The following is the first segment of my novel, The True Heir, which I have been working on throughout my degree.
Standing just a little straighter, I held my ground. I wasn’t going to give in this time.
‘What do you mean no?’ he said, towering over me.
‘You cannot just say no to this. I have been preparing suitable candidates for weeks and this is how you repay my hard work?’
‘I shan’t do it! I refuse to do it. It’s humiliating having the castle staff constantly flurry around me, I don’t need a gaggle of girls following me around as well!’ My heart thrashed in my chest while my mind whirled with possible scenarios and counterarguments I could make.
I felt light-headed.
Narrowing his eyes, he straightened up and smoothed his jacket as he did so.
‘Elayna Rose de Louice you will do as commanded by your king and, to a lesser extent, your father!’
Helias Lucan de Louice, master of Rem and King of Trypticcia.
Standing almost a head taller than I, even without his crown of gold, his fierce green eyes glared out at me beneath well-groomed hair. Crows’ feet creased his eyes, yet fit oddly well with his hooked nose, broken in his youth.
The sharp, crisp uniform of a modern monarch clung to him in the way that form-fitting clothes usually do to fashionable men. Navy trousers sported a yellow stripe on the outside pant leg while a white shirt, dark velvet vest and black, knee length jacket compliment well together.
All it needed was a top hat to complete it.
‘I’m not a little girl any more father, I’m seventeen, and whether you like it or not I have the right to choose my own friends!’
Breathing in slowly, his face softened from the deep red of anger to his normal colour. A bronzed tone natural to the ruling family.
‘Under my roof, in my city, the only rights you have are those of the royal line,’ he said calmly. The fury present before now firmly back under iron control.
‘And as a result, daughter, you should not take this opportunity lightly. It is for your own good.’
‘But father I-’
‘Elayna please,’ he interrupted, stepping forward and cupping my face with his hands, ‘don’t fight me anymore. I just want you to be happy.’ I looked into his bright green eyes, worn with age, and felt his love for me.
‘Father, please, just let me choose them.’ I asked, grasping his hands with my own and squeezing them, ‘please?’
He released a pent-up breath slowly and pulled his hands away, ‘I’m sorry Elayna, but duty is honour and everyone, even a Princess of Rem, must follow theirs.’
I stood dumbfounded, as with a sad smile and a nod of his head, he dismissed me and headed toward the throne room.
‘Yes, I understand father. Duty before everything, father,’ I muttered under my breath.
As a little girl, I looked up to him as he doted on me, making sure I was happy and content.
I suppose he felt obligated to take care of me once my mother died. A lot of the time it was constricting. It felt like I was always being watched and warned to be careful, that I could never be free.
Today though, today I decided to demand more from him.
I wanted the freedom to live.
‘Is everything all right m-my l-lady?’
A voice from behind made me glance over my shoulder. There, a boy no more than twelve was standing in a half bow.
‘No, it isn’t,’ I flicked an acknowledgement from my wrist and he stood up, ‘You’re from the grounds staff, aren’t you?’
He nervously patted down his straw coloured hair while attempting to flatten his uniform some.
‘Yes, my la…your h-highness, my name is Jonathan, I work in the stables.’
I can’t help it; I smiled at his awkwardness.
‘Come,’ I said, walking over and putting my hand on his shoulder, steering him in the direction I wanted. ‘Let’s take a walk.’
Wandering through the corridors I was silent for a time, lost in thought.
‘D-do you know that the palace of Remora always inspires me?’ He stuttered, breaking the silence.
‘The palace, La Palais du Soleil,’ he added quickly, ‘Did you know that it was destroyed almost a century ago?’
‘Was it now?’ I smirked, ‘History hasn’t exactly been my favourite thing to study.’
‘Yes! June 10th, 2534 was the ‘Kingmaker’s Day,’’ he continued without hearing me.
‘When the Kingmaker tried to kill your ancestor, Allemande De Louice, he then tried to take over the kingdom and was stopped by…’
‘Stop, stop,’ I laughed, ‘I’m not really interested, sorry.’
‘Oh,’ he replied, slumping his shoulders. ‘so, you wouldn’t want to hear about it sometime then?’.
‘Are you offering to teach me my own family history?’
‘I, I might be,’ he blushed a deep crimson that touched his hair, ‘That is, i-if that is a-all right with your h-highness.’
‘I suppose it is, you never know, you might know more than my tedious professor does.’
