The prince climbed half-running on the stone stairs toward the palace hall. As he reached the top, he saw the king approaching with an impish smile.
"Grandfather." Theodrech happily ran to the king and gave the old man a bear hug.
"Theo, you did well today," the king said as he returned the hug. Theodrech looked up at his towering grandfather with great pride.
"Thanks, grandpa," said Theo. They strolled together, enjoying the refreshing wind as dusk came. Following not far from them were two of the King's royal guards and the prince's menservants.
"Theo, you found a good man." The king's eyes glistened as he spoke.
"Yes, grandpa and I'm so excited," said Theo, clenching his fist out of excitement. His eyes beamed as he grinned. "Those bold eyes makes my blood rush. Damn, I want him to join me, grandpa."
The king laughed at his grandson's liveliness. Theo's words also sent him way back during his early years as a king while Freidrech's father, the late Chief Louvel Gerboud, was still his personal guard. "Just like his own father, bold and relentless."
Sadness snuck in as well. He thought of offering a prayer for his friend and for the Wrilon villagers after receiving the full report of the investigation tomorrow.
"Really?" asked Theo in amazement, pulling the grandfather from his thoughts.
All of a sudden, King Thierri encircled his arm around Theo's neck and ruffled the boy's brownish black hair. "But you still need to convince him that you're a leader worthy of his allegiance," said the king in a playful tone.
"AHH, not my hair," Theo said as he bent down, escaping from his grandpa's clutches. "Of course, I'm precisely planning for that."
"From what I perceived, he is not the type who yields easily but if you win his loyalty, you'll gain a brother who'll stick to you through thick and thin, for a lifetime," added the king, using the late father as reference.
"I know. That's why I need to win tomorrow," Theo said while combing his hair with his fingers.
The word 'win' bothered the old king. He halted his steps as he glanced at the young prince with a solemn expression. Theo stopped as well and wondered at the change in his grandfather's demeanor.
"Winning the challenge is not the end-point, my boy, but winning his friendship." King Thierri paused, allowing the words to sink first. "Louvel's son is not totally naive as the people assumed him to be. I believe he can sense if you have ulterior motives."
Theo's forehead furrowed. "What do you mean he can sense? As in he can feel or see through me?"
"Not really. Let me see. How to put it?" The King gazed far ahead while his fingers played his white beard and mustache. "His father was a man gifted of hearing a man's heartbeat. He can probe a man's emotion base on the difference of the heartbeats."
"Shut up! If he was that gifted, why didn't you take him as one of your confidants?"
"Actually, he was my personal guard. But he purposely joined and won a combat tournament, so I could grant his request to take his father's place as the village chief. I had no choice but to release him," said King Thierri while half-regretted his decision. Somehow, he was resolute to keep the son by his side.
"Do you think Freidrech has the same gifting?"
"I don't know, but we'll see soon." King Thierri patted his grandson's back. "Just be yourself tomorrow, enjoy the challenge, and treat him like a brother." After speaking, he strode ahead. His hands behind his back.
However, Theo was not satisfied. Rather, after hearing the father's ability, the impulse to grab Freidrech to his side increased. "Grandpa, if he wins, will you grant him anything he asks?"
The king felt his grandson's anxiety of losing Freidrech, at the same time, the burning desire to gather strong and wise supporters to become an official candidate for the throne.
In the Kingdom of Xaeviel, one of the previous kings abolished the usual practice of crowning the firstborn as heir. The revised law's goal was to steer the royal family members to strive harder for the greater good of the nation and be deemed worthy by the people.
Each prince would be given the opportunity to prove their worth and his performance was strictly monitored. The official candidates were the high achievers. Out from them, the king and a few elders would choose the crown prince.
Theo's very own brothers and relatives were also vying for the throne. Thus, each of them continued to gather their loyal men to support and earn credits for them.
King Thierri shrugged. In time, Theo would gain those men. For now, let him enjoy his youth and obtain a good friend same his age, he thought.
He gave Theo a warm smile, displaying his even white teeth. His playful behavior came back.
