THE sky was clear and the pastures gold, around Highland North today. So the North prince thought to pamper his unicorns in the golden fields.
Prince Arstol had relieved the custodians of his great beasts this morning. And he chose to lead the flock to some lush pastures on the far outpost.
Arstol watched his unicorns feed on the golden grass. It was in the meadows beyond the east walls of the city.
Yes, this was the first time Arstol would go that far to let his precious things graze the fields. But the prince was more than pleased to do this.
Indeed, the weather around Highland North hadn’t been favourable for seasons. Fields were browning and the meadows waning. And it hadn’t been easy for Arstol’s herders to find pastures. Rich pastures for the citadel unicorns.
But then here was the prince now, going all out to feed his animals himself. And with the choicest pasture anyone could find around.
Arstol beamed a satisfied smile, as he watched his hefty steeds graze across the golden blades. He felt pleased. He felt so relieved.
‘The long ride here’s really worth it,’ breathed the heirsen. ‘No, this is so worth the quest!’ he sighed.
Right then the North prince gazed away from the grazing herd awhile. He stared at the boundless plains spread out in front of him. And he couldn’t help but wonder at the vastness here.
Prince Arstol recalled now that he’d flew over these terrains once before. And he remembered he wasn’t able to get anywhere near the border ends.
It was a great expanse of unconquered lands. It was massive and boundless.
Yet the Prince of Highland North had learnt from the chronicles of his city. He’d learnt that Highland North had once been an unconquered terrain.
Like the vast plains in front of him now.
And in that moment of remembrance, Arstol thought of the idea of going out to battle. To the Battle for the Bastards.
He thought of winning countless captured bastards back into the realm. And thus, expand his city with their numbers over lands.
For Arstol wanted to be Protector over a vaster city. Over a vaster domain of heirsens. And he wanted it so desperately.
He gasped aloud. ‘Oh that these plains were mine! That they were Highland North indeed!’
But Arstol thought nothing would make him vaster. Other than to go to battlefront.
Now the prince envied Xandur of Olde Glassfield. He envied the old noble. For Xandur always won back multitudes of captured bastards. In the battles at the Dungeon of Fears.
Arstol wished he’d got Xandur’s tongue of flames and fire. He wished he could transform bastards too. Transform them from rotten smithereens into heirsens of crystal glass.
But Arstol recalled just then, that the changed bastards didn’t always choose Xandur’s city… when settling down. He recalled that they preferred other cities to Olde Glassfield.
Arstol remembered also, that his own city had those new settlers. And in their countless numbers.
The young prince let out a frail sigh. He remembered everything, and the awareness hit him a little hard.
Over several many tides earlier, a multitude of transformed bastards had indeed flocked into Highland North to find a home.
But then just as the young noble feared, the situation had caused a crack in the friendship between the Prince of Olde Glassfield and him.
Yet so long as both nobles never spoke about the matter, the crack only widened, tide after tide. Until it had become a huge, gaping rift in-between the two princes.
Yes, the North prince seemed to have it all. Everything everyone craved for.
For every time victors went to battle against the dreaded Dungeon, it was the Prince of Highland North who reaped the finest gains of battle.
Now gentle Arstol stepped forward, and he strode across the low green where the unicorns grazed. And as he walked through the herd, he mused over his idea of expansion.
After a long while, the North prince halted in his steps and glanced around. And he realised he’d walked past his grazing flock already.
For he was facing just the widespread plains. The terrains his thoughts had raced to meet.
The young prince turned around. And he strode back to his big, burly things.
Many of the unicorns were resting already, around the sumptuous golden blades. They were waiting for their chief custodian. That he would lead them back home.
Arstol brightened up as he watched his lovelies rest and play. And he walked through the quiet, peaceful flock.
‘You’ve all grown so big and strong!’ he beamed. And he patted the grown, hefty steeds on the back.
Just then Prince Arstol’s memory went back quite a few tides. And his thoughts perched on that tide he was made Protector of Highland North.
That tide he was also conferred with the custody of these great unicorns.
Arstol was quite a young lad then. He hadn’t got much tides to frisk around the heirsen world as a fledgling youngster.
He hadn’t got much tides to loiter, before he was charged with the guardian duty by the Father and King.
And so young Arstol worked so hard, so as not to fail the Father-of-All. The duty path wasn’t what he’d charted before. But he always sought counsel from reading the Book of Ages.
The young protector had feared his unicorns might die under his watch, when he first got the custody over them. And he’d put so much effort into keeping them alive.
And so it was. Arstol’s cautious frights only burgeoned into relentless efforts. And which kept on increasing the yields of his great unicorns.
So now as the young prince gently stroked his big, hefty steeds in the back, he marvelled at how so grown they’d become in quite a few tides.
‘It isn’t so hard as I thought it’d be,’ breathed Arstol. ‘It seems rearing is easier than hunting,’ he admitted.
For the young heirsen had once nursed the dream of hunting unicorns for food. But here he was, a protector of an entire city now.
And with several many unicorns to shelter and cater for.
Arstol smiled to himself. ‘Really, rearing is easier than hunting!’ he sighed.
But then again, as the young ambitious prince raised his flock up and flew them homewards in a long, stirring fleet… he gazed back at the virgin lands spread out beyond the city walls.
And Arstol couldn’t let go of the idea of expansion. The idea of going out to battlefield, like the vanguards of great battles; like the victors of great wars.
No Prince Arstol wouldn’t let go still.
Even when it caused him a little unrest to dream.
And when he had found the answer in his flock.
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© July 2021 Kayode & Tola Olla