The Queen was pregnant again. It had been several years since the youngest prince had been born, and the Queen was in her 43rd year of life, so the news of a 13th child was a surprise to the royal family and the kingdom.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a princess this time?” The Queen mused to her husband one afternoon as they sat in their family quarters
“A princess, you say?” Replied the King.
“Yes. Mother believes I’ll bear a girl this time, and she is never wrong.”
“A daughter?” The King said in wonder. “A daughter! Yes! A little girl, as wise and beautiful as her mother, would be a blessing to this kingdom.”
They barely had time to smile at one another when their private musings were interrupted, as they often were, by a group of their sons. The eldest, a young man who had just turned 20, led his youngest 3 brothers and archery pupils into the family’s chambers.
“Did I hear you say we should have a little sister?” The eldest prince, Johannes asked, clasping his father on the shoulder in a way of greeting and kissing his mother on the cheek.
“Yes, you heard rightly. Do you disagree?”
“Disagree? To a sister? Surely not! This family could use some more feminine grace, and I could use the practice in caring for a girl.”
“Practice? Do you use your brothers as caretaking practice?” The Queen asked while accepting a double kissing greeting from her youngest set of twins.
“Of course! What else are bothers for?” The Johaness laughed and tostled the hair of the boys, as they now stood in reach.
Squabbling broke out among the 9 year old twins and their older brother, as the door opened once more to admit another cluster of royal lads.
“Perhaps a little girl would be a calming influence on this lot!” The King laughed and their quiet afternoon dissolved into cheerful chaos.
The Twelve Princes of Rabenreich were famous far and wide. As their brood grew, so did their notoriety, until nearly everyone worldwide knew the story of King Barnim and the impressively prolific Queen Maya. It was said that the Queen was once engaged to another man, before she met the Barnim- who was then but a minor prince of the kingdom. They whispered that Maya’s mother Odine, a witch and seer, knew he would one day be king and sire a line of great rulers. They believed that she cast a spell to make the young couple fall in love, to ensure her vision came to pass. Whether by luck or Odine’s magic, Barnim did become king shortly after the two had wed. This only confirmed the nobles’ speculation. Further confirmation came with each Prince’s birth. After all, what woman could bear so many healthy boys by nature alone?
The announcement of a 13th child to be born to the Rabenreich dynasty spread faster than a raven’s wings. Thirteen, after all, is a powerful number. With ancient ties to magic both good and evil, there was no doubt this child would have a pivotal fate.
In a stony tower in a neighboring Kingdom, that fate was being written as a form of revenge.
PART 2 HERE