"Your Highness! Stop this instant!” A shout rang out in the middle of the crowded cobblestone streets. A bunch of palace guards chased a person who was dodging through the sea of people. The entirety of the ones who crossed their path yelped and staggered out of the way, confused on what just transpired.
The one addressed as ‘Your Highness’ laughed. He slipped through the crowd like a thief, studded black boots hitting the ground with solid thumps. “No, I’d rather not! You guards are boring and I’d prefer myself over anything.” he teased, running even faster. The guards shouted for him to come back.
Prince Henry Tudor, age 18, was the third heir to the throne of Antheia. He had a fair complexion, red hair that reached his nape, and a lithe build. The most that stood out from him was his blood-red crimson irises. He wore a black high collared vest with buckles holding it together. A cape was fastened around the big hoop on the center of his vest, held by leather suspenders and arm bracers that also had silver on them. He was cladded in black pants that had two studded belts locking said garment.
“Sorry folks,” Henry mumbled. He held his cape close, wrestling with his messy red hair. Damn that one was the most recognizable part of his body. “But you’re not catching me today.”
Henry hid himself in an alley, pressing his whole body against the wall. He heard the frantic chatter of his escorts that soon were nothing more than a passing mumble amidst the crowd. He dusted off his outfit and peeked his head, looking at the stone bricks that adorned the walls of each house and buildings, stepping out into the open to once more blend in.
There were some establishments inside the buildings, the only indication of them being there was the wooden signs that were pressed tightly on top of the entrance: tea and potion shops, restaurants, bookstores, and as well as flower shops. One of the specialty in the heart of the kingdom.
Antheia, the kingdom of flowers and forestry, with a few scattered villages and towns around was known for many luxurious things like rich cultures and fascinating crafts of different types of arts. Magic was present around every corner, all with different purposes and uses for the ones who were gifted with them. Mages, Knights, and Elementalist were common around the area while ordinary citizens made up the rest of the population. They could practice freely here, light magic being the most practiced art, knighthood given to the nobles, and ordinary work to the commoners. Dark magic was allowed but only a chosen few of it was legal.
And in the capital of Antheia, a city called Kira, was where the flowers and sweets were mostly sold. Merchants came here all year round to trade, while the royal family ruled amongst their kin.
Beautiful. Absolutely delightful.
The smell of baked sweets and fabric wafted through the air thickly, Henry inhaling all of it with gusto. He went over to check out the merchants who sold their products, delight coursing through him as he stopped by every stall he passed by.
“Ah, what a good day it is to have a small trip around town. Oh! Candy!” He exclaimed, rushing over to a store that sold sweet caramel treats, paying for it with a silver coin. He got his bag of candy and continued exploring, tossing one of the sweets into his mouth.
Though, one of the most bizarre spectacle did catch his eye. A sheet was laid out on the side of the road with different weapons and antique things that could be traded for another priceless item or currency. A merchant sat cross legged on the edge, haggling prices with a buyer who’s face Henry could not see since it was covered by a purple hood.
Are they royalty? Or are they a noble? Purple dye is hard to come by and are pretty expensive here.
Curiosity was best not entertained yet Henry went over anyways. He caught wind of what they were discussing, pretending to examine the displayed items.
“Make it 70 gold coins, 30 silvers, and 35 bronze coins.” The hooded man said, voice slowly wavering.
The turbaned merchant shook his head. “I’m sorry sir but a sword like this cannot be bartered easily. The lowest I can sell this to you is 85 gold coins, 20 silvers, and 40 bronze. This sword is made out of silver and platinum—one of the rarest metals of the world.”
Henry blinked, gawking because wasn’t that too much? The stranger looked beaten and it made the prince feel a faint hint of sympathy. He understood the feeling of trying to convince someone. It was exhausting.
He tried to catch their attention by clearing his throat. “Pardon me, gentleman. What sword is he talking about?”
Both of the bargaining parties paused, staring at the redhead. The hooded man blinked. There were no discerning features from him since it was covered by a cloth mask. By Kira, they had the deepest shade of blue eyes Henry had ever seen.
Before Henry could blurt out his question that might possibly behead him, the merchant spoke up. “It’s a Scimitar, a sword originating from the Senuet peninsula, a rare sword that only the sultans are allowed to carry, rarely even forged or given to the commoners.”
He presented the item to them, letting its full beauty shine.
The Scimitar had a black curved scabbard, covered in purple, green, and red jewels. The hilt had a golden curled pommel reminding Henry of a new plant sapling.
“Would you like to take a look at the blade?” The merchant handed the sword to Henry.
“Absolutely!” Henry grabbed the Scimitar, holding it gently in his hands.
“What are you—“ the stranger cut himself off, brows furrowed.
Henry took the blade out of the scabbard and examined it, the curved tip of the weapon showing its glory, sharp side glinting with a fine shin of coating and sharp precision. A delicate piece of forgery and craft. It held true on the silver and platinum. Perhaps he could--
“I’ll pay the rest of the coins that he's missing, yes?” Henry placed the sword back in its scabbard, reaching for the bag that was tied ‘round his waist. "A sword for a swordsman."
The stranger stared at him in disbelief.
“I- what… Are you certain? I cannot just accept this!” He protested, ochre hands shooting out to stop Henry.
Henry pouted. “I insist, besides you look like you needed it and I know someone who desperately wants a sword. So… take the offer, pay what you promised earlier to the merchant, why don't you?"
The stranger's hand twitched. Henry shushed them by throwing the sword to their direction.
