Skip to main content

An Arranged Marriage - 7

    The afternoon sun shone lazily on the arena.  Flies buzzed annoyingly close to Ilona’s ear as she mounted the steps to the shaded platform where her papa sat.  In the field beyond him, she could see the band of competitors, standing in groups on the drying grass.  Emil and Detlef were among them…as were the silent, red-faced man and the bald ambassador.  And farther beyond them were the archery targets.

    “Come, my dear, and sit beside me.” Her papa spread his fingers toward a chair.  “You should watch the games, as they will help us decide which man is right for you.”

    Ilona took her seat.  “You wish me to marry an archery champion?”

    “Ilona, the man who marries you may very well one day become king in my stead.  The council reminds me of the importance of this daily.  Therefore, it is our hope that you will fall in love with a capable warrior.”

    Ilona turned her eyes to the field as 40 men took aim and fired at the target.  Those who missed were eliminated, and the targets were moved farther away.  Ilona wrapped the edge of her sash around her finger.  “The council is worried I may choose incorrectly?”

    “Fire!”  Twenty-some men took aim and released their arrows.  Fifteen met their mark.  

    The king cheered.  Then he patted Ilona’s arm.  “The council wishes to choose your husband for you.  They think it is their duty to ensure the future of the kingdom through your marriage.  But I will have none of their arguments.  You are first and foremost my daughter.  You should get to choose your own husband.”  He waved his arm toward the field and the targets were repositioned for the next round.

    As the afternoon wore on, the number of competitors dwindled.  Each round eliminated men until only 4 men were standing: Emil, Detlef, the red-faced man, and a man whom Ilona vaguely recognized as Detlef’s older brother, Matthias.

    Emil turned and winked at Ilona as men carried the targets to their greatest distance.  Ilona blushed, and her papa, seeing the look, chuckled.

    “Ready, your majesty,” a servant prompted.

    The king stood up and shouted in his booming voice.  “Ready, men!  Take aim!  Fire!”

    Four arrows launched into the air.  Ilona held her breath.  Thunk!  The arrows hit their targets.  Emil’s missed his target entirely.  The red-faced man’s caught the edge of the target.  But both Detlef’s and his brother’s arrow hit dead center.  Detlef turned and caught her eye with a look that made her heart beat faster, and she almost missed seeing Emil’s apologetic shrug.

    “Men!” Her papa’s voice carried all the way across the field.  “My servants tell me that we barely have time to let the ladies dress for this evening.”  A chuckle rippled through the crowd.  “So we will call our results a tie between King Rowan’s sons, and retire to the castle.  Well done, men!  All of you!  There will be fencing tomorrow!”

(by Esther Brooksmith)


  1. At least her Dad is willing to give her a choice. Most Kings aren't that nice.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post by Emily!

Character Creation by Emily Ann Putzke
My character in Ain’t We Got Fun is Georgiana (Gi) Rowland, the older sister of Bess. Their family is struggling during the Great Depression, so Gi takes off for NYC to make a fortune and help them out. The sisters recount their adventures, joys and heartaches to each other. My co-author, Emily Chapman, and I wrote this story in letter form in January. Our characters are very different people! Here are a 5 things that helped me bring Gi to life, and give her a personality that’s all her own.
1.  Give Your Characters Flaws None of us are perfect, so our characters shouldn't be either. Gi is a fun, loyal, light hearted girl with big dreams. But she has a flaw that she struggles with throughout the entire story. Pride. She’s very stubborn, independent, and doesn’t want anything from anybody.
2. Use That Flaw to Stretch and Change Your Character Pride gets Gi in quite a few scrapes. Throughout AWGF, she’s constantly battling with it. Everytime she thi…

Anti-Hope: A very real emotion

Have you ever wanted something?  And you've wanted it so deeply and for so long?

    And then, against all odds, there is a whisper that it could happen this time?  Maybe instead of the expected rejection letter, you got a "we've taken your submission for further review."  Maybe a sudden source of income appears that may allow you to earn enough for horseriding lessons.  Maybe you find a nebulous symptom in your own body that hints at the possibility of a long-awaited pregnancy.  Whatever the case, you have that realization that your dreams COULD come true.

    And, instantly, anti-hope appears.

     What is anti-hope?  It is that emotion that springs up as a counter-balance to keep you from being too disappointed if your hopes are dashed again.

     Anti-hope says, "Don't get too excited.  'Further review' isn't the same as an acceptance.  They could still reject your story."  Anti-hope says, "You still might not earn quite enough …

First Snippets from 12 Dancing Princesses

I haven't settled on a title for my Twelve Dancing Princesses story.  But I've written about 4500 words so far.  Here are a few snippets for you to enjoy.

I chose my words slowly and carefully.“I think it’s important for you to do what you feel like you were meant to do.I’ll always support you in that.” ***
I released my nose, confident that it would now stay on my face...
I broke into a run and reached my yard in time to see a dozen soldiers on horseback.One of them had pulled Hope into his saddle with him.My papa was lying on the ground, and a mounted soldier held a spear aimed at his chest. “Hey!” I shouted.“Leave them alone!” *** The General and our captain bowed. “We honor you on the beginning of your new life,” murmured the captain. *** King Howenth sat on the throne, looking rather like a pudding that has fallen over against the side of its pan.“Come, my daughters!” *** “As you know, I am never one to accept any lie fed to me.Nor am I one that simply sits around and waits f…