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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Alliance

I was livid! I marched into the sparring yard, and punched the first three guys I came across so hard that they fell to the ground; out cold. I then kicked and punched everyone else around me indiscriminately until I was panting with exertion. Looking around, I realized that there was no one left to fight – everyone one was mysteriously taking a nap on the ground… Go figure.
I exhaled in spent rage and left the sparring courtyard, that morning’s conversation playing through my mind once more.
“I refuse, damnit! I absolutely will not marry any man, not even that one!”
My father gave me a look that made my blood run cold. I sincerely wanted to run and hide before I accidently released the contents of my bowels, but I knew that any sign of weakness on my part would only make my father intensify my grueling, backbone-generating training. He would not be satisfied until I was strong enough to watch someone drilling into my flesh with absolutely no emotion at all; perhaps a raised eyebrow and a grim resolve to pay back the person responsible no matter the cost.
Father finally decided to respond to my vehement statement. “I completely agree. I have no desire to see you wed to him either. However, their Kingdom is vast compared to ours, and if we do not create an alliance by marriage with them, we have nothing to stop them from invading us and destroying our Kingdom. It is our responsibility to prevent that at all costs.”
I didn’t disagree with my father on that point. What hurt was that the only way to prevent the certain destruction of our Kingdom was for me to marry the damned Prince of the Great Demon Kingdom. It’s inhabitants were not actually demons, but plenty of them were powerful magic users, and could slaughter everyone of our citizens without the slightest physical effort. Hell! They wouldn’t even have to see our Kingdom to do it!
I paused in my pacing to kick a post as hard as I could, praying that the intense pain in my foot would clear my mind. I was our Kingdom’s greatest warrior, damnit! I was not some prize to be given to the highest bidder!
If I could excuse such weak behavior, I would go to my room and cry! I slammed the door to my chamber, and tossed every breakable item I could lay my hand on to cover the potential noise of the tears streaming down my face. I will not show weakness!

*******

“You are the Prince of the Great Demon Kingdom; of course you do not need to even consider a marriage alliance. The only one to benefit would be them, we will make them part of our future Empire whether we conquer them by marriage or by force!” The King of the Great Demon Kingdom informed his son.
The Prince did not relish the idea of marriage, but he was a pacifist at heart, and cringed at the idea of using force to conquer anyone.
“The proposed marriage alliance is a desperate effort to avoid a devastating war. You needn’t give it the slightest thought,” the King brushed aside the documents as if he literally did not care if they fell to the floor and were trod on by the masses. Prince Cedric gathered up the document carefully, and read through it once more.
“What if I did marry?” He wondered.
“Then they would become allies in our Empire, but you can’t seriously consider it, it’s absurd! Unless you plan to marry someone from each Kingdom we plan to conquer… which I admit does have a certain appeal,” the King mused.
“Our law does permit me to marry as many times as I wish,” the Prince pointed out.
“You think you need to remind me, I only have three wives after all! I know something about marrying more than once!”
“Father… I may not have any real desire to go through with this marriage, but I do think I should give it some serious thought before I reject it completely. Perhaps if I spent time with Prince Phillip, we could come up with a different solution,” Prince Cedric suggested.
“You want me to invite that Prince here? Absolutely not! My spies tell me that he is a formidable warrior, and could easily kill you in a fair one on one fight,” the concerned father protested. “And besides, while it is acceptable to marry a man, there would never be any children from it, so what good is the alliance really?”
“It’s better than war,” the Prince muttered softly enough so that his father couldn’t hear him. His father correctly guessed the comment anyway, and shook his head in disappointment. What good was building an Empire if its heir was too soft-willed to crush all opposition?
King Gregory sighed, “Fine… If you are certain, I will summon Prince Phillip here so that you can… What? See how good he is in bed?”
Prince Cedric blushed. “No! I merely wish to see if we are both of a compatible temperament. If we can get along and at least be friends, I will consider marrying him, but if we are just too different, then I’ll send him home to prepare for war.”
“I see,” the King stated, stroking his chin. “As you wish.”

