Ami watched the sun rise over the swell of mountains on the horizon. The golden arms of morning spread dawn’s embrace across the sleepy castle town below. The Holanian capital, Adria, would soon be waking. Her still-made feather bed beckoned, though she would not be joining it. The young princess sipped the wine left on the drawing table along with the remnants of her uneaten evening meal. The dark Bararnite vintage was a sharp assault so early in the morning but Ami welcomed the wetness on her tongue.
It was the Day of Blessing—a humble day of virginal simplicity to be enjoyed in the presence of her betrothed. A day of tradition, of ceremony, of celebration—a day Ami would not see through to completion. Had it been Tallas, she would have endured. Tallas, heir to the neighbouring throne of Bararn, had been her promised one, not his snivelling, unctuous little brother, Reminas. Even before Tallas’s cruel and untimely death, Reminas always believed himself entitled to everything his older brother possessed—his titles, his birthrights, his armies. Now he had the impudence to name himself successor to the Holanian marriage alliance as well. But he would not have Ami. She would not be Reminas’s bride. He would not be her king.