Send out light and truth
Sulli / Siwon (+ the rest of Super Junior and most of f(x))
Summary: An arranged marriage is set to bring about peace between two Kingdoms, but as the Prince and Princess come to care for each other, a war threatens to tear them apart.
Author’s Notes: This is what happens when I realize I don’t want to work on statistics. I write about a girl from the band called f(x) (frequency of all values of x?). And I blame this all entirely on Andre Kim and his crazy clothes and crazy fashion show choreography. And insanity. I would also like to thank wynter_myst (the handholding, the beta, the confusion, reading the damn thing in the first place). Please let it be known that if by some miracle you like this fic, it is because of her this is here now.
For years the two Kingdoms of Terra and Maris had lived in an uneasy peace. War ravaged the countries years ago, and skirmishes still happened at the borders. Sometimes it was farmers, fighting over a piece of land. Or soldiers who felt the foreign soldiers had gotten too close to comfort.
Whatever it was, it was never expected that the tension between the Kingdoms would be eased during their time. Thus, when the Kingdom of Maris sent news that they were sending their crown princess as a “gift” to Terra, the Queen was appalled.
“They mean for her to marry our son!” she cried out.
“Yes,” the King nodded.
“Impossible. How can we know it’s not a trick?” the Queen raged, long robes sweeping across the floor as she paced. She turned to the man standing by the door. “What do you think of this?”
“Your Majesty,” Kibum, the King’s Royal Advisor said. “I’m afraid to say the Princess is on her way. There is very little we can do to stop her.”
“Can this truly be a sign of peace?” the King asked.
“I cannot be sure,” Kibum confessed. “It is much too sudden.”
“I will not sacrifice my son for this country,” the Queen said. She had lost her parents and grandparents to the war- she had told herself she would protect her son with everything she had.
“If you choose not to accept, Maris will take it as a show of hostility, and this will worsen the already fragile relationship between our two Kingdoms,” Kibum said, with a solemn bow. “Your Majesty, we will need time to find out what Maris truly wants with this marriage…”
“Time? He expects their wedding to be within a month!” the Queen yelled. “Oh, my poor son, why does he have to go through this?” she wailed, before she collapsed on the chair, feeling defeated. She knew there was nothing they could do.
The King rose, holding the letter from the King of Maris in his hands, shaking his head. “Send for Eeteuk. There is much to prepare.”
* * *
Eeteuk sighed. He was appointed the Prince’s tutor when Siwon was just a babe and had watched him grow up. There was no doubt that the now twenty-four year old was ready to take on the challenges of the world and in the future, become King.
When he heard from the King that they were to welcome the Princess of Maris, who the King of Maris had sent to Terra as a bargain for truce between the countries, he knew how Siwon would react.
Which was how he did- by throwing the riding whip he had been holding across the hall.
“Siwon,” Eeteuk warned.
“I will not,” Siwon shook his head. “I refuse. Eeteuk, there must be a way.”
“The Princess is due to arrive in Custos by the end of this week,” Eeteuk said. “Kibum said that he would attempt to delay the wedding…”
“This must be a conspiracy. She is too young!” Siwon said, holding a hand up to his forehead, eyes wide in disbelief. “She must not even be past fifteen!”
“She is sixteen, Siwon. Thus is of marriageable age, and so are you,” Eeteuk huffed. “If you had heeded my advice years ago, and found someone to marry…”
Siwon moaned. “Not that again, please.”
“You have to admit that I was right though,” Eeteuk said, watching the younger man throw his jacket at his valet and following as they started back towards his chamber. “That if you had gotten married, you wouldn’t be made to feel like this now.”
“A pawn in their play,” Siwon said, clenching his fist.
Eeteuk sighed. They stopped outside the doors for a moment, and Eeteuk said hopefully, “Perhaps she will be beautiful.”
“It will mean nothing without love,” Siwon said, opening the door and storming into his rooms.
Eeteuk closed his eyes and prayed for patience before he followed.
* * *
Siwon stood in the middle of the town of Custos, feeling the heat dressed in his ceremonial robes, thinking with every inch the Princess’ convoy approached them, the more his doom seemed to be arriving.
“Cheer up, Prince,” Sungmin grinned.
