Prince Stephen Dur'Abarshan
My simple cloak alone kept me company at the small piece of wood I leaned upon. A sour draught of ale sat upon the table that was equally as stable as the chair I used, which leaned against the wall for lack of a fourth leg. But my mind did not take these small details into consideration. Tonight I was only Bert, sitting at my usual table; the one always available to me despite my infrequent visits.
I had used this particular establishment from the first time I ventured alone into the town. On that first day, one of the instructors had clipped my ankle during jousting lessons, and I had come here, limping, disappointed, muddy and asking for a simple fare of bread and cheese. The matron of the house thought I was a simpleton, and on subsequent visits I had maintained the limp and dirty complexion to hide my true identity.
Each time I came, I learned something new about the people of my father’s land. Every time I observed what they would never say to someone of the Royal House, much less Prince Stephen himself. They ignored me, my perfect and innocent disguise keeping me an arm's length from all of the other patrons. In this way I had witnessed people destroyed by my Father’s edicts, rejoice over births, weddings, and good fortune. I knew the feelings of the kingdom long before any of the advisers could predict.
And today my heart felt lost and sick for my people. I tried not to worry about my brother, about how he may need my council in these moments. What I was finding here was fear. Few people were in the pub, but the ones who were were suspicious, speaking in low voices and avoiding eye contact. Each man seemed to jump when the door opened. I could not determine exactly what had caused this spirit of mistrust, but I could only assume it had something to do with the overtake of our castle.
My entrance into the city had gone much smoother than I had imagined, garnering not a bit of attention or interest in my common clothes, my limp, and the sad and dirty way that I trudged alongside a simple cart of vegetables. A young knight of Pentsmont was found to look close enough to my stature to pass as my double. He had donned my clothing and rode with my Knights, assuming my visual identity with clarification that he would not actually have part in the plotting of King Percival’s return to the throne.
Our plan in itself was rather vague. Few in our court had knowledge of the ways of sorcery and we did not wish for anyone to pick up on our schemes. My spoken goal was only to be separate from the Royal procession, so that should any misfortune befall the King, I could be established as heir. With a heavy heart, I sat in the pub, planning and plotting to do much more than sit and wait for my brother’s demise.
Prince Stephen Dur'Abarshan