Chapter Twelve, Season One - Voyage (b)
“Robert, I know how you feel about me right now but it shouldn’t affect your duty when you reach Middle Earth,” he answered. “Always remember in all things that you are the next king of the Western Wind. Everything you do will reflect our kingdom.”
Everything is always about image and monarchy, isn’t it? The very least he could do is wish for our safety during our travel.
“You don’t have to worry about that because I always have that reminder in my mind,” I said in full confidence. “Is there anything else?”
He sighed, looking like he’s preparing something to say. “About the fishing trip--”
“Please, James, I don’t want to talk about this,” I quickly blocked his sentence, turning around to head to the door.
“Robert, please, let’s have a civilized conversation about this,” he quickly replied, making me stop. I felt him walking towards me, “I know you’re angry and I know what I did was wrong.” He then stood in front of me, “But if you give me a chance, I will make it up to you.”
“James, please, I’m trying to have a good start today and for you to bring up that matter isn’t going to help,” I answered, not letting him continue with whatever it is he has to say.
“Robert, I sent Gonzalo to tell you that I would love to proceed with our fishing trip after you return with your mother,” James persisted with the topic. “If you would just give me a chance to prove that I can be a father to you, that I can start being a father to you, wouldn’t that be better for the family?”
“Are you saying you’re only doing this to tell yourself that you saved your family from destruction?” I raised a brow, crossing my arms.
“No, Robert, don’t interpret my words differently,” James started to get frustrated with me. “I just want you to know, to show that I’m here, ready to make a change, ready to be the father I should’ve been.”
“James, giving you a chance is like putting my life on the edge with two possible outcomes: either I fall to my death or be carried up to higher heaven because of some miracle,” I remarked.
“Please, Robert,” he continued to insist. “I know I don’t usually ask you for any big favors, much less understanding my ways but at least, in this matter, give me one more chance,” he continued. “You know I didn’t want to cancel our fishing trip yesterday. You know that to yourself. It’s just that--”
“Duty comes first before everything, right?” I returned his statement.
He stood there, silent. He gulped as he tried to hold back his tears.
“You should be proud of me, James,” I boasted, holding up my hands in the air for a moment. “I’m learning from you. I’m learning to put my duties first as your heir before anything else in my life,” I continued. “Who knows? Maybe when I return from Middle Earth, I’ll be more like you.”
His expression changed from shock to remorse. Is he now regretting the son he has created? The kind of heir he made? He wanted me to grow up quickly, to learn as his future heir, to be just exactly like him. Now, I’m striving to be like him, and here he comes, acting like I’m someone he doesn’t know.
“Now, if you would excuse me, Your Majesty, I would like to go downstairs because the carriage is waiting,” I gave a formal bow and left him standing in the middle of my room. Without any second thoughts or looking back, I left the room and made my way downstairs.
On my way to the main door, someone called out to me from the shadows, “Robert?”
I stopped and turned, seeing Mallory come out from a corner.
“Mallory,” I greeted as she walked towards me.
“Good morning, Robert,” she bowed.
“What’s with the formalities?”
“Well, you said I can’t be loving around you so I’m acting as a servant,” she explained.
“Mallory,” I started after a sigh. “My parents know that you’re a good friend of mine so you don’t have to act like a servant.”
“Let it be, Robert. It’s the least I could do after being such a pain to you for days,” she replied. She put her hand in her pocket, clearly looking for something. “Here,” she showed a small note.
“What’s this?” I asked, receiving the letter from her.
“I have a lot of things to say and I don’t have a lot of time right now to tell you so I wrote them down,” she said, anxious. “And I know you don’t want to hear anything from me since yesterday as well so a letter is the best thing I could do.”
I nodded. “Do you want for me to read it right now?” I slowly began to open the letter.
“No, don’t read it here,” she stopped me, putting her hands around mine. “It’s better if you read it while you’re on the ship. Right now, I just want you to go in good cheer,” she smiled.
“If you say so,” I put the letter in my pocket. “Anything else to say before I step out the door?”
She let out a deep sigh, looking down to her feet. She raised her head, “Just take good care of yourself out there. Your kingdom still needs their heir to return.”
She’s been avoiding my stare ever since we started this conversation and I could see she’s just being strong, trying to stop her tears from coming out. We may not be a real couple but I am her friend, her brother. I still care for her in many ways, even if she doesn’t understand that or accept that.
After a moment of hesitation, I engulfed her into my arms, holding her tight but with care. “Don’t do anything reckless while I’m away,” I felt her return my embrace. “Remember: this relationship may not be real but our friendship is more real than anything for me,” I continued as she began to cry on my shoulder.
