Prince Brendan sat on the balcony outside of his bedroom in the palace. He felt a sublunary thrill being back in his old home and that scared him. It amazed him how easily he fit right back into his old life even after five generations had passed. He found he enjoyed as much as ever the servants that responded to a look and a nod. He relished the attentions of the vacuous maidens littering the ballrooms and conservatories. He savored the seven course meals, fine wines and opulent gaming rooms. He delighted in once again owning a destrier; raven-wing black, ornery as a wasp and named Despair. Prince Brendan liked these things so much, he feared he would revert to the person he once was, to the person who deserved to be cursed.
The hereditary line for the throne passed onto cousins when he had become ensorcelled by the witch, Ma-sha, but his story had become legend. They believed the broken spell when he returned. He could tell some of his relatives worried about what he planned to do. If things had not been altered by magic, he would have been Emperor and his offspring would be the current ruling line. Many among his relatives heard the stories of how headstrong and controlling he had been and expected him to form an uprising. Oddly enough, he had no interest in reigning, so he lived with a certain amount of comity between himself and the current Emperor.
Weeks passed since his return home and he still did not know what he should do with himself. His thoughts drifted repeatedly to Rose, the little herbalist and farmer. He pulled his mind forcefully from images of her. She was too young for him. She was too naive for him. She was too pure, too good, too sweet. He did pledge his life to her for eternity, but that was for her best interests not for his pleasure, so she was off limits.
He knew he did not want to rule. He wanted Rose, but promised himself he would stay away from her. He leaned his chin on his arms crossed on the balcony’s railing and looked down into the gardens below, hoping the moonlight dancing on the flowers would inspire him. His attention latched onto an auburn haired wench flitting from bush to bush, coming ever closer to the lawn just beneath him. When she reached the space, she looked up at him. He recognized Sienna, Rose’s oldest sister. The last time he had seen her, she had been turned from a chicken into a girl and then into a milk cow by Ma-Sha. His curiosity tweaked and not a little bit worried about Rose, Prince Brendan went down to see what Sienna was about.
A specious lass, Sienna sidled up to Prince Brendan when he arrived in the garden. Her perfume wafted through his senses, making him dizzy with desire. Sienna led him to his rooms like a docile puppy. She poured and offered him a goblet of wine. He drank all of its contents. His mind went blank.