The Prince of Endless, pt. 7

In a regal antechamber off the royal Great Hall, the King of and Queen of Endruskenlessinia are milling about with some of the Prince’s playthings. Attendants stand by in silence. The Queen, silently weeping, is pregnant. Mahkyel (the perpetrator) enters with a guard, casually eating an apple.

The King asks, “Who could do this?” without looking up.

The Queen sniffs quietly.

Mahkyel hands the fruit to his cohort and approaches the King. “We will find him, my brother. Do not worry.”

After a three quick knocks on the floor (by an outside attendant) NEET the royal advisor enters. He is followed by Dirkennion and Marvella, flanked by four guards. Neet says, “My King, these two constables have come to offer their service.”

King looks at Neet, then at the visitors. Mahkyel leers at them. Queen makes a small sound of surprise. King glances at her, then returns to his son’s play figurine. “An Ehara, and a woman. I think not.”

Mahkyel betrays a sneer, a hand on his sword-belt.

“Good King,” Dirkennion says, bowing. “May I be allowed to speak?”

King glances at Queen again, then shakes his head curtly. The guards look ready for action. Marvella glances at Dirkennion in question.

While the King’s back is turned, Neet and Queen meet eyes for a second.

Neet says, “Very well, my King. Come!” he says to the visitors. He leads Dirkennion and Marvella and the guards away.

Mahkyel steps close to his brother. “I will find our Prince, my King. We have some clues to follow.”

King nods with sorrow, handling the figurine.

Sky-painted ceiling in Hartlaxton Manor, UK~~~

Outside the Royal Hall, Neet leads the party to a guard house and dismisses the men posted there. He tells one guard to stay and the rest to go on. Dirkennion looks at him, curious.

“You are Ehara, ever honorable. Is this not so?”

“It is so,” Dirkennion replies. Marvella doesn’t understand what is happening.
Neet pulls a bejeweled bracelet from a cloth in his pocket. “The Queen has two of these. Its match is missing.”

Dirkennion holds the bracelet up to study it.

“That must be worth a fortune,” Marvella says.

“Correct, Lady Constable.”

Dirkennion returns it. “You believe the match was payment?”

“It is my strong guess. Prince Juno’s schedule is kept within an inner circle as tight as the Queen’s jewelry. And I would surely be a fool to ignore how often the King’s brother Mahkyel scowls in the Prince’s direction.”

Marvella reacts. “Ah, that would explain a number of things.”

On the far side of the courtyard, Mahkyel and eight torch-bearing riders emerge from the royal stables and speed toward the main gate. Dirkennion watches them cautiously, staying hidden in the guard house.

“Mister Ehara,” Neet says, to get his attention.

“Dirkennion. This is Marvella,” he adds, introducing her.

“The King must save face, even among his inner circle. If word got out of his weakness in a time of crisis…”

“It would be a boon to his enemies.”

“And the Queen?” Marvella asks.

Neet swallows. “She is desperate. As a mother, she fears the worst.”

“What happens to an advisor who is found to have gone against the King’s wishes?” Dirkennion says.

Neet shrugs sadly. “Unknown. The Prince is a good child, just a kind soul. He is all that matters,” Neet adds.

Dirkennion glances at Marvella. “Very well,” he says to Neet. “You have our word–we will do what we can to rescue the Prince.”

“With much gratitude, Mister Dirkennion,” Neet says, bowing respectfully.

He leaves and the impressed guard escorts them to the other guardhouse to retrieve their weapons and packs and Marvella’s horse.

Dirkennion asks him, “You will not speak of this?”

“Agreed,” the guard returns.

As Dirkennion and Marvella collect their things, she says, “I notice you did not promise a safe return of the child.”

Dirkennion nods. “To do so would be foolish. We do not know his condition, now.”

“I hope it’s not too late,” she says, mounting her horse.

to be continued…

 

 

The Prince of Endless, pt. 6

In late afternoon, Marvella rides a laden chestnut horse across a stream, with the sea visible on the left. Hurrying to catch up, the horse plunges down the path and back into forest.

After a few moments, she rides across a wide wooden bridge and reaches up to Dirkennion in a glade.

