Once Prince Andrej had steadied his father he turned to stare down upon the monks. The battering ram continued to boom through his silence. The old king slumped slowly down the wall until he sat hunched over against the dark stones. The prince knelt beside his father and Bosomella kicked the cart in frustration. If only she were closer. If she could just hear.
The monk closest to her turned aside and suddenly the twine went slack about her wrist. Bosomella did not require time to contemplate, she simply zipped away. Past her pale mistress and up to the balcony beyond.
The prince pushed his fingers through his no longer immaculate head of hair. “So I’m not actually of royal blood.”
“We’re royal enough. Our family has ruled for five generations and from what I hear of the kings before us the whole kingdom had been in desperate need of a good coup for years.”
The prince’s stare didn’t falter. “So you pledged me to them, rather than lose the crown.”
“Andrej, you have to realize that was years before you were even born. It is hard for a man to imagine family and love before it comes to him.”
“And the monks have attacked the castle…why?”
“I couldn’t tell you. I mean…and we missed the deadline. You were to take up the oath a year back and, well here they are.”
The prince only stared. And when he finally spoke his words were whispered and somehow stale. “And what precisly are my choices?”
“Oh.” The king looked away, tracing his hand along the fringe of the rich red tapestry that adorned the balcony wall. “The monks made that easy for us. You must pledge your firstborn son as their vassal for life, or return the crown that they helped us aquire. It would go back to the first royal line.”
And then prince Andrej stood and strode to the balcony. But he didn’t look down at the seige below. His eyes brushed the land. From the distant blue-black of the Roirksrag peaks in the west to the soft golden blush of barley in the east. And he closed his eyes, his knuckles white where they gripped the stone parapet, hiding a carving of the gods laughing down upon the deeds of men.
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