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Princess Hotaru

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Prologue

The two countries of Lyri and Toy Gun Gun had been feuding for centuries. Not full scale war, but small skirmishes and petty tricks that sapped the resources of both countries. No-one living now could remember when or why the feuding started, or if the reason was very important. The fact remained, however, that the countries were feuding, and that it was taking a tole on both. Another fact - one that was apparent for the first time in living memory – was that the rulers of both countries saw that something must be done. Solving the problem would not be easy, however, as each country's hatred for the other ran deep. Even if the rulers wanted peace and called a truce, pirating and border skirmishes between civilians would continue.
The king and queen of Lyri began to talk over what might be done, and the king of Toy Gun Gun also began to put his mind to it (in Toy Gun Gun, the queen had no part in politics; in fact, she was mostly a formality). Because of their superior intellect, it was expected by their subjects (and quite possibly by the people of Toy Gun Gun as well) that the rulers of Lyri would come up with a plan to end the conflict first. Surprisingly though, they were not. Perhaps because it was not a plan the Lyrian couple would ever have considered, but the king of Toy Gun Gun was the first to find a possible solution. Thus it was, that, on a certain day, the king and queen of Lyri received a letter.

Part 1

Prince Masamune of Toy Gun Gun walked toward the banqueting hall, followed by his attendant and friend Yukimura.
Today, the king and queen of Lyri were coming by his fathers invitation to discuss the proposed measures for resolving conflict between their countries. He entered the banqueting hall and took his accustomed seat. For a long time Masamune had had nothing to do with affairs of state* until the grand vizier had suggested that, as future king, he should at least sit in and listen so that when he inherited the country he would have some idea what to do with it. Besides, this particular plan involved Masamune rather deeply. It was not a bad plan, he thought.
Masamune turned to his rather chubby father. “Our guests aren't down yet?”
“They should be down any minute now.” The king replied. “Ah, look, here they are.”
Prince and king stood up, greeting their guests politely. The tall king of Lyri helped the rather frail looking queen (she wore rather masculine clothes, Masamune noted) into her chair, then sat down himself. Then the food was brought in and, for a while, the four royalty simply ate and conversed politely without touching on the subject they were here to discuss.
Eventually, when the king of Toy Gun Gun was the only one still eating, the king and queen of Lyri looked at each-other, and the king began to speak.
“Well, I suppose it is time now to discuss the business at hand.”
Masamune perked up. “Ah, finally time to hear their answer to my fathers proposal.”
“Yes, I suppose we should get down to that stuff now.” Toy Gun Gun's king agreed. “Well, let us hear your answer.”
Lyri's king took a deep breath. “To be honest, when we first read your letter, I was all for gathering the army and invading Toy Gun Gun so I could give you and your entire family the death you deserved. However, once I had calmed down and we had talked about it a little, we realized that your proposal, for your son to marry our precious daughter Hotaru, would certainly be effective. However! We would never force our precious daughter into some loveless political marriage. We love her far too much. But... we love and value our country as well. As rulers we have duty to look after our people. So we came to a decision.”
He turned now to Masamune. “You may come and stay at our palace. While you are there, you will meet Hotaru and will be given free reign to court her. If you can capture her heart and get her to accept you as her husband of her own free will, we will consent to the marriage.”
Masamune smiled. “Don't worry, I'm certain I can capture your daughters heart easily. Although I say it myself, I am very good with ladies.” He said.
Then cried out in fear as Lyri's monarch grabbed him and began to twist his arm out of it's socket.
“Don't be so confident! Our daughter has excellent judgment and won't just fall for your looks you stupid, sissy prince!”
“Eh?! Sissy?!” Masamune wondered.
“I'm starting to think this is a bad idea, that we should not be letting an outrageous playboy like you near Hotaru.”
The queen, however saved the situation. She put a quieting hand on her husband's arm.
“Calm down dear. I think the decision we made was the best one. Hotaru is sensible. If this man is not a suitable husband for her, she won't choose him. I think the best thing here is to trust Hotaru's judgment.”
The king sagged. “Yes, your right. Hotaru would never choose a man like this in a million years. There is nothing to worry about. Oh, there was one other thing I wanted to mention. Hotaru is a very kind girl, with a strong sense of what is right. Therefor, if she new that she could help the country by marrying you, she might simply accept you regardless of her own feelings. Therefor, you will not mention anything about this to Hotaru. We will simply tell her that you are visiting in hopes that, if we get to know each-other better, we can end the feud between our countries. Do I make myself clear?”
“Of course, perfectly.” Masamune nodded vigorously.

After the Lyrian rulers had left for their boudoir, Masamune rubbed his still sore shoulder.
“Uh. That damn king nearly dislocated my shoulder.” He said to his father.
His father looked up. “What? Oh no, that one was the queen.”

 

*much like the queen – who was absent today, incidentally. The king had vaguely suggested that she should, formally, be there. Her response had been: “But I is ever so tired and these formal meeting are so boring. My itsy bitsy teddy-bear will let me stay here and get my beauty sleep, won't he now? Please? I loves you ever so ever so much?” And that had been that.