to the outside world, being forced to live in the confines of stone walls was poisonous to her. It wasn’t until she met a certain knight that she finally received her happiness. Marie fell in love with the King’s favorite knight and her feelings were strongly reciprocated.
“A knight?” Faye was greatly intrigued by this spontaneous love story, “But you are the king’s son, right?”
“I am.” Bram confirmed, “My mother stayed true to her duties as queen. Even though she loved the knight, she never was intimate with him until after she bore me.”
“And how long did they last?” She asked, her eagerness to hear the rest of the story. “Did your father ever find out?”
Bram resisted laughing at her enthusiasm, “I grew up knowing the knight as her lover, he took care of me as if I was his own. My father was oblivious to this until my mother had born another child.”
Another mistress had caught wind of the Queen’s affair and, knowing that she couldn’t just tell the king that his wife was unfaithful to him, began to put doubt in his mind. Even though the Marie could have easily passed her newborn son as another prince, the king refused to believe her.
“He had his knight executed before the public, my brother was taken from us, and my mother slowly withered away as a result.”
“How horrible!” Faye gasped in disgust, “Wait, whatever happened to the baby? Surely they didn’t kill him.....did they?”
Bram confessed to not knowing whatever became of his younger brother, all he knew was that the child wasn’t in the castle the next day. “Father wasn’t a heartless man when he married my mother, he liked his women and money but he wasn’t such a monster as he is now. It was after this happened that he changed.”
Faye was surprised to hear that, her father had always told her that the Eastern Kingdom was a wicked place. While she could guess that the living there isn’t easy, she never would have thought the king wasn’t always cruel.
“In a twisted way, I almost wonder if he did love my mother. Perhaps not in a normal way.”
“It does sound like it.” Faye agreed softly, “But I must ask, how did you manage?”
“It wasn’t easy, I was sad for some time.” He admitted, “However, I was still a prince and I had to be one. I kept busy but, I never forgot.”
Bram chose to leave his story at that, insisting Faye keep to her end of the bargain. Faye, despite her suspicion that Bram may have left out a key detail in his tale, agreed and told him about her own mother. She told him how her father and mother were childhood sweethearts and that they were happily married in June. Her father did everything to make Alfreda happy, especially when she was pregnant with Faye. Faye was considered their miracle child as Alfreda was physically weaker than most women and a doctor had warned them against having a child. However, even though she survived childbirth, it took a toll on her body and, when Faye was just a small girl, Alfreda contracted an illness and slowly passed away.
Faye silently ate her meal while her father and the chancellor discussed the outcome of the recent tournament. So far, Bram had won every tournament and each win upset her father. Her father refused to acknowledge the fair accomplishments of the Eastern Prince, he didn’t want to hand his daughter over the Prince.
“There must some way to revoke his prize, a way to make him lose a fight.” Her father asked angrily as the chancellor tried his best to calm the king down.
“Your highness, please.” The chancellor pleaded, “We can’t afford a war, if you hadn’t chosen tournaments that depended on great strength then we wouldn’t have this problem.”
“The last tournament wasn’t based on strength!” The king roared, frightening both the chancellor and Faye. “It specifically designed to test their wits!”
“Your highness, you can’t just decide a winner!” The chancellor urged, “If he wins we must abide by the rules we created if you must be angry at anyone then look to the other men.”
“The chancellor is right, father,” Faye spoke, she was staring down at her plate to avoid her father’s rage face to face. “The other contenders do not even bother practicing, they’re arrogant and foolish. All they do is bed our ladies and smile at crowds; if by some stroke of luck, they were managing well enough in the games, they would only make weak rulers.”
“I’d give my daughter to a fool rather than a beast.”
“And I would rather take a beast as my king than a fool.” Faye snapped, throwing her fork across the room. Her father and the chancellor were taken back by her sudden outburst. “I will not marry any of those other men, I refuse!”
Faye was about to storm out of the dining room when her father grabbed her arm and forced her to stay. “You will go running to him again, I forbid it!”
“Father!?” Faye cried as his grip tightened on on her wrist, “Father, let me go!”
“You have no idea what a horrible man he is, a monster!”
Faye shook her head, tears spilling from her eyes. “No, that’s not true! Bram isn’t a monster like his father.”
“Do you think he cares about you?” Her father yanked her arm, “If he cared about anyone, his own sibling wouldn’t have been abandoned.”
“His sibling...? You know about his baby brother?” Faye stared at her father in shock. Her father grew angrier and tried to drag her her away. “Father, what are you hiding?”
