Dear readers, tonight with me is the Fourth for the Royal Archives. As the fourth son of the king he was expecting a life of parties, but his ability to manipulate magic puts him in the path of dark powers and legends.
Fourth, thank you for seeing me….. um, I guess we should get started… um, well, what was it like growing up as a prince? What was it like growing up and living in the Royal Palaces?
No need to thank me scholar. You know I’m only putting up with this because my brother ordered me to cooperate and answer your questions? He can be a little irritating like that but I guess if I don’t play this game with you, the first thing you’ll do is run to him and complain.
What was it like growing up as me, here? A life of privilege. I grew up as the fourth son of the king. As I’m sure you and people like you would imagine I wanted for very little. Servants ran to do my bidding, guards trailed behind me, everyone wanted to be my friend.
Do you know what it is like to be constantly watched? To live in a world where everyone wants something from you? Or rather from your father and brother but think you are the easy target? Where your whole existence is governed by duty?
I doubt you could really understand. Any more than I can really understand what it’s like not to live and grow up in the world I have. To be fair my father and brother tried to shelter me from all of that political side as much as they could, for as long as they could.
Still I’m the Fourth. Duty was always going to catch up with me eventually.
I see… what is your most cherished memory as a child?
Ah. I keep forgetting you are new to your position here in the palace. No one who knows me would really ask that question. They know better.
My most cherished memory as a child was going on a picnic with my lady mother. Just the two of us. Well, the two of us and the assorted guards and servants, as I already told you I was never really alone. None of us were.
Mother dropped her formality and played with me; we ran through the forest playing a game of catch. Then we had lunch. I remember I wanted to impress her that I was old enough to join her and father along with my brothers and sister at the big table for meals in the court. Then the meal finished, and it was time to go back to the palace.
I still remember that moment.
Why wouldn’t anyone ask you that Your Highness? It seems like a wonderful moment from your childhood.
Because right after that meal, that idyllic moment from my childhood is when things went wrong.
The Sundered one attacked and everyone in the party was killed. I watched as his hunting knife slit mothers throat and she crumpled to the ground, discarded, broken like one of my sisters and brothers toys.
That idyllic moment turned into the nightmare that plagued my dreams.
I guess I didn’t quite tell the truth earlier. I was alone then, alone in the forest with the cooling bodies of the guards and servants, of my mother.
I spent a great deal of time growing up running away from the palace to escape official functions. As much as I’d craved being a part of it before, I hated it all after that moment.
Ah, I’ve shocked you. You needn’t look so guilty scholar; it was all a long time ago when I was a child. Everyone knows that story. I’m surprised you don’t.
What did you first think when your father first proclaimed you as the Fourth?
Believe it or not I was angry, upset with him. I never wanted the rank even though it was mine from birth.
I’m no hero not like my uncle was during the Sundered War. Uncle Edward was the first to be proclaimed the Fourth, the one the legend and myth grew around. It was a different time, a different era back then. Before the Sundered War those born with power weren’t feared like they are today. But you’d know that better than me being a scholar.
I felt like a fraud.
I was terrified that I would turn into one of the Sundered Ones. As it turns out there was a fair bit my father was keeping from me, although I didn’t realise it at the time. Still I had to come to terms with it. I am the Fourth. It’s my duty. If I turn my back on it who else is there to stand between the people and those mad ones with power who seek to harm us all?
What was the scariest thing you encountered while you were away from the protection of the palace
You mean most recently?
Transition, it seems like such a simple thing. Do you understand what transition is, Scholar?
It’s when people like me, with the power of the veil go through a period of time where our abilities increase. We call it transition. The increase in power flowing through me, you couldn’t understand how much it hurt. It was like every single part of me was on fire. Eventually I’d black out. For a time there I spent more time out of my own head space than in it. I’d come back not knowing where I’d been, what I’d been up to or how much time had passed.
I came back to myself at one point in a cold dark alleyway with the dead body of a man at my feet, a blade in my hand with blood dripping from it. I feared that I had become one of the very creatures that gave me nightmares as a child. I guess a part of me still does.
You have no idea what I’m capable of scholar. Perhaps it takes a monster to track and kill one.
What is the worst thing about discovering you are one of the Kin?
We are all kin but strictly speaking I’m one of the Elder, it’s a matter of power level and I have a great deal of it.
What’s the worst thing about it? The pain of transition would be one thing I guess.
I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it much. The knowledge that I’m going to see people I love, my own family grow old and die before my eyes while I stay much as I am now. I didn’t know any of this was real before recently. I expected to grow old and die like everyone else. Or get a serious case of dead early on. It was even odds, or so I thought.
