Once upon a time, in a tiny kingdom, there was a prince who had a best friend. In time, the prince became king, and when he did, he made his best friend the grand duke. This story is not about either of them. It's about the grand duke's son who was cursed.
Alexander, now seventeen-years-old, stood at the edge of a covered walkway up in the air. Here he was able to look down in the barrack's training grounds. Standing next to him were two high-ranking knights; their positions made obvious by the white uniforms they were wearing. Immediately next to him was a man with dark navy hair and a worn out face, Colonel James Corian – or Corian, for short.
Alexander himself was dressed in a rather plain outfit for being the grand duke's son. He was in a dark blazer, a light blue shirt layered underneath, a skinny dark green tie around his neck, and matching dark-purple slacks. His blond hair with pink-tipped ends was brushed neatly, but the unruly cowlick on the whorl of his head refused to be tamed, and puffed up distinctly into two separate clumps like it normally does atop his head.
“If you'll be traveling long, I can offer recommendations for your knights.” Corian told Alexander in a calm voice.
“No, no.” Alexander replied, shaking his head as he turned to look at the older man. He spoke with a hesitant voice, but it wasn't soft or dainty like Will's might be. “I'll be gone a while, probably – but I just want one knight.”
Corian frowned at him. He was obviously concerned about Alexander's protest to having multiple knights traveling with him, but wasn't sure if it was his place to lecture him on the safety of travel. He'd been asked to assist by the king, not to direct. “Very well.” He lifted his right hand and pointed down to the pit below at a group of knights who were swinging swords and lances at each other in well-practiced movements. “I suggest Aian. He's been training since childhood, excels in all forms of weapons, and has a lot of stamina for running distances.”
Alexander made a mused noise, cuing in Corian that he wasn't satisfied with that suggestion. He took a step forward, pushing both of his hands onto the railing as he looked down. His rich blue eyes scanned across the group of a few hundred young men and women below.
Just as Corian was about to speak up and point out another knight, Alexander pointed his hand out quickly and said, “I want him!”
Baffled, Corian leaned over to look. Alexander had pointed out the most stubborn and ill-behaved of the group– a young man with dark brown hair, dressed in khaki slacks and a loose t-shirt, completely covered in dust and dirt. He was arguing with a group of young men while holding twin thin swords against his shoulder with either hand. His face looked smug and arrogant with his eyes shut, as if he was just annoyed at being here.
“He's terrible! Lazy and – frankly – a jerk. He'd be likely to abandon you during your trip, young lord!” Corian told Alexander very quickly.
The blond turned on him with a bright look in his eye. “Fetch him quickly! I want to meet him!”
“V–very well,” Corian sighed. He nodded to one of the knights behind them. “Go and bring Julian to the seventh meeting room.” The knight rolled his eyes, but turned and started left down the walkway and turned out of sight.
Alexander crossed his arms when Corian looked back at him. “Don't just assume he'll be crummy.”
“It's not an assumption if I'm right.” Corian stated flatly.