Hello everyone! I know I promised a post last Friday, but life got away from me. It's tech week for The Wizard of Oz, so I've been a bit swamped. Anyway, on my book's Facebook page, I asked if anyone would be interested in a bit of a sneak peek of The Prince's Quest. So here it is. This is the prologue. It hasn't been through official editing, and was written over a year ago, so has many things to be fixed- it has lots of -ly words. But I hope you will enjoy anyway!
Without further ado, I present the prologue to The Prince's Quest.
“Your highness?” Prince Elric turned towards the husky voice that called for his attention. “The girls have been gathered.”
The young man nodded, staring into the distance. “I’m coming,” he said slowly, distinctly.
“Very good, sire,” the manservant said, bowing slightly before exiting the royal’s chambers.
The prince adjusted the shoulders of his deep blue tunic, leaving the skirt of the fabric to rest above the knees of his brown breeches. Straightening, he pushed open the door, to reveal a rather dark corridor with a deep purple rug covering the entire length of the hallway’s floor. Will she be here?” he found himself wondering, barely able to hope.
With memories flashing in a strange exotic swirl in his mind, it was hard to tell what in the past few weeks was a dream, and what was reality. Perhaps, even, he was becoming insane. Could a sound minded man separate fact from fiction?
Stop being a fool, the prince chided himself, taking a deep breath, and stopping before a tall set of double doors. Beyond lay the future. What was in this room would shape his future, the path he would take; He only hoped he would not be disappointed. Inhaling deeply, hart pounding madly, he shoved open the doors.
His manservant, Winston, who must have arrived but a few short moments before, stood waiting for him, fingers patting a nervous rhythm on his black trousers. “Prince Elric,” he said, sounding extremely relieved. “I think we must hurry- if your father knew what we were doing-“
“Hush,” Elric said, his voice low, thick with some sort of emotion Winston could not quite place. His eyes were focused on the long line of girls, representing the entire unwed group from the village of Redge.
Not daring to get his hopes up, the prince traversed down the line slowly, disappointment cutting into him like the deepest of knife wounds. Was it even likely that she would be here, among this crowd of peasant girls, all of which were probably worth a great deal more then they had been given credit? Perhaps they did not have substantial sums of money, a title… or any such thing. But was that what truly mattered anyway?
Some of the girls did not look at him as he walked by; others were smiling at him openly. Pick me, their gazes said. I want to be important.
Glancing up, Elric saw a group of people huddled in the background; eyes filled with a nervous anticipation. After all, it wasn’t every day that the greatest prince in the kingdom sent out a messenger to a village asking for all young women of marriageable age to report to one of the royal family’s many palaces- this one located on the outskirt of Redge. The prince realized that these people must be the loved ones of the girls standing before him. And they were just as anxious about his motives as the girls themselves.
As he passed another hopeful young lady, her eyes large and bright, he caught sight of the honey colored hair of the girl standing next to her. His breath hitched in his throat, and he fumbled for something intelligent to say. Finally, in an almost inaudible whisper, he spoke one word; one name.
“Anya?” A pair of frightened green eyes turned to him. They pleaded with him, and Elric saw a deep dread hanging there, as if being chosen were a death sentence.
“Please,” she whimpered. The prince fought back the distress clawing at his chest. He expelled a shaky breath, before taking her hand carefully.
“You are free to go,” he said softly, kindly.
The girl gave a gasp of joy, before withdrawing her hand from his, and rushing back to the group of families. The prince watched with an odd feeling in his stomach as the girl threw her arms around a young, tanned boy who probably worked the king’s fields, and received the lowest of salaries. The girl clung the young man, as if she never wished to be parted from him, and hot tears coursed down her cheeks, while the boy whispered comforting words into her ear.
The prince smiled sadly to himself. It had not been her. It was just another peasant girl; but not his peasant girl. Half-heartedly, Elric paraded past the remaining village girls, before raising his voice loudly so that all in the room could hear his echoing words.
“You are free to go,” he said without emotion. A wave a disappointment washed through the crowd. Disappointment that almost mirrored his own. And yet, stronger even then the disappointment was wonderful, sweet relief. Nothing bad was going to happen. Now one was going to be punished. And no one’s daughter would marry a tyrant’s son.
Winston hurried to his employer, curiosity lighting his eyes. “Did you not find her?” he asked hurriedly/ The prince felt his shoulders slump forward slightly.
“Not yet,” he said quietly, beginning the trek back to his lavish sleeping chambers.
Perhaps he should speak to some of the men from Redge, and attempt to weasel the answers from them. Maybe it wouldn’t work – he was the king’s son, after all. He was, by association, the enemy. He was dangerous. Men of his lineage had only ever brought pain and suffering to the people of this unfortunate kingdom. Then again, every man, no matter how true, and good they professed to be had a price. Didn’t they?
Elric was even uncertain of this himself, but he brushed all doubts from his mind, and quickened his step. The villagers must talk to him. He could not even begin to think of what he would do if they rebutted all of his approaches. But no, they would not. His quest was much too important.
“Not yet,” he repeated, entering his chambers whilst pulling a scrolled map of the kingdom from a bookshelf above the comfortable, goose down bed. Running his finger over various trails and roads, his mind sifted through hundred of possibilities. His index finger trailed over the Wolfs bane mountain range, and through the Filian dessert, and in the gorge of Ill Will. She could have gone anywhere. Turning suddenly, Elric faced his aide, who stood surprised in the doorway.
“Winston,” the prince said thoughtfully, brushing his hands together to rid himself of the dust the map had accumulated without constant use.
“Yes?” the servant asked, performing yet another bow.“I’m going to speak with the king.”