It was as if my simple statement pronouncing the boredom of my teacher gave him new life.
Jonathan began spouting information on the Palace as fast as he could.
It was a while before I managed to catch up to what he was talking about.
‘…It was Queen Illyende De Louice who finished it, she took over the repairs from your great-great-uncle Arremande De Louice.’
‘Oh, was it?’ I said offhandedly, distracted by a large mirror in the corridor.
I smiled at my reflection as I walked past, mentally noting all my best features. My brown hair straightened this morning, my green eyes, my smile. I stopped for a moment and readjusted my earrings, so they weren’t caught in my hair.
I looked good. I’m going to make an impact on the people today.
‘This way your highness. Did you also know that Queen Illyende was the one who fostered greater relations between the elves and dwarfs and stopped the fighting with the orcs and goblinoid races?’
I wonder if Lucas will be on duty today? No! No, you don’t need to be thinking about him now.
‘Would you look at that, the Great Hall gets me every time!’
Snapping out of my reverie I followed Jonathan’s awestruck gaze upward. Massive stained-glass windows and exquisite arches made of both carved stone and timber marry together, forming a dome that cascaded sunlight. Dwarven stonework and elven trees sung to life create a wide, open space effect allowing light from the sun, moons, and stars to wash the hall in a brilliant ocean of light night and day.
Le Chambre de la Lumiere.
The palace of light; and my home for most of the year.
‘Good-day Jonathan,’ I said, departing for the stables, ‘make sure you are ready later today to receive my horse.’
‘I s-shall my l-lady,’ he blushed, stumbling over his feet.
Smiling, I walked through the wide, open corridors and out into the expansive gardens that cover most of the grounds the palace is built on.
Animals of all species wandered the gardens freely enjoying the fruit, vegetables, and grass. Birds sang from the tops of most trees and ducks, chickens, geese, and horses roamed the grounds.
It’s spring, so the gardens are beautiful, green, and flowering with fruit.
Strawberries are my favourite.
Approaching a nearby patch, I crouched down and picked a handful. They are the sweetest, most delicious morsels of heaven you could think of, and they are just for me.
‘Good afternoon, princess.’
Alarmed, I leapt to my feet and turned around.
Lucas Elfsson, also called Lucas Half-breed amongst many other less subtle things, is casually leaning on his musket behind me in a uniform of the Kingsguard. The uniform, a surcoat, is emblazoned with a field of four rectangles, half-navy, half-grey, arranged around a yellow sun with two white keys diagonally crossed in the centre.
Most of the time Lucas wears his usual clothes: grey or brown trousers, calf high boots and a tight-fitting doublet made of linen, usually favouring blues, greys, and browns. Today must be an inspection day for he’s dressed in his surcoat over an elegant white doublet, his best grey trousers, boots that shine with fresh polish, and to top it off he sports the grandest feathered hat I’ve ever seen him wear.
Not dashing at all.
‘Monsieur Elfsson, how are you today?’
He grinned and for some reason I wanted to run over and push him into the creek that ran through the garden behind him.
‘Oh, just out for a relaxing stroll in my favourite garden in the city,’ he said with a devilish smile, ‘Kingsguard things, you know? But then, a pampered princess such as yourself wouldn’t know much about the Kingsguard now, would she?’ He said, parodying a waltz as he walked towards me and bowed deeply, sweeping his hat off his head as he did so.
Glaring at his sardonic attitude, I look into his warm brown eyes.
‘Look here, you glorified spear-carrier, I know many things about the Kingsguard and their duties,’ catching him before he could interject with another witty remark.
‘And this I know to be true; you have to obey the royal family’s commands.’
‘Is that so?’ he smirked, sweeping a hand through his long brown hair.
I could tell that he was dreading the next part though, because the part of his face that usually responded to my empty threats had snapped into a wary look.
‘Yes, it is, and since I’m one of the royal family…. you can see where this is going, can’t you?’
He sank to a knee and bowed, ‘Yes, your highness, I can, your highness.’
‘Good boy!’ I patted him on the head and walked off towards my horse lesson. Though I could feel his eyes on me. As I sauntered away, a gust of wind pushed me sideways, causing me to stumble a little. My stomach churned as I blushed, warmth flooded my cheeks and neck.
‘Gods I hope he didn’t see that.’
© 2016- Joshua Smith-Monaghan
All Rights Reserved