This will be the longest time I’ll be away from anything in this castle so I can understand why Mallory is feeling this way.
I rubbed her back as I carefully pulled away from her.
She was quick to wipe away her tears. “I’m sorry if I’m crying,” she replied as she continued to wipe her face.
“Don’t apologize for having emotions,” I answered, wiping some of the tears myself. “Being vulnerable is important, even to an immortal like you. Don’t be ashamed of that.”
She nodded as she sniffed, wiping her nose with her wrist.
“Hello, Mallory,” James suddenly greeted behind her.
“Your Majesty,” she curtsied as James stood beside me.
“Am I interrupting anything?” he asked as he looked at the two of us, confused.
“Not at all, Your Majesty. Mallory and I are just saying our goodbyes,” I explained, rubbing her arms in comfort.
“Take your time but not too long,” he said. “It’s nice to see you again, Mallory. You’ve grown so much.”
She nodded, keeping her head down.
“I’ll see you outside, Robert,” James went on his way.
I turned back to Mallory who was still sniffing. “There, there,” I comforted, walking closer to her. “Stop crying. The last thing I would want to happen is to leave this castle, knowing that you’re crying.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll stop once I get every tear out,” I tried to smile amidst the tears.
I nodded. “I have to go. I’ll see you when I return,” I patted her head.
She bid her final farewell with a curtsy before I headed to the door.
All of my family members were already there when I stepped out of the castle. The three carriages that will be taking us to the harbor are already waiting for us. I looked to the east and the sun was beginning to show itself, wishing us a safe trip.
“Robert,” Mother called my attention. “Are you ready to go?”
I nodded with a firm smile on my face.
Mother began her goodbyes to James and my sister. As they did that, I called one of the guards’ attention.
“Your Highness,” he bowed.
“I have a task for you and this must be between the two of us only,” I started, putting my hands in my pockets.
“What is it that you want me to do, Your Highness,” he enquired.
With an enchantment in my head, a small scroll appeared in my head. “I want you to visit this place as often as possible and without anyone seeing you,” I handed the scroll over to him. “Your main task is to make sure that everyone in this place is safe. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Your Highness,” he nodded as he hid the scroll within this armor.
“No one can know about this, not even Gonzalo and most especially, His Majesty,” I repeated, giving him a firm look.
He bowed and walked back to his position.
“Robert?” I turned to see Elizabeth walking towards me, already with her arms open to hug me.
Without saying another word, I hugged her with everything that I have. She will be one of the people that I will miss while I’m in Middle Earth. I will miss her company, most of all. She has been my source of comfort when my mother and James are not around.
“Don’t be such a pain to Mother,” she giggled, pulling away.
“Do you have to tease me, Elizabeth?” I whined. “I’m already leaving and you still find time to say such things to me?”
“Robert, I’m just taking every opportunity to tease you because you won’t be here for a long time,” she began to pout. “I’ll miss you too much. You do know that, right?”
“Of course, I do,” I held her hands, caressing them. “I’ll miss you more than you’ll miss me. You know I depend on your presence too much.”
She smiled before she messed with my hair.
“Robert,” Mother called out to me. “Say your final goodbyes to your father,” she gestured for James to walk towards me.
Elizabeth hugged me for the last time, “Don’t start a fight.” She pulled away and smiled, walking back to Mother.
James then walked up to me. I put my hands behind me as he started, “I hope you have an amazing time with your mother on Middle Earth.”
“As long as I don’t forget my duties as a prince, am I correct?”
He sighed and nodded. “However, that’s not the only thing I would want for you to do.”
I looked at him dead in the eyes, waiting for what else he expects of me to do. Doesn’t he know that he’s already put so much weight on my shoulders? Does he have to add more? Being his heir has already put so many expectations on me. Adding more to what I should do will only make it even harder for me.
I want you to take some time to enjoy the scenery and the culture in their kingdom,” he continued. “Aside from doing your royal duties, you deserve to reward yourself for all the hard work you’ll be doing.”
“Your Majesty, in case you didn’t know, I will be studying their culture because my future bride is among them,” I replied. “You don’t have to remind me of something that I already know.”
“There’s a difference between learning the culture of a different kingdom for an alliance and taking in the culture and enjoying everything it can offer you,” he quickly answered. “ I want you to do the latter.”
“I don’t understand why you’re telling me this, James,” my brows furrowed.
He walked closer, “I don’t want you to think that the reason why you’re going to that kingdom is all about duty. Your mother did point out to me that you deserve a life outside of your duties as heir.” He took a deep breath as he continued, “And this opportunity may let you enjoy your life as an individual.”