Chapter Eight, Season One - Visited (a)
I stood up and walked towards him, him doing the same.
It’s been a long time since we last saw each other, brother,” he remarked as we shared a brotherly hug.
“It’s nice to see you again, brother,” I smiled as we pulled away. Benjamin has been my best friend since childhood. He’s the prince of the Kingdom of Eastern Sun. Everything about our lives is similar. The only difference between us is that he isn’t in an arranged marriage.
I would say he’s incredibly lucky with his life.
“When did you get here?” I asked.
“A while ago,” he replied. “I couldn’t get past your guard. He’s quite challenging. He seems to be very protective of you.”
We shared a quick laugh. “So, you’re the man Gonzalo mentioned. He’s quite impressive when it comes to my protection,” I answered, almost boasting. Gonzalo deserves all the credit for his efforts to keep me safe.
“I’m quite surprised he doesn’t know me,” he said, baffled.
I snicked. “I’m not quite sure if you were ever introduced to him, even as children.”
“You might have a point there,” he responded. “Well, I’d like to meet the person who’s in charge of your safety. I’d like to thank him for his excellent job in doing so.”
“I’ll send for him right away,” I smiled.” Would you like something to drink or nibble?” I offered.
“I do fancy a bit of wine. Do you happen to have some to spare for a guest?” he smirked, teasing me to get a laugh out of me.
“Always the funny one, aren’t you?” I snickered. I walked over to the corner of my room and rang the service bell. “Why don’t we take a seat while we wait?” I gestured at the table by the window as I walked back to him.
“Of course,” he nodded.
“I do have a lovely view of the garden so let’s enjoy the scenery as we wait for Gonzalo.” We began walking towards the table as I reached him.
“But you rang your service bell, right? Isn’t a maid supposed to be answering your call?” he asked as we sat down.
“The maids are for my family. Specifically, to my sister, since she has a lot of demands,” I explained, crossing my legs, “Gonzalo answers to my every need. Ordered by the king and queen.”
A knock came upon my door and Gonzalo entered the room.
“Just the person we were talking about,” I smiled, turning to Gonzalo’s direction who was already walking towards us.
He made his bow. “You called for me, Your Highness?”
I pointed at Benjamin, “Gonzalo, I would like for you to meet Prince Benjamin, my best friend. He’s the man you mentioned a while ago, am I correct?”
Gonzalo took a good look at him before saying, “Yes, young master. It is indeed him.”
“Well, he’s very eager to meet you. He has spent quite a lot of time in this castle and me in theirs when we were children,” I explained. “I’m not sure why you don’t remember him but he would want for you to know him.”
“It’s an honor to finally meet you, Gonzalo,” Benjamin smiled as he bowed his head towards Gonzalo.
“It’s a privilege to meet His Highness’s most trusted person,” Gonzalo bowed to Benjamin. “My deepest apologies if I didn’t recognize you earlier, young prince.”
“There’s no need to apologize, Gonzalo. It’s not something to be mad about,” Benjamin smiled before turning to me. He then continued,” I have to say, brother, your parents made the right choice for your head of security. Gonzalo over here is a very refined man.”
“Well, I could boast that Gonzalo is always on top of his duties because it’s true,” I added.
“I’m sure that’s completely true. I don’t think Uncle James would choose someone mediocre to keep his heir safe,” Benjamin replied.
“Can I get you anything, Your Highness?” Gonzalo asked, turning in my direction.
“Yes, Gonzalo. Would it be possible for you to bring us some wine, please?” I requested.
“As you wish, young master,” he bowed. “Would you like something to go with it?”
“If you could bring us some bread, that would be great,” I smiled. “And a few sweets, if possible.”
“And you, Your Highness?” he then turned to Benjamin.
“I will have whatever it is that Robert will have,” Benjamin replied.
“I’ll have them prepared and delivered immediately,” Gonzalo bowed once again and walked away, carrying an affirmative smile.
“He’s so formal, quite firm,” Benjamin continued our conversation as we laid back on our chairs.
“I did tell him not to be so uptight but that’s just the way he is,” I chuckled. “I guess that’s his way of getting everything done.
“So, where were you a while ago?” he questioned. “Gonzalo mentioned that you went outside and headed to the Mortal Realm. And that’s not all: I heard you went there twice today.”
I let out a nervous chuckle as I ran my fingers over my lips.
“Can you tell me why, Robert? Because for you to leave the castle and go somewhere twice in a day is unusual,” he added.
“Why would you say that it’s odd for me to do so?” I asked.
“When we were children, you’re already satisfied to play in the garden. And when we grew up, you would only go outside when you and your family visit some of the businesses your court supports,” he explained. “You don’t even attend banquets and random parties that your family holds every now and. Now, I’m hearing that you left the castle grounds twice?”
I let out a quick snortle as I bent forward, my arms on my knees.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” he leaned forward as well.
“Well, I met someone,” I lowered my voice in volume as much as possible. I wouldn’t want the maids to talk about everything that I did today.
