In the courtyard, the little boy searched for something to play with, as his supervisor was no fun. All this tall man wanted was for him to stay still, preferably do nothing. But little Soris was bursting with energy and curiosity. He wanted to explore, to make friends, play until he couldn’t breathe, let his child mind free to do anything that caught his attention.
The placid face with sucked-in cheeks of the supervisor was the most daunting image he could see now, scolding him for getting out of his sight even for a moment. The over-protectiveness of this man, at first, made him want to be disobedient and enjoy hearing curses and whinings following from his back. But, in less than a week, Soris understood that he was actually causing pain to someone, so he chose to become obedient.
As days went by, however, the little boy couldn’t stand the stillness anymore and noticed that the supervisor wasn’t becoming any friendlier. Soris looked around himself. The yard was big, the towering castle had countless rooms waiting for him to discover them, yet there weren’t any children today, only busy adults roaming around with thoughtful faces.
He sighed and turned to the supervisor, squinting against the strong rays of the morning sun, “Clark, may I play with the ball?”
The head from above lowered hooded, grey eyes on him. Clark hated being disturbed from his endless meditation.
Silence hovered for a couple of seconds, so the boy added in a sweet tone, showing his small white teeth, “Please?”
Clark let his shoulders drop and dragged his feet toward a bench with a wooden box upon it. He took out the smallest ball he could find there and slouched back to the prince who dashed to take it. As he snatched it with increasing joy spreading on his face, Clark hurried to lecture him, “Be careful not to hit someone; don’t bang it on the floor, don’t hit the walls with it, don’t throw it too up in the air as you can’t predict where it’ll fall…”
He went on and on about what not to do, but the boy didn’t care about anything he had to say. After all, according to Clark, the safest way to play was to just keep the ball in his hands. Soris, however, was bursting with energy. So he banged it against the floor and kicked it towards some soldiers who were passing by. The men in grey armor of fabric and plates of steel were happy to send it back to him. The prince got caught in the game quickly, so he continued to pass the ball to them, delighted to see the men’s smiles under the plain helmets which covered their eyes with smoky glass.
Clark stepped in between and scowled at the two tall playmates. “I think it’s time to get back to work!” he said, then turned to the prince, “Your Majesty, let the soldiers guard this place. You shouldn’t play with people that are of lower class.”
Soris pierced him with a brown stare. “Then who?” he snapped stretching his neck up to the supervisor who gave him the ball. “The noble children are going to arrive here after their lessons. Have a little patience, Your Highness.”
The boy took the ball and kicked it angrily toward the castle. It lobed far away from him, and got lost behind a hedge of the garden. Clark rolled his eyes, annoyed that he now had to run after the boy who scampered off retrieve it.
Soris reached the garden, then searched around until he got lost. Being away from the lecturing Clark felt way too good to regret this. He meandered until he got to an opening in the hedge. It led to a shadowed side of the castle. To his surprise, the ball was there, very close to the wheel of a wooden carriage. It had beautiful, embroidered curtains and the wood carvings glistened with fresh varnish. On its round back, it sported a symbol with a grand peacock made of gold. At that sight, the kid frowned. For long moments, even after Clark showed up by his side gasping for air, he sat still, enraged to see this cart sitting in the yard of his home.
Clark laid a hand on his shoulder. “There you are, Your Majesty. Can you imagine how dangerous it was to run away like this? What if someone kidnapped you? What if something heavy crushed you? What if you tripped?”
Soris didn’t hear any of his blabberings. He was fully focused on the carriage. Forgetting about the ball, he shifted and kicked the cart’s door, demanding, “Show yourself! Get out!”
Clark gasped in terror. “Your Majesty!”
The boy grabbed the handle and yanked the door open only to notice nobody was inside. He slammed it back, then peered up to the castle as if he declared war to someone invisible.
“Clark, I’m done playing for today,” he stated with a stern posture.
“Wise decision, Your Majesty,” Clark said, wiping his forehead. “But where are you headed to?” he asked behind the boy’s back.
