Of Fate and Choice

the vampire prince

The longer they waited the more Alaric found it harder to conceal his annoyance. He glanced at the human ambassador and gritted his teeth when he saw him scrawl a note on the parchment in front of him. There was no doubt what the human had written and he knew that it would eventually end up in a letter back to Acaralia. The ambassador had never liked him and while he didn't care what that human thought of him, he knew every negative piece of news relayed back to Acaralia had been attributed to him, and though he also didn't care about that he knew that it could end up as a problem for him.

When the door to the private room opened Alaric sat up in his chair and looked at the messenger he had dispatched to fetch his wife. "The princess is indisposed, Your Highness," the messenger said, bowing his head as he backed out of the room.

"As I told you, my wife has been sick ever since my sister departed," snapped Alaric, resting his elbow on the arm of his chair.

"I find it difficult to believe that the Princess Daphne could be sick for a fortnight without it having been brought to my attention sooner," the human ambassador said, tapping the parchment in front of him.

"Her ladies have been very protective of her which is why even I have not seen my wife since my sister departed."

"Be as that may, the absence of our princess is suspicious. Perhaps the prince is unaware that our princess had voiced concerns regarding this union a mere four days after it had been officiated, concerns that this prolonged absence only heightens." The ambassador rolled up the parchment and laced his fingers together.

Alaric gripped the arm of his chair tightly and had to refrain from baring his fangs. He should have known that she would have spoken with the human ambassador; if there was one thing he could be sure about with Daphne, it was that she would do anything to make his life miserable.

"Need I remind Acaralia that all concerns must be directed towards the king?" Saith said, drawing the human's attention to the delegate Alaric's father had chosen to sit in for all these meetings. "With the Princess Daphne being indisposed, I must insist that Acaralia direct any and all questions towards our prince with regards to the nature of the union. As it were, the eleventh week's meeting was postponed as the Princess Leora was preparing for her departure, and with a subsequent two weeks having passed since then, it is imperative that this union receives its assessment."

"While I agree, I simply cannot submit any answer from your prince until the health of our princess is confirmed," the ambassador replied, standing from his chair. "As you must be aware, until a child has been produced from this union, Acaralia can and will take offence over any ill-treatment of our princess, including any such involuntary confinement."

"As you wish. I shall see her for myself."

The human interrupted Saith. "You mistake me. Until I have laid eyes upon our princess and been assured of her well-being, there will be no more discussion of this union. Surely you must be aware that as the principle union of this cycle, the success or failure of this is reflected upon the subsequent unions? Acaralia is very keen to receive news--"

"You speak as if we are unaware of just how vital this success is. Our prince is very aware of the need of producing an heir, so perhaps Acaralia should question their princess on why this has not yet been fulfilled."

"Be careful with such accusations," the ambassador hissed.

Alaric couldn't listen to another word. "Let's go see my wife then," he declared, rising from his chair and taking leave of the room. There was no footsteps following as he stalked down the hallway, his desire to turn back and tear the ambassador to pieces steadily rising. The human spoke as if he was not aware of how significant the union was, as if his mother had not spent countless years instructing him on the mannerism the humans kept and how best to remain aloof to such differences.

The guard who had always been present outside his wife's chamber was absent as he pushed open the doors and entered the main chamber. The three ladies that had accompanied her each jumped from where they had been sat, the room absent of his desired human, and each of the humans scarcely dressed appropriately for company.

"You cannot just barge in!" the taller lady cried, moving to stand near to the bedchamber's doors. Her hands were pressed against the doors behind her and yet there was something akin to terror that lingered in her eyes.

"I've come to see my wife," said Alaric.

"Our lady is ill and is not fit for anyone."

Irritated and unwilling to continue listening to yet another human, Alaric pushed her to the side and grabbed the handles. "If she is as ill as you claim, I can no longer listen to your flimsy lines of refusing the royal physician entry."

"You cannot go in there!" exclaimed a different lady as he opened the bedchamber's doors.

There was no human in the room. He walked in and inspected the bed, noting that it appeared slept in but the intended occupant was nowhere to be seen. Items he knew that belonged to his wife were still in their places on the tables near the bed and he picked up the veil that sat near the stained windows. "Are one of you going to explain or must I pose the question first?" Alaric said sardonically, looking at the doorway where the three ladies were now gathered. "Where is my wife?"

"We do not answer to you," replied the taller lady, placing herself slightly ahead of the other two.

His fingers clenched around the veil. "But you do answer to this union."

"Which does not fall to you, prince," the third lady answered, his assumption that her silence had been due to fear proved incorrect.

It was that lady Alaric gripped the wrist of before he stalked out of the bedchamber, ignoring her attempts at pulling free as he dragged her out of his wife's chamber and down the hall. He could hear the others calling after him and once or twice felt her nails dig into his hand but he refused to stop, even as he climbed the stairs that led to his mother's quarters. The human tripped on one of the stairs which pulled at his hand but he simply continued, knowing that had he stopped to allow her to right herself that the other humans would have caught up with them and irritated him even more.

His mother was in her solar when he flung open the doors and yanked the human forward, letting go of her wrist as she stumbled in front of him. She steadied herself as his mother rose to her feet, both hands pressed heavily against the table she was sat at. "What is the meaning of this?" she asked, her eyes narrowing on him.

