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There was screaming from the front entrance of the ball room. The ball room gleamed gold from the candle light reflecting off of the golden floor and the candle sticks. Her Royal Highness, Princess Mariana Elaine di Halen, stood tall against the wall next to her father’s throne. Everyone thought that she was strange due to the fact that even to a black tie event she preferred to wear men’s clothing to women’s clothing. "It is my duty to protect Father and Mother and I don’t care what other people think." She looked over the crowd and tried to find where the screaming was originating from.
She found her father. King Jonathan was within her sight as he always was. Her mother Queen Joanalia was mingling with the crowd as she always was during parties like this. The crowd thinned away from the door as they rushed away from whatever was scaring them.
With her hand on her sword, Mariana walked up towards the door. There was a body face down on the floor with the blood pooling around it. A knife stuck through the man’s back towards his heart. She knelt down away from the pile of blood and turned the man’s face towards her. It was the young Baron Rodger Von Hamelton... Mariana’s best friend.
“Oh, Rodger, what happened?” she murmured as she looked over his body with a tear running down her face. She looked the knife over. The handle was very expensive with gold inlay all over the handle. Mariana grabbed the handle with a gloved hand and pulls it out of Rodger’s body. The knife itself was very sharp and there was a strange marking on the blade that looked like it was a dagger stabbing a heart. "Hmm, I haven’t seen this symbol before and I know all of the other symbols that the nobles use."
Mariana used her other hand and wiped the tear away from her face and looked around the room. There were so many nobles around that could have given this knife to anyone that it would be difficult to figure out who it was.
Mariana grabbed a handkerchief out of her left breast pocket and started to clean the knife of the blood. Out of the blue, there was a bright light coming out of the knife into Mariana’s eyes.
Mariana looked around where she was but it wasn’t her body. It was the knife’s point of view. Rodger was standing in the middle of the ball room holding his drink, but his back was towards them. As he brought up his cup to take a sip, the knife was stuck so forcefully that there was cracking on the other side of Rodger’s body. He sputtered in surprise and blood came out of his mouth. His blue eyes were huge and looking for someone as he died. The last person that he saw was Mariana in the distance standing beside her father’s throne, as he went into darkness.
Mariana gasped as she came back to her body; it was covered in sweat. She held up the back of her left hand to her forehead to let the sweat soak into the leather. Her breath was ragged and her complexion was almost white. She looked around at everyone with fear, but no one was paying her any attention.
They were accustomed to things like this going on. They didn’t like the fact that the princess was the only child to the king and queen and the fact that she was a girl instead of a boy. They all had the notion that to be the next ruler of the kingdom that the royalty was supposed to be a man. Girls were meant to be peace treaties to other kingdoms in the world, while the boys were trained to be the future ruler of the land.
Mariana heard footsteps coming from behind her and she spun around on her knees and looked up at her father and mother. “Mother, Father. Baron Rodger Von Hamelton… is dead.” A few more tears ran down her face as it slowly sunk in.
“Well my daughter.” King Jonathan looked over Mariana and Rodgers body. “What do you have for us?”
“I found that he was stabbed with this knife.” Mariana held up the partially cleaned knife and showed her parents where the mark was on the blade.
“Oh, bless me, Akka! Where did you get this?” Queen Joanalia put a hand over her heart and gave a prayer to the Finnish Goddess of the Earth.
“I found it imbedded in Rodger’s body, Mother. I never got the chance to tell him how I felt about him.” Even more tears ran down Mariana’s face as she looked at them. But when she looked for support, she only found horror on their faces.
Queen Joanalia turned to her husband. “I think it is time to tell her now. Don’t you agree?”
King Jonathan flinched as if he was slapped by his wife and nodded. “Mariana, there is something that we need to tell you.” He sighed and put his hands behind his back. “Your mother and I wanted to tell you at a later date but due to the more recent accidents going on throughout the kingdom and the one that happened tonight forced our hand. You my daughter, Princess Mariana Elaine di Halen are going to be betrothed to His Royal Majesty King Leonardo di Bromale, who is here for the month to discuss trade routes and the betrothal as well as many other things.”
