Pinching the bridge of his nose, Arthur sighed. His emerald eyes fluttering shut. The rain pounded lightly against the stain-glassed window of his room. The painted glass casted the floor in gentle blue hews, which Arthur found rather beautiful. Sighing softly, the prince stood up, his long blue cape dragging behind him. Walking forward, he leant his throbbing head against the cool glass, dropping the quill that was between his fingers, to the floor. He had always found paperwork somewhat enjoyable, something about writing never failed to capture his attention – yet tonight he felt as if… something was wrong.
Lifting his hand, he brushed his fingers across the blue markings on his cheek, which formed a beautiful ‘Q’.
That was what his future was whether her wished it or not – to be the Queen of the spades kingdom. Born into a large royal family, Arthur was the only child who was born with a royal mark (much to his brothers annoyance). Royal marks couldn’t be controlled. It was a well-known fact that a child (or children) from high-class families would be born with a mark of some sort of mark upon their body. This mark would determine the position they would take in the royal court once the previous royal family died or resigned from their position.
The mark tingled under his touch, like tiny electric shocks, it wasn’t unpleasant… but it wasn’t helping with his headache.
A sharp knock hit the door and Arthur spun round, clearing his throat before calling them in. A slender man walked through, his dark brown hair tied delicately behind his face. His features were almost as feminine as his physique – slender and petite. His face was heart shaped with almond eyes and soft lips, his head sat upon a thin neck, which had a blue ‘A’ swirling upon it.
“Yao?”. He nodded once as his amber eyes looked downwards to the floor. “Arthur” he spoke, his voice laced with a soft Chinese accent. “I beg your forgiveness for disturbing you at this time, however your brothers wish to go hunting with you.. and I… um”. He glanced upwards and straightened down his shirt before closing his eyes in annoyance, “I tried telling them you were busy, however they didn’t seem to want to listen”. Arthur tilted his head at the mention of his brothers, “Bloody buggars..” he mumbled, gritting his teeth.
Yao clicked his tongue and nodded in agreement, “Shì”. The Ace of the kingdom had little patience for the Kirkland brothers, particularly as he came from a large family himself. “So, what shall I tell them?” he asked, walking towards Arthur’s desk and picking up a crystal that sat there. Arthur rolled his eyes and glanced out through the window. The rain had cleared up but he didn’t think the sunlight would last. Sighing, he nodded “Tell them that I’ll be down in five”.
Moss and lichen covered boulders clustered across the edges of the fields where the mountains grew skywards. There was no trace of civilization in this wilderness apart from a worn out path that had been trampled down over the years by horses’ hooves. It snaked through the fields of tall grass. Kirkland way it had been nicknamed by travellers and with good reasons.
“Aye ye wee stinking lassie!” Allistor chortled as he shot another arrow in Arthur’s general direction, causing Arthur to glare at his elder brother. He had been playing at this for a solid hour now, shooting his ruddy arrows to startle Arthur’s horse in an attempt to make Arthur fall. The Queen’s horse, Hook never bucked, yet she cried every time an arrow came to close for comfort. “Oi, come off it” Dylan laughed, hitting the back of Allistor’s head as he cantered past. His white mare whinnying as she passed Allistor’s black moody stallion, Carson. Dylan smiled as he came alongside Arthur, his wavy brown hair flowing in the wind as he smiled gently. From a glance, once would assume Dylan was only a boy from the baby face and dimples, but he was simply too large to be a child. He had broad shoulders and thick hair, obviously a fighter or a natural leader. His deeply set eyes were much darker than Arthur’s own, which aged him quite a bit. Some days he irritated Arthur, not because he was a fool or a coward, no – he was a natural leader, kind and strong, however his talents would go to waste, as there was no royal mark upon the man’s body. Then again none of the Kirkland brothers held the Royal Mark besides Arthur.
Up ahead the youngest brother Liam was properly hunting, simply because he seemed to be the only brother who was taking the ride seriously. Arthur glared daggers at the certain red head whom had two fingers raised. Lifting his hood to block out Allistor, Arthur gently kicked his horse’s flank, causing her to bolt forward abruptly. Clinging on to the reign, Hook began to gallop and eventually overtook Liam on his dappled pony. With another kick, Arthur was miles ahead of his brothers, not that he minded one bit. He knew where he was going, his brothers didn’t.
Smiling, he and Hook came to a gentle canter as the wood’s canopy gathered above their heads. The Kirkland Way had cut off a while back, it thinned off where the boulders ended. Hook stomped and flickered her head as Arthur smiled, sliding off her back and patting her neck. “Good girl” he whispered, tying her reigns to a thick evergreen. “I’ll be back soon, just wait here”. Arthur slipped his boots off and placed them on a mossy rock before humming contently. Carefully walking forward, he found himself stepping into a flowing crystal stream. The river had a strength that is reflected in the trees. It flowed on with a gentle confidence, taking the form of the riverbed, billions of silver drops moving together. The community of trees stands tall, trunks reaching into the blue above, light filtering through leaves like the perfect stained glass of his study.
Closing his eyes, Arthur continued walking, listening to the delicate sounds of the trees whilst the running water ran happily over his feet. He felt the dappled sunlight splash upon his pale face as he sang lowly to himself.
“One evening fair I took the air
Down by Blackwaterside.
'Twas gazing all around me
When the Irish lad I spied….