The chancellor quickly pried the princess free and stood between them. “Your highness, allow me to take the princess to her room while you calm down.”
Surprisingly, the king didn’t need to be told twice and he stormed out of the room. The chancellor and Faye waited for the king to be long gone before speaking.
“Princess, you mustn’t get close to the Eastern Prince.” He warned her, “He may not be a monster but, nothing good follows that man.”
Faye stuck her chin out in defiance, “I refuse to believe anything you or my father say about Bram.” With that, Faye left the room and went off to the royal gardens. She had learned her lesson with running into the forest alone and decided to remain within the castle grounds. Bram always kept an eye out for her, knowing that she would come out for a walk at night. Tonight, however, he was out contemplating recent events and only noticed her by accident.
“You seem upset, Faye.” Bram noted as she stomped passed him, scaring the princess. “Sorry.”
“Thank you for removing years from my life!” Faye gasped as she held her chest. “What on earth are you doing out here?”
Bram, who was laying on a stone bench, sat up and stretched his arms. “Just thinking, and you?”
“I-....” Faye stopped herself from complaining, she was uncertain if she should tell Bram about her argument with her father. She had already told him before that his victories so far have made her father incredibly uneasy and Bram himself wasn’t too keen on that either. She didn’t know what exactly bothered Bram and she had a feeling that he wouldn’t appreciate it if she asked. “It’s nothing....”
Bram raised his brow, the princess wasn’t hard to read as she wore her heart on her sleeve. Despite her cold heart, Bram knew she was a kind woman who wasn’t very good at hiding her raw emotions. “I see, and if I were to say that you were lying to me?”
“You would be wrong.”
“And I think you need to learn to lie better.” Bram smiled as he pushed himself off of the bench and approached Faye. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing...” Faye turned away from the large man, she cradled herself as she moved to the other side of the walkway. “It’s nothing, Bram...”
Bram watched Faye for a moment, observing how she was on guard over something. He had a feeling that he was the topic of Faye’s argument and he wondered why she was so quiet all of the sudden. Was it that bad?
“Faye,” he extended his hand out to her, “Care to take a walk with me?”
“Bram....” Faye blushed and, for a second, Bram noticed the vulnerability in her eyes. “I-I really shouldn’t...”
“Please,” he urged with a smile, “I insist.”
With that plea, she took his hand a followed him through the maze that was the royal gardens. It was a relaxing walk and Faye managed to calm herself down during the duration of the walk. Bram made sure to keep their conversation to a minimum and mindless, he avoided the topic of her and father’s argument.
“Bram...” Faye spoke after a moment of silence, she knew she had to tell Bram what was bothering her. “Bram, what would you say if....”
Faye twiddled with her thumbs nervously and refused to make direct eye contact with him. “I...never mind.”
Bram wrapped his arm Faye’s shoulder, “What is it?”
Faye waved her hand in dismissal but, Bram wasn’t taking it and took her hand into his.
“Faye, please?” Bram continued to try and get Faye to speak about whatever it was that was bothering her but, she remained insistent that it was nothing. He knew better though, he knew she was lying and that whatever was bothering her wasn’t just nothing.
If he left her to wallow in this sadness, she may wither away like his mother did.
“How about we go somewhere else?” Bram asked softly, “Maybe a change of scenery will do you good.”
Faye considered that and nodded her head, “That sounds nice, but where shall we go?”
Bram smiled and promised her that he knew a place where they could go. With Faye curious enough to follow, Bram led her to the stables to fetch his horse. They then set off for the forest to wherever Bram intended to take her.
They rode for some time; Faye normally would be worried about how deep they were going into the forest, however, having Bram there made her feel safer. He had them ride fairly far before halting his horse.
“We’ll have to walk from here.” Bram told her as they dismounted the horse, “Watch your step.”
Faye nodded and held onto Bram’s hand so that he couldn’t leave her behind. He didn’t mind as he took her into his arms, keeping her at his side. He led her toward some thick foliage before they found a pretty lake and small waterfall.
“Amazing....” Faye gasped in amazement, she smiled and hurried toward the beach to touch the water. The water was almost perfectly clear, they could see most of the fishes swimming around and a few duck were lazily floating by. “How did you find this place?”
“Remember how we first met?” He asked, following behind her. “I had thought I heard the waterfall but I wasn’t sure, I came back out here and realized you were only a few feet away from here.”