Siwon managed a weak smile, but it was hard to make Sungmin understand. He was happily married with two young babes and another on the way. Life had been good for Sungmin.
“And here she comes,” Sungmin nodded, as the carriage came to a stop in front of them. Siwon took a deep breath and folded his hands in front of him, and waited. There was a crowd gathered at the village square, everyone having heard that the future queen was arriving that afternoon.
Everyone held their breaths as they watched her step out of the carriage, wrapped in blue silk.
In fact, Siwon couldn’t see anything else but blue silk. The Princess was covered entirely in it- even her face was hidden underneath a blue veil.
“Custom,” Eeteuk hissed in Siwon’s ear in an attempt to stop his charge from looking so confused. “In the Kingdom of Maris, brides-to-be are not supposed to be seen by any others beside women. To prevent other men from being tempted.”
“How am I even supposed to be tempted if I can’t see how she looks like?” Siwon hissed back.
Eeteuk shrugged lightly, just as the bride stepped onto land. She seemed to stumble a little, but was caught quickly by a boy who had been waiting for her by the carriage.
Siwon stepped forward and bowed deeply. “We welcome you to the Kingdom of Terra, Princess. I am Siwon.”
The princess lifted her head, and Siwon thought he could see the shape of her face, only for a moment before it returned buried underneath the blue silk veil. The boy next to her stepped up, and spoke with a heavy accent, identifying himself as one of the people who lived near the sea.
“The Princess is pleased to be here,” he said. “But I am afraid she does not speak your language.”
Siwon nodded. “I see.”
Eeteuk winced. He knew that look on Siwon’s face.
* * *
Once they saw that the Princess was brought to Lakeside Palace, which will be her residence for the rest of her time before the wedding (and impending doom, Siwon thought), he raced back to Iuris and marched straight up to his father’s study.
“We will never be able to communicate!” Siwon cried. “How am I to talk to her, if I cannot see her face, nor can I speak to her? Father, please reconsider.”
“I have been advised by Kibum not to make any hasty decisions until the King of Maris replies to our correspondence. You will have to be a little more patient, Siwon,” the King sighed.
“Father, if there is nothing to be done, if not marrying her would only mean war between the two countries, am I truly expected to be with this girl, who doesn’t even show me her face or speak?” Siwon asked.
“Siwon, I have told you, it is custom in Maris… and she doesn’t speak our language at all, so it must be expected…” Eeteuk started.
“Then she has to learn, doesn’t she?” Siwon burst in return.
Eeteuk sighed softly and placed a hand on his young charge’s shoulder. “Perhaps Siwon… you are the one who will have to learn.”
* * *
Lord Kibum had been the one to suggest that the Princess stay at the Lakeside Palace. Seeing that the Princess had grown up next to the sea, settling her in a palace near water seemed a good option.
But seeing the little lake in comparison to the vast sea that she got at home only made Sulli’s heart weak for her hometown, and her anger at her father for sending her here to be married to a man she did not know grew with each passing day.
“Princess,” Donghae said, on the third day of their arrival in the horrible, horrible landlocked town. She had watched in horror as the journey from the border town brought her to the Iuris, the capital of Terra. After a brief audience with the King and Queen she had been banished to this stone palace. “You must have something to eat.”
“I’m not hungry,” Sulli said.
“And that’s a lie, because we all know how much you eat,” Donghae said, a twinkle in his eye.
“Brother!” Sulli exclaimed, and gasped before she turned away from him.
Donghae laughed. If Sulli could call her Brother now, then it was a good thing. They were technically cousins, but they had been close ever since Sulli was a child. When Sulli had heard about her trip to Terra, she had done everything she could to stop it from happening, including fasting for days, and it had been Donghae and her real brother Heechul who coaxed her back into the living. The King had requested that Donghae accompany Sulli with her journey here, since it looked like he was the only one who could calm her down and he had accepted without much preamble.
“I hate that I can’t even look at you properly, because I have to wear all of this,” she held up the layers and layers of silk angrily. “I couldn’t even see that awful Prince’s face! And Father expects me to marry him? They have exiled me to this tiny stone house by this little lake. Brother, you must write to Father and tell him of all this injustice, and ask him to bring me home!”
