Alana's kingdom was not far from that of the Princess Isabella's but by the time the prince had arrived, most of the suitors had been there a few hours. Alana sighed in frustration, thinking back on the hectic events of the morning.
Their family had been training the heir to the throne of Elar, Allan, in the arts of chivalry and courtliness ever since the competition for the fair Isabella was announced. He was worked like a dog from dawn until dusk, forced to read the driest of texts, and his voice was hammered, much like steel on an anvil, until it rang with the sweetest of tones. Their kingdom was small, and due to the countless raids of their trade ships by foreign nations, very poor. The chance to make alliances with such a powerful kingdom would save them, so it was understandable that they trained the only male heir to the throne until he was someone that Isabella would have no qualm with. Without a doubt, she would have found Allan to be quite charming and a worthy companion, but she would never have the chance to meet him.
Allan had fallen ill the night before.
When the royal family had found him delirious and drowning in his own sweat, there had been an unholy panic. The queen wailed, which caused the baby to wail, which caused the dogs to bark, which then caused the livestock to let loose a symphony of baas and moos. The king was on the verge of throwing himself from the tallest tower ( the north one) when his daughter Alana walked in from her morning ride. She was taller than her brother Allan by a few inches, but that was fortunate if anything. She was rather flat-chested, and her face had yet to gain any sort of womanly charm. Since she had been riding, she wore mens' clothing and her hair was tied in a horses tail, which was typically worn only by men. That was when the king came up with a very dangerous idea.
"Alana, your name is now Allan. You must win the hand of the princess."
And so it was that Alana was forced into the role of her brother and sent off on a fools' errand to win the hand of a Princess who she had no interest in. Her father had given her strict instruction in those few hours on how to act like a man but she doubted it would do any good. How would anyone think she was anything but a female? Her voice wasn't even all that low for gods sake! Shoving those thoughts to the back of her mind, she dismounted her horse as manfully as possible and handed the reins to a waiting stablehand.
Well, here goes nothing.