Chapter One - Prince (b)
“There’s no such thing as a bad time for my beloved sister,” I walked towards her, giving her a kiss on the cheek as I reached her. “Would you like to join me on the balcony?” I laid out my hand.
She nodded as she clung onto my arm and held my hand with her other hand.
“How are you feeling?” she asked as we reached the balcony.
I sighed as we stood beside each other. “If you don’t include that disastrous breakfast scenario then yes, I am fine.”
“James isn’t that hard to get along with, if you ask me,” Elizabeth started the topic as carefully as she can. “If you do what he wants, you two will get along quite well.”
“And that’s where all our problems start, Elizabeth. I can’t do what he wants,” I said. “And I don’t want that kind of life.”
“I don’t understand why you find that so hard to do. Look at me, I’ve been doing it for years,” she encouraged.
“Well, I’m not as perfect as you, Elizabeth. But, I do wonder,” I turned my head to her. “How come you do all that James wants and never showed any sign of resistance?”
She smiled as she looked out to the view of the garden. “I do it for Mother,” she looked back at me.
Elizabeth let out a deep sigh and continued, “Long before you were born, she almost left James. She felt he never loved her in the first place. They got engaged when she was sixteen, and she went along with everything until I reached the age of three thousand years.” Elizabeth then held my hand, “The only thing that stopped her from leaving is the fact that she knew her children needed a home... a father.”
I slowly pulled my hand back. “We don’t have a father,” I said as I reverted my attention back to the view.
She then put her hand on my shoulder. “Give him a chance, little one. You’ll see, he’s more than what you think of him.” She messed with my hair, always a sign of affection from her.
“Your Highness?” a voice called out into the room, a knock on the door came first.
Our heads turned to see Gonzalo enter the room.
“Yes, Gonzalo?” I asked as we started walking towards him.
“Her Majesty is looking for you, Your Highnesses,” Gonzalo bowed. “She said it’s time for you to go and visit the school Her Majesty is supporting.”
“Is that so?” Elizabeth asked as we finally reached Gonzalo. “Where’s Mother?”
“She’s currently waiting with His Majesty at the entrance,” Gonzalo replied.
After what happened during breakfast, I can’t believe that James would expect me to go with them on today’s visit. I’m not sure if he already made his peace on the matter, or he’s being insensitive towards how I currently feel.
“Kindly tell Her Majesty that we’ll be right down,” Elizabeth smiled.
“Of course, Your Grace,” Gonzalo bowed. “Is there anything I can do for your preparations?”
“Have some maids prepare my things for the trip. That would be enough,” Elizabeth answered.
“As you wish, my lady.” Gonzalo then turned to me. “And you, young master?”
“Have all the unfinished reports delivered here to my room,” I instructed. “I won’t be joining my family today. Please tell our mother that I have a lot of matters to take care of.”
Gonzalo bowed once more. “I’ll take my leave, then.” And with that, he left Elizabeth and me to ourselves.
“Are you certain that you’re not coming with us?” Elizabeth asked as soon as the door closed behind Gonzalo.
“Dearest sister,” I started as we walked towards the door. “James and I made quite a wonderful scene during breakfast. Frankly, I don’t want another one, especially in front of the townspeople.”
She giggled at my remark. “I understand completely.” I opened the door, and we walked out of my room with her right in front of me. “I’ll go ahead and prepare. I’ll explain to them about the reports that you have to sort.”
“Thank you, Elizabeth,” I smiled as I planted a light kiss on her cheek. “I pray that you have a safe trip, forth and back.” For the longest time, Elizabeth has been looking out for me and I always appreciated how she would always have my back. To be able to have a strong bond with my sibling is something that the other kingdoms are impressed at. And, we’re proud of showing our love for each other in public.
Without her, I think my life as a prince, imprisoned in this castle, won’t be as bearable as of now.
“I will see you when we return, young one,” she said as she laid a peck on my forehead.
I nodded in response.
She began her walk to her room and after watching her for a few seconds, I went back inside my bedroom, waiting for the reports to be delivered.
A long while has passed and in the middle of my reports, the trumpets’ fanfare played outside. As I took a quick look through my window, the royal carriage has left the castle grounds, followed closely by the royal guards.
A knock then came upon the door which caused me to turn to its direction. The door opened and Gonzalo entered. “Your Highness,” he bowed. “Your family has left. Her Majesty wanted me to inform you of their departure.”
“On the contrary, she didn’t have to,” I returned to my desk. “I heard the fanfare from here so I was well-acquainted when they left. But thank you for letting me know,” I sat down and resumed reading the report that I was taking care of before I got distracted.
