Three Trials

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Princess Cymarine ponders how to stop an unwelcome engagement.

Submitted: June 24, 2016

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Submitted: June 24, 2016

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She could not think of a third trial. There had to be three. It was tradition. No one ever sends a knight on TWO trials. One maybe but never two, and since he was already out on the second, and she very much feared he would complete it, she had to think of a third trial. A really GOOD trial. She couldn’t risk him succeeding. Once the third was done there was no more adding. The number three was important.

For the first trial, Princess Cymarine had sent the dashingly handsome prince to slay a dragon. It killed two birds with one stone really. It sent the prince off to his most certain death and it might just scare the dragon long enough to allow the kingdom some peace. It wasn’t a terribly unique or interesting trial. Dragons are rather overdone. Shockingly, the prince returned, not only with the dragon’s head in his hand, but he also had the biggest grin on his face that the Princess had ever seen. For someone who had just slayed a dragon, he looked remarkably put together. Not a hair was out of place and his uniform seemed freshly pressed.

He thought it was over. He thought he would be able to marry her and live a life of luxury and comfort. One trial is hard enough. Risking your life for marriage at all is impressive. Only a cruel woman would send him out again.

It’s not that she hated the prince. In fact he was probably a decent fellow. His kingdom was rich and beautiful. She had vacationed there many summers ago and had found it delightful. The prince was handsome in the most conventional way possible. His hair was dark and wavy and his eyes sparkled with life and amusement.  If she had been given a choice, she might have fallen in love with him immediately. A prince so handsome can often get cocky with his good looks.

Cymarine racked her brain for something to say. It was such a shock for him to slay the beast that she hadn’t even bothered to prepare a second trial. How could she have known that he would return so readily? The prince gently laid the dragon head at her feet, kneeling before her as if proposing. Not that a prince would ever propose to a princess himself. He had servants for that sort of nonsense. His winning smile shined up at her, waiting for her to give in and accept him as her husband.

“Gold!” she managed to blurt out. “I require gold!”

Not terribly specific mind you, but I dare any of you to come up with something original on the spot like that.

“I want gold from the bottom of the ocean, from the wreckage of one of my father’s ships,” she elaborated.

The prince was startled but only for a moment. It is important for a prince to have composure at all times. It was queer enough that she had been able to shock him in the first place, but requesting a second trial is almost unheard of. In fact, requesting a trial at all was considered horribly outdated. Those who did it nowadays generally did it to appear a more difficult, and therefore, desirable catch. Most women wanted to be married, so the trials had devolved into asking for the prettiest rose in the garden or winning a duel against her father.

The father would then of course put up an admirable fight while actually allowing the prince to win. The prince would gain honor from winning a duel against his betrothed’s father, and the princess would look desirable simply by requesting a trial in the first place. It was all nonsense really. Cymarine wouldn’t stand for it.

She refused to marry any random prince just because he asked her father nicely. She was allowed to give a trial, or three trials, not two of course as it was mentioned above, and she would do it. The trials would be made as difficult and as, well, trying, as possible. It was really the only way to defend herself from an unwanted marriage.

Her friends thought her incredibly odd. Why would she fight so hard against a prince so handsome? Or against a prince so wealthy? Cymarine had nothing against the prince really. She just didn’t know him. She didn’t even know his name. When she spoke of him to her giggly and quite ridiculous friends she only referred to him as “that prince that wants to marry me.” That was no way to start a marriage. It was no way to start anything.

Perhaps if the prince had tried to court her, she would have been able to get used to the idea. Courting was always heavily watched since the “young lovers” couldn’t be trusted to keep their hands off each other, even if they had just met that morning, and once a prince started courting a princess they were pretty much considered engaged already, but it would have been nice to have some sort of attempt at romance.

The prince probably thought that since he was rich and influential that her father would agree to a union immediately (which he did), and that since he was so handsome she would agree immediately as well (she did not). Cymarine did not have much control over her life. Her entire day was mapped out for her. Everyone in the palace knew exactly what Cymarine would be doing at each time during the day. They knew her meals days in advance and long before she ever did. Since she was the only child of a very rich king, there were always hundreds of servants at her beck and call. She often felt that her ladies in waiting had more influence in her life that Cymarine ever did.

