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Sunday, April 29, 2007

3.2.9.4. The Prodigal Prince Part One

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Half an hour later, Robert is walking with his partners Andreas, Iris and Christopher. Speaking of the latter, it was just revealed to Robert that Christopher’s real identity is Prince Cristophe Jean de Galantine Deveraux, second son to Emperor Sage IV Marcus de Noure Deveraux, current ruler of Arcadia.
This knowledge makes the two of them behave very awkwardly towards each other. Seeing the prospect that this partnership and friendship they’ve built for three years is going to fall apart, Andreas speaks up to melt the ice.
‘Well, Your Highness, shall we return to Carolyn’s quarters to talk this over?’
‘No, father,’ says Cristophe. ‘You two go ahead. I need to talk to Rob. Alone.’
‘As you wish, Your Highness.’
‘Please, father, don’t call me Your Highness.’
Andreas nods, and along with Iris walk on quietly. Iris looks back and stares at Chris in disbelief, demanding an explanation. But Chris ignores her. He just waits until they are out of sight, and then turns to Robert who stands there, staring at him.
‘I believe I owe you an explanation,’ says Chris.
‘Yes, the whole truth. I don’t blame you. It’s not a wrong thing. You must have your own reasons to disguise yourself.’
‘You’re right, Rob. Everybody knows that it’s impossible for a prince to travel freely, so I decided to use a different name similar to my own. I and Carol left Valanis secretly, with permission from our tutors. Actually, it was Carol who wanted to seek adventure, to forget about all her boyfriends Iris wooed. We went to Lore because it’s the best place to start a career as a monster hunter. Then, by Vadis’ will, we met you.’
‘Why didn’t Carolyn change her name?’
‘Because she’s a half-elf, and she’s no royalty. Her father was my uncle, Archduke Thierry Deveraux, cousin to my father, and her mother was the Elf Queen Carolyn’s daughter, Lilliabeth. Thierry and Lilliabeth were drowned when they sailed from Arcadia to Thyrine, so Queen Carolyn adopted and took care of the child named after her as her own. But Carol is never a princess. The Thyrinian High Council decreed that no half-elf may inherit the throne or be regarded as royalty, because half-elves are as short-lived as humans do. So, for little Carol’s safety, the Queen sent her to Valanis to study Vadism and magic.
I never knew who her mentor was, as we were taught in separate dormitories and seldom speak to each other. Carol never told me much about her mentor, only described him as “short”, “kind” and “chubby”. As Carol has no burden due to her status, she can travel freely without having to change her name.’
‘Well, that’s a lot more than what I need to know, but thanks anyway. I’ll keep it a secret. So, tell me more about yourself.’
‘My mother died when I was four when we rode a horse together. I pulled the horse’s mane too hard and it threw us to the ground. She died protecting me. Because of that, my brother Alexis harbored much hatred towards me. It was my fault, really. He has the right to hate me so. Then father sent me to Valanis so Alexis would forget his hatred by and by, knowing that I’ve been “banished” from the palace. No one in Arcadia has ever heard my name again, as though I never existed.
In spite of that, I began to enjoy my new “freedom”. Study hard and play hard, they say. Without any burden of being a crown prince and the plentiful yet never ending funds from my homeland, you probably will want to live like I did, happy and carefree. I rounded up a gang of fellow nobles studying there, and we feasted and enjoyed ourselves like there was no tomorrow. I excelled in my theoretic studies, but flunked in practices. I didn’t hang out with Carol and had many girlfriends, but then Carol came and asked me to go adventuring with her. I thought that was a great idea, as I began to get bored being in Valanis all the time. Father Bernides gave me permission as it was part of my “training program” and to expand my knowledge, practice and experience.
Well, that’s all about me that you need to know. Since you and Iris already knew my true identity, er... you know... You don’t want a prince around, do you? We’ll go separate ways from now on, won’t we?’
‘If you mean things will never be the same again between us, you’re right, Chris, or... Your Highness,’ says Robert, his tone suddenly changes to formal. Chris is crestfallen on hearing this. But Robert is still talking.
‘But the only difference is your name is no longer Christopher, but Prince Cristophe Deveraux. If Your Highness doesn’t mind adventuring with a bunch of rabbles, hunting monsters for bounty, if you still regard me as your friend and partner, I’ll gladly do the same.’
‘Please, Rob, don’t call me “Prince” or “Your Highness”. I still want to go monster-hunting with you. For me, you’re always my friend and my good teacher,’ says Chris. ‘Just call me “Chris”, as always. I kinda like it, though. Sounds nice.’
‘Thank you, Chris. Oh, yes, one thing is still bugging me. About you in Enia’s Sanctum, you didn’t go back because you’re chickened out, right?’
‘Yes. The real reason was I met Father Bernides there, and he advised me to return and stay out from the Sanctum because Alexis was also there. I didn’t want him to take revenge on me along the way. A backstab by our own kin is more dangerous than a legion of chimeras.’
‘I got your point,’ says Robert. ‘Now, let’s go to Carolyn. Seeing her safe and sound makes my heart at peace.’
They behave more warmly towards each other now, as they settled the problem of Chris and Carolyn’s real identities. But one thing for sure: it’ll never be the same again between them. Never again.

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