Story Saturday: Prince Braydon

The Stolen Jewel: Prince Braydon

Prince Braydon glared at a mountain of letters on his desk. Most of them were from wishful noble ladies who were desperate for his courtship in order to raise their status. It wasn't easy being the most eligible prince in the land. Many others would envy him to have such an admirable problem, but he knew better. There was far more to life than making women swoon and throw themselves at his feet. He was far more interested in learning to run a kingdom. His father had some unique ideas about being king. Even though Braydon did not agree with all of them, he found their discussions fascinating.

"Finished sorting through your mail already?" asked King Mercer as his son cautiously entered the throne room. Braydon never knew what sort of mood his father might be in.

"Why must read I them all? Most of these ladies are so vapid, writing about their hair and clothes and showering me with empty compliments about my appearance. I'd work on treaties to improve our relations with Klingland."

Braydon took a seat on the throne beside his father, who fortunately seemed to be in a good mood for once.

"If you court the right lady, it could greatly improve our relations. Have you not received any letters from Klingland?" asked the king.

"Lady Crystal writes me incessantly, but it seems like all she can think about is herself. I could never be with someone like that."

"What about Princess Charlotte? An alliance with the crown princess would do wonders for our kingdom's reputation."

"I can't write to someone I know nothing about! I only saw her once from afar at a wedding we attended in Ganchepone. For all I know, she isn't any different from the others anyway."

King Mercer gave his son a stern look.

"Listen, son. Marriage isn't always about who you get along with. When you are royal, it could mean the difference between war and peace."

"Is that the reason you married Mother?"

"We got along well enough, but the alliance with Sederia did help. It's why we have such a strong army. It's a shame she didn't survive having you."

Braydon was quiet for a moment.

"If our relations with Klingland are so futile, why didn't you just conquer them? They barely have an army, and the use of magic has been banned there ever since the... incident."

He braced himself for his father's wrath. He knew King Mercer didn't like anyone bringing up the event that resulted in the tragic death of the king and queen of Klingland.

"It's a matter of remaining honorable in the eyes of the people. That is how a king stays in power. I hope one day you'll understand. If I had taken over the kingdom after unintentionally murdering their beloved monarchs and crippling their regent, the people would have hated me and formed a rebellion. Our own people would have lost respect for me as well. This way, we show compassion and still hold the advantage over their frail and weak-minded stand-in."

Prince Braydon considered his father's words. In truth, he didn't know what he would have done if he had stood in the king's place during the incident. His father tried to use magic without understanding it or knowing how to control it, and it had backfired terribly. Just then, another thought occurred to him.

"Father, how did all the enchanted runes end up in Klingland? If we had some here, we could study them and gain better control."

"That is something you would have to ask a historian," said the king. "It's been that way for as long as I can remember. Their land has always been infused with magic. That is why I wanted to take some of it for ourselves. I never intended for it to go so horribly wrong."

Braydon saw a secret shining in the king's eyes. He looked at his father curiously, deciding to push his luck.

"Why do I get the feeling there's something you're not telling me? If it will help our alliance, I think I should know before we attend the ceremony in Klingland."

The king hesitated briefly before nodding at his son.

"I suppose you're old enough to know," said the king. "There was one good thing that came out of that huge mess. Come with me."

King Mercer guided his son to the royal treasury, where two guards bowed respectfully to them and opened the door. Braydon followed to the darkest corner of the glittering jewel-filled room, where his father removed a silken cloth from a small box. He pulled out a key that hung on a hidden chain around his neck and unlocked the box. Inside was a dull burgundy stone that glowed faintly in the shadows. Braydon brushed his fingers over the edges careful until he found a marking carved into it that he did not recognize.

"Is this... a rune?" Braydon whispered, even though he knew no one else could hear them.

"It is," said the king. "I had it studied in secret by the same scholars who created the staff. They told me that this symbol represents the mind." He pointed to a looping insignia carved onto the side of the stone.

"And this one," he continued, pointing to a more complex design, "is the symbol for control."

"So you can use this stone to control people's minds?" asked Braydon, panic-stricken. "Father, you can't! Free will is the most basic necessity of every human, whether they be peasant or royal! How could you hide such a dangerous thing?"

"Relax, my son. I have no intention of using it."

Braydon puffed his chest in anger. "Then why--"

"This ruin is simply a precaution. If the regent Denise is lying about destroying all of her kingdom's ruins at the ceremony next month, I will have no choice but to make her follow through on her word. Any other circumstance could be disastrous."

"Do you even know how to use it?" Braydon asked, still in shock by the valuable possession his father had been hiding.

"I'm working on that," responded the king.

That night, Braydon tossed and turned with worry about the repercussions of his father possessing such a powerful item, even though he knew in his heart of hearts that he could never betray the royal family secret.

To be continued in The Stolen Jewel...


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