Ten years previous
"And on the charge of treason to the crown," the executioner began, "you are sentenced to death." The executioner rolled up the scroll. The finely dressed lady was silent.
"Do you have any last words?" the executioner asked.
"None but these few," the well attired woman said.
"I accept my punishment for whatever the cause may be. I ask the State to forgive any grievances I may have caused. And when I enter paradise, I shall ask the Heavenly Father to forgive any transgression against me if they are unjustly so," the woman said. There was thunderous applause.
"Enough!" the executioner said. The crowd went silent.
"Kneel," said the executioner. The woman kneeled. Lalaine started crying as she watched her aunt kneel before the cutter's block. She couldn't believe this was happening to her aunt. Her beloved aunt, only sixteen years old! Her aunt only a few months ago was engaged to be married to the king's second oldest son! The prince had gotten angry with her, and then out of anger, accused her of committing adultery. And here she was, moments away from her death.
Lalaine's aunt knelt and waited for the swish of the blade. The blade came down swiftly and suddenly, all at once. Lalaine gasped as she saw her aunt's head roll down the platform. Lalaine squared her jaw and made herself look at the pale head of her aunt. She vowed then and there, she would never marry. Marriage was evidently too dangerous for a woman, she could lose life and love.
One Year Later
"The king is dead! Prince Nicolo is king!" came the voices from up and down the corridors.
King Peter had died early that morning, and Hadrian's father was to assume the throne. He couldn't believe his grandfather had died. He had been so healthy. The physician said it was heart troubles. They tried to save him, but they had been to late. Hadrian had been overcome by grief. He had loved his grandfather very much.
The incident had Hadrian thinking about the future. What would happen when his father died and he would assume the throne? He didn't like to think about that. His father and his were very close. He didn't want to think of his father leaving him.
In fact, the thought of himself becoming king scared him. His grandfather had always been king, but now things were different. His father was now king, and he probably would be king for a long time. At that moment, Hadrian was sure he would never be king, and he simply didn't want to be.