An hour later, after Allison and Enrick had had their turn at Attendance (which Jeffery noticed with relief lasted considerably longer) the time had come at last for the Giving of Favor, the final act of evening's long pageant where the Princess would make her final selection. They lined up both families, positioning Jeffrey, Alec, and Enrick at the front directly across from Princess Allison, who twirled a single pink rose between her fingers. She'd changed into an elegant gown as white as virgin snow, of course representing the maidenhood everyone knew Allison had shunned many years before. Jeffrey thought she would look beautiful were it not for the tortured expression on her face, as if she was torn making this "decision." The pink flower represented union: the crossbreeding of a red rose and a white. Jeffrey thought a white rose with a few carmine drips of blood from a thorn-pricked finger would be more appropriate. The joining of House Bromborne and House Rose would be a union that would shake all of New America.
"The night has drawn late," bellowed King Rose, "and the Princess has come to her decision." He turned to his daughter. "Princess Allison of House Rose. As your father, I have accepted the choice you have presented to me and give you consent to offer this man your favor. Are you ready to make your selection?"
"Yes, father. I'm ready."
Jeffrey felt the wind drawn out of the room as everyone—lords and servants alike—crowded inward for the big revelation. Allison stepped forward, her dark hair in deep contrast to her dazzling white gown.
"My lords. Thank you for coming. It has been a long and enjoyable night. What a great pleasure it has been to meet all of you, whose reputations I've long followed."
She paused and twirled the rose in her fingers. After a moment, she met all of their eyes separately. "Each of you are powerful men, that much is clear, and any of you would make a great husband. But with my father's counsel I have made my decision."
From the corner of his eye, Jeffrey watched Enrick throwing his weight anxiously from hip to hip. Here's your moment, Enrick. But when Allison stepped forward, it was not Enrick she turned to face but Jeffrey.
"Jeffrey of the House Greenborne, first of your name. You are a young ruler and your reputation for brilliance is, if anything, understated." Jeffrey's heart thundered in his chest. "It is my honor to offer you this rose."
She held out the pink rose to him with a blush.
YOU ARE READING
The Razed Ruins Part I: Ill TidesFantasy
A North American, post apocalyptic epic fantasy... It is 1,692 years after the "Great Death" nearly wiped humanity from the face of the Earth, and a new civilization has risen from the ashes. A tenuous union of four semi-autonomous kingdoms has rea...