The Meadow of Memories and the Arrogant King
"Who's there?" You grip your wooden shepherdess's crook tightly. "Come out. It's dangerous in the forest and I won't hurt you."
A lanky shadow slowly steps out of the gloom, the sun glinting off the shiny ebony locks. Prussian blue orbs meet yours as the figure steps out into the light.
"Who are you?"
The figure – a young man, it seems – shrugs. "I must not be found," he says, almost inaudibly.
"Tell me who you are, please," you murmur, eyes locked on his. "I can't help you if I don't know anything about you."
"(First Name)? (First Name), where are you? I have your lunch for you!"
You turn to look at the voice, watching Shoyo bound up to you and hand you a small tan package before waving and sprinting back towards your village in the distance. There's a rustle behind you as you sigh, putting the bundle down before turning to look at the shadows again.
"Hey, where'd you go? Come back!"
A voice, seemingly out of nowhere, replies, "I can't trust you."
Crook in hand, you wave it around to scare the sheep away from the outskirts of the meadow, lest they wander into the forest beyond. You had enough to worry about; you didn't need a lost sheep added to the mess.
"(First Name)! (First Name)!" A shrill voice calls out.
Turning to the source of the sound, your face breaks into a smile as you recognize the energetic boy-almost-man running towards you a breakneck speed. "Shoyo! What are you doing here?"
Coming to a stop in front of you, the orange-haired boy rests his hands on his knees and hunches over, panting vigorously. You wait patiently until he's recovered enough to say, "The chief wants to talk to you. He said to please come quickly. It's the king!"
The king? What could he possibly want with your small village, much less with you yourself? "Why? Does he personally request me? And who'll watch my sheep?"
"I'll take over from here, (First Name)!"
"What? Why not?" Shoyo pouts, puffing out his cheeks and acting very childish, not at all like the 19-year-old he really is.
"You and I both know how terrible you are at shepherding. That's why I'm the one herding sheep, not you."
"I'll do a good job, I promise! See? Let me show you!" He grabs the crook from you and jumps up and down, making strange "gwahhh!" sounds. "Besides, aren't you curious about the king visiting?"
You reach out and take hold of the wooden tool, pulling it from his grasp. "I'll admit I am, but I'm more concerned about my sheep."
"Oh, just give me the crook already, (First Name)!" He holds out his hand for it, smirking at you as he does so. "You have to go meet the king! He's so dreamy~"
You mentally facepalm and sigh, "He's only been king for a week and already you're into him way too much. I'm not sure if you're just an enthusiastic fan or if you have a crush on him."
"But he's so cool! C'mon, (First Name), you're a girl – don't tell me you don't think he's handsome!"
You wave your hand in the air, dismissing Shoyo's "fangirling" and starting to walk down the hill, your wolf companion near you. "Whatever you say, Shoyo, whatever you say. I don't even know what that guy looks like." You hand the shepherd's crook to your friend, saying, "I'm going to go see what's up down in the village. Don't lose any sheep..." Midsentence, you turn to glare at Shoyo, who whimpers under your intense glare. "…or else."
It's dusk when you stride into the village, where you're promptly bombarded by your younger brother, Kai, and dragged by your little sister, Mei, to the chief's home. Pushing you into the house, the two siblings giggle and leave you there alone, bewildered. Your wolf wanders off towards your home.
"Ah, (First Name), it's good to see you." The elderly chief smiles at you and gestures at the tall male sitting to his right. "This is His Royal Highness, King Tobio Kageyama."
"You're the one?" He squints at you and blinks several times in rapid succession. "What's your name?" Onyx bangs hang in his face and navy blue eyes gleam bitterly, sizing you up from head to toe like a prize cut of meat. A gaudy crown sits atop his head and a poppy-red cape adorns his shoulders, white fur lining the collar and bottom of it. He's dressed in sleek black pants and similarly colored leather shoes, matched with a flawlessly alabaster shirt with a spiffy look about it. Kageyama certainly looks the part, but at 19 and having just ascended the throne, the question is: Can he really be the king everyone expects him to be?
"Yes, Your Royal Highness. That's me, (First Name/Last Name)." You stiffen, unimpressed with the regality of his dress. He's probably just another "puppet king," to be manipulated by the "shadow king" and made to do said king's bidding.
"How intelligent are you?" His voice is harsh, cutting straight to the point.
"My intelligence, sir?"
Kageyama turns to the village chief. "Are you sure she's the smartest out of everyone in this village? She can't answer a question without repeating it back to me. If I wanted a parrot, I would have gotten one." You wince.
"Yes, Your Highness, I assure you that she's the brightest there is."
"…if you say so." He turns to look at you again, scrutinizing you as you shuffle your feet and stare at the ground. "I feel as though I know you."
"I'm certain I don't know anyone quite like you, Your Highness."
"If I say I recognize you, then I recognize you. There is no argument. Anyways, you are to come to the royal castle with me."
"Why? Chief, you can't allow him to do this! I'm not a thing – he can't take me away as he pleases!"
"I will do with you as I please," the king hisses at you.
"Please go with him, (First Name). It will be good for you to leave this small village," the elder pleads.
You pause, contemplating the notion, then saying softly, "If you insist, Chief. I've always wanted to see the outside world, anyways." You turn to glare at the king, then curtsy mockingly at him. "I will go with you, Your Royal Highness, King Tobio Kageyama," you whisper, your voice seeping with sarcasm and hurt pride.
"Get your stuff ready. We leave at dawn tomorrow." He stands and walks out of the room, into another space you assume is the chief's guest room, where he'll spend the night.
"I'll go, but only because I want to. No one orders me around," you say in a soft voice, glaring daggers at the retreating figure of the 19-year-old. "Especially not that arrogant boy king."
After Kageyama disappears, the chief begins to speak. "I'm very sorry to ask you to do this, (First Name), but the king wants a new royal advisor to help him rule the throne. He's going around to all the cities and villages, looking and judging the most intelligent people to choose his advisor from."
"If they're so intelligent, won't they just stab him in the back when he's unaware to steal the crown from him, chief?"
"It seems that way, which is why he wants a younger – but intelligent – person to help him. He said that he thought it'd be the best way to stay in control of the power."
"Stupid boy," you mutter under your breath. "That doesn't even make any sense."
"What was that, (First Name)?" The chief cocks his head in concern. "If you really don't want to go, we can always find someone else, but it'd be hard with such short notice and all."
"No, I'll go. It's alright. Do you know if he'll test the candidates to find the one best fit to be his advisor?"
"He's a rash boy, mind you, (First Name). I don't believe he will, not even if the council elders demand that he do so."
"If he doesn't listen to his elders, who's to say he'll listen to me? Aren't I just a girl?" Your tone drips sarcasm.
"It's just his logic. Please bear with it. You'd better go now; I think you'll need your rest for the ride to the castle tomorrow."
You nod, bowing politely to the chief and walking out of the house. You slouch and sigh as you kick a pebble idly along the dusty road to your home. Picking it up, you feel its heft in your hand and aim for a tree on the outskirts of town. Winding up, you imagine that it's the stupid, arrogant boy-king Kageyama's face plastered on a "Wanted" poster, hanging off the bark. You let the rock fly; it hits its target dead-on.
"Kageyama will never last on the throne, regardless of if he has me or another advisor by his side. That bastard boy-of-a-king. I almost feel sorry for him."