“You met someone?” Benjamin leaned in even closer. “Is this a man? Or a woman?” he raised an eyebrow and smirked.
“Um… a woman,” I stuttered.
“You met a woman?!” he asked, not careful with his sudden outburst.
“Keep it down, Benjamin!” I shushed him. “Yes, I did meet a woman in the Mortal Realm.”
“And let me guess: you like this girl, am I right?” he questioned.
Gonzalo suddenly arrived, pushing a cart with wine, the bread that I requested, and some fruits.
“Well, I can’t say that I don’t,” I hesitated with my answer as Gonzalo prepared everything for us.
“Is this woman a part of the upper class, the working class… or the lowest class of all?” Benjamin continued as Gonzalo gave us our cups.
“Well, I can’t say that she’s in the lowest class but she does work to support herself,” I explained as Gonzalo poured wine into my cup, making sure that he doesn’t fill it up. I can only drink half a cup of wine because I don’t usually have wine unless there’s an occasion.
“So, she’s in between the middle and lower class,” Gonzalo then poured wine in Benjamin’s cup, filling it to the brim. Benjamin is a wine lover, given to drink when as soon as he turned thirteen thousand years of age. “You know, there’s nothing wrong with loving someone. Age, race, or even classes doesn’t matter when it comes to love.”
“The thing about that, brother,” I spoke a bit louder this time as Gonzalo left the room. “I’m in an arranged marriage. What I’m unsure about is if I should stop my feelings for this woman or not.”
“That’s why I never agreed to a marriage arrangement,” he took a sip from his wine. “I fought against my parents about that. When they saw that I couldn’t be persuaded, they stopped.”
“I wish I could do that with my parents,” I took a bite from a piece of bread.
“You can do that, my brother,” he answered. “You’re their son. You have the right to speak your mind.”
“Let me tell you something: my parents are the total opposite of yours. I see eye to eye with my mother but with James,” I stared at the bread in my hand, shaking my head, “Not a chance.” I then took another bite.
“James?” he asked, confused.
I forgot! He doesn’t know that I call my father by his name. Didn’t I already mention that to him?
“I mean, my father,” I corrected myself, reaching for another piece of bread.
“Wait,” he put a hand on top of mine, my fingers already touching the bread. “Did you just call your father by his name?”
I gave him a nod as I proceeded to get a piece of bread.
“Why do you call him James?!” he asked, confused and close to anger. “Are you out of your mind?
“Benjamin, that wasn’t my decision,” I protested. “He told us to call him that. He demanded that from me and Elizabeth.”
“And you didn’t even oppose his decree for you and your sister to call him that?!”
“I can’t argue with him! I’m certain that you already know how our relationship goes!” I said. “My relationship with James was never good, to begin with. We’re doing good in chaos but when it comes to getting along, don’t expect anything,” I sighed as poured wine in my glass, only filling it by half. I took another sip, “He was never a father anyway. Why would I call him any salutation for a father?”
Benjamin sighed as he shook his head slowly, staring down at his cup of wine. “Brother, you and Uncle James were the best of friends when we were children,” he leaned closer, his voice in a more serious tone. “You two used to go on fishing trips together when he gets the chance. Anything that says ‘outdoor activity’, you two are at the top of your game,” he added.
“I don’t remember anything like that,” my brows knitted in confusion. “How come you do?
“Look, brother, I think it’s best that you fix your relationship with Uncle James,” he replied. “You may not remember much about your childhood but trust me when I say this: your father loves you more than his life.”
“I’ll try, brother. I’ll try,” I sighed.
“I know you will,” he smiled.
Benjamin was always there for me from the very beginning. He was my continuous support. Even though we only see each other from time to time, he would constantly check on me through his mother and mine. Truly, a brother to me.
Ith one final gulp, Benjamin finished his wine. “Looks like it’s time for me to return home.”
I followed suit and finished mine in an instant. “I’ll walk you out,” I said as I stood up from my chair.
“Aren’t you going to call Gonzalo to clean everything first?” he asked as he got up from his.
“I have a dumb-waiter here in my bedroom so I’ll clean it myself,” I replied. “It’s connected to the kitchen so Gonzalo doesn’t have to get up here to clean a simple snack.”
“If you say so,” he smiled.
With a brief laugh, we started heading to the stables.
“Thank you for the visit, brother,” I started as Benjamin began to prepare his horse.
He turned around as he put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s my pleasure, brother. In fact,” he continued to prepare his horse. “I should be the one thanking you.”
“Why?” I stood in front of him.
“Don’t you know how bored I am in our castle?” he complained. “My saliva will run dry very soon without someone to talk to.”
I snickered. “You have Helga and Helen, right?” Helga and Helen are Benjamin’s older twin sisters. “They’re a bit… huge and annoying. And when we say huge, I mean humongous. Elizabeth and I get along with them quite well. However, I don’t spend a lot of time with them and my sister would prefer to stay by Mother’s side whenever we visit the Eastern Sun.