This is my entry for the "Fictioneers Writing Contest - Man versus Man" contest. It's the first story I publish on steemit after being edited with help from "The Writer's Block" group.
Voice of a Princess
Emeralda was known as the most kind and beautiful woman in the kingdom of Akahat. Her father, the king announced a challenge for the young nobles, and the winner would marry her.
Five suitors received an invitation to the castle of Akahat to learn more about the challenge. Among them was Larsa, the prince of Jardenia.
“My daughter is unhappy lately.” The king looked at each of them. “So your challenge is to make her smile. Tonight you’ll meet her, and the winner is the one who’d make her the happiest.”
He invited them to a meal. But Larsa didn’t care about the food no matter how delicious, he just wanted to meet the princess he heard so much about.
After the meal, Larsa talked with the other suitors. The most famous warrior of the east. The richest man in the north. From the west came the best war strategist and the most known poet. Compared to them, Larsa was just a prince from the smallest southern kingdom.
But as he talked with them, Larsa realized that he was the only one who wondered about that question. He decided to ask around the castle to find answers. “The princess is unhappy… But why?”
At night, the king invited the suitors to meet the princess. “Who wants to be first?”
Larsa was about to go. But the warrior stepped before him and made a speech on how the princess won’t need a bodyguard in his presence. The king noticed Emeralda gesturing her hand indifferently and interrupted the warrior’s show off. “Next.”
Larsa hesitated, so the wealthy took the chance... Only to get shot down. Even the strategist wasn’t better than both of them.
The poet turn came up with a poem, exaggerating Emeralda’s beauty. He went on describing her voice, but the princess frowned and the king asked him to back down.
The princess didn’t talk once during the meeting, how could the poet know what her real voice sounded like. But Larsa knew that her voice is--
Larsa’s turn came and the king seemed disappointed.
“I… I asked around so I know why you’re sad...” Larsa stepped up and spoke to the princess “Your mother died few months ago. You must have really loved her. I heard you cried for her until you lost your voice.”
“....” the princess frowned and put a hand on her mouth.
“I know how it feels to lose your mother.” Larsa hesitated. “But I want you to smile. You can be happy without forgetting her--”
“...” The princess Emeralda eyes shone with tears and she gestured to her father, without looking up.
“Prince Larsa, back down…” Hearing the king, Larsa felt as if he was struck by lightning, but he complied.
Emeralda didn’t smile nor did she choose any of the suitors that night.
Few weeks later, a gift arrived at Larsa’s home. Along with a message from Emeralda. Few months later, the bells of marriage were heard in both kingdoms.
This story was 850+ words long, and I wouldn't have been able to cut it to no more than 500 words without the help of @tinypaleokitchen, I can't thank her enough. The contest theme (conflict) is pretty vague here but I feel it's not completely outside the "man vs man" definition.
The images for this post are drawn by me, since I didn't find a public domain image that makes me say "That's it." I didn't draw for a long time so this isn't my best. But It seems I'm still good at drawing anime portraits. Check my desing of Larsa.
I really enjoyed writing Larsa, and thinking of how to write the actions of the princess in her condition.