The stranger tensed, snatching the weapon in mid-air. “Don't treat a sword like that!”
“Well if I did not you wouldn’t have accepted it in the first place so I had to. Pay up on the other half. You got your sword.” Henry handed the coins to the merchant who took it with bewildered hands.
The stranger stared again, eyes unblinking.
The situation became awkward fast and Henry began to fidget, a small frown settling on his lips. He scratched his head asking himself if it was wrong to help a stranger? You know what, nevermind, he should get out of here.
“Are you going to keep staring or are you going to pay for the price you bargained?”
That snapped the stranger out of his stupor, bowing his head with the pads of his fingers on his forehead. He dug into the wide sleeve of his hood, procuring a bag of coins and dropping it on the merchant’s hand. Not saying anything, his dark blue eyes—or were they violet?— examined the sword.
Henry turned away, leaving both the stranger and merchant. The stranger looked up, the prince already out of his line of sight. What an interesting fellow.
Popping another candy in his mouth, Henry internally screamed at what he had done. Holy mother of Kira, when will this type of thing with him stop?
“One day you’re going to get your arse kicked and then thrown off the cliff if you keep acting up.” Henry rubbed his cheek, thinking of ways that he could berate himself.
He was about to throw another confection in his mouth when a loud whinny and the hoof beats of horses stopped him dead on his tracks. Turning around, he saw a set of palace guards rushing his way. Ah, crap. He was done for.
“There you are your highness!” The head knight exclaimed, stopping his horse. Henry blinked for a moment then smiled like a guilty child. “Ah yes, hello, Sir Knight.”
“My apologies for ruining your fun, Your Highness. Her Majesty requests for your presence. You best come with us or she’ll have our heads.” The knight informed urgently.
Henry tilted his head. Why would his mother want his presence? It wasn’t that urgent, right? Poor guards. “Now why would she have your heads? She has never called me in the middle of the day and most certainly never sent you, her personal guards, to fetch me.”
“I’m sorry but I do not know, Your Highness. You have to come with us now. Please get on the horse, we best be leaving.”
“Your Highness, please. We can’t keep Her Majesty waiting.”
Henry wanted to argue some more. However, knowing that it would turn into another chaotic bicker, just silently complied and walked to the stead. He ignored the stares that they were getting from the civilians. Henry climbed up on the saddle feeling sour and annoyed. The guards surrounded him and led him back to the palace.
The palace walls shined pearly-white in the mid-morning sun. Limestone gates glinting as it was opened, both prince and guards piling in. The large structure looked like a monument, sporting gold and rainbow stained windows in some sections. On one side a garden was found, filled with different plants. In the middle of the courtyard, a fountain sat, gushing fresh water, vines delicately surrounding its foundation.
Henry gently yanked the reins of the horse, jumping down once the animal had stopped. He didn’t bother on looking back, asking a nearby maid. “Where is Her Majesty at? The royal guards have informed me that she requires my presence?”
The maid looked up and bowed to the prince. “Welcome back, Your Highness. Her Majesty is currently in the drawing hall. Shall I escort you there?”
Henry shook his head. “Thank you, but I will be fine on my own.” He left, going to the west wing of the palace, blue carpeted floor silencing the sounds of his boots. The eeriness of the hall never failed to put him on edge. Who knew that a hall was so scary?
He smoothed back his hair and stopped in front of an intricately designed double door, taking in a huge breath to release some tension.
“Well here goes nothing, I suppose.” He mumbled and knocked gently.
A few seconds of quite, the faint sound of his mother’s voice rang through just as quick. Henry took in another breath, gripped the door handle and twisted the knob, it creaking open.
Henry stepped in, greeted by the sight of his mother and Advisor Joseph who were sitting, looking at him like he had committed atrocious crimes; Which he hadn’t. Honest!
The silence was… well it wasn't awkward, but it wasn't comfortable either. There was nothing that Henry could say, staring back at the other occupants in the room.
Remembering his manners, his brain sputtered into action as he bowed. One hand was placed over his heart, the other behind his back. “My apologies for keeping you waiting, mother, Advisor Joseph. I was not informed that I would be called in such short notice, so I did not have the time to make myself decent in the slightest.”
“If you mean by not informed and a little decent, you mean running around the city again and wallowing in the pleasure of limited freedom, my son?” Queen Elizabeth asked.
Henry laughed nervously, one hand behind his head. Yup, he was going to be grounded. Was it too late to run out now?
Where was that window that he needed to jump out from? Or even better, the ground that would willingly swallow him whole?
“Hehe… I can’t hide things from you, mother. I apologize again for the wait.” Henry bowed again.
Queen Elizabeth gestured for the prince to sit down, the addressee doing so graciously on the cushion covered chair across her.
“But do tell me, what’s all the fuss about? You normally don’t set a time interval when you want my presence.”
Both the queen and advisor shared a look. Henry was bemused at the held stares it was a miracle that he tried to will himself not to follow. “Is there something I must know?”
“We have something to tell you, yes. Are you willing to listen?” Queen Elizabeth asked, her tone slow and grave.
Something in Henry’s gut twisted and fluttered like a thousand insects. This wasn’t how he expected his mid-morning day to turn out.
He scratched his cheek and didn’t need to think twice as he answered, something tangibly heavy settling in the air. A sure fire saying that the news they bear was not something to look forward to.
“Yes, I’m willing to listen, if you’ll allow it, mother."
And with that Queen Elizabeth elaborated along with Advisor Joseph.
Prince Henry, Prince Henry, why cause mischief when something awaits you?