Prompt: “A king has fallen in love with a female knight, but hides his love for her in fear of rejection.”
Prince Riffen placed his hand upon the cold, metal throne. This was his father’s throne where he ruled The Kingdom of Frost Havens in The Northern Region. People respected his father. Even after he brought in a Elven Woman to be his wife. People still respected his decision. He had lead the Kingdom successfully for the past 50 years. People were prosperous and the influence of the kingdom grew. People around the world heard about the snowy kingdom of Frost Havens and the mighty King they had. That was Riffen’s father. That was the shadow he lived in. A shadow he needed to shake.
There was a small cough that shook Riffen out of his trance.
He turned and saw Captain Lillian Evergreen of the night’s guard standing at the bottom of the steps leading to the throne.
“Prince Selorn, you called me,” Lillian said with a bow.
“Do you have to do that everytime?” Riffen asked.
“I must, sir. If not your father, King Herrick Selorn will have my head,” Lillian said.
She smiled and Riffen smiled back.
Lillian and Riffen had known each other for the past five years, but they acted like they new each other forever. They were the closest of friends despite having very differetn upbringings. Riffen grew up as the Royal Half-Elven Prince who polarized the kingdom. Some of the elders saw Riffen as an abomination while the more progressive people of the Kingdom saw Riffen as an olive branch between the Humans and the Elves. Either way it was a lot of responsibility to live up to for Riffen.
Lillian didn’t shy away from the limelight either. She fought tooth and nail to join the King’s Guard. She was from a very poor district of the kingdom and grew up with no parents. She lived in poverty and did not go to school. Everything she learned, she taught herself. She trained and trained until the age of 14. Then she applied to be a part of the King’s Guard. Of course she was turned down because of her age, but King Selorn kept an eye on her. He offered to pay for a formal education so she could grow up to be a doctor or a master of trade. She turned him down. Instead she worked odd jobs in the Kingdom until the age of 18. Then she applied again. This time she was let in and became the youngest member of the King’s Guard. Within three years she had rose through the ranks and became the youngest Captain of the Guard at the age of 21. This ruffled a lot of feathers, but no one stood up to the King when he made his decision to make her the Captain. Now she has been Captain for two years and crime has fallen almost 30% under her leadership.
Lillian grew up to become Captain of the Guard and Riffen grew up becoming the heir to the King’s Throne. There bond as friends were so great that they were mistaken as a couple on many travels together. Of course this was forbidden. Riffen would marry some Princess or other member of a Royal Family and Lillian would end up marrying someone from the Kingdom. That was the plan, but Riffen didn’t always follow the plan.
“So, Sir, what did you call me here for? Official Prince business?” Lillian asked.
“Have I ever called on your for official Prince business? Riffen asked.
“Maybe once or twice,” Lillian said.
“Are you off from work?” Riffen asked.
“Yeah there’s nothing going on since the King and Queen are gone to the Elven City of Perralyth. Do you know anything about that?” Lillian asked.
Riffen hung his head.
“Yeah that’s why we need to talk,” Riffen said.
Riffen and Lillian made their way to the royal courtyard. The cold wind whipped up around the two of them as they strolled through the snowy courtyard. Neither of them seemed to mind. They grew up in the snow covered in animal fur, so the cold wind didn’t affect them.
“So they’re marrying you off, huh?” Lillian said kicking a small rock across the stone path.
“I think they are technically marrying her off to me,” Riffen said with a sigh. “They are merging the Elven City into our Kingdom. Our marriage will unite the two cities under my father’s crown and hopefully bring peace and stability to the Human population and Elven Population.”
“Does she have pointy ears like you?” Lillian asked.
“Even pointer than mine. She’s a true Elven Princess.”
“Sounds like a match made in The Upper Planes,” Lillian said.
Riffen stopped walking. Lillian walked a few more paces and then turned back towards Riffen.
“What if I don’t want to marry this girl?” Riffen asked balling his fists. “We’re not even in love.”
Lillian grew silent.
Snow continued to fall and covered the ground. The snow began building up on Riffen’s cloak as well as Lillian’s armor.
“I’m sorry Riffen,” Lillian said in a little voice.
Riffen had never heard Lillian be so quiet. She was always the loud mouth. She was the one with the roar of a snow bear. She was mighty and tough. Now she was quiet.
Tears streamed down Riffen’s face. His face was hot against the cool breeze.
“I…I…I…” Riffen muttered. He wasn’t able to finish the sentence.
He couldn’t tell Lillian how he felt.
“Have you tried speaking to your father about this? Or your mother?” Lillian asked.
“Father doesn’t understand. He sees this as a win-win for both sides. He does not care for my feelings. As for mother, I think she wants this more than anyone. Being an outsider is hard and having a peace between the Humans and Elves of the North would be good for her,” Riffen said.
“And for you,” Lillian added.
“I guess so,” He said.
They both grew silent again.
One of the other guards walked by and looked like he was going to strike up a conversation with Lillian and Riffen, but Lillian shooed him away with a look and a gentle head nod.
“So Prince Selorn, what are you going to do?” Lillian asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Well if you’re not going to marry this girl and unite the Elves and the Human, then what are you going to do?”
Riffen shook his head.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Riffen said.
Lillian rolled her eyes, “That’s the problem with you royal folk. You don’t get what you want the first time around and then you just give up.”
“Lillian, I don’t need your life story,” Riffen said.
“Are you sure? Are you sure I don’t need to remind you about how I was born in poverty. No parents. Alone. Dying on the streets. Did I just give up? Did I just die there? Or did I go out into the world and change it?” Lillian raised her voice.
“Did I rise above my circumstances and do something about it?” Lillian asked.
“Lillian, that’s enough,” Riffen said yelling at Lillian.
He had never barked at her like that. He had never got seriously mad at her until now.
Riffen looked at Lillian who had a look of shock and hurt.
“I’m so…” Riffen began.
“Forget it, Prince Selorn,” Lillian said dropping her gaze.
“Lillian,” Riffen placed a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off.
“I have work I’ve been neglecting, Prince Selorn and I must get back to it,” Lillian said.
She walked past Riffen and kept on walking.
“Lillian! Lillian! Captain Evergreen!” Riffen yelled.
However, Lillian did not slow down. She kept her pace as she walked back towards the interior of the palace.
Riffen thought about ordering her to stop. He did have that authority as Prince, but he didn’t. That would only make things worse and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
He stood there in the snow for a moment. His breath was clearly visible among the heavy snowflakes. Normally the cold did not affect him, but the cold air seemed to tear right through him at the moment. He felt hollow.
Riffen pondered on what he should do next. He had never been in this situation before with Lillian. He had seen her anger and fury before, but it was always on other people. Never him.
He just stood there. Tears continued down his face mixing with the snowflakes. He waited a few minutes and then made his way towards the Guards quarters.
He walked up and there were two guards at the entrance of the quarters. One an middle-aged woman and the other a gentleman the same age as Riffen.
“Prince Selorn,” They both said in unison with a bow.
“Where is Li… Where is Captain Evergreen?” Riffen asked.
“Sir, the last time we saw her, she was with you,” The woman answered.
“Is something wrong?” The man asked.
Riffen shook her head.
“Just..if you see her, tell her I’m looking for her,” Riffen said stepping away from the quarters.
“Yes, sir,” They replied.
He stopped and turned back.
“Actually don’t tell her. If you see her, just don’t say anything,” Riffen said.
“Ummm…yes sir,” They said a little less sure.
Riffen made his way back to the palace. He couldn’t seem to find Lillian anywhere. He asked maid, butlers, cooks, guards. No one had seen her. Either she was really good at hiding or she had disappeared. Then an idea came to him.
He climbed the stairs quickly to the third floor of the palace. The third floor consisted of a lot of empty rooms and storage. But at the Northern end there was a small Library where Riffen and Lillian liked to go when they both needed to get away from the pressure and the limelight.
“Lillian? Lillian?” Riffen yelled as he opened the door to the library.
He found Lillian there at a table. She had a candlelight and a large book with her.
She looked up from the book.
“Oh. Prince Selorn,” She said enthusiastically.
“Don’t,” Riffen said. “Can we just forget that?”
“No Riffen, we can’t,” Lillian said.
Her voice stung like a dagger in Riffen’s chest.
“But we can learn from it,” Lillian said in a little softer tone. “The past can’t be rewritten, but we can learn from it. That’s why it’s there.”
“Right,” Riffen said hanging his head. “So this is the work you’ve been putting off?”
“Well my real work was taking a sword to every one of your royal paintings in the palace, but I thought I might get thrown in the dungeon for that. So instead of getting mad, I decided to help you,” Lillian said.
“Help. Me?” Riffen asked.
Lillian gestured to the book.
“It’s a book of laws. Maybe somewhere in here is an answer to escaping an arranged marriage,” Lillian said.
Riffen smile and wiped a tear from his eyes.
“Thank you Lillian,” Riffen said.
“That’s Captain Evergreen to you,” Lillian said with a smile. “Now sit down and pick up a book. These laws aren’t going to read themselves.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Riffen said with a small bow to Lillian.
Riffen and Lillian spent the rest of the evening in the library together reading through old law books and history books. Riffen had guards stationed at the door to keep others out (not that anyone else really used this library) and had the kitchen throw together a meal for them. They had meats and cheeses and pastries as well as some root vegetables. Of course they also had the finest wine from the Queen’s wine cellar brought up. They were laughing and having a grand ol’ time. They told stories and reminisced on the memories they made together.
“I thought that guard was going to pee his pants,” Riffen laughed.
“Oh he totally did,” Lillian said laughing along with Riffen.
Riffen wiped happy tears from his eyes. His face hurt from laughing so much.
Lillian picked up the empty wine bottle.
“Well I guess that’s all the drinking we’re going to do tonight,” Lillian said with a slight hiccup.
“Yeah I think we ended up drinking more than reading,” Riffen said.
“Well this wine makes it pretty hard to read,” Lillian said with a big smile on her face.
Riffen went to stand up and then toppled out of his chair onto the library floor. Lillian began laughing again followed by Riffen.
“Such a graceful Prince,” Lillian said through the laughs.
“Truly majestic,” Riffen said.
The laughter faded and Riffen remained lying on the ground.
“Well aren’t you going to help me up? That is your duty after all,” Riffen said.
“Among about 100 other things,” Lillian said.
She got up from the table and stumbled over to Riffen. She held out her hand and Riffen accepted it. It took a good minute, but Lillian helped Riffen up off the ground.
“Come on, we better get you to your bedroom,” Lillian said.
“We going to keep this party going?” Riffen asked.
“No, Princey. You gotta go to bed. The King and Queen will be back tomorrow and I’m sure there’s going to be a parade or something,” Lillian said with a giggle.
“I. Love. Parades!” Riffen yelled.
“I know you do,” Lillian said.
She lead Riffen out of the library and towards Riffen’s Master Bedroom. The other guards offered to help Lillian and Riffen, but they preferred to stumble through the hallways together instead.
Eventually they made it to the bedroom and Lillian helped them both into the room. The candles were already lit giving the room a nice nuance.
“Here we are, Your Royal Highness,” Lillian said leading Riffen to his bed.
He was mumbling under his breath, but Lillian just ignored it. She helped him into his bed.
“You’re going to have to take off your own shoes,” Lillian said. “That’s not in my job description.”
“You’re great, you know that?” Riffen asked.
“You’re ridicoulous,” Lillian said. “Ok goodnight, Riffen. See you tomorrow.”
Lillian began to leave the room.
“Wait! Wait!” Riffen yelled.
Lillian turned back to him.
“What do you want now?”
“I want to marry you,” Riffen mumbled.
“What?” Lillian said taking a step closer.
“You, Lillian Evergreen. I want to marry you. Not some dumb Elvish princess. You are the most beautiful girl in the entire Kingdom. No, in the entire world. No. Wait. In the entire Material Plane. In anywhere. I want to marry you.”
Riffen’s words began to fade and became nothing more than a soft mumble. Then Lillian heard snoring. Riffen had fallen asleep.
Lillian stood there in the doorway a second thinking about what she heard. Her drunkenness was still there, but her head became clear.
Riffen wanted to marry her.
That thought had always been in the back of her mind. I mean, Riffen was attractive. He was intelligent. He was strong and cunning. But he was The Prince. Princes marry Princesses. Not peasant girls.
Although Lillian had accomplished so much in her life already, this one barrier made her a lower-class citizen. Riffen was royalty and Lillian was just a soldier. They could not marry.
Riffen laying there brought up so many emotions that had been lying there underneath the surface. Was Riffen just drunk or did he mean the things he was saying? Did he love her? Did she love him?
She tried to shake off these feelings as she walked towards the Captain of the Guards’ quarters.
Header Photo comes from Pinterest under the Search of “Elven King.”
(If you know who is the artist who made this, send me a message or leave a comment below so I can give them the credit they deserve.)
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/widdleberg