Introducing the Prince
"IT'S THE MOST amazing thing, don't you think?"
"Well, it depends on what you're talking about," replied a young man. He was sitting in the corner of a lavish bedroom, his chin resting in his hands, looking thoroughly bored. The festivals were starting soon and if they did not hurry, they would not make it in time. However, the man knew that they would be late—they were always late. It was not his fault, though. It was never his fault.
Another young man, this one seated in front of a wooden vanity, turned around in his chair, an appalled look upon his face. "What do you mean by that, Henry?" he said accusingly. "I'm talking about me!"
"Oh," Henry said flatly. "Of course." He really should have expected it; after all, Edward, for that was the name of the man at the vanity, was the reason that they were always late. He had to be primed to perfection, even though he believed that he was perfect as he was. It was hypocritical to say the least.
Edward stood up from the chair, not bothering to harass Henry of his mistake any longer, and took one last look in the mirror. His golden hair fell across his face in thick curls and he took caution in making sure that none were astray from his head. Edward batted his blue eyes, knowing very well how he could use them to make girls swoon. He was ready.
Sighing deeply, Henry got up from his own chair. He was just as strong as Edward, but no one noticed. All anyone could see was the sheer muscular size of Edward; they ignored the shorter frame of Henry, dismissing it without even knowing what he could do. Being Edward's friend could be very demeaning, in its own way: Everything was about Edward and those that followed him loyally were cast into the shadows, facing the fate of being overshadowed.
Thankfully, Henry did not mind all too much. He fit right into the shadows. And it was not as if he was treated wrongly because of this. On the contrary, he was greeted enthusiastically by many, though if only known as 'Edward's friend.'
But being such a friend to a man so beautiful did have its hurts. Henry was not exactly handsome, but he was not, with any doubt, ugly. Yes, his nose might have been too big for his face, and his mouth might have been tight, as if stretched across his face, but he was still a nice looking man. But put him next to Edward and you saw nothing. It was a cruel fate: All everyone saw was Edward. Henry was there; you barely saw him—you might not even remember what he looked like minutes later—but he was there.
Now you, dear reader, are absorbing this information carefully. You must in order to understand this story. But let us continue for the moment before I relay a very important detail on to you.
"If you are done now," Henry said, "we have a festival to go to—and it is no fun and games. We, especially I, have important people to meet today, and if we don't impress them, everything will go wrong."
Edward rolled his eyes at the remark. "Trust me, Henry, everything will run smoothly. All you have to do is stand there. I'll talk to them and if things start to turn, then I'll just sweet talk them."
If one thing was true about Edward, it was his skill for talking. He could talk his way out of almost any situation. However, his wonderful voice, paired with his self-absorbed brain and lack of thinking before speaking, also got him into the very trouble that he had to talk himself out of. And it was this fact alone that worried Henry. If Edward screwed up this meeting today then Henry was done. His reputation would shatter and he needed his reputation, as little as it was, to survive.
The castle was bustling with servants as the young men—not yet boys, not yet men—walked through the halls. Both Henry and Edward lived within the stone walls, for different reasons I might add. Today, most of the residents were out in the large courtyard or town green, that were serving as centers for the festival. Townspeople were enjoying themselves to no end, a relief after working day upon day, while the servants were preparing the night's dinner, to which only the most important were invited.
"We're late… again!" hissed Henry. He was so nervous about the meeting.
"No we're not." Edward looked down at his friend, smiling widely. The smile made Henry want to believe that everything was going to be alright—but he had a feeling in the pit of his stomach that something was going to go wrong. "Everyone is just early."
"Right," he scoffed. "An entire city of people just happened to be early."
"That's how I see it."
Yes, Edward could be very thick some times, as I am sure that you are finding out. There are many things that you will be discovering over the course of this story about many people. So keep your mind open—it might help.
The festival was already in full swing, with noise emanating from every possible corner of the courtyard. People danced, people sang, and some drank till they could barely stand on two feet. The best part was that everyone was happy.
Everyone except Henry, that is.
"Oh," he moaned despondently. "Over there—those are the men that we have to talk to." Edward followed his gaze. Two well dressed and angry looking men were conversing with a tall, fair-haired haired man. He saw the boys and waved them over, a serious frown on his face. It was not a disappointed frown, nor an angry frown; it was one of exhaustion and sadness, as if he knew the troubles they were going to have to go through with these men.
This went right over Edward's head. His noticing skills were very dull, and it did not faze his that none of the men were happy. He grabbed Henry by the elbow and pulled him toward the men, grinning like a Cheshire cat.
The light-haired man ushered them in front of the man, spilling out introductions as though they were toxic.
"This is Sir William Canterbury." He gestured to a short, fat man dressed in a deep green overcoat. "And Sir Arthur Bridgestern." The other was practically decaying before their eyes. He hunched over onto a sliver walking stick and a mustache overtook his face so much that it was pointless to distinguish where his mouth and chin were.
"Edward and Henry," the man told the Sirs. Henry gave a curt bow while Edward shined his spectacular teeth, hoping that that would suffice. The stout man glanced at his elderly companion, a snarl on his disapproving face.
