C4 ACT 02: PRACTICE DUEL (Part 2)
“Good afternoon, Prince Sari.” An old man greeted the Young Prince when he arrived at the garden. He was the child’s personal butler and he was sent here to witness the Prince spar with the said Mandirigma. Technically speaking, that shouldn’t be his job, but maybe people from the higher ups were expecting the worst to happen to their future King.
“Good afternoon,” Prince Sari greeted back while smiling before gesturing a subtle vow to him. The butler felt honored when the child did that simple but very meaningful gesture to someone like him.
Since the Prince was little, he was always told to act like a Royalty at all times. He must be careful with his words, actions and even the slightest gestures could affect his title as Prince. If he was to act like a normal child who loved to play around and did some silly pranks sometimes, that could spread a negative rumor amongst the people. Growing up, he found it really challenging. Whenever he saw children his age play to their heart’s content, all he could ever do was put on a bitter smile on his face.
“Good afternoon, my Prince. It is my honor to be with you here today in person. I am Sinag, your sparring partner for today’s practice duel.” An unfamiliar voice suddenly spoke from a distance from where the Prince and the butler were standing.
Prince Sari came back to reality when he heard the young man’s voice gently speak behind him. When he turned around, he saw a guy that was so handsome. He had a tan skin, beautiful face with a defined jaw and a pair of gorgeous eyes that were the color of luscious ocean. His long lashes and slightly thick eyebrows gave more emphasis to his exotic beauty. Compared to the Young Prince who had pale skin and weak body, the guy had a slender build but well developed muscles. He was a towering one, too.
「So tall and beautiful…」 the Prince thought to himself while staring at the young man named Sinag, totally mesmerized by his features. Maybe Sinag noticed that and distracted the amazed Prince by talking to him again.
“My Prince, is there something on my face?” Sinag awkwardly asked and seemed bothered by the child’s intense stare. He was not used to such reactions from someone, especially from the Prince!
The boy immediately jolted and furiously shook his head. “No!” he half screamed which surprised Sinag and the butler, too. “I mean, your face is fine. I was just amazed to see your blue eyes. They remind me of the ocean,” the Prince clarified and Sinag felt relieved for some reason.
“I am happy to hear it from the Prince himself,” Sinag chuckled in glee. “Shall we begin?”
Prince Sari’s excitement just now from being able to talk to someone who was not from the palace flew away when Sinag abruptly changed the topic. That was a Mandirigma for you. The boy also heard that they were serious people.
“Y-yeah. You’re right. The duel…” Prince Sari tried to sound like he was also looking forward to it but in reality, he didn’t want to spar with a real Mandirigma. Their fighting skills were far way greater compared to his. Why would they allow such a practice duel with someone like him who only preferred to read a book rather than swing a sword?
Sinag vowed his head before the Prince as a sign of showing his respect before he positioned his body. He was already cool just by his appearance but now that he was in his Mandirigma mode, he became more awesome. That only made the Prince admire him more.
“Please give your best, my Prince,” Sinag softly whispered.
“What—! Wah!” The Prince could no longer react because Sinag went for the offensive attack right on the bat which made him take a few steps back to avoid his aggressive moves. “Wait!” Prince Sari shouted and tried to swing his sword recklessly in the air without knowing if he would be able to block Sinag’s blows against him or not.
“Not bad for a beginner, my Prince. But the position of your hand and sword are not in accordance. You’re going to fall down if you keep doing that,” Sinag lectured without breaking his attacks on the struggling kid. Seriously, he wasn’t holding back at all!
“What?! How am I going to correct my pose if you keep—Argh!” Prince Sari grunted when their swords touched. The clinking sound of metal echoed. He could hear his opponent’s labored breathing but it was less stressed compared to his. How frustrated he must be!
Sinag laughed as if he was mocking the Young Prince, “My Prince, please don’t hold back. Do the offense move anytime,” he said and further pushed his opponent away with their swords still tangled against each other.
「Offense, he says? I can’t even return his massive blows. He’s monstrously strong! His fighting skills are too much for me,」 Prince Sari thought and decided to distance away. The man pursued attacking him and he was left with no choice but to run like a coward.
“What are you doing, my Prince?” Sinag asked the running kid as he stood there stunned by his opponent’s sudden change of mind.
