Síomha stared at the letter. She had been reading and rereading it ever since it had arrived that morning, hoping to find some hidden meaning in the words that she had missed before. All she had found, however, was a bleeding headache, and her back ached with pain as she hunched over the desk, her long red hair starting to slip out of its bun. Still, she had time until the Court Sorceress would arrive, and maybe she could glean some tiny piece of information from it. Squinting in the dim candle-light of the library, knowing she really should take the time to stand up and light the lamps, Síomha began to read the letter one more time.
My dearest Síomha,
It brings me great joy to announce that I have accepted your mother’s invitation to visit your Kingdom. Ever since she visited our humble home last spring and told me of her fair and sweet daughter, whose beauty and wisdom rival the Maiden’s, I have longed to look upon your face. I am sure that she has told you about me, as well. Though your previous correspondences have been rather cold, I am sure that our meeting will help ease you out of your shy shell.
I shall be leaving upon the morrow, though I am sending this letter with my fastest courier to give you time to prepare for my arrival. Do not fear, I shall not be more than a couple of days behind this note!
Your dearest admirer,
Pinching the bridge of her nose to ease the growing pain, Síomha leapt to her feet, pacing around the cramped library as best as she could. “Of all the pompous, air-headed, ignorant fools!” she muttered to herself. Though to be fair, Alois was not the worst marriage candidate that her mother had thrown at her. He was just rather…quaint. His many correspondences had an air of innocent desperation about them, but his simply hilarious attempts to woo her with his words made it quite clear what he expected of her. She had been delaying their meeting for as long as she was able, knowing that his opinion would probably change drastically when she was forced to interact with him. She had that effect on most people who expected a soft woman, elegantly deferring to her beloved.
Well, her father had done his damnedest to raise a better daughter than that. And she would not dishonor his memory that way.
Yet, she was running out of options. According to her mother’s information, Alois was desperate for a bride, and for reasons she never quite understood had set his sights upon her. His desperation would probably override any disappointment he might feel when meeting her, making a proposal almost inevitable. Here she was, a woman past the age of majority, and Alois was her only suitor. Both her mother and her brother expected her to settle down soon enough, and would not support her if she turned down Alois.
Still she might have some options at her disposal. Looking down at the pile of books spread across the desk, she waited for the Court Sorceress to arrive.