I had no idea what was in store for me that morning when I was summoned to the Great Hall. I had been summoned by the king and one does not refuse such an invitation. True, I had been through these motions before and at the time nothing felt different. I walked through the large stone doors and heard the herald announce my entrance.
“Captain of the Guard, Qycus of Black House, son of Jhycus Black.”
“Captain Qycus.” The king said as I approached him on his tall, dark throne. “I am sending you with my son to Fàeluna. Our relations with the wolf people has been uneasy of late. They must accept our loyalty if a man sends his own prince as an envoy.”
I nodded, though I was confused. Whatever task King Constantine had placed upon his son would then be relayed to me by the prince. Why did the king feel it was necessary to tell me in person?
“Is his Highness aware of this journey, your Majesty?”
“He is.” The king wasted no time in pleasantries. “He is unhappy with the arrangement I have made, so it is your duty to remind him of his responsibilities to his people. And to me.”
“Yes, my lord.” I bowed and quickly exited. I knew exactly where to find the prince.
My home is Obstinian, high in the mountains and almost impenetrable by enemy forces. From his own private quarters the prince can overlook the line of cities which make up our great nation and it gives him solace to see what his ancestors built. Here he stands above the soaring eagles, the noble sigil of the royal family, and even the clouds float peacefully below his feet. As I entered the balcony I could feel the cold mountain air strike my face and suddenly, I cannot imagine living anywhere else.
“My father sent you, did he not?” The voice startled me for I believed I had walked in silence.
“He did. How did you know it was me?” I approached the railing in order to gaze at the roads below.
The prince chuckled. “Who else would my father send to reprimand me?”
“Constans, you know me better than that. I could no sooner reprimand you than I could join that eagle in flight.” Just as the words left my mouth the eagle made his great call which echoed throughout the hills. “Why are you against this mission? You’ve been aching for your father to place more trust in you and now he is choosing to send you as his envoy to a country who needs our friendship.”
“An evil country, Qycus. They say the queen of Fàeluna is a witch from the Silvaren Forest and her daughter is a sorceress who can speak with wolves. I am not convinced that friendship with this country is what is best for our people.” He paused and looked at me directly. “I have had grievous dreams these past few nights, ever since my father told me of this task. A wolf devouring an eagle. I need no Dream Speaker to explain that symbol to me.”
“A dream, Constans, nothing more. Were not our people allies with them in the Golden Age? Our royal sigils have not changed so why should our relations?” I asked honestly. I tried to stay out of politics and on the rare occasion Constans invited them into the conversation I tried to remain neutral. “I do not believe it an evil to be allies with a neighbor.”
“During the Golden Age, people traveled. The Estates and the Greenlands were thriving and the Five Kingdoms lived in unity. Those days are far behind us, Qycus. They have been replaced with days of dark and fear and isolation. I am required to go on this mission. While I am abroad, I must discover the truth of Fàeluna. Unlike my father, I shall ask for your company, not force it upon you.” He placed his hand firmly on my shoulder. “Will you come with me, my friend?”
“I should feel wretched if I ever turned down an adventure. Of course I will accompany you, brother.”
“Good!” Constans exclaimed. “We shall bring our mountain charm to the wolves. Pack your things, we leave at dawn.”
He turned and walked out leaving me to wonder at our fair Obstinian. Little did I know that it was the last time I would ever see it.
The above excerpt is a personal exercise for me related to my most recent fantasy novel, an adaptation of the Little Red Riding Hood tale. The artwork is not mine and I claim no ownership of it. The images were found on Pinterest.