“Again, what manner of creature are you that can outlast a horse?”

Dirkennion glances up from studying trampled bushes. “Some say we are cursed,” he replies. “Painted. And alone.” He chuckles, his gaze following signs of destruction and snapped tree branches.

Marvella dismounts with “Good girl,” and pets the horse. “Stories do not do the Ehara credit.”

“I suppose.” He spots something and goes to it.

“Those men on the boat weren’t carrying much money. A few coins. Standard weapons.”

“Hired thugs,” Dirkennion says, stepping carefully. “They keep their treasure elsewhere, if they had been paid yet at all.”

She follows him. “Gold paint, gouge marks,” she notes, pointing. “From a royal wagon?”

“You do your office credit, Marvella,” he says, following a trail. “If I am not mistaken…there is a boat dock about a mile in that direction.”

She follows him a few steps, an eye on her horse which is drinking from the stream. “That would explain how…your cousin arrived at my dock at Dillingham. But…if this is where the prince was taken, why not follow the prince?”

Dirkennion has stopped by the first of several noticeable depressions in the ground. There is a view of the distant water and dock, and a smooth wagon road bends nearby. He points at the smashed bushes and mud.

“This is from a giant.”

Marvella’s eyes widen and she reflexively reaches for her sword.

“It is nowhere nearby, now,” he says. “Ruts in the road. Two bodies,” he notes, pointing.

“The royal guards,” she says, peering at them.

“This is where it happened. My kin, I believe, knew he was outmatched by the giant. So he chose to pursue the hired men, down to the boat, and so forth.”

“How did your cousin come to be here at the right time? This was an ambush, from the looks of it.”

Dirkennion looks around. “Rather fanciful place for a meeting, would you not say?”

Marvella follows his look. “You believe the Prince of Endless was to meet someone here? Like a suitor?”

“If my kin was protecting the suitor…he would have sent her back upon hearing commotion. We should learn where this road leads. Later. That way is Endruskenlessinia.”

 

