In the heart of the Emerald Palace, there is a library. It is not an unusually large room, yet it is the most extensive trove of literature in the Land. For along the entire width and height of all four of its walls, stand Ferguson's Bookcases. One need only train the shelves to the side with their hands, and a new selection of books would feed out from the walls.
This is where Prince Erik carries out much of his studies...
Right now, for example, he is asleep at an antique oak desk; snoring softly, cheek pressed against the pages of an Attamorian History textbook, a small stream of drool spilling from his slack lips, all over the tiny printed words.
Prince Erik is tired from a late night reading his newspapers. Not the Dugganstown newspapers his parents would sit and read with him in the evenings when they were free. Kelly-Marie, one of the Palace's maids who Erik has particularly befriended during her years working there, provides him with a different newspaper every Sunday. All seven copies from the week. Hence, Erik sleeps through Study on Mondays.
"Hoo-hooooo," comes a soft, deep voice from a perch just above the door out of the library. Erik's owl, Lewis, glances at the sleeping Erik with his giant golden eyes. He has heard footsteps approaching the library. Lewis knows about Erik's secret newspaper. Lewis knows a lot.
Erik doesn't stir.
"Erik," Lewis hisses.
Still no movement from the Prince. Lewis sighs, flaps his wings and swoops down from his perch, clipping Erik's ear with his beak as he ducks, and swiftly circles and returns to his perch.
Erik shoots upright in his seat, and glances briefly towards the door as the footsteps draw nearer. Swallowing nervously, he licks his hand and smoothes down a crease in his dirty-blonde hair, and stares down at the warm, slightly moist book in front of him.
The door opens gingerly.
"Are you studying hard, Prince Erik?" chirps Kelly-Marie as she prances daintily through, her levitating feather duster in hot pursuit. Her platinum blonde hair is straight and tucked neatly behind her small but abnormally pointed ears. Her tiny figure is clutched by a simple white summer dress and apron.
"As always," says Erik, stifling a yawn.
"Her Majesty has called for you to come to supper. She says to look your best because we have a visitor."
Erik feels his stomach drop to the floor. Visitors to the Emerald Palace rarely came bearing good news. "Who's visiting, Kelly-Marie?" he asks quietly.
The elf girl shrugs her shoulders cluelessly, momentarily forgetting her place below this boy who was Prince as well as her friend. She quickly corrects herself with a quick courtesy. "I don't know, Prince Erik."
Erik nods and flashes her a kind smile. "Thanks, Kelly-Marie."
She courtesies again, this time with more poise, and turns to leave.
"Oh, and the papers," Erik pipes up, though wary that someone could be listening in the hall.
Kelly-Marie looks back at him. "Yes?"
"I can never thank you enough."
She smiles back before skipping out of the library, the feather dusting giving a squeak of disapproval of her sudden dispatch before following.
Erik slams the big History book shut.