Section 2 - Prologue
[...In which we lead up to the subject of the Prince's having fallen in love.
As promised, each conversation set contains responses for moves the player (or NPCs) might make: from one subject to another. Each response is removed from the table after use, to prevent any repetition; if we want that move to provide interesting dialogue even if it is repeated exactly, we provide several entries for it (see the king's health to heirs move, below, which has two responses). The first one will be used the first time that move occurs; the second the second time; and so on.
"blank" is a stand-in subject, a kind of wild-card that will match anything. We will use this on occasions where we do not want to specify both the "from" and "to" parts of the move.]
Table of Prologue Remarks
|king's health||heirs||"'It's so fortunate,' says the old lady. 'That you're of an age -- that is, that the King has been so blessed with an heir who can follow in his footsteps when the time comes, which we all hope will be--' Realizing she has led herself into a diplomatic difficulty, she sighs. 'God has truly blessed our little kingdom.'"|
|king's health||heirs||"'When the time comes, which will be when God wills it, you will be a fine King,' says the old lady firmly."|
|blank||king's health||"'I think the king is less concerned than the rest of us are,' says the Prince. 'But he has always been very brave, and philosophical. I believe he would meet death with a Socratic--' Seeing that he has left behind his entire audience, including the old lady, he changes tack. '--with true Christian fortitude.'There is a collective sigh of relief at a pious thought so comprehensibly expressed."|
|blank||king's health||"'I know very well how hard it will be to emulate my father's command,' says the Prince. 'He has a knowledge of how to speak to people which I do not.' 'Pssht,' says the old lady. You notice she does not actually contradict him."|
|blank||king's health||"'May he live long,' says Lucinda softly."|
|blank||king's health||"'You must try not to worry too desperately,' Lucinda says to the Prince in a comforting tone. 'I have heard only the best things about the doctors.' 'We would hardly have sent for a doctor with any but the best reputation,' says the Prince, with a half-smile. 'But doctors are human, and fallible.'"|
|heirs||king's health||"'It would have been better for us all if I had siblings,' says the Prince. 'My father feels it, I know.'"|
|heirs||marriage||"'Now I have heard a rumor,' says the old lady, pretending that this conversation topic just now occurred to her, rather than being the object of her determined pursuit for the last half hour. 'A rumor that you yourself were planning to wed, in the very near future.' Theodora leans closer to the Prince, who tucks his hands more protectively around the slipper. 'There are a great many rumors,' he says."|
|heirs||marriage||"'I think I am not expressing a unique opinion,' says the old lady, brushing at her skirt with her gloves, 'when I say that the whole kingdom will be delighted to see your family increase yet further.'"|
|marriage||ball||"'It's true, you know, that my father threw the ball in the hope that I would-- that is, that it would lead to a greater acquaintance--' The Prince stops again, rattled, and glares down at the small shoe cradled in his hands. 'I had not been very attentive to ladies in my youth.' The old lady looks very strange at that remark. 'Well-- my dear boy--' she begins. 'I am glad you feel comfortable-- that is, I will not mention-- if you feel you prefer--'He blinks thick girlish lashes, and you see why she is worried. 'No, I didn't mean that I have a preference for boys, madam,' he remarks, more at his ease now that she is uncomfortable. 'Only that I have been very much occupied with other concerns, and not...'He gestures. The shoe almost slips off its pillow. He catches it just in time."|
|blank||love||"A look of unexpected sweetness crosses the face of the Prince. The old lady watches this with interest."|
|blank||shoe||"[if not mentioning shoe]'I'm sure it's nothing surprising,' remarks the old lady, 'if you didn't meet anyone at the ball that you felt immediately you could marry. Such short acquaintances... there's much more to an alliance than that. One must feel at ease with the family, for instance.' The Prince opens his mouth, then closes it again. 'I did meet someone,' he admits. 'But I know nothing of her family. It hardly matters to me, however. [otherwise]The Prince gives you an odd, almost grateful look. 'In fact I have chosen a wife,' he says. 'At the ball my father gave. [end if]It will be the woman who can wear this shoe.' "|
|blank||ball||"The Prince sighs. 'Yes,' he says. 'The ball, I meant to tell you...' He stops."|
|marriage||Theo||"Theodora blushes with sudden consciousness. The Prince glances at her piercingly. 'Out of the mouths of birds,' remarks the old lady, smiling."|
|marriage||birds||"'Do you suppose it means that marriage is for the birds?' asks Lucinda. 'It has a certain Delphic inscrutability,' says the Prince, grinning at her."|
|blank||birds||"'I suppose it wishes to advocate a greater interest in aviary concerns?' the Prince asks, looking at you with curiosity. 'I wouldn't credit it with nearly that much intelligence,' says the old lady. Witch."|
|Theo||heirs||"'Ah, Theodora... I'm so fortunate in my own children,' the old lady goes on. 'You can never understand what a great pleasure there is in them until you have your own.' 'Indeed, so I have heard,' the Prince says."|
|God||Lucinda||"'Lucinda is thinking about becoming a nun,' says Theodora. Lucinda gives Theodora a look of passionate dislike. 'That was when I was younger,' she says.The Prince raises his eyebrows. 'Surely a serious vocation could manifest itself even in a child?' he says. 'I would not be too quick to reject the possibility, if--' Lucinda is leaning forward at him again. '--if you think it is what you were meant for,' he finishes weakly. 'Then again, it might have been a childish whim.'"|
|blank||heirs||"'How sad that your dear mother did not live along enough to give you siblings,' says the old lady, dabbing the edge of her eye with one finger. 'You probably don't remember your mother -- such a sweet woman -- a wonderful friend to me at that time.' She sighs. 'I know I talk so much nonsense to you, Prince, but it is for her sake. I cannot help thinking that she would have wanted me to take a little concern for you.'"|
|love||marriage||"'It is a pity,' says the old lady. 'But love and marriage often have so little to do with one another, at the upper levels of society. And certainly when matters of state intervene.' 'So my father reminds me,' says the Prince. 'He considers me a romantic and says I have been reading too much Byron.''And have you?' asks the old lady curiously.'I cannot abide Byron and am devoted to Sir Philip Sidney, and the difference between my father and me is that I have paid enough attention to have a taste in these matters.' He smiles briefly. 'So you see he loses the battle and wins the war.'"|
|blank||love||"'I think the feelings at the outset of a marriage are nearly irrelevant,' says Lucinda. 'If there is commitment and good intention, then you can learn to live with the person, and if there isn't... no amount of affection, or, or...' 'Physical attraction, is what my sister means to say,' Theodora cuts in.'Or that, yes-- none of those things will count.'Theodora makes a face. 'I bet they count a bit more than you want to admit.'"|
|blank||stepmother||"The old lady glares at you."|
The Prologue is a scene. The Prologue begins when play begins. The Prologue ends when the current subject is the shoe.
When Prologue ends:
say "The old woman laughs slightly. 'How beautifully romantic! But -- she didn't give you her name?'
The Prince shakes his head, looking embarrassed again.
'...but you would recognize her, at least,' the lady says, looking down carefully at her hands folded on her skirt. 'As soon as you saw her face--'
'I can't be sure,' the Prince replies.
There is a thick silence. The old lady frowns, suggesting very rapid and dangerous thought. Theodora lies back against the pillows, interested in the story and too stupid to realize it has to do with her. Lucinda-- but Lucinda's thoughts are always the hardest to read."
[Every turn: say conversation set; ]