Seven year-old Thom shuffled up the steps of the tallest turret in the prince’s palace. His goal was the highest window. It overlooked the army training camps in their New Year celebration.
Once at his comfortable spot, he peered down at the bright lights and loud cheers. Everything below looked like a play set, except he couldn’t reach down to join the fun. Thom was still too young to attend the celebration with his family. And he hated it. Missing out on all the songs and games, despite how rowdy they could get, was like missing out on the best birthday party in the kingdom. Yet no matter how much he begged, his mother always said no.
Resting his chin on his crossed arms, Thom imagined growing up. Oh how he couldn’t wait. It seemed wonderful to be an adult. He could even make the climb up the turret without huffing like an angry bull. Sighing, he made a wish for the years to fly by. If only he had magic to speed up time.
“Your highness! I – I found you. You shouldn’t be up here,” his royal maidservant said. She stopped a few steps below in attempts to catch her breath. It looked like some adults never outgrew the panting. “It’s time for bed, Prince Thom. The queen will be back to check on you soon.”
Thom frowned. He mentally noted to pick another turret next year, since the maidservants knew of his special spot.
“Your highness, come down with me, please,” the maidservant pleaded.
“I’m tired,” Thom lied. “Carry me.”
He had grown in the past two years, and despite hating being carried, it was a torture to those who spoilt his fun.
“Ca-carry you?” The maidservant looked aghast at the idea.
“Yes, carry me,” Thom ordered.
He skipped down the few steps and jumped into the maidservant’s arms. Stumbling backward, the maidservant quickly leaned against the wall, saving them both from a bone-breaking fall.
“You’re getting heavier, your highness.”
Thom held on tight as the maidservant huffed and puffed her way down the steps, all the while smirking at what he deemed was justice. When she finally dragged them both into his bedchamber, he climbed off and waved her away.
“Shall – shall I tuck – tuck you in, your – highness?”
“No. You can go.”
The maidservant gave a bow before shuffling out of the room. When she shut the doors, he heard her inform the guards to keep watch. Grunting, he knew his plan to escape was foiled.
Not yet tired as the night was still young, he climbed onto the windowsill and looked out into the night sky. The stars twinkled across the black canvas, while the clouds drifted by the pastel full moon. The music and laughter of the celebration could be heard, but only as a distance whisper carried by the wind. Nothing was out of the ordinary, and it was quite a disappointment to the imaginative little prince.
“Not even a single dragon,” Thom muttered, as he heaved a sigh.
“And a good thing, that is,” someone replied.
Turning, he saw his mother walking toward him. He didn’t hear her enter, being occupied in his search for something magical.
“A horrible thing, that is,” Thom corrected.
“Why?” his mother asked. She pulled an armchair near the windowsill and gestured for him to come down.
“It means there’s no magic tonight,” Thom replied. Obediently, he climbed off the hazardous ledge and planted himself on his mother’s lap.
“Magic comes from within, not from outside.”
“Then magic is boring.”
His mother laughed as she wrapped her arms around him. She gave him a tight squeeze before poking at his rib.
“Hey!” Thom pushed her hand away, holding back a childish giggle.
“You know, if you want to find magic, all you have to do is look at the stars.”
“Look right there,” she added, pointing toward a direction in the sky.
Thom leaned closer to her arm, and aligned his sight with her finger. But all he saw were a cluster of twinkling dots and no magic.
“You can’t see it?”
“The Majestas Regia. It’s a constellation only royals can see.”
“I can’t see it. Does that mean I’m not a royal?”
“I am. What does it look like?”
“It looks like a crown.” His mother began to draw in the air. When she was done, she asked, “Do you see it now?”
“No.” How she could point it out bewildered him. Knowing it would take too much effort, he stopped trying and turned the other way.
However special the constellation was, it seemed like a waste of time trying to find it. It wasn’t magic. It was just a bunch of stars. And the fact that it could only be seen by royals? Well, he didn’t like that thought either.
“You can’t give up so quickly, dear Thom.”
“There’s a dragon over there, can you see it?” Thom pointed in the opposite direction, hoping to change the subject. There wasn’t a dragon, of course, but he could easily imagine one.
His mother laughed and pulled his hand down. “Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean you’re not a prince.” It was as though she’d read his mind. But it was to no surprise, as mothers had that special magic within them.
“Who says I’m not a prince?” Thom snapped. “It’s just a bunch of stupid stars.”
“You see, that’s why magic isn’t on the outside. It’s on the inside.” She gently tapped at his chest. “To see it, you must believe it. You’re a prince, little one. A true prince. And one day, you’ll find the Majestas Regia as quickly as you gaze into the night sky.”
“What are you doing?” Seanna asked.
She skipped down the steps of the ember-glowing farmhouse. Seated on a log in the open field, Thom instinctively shifted to make space for her.
“Looking for something,” Thom replied.
“What are you looking for?” Seanna asked, plopping down beside him. She dropped her gaze at the ground and began brushing the wet grass with her boot.
“Not down there, up here.” Thom pointed to the stars. “The Majestas Regia.”
“Oh, the royal constellation.”
“Is there anything you don’t know?”
“I don’t think so. Did you find it? They say only royals can see it. I’ve tried looking for it before, but…”
“You didn’t find it?”
“I guess the saying is true then. Or, it’s just prove that there are things Seanna cannot do,” Thom said with a smug.
“Well, can you?”
Thom pointed to the sky, where his index finger hovered by the tip of the crown. “Over there.”
“You’re lying,” Seanna scoffed.
“It’s really over there,” Thom insisted, connecting the stars with his fingers to draw a crown on the invisible canvas.
“Whatever. It’s almost dinnertime.” Seanna got to her feet and dusted her pants. “By the way, Reid and Tavia are joining us for tonight’s Passover celebration.”
“Oh, okay. You go ahead then.”
“We won’t wait for you to start.”
“I’ll be right in.”
“There’s turkey pie.”
Thom chuckled, before looking at the sky once more. And just like his mother had said, he spotted it as quickly as he lifted his gaze. It was there, to the right of the moon, the Majestas Regia.
Merry Christmas (eve) dear reader! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas day, full of love, hope, and good food.
I also hope you liked this short story 🙂 It is actually a teaser for my crowd-funding novel, The Slave Prince. I know it raises some questions, but that’s the whole idea!
If you’re new to my blog, The Slave Prince is actually in the running to being published as part of the Sword & Laser Collection Contest. If it piques your interest, do give it a look-see. I have until the 15th of January to be in the top 3 books. Then, it’s a guarantee you’ll see it on bookshelves next year! So head over to the project page to read further. The prologue and first 2 chapters are there too, for some light reading this Christmas day 🙂
(*UPDATE: The Slave Prince has been entered into the Geek & Sundry Fantasy contest. The contest runs till November 1st, 2016 and the same rules apply!)
The Slave Prince © 2015 – 2016 Jeyna Grace