Donghae sighed. “Sulli,” he said softly. “We’ve been through all this before.”
“I hate this place, I hate it!” Sulli cried, and her ladies in waiting gasped as she started tearing the layers of blue silks off her body, starting with her veil.
“My lord please, you cannot stay here,” Victoria, Sulli’s lady-in-waiting said. “You have to…”
“I know,” Donghae smiled. “Please take care of her for me.”
“I will, of course,” Victoria nodded. Donghae bowed lightly before he turned and walked out of the room.
“Princess,” Victoria said, now that the veils were off and Sulli laid on the long chaise, exhausted from her outburst. “The Prince, he has gentle eyes.”
“It makes no difference if I cannot see them,” Sulli said, shaking her head. “Torie, did you find out anything more? About why Father is really doing this?”
Victoria turned her eyes away and made a motion to the maids. They bowed respectfully before leaving the both of them alone.
“Princess, the layers of our Palace is too much for me to see through,” Victoria whispered. “All I want to do is to protect you.”
“Then there is something to this,” Sulli gasped, getting up. “What does Father want to achieve with our marriage?”
Victoria was about to say more, when one of the maids hurried into the room.
“Your highness!” she cried. “The Prince- the Prince of Terra is here!”
Sulli shrieked- Victoria reached for the realms of silk Sulli had thrown off and started draping them over the younger girl quickly. “What are you doing?” she called to the maid still standing at the door. “Come and help! Quickly!”
Siwon stood awkwardly in the middle of the receiving hall of the Lakeside Palace. His memories of days here were only of in his youth, when his grandmother was still in residence. After she passed away, it was hardly ever used, and Siwon had never returned.
He turned, and smiled when he recognized the person who had spoken. “Lord Donghae,” he nodded.
Donghae smiled. “Have you come to visit the Princess?”
“Yes,” Siwon nodded. He did not have to tell Donghae that Eeteuk had arm-twisted him into it abnd sent Shindong with him. (Shindong was physically bigger than Siwon and the only one who could and would stand up to Siwon’s strength). “I thought we could do a turn around the lake.”
Donghae smiled. “Great! The girls have just gone to get her.”
The servants brought tea, and the two of them sat to wait. Siwon asked many questions about Maris- mostly about places in the country he had read of in books. Donghae answered them all readily and had questions of his own.
They were thick in a discussion of the sea-trade of Maris when the ladies spilled into the room. Victoria walked over and bowed to the two lords. “Princess Sulli,” she said.
Siwon and Donghae both stood up as Sulli stepped into the room. She was still swathed in blue silk, and Siwon realised it must be really warm for her. There was no sea breeze here to ease the heat.
Siwon coughed once, twice, before taking a step forward and bowing in greeting.
“Good morning,” he said, in Maris.
He felt the girl gasp underneath all that silk, and a soft, “Good morning.”
Siwon found himself smiling in return.
They did take a turn around the lake. Siwon had Shindong to accompany him, and Sulli had Victoria. They stayed five steps behind.
Siwon tried to speak with Sulli, and with the limited Maris he had learnt (studying the books late into the night with Sungmin and Eeteuk), they managed to communicate, a little. He might not be able to see her face, but from the movements of the silk he somehow managed to interpret her response.
She seemed to like the rose gardens, and they stayed the longest in there.
“Do you have roses, in Maris?” Siwon asked. The Princess tilted her head to the side, not really understanding. Siwon reached out for a rose, and the gardener was by his side, cutting a beautiful stemmed rose out for him. “This,” he stammered. “At home?”
She looked up at him, and understood. Then she shook her head.
He held the rose out to her, and he watched in wonder as a pale, slim hand slipped out of the blue silk robes. She took the rose from him, only to drop it the next instant.
“Princess!” Victoria exclaimed, running over to her. The Princess’ hand was frozen in place, a drop of blood on her finger.
“A thorn,” Siwon said, reaching into his pockets for a handkerchief. Without thinking, he took the Princess’ hand and pressed the handkerchief onto the wound.
Victoria gasped. Siwon then realised what he was doing and let go quickly.
“I am very sorry,” Siwon said with an apologetic bow, and missed the Princess slipping her hand back into the robes, handkerchief and all.
