My Fair Princess
"One was not, until my meeting this evening."
Her hands pulled from her step-mother's touch, and her wings drew tightly back. "Should I…
should I not have been at the meeting then, Father? I did not know Alaera was in need of an
"It is not an alliance, my darling." She offered a comforting smile, though her fingers trembled.
King Thaedis covered the Queen's hands with his. "Nia, the joining will benefit Alaera, of course,
but in the area of trade and not of power."
"Trade?" Her rose lips twisted. "Am I to marry a merchant?"
"No, dear. A mayor."
Images of a silver haired man, wrinkled and bent, sent Nia's wings bristling. But she was Alaera's
only princess, and as such her responsibilities were great. "When do we meet?"
"Next month. The betrothal contracts shall be signed this evening via proxy, as the mayor has
already journeyed home to make arrangements for the wedding. You and an entourage shall travel to
"O'Neill? Why, Dray and Lee are from O'Neill." The king raised an eyebrow. Nia flushed. "Please
"You shall travel to O'Neill to escort Mayor O'Neill back for the ceremony."
Nia's stomach lurched. The small farming community of O'Neill shuddered with the horrible
rumors of Mayor Neil O'Neill. Dray and Lee witnessed many of them first-hand. How can I
possibly...? Her duty as a princess opened before her much like the maw of a hungry dragon of
legend. Only, this time, there would be no rescue.
"The wedding ceremony shall be held the morning following your arrival," her father continued,
"after the mayor and I have settled certain details."
Nia inclined her head, her gaze unable to rise from a scrutiny of the signet ring weighing down her
"You had best prepare your wardrobe. Your mother and I will begin preparations, including the
guest list. Do you wish there to be a ball directly afterward?"
"Just a simple affair, Father. If you do not mind."
King Thaedis nodded and gestured for his wife to stand. "We will see you this evening for dinner,