Anne’s full name is Analasia Katherine Lopez. She lived in an old mansion in Minestones, an old country in the south, with her aunt, Loremai. She does not know her parents but she was told her mother died when she was young and her father disappeared after the funeral. For eighteen years, it was only Aunt Loremai she knew as family.
Anne grew up under the care of her aunt, and she turned into a very beautiful, young woman. Many men courted her, serenaded her with corny songs. But she always refused.
She had no friends. The village was ten miles away and they had no neighbors. It was only Aunt Loremai she could talk with and occasionally, Ian, her cousin who visits from time to time. So then, Anne became very quiet.
Today was her nineteenth birthday. Aunt Loremai woke her up at dawn. They had breakfast. Her aunt told her that Ian would come over and celebrate with them.
When it was a little before noon, Ian rang the doorbell. Anne answered and her greeted her a happy birthday. He hugged her tightly and handed her a package.
“Ian,” Anne smiled as she took the gift. “Long time, no see.” They walked towards the kitchen, where her aunt was busy preparing a birthday feast.
“Hey, Aunt Loremai!” Ian said cheerful. “Mm, that soup smells delicious!” He strolled over to the spot where the soup was bubbling over a fire.
Aunt Loremai frowned at him and slapped him hard on the shoulder. “Don’t even touch the pot!” She scolded with a hint of a snarl.
“Okay, okay.” Ian backed off. He smiled sheepishly at Anne’s direction.
“Still hadn’t changed, I see.” Anne teased. The slender, blonde-haired boy was different now: he was taller and more mature-looking. But he still acted like a child. He still had a bottomless pit for a stomach; he was always hungry.
Ian had just celebrated his eighteenth birthday. His mother was Anne’s mother’s sister. He lived in Hales, a thousand miles east of Minestones. He was allowed to travel to distant lands when he had reached seventeen; Anne, however, was still cooped up in the mansion. Anne found this really unfair.
“Yes…” Ian agreed, scratching his head. “And I just traveled a thousand miles and walked another ten miles for you, Anne. Give me something to eat. I’m hungry.” His stomach rumbled in agreement.
“There’s bread and jam on the table.” Aunt Loremai said dully while putting the finishing touches on the birthday cake.
Anne laughed as Ian nearly fell over in shock. “Bread and jam? Are you joking?” He cried out. “I cannot eat bread and jam, I’ll die of shame!” He pretended to pout.
“And why is that?” Anne asked. Aunt Loremai simply ignored Ian and went chopping vegetables. Ian stopped pouting and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s poor men’s food.” He replied, chuckling.
“Ian, you should wait after I finish with the food. Why won’t you and Anne go for a walk or something? I’ll need and hour or so.” Aunt Loremai said, clearly annoyed.
Ian’s face went white with horror. “An hour…? He started to scream but he stopped when Aunt Loremai glared at him very fiercely. His shoulders slumped. “Fine.” He and Anne exited the kitchen and headed for the living room.
Today’s newspaper was on the coffee table. They sat on two of the sofas.
Anne grabbed the newspaper. “Want to read?” She offered, looking at her suddenly-sullen cousin.
“Okay,” Ian answered. His voice was a whisper.
Anne rolled her eyes. “Oh please, cousin dear. You’re simply overreacting!” She handed a section to the newspaper to him. “Just keep yourself occupied and time will pass by like the wind.”
Ian didn’t look convinced until he looked at the paper’s headline and perked up. “Countess Trixia of Ceramesea and Prince Arden of Maledonia are getting married?” He gasped.
“Who and who are what?” Anne was dumbfounded. What in the world is her cousin talking about?
“Well, you see…” Ian started to explain. “Maledonia is this huge kingdom about town hundred miles northwest of Hales and it is very popular. Ceramesea is its neighboring country or more like its brother kingdom, since the two kingdoms are like twins, except Maledonia’s much bigger and more beautiful than Ceramesea.
“Apparently, this countess, Trixia and Prince Arden were best friends since their childhood. They started their relationship as, um, something more than friends three years ago. Arden’s father, the king of Maledonia, said to the people that their engagement is any day now. Looks like yesterday was that day.” He pointed at a picture of the famed couple holding hands, with a full view of the palace in the background.
“Huh.” Anne examined the picture. The girl, Trixia she was known, was very beautiful even in black and white. Her fiancé, Prince Arden, had nice features, but his smile was not genuine. He looked unhappy and unsure of his decision to marry the countess. “This Arden looked like he’s going to die tomorrow.”
Ian looked at the picture again. “Hm, maybe, yeah.” He settled back on his sofa. “Maybe because he’s worried about Trixia.”
Anne raised an eyebrow. “Why? Is she pregnant?”
~To be continued~