C5 ACT 03: THEIR FIRST MEETING (Part 1)
“ARE you ready, my Prince?” A middle-aged butler, whose name was Amarang, asked the Young Prince. He was the same butler who witnessed the Prince’s practice duel with the young Mandirigma, Sinag, the other day.
Prince Sari thought the people in the palace would make a big deal about his lost on the duel but surprisingly, there was no negative commentaries. Even the Simunos — a mix of elders and higher officials of this kingdom that acted as peace keepers — didn’t react much. Maybe they knew that the Young Prince didn’t have a chance in the first place.
“Yes, Amarang,” Prince Sari replied as soon as he finished dressing up with the help of his personal maids, who were mostly women that were a few years older than him.
Since the Prince was the Chosen Vessel, he was surrounded by women his entire life. This had become normal for the child, and made it easier for him to become soft-spoken. Of course, the unaware Prince thought it was all normal, but some men and boys his age envied him for being able to speak to women — adult and kids alike — without restrictions.
“Is your wound okay? Doesn’t it hurt, my Prince?” Amarang asked again. There was doubt and concern in his expression.
Truthfully, the clan where Prince Sari came from were believed to be direct descendants of Kasarinlan. That was also the reason why only females from their clan could become Chosen Vessels, and the only rightful candidates of becoming Kings and Queens of this kingdom. But if there was something really unique about this clan, then there was one thing that many would wish they had — that was the ability to heal.
It might sound too good to be true, but it really was the undeniable fact. They said this was because of the divine powers that their clan inherited from Kasarinlan himself. The more closely related they were to him, the stronger the healing power was. But like any other fighting skills, a Binhi child must learn to control this ability at a certain age. This power of theirs has helped the kingdom prosper, and many elder people lived long lives. Sadly, they couldn’t heal those with serious, chronic and terminal illnesses, and they couldn’t use this power among themselves. Instead of saying that it was inherited, it was more like it was just a borrowed power.
“It is healing fine, Amarang. Don’t worry,” the Prince reassured his butler before changing the topic. “Why did you tell me to dress up? Is there somewhere we’re going today?”
Amarang smiled, “My Prince, today we are going to the town of Tutubi.”
Prince Sari’s eyes sparkled in excitement and his ears twitched upon hearing it. This would be his first time visiting one of the kingdom’s towns. He wonder what he would get to see today!
“Wow~!” the Young Prince gaped in awe as they rode their way to the streets of the town of Tutubi while riding in an open carriage.
Everything… just everything looked so amazing to the overwhelmed Prince. He rarely got out of the palace, mainly due to the reason that his status as Chosen Vessel was not known by many. When they announced him as the Chosen Vessel when he was still an infant, only few people of Kabinihan attended that day and probably they were told not to spread wrong rumors or else they would be put into prison. And the other reason was his poor health.
Binhi people were born with weak bodies. Maybe this was a counterpart of having healing powers and it weakened their immunity and shortened their lifespans in exchange. Aside from this, they all had this exotic features that drew attention so easily and made them vulnerable to enemies. The people of Kabinihan always had light brown or tanned skins and black hairs in general. Binhi people were born with very pale skins, hair colors that ranged from brownish blonde to white blonde, pink to reddish shades of eyes, sensitivity to light, and got ill so easily. Those who came from the Royal Family had very noticeable features but those who were mixed with a non-Binhi blood had slightly darker shades. No one knew why Binhi people were born this way. Some people got scared of them. Even to this day, others still called this condition of theirs a genetic disease and they even named it as ‘Kasarinlan’s Curse’.
It was kind of insulting, to be honest, but the Binhi people couldn’t expect everyone to like them. Just because they were born a little special than others didn’t change the fact that they were still humans.
“Welcome to the town of Tutubi, my Prince Sari!” Amarang exclaimed and it made Prince Sari even more excited to go beyond this place.
“Amarang, why was this town named Tutubi? Tutubi literally translates to dragonfly, right?” the Price asked with pure curiosity.
“Well… I don’t know much about the exact details of this town, my Prince, but elder people said that a dragonfly deity once roamed this place before it became a town,” said the butler.
The Prince’s eyes widened. “What is a dragonfly deity?
Amarang averted his eyes from Prince Sari for a while as if thinking what to say. “Hmm, let’s see… It is a lot like our own Deity, Kasarinlan. If Kasarinlan granted us peace and independence before, then a dragonfly deity does the same.” It was the simplest and most basic explanation that he could think of.
“Dragonflies are also humans?” the child asked in confusion.
Amarang laughed at his Highness’s innocence. “No, my Prince. Even the great Kasarinlan was believed to be a divine being disguised as a human in order to relate more to us,” he clarified.
“I see.” Once again, the Prince immersed himself into thinking. As he did that, he missed many interesting places while riding in the carriage.
「Children are really interesting when they learn new things,」 Amarang thought to himself while showing an entertained expression.
Soon after, Prince Sari and Amarang stopped by a small shop. It was mostly made of wood and not much details were put in the whole construction of the building. Amarang told the rider of their carriage to wait outside. The Prince followed his butler’s lead without much hesitation as they entered the shop freely.
As soon as the door opened wide, a man dressed in average clothing greeted the two. “Oh, Amarang! Welcome!” The man wearing average clothes said with a gentle smile on his face. He even went closer to the butler and hugged him in a familiar manner.
“Ambon!” Amarang exclaimed and they patted each other’s backs. “How have you been, my friend?”
