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Seth watched his siblings from the shadows of the courtyard overhang. Well, to be correct, as his teachers had told him to always be, his stepsiblings and a half-sibling. Arven and Gwyna, the children of his father's second wife, Dariella, and Dani, his father and Dariella's son, respectively.
He'd have to admit that having a mother was nice. His own, Noranne, had died when he was born. Dariella took him in when she married Sonall, raised him like her own, tried to make up for the two years he'd not had a mother, only wet nurses and babysitters.
But he'd also gained instant siblings in Arven and Gwyna, babies at that. Even at two, he'd not appreciated the split in attention. And then a few years later, Dani had been born, another baby to add to the collection, even though by then Arven and Gwyna were 4 years old. He was, at that time, 7 years old, and was being instructed in the differences between himself and his stepsiblings.
He was royalty. They were peasants.
He was a noble, important, meant to accomplish great things.
They were sheep, insignificant, to be used as necessary to accomplish those great things.
And then there was Dani. Half noble, half peasant. A mixture, a hybrid, a half-breed, a mongrel. A disgrace to the Bornathian royalty. As Seth had begun to learn about Bornathian politics and courtroom behaviors and legalities, he had also picked up on whispers and rumors of disapproval of what Sonall had done when he married Dariella. True, her husband had saved his life that day and, peasant or not, she should be amply rewarded and compensated for her husband's death. But to actually marry her? A peasant? Unheard of.
Eventually, the court had adjusted. Dariella was very pretty, easy on the eyes, very demure and accommodating. She never asserted herself too much or expected things she shouldn't receive. She behaved as all good submissive wives should. Perhaps, it would be okay after all. The king had lost his first wife in childbirth. He deserved companionship again. The kingdom was always stronger when the ruler was married. They had their legitimate heir in Seth. He would just have to be protected at all costs.
However, then Sonall and Dariella had a child, which again threw the court into an uproar. It simply was not done in Bornath for a noble to mix blood with a peasant. Perhaps it was considered acceptable in other backward countries, such as Rillanda, but not here, not in Bornath. Enchanted by his second wife and new son, the king was either oblivious or dismissive of his councilors' concerns.
At that point, the councilors had turned their attention to Seth. Seven years of age. Strong-willed, but malleable. They saw in him the potential for what he could be. Even at that age, he was already aware of the superiority of the nobility over the common people. To be sure to keep those sentiments intact, the councilors took quick and quiet actions. His teachers were replaced and curriculum altered to put forth the ideas they wanted to be firmly implanted in his mind. When Seth ascended the throne, they wanted him to be what Sonall was not.
And so began his training as an eventual king of Bornath. Years yet into the future, but it would come. Seth was looking forward to it with great relish. There are so many things he wants to do when he has the power and position to do them. His stepsister was first on his list. His advisors had agreed to his plans for her after only a little manipulation on his part. As long as there were no children, they would support him. After all, she was only a peasant.
Seth watched as Gwyna, sitting on the ground, back against a bench, long skirt pooled lazily around her legs, laughed merrily. Her eyes twinkled in the mid-afternoon sun as she brushed back a length of hair behind her ear. Dani sat cross-legged in front of her, a confused look on his face for a few seconds, before he began to laugh with her. Arven sat sideways on the bench, shaking his head and sighing, before continuing to read from the text he held.
For now though, he would treat them as equals. The time would come soon enough for them to be put in their proper places. It would do no one harm if he socialized with them and continued to gain their trust as his teachers had taught him.
Tomorrow, on his 13th birthday, he would be proclaimed the official Heir to the throne. And, after that ... well, there was time for all that he would do in the future, all the plans he would make and had begun making already.
Setting aside those thoughts for the moment, Seth stepped away from the shadows and walked out to join his younger siblings, Gwyna and Arven, both 10, and Dani, 6. As he sat himself down next to Gwyna, he smiled at her, nodding his greetings to Arven.
He pulled Dani, still laughing in to his lap, and tickled him. "So, what did we learn today, little brother?"
Yes, there was time.
- The End -
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