Faye smiled as he showed her around the area, he had come out here multiple times just so he could bring her here. She enjoyed it, she loved every second of them touring the place.
“I knew you’d love it.” Bram smiled as Faye sat on a smooth rock. “To be honest, I wish that I didn’t have to leave so I could keep visiting.”
Faye went quiet again and refused to meet Bram’s gaze. “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” She asked softly.
Bram immediately figured out what was bothering Faye just from that question. “Faye, is there something you wish to tell me? Anything at all?”
Faye took in a deep breath and struggled to speak her mind. “I-I....I want you to win!” Faye’s vocal pitch rose slightly as she spoke. “I want you to win the final tournament a-and be the one I marry!”
Bram stared at her in shock, he hadn’t thought she would be this forward about marriage. In a way, he wasn’t sure what to think about this desire of hers. He knew she had fallen for him some time ago and he would admit that once he wasn’t fond of that idea. Now, he was torn.
“I know you might not feel the same, but I can’t stand the thought of marrying anyone else! I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t at least respect me and of all the other men, only you do.” Faye began to babble all of her sentences and hyperventilate. “I-I just don’t want to be alone anymore!”
“Faye....” Bram smiled and brought Faye closer to him. “Don’t you worry about that, I’ve been doing whatever it takes to have you all to myself.”
Faye stilled and glanced up at the eastern prince, “You mean that?”
He nodded and laid a soft kiss on her temples, “I do, and if that’s what you and your father have been arguing about then I can assure you that he won’t stand between us.”
“What do you mean?” Faye asked, “He can refuse your victory if he wishes.”
“Would you allow that?” He asked, “We could always run away, hide away and live on our own.”
Faye gasped in surprise and smiled brightly at the man before her. “You mean it? You would throw away your crown for me?”
“Of course.” He smiled, “We both know he doesn’t approve and perhaps he may never be convinced otherwise.”
Faye agreed with him and admitted that she knew her father was going out of his way to sabotage Bram’s chances of winning. “Please Bram, I don’t want to marry those other men.”
“You won’t, I promise.” Bram kissed her head again and silently vowed to never allow Faye to marry another man in his place.
Faye sat in her chambers while sewing a tapestry that she had started making when this whole affair started. She wasn’t terrible at handiwork like this but, she certainly wasn’t as good as her mother was. However, she was decent enough to make a fair tapestry for her father as a gift after the tournaments were over. At least, that was her original plan.
“You are aware of that I will not approve of this marriage.” Her father told her from the doorway. “I can’t allow it.”
Faye swallowed and sighed, “Not even if I truly loved him and he loved me?”
“Men like him cannot love, child.” Her father entered her room and paced. “You do not know him like you think you do.”
Faye stopped sewing and turned toward her father, “And what do you know that I don’t, father?”
“If I told you, will you not throw everything away for this man?”
“Perhaps.” She answered, “You should know how frail a woman’s heart is.”
“That it is.” He admitted, “I must admit, I had never thought the story itself to be true. Your grandfather had been sworn to secrecy as was I, you must never tell another soul.”
Faye agreed and listened intently to her father’s tale of Bram’s family. Although much of what her father had told her matched Bram’s version of events, there were details that she hadn’t heard before. Like how exactly the East King found out about his bride and the knight’s affair. The same mistress who envied the queen had told the king to pretend to leave the castle as the child was born, allow the baby’s true father to take his rightful place during the birth. Since they thought the king had left, the Queen, Bram, and the knight headed to a local midwife to deliver the child in private. They were ambushed halfway there while the Queen had been in labor. The child born, a small boy, was taken back to the castle and locked away with the Queen until the knight’s public execution. At the insistence of the mistress, a woman who was unable to have children of her own, the baby was given to her until the king was convinced to erase all memory of the bastard child.
The mistress and the child were thrown out of the kingdom, her mouth sewn shut to keep her from telling anyone what had happened. As far as the other kingdoms knew, the knight was killed for betraying the king and that was all. The mistress wandered for two days before she was found by Faye’s grandfather and father, who were traveling by the eastern border at the time. They cut her stitches and, with what life and dignity she had left, told them of the bastard child of the Queen.
“You’re grandfather had the child removed from her custody and gave him to a young maid to raise as her own.” The king told her, “She raised the boy until he became a man and returned to the castle.”
“Returned?” She asked, “When...? And who is he?”
“Your favorite knight, our ever loyal Tobias.” The king laughed, “He’s been a suitor of yours since you were young and now look at you, smitten with his wicked older brother!”
