The Prince Ch. 04byRomanticRealist©
Distance can be a great strain on any relationship. Distance between two people in love will show whether that love is meant to last or if it is far more fleeting. My love and I are separated by a great distance right now, but that distance is only a fleeting thing compared to our love for each other. It may seem like an eternity now, but the time that it will take for our separation to end will be insignificant to the life we spend with each other. If not for that distance I may never have written this story. I hope you enjoy my way of celebrating this love that I have found.
Marissa thought of Amber the entire day as she worked. She could not help but to worry as to what may have happened during that day or what had happened to her the night before. Marissa had asked a few of her other friends earlier in the day if they had seen Amber before she had gone to bed, but none of them remembered having noticed her.
This led her to believe that Amber must not have left the Prince's quarters until very late in the evening. This conclusion did not make sense as the Prince was known to have the capacity to be cruel and overly demanding, but he had never detained anyone so late into the evening as far as she knew. Marissa asked many different people about what they had heard about the Prince and his characteristics, but never asked the same person more than a question or two, so as to draw less attention to why she was asking the questions in the first place.
She had wanted to discover if anything that had happened there could have been truly sinister or not. It appeared that if the Prince had done something wicked to Amber that she was the first person to ever experience it or at least the first to ever be willing to say anything about it. Marissa thought that the former was far more likely than the latter from the openness that the maids seemed to complain about the Prince and his ridiculous demands.
There seemed to be no shortage of maids who had worked for him at some point or another. One of them had told her how at times he would just sit and watch her every movement and that inevitably she would become so nervous that she would bump into something and knock something over. She had been relieved of her duties the first time she broke something.
Another told her about how he had entered a room as she was leaving, only to find places that she had missed instantaneously. She was required to clean the entire room again without exception or that not only would she be relieved of her services working for him, but that she would never work at the palace again. She spent the rest of the day working on that room and was glad when she found out for certain that she would never have to spend another moment in a room with him.
There were many, many stories of things that he had done and how he had demoralized anyone that had worked for him. However, there were no stories of him striking anyone or even so much as raising his voice. This seemed to only darken the puzzle further as Amber had always been easily upset when yelled at or scolded, but had never had a problem telling Marissa if something like that was bothering her. In fact, Amber had generally let off steam to Marissa because the scolding was almost never the direct fault of Amber herself and even when it was Amber still preferred to tell someone as a means of release.
Marissa knew that whatever was bothering Amber needed to be kept a secret and that it had to be truly unsettling in some way. She could not imagine what it was. She was forced to wait until they met for dinner, luckily she was nearly finished with her tasks for the day and was about to start heading towards the dining hall.
She walked briskly, nearly running, as she hurried to meet her dear friend. Amber was sitting in plain sight and as Marissa approached she could tell that something was wrong. Amber did not seem to be aware of her surroundings or to even notice the rapid approach of Marissa. She did not look upset, but she did not seem to be herself.
Marissa sat down next to Amber and whispered, "Are you all right?"
Amber very slowly turned her head to look at Marissa and hesitantly said, "I'm honestly not sure." The expression on her face was one of honest confusion as she turned away again.
"Please eat, we'll go for a walk after dinner so that we have some more privacy."
"All right, but you make sure to eat something as well. You look like you need to as badly as I do."
They ate their dinner in silence. Amber had a far away look in her eyes that gave no clues as to what she had experienced. Marissa could not decide if the expression on Amber's face was better or worse than seeing her crying. Her face had hardly any emotion; she appeared numb.
Once they finished eating they both started heading towards the garden outside the palace. The sun had set, but a few vestiges of sunlight still remained making the darkness far less foreboding than it would be in a few hours. Amber walked slowly and Marissa was forced to do nothing more thsn keep pace even though her sense of urgency was overwhelming.
Marissa waited until they were away from the palace. Then she waited until they had reached the entrance to the garden. But, after a few minutes of walking in the garden she could not contain herself any longer. She turned to Amber and asked, "What happened?"
Amber at first looked as though she may not answer, still having that distant look in her eyes. After a moment though she seemed to remember where she was and who she was with her. "I don't know if you'll believe it. I don't know if I believe it. Are you sure you want to know? I don't want to burden you unnecessarily. I, I'll be fine," she finished the last sentence by averting her eyes and looking at the ground.
"Yes, of course I want you to tell me. Amber, you are my best friend how could I not want to know what happened to you. You always do this and I always tell you that I want to help. Nothing has made me change my mindset on that," as she said this, she noticed a tear start running down Amber's face. The tear turned into a sob as Marissa wrapped her arms around Amber.
Amber cried for some time with Marissa holding onto her. She told her how tired she had been and how she hadn't meant to fall asleep on his bed and she cried all the more hysterically as she told her what he did to her. She did not go into the details only explaining that he had raped her and how he must have brought her back to the dormitories.
Amber calmed down a little at this point and then went on to explain what had happened that day. Marissa looked at her in shock, not believing what her dear friend had been through and unable to understand how well she had masked the suffering she must have gone through and must be going through. She embraced Amber tighter when she finished and simply said, "It's all right now, it's over."
