Maidens & Mischief
MY IMMORTALITY IS FADING. I find myself slowly slipping away, withering, like dying embers on a cold winter’s night. Starving. Hissing. Desperate for one last breath. Haunted by past mistakes.
I feel cheated. Just as I found my way, I lost my beacon. My closest friend is no more.
My heavy heart finds solace in the steady strokes of my quill; in words that tell a story more valuable than gold. Words that sing a melody of truth, untainted, untamed, and alive.
I give my last breath to rekindle the flames before they perish; to revive the life of the man to whom I owe my freedom.
I impart to you the account of Alexander Tertius–The Father of Free Men. However, as made apparent through the records I have collected, you may know him by a different name. I give you the story of The Good King, The Chain-breaker, The Merciful. The story of The Death-bringer, The Grand Sorcerer, The Imposter. The story of The Kingslayer, The Cursed, and The Blessed.
My only plea is this: Share his name, NEVER LET HIM DIE.
Every hero has a beginning. No hero should be forgot.
RUMORS RAN RAMPANT. THE DAY OF TELLING WAS AT HAND.
Noble maidens, all sixteen years of age and wearing their finest gowns, filled the grand ballroom, the large granite hall unable to suppress the fury of their excitement for their first royal ball. Every year the noble maidens who had come of age would commence the celebrations by performing the dance of Oreli, The God of Light. The performance, if done correctly, was believed to ward off ‘the curse’ for future generations. Thus, it was only prudent to have a final rehearsal just hours before The Telling, mistakes were inexcusable.
The Day of Telling had always been something to look forward too. However, this year the excitement was more palpable than ever; it was the year that both the future king and his brother Xander had come of age. It would be a celebration beyond any ever conceived.
Beautiful chandeliers, each with hundreds of sunstones emitting beautiful white light hung from the domed ceiling, highlighting the gold-flaked stars of the night sky painted within. Thousands of the stones had been imported from across the sea, costing a sizeable fortune. Though, to anyone that cast their eyes upon the beauty of the room, it was well worth the price. Everything about this year’s celebration was more exquisite than ever before. Even the maidens dancing below wore finer gowns than usual, each hoping to draw the attention of one of the princes.
If only they knew that Xander, the second-born prince, was already present. He hid behind one of the thick crimson and gold brocades that hung from the ballroom’s enormous stained-glass windows, listening to their every word; something his father, the king, would deem very inappropriate indeed.
‘No royal prince, nor any self-respecting man, should ever spy on a woman, regardless of reason or circumstance,’ he would surely lecture. But, Xander didn’t care what his father thought. If he was going to submit to his father’s wishes by selecting a maiden before The Telling, he would do so in the manner of his choosing, regardless of whether it was proper or not. His father’s empty threats, claiming he would disavow him as a son, had lost their effect long ago.
Xander listened intently to the four maidens who stood just strides from where he hid, trying to glean as much information from the incorrigible gossips as possible. If all went as planned, the overheard chatter would help him select the maiden who would bring him the least amount of nausea. Unfortunately, his venture had yet to prove fruitful. For the shrill creatures were fixated on one thing only, his brother. Apparently, the fool was the only one worth the gossip. Granted, he was the future king, Xander was merely the second.
“Oh, and he’s so dreamy!” Raved the slender maiden, standing furthest from him. She spun in a full circle, making the petticoat of her bright teal dress flare out in a twist of golden froth. “Do you think I might catch his fancy?”
The maiden next to her stifled a laugh. “Lady Melanie, you surely know how to dream,” she chortled, “but Prince Zecronius has most certainly already chosen a maiden…. Probably a foreign princess.”
“What about Prince Xander? I heard he has yet to select a maiden,” announced a young woman with ginger-red hair, standing closest to Xander. His ears perked at the mention of his name; perhaps he would finally hear something of note.
“Really?” gasped the skeleton-of-a-girl beside her, wide-eyed. “I’d take him any day.”
The red-haired girl turned, allowing Xander to see her soft green eyes.
“Me too. I think he’s quite fetching. Maybe even more so than the future king himself. Xander is more rugged…less defined.”
Xander grinned, she’s perfect. Receiving a compliment above his brother was exceedingly rare. Not only was his brother the future king, but he was a smidge taller, much more charming, and was an overall better prince; Xander fooled around much too often, at least too much for his father’s liking, that is.
“They’re identical twins. How can one be ‘more rugged’ than the other?” Exclaimed the girl in the teal dress.
“I don’t know. Prince Zecronius is so…well he’s the standard of propriety. While Prince Xander, on the other hand, is so carefree and…reckless.”
The first maiden only shrugged. “That’s true. But he’s not going to be the future king. He can afford to neglect his duties. I’ll always find a future king more attractive than his second, no matter the difference in personality or appearance.” The maiden once again spun in a circle, clearly showing off her dress, “I would live in his lavish castle, and he would adorn me with daily extravagance,” she declared brightly.