Chapter 9: Consequences

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Five Years' Fair. The White City

"I can't believe any daughter of mine could be such a dumb cunt!" the King roared. With the quickness of a snake, he hauled Allison from her chair and slammed her against the wall. "Do you have any idea how your little stunt weakened our position? The opportunity you pissed away? Maybe the songs the drunks sing about you are true! The slut too stupid to know what is good for her and her house!" Saliva sprayed her face with the word stupid. "The Proxy King!"

I can't believe that fucking lowblood bastard humiliated me! Allison thought spitefully. Clearly, the trouble she was in was his fault. 

"I had Lord Allaster's word," the king continued, "Enrick's acceptance of your favor was certain. The Proxy King Jeffrey Greenborne is patriarch of his own bastard house. It was his legal right to accept or deny favor."

"But father, he is the powerful one! I felt it in the garden. Enrick Bromborne was an idiot!"

The King released her but before she could find her balance, he unleashed a vicious blow with an open palm to her left cheek. The impact knocked her senseless. For a moment she saw nothing but flashing lights and heard only a head-splitting shriek. 

"Enrick Bromborne would have bent to my will like warm wax! That pathetic kid Greenborne is a lowblood, peasant-loving bastard. Smartest man in realm? All that shows is how stupid their examinations are." Allison tried to rub the sting from her cheek but her father shoved her hand away, seized her chin rudely and forced her to look into his eyes. "You're even stupider than I thought if you believed marrying him would strengthen our position." He pushed her away hard and she dropped to her knees. He loomed over her, studying her features.

"I thought he was strong!" she said and began sobbing. She couldn't hold it back. She hated herself for her weakness. She cowered before the terrible look on his face, the look that meant death to nearly everyone who saw it.

"When he refused your favor," King Rose said. "Jeffrey Greenborne embarrassed us! But you embarrassed him, too, daughter. Everyone knew it was Enrick you were to give that rose to!" He clamped his jaw so tight she thought his temples might burst. "As punishment for your creativity, I'm kicking you off the war council. And instead of being married into possibly the oldest and wealthiest house in the entire realm, I will find you a match more suited to your integrity."

Allison sobbed harder; she had taken so much pride in her presence on the council. 

"But father—"

"Count yourself lucky," he hissed, "if I am even able to find a suitor at all with your loose reputation." It was bad enough hearing the songs they'd written about her in the lowborn taverns but much worse hearing her own father echo the same painful words. "You are princess of the most powerful house in the realm. Do you realize the humiliation you have brought on our family tonight? And at the Fair!" He swore. "People will know about this across the entire city by morning. The whole realm in two weeks."

"I don't care about the lies they spread!" she said, picking herself off the ground.

"Don't persist your foolishness girl!" he said and spun away. "All that matters in the end is what people think!"

He marched towards the suite's door but halted with his fingers on the handle. "Get your business done tonight. Do it well or you'll be heading east before Mid Fair."

The door slammed behind him.

Allison fell into a chair in the corner. Her face stung where he'd struck her. Her eyes stung where tears had leaked down her face. Her ego stung where the lowblood bastard Jeffrey Greenborne had rejected her.

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