Chapter 45

As Alezander made his approach on the Palace Gates, the guards stationed there watched with curious eyes at this lone figure, muddied clothes hanging limply from his body. The horse trudged through the sloppy streets with its head hung low. The rider appeared similarly worn, like a storm had taken out its anger on him, still garbed in the clothes the innkeeper gifted him.

The two men stepped from their guardhouse, weapons readily in hand. By now, the figure was just before the gate, looking up to the sweeping turrets of the palace so that his hood fell backwards to reveal a strong, appealing-featured face topped by a mass of damp, dark hair slumping across his forehead.

"An' who are you to come round here?" the one to the left grumbled his customary greeting. "What's your business here?"

He raised his chin, almost appearing to haughtily glance down his nose at the two. "I am Prince Alezander, and my business is that I have come to meet my bride."

At first, they simply looked over the man, and then to one another. Suddenly, the two burst out in boisterous, hearty laughter. The guard to the left wiped his eyes as the other returned to the Prince, snickering, "Ohhh, sure, you are here to meet Princess Cassandra, Prince Alezander. Are you hearing this boy, Oen?" It sent the guard beside him bubbling with another set of laughter.

Alezander saw nothing funny in their joking, quite frustrated and cross with them.  He said nothing, gazing over the two scornfully.

The guard with the loudest laugh, Oen, his seemed his name to be, finally calmed himself enough to say, "Stop pulling our legs, Prince, and leave while we're still in a good mood."

"Yeah, you are quite fortunate that you caught us well, Your Majesty,"  the other elbowed him, still jesting. "Otherwise, we still would have not allowed you this far in your little game."

Alezander swiftly dismounted his horse, moving with brisk steps toward the guards. They stiffened, falling silent, almost instantly fumbling to control their swords. But the Prince had made for his faster, gracefully drawing it so that its majestic blade glinted in the little light, the jewels encrusted on its hilt glimmering.

"Now, do you see this sword?" the Prince said archly, all three frozen with their weapons positioned for battle. Their eyes flicked anxiously to the blade and down to the handle, not helping to admire the piece. "This was my grandfather's sword, the blade of El'burin, which was passed to him by his grandfather, King Hedyr. My grandfather, King Kirthan, used this in the near largest battle in our History, in our capital of El'burin, for which the blade is named."

The guards swallowed uncertain. A crown of nervous sweat was forming on Oen's brow. They paused, glancing to one another.  "Well," muttered Oen. "The Prince was supposed to arrive last evening during the ball, and we were supposed to look out for him."

"But....," the other began hesitantly. "He appears nothing like a Prince....excluding his...sword. And we were supposed to look out for a Prince with all his entourage. Never would a prince arrive alone in such"

A fleeting thought passed by him to simply fight these dungheads so he could finally get access into the place. Impatient, he thought better of himself and decided against it, yet caught their attention by shifting his stance and readjusting his sword.

Their eyes, wide and bloated with fright, opened their mouths to blabber something worthless once more, yet they were interrupted by the swinging of the gates as they opened and a line of other guards came from the corner, lead by the familiar face of the Ambassador. "Prince," boomed Jermayn, decked in colored ribbons and fantastic uniform. He bowed low, the movement awkward for his certain shape of body and brilliant costume. "We spotted you from the tower and saw your sword. I have been waiting the longest time! Please, excuse.....," He frowned at the two gate guards, Oen coloring deep crimson while the other appeared paler then a sheet. "....them. I will be sure they feel the necessary punishment."

The procession of men moved aside for Jermayn to take his Prince warmly by the arm, as a stable boy stepped forward to take the reins of his horse. The Ambassador guided Alezander forward towards the grand waterfall of steps before them, "Your Majesty, how in the world are you here without your men? What are you wearing? Why did you dare come through the weather? I swear upon my soul you shall catch cold--!"

Alezander raised his hand to silence him, "You sound like an old maid, Jermayn. I am fine. The men will follow--currently I have them up at an inn. My coachman was not well."

"Oh, how unfortunate. How unfortunate the timing of that storm was," Jermayn frowned. "You missed out on a beautiful evening," He smiled suggestively, "And a beautiful Princess, if I do say so myself, Sire."

"Hmph," the Prince replied blandly. "Well, I shall see her beauty for myself this morning, won't I? First of all, I require fresh and appropriate clothing for this meeting."

"Oh, indeed, Your Majesty! The longer you may stay in these dampened ones the higher chance you may get fever."



The End

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