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Sunday, May 28, 2006 The Old King and the Little Princess




The Old King and the Little Princess

It’s been two months since Robert pledged his service to Duke Walthorn. He has done his duties well in the stable, although Squire Kelba, the stable master thinks he is rather unfriendly and solitary. But generally Kelba likes Robert because he understands Kelba’s instructions quickly and learns quickly. Robert is very efficient – he always completes his daily duties in the stable before going to lessons with Walthorn.

The first day of autumn comes at last. And it’s time for Walthorn to stay at Marlham Royal Palace until spring for counsels to the king and as the leader of The Order of Lions. Of course Walthorn frequently travels from Varestine to Alceste at the king’s summons any time of the year. But he is compelled to stay in the palace in autumn and winter as part of the hereditary service of the duchy to the kingdom.

And there he is – escorting Walthorn to Alceste. The journey is uneventful, so Walthorn uses his time to teach Robert a thing or two, and tells him about the history of the land.

‘Our great king, King Michael VI, once assisted the hero of his time, Sage The Fireheart – the first emperor of Arcadia in the First Crusade against Vordac, The Dark Lord and his infernal army. Well, The Dark Lord was vanquished, but he was not perished yet – as he possessed another soul, Mildred Urganon of Borgia. Then he and his father, Mandrach Urganon invaded Arcadia and imprisoned Sage the Fireheart. Fortunately, the young prince Anthony escaped, thanks to the great wizard Azrael. The young prince sought refuge in Valanis, and when he grew up he became a hunter, and later waged the Second Crusade against Mandrach and Mildred, in which he finally prevailed. And again Lore joined the Crusade to support Anthony. But some said that Vordac in Mildred’s body still hasn’t perished yet – that we don’t really sure. At that time there was also a great fight between Vivian versus Mandrach and Anthony with his Angelic Sword of Justice versus Mildred with his legendary Kraal’shazar, The Deathblade Zweihänder.’

Robert replies without any signs of interest in his face, as though he thinks it’s very interesting exciting and important to know about The History of The Great Crusades.

‘That’s really great, milord. I mean those heroes – they must’ve killed multitudes of orcs.’

‘Well, the truth is they really were – and remember, our great kings of Lore also participated in killing orcs too, Robert. You must honor their heroism too.’

‘The orcs are still too many. Had they been perished….

Gloom comes on Robert’s face again. Ever since the tragedy, Robert developed a habit of negative thoughts along with his determination to kill the orcs and drive them into extinction. Walthorn thinks he MUST change it – Robert’s negative thinking is his sole obstacle of being a great leader.

‘My child. Remember, you released me from my negative thoughts before – why do you think negatively now? Where’s your spirit? Where’s your determination to be strong? I told you these histories about the great heroes so you can learn from their spirit to fight to the end and be a great leader. Negativity won’t prevail against evil – Evil feeds from negativity. Keep that in mind, Robert.’

‘Yes, my liege. I will.’

But Robert still keeps his negative thinking habit for some time…

They arrive in Alceste after three days’ travel. On their way to Marlham Palace, Robert is astonished to see the beauty and the vastness of this capital city. A great city of kings, it’s two times as vast as Varestine. It covers a round area surrounded with a great, impenetrable city wall. And also there are some fortifications nearby, so no monster can come within fifty miles from the city. The port of Alceste is Wagnerport, about twenty miles from the outer parapet, and it has been used as an essential trading port so it is also surrounded with a parapet. The Swanson River flows across the city right in the middle, and the great Marlham Palace stands on the hill of the river delta. It’s a perfect natural barrier against aggressors.

Robert tries to hide his astonishment. But his eager eyes cannot lie, and Walthorn notices that. As they arrive at the palace, Walthorn is greeted by the newly appointed crown prince, Gerard. His father, the old King George XIII is rather ill, and he needs Walthorn for counsel and comfort. King George fears that the ambitious Emperor Sage IV of Arcadia will take an advantage upon the king’s passing to attack Lore. Gerard invites Walthorn to the inner chambers to see his father.

‘My dear Lord Walthorn, it’s good to have you here at this time. My father is in unrest. Maybe you can comfort him.’

Hahaha. My prince, the old king should be content to have you as an heir. You already have shown your quality that matches our great King Michael VI, in the battlefield as well as in politics.’

Gerard is not swayed with this flattery, and says flatly.

