Ten years later

The land of Coryn was celebrating. Their queen, Alysha the Wise, had given birth to yet another son. They had been overjoyed when she had finally married with her steward, duke Gerolt of Godfry, and the coming of a new prince was welcomed, just like the coming of the crown prince had been. The people of Coryn – her people – had not condemned her for having a child out of wedlock. The story was too well known, too well spread for anyone to question her or her judgement. After all she had accepted the proposal of the king of Fermont not for herself, but for the country. They had been engaged, the day was decided – so it was only common sense to get the pride pregnant to be sure that they could have children together. It was unlucky for the queen, everyone agreed, that the king of Fermont could not be faithful, thus causing the separation before they even got married.

But even if her people accepted her pregnancy, she still had suffered. She had named Gerolt for her steward, and nearly vanished from the sight when she was pregnant. Even knowing that the separation was not her fault, she still had blamed herself. Maybe it was the woman in her speaking, mulling over things that could not be changed. But her steward had been more than she bargained for. She had chosen the man with wisdom and heart to take care of her house and land. She had only thought her people and those who had moved from Fermont out of loyalty. She knew that with her pregnancy and sorrow she would not be fit to rule, when emotions were leading her one way and another. And if the childbirth would be her undoing, then the land would need someone to tend it as lovingly as she had tended it all her life.

Gerolt had accepted the duty with solidity that comforted her troubled mind. She had known him all her life as their mothers had been cousins, and had known she could trust him with all there was to rule. She had not realized that he would be forced to be there for the birthing, to witness it as a male of her family so that there would be no questions of childs parentage. She had felt humiliated for it, enraged over her destiny as she had never thought that the queen of the land would be subject to any laws but her own. He had been mortified, shamed for being forced to stay there and look, and yet he had felt yearning for her, like he had felt ever since she had been but a lass of 15 years. For him Alysha was the most beautiful of women, even with her face scarred and marked with other mans mark.

He had not fathomed though, that he would fall love again – with the baby. He had hold him, marvelling his tiny feet and hands while the midwife took care of the queen. He had feared how he would react to the child, how he would treat it, and had not expected to feel so fiercely protective over him. In that moment, he gave his heart and loyalty to the little prince, just like he had given them to his mother years earlier. With the child in his hands he had walked to the balcony, had shouted the command to shoot the blue fireworks, all seven of them, as a sign that a crown prince was born. And so great was his influence, that no one questioned his orders, and they obeyed starting a joyous celebration in the land.

Later the councilmen tried to argue over it – the child was after all sired by a treacherous man, vow-broker, but he held his head and the law was on his side. If the marks were given after a child was born that would proclaim its status as an heir or heiress, it could not be undone. The councilmen were not pleased, but the law was a law.

– Your highness, it is with utter resolution that I say that this child should not inherit. A boy will follow his fathers footsteps after all.

– Dear councilman Ulven, I hear your words, but am I not the prove that it is not about who is the father, but who is the one to raise you? And heed my words: I will be there for him and teach him like my own grandfather thought me right from wrong. And just like I chose the right path when guided with love and wisdom, so will he as he is as much his mothers heir as I was mine.

– Your words ring true, your highness, and I apologize. It seems I put too little value on the wisdom of our women. But still I fear, for the king of Fermont will need an heir and might be able to persuade the priests to declare our prince to be his.

– If that would ever happen, then we would still have the raising of the child, just like is the habit when the parents are not married. And he would inherit two kingdoms, for he would be entitled to inherit both his mother and father. That is the law of the church itself, made so that no rich man can force himself to women to impregnate them to have a blood heir to be raised by his wife.

– That is true your highness! I had forgotten the law of unwed parents. When are we going to hear the name of our prince?

Gerolt had smiled then, for that question showed more than anything that the nobility too was going to accept the baby as their crown prince.

– The queen will announce her name the day after tomorrow, when the prince will be two weeks old. And she expects you all to be there as is the custom. The banquet for their honour will start two hours before sunset. We are going to have a firework show, made by Colbyn the Fair.

– Colbyn the Fair himself! Then it will surely be a sight to remember. But how is it that Colbyn will come here, I thought he was to put on a show for the royal house of Fermont this week?

– That was his original plan, made year ago – but he does not accept vow breakers, and he is after all related to the queen, so he sent a letter suggesting hed come here with his entourage.

And Colbyn had come. His revenue had put on a show that was still something people spoke of, and now he was coming to the main city again to celebrate the new prince. People did wonder though, if he was still as good as he had been ten years ago, or if he had managed to learn new tricks to amaze people, low and high both. After all, you never knew about the elves, they were a puzzle and then some.

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