The village was abuzz with excited chatter. Shopkeepers and customers all talked about the prospects of the day ahead; a truly joyous occasion for their otherwise sleepy community. After all, it wasn't every day that a member of the monarchy decided to pay a visit to the underprivileged part of the countryside.
Out of all the villagers, the ones who were the most excited about the royal visitor were the young single ladies. For the majority of them this was a chance, albeit a very slim one, to land themselves a suitor. They were aware someone of such elevated status would never settle for a commoner, but they had their hearts set on changing that. Every single girl between the age of fourteen and eighteen had spent the entire morning preparing for the visit, with a helping hand from their parents, who were determined to marry their daughters off to a royal, no matter the cost.
But the one that was probably the most anxious about the visit had to be Terri Bauer. At the ripe age of twenty-one, she had yet to find herself a husband, and had long been considered unfit to ever have a family by the other villagers. Everyone looked down on her, and she was determined to change that. Her parents had long passed, tragic victims of the bubonic plague, so she had no choice but to fend for herself. Nevertheless, she prepared herself as best as she could to impress that very special visitor.
Terri had finished cleaning the mud stains off her best dress when she heard the sound of hooves hitting the ground in the distance. She exited her hut in a haste and was confronted with a large crowd gathered in the square, watching as a horse-pulled chariot made its way through the dusty road. She couldn't see the monarch, only a hand poking through the chariot window waving at the cheering villagers.
She tried her best to squeeze through every other dweller and all the girls showing off their 'tracts of land', but it proved to be a harder task than expected. Halfway through her attempt to reach the front of the crowd, she was involuntarily pushed against a testy redhead in a tight dress that left very little to the imagination.
"Watch it, you tart!" she screeched and shoved Terri away, causing her to land face-first into a mud puddle.
As she heard the crowd erupt into laughter, Terri found herself unable to hold back the tears. She admitted defeat, not even bothering to push herself up. Who exactly was she trying to fool? If she couldn't even land herself a regular husband, what were the odds of her landing a wealthy one? She should just give up and settle for farming mud for the rest of her days.
"Halt! Wait just a minute!"
Terri's heart skipped a beat upon hearing that male voice. It was a voice she had never heard before, with a regal tone and a very distinct accent. When she lifted her head, her suspicions were confirmed: before her was the most well-dressed gentleman she had ever seen in her short and dull life, his handsome face like one taken from a fine work of art and his blond locks shimmering like gold under the sunlight.
"Fair maiden, are you quite alright?" he asked as he extended a hand towards her.
Terri felt herself smile and her heart pick up the pace as she took the beautiful gentleman's hand.
"I am now."
"You can't just leave!"
Tears streamed down Terri's face, from sadness and anger alike. She followed her husband around the small cottage as he collected his belongings, desperately attempting to make him reconsider his decision.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't do this anymore." He replied, his tone cold and emotionless.
"I can't believe this! How can you be so selfish?!" she sobbed, grasping his sleeve. "You promised you'd provide a better life for me! For us!"
"You think this is easy for me?!" he spat, yanking his arm away from her clutches. "Get your head out of the clouds, Terri!"
"Please, be reasonable! If not for me, at least for our son!"
She gestured towards the child in question, who had been witnessing the entire argument in shock, his expression one of pure despair.
"You can't change my mind." He contested, turning away from them as he slung the sack filled with his possessions over his shoulder. "I've had enough."
"Edward Francis Galahad…" she growled, her voice cracking as she stifled a sob. "If you walk out that door, you will be officially dead to me."
He glanced at her over his shoulder, giving her a look of utter despise. He opened the front door and walked out without taking a last glance at his wife and son.
"Daddy?" Terri's five-year-old son whimpered before running towards the door. "Daddy, don't go!"
"Dennis, don't!" Terri embraced her son right before he stepped out of the house.
Dennis tried his best to wiggle out of his mother's grasp, squirming and shouting as loud as his tiny lungs allowed him, but it soon proved to be a meaningless effort. He broke down and cried, clutching the fabric of his mother's clothes as he sobbed the pain away.
"There there, honey. It'll be alright." She whispered as she gently ran a hand through her son's hair, not really believing her own words. "It's just the two of us now."