Okay, all of you clamoring after the sequel to Sew, It's a Quest. I am practically done with the rough draft of it, which is entitled Do You Take this Quest. I plan to publish this in November in time for Christmas - no date yet though! However, to tide you over - here's the first chapter!
For those of you have not read Sew, It's a Quest, there are no spoilers in Chapter one, so you can read this without ruining your read of Sew, It's a Quest. And to those of you who have read Sew, don't worry, I have not abandoned the characters of Sew, they just aren't in Chapter one.
And now, Enjoy!
1: The Lonely Prince
Once upon a time, in a land called Bookania, there lived the Prince of Briton. He was a lonely young man, for his mother had died soon after his birth, and his father had been long since lost at sea. His regent was a miserly man, keeping him away from all his princely peers. Indeed, all the friends he had were his two servants and an old, old man he knew only by the name of Grandfather.
The old man lived in the forest just outside of the prince’s castle. He was the prince’s best friend, his tutor and chief confidant. Every day, the young prince would retreat to the woods and spend hours with the old man, talking about anything, and everything.
And so he was doing at the start of my story.
“There you are, my lad,” said the old man, glancing up from the rock he was looking at, as the prince entered the clearing one morning just after breakfast. “How are you doing today?”
“Well enough, grandfather,” said the prince.
“My, but you’re getting tall,” said the old man, his piercing eyes that seemed to have not dimmed with age sizing the young man up. “How old are you these days?”
“Eighteen, grandfather,” said the young man sitting down on a rock opposite the old man. “Even though Mordreth is still refusing to admit that I passed my eighteenth birthday six months ago.”
“Mordreth, eh?” said Grandfather. “Why do you let him do this to you, you’re the crown prince, you know, he is just the brother of the late Queen’s husband, uncle to the crown prince.”
“Because he’s got the army behind him,” said the prince. “All I have is you and a few servant boys. That won’t get me far.”
“Agreed, agreed,” said the old man. “What you need, my boy, are allies.”
“Allies, Grandfather?” questioned the prince, with a discouraged shake of his head. “And just where am I supposed to find them? I’ve never been further from my castle than I am now in my whole life, and am probably never going to go further.”
“True,” said the old man. “I guess we’ll just have to come up with something.”
“And it’s not as though I’m not invited to things,” continued the prince, in a frustrated rant. “I mean, just a few months ago, I received an invitation to a prince’s wedding – and it’s not far away, either, just three kingdoms over – but Mordreth still won’t let me go.”
“Whose wedding?” interrupted the old man.
“The younger of the Winthrop princes,” explained the prince, with little enthusiasm. “Eric’s. The bride was called the Sleeping Beauty, but there was nothing else on it other than that.”
The old man was silent for a while, lost in thought. The prince watched him. It wasn’t as though the prince wanted to be king, he didn’t. He was so scared that’d he’d botch the whole job and be a horrible king, but he didn’t want Mordreth as king, either. It was better to have a king who was horrible by accident than a king who was horrible on purpose.
“We’re just going to have to get you to that wedding,” said the old man. “I’ve a feeling you’ll find some allies there.”
“How are you going to get me there? Mordreth would never allow it,” said the young man.
"Oh,” said the old man. “I think we can figure out a way to talk him into it. Come on, no time like the present.” He stood up, and, entering the lean-to shelter he lived in, began going through his scant possessions. “Well, run ahead boy,” he said. “Don’t wait for me. I’ll catch up soon, don’t worry.” Then, after the prince still hadn’t moved, “Well, what are you waiting for, go on.”
The prince decided that the old man was serious and went. He wondered what the old man was up to. He was a bit of an odd person, and sometimes did inexplicable things … but it always later made sense. But how would he talk Mordreth into letting the prince go? He didn’t know. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t missed the company of other princes … he had, but he’d gotten used to it.
He got back to the castle and snuck in, the way he had come out – through the old, forgotten tunnels that led from the castle to the mountain, in the shadow of which the castle lay.. No one ever noticed his daily disappearances, but he still snuck out. They would notice if he didn’t, because then the drawbridge would have to be lowered – and that was nothing simple. No one ever paid much attention to him, except his two friends here and the old man. And Kew, Mordreth’s son, but that was only to torment.
“Arthur!” said one of his two servants, “back already?”
“Yes, Leo,” said Arthur, for thus was the prince’s name, “I’m back already.” Neither of his two friends knew of the old man. They knew only that Arthur disappeared for long hours each day – they had no idea where to.
Arthur was apprehensive for the next few hours, waiting for the old man to show up. He went to the library to read, but couldn’t concentrate on the words. He exchanged books frequently for a while, finally settling for the one he had found years ago behind a loose brick in the wall.
It was a journal of a young boy, who it was, though, Arthur had no idea. It was an amusing book, however, as the boy was always finding himself in all sorts of strange troubles, particularly at the hand of his sister, Gwenasheer.
A commotion at the gate put an end to his attempts at reading. Arthur shoved the book back into the hiding place he had later found for it and ran to investigate and discovered the old man banging at the gates with a oaken staff that he used as a walking stick. He was dressed for traveling.
“Who are you, old man?” the guard was shouting down.
“I am a man who desires to speak with Mordreth,” said the old man, “on matters of great import.”
“The great High Vizier Mordreth,” said the guard, for such was what Mordreth liked to be called, “does not have time to waste on dotty old men.”
“And where, pray tell,” said the old man, “are these dotty old men? I don’t see any.” His eyes twinkled under his bushy eyebrows. He was amused – thought this a game, apparently.
The guard laughed at the old man’s apparent foolishness. “What is your name, old man?” they asked.
Arthur listening with curiosity, he had known the old man for years, and still didn’t know his name.
“My name?” questioned the old man. “I gave up my name many years ago, and haven’t used it since. Perhaps, soon, I shall reclaim it again, but I know not yet. No, I have no name – but when I did, it was a great name, though little joy it brought me.”
The guard laughed again. “Dotty old fool.”
“Guard,” said Arthur, having had enough of this. “Let the man in.”
The guard turned and looked at Arthur with surprise.
“Let him in, good guard,” said Arthur. “He will be my responsibility. And I am the crown prince; it is your duty to obey.”
Reluctantly, the guard ordered the drawbridge down, and let in the old man.
“Now,” said the old man, “Prince Arthur, will you effect me an audience with Mordreth? There is something I wish to speak with him about.”
“I shall try,” said Arthur. “Follow me.” Once out of hearing of the guard, he asked the old man, “What was your name, Grandfather? And why did you give it up?”
“What my name was, I cannot say as yet,” said the old man. “But, should we find the allies I hope to find thee, then I shall tell thee.”
“And who are the allies?” asked Arthur.
“I cannot tell thee as yet,” said the old man. “When I am able, then I shall tell thee. They will be good allies though – if my suspicions be correct and they be there.”
Arthur asked no more, as they were nearing the doors of the throne room. While Mordreth didn’t sit in the throne, he did not occupy a seat far from it, and from that seat, he passed out all of his cruel laws. “Guard,” he said to the guard outside the doors, “tell Mordreth that there is a man who desires to speak with him of important matters.”
The guard went into the throne room and came back. “The High Vizier doesn’t have time.”
“Then give him this,” said the old man, drawing a strange plant from one of his pockets.
“And what, may I ask is this?” asked the guard.
The old man blinked, as if surprised that the guard should ask such a question. “Why it’s thyme, of course, since you said he didn’t have any, and I have plenty to spare, I thought I’d share.”
The guard took the “thyme” and tapped his head at the “crazy” old man as he returned to the throne room. Even Arthur thought this a bit odd … even for the old man.
“Should give him about 30 extra minutes to talk to me,” said the old man. “Unfortunately …” He didn’t finish what was so unfortunate. Arthur wondered what he had been about to say, and why he had stopped.
The guard reappeared. “The High Vizier wants to know how, exactly, he is supposed to use this ‘thyme.’”
“Oh,” said the old man, “that is simple. Just have him put it on the nearest clock in about thirty minutes, and he’ll go back in time to about now.”
“What if he does it now?” asked the guard.
“Then he would go back in time thirty minutes, but that would defeat the whole purpose of sending him back, since I wasn’t here thirty minutes ago,” explained the old man.
“I see,” said the guard. Then he retreated back into the throne room.
The old man turned to Arthur. “Why don’t you go back to whatever it was you were doing. I think I’ll be able to handle myself from here.”
Arthur shrugged, and left, wandering back to the library.
Some time later, Gavin, Arthur’s other servant, appeared in the doorway. “Prince Arthur,” he said, “the Vizier has summoned you to the throne room.”
“Very well,” said Arthur, and followed his servant.
It would have been close to impossible for Arthur to have gotten two servants less similar than Leo and Gavin. Gavin had been his servant for as long as Arthur could remember, and his parents had been servants to Arthur’s parents before them. He was trustworthy, if a tad bit dull at times.
Leo, on the other hand, had only been Arthur’s servant for a few years. Leo had run away from the neighboring kingdom of Fronce, though why, no one could get out of him. He tended to be far more flamboyant in his manners than his fellow servant, and more flighty.
Nevertheless, Arthur valued both of his servants, and wouldn’t trade them for any others in the castle. They were both loyal, and neither questioned him about his daily disappearances, they especially did not mention these daily disappearances to anyone else. Really, could you ask for anything better in a servant?
They got back to the throne room, and Arthur entered, Gavin staying outside.
“I have decided,” said Mordreth, “that you have been isolated from your peers for far too long. Such would be detrimental to the kingdom, when you finally become king, because you would have no allies, and, should you be attacked, the consequences could be serious. Therefore, you must overcome your shyness and go to the wedding that you have been invited to. There will be no arguing. You leave tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir,” said Arthur, surprised. How had the old man managed to talk Mordreth into letting him go? It was most unlike Mordreth.