Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Short Story - Lothgare

I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback about the short story I posted on the 4th (titled “Rhani” for the time being). Since then I have been thinking a lot about where I would go with it if I did continue it. I haven’t really decided on a solid outline but I have come up with a few more characters that would be important.
While I haven’t been able to work more on the main story I did come up with this intro for one of them, Lothgare. Another character that is mentioned is Shaw, and he is the one that I actually set out to write about at first. Lothgare was just a lot more defined in my mind I think and this story just kind of happened.

If “Rhani” were to become a full length novel I’m not sure how this background would figure in as he may not be a main character, and I don’t know that I would even include it at all. I had a lot of fun writing it though and I enjoy it even just as a short story of it’s own. This one is a lot shorter than "Rhani" as well, it is only 1400.

As always criticism and advice is welcome.

His royal highness, high prince Lothgare looked out the tower window and studied the city stretched out below him. It was said to be the biggest city ever built. He believed that, after all he could see a great way but still the city stretched on past that.
He sighed, wondering what the people below were doing. He often wondered as a child what their lives were like but had little actual knowledge about them. His tutors all told him that the people lead boring lives full of work and that he shouldn’t think too long on them. He disagreed though, how could a king rule if he didn’t know anything about his people? He smiled realizing it had been years since he’d last been up here. He had missed it without even realizing it. It was strange that this was the closest he ever really got to his subjects.
Behind him his mother called his name, drawing his attention away from the city and back into the room. “Lothgare,” she repeated, “your father has been looking for you.”
“I know mother,” he replied. “That’s why I was up here, avoiding him.” He was a little surprised that she had thought to look here for him after all these years but he suspected that Shaw, his personal guard, had told her where to look.
His mother sighed and crossed the room to look out the window with him. “It has been a long time since I’ve found you hiding here.” She smiled to herself a little, “It’s been a long time since you last hid from your father I suppose.”
Lothgare nodded his agreement. He felt a little ashamed for hiding from his father as he was a grown man and had shouldn’t have to hide from his father anymore.
“He is being quite demanding today I will admit,” his mother said.
Lothgare smiled down at her. He towered over her since he was rather tall and she was below average height. While he had only ever been able to tolerate his father he loved his mother more than enough to make up for that. He often wished that he looked more like her. Instead he was almost the image of his father with blonde hair and green eyes instead of her dark hair and brown eyes.
“Did you come here to make me go deal with him?” he asked her.
She shook her head, “No, I wanted to make sure you were all right.”
Lothgare sighed and looked back out the window. His father had insisted that morning that Lothgare prove to him that he was a worthy successor to the crown by going on a quest of his choosing. The king was growing old enough to fear that he wouldn’t be around much longer to harass Lothgare evidently and was determined to cram as much torment into his remaining years as he could.
Lothgare watched the people below again, wondering if their fathers were ever as absurd as his. If their fathers ever treated their grown sons like children.
“What will you do?” his mother asked him quietly.
“I’m not sure,” Lothgare said with a shake of his head. “I’m definitely not going to give into him. Who goes on quests these days? What would I even do? I’m already a knight. He asks too much of me.”
“He’s just afraid,” his mother said as she put a hand on his arm.
“Of what? Not having given me enough trouble for one lifetime?” Lothgare asked sarcastically as he shook his mother’s hand off.
“No,” his mother said with a sigh, “he’s afraid that he was a poor father and that that will make you a poor king.”
Lothgare groaned, bowing his head, “He doesn’t need to be afraid. While he was a terrible father I highly doubt that he will have much affect on what kind of a king I am. Perhaps the years of torment will even make me a better king.”
His mother smiled but said nothing and continued to look out the window. Lothgare watched her for a moment. He knew that look, it was the one she got when she agreed with his father but didn’t want to argue.
“You are on his side,” he accused her. “You want me to go on some stupid quest.”
“No, I don’t want you to go on a quest,” she said. “I want you to take what might be your last opportunity to actually leave this palace and live among our people for a while.”
Lothgare stared at her in disbelief. Then he began to smile. She had a point, this was his chance to really learn about the kingdom that would be his some day. All his life he’d been waiting for this chance and he’d almost missed it because it had come from his father.
“You are a wise woman mother,” he said and kissed the top of her head. He practically ran out of the room and down the tower’s stairs. He would pack for his “quest” and leave that night.
At the base of the stairs Shaw was waiting for him. Shaw was a few years younger than Lothgare but he had proven himself to be one of the best swordsmen in the kingdom as well as being a fierce loyalist to the crown.
“Shaw,” Lothgare said and clapped a hand on the man’s shoulder, “how quickly can you be ready for our quest?”
Lothgare had expected to see shock or excitement on the man’s face in response to his sudden changed attitude regarding his father’s wishes. Instead the man’s brow was furrowed and he shook his head. Lothgare stopped smiling as an uneasy feeling came over him.
“I’m sorry your majesty,” Shaw said. “I’ve come to get you and your mother. The king has collapsed. He’s with his physicians now.”
Behind him Lothgare heard a sharp gasp. He turned to see that his mother had been making her way down the stairs behind him. She was so pale he thought she might fall down the stairs. He moved to support her and together they followed Shaw to go to his father.

His royal highness, the king Lothgare sat alone in his rooms the next morning. He glared at the light that was beginning to make its way through the window. He almost felt that if he glared at it long enough that time would reverse itself and he could change the past. He would go back and immediately accept his father’s request for him to go on a quest if he could. He would only take what he could pack quickly. He would be gone before his father collapsed. He would ride beyond the reach of messengers before his father died.
His eyes began to hurt but he continued to glare. All his life he had longed to travel, to meet his people and see their lives. His father had known that and had kept him from it. It just felt so right that the man’s last act had been to give his son the biggest false hope of his life.
He knew that he was king now and that with that title came the power to technically do whatever he wanted. He also knew what happened to kings that did whatever they wanted. Their people grew unhappy and their pockets grew empty. As horrible of a parent his father had been Lothgare had to admit to himself that he had been a good king and that the kingdom was doing very well.
He had to be responsible and stay and rule as best he could. He knew that. Still a little part of him screamed to ignore his obligations and do whatever he wished. Lothgare did his best to silence that part but it wouldn’t go away completely. What if there was an excuse to leave this place, it whispered to him. What if there was a war or a great event and you had to go. A good king leads his men.
Lothgare stood. He had a feeling that his father was right. He wasn’t going to be a very good king. He was going to be a bitter and jealous king, jealous of his own subject’s freedom and bitter that he could not change his fate. He acknowledged that as he strode out of his rooms. He was the person his father had made him.

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