A dining hall gargoyle statue from the Harry Potter museum (UK).

~~~

 

Endruskenlessinia is a wealthy kingdom spread across several close hills. It surrounded by a high, well-guarded stone wall, with torches lighting up the twilight.

Dirkennion on foot and Marvella on horseback calmly approach through the town, heading for a stone bridge leading to the main gate. There is a guardhouse on the near side of the bridge.

Two guards step out and cross halberds while villagers pause to watch. “State your business, Ehara.”

“We are constables, sworn to protect,” Dirkennion says. “We have urgent business with the Royal Family.”

“No.”

Marvella clears her throat. “Surely, good sir, there is an advisor who can make time for us.”

 

to be continued…

The Prince of Endless, pt. 1

The Prince of Endless, pt. 2

The Prince of Endless, pt. 3

The Prince of Endless, pt. 4

The Prince of Endless, pt. 5

 

 

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 5

Elsewhere, on a forest path toward seaside ruins, MAHKYEL, the Prince’s scoundrel uncle rides with two guards and his weakling aspiring sorcerer cousin BOORYEL. Both are Eastern (Asian) and are dressed well from royal ties and ride with confidence. Booryel sneezes as they approach the ruins.

When they dismount, they are met by the chief kidnapper, HEDDAHNTON. He is a very fit man in warrior’s armor and has the look of a successful mercenary. Some of his thugs and captured women mill about the ruins, now a makeshift base.

Mahkyel approaches Heddahnton with caution. “Well done, Heddahnton. I trust the little rat is safe?”

“He is, Your Highness.”

Mahkyel wags a finger at him. “Not yet. There will be a time when others call me king, but I expect no such respect from a mercenary.”

Heddahnton leers. “Guilty. Like all men of deeds, I respect sword and coin.”

“Understood,” Mahkyel says, strolling through the camp. “A bonus. Booryel?”

The weakling cousin strolls up, pulling an amethyst necklace from a robe pocket. He holds it out for Heddahnton.

“Did you charm this?”

“Nay,” Booryel says, disappointed. “Simple stones from the queen’s closet. No magical potential.”

“Nonetheless,” Heddahnton says, snapping a finger. A thug comes up and looks at his boss. Warily, he takes the necklace in his gloved hand.

Mahkyel smiles. “I’m the kind of liar you can trust, Heddahnton. There’s more riches to come.”

“What about your giant?” Booryel asks.

“Charmu?” Heddahnton wears a satisfied expression. “Like me, he does his job. My men fulfill his craving for mares.” He looks at Booryel. “And what of your craving for magic? If I remove your hand, could you regrow a new one?”

Booryel swallows hard, taking a step back. “I…uh…”

Heddahnton laughs as Mahkyel intercedes, annoyed. “Save your charms for the ladies, High Warrior.” He takes Booryel by the sleeve and they head for their mounts.

Blurry hand holding knife over stone floor

Nearby, there are cliffs above the sea. Several individual jail cells have been built into the cliffs, 50 feet above a rocky beach. Most of the cells are occupied only by skeletons in rags.

In one, along with an ancient skeleton, sits THE PRINCE OF ENDLESS. He is an Eastern (Asian) boy of ten dressed in simple if regal pajamas. Sitting on the rock floor, he is adjusting a dirty wool blanket around him to keep warm. At the bars are two buckets. One is dirty (for bathroom use) and the other contains stale bread. Sea breeze ruffles his hair, and he’s trying not to cry.

The ground shakes, accompanied by heavy splashing sounds, and dust falls from the rock ceiling. Beyond his cell door, slowly and malevolently, appears CHARMU.

Charmu is a 60-foot giant in simple clothes and with a braided beard. He peers into the cell, sneering. The prince scoots back, fearful.

“Prince,” Charmu scoffs. “Mighty prince.” He turns to go.

 

to be continued…

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The Prince of Endless, pt. 4

Dirkennion calmly walks up the road approaching the town gate to Dillingham. The gate is manned by twin brothers from a simple watch tower and walkway over the road. Upon seeing him, one lifts his crossbow while the other holds up a hand.

“Halt, Ehara.”

Dirkennion displays empty hands. “My name is Dirkennion Singh. I was requested by your constable, Marvella.”

The two brothers whisper to each other. One descends a ladder to get Marvella. The other says, “Would you kindly wait there?”

“Fine. Would you kindly put down your crossbow?”

Soon, Marvella approaches and a twin opens the gate for her. “Greetings,” she says, sizing him up. “You…you are…Dirkennion?”

“I am. Your letter spoke of an urgent matter.”

“You got here quickly.”

He looks back down the road he’s traveled. “I am accustomed to fast travel.”

She comes closer, tentatively.

“I do not bite,” he says.

She clears her throat. “I, uh, my apologies. I have never encountered your…kind before.”

“Ehara often have that effect. The urgent matter?”

“Yes, um, sorry. I have bad news.”

Human skull (fake) sitting among greenery

~~~

 

Dirkennion and Marvella are carefully walking down the old dock toward the body. The fog has thinned out. Dirkennion steps slowly with his boots on the most-supported parts. Marvella notes this. The dock creaks beneath them.

“How, may I ask, is your kin involved here?”

“Unknown,” Dirkennion says, coming to the corpse. “Behrattia.” He kneels and examines the body with care, but shows little emotion.

“He said, ‘They took the Prince of Endless.’ Do you know what…?”

Dirkennion stands up, focused. “Endless. Endruskenlessinia? The prince is but a boy, perhaps ten years of age.”

“A little boy?”

Dirkennion approaches the boat, looking it over. “This is a merchant vessel. It came from the east. The nearest port to here is Morondava.”

“Between here and Endless, right?”

“Correct.” Dirkennion glances at her. “Ehara do not meddle in small affairs. If you will permit a few moments of privacy, I will then be underway.”

“To find your cousin’s killers?”

“His path has ended. I go to rescue the prince.”

Marvella grows intrigued and excited by this. “Do–do you need help?”

“No.”

She glances back toward the town. “Would you accept help?”

He looks at her. “You are a town constable.”

She shrugs. “Ibix will be upset, but he can handle local pickpockets for a few days.”

“If you are are offering, then you will need a horse. And supplies.”

 

to be continued…

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