Story for the Day: A Wealthy Engagement
Having immense difficulty concentrating today, probably due to all the rewrites. Doing my utmost to finish 200 pages of rewrites in the next few days. In the meantime:
A Wealthy Engagement
The party was conveyed to their fashionable rooms for the evening and when they had just settled, the royal herald of Livanon brought a message to King Alasdair. It was an invitation to a private dinner that was to be beheld in the lesser ballroom just after sunset. The attendants were to be everyone in possession of royal blood who came to the palace with the object of seeing King Aldan and Her Lady of Sesterna marry and those without noble situation were asked not to attend. The event was to be a presenting of the king’s intended queen, and though this was a mere appearance for the lady to be admired and lauded with all due propriety for the occasion, only the select few of high rank were allowed to attend.
Alasdair was forced to accept the summons but refused to leave the commander behind, as she was certain to supply all the mockery and entertainment for the night. Her presence was a necessity to his sanity and Alasdair was very well prepared to contest the stipulations of the invitation when Dobhin decided to do it for him. He claimed that his majesty must keep appearances and therefore the High Lord would shame himself by contending the summons for the good of the kingdom. Alasdair was gratified but not without a grimace and a sigh that Dobhin should be allowed to remonstrate when he felt the defense of his intimate friend was his own duty to perform.
As Livanon was indebted to Frewyn, the allowance for one commoner at this exhibition must be made. The commander was permitted to attend this pageantry and both Dobhin and Alasdair were relieved. Now at least there would be some amusement at Aldan’s expense and the three prepared themselves to be stuck to one another rapt in private and disparaging musings for the chief of the evening.
They convened at the entrance to the ballroom, where many of the resident and visiting nobility had already gathered. The King and High Lord were announced, the commander was not, and they shuffled to a far corner to hide from the gapes and injurious whispers directed toward themselves. Many wondered at what two of the highest ranking and handsomest men of the southern continent were doing in the presence of such a barbaric-looking woman: the commander’s rustic appearance, shapely figure, rough hands, and knotted hair all gave offense, repelling those who wished to approach and pay their civilities to the King and High Lord of Frewyn.
Dobhin flashed his brilliant smile and every young woman in the room and Alasdair bowed to those who showed him recognition but would not give honours to those who would not honour his friend. He retained the hope that the Duchess, Ladrei and Bhaaldhena should soon appear but knowing how Her Grace felt with regard to the lady of the evening, he was forced to check his aspiration on her account.
The hall was soon bustling with sound when King Aldan and Her Lady of Sesterna were announced. The crowds neatly parted and everyone was to make way for the proud couple. Gasps and exultations of the lady’s splendor filled the room as Aldan paraded her through the center of the hall, and though everyone remarked how well the king and his future queen looked together, it was apparent that their attachment was an arrangement of convenience rather than one of affection.
“Have they known one another a whole five minutes?” the commander said, gawping in disgust at Aldan’s pretentious expression as he displayed his latest acquisition.
“I would say ten,” replied Dobhin. “Just enough for Aldan to decide whether nor not she is worthy of him.”
“And his lack of endowments no doubt.”
“Lack of endowments and gargantuan fortune,” Dobhin reminded her. “The Buthaena family is one of the wealthiest on the two continents.”
“Wealth in arrogance, perhaps,” the commander scoffed. “The Prince of Lucentia and your friend Ladrei Maccadrin are the two richest creatures I have ever met and yet neither one is half so conceited as Aldan.”
The High Lord’s eyes glowed with archness. “Shoring up paucity in disposition with supposed affluence is a difficult occupation to maintain when being watched by so others who have more than oneself,” he observed smirkingly.
The commander looked up at Dobhin’s beaming countenance and half-smiled. “Do you speak from experience?”
“Only where my father is concerned. He’s the richest man in Frewyn and he still conducts himself with appalling superiority.”
“And you do not fall prey to pride?” the commander asked, raising a brow.
“Only where it is deserved.”
They exchanged a knowing look and snickered amongst themselves.
“And your decided opinion of the young lady?” the commander said after a pause.
Dobhin gave a disappointed sigh and canted his head while considering her. “She is rather plain-looking. If she would have been the least bit beautiful, I would consider her worth the effort. Considering how much you’ve told me of her manners when you met her last season, she would not be worth nearly half my inheritance.”
“Inheritance of body or of finance?”
“Both,” Dobhin fleered. “Were I her, I would have done some investigation into his temper. Aldan will take no issue with reprimanding her if she doesn’t behave just as he likes.”
“Even through such needful abuses, she could not very well disobey his orders when hers is all the gain of situation and rank in the match. What woman of little consequence would be foolish enough to decline the request of a king?” She passed an indicative look to Alasdair, who was doing his utmost not to laugh throughout the entire conversation. She knew her intimation was understood by her receiving a look from him in return, and the commander was never happier that she had denied his early advances, for if she had done they would not be enjoying themselves nearly half so much as they were at present. If only her mate were here, the commander thought, their derisive party would be complete, and she watched the end of the display with a smile to think of the amusing pretense the wedding tomorrow promised to be.