In the spring, for reasons unknown, I get a medieval thing in my head. It never lasts long enough for me to make anything of it. This story may have been the seed for my third novel, "From the Isles of Orion," which takes place in a future dystopian medieval world. As in, the world devolves into the medieval age after a major war or some kind of catastrophe. (That part is pretty vague.)
Yes, worlds. This was perhaps the biggest secret of leadership. While the general population thrived in ignorance, Jaia, as heir, knew about those from other worlds, other galaxies, who traded with them. On some worlds farming was no longer viable for those who had either destroyed their ground/earth or had covered it over with endless structures. Either way, it was an advantage for them.
Jaia was adept at covering over her knowledge. She had grown up with the dualistic life, ever remembering to change her stance and language for the locals and then back again when in the privacy of her home.
She lived with only a father. Her mother having died of some local fungus for which there was no known cure at this time and place. That was the official story. Unofficially, her mother now lived a disease free life on another planet. They spoke from time to time. Her mother was happy. Jaia missed her a lot.
At 16 Jaia was expected to become engaged; had actually left it a bit late, according to local custom. She stood beside the window, holding an embroidery project and sighed. She itched. Under her clothing something had bit her. She sighed again. A pox on this ancient garb! Lucky Mum dressed in something bacteria and disease resistant on a clean planet. Jaia thought about cursing her life and then stopped. It was not wise to spread that sort of energy. She crossed herself and silently appealed for grace. She sighed again.
The door flew open. Standing in the doorway was her lady-in-waiting, Trista.
"What ho, Trista?" asked Jaia calmly.
"My lady! He has arrived!" Trista's eyes were wide. She gasped audibly.
She's been at the dried cherries again, Jaia thought. "Who's arrived?"
"I have an intended?"
"You jest! Let not the Lord Darca hear you!"
"He shan't hear me if you do your job and keep him from my private chambers."
Trista quickly closed the door behind her and came up to her, putting her face so close to hers she could see the blackheads on her nose.
"My lady, I am as silent as the night."
"Without owls, I presume?"
"You must attend. The Lord Darca is here and he will wish to see you."
"I believe I can countenance that wish."
"Come! I will help you prepare."
"Prepare? Is he so dangerous?"
"You can't be presented to him in your common dress."
"Why not? He will become accustomed to it soon enough if we wed."
"If? How can you not accept him? If you wait much longer you will acquire the status of dowager and then none will have you."
"Trista, you may be astounded to learn that I am not interested in being had."
Trista stood shocked into silence.
Jaia sighed. "But if it will bring you happiness, let us prepare for this unknown lord."
"Thank you, miss. Else I would have had to send a disappointing message to your father."
"Oh? And would he dress me?"
Trista relapsed into her shocked pose.
"Never mind. Let's be dressing, shall we?"
As she dressed, Jaia thought about the hounds and her hunting horse. She'd much rather be racing through the countryside. She didn't particularly care for fox hunting. It merely gave her an excuse to pursue an normally unladylike penchant for galloping through the landscape. A good run would relax her. But then Lord Darca would have to wait and that was unacceptable.
She wished her father had remembered to alert her to this new suitor. Perhaps he had grown tired of her exacting standards. Perhaps there was some reason she needed to be betrothed right now. Perhaps ... well, useless to speculate. Best to get dressed and get it over with so she could be enlightened as to her father's purpose.