I want to aim to start the longest night by next week, so I am posting another chapter today.
Also, shout out to the Dungeon Defense community in Discord. They help me out a lot for writing this novel. https://discordapp.com/channels/203647559275642880/203647869733830656
***July 10th, 965 A.F.***
Alan snuck out of his castle to clear his mind of the recent event. Unfortunately, the encounter with Ajax just made it worse. As he watched Ajax ride off in his wagon, Alan started to regret his actions. It wasn’t because of what Ajax threatened that caused him to regret. He didn’t know what came over him at that moment. If it was any other time, he would have honored the deal and gave Ajax his vest. Perhaps it was the sadness of the death of his dear brother. Perhaps it was news that his uncle just initiated an unsuccessful coup against his mother. Or perhaps it was some… ungodly intervention.
Seeing that his secret trip was ruined, he headed back towards the castle with a heavier heart. When he reached the edge of the castle, he twisted and turned a few inconspicuous stones on the wall, opening up a hidden passage. There were multiple passages hidden throughout the castle. These passages are secrets kept by the royalties, used to escape in case of an emergency. Today, however, they were used as an entrance for the young prince soon to be king.
Slowly walking the twists and turns in between the walls of the castle, he finally arrived back in his room, just in time to answer a knock on the door.
“Alan, it’s your mother. I am coming in.”
Without waiting for an answer, Rosie barged in along with her servants. Although it would have been courteous to wait for a reply before entering, she had full right to go wherever she please inside the Dwarven Kingdom, even if it is the future king’s room.
“Alan, there you are. And the servants said you weren’t in your room.”
“Are you ready for the party tonight?”
“Awww. Are you still sad about your brother’s death? Come here.”
The queen gave Alan in a hearty embrace while stroking his hair. She gave a quick glance at the servants that were following her.
“Everyone else, get out of the room.”
“””””Yes, my queen.”””””
After Rosie had heard the door close behind her, she knelt down to meet Alan eye to eye.
“Listen, my little pumpkin. I know you are sad that you lost your brother, but you have to look at the bright side of things.”
Alan looked at her with disbelief. Rosie paused a moment and gather her thought for a good example to back up her claim.
“Do you know what happened with your Uncle Robert? How he try to overthrow me despite the fact that I am your father’s wife?”
Alan answered with a bit of anger in his eyes.
“Yes, he was the one that killed Sam.”
“You know Uncle Robert was your father’s brother too right? They put on a smile in front. Behind everyone’s back, they were at each other’s throat. From what I have heard, they were inseparable when they were young, just like you and Sam. But when they grew up everything changed. When the throne was on the line, they became enemies. Sam died young. It is a tragedy, there is no question about it. But at very least, you will remember Sam as your best friend, your dearest brother, instead of a bitter rival.”
The young king stood in silence as he tries to digest the meaning behind Rosie’s words. Seeing Alan giving his hardest trying to understand the complicated situation, Rosie tries to lighten the mood.
“You don’t have to understand now, but just remember what I said today. Okay?”
“Good. Now, onto the main reason why I came here. Were you acting a bit naughty by sneaking out this morning?”
Alan’s eyes wander around as he stutters and try to find an excuse.
“I.. was.. Um..”
“Don’t try to come up with excuses, I know you did. I told you already, the tunnels are not for you to play around in. What if someone saw you and finds the secret? They could use them to get in the castle and hurt everyone in the castle. You don’t want that to happen, do you?”
“If you want to go out, just ask some of the soldiers to bring you outside. I wouldn’t stop you. As long as you come back on time for your lessons, you can do whatever you want. You know your mother is not an unreasonable person”
“Yes, mom. But I just wanted to be alone for a while.”
“Well, if you wanted to be alone, you can still bring some soldiers to wherever you want to be alone and get them to secure the area around you away from your sight. You are the future of all the people in our kingdom. What if there is another Uncle Robert that tries to hurt you? I am not angry about you sneaking outside, I am upset that you did not plan ahead and consider all the possibilities.”
“I am sorry.”
“After the coronation, you are officially the king. I will still help you with the kingdom until you are ready to take care of yourself. I can’t assist you with everything, though. You have to learn to think about all the consequences of your actions. Even if you have a goal, you can’t ignore everything else. You have to think three steps ahead. I won’t punish you this time, but next time, when you want something, don’t blindly pursue it. Ok, my darling?”
Alan answered sheepishly while looking at the ground and reflecting on what he has done wrong.
“Enough talking from me. Now, let’s get you dressed up cute and handsome for the party tonight.”
***July 10th, 965 A.F.(Night)***
In a grand hall not far from the castle, the party to celebrate the coronation was in full swing. It was a buffet style party, something only the wealthy can enjoy since the appetite of a dwarf is nearly endless. Tables filled to the brim with extravagant food lined up the side of the large hall. Nobles and successful businessmen mingling with each other in the center while in the corner, a few musician played a soothing background music. The Rosie and Alan were up on a stage. Several nobles lined up to give words of congratulation to the future king.
In the background of the party, Michel arrived at the party a bit late. He was busy working till the very last moment. With an empty stomach, Michel wandered aimlessly around the tables. He was trying to decide what he would like to try first to fill his empty stomach. With his eyes still on the buffet, he accidentally bumps into another noble. Luckily, his plate was still empty. He immediately apologized to the victim.
“I am so sorry about that.”
“No worries. Say, my good sir, are you Michel Rolland, the head of the Royal Winery?”
“I am surprised that you know of me.”
“Yes, a lot of people is talking about you at this party, and you just happened to fit the description. I was only taking a wild guess.”
“I hope they aren’t talking unfounded rumors behind my back.”
“You must be jesting. No, everyone spoke only of praises.”
“Yes, the new alcohol that you brought to the party. I believe it is called “whiskey”?”
Michel was stunned like a deer staring at a pair of headlights. He was utterly confused at what the other man said. He didn’t know anything about whiskey, and he certainly did not bring it to the party.
“If the wine you produced before is the soothing spring, then whiskey would be like the blazing summer. The contrast between the wine and whiskey is absolutely fabulous. It is simply exquisite.”
Not knowing what to say, all he could do was smile and nod, receiving praises that he doesn't deserve.
“Well, I wouldn’t keep you here. You have a long night ahead.”
After giving a small wave, the unknown noble turned around and headed for the center to talk with others. He immediately scanned the around the hall, ignoring all the food. Finally, he found it. A butler was serving whiskey in the corner. I walked hastily towards that butler.
“Is this whiskey?”
“Yes, sir. This is the newest type of alcohol made by the Royal Winery. This is brewed in a village called Belhern, hence the name, Belhern Whiskey. Please enjoy.”
He wanted to shout out loud and rebut he had nothing to do with whiskey, but he kept his mouth shut. Receiving small cup from the butler, he first swirled it around the whiskey around. Slowly he raised the cup and took a deep breath to sample it’s fragrance. After a small hesitation, he finally took a sip of the golden nectar.