They returned to the palace, and Siwon said “Thank you for a lovely day,” to the Princess, before leaving the Palace. Sulli left for her rooms immediately and threw everyone out, asking to be alone.
“How was it?” Donghae asked Victoria, once he had the chance.
“My Lord I think…” Victoria smiled. “There might be true hope for peace after all.”
* * *
Sungmin watched as Kibum got onto the horse with his pack. Getting ready to leave with him was Hyukjae. Sungmin knew why Hyukjae had been chosen to accompany Kibum- if the Advisor was to be in any danger, Hyukjae was one of their fastest riders and best fighters. He would be able to return to Terra with news of war.
“I trust you are both ready?” Sungmin asked.
“We are,” Hyukjae grinned. “Nice of you to come see us off, Cousin.”
Sungmin laughed. “Well, it would be a terrible thing if nobody came to see you off. It may be a quiet mission, but a mission from the King all the same.”
“Thank you,” Kibum nodded. “Sungmin…”
“Yes?” Sungmin asked, turning to him.
“Take care of Siwon for us,” Kibum said, reaching for the reins of his horse.
“Of course,” Sungmin nodded.
Hyukjae cried and spurred his horse on ahead, and Kibum smiled at Sungmin before following. Sungmin watched them both ride out into the dawn.
“Be careful,” he said.
* * *
“Prince? I am surprised to see you up so early.”
Siwon turned to Sungmin in surprise. “Good morning,” he smiled.
“Up early, and in a good mood…” Sungmin grinned, walking over. “Is there some secret I do not know of?”
“I was… going to visit the Lakeside Palace,” Siwon said. It was better to be honest with Sungmin, he had learnt from experience. “To see if the Princess is better.”
“Better?” Sungmin asked curiously. “Why so?”
Siwon explained their little accident the day before. Sungmin laughed halfway through when Siwon spoke about how he had tried to communicate with her- but gestured for Siwon to continue. He finally finished with how she had hurt herself on the rose, and he was going to ask if she was all right.
“Ahhh,” Sungmin smiled in understanding. “Well then, I shall ready the carriage for you.”
Donghae was out to greet Siwon when he arrived. This time they shook hands- a Terran custom. Siwon introduced Sungmin who was accompanying him that day.
“Perhaps…” Donghae started, as they walked into the receiving hall. “I’ve heard that there’s a beautiful place in Terra, where you can see the most majestic waterfalls in the land. Sulli has never seen a waterfall, maybe…”
“I could bring her. It’s a day’s ride from here though,” Siwon said. “Will she…”
Victoria walked in, announcing the arrival of the Princess. Sulli walked in, still in her blue silks, but she looked different from yesterday, Siwon thought. Today, she looked like she was floating on air.
“I thought perhaps today,” Siwon started, hands clasped together as he turned to the Princess. “You would like to come out in the carriage with me… and visit the markets.”
When there was no reply, Donghae decided to translate. A soft gasp came from under the silk robes, and the Princess turned to Donghae, who shrugged and said something in Maris that Siwon did not understand.
The princess replied in rapid Maris, and Donghae laughed before turning to Siwon.
“Sulli says yes,” Donghae said. “Provided we are all allowed to come along. Nobody else has had a chance to see much of the town.”
Siwon nodded quickly. “I am very sorry that I have not thought about it earlier,” he said with a smile. “And of course, everyone is welcome to come along. I shall have Sungmin prepare another carriage.”
Sungmin grinned and dashed off without another word. This should be interesting to see.
The town was bustling. It was hot, and Sulli was warm in her robes, but nothing could stop her from pressing her face to the carriage windows, trying to see through her blue silk veil.
In Peraqua, the markets were filled with the smells of fish and salt, like the sea. Here, the sun was blazing hot, and there were strange looking vegetables and fruits on display. She had never seen anything like that in her life.
“What’s that?” she cried, looking at a crowd standing around a cannon. She turned to Siwon, who looked out of the carriage.
“Ah,” Siwon grinned. He knocked twice on the door, and called for Sungmin to stop. “Would you like to take a closer look, Princess?”
