INT: VIKING-STYLE TOWN HALL - EVENING.
The room is normally a public town hall which has been temporarily re-appropriated for diplomatic businesses. It is made of stone, and its size makes it feel empty and intimidating despite the tapestries on the walls. The only light comes from the remains of the sun streaming in through the windows near the ceiling. Kitchen noises can be heard from the other side of the room's back wall.
WILLOW is a well-meaning and dutiful princess, but she is used to getting her way. She sits at a long dinner table and straightens the gold circlet in her wavy, chestnut hair. Her thin dress fabric causes her to shiver.
There are two elaborate place settings: one for WILLOW and one in front of an empty throne next to her.
Two armored GUARDS open the main double doors.
SORIAN, an arrogant prince with a roman facial structure and unattainable standards, enters and shakes the snow off his fur-lined coat.
A SERVER scurries from the kitchen, bowing to greet him before running ahead of the prince and pulling out the throne.
SORIAN sits down, waves the SERVER aside, and scoots himself forward. He takes WILLOW'S hand and kisses it.
WILLOW pulls it away.
SORIAN: Your majesty
WILLOW: I don't need a formal introduction. I know who you are.
SORIAN: If you intend to be so frank, I will be similarly forward - enough to say that I take it as a personal compliment that you came here without a guard. Not military, not royal. Not even your closest servant. That is quite brazen for a woman.
WILLOW: You told me to come alone.
SORIAN: Actually, I had not expected you to listen, but I will take that as a positive sign as well a sign that you intend to continue to listen and, hopefully, accept my proposal.
WILLOW: Don't get your hopes up. He's waiting outside.
SORIAN: I would appreciate if you tried to be less testy, your highness. I only have the best interests in mind for both our countries.
WILLOW: What do you want from me, then? You already took our land.
SORIAN: I said less testy, but that includes less hasty. I went through the effort of preparing us a meal to provide you with a literal taste of our hospitality.
WILLOW: You mean you went through the effort of asking your servants to make dinner.
SORIAN: What's the difference? I am a terrible cook. And knowing most princesses, you are as well.
SORIAN smiles but gets no response. He raps his knuckles on the table, and a SERVER sets a bowl of nuts onto the table and fills their wine glasses.
SORIAN cracks open a nut, pops its contents into his mouth, and rubs the shells off his fingers.
WILLOW keeps her hands in her lap.
SORIAN: I had these imported. It would be polite of you at least try one.
SORIAN takes one and opens it for her.
WILLOW examines and reluctantly eats it, keeping her mouth primly closed while she chews.
SORIAN pushes the bowl aside and waves the SERVER over. He whispers something to him and waves him off again.
SORIAN: Perhaps, you would prefer something more familiar.
SORIAN raps his knuckles on the table again.
Noise emanates from the kitchen, but no one comes.
SORIAN knocks on the table again, and the SERVER hurries out with two bowls, sets them down, and bows as he backs away.
SORIAN: A chicken stew with what should be a familiar array of spices. I believe it is a common dish in your country. At least, your foot soldiers that I have come across seem to enjoy it.
WILLOW stirs the watery, unappealing, gruel. SORIAN looks at her, so she sips a spoonful.
SORIAN: I hope it was not sub-par. I am afraid Northern farm fowl are not particularly succulent, and my cooking staff do not have the experience to make another country's specialty dish. Luckily, I have saved the most impressive for our entree. I thought you should try something from my homeland.
By now, the sun has set, so the SERVER lights a candelabra between them.
A KITCHEN BOY sets a large roast in front of them and hands SORIAN a knife.
SORIAN first cuts himself a large slice and then a smaller one for his guest. He begins to eat, a satisfied grin on his face.
WILLOW pokes at the roast with her fork.
SORIAN notices and frowns. He picks up his glass of wine.
SORIAN: If you are simply that determined not to eat, we may discuss business.
WILLOW: I tried to tell you that before.
SORIAN: I believe I have a strategy that will work to the benefit of both our kingdoms. It is absolutely foolproof and only stands to improve our mutual standing in the future. I had heard that the Tyrisian princess that is, you have been considerably well-educated, so I am surprised that you had not thought of this before. All in all, it is very simple. The thing is, all good things must come at a price. As royalty, we are expected to sacrifice our lives for our countries. We are expect to work for them. All I am asking you to do is one thing, and then the attacks will stop. One thing that only a woman of your status can do.
SORIAN sets his hand on the arm of her chair.
WILLOW subconsciously pulls away.
SORIAN: Marry me.
WILLOW drops the fork.
WILLOW: That is out of the question.
SORIAN: Your people depend on you. This is your obligation, something only you can provide as their liege.
WILLOW: Arranged marriages don't work.
SORIAN: Think of how your men look up to you, fight for you.
WILLOW: Trust me. They all end badly.
SORIAN: You would be saving lives.
WILLOW: This discussion is over. We will settle our differences. If you show us violence, do not expect us to respond kindly.
WILLOW pushes her own chair back and heads towards the main doors. With a bit of effort, she pushes one open herself, gives a disdainful look over her shoulder, and leaves.
Outside, RIVEK, a foreign-looking man with dark hair and a cross-shaped scar on the right side of his face acknowledges the meeting's end with a nod. He glances at SORIAN and narrows his eyes.
WILLOW walks to her waiting horse.
The door slams.
SORIAN blinks and folds his hands in his lap. He shakes his head, picks up his fork and knife, and continues eating.