Perched on his favourite balcony sitting reclined with his feet resting on the railing the Prince, Jayanis Aurumis the Forth, of Khrysos – the City of Aurum, he would waste away his empty days apathetically devoid of any activity. Dressed in the lavish regalia bearing the symbol of his families crest. Intrinsically woven cloth lined with the purest of silk that went beyond comfort or style. Clothing fit for the future king was wasted on the Prince’s sense of humility.
The elegantly designed, solid gold crown he was expected to wear at all times was often thrown on the floor in a personal acts of defiance. Anger would cause him to remove it violently to the point that the crown had received scuffs and parts of the crown were no longer set at the originally cast position.
To anyone who would look up from street level would see the faint image of the Prince, as a lifeless gargoyle, disappearing to periodically to fill his stomach and empty his bladder. Or when he was called away to fulfil his royal duties.
Staring blankly out towards the open city below he would watch its busying populace below. Bored and devoid of a life of his choosing he would casually watch his ‘future subjects’, like ants in a colony mindlessly going about their business. His life, he knew, would be force lived, if unchecked. One that would mean controlling the lives the of autonomous masses below. A responsibility he knew he couldn’t maintain with any level of enthusiasm or content.
He would often look out towards the luminous caveline and inwardly sigh. Boredom would hypnotise him to just stare at the dark jagged roof inside Mon’Aurum, the mountain in which the city was carved out of centuries before. Mon’Aurum was the largest of mountains overlooking the rest of Hexterra. It’s peak even reached over the volcano city of Caldera and the floating city isles of Nubinsulam. The summit not visible from ground level, permanently piercing the clouds all year round. Along with a thick blanket of snow stretching out from miles around, white was a boring colour for this continent’s theme.
Pillars of supporting stone would hold up the rest of the mountain, stopping it from burying the city. Gigantic stretches of of bioluminescent fungi colonies kept most of the city bathed in a permanent soft white-blue light, enough to allow everyone to see well and live and work normally. While there was no true concept of day or night inside the cave, time was controlled to coincide with that of Sol – the planets star. Mechanically operated clocks would track phases of the day with everyone working shifts to maintain a consistent level production.
The Prince spent most of his time dreaming of what life was like outside the cavernous maw, he was bound to the castle. A prisoner in his own home, prevented from leaving to pursue his own adventures. When he was studying as a child he would often read books in the cities library about the world outside. The wonders it held explained to him in the form of tomes, detailing various places, animals, plants and the general concepts of outside life.
This fact was kept hidden from the King who would have most likely banned him from learning of anything other than the city and royal functions. The fact that he knew of a life outside of the mountain would fuel his curiosity. Leaving a burning desire to explore beyond the city and outside the mountain. Something which would be dismissed by his over bearing, over protective father.
A knocking of his bedroom door would bring him out of his trance. Before he could answer the door swung open to reveal one of the King’s couriers. The courier extended the issued command of his father for the Prince; to report to the throne room for yet another political meet. Many of which would serve as training for the Prince in the days after his father’s rule. This meets would consist of various diplomats from outside the city, the few who would be allowed to enter the city, save for traders which were limited to posts outside the cities limits.
In his younger days the prince would often speak out of turn. Asking questions of the diplomats; about life outside, descriptions of where they came from, and general world events that have happened. Always at the cost of infuriating his father feeling embarrassed that his son spoke out of turn. An example of his already increasing reluctance to rule, each time a spur that would hasten his desire to escape and one he repeated knowing so. This time would be the last.
The young Prince now infuriated could no longer stand the intolerability of his fathers rule. Stormed back to his room, crashing through the bedroom door. He planned to escape the his confinement once and for all. He knew he couldn’t wear his best armour or take his sharpest sword, they were too recognisable. Packing light and sparingly, excluding all of his luxuries that would have made his post escape all the more easy. Save for one particular item.
