A tale of a powerful kingdom, Urzo, and Ella, who married its Prince and the choices facing them
July 11, 2015
There was a powerful and seemingly rich kingdom called Urzo that was the envy of the surrounding lands. To luxuriate in its wonderous markets, splenderous gardens and walk among the palaces of the Urzo Royal Court was the dream of everyone living outside it.
When the Prince of Urzo was of age, the search began to find the perfect bride in neighboring kingdoms. A trusted Wizard, Gulman was tasked by Urzo’s Royal Council to find one who, besides being of radiant beauty, would meet all the strict rules of the Urzo Royal Court.
One day Gulman appeared before the Court with Ella, the princess of a rich neighboring city state, a radiant beauty, chaste, demure, polite. Ella would make a fine Princess of Urzo, Gulman proclaimed – I, Gulman of the prestigious House of Saks vouch for it myself.
Satisfied simply with Gulman’s unimpeachable word and after giving Gulman 500 pieces of Gold, a royal wedding was held with grand celebrations throughout Urzo. (Gulman himself was absent from the festivities, and was never seen or heard from again).
The Troubles Begin
The trouble started immediately after the wedding night when the Prince discovered Ella, was not a virgin as Laws of the Land required. Neither as it soon transpired was she actually a princess from a rich city but a free-spirited commoner who lacked the etiquette, sophistication and background required to be a member of the Royal Court.
Furious, the Prince called a meeting of his Royal Council to examine his options and consult the Royal Laws of Urzo. Divorce was unthinkable – indeed no mention of such a possibility even existed in the Royal Scrolls.
Shobell, the wizened Adviser to the Prince, who had always had suspicions about Ella, suggested that given the Laws that what was Done could not be Undone, the only option was to radically transform Ella into a sophisticated member of the Court.
The Program of Austereness
So began a Program of Austereness for Ella: she could not meet with her old friends anymore; she had to modify her behavior severely; she had to change the way she dressed, ate, talked, smiled, laughed and the type of company she kept. Every facet of her life was now under constant scrutiny.
Ella had been a rambunctious, fun but hard working girl that the crafty Gulman had taken advantage of into the initial ruse, and this Program of Austereness designed to change the essence of who she was, caused her to fall into a deep Depression. Rather than become a welcome member of the Royal Court, she became further alienated, her thick ludicrous hair started falling out in clumps, dark circles appearing around her hitherto bright eyes. Austereness was not only not working, it was making things worse.
One day after five years of Austereness, Ella appeared before the Prince and appealed to his humanity:
“I can’t take this anymore. I promise I will try more but I need some relief. It will be better for all of us!”
The Prince refused.
“You have no choice! You lied to me – you must pay the Price! This is the Law of the Land – these are the Royal Rules”
Some of the old fire lingered in the Princess and she shot back
“These Rules are inhumane. And they are not achieving the goal we both want! Surely we must reconsider them and give some Relief. I am suffocating with these restrictions. Enough I say. Enough!”
The Prince went icy cold with righteous fury. Without a word to Ella, he walked out. He informed the Royal Kitchen that the Princess’s food was to be cut off. Then he summoned a meeting from the distant lands of his Royal Council to see what must be done next.
Ella, alone and deprived of food, waited a few days and then hungry and famished, rushed to the Royal court and threw herself at the Prince’s feet in front of everyone.
“I’m sorry for having spoken like that”, she implored. “I will do anything to be in Urzo. I will try harder!”
“Though if you could consider some relief, I would be eternally greatful!”
The Prince coldly replied
“Instead of being grateful for our mercy, you were defiant. You have not seemed to have learned our ways. You will get no food till We decide what to do at the Royal Council. You have lost what remaining trust I had. At the least, we have to make the Program of Austereness much tougher. But Divorce and Banishment may also be an option”.
Being in Urzo, Ella lost touch with all her old friends and her old life. To be Banished would mean starting over, perhaps begging on the streets to avoid starvation at the beginning, and finding her own way without the prestige of being in Urzo. But there was a hope she could ultimately live life on her terms, with dignity and independence and eventually get better than she was before Urzo, with the best of who she is and the best of what she learned at Urzo.
To stay in Urzo however would mean more of the same, with the Prince ever distrustful, the Royal Council openly hostile to her presence , with courtiers whispering insults openly now, while at the same time struggling to completely change who she is to prove her worthiness to Urzo. There was no reason to be believe it would ever get better. Indeed there was every reason to believe it would get worse.
What Should Ella Do?