It’s been an eventful week. Annalise decided on the grand apartment rather than the princess tower. (Countess Olivia is moving in there. She says she has good memories from it. This made Papa laugh, and General Martin’s face became quite red.) There’s been quite a lot of discussion regarding Annalise’s coronation, and what her council should look like.
And most importantly who will be coming. Aaron seems excellent at this, Annalise says it’s because he thinks way too much about people liking him. There have been two very large bones of contention so far.
“We don’t need to invite them,” Athena insisted as we debated for what felt like the thousandth time whether to extend an invitation to her and Tristan’s family. “Honestly, it might not go well if they did come.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to curry favor with the families,” Tristan argued, “Grandfather is influential, and having access to his ships could be even more benefictial. Cammadan has never had much of a navy.”
“There has to be a middle ground,” I said. They looked at me. “Perhaps you invite The Dumanis to the celebrations, but not to the ceremony.”
“The ceremony is public,” Annalise frowned.
“Yes, but there are honored guests,” I explained, “The provenence leaders, other sovereigns, that sort of thing. Carland Dumanis would not be in their number, but would be welcome at the ball.”
“An excellent compromise,” Dowager Countess Olivia observed. “That leaves our other question.” We all looked around at one another. Annalise and Tristan shared a specific look. “Have you settled which sovereigns to invite?”
This had mostly been settled days ago. The closest neighboring kingdoms were all invited of course, the only question remaining was Phania.
Phania is a chain of islands to the south of us. My provenence, Brightcoast is the closest point to it. My father and Annalise’s mother came from Phania when they were young. Their cousin Elana wound up marrying the crown prince, in fact. Well, now he’s the king. We don’t know much about it, sadly, the adults seem to keep quiet, but we do know things never sat well between my aunt and uncle and King Daniel and Queen Elana.
The thing is, inviting them is fraught. Not because they would come, they likely wouldn’t, they’d send representatives.
And they’ll probably send Prince Eric, the king’s half brother.
Who is the exact same age as Annalise.
A lot of people say that King Wyatt married Prince Eric’s mother just to have a child who could be united with the Cammadie heirs. We do know that after Daniel was crowned, Elana wrote to my father asking if he thought Anton and Marie would be interested in a betrothal.
They were not.
“We can’t ignore it,” Annalise said softly, “we’ll have to invite them. If they come, all the better, if they send the prince,” she sighed, “well, then they send him.” She stood up and walked out of the room. We all stared at the table.
“I should see to her,” Athena said and walked out.
“I should,” Aaron mumbled, “I’ll start on the letter.” Dowager Countess Olivia simply stood up and left. Tristan and I were left alone.
“Has she told you?” He asked. I shook my head. “She SAW him,” he mumbled and walked over to the window. “She always has.” I swallowed. “You?” He glanced over.
“Have I Seen Prince Eric?” I asked. He nodded. “No,” I whispered. “But I,” I sighed, “well, I stopped looking for that part of her life after I realized that you two were,” he nodded and I walked over to him. “Maybe it’s not what any of us think. True Dreams are confusing, and they often don’t mean what you think they do.” He looked at me. “She loves you, Tristan, and she needs you.”
“She thinks that she’s supposed to marry him,” he explained, “something about The Goddess and a wheel and being Chosen.” He looked at me. “We don’t have to talk about this.” I swallowed and then kissed him on the cheek.
“I promise,” I said, “if it’s that important to you, I will fall on the very scary sword of entertaining the probably quite dashing and handsome Phanian Prince.”
“Do you think he’s dashing?” He frowned.
“Well, the stories about him are thrilling,” I shrugged, “they say that he once returned home from the northern circles with a live ice bear for Princess Katrina. He captured it with his own hands.” He raised his eyebrows. “I’m only saying.” He laughed. “I don’t suppose dashing adventurer is Lisette’s type though, she likes you after all.”
“I could be dashing,” he said. I grinned and shook my head.
“Brooding, most certainly,” I said, “brave, without a doubt, but no, you are not dashing.” He frowned. “That does not help your case. In the stories that Mercy reads dashing knights are always smiling and saying witty things.”
“Ah,” he nodded, “don’t they also,” I was suddenly swept up in his arms, “sweep young ladies off of their feet.” I giggled and he smiled at me. “You always say the right thing.”
“Papa says it’s a gift,” I smiled as he put me down. I smoothed my gown. “Talk to her, tell her you’re concerned about The Prince. She’ll understand.” I kissed him on the cheek and walked out.
“Oh,” Aaron said, walking up to me, another young man standing with him. He shared Aaron’s coloring, but it was a common look to people from the central country. He was shorter than Aaron, and his hair had less red in it. He also had green eyes. When they met mine I felt a little silly. “Marina, are you alright, you’re all flushed?” I pressed my hands to my face.
“I’m fine,” I said, I looked at the other man, “Count, you haven’t introduced me.”
“Of course,” he said, “This is Honorable William Santino,” he gestured, “William is one of my tenants, and an, ah,” he cleared his throat, “old friend of Lisette and mine, this is Lady Marina Sanpierre, Duchess of Brightcoast, Lisette’s cousin.” William bowed.
“It’s an honor to meet you, Duchess,” he said. I smiled and curtsied lightly. “Vis-that is Count Aaron was just going to present me to Captain Dugarry, it seems Her Highness sees fit to induct me into the guard.”
“Captain Dugarry is inside,” I said, “we were just discussing the Phanian question.”
“Oh, so his mood will be excellent then,” Aaron winked. I shrugged. “The Princess wanted to speak to you, when you’ve calmed down.” I rolled my eyes and curtsied to them both again, hurrying down the hall. I glanced over my shoulder and noticed Master Santino look at me again. He winked and smiling.
Only one word entered my mind.