by Kevin F. Story
A couple of captivating young ladies carried themselves up to the prince; pale beauties in silky gowns with tightly laced bodices to accentuate their femininity, as if to say, “’Tis good to be sixteen.” But, before words were waged, their faces blushed, giggles gushed, and they were gone. While Delfort was far from cursed with ugly countenance, he did seem outwardly awkward against the nightlife of Porte Godfrey.
Reginald sat off to one side, in one mitt a massive mug of mead and the other more than one man’s measure of mutton. Neither flagon nor fowl, booze nor beef were safe with Sir Reginald environs, and one could see the barrels of sack tremble at his approach.
The prince by this time had made his way over to where the knight was ceremoniously stuffing himself, and sat next to the man.
“So, are you enjoying yourself?” Reginald inquired amidst mouthfuls of mutton and mead. Bits of meat began to become infused with the knight’s moustache and sticky dribbles of drink.
“Well,” Delfort began, attempting to put his plight into parlance. “I’m not very good with… er… the ladies.”
Reginald slowed his devouring to a dull roar. “The ladies, eh?” Finally the knight’s focus put the food aside and faltered onto the females at the fête. “Pretty, aren’t they?” he remarked with a somewhat unnerving grin, picking his teeth with a shard of sheep bone.
The prince could only nod his assent.
Reginald relaxed in his chair as he finished the rest of his mutton in a single bite. “Well,” he offered thoughtfully, “have you tried talking to them?”
“Not as much, no,” replied Delfort.
“That would be the first step, lad.”
With that, Reginald took a long swig of mead, swished it around, swallowed with a disgustingly audible gulp, and turned around to have a look-see. Two such young ladies walked into his trap.
“Pardon me, ladies. Have you met my friend? He is the prince, you know.”
The ladies in question stopped to look at the young man before them. One was about Delfort's height, thin and freckly with beautiful green eyes that reflected torchlight magnificently. She wore glittering green and gold yarn in her garnet braids. The other, though shorter, was even more stunning, with dark, mysterious eyes that begged to be asked something intimately secret. Her onyx hair fell all the way to her tiny waist, below which round hips patiently waited. Some strands of that silky hair had escaped the pack to find themselves draped over her shoulders, framing what could only be described, in Reginald's inebriated estimation, as the palest, finest bosom in the land, certainly fit for a prince. These girls did what they did best—they giggled.
Reginald leaned into Delfort, whispering, “They’re all yours now.” With a slap on the prince's back he stood and sauntered off in search of something else with which to further stuff himself.
Delfort was alone. He could feel it. Fear and nausea began to set in. He heard the ladies giggling off in the distance, but turned to see them right before him, plain as day. He had no clue as to what to do or say next. He became frozen, working out every possibility, every scenario in his head, otherwise vacant to the world. The girls continued giggling, making Delfort more nervous as his mind settled on the only clear plan.
He stood and walked away, leaving the girls behind. He needed to find Reginald. He needed air. He needed—
“Hey. Watch where you’re going,” a gruff voice shouted.
Delfort noticed he wasn’t moving anymore. Rather, he was standing before a young man into whom he had apparently just walked.
Suddenly, Delfort remembered he was a prince.
“No, you watch where you’re going,” Delfort retorted cleverly.
The young man stared back. “You’re the prince, aren’t you?”
Delfort nodded haughtily.
The young man’s countenance changed. “Well, then, come. Sit at my table,” he said putting his arm around the prince and leading him onward. “I am called Pot.”
“Yes. I know,” laughed Pot, sitting the prince down and taking a seat himself. Delfort found himself at the far edge of the party and could easily see everyone else revelling in his visit.
Pot picked up his pipe and puffed upon it. Delfort supposed he was about his own age, though Pot was taller and had a sun-baked look to him. Pot also seemed very worldly. He knew his stuff. He did not seem particularly handsome to Delfort, but then, how was he to know?
“So, are you enjoying yourself, Highness?” asked this young man Pot as he lifted a cup to his lips.
“Well, er, I suppose,” replied the prince, eying the meagre loaf of bread and cups of liquor before him on the table.
“Go on. Have a cup.” Pot passed the prince a potable.
“Oh, no. I shouldn’t.”
“Come on. It’s your party, Highness,” persisted Pot.
After a moment, Delfort drank. Warm, spicy liquid entered his throat. He choked a bit.
Pot laughed. “Potent, eh?”
Delfort looked over his new acquaintance as the fiery water settled in his system, turning his cheeks crimson and burning his chest. He could not stop a smile from spreading across his face, and from somewhere above his eyebrows his voice said, “Yes.”
“Pot's punch, I call it. A bit sharp, this batch. Here. This mellows it out.” Pot pointed his pipe at the prince, who peered perplexedly at it. “Go on, Highness. My treat.”
Without warning, Delfort's hand grasped Pot's offering and raised it to Delfort's lips. The smoke's sweet smell disarmed the prince further, and he took a short puff. He coughed. His eyes floated around in his head a bit, then suddenly everything centred. He felt calm.
“Thanks,” Delfort squeaked, passing back the pipe. He cleared his throat and took another swig of Pot's punch, the wonderful brew coating his mind, telling it everything was going to be all right and why doesn't it just take a break for the next hour or so.
“I'm hungry,” Delfort asserted. Pot broke a piece of bread and handed it to the prince, which he finished in a few quick bites. Then he emptied the rest of his cup, which Pot promptly refilled. From somewhere behind him, his ears heard a familiar sound. He turned around.
The girls with garnet and onyx hair met his gaze and giggled over to him. The prince found them more stunning than before. He noticed the lighter-haired one's cute emerald dress and how it hung from her shoulders straight down to white sandalled feet. He noticed the other's blue and white number, complete with a dark leather cinch that nearly doubled her womanliness. Pot leaned into Delfort.
“I feel like a walk. Tread carefully yourself, Highness.”
Delfort was alone. But this time, he was in control.
“Have you beauties ever met a prince before?”
They looked at each other and giggled. The redhead blushed.
The brunette spoke first. “Our pleasure is to serve you, Your Highness,” she said curtseying slightly. They both giggled and blushed and looked at each other, then back at the prince.
Delfort held out his cup. “Care for a taste? It's good.”
The ladies looked at each other some more, then both moved closer to the prince.
“I'm Clara,” said the brunette. She put her hands on his as she sipped, then moved to wipe her young lips. Then she blushed and smiled.
“Jaclynne, my lord,” said the redhead. She took the cup from him and took the tiniest sip, passing it back quickly. She coughed a bit and giggled. Delfort took a sip himself and set the cup down.
“Are you ladies from around here?”
“Yes, my lord,” they said.
Then Clara, clearly the leader of the two, added, “Jaclynne and I were wondering if you could show us the royal chambers in the mayor's mansion. It's the only place in town we have never been, and we would be quite grateful.”
Prince Delfort's journey continues next time in "The Royal Chambers"...