*******

I held my breath to completely suppress my emotions as I waited to be announced. I still did not like this one bit, but I was under strict orders from my father to, “Do whatever it takes to secure a marriage alliance.” It still sounded easier said than done at this point.
The herald droned on for a few moments, and then finally got to the relevant part, “His visiting Highness, Prince Phillip.”
I squared my shoulders, steeled my resolve, and marched down the carpet all the way to the dais. Then, I bowed respectfully. I was grateful that my father had drilled me in how to control my temper since birth, because I wanted nothing more than to murder the ambitious King of the Great Demon Kingdom and his son right on the spot!
I stood at attention once more, and watched the emotions streak across Prince Cedric’s face. There was interest and curiosity followed by disappointment and distaste, and finally resignation. What exactly did that mean?
The King nodded regally to acknowledge my presence, and then commanded a servant to show me to the guest chambers specially prepared for my arrival. I was a bit disappointed that the Prince didn’t immediately announce a date for the wedding so that I could relax and mentally prepare myself for the onerous task, but I suppose it was too much to hope for. After all, the Prince had absolutely no reason to even consider our desperate proposal.
I obediently followed the servant to my designated room, and then sat brooding in a chair in the corner. I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was a good sign that the King and Prince had sent back a summons rather than a rejection, but even so… There was no guarantee that the proposed alliance would take place.
It was frustrating that a warrior such as I must submit to this dubiously peaceful solution when I would much prefer to gain victory on the battlefield, but even I had to admit that our soldiers were no match for their sorcery. It would be like leading lambs to the slaughter.
There was a soft and hesitant knock at the door. I knew it would be easiest to grant entry, but I had no wish to let anyone into the room. It was the only privacy and sanctuary I had in this place, and I wasn’t about to surrender that meager comfort so easily. I cautiously opened the door a crack.
“May I come in?”
I opened the door a bit father, and examined Prince Cedric carefully. He was flanked by two guards, and I knew that they would come in with him. Only a fool would greet a potential enemy unprotected.
“I would prefer that we talk somewhere else,” I admitted.
“I see…” Prince Cedric replied. “Then, will you come with me?”
“As you wish,” I said with completely controlled and smooth pleasantness.
The Prince led me to a seemingly abandoned room containing a few worn toys, a crib, and various furniture. It looked like a nursery, and I was confused. Why would he bring me here? Did he hope to make his point by refusing the alliance on the grounds that there would never be any children between us?
“Sorry about the awkwardly uncomfortable setting, but I figured that there was no other privacy to be had. At least here, we are guaranteed the luxury of uninterrupted conversation,” Prince Cedric explained.
I nodded; it made sense.
“Will you give your word that you will not harm me for today at least?” Prince Cedric asked.
I waited until I knew by the look on his face that he knew I was serious, and not one to break my word, ever. “I vow that I will not harm you unless you try to harm me. Ever.” My vow was a bit more long-term than he had anticipated, but I was serious. How could I hope to encourage peace between our Kingdoms if he thought I was prone to murdering him the moment things did not go my way?
He looked immensely relieved. “Excellent! Guards, wait outside the door, and do not allow anyone to interrupt us.”
The guards each gave me a long, probing look. They both looked like they would dearly love to refuse their orders, but even in my Kingdom, a well trained guard knew better than to refuse an order. I imagine that here in the Great Demon Kingdom, refusing orders might carry greater consequences than merely losing one’s job. The guards swallowed their protests, and left us alone.
“I’ll be completely honest, I have no wish to marry a man,” Prince Cedric announced with sudden, direct honesty.
“Then all hope is lost,” I sighed.
However,” he continued. “I will in order to avoid war, but only if I feel that a marriage between us would not be a waste of time.”
I swallowed the rising panic. He just implied that his cooperation depended on whether or not I could please him in bed. I was utterly unprepared for this! He lured me to a secluded out of the way place so that we would have no interruptions as I proved my seriousness and dedication.
This was much too sudden! We’ve only just met! I knew exactly what pleased me in bed, of course, but the thought of doing any of that with him made me nauseous. I bit my tongue to prevent an expression of revulsion from crossing my face.
I decided to try talking my way out of it. “I would not be a waste of your time. I could help you hone your skills as a warrior. If you would like, I would even dedicate myself to obtaining victory and glory in your name. So… so… that is to say, it would not be necessary to… to…” I could feel the panic rising higher in my throat.
“Victory and glory?” Prince Cedric asked in confusion. “I think you misunderstand, I am against battle! I’m a… Well, I’m not a fighter.” The Prince opted not to say the word pacifist to such an obviously strong warrior, in case it might offend him.
He’s a lover not a fighter, huh? I swallowed my almost uncontrollable urge to run, renounce my throne, and hide in a cave for the rest of my life. He’s really not going to let me get out of this, is he?
