The sound of a trumpet interrupted Alan. Meryn entered the room behind the trumpeters and called in a ringing voice, "His majesty, King Maccus, and his daughter, the Princess Morgane, wife of Prince Alan, heir to the throne of his father, King Bowdyn."
Everyone at the table rose to their feet and bowed as Maccus and Morgane paused at the door. Alan could not stop staring at the princess. He had not expected her to be so beautiful. Her red-gold hair cascaded across her shoulders in swirling waves he ached to touch. Even from this distance he could see that her eyes were the color of the sea on a cloudy, stormy day. Her white, beribboned gown made their unique color stand out. She had a willowy, lithe figure.
Every inch the king, Bowdyn crossed the room and took Princess Morgane's hand. "Come. I will introduce you to your husband, Prince Alan."
"Please, my lady. If you do not sit still I cannot care for your feet."
"You try to sit still if you think it is so easy!" Morgane cried. "The bandage has stuck to the blisters, and the pain is dreadful when you pull."
"I am very sorry, but if we do not keep your feet clean and medicated, you will get an infection."
"Yes, I know." She flinched as Edana applied a soothing ointment to her burned feet. At least it was supposed to be soothing. Truly, it did little good.
A flash of lightning split the sky outside the window. Thunder boomed as the rain started to fall. Over the roar of the downpour, she heard the sound of horses galloping across the cobblestones in the courtyard. The wind caught the heavy brocade drapes, which billowed into the room as raindrops pattered on the stone floor. "I will shut the window," Edana cried. She ran to do so, but instead of closing it, she stared outside at the courtyard.
"What do you see?" Morgane demanded. "Who is out there?"
"It is the queen and Prince Alan. One of the servants told me that the two of them had gone riding."
Morgane jumped up and hobbled to the window, ignoring the pain in her feet. "I cannot see his face."
"Please, come back and sit down. You will meet him soon enough."
Morgane sighed, feeling the animation drain from her face. "All too true."
She returned to her seat in the soft, deep chair beside the fireplace and bit the inside of her cheek until she tasted blood. Shehated her father! Presently, she voiced this sentiment to Edana. "The only good thing that comes from my marriage is that I escape my father. I hate him, Edana."
"I do not wonder, my lady."
"I have always been a dutiful daughter to him. He had no right, no reason to treat me as a slave or worse."
"No, my lady."
Morgane's foot jerked as Edana's gentle touch burned and stung. "Finish them," she commanded. "I cannot bear for you to touch them."
Edana applied the last bandage. "There. It is done. You must be careful, my lady."
"Ha! I am sure I will be expected to dance the night away."
Concern clouded Edana's large, brown eyes. "I have worried about that. If you will allow it, we will add an extra layer of bandages."
"Well… perhaps that is best." Morgane stuck out her right foot. "I am like an animal in a trap. I would chew my own foot off if it would gain my freedom for me."
"Perhaps you and Prince Alan will care for each other," Edana soothed.
Morgane's lip curled. "I doubt it very much."