"I am being blamed for this union lacking and yet my wife is nowhere to be found," he snarled, flinging the veil at the table. "Perhaps you will have more success with this worthless creature."

The queen pushed off the table and approached him, her hand moving faster than he could predict and her rings colliding with his cheek. "How did you become such a fool?" she hissed, turning from him and approaching the human. "Did he cause you any harm?"

"No, Your Majesty," the human replied, her voice no longer holding the malice it had done a short while ago.

Before anything more could be said the two other human ladies reached the door, their heavy breathing a sign that they had been in a hurry. "Please forgive us for disturbing you, Your Majesty," the taller lady said, hastily dropping to a curtsey while the other lady remained behind her. "We mean no offence."

His mother gave him a cold look before turning to the human he had dragged into the room. "Please explain what led to this. No, do not look at my son, he cannot harm you," she said kindly, making Alaric grit his teeth.

"Forgive me, Your Majesty, but we were told we do not answer to anyone but our princess, and only she may give us permission to speak to any but her," the lady said, her fingers fiddling with her sleeve.

"So where is your princess?" The lady didn't reply and instead dropped her gaze to the floor. His mother turned to him before looking at the other two ladies. "Where is the Princess Daphne?"

One of the ladies started speaking. "We do not--"

"Lilla!" the human he had dragged into the room cried.

Before Alaric could speak his mother rounded back to the human. "Your princess's well-being is my responsible, so I shall ask once more. Where is she?"

"We don't know, Your Majesty," the lady from by the door said. "We have not seen her in days."

His mother turned to him. "You best explain yourself."

He scowled and moved to the table that she had deserted, taking the seat she had been occupying. "My wife has been ill. In what manner, I do not know, but none of her ladies would permit me to enter her chamber, so I gave her the time to recover from whatever human sickness that had befallen her," he said, resting his hand on the arm of the chair. His nails sunk into the fabric easily.

There was a moment of silence as his mother looked as if she was composing herself. Much of him would have enjoyed seeing her lose her temper with the worthless humans, much like he had seen her do with their own kind throughout the years, but she seemed to care too much about the union and how the other species viewed them. So, instead of saying anything, he watched her close her eyes and take a deep breath, one that made her shoulders raise ever-so-slightly, before reopening them. She turned back to the humans in the doorway. "When was the last time you saw her? I must insist that you tell me so that I may ensure that her safety is secured."

"We don--"

The taller lady interrupted. "It was the day the Princess Leora left, Your Majesty."

"Lilla!" the same lady as before cried.

"We thought she had spent the night in solitude - she has done that before, beneath the tree she dedicates under - but three days passed and none of us knew what to do, we are forbidden from approaching our lady's husband, and it is not for us to speak to our ambassador," the lady Lilla continued, stubbornly refusing to look at her fellow ladies.

Alaric rested his hand against his forehead so that he didn't have to continue looking at the sight before him. Too much freedom, that was where his mother had gone wrong. She catered to his wife's every humanly whim, allowing her such leniency that she had never afforded to either him or Leora. Her decision to have little to do with his younger brother's upbringing was mostly to do with this union and how difficult she was sure he was going to be, and yet he had done nothing but attempt to make this union a success while his wife had simply vanished.

"It is best if you return to her chamber, the three of you, while I arrange for provisions to find your princess. Do not worry, no harm will befall her, but do not mention this to anyone else. Your ambassador especially. This union is of the utmost importance and you have my word that should no trace of your princess be found that I personally will write to her father." His mother's voice was steady, the hint of kindness now gone, but her eyes conveyed everything. There was silence as the three ladies looked at each other before the two ladies he didn't know the names of left together, brushing past the lady Lilla and hurrying away. "You needn't feel as if you betrayed your princess," his mother said, drawing the remaining lady's attention back to her. "I sympathise with your loyalty but it can only stretch so far when her well-being is in question." The lady gave a nod before curtseying and leaving, allowing the doors to the solar to be closed and leaving the two of them alone.

"It cannot be a coincidence," he said, withdrawing his hand. "They came in peace and she just disappears!"

His mother rounded on him. "Mind your tongue."

Alaric rose to his feet and pressed his palms on the table. "An offence against me, but let us ignore that and address that this is surely an act of war? They stole my wife!"

"We do not know that," she snapped, pacing over to the window. "Such assumptions is how we became on the brink of extinction."

"Spare me our history. We are not in the position we were when this agreement was made, and Acarelia will take offence over this action."

"Acarelia will not know. I would have expected this ignorance when you weren't the heir - you were always too rash - but not now, not with this. I will write to Thaelyhn while you will visit your wife's chamber every third day, and not a single word is to be spoken, not even to your father."

He stood up straight and looked at his mother, his nails pressing into the table. "You regret Leora's departure, you have made that plain to see, but this will be the year I get my crowning, even if I have to invade Thaelyhn myself to get my wife back to achieve that," said Alaric, pushing the table away and striding towards the door.

"Don't count on that," were the words his mother said before he slammed the doors behind him.
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I - it's been two years and I've missed writing so much