“What… what would you like me to do?” I asked, hoping against hope that he would ask for much less than I feared.
He sighed, obviously having given this a lot of thought. “I figure it this way, we can announce the engagement, and prepare for the ceremony. That should buy us some time. If we do not get along by the week before the wedding, then we can always call it off.”
I slowly nodded. In other words, I had until one week before the actual ceremony to prove my commitment and dedication to this method of preventing war. I was relieved that he was giving me more time, but it meant that I was still going to have to do it. Not only that, but if I was reading him correctly, he would not make things easier by ordering me to do this or that. Therefore, I was going to have to gather up the motivation to please him all on my own.
I almost wished that he would just push me to the ground and take his pleasure. Protecting my kingdom was important enough to me that I wouldn’t fight him. Wouldn’t that be enough to prove that I was serious? At this point, letting him have me seemed vastly easier than instigating, encouraging, and welcoming him inside me. Of course it couldn’t be that easy though, my life never was.
He smiled sadly. “Wonderful… let’s go inform my father.”
I could tell he was disappointed – probably that I wasn’t eagerly proving my devotion to him already – but I just didn’t have the proper mental preparation necessary. I might never be prepared, but I knew that I could never let down my Kingdom. My people were counting on me, and besides… I am certain that my father would have me drawn and quartered if I failed.
He had several small children from his second wife, and so I was not vital to the Kingdom’s future. However, they were all still so young. None of them would even be eligible for marriage for a few years, and I am certain that the Great Demon Kingdom would not be willing to wait that long.
I was meekly following my intended future husband when he stopped abruptly, his hand mere inches from the door knob. “I must know… Do you think we will get along?”
I could see that he still did not believe I would go through with it, and that I was wasting his time. I resigned myself to the inevitable. There was only one way I could prove that I really would do whatever it took to prevent our Kingdoms from going to war.
I slowly – so that I did not scare or startle him into thinking I was attacking – wrapped one arm around him, and pulled him close to me. I used my other hand to guide his face to mine, and bestowed a gentle kiss on his lips. There! If that did not make my intentions clear…
He stared at me in shock. I was a bit hurt that he didn’t believe me a man of my word, but I brushed that aside. I would prove to him that a true warrior always kept his vows – even those of marriage.
Prince Cedric stammered for a few moments, probably to calm his sudden desire. “I – uh – I – y-you –that is w-we should go make the announcement. You can let me go now.”
I immediately complied, relieved that he was pacified with such a token. I really did not want to go all the way right here and now just to prove to him that I would. The only question now was whether he wanted me to hold his hand and prove myself in front of his father and court. It was one thing to kiss him in private but it was entirely different to be expected to do so in front of others.
I was infinitely glad that he walked in front of me as I am certain my thoughts were written on my face for all to see. I actually was going to have to kiss him in public! It was part of the wedding ceremony!
 I know it was rather implied by the fact that we were going to be married that we would share a bed and our bodies, but political marriages – even between a man and a woman – often resulted in a couple that never shared a bed or their bodies. This meant that I had a small hope that people would not assume things, but at this rate, he was going to force me into several public displays just to test my resolve! I cringed at the thought.
By this time, we were standing together in front of his father’s throne, the Prince’s guards at our backs. I did my absolute best to show no emotion whatsoever. I did not need the King of the Great Demon Kingdom to think that I was resentful – even though I was. I needed him to believe that I would cause him no trouble. No matter how much Cedric and I were willing to avoid war, he was still ambitious and bloodthirsty.
I heard Prince Cedric take a deep breath, and hold it for a moment. “Father, I would like to officially accept the proposed marriage treaty between Prince Phillip and myself.”
“That was quick,” the King muttered. He stood, and loudly announced for all to hear, “I have just been informed that my son has agreed to marry Prince Phillip. Their marriage shall be the start of an alliance between our Kingdoms… I look forward to the many victories our two Kingdoms shall experience in the future!”
This announcement was met with startled gasps followed by murmured acceptance followed by cheers. I wasn’t stupid enough to believe that they were cheering for our marriage, but rather the declaration of future victories. Yes, I knew that the King would expect our soldiers to fight for his cause, but that was far preferable to being crushed by his magic-wielding warriors.
Quite honestly, our two armies together would be nigh on unstoppable. Our warriors may not know magic, but we definitely had strength and stamina. Fighting with their magic nearly guaranteed us of success! I was certain that all of the other Kingdoms in the continent were warily watching what happened between us. It would not surprise me at all if they all decided to surrender without a fight after the marriage ceremony.
The King finished his speech. “I hereby set the date of the wedding ceremony to be two weeks from today!”
I wanted to vomit! Two weeks! That was much too soon!

