Sunday May 30th, 2010

The exercise:

Your prompt: the prince.

Went to see Prince of Persia this afternoon with a couple of friends. It was pretty good, in a big action summer blockbuster kind of way. Some bits made me cringe, but there were a few good laughs scattered about to go along with lots of fun action.

Anyway, on with the show.


The royal party entered the smoky tavern and seated themselves at the round wooden table at the center of the room. The man dressed in crimson and black, the preferred colors of the ruling family, sat facing the entrance with his back to the kitchen.

"Elric? Order us a few pitchers of whatever passes for their best ale," he instructed the servant to his right. His bodyguard, a man with more scars than teeth, frowned slightly but said nothing as Elric scurried to do his master's bidding.

A few moments later the barmaid, who bore a striking similarity to an inbred donkey, arrived with a tray of pitchers and empty mugs balanced in both hands. Setting them down on a nearby empty table, she quickly distributed the drinks around the table, making sure to serve the young prince first.

"A toast, then!" The man raised his mug and studied the men gathered around him. "To the king!"

"To the king!"

In unison they took deep swigs of their frothy beverages. As one they returned them back to the table with a mighty thud. And together they belched appreciatively.

But only the man in the royal garb turned a sickly green and pitched forward, landing face down on the table and spilling his drink over its surface. It took only a cursory investigation to realize he was quite dead, his drink poisoned.

"Well then," Prince Elric said with a long-suffering sigh. "Which of you shall be the next to pretend to be me?"


Greg said...

I'm looking forward to seeing Prince of Persia, though I've never gotten round to playing any of the games. I'm trying to avoid being dragged to see Sex in the City 2 at the same time, so I may have to duck and dive a little!

Elric? Of Melniboné by any chance? Royal taster always seemed like one of those jobs with a well-defined career path, but one I'd not be keen to accept.
I liked the touches of narrative detail in this, particularly the barmaid's and other descriptions. The only thing that threw me a little was that the Pretender isn't being called Elric -- surely that's a bit of a giveaway?

The Prince

Water dripped, falling from the grey stalactite into a milky pool. Ripples spread out from the point of impact, travelling steadily across until they washed up as waves on a tiny, abandoned shore. The man stood on the shore sighed heavily, and shuffled his feet a little.
"Prince of the Underworld," he said, his voice sombre and morose. "It sounded so much better in the career's brochure. I thought there would be demons and imps, flames and screaming. Tortured souls, even."
Hecate, sat on her black throne caressing some spiky, calcined skull, sneered.
"Your soul seems tortured enough," she said, her voice quiet yet resonant, the walls seeming to quiver like a loudspeaker as she spoke. "And there can be screaming. If you like."
The man shuddered, and shuffled his feet again. "No screaming, thankyou."
Another droplet of water reached the tip of a stalactite and launched itself off, aiming for the pool of water.
"Can't you even turn the heat up?" he said, trying for any concession from his dark mistress.
"No," she said, stretching out a long elegant leg that somehow reminded him of a tentacle from a chthonian beast. "No, I'm having guests over later. From Jotunheim."
The man shivered this time, and attempted to stretch, but the accretion of rock from the dripping stalactites made that difficult. He hated Hecate's guests, they all expected him to do tricks. Which was surely demeaning for a Prince of the Underworld.

morganna said...

I am Sohata, Prince of the Empire. I have offended my sworn liege, Emperor Rogata. He has sent me to this measly backwater, the Capital of Dragons, until I am pleasing to him again.

I brought my son with me, thinking he would be better off away from The Capital and the Emperor's all-seeing eye. Jeric could only benefit from living near, and learning from, the Empire's vassals, the dragons, and seeing more of life than the pomp of The Capital.

The ungrateful wretch, he would not obey me and we quarreled. My instructions to him were only for his own safety, but he could not see that. We quarreled, and he ran away. Three weeks now he has been gone. No word, no sign, he is not to be found. Where can he be, my beautiful boy?

That week I let him spend last year with his mother's father, the royal game warden, was obviously a mistake. He learned too much.

I will burn this paper now. No record of my feelings can be kept. I miss you, Jeric, the only reminder I have of your mother.
Flames crackled. The black-haired man straightened from the hearth. His heavy black brows were drawn together as he pulled the bell cord by the mantel. His servant hurried in. "Ah, Ven. I am ready for bed now." Ven helped him into bed and lay down on a pallet next to the high bed.

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

Now, I usually like your stuff, 'Loo, but I liked this more than usual. I think I'll take your prince prompt and turn it into a sort of continuation.
- - - - - - - - - -
Before they could deliberate further, a withered creature of a man slunk over to their table from the kitchens. For a moment they all looked from one to the other: the royal party amongst themselves and who they guessed to be the landlord, and this wizened creature eyed each and every one of the party carefully.

The old man let his eyes rest on what appeared to be the dead prince, still slumped over on the table.
"I see y'lost one'r'yer ranks," he wheezed, "and judgin' by his colors he's... rather 'mpor'nt." The party said nothing. The old man raised his eyebrow. "And none'e'ye seem overly concerned 'bout this."

The landlord shrugged. "Jes' strikes me odd, 's all I'm sayin'..." He started to turn back to the kitchen. "P'raps it speaks to His Deceasedness, an' what even those closest to him truly thoughtta him."
Elric tensed slightly. The scarred bodyguard gave the prince a warning look.

Thoughtfully the landlord paused, still with his back to the party. "Tell me, which'a ye lads is the prince? The real prince?" He turned to face them again. None dared to say a word. The withered old man smiled a gnarled smile that set all ill at ease. He examined each with his dark eyes, letting his gaze rest the longest on Elric. "I w's jes' wond'rin', seein' as I thought it best t'tell whichever was really His Royalship that 'e's not exactly welcome here. Jes' see yerselves warned."

Marc said...

Greg - good luck with the avoidance! Kat is being nice enough not to make me watch that.

And I was having trouble figuring out a way of not confusing the reader too much with mine. I didn't want to spoil the reveal but I also didn't want to refer to two characters as Elric.

That first bit of dialogue in yours is brilliant :)

Morganna - I felt like I could hear his voice, the way you worded that. Plus there were references to dragons, so of course I liked it :D

g2 - aw, thanks!

And a most excellent continuation it was! I quite like what you did with the landlord :)