Original Prompt: “A king has fallen in love with a female knight, but hides his love for her in fear of rejection.”
“Prince Selorn, Sir. You need to wake up.”
Riffen’s eyes peeled open. The light hit his face and he covered his eyes with his hand.
“Who…who’s there?” Riffen groaned.
“It’s me Sir. Thrix,” Thrix said.
Thrix was one of the servants in the palace. He had been assigned to Riffen as a personal servant who was supposed to keep Riffen on track when he important meetings or dinners to attend. Thrix was one of the servants ever since Riffen was born and helped raise and tutor him.
“Thrix, what time is it?” Riffen said with a groan.
“The sun is high in the sky, Sir. Also the King and Queen have arrived,” Thrix said.
“Great,” Riffen said with a groan.
He studied the area around him. He was in his room. Still fully dressed. Slowly the memories flooded back to him. He was with Lillian in the library. They were eating, drinking, reading.
“You might want to get dressed, Sir,” Thrix said.
“Right,” Riffen said.
Riffen sat on the side of the bed holding his head. He looked down at his feet. One shoe was on and the other was off.
“Where is Lillian? Have you seen her?” Riffen said.
“It’s…uh…complicated, Sir,” Thrix said.
Riffen raised his head and made eye contact.
“What do you mean?” Riffen asked.
“You really should get dressed, Sir,” Thrix said.
“Thrix,” Riffen said raising his voice. “Have you seen her? Is she alright?”
Thrix stared the floor.
“I saw her this morning, Sir, but I’m afraid she left before the sunrise.”
This made Riffen jump from the bed.
“Please Sir, get dressed. The King and Queen will be here any moment and you’ll need to be ready for their arrival,” Thrix said.
Riffen knew Thrix was right. He had to get dressed. His father and mother would be here in any moment and Riffen had to be there. It was his royal obligation.
Riffen ran his hands through his hair.
“How long do we have, Thrix?” Riffen asked.
“They should be here within the hour, Sir,” Thrix said.
“I better get ready,” Riffen said.
Riffen spent almost the entire hour getting ready. He stripped out of his old clothes and enjoyed a bath that Thrix had prepared for him. Then he changed into some new clothes. He tried his best to get his hair cleaned and properly brushed, but it still looked a little ratty.
Thrix popped his head into the bedroom.
“They are at the city wall,” Thrix said.
“Thank you Thrix,” Riffen replied. “I’ll be right there.”
Riffen finished up and walked through the door out into the main corridor of the palace.
Thrix was standing nearby and two guards were at his door. Usually Lillian greeted him when he woke up, but instead it was two other guards.
Riffen and Thrix made their way towards the front of the palace to intercept the King and Queen. Thrix pulled something from his coat and handed it to Riffen.
“Here Sir. I have something for you,” Thrix said handing him a letter.
“What is this?” Riffen said grabbing the letter.
“Captain Evergreen handed it to me before she left. She instructed that I give it to you only after, in her words, ‘he got his drunken butt out of bed,'” Thrix said.
Riffen looked at the letter for a moment and then stuffed it into his chest pocket under the cloak.
“Why didn’t you stop her, Thrix?” Riffen asked.
“I tried, Sir. I really did. But you know Captain Evergreen. Once she sets her mind on something, you can’t change it,” Thrix said.
He did know Lillian and Thrix described her to a tee. She was stubborn and she was determined. No one and no thing would stop her. There was no barrier she could cross.
Riffen and Thrix stood in the doorway of the Palace. The cold air whipped up the stairs to the palace. Snow began to enter and settle on the Palace floor. Riffen noticed behind him that there were a large amount of servants running around.
“Thrix, are we expecting guests?” Riffen asked.
“Uh…yes Sir. That’s the other thing I wanted to tell you. We are expecting the King and Queen of Perralyth as well as the Princess,” Thrix said.
Riffen tensed up.
He was so focused on getting through this brief encounter with his parents so he could focus on Lillian. Now he was about to greet both his Father and Mother as well as the woman he was expected to marry and her parents.
Riffen gave Thrix a sour look.
“I wish you would have told me earlier,” Riffen said.
“To be frank, Sir, I didn’t think you would leave your room if I told you,” Thrix said.
Riffen was about to make a remark, but was interrupted by the sound of a trumpet.
“KING AND QUEEN SELORN HAVE ARRIVED!”
The shout came from the inner wall which surrounded the palace grounds. There was the grinding of gears and the clinking of chains. The door lifted and in came a parade of people. In the front was Riffen’s father, King Selorn with his mother, Queen Selorn side by side. Walking in stride with them were two Elves Riffen presumed were The King and Queen of Perralyth. Standing behind them was a shorter girl dressed in an exquisite red cloak with was striking among the snow covered ground. Following the girl was a royal entourage was a mix of both guards and servants for both Royal Families.
“Prince Riffen, I presume,” The Elven King said putting out a hand.