“I am running away. Can’t you see?!” the Prince shouted in response. Even though his body couldn’t withstand running in a short distance, he still took the risk of doing so.
Sinag followed after Prince Sari. The Mandirigma was eager to continue their fight but the Prince was no longer interested in the practice duel. Just when he was about to reach the door to the garden that led to the hallways of the palace, Prince Sari unluckily tripped and fell on the ground with his face down.
“Young Prince Sari!” It was the butler’s panicked voiced. He ran towards the Prince’s location the moment he saw the child unable to move.
Prince Sari got back up in no time and sat down, feeling pain on various parts of his body. “Ugh…” he groaned and saw his knee bleeding.
“My Prince, are you alright?!” Sinag asked in worry and checked for injuries. Prince Sari’s knee was shining bright red so he quickly saw it. “Your knee!” the young man exclaimed.
“I am fine,” Prince Sari softly responded, trying his hardest to hide the irritation and embarrassment he was feeling at the same time. His butler also hurried to his side and he immediately called for the medics when he saw the wound on the Prince’s knee.
“This is all my fault. I am deeply sorry for chasing after you, my Prince,” Sinag humbly apologized. “I should’ve understood that you were already surrendering and yet—”
“I was not trying to surrender!” Sinag gasped to the Young Prince’s intense reaction. “Practice duel?! You are a pro and I can’t think of a way to block your moves. My sword fighting skills are not honed yet so why did they let me fight an experienced warrior like you?! This is so unfair!” After that, he cried like a brat who was throwing tantrums.
Then, Sinag chuckle softly, “Oh… That was the reason, huh?” he then sighed in relief. “And here I thought you didn’t want to spar with me, my Prince. I am sorry for making you feel that way.”
“Eh…?” Prince Sari was flabbergasted. “What… do you mean?”
「So he wasn’t thinking that I was trying to escape because I couldn’t beat him?」 the Young Prince thought to himself again, immersed in awe.
“My Prince, it is okay to lose once in a while. You’re still young and have lots to learn. I did say that your defense was in bad shape but I didn’t say that you don’t have a chance of winning,” Sinag uttered with a smiling face. “And I am no pro, either,” he added. “To you, I appear to be strong because you haven’t fought any other Mandirigmas beside me. Trust me, I am not yet that good at sword fighting, my Prince. I never once defeated my father who was a former Mandirigma and my current mentor. I only applied the things I learned when I was about your age, my Prince. That’s all.”
How amazing! The Prince never expected him to be this humble. He selfishly thought most Mandirigmas were arrogant since he only got to see them roam the palace once in a while but they wouldn’t interact with him when he tried to talk to them. Some even said they were forbidden to do so unless told to but Prince Sari only wanted to have a decent talk with them.
「Was that not allowed, as well?」 Prince Sari wondered, feeling a little upset.
“Is that so?” the Prince sniffed before wiping his tears off. He felt glad when Sinag nodded.
“Absolutely, my Prince! You are only 12. You have a lot of time to improve before you become King,” the Mandirigma encouraged. Prince Sari appreciated it but he couldn’t help but feel a little sad after hearing Sinag’s last statement. Sinag noticed the discomfort on the kid’s expression and asked him, “What’s wrong, my Prince? Does your knee hurt? Do you want me to carry you to the palace?” He was full of concern.
The Prince shook his head several times. “I am really fine. Thank you for your kind words, Sinag.”
“My pleasure, my Prince,” Sinag responded in a delighted tone.
Not long after, the medical team arrived and treated Prince Sari’s wound. Everyone in the palace was worried sick when they knew about his accident. To him, it wasn’t anything trivial but because of his role in this kingdom, his entire safety meant a lot to the people.
He is Prince Sari, age 12. He is Kabinihan’s current Prince and their next King. His existence is seen as heretic because he had the Mark of Kasarinlan when he was born even though he was a male offspring. But, the kingdom has no choice but to raise him as a Royalty because of their loyalty to the Deity who gave them this paradise and they vowed to protect this kingdom no matter what.
His purpose is yet to be decided. His fate is already sealed. He is the Chosen Vessel.
And his destiny is to please the great Deity, Kasarinlan, whom he haven’t seen or met before.
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*Mandirigma – warriors of Kabinihan
「to be continued」