“Push your majesty, he's almost here, he’s crowning,” instructed the doctor as he stood between Zariah’s legs trying to assist in the birth of the crown prince. Zariah squeezes Abe's hand tightly and pushes with all her might, causing the baby to come out with a plopping sound and a warm gush of fluid. The nurses take him to clean him up and ensure that he is alright, while the doctor looks after the empress, as one servant wipes her forehead. The nurses bring the baby back and places him on Zariah’s chest. After a few minutes the emperor picks up his son, looking into his green eyes with brown and blue specks and tells him, “You are crown prince Alaric (all powerful ruler) Nathalio (birthday) Zade (the son of).
A house in Netinenth (at the same time)
“Push miss, push, I can see the baby’s head,” the doctor announced, waiting to guide the little bundle of joy into the world. Hayleigh takes a deep breath and pushes with all the strength that her tired body could muster, squeezing Axel's hand until it lost all colour in the process. With a gushing sound and plenty fluid, the baby emerged and loud wails filled the room. “You have a bouncing baby girl,” gushed the doctor, smiling from ear to ear. After she is cleaned up and spent some time with her mom, Axel took her in his arms, looking into her violet eyes with gold specks and fell in love with her ethereal beauty. This caused him to feel immense remorse for having to give her up on her fourteenth birthday. He lovingly looks into her eyes and declares, “you my sweet daughter, will be named Ariadne (most holy) Tarah (kind and caring) Alinac (light), and from this day forward I promise that you will want for nothing.” As fate would have it crown prince Alaric and Ariadne were born on the same day and at the same time.
Fourteen years later....
Since he was a toddler and could form comprehensible sentences, Alaric was trained in the way of a future emperor. This however did not hamper his inquisitive nature in any way. His parents also informed him of his arranged marriage that is to take place on his eighteenth birthday. This was no surprise to him, as based on what he was taught, arranged marriages were customary in Aidinth and it was his duty as crown prince to do what he was told. What surprised him however, was that she will be coming to the palace to live from his fourteenth birthday onwards. This made him very excited as there were barely any kids his age in the palace to play with and he always had to wear a stuffy mask when not in the presence of family and trusted advisors. He has five siblings Amir (Prince) and Amar (Immortal) both ten years old, Amara (Everlasting) and Amaya (Heavenly Valley) who were eight years old and their baby brother Amani (Peace) who was only six months old. His siblings were okay but they were still young and didn’t understand things like he did. He longed for a companion his age and today was finally the day and to say that he was excited is an understatement, ecstatic was more like it. Today was going to be the best birthday ever. He was going to meet his wife to be but more importantly, he will gain a friend his age. The palace was bustling with excitement as the preparations for crown prince Alaric’s party were in full swing. The orchestra tuned their instruments, the chefs in the kitchen were busy giving orders, the maids were busy putting up purple, red, white and silver decorations, while the other servants were setting out the various dinnerware. All the big shots of Aidinth will be in attendance and everything needed to be perfect.
Ariadne’s House in Netinenth:
Ariadne was feeling despondent, as today might be the last day that she sees her family. She will miss her father and mother but most of all she will miss her siblings Amirah (Princess), Aden (Fire) and Arden (Great Forest) who are eight years old. Since she was small she knew that this day will come. The dreaded day when she would have to leave to Inari knows where. All because her father didn’t know when to give up during a poker match. He has never forgiven himself for that and neither has her mom who gives him an earful about it whenever she gets the chance. Every birthday since she was six has brought her sorrow instead of excitement. As she grew older she knew that her time with her family was getting shorter with every passing day. She forgave her father because at that time they needed the money. After she was born, her dad swore off poker and any kind of gambling and instead opened a casino to get an adrenaline rush from others winning or losing. I must say that the Foxes Den casino is doing extremely well, so well in fact that my family enjoy living in the lap of luxury. I have never wanted for anything except for today. Oh how I long for more time with my family but alas this cannot be. As Ariadne was deep in thought, she heard a knock on the door. “Coming,” her mother called out as she came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. Hayleigh opened the door and was greeted by a whole immaculately dressed entourage. “Good afternoon mam,” said the smartly dressed man with a polite tone, “I was sent here to collect your daughter Ariadne Tarah Alinac as per your husband’s agreement fourteen years ago.” Hayleigh looked at the man with tears streaming down her cheeks. “Can you at least give us two hours to celebrate her last birthday with her? I am almost finished with her cake, please allow me this last moment of closure,” she sobbed out. “We have a long way to go and we have to be there before nightfall. One hour is the best that we can do, I am really sorry,” the man replied empathetically. Hayleigh thanked him and closed the door. She was going to make the best of this hour. “Axel,” she called, “they are here to take our baby away.” Axel came downstairs in a frenzy thinking of several ways to avoid the inevitable, his nephew Asher (Happy) even wanted to pitch in. But Ariadne looked at them with determination saying, “Dad, cousin, it’s okay we have no idea what your debtor is capable of. All these scenarios could lead to our deaths. Based on the number and quality of the emissaries, this person is loaded. I will probably live a better life than I have presently. So let’s just make the most of this hour.” Axel looked at his beautiful baby girl with tears in his eyes and prays to Inari, engulfed her in a hug and nodded his agreement. They spent their last hour as a family celebrating and a knock on the door signified that the hour was up and it was time for her to go. Ariadne hugged and kissed her family with her siblings refusing to let her go and left the only home that she has ever known with a heavy heart.