Amber looked up at her after the hug ended and said, "No, it's not."
"What do you mean?"
"He plans to have me continue to serve him in whatever way he wishes."
"But, but he can't do that!" Marissa said in an impassioned cry. "You have to get away from here, anything will be better than letting him rape you again!"
"I, I don't think that I can leave though. Anywhere that I could run, he would find me and he said he would punish me if I disobeyed him. I don't think that I can escape him."
"There must be something that you can do! There must be some way to get you out of here, to make things better, to stop you from having to endure a torment that horrible day in and day out."
"I cannot think of a way to escape, and," Amber hesitated before she said the next portion because she was not sure what it meant herself, "I am not sure that I want to."
"What do you mean? You can't mean that, not after what he's done to you," Marissa said clearly rattled.
"I don't know exactly how to describe it, but I don't think that I hate him. I know that I should, I know that what he did to me was terrible and that I should never forgive him for it, but I can't seem to make myself hate him. I don't know what's wrong with me or why I feel this way, but I don't fear him either."
"But, how can that be? How can you not hate that bastard?"
"I've been trying to figure that out since the moment that I left his home and am as baffled as you are. All I know is that I will not leave. Not yet, anyway. I'm more frightened of leaving and making him chase me than I am staying and doing what he asks."
Marissa stared at her with an obvious look of frustration. She wanted to argue with her, to tell her to run away and to escape this place, but she could not find a way around what she had said. She was afraid for her friend but knew that telling her to leave could invite a far greater disaster than the one that had already befallen her. Her resolve broke as she hugged Amber again and said, "All right, but when you change your mind tell me. You'll be whisked out of here faster than you can imagine and we'll make sure that even he cannot find you. That bastard will get his due for what he's done one of these days; mark my words."
Amber could not help but to smile through the tears as Marissa said that. When the hug ended, Amber wiped the tears off her face and suddenly recalled something that the Prince had told her. "Marissa, I have to have you promise me something."
"Do not tell another soul what I've told you, he told me that I was only allowed to tell one person what I have told you. He said that if others were to hear about it that there would be consequences that I would have to face."
"All right, sure thing," Marissa said somewhat reluctantly. It was not that she had a problem with making the promise that nearly stopped her from saying those words. Instead, it was the fact that she wondered what the consequences could be. She ended up saying, "Let's head back before we can't see anything at all."
"Sounds good," Amber said solemnly. She had a guilty thought that kept playing in her head that she could not rid herself of as they walked back. She had not told Marissa something and she was not sure why. She tried to settle her mind by simply saying that she did not want to disturb Marissa further, but she knew that was not the case. A nagging feeling kept her from saying what she was thinking right now. That feeling made it clear that it was a bad idea to tell Marissa this piece of information. So, she did not tell Marissa that she had enjoyed many of the things that he had done to her. She did not tell her that her body had ached for his touch and that she had felt a sense of emptiness when she left him.
Captain Raymond Charles had his eyes focused on the quick and able hands that were unfurling the sail on the main mast. The sailor he watched was young and able, moving quickly from task to task, his golden hair shining brightly in the sun. He moved around the ship with a confidence that befit a man who had worked on this ship for a decade. He had only started work two weeks prior.
He had been hesitant to hire someone that had no recommendations and had only worked on ships that he was not familiar with. However, there had been something in the young man's demeanor that had made Captain Charles decide to give him a chance. The captain was happy to see that he had not made a mistake in hiring him.
He had been an excellent addition to the crew from the moment he started. He had been able to perform almost any task that was asked of him immediately. Anything that he needed to learn had to be shown but once for him to achieve mastery. He was intelligent and reveled in the demanding work. He had said his name was Thomas Franklin.
The only people who could have recognized him for who he truly was would never be seen at the docks. He wore nothing ostentatious or surprising; his clothes were old and well worn, filled rich with experience. He spoke little, but had a slight accent to his voice that was hard to categorize as anything other than from the county.
He appeared to be a boy that had left the farm in order to seek a bigger and brighter fortune than the life he been born into. He appeared to have just entered his twenties and his eyes shown full of energy. There was no bitterness in those eyes, only the unbridled happiness that comes from a youth seeking adventure.
The Prince felt the sun on his bare back and the wind whipping through his hair as he hung onto the rope netting. He had always loved the sea; there was freedom here that could never be found anywhere else. It didn't matter where he was headed, that he had no say in it and no power over it. The great release was that there was nothing to be responsible for here other than the simple job of a deckhand.
He was working on a small two sailed trading schooner that was moving along the coast of the continent making stops at various coastal cities. The cities and the sights on land held very little power over him, but he was glad for the stops simply because it allowed him to leave them behind once again. He was able to see them shrink and vanish as the ship put a vast distance between them. It was yet another city that could not hold him or bind him in place.
