Chapter 01

Long Live the King

At least, he died doing what he loved best, Samard thought bitterly, fighting his adored war. Not loving me or my mother.

The war had hacked Samard’s oldest brother to death. His second brother received two arrows in the back and one in the chest, piercing his heart. His third brother disappeared.

“Kidnapped,” the old king had bellowed. “We must kill the bastards for taking my son!”

Everyone knew the boy would rather live as a peasant than die as a prince, but the king would not hear it.

The queen would not allow the war-loving king to raise Samard as a warrior. He lived in her chambers where he learned to read, write, cipher numbers, and take a bath no less than once a week. He was required to learn the manners of court, dress in silk, make friends with noble sons, and flirt with noble daughters.

But Samard preferred to spend his time working, playing, riding, hunting with stable boys and flirting with peasant girls.

His brothers rose before dawn to learn how to sword fight, on foot and on horse, so they could one day go to war and kill their enemy. Samard slept until mid-morning, ate breakfast, and after his studies, he’d help his friends finish shoveling horse manure, and replace old hay with new. The sooner the boys finished their work, the sooner they and Samard could play.

The stable boys’ fathers taught them and Samard how to ride horses, hunt with a bow and arrow, and how to be a man of honor. That life and friends Samard had loved so much was now no more than a faded memory.

On his fourteenth birthday, Samard was hauled out of his mother’s chambers and brought before his father to become the next to sit on the throne. All his brothers were dead or missing; he was the last heir.

Three years later, a week shy of Samard’s seventeenth birthday, the old king had been brought from battle mortally wounded. The doctors said he’d not live till nightfall.  He’d die doing what he’d loved best.

As soon as he was named king, Samard would be slave to the throne.

Samard sat staring out the window as his mother paced and cried uncontrollably. He should be crying, but there were no tears. What was there to cry about? Lost love? His heart was devoid of emotion. Samard wasn’t sure he loved the king. “King.” He thought of him as king not father. He didn’t know him well enough to call him father. They never took the time to know each other. Now they never would.

“I will be king in the morning,” Samard said, softly. It hardly seemed real.

His mother blew her nose. “It will take three weeks to prepare for the coronation.”

“I will be king in the morning.” Samard spoke with such conviction his mother whirled around to face him.

“Your father is not yet dead or buried,” she exclaimed. “At least, let him die before you make such claims.”

He turned from the window to look at his mother’s grief stricken face. She’d lost three sons and a husband to that war. And what did they battle over? Land and water rights in the valley that separated two kingdoms.

The Old King of the Prairie Kingdom claimed all the land to the west of the river. The Sea-Side Kingdom claimed all land east of the river. But the river moved from east to west depending on the amount or the lack of rainfall. Their claims were always shifting, giving them a perpetual reason to clash.

They could have ended the war, but the old king refused the opposing king’s repeated efforts to negotiate peace. Samard’s father loved war.

Soldiers from both kingdoms expected the farmers who lived in the valley to feed them and their daughters to entertain them. Farmers left the valley taking all their possessions, livestock and daughters with them. Few lived or farmed in the valley any more. Food was scarce and had to be imported from far away lands.

Both kingdoms fought only for the glory of battle. It mattered little of the money or lives lost. It mattered little what Samard had lost. The only fathers he knew belonged to stable boys. The only brothers he remembered were the sons of blacksmiths and horse trainers.

“I will be king in the morning.” Each time he said it, it became more real. He would be a better king than his father. He would not neglect his family or pursue idiotic glory. “My first act will be to end the war. Then we will bury your husband.”

“How will you do this?” she asked.

“Does King Ingvea have a daughter?”

“I believe so, yes. Several in fact.”

“I will send a messenger to the king and will propose a marriage of peace with whichever daughter is not already betrothed. I will have sons who will rule the two kingdoms as brothers.”

“What if his youngest daughter is the only one available?”

“Then I will wait until she is old enough. From this day forth, we will live in peace.”

His mother’s face changed from the disbelief at her son’s brazen words to hopeful surprise then to approval that this hateful war would finally be over. She wiped the tears from her face and stood erect.

With the determination to end the life of the one who had stolen so much from her, she said, “I will see to the necessary arrangements.”

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 12:43 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: