Activity around the castle was frantic, like a hive of demented bees. Preparations were well underway to move court to the coast. Ostensibly, it was a covert reconnoitre of the region with an end goal to annex the fertile coastline. The truth was his Mage felt moving King Ráfa away from public scrutiny would help quell whispers of his descent into madness.
Rumors, as abundant as drones, ran the gamut of alternative purposes for the seaward trek. Duncan’s anonymity afforded him access to the King’s private conferences with his advisors, but he didn’t always understand the military intrigue. As for reason for the court’s trip to the seashore, Duncan laid his bets on the cooks’ theory. They heard nearly as much talk while serving court sycophants as he did lingering unnoticed in the grand hall.
Ráfa’s chancellors knew his visions were becoming more frequent and violent. His proclivity for cruelty could not explain away his increased bloodlust. Ráfa needed to be removed before some aggrieved father or husband made an attempt on the mad monarch’s life.
Duncan hid in the library while the packing and planning reached its manic pace. Lost in a book of mythology, the boy prince didn’t notice the King’s mage, Tybolt, enter the dark, dusty room. Looking up from a particularly tense passage, Duncan let out a small, startled squeak seeing the ancient wizard sitting so close to him.
The Mage smiled.
“Young scion, you must learn to always be aware of your surroundings, especially when it looks like you aren’t.”
Recovering from his initial shock, Duncan studied the old man. Tybolt’s age was indeterminate. Even the oldest members of court told tales of how he was old when they were children.
“There are those among the castle gentry who would benefit from your demise.” Tybolt took the volume from the boy. Flipping through its pages, he found the tale of Cronus.
Recognizing the fratricide legend, Duncan was confused.
“These are nebulous times your Highness, and you will face challenges that only you can withstand. The course you choose could change the world.”
“I don’t understand, Mage.” Duncan was stunned by the implication that he would kill his own father. “Explain this augury.”
“Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate.
You never know the where and how,
Because Noone can help you now.
Duncan stayed in the library contemplating the Mage’s prophecy, trying to decipher its meaning. The only thing he did know was that his first new road led to the seashore.
This scene occurs before King Ráfa and his court arrive at the seashore.
More of Agatha’s story…