Borkhan Empire Territory
June 21, 2687
The Emperor of the Borkhan Empire, the Director of the Civan Federation, along with Crown Prince Viggo, the Empire's heir to the throne, were having a very spirited live stream. They were hashing out details of the treaty they were going to be signing in six days. The Federation and Empire were now going to be allies.
While discussing the tribute price each were to pay to the other as part of the terms of the alliance treaty, the Emperor asked,
“Director, what guarantee can you give me and my heir that, if we were to be attacked by some other Federation or Empire, that your warriors would come to our aid? What guarantees can you give me?”
The Director thought for a minute.
“Besides my word, that's all I can give you. Let me ask you this, Your Majesty. What guarantee can YOU give ME if MY Federation, MY warriors, were attacked?
”What guarantee do you give me that you will come to my Federation's aid if we're ever attacked? What guarantee can you give me?“
”Besides my word as your ally, that's all I can give you, just like you said you can give me.“, the Emperor replied.
”I have an idea. I've done some research, Director. You have a daughter, 6 daughters actually. Five of them are married, but you have one unmarried daughter. I have three other siblings. I have two sisters, who are married, and one brother, my brother Bjorn, who is a widower.
“If you would approve, Your Majesty, what do you suggest we offer Bjorn to the Civans, and the Director, in return, offers his daughter to Bjorn, in marriage? I'm talking about an arranged marriage, yes, but if we were attacked, the Civans would want to defend us rather than risk the life of their Director's daughter, who would be your son's wife.
”Conversely, if they were attacked, we would want to assist them knowing that the Director's daughter is a member of our family. Neither side doing so would risk the alliance. What do you suggest Sir?“
. The Emperor thought it over, as did the Director, and they both agreed to the marriage.
”You're right, Your Highness. I have six daughters. Five are very beautiful, very stunning, gorgeous daughters. My youngest, however, is rather average-looking, ordinary, plain, homely, but would be a good wife to your son, your Majesty.
“She's not very beautiful, like I said, she's rather plain and homely. She's not ugly, but she's definitely plain. Nothing at all like my other daughters. The poor girl will never find a husband based on her looks.
“I'm more than willing to give her hand in marriage to your son if you would be agreeable to it. What do you say?”, replied the Director.
“That's an excellent idea! We'll have the marriage take place right before we sign the treaty.”, the Emperor said.
The stream ended a few minutes later.
“Father, may I tell Bjorn about his marriage? I feel like I'm throwing him into a den of wolves. He's less than 6 days away from his life changing forever with an arranged, loveless marriage to a complete stranger. He's got no say-so in it whatsoever. I wouldn't want to do this to any of my kids.
”Despite what he'll think, he'll be happier. It's been five years already since Khalee died. Bjorn needs to move on with his life. Whether he's ready to or not, he needs to move on.
“This marriage, although arranged and loveless, will help him, as well as help the alliance between the Empire and the Civans.“, he said.
“This is one of the difficult parts of being Emperor, Viggo. It's one of the parts of the job I truly dislike. There are decisions you have to make, painful decisions, for the people you love, decisions you have to make for people's lives, that you don't want to have to make.
”You sometimes have to ignore the feelings of the ones you love. You have to choose the Empire over their feelings and desires, as in this situation for Bjorn, as well as your own. It's just what you have to do sometimes for the Empire.
”Go ahead and talk to him. Bjorn will be upset and probably won't want to do it, but I know he'll be loyal to the Empire. He'll do what we want him to do. I just hope the young lady goes along with the Director. Like Bjorn, though, she has no choice at all in the matter. Go ahead and tell him what's going on.”, the Emperor said.
“I'm WHAT? WHAT did you say? I'm WHAT?”, Bjorn shouted, in a complete state of shock.
“You're getting married in six days to the youngest daughter of the Director of the Civan Federation.”, Viggo said, trying to calm his brother down.
“Viggo, why am I having to marry a woman I don't even know?”, Bjorn asked.
“It's politics, Bjorn. I'm so sorry. I was thinking it'd be best for the Empire. It's best for you too, in the long run, to be married. It'll add more prestige for you in your new post.
”This marriage will help the Empire. It will strengthen the new alliance between the Civans and our Empire.“, Viggo said.
”Do I have any say-so in this? Does she?“, he asked.
