These last few weeks I’ve been a little busy with the finishing touches on my book. I’ve been working on this book for ten years, and it’s just about ready to send to agents! I’m currently going through it line by line, catching any spelling errors I can find and tightening sentence syntax. Once that’s finished, I have a list of agents I plan to send it to. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy a short story that directly pertains to the book I’m working on. “To Be a King” is pure backstory for one of the main characters, Prince Miaku (pronounced Me-ah-koo), and also contains another main character, Prince Karran (pronounced Kah-rahn). As soon as my book is agent ready, I’ll be back to writing my normal blogs.
TO BE A KING
“Hey! Give it back! I need to practice!”
Miaku, Crown Prince of Rafferty, watched as his brothers, the twins Mekrik and Ravin, tormented their cousin Karran. The twins had stolen Karran’s practice sword and were shoving it in the dirt, smacking it against rocks, and generally abusing it as Karran struggled to reclaim it. The twins started playing keep-away, tossing the sword to each other as they pranced around the courtyard. Karran kept trying to intercept the exchange, but he was always just too late. The twins laughed mockingly every time the boy missed, making their sport crueler.
Miaku looked away, feeling guilty for not intervening on Karran’s behalf. He didn’t blame his brothers for picking on him, but Karran didn’t deserve it either. The boy had enough tragedy in his life. Both of his parents had died before Karran was even an hour old. Miaku’s father, King Zesiro, had taken in the boy and raised him. Karran was only five when they discovered he was a prodigy swordsman, and he was immediately shipped off to an elite academy. Three years later, he was shipped back, having learned all they could teach him there. King Zesiro brought the best tutors in all of Oran to train Karran and had seen to his tutelage personally. The special attention Karran was receiving from the king had made several of his sons jealous. Their father didn’t have a lot of time to spare, and that he was spending most of it with his nephew infuriated them. Thankfully, only the twins had turned their bitterness into action. Miaku had no problem with the boy, but he didn’t feel a strong urge to protect him either.
King Zesiro walked into the courtyard. He gave his sons a hard look, causing the twins to stop tormenting Karran long enough to pretend that he was their best friend. The king shook his head despairingly and continued on his path toward his eldest.
Miaku bowed respectfully as his father approached him.
“Miaku,” the king said, “walk with me.”
The two turned and walked toward the battlements as the king began to speak. “Miaku, tell me something: if a man sees that a younger, poorer man knows something that he does not, and doesn’t stop to learn it, is he a fool?”
“Yes sir. Knowledge is important, and anyone who rejects the chance to learn is a fool.”
“So why haven’t you asked Karran to teach you the Kavin Disbarment maneuver?”
The king smiled knowingly. “I’ve seen you watching him practice. You’ve been trying to figure out his technique, but you haven’t been able to, have you?”
Miaku shook his head silently.
“You’d master it if you’d have Karran teach you. After all, he developed that maneuver himself.”
Miaku stared at his father in shock. “Karran’s just a kid! There’s no way he’s developed his own techniques, no matter how good he is!”
“Why do you think it’s named after his father?” King Zesiro continued as Miaku looked away sullenly, “When the whole world is against you, you have to be a fast learner. He didn’t have any friends at the academy. The children there resented him as much as my own children do.”
“I don’t resent him.”
“Then why do you torment him?”
Miaku jerked away from his father indignantly. “It’s not me! It’s Mekrik and Ravin!”
“But you let them.” Miaku looked down guiltily, and the king put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Not stopping an injustice is the same as doing it.”
“They’re just kids,” Miaku muttered. “It’s not like it means anything.”
“It doesn’t? Karran will never forget what they did to him. He’ll never forget that no one defended him, either.”
“Then why don’t you do something? The twins will listen to you.”
The king looked at his son sadly. “If I punish the twins for tormenting Karran, they’ll just blame him and make him pay for their punishment. There’s nothing I can do for him.”
Miaku frowned stubbornly as he avoided his father’s gaze.
The king sighed and took a step away, signaling that he was about to leave. “I won’t force you to do anything, but think about this: the greatest friends are made when one puts himself in harm’s way for the other.” As he turned to go, he added, “Be thankful for your friends, Miaku. Karran doesn’t have any.”
The king left his son on the battlements to think. Miaku stared out at the kingdom around him. He knew that his responsibilities started at home. If he could be a good king to his family, he could be a good king to his people. He wanted to be a good king like his father.
Shouts came from the courtyard. Miaku turned to see that the twins had pinned Karran to the ground and were beating him. For the first time, Miaku understood that Karran really had no friends. Suddenly furious, he stormed down the battlements and into the courtyard. He grabbed his brothers by their collars and pulled them off their cousin. Karran sat up and watched in surprise as Miaku threw them back. Mekrik and Ravin glared at Miaku, and he glared back.
“What, are you protecting the brat now?” Mekrik snapped irritably.
“Yes, I am.” Miaku folded his arms over his chest.
“You can’t protect him all the time!” Ravin pointed out.
“I don’t need to, because you’re going to stop messing with him.”
“Who says? Future King Miaku?” Mekrik asked.
“What are you going to do?” Ravin added with a derisive laugh. “Lock us in the tower?”
Miaku shrugged casually. “I just thought I’d tell Mother how a dead frog ended up in her dragonberry pie.”
“You can’t prove that we did that!” Mekrik sputtered.
“You think they won’t believe me?” Miaku smiled knowingly when they didn’t answer. “If I ever hear of you picking on Karran again, I’ll tell the entire staff how an army of frogs got into the kitchens.”
The twins didn’t need to be warned twice. They scurried away, casting suspicious glances at their brother over their shoulders. Miaku nodded in satisfaction and turned to Karran. Karran had retrieved his sword, and was cleaning it with a cloth from his pouch.
The boy looked up at his cousin, his black hair falling across his pained blue eyes. “Did Uncle Zesiro make you help me?”
Miaku thought about denying it, but he didn’t see the point. “He suggested it, but I wanted to help.”
“Why? You never have before.”
“No, but I think I just realized that I needed to.”
Karran grunted and checked his sword. It glinted in the bright sunlight. He nodded in satisfaction as he sheathed it. “Well, thanks. I’ll go find somewhere else to practice.”
Miaku suddenly had a hard time believing that the little kid in front of him was only eight. He smiled dryly. “I was actually hoping you’d teach me that Kavin Disbarment maneuver you developed.”
Karran glanced at him skeptically. “Really? You want to learn from me, your ‘brat’ cousin? Is this some kind of joke”
“No. It’s a good maneuver. I couldn’t figure it out on my own, so I thought I’d go to the only person who could teach me.”
The boy hesitated.
“You teach me that maneuver, and I’ll give you some wrestling pointers. Maybe then you won’t end up at the bottom of a dog pile.”
Karran smiled, and drew his sword. “Deal.”
As if on cue, Miaku drew his own sword, and the lesson began.