The Wayward Prince (part 2) The forest village of Silvand

Opening the right door Kellum enjoyed the wave of fresh air that he had somewhat lost familiarity with. The sooty dust and metal tang of the smithy was more distinct in contrast, he had to regularly snort just to clear his nostrils. He wasn’t previously warned of the hazards of smithing before he was taken to live with his uncle but it was an adjustment he had made early in the years living with his uncle.

After his parents died, Kellum was taken miles away in the forest village of Silvand. The alternative was the orphanage of his hometown – which was not known for it’s high standards or safety record when it came to those left in their care.

Even with the death of his parents he didn’t allow himself to feel too sad about their passing, focusing all his energy to living his life with purpose. A value his uncle instilled in him while he was young and adjusting to the major change he was forced into.

He was rather cocky and at times required a minor cuff from his uncle to rein in his behaviour. Taking up his uncle’s profession was to earn his keep but even with the enthusiasm towards the trade, he was currently consigned with more menial tasks.

“I hope that cart arrives soon, it was meant to be here by now.” expressed in frustration, the blacksmith’s apprentice was like most younger men a sufferer from a lack of patience.

“Uhh…Oh calm it, it’s due soon. Clear a space for the new sacks.” replied his uncle Trint – the Master Blacksmith, in an almost grunting fashion through his large bristly grey beard.

He coughed for a few seconds bringing up a chunk of metallic red phlegm, spitting it into the furnace. Still monitoring intently the slowly whitening sword blank resting in the roaring furnace. Periodically turning it over to balance the heat evenly, all while pumping fresh air into the furnace with the foot bellows.

While not over-weight person, his sturdy frame made easy work for the hammer and bellows. Despite his age he was one of the strongest and hardest working in the village, after decades of forging the towns weapons and tools. The heat dried skin on his hands coursed with minor cut and blister scars, all reflecting his near life long experience.

His skill was renown and much prized, so much that he was once commissioned to forge the armours of the royal family in Khrusos – the city of gold. The city resided in the large underground cavern in the mountain, beyond the forest’s eastern edge.

“There it is now…afterwards mind if I go get something to drink?” Kellum asked as he noticed the faintly audible sound of the traders cart’s arrival.

Kellum proceeded to open the second of the double doored entrance into the smithy. Spotting in the distance the two Octeqous, pulling the large trader’s cart through the entrance. Their hooves rapid klopping along the cobbled street was a clear indication for everyone in village to know that it had arrived, their sound was unmistakable. The large eight legged mares made easy work of the even larger cart, as it took up most of the street width and much of the village was previously designed to facilitate this. The shear weight required metal reinforcements on every load bearing part, especially on each of the six metal wheels – half of which squeaked with their unoiled axles.

“That’s fine, but don’t get drunk…I will finish this sword soon and it needs honing.” Trint said in an almost demanding way.

“Ugh…I’m always honing or polishing, when can I actually start trying to forge them?” Kellum impatiently asked.

“Hmm…when I’m convinced you won’t hit your thumb or burn the smith down.” Rebuked Trint. “Hand me the straight peen.”

Kellum picked up the hammer from the side shelve and chucks it under arm towards his uncle. Trint sighed as he catches it firmly by the handle.

“And that right there is why you are not yet ready.” retorted Trint.

Kellum looks away realizing the evidence of his inexperience from the wisdom his uncle just imparted.

Staring out from across the street, Kellum spots another of the townsfolk Eldrik – a much credited rival because of their similar age. Walking out of the house of a young woman Graecy, Eldrik caressed her hands as he whispered into her ear causing her to giggle uncontrollably. Kellum saw them both part ways, screwing his face up with frustration. He walked back into the smithy to continue his work.

“Can you believe that?” asked Kellum, venting his frustration towards his rival, hoping for some sympathy from his uncle. His uncle looks up to spot the vacating Eldrik from the porch of Graecy’s home.

“Egh…what would you expect…from the mayors son no less. Doesn’t know the meaning of hard work that lad…and thick between the ears too if you ask me. Don’t let me catch you acting like that. Or you’ll be out on your ass faster that a Velox on heat!” Trint was all too aware of the promiscuousness of the mayors son, who had at one point been found by Trint, in the company of own daughter Elize.

“He is such a Monghound…he is never satisfied with just one girl.” Kellum continued as he turned towards the trader who had now pulled up and stepped off his cart.

“He has never thought with his head that one…and if he goes near Elize again, I’ll finish forging this sword and cut him in two with it!” Trint gritted his teeth together and grasps the blank harder as he imaged using it on Eldrik, the towns more sexually active individual. He coughed several times as his deep breaths caught some extra ash from his heavier breathing.