Sulli turned to Victoria, who looked at Donghae, who nodded. They spilled out of the carriage, and the townspeople around them gasped, “It’s the Prince, Mama!” Siwon smiled and waved as they walked over to the large “cannon”, Sungmin following them.
“He is making biscuits,” Siwon said, and he pantomimed eating something. Sulli nodded in understanding and watched curiously, as a man poured rice into the cannon-like stove and heated it up.
Soon after a while when Sulli wondered if anything was actually going to happen, Siwon cried out for them to hold their hands over their ears, and Donghae quickly translated, just as the man shouted out a warning. Then the loudest boom Sulli had ever heard came out of the stove and the smell of rice was in the air.
Next, they watched as the man mixed the popped rice from the stove with peanuts, dried fruit and sugar syrup until it became a sort of caramelised biscuit. The mixture was poured into a large mould to cool before cut into thick slabs. Seeing it was the prince, the man offered him a whole stackful of biscuits. Siwon laughed and thanked him, and Sungmin gave him a coin before they returned to the carriage.
“Here,” Siwon said, handing the warm package to Sulli. “You probably can’t eat with all those now with your…” he gestured at the silk veils over Sulli’s face. “It tastes the best now, but it will still taste good later.”
The pale white hands slipped out of the blue robes again, wrapping around the warmth of the brown paper package, and the Princess looked up at Siwon.
“Thank you,” she said in halting Terra.
Siwon beamed and nodded. “It was my pleasure.”
* * *
“Looks like there’s a welcoming party,” Hyukjae called out as they approached the edge of the town of Ora.
Kibum frowned at the sight of the Maris flags in front of them. It looked like a small convoy, but enough to outnumber them should something go wrong. “Yes,” he said, as they slowed in their approach.
A man stood in front of the rest of his soldiers, with a smile on his face. “Lord Kibum and Sir Hyukjae of Terra. I am Hangeng. Welcome to Maris. ”
“General Hangeng,” Kibum said, not dismounting from his horse. “I had not known you would know that we were on our way.”
Hangeng continued to smile. “I am here to escort you to Peraqua, if you will allow me to,” he bowed. “The King is most eager to meet you both, and especially Prince Heechul, who wishes to know how his sister is faring in Terra.”
Hyukjae turned to Kibum. What now? His look said.
Kibum sighed. “Yes. Thank you. We accept your invitation,” he nodded.
Hangeng nodded, as though he had expected Kibum to say yes. There was no choice anyway, Kibum thought bitterly to himself. “Then let us be on our way.”
* * *
The day after their little excursion, the entire town was buzzing with news that the Prince had brought his soon-to-be-bride out to town. A few days later, it was said that the Prince brought the Princess to view the waterfalls at Montis.
There were rumours that the veiled girl from Maris was kept in her veils because her beauty would bewitch all of the men in town- and rumours that Siwon had seen her face and was therefore bewitched by her. Whatever it may be, everyone was curious about the foreign Princess, and they wondered if she would be a good queen in the future.
“You have been visiting her?” the King asked.
“Yes, Father,” Siwon smiled. “I… thought I should heed Eeteuk’s advice. Perhaps I was the one who needed to learn.”
“Well, I am pleased to hear that,” the King nodded. “Kibum has sent word from Maris- the King seems to be genuine in his quest for peace, and so it pleases us all that you like this girl too.”
“Father!” Siwon stammered. “I… she is a lovely girl, but marriage, I would not know still…”
“The King of Maris has withdrawn all his soldiers from the border town of Ora as a sign of his sincerity,” the King continued. “I may still be a little wary, but I too, wish for peace between us both. It can only be good for us, and the prosperities of our two kingdoms.”
Siwon looked down at his hands.
“Come now Siwon,” Eeteuk laughed. “You must like her enough now that getting married to her is not as terrible a hardship as you first thought it would be.”
“But, even so, Father I must have more time. I barely know the girl, and…”
The King held out a hand to stop his son, and smiled. “Of all the talk you have of love, you know nothing of it, my child. I don’t believe I am making the wrong decision. Think of our people. We have been at war for so long, we have almost lost all hope. This girl, and this marriage between the two of you, symbolizes the hope of all the peoples of our two Kingdoms come together. It can only truly be a good thing.”
