Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the princess had to marry the conqueror. Her father had died in a glorious battle, and the conqueror, who did not want any more unsettling or upsetting events in his new acquisition, decided to gain power in a legal way. The princess, who was young and beautiful and had eyes like lakes in November, was informed that she would be marrying soon (or lose her head).
Her brother and younger sister were killed, to make matters more simple. Without rivals, the conqueror felt more at ease in pursuing his heart's desire. His servants started preparing everything for the big day. They studied the laws and rites of the people they had defeated, to make the bond understandable to everyone. The princess remained in her rooms, silent.
The conqueror, who now called himself king of the land, spent mountains of gold to impress his new bride. He sent people out to bring him the most exquisite diamonds, emeralds and and pearls. Seamstresses were invited to measure the princess. They were given the most precious cloth and thread, and within short time they presented a dress that befitted a princess and soon-to-be queen of a huge kingdom.
The princess was isolated in her rooms, up in the highest tower of the castle, with no one to talk to. Not waiting to be rescued, she spent her days busy with preparations. For the young woman, beautiful and fragile as she was, possessed magic powers, which made her the natural heir of the land and ruler of her people. Every night, she would be busy with her own special rites, of which hardly anyone knew, because whoever had witnessed them did not live to tell the tale. If anyone had cared to look out for her, he might have seen her, in moonless nights (for it was dark and cold these nights, close to midwinter, a very powerful time of the year), standing on the top of the tower wearing nothing but her long black hair and a look of determination on her face. Some nights she would dance, some nights she would pray, and some nights she would simply stand there and look out for someone no one could see but her. In the early morning hours, strange sounds would come from her room, voices speaking in languages no man on earth could understand, but no one was there to listen, and so this, too, remained the princess' secret.
The day of the wedding arrived, and the king said his vows. The princess answered with the appropriate words, which she had been taught beforehand. She looked beautiful and feminine, wrapped in ivory silk and almost staggering under all the heavy jewelery that had been her wedding gift. Everyone agreed that she was the most sparkling decoration of them all.
The princess obeyed her husband in every way and was a true and faithful wife. She accompanied him wherever he went, helped him establish his reign and explained everything she felt he needed to know about his people. And every night she would come into his bed and fulfill his other, deeper, darker desires.
The moons went by, and soon the queen was pregnant. And while she seemed to grow and bloom and gain power and beauty, her husband began to fade away. His hair had turned gray, and he had deep creases crossing his handsome face. Sometimes he would sit on his throne and stare out of the window instead of listening to his advisors, and he lost track of his political business. He died shortly after this, on midsummer, exactly half a year after marrying the foreign princess who promised to rule the country and preserve it for their unborn child.
And she went ahead and made her own preparations. She carefully chose her own counsel, men and women she trusted and honored and who worshipped her beauty, royalty and wisdom. She declared that, in case anything should happen to her (for they were dark ages, where medical practice was mostly misunderstood and physicians knew nothing about causes for infections or the dangers of blood loss), the counsel was to rule the country until her child came of age.
And the night of the birth arrived, and in the early morning hours, just as the child uttered its first cry, the queen died. Her son was strong and dark and looked at the world with knowing eyes that held too much wisdom. The midwife flew as soon as she could, for she suspected foul play, but somehow she got lost on her way back to her village and disappeared.
Everyone mourned the passing of their queen, who despite her young age had been a wise and just woman, and pledged loyalty to the newborn prince on the day of her funeral. Her beautiful body was presented in a casket made out of glass, decorated just the way she had been on her wedding day, and she looked peaceful and satisfied.
Her child sat on a cushion, on the deceased king's throne, and watched the world silently. He would rule the country according to his father's plans.