Her Path

**The re-write of Royal Obligation**
Duty comes before love in a turbulent time between three royal families of three countries as they attempt to get a hand over the other. Into this time, Princess Cassandra, the supposedly insiginifcant fifth daughter, is born

PART ONE:

Royal Obligation

The fifth princess of Aedryn was born on a blustery autumn night, the people of the city below learning of her birth with the coming of the sun the following morning. All heard it with a certain half-joy that the birth of royalty would not normally warrant. Another princess, another girl--the misfortune of the King and Country seemed to continue. All wished and hoped for a healthy male to ascend to the throne to provide them with the wanted security of a direct blood heir. The second Queen, Elitha, had failed them just as the first, mounting to the already growing discontent with the new wife of their King.

Queen Diana was seen with such favor, holding a strong, sensible grace over the court beside her husband, ruling over her tribe of beautiful daughters. She herself was a daughter of the country, a native, a familiar -  she was seen as something of both a sisterly, maternal figure whom all respected and felt a certain affection. She lingered with the people, riding out valiantly at her husband's side in their open carriage, displaying her children and making displays of herself by blessing peasant's young children as they were offered to her, among other grand spectacles of kindness. After four consecutive daughters, many wondered if she would ever produce the much-wanted son, though no one ever spoke badly of her and continually saw her in nothing but good light.

But then came the tragedy of her fifth pregnancy; both child, a boy, and mother were brought to their death during childbirth, distressing the whole nation.

Princess Elitha, the second daughter to King Lander of Gherion, was still a young woman herself; Aedryn's eldest Princess was but five years her youth. She hailed from a country which had shared bad blood with Aedryn from their beginnings. Over the ages, they had continually exchanged minor skirmishes and the occasional battle, marking their history and the minds of their people. In the latest, most recent, a skirmish between two border villages was beginning to escalate into something more and both Kings Howard and Lander wished to put an end to the troublesome violence so that the two countries may experience peace.

At the death of Queen Diana, Lander made the offer of an impromtu treaty in the form of his most loved daughter. A spirited beauty, she fought the idea of being a bargaining chip, a wagering tool, further detesting the idea of marrying one nearly twice her age and one whom she had not met or had any feelings for. King Lander forced her departure and her marriage, with the urging that it was to provide peace between the nations, that it was her duty. She left without further argument, yet she vowed never to speak to her father again.

The arrangement was proclaimed a most terrible deed; an unsettling, uneasy emotion nestling in among royalty and common-people alike.  Aedryns saw it as a move by King Lander, the Gherions, and the Navarians, Gherion's neighbor and ally, to finally snatch their land, and a weak hand played by their own king. Seen as an enemy, Elitha was met with hate and disdain. In their eyes, she was a foreigner, birthed from the very country which had been their rivals so many years. It was quite the contrast - a beloved, mature Queen of their own blood versus this delicate young woman just from her girlhood, birthed from the soil of their age-long adversary.  Some saw it as a mockery to the great Queen that such a girl should take her place.

Not long after marriage, a Princess was born to Queen Elitha through a horrific - the fifth of King Howard's daughters and a child no one thought much of. The king, like his people, took a certain dissatisfaction with the child, feeling a disappointment that it was not the long-awaited son. Cassandra would also be the last child mothered by Elitha - it was rumored that her consitution was already so fragile, and after the birth of her first child, she could bare no more.

Unlike his other daughters, King Howard was quick to summon the ambassador to the country of Navarn, whose King Alezander showed an unusal interest in the newest child of King Howard. Seeing that the Princess Cassandra was a healthy baby likely to survive childhood, a deal was struck. Cassandra would marry King Alezander's eldest son, Alezander II, who was just out of infancy himself at five years. At her eighteenth birthday she would be moved to the palace of Navarn, where, within the year, she would be wed. The deal would bring much peace between the three lands, supposedly, and at the moment, it seemed like a victory for King Howard, tying the continent together in such a way that there would be no argument among them for a long while.

The End

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