“A brother he doesn’t even know exists!” Faye shouted at her father in outrage. “Bram has spent years wondering what has become of his brother! For all he knows, the baby died the day he was taken!”
“Untrue my daughter. Tobias knows who sired him and holds a deep hatred for the royal family.” Her father’s smile changed, it wasn’t the same one she had been accustomed since birth. It was a cruel, sinister smile. “The final tournament will be fought between Bram and Tobias and all me to assure you, Tobias will win.”
Faye glared at her father, the man sired and raised her now was out for blood against the man she was infatuated with. “Are you so cruel father? To turn one brother against the other?”
“Think of me as you will.” He then turned around and left Faye’s room. Faye hadn’t the time to even move from her spot when she heard the lock move.
“He didn’t....” she rushed over to the door and tried to open it, only to find that her father had locked her in. “Father!? What’s the meaning of this?!”
However, Faye received no answer from anyone on the other side. She banged on the door as hard as she could, called to whoever might be out there, and no one unlocked the door or called back to her.
What is the meaning of this madness!? Faye thought to herself in anger as she pounded on the door one final time. What kind of hatred lays within father’s heart? What has the Eastern King done to him to inspire this anger?
Faye slid to the floor in defeat and wept softly. She hadn’t ever thought that her father would lock her away like this. She wouldn’t forgive him for this.
“Faye!” Faye’s head shot up as she heard Bram’s voice on the other side of the door. “Faye, are you alright?”
“Bram!” She called tearfully to the Prince, “Bram, what’s going on?”
“I do not know for sure but, my knights told me that you were locked away so I came to see what I could do.” She could hear him pull at the door in a futile attempt to open it. “Damn it.”
“Bram, I’m scared.” Faye whispered through the door, fearing that her father or someone might hear her. “You don’t understand what my father is planning to you, to both of us.”
“And do you?” He asked, “I know he plans to kill me, he made that clear last night after I returned you to your room.”
Faye remembered that after she had kissed Bram goodnight and closed her door she had strange sounds outside her room. She hadn’t thought much about it as the servants often made sounds like that at night. A strained sob escaped her lips and she forced herself to speak the truth. “Oh Bram, father wishes to do more than kill you. Your brother....your younger brother who you had thought was lost...he’s not as lost as you thought.”
“What are you saying..?”
“The mistress who told on your mother, she was given your brother and exiled from the kingdom. My grandfather found her and gave your brother to another family.” Faye began to struggle to maintain her tone, “Bram, the knight you will fight is your brother! His name is Tobias!”
The other side of the door went quiet, it was an unbearable silence that suffocated Faye. She could hear Bram’s own ragged breaths but, nothing else. Was he angry with her? Did he think she was only toying with him? She couldn’t blame him for hating her, he had every right to.
“You’ll be alright.” He whispered back to her, “I promise you, nothing will happen to you!”
“And what about you?” Faye called to Bram, “You’ll be alright too, right?”
He went silent again, this time she could clearly hear him trying to form words. “Yes....I’ll be alright. I promise.”
“Please don’t leave me..” she cried softly, “Wherever you go, take me with you.”
Bram let out a soft chuckle, “I’ll do what I can. I’ll do whatever I can. Just be good for me.”
“Okay..” Faye smiled sadly, whispering back to him that she loved him. Bram returned the sentiment and soon left her to weep to herself. She would have never thought that she’d find herself in love with the Eastern prince, nor did she ever think that one day her own father might lock her away like this. However, she had always known that her father despised the East Kingdom; the extent of that hatred was unfamiliar to her though.
No matter how much the king hated the East, Faye couldn’t deny that she loved Bram. He understood her, listened to her, and didn’t mind her outlandish fits. If anything, he took great pleasure in teasing her over her tantrums to the point that she had mostly stopped having them out of embarrassment. Bram made her a better woman and princess and he had a level head himself; he wasn’t like his own father either.
Faye eventually moved away from her door and leaned out her window to see what was going on outside. From what she could see, the streets were deserted and she could distantly hear the cheers coming from the arena. The final tournament wasn’t, from her understanding, to be done until tomorrow. Perhaps her father altered the schedule without her knowing.
“Your highness?” Faye jumped as the chancellor knocked at the door before opening it with ease. “I see you’ve been placed under house arrest.”
Faye eyed the man curiously, Bram couldn’t open it and yet the chancellor could. “How did you open that door?”
“If I told you, you’d tell the Eastern Prince and run away with him.” The chancellor smiled sheepishly, “Then that would be my head gone. Why couldn’t you just listen to me for once?”