The light-haired man pulled them into a tent with the country's insignia on the flap. All of the noise from the festival halted when they went inside. Bridgestern lowered himself into a chair carefully while Canterbury stood behind him. Henry's heart was in his throat as he looked at their stern faces. This was going to be hard.
"Mister Newbrook," Canterbury said to Henry, "we have been told that you are searching for a job with us." He glanced down at his companion. "And we are considering this. If what we hear about you is true then you could be a wonderful addition to our business."
Henry's eyes lit up. But just as he was about to open his mouth, Edward interrupted him. "You are absolutely correct, my sir. This man"—he patted Henry roughly on the shoulders—"has been my friend for all most all of my life." He added a fake sounding laugh for effect. Henry tried not to roll his eyes at his friend's actions. "I know that his work ethic is simply amazing. And trust whatever I say, men, for I see this kid almost every day."
Bridgestern raised his thick eyebrows in response and gestured at Canterbury to crouch down next to him. The elderly man whispered into his ear, with Bridgestern nodding excessively.
"Why don't you let me handle this," Henry whispered fiercely to Edward, not taking his eyes off the other men.
"Of course not." Edward gave a reassuring smile. "I don't mean to be rude here, but you, my friend, just don't have the tongue of gold that I do."
"That's what I'm worried about."
"What?" Edward asked innocently.
Henry shook his head. "Nothing…"
Canterbury cleared his throat, pulling them back to reality. He waddled to the chair next to Bridgestern and, with great effort due to the mass of his girth, sat down. He wiped his head from the ordeal. Henry had to wonder why he was wearing a greatcoat: In the summer heat, Henry himself was only in a light tunic and pants. But after a moment, the man seemed fine and the thought was pushed away.
"So you are a reoccurring aspect in Mister Newbrook's life?" he asked.
Edward gave a dazzling smile, hoping to win them over with his charm. "Yes, I am. He is very lucky to have a friend like me, wouldn't you say? Why, I remember one time when I had to rescue him from a gang of boys. We were only twelve, and I must say, Henry was much lankier than I was." He turned to his friend and said with a laugh, "You still are now!"
Henry groaned and tried to grab Edward's arm, but he jumped up, much to the surprise of the Sires.
"There was this group that did not fully favor us," he said, "though I am not sure why. We happen to be amazing people. Anyways, they had Henry here tied up on a pole sticking out of an attic and they had started a fire underneath on the ground. I think that he thought they were going to actual kill him." He laughed again and grabbed Bridgestern's silver walking stick from the ground. "They had sticks and we started to fight—me and the leader of the group… What was his name again, Henry?"
"John," he mumbled.
"Yes, that was it!" Edward started to swing the stick around, jabbing at an imaginary foe. Canterbury and Bridgestern leaned back in fear of being hit. "My, did we battle! It was simply amazing; I wish you could have seen it. Well, I hit the kid right under the chin and he fly flew back." Edward forced the stick into the air, as if he was hitting John in the chin once again. "He landed on the ground, took one look at me, and ran away. The whole lot of them ran. I rescued poor Henry before we were even late for supper.
He gave a pleased sigh. Before returning to his seat, Edward took one last jab at the air, tripping on the expensive throw rug in the process. Henry covered his eyes, for he saw the sliver cane catch under Bridgestern's chair, toppling it over.
Everyone ran over to the fallen man. Edward pulled himself off the ground. "I'm fine!" he exclaimed before realizing that no one was paying attention.
Bridgestern moan as he lay in a heap. Canterbury was trying unsuccessfully to pull him up.
"You!" He pointed a finger accusingly at Edward. "Look what you have done! You could have killed this man!"
Edward covered his mouth with his hand. Then, he scooped Bridgestern up in his arms, setting him on the now-upright chair. "What can I do to make it up to you?" he pleaded. "Anything, I'll do anything!"
Bridgestern coughed roughly for a moment. "Canterbury," he called. His voice cracked on the word and every word that followed. "I have a… proclamation to make." He whispered it into the stout man's ear.
"I agree," he said with a wicked smile that made Henry's heart sink. He fixed the collar of his coat before helping Bridgestern stand. "King Richard!"
The light-haired man rushed over to his side. Usually, one did not talk to the king in such a tone, but this situation was different than normal. "Yes?" he asked warily. It was dangerous to say that the king was scared, for kings should never be scared, but he was most definitely nervous about what was going to come out of Canterbury's mouth.
"You know that we are part of the Elders Council," he said slowly, "and that we have power to issue certain things without the consent of the king."
"By God, man, what are you going to do?"
Canterbury's sickening smile expanded until it overtook his face, leaving nothing but a pair of shiny black eyes. "In order to grant the work request, the prince must go on a quest—alone!"
Richard's face dropped. "You must be joking…"
Henry looked over at the king, a look of horror spreading across his face. This could not be happening. Going on a quest would be a disaster, but alone—Henry could not fathom it. There was no way he was going to get the job, not if the quest had to be completed.
Now, dear reader, you remember how earlier I said that I was withholding crucial information from you. Well, now is the time to tell it.
Henry is not the prince.
To be continued…
You might have seen this story on here before, but due to the chapters getting messed up and line-breaks gone askew, I decided to repost it. Enjoy!