The Curse of 13: a 12 princes retelling part 2

Part 2

The castle was in an uproar preparing for the crowning ceremony for the eldest prince. After years of putting off this important occasion, the eldest Prince Johannes finally agreed to take his rightful place as the official heir of the Rabenreich. 

“I hate all this pomp and circumstance.” Johannes complained to his mother as she approved the tailor’s fitting of his new suit. 

“I know, Bärchen” Queen Maya smoothed her oldest boy’s hair. “But this is so important to the Kingdom. You will be their King one day. They need to see you! Besides, you’re all grown up now, and so handsome.” Maya bent her son’t head down to kiss his forehead.  “Do this for me?”

“How can I argue with that?” Johannes sighed and looked into the mirror. “Alright Mother, I’ll do it. I’ll do it for you and little Franz.” The thought of his youngest brother brightened him considerably and he managed to smile despite the uncomfortable stiffness of his new suit.

It took several months of preparation, but the Crown Prince’s Ceremony finally arrived. Invitations had been sent far and wide, and many positive responses were received in return. Nobels from across their Kingdom, and dignitaries from around the world arrived in the weeks leading up to the big event, crowding the main castle and surrounding lodgings. Everyone who was anyone wanted to see the Rabenreich’s famously large and prosperous family.  

The ceremony went on without a hitch. Johannes was striking in his new suit, and looked esteemed in the heir’s crown. He recited his vows to honor, protect, and serve his kingdom perfectly, and impressed foreign dignitaries and local nobles alike. 

“Is that really the Queen? She looks radiant! How is that possible at her age? With that many children?”

“That’s what having a witch for your mother will do for you.”

“Do you think the princes are really, you know, princes? I heard her mother made a pact with the devil…”

The Queen entered the celebratory banquet on Crown Prince Johannes’s arm with her head held high and her large belly sticking out. She was used to the whispers by now, and had long since learned to ignore them. She wouldn’t allow such petty rumors to ruin her son’s special day. From her place at the head table, she could see all her boys eating and chatting happily together. She looked at her loving husband to her right, and felt the baby in her belly kick. Everything was perfect. Her family were all happy and healthy, her kingdom safe and prosperous, her husband as gentle and attentive as the day they met. 

Of course, it was all too good to last.

The party went dark as the wizard made his entrance. He had become dark and gaunt since the days Maya had known him, but his flare for the dramatic made him unmistakable.  A hush fell over the hall as he made his way to the high table. 

“My dear Maya”, he growled. “Or, should I say Queen Maya.” he added, giving a deep mocking bow. “You are as beautiful as they way you left me.”

“Raol.” The Queen replied with as much ice as she could muster. “To what do we owe the pleasure?”

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