Some parallel worlds have different time-flows, like the fabled dwelling-places of the elves: those who visit them under the hill for a night return to find that years have passed in this world. Perhaps it is the gate leading between the worlds which causes the alteration. If a gate were 'misaligned', the shift from '| |' to '| \' or '| /' as it were would lead to that difference, much as a light-beam split and bent by a prism ends up taking a longer path. There might even be a mathematical function linking degree of misalignment to alteration of time-rate.
A kingdom where, if there are multiple princes (princesses can't rule unless they have no siblings), the princes fight to the death in the arena to decide who gets to rule. A simple way to make sure your brother cannot make a bid for the thrown, and keeps the royal blood in one line.