"What do you think I'll do?"
"I think you'll make him my study companion." Theo's mood buoyed up with the thought.
"Are you sure?" The corner of the king's mouth lifted higher, a giggle bubbling inside his chest.
"Yes." Theo's eyebrows rose a bit more and his eyes opened wider. His heart beat faster expecting the old man to affirm.
Yet, with no mercy, the king said, "Nah." Then tilted his head as he cackled.
"AHH, grandpa." Theo pulled his grandpa's arm. "Come on, help me."
His beggings set off the old man to roar louder in laughter. He slapped his thighs and doubled over with mirth.
Theo crossed his arms and shook his head in disbelief. "Go ahead, laugh. Make fun of your own grandson."
Those words were enough to scold the king. King Thierri controlled his laughter as he wiped his misty eyes. "I'm just teasing you. Don't take it to heart."
Theo's shoulders slouched. "I know but it's not helping me at all."
"Sorry, but I won't tell you the reward if he wins. That will be unfair to Louvel's son. Just give your best and enjoy, whether you win or lose." Then lifting a finger he said, "Remember your aim, build a lasting friendship." And lightly ruffled Theo's hair. "I need to go to your grandmother now and report what you did, or she might pester me with her weeny painful pinches."
The king winced thinking of the pain inflicted in every pinch, which broke Theo into laughter pointing at the old man's scrunched up face.
Not long after, the two had a good belly-laugh as Theo shared imagining the queen pinching and scolding the man who held the highest authority in this great nation. While his grandpa would only laugh as he yielded to her. That's how sweet and in love was the king to his queen.
"Kiss her for me, grandpa," said Theo before the king neared the garden entrance.
"For sure, my boy. I'll surely give her a wonderful kiss." King Thierri blew a smacking flying kiss on the air without looking back.
The king turned left toward the rose garden while Theo stared at his idol's back. His heart swelled with pride to have a good king as his grandfather.
"Tell grandmother to watch tomorrow," he shouted.
The king waved his hand and disappeared within the high rose bushes.
Theo was about to walk to his villa but changed his mind. He let his attendants go ahead while he altered his route, toward the palace's library.
At this moment with Freidrech, an elderly man named Pheya led him to a spacious room in a separate villa at the back of the palace.
His room was divided into two parts. The outer part was a furnished receiving room and a king-size bed occupied the inner part.
As he entered the first room, his eyes grew big and a smile danced on his lips. He caught sight of the treasure he had long desired, mirror-like polished furniture made of the rarest green wood of the land.
It was said, each block of green wood was worth a fortune because the tree itself was hardly found. Base on the written archives, the green wood had the property to reveal a person's thoughts. However, there was only one man known who succeeded in using it. His name was Jallsei, the first king of Xaeviel.
This furniture was in the king's study before but moved out since no one could wield its power. The Chamberlain left it in this villa to show-off the kingdom's wealth to its guests.
Freidrech could not believe his luck or could be called a blessing to have this in his room. Weeks before the Naymagi attacked, a merchant taught him how to bring out the power of this precious wood using only a piece as big as his fist. But here, a whole set of furniture. It made him crazy thinking of it.
"Alas, I can practice using this in the following days," said Freidrech in high spirits.
He continued to look around for he might discover another treasure. The result was disappointing. The other significant thing he found was only the glowing night crystals on the ceiling and walls, which gave off a relaxing light.
Then his attention went to a few curtains swaying as a wind blew from an open door.
He walked out and was dumbstruck. Freidrech almost concluded he entered another dimension.
A vast land of colorful flowers appeared in his very eyes, stretching beyond the horizon.
"What the heck is this place? Did I enter a fairyland?"
In case you have problems pronouncing the words and to recall what that means, you can go to the Glossary of Terms which can be found in the auxiliary chapter above Chapter 1.
More Privileged Chapters
Download the app and become a privileged reader today! Come take a sneak peek at our author's stockpiled chapters!Download
This's an experimental test for reading assistance in case.
We highly recommend you to enjoy the beauty of the original words.