THE PROLOGUE to Twins Who Are Not ~~~~~~~
The sun shone brightly through the eastern windows bathing the dining hall in a brilliance born of crystals and glass, of brass and silver and gold, but Luelna did not hesitate as she crossed the threshold. Her raven black hair was woven into many long braids which were themselves braided to echo her station in life. Light emerald eyes latched onto Lord Harld, of Harvest Grove Valley, and his Lady Niviya as they sat together at the long table. That table was also populated by ten of the Lord’s children ranging in age from five to twenty-five.
Standing at Lord Harld’s side was a royal courier, still out of breath from his swift journey, and wearing the blue and green colors of the city and Princedom of Orjglo.
Her eyes were distracted as Larad, the Head Butler, threw a warm fur cloak around the courier to help ease the winter chill. Recognizing the scroll being passed into her father’s hand, Luelna felt herself shocked into remembrance of dreams that had shaken her awake and then faded. Now those visions and the knowing which had accompanied them stopped her in her tracks and she gasped in a tone which drew every eye in the room to her.
“My apologies,” she said, quickly curtseying, “but I had a dream of a scroll coming to us from a throne of sorrow. I did not mean to interrupt.”
Nodding, the courier turned violet colored eyes down towards the well-polished crystal tiles, but all that passed across his lips was a long heart felt sigh.
“If you had a dream of this then you can tell me what it states before I open it,” her father stated. At the shrugging of her shoulders he tilted his head and waited for her to speak.
“I can’t tell you the words that are written,” she said, managing to obtain a jam covered piece of bread to nibble on. “What I know is the intent of what is written and the consequences if we refuse.”
“Which is?” Lord Harld asked.
“It’s Harvest Grove’s turn to give him a bride,” Luelna said, stopping where she was as a brittle silence settled upon them.
It was shattered when the courier nodded sadly.
“Has something happened to Lady Betaia?” Lady Niviya asked, concern flowing across her face.
“Lady Betaia has retired herself and asked to be relieved of wifely duties and the responsibilities of the Prince’s Consort,” the courier stated clearly looking out across his audience. “In truth the Healers are concerned about a nagging pain she reports, but that is as much as I am able and allowed to state. Please, the scroll will tell you what our Prince has decreed.”
Breaking the image of a breeching whale and ship impressed into the blue wax, which only the Prince of Orjglo was allowed to use, Lord Harld unrolled it swiftly revealing it to be a short missive. But short or long, if the Prince of Orjglo Princedom wrote a command then they had little choice beyond obeying or fleeing to another Princedom. Reading silently through the inked message as his Lady read over his shoulder, Lord Harld allowed it to sink in so he could act rather than react to the fear which had risen from the depths of his soul.
“Father,” Luelna said, having covered the distance between them without him being aware. “Father, this task is mine to do. Do not fear to accept Prince Nedglo’s command. I do this willingly.” Glancing around the table at her sisters, three of whom were also of marriageable age, she said, “The dream was a fore-knowing preparing me for this event and what is to come. My sisters are needed elsewhere, but if I don’t go then something very bad will occur. I know it far beyond any doubt or fear that I must do this.”
Looking clearly into her eyes, Lord Harld stated, “You’ve heard what happens when Prince Nedglo’s wives and concubines birth daughters.”
Luelna nodded but it was her step-mother who spoke in response.
“Luelna is well trained in the healing arts,” Lady Niviya said, flicking the kerchief in her right hand. “She knows how to tell if it’s male or female as soon as the egg accepts a swimmer and before it can penetrate the egg’s wall. She…,” Lady Niviya began before realizing she had spoken this in front of one of the Prince’s men. Blushing, she quickly apologized but the courier halted her with a gesture.
“My Lady Niviya, I heard nothing,” the man stated before asking the Lord of the manor, “My Lord, perhaps you could allow me and my steed a few hours of sleep and food and in the morning you may give me your official decision. I’ve been on the road for three days and must tell you how thankful I am of your people. Even in the high passes they’ve kept the roads passable the whole way. Theirs is an amazing feat this deep into winter, so my deep gratitude to them, for their efforts.”
“I will insure they know of your gratitude, and thank you for the praise, we do try since trade benefits all of us,” Lord Harld said quickly. Motioning for a servant who bowed and led the courier away, the Lord turned back to his eighteen year old daughter. He then motioned for room to be made at the table near him and waited until she was seated before stating, “You will tell us all about this dream and your knowing. Explain to me why any of my daughters should go to that dreary city and dark castle built upon whale bones.”
“Because in one year I will give birth to a daughter who will find a way to bring healing to that sorrow filled place, if it can be done,” she stated without hesitation. “In the dream I saw two girls who could be twins born from one egg but I knew they came into this world through different mothers. One of those daughters was of my blood and body and yet….” Shaking her head, Luelna whispered, “Babes born of royal blood but protected by a whore’s heritage. They belong to that city and to the land beyond those encircling mountains, all of the Harbak Peninsula.
“They need each other to balance and focus the healing energies,” Luelna stated calmly, watching her father closely. “Without my daughter the other child would not survive, and without that other your own granddaughter would die the first night of her life. But you must not look for the daughter of my loins. She belongs there, in Orjglo City.”
“What will happen if your daughter isn’t born?” Lilalla, her eldest sister asked, her twenty-two year old brow wrinkled in concern for the child growing in her own womb.
“Did I tell you that I can hear the sorrow filled angry songs of the whales? Both living and beyond remember the slaughter, and their song grows louder with each generation,” Luelna stated as she looked down at her trembling hands, unable to say more.
How's that for a Prologue?