He had joined the crew of the Whispering Wind two days after he had left the palace. He had done this before on other vessels throughout his life. His father had shown his great ire when the Prince had returned home after vanishing for a month the first time. The king had never found out where he had gone or what he had done, even though he had done everything in his power to make the Prince talk.
The king had slapped him across the face that day in frustration and had called him, "A foolish arrogant brat that knows nothing of the world and needs to learn his place in it.
"You are a disgrace to yourself, a disgrace to me, and a disgrace to our entire family! I will not stand to have you make a fool of me. I will not stand to have you ignore your position and your duties any longer. I will not have it!"
The Prince had felt a rage that day that was never to be rivaled again as he told his father, "You. You are the one who knows nothing of the world and will never understand it."
He had been seventeen when he had told his father this and it was after that day that his father had called him nothing but "The Prince" and had required everyone in the palace to refer to him only in that way as well. His father knew, as all others close to him did, how much he loved his own name. Taking that name from him was to be his punishment. He was never to be addressed in the way that he had always loved so much.
The Prince had always hated the formalities in naming associated with nobility and when he was young, he had done his best to contradict them, but his father appeared to win this particular battle. He was to be addressed henceforth by one of the names that he despised. His name was stripped from him and he allowed no one to challenge his father.
No one knew why the Prince never fought his father on this issue. Nothing had ever stopped him from fighting a contest before and it seemed as though this was one of the few issues that actually deserved the great force that the Prince could fight with, but the fury never came. The Prince's face had been unreadable that day; he carried no expression but stoicism.
The Prince, however, was not thinking of that fateful day. He was looking into the distance of the world yet to be explored by him. He had always dreamed of mounting an expedition and seeing more of the vast lands not yet seen by him. That expedition was unlikely to happen, his father had been fearful to let him travel hardly anywhere after his mother had died.
"Tom," one of the older deckhands, Joe, cried from below, "The captain wishes to speak to you."
"All right, I'll report to him at once," the Prince replied as he agilely swung himself onto the deck and headed towards the captain's office.
As he stood before the door he knocked and was then promptly given the permission to enter. Captain Charles sat at his desk looking over the maps and jotting down notes in his journal. He did not look up from his work as he said, "Please, take a seat."
The Prince sat in his chair quite leisurely, far less formally than one would expect a deckhand to, but somehow his presence itself seemed to negate his relaxed posture. Captain Charles did not look up at him until his work was completed. When he did, he started by asking, "Who are you, Tom?"
This question actually caught the Prince off guard. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"All right, what I mean is this: you are far too good at your job to work on a ship as small as this one. Do not mistake me saying this to mean that I do not take pride in my ship. Quite the contrary, I ask this question because I wish to protect this ship and I cannot imagine a man with your obvious talent working on it unless you were somehow stopped from working on a more prominent one. What did you do to get yourself kicked off of your previous employers ships?"
The captain had expected to see a look of shame or embarrassment or guilt after he had said this, any emotion would have made more sense than the broad smile that crept across Tom's face. The next words he heard him say were unusual as well, "You are far more clever than I realized captain. I'm glad. You have reached a plausible and likely conclusion, but it is not the correct one."
Captain Charles waited for him to continue and shortly realized that his young deckhand was waiting for him to speak first. "Then, please enlighten me as to what the truth is. That is the reason that I called you here in the first place."'
There was something unsettling in Tom's entire demeanor. He should not be acting this way. He should not be making him feel as though the person in power is reversed from reality. Power should not clothe him so naturally.
"I was never kicked off of a ship, large or small. I have always left of my own accord. The reason that I have not risen is that I do not wish to rise."
"What do you mean? Why would you wish to stay put and never rise above that of a deckhand?"
"I am only working for you right now as a form of enjoyment. I love the sea and wish that I could spend more time here, but I shall leave your employment as soon as we return home."
"This is only a hobby to you? But you are obviously so talented, and speaking to you leaves no doubt that you are intelligent. You could do great in this profession."
"Of that I have no doubt, but I am already indebted to exist in a different sort of profession."
At this point in the conversation Raymond realized that the man sitting in front of him was much, much more than he appeared to be. This was not a boy who had left a plain agrarian lifestyle. He must be some form of nobility as nothing else would explain his words or actions. Raymond realized that he was the one that was treading water and that his next words had to be careful as he did not know this man's position or influence.
"Please do not worry Captain, you have nothing to fear from me. I chose this ship simply because I did not wish to be noticed. As I said I love the sea and I truthfully love the work that I am doing. I know you may think this bizarre, that a man of my status would wish to do anything other than bark orders, but I do not think that you can bark orders until you understand how to execute them yourself."
"I never thought that I would say this to a man of nobility and mean it, but you are quite wise for your age."
"I thank you for the compliment. Now, if I may be so bold: why is a man of your intelligence and ability working on so small a ship?"
Raymond could not help but to chuckle at the question. It was the right one. "I work on this ship because I own it. I own others, but I always sail on this one so that I am never far from my family for long. I did not marry until after I had made my wealth so that I did not have to be away from home for long, but I, like you, cannot deny my love of the sea.