“Hello sir, your order: twelve bags of mobius. That’s three hundred and twenty Aurens.” the trader initiated the pre-ordered sale. Opening the side of the cart where the bags were located.

“ Here ya’ go, same again next month?” said Kellum as he unhitched the bulging pouch on his hip.

“Certainly Sir, but it will be more per bag next time.” replied the trader.

“Again? That’s practically every month!” Kellum responded somewhat alarmed.

“I’m sorry but apparently the alchemists are disappearing, which lowering the amount the rest can make. Hence the price rise.” explained the trader, annoyed that it wasn’t the first time he was asked the same question.

Kellum counted out the required amount out of the pouch attached to his belt – he took pride in knowing he was at least trusted with such a large amount.

“Thank you sir.” The trader eyed up the money ensuring the complete amount and stored it in his lockable wooden casket.

“Til next month.” replied Kellum reluctantly.

He finished the sale and started to lift lifted sacks of Mobius coal off of the cart, stacking them one top of another just inside the smithy, after the last bag the trader moved his cart off to further down the street. Kellum’s clothes were covered with the bright red alchemist dust, some of which had clearly leaked from a bag with a minor split.

“Aaand done…” Kellum let out a sigh as he slumped down the last of the bags – attempting to brush off some of the dust that had built up on his arms and legs.

“I’m gonna go head out for lunch if thats ok?” Kellum looked at Trint expecting an answer, yet his uncle was fast away with his thoughts.

“Uncle?” Kellum asked trying to get his masters attention with no effect. “UNCLE?”
Trint finally looked up as he finally took notice.

“Huh? Oh yes…sorry, yes you can go…but don’t get too Drond-assed.” Trint looked back down, taking the blank out of the furnace which was glowing pure white. He walked over to the anvil beside the furnace, taking hold of his smith hammer and laid the sword down on the anvil.

“I want this blade finished by the end of the afternoon.” continued Trint without even looking at his nephew.

“Of course uncle.” replied Kellum as he walked out of the smithy.

The ringing clang of struck metal started as Trint repeatedly struck the red hot blank, the rhythm of the metallic pings echoed out and into the street. Glowing white sparks of metal specks shot out from the impact, bouncing off every surface only to vanish from sight.

Kellum continued to walk down the cobbled street towards Clara’s, past the various occupied stalls and through the crowd. It was his favourite place to eat or drink, partially because it was the only public house for miles around and largely because his Uncle lacked the culinary skills to provide edible food for either of them.

The town of Silvand itself was in a glade, cut into the centre of a forest – one that had a large river snaking through, cutting the forest in two halves. The town sat solely on one side of the river and acted as the only port in the forest. It became a resting stop for travellers, traders and the towns fishing fleet used the river to supply much of the food. The buildings of the village were all made from it’s timber. The surrounding palisade barred any of the wild animals from overrunning the town and blended it almost seemingly into the still living counterparts.

Walking past the towns lumber mill which had been incorporated into the dock, running from the large retractable water wheel. Kellum looked out onto the fishing wharf which normally had his best friend Nieko reeling in the day’s catch from one of the fishing fleet. The two would often catch sight of each other and rudely gestured to each other, in a way only really good friends accepted, before continuing on. Today however Nieko wasn’t present. Slightly puzzled Kellum accepted his friends absence and continued onwards towards Clara’s.

“Hello Kellum deary” Abruptly spoken by one of the villages elder residents.

“Oh Hello Mrs. Casta” Kellum responded reluctantly wishing he had been able to elude the old women.

“My, my aren’t you getting big…you should meet my granddaughter…you two would make the perfect couple.” Mrs. Casta explained with much enthusiasm in her croaky broken voice.

“Uhh that’s ok Mrs. Casta…I uh have to go…Uncle needs something…and I uh…need to get it for him.” Kellum barely finished his sentence before running off towards his intended destination, forgoing the pleasantries normally exchanged when parting with a known face.

“…ugh why must she always pester me, I don’t even like her granddaughter.” he spoke to himself knowing he was out of ear shot. He sighed, feeling a pang of guilt over his action as if he was trying to reassure why he abruptly left.

The octogenarian wouldn’t have fully understood even if he hadn’t left it too late to tell her the truth. He was all too aware that her granddaughter already had a girlfriend to which she was betrothed too. It was clear to everyone that shed suffered from the illness Mindrot – but little could be done so she was taken care of by everyone. Bound by her illness to repeat the same thing over and over, every time they met she would ask the same thing, except the rare occasions where the symptoms subsided briefly to allow for new memories. Kellum continued on towards he intended destination and entered the tavern called The Twisted Viperene when it was first built, it was now called “Clara’s” informally – of whom is the current proprietor.

