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In case you’re not familiar with #RainbowSnippets, check out their Facebook Group where you’ll find a new post each Saturday (or early Friday, depending on your time zone). That weekly pinned post will collect comments from authors linking to their 6-ish-line Rainbow Snippet post for the week.
I’ve been snipping from my novelette (novella?) WiP, Luck of the Draw (M/M Light Fantasy). This week’s snippet is the final lines from chapter 1.
For those of you interested in looking back at what’s come before this week’s snip, I’ve got the entirety of chapter 1 behind the spoiler tag now, including bits not included in the weekly snippets. It’s not edited yet, so please squint as needed.
It’s all from Obren’s 3rd-Person POV:
Luck of the Draw
by: Addison Albright
Chapter 1: Drawing Straws
Obren, a prince of Canna, had drawn straws many times in the past, but never had the stakes been so high. This time it was not about who would go first or last either in childhood games of years gone by, or in sexual liaisons from more recent years. It was not about who would help pitch the army tents versus dig the holes for the latrine. Or fill them in, later, when breaking camp.
This time, the rest of his life was at stake. Not life or death, itself, but the direction his life would follow, and its potential to bring him happiness.
Obren’s stomach twisted into a knot as his father, King Rogan of Canna, offered his closed fist. Obren drew in a deep breath, understanding, to the marrow of his bones, that any plea to avoid this choice was pointless. A straw must be drawn, and as the older of the two brothers, he would draw first.
Not that the order of drawing mattered. Whether or not he drew the short straw would be down to luck. The luck of the draw would decide his life’s path. His hand twitched as he checked a nervous impulse to smooth down his already neatly styled blond hair.
Treaties had been signed, and a complete series of intermarriages between the realms would solidify their fledgling peace. The three realms had agreed on this course of action.
Obren closed his eyes, shut out the sounds of his father’s heavy breathing, and focused on preventing the quiver building in his gut from reaching his hand as he lifted it. He paused and opened his eyes. Was there any possible stratagem he could employ to boost his chances?
“Just pick one,” Lale hissed. “Let’s get this over with.” Lale, being Obren’s younger brother, was as invested in the outcome as was Obren.
The royal families of the three realms each had four unmarried children of marriageable age. Or rather, they had four surviving unmarried children. Among the war casualties in the three realms were two of the princes—including Obren’s beloved eldest brother, Pejo, the former crown prince of Canna—and the husbands of two of the princesses.
But for those remaining, each realm would make two pairs of alliances through marriage with each of the other two realms.
It was a perfect diplomatic solution.
While the realms of Canna and Pretin each had two unmarried sons and two daughters of suitable age, the realm of Butari complicated matters. They had three sons and one daughter.
As luck—bad luck in Obren’s not-so-humble opinion—would have it. King Rogan had lost a roll of the dice to decide whether Canna or Pretin would provide a son to marry one of the Princes of Butari.
Although the pairings were yet to be decided for the participants of the upcoming mass wedding ceremony, King Rogan was permitted to choose which of his two remaining sons would marry traditionally, and which would set a new precedent in the three realms.
Obren swallowed, squared his shoulders, and snatched one of the two straws sticking up from of Father’s fist. He stepped back and stared at the stick, but it gave him no information.
No useful information, anyway. Length could be both absolute and relative. He could see that the absolute length of his straw was about six knuckles long. But it was the length relative to the straw remaining in Father’s hand that would give the answer.
Lale strode swiftly forward and grabbed the remaining straw. The brothers stood staring at one another for ten solid beats before slowly raising their hands to compare straws.
Obren stared blankly at the two straws, but it was the slow grin spreading across Lale’s face that came into focus first. Lale held the longer of the two straws.
Heat suffused Obren’s face as he snapped his straw in half and let the two pieces drop to the floor.
“Enough of that.” The king used his regal tone, usually reserved for court. “You will do your duty, and you will do it without displays that should have been left behind when you graduated out of the nursery.”
Obren clenched his jaw. He shouldn’t say anything more, but his mouth ran on unheeded. “I’m older. It wouldn’t have been out of order for you to have decided based upon our ages.”
“Your sisters are older still. You’re not even the spare, let alone the heir. You don’t matter.”
Lale snorted, and Obren shot a glare in his direction. But Lale was looking at their father with an unwise look of disgust. The snort hadn’t been directed at Obren; it had been in response to Father’s unkind remark about both of their worth.
Obren softened his expression, and when Lale returned his gaze to Obren, Lale swallowed, and said, “Obren’s right. Neither of us wants this, of course, but it should be me.”
The two brothers had never been the best of friends. Their personalities didn’t align well for that. But they’d always felt the bond of brotherhood, and here, Lale probably felt a sense of duty to repay Obren for saving his life amidst a fierce battle in the final year of the war.
Obren wasn’t entirely sure if his conscience would have allowed him to let Lale take this burden upon himself after winning the draw, but that option wasn’t on the table.
“Nonsense. The selection was fairly made,” the king said with a glare of his own directed at Obren. “I expect you to behave like a rational adult at both the reunion dinner this evening and the ball tomorrow night.”
Obren held in his retort and gave a curt nod before turning on his heel and striding, with as much dignity as he could muster, from the room.
Anger roiled through his belly as he raced through the castle hallways to his suite of rooms. His footsteps clicked on the stone floor and echoed through the empty passages. A lingering whiff of the sausages they’d eaten at breakfast still hung in the air.
Father preferred Lale. Had done since Obren had been a schoolboy. In fact, Obren wouldn’t be surprised to learn if Father had somehow manipulated the straws to ensure Obren picked the shorter of the two.
Father had never forgiven him for his mother’s death. As if Obren had deliberately caught the jumping spotty fever. He certainly hadn’t been aware enough during the height of his illness to influence his mother to stay away from him. She’d nursed him, as a loving mother would do, and she’d become ill herself, succumbing to the disease whereas Obren had recovered.
Once in his suite, he flopped face down onto the bed and screamed into his pillow.
This week’s snippet follows immediately after last week’s.
Obren’s 3rd-person POV
Here are a couple of images I’ve come up with to go with my snippets that may or may not have anything to do with the eventual cover concept.
Here’s an early draft of the blurb that’s still very subject to change (I’m going to try to tighten it up a bit more), along with a haiku and limerick that’s finally be updated so the last line fits the rhyme pattern…kinda.
Drawing the short straw is bad luck…isn’t it?
Prince Obren of Canna and Prince Dukan of Butari fought nobly in the years-long war between three neighboring realms, and both are willing to do whatever it takes to finalize the treaty ending the conflict that took the lives of their loved ones…Obren’s brother and Dukan’s lover.
A treaty between the three realms calls for a mass wedding amongst their eligible princes and princesses to solidify the peace. But, there’s a slight out-of-balance, and one of the marriages must be between two of the princes. Obren draws the short straw sealing his fate, and Dukan volunteers to be the other half of the untraditional marriage.
Obren and Dukan each harbor a dark secret, and King Rogan of Canna has long nurtured a deep hatred of Obren, blaming him for bringing home the deadly virus responsible for the untimely death of his much-adored wife. Dukan and Obren can’t deny their chemistry, but can they overcome the ugly truths complicating their path to a friendly, respectful, and—dare they hope—loving relationship? Will King Rogan stop at nothing to dash Obren’s chance at happiness, or does that short straw represent good luck, after all.
Obren had to draw
a straw to decide his fate.
He drew the short one.
There once was a prince from Canna.
Draw a straw? He just didn’t wanna!
But choose one he must,
and now he must trust,
their hopes won’t be dashed by the drama.