A War of Two

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Chapter 13

When the life of the palace and the meetings in the temple got to be a little too much for the Prince he would walk through the bazaar and sometimes up and down the streets of the town. He liked to meet the people and watch them going about their daily lives.There was always a guard with him.He would watch the blacksmith at his work some times and the melon seller at her bargaining.And from time to time he would see Cella the fortuneteller.Listening at the door of her tent he realized that she was really pretty good at what she did.Her advice was usually quite sound.She would tell one person that, “The Falling Tower means changes in your life.They may seem to be destructive, but they don’t have to be.Changes may be frightening, but they don’t have to destroy.”Then he moved on.Life seemed good as the warm season progressed.

But there were problems. As yet the spies sent out had brought no news of his brother or of Lord Aleheardt.By that evidence they were well hidden and may be planning for the next Duel Royal.

But when the lords met next in the temple there was some disturbing news from the border. King Cannar was massing forces on his border.“I think he is preparing to invade,” Lord Caipreson said.“He wants to be sure that the marriage contract will be kept.”

“If I am king,” Prince Willheardt said, “I will be bound by my father’s words.” His next statement was to the ambassador.“But it will not be known if I am the heir until my brother is found.Tell your master that it would be for the best for all if he would send word immediately if he knows where my Uncle and brother are.If he is sheltering them, it will only serve to aggravate matters more.Tell him I have said this.If he can be of any assistance in this matter it would be appreciated.”

The king himself sent word back via a personal emissary. He sent his nephew, a certain Lord DuPre.“He says,” the man said in a charming accent, “that he knows nothing of the whereabouts of Prince Alemark or of Lord Aleheardt.But he says that his patience will not last much past the end of this campaigning season.”

“Well that is a relief,” Lord Yssidro said when the lords met privaly. “That means he won’t invade this season.”“But what of the other kings?” Cygon the High Priest asked.“Will they wait until we have a King again or will they invade us now?”

“The word is some of them are campaigning against each other,” Lord Caipreson said. “And at least one is putting down a rebellion amongst his own lords.They don’t like the way he raised taxes to build himself a new palace.”

In the north Lord Aleheardt was dealing with a little rebellion of his own. His royal ward did not want to practice so hard.He wanted to party.“You must learn these moves,” Lord Aleheardt scolded him.“If you do not, you will die when you fight your brother.He is an expert on them.We all saw in the first dual.”Then he changed his tune to put some backbone into the prince.“I believe that you were born to be king.But you will never get the chance if you do not develop the ability to execute these moves and the strength to back them up.Now get back to work.”He also gave orders that the kitchen wenches were to be locked in the kitchen for the night with no one to warm the prince’s bed until the weapons master was satisfied with his progress.Prince Alemark had a lonely few nights the next few nights.

While he walked through the bazaar, Prince Willheardt noticed the fortuneteller that Tarka had consulted. One day she had closed her stall and she was out shopping.He developed a bit of a playful streak and snuck up behind her.“May I help you,” he said suddenly in her ear.

Cella let out a squeak of surprise. She turned and recognized him.“Your highness,” she said with a slight bow.He was wearing his desert garb, which made him slightly less recognizable to his own people.There was one guard with him who was also plainly dressed.

“You are the fortuneteller, are you not?” Willheardt asked.

“I am,” Cella responded.

“You do this through the use of Tarot cards, is that not true?” the Prince asked as he took her packages. He handed then to the guard who was with them.

“I do,” she said.

“I would talk with you then about the cards and what they mean,” he said.

“Do you know anything about the cards?” she asked.

“I had an old teacher when I lived with Mocmar’s people,” the Prince told her. “He taught me about many such things.” They paused by her tent for a moment but did not go in.The guard tucked her packages under the hem of the tent.They were where she would find them easily, but hopefully no one else would dare to look.

The Prince looked into Cella’s eyes and told her, “I would know more about them from you.” They continued in their conversation as the Prince turned them toward the palace. He seemed pleased to know that the suits of cards and their meanings were not very different from the ones he knew.He was also pleased to know that the elements and directions associated with them were the same ones he knew.

They passed the gate to the palace and continued their conversation into the building. Cella barely noticed that they were climbing a stair when he asked her, “What about the Upper Arcana?”

They continued on to his chamber as she explained, “The Fool, of course, is all potential. It is all promise with a note that caution should be taken to fully realize the potential.”He offered her a chair and they continued their conversation for a time.Then he noticed that the sky was becoming quite dark.

“Forgive me Cella,” he said suddenly to her. He indicated the sky outside.“I had not meant to keep you so late. But there is one thing I would like to ask you to do for me.Do a read on me from time to time. And, anytime you have something interesting to tell me, come and do tell me.”

Prince Willheardt called the captain of the guard to his antechamber. There he allowed Cella to sit in his presence.When the captain came in the Prince said to him.“Do you know this woman?I want you to note well her face and figure.” “Aye,” the Captain said.“She’s the fortune teller from the Bazaar.”He looked a little closer at her and was a bit rude in his speech.“Cella, isn’t it.Don’t worry about her, sir,” the Captain reassured him.“I’ll see to it that she don’t bother you no more.”

“What I want is exactly the opposite,” the Prince said. “Any time she wants to see me she is to have access to me.The only exception is if I am in the bath.I want you to inform all the guardsmen of the same instructions.Cella the fortune teller is to have access to me whenever she comes to the palace.”He turned to Cella, “The Captain of the guard will show you home.”He gestured, she rose and curtsied, the captain of the guard bowed and did what he was told.

Cella was pleased at that. She knew that she would like this king.She thought he would be a good king once he got past this nasty business with his brother.

On another day Prince Willheardt was walking with his guard near one of the public houses. He heard a bard singing Ailtamar. But it sounded so much happier and so much more joyous.“I can’t under –stand why they sing the plaint of Ailtamar like that,” he said.Cella happened to be near at the moment. “It surprises me that you call Ailtamar a plaint,” Cella said.“The common women sing it joyfully,”“Why is that?” the Prince asked.“Because first she suffered from the things that happened to them all the time.Then, in the end she finds happiness with a common man.That makes all commoners feel they are related to royalty.”

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