What Happens Next: Story #3

12 Aug

What Happens Next: Story #3

Prologue:

  A journey is said to begin with a single step. Arthur’s journey began with a war. It was the twenty-third year of Lord King Janolf’s reign. Arthur was but a young boy in the King’s court.

    Arthur clung to the topmost branches of the oak. Below him the world seemed to sway as the wind swept the thin, creaking branches under him from side to side. He stared down at the empty courtyard.  The shadows danced as the full moon rose. As he heard a soft whistle behind him, he turned and grinned at the Princess. Isabella grabbed his hand and slipped out the window onto the oak’s bough. A tearing noise came as her skirt caught for a moment on the sill, with Isabella balanced precariously over the edge. Her freckles stood out against her pale skin. Then, with a heave, Arthur pulled her up next to him. They perched there for a minute, sharing their secret. When all had been silent and no one had come to investigate the noise,  Arthur nodded at Isabella, watching her smile grow.

“Did you hear about the proclamation?” she whispered.

        “Yes, my father told me.” Twelve-year-old Arthur’s father was captain of the King’s guard, and he was very proud of his position. Everyone had always supposed that Arthur would follow in his father’s footsteps, but Arthur dreamed of being a knight, sent off to battle. He had first met Isabella when they were eight. He had fallen from a battle-horse that he had snuck out on while his father was away. The Princess had watched from across the field on her noble-bred mare and had helped him back up. He had tried to save his dignity by galloping gracefully away, but the effect had been ruined when the young Isabella told him he sat in the saddle like a sack of potatoes. After that, they had secretly become close friends.

        “What do you think it will be like when we’re at war? Will your father be deployed?” Isabella inquired.                

          Arthur, who, although he didn’t look it, was a full year older than Isabella, smiled superiorly. “When we were at war with the Kantasians, there weren’t men out on the training grounds, and the Capital was quiet, like everyone was holding their breath for news of the war. All of the men came back in a big parade, with the heads of the heathens tied to their saddles,” he said. He didn’t tell her that he only knew this from the stories his father told, and that he really didn’t remember the war at all. She looked at him in awe.   

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