「Friend? One of Amarang’s acquaintances?」 Prince Sari thought while remaining silent behind Amarang.
The man who looked like they were the same age as the butler averted his attention towards the Young Prince and smiled at him, “You must be Prince Sari. It is an honor to meet you in person. My name is Ambon, my Young Prince,” he introduced himself without breaking his positive attitude.
Prince Sari responded to him shyly, still hiding behind Amarang, “T-thank you,” was all he could utter. He rarely met people outside the palace. He had no idea how to interact with them properly.
Ambon chuckled. “What a handsome boy,” he commented before going back to Amarang. “What brings you here, dear friend?”
“I wanted to show this town to Prince Sari,” Amarang told him. “Knowing the towns and its people will help him make connections to them,” he further added.
Ambon nodded in agreement. “Indeed,” he said before turning to Prince Sari’s direction again. “Is there anything you want to see, Young Prince?” he asked.
“Huh?” the Prince suddenly went out of words. Nothing came to mind. This was his first time in Tutubi town, and he was merely going along with what Amarang was going to show him. “Um…” He couldn’t think of an answer, and that started to bother him.
“This is Prince Sari’s first trip in this town, Ambon,” his butler saved his Highness.
“I see,” Ambon then laughed in excitement. “Do you mind if I show you around our house?” he offered the Prince. “Well, it is not as big as the palace, Young Prince, but you might want to take a look. After that, I can take you to my favorite bakery store. Their breads are really tasty!”
“Okay!” Price Sari’s eyes glittered as he instantly agreed to Ambon. His butler was happy to see him enjoying this trip, and he let the Prince follow Ambon and the butler stayed behind to have a cup of tea.
Ambon brought the Prince first to their kitchen. There, he met Ambon’s wife, who was preparing lunch for them. Just like Ambon, she welcomed the Young Prince, and she had a gentle aura around her. They exchanged a few words, then she went back to cooking.
“Where are we going next?” Prince Sari curiously asked while walking behind Ambon.
“I will introduce you to my son, Prince Sari,” Ambon answered.
“Where is he now?” the Prince asked again.
“In his study room,” Ambon replied. “He stays there when he feels like reading,” he added.
“Doesn’t he go to school?” the persistent child inquired.
“Actually, he just went back yesterday. He is currently on vacation now and he will be back to his university this next semester, my Prince,” Ambon informed him.
“University?! Is he a prodigy?” Prince Sari asked in awe.
There were only a few places in Kabinihan that offered higher educations. Only few excellent Kabinihan people were able to go to universities, and those who graduated with honors, would likely get high ranking job positions. Age was not an issue if you wanted to go to a university. If you had the brains or was born a genius, you could graduate in no time.
「I guess Miss Ilang was also a college graduate,」 the Prince thought to himself.
“Prodigy?” Ambon made a soft, short chuckle. “No, my Prince. He is just a regular and average teenager who is addicted to books. I’d rather say that he is quite eccentric.”
“He’s not a kid like me?!” The Prince immediately stopped at his tracks and pouted in disappointment.
Ambon laughed at his silly reaction. “No, but I think you two will get along just fine,” he assumed.
After hearing that, Prince Sari had the urge to go back to Amarang, but they already arrived at the study room that Ambon was talking about. The door was left wide open so Ambon no longer needed to knock.
He swiftly went inside and called out to his son, “Ulan! We have a special guest!”
Prince Sari jolted in surprise. 「Me? A special guest? I’d rather consider myself as a normal person visiting another person’s house. Calling me a special guest would only make me feel obliged to act like a Royalty. Whether they say it or not, I know people expect me to speak and act accordingly, just like what a Prince would normally do in public. Ambon, so far, treated me kindly but it would be nice if he just introduced me normally,」 he thought while feeling a little down.
The young guy that Ambon addressed as Ulan was forced to stop reading the book that he was currently holding with one hand. He turned his head towards them, and gave them a rather plain stare. He didn’t smile nor tried to say anything.
Too bad. He was a good-looking young man. In his youthful age, his facial features were already shouting with seductiveness of that of a sexy man. His deep brown, messy hair was just right to match the tone of his tan skin. His pair of golden hazelnut eyes would shine when hit with light. He wasn’t a Mandirigma like Sinag, and didn’t look like he was into sports either, but he had a well-built body for a teenager.
Ambon, his father, tried to break the awkwardness between them by clearing his throat before speaking again, “Ulan, say something!” he demanded.
That was when Ulan finally decided to avert his attention towards the uneasy Prince who tried to hide himself behind the door, but was painfully unsuccessful as he was still clearly visible. “Hi,” he timidly uttered, and put on a fake smile.
「Does he hate me?!」 Prince Sari thought in his mind while feeling a cold shiver running down his back.
Both of them heard Ambon sigh in dismay, making them look his way. “Good grief, son. This is the Young Prince Sari. Now, I want you to put that book away for now and show him some respect,” he said in an irritated tone.
“Um, it’s f—” The Prince didn’t get to finish what he wanted to say because Ulan quickly asked him a sudden question.
“Do you like the stars?” Ulan’s eyes sparkled, and he became lively in an instant.
It was too sudden. Prince Sari wasn’t particularly that interested about stars, but Ulan looked like he was so into it so he ended up nodding on impulse. “Yes, I do!”
Ulan displayed a very pleased chuckle, and even blushed before saying, “Let us read together then, Prince Sari!”