From the corner of my eye, I saw that Gonzalo nodded. “Is there anything you would like to do after your work, young master?” he asked as he stood beside me. “After all, you have so much spare time today.”
Gonzalo’s question indeed caught my attention, making me put the report that’s currently in my hands, down. I know that I have a lot of work to do but truth be told: I don’t want to spend the whole day, stuck in my office with nothing but papers in front of me. And seeing that James isn’t here to meddle with my affairs, I have the freedom to do whatever it is that I want.
I stood up from my chair. “I would like to have a quick stroll outside the castle grounds,” I walked back to the window. “A quick visit to the Mortal Realm could help me refresh my mind.”
“How many guards would you like to accompany you, Your Highness?”
My brows furrowed as I turned around to look at him. “I didn’t say I wanted any guards to come, Gonzalo.”
“But Your Highness,” he began to walk towards me. “A being from our realm should never go to the Mortal Realm alone, especially a prince such as yourself,” he explained. “You are, after all, the heir to this kingdom.”
“Gonzalo, ever since I was born, I never got the chance to do anything on my own,” I started sorting the reports, separating the finished reports from the unfinished ones. They began to pile up as I did so. “Guards would always surround me, reminding me that my father would be furious if I do something against his orders.”
“Your Highness, you must understand that it is for your safety,” he continued to protest.
After all the reports had been sorted, I took a deep breath and turned to Gonzalo. “Gonzalo, I don’t want any guards with me to the Mortal Realm,” I walked towards him. As soon as I reached him, I added, “I’m simply going on a quick stroll with Lady. Bringing the guards can cause a commotion which is something I’m trying to avoid.”
“But Your Highness--” he tried insisting on what the rules wanted but I continued to give him a stare that I don’t want to have anyone accompany me.
“Gonzalo, do we really have to argue about this?”
His eyes started to look around the room in a panic as he tried to find another reason to go against what I want. But when he saw that there’s no way to persuade me, he bowed his head in defeat. “No, Your Highness.” He then looked up to me once again. “What would you want me to do?”
“Kindly have a few servants prepare Lady,” I instructed. “Tell them that I will put the saddle on Lady myself.”
Gonzalo took another bow and left me alone.
After I took one final glance around my study, I walked out of the door with my page right behind me.
“Page?” I called out to him as we made our way to my room.
“Yes, Your Highness?”
“Have some of the maids prepare a bath for me while I choose something to wear,” I said.
“Certainly, Your Highness.” Without a moment to lose, he rushed off to fetch the maids for me. I just hope that my family won’t return home early.
Making my way to the kitchen, which is located in the basement, I greeted every servant that has come across my path. More and more servants greeted me as I got closer to the kitchen. The kitchen has a direct - almost secret - passage to the stables. So I thought that it would be nice to pay someone a visit in the kitchen today.
“Good morning, everybody,” I greeted as I entered the kitchen with a smile on my face.
“Good morning, Your Highness,” they all greeted with their usual cheerful tone.
As I continued to smile at everyone in the room, I headed straight to Nana Olsa. “Good morning, Nana,” I hugged her from behind without any sort of warning.
“Oh!” she exclaimed out of shock, her hand landed on her chest as she calmed herself. “Oh, my dear boy, it’s good to see you,” she giggled as she turned around to hug me. “You gave me such a fright.”
Nana Olsa was my nanny when I was little but she was removed by James when I reached the age of twelve thousand years. He said I was old enough to be transferred into the care of my tutors. Although she was removed as my nanny, she was welcomed to stay as a servant and so she did. She stayed as the head cook so she could continue to look after me from afar.
“It’s good to see you as well, Nana,” I slowly pulled away from her and gave her a gentle peck on the cheek.
“Oh, my dear boy, you’re still sweet as you were a child,” she giggled. “What brings you to my lair?” she then turned around and continued to stir the soup she was cooking.
“I was on my way to the stables so I stopped by to get my water container and a few apples for Lady,” I explained. “Also, I thought it would be nice to pay you a visit as well.”
“The stables?” she stopped stirring as she asked. She then turned her head to my direction. “Are you going out on your own? Isn’t today the day for your visit to the village with your family? Were you left behind?” She then returned to stirring the pot after letting out all of her questions.
I stayed quiet for a few seconds as I tried to think of an excuse. “I wasn’t left behind. I didn’t go with them. I’m not…” I hesitated as I continued to think of a neutral way to say what I want to say. “I wasn’t in the mood to join them today. There are some days where I don’t enjoy doing those visits.”
She, once again, turned her head towards me. “Is it because of your father?”
My eyes widened when she knew the answer but a smile crept up to my face right after. “How did you know?”