Chapter 1: A King's Death
Deanna looked up at the dark sky. The clouds swirled angrily around, threatening to drench the land in warm rain. Usually Deanna liked the rain. It smelled fresh and helped her dear flowers grow. But now she only felt sadness. She ignored the sky and the soft rumble of thunder that was sure to grow stronger with time. She had to hurry and clip the roses before it started to rain. It was bad enough that she was covered in dirt and dust. If she entered the castle completely soaked her Queen mother would punish for sure. Once her basket was full she dashed from the royal gardens and back to the castles. She made it just in time for a downpour. She sighed as she looked outside. She remembered when she was a little girl she’d play outside and splashed in the puddles despite what her nurse maid told her. She even managed to convince her older sister, Helena, to join her at times. Sometimes she wished for the days when she was a child.
Deanna sighed and made her way to her father’s chambers. The giant door that once looked so inviting now intimidated her. She knocked softly.
“Enter,” came a female voice. Deanna shoved opened the door and quietly walked in shutting the door before curtseying before the bed. The room was dim. The only light came from the dying fire. The room seemed cold despite the warm the fire provided.
“My lovely Deanna,” the man lying in the giant four-poster bed whispered. He looked so small in the grand bed. Much smaller than the strong tall man he once was.
“How fair thee father,” Deanna asked.
“How does it look like he fairs you stupid girl,” the voice that told her to enter snapped. Deanna looked at the woman that sat next to his bedside. She wore a lavish gown and jewels that glittered in the light.
“Hello Queen Mother,” Deanna responded. The Queen just sneered at her.
“Father, I brought you more flowers,” Deanna said as she moved to a vase that sat on a table in the corner of the room. She removed the wilted flowers and replaced them with the fresh picked roses.
“Must you bring those dreadful things in here,” the Queen snapped. She let out a dainty sneeze and covered her nose with her handkerchief.
“The King has not been outside in such a long time, I thought I’d bring some color from outside in here,” Deanna shrugged.
“Thank you my heart,” the King smiled. He held out his hand to her. Deanna abandoned the wilted flowers and her basket on the table and went to her father. She held his hand and sat on her bedside.
“You have always been more of a child of the flowers than of I,” the King chuckled.
“I am blessed to be a child of such a king as you, Father,” Deanna smiled. The Queen gave her a disgusted look.
“Excuse me,” the Queen standing up, “I must go see to the servants. Someone must run this household while MY dear husband is indisposed.”
“Of course Rosaline, my queen,” the King coughed. The Queen curtseyed and left the room, glaring at Deanna as she went. The door seemed to have closed a little harder than necessary. Deanna stared at the door for a moment. How the Queen hated her so.
“I am sorry you have grown up so harshly,” the King said, calling back her attention.
“Do not trouble yourself, Father,” Deanna said squeezing his hand, “I’ve grown up loved by you and my sisters and Dillon. I had fine clothes and possessions and was given an education. Far more than I could ever ask for and far more than a bastard princess such as I deserves. I am grateful.”
“You are my daughter and my heir as much as any of your sisters,” the King assured her. This was not the first time he’s said so. And Deanna knew that he loved her as much as any one of his children. However, she was not the Queen’s child therefore she could never be the great King Harold Harrell of Albarel’s daughter. The Queen never ceased to remind her of this.
“I must admit though, I worry about you the most, Deanna,” the King admitted.
“I will not be around for much longer-“
“Father, you mustn’t say such things,” Deanna scolded.
“Hush Deanna and let me finished,” the King snapped.
“Yes your majesty,” Deanna sighed. The King cupped her cheek.
“I will not be around for much longer. The Queen will rule until your brother Lamont’s coronation when he comes of age to do so.” Prince Lamont detested her as much the Queen. Deanna never knew why. The rest of her half siblings treated her as if she was their full blood sister, but Lamont grew up hating her. He was next in line for the throne, but kings of Albarel could not rule until they were 25 years in age, which meant the Queen would be the sole ruler for five years if King Harrell were to die.
“Rosaline has never forgiven me for falling in love with your mother and naming you as one of my heir when she died. I fear that she will take her grudge out on you when I am gone.” Deanna’s mother was once one of the Queen’s ladies in waiting. She and the King fell in love and he started an affair with her. The Queen did not care about the affair for she had already bore him two children, Princess Helena and Prince Lamont. But when she eventually heard about their love for one another. Love was far more different than a mere affair. The Queen was smart enough to know that with love, a woman held great power over a man. She wished to banish Deanna’s mother from court, but the king wouldn’t allow it. It was too late. She was pregnant. When she died during childbirth, instead of sending the infant to her relatives, he claimed the infant as his heir and named her Deanna. The kingdom knew Deana as the bastard princess. However growing up Deanna was a curious child. She was often allowed to accompany the King to the village surrounding the castle. The villagers fell in love with her beauty and curiosity and generosity. Now she often stole away to the village to assist in the hospital or school. Although, she were a bastard princess it was known far across the kingdom that she had the kindness and charm of her father.
“I’ve sent out letters in secret to neighboring kingdoms in search of a husband for you,” the King admitted, “To take you far away from here so that you may live your life happy and taken care of.”
“But Father, no one of nobility will marry me,” Deanna argued with a sigh. She had long ago resigned herself to a marriage less life. Perhaps one day she might find love or companionship, but never marriage or a family of her own.
“You must not stay here, Deanna,” her father insisted.
“But Albarel is my home,” Deanna said. Tears started to slide down her cheeks.
“Your home may soon be a dangerous place for you to live, Deanna,” the King whispered, “You are a product of love and not duty. You are loved by your siblings, this kingdom, and I. You are a threat to the Queen whether you know it or not. And though she is my wife and I’ve grown fond of her over the years she will not take pity on a child from another’s womb. Heed my warning child. You must be careful. Hear me Deanna.”
“I will be careful, Father,” Deanna promised. She hugged her father tightly.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I know my heart,” her father whispered back, “I know.” Not long after Deanna was shooed away from the room by the King’s doctors. She would only see him once more before the King was no more.