”No...no you don't, and neither does she. We have to do something to make sure this alliance stays strong for decades, even centuries, as long as possible.
“It was the only way to assure both Father and the Director that we'll be there for them, and they'll be there for us, if either was attacked. It was the only way to assure each side.
”There was no other way to assure them both besides giving just their word. Neither was willing to accept that. It was either this, or the alliance failed before the treaty was even signed.
“Besides, you'll be happier. It's been five years already since Khalee died. It's time you moved on.”, Viggo said.
“I'm not ready yet, Viggo! It's too soon!”, Bjorn replied.
”Whether you're ready to or not, you need to move on with your life. Bjorn, this marriage, although arranged and loveless, will help you do that, as well as helping to cement the alliance between the Empire and the Civans.”, Viggo replied.
“You don't understand, Viggo. I wake up every morning, and go to bed every night, alone, without the woman I love laying next to me.
”I miss Khalee's warmth, her laugh, her smile, her caresses, her kisses. I miss Khalee. How can marrying this woman, a total stranger whom I don't even know or love, help me to move on?”, Bjorn asked.
“You'll have someone to wake up to once again. You'll have all those things you miss about Khalee.”, Viggo said.
“But I won't have Khalee. And I won't have my kids.”, Bjorn replied.
“No. I'm sorry, Bjorn. We both know that can't happen. As much as we want to, we can't bring her back, nor can we bring your children back.”, Viggo said comfortingly.
His heart truly ached for his brother. Losing your wife and young children at 23 is not something anyone, not even fierce brutal warriors like Borkhans, would wish on even their worst enemy much less their beloved brother.
“So tell me about this woman. What do you know about her?”, Bjorn asked.
“She's 22. The Director said she's not very beautiful, not at all gorgeous or stunning, just very plain, ordinary, homely, and average, but that she'd be a very good wife to you. I know you'll be a great husband to her too.”, he said.
”This just isn't right. We're just being used as political pawns, Viggo. All everyone cares about is making sure this new alliance goes through, making sure nothing stops it. Meanwhile, you're all playing with this girl's life, and with mine as well!“, Bjorn said.
”Bjorn, are you dating anyone at the moment?“, Viggo asked.
”No. I haven't dated since Khalee, and have no interest in dating. You know that, Viggo.”, Bjorn said.
“Well, then you're available. This girl's available as well. This isn't me, your brother, asking you, Bjorn.
”It's both your Emperor and Crown Prince telling you it's what you need to do for the Empire, and it's what you're going to do for the Empire.
“Personally I'd never want to do this to my own children. I'd want them to be able to have at least a few days to think about it. I don't like that you and she aren't having any time to think it over, that you two have no say-so whatsoever. I told Father and the Director my feelings on this part of it. It did no good.
“When I suggested it, I thought they would at least give you two a chance to agree to it or disagree with it. I knew the treaty signing was in a few days, but I thought maybe they'd give you and her the chance to meet, even via live stream, get to know each other for a few days, and have the right to decide if you wanted to go along with it.
“Of course if you two don't go along with it, the alliance is broken before it even starts, and then we have more problems.
”You have to marry her, just like she has to marry you.“, Viggo replied.
”So...you want me to agree to an arranged marriage, a loveless marriage, to a woman I don't know or love, and she has to agree to marry me, even though she doesn't know or love me?“, Bjorn asked.
”Over the years, you two will grow to love each other. I'm sure of it.“, Viggo replied.
”What's her name?“, he asked.
”Chiara. That's all I know. There aren't any pictures of her anywhere. Apparently they keep her hidden for some unknown reason.
“The only thing I do know about her, other than her name and what the Director said about her, is that she's spoken of as being kind, very shy, and demure.
“She'll make a wonderful duchess. Anyway, they'll be here in six days. They'll be leaving Civa in an hour or two, once they have her all packed up, and will be on their way.”, Viggo replied.
“Will you be here to greet her with me, since you're the one who got me in this situation?”, Bjorn asked.
“Unfortunately no. I have a meeting with the Prime Minister that day, but I'll be there for the reception. I'm sorry Bjorn. Had I realized they weren't going to give you and Chiara the chance to think it over, or given any say-so in it, I never would've suggested it.”, Viggo said.