*******

“Did you fall in love at first sight, Cedric?” The King asked his son later on at dinner. They were dining alone, and used the time to have a private conversation.
“No!” Cedric protested. “In fact, I rather get the impression that he can’t wait to jump in bed with me! I will have to make it clear that I have no intention of being intimate with him.”
“Then why marry him?”
“To avoid war, of course!” Cedric roared.
“And how do you know you are not making a mistake?” The King challenged.
“If there is anything that everyone agrees on regarding Prince Phillip, it’s that he is a man of his word. I am not certain that we will ever even be friends, but he vowed never to harm me unless I intend to hurt him, and he also promised to fight in my name. I figure that such loyalty – even if reluctant – would be… Well, stupid of me to refuse.”
“I see,” the King chuckled, “but if he really can’t wait to jump into bed with you, you may have to let him in order to keep his loyalty.”
What?!” Cedric demanded after spitting out his half swallowed wine. “Let him? But! But!”
“Come now, would you keep a vow of eternal loyalty to someone who spurned your affections?”
“I… I guess not,” Cedric mumbled, suddenly depressed.
“Nor would I, and I am willing to bet neither will he.”
Cedric nodded, praying that the situation never presented itself. “Are you sure that my vow of eternal friendship would not be enough in exchange for his eternal loyalty?”
The King laughed and laughed, until he was rolling on the floor, holding his sides.
“I guess not,” Cedric mumbled.

