WARNING: THis is a teaser for a not et finished novel that will not be on the market for two years or so! If ever!
Prince Firan Eril Quilan Sokryn was tired of three things. First, he was tired of being called "Prince Firan Eril Quilan Sokryn, seventh prince of the land of Udal" every time he was introduced. He honestly liked being called Quil. Second, he was tired of being told what he must do, as seventh prince of Udal. And thirdly, he was tired of these damn dinners. The air was thick with unspoken objections as the ambassador and princess of Atury quietly, and with the grace that all royalty should possess, ate their soup. The clacking of spoons against the porcelain bowls was the only persistent noise, although the occasional palace noises broke through.
The table was long, dark, and wooden, capable of seating 150 people. The silverware and bowls were fancier than strictly necessary, the kind of things that make you wonder what the royal family spends all their money on. The soup in the bowls was delicious, of course, prepared by the finest chefs money could buy in Udal, and the cloth that draped the table was only the finest in the world.
The princess Iliana clearly wanted to be there as just as much as Prince Quil did, and he briefly wondered what lover at home her parents had disapproved of, forcing her to look into marrying the princes of the neighboring countries. However, all the princes destined to be king were already married, and as a lowly seventh prince unlikely to ever take the throne, what would Quil ever come to? This had been what had kept him from an unfortunate marriage so far.
"So," said King Eril Quilan Malil Sokryn, "we are pleased to have you here in our home."
"It is our honor, Your Majesty." Said the Ambassador, nudging Iliana in the side until she looked up from her soup and said, "Of course." She proceeded to stare back into her bowl. Perhaps she was looking into the future, thought Quil, wishing he could do the same.
"The royal family line in Atury have a long history of strong sons. I feel that Iliana would bear your son many." Iliana and Quil each reacted with equal measures of shock, Iliana's spoon dropping into her bowl. As he watched her pick her spoon back up, Quil had to resist the urge to snicker at the thought. He wasn't exactly going to have children. He could see Iliana's hands shake as she lifted her spoon to her mouth again.
"I'm sure their union would make Quil very happy." His mother said.
"No, it wouldn't." Quil said to his soup, snorting.
"I'm sorry, dear? What was that?" She asked.
"I said that it wouldn't make me happy, and you know why. I cannot just marry some woman that I've never even fully met. One whom I am not in love with, and who I will never love. And you know why."
"Actually, darling, I don't know." The queen never thought Quil would dare say what he said next.
"Marrying a princess, or a noble lady, or any of these women you try and force on me will ever make me happy. You know that. I've told you how many times now that I definitely do not like women?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the ambassador gasp and the princess' eyes widen and her jaw drop. He smirked, glad to finally air some grievances. He wondered how long it would take for this news to spread, how long it would take to ruin the king and queen.
"Firan! How dare you say something like that!" His mother said.
"Because, Mother, it's the truth. I'll never have children because I'll never touch a woman, I'll never get married if I cannot marry someone I love. And it's not like you don't have plenty of other sons to produce heirs! Why can't I just be myself and go off and do whatever it is that I want to do?" And with that final outburst, Quil finally leaped from his seat and ran out of the dining hall, away from that long, long table and those stuffy manners. He ran as if he was escaping his life, the lie he had to live for other people, the things he had to pretend to keep his parents happy.
He seated himself in the little nook of a window he'd always loved and stared into the courtyard, watching the gardener work. This was how he'd discovered his personal tastes, watching the man sweat and those muscles flex. He'd watch the gardener end up in various states of indecency due to the heat in the summer and he'd walked away many times with thoughts and desires swimming in his head that he knew he should not have, but he could not get rid of. The gardener was a young man his age and had been his first love. Actually, he'd been a lot of firsts, first kiss, first date, first broken heart. The gardener was now married with a child on the way.
Today was hot, and thus, the gardener was shirtless, sweat dripping down his face and torso. That torso, Quil knew, was firm and well muscled, gained from many years tending the garden. What a fiery affair they'd had, all stolen kisses and night encounters. They'd had their fair share of passion. It was a year behind him though, and Quil flicked some brown hair out of his eyes to watch the man some more.
And as Quil watched, his wife, heavily pregnant, waddled out to him and gave him a kiss, beginning to say something. And Quil held back the tears that still threatened to fall, despite the fact that he thought he'd moved past it, because it would not be dignified for a prince to cry.
The land of Udal was not a forgiving place. It was militant, and strict guidelines had to obeyed by every member of society. You could not marry outside your rank and often people never married for love. Quil heard of places where such things never happened, where everyone was able to love and be loved without worry, without shame. But the prince had never seen such a thing, and besides, would even those people accept someone as corrupt as he was? But, then again, he had never really felt all that corrupt, his love felt just as real and just as strong as a man who loved a woman.
"You loved him, didn't you?"
Quil whipped around, finding himself face to face with Princess Iliana. "You loved him," she said, "and he left you, for her, didn't he?"
"He was my first love." Quil said, voice small and scarcely allowing himself to talk about the past. The aforementioned tears were barely held back. "But no one understands, anyway. Everyone else is perfectly content to live their lives loving whom they are supposed to love."
"I'm sure someone out there understands you."
He was silent, and she took that as permission to speak again, as confirmation of his loneliness. "I understand how you feel. And to be honest, I don't want to marry a man. There's this girl, a servant back at the castle, and she is so beautiful, and kind, and smart. I love her, not some random prince, no offense. My parents found out and forced me into this." She smiled and left, and vaguely, Quil could hear her being berated by the ambassador.
He thought about her, and the fact that there was someone else out there like him, someone who refused to go along with the social standards when they knew in their hearts they felt differently. The gardener had left him for those standards, and he was sure they would drive off many potential lovers. But here was a young woman, a princess, no less, who had refused, the same way he had. Perhaps there were more out there. But he'd never get the chance to go find them. His parents were too afraid they'd get into a scandal if he left the house. They were afraid he'd go maul some poor man or get caught having sex in public.
Speak of the devil, he thought as the king and queen entered the room. They walked towards him with an excruciating slowness, until they finally came to stand two feet away, towering over his sitting form, arms crossed and countenances fierce.
"You," the king said, "need to be punished. Going on and on about this. Your mother can hardly handle it. This is not the way a prince behaves. We had to swear the princess and the ambassador to secrecy!"
"But, father, I can't help how I was bo-"
'I am not your father anymore. Until you have proven yourself worthy. I have a task for you to complete. Go out into the world, and find for me a fairy with no magic."
"But there is no such thing! Fairies are their magic. And if there were, they're reclusive enough that I would never get close enough to find one."
"I do not care. As of today, I have only 6 sons. I do not wish to see you in my kingdom again until you have completed your quest."
And Prince Quil returned to his room to pack his things, and he left the castle, the only home he had ever known, still not knowing whether or not he would attempt the quest, and headed down the road to Cherd.