Siwon knew he had no argument to what his father had said, and neither had he anything to rebut what Eeteuk had said about his feelings for Sulli. He had never imagined one day he would develop such strange feelings over a girl whose face he had never seen.
“I have been told that in keeping with the customs of Maris, the girl will be in her silks until the wedding. Kibum’s message says that he has heard plenty about the Princess from the townspeople from Maris, and all of it is good. Perhaps I should let my guard down this once, and grasp this opportunity for peace,” the King said, before getting up from his seat. “Have word sent to the Kingdom of Maris- we accept the Princess as Siwon’s bride, and the wedding will be two fortnights from today.”
* * *
“We are to be married,” Sulli gasped.
“And the King has withdrawn all his soldiers from the border town of Custos, like your Father has done with his soldiers at Ora,” Victoria said. “Princess, your marriage is changing the fate of our Kingdoms. It is for peace.”
Sulli grasped at the silk in her hand and wrung it nervously. Somehow, she still had her doubts about the whole deal. It seemed something her father would never do. All her life she had heard her father speak nothing but hatred for the Terrans, and now… a peace offering, and she was the one?
“Torie,” Sulli whispered.
“I know you still feel doubts about your father’s decision,” Victoria smiled. “He is a wise man, Princess. Maybe misguided in the last few years, but the King has finally seen the light. And I think you should think yourself most lucky, because Prince Siwon is a very handsome man.”
“I have not even had the chance to look at his face,” Sulli sighed dramatically before falling back onto the lush bed. “Torie… can I really live here? In this place where there is no sea? Where all the water they have is this tiny lake, next to this cold, stone palace?”
Victoria smiled, and turned to sit next to the girl. “Princess… you like him, don’t you?”
Sulli sighed. Just that morning Siwon had come to visit again, this time bringing with him an array of flowers Sulli had never set eyes on before. They now sat in a porcelain vase on the giant oak table near the window of the room. “He is… very charming,” she admitted.
Victoria laughed, clasping her hands together. “See? It is enough.”
Sulli groaned and threw a cushion at her.
“If the conflict between the two Kingdoms will end with you both, I’m sure the Prince will be more than willing to allow you to come back and visit us often,” Victoria said. “And you are starting to think it really isn’t that bad here, is it? You love all the flowers, and the trees and the waterfalls and the mountains. And there is much for you to learn here too.”
Sulli sighed, before she sat up. “Torie, do you think I shall be able to visit Peraqua with the Prince, one day?”
“I’m sure he will love to see it,” Victoria nodded in agreement.
Thinking about bringing Siwon to her hometown comforted Sulli a little, but did not push away the uncomfortable feelings she still had about the entire event.
* * *
Kibum woke up in the middle of the night to someone shaking him awake.
“Ry… Ryeowook?” he turned to see the young page hovering above him. The boy spoke Terra, something Kibum found on in his first few days in the castle. They had developed a friendship, of sorts.
“I… I shouldn’t be doing this,” Ryeowook whispered, eyes darting about nervously, hands trembling as he struggled to hold on to his candle. “But you must leave.”
“You must leave, Lord Kibum,” Ryeowook said, more urgently this time as he pulled Kibum out of bed and handed him his clothes. “They mean to do terrible things…”
“What terrible things?” Kibum asked as he pulled on his clothes quickly. “Hyukjae…”
“Sir Hyukjae has already gone to the stables and is waiting for you. Please, you must leave…”
Ryeowook said nothing more as the door burst opened and a group of masked men crashed into the room with their swords drawn.
“I’m afraid you can no longer leave,” one of the men said.
Ryeowook gasped in horror. The men turned to him, and one of them made to move towards Ryeowook.
“And you, for your treason…”
Kibum drew his sword before they could speak. He slashed down two of the men and spurred Ryeowook to move. The boy bolted, heading for the stables with Kibum fast on his heels.
“Kibum, quickly!” Hyukjae cried, sword drawn and horses ready.
“Hurry, get on the horse,” Kibum said, pulling Ryeowook with him.
“My… My Lord!” Ryeowook cried. Kibum was asking him to leave his home behind- if he was to truly leave with Kibum now he will never come back to Maris.