Faye huffed and stomped to the other side of the room, “I don’t care what you or father think of me, I do love Bram and I won’t follow your rules no more.”
The chancellor sighed, he knew very well that the princess wouldn’t listen to him as she’s never had since he assumed this position. “I see. Then perhaps a bargain can persuade you?”
Faye, who had been glaring at the wall and so rudely presented her back to the chancellor, slowly turned and cautiously eyed him. “What might that be?”
“Your father is willing to release you and spare the prince’s life under certain conditions.”
Faye fully turned toward the chancellor and asked, “What might these conditions be?”
With a heavy heart, the chancellor told her that she could be freed if she agreed to marry Tobias and feign all affection for Bram. In exchange, Bram will be allowed to leave with his life; where the prince would go is up to him. The prince would most likely wouldn’t return to his kingdom as his lonely return would be seen as a failure to his father.
Faye earnestly listened to the chancellor and resisted the urge to throw another fit. Her choices were simple: marry Tobias and spare Bram from death or refuse and Bram would die and she live with that branded into her soul. She wanted neither choice but, perhaps another could be forged.
“Where is Bram?” she asked softly, “I won’t decide until I see him.”
“No!” she barked, “Let me see him one last time before you kill us both, for that is what will happen regardless of the choice I make.”
The chancellor sighed and left the room, making sure she couldn’t leave as he went. He knew the king wouldn’t like her response but, he would possibly permit the visit knowing that it’s what will get an answer out of her.
Faye didn’t have to wait long before the chancellor let Bram into the room, leaving the couple to settle their nerves before demanding an answer from the princess.
“Bram!” Faye cried as he hugged the large man, “Oh Bram, what have they done?”
Bram let out a chuckle, knowing that she was referring to his many gashes and blackened bruises. The man she claimed was his long lost brother was not an ordinary knight, Tobias was a fierce fighter and fought to win. “Worry not about me, what about you?”
Faye curled herself into Bram’s lap and sighed at the comfort his body granted her. “They want me to marry Tobias, if I do then you will get to live.”
“If I go back home, my father will kill me for failing him.” Bram told her, “There’s nowhere on this good Earth where I could go.”
“But if I refuse, you will die.” She looked up at him with eyes that wept tears of a broken heart. “I can’t sentence you to death and live with myself.”
“You can’t live with my death but, you can live without me by your side?” He asked, equally as tearful, “What difference do either make?”
“One gives us the chance to meet again.” She offered, “And if it can be done, there might be hope for us in that.”
The chancellor entered again and demanded an answer from Faye. Neither Faye nor Bram knew what else to do but, if what Faye said was true about there still being hope, Bram would trust her. Faye searched Bram’s eyes for a confirmation and, when he reluctantly gave it, she spoke.
“I agree to his terms.” She told the chancellor, “I will marry Tobias.”
The chancellor bowed and had the guards remove Bram from the room, though it wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be since he followed their orders rather willingly.
The kingdom was ecstatic over the announcement that the knight Tobias would marry their princess. The other men who traveled to the kingdom had long since left and many left without taking their bastard children and ruined mistresses with them. Bram had also left, his knights planned to return to their kingdom to tell his father that he was in self-exile for failing to win. That was all she knew of Bram since that day.
“I told you they were fools.” Faye declared coldly as she was being forced into her wedding dress. “Lecherous and stupid, that they were.”
Her father sighed and tried to change the subject, “Your mother would be proud of you, Faye.”
Faye’s mouth tightened into a perfectly straight line, “Would she now? My mother would be so happy to me married like this?”
“I’m only speaking the truth, father,” Faye spoke with not emotion, with no life. “If mother was alive, I wouldn’t be doing this to appease you. However, she is dead and has been for some time so, what can she feel at this point?”
Her father stared at his daughter with disturbed shock as she left the room without sparing him a glance. Faye may still have had a heart when she first met Bram and now, what was salvaged by the prince had been destroyed by her own father. Bram had tried to steal her away in the night, they were almost successful had a nosy farmer not told on them. Since then, which had been weeks ago, Faye hadn’t heard anything from her lover. However, at least there was a good thing that came out of that failed escape plan.
Faye smiled to herself as she gently touched her belly. She discovered last night that she was pregnant with Bram’s child and she had every intention of not allowing Tobias to take her baby away from her as well. As Faye said I do she silently vowed to find Bram again and reunite with her dearest and father of her baby.
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