“But…??” Tears started to stream down Mariana’s face harder than before. “You both agreed that I would be able to pick who I want to marry when I turned 21. My birthday is in two months. Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Mariana’s fists were balled up and her nails were digging into her palms. She gritted her teeth, and opened her mouth to speak some more but was cut off.
“You will do as you are told, young lady,” the Queen snapped, ending the conversation permanently. “Give your information to the Capitan of the Guard and go back to the throne area.”
Mariana turned on her heels away from her parents and stomped away, unladylike. The Capitan of the Guard came over and put his hand on Mariana’s shoulder in comfort. “There is no reason to be in despair, My Lady.” But his deep voice and kind words were very little comfort to Mariana.
"You are a commoner. How can you say something like that? You got a choice, I was given that option but it is now taken away from me." There were tears streaming down her face so much that she could not turn back to the Capitan and shrugged his hand off of her shoulder. She then jammed the knife, blade flat, into his hand getting blood all over his clean white glove. “There is the knife that killed my best friend.”
This left the Capitan speechless as Mariana moved through the crowd back to where the thrones sat. Instead of standing straight as she was taught by the guardsmen who trained her in battle, she slouched against the wall and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I can’t believe that they did this to me. They should have kept their promises." Mariana angrily wiped away tears that fell down her cheek.
“Now there is a face too pretty for tears.” A gentle voice pierced Mariana’s ears, causing her to look up and finding herself reflected in sea green eyes.
“Who…are…you?” Mariana gaped him.
His blond hair worked well with the color of his eyes and his pale skin was lightly touched by the sun. His teeth gleamed in the candle light as he smiled at her. “I am Leo.”
“Leonardo di Bromale?” Mariana asked skeptically as she eyed him.
“Now how do you figure that? But please I prefer to be called Leo by those in the royal courts. It makes it less formal.” Leo leaned against the wall next to Mariana.
“Mother and Father just told me that we are to be betrothed.” Mariana turned away from him and looked out of the window behind the thrones. The sky had turned black and there were clouds that covered the full moon.
“They had sent a messenger about that a little over a year ago when I took the throne after my father passed away.” There was a sadness in his voice as he moved to be standing next to Mariana looking out of the window.
“How old were you when he passed away?” Mariana risked a glance at Leo’s face when she thought he wasn’t looking. He glanced at her at the same moment and their eyes met. Mariana looked away with a blush going up her neck and across her nose.
“I was twenty-two, almost twenty-three when he was murdered. I don’t know who did it, but I will not stop trying to find out.” There was a meaning in his voice as he looked out across the grounds towards where the moon was hiding.
Mariana looked at Leo and he looked back at her with kindness in his eyes. Mariana couldn’t keep looking at him and turned away from him towards where her parents were enjoying the party. She sighed and crossed her arms again.
“Would you like to go on a balcony with me?” Leo held out his hand and offered it to her to hold.
Mariana shook her head at his hand but started to walk towards one of the doors to view the grounds. When she got to the door she pushed down on the door handle and exited the ball room. The wind blew through the leaves and brought the fresh scent of flowers towards both Mariana and Leo. They both took a deep breath and reveled in the scents that surrounded them.
“Tonight is very beautiful.” Leo leaned forward on the balcony.
“Yes it is.” Mariana sighed as she leaned backwards on the balcony and stared up at the clouds.
“The only thing that is more beautiful of this night is you, My Lady.” Leo gazed at Mariana.
Mariana turned pink again and glanced at Leo, who was getting closer and closer. Both of their lips were slightly open as their heads reached towards each other. After a few seconds their lips met and inside of Mariana’s head fireworks erupted. So this is what love feels like.