Once, there was a clever princess who was also a very powerful witch. She could make buds bloom, flowers fruit, and heal the unhealthy. While her mother and father were young yet, she was a blessing upon the land.
As is the way of things, her power came at a price. Should she marry and not love her partner, her powers would disappear, and what she had healed would rot with her magic. An odd price, certainly, but it was the rule her magic gave her. Had she not been a princess, this might have been fairly simple. But then, if this geas were simple, the magic doubtless would have chosen another one. Such is the way of things.
At first, this rule was a small annoyance. As a girl, the princess could help far more than most her age, and took well enough to etiquette and diplomacy to endear herself to those who might otherwise become jealous. A younger sibling could always marry for political reasons. Odd though it might be for a younger to marry before the eldest, anyone would understand. Her mother and father had their daughter in the first year of their marriage, and so all believed another child would come swiftly. They believed this in the first year, and the second.
On the princess's sixteenth birthday, none believed there would be another child.
Suitors had always courted the lovely princess--those brave enough to approach a witch, and confident enough to believe they could win her heart. Noble after noble approached the princess, all foolish and arrogant. Many understood how to play the game, but the princess played it better than they did. She saw their lies, and saw all of them for what they were: poor liars, immature tricksters. She could perhaps love one who could play the court as she did, but never one who thought her less than she was. Everyone who approached her underestimated her.
One day, she awoke to find that her parents lay dead in their bed, still holding each other. The princess-now-queen knew what was coming then, and come it did: armies upon armies. Her kingdom had been prosperous for decades under her care, and blessed even before that. Even split between her three neighboring kingdoms, her kingdom would be a bounty, and they knew she would not let it die. Though it would have been easier, there was no reason for one to marry her to gain the kingdom. They would simply attack it.
The princess had only ever healed and brought bounty to her land, so it was little wonder that no one thought of what else powers of growth could do.
Around her kingdom she drew up thick, thorny bushes, as tall as a score of men and at least as deep as three at any place. As a show of her confidence, she had three palaces built, facing each of the three attacking kingdoms. In summer, she lived in the central palace where her mother and father raised her, in fall, she moved Northwest of it, in winter, South, and in spring, Northeast. In each palace, her bedroom was in the tallest tower, a boast and a challenge to any who would attack her home.
The queen was willing to give her life to her kingdom, as any good ruler would, and give it she would, however long or short it might be.