Knowing that I could very will kill everyone around me in a fit of uncontrolled anger terrifies me. That if I lose control I could come back to myself to find a blacked patch where once this city stood.
You could learn to protect yourself against a man with a blade scholar. There is very little a normal person like you could do to protect yourself from the power I wield.
Tell me a little about your friends.
A change of subject? Getting a little uncomfortable, were you?
It must be Kyle and Jess that you want to know about. They are really the only two people in this world growing up that I call friends.
Lord Kyle Xavier Strafford, we’ve been friends since forever. Not so surprising since his father was my father’s closest friend and advisor. His father moved Kyle to the palace permanently after my mother’s death, although I think he was here more often than not before then. We got up to so much mischief together.
The Lady Jessalan Elana Barraclough came a little later, sent to the palace to live with her aunt. Some of the others whose station was higher were giving her a hard time when she first arrived. I took exception to that, so did Kyle.
We all became firm friends. We had that shared secret you see.
We all discovered we not only had the power of the veil, but discovered we possessed more than normal. It was a thing that drew us all together. It also helped that Jess was just as willing to get into scrapes as Kyle and me. All of us have been inseparable since we were children.
No matter what I know there are at least two people who will stand at my side, who will come to my defence. Just as I would go to theirs.
There’s always gossip surrounding the women around you…..?
You would ask about that. I’d rather not talk about it right now if that’s ok…
I still don’t quite understand how any of this happened. How I really feel…. Oh that isn’t true. I do know, now.
Well there’s Amelia, I always saw her as a little sister, until that day and everything changed. My world started falling apart and yet there in the centre, seemingly in a pool of calm was Amelia….
I’m sure you’ve heard all the recent rumours; you couldn’t have missed hearing about the mess with all the proclamations and drama.
I really don’t want to talk about it. I mean, being around me is dangerous. People who can’t get at me go after the ones I love. What happened is my fault. It happened because the Order wanted me.
I hesitate to ask this Your Highness but whom (or what) do you really hate?.
How could they do what they have done? How they could excuse the devastation they have wrought, the lives they have destroyed. It’s beyond me. Their actions in this day are unforgivable, just as they were back before the Sundered War.
The Orders own actions kindled the Sundered War and the years of devastation, death and fear that has followed to this day.
Perhaps a lighter subject Fourth, what’s your favourite drink, or relaxing pastime?
Those two are kind of connected. We like to get away from the palace, much to the annoyance of my Elite we tend to leave them behind more often than not. Bodyguards don’t like to be left behind scholar. There are a couple of bars that we haunt, some of them not that respectable. The court is always scandalised.
You’ll forgive me if I don’t tell you which particular bars our favourites are, I don’t want half of the citizens of Vallantia showing up there. None of us are really all that fussy about drink, a good ale or fine wine, whatever the locals are drinking. I’m fairly certain the regulars of the places we go, to get away from here know very well who we are. Who I am, but they don’t make a fuss. It’s relaxing.
What does the future hold for you Your Highness?
You mean after all this is finished? I don’t know. I can only think about the fight that is ahead of me, looming in front of us all.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Not really there isn’t much about my life people don’t know scholar. I’ve been watched and gossiped about since I was born.
If you want a fascinating conversation you should sit down with Isabella. Now her history is fascinating. On second thoughts talk with Damien. I don’t want you hassling Isabella.
Now if you will excuse me scholar, I have what promises to be a very impolite meeting with the Order to arrange…… I, I dreamed of being a hero as a child. Like my great uncle.
It was a foolish thing. I didn’t realise that all those people we tell the stories about pay a price for who they are. For what they’ve done. I fear I will have nightmares about what I’ve done, about my failures for the rest of my life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me scholar I really do have to go.
Catherine M Walker was born in a small country town in Western Australia but now resides in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. Not being interested in sports she dived into reading and writing. Determined to enter a short story competition while still in high school Catherine and her best friend started writing. Six exercise books later they both realised that perhaps the short story was a little long. Being an Author and publishing was a ‘one-day’ dream that stretched back to that time in high school. Nothing ever came of that first book, life moved on. Years later Catherine realised ‘one day’ never happens, life will pass you by if you let it. Of all the childhood dreams fulfilled to date one that hasn’t been is to be a published Author. Of course, flying an X Wing Fighter and blowing up the Death Star hasn’t either, but one dream at a time. Right?
You can find Alex on the pages of The Being Of Dreams series.
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