Efren’s mind raced as he led his people up the steps to the open castle doors. Everything had changed. The news was…well…clearly bad. Death of an innocent was nothing to celebrate.
Yet, in a pragmatic rather than emotional light, the news had lifted a huge weight from Efren’s shoulders. The peace treaty’s contingency plan painted a far rosier future both for himself, personally, and in the large scheme of things for all of Zioneven.
He was saddened by Marcela’s unexpected passing even as the analytical side of his brain sighed in relief—while simultaneously chiding himself for the selfishness of that reflexive reaction.
Regardless, practicality pushed to the forefront. He had no doubt, knowing what he did of Queen Giselle’s nature, that she would also prefer to finalize the peace treaty on schedule. He’d traveled a great distance over several weeks to be here for his wedding tomorrow. Once his choice under the contingency plan was announced, there would be no sensible reason not to proceed with the wedding, albeit with a considerable role change.
He also had no doubt that the announcement of his choice would shock the Sheburat nobles to their core. The Zioneven court had submitted the wording for the marriage portion of the treaty’s contingency plan. One word in particular had been pointedly slipped in to allow them flexibility, all the while knowing the Sheburat nobles would never suspect the purpose behind that innocuous word.
Efren’s one worry was in regard to the reaction of Prince Marcelo, Princess Marcela’s younger twin brother. Efren had no doubt Marcelo’s astonishment would eclipse that of pretty much everyone else in Sheburat. But would that jolt morph into revulsion or interest?