“And here is Idan, Crown Prince of the Madrinan Empire,” Ilvana said. She gestured towards the young man standing between the Emperor and his advisor. “Your future husband.” Prince Idan was tall and well-built, with red hair, a strong-boned, handsome face, and clear green eyes. His clothes and armor were less elaborate and more practical-looking than his father’s. Though he was young and handsome, his expression was grim.
Juzeva hadn’t expected such a courtly speech. The Prince had clearly spent a great deal of time practicing it, and Juzeva found herself moved by the effort. If nothing else, she would be married to a gentleman. She bowed her head to him, grateful for his courtesy and thoughtfulness. “I thank you, Prince Idan. I too will do my best to make our union a successful one.”
She watched the Prince take his place beside his father again. Her gaze slid past Sajur Golu’s face just as the priest was hiding a look of deep contempt. Another prickle of revulsion or fear, or both, crept up her spine.
“Let us be done with this, then,” Queen Ilvana said. She and Ezdar moved to a table which stood beneath the great middle window, where a scribe waited with the marriage and peace treaties. The scribe began reading the documents out loud. Juzeva didn’t bother to pay close attention; it made no difference whether or not she knew what they said. The terms had all been worked out already. She had had no say in them, and her opinion and consent had not been asked. The essence of the agreements was that, in exchange for a marriage-link to the Savaru royal family, which would bring with it a significant voice on the Queen’s Council and a healthy portion of the profits from Savaru’s rich fishing, farming, handcraft, and mining enterprises, the Madrinan Empire promised to not run its armies over the land. A bloodless defeat for Savaru, a quick and cheap victory for the Empire.
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