Chapter 7.2: Favor of a Rose

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Five Years' Fair. The White City

 The White City

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Allison couldn't have been less interested in the overly choreographed dinner and the stupid "Loosing of Wings" fiasco. The only part that interested her at all, in fact, was the looming Attendance, where she would get to interrogate the suitors for herself.

She watched her father throughout the evening, wondering of the lingering  illness that had afflicted him since he'd drank off her stepmother's poisoned goblet in Walters. The concoction Allison bought from the waikan had worked better than anticipated, even though it was not meant for him at all. He'd spent much of the ensuing two days vomiting from the window of the royal carriage and scurrying like a duck to every privy in the last fifty miles of the Seldor Slice. The image alone of him waddling in haste, pinching his ass shut like some pathetic lowblood, was worth every ounce of risk the endeavor entailed. So far tonight, however, he swept through the celebration engaged in his usual histrionic performance of wealth, power and exuberance with no sign of anything amiss. 

I'm glad I poisoned you, father. I hate you. Perhaps next time she would give him something stronger. 

Her stepmother, on the other hand, either drank more poison or was simply weaker. The fact she was still too ill to attend tonight's festivities, forcing her father to devise all varieties of falsehood to explain her absence, was a source of great joy for Allison. That her father had opened the winesmith's veins over her prank was of absolutely no consequence.

Allison hated the pageantry of formal courtship. As a matter of fact, nothing about courtly manners pleased her, but hours wasted on something as worthless as tradition were the worst. The mummery of suitor selection was a ridiculous farce since everyone knew the preset conclusion.

And then there were her pathetic "suitors." Jeffrey Greenborne looked every bit the serf he was despite the gaudy robe. It just didn't suit him to dress as such. The older prince, Alec Bromborne, looked plain, bored, and boring. 

She analyzed the younger Bromborne prince, Enrick, with disgust. I have to marry that? He looks like a court jester. Fucking Pent trash! 

When Jeffrey took her by the arm and the two of them strolled into the courtyard, he became more cold and uninterested. He has no attraction for me at all. This was something she wasn't used to. She took pride at her ease in bending men to her will but the lowblood "Proxy King" seemed impervious.

She took it as a challenge to change that. Seducing then disappointing him, she decided, might be the only real entertainment of the otherwise wasted night.

"Are you cold?" he asked. Finally. She was starting to wonder if, being the lowblood he was, he hadn't known proper courtship etiquette.

"It is brisk, my lord," she replied, quite honestly. "Would you offer me your jacket?" It felt stupid to say, but she knew it was part of the custom. All these senseless, outdated traditions. If the throne were mine I would kill them all.

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