First Prince Arrives

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          When Prince Relos of Quelf arrived at the palace the day after her parents left, Princess Atamar had to admit that he was extremely handsome.  She was standing in the courtyard with her uncle when he arrived since sentries had announced his approach. 

As he dismounted, she noticed that his centaur looked weary as if he had been ridden hard.  She also noticed that Prince Relos did not speak kindly to it or give it a gentle rub as she would have done to her beautiful blue dragon Trewa.  

It struck her as odd, but then she thought that centaurs might not like such displays of tenderness. 

    Prince Relos bowed first to her uncle and then bowed to her.  Speaking with a deep voice he said, "Princess Atamar, it is truly a pleasure to meet you.  I had heard stories about how beautiful you were, but they didn't do you justice." 

    Atamar smiled politely as she thanked him, but she wondered if he meant those words.  She let her uncle and Prince Relos do the talking as they headed inside to the reception room. 

She wasn't sure how she should act around this handsome young man who sought to win her hand.  She also wasn't sure she trusted him. 

After all, he was from Quelf. 

However, she wanted to give him a fair chance to prove himself.  She realized that listening to the conversation would help her to get to know him, so she forced herself to listen as he talked of his travels.  

She noticed that he looked more at her than her uncle, and that he didn't seem to mind talking about himself.  He also seemed to have a very good opinion of himself. 

    At dinner, she was seated between her uncle and the prince.  She was thankful that he devoted himself to his food, because she couldn't think of much to say.  She wasn't really sure what was expected of her. 

Not only was she worried about how she was supposed to treat the man beside her, but she frequently felt his eyes upon her.  It made for a most unpleasant meal. 

    As she was leaving the great hall, Mitym came toward her.  He looked from her to Prince Relos and paused before speaking.  He was hesitant as he asked, "Princess Atamar, I was wondering if you would be meeting with us tonight."

She suddenly realized that it was the day she usually met with Mitym to work on her grammar.   Her brain raced as she tried to figure out what to do.  There was no way she wanted to reveal her secret. 

However, she also hated to miss the lesson.  After a few moments she turned to Prince Relos and said, "I am sure that you are tired after your trip and that you would like to retire early.  Since I was unaware that you would be arriving today, I had planned to meet with some of the palace young people to work out some...problems.  I hope that you will excuse me as I take care of my duties." 

Prince Relos smiled, "Ah you are most thoughtful and considerate Princess to think of my comfort.  You are also must dutiful toward your subjects.  You will indeed make a wonderful queen.  I would love to accompany you, but perhaps the presence of a stranger would not be welcome?" 

Atamar again wondered if his words were sincere.  She pushed the thought away and said, "It would be best for me to meet with them alone." 

Prince Relos bowed and said, "I will see you in the morning, then."   Turning he began walking in the direction of his rooms. 

Atamar sighed with relief when she entered the maze.  As always, her maids and guards waited at the entrance.  Inside the maze she discovered that every one of the palace teens was waiting. 

She was surprised until she realized they were all eager to talk about the prince.  She let them talk for a little while, but when they asked her opinion she said, "How should I know?  He's going to be on his best behavior around me.  I need your help.  We need to treat him, and any other princes that arrive, as we do the adults.  I need you to keep an eye on him and let me know anything you discover.  Maybe we can figure out who attacked Rodbre." 

The others nodded in excitement.  But Snitrik spoke up, "Please Atamar, won't you at least tell us what you think of him so far?"  Atamar looked around at her friends and decided she should be honest with them as they had always been honest with her. 

"Well," she said, "I'm not sure what I think of him.  The only thing I am sure about is that I am glad that there is only one prince." 

After sharing that, she turned her thoughts to grammar.  She had no idea how quickly things would change...

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