Ch. 10.3 In the Throne Room:
Hidden behind the tapestry in the throne room, Eli devoured a ham and cheese pastry as he listened to a conversation between the king, his advisors, and Master Pinkwell, the ambassador from Saltonia.
The ambassador cleared his throat and adjusted his bright purple tie. “Sire, it has come to our attention that Prince Ezra’s name day gifts have left our kingdoms in a quandary. According to the witch, Bernice, the prince will be wounded by a sword and fall into an enchanted sleep that can only be broken by a kiss from a fair maiden who is also his true love.”
King Frances scowled at the ambassador. “I fail to see the problem. Prince Ezra is under contract to marry Princess Janine Esmerelda. So, your princess will kiss Ezra, wake him up, and then marry him.”
Master Pinkwell cleared his throat again. “Unfortunately, when Wizard Colin got to the royal cradle to bestow his gift on Janine’s name day, he sneezed all over the princess. She is now covered in warts and is quite ugly.”
Madam Wingall, the Royal Matchmaker, shook her head. “Sire, what he means is that the witch specifically said that a fair maiden would wake the prince.”
The ambassador looked properly mournful. “If you cancel the betrothal agreement, you risk war with Saltonia. His Majesty was adamant about it.”
King Frances raised his eyebrows. “Meaning, no one will want to marry an ugly princess, and he wants to make sure I don’t try to get out of the contract.” He groaned. “Why do these name day gifts always seem to go wrong?”
“Too true, Sire,” Master Pinkwell said. “The rumor is that the wizard had been doing an experiment with toads earlier in the day. Colin and the witch, Bernice, vanished right after the spectacle. Needless to say, the king and queen of Saltonia have put a price on Colin’s head.”
The king sighed. “Does anyone know where Colin and Bernice are hiding?”
None of them knew, and Eli was relieved. Even if his friends had blown it, he didn’t want them to lose their lives.
“So, what are we going to do?” asked Master Pinkwell.
Eli brushed the crumbs from his jacket, left them talking, and made his way through the secret passageways towards his bedroom. He was half way there when an awful idea occurred to him. If Father had already contracted a wife for baby Ezra, then who had his father lined up for him?