Another excerpt from where I’ve been working lately.
This one takes place in the fitting room, where Linnea, the Lindorm‘s Bride-to-be has been fussed over for hours. She, of course, has to wonder if her wedding dress will also be her shroud, until a mysterious old woman comes to her while she (Linnea) is alone.
When the queen and Prince Torbjorn return to the room, the king and Hjalmar (special forces) captains are with them. The captain Tykone is a friend of Linnea’s from childhood and tried to protect her from being offered to the monster. Rickard, the other captain, has reasons to think less of Linnea.
As mentioned before, Sarsé is this kingdom’s female title of respect and/or rank. The prince has just told Linnea to say exactly what she means, despite his mother’s objection.
~ ~ ~ ~“Why does the Sarsé sit in the presence of royalty?” the king asked, kindly. Tykone needed no other invitation to run to Linnea.
~ ~ ~ ~“Let me help you rise, Sarsé,” he said aloud, then whispered, “Is it true? Is this all of your own will?” Linnea nodded yes and held up her hands. Leaning on Tykone’s steadying arm, Linnea knew now how she could proceed.
~ ~ ~ ~Highness…es,” she began awkwardly, then fixed on addressing the prince. “Sire, since you ask it plainly, I will begin by saying that this dress is entirely unsuitable for the task before me.”
~ ~ ~ ~Rickard’s attempt to laugh soon died a lonely death. The prince walked over to the girl, righting the fitting stool to sit in front of her.
~ ~ ~ ~“What could be more suitable for a bride?”
~ ~ ~ ~Now the time had come and Linnea paced through the words. In her mind she saw them nearly as stepping stones; odd-shaped and perhaps not quite steady, but the only track out of this swamp of uncertainty. The only possible means of escaping her death.
~ ~ ~ ~“A nightgown. Seven of them,” she added before Rickard could say what was written on his face. “Also a new room– different from the place he was in before, with a roaring fire, a laundry tub of lye, and three good scrubbing brushes.”
~ ~ ~ ~“Is that everything?” asked the king. There was a smile in his voice, but Linnea noticed how quickly he had taken his wife’s hand.
~ ~ ~ ~“Yes, for tonight. But if I may request something for myself I would like there to be food and drink in the room, and and—”she gripped Tykone’s hand tightly before finishing, “your royal promise that my son will be provided for with the Thatchers if I am unable to.”
~ ~ ~ ~Torbjorn stared open-mouthed, until his mother’s voice said, “It will all be as you have requested.”
~ ~ ~ ~“But, Mother,” breathed Torbjorn, seeming surprised to be now alone in his objection. The queen raised an eyebrow while he looked to be struggling for some argument, one that would perfectly express the absurdity of the requests. But all he said was, “The dress—the seamstresses’ work—”
~ ~ ~ ~“I’m sure you could take it and offer it to your own bride” suggested the king, “if it pleases you so much.”
~ ~ ~ ~Again Linnea felt the warmth of his voice. It made her want to hug him; to run to him and tuck her head under his bearded chin, as she had with her father when she was a child.
~ ~ ~ ~“Majesty,” she whispered, and attempted a curtsy in gratitude.
~ ~ ~ ~“But what will the guests think?” asked Torbjorn, left fist clenched. Linnea felt a delicious rush of annoyance. He was not so grand; she had answer for him.
~ ~ ~ ~“Doubtless the same thing they thought the first time.” She raised her chin. “Thankful they’re not me. Or… her. The… the bride, you understand.”