The news of King William’s death is sorrowful, but not a surprise. The king was old and his health had been waning ever since the death of his wife, Queen Genevieve. In truth, the young Crown Princess Odette was all that kept him in the world of the living–ensuring that the kingdom would be a good inheritance, and her a worthy ruler in turn.
No, the news of King William’s death was nothing Stuart hadn’t already prepared for, contingencies at the ready in order to help the kingdom transition between monarchs. What was startling and disheartening alike is the news that Crown Princess Odette is missing.
From the beginning, it did not bode well that the formal report came from Queen Uberta’s Chamberlain. But for all they are allies, Stuart has spies within their castle, and what trickles to his ears worrying. All of the royal guards are dead. It was Prince Derek who was present during King William’s dying breaths. Derek claims that King William said it was an animal attack. No sign of the Crown Princess.
Earlier that day, Crown Princess Odette had officially rejected the marriage proposal. She had despaired of it from the beginning, but she was finally of an age that her opinion held political weight.
Everything was suspicious, and it painted a very bleak picture.
Their kingdom is small, one of its borders is a river, wide and generous, and yet another is part of a wide bay full of ports. Their kingdom is fruitful both in agriculture and trade. The people are good, and they are ruled by a great family. But now that family is dead and missing. Killed and vanished in the the neighboring kingdom who has equal claim to their bountiful river and the other half of the bay.
The kingdom of a prince who Stuart has been informed is petty, spoiled, and shallow. A prince who had been scorned. The marriage had been considered as a way to unite the two kingdoms. A way for the entirety of the river delta and the bay to be controlled by only one nation.
Marriage is not the only way for two kingdoms to become one.
If he could, Stuart would declare war; or at the very least bring the matter up with the council. But he is not king, has no right to the throne. Nor would he want it.
Odette had been cherished by the kingdom. As much as the people respected King William, they had loved the Crown Princess. Had been eagerly awaiting the day she would be Queen. She was everything one could hope for in a good ruler; smart, kind, brave. Is. She is.
Stuart must believe she is alive. The alternative is chilling to consider. Until then, he continues to fulfill his duty to the kingdom.
But he cannot help the rage that grows with every additional tidbit of information he gains. Queen Uberta is holding a frankly unnerving number of parties for the nobles of her kingdom. Prince Derek has been seen practicing his archery and swordsmanship. Invitations to other princesses are being sent for some kind of ball.
As if that day was some minor mishap to be brushed away and forgotten, not the world-ending blow it really was. No King, no Crown Princess. Just a neighbor cultivating political and martial power, standing at their doorstep.
A/N: Kind of a mess, really, but hopefully understandable. Yes, this is Swan Princess fanfiction. I used to love that movie as a kid, but now whenever I see it all I can think of is BUT WHAT ABOUT THE POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS. IF I WERE FROM ODETTE’S KINGDOM I WOULD BE SO SUSPICIOUS. Like, seriously, their King and Crown Princess are killed/vanished the same day as a rejected marriage proposal? SO SKETCHY.
And the way Rothbart phrased some things made it seem like Odette was the only one in line for the throne. Hence, Stuart, the unimaginatively named steward of the kingdom who thinks his neighbors killed his ruling family and is preparing to invade/conquer.