My father and mother accompanied me to the Southern Lands. Neither had ever been there. Also with us were the King and his Queen. Only then did I realize the importance of my marriage. The King and Queen had one son. He was five years old, and already whispers had it that he was betrothed to the King Under the Mountain’s daughter.
Royal marriages were made to strengthen bonds between people so that wars never happened again, explained my father. The King and Queen had no daughter, but I, as the daughter of the highest noble of the kingdom, would represent her. In fact, they would give me away at my wedding, not my own parents.
I knew the King and Queen well enough. He was often away, but when he came home, he loved nothing more than the peace and quiet of his own garden. His wife, an elf princess, was the most lovely woman I knew. She was kind, empathetic, loved by all. During our voyage south, as we sailed on barges down the river towards the great desert, she tried to comfort me the best she could. Her sympathy for my fate was evident, but she never once told me she felt sorry for me.
“You are doing a great deed for your home and family,” she told me. “Forever have men from the South fought men from the North. Your brother married a princess who left her home and family. You will marry a warrior prince and bring honor to us all. I am sure you can. Otherwise, we would not have chosen you.”
I was young. I was heartbroken. I wished I had not been chosen. I was also wise, and kept my thoughts to myself. I think I hid my sobs at night. In the morning, I was careful to bathe my swollen eyes with cucumber water before breakfast. I still had some pride.