*******

I paced my room, glancing at the clock once more. A mere two minutes had passed since my last examination of the time, and so it really was no surprise that my problem had not resolved itself as if by magic. I only had one week to convince Prince Cedric that I was serious, or else he would call off the marriage, and our Kingdoms would be at war.
I pulled on my hair in frustration. Why? Why did he insist that I prove my dedication with intimacy? Why couldn’t he be a fair and beauteous Princess? Life was just not fair sometimes!
I drew in several deep breaths in an attempt to calm my nerves. Waiting until the very last moment could say more about my resolve than anything, and at that point, it would likely seem forced. No, the only way to truly prove that I am committed to keeping the peace between our two kingdoms was to march right into his room, and do it, right now.
I allowed myself to whine over what I must do for a few moments, and then pushed all of my reluctance to the back of my mind. I just have to do it! I just have to… work him up and pray he takes over because I don’t want to have to touch his… anatomy.
I sighed, and decided that I was as mentally prepared as I was going to get. I exited my room, and walked down the hall to his. I did not bother to speak to the guards at his door, since I knew that they were probably aware that the two of us were engaged, and that I intended to spend time getting to know my fiancé better.
They did not stop me as I knocked on the door, and I mentally breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t relish the thought of arguing with his guards. It was hard enough maintaining my resolve without their interference.
Prince Cedric granted me entrance to his room, and I made sure to take each breath carefully to ensure that I didn’t start fidgeting and breaking out into a cold sweat. I managed to smile, and prayed that it seemed warm and caring. Say something, idiot! I commanded myself.
“Prince Phillip… what brings you here this evening?” Cedric asked suspiciously since it was far closer to nighttime than evening. He stood, and walked to me – I assumed to give me better access to him.
I couldn’t actually say it! Saying it out loud would make the situation 10 times worse! I gritted my teeth, and grabbed him.
Once he was in my arms, I figured that a kiss was probably the best course of action. I pressed my lips to his, trying to seem determined without being so determined that he couldn’t stop me. Please oh please let him stop me!
He tensed up, and I thought for certain that he was going to stop me that instant, but then he exhaled, and relaxed. I realized that he was just as nervous as I was, and this was probably his first time with another man too. Unfortunately, he seemed unwilling to take over, which upon further reflection might just be for the best since that meant that I would be the one inserting my anatomy into his rather than him doing so to me.
What do I normally do to women at this point? If I just closed my eyes, and pretended he was a woman, I bet I could do this a lot easier. I lowered my eyelids, and stroked his back.
I felt his lingering resistance melt, and strangely my reluctance faded. I stopped over-thinking the situation, and just let things happen naturally. At that point, it didn’t feel quite so awkward anymore.
He suddenly tugged my shirt over my head, causing our lips to break contact, and I responded by doing the same to him. His body was about the same size as mine, except that he didn’t have as many muscles. This was fine by me; it made it easier to pretend he was a woman.
Gods! The things I’ll do to protect my Kingdom!
Kissing him was really not so bad. In fact, I might kind of somewhat sort of in a roundabout way maybe perhaps find it enjoyable. What the hell, seriously???
I had to think that thought through twice to determine if I had thought it right, and then I reminded myself not to over-think the situation. I was here to prove my commitment to peace between our kingdoms, and to prove that marrying me would not be a waste of his time. Whether it was enjoyable or not was irrelevant.
Some time later, I realized that we were both utterly naked, and panic threatened to set in again. I had managed to ignore a certain anatomical landmark until this point, but there really was no ignoring it now. Especially since it was rather poking me.
I gathered up the courage to progress to the bed, or at least relocate us to the general vicinity of his bed. I still wasn’t sure I was fully prepared to make use of the large – massive really, what the hell did he need so much space for? Lying together, and pressing into one another was going to leave no doubt in either of our minds that this was really happening.
The back of his legs brushed his comforter, and he froze as if in shock. I paused to give him a moment to think, and our lips parted. Was he having second thoughts?
“I – er…. well,” he stammered. “This might be far enough for tonight… Don’t you think? I mean shouldn’t… shouldn’t we wait for the wedding night?”
“I can certainly wait if you want me to,” I blurted out honestly.
He stared at my lips for a moment, unconsciously pressing a finger to his own as he likely relived the last half an hour or so. I still held him close, unwilling to lose his trust by letting him know just how eager I was to escape before things went any farther. I noticed that his other hand stroked my back, and left the strangest sensation in its wake.
He leaned in closer to me once more; his expression confused. I think he might maybe sort of perhaps somewhat like this too. The thought made me feel inordinately better!
Until now, I was almost certain that he wanted me to prove my seriousness by being intimate with him, but that did not mean that he liked me, or actually wanted me to touch him. That he possibly did like my touch made me feel like I wasn’t about to throw away my self-respect for nothing.
He kissed me. Hesitantly, curiously… and I wondered what he was trying to figure out. Did he want me to stop or not?
“Maybe just a bit farther?” He suggested.
I nodded. I had come here figuring that I was going to have to do this anyway. The only surprising factor was how my body reacted to his. It was blatantly obvious that I was more than capable of going a bit farther, and then some.
I guided him onto his bed so that he was lying on his back under me, and that’s when he shoved his hands between us to push me away slightly.
“I changed my mind! I think I definitely want to wait until after the wedding!”
Aside from being happy to hear that, I was confused. Did he think that he could shake my resolve by playing games? Did he hope that I would refuse him after all so that he would have an excuse to break off the engagement and not feel guilty when we went to war?
“Why?” I asked, needing to hear an explanation that didn’t end with our Kingdom’s going to war.
“Be-be-because I don’t want to be the bottom partner quite so soon!” He explained so quickly that I had to mentally slow his sentence down and separate the words to understand them.
“Then… do you want to be on top?” I wondered, speaking very slowly to delay the offering of my body to him as long as possible.
“Ye…esss?” He replied uncertainly.
Despite the awkwardness of the situation, we were both hard and ready. I took a deep breath in, and slowly shifted off of him. Ohgodsohgodsohgods!
He grinned, and continued kissing me now that I was the one on my back. I don’t think there is a person on this entire planet who could fully understand how hard it was for me to suppress my urge to run at that moment. I was a trained warrior of more than decent skill! I never let a man lay so much as a dirty look on me before. Letting this one dominate me – submitting to his will and his touch… was vastly more difficult than kissing him had been!
He did not rush things, and I finally relaxed once more. His kisses gained confidence, and the discomfort of the situation faded again. Better yet, he did not touch my shaft, nor did he make me touch his.
I think we were both still in denial that the other had one, even though they were both pressed together. Each time one of us squirmed, our shafts rubbed in a way that felt incredible. This feeling was causing me to grow close to climax – completely surprising me.
“I think I am ready,” Cedric informed me. “D-do… you… want to be on your back or on your hands and knees?”
I held my breath until the urge to gasp or protest passed. “O-on my knees,” I replied, figuring that if I didn’t look at him I could… deny the truth or something. I am not sure what my reasoning was, but it seemed plausible in that instant.
We both got into position, and I really wanted to revisit that "wait until after we were married" suggestion of his, but I knew that stopping now would only prove that when it came right down to it, I didn’t have what it took to keep my promises. Such as my promise to do whatever it took to secure this alliance.
I took deep breaths, and forced myself to remain relaxed as he entered me. This wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it would be.