“I’m going to talk to my mother.” He marched toward the castle, Clark following him with a pleased smile, thinking they’d left the yard, a place full of hazard, for a safe building. As long as the boy wasn’t playing or trying something other than walking and talking, everything was going to be just fine.
However, when they came before the queen’s door, echoing sobs infused shivers into their limbs. The prince grabbed the handle and cracked the door open. His mother sat on the bed’s margin, wiping tear after tear, trying hard to recollect herself as Queen Suzanne, the boy’s grandmother, was comforting her along with two of his aunts.
One of the aunts saw him and immediately went to usher him out of the room, then said after closing the door gently behind her back, “Kid, let your mother have some time for herself.”
“Why is she crying? Let me see her! I must tell her that…”
The young aunt lowered herself to meet his eyes properly. “Boy, she already knows that. You don’t have to confirm it any longer.” Soris went mute, trying to find more answers in her bitter gaze. She got up and looked at the feeble supervisor. “Clark, take him to Waltario. He’s in his studio now.”
Clark quickly bowed his head and grabbed the boy’s hand, glad to leave the kid in someone else’s care. He dragged Soris through some corridors, hoping the child wouldn’t oppose too much. He didn’t, until they reached the corridor where his father’s office was, and its door opened soundlessly.
A proud woman of thirty emerged, dressed in a sunset-red gown set with ermine. Soris narrowed his eyes, watching her advancing like a queen on a crowning day. The boy couldn’t temper his anger any longer. He pulled himself out of Clark’s grasp and ran back toward the staircase where he knew some guards would be stalling.
“Guards!” he shouted, making everyone’s heart jump in place, especially Clark’s, who turned pale. “Guards! Come quickly! There’s a thief here! Come and catch her!” he railed, pointing desperately at the woman who’d stopped in place, hazel eyes rounding wide under the fine dark make-up.
Noticing the guards’ movement, the boy started running back on the flower-patterned carpet, toward the lady who watched him with a stiff neck. “Catch her!” he insisted, satisfied to see he’d managed to take down that defiant smile from her face.
As the guards marched after him, a few steps behind, another door of the corridor opened and two maids showed up, eager to pry into the royal family’s matters. Clark was about to pull his hair out, thinking this was the death sentence for him. He grabbed the boy and covered his small mouth, begging him to stop.
The guards halted, confused about what was happening here. Clark looked at them almost crying. “Go back, guards. He was only playing around. Go! Please!”
The two men with bulky arms looked back at the maids who were red-faced from the spuming giggling at this sight, then right forward at the woman who shot flaming glances at them. They bowed their heads and excused themselves, then hurried back to their positions on the stairs.
As Clark was fighting to keep the erratic prince in check, the woman commanded to the maids, “Back to your work, ladies! Stop being so disrespectful to the prince!”
The two dropped their smiles and snuck back into the room they’d come out from. Soris tried to throw kicks and punches at the lady, his words muffled completely by the supervisor’s sweaty hand. The woman sauntered to him, offering him a vicious smirk.
Clark kept him trapped like a snake clutching on its prey, and gibbered incessantly prayers, begging the boy to calm down. But it was impossible for the prince to stop fighting. He felt like he let go of the most wicked criminal in the kingdom.
The lady stopped before him to enjoy her victory, then stooped to whisper in his ear, “You’re stupid just like your mother.” The boy grabbed on her golden necklace and pulled at it aggressively. Managing to snatch back the necklace, she rose to her feet, scolding Clark, “His mother’s failed miserably to educate him. Make sure next time we won’t get to see this savage instead of a prince.”
“My deepest apologies, Lady Voronchi!” Clark muttered humbly. “Do please forgive him. He’s only a kid and he just wanted to play.”
She turned and left, outraged by this event.
When she wasn’t in the corridor anymore, Clark let go of the prince, grabbed him by the shoulders with trembling hands and faced him. “Your Majesty, don’t you ever play like this! You’ve done enough trouble for today. Now, let’s get you to Waltario. He’ll know what’s best to do.”
Soris threw a deep scowl at the supervisor, fire burning in his brick irises. He didn’t oppose anymore, just accepted the supervisor’s guiding hand, knowing there was no use in trying to talk to such a coward.
To be continued…