The next morning in a cheerful yellow and white striped breakfast room of the kingdom next door, three occupants sat sipping their coffee out of little china teacups with cranes painted on them. Queen Raz studied her two sons, as they dined one their breakfasts and reading the news. For being twins, they were not all that much alike. Collin, the first-born son and heir to the throne, was broad shouldered and bulky. His dark brown normally hung shaggily down to his shoulders, often escaping the ribbon that was suppose to have held it back. Glasses were perched at the end of his nose while he read the reports from the farmers on the conditions of the crops. Even on the best of days he seem to have a 5 o’clock shadow on his face and unless reminded would be turned into a full beard in two days. Only when he was completely shaved could a person see the scars that a rough childhood battle with small pox and ache had left on his face. There was also a scar that was on the left side of his face next to his green eyes, which gave him a rather intimidating look to those that first glanced at him. All that would not have been so bad if his clothing have been a little neater. His clothing despite him having access to the best tailors in the kingdom always seemed to have a worn, wrinkled look to them. Compared to his younger brother, Collin looked positively mid-evil, complete with scowl that was normally perched on his face when in popular company.
Ethan the younger of the twins was rather dapper looking. His slender form with his fresh pressed suits and charming white smile made most ladies in the court swoon, and quite a few of them flip their skirts for him at just a wink. Ethan’s hair probably had never been out of place once in his life and his face was smooth and clear of any blemish, his chocolate brown eyes was reading the newspaper. Long slender fingers that never ever had dirt crusted underneath the nails turned a page in the newspaper.
Deciding that she had enough of her boys seemingly ignoring her, she cleared her throat daintily; causing two sets of eyes is rose and met her clear blue ones. Ethan’s perfectly shaped eyebrow cocked with the unasked question in it. Collin just looked at her, waiting for the news. He always seemed to have a grim look to him, when it came time to make announcements. As if he was always expecting the worst thing possible to happen. Picking up his coffee cup he took a sip of the steaming hot brew.
“I have decided that you will be getting married,” stated Queen Raz with out any preamble. Coffee spewed out of Collins mouth as he began to choke on the hot liquid. Ethan with a solid hand smacked his brother on his back, until he quit coughing. With is tears in his eyes from choking and the force of his brothers assistance he beseeched her statement with one of his own.
“Whom, do you mean?” asked Collin; once he was able to get his breathing even, despite his face still red with the shock and surprise. A stain of coffee started to set and stain the lapel of his coat. He half empty teacup sat next to the forgotten croissant on his gold trimmed plate. His valet was sure to lament of the coffee stain at a later date, but he was sure that in the grand scheme of things a little bit of spilt coffee was nothing compared to the news they were given.
“Both of you. It is high time for you both to settle down. Between that it will strengthen our relationship with the other kingdoms. There has been talk of war lately, and if we have a wedding, we can quickly nip that issue in the bud,” said Queen Raz in a frank matter.
“So, do we at least get to pick our brides out, or have you already done that for us, mother,” asked Ethan in a dry tone.
“There is no need to be smart with me, of course you can pick your bride. In fact I have been so kind to invite several eligible young ladies over from the neighboring kingdom. They will be spending winter with us. Feel free to pick any one them to be your bride, and if they don’t suit your tastes, I am sure that I can find more to spend the spring with us until you both are settled down. I would hope to have wedding by next fall. Something we can do outside before the harvest,” replied Queen Raz.
“Since we are to be under siege and poached like meat by husband seeking princesses, when can we expect the first shipment of beauties to arrive,” asked Ethan as if he were ordering a glass of sherry from the butler. Collin wished that he could be as cool and collected as Ethan over this sudden piece of new. Nothing ever seemed to shake Ethan’s demeanor.
“Oh, in about two or three weeks, I don’t remember for sure. It all depends on how long it takes them to get here. The first bevy of princesses will be from Berttletic. I don’t’ think all eleven of them will be able to make it. I believe the king wrote me back to say that several of them were traveling abroad this winter,” said the queen casually.
“I dare say, eleven? That is a little extreme,” remarked Ethan with a bored air.
“Well, there are actually twelve of them, but the oldest is most recently married. Some nonsense about a curse and such stuff kept the princesses from coming out sooner, any way I am sure that they are all lovely and accomplished young ladies,” replied Queen Raz as she sipped and smiled approvingly at the attention her youngest son was giving her brilliant idea.
“I would say it had to be some curse, to have eleven girls to begin with,” said Ethan with a fair amount of sarcasm.
Collin sat at the table like a stunned rabbit watching his mother, the queen talk. Part of him wondered if she even knew what she was asking of them. It was like the world he knew was just ripped out from beneath him and none of the other occupants at the table even seemed to notice or care. It didn’t matter if King had 20 ravishing daughters; it wasn’t like King would be forced to marry one of them. He just had to find them husbands. The thought of being forced to marry someone he didn’t even know made him feel nauseous that he completely tuned out the rest of the conversation that flowed around him like dark current trying to suck him into the blackening depths of despair. It was one of the few times he wished that his father, King Zemeckis was there to put and end to this nonsense, instead of being three kingdoms over, acting as a diplomat between the two feuding kingdoms of Genovia and Skirvania. He was sure that it would be more harmonious to work with two feuding overlords then to try to make small talk to a bunch of princesses.
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