By Douglas E. Gogerty
It was a dark and stormy night, and King Jonathan was pacing frantically in his bedchamber. He was waiting impatiently for the return of one of his most trusted subjects. He had been sending him around all day and it was getting quite late. With every passing minute, the king became more restless. He went to the window for another look. The king stifled a frustrated shout.
"Sire?" a voice inquired meekly.
"What news?" asked King Jonathan in a voice attempting to stifle his anxiousness.
"We have looked everywhere -- at least twice. She is no where to be found."
"The wedding is tomorrow!"
"So you have reminded us. However, she did state that should would never marry that man."
"So you think she ran away..."
"Her betrothed is three times her age."
"He is only forty-two. You make him sound ancient."
"You arranged to marry her off to someone who was 7 years older than you -- her father."
"I understand that a fourteen year old girl would be too young to understand the benefits of this union. However, someone was supposed to be watching her."
"Princess Angelina ordered to be left alone when she went to the bathroom. There are no exits, so we did not post double guards at the door. Perhaps that was an oversight on our behalf. She must have simply slipped past her guardian."
"You are being kind to the woman. Should we hire a great detective from England to deduce how she managed to get out of that locked room?"
"No sire. The guardian has been thoroughly interrogated. Bribery is apparent."
"But we do not know who or why?"
"That is correct. The tracks are well covered."
"And it is your contention to make me believe that a teenager of fourteen bribed her guardian to escape, snuck through this entire complex alone and undetected, made her way to the garage, stole a suncar, and just drove away."
"I am flattered that you think my little girl is so resourceful."
"She is very intelligent and wise for her age."
"You forgot headstrong."
"I would never..."
"Of course not. In any event, which suncar is gone?"
"Number 135 sire."
"The newest one. The one we had not put the tracker on yet. Whoever did this is quite smart indeed."
"As you will sire. What are your orders?"
"Have King Thorbjorn meet me in the reception room in half an hour, and have the trackers look for traces on which direction my daughter and her abductors have headed."
King Jonathan had spent the entire day in his bed clothes. He directed the search with his subordinates from the early hours of the day, but to no effect. His daughter was not going to be retrieved in time to be wed to King Thorbjorn of Lakeland. The agreement the two men had made would have to wait. Nevertheless, the groom must be informed of the situation. This could only be done by the king and face to face.
However, to meet with his fellow king, he would have to be made presentable. He put on a pair of charcoal-gray pinstriped pants and a dark purple shirt. Over the shirt, he put on a vest and jacket that matched his pants. Over the suit he put on a purple ermine cape. He topped off the ensemble with his jewel encrusted crown.
He went down the 17 floors of the living quarters tower. At the lowest floor, he walked the long and twisting hallways to the back of the reception room. King Thorbjorn was there waiting.
"I am sorry to keep you waiting King Thorbjorn," began King Jonathan with a warm handshake.
"It must be very important to arouse me at this hour," replied the other king.
"It is about my daughter."
"What?" asked King Thorbjorn. "Is everything all right?"
"I wish I could say that it was, but I cannot."
"My daughter has disappeared."
"We are not sure what happened, but we are looking into it."
"That is a convenient excuse to avoid this wedding ceremony."
"I assure you my good friend that this is no game and not an attempt at supplying an excuse for delay. She is gone. A suncar is missing, and we have made a thorough search of the grounds. She has not been found anywhere on the complex grounds."
"Perhaps the lovely thing does not wish to marry an old man like myself."
"There are many things that point to her being abducted rather than her just running away."
"Abducted? Have you received a ransom note?"
"We have not, but there are plenty of individuals who would be happy if this alliance falls through."
"That is certainly true."
"Never fear. We have trackers looking for clues to her whereabouts. This wedding will occur as soon as she is located."
"I am afraid that is not good enough," replied King Thorbjorn with a heavy sigh. "I went through a great deal of trouble to get here on this day, and I shall not wait around for you to track down the runaway bride. I have many things that need my attention."
"I am afraid that my mind is made up in this matter. I will follow through with my original wedding plans."
"I am sorry to hear that."
"As am I. Your daughter is by far the most beautiful woman in the land. Needless to say, that is not enough of a reason for me to delay a moment longer. I must return home and attend to my affairs."
"Princess Olivia is a fair maiden in her own right."
"She will be a barer of children which is a fine thing, but the future queen cannot compare to the lovely Angelina. However, I will make an offer that you may find appealing."
"What is it?"
"I will grant the treaty lands, which were to be given to you, as a wedding gift to your daughter if she marries my son Prince William."
"That is a very generous offer."
"I have an ulterior motive. There is a prophesy in my kingdom that claims a young prince who rescues the fairest maiden in the land will unite the kingdoms of Morica. I must let William determine if this is his destiny."
"If the four kingdoms of Morica were united, they would be a very powerful force indeed. I am not sure how I feel about such an outcome."
"Nevertheless, my son will be tasked with finding the princess. It will happen with or without your permission."
"We will do what we can to aid Prince William in his quest."