I knew she would accept my offer. It was too good an opportunity to pass. I was so pleased with how well everything was going that a small smile broke from the corner of my lips when I left her chamber.
Oddly enough, my beast side was howling in delight. I didn’t understand why it was behaving that way but I assumed it was happy to be in control with my throne once again.
The council will have a hell of a time when they find out I’ll marry in two days. They’ll bombard me surely with talks of pups and heirs. I’ll indulge them for now, until the day I’ll kick that woman out of my castle door.
I had zero intention to spend the next two days with her. It was unnecessary even if she would become my wife and queen. I stayed inside the castle and did my usual work as king.
Elijah was helping me with the preparations, or to speak frankly, he did all the preparations. I care not a damn thing about the wedding ceremony; the flowers, the ceremony, the guests, or the wardrobe. I just wanted it finished stat and re-institute myself as the absolute ruler of Phanteon and not my late father’s decrees.
Although strictly telling him not to, Elijah was ecstatic enough to update me in the woman’s activities for the past two days. From the little attention I allotted him, he informed me that she was housed in the east wing of the castle.
Good. It was an enough distance away from my chamber, but had I been there during the transfer, I would have placed her in the south wing, farthest away from me as possible.
To continue, Elijah assigned her the most prominent professor in the kingdom to teach our ways and the history of our realm. He also brought the most skillful seamstress for the woman to be fitted for her wedding gown and daily wardrobe.
Of course, I cringed at the last two ideas. That woman didn’t need to know about our history or our traditions. She didn’t even need a wardrobe as I would be sending her back to her realm immediately after the wedding. A day after if possible.
But Elijah, with a grin too suspicious for my liking, didn’t bother on listening to my complaints. He continued on and reported me more of her activities which consisted of a visit in the kingdom’s most sought-after waterfalls in the north, a quick stroll in the bustling markets of Valencia and Cirelles, and posing as a special guest in the annual Ma’tisste, a welcome celebration of the first full moon of the year. It had songs and dances, and lots of drinks and food that would all culminate to a shifting of those present and a unified howling. I had Elijah attend that one on my behalf. I didn’t realize he’d use it to subtly introduce her to the public’s eye.
Elijah said she was a natural with her socialization skills. She was easy with speaking to the high ranking officials of my court in the celebration and was even seen helping out with servant duties in the kitchen. Thoughtfully, he didn’t let her witness the shifting and the howling but had I been there in the celebration, I would have let her watch it, see if she had a strong backbone on watching my subjects shift into their werewolf forms.
That would have been interesting to see.
All these talks about her made me want to gut something out. I hated how she was slowly stamping her mark on my land. Again, if I had been in those events, I could have minimized her presence as much as possible, but my brother reported these activities to me too late. I had a strong sense he did this deliberately.
When the morning of the wedding came, I woke up to find the atmosphere of the whole castle rather sickeningly jovial. Servants are it female or male were scurrying all over the place when I walked along the hallways to my throne. The female servants didn’t even prostrate when they saw me pass unlike before. They just lowered their heads and gave me an unobstructed path to my destination. I sensed their fear of me still present, but it was lesser than before and I think it had to do with the news of me getting married.
Huh. What nonsense.
Different species of white flowers were everywhere but it was most especially numerous inside my throne room. I cringed at the sight of it. Elijah really had overdone himself.
I walked to look at the castle courtyard from the throne balcony and saw flaglets of the kingdom’s crest hanging on a taut line tied from one corner of the castle roof to another. Never had I seen it done this way before. It was a refreshing look, but still, I would want to have these flaglets pulled once the wedding ends.
Using my lycan hypersight, I saw the amphitheater a few miles away from the castle adorned too. From what I remembered, weddings were usually held in that open space. I believe my father and my whore of a mother were once wedded there, and now, I would be standing for that same reason tonight with that woman.
A fucking woman.
Consciously, a crack on the balustrade appeared as my hand gripped it tightly so. It was an insufficient displacement of my anger bubbling up in my chest. I wanted it out so I did the next best thing I could do. I shifted to my lycan form and bolted out of my throne room, out of the castle walls, out of hearing range, ran into the highest snowy mountain of Phanteon and there, I trashed and howled as much as I could.
When I returned to my castle, the sun had already set. Elijah met me in my chamber with an arched brow, but he didn’t ask me where I had been. I knew he had an idea.
“Brother, fix yourself up,” he said with a grave tone. “Your bride is waiting for you already.”
“Give me ten minutes,” I snapped and walked into my inner bathroom to wash.
When I emerged from it eight minutes later, I was all spruced up. No matter how I disliked wearing the official royal uniform for my wedding, I had no choice. If I were to create the biggest fake wedding my kingdom had ever seen, I would have to play the part and play it perfectly.
The amphitheater was packed when I arrived via a coach. The realms after they were created had chosen their own means of travel and my father chose the simple, nature-friendly one: a vehicle moved by horses. Werewolves and lycans could travel fast far better than horses, but on such occasions that needed flair and flamboyance, we had to use other means of travel.
I bet that woman was transported from the castle to the amphitheater using the same coach and I had a strong feeling we would be using the same transport later. The thought of her inside this confined space was enough to sour my mood, but once again, I had to remind myself it was an act needed to convince my people of the union.
The crowd exploded with cheers when I disembarked the coach. I waved at them and gave my best-practiced smile. They were all here to see a miracle: to see me wed, to see me tied to the opposite sex I had expressed my hate constantly. They must have thought me a fool for finally relenting to the charm of a woman, but weird enough, as I scanned their faces for any signs of a snicker, I couldn’t find one. All I saw were genuine and warm smiles.
I had only been to a few werewolf weddings in my younger years before I vowed hatred on the female population. In those times, I saw how the high priest officiated it.
Remembering how it would start, I walked to the farthest corner of the stage. The groom was supposed to stay on the right while the bride on the left. They were to meet halfway in the center of the stage, right on a spot illuminated solely by the full moon’s light.
Once I arrived there, I settled my eyes across the stage and saw my soon-to-be wife standing regally wearing her pure white dress and a lace headdress that covered most of her features. Her hands were clasped together near her abdomen and she stood tall with her shoulder straight.
For a moment, a sense of longing hit me, but I dismissed it in a blink of an eye.
Everyone waited as the light of the full moon touched down the center of the stage. Once this happened some minutes later, the sounds of trumpets filled the air, followed by the appearance of the high priest wearing his robe of emerald green and a stiff, pointed ceremonial headdress adorned with the insignia of the kingdom.
He glanced at me, lowered his head in deference to me, and then shifted his attention to the bride, bowing too to pay his respects. I saw her reciprocate the gesture before the high priest signaled for us to approach the center.
An aging woman standing beside her motioned for her to step forward. When she did, I did too until both of us met under the full moon’s light.
I couldn’t catch her expression clearly, but from the little glimpses of her eyes past the lace covering, she seemed determined to get this wedding over with.
Huh, the feeling is mutual, woman.
The high priest then made some gestures with his hand and started a rather lengthy verse about the union between an alpha and a luna, the union between a man and a woman, and the union between two people in love.
I almost cracked up on the last one. Let them think I married for that traitorous word.
He also went on telling the general public about the blessings of the Goddess, and how this union would be fruitful and harmonious.
I highly doubt it.
There was only one thing in my mind and it was the fulfillment of my father’s wish. If he wanted me wed and gain a queen, then he’d get it, but after the wedding and all these nonsensical activities related to the celebration, it would be on my terms. My decree. My word. My desires. No one will contest it.
The woman and I stood face to face all the while the high priest continued blabbering, but when it was time for the ritual, he motioned for us to hold hands.