In order to succeed the throne, Prince Justin only needed to figure a solution to unite his country and the enemy’s to a truce. Because he was such a spoiled prince, he almost never got his hands dirtied and always let his people to decide things for him even if most of the times he didn’t follow through. Yes, he was a royal pain but it couldn’t be helped, since he was the only royal prince of the Gallant Kingdom.
And so, he didn’t realize that the people in the castle had decided for him a hand of marriage with the country’s enemy, royal princess, Princess Jaden. Of course he refused such ridiculous idea, but this time the castle was not backing him up or showing him kindness. Infact, the citizens had already known the news before him thus to cancel the marriage would be pointless and asking for another war.
This was the first time, he recalled, being unable to escape from his duty. He envied his sisters who didn’t need to shoulder such big responsibility like him. He could already feel the heavy weight of what they call as burden, on him.
It’s already enough taking care of my sisters, but now a foreign woman? Justin was really dreaded at the thought of marriage, let alone to a stranger.
A few weeks before the matrimonial ceremony commenced, few of the royal party from the Vast Kingdom came to escort and send their last princess to the Gallant’s castle.
At the castle’s door, the royal party was greeted courtly by the royal Gallant House, including Prince Justin himself, though reluctantly. One by one the Vast people entered what it used to be known to them as the enemy’s lair. Then, another royal member, cloaked in hooded robe that concealed the figure’s identity stepped in mysteriously inside the castle. When the hooded figure noticed Justin, it made its way to him slowly until it was quickly blocked by two of the Gallant’s guards. Justin was also surprised by the spontaneous actions of his royal soldiers. He was obviously unaware of the hooded person’s presence.
“Hey, hey…what do you think you’re doing?” said Justin at his guards.
“We would not allow an unauthorized being near the young highness!” one of Justin’s guards began, “Reveal yourself so we may identify you…”
“Oh yes, I forgot”, the tone seemed to belong to a woman and it was coming from the person in front of Justin, the hooded person, “Where are my manners?”
And she unveiled her hood. The three men in front of her were the first to widen their eyes at the sight before them. The long cloak revealed a female with the rarest colour of hair, jade – the green stone. Her long hair shimmered as the morning light grazed upon her head. Her face was of deep fairness that could be mistaken as diamond crystal and those deep blue eyes that were equivalent to sapphires. Her physiques were enough to capture everyone’s attentions.
“Allow me to introduce myself, I am Jadelyne of the last princess from Vast Kingdom”, the princess introduced herself. “But I am most comfortable with Jaden, Princess Jaden”.
The guards hurriedly lowered their swords and poles that were blocking Justin and excused themselves.
So this is the Vast Kingdom’s last princess, Jadelyne, the rumored Jeweled Princess, Justin thought for a while. The truth was that he was a bit awestruck by her immense beauty. But it didn’t mean he liked her, let alone loved her. She’s beautiful, admirable and desirable, he could tell, but those things won’t guarantee happiness.
“Are you some kind of a tree?” he started off with a smirk as he looked at her hair. Everyone around him was baffled at his rudeness. The woman in front of him managed to curve into a small smile but Justin was finally seeing something different in her face. It seemed that her blue eyes were not really blue. In fact, if anyone other than him noticed, there were small thin lines of crimson circles around her opaque blue eyes. And for the first time he understood those expression as anger, fury, menace, remorse, demeaning – all those negative and ill-feelings emotions exuding ever so slightly from this woman.
He could feel himself wavering at the sight of the woman. Honestly, he was scared of her.
“My, my, you have quite a sense of humor, Prince Justin”, she said with a slight edge in her voice. Justin forced a gulp.
Come on, she’s just a girl. So what, she’s quite different but she’s still a human – nothing to be scared of. Justin reminded himself.
Even though Princess Jaden and her royal guards and servants had resided at the Gallant’s castle for a few weeks before the wedding, the princess hardly made contacts with the prince at all. Well, it suited the prince just fine because he too was not so keen on being friendly either. Anyhow, the more they could prolong the prospect of acting as a couple, the better.
But the day of their marriage was approaching near and to be exact, they had only a week to fully prepare for the biggest event of the two kingdoms. As for Justin, he had to accept the reality that he was truly going to be King and be married to the bejeweled princess. It didn’t sound that bad from an outsider’s point of view but he just didn’t like to be forced into such things. But he had no choice either. If this marriage could stop the war started by his foolish and greedy late father, then he would shoulder the weight of the responsibility to make things right. He was resolute and absolute about it.
But the pressing matter at hand was between him and the eccentric princess. There was only a week left for the marriage and yet they hadn’t spoken properly ever since after their first encounter at the entrance and that too he thought that didn’t count, as he remembered how he sort of humiliated her.
Hmm…this is going to be tough, as he thought of inviting her to dine with the family for dinner. Never mind, he figured, for the time being, he just needed to find her and talked things out.
Windows, windows, windows…
Outside the castle’s compound, a green-haired creature in cloak was surveying the castle’s outside surrounding and its building structure. It was Jaden and strangely she was observing and analyzing the castle’s outside layout. Her mind was churning some sorts of theories.
Every room should at least have a window, even dungeons and towers have some openings. As she processed her thoughts, her hand was already holding her chin, thinking deeply. But she snapped to reality when she felt a sense of presence. Her whole body became alert.
“Hey, if you stay too long in this greenery, you might just turn into a tree. Infact, I could hardly find you here”, that voice and that remark belonged to none other than Justin, the prince, the son of the dead King who started the war, a useless lad who did nothing – he neither stopped nor supported the war, the man who would be Jaden’s wife. It was a good thing she had her back on him because underneath those cloak, she was clenching her fists, infact her whole body was suppressing an aggressive urge to beat the crap out of him.
But she managed to muster her strength and turned to him and responded with a smile. “Well, if it isn’t Prince Justin? To what I owe the honor of your presence?”
“The family asked you to join dinner with us. It won’t be long that we would get married and I think that we need to act more of a couple from now on”, said Justin with his arms crossed against his chest.
Truthfully, Jaden didn’t like the coupling idea, because that would mean her movements would be restricted. And yet, she had a duty to follow through this marriage.
“To be invited to dinner by the Prince, I must say, I’m truly honored…”
“You don’t need to be formal in front of me” Justin cut her words. “I listen to gossips too. I know you hate me”.
For a moment, there was a flash of malice in her eyes that was quickly replaced with a crooked smile on her face. He could tell. His heart was racing and not because of her beauty but because he could feel something fearsome coming from her. He was slightly trembled by her expression.
“Very well, let’s play pretend”, said Jaden as she started to walk pass him. And when she was very near to him, she bowed her head to his left ear and whispered, “But pretend or not, soon you are going to meet your demise”.
He didn’t know if she was playing or teasing or joking because it sounded real – it sounded like a threat, a death sentence. This confirmed it – he was scared, and of her.