Riffen had seen this Elven gesture before. They called it a “hand shake.”
Riffen extended his hand and The Elven King clasped it with his and gave it a shake. Riffen then did the same with The Elven Queen. He tried to make eye contact with The Princess, but she would not meet his gaze.
“I’m glad to see that you are awake,” Riffen’s father said with a laugh.
“Good to see you too, Father,” Riffen said with a slight smile.
Riffen’s mother wrapped him up in a hug.
“I’m glad to see you,” She said to Riffen.
“Ok enough with the introductions,” King Selorn said. “I hear that they have made quite a feast for us. Let us go to the hall and get ready for lunch.”
They all walked into the palace and the entourage followed. Then the palace guards shut the doors behind them. Everyone walked towards the hall. There was a roaring fire filling the entire room with heat. There was a large table set up at the end of the room that was set up for six: King and Queen Selorn, The Elven King and Queen, The Elven Princess, and Riffen. The Elven guards stood around the room with the Human Guards of Frost Haven. The few Elven Servants that The King and Queen brought along stood around while some helped our servants with serving food or pouring drink.
Riffen kept looking around hoping to see Lillian in the room, but she was nowhere to be found. Her letter seemed to burn in Riffen’s pocket.
“So I guess we should officially introduce ourselves to you, Riffen,” The King of Perralyth said. “I am King Trenton Rosewood and this is my lovely wife, Queen Cynthia Rosewood.”
“Nice to meet you both,” Riffen said with a small bow.
King Trenton then gestured to their daughter.
“And this is the future bride to be and our daughter, Lily Rosewood,” King Rosewood said.
The name Lilly sent a jolt down Riffen’s spine. He bit his lip.
“Nice to meet you, Lily,” Riffen said.
Lily looked down at her plate of food.
“You too,” She said with a meek voice.
“Speak up Lily,” Her mother said.
“You too,” She said a little louder.
Riffen’s family exchanged awkward looks.
“Lily is just a little shy around new people,” King Rosewood said. “Don’t worry, Riffen. You too will have a long lifetime to get to know each other. Before long, she’ll be talking your ear off.”
There was a round of nervous laughter from King and Queen Rosewood and King and Queen Selorn.
The large lunch went as well as expected. There was a lot of talk between The Kings and Queens. They talked about histories and culture of Frost Haven as well as the palace itself. King Selorn and King Rosewood discussed the politics and details of combining the two kingdoms under the Frost Haven flag. Queen Selorn and Queen Rosewood discussed the wedding and celebrations that would follow the marriage between Riffen and Lily. Every now and then the pairs would drag Riffen into their conversation, but for the most part he remained silent. Lily spoke even less. She spoke about 10 words the entire lunch.
When everyone was done eating, the dishes were cleared and everyone began making plans. The Kings of each Kingdom were heading to the war room to meet with Frost Haven’s generals. The Queens were making plans to walk the streets of Frost Haven and see the sights.
“Riffen, would you and Princess Lily like to accompany us for the grand tour?” Queen Selorn asked.
Lily’s posture didn’t change. She just stood there not saying anything.
“Actually Mother,” Riffen said. “I thought maybe Lily and I could spend a little time together. You know, to get to know each other a little better.”
The couples looked at each other and agreed.
“Don’t go too far. There’s still a lot of things that need to be planned,” Queen Rosewood said.
“Yes and no funny business,” King Rosewood said.
“Oh don’t worry about that. We have plenty of guards around keeping an eye on the two of them,” King Selorn said with a laugh.
Riffen gave a fake chuckle and then lead Lily to outside the great hall. A small group of Elven and Human guards followed Lily and Riffen from a distance. He walked in front of her a few strides and she walked behind. Her head was down. Riffen kept looking back to make sure that Lily was still there.
They eventually made it out into the courtyard. The same courtyard where Lillian and Riffen liked to talk. The same one where Riffen and Lillian had been last night.
He was so sure that he had made up with Lillian last night after his outburst. But now he was wondering if the fight had made Lillian leave. If only he could think of what happened last night. So much was still blank.
“Your home is beautiful,” Lily said in a soft voice.
It took a second for Riffen to understand what she said. She spoke in Elvish which is a tongue that Riffen knew, but rarely used. Riffen’s father did not speak Elvish, but Riffen’s mother did. Riffen and his mother would use it a lot when Riffen was little and wanted to keep secrets from Riffen’s father. It had been almost five years since he had a full conversation in Elvish.
“Oh thank you,” Riffen said in Elvish.
Lily twirled a strand of her hair while still barely making eye contact.
“You have a palace back home in Perralyth?” Riffen asked Lily.
“So what do you think of this whole marriage thing?” Riffen asked.
Lily looked up at him with wide eyes.
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“I mean, are you on board with it? Are you ok with being married off to a complete stranger?” Riffen asked.
Lily’s face dropped again.
“It will bring stability and peace to the northern region,” She said.
The way she said it was like she was reading from a script. Like she had been practicing that line over and over.
“I know how your father and mother feel about it,” Riffen said. “How do you feel about it?”
Lily looked up again and met Riffen’s gave. Her eyes were full of tears.
“I…I…must marry you, Riffen. I have no other choice,” Lily said.
Riffen’s heart dropped.
He knew exactly where Lily was coming from because he was in the same situation. Both had parents that expected them to marry one another. It didn’t matter if they loved each other or wanted to do it. They had to do it. They had no other choice.
“I’m sorry Lily,” Riffen said.
“For…for what?” Lily wiped tears from her eyes.
“I’m sorry we’re both stuck in this,” Riffen said.
“You…you don’t want to marry me?” Lily asked.
Riffen shook his head.
“I don’t mean any offense. I’m sure you’re a wonderful young woman. But I don’t love you. You understand that?”
“Yes, I understand,” Lily said.
Riffen continued, “Marriage shouldn’t be about royal blood and politics. It should be about love.”
Lily started to cry again.
The guards standing around the courtyard exchanged strange looks with one another.
“Here,” Riffen lead Lilly to one of the benches in the courtyard. He brushed off the snow and Lily sat down. He pulled off his heavy, fur cloak and wrapped it around her.
“Thank you,” Lily said with a small smile.
Riffen sat down next to her.
They were silent for a little bit before Riffen broke it.
“Is there someone you love?” Riffen asked.
He looked over at Lily who hesitated for a moment.
“Yes,” She said so soft it was almost a whisper.
“What’s his name?” Riffen asked.
Lily hesitated again.
“Her…her name is Anna,” Lily said.
“Oh, I didn’t…mean to assume anything,” Riffen said.
Lily laughed a little.
“It’s ok,” She said. “Elves aren’t known for their open mindedness. Especially my father and mother.”
“They wouldn’t let you marry a woman?” Riffen asked.
“Elvish society isn’t very progressive,” Lily said.
“I don’t think Human society is either,” Riffen said.
“Plus Anna isn’t Elvish. Anna is a Tiefling. Most people think she’s some kind of cursed child or demon,” Lily said before tearing up again.
“Hey it’s alright,” Riffen said trying to comfort her.
“I just don’t know what to do,” Lily said.
“I wish I knew what to tell you,” Riffen said.
There was another brief moment of silence before Lily spoke up.
“What about you?” She asked.
“What about me?”
“Is there someone you love?”
He reached his hand into his pocket and retrieved Lillian’s letter.
“Yeah. There’s a girl I love. Her name is Lillian,” Riffen said.
Lily gave a little smile.
“Almost sounds like my name,” She said. “So what is keeping you two apart?”
“She’s Captain of the Guard. Well at least she was. I’m not sure anymore. We kind of got in a fight last night and now she’s nowhere to be found. She just left me this letter,” Riffen said holding the letter.
“Have you read it?” Lily asked.
“No, not yet,” Riffen said.
“Well…maybe you should,” Lily said.
Riffen looked over at Lily who was smiling.
“You don’t mind?”
Lily shook her head.
“Not at all.”
“Ok,” Riffen said.
He opened the envelope and pulled out the piece of parchment. He read the letter and Lily read over his shoulder.
This is not how I wanted this to happen. This wasn’t my plan. This whole thing was a split decision I made last night. I’m really sorry and I hope you can come to forgive me. After last night I didn’t know if I could stay here anymore. I had dreamed of growing up here, becoming Captain of the Guard, and having my whole life in Frost Haven. After last night, I don’t think that is possible. That is why I left. When you told me last night that you loved me and wanted to marry me, I knew that I could not stay here. Your honesty brought up all kinds of emotions in me, many of which will take time to process; however, I knew that me staying here would only make things worse for the both of us. As you know we can not marry. You are a Prince and I’m just a warrior off the street. Nothing will change that. I knew if I stayed, there would be an eventual divide between us. You would marry the Princess and I would resent you for doing your job. Or we would try to do something stupid like date each other in secret and eventually get caught. Then I could lose my job, my dignity, or even my life. I could not risk that. So I left. Again, I’m so sorry. I know this is awful, but it has to happen.
Goodbye Riffen and I hope you have a wonderful life,
-Captain Lillian Evergreen.
Riffen wiped a tear from his eye.
“She’s…just gone,” Riffen said.
“I’m sorry Riffen,” Lily said.
Riffen flipped the letter over and then back to the front.
“There has to be more. There has to be,” Riffen said. “I need to know where she went.”
Riffen continued to hold the letter in his hands. His fists were clenched and Lily was worried that Riffen might rip the letter.
“Riffen…I can help you,” Lily said.
Riffen looked over at her.
“What, what do you mean?”
“I…I have some magic that might help you find her,” Lily said.
Riffen eyes grew wide.
“Really? You can do that?” Riffen asked.
“Show me,” Riffen said.
“We need to find my stuff,” Lily said.
Header Photo Credit to Bluish Salt