‘No matter how good an heir is, a war is a war, and it can tear this kingdom apart. You know if I ever want to maintain the stability and integrity in this kingdom, I must secure your support first. You have the generals and the lords behind you. They listen to you, and without your support, they will create disputes between each other for power – for being the second man under me, and this will create chaos – a perfect moment for Arcadia to attack.’

‘My respects upon your extensive foresight and insight, your Excellency.’

‘Well, enough about politics and let’s give my father the comfort he needs.’

Walthorn has already known that King George will ask him to support the crown prince Gerard to maintain the stability and the strong defenses of Lore. Walthorn, the prime minister, leader of the Order of Lions, and the Grand Marshal of the Army. George needs Walthorn to pledge his loyalty and allegiance to Gerard the future king to make sure that Walthorn won’t go assuming for power and kingship although Gerard is proven worthy as a king. This knowledge makes Walthorn stay calm, as he has been ready with a ready answer.

Walthorn gives an order to Robert.

‘Robert, go to the stables and take care of Paeldagrin. You may walk around the palace after you’re done, but take care not to enter the royal family chambers, or you’ll be in mortal trouble.’

‘Yes milord.’

Duke Walthorn and Prince Gerard go into the palace, and Robert takes the horse to the stable. Paeldagrin looks tired, he thinks, but Walthorn needs rest more than it after all the teaching and history-telling along the way. But an order is an order, Robert resolves. And he has his orders, and he is going to do it well as usual.

After doing his chores, Robert walks around the palace, avoiding the royal chambers as he is told. He asks a royal attendant to be his guide around the palace. He is marveled by the grandness of the palace, as though he is already in heaven. It’s not a gothic-styled palace like Jeland Citadel in Varestine, but the walls are painted pure white, with white marble pillars. And the royal throne room is like a towering dome, with three silvery white great chairs at the high, staired platform.

Robert thinks. So this is where the king performs his daily audiences. How grand! How great!

After feasting his eyes with the greatness of the palace, Robert goes to the courtyard to find a spot where he can sit and relax. As he arrives at the courtyard, he finds the courtyard already filled with people. He sees three ladies who look like princesses, and some others who apparently are the maids. Robert moves closer out of curiosity in order to see them clearer. Then he watches a small girl – one of the princesses – playing ball with the maids. While the two other princesses only sit at a corner and chat with each other. The little princess seems naughty, and she kicks the ball so hard that it hits one of the princesses – that seems to be her mother. The mother gets up, walks towards the little princess and scolds her.

‘Eloise! How many times must I tell you – this is a palace, not a playground! Mind your playing! What if you hit a lord, or even the king himself? You’ll be in a deep trouble, little princess!’

Princess Eloise makes a face, and talks back to her mother insolently.

‘Ah! It’s not fun around here! I can’t play as free as I can! I can’t even have friends!’

Eloise’s mother, Princess Elena, Crown Prince Gerard’s wife gets angrier and raises her voice, almost yelling at Eloise.

‘That’s PALACE PROTOCOLS for you, princess! Remember, you’re not an ordinary person or a peasant. You’re meant to marry a prince or a king someday, and your marriage is very important for your country!’

‘Maybe I don’t want to be extraordinary! Maybe I want to be a peasant – at least they are free and have friends!’

Hmph! You kids won’t understand! Peasants are not free! They have different and crueler masters: POVERTY and landlords! Maybe someday you will understand this!’

‘Yeah, Someday, mom. But not now! What use is my childhood if I can’t enjoy it just a little bit?’

‘You dare talk back to me, little princess? Well, you’re GROUNDED! For two days!’

‘What!? Oh, come on, mom!’

‘No buts, missy! Now go to your room and study!’

Eloise stubbornly kicks the ground, and walks towards the palace. On her way she sees Robert standing in watch – expressionless.

Who’s that sulky-looking kid? Eloise thinks. Hmmm, I think he’s not from this palace, as no kid in this palace is allowed to go near me.

Eloise gives Robert a childish, sweet smile, but Robert doesn’t return it with smile – but still in his cold – expressionless face.

In Eloise’s mind: What a grouch! But he’s interesting. Hmmm… maybe…

In Robert’s mind: What a spoiled girl! I’ll be in nothing but trouble if I hang around her!

Then a maid comes to Robert and gives him a warning.

‘You’re not allowed to be near a member of a royal family – unless you’re a knight or under royal orders.’

‘Oh, I understand, ma’am. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that.’

Robert leaves the courtyard at once and resolves to go back to his stable where he can relax.

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