After a hectic week of being busy, I’m finally back to my blogs! Below I’m posting an excerpt from my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined!
What to do? Destan thought as he aimlessly roamed the palace grounds. This sort of free time was a rare gift, thus Destan was not exactly sure what he should do with it. He could go down to the gardens, but Christof might still be there and he did not want to risk the possibility of having to return to his studies. Eventually, he decided to visit the Castle Ruins.
Florian used to take him there all the time when he was younger, though nowadays he often visited this place on his own. The ruins, he found, were an excellent place to sit and think. It was quiet and tranquil compared to the chaos constantly going on inside the palace. These ruins were a part of the old Rosenstaat castle destroyed in a war with Thornholz over a century years ago. Even in its prime, Destan was sure it was not as grand as the palace he resided in now, but it was still so enchanting. Here, there were no servants and no advisors. It was just him and his thoughts.
Ivy and morning glories grew wild and climbed the broken walls and deteriorating ceilings. Birds had made nests in vacant nooks where candelabras used to stand. The stone floor was covered in moss, and ferns grew through the cracks. But there were no wild flowers besides the monotonous blue of the morning glories. Destan figured there was not enough light for flowers to grow within the ruins and there would not be until the ceilings finished crumbling.
Normally, he was not allowed to come here unattended in case a piece of ceiling fell and hit him on the head or he tripped over the mounds of debris. Despite the dangers of going there alone, it seemed that any free time he had was spent here. He gravitated toward this lonesome dank place, yet he did not know why. Maybe it was curiosity that brought him back time and time again.
His eyes scoured the ground for anything that could satisfy his curiosity. Pieces of a broken mirror? No. A tarnished candelabra? No. A deteriorating tapestry? No. None of these things were what he was searching for. Destan sighed and leaned against the stone wall, crossing his arms over his chest as his eyes continued to scan the abandoned hall for…something. He was not quite sure what exactly he was searching for, but he knew that it was here. He felt it. However, no matter how many times he had searched this place he found nothing that satisfied his curiosity. So he continued to return, again and again, searching for something he knew was there. He was beginning to think that this feeling – this need to find whatever these ruins were hiding – was merely his imagination running away with him again. There were no such things as real adventures with dragons, damsels in distress, and valiant heroes that always saved the day. This was real life, and there was nothing magical or mysterious about his. Who was he kidding? There was nothing for him to find in these ruins.
Destan set his jaw and, just as he was about to storm from the ruins, he heard the distinct sound of stone sliding against stone. It did not take him long to realized that the wall he was leaning against was falling backwards!
He leapt away from the wall and spun around to face it, expecting to see the stone collapsing and dust rising, but he was wrong. The wall was perfectly intact, pushed back a bit now to reveal a dark passageway. His eyes widened with surprise, as his heart pounded against his chest. The prince took a few cautious steps toward the opening and peered inside. He waited for a moment as his eyes to adjust to the darkness inside the passage, but still he could not see what lay beyond the entrance. Yes. This was what had drawn him there, he was certain of it now.
He delicately pushed back the curtain of ivy that hung in front of the passageway and stepped inside. His nose crinkled as the smell of musty, stagnant air pervaded his nostrils. This place had not been visited in some time, of that he was certain. He must have been the first person inside this secret space since the castle’s destruction.
The prince’s feet moved on their own, his fingertips dragging along the wall as guides as he moved farther into the pitch-black passageway. The faint forms of torches mounted upon the mossy stone walls became visible, as did the outline of a door at the end of the narrow passage. The sound of his footsteps echoed so loudly in the small space, the prince feared the vibrations of which would cause the deteriorating ceiling to collapse on top of him. Destan slowed his steps, trying his best not to disturb the decaying castle any more than he had to.
When he finally reached the end of the hall, he inspected the door for any sort of traps which may have been placed there to protect the room’s contents. After a thorough search of the door as well as the area around it, he concluded that the door was safe to open. Once the initial moment of hesitation had passed, Destan reached out and carefully turned the knob.
He pushed the door open and entered the dark room beyond. Immediately, the overpowering scent of roses almost sent him stumbling back out. He squinted his eyes, trying to make out where the scent was coming from, but, as far as he could see, there were no roses inside the chamber. Destan knelt, picked up a tarnished and badly bent candelabra from the ground, and lit the candles with a couple pieces of flint from his pocket. With the candles lit, he could better see the chamber he was now standing in. The room was circular and relatively empty save for a marble pedestal in the center of the room upon which sat small chest and a key. Even with the light the candles now provided, he could not find the origin of the intoxicating rose scent that lingered in the cramped space.
The prince slowly approached the pedestal, set down the candelabra and gingerly picked up the box. He noticed strange but decorative etchings of thorns and roses upon the chest’s wooden surface. Raising the box to his nose, he found that the scent of roses seemed to be coming from it. Needless to say, the strong smell was beginning to make him dizzy.
Trying his best to ignore the intoxicating scent, he carefully tucked the box under his arm and tried to grab the key only to find that it would not move, as if it were glued to the spot. He pulled at it with all of his might. Slowly the key began to move in accordance with his will, not up, but along the smooth icy surface of the pedestal.
Finally he was able to free the key from the pedestal, but it trembled in his grasp and pulled at his hand as if wanting to return to its original place. The prince only held it more tightly, refusing to relinquish his hold on it.
This is it. Destan grinned. This is what’s been calling to me! This chest and this key…I wonder what they’re for.
He then hurried from the room, eager to get a better look at the two items in the sunlight. Once more, his footsteps echoed loudly, the sound vibrating off the walls, but this time Destan did not care. He was much too excited to worry about anything else. He streamed from the passageway and the moment he did, the stone door slammed shut behind him, the sound making Destan jump.
After the shock had worn off and his breaths were no longer coming in pants, he cautiously approached the door to the secret passage once more. He pushed on the door once, twice, and a third time with all of his might, but still it would not budge a single millimeter. The prince sighed heavily, but decided he had gotten what he came there for. His curiosity for this place seemed to have been satisfied for the mean time.
He set the box down at his feet and knelt before it, the key in his palm no longer trying to tug itself away from him. He cautiously opened his hand just in case the little metal object was trying to trick him, but relaxed when he saw that the key was once more just an ordinary, inanimate object with no will of its own.
Destan grinned excitedly as he tried inserting the key into the lock on the box, only to find that the key was too large for the lock. The prince was baffled to say the least. Why would anyone keep a key with a box that it did not open?
The prince took out his pocket watch and sighed when he saw the time. The mysteries of the chest and key would have to wait a bit longer, for his few hours of freedom were almost up. He slipped the key in his pants pocket, wrapped the box inside a tattered piece of drape, and tucked it beneath his arm before heading back up to the palace to prepare for the meeting with his fiancée.
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