“It's alright. You were just doing your job. You did what you thought was right for the Empire. I don't agree with the decision, but I don't have a choice in it, so I will agree to the marriage.
”I just hope that what you said about her being very plain and homely was simply the Director joking. And I hope what was said about her being kind is also the truth. I certainly don't feel like spending the rest of my life with a shrew I'm just meeting in a few days.”, he replied.
“Bjorn, for the record, this is not to be a marriage in name only. Our parents are expecting grandchildren to be born from this union. This is to be a real marriage, just in case you were thinking otherwise, which I'm pretty sure is what you have in mind.”, Viggo told him.
“Wonderful.”, Bjorn said sourly. “The last thing I want to do, besides marrying a complete stranger, is having to be intimate with her and having children by her.
”What kind of life will those children have, having parents who don't love or even like each other?”, he asked.
“Like I said, Bjorn, the two of you will grow to love each other. Give it time.”
Viggo smiled, then turned to leave.
“Viggo.”, Bjorn said. “I do have one request. As a wedding gift, I'd like my wife to be given the title of Princess.
”She'll be a duchess upon our marriage, but I want her to be given the title of Princess, and for her to be called Princess Chiara, not merely Duchess Chiara.”
“Only one born into the Imperial Family can be given the title of Princess. You know that, Bjorn.”, Viggo replied.
“Yes, but I still want my wife to be given the title. Khalee was given the title. Chiara deserves the same courtesy.”, he said.
“Alright, Bjorn. I'll talk to Father. I'll convince him, if necessary, to approve it. Besides, after what we're both putting you through with this alliance, honoring your one request is the least we can do.”, Viggo replied.
“Thank you.”, Bjorn said.
“You're welcome. It's going to be alright, Bjorn. This marriage will be good for you. It's time to heal and move on. It's what Khalee and your kids would want you to do.”, Viggo replied, giving his brother a reassuring hug.
Civan Federation Territory
The Director's daughter slumped back in her chair.
“Please tell me I didn't just hear what I heard.”, she said.
“It's true. We're going to get you all packed immediately. You're going to be marrying a prince. He's also a duke. You my dear are going to be a princess as well as a duchess.”, he told her.
“Father do you know what those Borkhans look like? They look like vicious savages! I'm so petite, Father. He'll hurt me. I know he will.”, she replied.
“I'm sure he's not going to hurt you. He'll be a very good husband. Chiara, you have to do this for the Federation, for the treaty to work. You have to. You have no choice in it, and neither does he.”, he told her.
“I have to leave my home, everyone I know, and go to a planet where I don't speak the language, marry a man I don't know and don't love, in order to save the Alliance?”
“Chiara, they speak Terran there as well. You'll probably have to learn Borkhan, and maybe he'll want to learn our language as well.
”We're leaving in the next two hours, since we have to get you all packed. I will be there, along with the delegation. Pick out your prettiest dress. It'll be your wedding gown. Make sure you put some nice flowers in your hair too. You want to look nice for him, you know.
“I know you usually wear makeup. It doesn't do any good, but I want you to put on makeup tomorrow anyway, along with some perfume.
”I want you to make this man happy. I know he will be wanting to make you happy as well. I have the Emperor's assurance that you'll be treated well.
“So go on now, child. Go get packed. Make sure you bring your prettiest dress, since it'll be what you'll wear for your wedding day. Now go help them finish packing. Once the servants have all your belongings, we'll be out of here. I want to leave within two hours.
”Say goodbye to your sisters. In six days you'll be a married woman. I'm finally able to get you married off to somebody.
“Just think, you're marrying a Prince! His name is Prince Bjorn. He's also known as the Duke of something or another.
”Technically he's a Prince because his father's the Emperor. He'll never be Emperor, but that's okay. Now get going. You've got to get packed. We're leaving in 2 hours.”, he replied.
“Please Father, don't make me marry this man. I hear they're big brutes. Please don't make me marry him. He'll hurt me.”
“Chiara, look at you. You're nothing like your sisters. Look at you, you're not the least bit beautiful. You're not gorgeous like your sisters. No man's ever going to want you. We tried to get you married off, to no avail.
”This man's willing to marry you, sight unseen, Chiara. He's maybe not totally willing to marry you, but he has to, just like you have to marry him.“, he said.
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