*******
The two weeks to our wedding completely flew by. To be honest, we spent most of it in bed! Once we had gotten past that first time, getting to know each other had been surprisingly fun. It turns out that we have quite a bit in common, and though our basic personalities were seemingly at odds – I’m a warrior, he’s a pacifist – it was like we were opposite sides of the same coin.
The details of what we would wear and who would walk down the aisle were left up to us, and we both agree that we would enter the temple from opposite sides of the central dais so that neither of us was walking down the aisle. He wore his traditional Heir’s military uniform, and I wore mine.
My mother, father, and his second wife were sitting on the left hand side of the aisle – traditionally the brides side, but I was the lower ranking Prince here after all. His father and father’s three wives sat on the right side of the aisle. We had no attendants other than his eldest sister – who was still a couple of years younger than him – as the Maid of Honor/Keeper of the Rings.
The ceremony was simple, and we sealed it with a brief kiss. I would like to think that we were fooling everyone into thinking that this was a strictly platonic political marriage, but the encouraging murmurs from the audience rather led me to believe that everyone was well aware of our… bedplay.
It certainly had come as a shock to me this morning to learn that my family had arrived early yesterday afternoon, and patiently waited for me to emerge from my fiancĂ©’s bedroom to congratulate me on the success of my mission. The fact that I learned about it this morning was a strong indicator that I hadn’t emerged from his room at all yesterday, heh heh. We had already rehearsed the ceremony that morning, so I had no reason to think I should come out of his room.
Anyway, after the ceremony, we celebrated with an enormous feast. Others danced, but we jumped on the first excuse to slip out of the room. He had promised me that I could be on top tonight, and I was strangely eager to take advantage of his good will.
Afterwards, we held each other tightly. It was time to talk about the future. We had plenty of time to honey moon – we could even take off and travel for a whole year if we wanted, but…
“My father says that I eventually have to return to my Kingdom and take a wife. I need heirs after all,” I mentioned nonchalantly.
“Yes…” Cedric murmured. “My father said that eventually we will turn our attention to the next Kingdom, and then it won’t matter what we want, we will both be sent off to lead the troops… and… I will need to take a wife and create an heir too.”
It was a bit sad to think that our lives together would forever be dictated by what was most convenient for our fathers, Kingdoms, and all the people who depended on our alliance for peace. I shook my head and smiled. It didn’t matter right now, so I brushed that thought aside.
He was completely mine for the forseeable future, and we had the perfect excuse to seek out a bit of adventure! Neither of us had ever really been out of our capitol cities, and now seemed like as good a time as any to explore the world around us. Who knows? Maybe we would manage to live out an entire lifetime together before anyone found us and dragged us back home!

Go To Part II 

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