I'm afraid I've already posted this story once before (for Donna Hole's Milestone Blogfest), but it really sort of fit the theme so I'm reposting it, I hope you'll forgive me!
Merciful gods, it was way to early to get up.
“Beri, my boy, wake up. Come on!”
I turned away from the voice and pulled the blanked over my head so the laughter that followed was muffled. I heard someone moving from next to the bed to somewhere close bye.
“Beri, if you don’t get up, I’ll dump this on you.” I resisted the urge to look, but only just.
A bucket of ice-cold water hit me right where my face was buried under the blanket. I jumped up to stand on the bed and threw my now sopping pillow at Cal.
He just ducked the pillow and laughed at me, shaking the last of the water out of the bucket.
“That’s Prince Bastard, sweet-cheeks,” he said. “Come on, get dressed, we need to go!”
I groaned and flopped back onto the wet bed. It wasn’t too bad, not without the wet pillow.
“Come back to bed, Cal. I’m sure we still have a bottle of that green liquor lying around. I’ll send someone for spoons and sugar. We can celebrate early.”
My cheerful prince just shook his head, white hair flying, and chucked a bunch of clothes at me.
“Absinthe? In the morning? You’re out of your mind. We’ll celebrate after, like we’re supposed to.”
“All right, all right.” I rolled out of bed and saved the clothes from the wet spot. They were Cal’s spare set of formals. “Where are mine?”
Cal shrugged. “Couldn’t find them.”
Great. The King was already pissed off at me and now I had to show up to Cal’s formal Bloodletting Ceremony wearing Cal’s clothes. That would go down like moonshine when you were expecting port.
The King was pissed, alright. I held my place like a good little soldier, one step back and to the left of Callean, eyes a spot somewhere above my prince’s shoulders, but I could feel the dagger stares boring into me. Fair enough, I guess. With my clothes a slightly paler echo of his, I must have looked more like Cal’s brother than ever.
His majesty had made it abundantly clear that I was not his son, and that I should never, ever, consider pretending such.
Rumors, however, weren’t quenched that easily.
I watched the priests shuffle too and fro, muttering unintelligible things in a long forgotten language. The High Priest walked up to the king, his blade gleaming like liquid fire in the torches’ light. Two drops of the king’s blood made the Northern Stone glow a blinding blue-tinged white.
We all bowed down low to show our respect for his majesty’s pure blood, then waited for some more weird mutterings until finally they called Callean up to the Stone. Again, the High Priest’s blade flashed in the light. Once more, royal blood turned the grey Stone into the world’s heaviest lantern, covering all of us with its eery blueish light.
Now Callean was officially recognized as a true-blooded Northerner - or as true as they got these days, since nobody had turned the stone white in centuries. Now he was the next-in-line for the Northern Throne.
We could all go and celebrate at last.
Tomorrow we’d be moving from Cal’s childhood room into the secondary Royal Apartments at the top of the keep. He, and by extension, I, would finally have servants to take care of things like clothes and hauling bath water. I was so busy dreaming up all the things we could get up to in the royal apartments - which included a library, a study, a bathing chamber, a dressing room, a receiving room, a games room and no less than three bedrooms - that I didn’t even notice the priests’ mumble-jumble mutterings had stopped and the only people left in the Stone Room were the High Priest with his minions, the King and my prince.
I didn’t really notice that, either, until the king was right in front of me, hand fisted and arm pulled back. I had no time to react as his fist, signet ring and all, crashed into my jaw. It sent me flying to the floor. Blood spattered onto the tiles. I saw the pretty red polkadot patterns it formed on the white marble floor as I waited for my head to stop spinning.
“Father! What are you doing?” Cal had jumped between the king and myself, shielding me as I was supposed to shield him.
“You dare? You dare come here, dressed like your master, desecrating this most holy of days?”
I knew he was going to say that. I should have made an effort to find my own uniform this morning. I watched the king turn away from Cal and me, back towards the Stone and the throne behind it.
“Father, I told him to wear my clothes,” Cal said, but I don’t think his father heard him. The king was breathing hard and I watched red skin creep up his neck and across his face until he looked like he’d spent too much time in the sun.
“So many years, you’ve been a thorn in my side, a weight around my son’s neck. You make them doubt me, you, a peasant!” The king was shouting now.
“Now, your majesty, no harm was done,” the High Priest said, making calming gestures that did little good. The king swayed and was visibly struggling to breathe. He put out his right hand to stop himself from falling. The palm hit the Stone, and a blinding light appeared, startling a scream from one of the priestlings.
He’d hit me with that hand, made me bleed.
“No,” I said, but I don’t think they heard me. Cal was staring at me. The King was staring at me. The monks were staring at me. Only the High Priest was staring at Cal, not me.
Cal, who’s blood turned the Stone pale blue when mine got white.
There! Now tell me what you think of Beri, then run over to Francine's blog to check out all the other entries!