The carriage bounced along the rocky trail as the royal entourage made their way toward the city. It had been a long journey since they left the castle, nearly a week including breaks for rest and food. For Erin it had been both the shortest and the longest week of her life. She sat within the carriage across from her father, King William Breckenridge of Natel. A frown was planted firmly on her face as she glared out the window of the carriage at the countryside. Her father followed her gaze, a gentle smile on his face as he said, “It’s a beautiful country, isn’t it? I always enjoy visiting Arx in the summer.” Her gaze flickered to her father’s face then away again as she looked to the carriage roof. She crossed her arms and leaned back in her seat with a huff. “Erin, don’t’ be so stubborn,” William chided her, frowning now, “You’ve been sulking ever since we left.” Erin said nothing. Silence was her way of punishing him for dragging her along on this venture. Not that it had been easy to keep herself from speaking for this long. She was almost proud of herself for sticking with it for so long. Unfortunately it did not change her situation. William sighed as he rubbed his temples, “By all the…Erin, you’re being ridiculous. This is a good opportunity for you to meet someone your own age. I thought you’d be excited to have a friend to play with. I’m sure you two will hit it off right away.” Adults always thought that way, Erin thought as she rolled her eyes at the comment. Whenever she was allowed to meet with other people her own age, her father always expected her to befriend them immediately, despite the fact that they were always rude and spoiled brats. She never had anything in common with the ruffians. There was only one reason he kept insisting this one would be different. William studied her and then glanced out the carriage. “We’re getting very close now,” he said as he looked back to his daughter with the sternest expression he could muster, “Erin, please tell me what’s wrong. Why are you so against meeting Solomon?” Erin could take no more. She turned her glare on her father and sat up to voice her accusation, “Advisor Rukin told me that I was b…betrothed to him and what it meant.” Her father seemed surprised by her response, “What? Is that all?” “All?” Erin repeated, as she uncrossed her arms and made her hands into fists on her lap, “He said that means we’re going to be married! I don’t want to get married to some stupid boy I’ve never met! You didn’t even ask me about it.” William began to laugh, a deep but soft chuckle that had always managed to bring Erin a smile when she heard it. That was whenever she wasn’t enraged. He slid forward in his seat and reached across the carriage to ruffle his daughter’s snowy white hair, “You needn’t worry about any of that, my little dove. You’re not getting married any time soon.” Erin pulled away, smoothing her hair while her glare softened into a look of confusion, “But Advisor Rukin said I was betrothed.” “You are.” “Doesn’t that mean getting married?” “Not immediately,” William replied, “You have many years ahead of you before you need to worry about marriage, my darling.” “But I thought that’s why we were coming,” she said, “Why else would we be here?” “I wanted you to meet him. That is all, I promise,” her father chuckled again, obviously relieved to see her speaking again, “You’ll understand more when you’re older. But now we must focus on the present. This is a very important meeting for both of us. I need you to be on your best behavior.” Erin nodded averting her gaze, “Yes, father, I’m sorry.” “It was a misunderstanding. What’s important now is that you remember to ask me about things like this in the future rather than jumping to conclusions,” William said as he glanced out the window, “Now sit up properly. We’ll be arriving soon.” Erin obeyed, straightening the skirt of her dress as she did so. At least this day wasn’t going to be as bad as she originally thought. She still had to meet this boy, but she wasn’t getting married. If that happened, she’d never have been rid of him. One afternoon she could handle. Maybe it would even be an enjoyable afternoon. She looked out the window as the castle came into view. It looked like she would find out soon whether she wanted to or not.