Chapter 3: Grondo and the Lady Darla
One fine and happy evening, the king of the Kindred called at the residence of Bolim Dram, the father of Darla Dram. When the Kindred began badgering him to marry, King Grondo had only one lady in mind. The Lady Darla. She was the only female of the Kindred whom he wanted to share his life with.
She was beautiful, but most importantly she was kind. She had the sort of loving sweetness that the Kindred wanted in their queens, and he knew she would be a perfect match for him. Moreover, she would be a good Queen in his absence, as he was soon to be called away from the kingdom to attend a High Meet with the Shaman of the Redskins.
But he did not know if she loved him as he loved her.
That would not matter, though. As king, all he had to do was convince her father. If her father said 'yes', then that was that. Darla would marry him. And she would, someday he hoped, grow to love him. He hoped that would not take too long. He prayed most earnestly that she already loved him. The anxiety of these thoughts weighed heavily on the king and caused great knots to form in his stomach. He was sick at heart with worry as he waited in Bolim's den, Darla's mother having gone to go fetch her husband.
The door opened and Bolim Dram entered.
"Ahhhhh....Your Kingship," Bolim began, genuflecting before Grondo. "What a pleasant surprise and the highest honor you pay me." He rose and gestured for Grondo to take a seat near the fireplace. Bolim seated himself opposite and reached for the poker, prodding the coals in the fireplace about. "What brings you to my humble abode?"
Grondo steeled himself and waited until Bolim was finished stirring the fire. When the elder sat back in the chair and regarded him, Grondo began to speak.
"I...umm...I...want to...umm...ask you..."
"Oh, come, come...Your Highness, you can be frank with me. Is this concerning my daughter?" Bolim Dram was no fool. He had seen the king pausing in his daily walks to chat with Darla. He had noticed with a father's attentive eye how the king admired his daughter.
Grondo fidgeted in the chair and began twisting his fingers, then realized that this might not be a very kingly thing to do, and so he stopped.
"Umm....yes, sir. I wondered if she had any offers? Of marriage, I mean?"
"Of course that's what you mean. What other kinds of offers are there? She doesn't." The Dram leaned back, a slight smile playing on his lips. "Have any offers, that is."
The king leaned forward and closed his eyes, concentrating on each word and hoping against hope. "Ummm...I'd... like to ask you... for her hand, then."
There, He'd said it. And he discovered that once he'd said it, it wasn't so very frightening after all.
"Sire," Bolim said, reaching out and clasping Grondo's shoulder. "Who am I to refuse my king or my daughter what makes them both happy?"
"Me, certainly," Grondo said, relaxing. "I'm not so sure about her."
Bolim grinned. "Are you not?" Grondo shook his head. "Why, then, don't you ask her? She is in the garden."
So it was that Grondo found himself strolling the Dram gardens and finding the Lady Darla sitting on a rock. When he got down on one knee, the lady began to weep as she whispered "Oh, yes, my king. I will be your wife."
She then swatted him on the top of the head in mock anger and jibed: "It took you long enough, fool!" They laughed, embracing each other and shared a brief but loving kiss before returning to her father, who performed the marriage ceremony right then and there, as is the custom of the Kindred.
Grondo and the queen Darla went to their castle that evening and celebrated their nuptials with the whole household and the stewards with a grand feast of purple dragon and biters for dessert.
But in the back of Grondo's mind, the meeting with the Red Shaman overshadowed even this happy event.
End of Chapter Three