“You will be tried for treason either way, so come!” Kibum cried, and Hyukjae hoisted Ryeowook onto a horse before climbing up after him. Kibum jumped onto his horse and the next minute they were riding out of the castle.
They must return to Terra before it was too late.
* * *
In the town of Iuris, preparations for the royal wedding were in full swing. Roads were being cleared; flower garlands hung outside each and every household and yellow and blue ribbons on display everywhere.
The wedding was a symbol of hope for all the people of Terra. The war was finally coming to an end.
* * *
“Prince Heechul sent me,” Ryeowook shivered in their hiding place in the woods, as Hyukjae draped his jacket over him. There had been no time to grab any sort of supplies. “He had heard the King speak about… killing the two of you… before sending the soldiers into Terra. He sent me to warn you.”
“The Prince?” Hyukjae made a face. He remembered their first night in Peraqua, where the Prince’s boisterous manner had shocked him. Prince Heechul ended up sitting between them, badgering them both about the Princess and asking a million and one questions about Terra. Hyukjae had thought the Prince had not cared much for them.
“He… Because the Princess is still in Terra, and his father plans to attack, regardless of whether they can reach the Princess first… she is in grave danger, and the King… he plans to kill his own daughter if it need be,” Ryeowook said, closing his eyes. “Lord Kibum, Sir Hyukjae, I pray we must reach your country as soon as we can. The Princess, she is kind and good hearted, and does not deserve this fate.”
“And neither do our kinsman,” Kibum said, placing a hand on Ryeowook’s shoulder. “For now we must rest. Tomorrow, we will reach Iuris to warn the King.”
* * *
Sulli sat nervously in front of her future mother-in-law. She spoke no Maris, and Sulli’s limited Terra did not enable them to communicate effectively. She twisted the handkerchief in her hand nervously- Siwon’s handkerchief.
The regal lady spoke a few more words, and Sulli stared blankly at the woman, glad for once for her veils that could hide her helpless reactions. After a moment, she gestured for the boy behind her to walk over, and he was holding a red velvet box in his hands.
The queen took it from him and opened the box. Next to her, Sulli heard Victoria gasp. Even from behind the veils, Sulli could see that what was in the box was something very valuable.
Sulli stood up quickly, and the Queen started, pausing mid sentence. “Please, wait,” Sulli said in her limited Terra. “Wait, just a. Wait,” she gestured, before turning to Victoria. “Torie, find someone who can translate. Donghae. Or Kyuhyun, that boy who’s always reading books in the library. Hurry!”
Victoria ran off, and Sulli sat back down. The Queen looked puzzled for a long moment, until Victoria finally returned with Kyuhyun. The boy, already pale from his endless hours pouring over books in the Palace’s library turned even paler at the sight of the Queen. He introduced himself quickly, and explained why he was here.
“Ah,” the Queen smiled. “I see.”
“Please. Go. Please,” Sulli stammered, gesturing for the queen to continue.
The Queen spoke, and Kyuhyun translated. “This was a gift from Her Majesty’s mother to her when she got married to the King. It is a bracelet set with precious stones mined from the caves of Usar. The red one is garnet, for protection. The green one is jade, for harmony and peace. The pink, morganite, is for love. And the last the white, opal, is Her Majesty’s birthstone. It is also said to be helpful for childbirth. She found that especially useful as she had Prince Siwon, and wishes to pass on the blessing to you.”
Thank God for the veils, Sulli thought as she blushed.
“Her Majesty hopes that you will wear it at your wedding, like she did at hers,” Kyuhyun stammered, and let out a deep breath of relief once he finished.
“Thank you,” Sulli said, reaching out for the box and slipping it under her veils. It was impossible to find stones like these in Maris. She had heard of them before but never seen them. It was truly a most valuable gift.
Kyuhyun was about to turn and translate what Sulli had said, but Sulli beat him to it.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you. Your Majesty.”
The Queen laughed and said something, and Kyuhyun finally smiled before he translated.
“She wishes you to call her Mother now, Princess,” Kyuhyun said.
* * *
The fire came at night.
It began at the outskirts of town and soon it had spread through the entire village. Maris soldiers entered into Custos and burnt down everything and slashed the throats of any men they saw.
It was over at dawn. They left the village smothering behind as they marched forward towards Iuris.