Two hours later....
The Imperial Palace
Ariadne was awoken by loud music and cheering a sharp contrast to how she was feeling. She rubbed her eyes sleepily and looked out of the carriage window, only to realize that she was not only at a wealthy man’s house but was in fact in front of the Imperial Palace. This revelation woke her up with a start as she took in the palace buzzing with excitement. It was after all, the crown prince’s birthday, at least he could celebrate she thought mockingly, he wasn’t dragged away from his home at fourteen. The carriage came to a stop and the door opened. She climbed down and looked around. Boy was this place lively, all she wanted to do was sleep and wallow in self-pity. Naughty fate however had other plans.
In the ballroom where Alaric’s birthday party was being held:
Alaric was bored out of his mind, usually he would enjoy himself but today his mind was elsewhere. He was uncomfortable and this mask was not helping. What did she look like? Was she cute? Will she like him? What was her name? Alaric couldn’t sit still and his curiosity got the better of him, as he snuck out of his party. He then headed to the servants’ quarters to see if he could get something to use as a disguise. She doesn’t need to know that he is the crown prince, he just wants to be her friend. Alaric went to his room, donned his disguise and hid his mask, without which no one but his family members, trusted high ranking officials and his personal servants will be able to recognize him. As Alaric ran down the hallway to meet his future wife, he was assaulted by the smell of vanilla and almonds. His dragon started doing somersaults in his head causing him to become dizzy. Alaric was a prodigy that got his dragon at age six. Alduin (World Eater) has never reacted like this before Alaric always had full control over him, they were partners and therefore had a mutual understanding. “What is it Alduin? You are making me dizzy!” Alaric scolded him disgruntled. “Our mate is near, can’t you smell her? She smells amazing,” Alduin replied without a care in the world. Hearing this Alaric hastened his footsteps until he saw her, his mate, wife and future empress of Aidinth. She was being escorted in by his father’s entourage. So it had to be her there was no mistaking it. He hid and waited for them to lead her to her room and leave, then he snuck in. “Hi,” he muttered making her jump in the process, “I am Nathalio and you are?” “I am Ariadne, why are you in my room? You know that there is something called knocking right? And this is also an invasion of privacy, what if I was changing?” she exclaimed angrily. Alaric just smirked and said, “You looked like you needed company, this place can be quite boring. I would know as I have been living here all of fourteen years.” Ariadne’s eyes opened as wide as saucers, “You are fourteen as well?” she questioned. Alaric nodded saying, “I'll be your first friend in the palace as there are not many children our age. I will come and visit you everyday okay. This place can get really redundant and tedious.” Ariadne started to feel more at ease and agreed. Alaric said his good byes and headed to his room to change and head back to the party before his father became aware of his absence. It’s then that Alduin pops up saying, “Ariadne huh? Spicy, I like her, I like her a lot, this is going to be so interesting I can feel it.” Alaric just shakes his head and rejoins the festivities, his curiosity quenched.
Author’s Note: Will this be the start of a budding friendship? Will Ariadne grow to love Alaric? Will he ever tell her his true identity? Will Ariadne be able to adjust to palace life? Tune in next time on Arranged Aristocracy.