Greeted by other patrons who were already enjoying their afternoon lunch he found his favourite table, who was to his surprise already occupied by his friend Nieko. Kellum sat down opposite his best friend while Nieko signalled for two drinks to the hostess who brought both over – smiling at Kellum as she placed them down. He responded with an awkward slightly embarrassed smirk. He turned his attention back to Nieko. The waitress walked off feeling slightly disappointed by the encounter as she had done so previously.

“Your here early. What happened…got tired of flinging fish already?” He jokingly ask due to Nieko’s abnormal presence.

“Pfft, what fish there was…it’s like they all pissed off. It’s been happening for days.” Nieko explained.

“The fish have been getting less…and no we haven’t fished ‘em all. ” He continued frustratingly, the fish from the river was an important source of food and income for the village.

“What they’ve finally been scared off looking at your mug.” snipped Kellum jokingly.

“Hah, from yours more like…you know I can just ask them to hop into the boat with my good looks.” Nieko remarked almost as if it was a genuine fact. They both shared a chuckle before Nieko interrupted.
“…but seriously they are getting spooked and it’s not normal. Something is scaring them off good.” He adding worryingly.

They both continued to enjoy each others company for an hour before they merriment was interrupted. Crashing through the door bringing in with him the rain and wind which had picked up through out the hour. A clearly exhausted man completely drenched from both the rain and his own sweat. His interruption caused everyone inside to turn to look towards, looking upon him with a jumpy anxiety and suspicion. The stranger walked up to the bar panting clutching his left arm. The cloth was cut through which had an open sore caused by a sharp tree branch, watered down blood had stained the tear around it’s edge and surrounding area.

“…water…p…please.” The man was clearly dehydrated and was covered heavily in dirt, including his hair and short beard.

Clara who was bar tending at the time poured a mug of water from the only barrel that contained the pre-heat treated liquid, hesitantly giving it over.

“ you go.” Clara placed the full mug down on the top of the bar taking a step back, looking over to one of her more trusted patrons, her eyes almost asked him to make sure he would protect her should things get more violent.

“…thank you!” replied the extremely grateful stranger. Downing the mug as quickly as possible, overflown water from his mouth leaked and trickled down his neck. The droplet collected the dirt in it’s path. Caught by his collar staining what little cleanliness was left.

“Where’d you think he’s from?” ask Nieko in a whispering volume. Nieko and Kellum turned to look at each other, trying to keep one spare eye on the newcomer.

“I don’t know, can’t imagine it’s far.” Replied Kellum equally as loud. “Can’t have come far, must be from Khrusos…come to think of it he looks familiar.” Kellum knew he saw this man somewhere before but his recollection wasn’t perfect.

“Really? Your probably out of it…and only on the one tank.” Nieko’s snide remark was lost on Kellum who was preoccupied trying to remember where he last saw the outsider.

“Yeh…I know I’ve seen him somewhere.” Un-able to recall frustrated Kellum greatly.

They both drank from their tankards to appear less inconspicuous hoping it wouldn’t draw his attention towards them. The other patrons weren’t as worried.

“Is there a room I could rent?” asked the now un-parched newcomer.

“Umm…yes we have one available…mind if I ask your name?” Clara asked hoping it would help ease the tension.

“My name is…Jaeson.” Hesitating for a second to think of a new name.

“Ok..Jaeson. The rooms are 10 Aurens per night.” Clara informed him, remaining slightly suspicious.

Jaeson retrieved the required amount from the over burdened purse in his pocket, almost spilling coins on the floor handing them over. Clara accepted the transaction still on the side of caution.

“I’ll have someone show you the room.” Clara replied, signalling one of her hostesses who took Jaeson to the first floor.

“Hmm, now I definitely know that’s not his real name.” Said Kellum quietly. Watching the hostess and Jaeson disappearing out of sight to the where both guest rooms were located.

“It doesn’t matter…we should go or we’ll be in the shit.” voiced Nieko downed his remaining mouthful.

“Yeh, try and catch something this time. Ever tried using bait?” Kellum joked, after finishing his own drink.

“I will when you inevitably cut one of your fingers off.” Nieko scoffed as they both stood up and walked out of the tavern.

After leaving the building and walking down the street, both patted each others shoulder and parted ways back to their work. Kellum looked back onto the tavern knowing all too well that he had seen Jaeson years before but the specifics still eluded him. Trickling memories came to mind of a person who looked like Jaeson. Of someone who had come to the smithy to order something special. At the time Kellum was much younger and still feeling the loss of his parents.

Kellum walked back into the smithy were he saw the blade he needed to work on, placed on the stool in front of the grinding wheel. He picked it up and sat on the stool, starting to spin the large six foot radius stone with the foot peddle, stopping briefly as he finally remembered…

Laura Steel ©2014

The Wayward Prince (Part 1) The gold city of Khrysos

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.