He searched his side desk for a small decorated wooden box, inside was covered with a pure silk. Cushioned in the middle was something very precious to him. A locket, one that once belonged to his mother. It was to be given to the Prince’s sister but after their deaths he took it as a keepsake to remember them by. It was intrinsically designed by the best goldsmith available but was more elaborate in design than more common variants and was encrusted with small emeralds on the outward facing lid.
He flipped open the locket with his thumb to reveal the two portraits; one of his dearly departed mother and the other his sister. Reminiscing briefly on fond memories of both of them before continuing to pack. He threaded his head through the chain attached to the locket to keep it safe next to his heart, continuing to pack the bare essentials that wouldn’t hinder his departure.
After sneaking through the castle courtyard the Prince had made it into the streets of the city before his father found out of his absence. Guards sent to collecting the young royal failed to find him, with only evidence of his furious outburst littering the room and the torn bedsheets making a make shift rope still attached to the bedpost. The guards reported the lack of the Prince’s presence back to the King. In a fit of rage the King demanded that all available hands be sent out to scour every inch of the city to find his wayward son.
Dressed in a tattered cloak “borrowed” from a servant, the Prince was now camouflaged to blend in with the locals, the only difference was his stockier build over most. Making his way through the streets he noticed guards lifting the hoods of others to reveal their identities. Before he could dodge the guards walking towards him, he felt the heavy patter of a metal clad hand grasp his shoulder. Forced to turn around, his face was now in full view of the pair of guards.
The guards instantly recognised their future monarch declareing that he must return or face being arrested. Politely declining their offer the Prince started to walk away, forcing the guards hand. Attempting to arrest him the Prince had disabled both guards in a spectacle of flurrying moves that left both of them unconscious.
The noise of clattering metal armour and the remains of one of the food stand one of them crashed into attracted more guards to his location, Using the echoing sounds to locate the residual commotion as the Prince dodged his pursuers through the side alley ways behind the commercial buildings.
With no clear way of leaving the city he paused to ponder his next move. Seconds later he could here the beckoning whisper of an old man behind him. He spun round to confront the old man but much to his relief there was no intention of hindering the Prince’s escape or alerting his presence. The old man mentioned the existence of a secret tunnel which lead outside.
The tunnel had been carved out by desperation of the people who found living in the city too much to bear. Reluctant at first he followed the old man to the tunnels entrance, located in a forgotten part of the city and buried in a dark corner of building used only for squatters and rats.
Crawling through the tunnel was hard. Much harder for those who were of stockier build, as was the Prince. Narrowly fitting inside he would have to drag himself through. Panic and fear would have to be suppressed if he was to find the end. Inch by inch using his elbows and toes to bore himself through. Forced to take breaks to cough when too much dirt became lodged in his lungs or find the extra energy to continue.
Hours felts like days and with no way to turn around and go back he had only one direction to go. Only the grey brown interior with a black abyssal pit lead his way. The consolation came from the luminous fungi that sparsely grew along the entire length of the tunnel, enough light permeated for him to see the locket almost dragging through the hard dirt. Inspiration for him to continue forward.
What seemed like an eternity later the ambiance grew lighter. Fresh air could finally be felt on his face, the smell filtered through the dirt clog nostrils. He knew that his freedom was soon to become a reality. Continuing forward with a second wind from the new breeze chilling the last molecules of moisture in his mouth. The light at the end was barely visible through the concreting dust in his eyes.
Finally exiting through into the white mountainside forest, he slumped in exhaustion on the snow. A soft blanket would sooth his aching body. Unable to even feel the cold in his hands as he scoffed clumps of snow to re hydrate his near husk of a body. He cleared his eyes as best he could and painfully opened them, only to have them react and shut again. They were now struggling to see the brilliance of Sol and would have to grow accustomed to the new light.
He would have all the time he desired now, with the only possession his trusted locket and the clothes he was wearing, he finally brought himself to stand. Walking down the side of Mon’Aurum the vague image of a settlement and it’s smoke stacks would be his beacon through the dense forest. This is where he knew his adventure was going to start.