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The king and queen called Ute and her Marines in Waiting to the Great Hall. "Ladies, we have some sad news to tell you. It appears that the entire civilized world... let's rephrase that, all the countries we've ever heard of... have allied against us with one demand, and one demand only: that Ute marry one of their princes. Any one of them, but if she doesn't choose one, they will destroy the kingdom, and Prince Sherman will take her by force."
There arose an angry ruckus as dozens upon dozens of sprited young women who were never taught to be seen and not heard all expressed their indignation at once. The King, the Queen, the men at arms couldn't quiet them. Ute had to ascend the podium to calm them down. "One at a time, Ladies, please!"
"I think... I think that I speak for all of us when I say... that we won't stand for this." said one of the Royal Elite Ladies in Waiting in a small voice, because she didn't like talking in front of crowds. She drew a breath, and said in a larger voice: "They might take dear sweet Ute. But only over our cold, dead bodies."
"Yeah!"
"Hear hear!"
"Right on!"
"You go!"
The Royal Marine Lady Corps in Waiting started tossing their helmets into the air and creating a generally unsafe situation, so Ute had to quiet them down again.
"My dear friends. My sisters. My beloved comrades in arms. I'm sorry, I cannot let you all perish because of me. I will choose a prince and marry him."
The hall fell silent. The Ladies in Waiting that hadn't lost their helmets yet put them on, so nobody could see them crying.
"Permission to speak, Ma'am." said the Lady Marine from before, her voice slightly muffled by her helmet.
"Yes, what is it, Idath?"
"With all respect, ma'am, it's our own lives we're choosing to lay down, ma'am. It's not on your orders, it's on the orders of our own..."
"Stop. Listen." interrupted Ute, before another riot could break out. "My life is my own too, and I'm choosing to spend the rest of it in matrimony. This is what I want, I've decided. Really. So just lay off. Prince Sherman is a fine man, and I will have breakfast with him in the royal garden tomorrow morning. If any of you kill him or do anything foolish like that, I will be very upset with you."
The Elite Ladies nodded sullenly, but didn't believe a word Ute said. The King and Queen wanted to believe her, and even they couldn't. Everyone retired for the night feeling powerless and cowardly. next->


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