No Castle Like Home
"Prince Gideon, you have to get up!" My teacher, Mepheslo, threw off my covers in an attempt to rouse me from my slumber. It didn't work. I simply grabbed my pillow and slammed it on top of my head. "Go away!"
Phes sighed. He was quite used to dealing with me in the mornings and had learned that everything had to be done the hard way with me. He grabbed onto my tail. That was all that was needed.
Mepheslo was a magma Skeith. His very touch could be as smooth as skin or as fiery hot as... well, magma. I yelped and leapt out of bed. He could not hide his smirk as I glared up at him. "It's time to get going, young prince. Today is an important day." He left me to dress on my own. Important day indeed, I snorted to myself.
My name is Gideon Isaac Tylden III, a royal Lupe. Although I have been a prince since birth, whenever a prince reaches 1,600 hours on my home island, (a tiny thing that I'm sure you've never heard of) he is to go through a coronation ceremony cementing him as the true prince and heir to the throne. It's all a bunch of dung, if you ask me.
To be honest, I never wanted to be a prince. The fact that I was born one, I could not change. However, I did not have to act as a prince should! I made it my goal in life to seem as un-princely as possible. I used terrible table manners (including talking with my mouth full) and was rude to everyone. People learned to avoid me even when I was a young pup.
I just didn't want the responsibility of reigning over the kingdom. There were so many things I wanted to do in life and I did not want to be tied down to such a small island in the middle of the sea... My father did not seem to understand. "You will fulfill your duty as a prince to this land, Gideon!" He told me this over and over and it made me want to get out of there even more.
What no one knew is that I had been planning my escape for several months. I was not going to be in the coronation ceremony that morning. I would be free.
Smiling - well, grinning really, I reached under my bead to grab the rucksack that I had prepared the week before. It held all of the essentials: some food, a little money, clothing taken from the servants' quarters that would help me blend in, a compass and a map, among other things.
After checking that everything was in place, I slung the rucksack over my shoulder. Just as I was about to sneak out the window, I heard a cough behind me. I turned around to see Phes standing in the doorway of my chamber.
"Running away, are we?" He clucked his tongue at me. I could feel my heart fall. How could I have been caught so easily?
"I thought you might be leaving, so I came to bring you this." He held out to me a dark cloak. "This might help hide you."
I simply stared at him for a moment before embracing him tightly. "Thank you so much, Phes." The fact that he was not going to tell my father really meant a lot. He knew how much I wanted to leave and he wasn't going to force me to stay.
"Be careful, young prince," he reminded me and I nodded and loped out the door. It was time to be off!
I donned the cloak and it was easy enough sneaking out of the castle grounds, for everyone thought I was simply a servant. I set a course on the main road leading from the castle (there was no other and I certainly wasn't up for braving the woods alone) and set off with an earnest pace.
It felt so nice being on my own. I could do whatever I wanted! I could be as rude as I liked, I thought to myself, if there were anyone to be rude to. I practiced belching for a while anyway, just because I could. Yet, with no one there to scold me, it was not very fun for long. Eventually I began to get hungry, so I stopped to eat.
My excitement returned as I pulled the food out of my rucksack. Here, no one could tell me what to eat or to use proper manners! I decided to start with the desserts and ate as much cake as I could – I didn't even use a fork! Soon, however, I was all covered in frosting. Looking around, I realized that I had not packed a napkin. I wiped my paws on the grass to get as much off as I could, but it didn't quite do the trick. Sighing and trying to get as little frosting on everything as I could, I packed everything back up and headed off. It was time to get going.
After only a half hour or so of walking, my stomach really began to hurt and I began to feel a little sick. I definitely regretted eating all that cake! I decided to stop by a pond to wait and let my stomach settle. I lay down and took a short nap.
When I awoke, my stomach felt better, but I was stickier than ever from the frosting and the dew and dirt from the ground. There was nothing to do but take a bath in the pond. I took off my cloak and dipped one paw in. It was icy cold! Yet, I couldn't be sticky forever, so I gritted my teeth and jumped in.
"ARGH!" The whole forest could probably hear my yell! I washed my fur as fast as I could and got back out. I did not have a towel with me, so I just put my cloak back on. I was sopping wet and very cold.
Soon, it was starting to get dark and I did not want to continue on. I had nothing to start a campfire with, so I huddled down using my rucksack as a pillow and tried to get back to sleep. It got dark very quickly and, frankly, the noises coming from the forest were pretty scary. I lay there awake for a few hours, staring up at the night sky.
Even for as bad of a day it had been, staring up at those stars was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. They seemed to twinkle merrily at me as my mind eventually drifted off into a broken sleep.
I awoke the next day feeling very drained and tired. I ate some of the food (but not the cake, ugh!) that I had brought with me, but it was beginning to get stale. Eventually I gave up on it and started down the trail again.
By the middle of the day, I was getting pretty bored. I had never really been by myself before and I was beginning to get lonely. There was no one to talk to and no one to see me misbehaving. The ground was feeling particularly hard beneath my feet and I was tired. I just wanted a hot bath and a good night's sleep in my bed.
