The Kingdom of Louena has long been recovering from a war that left no winners. After King Louen fled the land of Victum, they settled on the country of their ancestors to begin anew. This transition in their history has not been easy, but after 400 years, life has finally begun to settle down. Yet with peace comes the struggle of power between major families and the good of the nation takes a back seat to the good of the self. But when Lords bicker and fight, who are the real winners?
400 years ago
The field was ringing. The glittering clash of sword upon sword as the Prince parried, slashed, blocked and jabbed at his foe, sang such a song. But this was no ordinary foe. The world stopped with each thunderous stroke. Each hiss of the blades beat an eerie melody. It felt like hours as the two met blow to blow. The Prince knew that history would remember him for always if he could just beat his foe. The pace quickened.
The beat livened. The notes were higher as the dance came crashing to the final crescendo.
It was coming, the end.
The Prince blocked, swung his blade in a mighty arc. His foe stepped back to avoid it and brought her blade crashing to his skull.
“Ow!” he moaned. “What was that for?”
She rolled her eyes before planting her wooden sword in the soft earth. “We’re playing at swords.” She shook her head. “You’re such a baby. Anyway I only tapped you.” She moved to the stream, her small hands fingering the still film of water.
They stood on the plains to the east of the city. Half a league of grassy land that met a thick line of forest, only the tweeting of birds for company. Their spot was where a large oak had fallen over, and close to this, a small stream ran down to meet the Vorka River just a few leagues away. Some of the water always pooled under the tree making a small area of wet sod which she often liked to throw at the prince.
“You nearly knocked my head off.” He cried, his watering eyes bulging as he shouted. “I am your Prince, what if I’d have died?” He folded his arms, pouting, “stupid sow.” The Prince, whilst only 10, was a finely clad figure. His black velvet doublet pointed out at the shoulders, and the upper sleeves puffed out in silver and black, though tightened at the lower arm. The whole thing was trimmed in silver with solid silver buttons running down the front and a small ruff along the neck. His black britches met his black shoes which ended in a fine point. All matched well his dark hair which was blonde at the sides of his forehead and his silvery grey eyes. The girl on the other hand wore only a white shirt with a yellow vest and a blue skirt that trailed slightly on the floor, picking up every bit of dirt.
“Oi, not my fault you’re so bad, m’lord,” she turned her head to stick her tongue out at him, then thrust her hands in the cool water.
“You’re supposed to be helping me, not gloating,” the Prince threw his sword at the ground in front of himself. It bounced and struck his toe. He cursed and kicked it away, still hopping on one foot.
“Please, you’re a Prince, you don’t need know how to fight,” she washed away the sweat and pains, “you have people do that for you.” She took a quick peek at his comical figure, “one day, statues will be erected of your stupidity.”
“Oh yeah?” he stumbled for words for a moment, his face frozen, and then quickly shook his head in annoyance. “Well... well your statue shall be bigger!”
Once again the girl rolled her eyes. She removed her hands from the stream.
“You’re lucky you don’t need be clever either. Just survive long enough to see the throne, become King, then pretend like you know what you’re doing, as most Kings do.”
The Prince blinked. “Wait,” he screwed up his face as the thoughts ran through his head. “Are you calling my father stupid?”
The girl laughed and stood up rubbing her hands together. “Wow, maybe I was wrong,” she turned to him, feigning surprise.
“You do know that what you said is treason?” his expression had gone serious, the little crinkle at the bridge of his nose showed. The girl couldn’t help but giggle once more. “Is that really how you think of me? Of my family?”
She tried to grab his arm but he shrugged out of her grip.
“It was a joke,” she sighed, “you know you’re like a brother to me—“
“You are no sibling of mine. You are common and I am the son of a King!” she winced at his words. “I hate you sometimes.”
Her eyes widened. A look of utter surprise flashed across her face. The Prince stumbled once more to speak, “I don’t really! I wasn’t—“then it happened, a sight he’d seen at his father’s executions just a few times. Her bright green eyes were beginning to dull. Like the sun fading from a forest’s view, and the undergrowth darkens and all colour fades. He looked down from her eyes, to her small button nose, the braided, auburn hair blowing across her face as autumn in full bloom, her thin neck and slim frame. All the way to the glinting of metal in her stomach and the stain of red slowly spreading across her vest. A corruption.
He knew what it was, he’d shot enough bows in the royal grounds to know exactly what he was seeing. Time slowed as if she was connected to it, and she fell to the floor.