This was one thing that she could control. She could, at the very least, make it more difficult for a man she did not approve of to marry her. She wasn’t allowed to outright refuse him of course, but she could make her trials ridiculous enough and deadly enough that he either gave up, or died while trying to complete them.

She had to make the last trial just as difficult as the other two. In fact, if she could help it, she would want the trial to be the most difficult of all. Certain death was her goal in the end. She couldn’t risk him returning. What could be more deadly than a dragon? What could be more difficult than swimming hundreds of feet to the bottom of the ocean?

Her dear giggly friends thought she had been too hard on him.

“Swimming to the bottom of the ocean is much too difficult.” They chirped. “He’ll die and you will lose a suitable husband!”

As much as Cymarine would love that, she had a sinking feeling that somehow he would complete this task as well. And this time she would be prepared for it. She would think of something so deadly, so outlandish, and so impossible that he would fail, and with any luck, no other suitors would want to risk their life for her hand either.

Would she enjoy life as an old spinster? Her father would die eventually and with no other children of her father’s line, she would have to take the throne. Could she handle being Queen? Did she want to be Queen? Were there perhaps better suitors out there for her, or was “that prince that wants to marry me” the best she would ever do?

She knew her father worried about her. She worried about herself as well. Deciding whether or not to marry at all was a big decision for a 17 year old to make. Did she really want to condemn herself to a life of spinsterhood? If she really truly didn’t care for her husband, she didn’t have to be around him. Bear him one healthy son and she would never have to look at him again. She could have a harem of handsome men if she wanted afterwards. It was generally frowned upon for women to have a harem, but it wasn’t expressly forbidden. Noble men would always have a harem in public and noble women a harem in secret.

A page arrived at her door knocking politely. One of her ladies in waiting answered the door.

“Milady, Prince Claude has arrived and wishes for your presence.” The lady whispered back to her.

Ah, Prince Claude, that must be his name. Nodding once, she gathered her skirts and walked delicately toward the Great Hall where her father and prince must be waiting for her.

Sure enough the prince was there, grinning as always. For a prince who succeeded at two of her trials already, the sword in his scabbard looked remarkably unused. Cymarine wondered how he always looked so perfect. Even she had bad hair days once and awhile. Although she had had much more time to think than before, she truly wished that her trial would allow her the control she had always craved in her life.

Cymarine walked towards the prince lifting her hand towards him. He took it neatly and kissed her on the knuckle. He then kneeled before her once again. We all know what is going to happen, it seems so silly that there needs to be such fanfare, but someone, somewhere decided that when delivering a gift to a princess one must kneel before her.

The prince’s outstretched hand clutched a single gold coin.

“How do you manage to accomplish such difficult trials?” she asked him, genuinely curious.

“My love for you is so great, that I would accomplish anything to have you in my arms forever.” The prince recited back to her.

Such a generic answer. Cymarine was genuinely curious. How could a person manage to be so strong that he can slay a dragon and hold his breath for much longer than a person should? In formal situations, when her father was watching, the most generic answer professing his love is all she would ever get out of him. He was a well-trained prince. Perhaps she could get a more satisfactory answer out of him later.

“If your love for me is as strong as you say, then this last trial will be incredibly easy for you.”

He looked up hopeful. Perhaps he really did want to marry her. Cymarine almost felt bad for trying to kill him. Perhaps he was just a good actor.

“I want you to make me love you. Make me love you and make me want nothing more than to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you, and you will have completed the third trial.”

The prince was shocked. He fell back. Perhaps he was ready for any sort of dangerous, physical challenge, but a challenge of the heart was something he had not anticipated.

The prince started to stammer.

Her Father seemed shocked by such a trial as well. Luckily, he chuckled.

“I think this is a fair challenge. If you cannot win her heart, I’m sure there are others who are up to the challenge.”

Cymarine felt a smile spread wide on her face. She had never felt more powerful and more in control of her life. Here was a challenge she could present to any prince who may ask for her hand, and she would never be unsatisfied with the results.

 


© Copyright 2017 Nicole Graham. All rights reserved.

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