Eventually, near dusk, I began to hear the sounds of a village. The loud music and delicious scents seemed to overload my senses. I decided to stop there for the night. It sure beat the cold, hard ground!
I felt my spirits lifting again as I wandered into the village. I had never been able to see villages for what they truly were when I was dressed as a prince. When Prince Gideon was around, everyone stopped and stared. When peasant Gideon was around, they paid me no mind at all and continued with their merriment.
Everyone was polite, but they all ran around distracted, finishing up their business so they could get back home to their families. I was just another face in the crowd.
Eventually, I began to smell something cooking and I followed my nose to an inn called the White Weewoo. It smelled incredible! I wandered in to get some of whatever they were serving. I paid with the few coins I had brought with me and sat down at the long counter. I don't know what the food was, but after going without a home-cooked meal, it tasted wonderful.
A band was playing some music in the corner and I was content to sit and enjoy the music before I turned in for the night. After some time, a group that had been growing steadily louder throughout the night was finally overpowering the music. I could hear them clearly.
I listened for a bit. It seemed that they were planning on stealing the very crown of the king, my father, himself. I must have snorted out loud in skepticism, for they all stopped talking to stare at me. "What?! You don't think we can do it? Well, we can, you'll see," a pirate Shoyru shouted in my direction.
I couldn't hide my mirth. I gave a short bark of a laugh. "Ha! I'd love to see that!"
"Why don't you come with us then," was the reply. "Unless you're too scared!" Well, I was certainly never one to back down from a challenge, so I agreed. I went to my room soon after and fell right to sleep. The warm bed was so comfortable!
The next morning we all set out, back the way that I had came. They all talked and joked among themselves and ignored me for the most part. Eventually they got around to the plan. It sounded as though someone was to distract one of the guards while another sneaked through. It was a pathetic idea and I did not hide my disdain.
It would never work.
We walked almost the whole day, only stopping to have a small lunch. It was dreadfully boring.
When we stopped to sleep that night, they were able to get a campfire lit with the supplies they had and I secured a spot near it to sleep. During the night, I had some strange dreams and I even woke up once. I could have sworn that I saw some logs leap right into the campfire! But that was impossible. I had to have been dreaming. Logs did not suddenly leap about of their own accord. I went back to sleep and the next morning, the dream was all but forgotten.
It was just a short distance to the castle and so we packed up and left in a hurry, each eager to get there. As we were nearing the castle, they began to get even rowdier and ruder. I was glad I would be rid of them soon.
When we neared the gates, two of the rogues began to squabble among themselves. It made quite a bit of racket. The guards who were standing near the gate eventually came over to separate them.
I rolled my eyes and looked over at the gates to my home. How I wanted to be within them now! My eyes suddenly stopped when I saw one of the gate doors slowly open and then close again. How could it be?
Suddenly my half-forgotten dream came flooding back to me and the leaping logs from the night before made sense! One of the rogues must have been invisible! I had to do something - I had to stop him.
I raced through the gates after him, and the guards began yelling at me frantically to stop. I threw off my cloak as, revealing myself as the prince. It was the only thing that stopped the guards from tackling me. As soon as I was through the castle doors, I raced down the halls and forced myself to stop. I wasn't going to get anywhere running around like that. I had to think of a plan.
Suddenly it came to me! I could splash something on the rogue to reveal him! I ran to the first castle keeper's closet I could find. I was in luck! There was a gallon of red paint! I grabbed it and ran. At least I knew where the rogue was going. I had to get to my father in time.
I headed straight for the chamber where my father met with the council members to discuss kingdom law.
I burst through the open doorway and stood, breathing heavily and looking around. My father stopped what he was doing to confront me.
"Gideon! There you are, I- What are you doing with that paint?" He eyed me warily. His robes moved slightly as if there were a breeze. There was no time to explain! I had to act!
I sloshed the contents of the bucket all over my father, the king.
"ARRRG! WHAT ARE YOU DOI-" Suddenly he saw the red form of an Usul standing in front of him, arm raised- poised to take his crown. "GUARDS! Grab this Usul," he shouted as he flicked out his arms in an attempt to get the paint off him. The guards who had been standing near the front of the room immediately grabbed the red rogue and hauled him off.
If I weren't so worried about my own hide, my father would have looked hilarious standing there and covered in red paint.
As it was, I cringed slightly and closed my eyes. "Father... I am sorry. You were right. My place is here. I will be the prince. I- I am sorry for worrying you. And I am sorry about the paint." I eyed him warily. "But I had to do it! He was going to steal the crown!"
My father just chuckled and tousled my hair. "I was not afraid for you, Gideon. I had a feeling you would run. You see, I did the same thing on my coronation day! However, I did return a bit more promptly than you. And I never coated my father in paint, either." He looked at me sternly, before breaking out into a small smile.
I stared at him in shock for a moment before I burst out laughing. He chuckled with me. "That fighting spirit will serve you well over the years, my boy. You will make a wonderful king some day."