Valencia Of Hilssef

“Valencia!” pleaded my frail grandmother in a low voice, “Tie up your hair at once! Heaven forbid Prince Aldrich the scoundrel shall take a liking to you!”
Aghast at myself for such naivety, I immediately set my soft, brown locks into an ugly bun atop my head.
The one-hundred and twenty-three women of Hilssef, including oneself, had been violently gathered from our homes and channeled into an orderly line for the pudgy Prince Aldrich and his father, King Hugo, to examine. It was the kingdom’s tradition that once a prince grew to eighteen, he was presented with all women from the village. One he would select to be his wife, infant or elderly, wed or unwed, it did not matter to them, as long as they could one day bare offspring.
“All these women, they’re vile, father,” whined the prince, flicking his dark greasy curls from his pallid face.
“I agree Aldrich, but nevertheless, you shall have one for your own keeping. You can do what you like with them once you have made up your mind,” reassured the tall King whom shared his first born’s bulbous nose.
“Take this old hag, for instance,” scoffed our foul prince, indicating my grandmother Alexia, whom stood beside me in the queue, “A depressed widow who couldn’t even cook, no doubt.”
The King grunted in agreement.
I clenched my fists in fury, biting my tongue, praying words of treason would stay withheld in my mind.
Finally, after a fair amount of further complaining, the two reached the last woman, whom was weeping loudly. The old King tucked his long blonde locks behind his ears, before spitting on the sobbing wretch.
“You are presented with the finest man in the Kingdom yet you weep? I assure you mutt, my son shall never select such selfish scum!”
I bit down harder now on the righteous words pushing at the gate of my mouth. At merely fifteen I had already developed a deep hatred for such rulers.
“Father,” announced the prince when King Hugo was no longer distracted, “these women are horrific, how am I too choose from such filth?”
“Filth? How dare you speak such words!” my lips could be held closed no longer, “You stamp on us as if we are dirt yet you are the filthiest scoundrel he-,”
“Guards take this woman away!” Called the King gesturing for two men who stood close by.
“Wait, let her speak father.”
“Very well.”
I continued, “We are not your property nor are any of us in love with yourself, yet you are under the impression one shall marry you!” In my fury my hair had fallen out of its loose bun.
“It is not an impression, it is knowledge my dearest. Prepare this girl for tomorrow’s service! By next dusk she shall be my wife.”
The guards clutched my arms and began to pull.
“No! This is unjust! You can’t do this!”
“I believe you’ll find I can, my beloved.”

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