~ Side Story: The foolish Prince (Part 2) ~
For the first few minutes, I was shivering in my boots with my sword drawn. Even I took a few sword fighting lessons, but I wasn't at the level of even my weakest of the bodyguards. The enemy's troops were trained against monsters and dungeons, giving them a frightening advantage.
We were outnumbered and outmatched, but if it wasn't for my brother's men, I would have fallen in the first few minutes.
The swords clashed with one another, and screams of pain were heard when the blades cut deep into their flesh. Blood flowed at every cut, turning the room dark and grim. The smell of iron filled my nose, and I was reminded once more of the Dungeon Lord's words.
If I stand to fall only against this bunch, then it's a real wonder how I survived an encounter with him... Illsyore... If I live through this, I'll remember this name. I thought and then I joined the fray as well.
The first attack I did was to block the sword of an enemy who attacked one of my guards. My strength was laughable, but it was enough to stop him from killing him. Unfortunately, the blade of my enemy pushed my sword down and cut deep into my left shoulder.
“Your Highness!” the bodyguards screamed.
“I can't have you all die here...” I said as I held my wound and stared at my enemy.
Who am I fooling with these words? I'm afraid... I'm scared... I can't fight! I thought, but despite how much my body trembled, I still dared to look into my opponent's eyes.
This was a strength I didn't knew I had before, but compared to someone like Illsyore, this bunch was nothing. I could take pride in the fact that I had once faced a Godlike Dungeon Lord and lived to tell the tale, even if I ended up cursed.
“Put more spirit into it men!” shouted one of my brother's bodyguards.
We fought and struggled to defeat them, but they were too many and too strong, we had to pull back.
By the time we left the mansion and retreated into the streets, we were down to only five, including myself. We were surrounded.
“Before I kill you, I want to ask something, foolish prince. A few months ago, you were like me and everyone else, but now you are a fool. What do you even fight for? What did you hope to gain from this worthless struggle of yours?” the Marquise asked.
What do I fight for? was what I asked myself many times before.
Until today, my answer was a simple one: To get rid of the curse and take my revenge on Illsyore. But now, the answer had changed to a new one...
“For the people! I hope that one day I will see them smile and proud to be part of the Aunnar Kingdom!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
These weren't exactly my words, but my brother's. I heard him many time telling me this, but it was only now, at this crucial moment, when I had truly began to believe in them as well.
“Foolishness. You forget, prince, we are not like those worthless insects who live only to serve us. We are individuals with noble blood flowing through our veins! We were privileged form birth and blessed by the gods to rule! Ah~ It's a shame you lost your way. You would have been a great puppet, you know? Living a life of debauchery and luxury as you were meant from birth, marrying the daughter of a noble, things like that. You wouldn't have needed to bother yourself with the affairs of the kingdom, you know? But a foolish prince will always be a foolish prince.” the Marquise said the exact same words I would have said a few weeks ago if our situations would have been reversed.
Knowing this fact made me feel an aching pain in my chest. It was as if I finally came to realize what sort of horrible man I was. It made me sick...
“Kill them.” ordered the Marquise.
When I heard the order, I gulped. I didn't want to die, but if I did... at least I would have some sort of peace of heart. I was a long way from atoning for my own mistakes and sins, and in a way, I was thankful to this noble. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have seen the mirror of my past self, and one day, I might have returned to my old ways.
“Protect the Prince!” the shout didn't come from my guards, but from behind the Marquise's men.
The one who attacked were the guards of the city, the people who worked as adventurers, and even the former slaves. In a matter of seconds, the situation was turned around as two armies faced each other, one that was on my side and the other on the Marquise's.
Surprised by this, I asked “Why?”
“You freed many of us, your Highness, so it would be simply wrong of us to just stand aside and let this scum kill you.” said a former slave.
“What?” I blinked surprised.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that someone I freed from slavery would try to defend me. Actually, there were so many people around me now, many not even wearing any armor or wielding proper weapons, just regular civilians. I couldn't think or remember what I did to help so many people, to earn their loyalty to this degree.
“When you abolished slavery, I was able to meet my wife and child again as a free man. Of this, I am eternal grateful.” said a big, brawny draconian.
“When my wife was taken away by slave dealers under the pretext of a false debt, I was unable to lay a finger upon them, but thanks to you, she was freed...” this time it was an el'doraw who shared his story with me.
“But when... how?” I asked.
“A small child by the name of Tullos passed by the fence and saw a glimpse of the battle in the courtyard. He immediately ran over to the Adventurers Guild and let us know. It took us only a matter of moments to rally up and head here.” the draconian explain with a smirk as he pushed back one of the Marquise's men.
“Tullos?” I asked surprised.
“Yes, I believe he's one of the children in the orphanage created by that fellow Illsyore.” said at a guard.
I found myself at a complete loss of words. The same one who cursed me and turned my life around had indirectly saved me today through the good deed he did by freeing those children. This was fate at work.
How strange... I thought, but I finally began to realize the truth behind Illsyore's words.
A nation of free people without slavery was far more stronger than one that imposed it. At the same time, a kind and generous king towards his people will have only loyal followers around him rather than people like Marquise Dartolt, who was willing to betray me if he saw it fit.
Such things... I can hardly keep up with them... I thought, but a smile was formed on my lips and tears appeared in my eyes. Why? Why is it that this makes me happy? Why?! I thought as I wiped my eyes.
“Your Highness, your orders?” one of the surviving bodyguards asked.
“Yes... Not orders, but a request. Help me stop Marquise Dartolt once and for all. Let us show the other nobles that we don't wish their kind of kingdom anymore! For Aunnar!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.
“FOR AUNNAR!” the shouts were raised to the sky as the battle resumed.
Needless to say that a lot more people joined forces with us in order to push back the Marquise.
By the end of the day, the noble was killed, and I could proudly declare that our capital, Elora, had successfully abolished all slavery within its walls. It was a step forward, but a very important one.
Upon my return to the castle, I presented myself in front of my brother. I didn't even bother to go to the healer first, and I could barely feel my left hand anymore.
“I wish to become stronger.” I declared.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked me.
It was an answer filled with the determination, pride, and reasons I had gained through that valuable and life-changing experience. No longer was I foolish prince or a despotic ruler. No longer was I man who saw the lives of others as insignificant because of their birth and social status. I saw myself now as someone who moved and acted for the happiness and freedom of his people.
Then, at then end of my two months, the two of us signed the official documents that brought upon the abolishing of slavery in the entire kingdom. Alongside these laws, we banned all forms of child labor and established several orphanages with the help of the priests at the Temples and some of the nobles that took our side.
The curse unlocked its first stage... and I was spared. Illsyore, through this curse, saved me in more ways than one, but now... there was one final thing I had to do, which might be the hardest yet.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
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